I arise in the ethereal body from sleep, called by something wild and silent. Nude, covered only by my hair and the scents of baneful herbs; slathered over thighs, armpits, the soles of my feet and anointed third eye. I step outside into the soft night. My breath is so relaxed, the only sound to accompany a beating heart. In the darkness is cloaked spirits, beckoning and protecting my nocturnal journey. I stretch out my arms finding wings; my ears become long and sensitive as I fly past trees, homes. Towards the mountain peak I fly, with scattered giants of limestone among the sagebrush and pines aglow from fire. Caressing air warms my body, screaming with speed. As my feet land on soft, sandy soil I can see a dark figure outlined by the soft moonlight. The flames have turned black, no longer the warm rage of heat but a tempered one fed of Iron and Blood. The Man, once facing this fire, turns toward me...away from the temporary hearth, after waiting, and extends a hand. His words worm into my brain, a spell sung as mantra: Reclaim the Flame.
Over the Beltane weekend I attended a small, high quality conference in Portland, Oregon at an undisclosed location and kept very secret until only days beforehand...the esoteric gathering Flambeau Noir: International Left Hand Path Conference. Around 100 practitioners of Satanism, Luciferianism, Thelema, Tantra and various forms of witchcraft came together to celebrate the theme, ‘Darkness Indivisible’; and never have I enjoyed the company of magicians more than with this crowd. Many in attendance were also presenting, performing or otherwise participating in conversations which baffled the mind and struck a chord deep within my heavily Pagan heart. A week later, and I am still reeling from the experience...so I will do my best to relay the event with the best intentions.
The meet and greet was held in a small, dark bar called Lovecraft in the middle of downtown Portland. A spooky theme with creepy necronomicon and luciferian sigils scattered amongst beastly creatures from the horror stylings of H.P. Lovecraft, and others inspired by the works of the Master, it was all blacklight reflective adding to the ambiance to the gathering of magicians. There was a craft distributed for a group working, one involving iron nails wrapped and tied together with red & black strings to form a kind of portable crossroads… of course, mine completely fell apart. But then the spirits of LHP were invoked; Azazeal, Belial, Lucifer...an entire retinue to bring forth the presence of a familiar spirit I have yet to really work with: the Man in Black. The chanting was intense and the energy raised was a surprise. Usually public workings are the mumblings of unknown origins amongst half ass witches; but this group was full of adepts and I realized no matter WHAT we did, there would be an effect. We lit the Black Flame, carried within us throughout the weekend…
The morning of Saturn’s Day commenced a full schedule of speakers and presenters, starting with an opening ritual by Jeremy Crow...sanctifying the event hall to cloak and shroud participants. He also spoke later about the Alchemy of Death and mentioned how the tarot’s Death card is a type of ‘Memento Mori’; a mental reminder to live more fully and without regret.
In the morning was Griffin Ced, the same person who led the previous night’s working, who spoke about his own understanding of Heretical Witchcraft. Ced spoke at length about the language of magick within our community, how many of us are doing the exact same things but calling it by different names...how this diversity is informed by each other. This spoke volumes about my own experiences in having conversations with Traditional Witchcraft practitioners; who talk about the Compass working, hedgeriding and travelling to the Sabbath in lucid dreaming...all things we do in Tantra but without any necessary tools or extra steps outside the realm of our minds. I found Ced’s insistence of LHP witchcraft not needing a ‘priesthood’, yet also noting that self initiation was not possible, to be somewhat contradictory. I understand where Ced was trying to go with breaking of traditions in attempts of heresy, but simply looking at the commonalities found in many global traditions cannot just be swept aside for the sake of edginess.
One of the highlights of the conference for me was listening to Michael W. Ford, Luciferian extraordinaire. Also vending at the event with his wife, Ford presented an interesting lecture on Infernal Symbolism and facilitated an exercise in applied Luciferian magicks. Whilst the exercise was something very simple, it reminded me of the power inante with imagery. A sheet of paper was passed out with 6 different images, contained within were Lucifer, Lilith, Leviathan, and wouldn’t you know it good ol’ Hekate. We were to look at whichever image we felt ‘drawn to’ and then visualized that particular one travelling over our bodies… guess which one I chose?
Before lunch, when our bellies were growling and the infernal beings of the Luciferian current were swarming the hall, Steven Johnson Leyba came out to do a reading from one of several of his accursed books… his magick being one of ARTWAR, a mage battle tool through books made of canvas, collage, bodily fluids and paint which oozed with the energy of toxic resonance to infect and reflect the rage of Leyba’s intent. He retold his workings against Monsanto, San Francisco football team the 49ers and the movement Leyba is working in to ‘destroy stillborn art’ manufactured and commodified to the masses. He sat there with this huge tome of work; accompanied by the dark electronic sounds of Merzbow mashed together with his screaming energy, all I could think was Leyba as the LHP occult version of Charles Bukowski.
Magister from the Temple of Set, Paul Frederic gave a wonderful presentation on ‘Secrets of the Holy Fire’. I loved his definitions and explanation of differences between Left Hand Path and Right Hand Path practices and philosophies: essentially, I understood Federic to say RHP represents an idealized order of mankind, whereas LHP gives credit to ‘man as He is found’ with a natural free Will and consciousness. Frederic also explained the Black Flame and how it relates within the philosophy of LHP occult work; a threefold pathway of illumination. First, the practitioner must Receive the Flame; which in itself is also 3 fold as (1) ordinary influences, (2) origination influences such as art/literature/philosophy, and (3) conscious impressions from finding the right people at the right time...this last bit happens when the flame recognizes those who also hold it, akin to what I have also heard as the ‘witchblood’ or ‘witchflame’. The second part of this journey is in the Holding of the Black Flame; similar to the holding of breath, it is intentionally an uncomfortable struggle. Some suggestions Frederic gave for strengthening this hold included physical practices as found in yoga, and with holding the expression of negative energy. The third and final step in working with the Black Flame is found through the Releasing of it… ‘expelling and excreting’ into the world as it catches those who will also receive it.
'The Witches' Sabbath' was a storytelling experience given by Koyote the Blind, in which the origins story of the Black Flame was experienced. Never have I seen such mastery of the spoken word as this Toltec shaman performed as One who witnessed the birthing of this world and all worlds. The story was one to be experienced and really could not be conveyed in any other medium except through the participatory journey involving carefully timed words and accompanying by the live mixed music of Coil.
Early the Sunday morning Marcus McCoy, of Troll Cunning Forge, gave a wonderful presentation on the history of his personal journey through magickal blacksmithing; metallurgy, the alchemy of metalwork. The strongest message for me came through in his speaking about Iron, a common theme throughout the past few months for me as I work through the planetary spheres and their metallic elements. “Iron is fixed. Iron has rules. Iron is martial”, McCoy repeated several times, like a mantra.
Poet and ritualist Sean Donahue performed a guided meditation and offered a prayer, accompanied by a brief lecture, about Sovereignty/Kingship and its’ connection with the Land. He spoke of a ‘wild etiquette’ long forgotten, how ancient sacred Kings were tied to the land not as a tyrannical ruler, but as oracle and mouthpiece for those spirits...communicating the safety and health of the land which we stand and live upon.
The overtly masculine line-up continued with a presentation by Thomas LeRoy from Sect of the Horned God, an organization dedicated to the LHP philosophy of self illumination through magick and dedicated improvement in rational application. It was really great to hear LeRoy speak about his devotion to Siva and the Tantric LHP of the Aghoris, an extreme practice which leads to apotheosis. I was actually shocked to hear so many practitioners in attendance who were unfamiliar with this tradition.
The later afternoon had 3 presenters/performers I was most looking forward to, and the main reason I purchased tickets to the Flambeau Noir.Venus Satanas talked about her personal journey towards Satanism and the reasons for writing her new book, the “Spiritual Satanist Prayer Book”. She spoke about her online presence via her YouTubechannel and website as a resource for others seeking out Spiritual Satanism. She also spoke about being a voice for theistic satanists, especially women.
Peter Grey was the highlight of the weekend for many of us. A huge fan of the publishing company, Scarlet Imprint, Grey’s lecture started with the ritual act of tearing up a book. And not just any book, but a New King James’ Version of the Bible. Although this is a transgressive and shocking act to many people in the U.S., for the crowd gathered to hear Mr. Grey speak it was a confirmation of their own spiritual paths, one of ‘otherness’. Personally I was shocked because no matter WHAT book he used, as a librarian and bibliophile it is always sad to see literature destroyed.
I am ever so grateful that his lecture, "Black Mass, Bright Angel”, can be read in full online because I really couldn’t convey the message tangibly in my words. My own impressions are still being processed and contemplated, never to be fully realized until another illumination is given, surely. He spoke of Angels, and their role in witchcraft...which is something I have struggled with since beginning this path over 20 years ago. Grey pointed out the lack of biblical study in the occult by those working with Demons and Angels, pointing out the traditions already long established which are overlooked because they are too Yahweh-ish. For example, Grey’s commentary included looking at the role of fallen angels; how they are not selfish, individualistic creatures but chose instead to share arcane knowledge with humanity. And not just ANY humanity, but women SPECIFICALLY. How does that speak to the current state of the world, and the misogynist view most cultures take toward the spiritual feminine? It proves why the patriarchy rose up: out of jealousy and envy of the skills given to women and passed on to the people, not just knowledge for an elite clergy.
Grey also spoke about something I am very familiar with, working in the information profession: we are experiencing a second flood, the first was biblical but this is informational. We are so inundated with data and research it is often hard to discern...and is reason why, Grey believes, we should cease having heated online conversations about the occult but favoring in-person dialog instead. And he is completely right. Between misunderstandings due to a lack of tone or voice fluctuation, and sharing esoteric knowledge without even a physical handshake...the impressions we receive and misinterpret are easily taken out of context. A good example was when I posted to my Facebook wall one of the many profound quotes provided by Grey, it brought out people who NEVER comment on anything I ever say and only wanted to vehemently disagree….without even knowing the context from which it came: “Traditional Witchcraft is a lie”. This resonates with me, as my own path of Tantricism has followed along many of the same practices of this flavor of witchcraft; refer to my post about Traditional Witchcraft for more details on my thoughts concerning this.
Grey’s presentation was followed by sound ritual performances by Pleasure the Priestess, Brujentropy and then a disquieting “Sabbatic Dance” by Alkistis Dimech...which no words can fully describe, so I won’t even try. My body was in such an altered state, listening to favorite neofolk band Horse Cult and drinking the Finnish mead-type drink sima was the sweet ending for my long Walpurgisnacht weekend.
There were very few let-down moments at this event, for me personally. One being the cancellation of Mona Magick and her live streaming presentation; on what topic, I have no idea. Also on Saturday evening it was the ending of a long day...both sleep and food deprived, which meant I missed a talk by Shannon Williams, Head of the U.S. Chapter for the Church of Rational Satanism. There was a real shortage of female speakers in general, and while there were huge attempts by organizers to have feminine representation, an impossible task surely, the LHP and the occult community tends to be a ‘boys club’...as was reflected by the lineup and topics of presentation. With that being said, I also want to point out how it is an exciting time to be a woman involved in this subculture and genre of witchcraft, as the tide is turning. Many strong, intelligent women are writing books, attending conferences, performing and presenting at engagements of significance such as Flambeau Noir...giving a fresh voice and different perspective to this otherwise predominantly man-centered narrative of dark magicks. May my sisters rise from the ashes of those ‘burning times’ which continued to follow us, even into the 20th century as metaphor for patriarchal influences of our spiritual lives. May we reclaim that flame which attempted to destroy us; let it burn the bindings, the blindfolds and the gags holding us back from being in the forefront of this path. I am proud to be counted among their ranks and find inspiration from them all.
The Witches' Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic. Thomas Hatsis; Park Street Press, Rochester, Vermont. 286 pages.
As the waning moon appears on a darkened horizon, I remove my clothes and light a candle with intentions of oneiromanic prophecies. From a hidden cupboard in an old 19th century secretary, I remove several tins with arcane symbols...magickal salves of soporific splendours made by a witch in Canada. Choosing the right one for my purpose, I dip deeply with Saturn's finger, marking my body with the opaque ointment. Stars in my armpits, inner thighs, palms and footbottoms and a final one to my third eye, I am careful to wash my fingertips in case I rub my eyes in the night. Climbing between cool white sheets, my breathing takes it's natural shallow waves to the belly. I say a prayer to Hekate, Domina who guides and keeps safe my spirit during these nocturnal journeys, and close my eyes. I can feel the herbs taking effect, creeping through my teeth and stomach like low-grade LSD. After an hour or two, I begin to dream...
My interest in flying ointments is what initially got me into exploring the study of witchcraft. As discussed on my last podcast, the night flight stories of witches seemed fantastical and entirely possible; even from a psychological perspective, the idea of acting out lewd and illegal fantasies while in the dreamscape of my mind sounded like a healthy expression. Reading the old recipes for true “witches' potions” were something out of a fairytale: bat's blood, opium, henbane, hemlock, belladonna and, of course, the fat from a unbaptised baby.
I first heard the interview with Thomas Hatsis on The Black Chair, a podcast I tune into from time to time, discussing The Witches' Ointment. Then there were lecture dates in the Bay Area, which I was sadly unable to attend. But, I was able to order the book and just finished as the new horror movie, The VVitch, was playing at theatres...(SPOILER ALERT) the opening scene includes a classical sequence of using baby fat as a base, churning with herbs, then smearing it all over her old body for the sabbatic flight. Hatsis deconstructs the myths from realities in a very concise and narrative manner; with folktales and historical account retold at the beginning of each chapter. Although oozing with solid academic research, the author's approach makes the data very digestible for those of us who do NOT like reading history books. Hatsis presents these 'confessions' and concludes that different experiences fall under the categories of either ointment induced experiences (used as an entheogenic tool for performing journey or magick), or blasphemy motivated nocturnal journies...but rarely were the two happening at the same time.
Whilst absurd to the modern practitioner, some of these recounted testimonies were given by actual folks who used these ointments, even if their chemical effects were unknown, and had intense experiences. Hatsis pinpoints when the stereotype of a satanic/diabolical witch's' use of Ye Olde Broomstik, including the fabrication of it as a masturbatory tool, is explored and debunked (we go from Heretic to Witch in less than two hundred years' span).
The dusk flowers adorned the altar, their scent lifted by my heightened senses. I did not plant these, but this ally appeared in my new garden as an old friend. The intense summer heat had made the liminal times sweeter for their delicate white petals, releasing their strange smell. In dreams I sense their proximity, my soul flew through layers of spiritual projection to a wild, overgrown and ancient garden. A dry fountain overgrown with periwinkle, ferns of every shape and conifer trees help to hide the rabbit-faced beings which surround and spy on me. Their silvery glamour does not shade their true intentions...
In particular I enjoyed the fourth chapter titled “Roots of Bewitchment”, which focuses on commonly known materials used in traditional ointments, for either 'soporferis medicamentis' (sleeping medicines) or 'pocula amatoria' (love potions) (p.76). Plants, animal secretions, minerals and other pharmacopeia are examined; a background including etymology of the names, historical uses, medicinal uses and folkloric connections. I had a particular interest in the Solanaceae family: the henbane, mandrake, nightshade and, especially, datura. As a young woman interested in the herbal arts, these plants called to my curious side of gardening. However cautious as I am, it was better to try ointments from more skilled herbalists than bumbling through another experiment which could potentially make me ill, or worse.
It was last summer that Datura stramonium made a home in my new garden bed. Although I had grown this plant a few times in containers (always with great success), the seeds sowed themselves and I soon had huge datura plants. Drought tolerant and sun lovers, these beauties opened every morning at dawn and nightly at dusk, making it a wonderful setting for nocturnal devotionals to Hekate. Sitting amongst them, the plants cooling from the days' heat, I would put my face close to them and inhale deeply of the trumpets. Sometimes called “mad apple”, I can see how this strange plant could be intoxicating to the point of fatality...but what a sweet way to go. The ointment from this plant was used extensively in the ancient world to help with insomnia; the effects of doziness I experienced to be rather rapid and the sleep deep but restful without feeling 'hung over' the next day. If I DO manage to stay awake after using the ointment, there is a euphoric but tense feeling... I actually have to fight off sleep but like a happy toddler.
The Awen comes straight into my mind...visions from my own imagination take on an absurd realism otherwise not experienced in regular lucid dreams. Poetry flows like colors, messages come to me in strange tongues and anticipation flows as wine in cups made of amethyst. I drink, deeply and awaken to write.
I was surprised to read Datura wasn't just used in shamanic journeying or to poison/bewitch unsuspecting muggles, but some users found the imagination whipped to the point of exquisite inspiration...something I experienced as well.
“Writing in 1784 Prussian toxicologist J.S. Halle became on of the first writers to praise the drug for stirring the artistic mind: 'Mixing the ground seeds of datura with wine will produce an artificial, magic and fantastic tincture; if a poet would drink (this blend), it would provide him with his most exalted flight in odes.' This datura-wine elixir will 'fire the pictures of imagination in the most vivid manner, swirling the natural impulse of the muse beyond all enthusiasm of wine'” (p.100).
For further information on the safe uses of these herbs, and to purchase some excellent ointments, follow these links down the rabbit hole.
Resources mentioned in the podcast:
Hey folks, happy Spring Equinox, or Autumn to those in the southern hemisphere. It is a new super, eclipse, equinox moon no matter WHERE we are on this planet right now...let it be a time for renewal, shedding that which no longer serves us, or stepping into a new direction. May our paths be blessed and our souls fed. This latest podcast is going to be a doozey... In "Adversarial Advocate" it is not my intention to be disrespectful, insensitive or otherwise un-supportive of our diverse brothers and sisters in the Craft/Alternative Religions/Occult. I only wish to open minds and inner dialogue that might not always be considered. I offer only love and peace to all sentient beings, everywhere. There... my dark fluff is showing.
As I read the newsfeeds, headlines and reports these days, all I see are religious groups struggling for power...either over themselves or each other. Nothing new to humans... we've been doing this since the beginning. Ebola, Israel/Gaza, ISIS, Religious Freedom/Persecution used as a shield for questionable ethics and ignorance...it is enough to make one long for a better world. And there are, but like many other ideologies and mythologies we know it is beyond this mundane realm and, for some, only accessible through the process of Death. This is no argument in favor of suicide, although I believe in each individual's right to live or die (more on that later). As a matter of fact, in order to properly navigate the Otherworld(s) we need to stay alive and accumulate the necessary tools. At least, this is what the Tibetan Buddhists believe. Similar to the Egyptian Book of the Dead (“The Book of Coming Forth By Day” or rw nw prt m hrw), the 'Bardo Thodol' is a guide through the afterlife, translated as “The Great Liberation through Hearing of the Bardo". The “book” is actually a series of sutras and texts compiled over a long period of time, but is believed to have first been initially composed by legendary master magician Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche ). The process of dying and death is taken very seriously in Tibetan culture, and in some ways it's a welcome transition in general Buddhism. Unlike the Christian belief of resurrection, the laws of reincarnation and karma play a much more significant role in the recently departed. There is no waiting around for some Bodhisattva to come and liberate them; the work of the Buddhist consists of preparing for this final “test” so an individual can free themselves. Customarily, if one can afford it, holy men come to the deathbed and chant these sutras, giving directions and encouragement for the soul to reach it's final destination, whether through an incarnating physical body or settling into one of the many other realms of existence. The instructions are read over a 49-day period, the time it generally takes a soul to reach it's destination; depending on spiritual pursuits and meditation they did in life, some souls will take less time than others to move through the bardos. It is much more complicated than this simple explanation, but is essentially how I have come to understand it.
The term Bardo is essentially the combining of 'bar' (in between) and 'do' (island or mark)...it is a “place” between the various realms of existence, a crossroads of the soul. Whilst there is only three Bardos described in the Book of the Dead, there are multiple layers within each. Each is a threshold and opportunity for the departed to reconcile their karmic debt, and can be quite frightening to the unprepared. The first bardo is entered upon right before the MOMENT physical death occurs. Hovering between life and death, the individual realizes they are about to disappear into the next world. In the Shambhala Dragon Edition of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, there is a great passage in the commentary section which describes this process as an elementary releasing:“Physically, you feel heavy when the earth element dissolves into water; and when water dissolves into fire you find that the circulation begins to cease functioning. When fire dissolves into air, any feeling of warmth or growth begins to dissolve; and when air dissolves into space you last the last feeling of contact with the physical world. Finally, when space or consciousness dissolves into the central nadi, there is a sense of internal luminousity, an inner glow, when everything has become completely introverted” (p.4).
Once death hastens the process and allows the 'self' to release the body, so does the biggest journey begin. The series of bardos that follow are opportunities for the soul to receive enlightenment, to get final chances at realizations the individual may not have practiced or pursued in life. This happens through a series of visions and travels through the different realms. If there had been a true connection made with deities or Buddhas, this is the time when they appear as guides for us to move forward. If this does not occur, the soul moves on into the next phase.
The Six Realms of Existence are states of Samsara (cycles of rebirth) which become available in the second bardo. The realms resonate a bright guiding light and unless focused on the task at hand, the soul is like a moth blindly following illusion. Now, pay attention because this part is kinda important: Our mundane human existence is located somewhere in the middle of this hierarchy, our karma was pretty good if we are now humans. And really, this is a very advantageous place to be because we can go either way: ascending into the realms of the demigods and Gods, or descending into the hellish realms of hungry ghosts and animals.
At the very lowest realm of hell, all intensity is expressed. Anger and loneliness are the dominating tortures in this world, which very much resembles Dante's Inferno: areas of complete freezing cold, rivers of magma, and the skies a fiery blaze. For those who escape or serve out time, the next realm is not much more pleasant as it is inhabited by the pretas, or Hungry Ghosts: beings who experience over and over the desires they attached themselves to in previous lifetimes. “Want” is the big theme here, feelings of greed are prevalent. In classical art they are portrayed as beings with very large bellies, but tiny necks and mouths, sitting before large plates of food they cannot manage to get at. This is an illusion, as they cannot see the food is spoiled and filled with the ravenous poisons they cultivated.
The next realm is that of Animals and whilst we, as humans, tend to like the idea of coming back as a housecat, this is just another illusion. Animals are sentient beings in their innocence...but really, that is just a nice way of describing their “dumbness”. Animals lack a sense of humor, are in a constant state of survival and have no time or intelligence to comprehend the dharma. They act solely on instinct, violence and death are not contemplations but ways of living. Some people are on the borderlands of this realm,I think, succumbing to bodily cravings and destruction for their own 'survival'. Humans are just above this realm, as we have evolved from this primal state of action and turn to the research of potentiality.
As we progress through the realms, just above the humans are the Jealous Gods, or Asuras; envy and suspicion reign supreme here. The beings here are demi-gods... not really good enough to become a fully realized being because they have these attachments of intrigue to work through. They are so busy looking at the shiny pretty details they are missing the bigger picture. It is the distractions of mind, spirituality wrapped up in theories so the soul does not progress but rather becomes “stuck”.
The next realm is that of the Gods: those who have built whole worlds, within their physical bodies, working towards apotheosis as an elevated being of the cosmos. Really, it doesn't sound so bad; a playground of the Devas in which pleasure is maintained and “rewarded” for all their hard work in previous lives. It is still illusion though, as Ego drives the motivation in this realm. The attainment of prideful worship and eternal pats on the back does not help to escape from the cycles of rebirth; which really is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. Even here, the impermanence of the Universe is Law and the heavenly realms are subject to the evolutionary progression of the soul.
Now, depending on how one acts and reacts through the second bardo will determine where they end up. Rejection, fear or attachment to other realms can become the cementing force slowing down the soul's progress....which is why it is important to develop these skills now whilst we still have time, being that it's relative. We can also pray for those who are still trapped in these realms. Making offerings and requests for karmic debt to be eliminated on their behalf, whilst also accepting that karma for ourselves, is a win-win. If all else has failed and the soul does not accept any of the options placed in front of them, the final bardo is crossed into and a “judgment” takes place. This is not unlike the “final boss” experienced in the afterlife of many other religions; the Egyptians face Ma'at where their heart is weighed against the feather of Truth. Facing this Truth is the most important part of the entire journey, facing what we truly ARE and not hiding behind all the falsities of our previous existences. If liberation is not achieved, rebirth is necessary. It is at this point potential parents or lifetimes are presented, with bright lights drawing the soul towards the most favorable womb. So, in essence, we chose this lifetime we are in now. We DID select our parents in this realm and gave ourselves another opportunity to achieve liberation.
All we can really do to avoid such suffering in the afterlife, is to try living a good life, be compassionate and kind-hearted. It seems, according to the Book of the Dead, even this is not enough as we should strive to become virtuous in spiritual pursuits. Our aim is to take advantage of opportunities and privileges for learning meditation, mantra and visualization; all skills we take with us after this lifetime."There being several turning-points, liberation should be obtained at one or other of them through recognizing. But those of very weak karmic connexions, whose mass of obscuration is great [because of] evil actions, have to wander downwards and downwards to the Sidpa Bardo. Yet since there are, like the rungs of a ladder, many kinds of settings-face-to-face [or remindings], liberation should have been obtained at one or at another by recognizing. But those of the weakest karmic connexions, by not recognizing, fall under the influence of awe and terror. [For them] there are various graded teachings for closing the womb-door and for selecting the womb-door; and, at one or other of these, they should have apprehended the method of visualization and [applied] the illimitable virtues [thereof] for exalting one's own condition. Even the lowest of them, resembling the brute order, will have been able -- in virtue of the application of the Refuge -- to turn from entering into misery; and, [obtaining] the great [boon] of a perfectly endowed and freed human body, will, in the next birth, meeting with a guru who is a virtuous friend, obtain the [saving] vows."
Facing the unknown is terribly frightening, but so is a vagina. Not many women have actually SEEN their own, or better yet a yoni attached to another woman...except perhaps unnatural ones in most porno films. Sometimes stretched liver and onions, or bald lipless wonders, they make ordinary woman’s lady parts seem as foreign lands we only can see in postcards. I was lucky enough to see midwives as a young woman and exposed to radical feminist ideologies in my witchcraft as well. I am sure at one point or another all women put a mirror on the floor or lay down with a hand mirror...but it is NOTHING compared to seeing the secret places of the womb. With a soft plastic speculum inserted and opened, the cervix is completely vulnerable. Like the inner part of an orchid reaching from deep vulvic folds, pink and wet, it waits for pollination. I can only imagine how carnivorous it would seem dilated, opened like a Georgia O'Keefe magnolia except red and shiny with it's swelling. In some ways, I am glad for the cesarean birth my daughter had; my cervix and vaginal canal have remained intact. Happily, it has been kept pure for the pleasure of sexual magicks. Besides, the scar has it's own story.
My vagina is a chalice, a cauldron, a vessel churning and reacting. It eternally pulls and pushes, ebbs and flows, has it's own ecosystem with natural flora in a delicate balance of co-habitation. Yes, it is sometimes angry and rages. The hormonal swings and cycles that spread throughout the rest of my body, including my brain, takes over...possesses me as a spirit of prophetic wildness. And that is okay. It will age and change over time, much as Dorian Gray's painting hid the scars and debauchery of his existence, so will the bud of cervical mystery transform into a deflated balloon, gray and wispy in appearance. I know, I've seen an older woman's cervix. I applied for a job at the Women's Feminist Heath Center in Chico after graduating with my Bachelor's. Part of the interviewing process included a peek at the vagina of an older woman...a nurse practitioner and midwife who casually jumped up on the table and did the deed. We each took turns viewing...they said it was 'optional' but I figured it could possibly turn into extra credit towards being hired. Sadly, I did not get the job and in a way am glad to not look at vagina all day.
LBRP Update *Angry version 2.1
I need to finish the progress report of my LBRP blog...how did it go in the end? The 30 days of performing the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram? Well after doing it for 28 days and writing all about all the issues I was having, my wonderful teacher/mentor/friend Sam Webster gave to me some tips and suggestions...or as we call it in our Hermetikoi, 'hacks'. I had so many issues...I decided to start over. And it was so much more effective! The biggest problem to begin with was issues surrounding angels and Yahweh and the whole Judeo-Christian lineage. Woah...if we take all that stuff out, what is gonna be left of it, right? Well the thing is...even by doing it in the complete traditional style I don't believe it would work. And it kinda hasn't. I wrote back in April about this and had to stop processing it from the very beginning; starting with the Rosey Cross. Not only am I intoning HEKATE at the heart of my ethereal body, between ATEH and MALKUTH, but reversing the order of VE-GEBURAH and VE-GEDULAH also broke me from a lifelong habit of Catholic self-crossing. Starting on the left-hand side, instead of the right shoulder, is cathartic whilst also subtle. It's like saying the “Our Father” prayer backwards...breaking these old patterns which have been programmed into neurotransmitters and webs of our ethereal bodies.
The first pentagram invoked in the East was intoned with the sacred name of feminine divine....ASHEREH. In a breath it flows, soft and willowy as feathers. The primordial energy from the beginning of time, the chaotic winds of potentiality within Her womb . The first few times I intoned this in replacement of YOD-HE-VAU-HE, it seemed strange until I understood WHO this was. Ashereh is the wife of Yahweh, the consort of the One who is not One... Drawing the banishing pentagram whilst intoning it BEFORE sending on it's way....my form and order were all wrong. So I breathed in through my mouth and on the out, pushed the intonation into my pentagram causing it to swell enormously, seal it with hands extended and come back to seal with a kiss.
With dominant hand, I draw the circle connection onto the next direction of South. ADONAI; a common enough title of Master, sometimes I use this in the feminine Adonaia for Hekate. My breath became fiery, with the burning brightness an illumination came: I am driven by the Light...I search for the beacon in my darkness which the whole time was me. I send out the signal and feel the warmth growing in the pentagram. In the West is EHEIEH, the chill likened to Lord Charon who ferries the Beloved Dead across rivers in Hades. The blue energy that shot form my finger was ice-cold and sharp in it's almost guttural sound, resonating from somewhere deep in my lower lungs.
The MOST difficult part of the entire procedure, AGLA... an acronym for 'Atah Gibor Le-olam Adonai' (You, O Lord, are mighty forever)? Somehow, it works...but it would be like using OMPH instead of chanting the “Om Mani Padme Hum”; it is not effective because the WORDS have meaning for a reason. The sounds produced when resonating a mantra, or intoning a magickal formula, were believed by me to be the meat of the effect. Because it has been in practice for so long, and the intention behind the intonation seems to be more important in this case, I have learned to just flow with it. It's short, sweet and to the point. Never mind how in the first weeks of intonation, a “shit demon” arose from my septic tank..the banishing had become invoking and still leaves a foul smell in my nostrils when I get to the “GL” part. Is it the compost and dark matter of deepest caves? The energy dripping as mud off my fingertips and splashed across the pentagram, drying as stucco.
As I bring my projecting fingers back to the eastern quadrant of this line of giant, pulsating stars...both arms swing out as my head lowers to acknowledge before me the approachable RAPHAEL, my head drops back behind me is the guardian GABRIEL, as mine is also God's “right hand man” MICHAEL, and the lefthander's choice of URIEL. It is only when they have fortified the pentagrams and gathered them up in front of them, do my arms extend above my head.. surrounding me. My hands and arms are the two pillars, holding a balance between all worlds as I am the middle pillar, the axis mundi, a six-rayed star lighted between hands...the shining beacon. I draw this down, and through my rosey cross. Upon completion, my fingers to chin in a praying position....I take a deep, cleansing breath and send those pentagrams and angels FLYING out, far from me, penetrating all in their paths and dragging behind the un-necessaries. But what is left behind?
I find after 40 days of performing the LBRP three times a day, my life is not at peace. On the contrary, I am quite irritable and quick to anger. Although I really think this is more of a repressed rage, it is still unchecked and the very last demon I need to face. Religious folks eventually have to face anger, and although it is considered a poison of spiritual development, it is a powerful demon that can also morph into a vengeful angel of justice. When everything is stripped down, and I know I am on the brink of total surrender, the anger arises. And what can we DO with it? As energy workers and spiritual docents, we are kinda trained to be peaceful and in the middle place of things. I always thought being 'angry' was a spiritual poison. What does being mindful in our anger look like? When I get pissed, I like to go mow my lawn or pull weeds....tend MY garden. But what can I do when it arises from meditation?
I have always struggled with expressing Anger. As a girl growing up it was 'unbecoming' to get angry. In my angst-ridden teens (and early twenties) I was a 'riot grrl'...third wave feminist in a small ranching town, who practiced witchcraft and could drink/smoke/curse/outwit with the best of the manly folks. The boys in my hometown had no clue what to do to me, let alone talk, and most of my time was spent peacefully reading or meditating or yoga or some other activity that could quell the rage. When I later made a family upon 30, the anger was pressed down even further...complacent wife, nurturing mother, quiet daughter, supportive sister, class clown. So many titles and roles bogged me down, but kept the anger busy. I focused it on co-dependent projects, giving all of my Self and then some was filial piety: body destroyed by pregnancy and chronic illness, soul thin from holding and pulling the hands of endless students/friends/family towards success or satisfaction. The only thing I have ever done for my Self, and against the wishes of many, has been pursuing my academic and spiritual thirsts.
So here I am now. EHEIEH, the “I AM” of Self; sick and tired of being sick and tired. The LBRP cleared away all the rubbish, given over to Hekate for compost. The spiritual waters have quenched my parched roots and Hermes is ushering me back into my body, into the places I hold anger. The Lord of physics, psychopompic gladiator, He has literally manifested a gym in my home; a family death gave us a treadmill, stationary bicycle and rowing machine. A serpentine priestess sent me a yoga dvd. My food has become cleaner as I take the very little power I have to purchase organic foods to eat, slower cooking and mindful patience. I have, under my primary care physician's advice and observation, weaned off my anti-depressant medication to be replaced with 5-HTP, and whilst a little edgy I am FEELING again. The Multiverse is telling me something, the anger is speaking back. Spiritual warrior, shaman, priest, witch, lama, magician, tantrika...Odin's ravens sit in the large oak talking and confirming as I write this. The time for gentleness is over.
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
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.
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.
- "And he shall separate them one from another,
- as a shepherd divided his sheep from the goats.
- And he shall set the sheep on his right,
- but the goats on his left."
- — Matthew 25: 32-33
Spooky and adorning more than a dozen heavy metal album covers and t-shirts, this spirit is something conjured out of the middle ages; literally. An alchemical egregore, the Sabbatic goat we, as witches, tried hiding it, motivated by a need for acceptance in the mundane world. It is Baphomet...an idol descending from Knight Templar records. Steeped in archaic and Kabbalistic symbolism, which I do not pretend to begin understanding, the duality is perfectly clear even to an untrained eye. In my exploration, I am trying to answer my own questions: Is Baphomet a Deity, a Spirit, or simply a mandala for meditation and contemplative purposes?
Baphomet is hermaphroditic, having a phallic penis with swollen breasts. The snakes intertwine around the phallus, looking something similar to the caduceus of Hermes; I don't think this was by chance. His 'rod' is a wand, an extension of Hermes' creative energies and the mages' staff. At the same time, the breasts are enlarged and full of nurturing milk, inspiration. The anthropomorphic head and hooves are that of a goat, more specifically the Sabbatic Goat of witchcraft. Between the goat-headed antlers is the illuminating flame of intellect; that 'fire in the head', driving the Arte of witches and mystics from a primal/bestial place. The themes of duality continue with the placement of human hands, the feminine pointing up toward the white moon and the masculine down at a black moon, connecting as a liminal gesture signifying something like “As Above, So Below”. Written or tattooed reads the Latin words SOLVE (“separate”) on the upraised arm and COAGULA (“join together”) on the down-pointed arm.
I know...these are heavy-duty mysteries. Baphomet is a composite Be-ing that takes on all kinds of imagery from opposites, combined in a harmonious image of stark beauty. It is the 'moonchild' of Crowley's theories, a result of unifying Babalon with Chaos, the poster-child for left-hand path practitioners, who hope to become deified through apotheosis. Everything at odds within oneself at ease, working together in equilibrium, as one unit. There is no inherent “good” nor “evil”, Baphomet destroys all dichotomies of ethics and morals...why this idol has become adopted by many Left Hand Path practitioners, in the breaking of taboos and embracing ALL sides of magick. I embrace that flame and alight my heart with the fires of Baphomet's inspiration.
We are already becoming more of our true Selves each and every day. But why not go a step further and deify? Whilst the path of spirituality and religion for most people is about becoming closer to Deity, it is my mission to be AS Deity... to elevate my soul and metaprogram what DNA, culture and the Universe has dealt me. Why should this status only be reserved for celebrities and noteworthy persons... fuck that. On the astral, I'm a superstar of Lady Gaga proportions. This may seem delusional to some... hell, even in the occult community there are less narcissistic tendencies. Some might even say this goal is ego-driven and empowered by grasping; to that I say 'nay'... Bodhisattvas reject this elevated state in order to free others, turning from a God-like realm in the Otherworld. Yes, it is still part of Samsara and the cycles of rebirth; but at least the choice is being made consciously instead from out of ignorance.
There are several paths which embrace the apotheosis paradigm, and not just obscure occultic philosophies. Aspiring Buddha-hood or entrance into the Pure Land are common motives for meditation and prayer advancement in several forms of Buddhism. Ancient Hellenic cultures placed rulers on pedestals and created state religions centered around these national ancestors; the same thing occurs in Asian religions like Shinto with royal lineages linked to deities. Even after death, canonized Catholic Saints are still attributed to miracles associated with reliquary worship and incorruptible corpses.
Realizing and cultivating our God potential really isn't as hard as one would imagine. By making spiritual life motivated towards the end result in deification, everything else is simply by-products, or added bonus points. Sure we can amass followers, establish a temple to receive donations and funding for various projects or write books for royalties...but this would all require effort away from the ultimate goal. In realizing our true nature of Deity, letting that Luciferian flame spark and ignite, we inspire our True Will to shine...our Buddha nature. I am already perfection in what I am; ascending FURTHER above that is my Will. My body is the temple for God-self to arise in...it must be purified, cleaned and kept sacred.
I am the eldest in a trio of daughters; after me is G and the baby is J. I am dark-haired and pudgy, G is the tall thin blonde, and J is the strong lean red-head. We are likened to the Powerpuff Girls, if they were cast as the Stygian witches or dancing Fates in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The thing about us growing up, we were closer than most siblings. Sure we fought, and still do... but that happens. After spending time all sharing a bed, or a room several times, they have been the sentinel of protection and comfort as only family can be... we have an unshakable bond that none have dared to break. My sisters are not magickal folk, and actually are quite skeptical in their thinking. Not that the esoteric is completely without rationale but my natural abilities to see the unseen and serve the Dead has certainly been the butt of jokes in our family for years. Being a good sport I can take it, but the need to be understood is sometimes overwhelming enough that I seek reassurance outside my small, comfortable retinue of Goddesses and allied ancestors. For several years I participated in and facilitated many groups for women: moon circles, covens, red tents... all were moments in my life when I could forget the competition and cattiness I otherwise fear from women. These types of gatherings reminded my tomboy spirit that there is a femininity within that is free to come out and play every once in a while. I learned about the roles we all play as women, the various stages our bodies go through and the sacred/profane juxtaposed in our lives. I worked through my past lives as women, and men, as mothers, midwives birthed new miracles, ideas and Be-ings. As the wise witch, the harvested and cleared way brings death, endings. To transform darkly, in that compost of ashen blood is to be reborn again. That is what we are as females... the beginning and the end both consummated in blood.
It is through this blood I am connected to all others, including my spiritual sisters. It is also how I have connected with Hekate, through the blood of pain and shedding... but She is not the only one who can fill this role. A stated before in several other blogs (see Sacrificial Schedules), I do not adhere to the roles of 'archetypes' for my personal ideology, although I am supportive if others wish to use them as tools for understanding the ways of deity. For me, they are separate Be-ings and entities... much as people are; we are all made of celestial 'stuff', it just takes on different forms of matter (and anti-matter sometimes). For example, whilst many Neo-Pagans may experience Hekate as Be-ing Morrígan, or even sometimes Ereshkigal, She is only Her Self with me... I experience these other Deities completely in a different way. I am drawn to many chthonic Gods and Goddesses, and even though they share similar characteristics, no two are exactly the same; nor do I experience them in similar ways either. I consider them part of the same Sorority or Fraternity.... they are like brothers and sisters in their collective roles, but are still very much individuals.
It is with this in mind my path has taken a slight turn, as yet another deity has entered my Left-Handed (or SINISTER) journey. Not long ago, I petitioned the Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, on behalf of a friend who is part hispanic; being in a punk band and a little 'rough around the edges' I thought they're be a perfect match. Since this working, Santisima has become more and more of a presence in my life. I created an altar, researched Her history and folklore. Filtering out relevant and quality information is difficult with such a recent Lady of Bones... in a long line of death Goddess, La Flaka is the new girl on the block. She is sister to Kali in Her removal of obstacles, fierce in Her love like the Morrigan, protective as Hekate of Her children, and regal as Queen Hel. As I take Her boney hand, a nod of approval is given by the other Sorors as I face Her embrace.
It started when I read “Mastering Witchcraft” by Paul Huson. He suggests a ritual to set oneself on the path of witchcraft, saying the Christian "Our Father" prayer (A.K.A. "The Lord's Prayer" from Matthew 6:9–13) backwards consecutively for three nights before bed, whilst visualizing chains binding you to your Christian background being broken. Originally reading this I thought “I'll skip that”. See, I worked that shit so long ago and really don't have any kind of hangups about my Catholic upbringing... or so I thought. I recently came back around to it after saying these prayers nightly. I came to the conclusion I had skipped over a BIG thing in spiritual process by generally ignoring it for years. It's a very private thing and most people would never dream of discussing masturbation in a public blog. This is something which must be said: I DO NOT MASTERBATE... I always thought it a waste of time in general. At first when I looked at this, I wondered if my Catholic upbringing and being told our sex organs are only for the purpose of reproduction had something to do with it. But I never bought that original sin fallacy, along with a lot of the contradictions I knew early on. I cannot even recall my mother ever telling me NOT to. I figured out a long time ago all I needed was a thought... to start with my own imagination and the world was mine.
I was 12 and called this “mind masturbation”... sexy thoughts or scenarios enter my brain and then feelings would manifest in my body. If I thought of a boy caressing my new budding breasts, I noticed my nipples became erect. My body throbbed as my heart grew bigger and bigger, filling every part of my skin until little goosebumps came up. I would only touch sheets or hold tight to the pillows as wave after wave washed over my long body. After wards I thought my bladder had lost control but later knew this was the result of having a true orgasm. I was afraid to tell anyone about this as a kid. It wasn't until my first sexual encounter years later that I realized what I was doing. Even then, I thought it was 'normal' for a virgin to have several orgasms the first time... my friends were amazed. When I began to study tantricism as a young adult I discovered there are all sorts of orgasms and I could do them ALL. This seems like a blessing, and it is; but for a magician it can be difficult. As I delve into the worlds of Luciferian, sex and Chaos magick I am seeing more and more how important this 'self love' really is. Austin Osman Spare points out in his "Book of Pleasure” that bliss goes beyond the physicality, and is the microcosm of something bigger:
“Self-love in complete perspective, serves its own invincible purpose of ecstasy. Supreme bliss simulating opposition is its balance. It suffers no hurt, neither does it labour. Is it not self-attracting and independent? Assuredly we cannot call it balance. Could we but imitate its law, all creation without command would unite and serve our purpose in pleasure and harmony" (The Book of Pleasure).
Physical love of self is something more than just having healthy self esteem... it is being comfortable and secure enough in one's own skin to LOVE it. Having a relationship with one's own body is like any other, we have to know what buttons to push, try listening to it, and occasionally making love to it. Every human can do it, regardless of age. Sure it may not be the same journey for all, but an orgasm isn't just in the body is it? For example the release of it is very similar to the feeling we get when sneezing or releasing our bladders. From a spiritual perspective there is a lot going on at moments of ecstasy. Whether it is received via sexual activities and/or through meditative work, bliss is something most of us seek. And interestingly, both are sought outside one SELF. Spare suggests we seek WITHIN and I am ready to do just that.
“A person desires things of this world- but where is the difference of desiring the 'Supreme Bliss'? Which is the more selfish? Which is nearer you? Which pleases the Creator more? Are you certain of the Creator's will and are you sure of your own desire? Are you the Creator or just yourself, as you fondly imagine your contents?” (A.O. Spare).
DOES the means justify the ends? Am I skipping the self sacrifice and going straight to the heart of bliss, not crawling before I walk?
***A LETTER FOR ODIN***
Are you there Odin? It's me, Fawn. You are not new in my life but another part of it I am having to acknowledge. You feel very similar to Lucifer, Prometheus, and other Light Bringers... illuminating what is at the heart without subtlety. At Yggdrasil, you hung on the Tree for 9 days to receive the wisdom of runes... the pain of learning through self sacrifice. All-Father, you plucked out an eye to receive visions from the well of Mimir. Wonder what you would do for a Klondike bar?
Odin, you ask me to listen but everything else is so loud. I step into the tree, down the winding stairs and out onto the roots. The fog surrounds an otherwise grey landscape which reminds me of the British Moors... or the Burrens in western Ireland... an empty place which nothing grows in it's liminal space except potential. Father, your ravens follow, lead and chatter wherever I wander... even into the Otherworlds they are guardians. I have looked into the Wyrd well... followed the crystal I threw in to see what the end results woull be. My frustration is experienced in the lack of knowledge along the path... the spiritual masturbating of strokes and prayerful cries are offered without answer.
I will don the mask, light the Black Flame of my heart, and await your messages in waking seidr. Odin, Woden, Cernunnos, Lucifer... come to me as you Will. I harken the wordless bliss and reap the images passing through the dark forests, no longer afraid of what is illuminated. I am naked, vulnerably bare and burnt. I have sloughed off the dead, blackened skin and am ready for the growth of promise.
In the early nineties I was a young and rebellious witchlet. No tradition, no rules to follow, no curriculum allowed me the opportunity to practice what I liked to refer to as “free-range witchcraft”, but others called 'eclectic'. Although not traditional, I was given SOME guidance by a mentor in the ways of Tantricism, even he encouraged my craving for variety, limitless knowledge, and the spiritual intensity which came so easily to me (and still does). As the years passed my craft became more refined and focused, I pulled from sources I academically researched and explored through travels to sacred places and people. An accumulated spiritual path, I stayed somewhat solitary and preferred Be-ing the big fish in my small pond.
It was only in the last 5 to 6 years I had been led to seek out more structured and rigid paths of magick and paganism, but still find myself taking bits and infusing them into personal praxis. Technology has made it easier to access information in ways which I fully take advantage of: making contact with other artists of the occult, exchanging ideologies and methodologies... the sharing resources is a blessing to my ever-evolving path. The problem lies in the other side of this coin: with tremendous egos and armchair scholars (you know those folks, the amateur historians who read and research without ACTUALLY getting a degree and claim to be the authority), looking down their noses and offering opinions as if there were only one perspective, asking for references or the long recitation of lineages/initiations. In my youth I tended to give them my tallest finger with a smile that said “eat shit” for my degree.. now I just let them believe me to be a 'noob'.
In my studies I have found a niche in the occult community which speaks highly of my attitude concerning religion in general: Chaos. I thrive in it... creating it is really when I shine my brightest. I am extremely lucky and make it out of every situation by the skin of my teeth, escaping death and riding waves which would drive most to suicide or madness (and I have visited both). Without accepting the one-ness of the universe at face value, the patterns of life are not always orderly but I resonate with the randomness of it all. Black holes, dark matter, unknown theories and sciences on the edge of natural anarchy has a place in my ideology. In embracing all the knowledge and truths I can experience or conceptualize is VERY powerful stuff. It takes a small bit of naivete with a large chaser of courage poured into wizened mind is a recipe for a magickal cocktail they now call “Chaos Magick”. Granted this anti-tradition has actually been around since the 19th century, it is only in my more mature explorations of magickal tools I feel 'ready' to explore this work of sigils, servitors, and Luciferian illumination of Self. A steady diet of Peter Carroll, Austin Osman Spare, and Phil Hine, these giants of imagination and self-determination have inspired me to reach beyond the ordinary tools of magick; the blade, wand, or any of the other accoutrements passed off as necessary for magick. The power of Will is the only essential in manifestation.
Take for example my little family vacation this last week to Disneyland. A horrible time to go, we ventured to the magical kingdom during Mercury in retrograde and everything that could go wrong pretty much did. Everyone in our group was arguing and not wanting to do the same things, most were smokers we had to wait on, I had a heat rash and sunburn. At first I was so bummed because my mom had to wait around all morning for a car rental company to bring a new vehicle due to bad brakes... Enterprise made her miss the grandchildren first entrance into Disneyland. We went on all the popular rides first, so Mom missed out and I was really bummed about it. I wanted her to have a chance without having to stand in line for so long. Whilst waiting for the children to finish a show, an employee came over and struck up a conversation with me... which ended in her giving me a pass to the front of any line in Disneyland for 6 riders. I couldn't believe it! Over the course of those two days I received other opportunities such as VIP entrance to a show, a cute old couple offered to let us que up in the handicapped line with them (after my daughter hurt her foot), AND an intimate moment with the Evil Queen I had been trying to get photographed with. Pretty much, all my Disney dreams came true and I owe it all to Chaos!
The time has finally come for me to explore the darker side of my horned God that lingers in the background. For so long I conceived of this Be-ing as Cernunnos, Herne, or any number of heathen masculine greatness. I do not believe in Jungian archetypes, so they are not all exactly the SAME Be-ing so much as they are brothers in a fraternal order in which Lucifer is the council adviser. The word 'lucifer' is much older than Christians give credit for ... as a matter of fact, it came from a Hebrew description meaning 'morning star' or 'shining one'. Similarities to the adversarial Be-ing this title is associated with have been found with deities from Babylon. But this is not going to be a history lesson on the Devil, or the etymology on the word 'lucifer' since this has been done to death.... I merely wish to contemplate a place the Light-bringer would have in my praxis.
The fascination with Lucifer began as a child... like most weird little kids who grew up Catholic I always kinda felt sorry for Him; kicked outta Heaven for Be-ing jealous of God's love for the weak little humans He made. As I grew older and refused to accept the dualist dichotomy of the whole 'good and evil' bullshit, the first occult book I picked up was Anton Levy's “The Satanic Bible”. Here was a guy not afraid of Satan... and I wasn't either only that I didn't believe in Him. However, Lucifer was another matter; this was a Be-ing I knew had been here a lot longer. He invaded dreams sometimes as an all black man with a mask on, someone I didn't necessarily battle but had to keep at bay from anyone I loved. This shadow self was not really ME, but an outside trickster who wasn't so much playful but wanted to give illumination.
Later I explored academically the paths of Luciferian thought, the Church of Satan, and ideologies from the Temple of Set. I still see the 'black and white' speak... the dualism of A-theist and Theist; the small light in darkness juxtaposed to the small darkness which comes with light. Acceptance and work in the black realm consisted of psychological mumbo jumbo (archetypal 'deific masks'), self-indulgence and enjoyment of the flesh. This sounds great and works for others who need to release those inhibitions, Christian scars and hangups they might have about themselves... but it doesn't work when you want to SEE behind the great and powerful Lucifer's black curtain.
I want to go beyond the smoke and mirrors with Hekate as my guide. I see these two paired together in the Hekatean community and cannot help but think of them as the Chthonic equivalent of Laverne and Shirley: not sexually active together, one prim and proper but a tiger if pushed (Hekate/Shirley) and the other louder, tougher with a heart of gold (Lucifer/Laverne). Well I don't want to be like Carmine, coming around to help them when needed or to serenade Hekate with flowers and hymns. I want to be in a Ménage à trois with these two, spiritually speaking. I want Hekate to guide me into the realms of the Light-bringer. Together with Her torches and His flaming heart the shadows of doubt, fear and anger can be out shined, eradicated, and finally chased into oblivion. I am ready to burn for this, cast myself into the combined fires of their Witchflame and shed mortal flesh to be released. Freedom has a price and to express it whilst still staying in this unhealthy, misshaped body is the hardest part of my path right now... Hekate has helped my spirit to soar, now Lucifer will show the power waiting inside my body.
As a practitioner of magick I know how to do evocations, invocations, banishings, blessings, healings, and hexes. My workings have primarily been with the higher kindred of the Gods and Nature Spirits, the genius loci and other 'fluffy' spirits (as some would call them). Most of the spell-work produced has been to the benefit of others, or myself, and the energy produced comes from ME... either as channeled from a higher being or my own kundalini. Rarely do I ever use spells from Grimoires, especially ones that are hundreds of years old and invoke angels or demons, which would (for me) involve a general belief in Godhead as the Judea-Christian perspective I do not possess. I understand that in a historical aspect, these grimmeries were the cornerstone of medieval magicians; immersed in the Christian-society of their time so the belief in 'angels and demons' was rampant and so indoctrinated into the psyche of these individuals, there was no other jargon for them to use when producing these formulaes. This is especially true when looking at one of the most famous (and probably utilized) text of all: The Goetia.
For those who are unfamiliar, let me give you a brief background on the Goetia. Known also as the Ars Goetia (a 17th century piece of a larger text, The Lesser Key of Solomon), it is believed to contain the names and evocations of the 72 demons corresponding to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet; they are mostly famous for being employed by the great King Solomon from the old Testament. Solomon was a powerful magician who was able to make these spirits do whatever work he wanted done (including building the great First Temple of Jerusalem in record time), and then kept them in a sealed brazen vessel; ancient tupperware to save the spirits for a later use. Eventually it was re-worked and translated for early 20th century magicians by Aleister Crowley. By utilizing the seals, symbols, and the evocations any magician could summon up one of these spirits to do work according to their specialty. This is not to be confused with the 72 Enochian angels 'discovered' during the experiments of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley.
Why do I ponder this book and the information contained within it? Well, I am curious for one thing: If a magician is so powerful, why do they not do the work themselves? Unless it is due to laziness, I assume they cannot do it and therefore have to employ some otherworldly be-ing to do their dirty work. For example, instead of evoking Vassago to tell about the future, why not just divine it myself? Why go through all the trouble of bringing this demon into a circle only to do work I possess the knowledge and ability to do myself? It seems like a bit of an insult and waste of talent to me. However, on the other hand... there are Goetic spirits who can steal royal treasure (Raum), inflict disease onto others (Sabnock), and teach secret magicks and skills (Bifrons). But once again, there are several Gods/Goddesses, ancestors and other be-ings who could do the same thing.
What does it mean to work with these ancient devils for a modern practitioner? Would an a-theistic magician only see these spirits as parts of themselves? And if so, is it still considered to be as dangerous? Unlocking the secret, subconscious parts of ourselves in the world of magick, whether we b
elieve it is outside ourselves or coming from within, still has a certain element of danger involved. Look what happened to poor Faustus: “'tis magic, magic, that hath ravished me” (from scene 1 in the play The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe). The fine line between sanity and madness can easily be crossed in the magickal arts, and the demons I believe only wait for the opportunity to push us over the edge.
Recently the topic of left hand paths of spirituality came up in a conversation with some Pagans, and I asked out of curiousity about Bay Area Satanism; the Church of Satan was established here along with a number of other LHP traditions and philosophies. It was at this point the problem of racism and fascism in some pagan paths was mentioned. Now, I had done extensive research whilst taking a survey class in “Violence in American Religious History” during my undergraduate years, which involved the exploration of National Alliance, a Neo-Nazi group which advocates White Pride philosophical ideologies; they also justify their lifestyle and behavior with scriptures and re-interpretations of the Christian Bible. I had never given any consideration to Pagans or other non-mainstream religious folks having similar motivations; boy was I naïve. I am in no way, shape/form a Nazi, racist, or fascist. I do not adhere to the beliefs and politics of socialism nor nationalism. However, some would see my adopted attitude of “do what thou wilt” as somehow being supportive of these ideas. This is simply not true. I think it would be fair to also acknowledge that groups such as the KKK, the Black Panthers, or even the Irish National Army meet technical 'requirements' for being considered a hate group (at least by the Southern Poverty Law Center). I think there is a danger in using labels; it is an infringement upon the rights of others (including those of racists):
“Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing. Websites appearing to be merely the work of a single individual, rather than the publication of a group, are not included in this list. Listing here does not imply a group advocates or engages in violence or other criminal activity”.
And in balance with this 'hate' is the Love they have for their culture, heritage, and race; but somehow this part gets lost. Why is there something wrong with NOT loving everybody? I am not condoning hate for people in generalities... such as hating a specific ethnicity or subcultural group; but why should I feel guilty for hating someone who has wronged me? Am I only to hate Hitler or love Obama? No... I don't know either of these blokes and wouldn't pretend to. I love what Anton LaVey says in The Satanic Bible about Love and Hate... it is a set of realistic terms and perspectives in which I reluctantly agree with:
“Love is one of the most intense feelings felt by man; another is hate. Forcing yourself to feel indiscriminate love is very unnatural. If you try to love everyone you only lessen your feelings for those who deserve your love. Repressed hatred can lead to many physical and emotional aliments. By learning to release your hatred towards those who deserve it, you cleanse yourself of these malignant emotions and need not take your pent-up hatred out on your loved ones.”
The Pagan community as a whole has a habit of being open and welcoming to unusual or fringe ideologies and lifestyles; we are rather accepting even when we disagree (at least in the past it was this way). The longer I stay in the Pagan community, the more intolerance I see though. And it's not just the fundamental traditionalists any more... now it's the extreme leftists infringing on everyone; including any and all belief systems or people in their wave of tolerance. At some point the once exclusive and tight-nit covens of the past became these global, self-initiated paths in which anyone could join. Social Darwinism mandates that only the strong survive... that giving esoteric information to those who prove to be deserving, of skill and dedication makes much more sense than educating the masses on mysteries, whilst turning a buck.
No... witchcraft and paganism is pure, wild, and in our blood. No matter where our ancestors hail from, there are those of the old magick lineage who have the natural abilities and means to remember. We each have an individual path and approach to God/Self so long as it does not infringe on others. We are the elite and strong. It is what we LIKE about it, having power and separating ourselves from the herds of NORMAL, non-magical folk. Admit it and stop judging each other: penis, vagina, love, hate, violence or peace... our diversity makes us strong and mutual respect is exclusive.
Lords of the Left Hand Path: Forbidden Practices & Spiritual Heresies (From the Cult of Set to the Church of Satan). Stephen E. Flowers, Ph.D.; Inner Traditions, Rochester, Vermont. 1997; 2nd edition 2012. 288 pages.
Cogito ergo sum; “I think, therefore I am” was first put forth as an existential idea by Rene Descartes back in the 17th century. Being able to think or consider is what separates us from beasts, but many people back then, as now, would find it easier to be guided by an outside authority on ethics, tastes, all the things which make human beings 'enlightened'. Right... according to Stephen Flowers we have the capacity to be much more than the slaves of an objective universe. The differences in these philosophies bring us back to the common descriptions of spiritual perspectives on the universe and how our own motivations determine the magicks means and ends. 'Right Hand Path' is the pursuit of Union with God (the goal of most mainstream religions), and usually this is accessed OUTSIDE oneself; “Humanity is to seek knowledge of the law, and then apply itself to submitting to that law in order to gain ultimate union with the objective universe, with God, or with Nature” (p.8). This motivation results in the eventual annihilation of the Self or Ego, to make room for the Divine to fill us. Whilst this sounds like a blissful and honorable goal in spiritual progression, I find it somewhat un-genuine to the potentiality I possess. Why bend my Self to the laws of the Universe if I can manipulate the Universe to fit MY Will? Isn't this ultimately what practicing magic is all about? Otherwise we can just call it praying.
As Flowers re-tells the history of LHP application and influence in everything from philosophy, spirituality, to art and governments; adversarial rebellion has been around since the beginning of religious thought. Given in a chronological order allows for the modern story to be told in a way which the reader can easily see the development and evolution from a surprising perspective. By providing a list of certain criteria, each section of the book examines and deconstructs various figures and philosophies from history:
- “Self-Deification: the attainment of an enlightened (or awakened), independently existing intellect and its relative immortality.
- Individualism: the enlightened intellect is that of a given individual, not a collective body.
- Initiation: the enlightenment and strength of essence necessary for the desired state of evolution of self are attained by means of stage created by the will of the magician, not because he or she was “divine” to begin with.
- Magic: the practitioners of the left-hand-path see themselves as using their own wills in a rationally intuited system or spiritual technology designed to cause the universe around them to conform to their self-willed patterns” (p.11).
What is revealed through the text is an analysis of several historical personages and paths which might be considered 'sinister'; such notable personalities as Aleister Crowley, Karl Marx, and the Marquis de Sade all have SOME applicable qualities, but not ALL.
When I first embarked on the path of magic, like many I was a rebellious/curious youth searching out some way of explaining my experiences and ways of relating to Godhead. I often cut school and went to the library to smoke cigarettes outside and read books/magazines until it was time to catch the bus back home. Funny that no adult ever bothered me; I suppose they figured a 14 year old who sits at the library instead of school is probably not up to trouble. At the beginning of the 1990's there was more materials becoming available in the occultic arts, with access to books on both sides of the fence regarding witchcraft and satanism in particular; the satanic scare of the 80's produced a huge amount of material in these areas. As a recent ex-Catholic I wanted to go as far away from the God of my childhood, so I picked up Anton LeVey's Satanic Bible , a friend gave me Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche , and the works of H.P. Lovecraft; I felt terrified and inspired at the same time. It was not until I tried my first spell that I decided not to pursue this path... as the curse worked only too well and ended up doing more damage than I ever intended for all. There was still something missing from my spiritual path which did not empower me...I still felt uneasy about being part of an organized religion of any kind, but at the ripe age of 16 I read The Spiral Dance by Starhawk and knew then it was the feminine power of the Goddess which was missing. I realized the need to seek this part of myself out and I did, for almost 20 years.
And now I have come back full circle, into darkness under the cloak of Hekate. I have the academic training to decipher bullshit, received initiations from the Gods themselves into the deeper mysteries of my spiritual path, and the magickal training/focus to succeed in any endeavor I set forth. I was not ready, I had not evolved at such a young age to see beyond the scope of 'spookiness'; the shock value of being in the shadows has a certain appeal, but does not reveal much in the true Light. Even in my Buddhism, I have natural tendencies towards LHP in this spiritual vein: wanting to resist the final annihilation of my ego to embrace and use it toward tantric explosions of progression on my path. I accept responsibility for my own choices and actions both on the mundane and psychic planes; there is no destiny except the one in which I create. I embrace the Gods as kin; I am ready to purify and begin the process of igniting the Promethean flame in my heart. Inspire, desire and fire come forth.