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.

Carrying the Temple of Hekate

The keys clank against a chain, rattling on my hip as feet kick up dust from the desert floor. High pitched melodies ring from razor wire, accompanied by the gentle humming of electric fences. Scheming eyes of lost souls penetrate my every move as I cross the yard...the cold wind blowing debris in my path. Black wings flapping, shaking off the morning moisture, and my attention is drawn to the left. A raven swoops down, flying toward my right, with a large banana in it’s mouth. This is a strange omen as I begin my day.

My library stands between two yards, each in the direction of a different mountain range. I offer service according to the time and day of week; each ruled over by planetary spheres accordingly. I unlock the gate, or cage as it is sometimes referred to...swallows and pigeons make their nests above the concrete floor, their babies often fall out and crack open their delicate heads. I unlock the door, leaving it wide open to air out the early morning smell of burnt bread offerings. As I walk past the collection I look for signs of searching, seeing skewed and misplaced books...the violation from custody. Facing and straightening, I make my way to the other door and cage, to unseal the biblio temple and create a breezeway; the invited wind blows fluffy cottonwood seedlings like feathers dancing across the floor.

Pentagrams are thrown toward every direction, salt has been placed in each corner, with sigils of angels tucked into some crevices; purifying and protecting the only neutral place in the prison. For inmates it is a reprieve from gang politics, noisy dorms and short return to something normalized...even if they have never set foot in a library outside the tall brick walls. Research materials line walls of the Law collection, computers waiting for desperate fingers with pre-loaded databases of case law and empowering information are available within this sanctuary. Sympathy is never offered by the Priest services, but empathy certainly is. As they walk through the doorway, the past of these patrons is forgotten...only their deeds and words in the sacred space are accountable.

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I am a librarian, a Priest of Access. Training for Hekate's Priesthood, it has been only in the last few years I land somewhere I never imagined. Between chod practice, monthly offerings to the Dark Moon, workings at peak full lunar periods and bloody sex magicks did I see the true fruits of these labours. It is hard to describe, process and present the changes among it all, but the current Work is one of true mystery as I share this journey.

In the final stage of this training, a journey I began 4 years ago, my life has completely changed. I know people always SAY that, but it’s because there is truth in it. When spiritual work is dedicated, executed properly and not compromised the Universe shifts things around to make the necessary adjustments for your Will to be carried out. It was my Will to become a Priest of Hekate, to serve Her and Her people. When I proved myself She plucked me from my mountain home, removed me from the bamboo groves and running streams only to drop me in a metropolis with my family. Jobless and raising a small child I followed a series of dreams that lead me to the man who would train and eventually, hopefully, ordain me. I took on the challenges and completed the requirements: grounding and centering, manipulation of bodily energies, mastery of the elements, daily invocation of planetary spheres, monthly dark moon devotionals and weekly deity veneration. There are also oaths I have kept concerning the realms for which Hekate rules. This kind of dedication is not taken lightly and prepares one for the eventual end result of unification with Deity.

While the last part of my training has been to have a daily practice (which I do), I am also supposed to be providing a monthly dark moon devotional for the community; serving Deity and the Laity. The thing is, I live in a very isolated place with not a single pagan or witch within a 60 mile radius...or at least, not to my knowledge. An online service does not meet this requirement either. However...my job, the service I provide to the hundreds of incarcerated men who come through my library are ‘lead’ by the light of knowledge. Many ask for legal research, religious information, college guidance, and some are seeking just a few minutes to feel human again.

With my keys, I open doors to personal empowerment, safety, transformational and servant leadership to the clerks who work for me. The Dead who wander the prison grounds, either as empty human shells or the literal ghosts who haunt the buildings, find the light which Hekate surrounds me with. Her symbols surround me, empower me and provide for me a means of serving in Her name; giving me the economic independence and freedom to pursue goals long placed on hold. I take nothing for granted, nor regret a single step.

Considering Online Magick Classes

In all my years practicing, learning and writing about the occult arts I have never paid for more than a book. For decades, teachers were willing to take me on without payment as I did the work they assigned me. I might have to consider myself lucky as it is only now, after 25 years, I am beginning to pay for classes, training and conferences in which to participate, in turn expanding my magickal skills. But what IS the cost of knowledge? Nothing in this world is free, even magick. When we cast a spell there is time, energy, knowledge, supplies and all the accouterments which have some sort of payment to be made. There are some who believe because lessons or lectures are given of a spiritual nature, there should be no price tag attached… somehow it taints what is being given. This is simply not true. If it is of real value, why should it be free? In some ways charging for services is a way of weeding out time wasters and dabblers… those not willing to do the necessary work who will often not pay as it means not just time wasted, but money as well for not being a participant. Either that or they drop out, giving up on the training altogether for lack of trying, being so far behind they can never truly keep up, or they go running out the gate so hard in an effort to impress they burn out fast.

My tour of online training began in realizing how far removed I am from anyone else who practices the Arte of Magick. I live in a very remote location, surrounded by wild and untamed desert, a desolate place beauty perfect for accessing Hekate. However, I had also become somewhat stagnant in my practice; no matter how much I kept it up there was not the same quality as before. My mind needs a challenge, as well my spirit; my progress often moves forward when faced with adversarial or fresh perspectives. Of course, I chose to only take courses offered by teachers I found to be with a reputed high quality history, relatively well known and a background similar to my own. It was only by coincidence that these teachers were all men...I have a history with that anyway, which I plan to explore at a later date.

I took the first step last fall by enrolling in the Golden Dawn Academy, sponsored and structured around the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn’s system of initiation. I was already familiar with much of the material, having studied with the class instructor Sam Webster for several years. Zoom allowed for everyone to have a live video stream, giving the feeling of a true interactive classroom without problems and complaints of bandwidth or echoed voice streams. Whilst we had access to an email forum, my only real interaction with classmates (around 20-30 of them) was on class dates, live-streaming. All sessions were recorded, with 2 dates a month; priced $40/month for 6 months with a break for the holidays...it was well worth the cost. I got a lot more insight into Qabbalah, a topic I have much averted and avoided over my magickal career. I do not feel it necessary to my practice, but as I delve into more grimoire traditional workings it will become a useful general subject for me to understand the background of. Learning about the rituals and meanings behind them was interesting, but not really necessary as I am solitary these days. And really, lodges are all about group work. Having experienced some of the rituals put forth by the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn I understand the potency of it, but not the practicality. This is just my personal opinion and how I am adjusting it for solitary magcik by circumstance.

Jack Grayle’s course with the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary, “Hekatean Devotion and Magic in the Hellenic World” consisted of 7 weekly meetings, readings and assignments which heavily explored Hekate in Her most ancient and traditional forms. Having been only a guest for these classes, I did not have to fully participate…but found I had already done the majority of these during my personal Hekate praxis over the past 8 years; which in a way was very confirming. Creating a iynx wheel, or “whirly gig” as he called them, was one such project…I even wrote about the experience. Another was in the creation of focal points of worship, some call them altars or shrines. Much of the reading included excerpts from classical texts, well-known and beloved modern books about Hekate, and a sneak peek at the author’s upcoming title: “The Hekataeon” to be published by IXAXAAR this winter. While most of the subjects covered were well known to me already, including works from the Greek Magical Papyri and the Chaldean Oracles, it was refreshing to hear such support of modern practices based in ancient ones. So many people in the Hekatean community have cobbled together what little information there actually is available, with the lines between archaeology and UPG getting blurred. Grayle was very careful to give credit in a proper historical context and also modern adaptations. He even tackled the post-modern imagery of Hekate the Crone, a topic most books and teachers tend to steer clear of. If I had paid for the class, I would have felt the assignments were a great way of getting feedback on my progress, with a gentle approach to adjustments Grayle is a very laid back teacher who puts forward the data and allows the students to glean what is useful. The best part was the section on Yahweh and Hekate, from a Sethian Gnostic current. I was very unfamiliar with this, even having a degree in Religious Studies has kept me from further study of Christian thought in Pagan practices. I tend to stay far away from anything of this vein, but was highly interested in understanding the ‘doing’ just to intellectually satisfy this curious part of me. The only real complaint I have was the format from which it was offered. Not being a student of the Seminary school I had to go through many hurdles to get added to the class roster, install software that made it compatible with their custom forums (including some from Microsoft which might make it more difficult for Apple users), and using the antiquated Skype for Business application which made it so only the instructor could have a live video feed.

Feeling motivated I finally took the plunge and enrolled in Jason MIller’s “Sorcery of Hekate” class, at $100/month for 7 months. That is a hefty price given there are 2 lessons a month with a Q & A given between each. While I am sworn to secrecy regarding the non-public materials, I would like to comment on a few things thus far. I am only 3 weeks into the mantra work and am finding it very good; I enjoy the simplicity and the one Miller has assigned is VERY similar to one I received from Hekate Herself years ago. The imagery in his version of Hekate, because everyone seems to have a different one, is similar to what we visualize in my Priesthood; Hekate with six arms, each having a different item in hand with the exception of two torches. However, Miller’s Hekate has 6 legs, which I had never considered before. The work is clear, slowly being assigned in chunks for easy and slow digestion; which is essential for doing such an intense, long period of devotional work. That being said, I did have to leave the official Facebook group...mainly because I get irritated with other people filling up my newsfeed with repetitive statements/questions and bragging about the results they are receiving rather quickly. With 120 students participating this cycle, I anticipate half of them to either drop or burn out at this pace. Focused devotional work such as this is a marathon, not a race...sprinting and exerting so much energy in the very first weeks is not wise. Yes, I understand some people are excited because they have never really committed to something so intensely, never really connected with Hekate; although if you look at some Hekate FB groups it seems She is involved in every aspect of devotees’ lives, everything from doing their dishes to the dog barking during devotionals. My personal experience and devotion to Her has uprooted my family a few times to new locations, destroyed and remade me over and over, brought death and renewal in dramatic ways I never could have anticipated….nor bragged about. Spiritual progress is a very personal, vulnerable thing. It can be periods of sheer boredom and then suddenly paranormal activity and synchronicity at every turn so that even atheistic family members are like “WTF?”

Healthy skepticism is needed at every step on our paths through magick. Researching instructors, talking to past students and being sure the money is right for the value you expect of a class’ support/information given should all be examined carefully. I have been given the chance for making enough money to which I can easily afford to spend on classes, travel to conferences from time to time, and buying supplies I cannot source myself. This is the culmination of years spent in devotional practice and witching blessings into my life. The opportunity has presented itself, and so I take it.

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)

The PantheaCon Report: 2017 edition

Gather round stardust children for a tale of journeys with Egyptian Gods, magickal plants, Pokemon battles and a prophecy of Pie. Annually, over the course of 4 days hundreds of practicing Pagans, Occultists, Witches and ‘tourists’ descend upon the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose to share, present and sell at Pantheacon. There is a story within each person’s experience, and this was mine. Day One, Jupiter: The sun was shining, hundreds of crows surrounded my crappy motel, cawing and squawking to the beat of my heart. The evening was lulled by their chattering: breakfast for dinner, “The Color of Money” on television and polishing my ass-kicking boots. Nervous energies supplanted and the ground of being invoked...not all have enemies, but it’s better to be prepared when arriving at a place full of other magick workers. Expansive in Her wings, Mother Hekate placed the Cowl about my shoulders, making me invisible to some but accessible to others. I walked, I wandered.

Day Two, Venus: Rain and wind molested festival goers, making an otherwise difficult unpacking moreso. I was set to install and erect the Hekate altar, but was fresh out of graveyard dirt...a very specific part of my devotional shrine. Since the boys from The Vodou Store were not vending this year, I searched all through the commerce areas but only managed to find black salt as a substitute. With that on one side, and rain water the other, a large black cauldron sat before Her with a bottle of mead for pouring libations. As I set Her in place, both Her torches managed to come off the statue…I super glued them back on and did not realize the personal significance until the very end of the conference, when I was packing Her back up.

First up for me was an intriguing lecture, "Deconstructing Crowley: Don’t Fear the Beast" by James Stone. Upon walking into the room, a dark ambiance captured the tone of  chants, the focus being on a Thelemic altar with a lotus-seated man wearing the head of a goat... as Baphomet. I was giddy and about to get ‘fangirl’ when the music changed to “Mr. Crowley” by Ozzy Osborne and a woman supplied a black ‘curtain’ over the transforming Deity...and a devil puppet appeared to be singing the lyrics. The emotions completely shifted in the room, immediately becoming much more light-hearted and one of entertainment, versus the heaviness I first encountered. The rest of the lecture was of the same entertaining vibe, presenting the many interesting trials and facts of The Beast...much I already knew due to my reading “Perdurabo” by Richard Kaczynski. I was very much PLEASED to see a good, accurate and thoughtful presentation given to break up the otherwise generic and often misunderstood stories surrounding this groundbreaking innovator of magick; most McWiccans run the other way for fear of pollination. I was hoping to see some of these newbs in the class, but unfortunately it was the older crowd who were probably more fans of the subject and lecturer than folks actually NEEDING to get educated. Still, a worthwhile effort on the part of Mr. Stone. Side Note: I got to speak with him VERY briefly on the very LAST night of PCon and wished to have more time together...so will engage through his Facebook page Deconstructing Crowley .

The next was really more of a discussion than presentation, “Witchcraft Herbs and Plants” with the renowned author and editor from Llewelyn Worldwide, Judika Iles. Now, I DO have one book from her that was gifted to me, an Encyclopedia of Magical Beasts. I never really bought her “5000 Spells” or other reference books for a few reasons, but mainly because I lack the shelving space. I have become a bit of a witchcraft book snob, staying away from mainstream publishers and detouring around reference books by single authors because I always figured, WHO is gonna know ALL this information except to copy it DOWN? Illes is a highly knowledgeable, intelligently spoken and one of the more well-read witches whom I’ve had the pleasure of changing my opinion of in recent years. Her discussion of witchcraft plants was indeed slimmed down to the scheduled time slot, as we easily could have all shared for HOURS our stories, experiences and expertise on various botanicals useful in magick. Suffice it to say, she really emphasized the importance of growing/developing a relationship with any herbs we use, even for people who have a blackthumb. Some favourites mentioned were mugwort, wormwood, and datura...all dangerous if misused and all highly effective to varying degrees for the Arts. She gave props and mention to two well-known and skilled cultivators, Marcus R. McCoy  and Harold A. Roth ...two I admire in the botanical world.

Later that evening, the worlds of activism and Pokemon collided in the Discordian ritual, “Fifty Shades of Greyface Go!” Occultists gathered outside the doors holding signs in protest, “Down with the Trainers” and “Free the Pokemon”...which I found personally hilarious; referencing a conversation I had with my own kid regarding these creatures: they are essentially slaves to the trainers, who make them fight and hurt Pokemon for their own glory. In the ritual, attendees were given soft Pokeballs and pens to draw sigils or symbols or simply to replicate the cartoon balls. These were then used as projectile weapons at actors in Pagan scenarios with inappropriate behaviors. Some examples included “Surprise Animal Sacrifice”, “Vegetarians, it’s okay to eat meat this time”, “Don’t worry about your allergies, it’s Magick!”. Laughter, smiling faces and flying balls made for good fun with purpose.

Day Three: Saturn Bright and early, a small hidden room with a large, round table was hard to find. “Advancing Devotional Practice” was just that, a round table. I was looking forward to what I thought was a presentation or ritual regarding devotional-centered paganism, but mostly it was author and teacher Silence Maestas facilitating discussion amongst attendees. It was interesting to hear from so many, and to be counted among the few who actually have a fully engaged altar. Whilst both are valid in the eyes of the Gods, there was a split in how people felt about the opposite. One daily devotional practitioner mentioned how others have expressed disappointment in her for not “getting past altar work”, that somehow this was only a beginner’s level of working with Deity. For some people simply doing their jobs, cleaning their homes or acknowledging Deity all day long were sufficient enough… but then they mentioned their dusty altar tools and unkept waters. It is a personal thing, sacred space. For those of us who fully engage with Deity, it is near impossible to be in Union with Them and still be functional. We start with prayer at our altars, but we carry Them with us in the secret shrines of our hearts. That is the effect from devotional work... not the cause.

The HIGHLIGHT of the weekend, and I didn’t even know it, was “Enochian Magick as a Consciousness-Altering Ceremonial Drug” by none other than Lon Milo DuQuette. Now, I have absolutely NO experience whatsoever with anything remotely angelic, with the exception of the LBRP . I don’t fuck around with angels because I don’t care for their Deity. However, as my late work has me ascending out of the Underworld and into the Heavens, I realize there are critters above and below for which I must acknowledge. Who better to introduce their magickal language than Mr. DuQuette, a magician I respect very highly and a kindred spirit in humour. But please don’t ask WTF we did, because I couldn't even tell you (obviously plan to buy the book).

 

All I CAN tell you is what we DID: First we attuned to the Angels and were instructed to pay special attention to whatever image we saw, then to draw that very thing as a symbol, one which we could focus on later. Then with paper laman and Solomonic ring, we activated the exterior circumference of DuQuette’s beautiful holy table, painted and inscribed with Enochian invocations and squares, whilst he activated the interior. The words were strange on my tongue, but I fervently tried to keep up. Our voices going faster and faster to keep up with the master. Until we were finally finished and stopped...sitting in meditation and observing whatever imagery came to us. It wasn’t until after this ritual was finished did I even understand it’s effects...I first saw wings (obviously I was projecting the imagery of angels). But then I saw a snake...then a rod. I knew already there was a Caduceus appearing in my mind’s eye; this was my symbol. Then the second image it was a bowl of water. When I checked with others throughout the evening who had also been ‘zapped’ by Mr. DuQuette, I saw a pattern emerge: the first image always something phallic like a rod (a staff, a wand, a tree), and the next image was something solid combined with something fluid (a crocodile on water, a boat, a chalice). This REALLY blew my mind and I am STILL processing this. DuQuette will always make me turn fangirl in his presence, but now it’s even worse.

 

Once I put my Self back together, I participated and assisted the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn’s world premiere presentation of “Aum Duat: The Night Journey of Ra”. It was a multimedia event including sacred costuming, theatrical props, musical processions and a dramatic reading from ancient texts, describing where the Sun God Ra goes when He dies each night. Recognition and honoring the path of the Undead prepares our Ba/Ka for the one we all walk someday, through the Underworld.

Day Four: The Sun ‘Twas an early day, with heavy academic lectures through most of the morning and into the afternoon; at least, this was the plan. “Akhenaten and Moses: Origin and Consequences of Monotheism” fascinated me...I had some inkling of this before this most quality presentation by Jehon Grist . I had to cut it short for the other fabulous lecture, Practical Neoplatonic Theurgy; there is a book by presenter Bruce MacLennan which explores the science of this methodology through the philospher Hypatia and her contemporaries. I put in service to the Red Tent  where serpents slept and yonis ruled. At dinner I ate beef stew, medicated with several hash joints and later went to “Hekate at the Crossroads: A Meeting of Mind & Movement” with veiled Priestess Tempest and the Nathaniel Johnstone Band. I watched as She danced to solitary violin, heard soft calling from a vocalist, and with each layer She removed another aspect of Hekate was revealed. Hekate Chthonia, Trivia, Brimo...She lead everyone in a beautiful spiral dance. I saw what She was doing, dancing them into Her spiral, Her Strophalus , the Labyrinth of Her mystery. I sat next to my sister-Priest...we held that space for their work to be protected. They were linking Her energy, allowing everyone who wished a connection to Her. I already have a connection so didn’t feel the call to participate in THAT capacity. The music was ethereal and I found myself simply swaying and enjoying the company of fellow Hekateans. It was joyful and inspiring. Sitting in meditation I awaited a message to come through to me and the clearest image was a pie...a large pie I could share with everyone else. When the dancing Priestess sat down to some oracle work, a message of strength and unifying for common goals came through. This was confirmation of Her message from my personal practice, which is always exciting. I come from a place of agency with compassion, liberation and the freedom of finding common ground where I can. Everyone likes pie...if not, then let them eat cake. Either way, we can come together at the table.

Day Five: The Moon This year everyone played nice. There were solid sacred spaces and gentleness as a storm raged outside the Doubletree Hotel. Freeways were closed that weekend for flooding, people were evacuated, and power was lost in some neighborhoods of San Jose. Yet everyone took care of each other, not because we HAVE to but we WANT to. Walking around were folks volunteering as “Emergency Magical Help” first responders: any suite or attendee bearing a red, cup like symbol can be be asked for assistance in grounding, cleansing, de-possession, etc. This has been a much needed service as some people get swept up in the carnival aspect of the Conference, forgetting that we do very heavy work there too. For some it is difficult to reconnect with the ‘reality’ of the really, real world.

It’s hard to walk any magickal path over a significant amount of time and NOT notice the hurting hardships of others. The trick is not to let it overwhelm you. It was my role to offer a place of reprieve all weekend at the Hekate altar. Way up, in the corner of the 10th floor amongst Kemetic Gods with Her friend the Herm, Hekate received mead and barley and salts and rainwater...enjoyed the people who came in and sat with Her. Some cried, some smiled, some just looked at the statue and wondered who made it. When I dismantled Her altar on Monday,again Her torches came off; I was able to super glue one back on all the way but the other will not stay. I am not sad as I slowly step into Her priesthood, as She hands me a torch. Perhaps next year I shall present, too.

Chöd and Hekate

“That which is called 'devil' is not some actual great big black thing that scares and petrifies whomever sees it. A devil is anything that obstructs the achievement of freedom. . . . Most of all, there is no greater devil than this fixation to a self. So until this ego-fixation is cut off, all the devils wait with open mouths. For that reason, you need to exert yourself at a skillful method to sever the devil of ego-fixation”

- Machig Lobdron (quoted from Harding)

I don’t recall exactly when it happened… after a night of 3 am fires in my little temple, creating green flames with absinthe in an offering cauldron. The clean smell of purely burnt offerings brought the familiar feeling of snakeskin against mine, the Fear creeping up my spine as Her darkness gathered about me. My nostrils filled with the subtle manure smell; organically processed grasses mixed with toxins dispelled. This is how I know it is Her and not another, my Titaness cannot be replicated by other mocking spirits. One word came through...a word I was not familiar with and one that would take me on an amazing journey over the next 5 years: Chöd.

In thoughts She speaks to my inner mind, the place which one can barely grasp once it is seen. From afar, Her message comes in one or two words sometimes, or reflective images as surface water. In the very first vision She showed how to cover my head, although I never felt “right” doing it...so it became one of those negotiated requests Gods sometimes offer us. Instead, I always include a special ring. But this theme of “heads” is recurring in my life and is very important to the rest of this story.

  1. My body has never suffered injury, except to only my head (rock thrown at me, concussion from car accident).

  2. When I took an undergraduate class in Ancient Philosophy, I decided the ideal state of being was for me to be a floating head...no body to drag around, but the intellectual and imaginative mind was free to be. Maybe it was the report I wrote on Hedonism, or maybe it was from watching “The Adventures of Baron von Muncheusen”, but I became convinced it is the seat of the Soul.

  3. I used to sculpt Goddesses, and nearly all of them had trouble with their heads staying on. I also had a tendency to rip the heads off my Barbies as a girl, which you should know makes it SUPER hard to put back on.

  4. Once I went to a ritual for Yeshe Tsogyal...the central statue was one which I also had bought on clearance at Target (of all places). A tall wooden dakini, this generic ‘world’ art became the seat for a Bodhisattva in my own home, who unfortunately became beheaded during a move by my husband. I mentioned this after the ritual, for which was told how in one story of Yeshe Tsogyal she is beheaded and walks around holding her own head.

As if these weren’t enough connections (I am hard headed), it was the recurring dreams that lead me to my teacher, and the topic of Chöd came up. After a year of attending Dark Moon devotionals to Hermes and Hekate, our Priest offered an afternoon workshop transmitting a Pagan Chöd with Hekate as the guide. My head nearly exploded. I realized after all this time, when I was trying to find a Buddhist group to learn from or a corpse garden to go sit and meditate in (yes, I was willing to go there), this was what She had meant.

The build up to the workshop was fervent. My gut was completely inflamed with anxiety, spent by my IBS. I placed my cushion as close to the bathroom as I could...in case I vomited or shit myself. He handed out the papers and we spent the next 30 minutes receiving instruction...but the ACTUAL practice only took 6 minutes or so. I was kinda disappointed. I went through so much, got myself worked up and excited for some big elaborate ritual that was going to catapult my spiritual life onto some new level...or something like this, in my mind. But we did the practice, I became Hekate and severed my head from my body, chopped up my body to put in the flipped over skull like a cauldron, then used my femur to stir the pot. I called to demons, ghosts, animals, to any and all sentient or wandering and suffering beings who were hungry, to come and partake. And they came in swarms, swiftly and without notice to each other. I maintained the visualization, trying not to be distracted by the other demons, my own, which pulled at my hair and toes trying to keep me from feeding the hungry spirits. PHAT!

Afterwards I returned to my Self, but before I could begin reflecting on the experience we performed it again, and a third time. Afterwards, I ate a little food to remind my head and body they were united, feeling almost speechless for the first time in my life. It was subtle, this profoundness...I sat with it for a week when finally I saw the effects. Two people in our group had their partners leave them. I was sad for them, but glad for being spared whatever effects were rippling in the aftermath of Chöd. A few weeks later I decided to try performing the ritual myself, maybe even starting a daily practice. Shortly after, the two people whose partners left them had a huge falling out with enormous repercussions; this also included the majority of our budding Priesthood to abandon their oaths and group. I was absolutely shocked and swore not to do the Chöd practice again, just in case.

Months passed when I decided my spirit was strong enough to really break through my Fear and do the practice. On New Year’s Eve, I made the commitment to myself and my Queen, to begin a daily practice of the Chöd for 40 days. I got 4 days into the practice when my husband started fighting with me. I pushed through until day 8 when he lost his job. I stopped immediately...the Fear had won. My life, at that point, had been exactly what I always wanted: working in a library, husband working from home and doing his thing, living in the country and having enough money to live comfortably. We were even shopping around for our first home to buy. This sudden change had a domino effect: my husband had to move back to the city for work, our marriage took a huge strain and we’ve since relocated back to the Bay Area.

What happened? Where is all the merit I accumulated from this practice? Do I continue the practice? Well, I gave it away...emptied my Self of all karma. My actual Fear was manifested before me… causing unhappiness for so many, including my Self. This is not a safe practice and something I will return to again over time. These demons and spirits, even if viewed through the psychological lens of one’s own personal demons, manifested from our subconscious… they still have to be dealt with, regardless.

I obviously have some connection to it on a soul level, but as I researched this practice the relevancy became much more apparent. This practice is one of the only ones to develop in Tibet and migrate to India...usually Buddhist practice is the opposite. Also, Chöd was first taught by a woman ; Machig Lobdron was consort to a holy man, had children and STILL pursued spiritual advancement successfully. She had been the tantrika Yeshe Tsongel in a former life with guru Padmasambhava; both incarnated together. Many others who had shared lives with Yeshe Tsongel and Padmasambhava followed them into the next lifetime, where they were married and householders. Machig (pronounced, ironically, like ‘magic’) was an unusual woman who in her younger years had learned to read and worked as a liturgy or holy scripture reader for an otherwise illiterate community. Machig was well known for her very quick readings; fitting several stops a day before going home to Her own chores and meditations. Families who heard the readings were blessed for being within earshot and also accumulated merit, or what we might call ‘good karma’, for sponsoring the recitation of the Prajnaparamita (Heart Sutra)... the more times it is read, the greater the benefit.  Her multitasking confounds me, as can be demonstrated by the complete ritual; a double-sided drum in one hand, bell in the other whilst singing the chants and songs...at one point a bone flute is also played to lure hungry ghosts to the spiritual feast. The traditional Chöd practitioners are akin to the Aghori of India; wearing cast off clothing, eating/drinking from skulls and living in graveyards.

For me, Machig is a reminder that some Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came from humble, ordinary places in life. Enlightened beings find their way back to each other, to continue the work they could not complete in one lifetime. Perhaps this is my time, now… to go and sit in a place of Fear, to call demons and to dance with them. Confronting the four demons which arise from this practice: one which blocks the senses, another that distracts the mind,the third lures away one from discipline with promises of pleasure, and the final demon of ego. I see how they have manifested in my life, and how I have had to battle them… and badly at that. But I am managing to hang on to my head, even if it is hanging from the neck.

“Without hope, Chöd practitioners are freed from the limits of hope and fear; having cut the ropes of grasping, definitely enlightened, where does one go?” - Machig Lobdron (quoted from Sorensen)

Sarah Harding, Machik's Complete Explanation: Clarifying the Meaning of Chöd. Snow Lion Publications. 2003.

Michelle Janet Sorensen. Making the Old New Again and Again: Legitimation and Innovation in the Tibetan Buddhist Chöd Tradition. Columbia University Academic Commons. 2013.

Machig Labdron

Machig Labdron

Spiritual Depression

Sometimes, I don't want to meditate. I don't want to look at my altars or shrines. I don't want to fast or cleanse. I don't want to sing adorations or compose hymns. I don't want to serve some unseen things for which I faithfully lift my heart up in offering. I don't want to read the books or ask the questions. I don't want to burn the things, pour the waters or anoint the body. I don't want to listen and argue and understand others. I don't want to travel or work in otherworlds. I don't want to gather flowers, herbs or sweet smelling oils. I don't want to sit on that cushion. I don't want to acknowledge the difficulty and ordeals of my Will. I don't want to be naked and bathed. I don't want to wear silks and soft cottons against my skin. I don't want to hug you. I don't want to become intoxicated or numbed. I don't want to walk in the woods. I don't want to eat the good foods rich in sunshine and dark loam. I don't want to fly with birds. I don't want to wash the dishes or sweep the floor or vacuum the rugs. I don't want to communicate with ancestors or deities or spirits of this land. I don't want blue skies. I don't want hard cement with cracks of rebelling lawn beneath my feet. I don't want to draw cards or divine the future. I don't want central heat in lieu of a fireplace. I don't want to snap out of it. I don't want to hear advice. Sometimes, I want to Love and be enveloped by Love. I want to not hurt. I want equanimity for every being. I want the impossible and unattainable, manifested. I want to face Hekate without Fear. I want poetry written on falling autumn leaves. I want to walk in beauty. I want to give and receive compassion. I want to be the messenger of Gods. I want to shower every day without making huge efforts. I want to wash the dishes, do the laundry, go shopping and pay the bills with a dharmic attitude. I want to take my loved ones with me to the next level. I want to gather and worship under a full moon with other witches of integrity. I want to get off this couch, walk in the sunbeams with rainbow energy rays shooting out my butt. I want to bury myself in His arms, feel His fur on my face and His tears to wash away all sorrow. I want my readers to know how much they mean to me. I want to write truth into the akashic records of internet for future generations to see I didn't know WTF I was talking about, but still dared to do ALL the things. I want clean water, air, books and food accessible for everyone. I want to stop grasping at this world and be liberated from it. Mostly, I want lactose-free pudding that tastes delicious.

Always, this is OKAY: our spiritual lives are not defined by what we do during active seasons, but how we handle our own limitations. A constant routine is a good habit to make but sometimes it needs a break. Allowing ourselves to step back and let the magick HAPPEN is what a true practitioner needs from time to time. It does not mean we are lazy, or unproductive, or any less devoted to our Gods and Spirits. We need time to rest, refresh, reorganize, re-strategize and revisit our own spirit every now and again. To come back from the depths with strength and a renewed vigor is not always a necessity either; always slow and methodical is a safer, more productive means of rejoining the ranks of powerful magicians and witches. It is not weakness, nor does it prove any superhuman strength, to wallow in the Underworld for so long that we cannot see the stairs of ascension. In our own way and patience, we will not rise like a phoenix in glory as so many books and teachers promise, but softly like a grub beneath the compost of garbage we allowed to be piled on top of us. We are part of that heap,  fertilizing the garden of transcendence. The scars thicken our skin and allows for whipped welts to unburden our spirits. Have that good cry in the shower, eat what your body craves, bathe in the piss and shit and vomit with our broken souls...because it all washes off eventually.

Hekate's Wheel

“Shine brightly, Moon; I will softly chant to you, Goddess, and to Hekate in the Underworld – the dogs shiver before Her when She comes over the graves of the dead and the dark blood. Hail, grim Hekate, and stay with me to the end; make these drugs as powerful as those of Circe and Medea and golden-haired Perimede. Draw to my house my lover, magic wheel” - Theocritus, Idylls 2

Hekate is associated with many different symbols; dogs, torches, the moon and crossroads are all common projections which modern devotees recognize. One symbol in particular is mysterious to outsiders and practitioners of Hekatean worship: the Strophalus. Wavy lines continuously connected to form three wells, encapsulating a six pointed star in the center. What is it? Where does it come from? And what does it have to do with Hekate?

Hecate's_Wheel

Hecate's_Wheel

It may seem like an arcane symbol, but closer examination upon various historical references illuminates some uses of it as a tool. The three different 'spokes' could represent the three realms which Hekate holds dominion over: Land, Sky and Sea. The outer continual lines are whindy, a serpentine labyrinth design which suggests the path through Her realms...a mandala, a map.

In the first place, the priest, who governs the works of fire, Must sprinkle with the cold water of the loud-sounding sea. Energize about the Hecatic Strophalus. When you shall see a terrestrial demon approaching Exclaim, and sacrifice the stone Mnizurin. If you often invoke me you shall see all things darkening, For neither does the convex bulk of heaven then appear, Nor do the stars shine, the light of the moon is hidden, The earth stands not still, but all things appear in thunders” --verses 192-196, The Chaldean Oracles of Zoroaster

There is some theories of the strophalus being connected with the iynx; pronounced “jinx”, a Neoplatonic device used as a tool of invocation. Round as a disc or spherical, the iynx was described as being covered in magickal symbols and containing a lapis lazuli stone in the center, embuing it with power. The iynx was spun with a leather thong, twisted up tight which when released created a kind of whirring sound. Some temples had giant ones that suspended from the ceiling, with priests coming in to turn the wheels, whirring sounds filling the halls and carrying the spells along on sound vibrations to the realms. A kind of angelic telephone.

Chaldean iynges are transmitters, assimilative links between the divine and human worlds. Interestingly, their activities often are described in terms of whirling or rushing movement. This language reminds us that in chaldean teachings...a “iynx” also is a magical device turned rapidly by the theurgist in order to invoke a god or daemon” (Johnston, p. 93).

The celestial song is created as the device cuts through air, producing a different sound which changes according to size or number of 'teeth' along the edges. These messages of prayer and pleading were carried out by angelic spirits of wind, or iynges which also refers to the actual spherical device.

Now, as enchantment's midnight powers I hail, Now, farced Moon, in all thy glory fail O'er the dire rites! The mysteries of my song To thee and hell-born HECATE belong! - Pale Hecate, who stalks o'er many a tomb, and adds fresh horror to sepulchral gloom; Whilst reeking goar distains the paths of death, And blood-hounds fly the blasting of her breath! Hail HECATE! And give my rising spell Ev'n PERIMEDA's sorceries to excell: Bid the strong witchery match ev'n CIRCE's skill; And with MEDEA's venom'd fury fill! IYNX, O force him, by thy mystic charms! Force him, tho' faithless, to these longing arms!”- The Idyllia and Epigrams of Theocritus

Although primarily used for magickal intentions involving outcomes of the heart, the iynx wheel was also employed for calling the wind or summoning rain. It is generally used as a tool of empowering spellwork, and since Hekate is a Goddess of magick (not to mention the grand psychopomp of theurgic operations), it seems only natural to petition Her for aid.

For being Hekate's instrument the iynxlstrophalos vivifies and empowers ritual just as Hekate vivifies and empowers the universe; a connection which is emphasised by Hekate's 'life-generating whir' or hum” (Ronan, p.12).

Meditating on this, the idea came about of superimposing a strophalus onto one of these wheels...the symbol in a spinning motion as a visual focal point and the whirring sound to accompany it. I realized a few practical things after making it: 1) I suck at crafts and 2) having a leather thong attached to the thread would make it easier to handle. But the effect was what I expected: the imagery combined with whirring made for a trance inducing focus. I chanted Her name, whispered like a child playing in front of an electric fan. The blades distorted my voice, giving it a different resonance. Metaphysically it seemed much more subtle, but then again I was not trying to invoke Hekate for some spellwork...I simply was figuring out how to use the tool. I instinctively see how this could be used in the application of weather magick, stirring and spinning up a storm seems natural.

References

Johnston, S. (1990). Hekate soteira: A study of Hekate's roles in the Chaldean oracles and related literature. Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press.

Moore, S. (n.d.). The Magick of Jinxing. Retrieved November 4, 2015. http://www.philhine.org.uk/writings/rit_jinx.html

Ronan, S. (1992). The goddess Hekate. Hastings, U.K.: Chthonios.

Episode 5: The Hekatean Special

[audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Ep5_Hekatean-Special.mp3"][/audio] As promised, here is the long-awaited episode in which I spill the beans about Hekate. I hope this will become an annual event, growing and maturing with the show.There's music, anecdotes, information, recommended materials...slight rants. I kept this episode all about Our Lady of the Crossroads. Below you will find links to websites and online sources, shops and artists of which I am a proud patron. Please enjoy.

Jeff Cullen Artistry and The Vodou Store are both resources I have been dedicated to over the years. Graveyard dirt, blood sacrifice oil, bath formulas, my Hekate statues and art...so many of my supplies are purchased by this dynamic duo.

Conjure Oils have created the perfect Hekate oil....it is sweet and dusky, something beautiful to wear. I am very, very picky about fragrances due to a very sensitive nose, but being able to order from a localish company (Oregon) and loving the little pips (samplers) allowed me to try different scents without investing too much.

Wendy Rule is a modern songstress, bard, witch of words and sound. Seeing her in concert was like witnessing a spellworking, as everyone became entranced. Please support pagan artists, especially  exceptional ones like Rule.

Jade Sol Luna books are available on Amazon and I highly recommend them.

Sarah Iles Johnston has many other titles all in classical Hellenic studies.

Avalonia produces many kinds of books, even though I do not care for the woman who runs the company I think they put out some quality resources.

'Hecate', Natascha Root Photogrpahy.
'Hecate', by Natasha Root Photography

 

Fire and Water, Then Earth Begins

The past two months have been a whirlwind of activity...which makes sense after 30 days of Air invocations. It ended in the culminating passion of Fire, the Will, the pentagram drawn from the heavens, that starlight straight to the belly:

“I call forth the power and the presence of Fire,
May the Powers of Passion,
Be present within Me.”

And with it came the nausea and vomiting for weeks. At one point it was reminiscent of morning sickness. But as the passion rose, so did the flames...burning much including karmic debts and bad luck. Where Air expressed itself through my libido, Fire was heart-centered. Compassion and feelings in general bubbled up very easily to the surface. Tensions were high in my household among all family members. Unfortunately it also meant my husband was laid off from his job. This came as a shocking effect...but he had several interviews a day within the week (and employment after we 'moved' into water, later on that). Fire brought warmth of belly and center; the hearth flames were re-ignited with the furnace of my Will. During these Fire invocations was the first time I practice Dark of Moon Devotionals without the company of my beloved Hermetikoi and Hekatoi. I was not feeling well so did the entire service from my mind; every act including the listening of others singing the chants. But I fell into a sleep and dreamed of being in Her torches, seeing my Will in Her hands. I became enflamed in Her and remembered what it was like, just when it was Her and I. No Priests. No traveling to another location. Now I am different; before it was just my Lady and I. Hermes and Hekate stood behind me and placed hands on my shoulders, armoured and broad enough to handle their tasks.

"The Four Elements" By Jacob Matham (Holland, Haarlem, 1571-1631) [Public domain]
"The Four Elements" By Jacob Matham (Holland, Haarlem, 1571-1631) 

The day I began invoking water, it rained. California has been in a horrible drought and much of my prayer work has been centered around this delicate matter. But the storm, She came in from the Pacific... cold and fierce rain. It made me smile. It snowed like 5-7 feet in Buffalo, New York that day as well...but I figured the wrong coast to lay any claim.

I moved from the Bay Area to my hometown, in the foothills of Northern California. Only 2 hours from ocean, desert, mountain or swamp. The spirits called me home...so I agreed. Funny how when you decide to let Deity and other allies take the lead, things easily happen. My husband got a fantastic job working from home, I had some job opportunities come up as well, so we made the decision to move. Action was put into play: packing and collecting materials, finding a house, school, doctors, having utilities turned on. Although we ate really crappy, somehow my husband had managed to lose twenty pounds, and I ten over the course of relocation.

Aligning my Self with the energies of Water, I thought about how it moves around obstacles...strong enough to carve mountains with meandering patience. Time is relative as water is solid, liquid and gaseous in forms. In the waters of mind is the heart of intuition:

“I call forth the power and the presence of Water
May the Powers of Intuition,
Be present within Me.”

In listening to those inner voices, that rain kept coming. It washed over the aches and soothed my spirit. Where Fire blistered or rubbed raw, Water was a salve.

With only two weeks settled in, I erected the altars to my Chthonic Lord and Lady... attuning to the Dark Moon Devotionals from afar... but this time I saw my fellow Dedicants. I saw them each going up before the Herm, sprinkling incense and offering wine...and I chanted along as if there, lifting my voice for them as witness to the Shining Ones. In the moment, there was no physical distance or time. I hovered about, sensed someone was missing even (I later confirmed it)...it wasn't a cliche after all. Just as all water IS one water, never ending in it's cycle on Earth, so are we connected to spirit. No distance too great, no depth untouchable. I saw the streams of rain wash down the sides of those Sierra Nevada mountains, into the dry and cracked creek beds. The wells, aquifers, underground lakes all need to be filled before any run off is truly visible, but they ARE being fed...and that is all that matters.

Today I began the invocation of Earth... the Mother, where roots gather and clutch to hold ahigh the trunk of me. From the dark, moist loam I reached down and gathered it to propel my pentagram:

“I call forth the power and the presence of Earth
May the Powers of Stability,
Be present within Me.”

This promise of mountains is not far behind, as I see the snow covered caps of Mount Shasta to the North, and Mount Lassen to the East. A glacier resides inside the Northern Mother, with the fiery sulphur and boiling water which spews from the volcanic Eastern Sister. The spirits of these majestic and dangerous pillars are axis mundi, conduits of power and portals between worlds. The local natives believe Shasta to be a place of the Dead, where Ancestors travel to. On the other side of the valley is Lassen, who birthed all of creation. And I am at the Crossroads, as Hekate and Hermes would have it.

30 Days of Hermes: Deity Wishes

Day 28: Something you wish you knew about this deity but don’t currently

I would like to understand the connections between Hermes and Hekate, more than the obvious tasks as chthonios. He and Hekate have kinda ganged up on me here: She led me to do this work with Hermes, and I hope after my dedicant year to begin doing the same with Hekate. It was ultimately my goal to become a Priest of Hekate, but She had other plans. And so I wholeheartedly continued attending dark moon devotionals never expecting to dedicate to Hermes, but the work got deeper. I would like to know, what Hermes has in store for me. His energy brought out my natural curiosity for challenge and personal growth; taking on these old ceremonial rituals I never paid much attention to. This magick is strong, classical and blessed by His golden wand; Father of magicians and alchemists, changling shepherd and comedic trickster. I wish to know Him as intimately as I know Hekate, only time in devotion will make this connection possible.

THE RETURN OF PERSEPHONE. Hermes leads Persephone forth from the underworld where she is greeted by the goddesses Demeter and Hekate. Hermes is depicted holdling his kerykeion (herald's wand), and wearing a winged petasos (cap). Persephone wears a crown, Hekate carries a pair of burning torches, and Demeter holds a royal staff. From the Theoi website.

THE RETURN OF PERSEPHONE. Hermes leads Persephone forth from the underworld where she is greeted by the goddesses Demeter and Hekate. Hermes is depicted holdling his kerykeion (herald's wand), and wearing a winged petasos (cap). Persephone wears a crown, Hekate carries a pair of burning torches, and Demeter holds a royal staff. From the Theoi website.

30 Days of Hermes: Public Relations

Day 17: How does this deity relate to other gods and other pantheons?

17. As a trickster, Hermes tends to change with the 'flavor' of pantheon He chooses to manifest in. He traveled around the ancient world, a lot...and in each incarnation of Him, Hermes maintains this undercurrent of what Karl Kerényi explains as the 'Hermes' Idea'. From his classic, "Hermes: Guide of Souls", Kerényi quotes: "Whatever may have been thought of Hermes in primitive times," we read at the conclusion of Otto's superb portrait of Hermes, "he must once have struck the eye as a brilliant flash out of the depths, that it saw a world in the God, and the God in the whole world. This is the origin of the figure of Hermes, which Homer recognized and which later generations held fast to."

Hermes is a friend to other deities, at least He appears to be. As mutable psychopompos, Hermes escorts Gods across the Multiverse (King Priam in The Illiad) and the Dead to the Underworld. As Herald of the Gods, He delivers messages which require secrecy or stealth (Kalypso in The Odyssey) , and sometimes He is the assassin (Argus). The lore indicates Hermes helps shield illicit affairs between deities, nymphs and humans alike.

Although Himself never married, Hermes is best known for His love of Aphrodite. In one story, Zeus steals a sandal and gives it to for Hermes to return. True to His personality, Hermes offers the sandal back to Aphrodite if She sleeps with Him...which She reluctantly agrees to. Secretly, I think She liked it and was just playing hard to get which is NEVER a good idea with such a quick, determined God. In another of His sexual pursuits, it was the sister of Herse who tried to cock-block Him, so Hermes just turned her into black marble.

It appears to me, Hermes hangs out a lot with His brother Apollo. Even though they got off to a bad start, these two are always swapping and conspiring, paling around as it were. He is also very close to His Father Zeus, loyal to the end and more than happy to please. But does Hermes have any 'friends'? Well, I like to think of Hekate as His friend. Although there doesn't appear to be much lore surrounding any interactions between these two, they are co-workers in a way: guiding souls of the Dead, escorting Gods, all part of the psychopomp role.

"Hermes Herse Louvre G494" by English: Dolon Painter - User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-06-15. Licensed under Public domain.

"Hermes Herse Louvre G494" by English: Dolon Painter - User:Bibi Saint-Pol, own work, 2007-06-15. Licensed under Public domain.

"Brimo [Hekate], who as legend tells, by the waters of Boebeis [in Thessalia] laid her virgin body at Mercurius’ [Hermes’] side." (Propertius, Elegies 2. 29c)

I invite any interested in finding other modern connections between Hekate and Hermes to check out the following links:

The Hermes and Hekate Roadshow, an interesting podcast recorded in the old radio show style of storytelling, with voice actors, sound effects and a very modern take on these two deities.

“H” is for Hermes, and Hekate, is a blogpost I wrote for the Pagan Blog Project in 2013.

Hermes & Hekate - As Divine Consorts, a good thorough piece written by Joseph Constantine.

Will the REAL Hekate please stand up?

I live between two rival gang areas, near a bridge that gets 'tags' quite frequently; the city is actually quite good about re-painting within a week of the spray painting. Usually the gangs include roman numerals or words misspelled in some kind of Spanglish. I have been tempted to go over them with red pentagrams,  Satanic sigils or protective talismans. Maybe then they will know who's neighborhood they are in. This is similar to my journey with Hekate. I started out in one gang, then moved to another and then another until I have become my own gang. Things are about to get a little technical and dramatic, so try to follow along. Hekate is an ancient Titaness whom modern Neopagans try to compartmentalize so they can understand Her better. This really is nothing new... the Chaldeans made Her part of a menage a trois as Queen of Heaven, with Hekate as the go-between of two masculine Gods. In recent UPG from various LHP ideologies, Hekate has become the diabolical witch Queen of the Underworld. Had-Hekate-Hadad....Belial-Hekate-Lucifer. She is the same... always sandwiched between two Gods. The modern Wiccan interpretation including Hekate as part of the Maiden-Mother-Crone archetype; the go-between as the kindly grandmother who is friend and guide to the Queen of the Underworld, Persephone, during the annual reunion with her Mother, the Queen of Earth Demeter. Then there is the Hekate-Kali connection; Mother Destroyer who loves hard and fierce, the other side of the same coin. She has so many names and epithets which have been attributed to Her and many other Gods too, shared as titles over the last few thousand years.

So, who is the REAL Hekate? Is there ONE? Has She just morphed and evolved over the centuries until there is nothing left of Her true form, but the clothing and armor we dress Her in? How did a psychopomp, so closely associated with household cults and worship, become inflated to “Queen of Witches”, the “Cosmic World Soul” and the “Triple Goddess”?

Every year, at the full moon in May, devotees of Our Lady participate in a global event known as the Rite of Her Sacred Fires. It is difficult to pinpoint where this Rite's origination actually came from, since it's author, Sorita d'Este, claims it was given upon completion of an anthology by Hekate Herself. The publisher Avalonia, owned and operated by Ms. d'Este, released two other titles regarding Hekate prior to the anthology, fully named “Hekate Her Sacred Fires: A unique collection of essays, prose, and artwork from around the world exploring the mysteries and sharing visions of the torchbearing triple goddess of the crossroads” (boy, that's a mouthful). Ever since the initial Rite in 2010, more folks are finding Hekate in their lives. She is everywhere and each Hekate is more experiential, personal and approachable than the last.

The Rite includes no formal casting of circles, calling of guardians, or special equipment; only a red candle. Specific gestures are used at the beginning, similar to the Rosicrucian or Kabbalistic cross, with hands ending up positioned in opposite directions, one palm up and the other down. There is an initial invocation to the “Queen of Heaven” and several other instructions which include not naming Hekate at all. It is not until the juicy part of the Rite, when the flame is lit, is Hekate actually called into presence. So I ask...who is being invoked at the beginning of this Rite then? The Mother of Hekate, Asteria, the celestial Titan...Her father Perses, a Titan of Destruction...All three realms are Her domain by right of Zeus' proclamation, the Land, Sky and Sea accessible to none other except the psychopompus; Hermes and Hekate.

Accessible to all who seek out Her, the peak is when barbarous words are intoned.... “Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui”. This is what caught my attention all those years ago...I had already been working with Hekate quite intimately in 2010, after our Coven took oaths to Her. We were spending a year facing fears and who better to be the guide of our own personal Tartaros than Hekate. During the first two months with I was in a car accident that completely totaled our family vehicle, after we just sold the spare. Although no one was hurt, and the car paid off, it was a lesson in futility as I faced the impact it made financially. I was desperately looking for a way of connecting and serving this most powerful Titan, but how? I found the Rite of Her Sacred Fires less than two months before it was scheduled to commence. I bought books by Sorita d'Este, Jade Sol Luna (including a few albums), read Orphic hymns and immersed my Self in Our Lady of the Crossroads. We moved to a house in front of a natural crossroads, having a stream in the front with the property flanked by bamboo groves on one side and pine on the other, Our Lady awaited in the shadows for me to speak to Her.

It was during this event I performed the RoHSF for three days, each time at midnight. It changed me, just as it did everyone else. I caught that 'fire' and immediately wanted more, so applied immediately for Covenant of Hekate membership and was quickly approved (member #82). I was exhilerated when I performed the Rite of the Red Cord. Having just been through the spiritual betrayal of a best friend, kicked out of my Druid Grove (and since has been REPEALED) and in a rocky marriage, I was ready for something strong and true. My spiritual teacher had left years ago, off to the south of France, so I had been in a spiritual limbo so long. It was only appropriate that Hekate answered that call. Because there is so little information on Her cult I sought out other Devotees, to share experiential and academic information with each other, creating a web of witchflame that would set the world on fire. This is when I realized...the CoH was not about Hekate. I watched as endless arguments from armchair historians online became pissing contests, plugs for non-Hekate related books from Avalonia appeared in the forums, and devotion to Hekate centered around the Neoplatonic Hekate as “Cosmic World Soul”. What exactly does this mean to me, as a polytheistic Pagan witch? If Hekate is the great Queen of Heaven (Hera) and Hell (Persephone), the embodied soul of the World (Gaia), and all of these other titles, could there still be room in my spiritual life for the other Gods, Goddesses, spirits, Dead and teachers who I already revere? This was beginning to seem like a Yahweh-type situation....and I wanted to run from that as fast as I could.

So much was beginning to stink and I left, after 3 months of membership, as my questions and exploring only seemed to anger members. And to be fair, I stirred up some shit after posting a Scribd link... but hostility occurred when I also shared any other publisher's work. The symbol for the Covenant of Hekate includes a four-armed equal cross topped by a crescent. The THREEway crossroads are sacred to Our Mother...four belongs Hermes. The red cord was hanging on me, the knot in my belly. I made an Oath to the CoH and Hekate...how was I going to just LEAVE? The CoH does not provide an exit ritual for members when they leave, and none of the Torchbearers knew what to say or do. There was magick in that knot, tying me into the web created and resonating, fed once a year, Hekate devotion becoming more popular than ever before, She was becoming big money and the Rite a global phenomenon which I still participated in every year.

I liked having a day sacred to our Mother Hekate, and the idea of having a synchronized ritual is something even now I love. Until this year I performed and taught the RoHSF; the only thing which stayed with me from the CoH. However, in preparation this year, I took a different look at it. I even finally read the anthology for which the Rite is named. I saw the connection between what the Rite and the CoH were. Hekate had nothing to do with it...this was not Her and I suddenly became violently ill. I saw the web which weaved them all together, the agreement which bound them, and the karma feasted upon. There is reason why the path of mysticism is not for everyone, and it draws the wrong sorts of folks....looking for answers when there really are none to be had. Offering bad chocolate and wine to Hekate is not going to change your life. Dressing your altar in the finest silks or organizing large fetes does not interest Her. This other thing, this egregore, this servitor serves a purpose but it does not serve Hekate or Her Devotees. Reading some books and praying alone might feel like advancement. Proclaiming oneself a Priest of Hekate does not make one so. The true Hekate comes through the minute a Devotee turns away from others' paths, reflects only themselves and commits to the one thing: Service to Her.

People ask me, what happened after I left? Well, I surrendered to Hekate, handed over my life to Her Will which is my True Will. She guided me to perform the following ritual, The Burning of the Cord, and my life has changed ever since. Cutting the psychic connection, burning the remains and burying ashes are all ancient methods of severance... and represent Her tools of magick. In the darkness She and I have been, dancing with one another. It took the SAME prayer said for two years to our Lady of the Crossroads, honoring each Dark Moon and weekly offerings which finally opened my ears and heart to Her messages. Time has moved on for me and my work with Her has intensified. She has taught to me: traveling to others' dreams, accepting and passing on Oracles in Her name, trance journeys through the Underworld and Middle Realms, and so much more than I can even proclaim aloud virtually. The road of Hekate is rough but it is one that MUST be traveled alone. Many groups come and go with the best of intentions with Our Lady of Land, Sky and Sea...but it will never work because Her natural cult does not flourish this way.

Burning of the Red Cord

Preparation:

Set up your altar space and prepare yourself as you did for the Rite of the Red Cord for the Covenant of Hekate. Some special items needed will include “sweet water” (water from a running or natural source such as a spring, well, ocean, or rain), soil, and incense of your choice. You will also need an envelope, scissors or a ritual knife, the Red Cord with the dedicated knot, and any other 'offerings' you'd like to include such as stones, feathers, etc. Also a spade or shovel, and someplace suitable to bury the objects.

 

Light candles, salute Hekate in the CoH fashion, then recite your personal Hymn to Hekate.

Rite:

Hold the cord in your hands for 3 breaths. Recall the Rite of the Red Cord and how you felt when you performed it, the actions or feelings which drew you to CoH in the beginning. With the knot held between your forefinger and thumbs. Say:

“As this knot continues to be a symbol of my devotion, may the oath which binds it to you Hekate hold fast. Whilst your fires burn at the heart of my devotion, sever my connection with the Covenant of Hekate, making it separate but equal as you see fit.”

As you focus on this, place it in the envelope, with whatever other offerings. Seal with wax using a favourite Hekate invocation. I work with Hekate Brimo, the Serpent Goddess a lot so in this particular Rite I invoked Her energy for assistance:

“O Brimo, ego reginum mah sacrum honoro” or “Askei Kataskei Eron Oreon Ior Mega Samnyer Baui, Phobantia Samne”.

Afterwards, take your spade and envelope to a crossroads; dig a small pit, burn and bury the contents of your envelope. When it has finished and is smoldering, cover it and leave, not looking back either at the CoH or the cord's grave.

Hekate Tree Trivia

PBP: “E” is for Endings

Dear, beloved readers. I know you are out there...so many of you have been making yourselves known to me and it blesses my heart to hear it. I have come to the END of my one year with the Pagan Blog Project. I started late last year in this project...beginning with E is for Eden. I did not want to start with “A” and try to catch up, so my year of writing is different. And what timing!

An engraving showing two völvas (seeresses). Originally from Fredrik Sander's 1893 edition of the poetic Edda.

I am in the midst of re-vamping the blog, including some exciting interactive news regarding Our Mother Hekate, and recently dedicated my Self to Lord Hermes in a ceremony last Dark Moon. Things are getting busy again now I have returned for my SECOND attempt to finish this Master's in Library Information Science. There. I said it. This is me Be-ing vulnerable and real and raw and not caring who knows it now.

The skin has been shed, fresh new scales sparkle only in moonlight. A Chthonic Priestess is emerging...from the Orphic egg, a Völva is born again... and my blood is indominable. Stay tuned...

PBP: “A” is for ABRAHADABRA

Last March I began attending a public dark moon devotional in honor of Hekate and Hermes. Now, anyone who has been reading my blog for ANY length of time already knows I am very partial to Our Lady of the Crossroads. Except for the occasional Luciferian consort, my work with Hekate has developed into sort of henotheistic path (who was a hard polytheist and became commited to working with only one Deity) with dystheistic tendencies (deity is not entirely good...and maybe even evil). Not that I think Hekate is evil, but She is a sinister Titaness that really can sway either way: Her benevolence is saved only for the most worthy and wrath of justice enacted for Her devotees. The service has been carried out for over a decade already and is only now being shared with the public. Pan and Syrinx, François Boucher (ca. 1762)

Our priest, Sam Webster , has incorporated elements of High Ceremonial ritual (Golden Dawn & Thelema) with those of Tantric Buddhism into our devotional service. The chant we use for praise and calling forth of Hermes; until recently it was used also for Hekate but soon replaced with another composed by YeShe Rabbit Matthews. Working with these two Deities was nothing I planned...and they are an extremely compatible couple! One psychopomp leads the Dead into the Underworld (Hermes) and the other out of Hades (Hekate); an energy coming down and another other going up. These two forces can be seen from many perspectives according to each person's Pagan experience. For me it is the Masculine, solar energies of Hermes pulsing down and meeting with the chthonic Femininity of Hekate, which is carried up through lunar magnetism. This energy meets in my heart, renewing and re-booting until the next dark moon.

The chant starts with some seed syllables: HAD, RA, NU. This is not foreign in my own practice, as mantras are already heavily present. The trouble I had was with introducing the formulae of ABRAHADABRA. Having some working knowledge of occult history, the familiar ABRACADABRA was closely related; I became a little confused and investigated further for clarification. I should have known Uncle Al would be behind this sudden appearance in my practice...it was like having sex and he did the “accidental anal divergance” maneuver. It isn't just about sex or union with Godhead, or Gnosis or any of that other stuff we think as spiritual occultists we are striving for. It is not about becoming perfection, but the end result of the journey.

“ABRAHADABRA is a word to be studied in Equinox I, V.,“The Temple of Solomon the King”. It represents the Great Work complete, and it is therefore an archetype of all lesser magical operations. It is in a way too perfect to be applied in advance to any of them… the formula of Abrahadabra concerns us, as men, principally because each of us represents the pentagram or microcosm; and our equilibration must therefore be with the hexagram or macrocosm." -from “Magick in Theory and Practice” by Aleister Crowley

Resonating these words, contemplation had arisen with questions of what it means to become like the Middle Pillar, the Axis Mundi, to draw upon the Two Powers (in reference to ADF's meditation exercise)? It is not simply starlight and green energy from within the Earth Herself; to access these higher Be-ings of self is to empower and activate evolutionary progress within. The realms of Hekate and Hermes, the Land, Sky and Sea...kingdoms of the Dead and Immortals become increasingly available for information. It is a key to the New Aeon, a unifying force pushing and pulling at the conflicting sides of myself.

I seek balance and peace. My spiritual life is completely satisfying, my sexual life full and my family happy, healthy and without want. I am finishing my Master's degree this year. I have everything I asked and worked for, essentially. Now what? I have never been interested in money and things, so buying a house is not really a motivating factor to finding work, but in the current economic climate I don't want a JOB....I want an INCOME. I have no wish to become rich and famous, although getting more readers to my blog would nice. But having enough to sustain my spiritual explorations, experiments and pay the student loans is a goal worth having. The great merging of these two realms of my life which have always been at odds are coming together; the fusion is painful and long. The divide of doubt disappears into the Abyss as I generate the potentiality within myself and those around me. If it is my True Will, let it come.

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

PBP: “H” is for Hermes, and Hekate

It was an onslaught of psychopomps this week as I attempted to finish my Master's work... an e-portfolio I've had three months to complete. I have also been working on a sacred girdle over the past three months; to be dedicated in my work with Hekate as an otherworldly traveler and reporter. Part of the issue has been a delicate balance between the academic and spiritual aspects of myself... I try not to let the two overlap, therefore creating a more objective perspective. I look at my clock right now, and every day for the past week, and it is 11:11, or 1:11... the first encapsulating the fourth as Hermes and Hekate as the third. Wait a minute... where did Hermes come from? The only Gods I have experience with would be the Jehovah and Jesus of my childhood and Cernunnos, my Lord of the Wilderness. So it was quite a surprise to me when I realized that Hermes was a presence I had experienced before...a long time ago when I knew not who HE was. Recently I started listening to an old timey radio show addressing this relationship, and in a way I could imagine: the “Hermes and Hecate Roadshow” features the Gods as a pair on motorcycles searching for missing artifacts. Who better than a divine thief and mistress key-holder to go about the universe, stealing back to restore balance. Although I always imagined Hekate would have a raspier, whiskey-toned voice, the somewhat effeminate but perfect for his androgynous ways. He is one I seek to know better, especially through His connection with Thoth (Djehuti) as a patron of scholars, libraries, and information really tickles my bibliophile side. This shrewd and calculating psychopomp stepped up, Hermes brings things straight to the edge without much room for error and revealed His presence all along the path.

Very early on, I was a bit curious and non-conformist when it came to spiritual practices; yes, I am much more focused and disciplined now, if that can be believed. I had stepped outside a magickal circle which had been cast under an Esbat moon... to smoke a cigarette as we often spent hours in that sacred space; my poor addicted body couldn't handle more than 2 hours without my precious nicotine. It was summer and for the first time I was seeing fairies; elementals, genius loci, the nature spirits were crawling and running from tree to tree, the silvery light left traces against the dark night enhanced with mugwort tea. As I stood away from the area to a place which wouldn't disturb the senses of my coven mates, I noticed a much larger shadow emerge from the giant oak, the one on my best friend's property with the closing hole in it's heart. At first I took it for a limb, moving in the darkness and casting crooked shadows to play tricks on human eyes. But then, it stepped out again, sending a psychic wave of shimmering silver... rippling until it touched me and splashed on my own auric shield. The energies told me this Be-ing was not here to help, nor to hurt. It was as curious of me as I was of it. For a moment I saw it's wide-brimmed hat, long cloak and hair iridescent as trout gills, a rainbow in the night. It felt masculine, strong and fatherly... protective compared to the more authoritarian model I was much more used to in the 'real' world. He did not seem of this world... as in not a dis-incarnated spirit who once lived on this planet; or if He had it was so long ago there is little trace of it left. When I asked for it to identify itself, it sent a menacing message “Get back in the circle, child!” Without even asking why, I did just that. The shadow man disappeared and I never spoke of Him to anyone, for fear He may re-appear.

"Liminal Moment", Highgate Cemetery, London, U.K.; circa 2003.

Fast-forward a few years and I am in London, England. Because I love cemeteries, I decided to venture off to Hampstead Heath and visit one of the oldest, and somewhat forgotten, resting places I have ever experienced. Highgate Cemetery is divided by a road, with the larger part being on the Eastern side (with such famous graves as Karl Marx and Patrick Caufield), I chose the more romantic and spookier Western cemetery. It was spring, armed with my camera, some food for the dead and an adventurous attitude I tromped through the windy paths, overgrown with ivy and random daffodils like so much litter of the living.

It was during a photographic opportunity I saw my mysterious stranger again; in broad daylight! He was still very dark, like an outline in black chalk. His hat was wide, turning up at the edges as a sinister smile. I felt His unstable energies reach out to me again, as it had before all those years ago. I thought that night under the moon was simply a liminal moment caught in time, not meant to repeat again. Having this thought immediately sent me into a panic. How did this spirit, this Be-ing travel from California and find me on the other side of the planet? These strange and curious thoughts would betray me, as I fled immediately. I hurried as I left and only stopped at the nearest pub for a pint and smoke.

The third time this Be-ing appeared, I did not see Him. I was back on the left coast of 'Merica, living the dream of college at my grandmother's house; she is a very open-minded Christian and never gave me a problem about magicks. There was one night however, when I came home late that she stopped me from going past her bedroom door. She was still awake and told me there was a showy figure hanging around the back door; she saw Him and described the shadow man I had never told grandma about. She told me to get rid of Him; she didn't care WHAT I did, but didn't like Him hanging around. Now I had done some banishing before at this point in my magickal career, but nothing for a Be-ing that made me so nervous. I consulted with friends, mentors, teachers I trusted and all said to go with my gut. So I did it.. and never saw Him again. My mystery shadow man has made small guest appearances in dreams, but never for more than I will allow. I have known His work was not finished with me, but I wasn't sure how to go about it until the other night.

This week, I attended a Dark of the Moon practice at a local metaphysical shop, The Sacred Well. The devotional working was dedicated to Hekate (my matron in case you haven't been paying attention), and the Greek God Hermes. Now, I am familiar with Roman Mercury, only in flirting... but was immediately intrigued by the connection with Hekate, especially as the Chthonic wonder twins they seem to be; speaking to my dual Gemini personality, I like these two sides of myself and these psychopomps. In a simple ceremony we gave praise, offerings, and thanks to them during this most liminal time of the moon... when it is not New nor Waning, it disappears as Hekate reaps. On the shadow side of the Moon it is the opposite... it is full and reflecting the light of the Sun as Hermes' golden helmet. They are in eternal dance these two... climbing through the axis mundi of worlds; guiding the dead to different destinies. Hermes wears His big hat to keep in His big brain, to keep it from flying away. Much like myself, He is quick of tongue and fingertips... a trickster character quick to illicit feelings of distrust. But if given the chance, I think He might be a most excellent guide and is not patiently waiting for me to call on Him without a little groveling first.

 

 

Resurrection in Madness

The end is just another beginning as we return to life; because really, most of us are just spiritually dead walking around in meat suits. In resurrecting our practice, we are also resurrecting our spiritual selves. I find myself being the 'feast or famine' type and I am sure the deities I work with loathe me for it... but obviously there is something sentimental about me or they would never pay me attention. I bug them so much that eventually they are forced to hear me out or forever be bothered by the adorations and beseeching of a mad woman. As I finish this devotional project, I realize I have nothing more to say. I feel the blank emptiness which comes from intense Zen meditations, the peace and mindfulness associated with completing a service, ritual, or any sacred time spent out of ordinary reality can seem like forever. I have barely been able to complete my homework assignments over the last 13 days; not able to write or read anything not related to Hekatean thought or chthonic practice. My family has become accustomed to my nightly meditations, prayers sent with the burning of incense, and strange, intangible uttering as I pray to Hekate in dead languages. My recitation is taken from the album Tales of Moon Face by Jade Sol Luna, from the track “Welcome to Styx”. As I continue with this practice, I find the words becoming intelligible with heightened meaning (I use his Latin version), giving me strength and courage to face the parts of myself I fear most and in their exposure, burning them up in the light of Lucifera.

We honor you Queen of the black night. Hecate, mother of magic, at moonlit crossroads you befriend the hopeless. Torch held high you walk beside Demeter searching for Persephone. You work from afar; weaving spells of water, earth and sky you catch every eye in a fatal trance. Persian Artemis, invincible huntress, you hold freedom’s key. I honor you Hecate, accept our love and bless us, inspire all in the dark.