Liminal Book Review: The Hekataeon

“O daughter of Helios (the Sun), Mene (Moon) of many turnings, nurse of all! O Selene (Moon), driver of the silver car! If thou art Hekate of many names, if in the night thou doest shake thy mystic torch in brandcarrying hand, come nightwanderer, nurse of puppies because the nightly sound of the hurrying dogs is thy delight with their mournful whimpering”                                - Nonnus, Dionysiaca 44. 198 ff

Not since The Temple of Hekate by Tara Sanchez has there been such a complete grimoire published within the Hekatean current. There were so many connections between my own personal gnosis and the research-informed praxis presented throughout the text of The Hekataeon , I kept having déjà vu . I slowly savored the recollections of revelatory sorceries Hekate showed me all those years ago (i.e. witches ladder, bloodmagick, creating a iynx, specific mudras and sigils).  I could not just read this thing. I was compelled to take my time, roll it around my mouth a little… savor and try all the things before moving on. Jack Grayle is brilliant in his delivery, as few books of practice do this to me; motivated by excitement only to be stopped in my tracks. A gasp, a hot breath and I enveloped expectations with a sensuality not usually experienced with books. This is the book I wish I had read years ago, instead of struggling to absorb the Hekate current alone…cobbling together bits and pieces of random visions.

The text is organized in three books. The first is ‘Book One: The Call’; as a beginning it guides the reader through collecting and consecration of tools, learning prerequisite invocations culminating with the transition from Reader to Devotee. In ‘Book Two: White Flame‘  of The Hekataeon presents to the witch a devotional practice taking place over the course of 28 days transforming the Devotee into a Adapt. ‘Book 3: Red Blade’ is where the meat and action of the grimoire really starts to take off with an introduction to Hekate’s beasts and workings of a sorcerous nature; the transition from Adapt to Initiate becomes more intensified. It is only as the Initiate approaches ‘Book 4: Black Moon’ where the question of Hierophant, or Priesthood, becomes somewhat convoluted. I am always skeptical of books which claim to train Priests as this is not the traditional way of becoming appointed…as becoming a Priest includes an in-person ritual of ordination. If anything the last rites involved in this book sets one upon the path to receive the blessings of Hekate to pursue that particular path of devotion, but to truly be sanctified in Her service, as any other Priesthood, it takes a Priest to make another Priest.

That being said, I love how The Hekataeon is so practical and consistent. For example, there is not some new way to purify for every single fucking ritual...the instructions are clear. I was honestly hesitant to move forward in my reading without having tried the rituals and spells firsthand. The book itself asks to be ‘activated’ with the Reader’s own blood, creating a bond of physical and spiritual connection so few will actually do. Grayle speaks directly to the reader, giving the book a life of it’s own… a companion and guide. Also the assumption of the Witch being a She was lovely to experience in a serious magickal grimoire; the overly masculine assumptions or even gender neutral language is weary.

Usually I prefer the bhakti path of devotional work accompanied with theurgic principles, in comparison to traditional grimoire magick…but this was a text combining both. Making connections with not just Hekate but other compatible Deities and Spirits; including Pasiphae, Medea, Dionysus, Helios and, of course, Hermes. My personal work with Hermes and Hekate came to a standstill once I left the urban landscape for the woods. Combining the 2 deities as Grayle presents in the very last book of The Hekataeon is both clever and understandable. Hermes and Hekate are incredibly similar in their relationships with humans; friend, guide, lover. Without giving too much away, let’s just say it ends in a sabbatic orgy of Gods and Goats.

The invocations truly speak to my own praxis, as inspirited rhymes come easily to the tongue creating mystical melodies of heartsong. Grayle captures the raw liminal passion of informed hymns which only comes from years of devotion. Juxtaposed imagery and dark sensuality drip with the blood of stones, bones and savage poetry.

“O Indominable Darkness that dwells

In the heart of Light;

O Formless Fire that informs

The womb of Night;

O woman astride an open grave

Giving birth to life;

O child with a dog’s face

Whose left hand is a knife” (Grayle, p. 32)

This is a living, working tool of manifestation I wish to disappear into the woods with, pitch a tent and surround myself with the skulls of dogs and goat…welcoming to my fire the lovers and spirits of Darkness which await my call. It has been a long time coming and I accept the challenge of inhibited fears.


Photo provided by Jack Grayle; Model is Andrea Hebamme.

Photo provided by Jack Grayle; Model is Andrea Hebamme.

Liminal Book Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Hekate Books

“The Priestess pours the wine betwixt

Their horns;

Then cuts the curling hair; that first

oblations  burns,

Invoking Hecate hither to repair:

A powerful name in hell and upper air” - Aenid by Virgil

For being so little known or preserved about Her cult practice, there sure is a lot of books out there about Hekate. The very basics we all pretty much can agree on: She was an imported Goddess/Titan from the Near East into the Mediterranean, most often depicted as a Maiden or young woman (when in an anthropomorphic portrayal), carries an assortment of tools (keys, torches, daggers, snakes, apples, whips…), associated with the Dead and Crossroads, etc. But what is always in the forefront of Devotees from every part of the world and of every flavor of Panganism, is the HOW of giving Her devotion. This is why there are so many different ideologies and approaches. Unlike other Gods of the ancient Hellenic world, there are fragments of Her mythology littered and slapped together in other large frameworks that to single them out would feel 'broken', leaving modern devotees to piece together scraps as a collage, each unique.

But which ones to read? What are the best titles to pour over, jot notes from and feed that longing to fill in the gaps? SO many suggested reading lists are out there, and I’d rather not reinvent the wheel… but I would like to share some gleaned insights, and annoyances, I have found in recently published materials. For more information on these other titles, check for links at the end of this post.

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Let me start with the best…Evoking Hekate: The Goddess of Magickby Anousen Leonte. I found this on a basic search among Kindle books and was curious. The cover art was an abstract, spooky looking sigil/Roschardt inkblot image of white with a black background. What can I say...I like simplicity. Also the price made it very accessible, at $2.99 I could take a chance of it being pure rot. But it wasn’t. This short book ended up surprising me with it’s very practical approach, with a touch of ceremonial magick to keep all levels of practitioners interested. This was not an academic piece but full of personal gnosis; which very much are in alignment with my own personal experiences, and a multitude of colleagues in our working with Hekate. One tip I found extremely resonant is in the use of imagery surrounding Her altar and idolatry. I prefer the use of custom statues or little used imagery in personal practice because it keeps me from having any preconceived visions to appear; my friend using a Maxine Miller piece as a seat for Our Lady may be a different experience of Hekate than my custom Jeff Cullen statue. However these pieces influence my perceptions of Her, the author makes a good point when exploring the idea of using sigils and symbols instead of a human face for Hekate.

“When an image of a Spirit is used, the conscious mind is engaged, whereas when a symbol is used it is the unconscious which is engaged” (Leonte, pg. 142).

The  author goes on to share some wonderful planetary sigils associated with Hekate...as She comes down through the celestial spheres to visit/merge with Her beloved children. My daily encounters during planetary workings (according to day of the week), I found Hekate sneaking in to approvingly observe ‘from afar’ my actions: anointing with corresponding oils, adorning my body with colors and medals of those spheres. Deep symbols speak to the buried, sleeping parts of my mind to carry forward strengths of these Celestial Lords, with Hekate being the conductor for what is orchestrated in this harmony. Hekate is so varied, so adaptable, and this author shares insights into Her different aspects. Limiting our practice to only dark of night and moon phase is not necessary, as She addresses different needs through the hours of the day (another level to the planetary vibes).

“To evoke a day-side aspect of Hecate is to evoke her aid in areas of life commonly associated with reason, prosperity, creation, health and ambition. To evoke the night-side is to delve into other, less appreciated territories: mystical perception, dissolution, destruction, personal metamorphosis ad occult knowledge” (Leonte, p.232).

On the same reading theme of ‘inexpensive personal gnosis books about Hekate’, I also purchased Pagan Portals’ Hekate: A Devotionalby Vivienne Moss. I really WANTED to like this. I have seen this person’s posts online and had always thought of Moss as a genuine devotee which made me give credit to this publishing project. Her integrity and passion comes through in this book, which is essentially a journal with devotional poetry placed throughout … unfortunately I found it all confusing and chaotic. It seems like a journey at times, with descriptions of landscapes followed by annotations and ideologies; but then there is prayers added here and there. I really felt like I had stumbled into someone’s bedside notebook, where random thoughts and ideas get jotted down for memory’s sake. Needless to say I only got through to Chapter 3 before putting it aside.

“The writing of this book is an offering to Hekate. The sacrifice is knowing that not everyone will agree with or like what I have to say within these pages. Some, I’m sure, will not understand the way I see and feel Hekate. I may get negative feedbacks, or worse, none at all. Maybe some will laugh or be offended with what I have written” (Moss, p. 18).

My issue was never with WHAT she was saying, but how. The writing is bad; making statements like this ¼ into a book says an author is not strong in their confidence of voice. Writers don’t make excuses for our art, ever. We speak the Truth and of what we Know. It wasn’t my kind of book, but many friends enjoyed it’s rawness more than I.

And finally, a more mainstream title. The newest edition to the catalog of books published by Avalonia’s owner Sorita d’Este, Circle for Hekate -Volume I, History & Mythology: Dedicated to the light-bearing Goddess of the crossroads in all her many faces, manifestations, and names. I was able to borrow it from the Kindle library for free. Aside from having an incredibly long title, the book is marketed as being the first in a series called “The Circle for Hekate Project”. The build-up for this title was a long-time coming. Devotees in so many Hekate groups and circles were awaiting the release, anticipating some new insights from these sacred spaces and the tight research d’Este is best known for. Unfortunately much of the data is already well-known (and often repeated) with citations used in d’Este’s other Hekate titles as well. The biggest disappointment was the number of typos and grammatical errors found throughout the text. The other two titles already mentioned in this review, actually had better copy-editing than this mainstream book. However, there were still some golden moments to be sure.

One interesting thing I had never seen, nor bothered to read about, before was concerning any oracles of Hekate known in the ancient world. While Devotees are often going on and on about being Her oracle, I haven't seen much written on the subject. It appears the ancient philosopher Porphyry gives an account of one such Oracle answering a question regarding Jesus Christ and early Christianity; it shows how the two cultures were overlapping in his time, while also giving the new rising Christian faith a Pagan voice of opinion.

“And to those who ask why he (Jesus) was condemned to die, the oracle of the goddess (Hekate) replied,

‘The body, indeed, is always exposed to torments, but the souls of the pious abide in heaven.

And the soul you inquire about has been the fatal cause of error to other souls which were not fated to receive the gifts of the gods, and to have the knowledge of immortal Jove.

Such souls are therefore hated by the gods; for they who were fated not to receive the gifts of the gods, and not to know God, were fated to be involved in error by means of him you speak of.

He himself, however, was good, and heaven has been opened to him as to other good men.

You are not, then, to speak evil of him, but to pity the folly of men: and through him men’s danger is imminent’” (from “Oracles’ by Porphyry, 3rd century CE).

Other topics covered in the sphere of Hekatean scholarship included gathering together specific details for the making of statues, offerings, and the most heated topic of the modern era: the triplicity of Hekate. Thankfully  d’Este puts forth several facts regarding the birth and meaning of Her triple form; one being there was no such depiction of Her in this way until after the 4th century, BC. Her looking in three different directions is “a natural apotropaic symbolism and emphasizes the goddess’ role as a protectress” (p.2830, d’Este). She also makes the claim of Aleister Crowley being the first to portray Hekate as a Crone, specifically in his 1907 poem Orpheus, alluding to his use of the description ‘frail’ to indicate an elderly matron. It’s a weak connection, but then she points to a passage in his book Moonchild:

“...thirdly, she is Hekate, a thing altogether of Hell, barren, hideous and malicious, the queen of death and evil witchcraft...Hekate is the crone, the woman past all hope of motherhood, her soul black with envy and hatred of happier mortals”.

I was glad to see d’Este putting to rest this argument of Hekate historically being a ‘crone Goddess’ in the triple Goddess archetype. It does not negate any modern worship or how devotees experience Her, but it should be acknowledged as not being an ancient concept of Hekate.

There are so many books out there for research into one’s own approach to relationship with Hekate, and depending on the readers level of literacy it is best to explore them with sharp critical thinking (as we should with anything we read these days). Sarah Illes Johnston’s Hekate Soteira and (if you can every get your hands on a copy) Stephen Ronan’s The Goddess Hekate are both modern academic classics which are highly recommended throughout the Hekatean community. For personal anecdotes and narrative, I really enjoyed the devotional anthology Bearing Torches, while d’Este’s Hekate: Her Sacred Fires is a more popular collection I have several friends published in. Queen of Hell by Mark Alan Smith (the first in a series) is a rare tome of the Luciferian persuasion with Hekate and Hecate’s Fountain by Kenneth Grant is an exploration in Her Typhonian current...both rare and expensive books of the Left Hand Path. For a persepctive of Hekate involving Her and witchcraft I highly recommend The Rotting Goddess by Jacob Rabinowitz and a traditional craft treatise from Shani Oates titled A Paean for Hekate.

Please be sure to check out the links below for extensive lists of Hekate reading recommendations:

Beginner's Reading List about Hekate

Hekate's Library

A Hekate Reading List (at the end of the blogpost)

Favourite Things of 2017

“To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

This year I had more disposable income than ever before in my life. I finally started my career (more on that with another post), have excellent retirement benefits, and funds in the family savings account. Therefore, I was able to buy ALL THE THINGS. Whilst my witchcraft and spiritual life has never needed materia magica in order to be effective, having these aesthetics has given me a different level of contentment never experienced before either. There is a grace and peace which comes from the ‘having’ without attachment. Albeit, materialism has never been part of my philosophy… but good books, quality enhancements and access to resources gives me a certain thrill.

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As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, I admit to my addiction. Even living in a temporary housing situation, with all 35 boxes of my books in a storage facility, I have managed to accumulate quite the collection of materials. Although I mainly read fiction this year (see my Goodreads profile), quite a few books were purchased to fulfill obligations in the new book club I am trying to bring to life; The Devil’s Black Book Club. One of the best finds this year were these wonderful little booklets from Hadean Press; at only £3 each it was quite reasonable. By such respected authors such as Jake Stratton-Kent, S. Aldarnay, Conjureman Ali, and Nicholaj De MAttos Frisvold with titles ranging from“The Headless One: A Guide to the Underworld”, “Saint Cyprian and the Sorcerous Transmutation”, and “Fumigations of the 7 Planets”, there is something for everyone's tastes and needs.

After spending the last 2 years wearing only planetary oils for the final leg of my Hekatoi Priest training, I decided that this would be the year I delved into a journey of scent. Having a sensitive nose, olfactory is one of my occult super powers...and another reason I am super picky about perfumes. I have always been a wearer of oils, having a strong aversion to the overwhelming alcohol smell most mass produced colognes contain. To ease myself into this adventure I purchased small samples from the House of Orpheus, a perfumery which utilizes alchemical ingredients in the magickal formulae produced. To start I tried ‘Enodia’, being an epithet of Hekate; it had a beautiful note of styrax and several wood smells crisscrossing to form a crossroads in my senses.

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The next was ‘Verum’, a small vial with potent Saturnine energies which filled my aura with a richness which reminded me of the treasures hoarded by Naga Kings; thick amber and smooth musks resonated a serpent vibe everywhere I went. But by far the most intense experience so far has been with their newest perfume, The Black Goat. They weren’t kidding when it was described as having a ‘feral’ accent...wearing it reminds me of sleeping in a stable with fresh cut grasses, musk oils released by recently groomed furs and clean loamy soil. I am trying to get my Capricorn husband to wear it as the scent would be preferable on a masculine body, but I have decided to use it in workings conjuring my egregore spirit, Black Philip.

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I also purchased a most beautiful pendant this year, promised to my dear Mother Hekate in dedication for placing me in the job which allows me to do my Great Work. The custom work of Aidan Watcher is something I have admired for years and it was my ultimate goal to obtain the Hekate Talisman with Key & Torches. It even came with a potent Hekate incense created by the very talented Rosarium Blends (love the Hekate oil too). Funny thing, it wasn’t until it was received I realized the tattoo design which was put on me this year also, was almost a mirror image of the talisman! Artwork was designed and inked by Sunstone Tattoos, run by a Loki Priest and amazing crafter of magick. 

There are so many fantastic artisans in our community which we should all be patronizing. Even if it is one or two special books, services or things in which to enhance our magickal lives, sharing the blessings of wealth or financial ability is something I believe we should pass on. To support the creators of fine goods is to perpetuate our own good fortune. Quality gifts to our spirits and Gods only creates more solidified relationships, when deep thought and purpose goes into our resources. Sure the dollar store items I have used ‘on the fly’ still had potency, but nothing like the few selected items I set money and time aside for acquiring.

On that note: may your New Year be filled with deliciousness, good health and wealth for passing along.

Liminal Book Review: The Witches' Ointment

The Witches' Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic. Thomas Hatsis; Park Street Press, Rochester, Vermont. 286 pages.

As the waning moon appears on a darkened horizon, I remove my clothes and light a candle with intentions of oneiromanic prophecies. From a hidden cupboard in an old 19th century secretary, I remove several tins with arcane symbols...magickal salves of soporific splendours made by a witch in Canada. Choosing the right one for my purpose, I dip deeply with Saturn's finger, marking my body with the opaque ointment. Stars in my armpits, inner thighs, palms and footbottoms and a final one to my third eye, I am careful to wash my fingertips in case I rub my eyes in the night. Climbing between cool white sheets, my breathing takes it's natural shallow waves to the belly. I say a prayer to Hekate, Domina who guides and keeps safe my spirit during these nocturnal journeys, and close my eyes. I can feel the herbs taking effect, creeping through my teeth and stomach like low-grade LSD. After an hour or two, I begin to dream...

My interest in flying ointments is what initially got me into exploring the study of witchcraft. As discussed on my last podcast, the night flight stories of witches seemed fantastical and entirely possible; even from a psychological perspective, the idea of acting out lewd and illegal fantasies while in the dreamscape of my mind sounded like a healthy expression. Reading the old recipes for true “witches' potions” were something out of a fairytale: bat's blood, opium, henbane, hemlock, belladonna and, of course, the fat from a unbaptised baby.

I first heard the interview with Thomas Hatsis on The Black Chair, a podcast I tune into from time to time, discussing The Witches' Ointment. Then there were lecture dates in the Bay Area, which I was sadly unable to attend. But, I was able to order the book and just finished as the new horror movie, The VVitch, was playing at theatres...(SPOILER ALERT) the opening scene includes a classical sequence of using baby fat as a base, churning with herbs, then smearing it all over her old body for the sabbatic flight. Hatsis deconstructs the myths from realities in a very concise and narrative manner; with folktales and historical account retold at the beginning of each chapter. Although oozing with solid academic research, the author's approach makes the data very digestible for those of us who do NOT like reading history books. Hatsis presents these 'confessions' and concludes that different experiences fall under the categories of either ointment induced experiences (used as an entheogenic tool for performing journey or magick), or blasphemy motivated nocturnal journies...but rarely were the two happening at the same time.

Whilst absurd to the modern practitioner, some of these recounted testimonies were given by actual folks who used these ointments, even if their chemical effects were unknown, and had intense experiences. Hatsis pinpoints when the stereotype of a satanic/diabolical witch's' use of Ye Olde Broomstik, including the fabrication of it as a masturbatory tool, is explored and debunked (we go from Heretic to Witch in less than two hundred years' span).

The dusk flowers adorned the altar, their scent lifted by my heightened senses. I did not plant these, but this ally appeared in my new garden as an old friend. The intense summer heat had made the liminal times sweeter for their delicate white petals, releasing their strange smell. In dreams I sense their proximity, my soul flew through layers of spiritual projection to a wild, overgrown and ancient garden. A dry fountain overgrown with periwinkle, ferns of every shape and conifer trees help to hide the rabbit-faced beings which surround and spy on me. Their silvery glamour does not shade their true intentions...

In particular I enjoyed the fourth chapter titled “Roots of Bewitchment”, which focuses on commonly known materials used in traditional ointments, for either 'soporferis medicamentis' (sleeping medicines) or 'pocula amatoria' (love potions) (p.76). Plants, animal secretions, minerals and other pharmacopeia are examined; a background including etymology of the names, historical uses, medicinal uses and folkloric connections. I had a particular interest in the Solanaceae family: the henbane, mandrake, nightshade and, especially, datura. As a young woman interested in the herbal arts, these plants called to my curious side of gardening. However cautious as I am, it was better to try ointments from more skilled herbalists than bumbling through another experiment which could potentially make me ill, or worse.

It was last summer that Datura stramonium made a home in my new garden bed. Although I had grown this plant a few times in containers (always with great success), the seeds sowed themselves and I soon had huge datura plants. Drought tolerant and sun lovers, these beauties opened every morning at dawn and nightly at dusk, making it a wonderful setting for nocturnal devotionals to Hekate. Sitting amongst them, the plants cooling from the days' heat, I would put my face close to them and inhale deeply of the trumpets. Sometimes called “mad apple”, I can see how this strange plant could be intoxicating to the point of fatality...but what a sweet way to go. The ointment from this plant was used extensively in the ancient world to help with insomnia; the effects of doziness I experienced to be rather rapid and the sleep deep but restful without feeling 'hung over' the next day. If I DO manage to stay awake after using the ointment, there is a euphoric but tense feeling... I actually have to fight off sleep but like a happy toddler.

The Awen comes straight into my mind...visions from my own imagination take on an absurd realism otherwise not experienced in regular lucid dreams. Poetry flows like colors, messages come to me in strange tongues and anticipation flows as wine in cups made of amethyst. I drink, deeply and awaken to write.

I was surprised to read Datura wasn't just used in shamanic journeying or to poison/bewitch unsuspecting muggles, but some users found the imagination whipped to the point of exquisite inspiration...something I experienced as well.

Writing in 1784 Prussian toxicologist J.S. Halle became on of the first writers to praise the drug for stirring the artistic mind: 'Mixing the ground seeds of datura with wine will produce an artificial, magic and fantastic tincture; if a poet would drink (this blend), it would provide him with his most exalted flight in odes.' This datura-wine elixir will 'fire the pictures of imagination in the most vivid manner, swirling the natural impulse of the muse beyond all enthusiasm of wine'” (p.100).

For further information on the safe uses of these herbs, and to purchase some excellent ointments, follow these links down the rabbit hole.

Evolution of witches' ointment

Article by author, Thomas Hatsis

Wise words of caution and use, Sarah Anne Lawless

More flying ointment history

Flying ointment feedback

Ointments for purchase

 

Datura from my garden.

Liminal Book Review: Ritual Offerings

Ritual Offerings: Feeding Your Spirits – Empowering Your Magick. Edited by Aaron Leitch; 2014. Nephilim Press. 274 pages. Copy 629/1000.

My magick really went into overdrive when I started making offerings. Always a theist of some kind, I was trained early in the techniques of Buddhist meditation and mantra. Part of that practice included giving to the Buddhas water, flowers, fruit and devotional time. At first I thought it was just an external expression of focus, a kind of eye candy trigger to get myself present. It wasn't until later, when I started doing Druidry, that it became much clearer in the subtlety of what was happening: relationships were being formed and alliances made with Deity. The Indo-European concept of 'ghost-i', a reciprocity of “I give so that you may give”, just never sat right with my compassionate sensibilities. I give because I am generous or wish to alleviate suffering, not so I can build up a karmic reserve....a cosmic bank account from which to draw upon when needed. But I have also seen the results in the form of phenomenal spiritual experiences, blessings and small miracles.

 

The anthology Ritual Offerings  covers the many complexities involved in the conversation of devotion between polytheist, occult and Deity-centered magickal traditions ranging from Wicca to hoodoo, Golden Dawn to Tibetan Buddhism. A very practical collection of essays, this anthology includes many well-known and respected authors from the occult world: Sam Webster, Brother Moloch, Frater Ashen Chassen, Jason Miller, Nick Farrell to name the ones I recognized and why it was initially purchased. The book itself is an incredible work of art. This hardbound cover is half oxblood and half leathery black, with an embossed sigil covering most of the front and part of the back, wrapping around the spine. The turn in page has a most beautiful image of an illustrated altar with offerings and other arcane symbolism, in the front and back of the book. It also includes a satiny page marker sewn into the endband, which is very convenient and user friendly.

By far my favourite essay included in this anthology was Brother Moloch's “Ancestors & Offerings”. The practice of ancestor worship in the West has been a long forgotten , Brother Moloch gets right into the nit and grit. Details and suggestions for beginning a ritual practice involving ones' Dead, the essay breaks it down describing what and why to offer, how much/often, where to make offerings and working for results. This very frank and practical piece gave me some ideas on how to persuade them to work with me. As someone with a lot of Christianity in their family, I have found they are not always cooperative with what I want to accomplish...Brother Moloch draws upon his various spiritual lineages to explain ways in to maneuver around these kinds of obstacles. For example there are certain things nearly all Ancestors seem to like such as coffee, clean water and a simple white candle. He mentions a few things I had not thought to try before such as the naming of all my family lineage as a way to connect the dots with them all, or listing off all my blessings so they know how thankful I am for it all.

In “Offerings in Iamblichan Theurgy” Sam Webster breaks down the levels of offerings made and how they perpetuate our magick. One of the most compelling parts of the essay goes into the age old argument of “The Gods need our offerings because....”. According to Iamblichus, the Gods, in fact, do NOT need our affectionate attentions in order to survive. The Gods are deathless, unchanging and slightly self absorbed. If it makes no impression on the Gods, WHY do we make offerings then? Sacrifice is not made with expectations of reciprocity, but given out of love for Deity. In the making of offerings, the materials used are charged with the 'Word' or names of Deity, which are their essence. “Each thing in the world instantiates a complex union of the Words of a number of the Gods...we offer back to a God that which has a part of its constitution the Word of the God. As Iamblichus notes, Creators most love their creations” (p.215). For example, I often offer to Hekate graveyard dirt as this is a place She especially enjoys, it resonates with the chthonic aspect of Her as a guide of the Dead.

A few pieces in the anthology were shorter than I would have liked; less than 10 pages which really would be more of an article than an essay. Although packed with information, Jason Miller's essay “Severed Head Cakes and Clouds of Dancing Girls: Offerings in Tibetan Buddhism” felt as if only the very surface of this subject was scratched at. My training in chod gave me an insight many Western practitioners may be missing in this piece, but Miller still does a great job of explaining without going too deeply into the practical applications. One example he gave as an offering are the making of tormas, clay-like cakes which can be molded into various shapes and used in place of a blood sacrifice; “mar-chod, the 'red offering' of sacrificed animals and humans that Buddhists do not practice” (p.184). He also mentions a practice I find to be missing in Western traditions, the feeding of Demons and other 'lesser' beings. This is a difficult thing for Western practitioners to understand, as they generally see the feeding of demons as a way of encouraging their presence to be near. In Buddhism it is believed all beings, everywhere, suffer. These demons and other harmful spirits are intensely miserable which is why the act of offering tormas or other objects which are pleasing is a way of easing that suffering; it is an act of complete compassion.

This is a book any serious magician should have on their bookshelf, if not for the wealth of information contained within, but for the beauty without. Not often will I pay over $50 for a book that is not a textbook, but this was an especially wonderful exception I do not regret. I think it will also increase in value over time, as the authors are all five-star practitioners and the limited prints will ensure it's rarity.

Liminal Book Review: "Snake Yoga" (DVD)

Snake Yoga: Sacred Feminine Wisdom. Le'ema Kathleen Graham; Goddess Work. DVD and booklet . 2008. http://www.snakeyoga.com/

Having been at home for the past 5 years, with my family and doing a Master's degree online has really been conducive to the lazy lifestyle I like to maintain. But, it has also meant I've "let myself go". I have never been an especially athletic person but developed a love of yoga. I was exposed during my high school years through an alternative high school I attended; and by that, I mean a "continuation" school for teen pregnancies, drop outs, and troubled youth. One of our teachers was a hippie and introduced meditation, yoga, drumming and many other skills I have actually used in my life. Staying flexible and disciplined, I continued this practice into my college years. It was low impact and deep but something I carried on even throughout my pregnancy. But after the c-section, it was hard to get back into a routine soon. One thing led to another, yadda and yadda...I needed to reconnect with my body again. The Hatha yoga I had learned as a young woman didn't work the same in my 30s. The heat and sweat aggrivates my I.B.S. , living in my head through grad school has kept me disconnected from my body in many ways. There are so many excuses and reasons why I can use. But in all honesty, it is my spiritual life which has become more physically demanding than it used to be. Practicing true asanas, making the body strong, and conscious of what goes in it seems so much more important than it used to be.

Snake Yoga: Sacred Feminine Wisdom

So you can imagine my surprise when Priestess Le'ema sent me a copy of her "Snake Yoga" dvd...with tattooes for my daughter (snakes of course!). Gentle, the movements and stretches were definately not what I expected. My pre-natal yoga was extremely soft and how I thought this practice would be...but the stretches go very deep, deeper than my new mishappened body was used to. But I tried it anyway, on the floor with the air conditioning on full blast. Many of the poses were old friends with new twists on them, to compliment the serpent theme of our practice; the "Serpent on the Tree of Life" (Vṛkṣāsana) and "Cobra" (Bhujaṅgāsana) are two old favourites. I never once felt 'hot' as our breathing was not the warm, open AUM of firey movements, but a sinewy "HSS" that was cool and controlled. As a devotee of Hekate, I resonated most with the "Medusa" pose: a deep squat, tongue out and hair writhing with hands in a prayer position. I couldn't help but feel the power coming up from Brimo...the serpent of the Earth rising up and causing my legs to shake, thighs to quiver and eyes to naturally roll until the energy shot out through my third eye. It was very, very intense.

The DVD is very well produced, with an atmosphere of sacred motion that does not seem artificial or forced. The music was soft and something I did not pay much attention to until the second viewing, as the practice was new to me and I focused more on it. A nice fusion of ambience and tech, it didn't overwhelm with volume but complimented the practice. The booklet which came with the DVD was an extra bonus, with beautiful illustrations by Hrana Janto, of Le'ema in the different poses with the serpent beings superimposed upon her...like a picture taken of her ethreal body as she shapeshifts into these poses, not just doing yoga. The animated chakra feature was an interesting bonus, which I think is especially helpful for women who are new to this kind of deep, internal practice. Another great feature is being able to turn the words off completely during "play", so there is only the movement of your own body and the serpentine music. The closed-caption makes it especially accessible for those who are hearing impaired, and like me have a toddler sometimes playing nearby.

I would love to do yoga with this woman in real life some day and feel after a few weeks of doing this practice, several times a week... I will be ready for that bicycling machine I have placed below Babalon in my bedroom: because movement through sex, dance and yoga are all ways of allowing that shakti energy, that dormant wild and angry woman inside a place to let it ALL go, safely. 

Liminal Book Review: Lunatik Witchcraft

Lunatik Witchcraft: Illuminating Your Underworld. Shay Skepevski; 2012. Lulu.com. 196 pages.

This gem of gnosis is offered up to the Hekatean community as a grimoire from mystic and artist Shay Skepevski of Sydney, Australia. With a familial background in Macedonian and Greek cultures, Skepevski draws on his heritage along with commonly known primary sources concerning the worship and magic of Hekate. Skepevski's Lunatik Witchcraft focuses SOLELY on Hekate as Matron and Guide on the path of shadows... alone and without the need of some consort. Between personal narrations, rituals, and background given with each step of the journey, Skepevski initiates the seeker into his praxis through the Underworld to the very heart of Hekate's light.

The book is split into two sections (EN EREBUS, 'In Darkness' and PHOS, 'Light!'), it is not organized by chapter. Skepevski's style is very non-linear and in keeping with the 'lunatik' feel of the offering... and what a gift to us all it is. Lunatik Witchcraft is organized in a way which takes the reader on a journey delving deeper into one's own 'lunatik flame' of inner illumination; reminiscent of the Luciferian flame offered in many LHP traditions. Unlike these others, I like that Skepevski explores so many varied topics of Her traditional and magickal domains including: herbs, necromancy, prophecy, trance and ritual drunkenness shared with the likes of Dionysian maenads in it's frenzy.

“Bearing the Lunatik Flame (Lunatik Consciousness) has the potential to become an extremely mantic experience, guided by Hekate's well-known powers of divination and prophecy. Her light shall shine down upon the unknown and we shall wield the psychic power to unify with the whole of nature, as we mould our psyche into infinite other forms and open a clearer line of communication between Witch and animal, or tree, fire, moon and Witch. We will be able to evoke the fires of creativity, ecstasy, inspiration, epiphany, and clarity from our deepest and most luminous soul” (Skepevski, p.126).

Skepevski is straight to the point in supporting his methodologies, which are all sound and grounded in obvious research and experience. I like that he also did this without including footnotes all over the damned place to prove it; giving it a true grimoire feel. Personally, I would determine this to be VERIFIED personal gnosis: I am verifying it Mr. Skepevski.... publicly and with the love of Our Lady. I tell you that many of the practices and ideologies you are revealing in this wonderful devotional offering (and it IS), I have been led to doing the same in my private personal practices over the past few years, with Hekate as guide. This is a wonderful offering to the Hekatean community and bless you for sharing it.

Having followed the work, writings, philosophies and poetry of Skepevski for quite some time now, I was rather disappointed the artwork included in the text was only printed in black and white. I am sure this was due to cost, but Skepevski's paintings are illuminating, highly evocative and would have made this a true masterpiece. I pray some publisher picks it up and re-issues a collector's edition of this beautiful book, as a hardbound color incarnation of Her flame.

"Peacock Vision" by Shay Skepevski.
"Peacock Vision" by Shay Skepevski.

 

 

Liminal Book Review: The Dance of the Mystai

The Dance of the Mystai – A Modern Mystery Tradition. Tinnekke Bebout; Pagan Writers Press, Houston, Texas. 3441 pages (digital).

Part introduction to the modern mystery tradition of the Mystai, part journey of feminist self-discovery, and another part personal narrative, The Dance of the Mystai is an inspiring book which points to the very heart of Goddess spirituality, then offers secretly to give more; rendering this reader's heart as overflowing with longing of spiritual Sisterhood. Touching on the universal themes of Patriarchy and the need for Goddess religion in women's lives, it was nothing I have not read already; but it was interesting to read the personal narratives and how they shaped the author, Tinnekke Bebout, into the Priestess she is today.

It was the Mystai's work with Hekate and the emphasis on training, creating a modern tradition in Her service, and the acceptance of personal gnosis which made me interested in this book firstly. The face of Goddess spirituality is changing and with it the new Aeon is ushering in a time which does not attempt to re-create a movement but to pick up where our mothers and grandmothers left off and continue the work. And it IS work... as Bebout points out very clearly. The book hits the ground running to explain what the Mystai is and is not: an emphasis on personal work and reclaiming mysteries without influence of 'group think'. Bebout points out the privileged and comfy place we are all used to coming from, and why we are also not getting the results we long for; the deep spiritual connection that comes from recognizing our own innate abilities.Dance_Full-200x300

"I know from experience and simply from being a modern American woman that we are not used to heat, exertion, and other adverse conditions and certainly don't look to experience these things on what may be in our minds a vacation. That is the first change we need to make: the Mysteries are not a vacation. They are not a Goddess Festival where various paid speakers will pass on ideas or skills while everyone sits in relative comfort and has meals prepared for them. They are not a convention where people sleep in hotel beds and wander from event to event... the Mysteries are a spiritual journey to the inner world of the Goddess. They are simple and profound" (pp.510-511).

The first sections of the book go straight into the structure and working theology of the Mystai, including the liturgical calendar (lunar based), offices and lyceum curriculum. The second major section deals with the basics of trance, magickal theory and application, and devotional workings, all which are not necessarily from a beginner's perspective. Including in the bulk of the work is several devotional poems and hymns, narratives and personal confessions as Bebout includes works created by Mystai sisters; sharing and baring the soul of sisterhood.

Bebout and the ladies of the Mystai are creating a modern tradition which speaks on a soul level with women everywhere. Much like the Fellowship of Isis, the Mystai's ideology rests in the universality of the Goddess and that "we are the Daughters of the Goddesses in all Their myriad and wonderful manifestations" (p.191). Several Goddesses of the Mystai tradition include Hekate of course, Aphrodite, Athene, Gaia, Inanna, Isis, Kwan Yin, Lilith, and Sophia. In my own workings with Hekate as my matron, She acts as a guide or 'agent' in the Otherworlds... perhaps this is the same reason why so many Goddesses are interested in the Mystai. The work they are doing resonates with my desire and need for a focused priestess training in the service of Hekate, without telling me what is right and wrong, trusting in the validations I receive from no other higher authority than my Goddess. The Mystai have re-confirmed for me that the way of gnosis and revelations CAN be shared in a nurturing, supportive community. I have found my way and look forward to my training.

The Dance of the Mystai

Liminal Book Review: Summoning the Fates

Summoning the Fates: A Woman's Guide to Destiny. Zsuzsanna E. Budapest; Three Rivers Press, New York, NY. 1998. 242 pages.

I do not put much stock in Astrology, especially since taking an Astronomy class in college and learning about the Earth's precession; making me a Taurus instead of Gemini. But as anyone who has years of experiencing magic and psychic workings knows, we become more sensitive to the energy vibrations present in the universe the more we attune with these currents. Without consulting a natal chart, I have intuitively experienced the presence of two powerful, planetary energies in my life: Mercury and Saturn, both probably considered the most intense heavenly currents from our solar system.

Naturally Mercurial, I am constantly changing and swift in mind. A constant communicator, manipulator of energies and quick to learn new technologies, Mercury is very active in my life. It influences my impulsiveness, instinctual actions, and sharp silver tongue. Unfortunately it also goes retrograde three times a year, effecting me in the most strange ways (more on that in a future blog). Mercury is the most eccentric of our solar systems' planets, taking the most imperfect path around the sun. It's orbit is every 88 Earth days, a fast traveler through the sky. I describe this energy to juxtapose with the energies of Saturn, which is in some ways quite the opposite.

Saturn is a rather large planet, and one which orbits very slowly around the sun; coming back to carry us off into another life every 29-32 years. It is the energy of the harvester, reaping what has taken so long to grow; even the symbol for this planet looks like a sickle: ♄. Because it takes so long for this presence to appear on the horizon, the energies have a chance to build up over time; this may be why Saturnine energy is so heavy For those who believe in it, Saturn is connected to our destiny or fate, the path/lesson we are given at the time of birth in this lifetime. When it returns to a place in orbit, at the time we were born or at other points of our lives, the energies of this planet either manifests as an acceptance, or forces us to take our medicine the hard way. Either way we choose, and there is always a choice, it is not going to be necessarily easy but will guarantee change.

 

Although this book is aimed at being a guide for women, I truly believe the information and stories are accessible for everyone, no matter their sexual identity. In typical Z fashion, the Goddesses are invoked and worked tas words on the page. The Fates, no matter which culture they are experienced in, will always have a similar attitude towards mortals. Z expresses this point, almost as if the Fates are speaking THROUGH her:

“Guess what? The Fates don't do details. Wiping things off the Earth is not their beat. They only do the big picture, turn the wheel of the ages, and facilitate our souls' choices. The Fates don't create evil. Evil is a perception from our point of view. It belongs to the small picture. To us it is overwhelming, but cosmically it is the bat of an eyelash. It is a knot, a rough thread in the Fates' hands, but they don't tangle it. Despite everything we can do to snarl up the works, they turn the wheels and keep everything moving, flowing, spinning. Surviving” (p.51).

So when Urdh hands over the reigns to Verdandi around the age of 29-32, we return to the crossroads. Some people go back to school, others divorce or have babies, start a new career... there's a multitude of changes that occur during this tumultuous time. Everything up to this point was in preparation for what our life's work is to be and now we get to be more of who we truly are. Z offers up prayers, small rituals, and reflections that give hope and meaning to difficult periods in our lives. In helping us to understand these cosmic energies, Z is giving us the tools in an age when information empowers.

As someone who has JUST passed through my first “Saturn Return” (as they call it), I can attest to the transforming energies which take over things. My life completely changed; I got married, had a baby, stayed home and went back to school for a Master's... I also gained weight, lost some friends, and moved far away from family. It was at this time Hekate came into my life as well. By accepting what was presented to me, I have opened up more potentialities and opportunities for spiritual and financial growth in BIG ways; everything with Saturn is larger than life. With Verdandi in charge, we hone our talents... blooming under the immense pressure of the crown as we become masters of our selves, or buckling under it's weight. I, for one, hope to turn into a diamond.

http://www.zbudapest.com/summoning-fates.html

Liminal Book Review: Lords of the Left-Hand Path

Lords of the Left Hand Path: Forbidden Practices & Spiritual Heresies (From the Cult of Set to the Church of Satan). Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D.; Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont. 1997; 2nd edition 2012. 288 pages.

LORDS OF THE LEFTHANDPATH

LORDS OF THE LEFTHANDPATH

Cogito ergo sum; “I think, therefore I am” was first put forth as an existential idea by Rene Descartes back in the 17th century. Being able to think or consider what separates us from beasts. Many people back then, as now, would find it easier to be guided by an outside authority on ethics, tastes, all the things which make human beings 'enlightened'. Right... according to Stephen Flowers we have the capacity to be much more than the slaves of an objective universe. The differences in these philosophies bring us back to the common descriptions of spiritual perspectives on the universe and how our own motivations determine magicks: means and ends.

'Right Hand Path' is the pursuit of union with God (the goal of most mainstream religions), and usually this is accessed OUTSIDE oneself; “Humanity is to seek knowledge of the law, and then apply itself to submitting to that law in order to gain ultimate union with the objective universe, with God, or with Nature” (p.8). This motivation results in the eventual annihilation of the Self or Ego, to make room for the Divine to fill us. Whilst this sounds like a blissful and honorable goal in spiritual progression, I find it somewhat un-genuine to the potentiality I possess. Why bend my Self to the laws of the Universe if I can manipulate the Universe to fit MY Will? Isn't this ultimately what practicing magick is all about? Otherwise we can just call it praying.

As Flowers re-tells the history of LHP application and influence in everything from philosophy, spirituality, to art and governments; adversarial rebellion has been around since the beginning of religious thought. Given in a chronological order allows for the modern story to be told in a way which the reader can easily see the development and evolution from a surprising perspective. By providing a list of certain criteria, each section of the book examines and deconstructs various figures and philosophies from history:

      1. “Self-Deification: the attainment of an enlightened (or awakened), independently existing intellect and its relative immortality.

      2. Individualism: the enlightened intellect is that of a given individual, not a collective body.

      3. Initiation: the enlightenment and strength of essence necessary for the desired state of evolution of self are attained by means of stage created by the will of the magician, not because he or she was “divine” to begin with.

      4. Magic: the practitioners of the left-hand-path see themselves as using their own wills in a rationally intuited system or spiritual technology designed to cause the universe around them to conform to their self-willed patterns” (p.11).

What is revealed through the text is an analysis of several historical personages and paths which might be considered 'sinister'; such notable personalities as Aleister Crowley, Karl Marx, and the Marquis de Sade all have SOME applicable qualities, but not ALL.

When I first embarked on the path of magick, like many I was a rebellious/curious youth searching out some way of explaining my experiences and ways of relating to Godhead. I often cut school and went to the library to smoke cigarettes outside and read books/magazines until it was time to catch the bus home. Funny that no adult ever bothered me; I suppose they figured a 14 year old who sits at the library instead of school is probably not up to trouble. At the beginning of the 1990's there was more materials becoming available in the occultic arts, with access to books on both sides of the fence regarding witchcraft and satanism in particular. The satanic scare of the 80's produced a huge amount of material in these areas. As a recent ex-Catholic I wanted to go as far away from the God of my childhood, so I picked up Anton LeVey's Satanic Bible , a friend gave me Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, and the works of H.P. Lovecraft; I felt terrified and inspired at the same time. It was not until I tried my first spell that I decided not to pursue this path... as the curse worked only too well and ended up doing more damage than I ever intended. There was still something missing from my spiritual path which did not empower me. I still felt uneasy about being part of an organized religion of any kind, but at the ripe age of 16 I read “The Spiral Dance” by Starhawk and knew then it was the feminine power of the Goddess which was missing. I realized the need to seek this part of myself out and I did… for almost 20 years.

And now I have come back full circle, into darkness under the cloak of Hekate. I have the academic training to decipher bullshit, received initiations from the Gods themselves into the deeper mysteries of my spiritual path, and the magickal training/focus to succeed in any endeavor I set forth. I was not ready back then. I had not evolved at such a young age to see beyond the scope of 'spookiness'; the shock value of being in the shadows has a certain appeal, but does not reveal much in the true Light. Even in my Buddhism, I have natural tendencies towards LHP in this spiritual vein: wanting to resist the final annihilation of my ego to embrace and use it toward tantric explosions of progression on my path. I accept responsibility for my own choices and actions both on the mundane and psychic planes; there is no destiny except the one in which I create. I embrace the Gods as kin; I am ready to purify and begin the process of igniting the Promethean flame in my heart. Inspire, desire and fire come forth.

Lords of the Left-Hand Path on Amazon

Liminal Book Review: Mastering Witchcraft

Mastering Witchcraft – A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens. Paul Huson; Perigee Books, New York, NY. Second Printing, 1980. 256 pages.

 

Being a 'newbie' to witchcraft these days seems NOT to be something worthy of boasting; not that I am in any way, shape or form new to this path. It seems everybody is either an amateur historian/psychologist or been at it so long they know EVERYTHING. Far be it for a curious individual to be drawn to this way of empowerment, either through a natural tendency already inherent or a genuine passion developed over time, people come to the witches' path with a thirst for knowledge. I remember when things were new to me as well, I poured through every book I could get my hands on in those days...but I quickly learned to be a more discerning reader and to tread carefully in unfamiliar territory.

The question is always: what books TO READ then? What are the foundational books which most people in the community have read, and often recommend? Those trends tend to change, but some books remain a steadfast compass, pointing in the right direction which to pursue a more practical witchcraft. One book I have heard come up again and again in conversation circles, especially in recent years, has included Paul Huson's “Mastering Witchcraft”. Every time I heard someone mention it, I was more embarrassed for having never picked it up.

Huson is VERY practical in his approach and this is why the text has become such a classic. Covering all the popular areas of love and protection spells, he also emphasizes the use of ritual; making every act sacred and meaningful. The exorcising and cleansing involved in each ritual object is stressed upon, along with emotions at the forefront for proper magical projection; all acts which take some amount of time. People tend to rush through their spellwork these days... keeping their magicks at the same instant gratification level as everything else in our lives. But just like fast food, you get what you pay for: if you want cheap, pre-packaged plastic magick the results are going to be just as shabby. Huson gives detailed instructions on practicing witchcraft as an Art, for it is a craft to hone and not a talent to waste on trifles.

Without delving into too much information on the different deities suggested, Huson jumps right in on invocation and working with these specific beings; something I found just a little too careless. I prefer to investigate and research well known spirits before asking for assistance with spell work, but to each his/her own. However, this is my only real complaint about the text...everything else was delightfully detailed and relevant for both newcomers to traditional witchcraft practices and for those who may be a little more seasoned. “Mastering Witchcraft” has something to offer everyone and I now understand why it is recommended on so many 'must have' lists.

Mastering Witchcraft on Amazon.

Liminal Book Review: The Red Goddess

 

The Red Goddess by Peter Grey; Scarlet Imprint, under the banner Bibliotechque Rouge. Published in the U.K., 2011. 248 pages.

Babalon compels me to re-think my Pagan ideologies. When I was a younger 'religious scholar' I poured over and obsessed on the Book of Revelations. Not understanding the history of it's author or any comparison in apocalyptic writings, my Catholic upbringing still had it's chains around me; holding me to the shame, guilt and eventually the fear used to control. Of course, this might also have been due to me being a slight insomniac in high school (one bout lasted 23 days with little more than 3 hours of sleep a night). There were even times after I had come to witchcraft and later paganism when I would secretly think, but what IF?

When I went on to college and took religious studies courses for my Bachelor's, I began to see what the situation really was surrounding the writing of not just Revelations, but ALL scriptural writings. I saw Saint John the Divine was a holy man, but also raving mad. Not that being a madman is a bad thing; in actuality a little psychosis might even be healthy for people who are mystics and seers. Escaping into the bliss of a deity could be a mini vacation from the horrors they might otherwise see.

“The Red Goddess” is a compilation of three books, each a section of history and the great workings with this most ancient and misunderstood Goddess. The author Peter Grey pulls the reader along in the narration; not reading as an academic book but a revealed text. Giving the background of ancient Mesopotamian roots of the sacred whore in the first part, Grey tackles the big missing 'archetype' in western traditions. Ancient magicians worked with Her energy as Ishtar and Inanna, then Lilith of the Sumerians. In Egypt, Grey explores the connection with Isis and Nephthys, and eventually Sekhmet: a blood thirsty and passionate crimson Goddess. The author severs this thread essentially saying these Goddesses all are not sexy enough to be considered sacred whores: "They simply do not have key characteristics"; being considered 'dark' does not make them Babalon (more inspirational than sexy). So who would be? I think I could make a good argument for Hathor/Hetheru as being an early incarnation of Babalon: the Goddess of Love, Passion, Dancing, and plays a key role in the journey to the after life. Her wild abandonment combined with the wrath of Ra is very similar to the passions of Babalon.

The work of invoking Babalon has been pursued by magicians and occultists for a VERY long time. Including the spiritual experimentation of Simon Magus, Aleister Crowley, Dr. John Dee with Edward Kelly, and the more recent Jack Parsons/L. Ron Hubbard pursuit all combined may have been enough magick needed to open the gates and release our Red Lady onto the Earth. Astride a dragon between Her flaming thighs, with eyes of fiery stone, Babalon has arrived; according to the author, the “end of days” is here...now...and coming from a place of great research, not of Christian-based apocalyptic fear and oppression. For those brave enough to face the fear and shame, the promise of liberation is just around the corner.

http://www.scarletimprint.com/redgoddess.htm

 

 

 

 

Liminal Book Review: A History of Pagan Europe

A History of Pagan Europe by Nigel Pennick and Prudence Jones; Routledge, London, England. Published originally in 1995, revised 2001. 288 pages.

Whilst I am very drawn to the Eastern 'pantheons' of Buddhas and Bodhisattva s, my DNA wants to connect and find things in common other than ancestry. A History of Pagan Europe, by Nigel Pennick and Prudence Jones began a genuine perspective not brought about intuitively. Organized by civilization, Pagan Europe starts with the Hellenic worlds of ancient Greece, Crete and the eastern Mediterranean; when studying the history of Western Civilization this is always the best place to begin. While much of this was a refresher for me, after having studied these humanities formerly in college, I was surprised to see how I could apply the cosmology of my Druidry in this ancient history. In particular, the >axis mundi and how it is utilized in the various Indo-European belief systems is of interest to me.

In ancient times, the axom or gate was based on locality, the site already being sacred instead of the hallowing needed in modern Pagan rites. For example, the Olympians were associated with various trees and before the need of structures, the temples were natural environments utilized by oracular servants; Zeus and the Oak at Dedona, Athene's Olive in Athens, etc. The authors speculate these localized axis points were “linking the mundane world with the celestial world. In contrast to the trees reaching up toward the Heavens, the beings of the Underworld were accessible through the Omphalos stone; the 'navel of the world'. The very act of prophecy can be seen as the restructuring of the Universe as the seer being the center. The most famous of course being the Delphic Oracle of Apollo; sitting beside the stone on a tripod, the prophetess would inhale the fumes from below.

"The omphalos too was seen as the centre of the world, as Plato tells us ('Apollo sits in the centre on the navel of the earth'), but unlike the axom...(it) was placed in an underground setting...originally a shrine of the earth-goddess, and so the tradition of prophecy must have continued in the time-honored manner, by reference to the Underworld, not to the axis of the heavens” (p.19).

As the book moves on through the ideologies of Celtic, Germanic, Baltic and Russian lands, this theme of a central pole, column or tree in which the world revolves around is a common grounding element, a conduit and link with the Deities. This connection with the axis mundi of the universe from a Hellenic perspective is something I very much long for. Another central rite in my paganism is the making of offerings; gifts of ghost-i and thanks to the Gods and Goddesses. While not a common enough thing in most other Neo-Pagan traditions, I find it brings balance to my spirituality. The commonality of sacrifice in ancient religions is well known, but the nature of these sacrifices I think are not; the motivations were not simply to appease an otherwise angry God out of fear. The authors' discuss this Hellenic view of sacrifice, giving two logical reasons for giving to the Kindred:

"The emphasis that comes through the main practice of sacrifice is one of social responsibility of sharing what one has with other people and with the originators of all bounty, the Immortals. The ceremonial pouring of liquids in addition sanctifies a place, whether the ground itself, its altar or its omphalos. The other kind of sacrifice is a re-sanctification, the redressing of a wrong, an alternative to the punishment which the Fates would otherwise inflict(p.15).

Fulfilling a spiritual debt is not uncommon in Indo-European religions, where making oaths and swearing to the Gods was taken much more seriously than today. This sort of purging of the spirit not only clears the practitioner's conscience, but allows them to also take responsibility for their actions. Owning up to my mistakes and making amends is an important virtue to me and I would say it is an act of Piety as well, in this Hellenic perspective. The arts, philosophies, and political cultures of the Hellenic world have been in the forethought of my Pagan experience, but never truly explored. My classical sense of beauty and worship is a good match with the Gallo-Roman-Hellenic pantheons; the drama of ritual theater, mythic heroes, and theistic traditions all appeal to me. As I look for wisdom from the past, I reconcile the conflict within me as I see my ancestors not only in the Celtic world; my French/German roots very easily lie in Gaul. The call of Cernunnos, the Dis Pater I have been missing in my Pagan spirituality, now makes sense as I embark on a new journey of discovery in my polytheistic life.

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415158046/

Liminal Book Review: "Grandmother Moon"

Grandmother Moon by Zsuzsanna E. Budapest. Published by the Women's Spirituality Forum, 2011. 358 pages.

grandmothermoon

Zsuzsanna Budapest, Starhawk and Ffiona Morgan are the three ladies who's visionary works laid the foundation for my personal spirituality and ideology. Having started my earliest witchcraft years in the Dianic vein, I am rather surprised I have not read more from Zsuzsanna Budapest. The two I have acquired and read are “Summoning the Fates” (which I will review at a later time even though it is her BEST work) and her play “Rise of the Fates”. After hearing her speak a few times I formed an opinion about her based on respect as an elder in the path of Goddess religion and witchcraft as a means of self-empowerment. Her rough around the edges and fearlessness was/is an inspiration as a young woman and should be for people of all backgrounds.

Recently I have gone back in the chronology of pagan and witchcraft literature to examine, to refresh my thoughts and workings as I have reached a plateau in my spiritual progress. I acquired Z. Budapest's revised classic “Grandmother Moon”. Organized by the lunar calendar, each cycle includes a Goddess myth, message from an associated deity, a “moontide” section which describes a possible obstacle during the cycle, spells, world lunar festivals, a lunar herb and other folkloric tidbits told in the style Budapest is best known for: through connections in her personal anecdotes. Each moon is named for the energy, coinciding with the common names from almanacs and “old wives tales”.

The introduction gave me a revelation I was not expecting. Z discusses a possible explanation for the separation of the humanoid primates we once were and the up-right, speaking homosapiens we eventually became; suggesting this shift occurred not by the once thought agricultural revolution but when we ceased being entirely solar creatures and transformed into the lunar beings we are now. Something I have never thought of: Why are human women the ONLY mammals which bleed monthly? Early humans would seasonally go into heat, much like modern primates. At some point this changed...our bodies began to synchronize with the tidal lunar energy, bringing an ebb and flow of magical energy into the microcosmic world of our ancient ancestors. From a biological perspective this gave our species a better rate of growth, since we could ovulate more frequently. With this came a surge in population growth, which also meant more people to help feed and care for the rest. Whilst women were connected with the mysteries of blood and birth, men were kinda left behind in a physical sense,. They learned to plant and harvest according to the phases of the moon, as many successful gardeners still do.

Budapest's storytelling is one of the things which most people find so endearing about her personality and it comes through in several examples. One in which I found particularly interesting is the recollection Budapest makes about a family conversation when visiting back home. The heated political passion of her family combines with her spiritual-warrior self. In discussing the past hardships of her home country, Budapest offers two perspectives to the readers: through her families eyes and her own, being the daughter who returns to see the aftermath of war; something pagans here in the United States rarely can say to understand. Budapest recalls a workshop she gives in her home country and I was surprised to read the reaction from the women, public and media... all were so positive and full of support; unlike the combative stance she gets in her adoptive culture of America through the religious right and, more currently, our own Pagan community. If Americans had gone through the similar experiences of being caught in one corrupt government after another, with their rights taken away including choice of religion or property ownership, I think we would appreciate someone holding a flame in the wind and dark.

Budapest has always been a radical, never wavered from her political-spiritual ambitions and often says things many do not want to hear, but they need to be said. Her personal views may be from another time, but as she becomes the Grandmother Moon, her wisdom is timeless at the core. I think before people make a judgment about who she is and what she teaches, they should pick up this book.

https://www.createspace.com/3563051