Heart of the Black Flame: Flambeau Noir

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.

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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.

Pantheacon Report: 2018 Edition

Every year all kinds of people come to San Jose for the 3 day Pagan conference, Pantheacon; which I have attended for 6 years now. And true to my nature, I write about my various experiences over the President's Day weekend. The following is a summation of my thoughts and shenangians as they occurred to me, with every day's divination drawn from Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck. Day 1: The Devil

Magickal Safety 101

Every person who practices magick, especially in a group, should take a class like this. Covering both self care and the well-being of others, Magickal Safety was scheduled at the very beginning of the weekend, organized and presented by Hannah Storyteller and John Medellin. Even us seasoned practitioners can learn new things.  For example this class, while certainly for newbies, covered a wide range of techniques someone at some point might have overlooked. I learned how to ground another person...which I never realized was a new experience for me. I have helped groups ground, and I certainly am able to do it quite quickly. But helping one individual was something different, with several approaches including the laying on of hands, guided breathing and even simply talking with the person (what is your name? where do you live?). Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment of ritual, especially an entire weekend full of it, it can become more difficult to 'turn off' or even calm down long enough for repose and rest. 

Fucking Mandrake

My experience with baneful and witching herbs was just beginning when I became pregnant and set aside those growing things for the safety of my new daughter. I had never seen nor held the flowers or leaves of the Mandrake, in particular. My experience with Mandrake has only included flying ointments, purchased in the past by Sarah Anne Lawless, never as an isolated simple. I have a mandrake root given by another witch, and seeds stored away for planting one day, but had not considered it’s uses for any other purpose than to aid in magickal flight as a traditional plant ally. So when I saw a workshop at PCon on the Magick of the Mandrake being presented by Christopher Penczak, I got curious.

When we arrived each person received a small cup of water in which a few drops of a mandrake flower essence were placed; some folks got 3 and others received 5 drops. After being seated and listening to a short background of the plant, including Mr. Penczak’s own experiences, we invoked the plant’s spirit and quickly drank our potion. We then were taken on a guided meditation to meet the Mandrake and be properly introduced. Like most of these kinds of things, I was two steps ahead: when everyone was still back at the meadow, I was at the hedgerow on edge of a dark woods. When the Mandrake DID appear, He came straight up out of the ground and walked over to me, on woodsy root legs with a crown of pretty flowers on His head. It seemed a curious creature walking upright, kind of like a clown wearing big shoes...it was a bit goofy looking. Then He sat down, as if on an invisible chair. I then heard in my mind the Mandrake Man speak to me beckoning me to come have a seat. He wrapped His root arms around me, hugging and caressing. Then He spun me around, to face His featureless face and wrapped my legs around Him. He then grew a long penis, which I sat upon and began to rock with, slowly back and forth.

I felt His root penis grow inside me, reaching out the roots to spread throughout inside my womb, hips, stomach, up through my breasts and arms. It was black, feathery and delicate, these roots. When it finally enveloped my heart Mr. Penczak told us about a green light shining from our hearts… and that is when my light began to ‘infect’ the Mandrake Man’s roots; it spread throughout turning the black roots into green. This exchange was pleasant, not at all intense but enough to where I was concerned an orgasm was sure to follow… and right here, in the Con, surrounded by all these strangers. I expressed this concern to the Mandrake Man and He gently respected my wishes, withdrawing Himself from my body. When we were again standing, face to face, I asked if there was anything He wished to tell me. I acknowledged the connection we had made together, and thanked Him for initiating such a strange and profound congress… but had the feeling there was something more to this experience.

It was at this point Mr. Penczak reminded us of the mythological origins of the Mandrake; how at the gallows the sperm of a dead man ejaculated from his penis onto the ground, which the Mandrake plant first appeared. This was when the Mandrake Man suggested to help me with something I had been considering: dark moon devotionals at a hangman’s tree less than a few miles from my home. The Mandrake Man said if I made a flower essence to ingest, He would protect me from any and all spirits of that place which might wish harm or follow me home. I was not expecting this, a protective quality of the Mandrake; I always understood it to be a witch’s herb for trance work or poisoning. But this plant is so much more...and I very much look forward to future lessons it wishes to teach me as I grow from seed.

Good-Bye Green Fairy

This was the final year of the Green Fairy Party. Whilst I am not a drinker, I have enjoyed having one small drink with good friends who have hosted this Bohemian and wyrd service at Pantheacon since 2008. As a backer of the fundraising I received a beautiful commemorative goblet and keepsake ribbon...when I went to collect I received so much more. From the depths of the bar, the man in the op hat poured for me a tiny, wee little glass of a special brew not given to just anyone. A concoction infused with damiana, wormwood, rose water and all manner of psychotropic herbs I carefully sipped this absinthe, which evaporated on my tongue leaving a sweet breathe of spiritual inspiration. I walked on clouds the rest of the night.

Pop-up Gnostic Mass

It was refreshing to see a heavy Thelemic presence this year. The free-range Thelemites of Healiopolis and the OTO chapter of 418 Lodge co-sponsored a true Gnostic Mass presentation at the 11pm hour. As a non-member, but rogue Thelemite, I find the Mass to be a reaffirming drama of the cosmology in which I have submerged my spirituality. The altar was brilliantly executed: being a printed backdrop with electric lights for candles (per Doubletree regulations) and the tomb being a camping style shower/toilet stall.

I could tell who only came to be lookie-loos and see the nude Priestess, when the time came for the communion they actually left. It is a GOOD thing for these people to have witnessed, even if they did not participate...because these McWiccan folks need to know where their OWN rituals came from. Gardner went through the first initiation rites of Thelema before creating his own tradition of a religion-based witchcraft. It is my fervent prayer that more and more Thelemites keep attending , presenting, and educating at Pantheacon in the coming years.

Day 2: Prince of Wands

Deity Possession

Over the past 2 years I have noticed a shift at PCon: most of the really juicy events are starting to only happen in the hospitality suites. The general activist trainings and magickal 101 things are taking up the slots in the packed schedule, with scatterings of good bits at weird times (and often canceled). One of the presentations this year was a topic that very few are giving workshops on, but very much is needed in the community: healthy Deity Possession. Facilitated by Sam Webster, the topic is one with loads of source material, both ancient and modern, which lays out the full process, levels of possessor work and the self care required to make it fully worth doing. Webster's source material included works such as Iamblichus' De Mysteriis and Divine Horsemen: Living Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren.

Essentially there are 2 kinds of people involved in true possession: the Controller (who ‘draws down’ the Deity) and the Channeller (who ‘catches’ the Deity). When this occurs there are varying levels of possession which is a bit like a spectrum, with one end being the faintest ‘inspiration’ (a ‘whispered’ motivation to do something guided by Deity influence), with ‘mantling’ somewhere in the middle (carry Deity but being fully conscience and in control of one’s own body to perform services such as oracle work), and finally the most extreme being full possession. Fully engaged possession is actually much rarer in the pagan community, with the exception of several of the African diaspora traditions such as Vodou and Ifa. When this occurs the Channeller isn’t even the backseat driver… they are in the trunk; people can perform amazing feats of strength, undergo extreme bodily harm, etc. The worst case scenario of this kind, if not done correctly, can result in the Channellor being completely merged with Deity; in other words the carrier is no longer present. Most modern pagans really don’t go beyond the middle layer of this spectrum, and even then aren’t doing it according to ancient traditions: the Channeller is secluded in preparation the days before an event, only coming out to give service as a vehicle of Deity, and then go back into seclusion AFTER for regaining control of the body and spirit. This is hard to do at events like Pantheacon, where the night before an event oracles can be seen partying in suites and the next day offering themselves up as priests of Deity in an unpurified body. Most of this is really just ego feeding, venerated as Deity or as being someone strong enough to hold and control Deity.

The Rite of Mars

The political scene invaded PCon, as it has progressively been doing over the past few years. While there is panels, workshops and other empowering activities there really wasn’t much I was particularly interested in, except the very intense ritual coordinated by the ritualists of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn. I have been lucky enough to be studying with their founder, but to also be a participant of several planetary workings; Helios/Sun, Selene/Moon, and now Aries/Mars. It was ‘safe’ in that there wasn’t a particular political agenda given as their motivation, except to invoke the retinue of Martial Spirits and activate a magickal ‘war machine’...a huge iynx wheel that, when spun, sent these spirits out into the world to right wrongs, empower the just and defend the weak. I found it especially refreshing they asked for blessings on the civil servants; a group of workers who are often looked down upon by many Pagan-activist groups who see us (because I am now one of them) as being part of the PROBLEM and not the SOLUTION. I met many of them over the weekend, those of us quietly working within the machine of corrupted government to make a difference; it’s easy to be angry in the streets demanding change, it’s harder to work within the parameters of the system. It was part of my personal prayer to include an unbiased vision for everyone: to see the truth of what is happening in our world, so we can set aside personal opinions and DO what is right in ally-ship.

I also found out my natal chart included Mars in Aries, which explains my motivation to speak up when I see wrongs, especially in our niche community, and being compelled to protect those who are weak. There was an underlying theme of planetary magicks throughout the entire weekend: lectures on Theurgy, the Lunar Mansions of Astrology, all of which are causing me to look more closely at where the other celestial spheres play out in my chart. This only makes sense as I have been doing daily planetary workings for the past 2 years, as part of my priest training.

Day 3: 9 of Swords

Other Hybrid Moments

Between a rudimentary lecture about Crossroads and Graveyards that I left early, drinks with sushi, then initiating as a Chicken Qabbalist, there was a lot to process. Since things were again canceled, I spent the day shopping and eventually went back to my room early. I received a ton of compliments on my fishnet tights… as if these people had never seen them before.

Day 4: Ace of Swords

Fear

While there might have been pertinent information for others in the lecture by Tommie Starchild, I personally didn’t really get much out of it. After performing such workings as Chod and being an initiate of Hekate, I have plenty of experience with Fear. Mr. Starchild was very informative and spoke from a Western perspective, explaining in terms Pagans could understand; mindful presence, viewing fearful thoughts and emotions as a non-participatory spectator...all I kept thinking is “Man, these people really need Bodhicitta and Buddhism”. And it’s true! This is why their magick never works, why their communications with Deity is sometimes only internal psycho-babble. They are not so sure about what they are doing nor do they have a full comprehension of themselves; they are not coming to the Work from a place of compassion, loving kindness, equanimity and joy in the joy of others… what we call the Four Immeasurables. In my tradition these are pretty much the ONLY place from which my magick is performed; why I am able to do hex work without getting splattered with karmic shrapnel. I hope to see more empowering lectures given in the future, Mr. Starchild perhaps do a weekend intensive on these skills as most of these magick workers tend to be damaged or dragging around their toxicity.

In Conclusion…

Unless I am presenting next year (I DO have a proposal I think many would benefit from),  this may have been my last Pantheacon for a few years. Less and less is there anything I am interested in learning about, or that will feed my soul and renew my practice. I think the final straw was canceling of the Red Tent; the last vestige of feminine empowerment this community truly had at PCon. With threats of protest, the suite was shut down to keep participants safe; even though the EXACT same scheduling occurred quietly last year in the Red Tent for men, trans-women, women without wombs and all manner of exclusive programming to empower all, not just those of us who bleed. It saddens me there is no longer a welcoming space for women’s mysteries to be safely explored at this weekend-long event, especially in the highly patriarchal and oppressive climate of our world. We are forced to hide in shame of our bodies, our nature, our sisterhood...not something I would ever have thought to come out of the Pagan community.

More and more Pantheacon is for who I call ‘tourists’: attendees there to cosplay, hook-up for sex or feed off the magickal ammunition of others. I don’t need magick to give my life meaning… it is a byproduct of living my True Will. Magick just happens, naturally and unforced.  It does not gift us with ethics or morals, we come to magick with those already; magickal work only intensifies what is already inherent.

Episode 2 of Podcast is UP!

Thanks to everyone for listening to the show! I have uploaded the newest episode on the static page of The Podcast , but I will upload to a post too to see if it's easier for everyone. Leave some feedback, let me know which you prefer, and see some of you at Pantheacon. [audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Episode2_Praxis.mp3"][/audio]

 

 

The Star Ruby

Facing East, where beginnings come and illuminate from, I start the ritual. APO PANTOS KAKODAIMONOS Striking out from the sign of Harpocrates, I am rested and still until, with these words, I drive all energies misaligned with my work. Flee all spirits and mischievous divinities with intent to harm or distract. Be gone all thoughts of mundane events or feelings, for magickal transformations are about to take place. Crossing the traverse of my body, I bless and commit from head to phalle, sealed in my heart and gathered before forming the first banishing pentagram in my mind's eye, the energy propels the star as I bellow THERION. After the call, I receive the response. Returning as a powerful wave rushing onto my toes in sand...facing the land, the beast ebbs and flows. Activating this primal power, the essence of our human beginnings. With horns at my temples, I snarl and rut.

I resonate NUIT to the Northern quadrant, a Star as the central gem in the crown of the heavenly queen. The light of a midnight sun brightens the pentagram. With a motherly embrace, cool as the night sky and black as space, She returns unto me. My heart and womb are filled with Her expansive grace, stardust covering. Nothing happens without Her witness.

With all courage I muster to approach the Western realm of BABALON, mother of abominations and liberation. In a whisper I send the sticky sweet pentagram, throwing open my arms to widely embrace Her wide hips. With yoni in my nostrils, Her scent is musky, salty and wine drenched. She is the modern Mother, Goddess of the New Aeon.

Facing the Southern fires, I turn to call forth HADIT, in a quick mercurial thrust the pentagram travels. The promising future is delivered on scales of a serpent, as He wraps around my womb, like a fiery Orphic egg. I draw it up to my arm, releasing spent passion shed from coils.

Armed with the blessings of the Gods, the consorts surround my temple, blasting away all shreds of UN-necessaries. Turned round again widdershins, I sing: IO PAN, the gestures seal the deal. Hail and praises to the PHALLE, phallus and axis from which all revolves! Hail and praises to the PAMPHAGE, devourer and destroyer. Hail and praises to the PANGENETOR, forever creator. I greet and give honor to all that is, was and ever shall be.

With the TELETARCHAI of completion in front of me, whirling JUNGES behind me, to my right the SYNOCHES have joined with the DAIMONES on my left...I am whole and humbled. The enormity of the pentagrams, the gem between my hands as I raise them above my head....in a quick hand-clap it becomes fixed as the six-rayed star, drawing it down into my Self. My body is the husk of this genuine and authentic piece of my Soul. It is precious, as each living thing is precious. Knowing it is in there, I am it's guardian to defend from those who would try to harm or steal the magick contained. The seed of enlightenment, my True Will is the secret contained within.

I reaffirm as at the opening of this ritual. Bringing together all of the elements, all of the Gods' empowerment which have filled my mortal shell. My Being is no longer the smallest in this nesting of spiritual layers. Inside, the deepest part of my Self illuminates as a rainbow, a hologram which changes and moves slightly within the light. All shadows gone, with castings sloppy like watercolors, dragged across my body to form the Crossroads over again.

Something is different, transposed and morphed. There is a surety, a confidence which was not there before. I am centered like bamboo, flexible with incredibly deep roots. A raw existence is left behind. Whereas the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram left me feeling empty and angry, the Star Ruby fills and empowers me. Like an occult superhero, ready for battle and on note with the greater potential of humans it does not give me immense pride as expected. Oh no... whilst this could feel like the swelling of ego, it is more of a letting GO of it. That part of me which is attached to this world, which is not of the Gods is ego; it is extra baggage I am banishing, with help from some spirits of the New Aeon. How can one be expected to travel across the desert dragging luggage full of rocks?

Here is the version I used.

"Whore of Babylon" by William Blake.
"Whore of Babylon" by William Blake.

30 Days of Hermes: Helpful Hermes

Day 24: A time when this deity has helped you

Known as the 'helpful' God, Hermes has been there for so many deities and heroes. He is like Ganesha, removes obstacles and brings luck in it's stead. As already shared at the beginning of this project, Hermes helped me in an attempt to finish my Master's capstone project. Granted I did not PASS, He and I kept our agreement for the rest of the year. Since then there was a ritual working I participated with my Hermetikoi in... to remove obstacles blocking from my True Will. Whilst the working itself cannot be shared with, it did include the construction of a mandala, with charcoal, salt and number of other alchemical ingredients empowered then tossed into a fire. It released whatever poisonous connections there were into the creation of my distractions: untied, cut, burned and torn by the 4 arms of Hermes Pantos Apolytos.

Since then I have lost some meaningful friendships, realized many parts about myself which were so much stronger than I ever thought, and the tolerance for bullshit has really dropped. I do not allow anyone into my life who carries bad luck, ill intentions or just plain drama. As a matter of fact, since this working I run at the first hints of it in a new friendship or situation. It is not what I anticipated, this brutal honesty with my Self from the Lord of Liars...my petition for liberation surprised me with it's results and that is something rare.

Hermes, off to work!
Hermes, off to work!

30 Days of Hermes: Modern Worship

Day 14: Has worship of this deity changed in modern times?

“Hermes, Hermes
The great sea foamed,
Gnashed its teeth about me;
But you have waited,
Where sea-grass tangles with
Shore-grass.” ("Hermes of the Ways", by Hilda (Doolittle) Aldington )

Aside from the occasional sacrificed sheep and BBQ, Hermes is pretty much worshiped in the same context as He was in ancient times; albeit not as frequently or in mass numbers. His devotees try to stay on daily routines with Hermes, making offerings or simple prayers to Him regularly encourages the relationship and flow of blessings. In my praxis, several forms of worship are combined, specifically those of Tantric Thelema with a hellenic polytheism. I make both physical offerings along with empowering invocations every Wednesday. Copal is offered with a golden ale, some fresh/dried fruit and flowers. Whilst my practice only takes about 10-20 minutes now, it took quite sometime to learn the internal processes and visualizations...something I don't think they did in the Hellenic world, polytheistic worship used to be much more visceral I imagine. My shrine sits on a 8-sided mirror someone stole from the Grand Ol' Opry Hotel for me decades ago. On it are items such as a 20-sided die, compass and the caduceus pin I received upon oath-taking (good catholic girl habits never die, as I wear it close to my heart, pinned to the inside of my bra).

Hermes, Swift-footed and Golden One.
Hermes, Swift-footed and Golden One.

The real question is, does it matter if worship has changed? Hermes is very much an evolutionary God, shapeshifter extrodinaire. His form changes with each culture, adapting and assimilating with technologies and ideologies is certainly the enduring strength of Hermes. Some modern devotees offer gifts such as chocolate, coffee, Red Bull, trail mix (traveling food). I gave Him a banana once, thinking Hermes would appreciate the humour of the phallic, yellow fruit. He accepts it all with the gladness offered from the heart of the gifter; Hermes, like the other Olympians, do not appreciate half-ass. They are like modern celebrities...and we 'the fans' are clamoring for their attention. Nobody plays this role better than Hermes, but once His attentions are caught the approach becomes easier.

The 'Angry' Post

Angry Vagina

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.

"Gateway" by Amorella Moon, Snapdragon Photography Unique.
"The Gateway", by Amorella Moon of Snapdragon Photography Unique.

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?

Spiritual Anger

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.

LBRP Purification: Part Deux

***The following was written and dedicated to my magickal mentor and friend, Sam Webster.

I do not like the Lesser Pentagram.

I do not like it, Magician Sam.

I do not like to call on YHWH.

I do not like to say EHEIEH.

I do not like it with a blade,

Afraid of Harpocrates' sign made.

Not in the car, in park or tree,

Mr. Crowley, you let me be!

I could not, would not resonate Aiwass,

In my heart, Hekate is boss.

I tried it quickly in a shower,

Elemental waters to empower:

Slipped foot on soap at ADONAI,

Shampoo dripped in left eye.

I do not like it in front of family,

Playing along as mumbled calamity.

I do not like it here or there,

My toddler thinks it is a prayer.

I cannot wait til April's end,

Pentagrams no more to send.

I tried to like it, I really did,

Banishing negative energies to rid.

I won't give up, Magician Sam,

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram.

The sign of Harpocrates.

Purification: 30 Days of LBRP

Here we go again....writing about the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram. Recently, Hekate has placed me upon a path of Dedication to Hermes. I attended Dark Moon Devotionals to Her and Hermes for a year, with the exception of Disneyland and husband working late once. Even during these times of what I considered to be a spiritual failure the words, songs and offerings were there in heart. At my household shrine and Sleeping Beauty's castle in Disneyland, I offered libation and cakes at these fabricated crossroads. I followed the oneiric signs to the service every month with Sam Webster, learning by doing and re-learning Tantric technologies I had long placed upon a shelf. There is fire in my head, heart and root of Soul as it reaches to weave Self into the Multiverse. Over the past year, I have also performed the LBRP sporadically, on an “as needed” basis instead of disciplined schedule. Having a multitude of familial spirits and the big ol' toe of Hekate is more than enough protective beefiness , so I felt a daily routine would give me the same effect: a boring conjuration of Angelic Be-ings I don't believe in, but adapting the ritual to include Mother Hekate has kept it within my devotion to Her in check. During this time I was also lead to begin a Dedicant path to Hermes, which included a period of Purification as the first step. And so I began the LBRP three times daily for 30 days. I could have chosen something else but to receive any benefits from the practice, a true activation occurs once devoted to the routine (according to Sam).

The first week was the hardest; introducing a new daily activity to an already busy and often chaotic schedule challenged Self and family. In the same time period, my daughter became ill, husband worked from home and in-laws came for a weekend visit. How was I going to do this? Swinging a black athame around, resonating ancient names of God my redneck brother-in-law wouldn't recognize except for the occasional 'AMEN'? But I did it anyway, in my bedroom, the shower, the halls of my mind whilst laying in bed: all are rituals of manifestation, sending fiery pentagrams around and throughout. My five year old daughter has taken to imitating now, with a foam pirate sword and exoteric mumbling, she is a magician in the making!

Pentagram_whiteSo HOW does the LBRP purify, you might ask? Aside from the fact divine beings are invoked to swoop through, cleaning your ritual space, something else going on from the practitioner's perspective. In the very beginning of ritual the "Middle Pillar" is a suggested preparation; I use a similar visualization of grounding which I learned during my training in ADF, called “The Two Powers". Granted, in the beginning that too took time to learn, but after a year of daily practice I am able to accomplish it in three long breaths. I extend roots deep into the chaos of Hekate's womb, through the loam and rocky soil, through the very bedrock into secret black waters. Pulling it up, it swirls through my body, and out the top of my head, bathing me in blessings from the Underworld. My consciousness rises to the top crown like foam, reaching further into starlit skies to ascend. I bring down the cosmic starfire, lighting the flame within heart, hands and foot soles. I become a flaming, swirling ethereal column of potential and a clear conduit for blasting away anything not wanted, needed and given to the pursuit of my True Will. or something to that effect.

To be continued....

 

 

 

 

PBP: “C” is for Crowley

As one of the most highly misunderstood characters of the 20th century, Aleister Crowley has influenced not just religious and occult thought, but popular culture. He has been a never-ending source of inspiration for lyrical content in music, the main character of a novel, and a contributor to the evolving path of witchcraft and Western mystery traditions as a whole. Infamously and self-identified as 'The Beast', associated with the number 666, his lifetime goal was to be remembered as 'The Anti-Christ'...bringer of the New Aeon. These nefarious connotations really have more in common with Crowley the Legend rather than the Man. Even within the occult community, many are unaware of his attributed advancements in the sport of mountaineering; his strange and beautiful poetry, obsessively written and published; or the sheer experimentation in the arts of High Ceremonial Magick. Born Edward Crowley (after his father), the self-named Aleister came into the world on the same date as famous Enochian magician Eliphas Levi died. The Crowley family came from a lineage of wealthy brewers in Leamington, Warwickshire in England. They were also part of a fanatical Christian sect known as the “Plymouth Brethren”. Young Crowley often accompanied his father whilst traveling the countryside, preaching and proselytizing. His mother, Emily Bertha Bishop, was very strict and initially gave Crowley the nickname 'beast'. Neither parent allowed toys in the home, with Christmas seen as a pagan holiday. The entire household, including servants, were required to gather together every day for prayer meetings.

As a young man, Crowley's curiosity in the line of metaphysics was legendary, and true. One story tells of an 'experiment' to determine if cats really had nine lives:

“I caught a cat, and having administered a large dose of arsenic, I chloroformed it, hanged it above the gas jet, stabbed it, cut its throat, smashed its skull, and, when it had been pretty thoroughly burnt, drowned it and threw it out of the window that the fall might remove the ninth life. The operation was successful. I was genuinely sorry for the animal; I simply forced myself to carry out the experiment in the interests of pure science” (Symonds p.18).

It is understandable that his mother saw her son as the zenith of evil. After this and a few sexual situations with the help, Crowley was sent off to school. It wasn't until he moved to London after the death of his father, that young Edward dropped the paternal name and was forever after known as Aleister. So obsessed with impressing others and feeding his unusually high appetite for attention, Crowley constantly was re-inventing himself, using various aliases and personalities to match. This is not so different from what modern artists and pop icons do today; i.e. Madonna, Lady Gaga, Prince just to name a few. It was when he entered the Order of the Golden Dawn that he took the name Frater Perdurabo (Latin for “I Will endure to the end”).

Crowley rose quickly through the ranks of the O.G.D. , some members thought it a little too hasty. Whilst engaged with the Order, Crowley met his first guru, or magical mentor, a young man named Allen Bennett, known in the Order as Iehi Aour. The two actually met by chance following an evening ritual:

“Iehi Aour suddenly came up to Perdurabo, looking penetratingly at him and said in an almost menacing manner, 'Little Brother, you have been meddling with the Goetia!'” (Confessions of Aleister Crowley) .

When Perdurabo denied working with these spirits, Bennett replied, “Well my friend, then the Goetia have been meddling with you!” Ten years Crowley's senior, Bennett was both highly feared and respected; he also introduced Crowley to mind-altering drugs, primarily through experimental treatment of his own chronic asthma. As a matter of fact, Bennettt moved throughout many South East Asian countries seeking out cures, in the end studying and practicing Buddhism. Eventually he ended up becoming part of a Sangha, taking the name Ananda Metteya. Crowley went to visit Ananda during a mountaineering expedition once in Kandy. Highly interested in yoga, Crowley studied with his old friend and quickly proved his adeptship. The speed which Crowley could achieve altered states of consciousness impressed even the monks.

There is one story in particular of this time period, Crowley recalls later as an old man to his biographer... His friend Ananda had taken refuge in a hut, having achieved a state of nirvana. The other monks became concerned about Ananda and sent Crowley in to see if his friend was still alive.

“He opened the door of the bungalow and to his amazement and horror saw Ananda Metteya hovering in the air at eye level. He no longer had any weight and in the draught from the open door he was being blown about like a dry leaf” (Symonds p.40).

Crowley would combine what he learned in the East with the skills acquired through Western traditions. His attitudes were dangerously ahead of his time. Like the Buddha, Crowley saw all beings having the potentiality of obtaining Godhead, even Apotheosis. Contemporaries of Crowley were inspired by his strange adventures. Somerset Maugham, a friend of Crowley's first wife Rose, was inspired by their relationship and wrote his novel The Magician, published in 1907. The main character is Oliver Haddo, a deranged magician who is very controlling of his new wife; instead of being offended, Crowley was flattered.

His 'daredevil' ways spilled over into his life as well; a risk-taking adventure was always on Crowley's horizon. Pushing himself, and sometimes his climbing crew, to the limits of mountain climbing, including K2, the highest peak available to Europeans in the Himalayas during Crowley's lifetime. His travels inspired poetry and refined his artistic perspective of alchemy. He spent time in Egypt, India, Southeast Asia, Mexico, North and South Americas, and Russia. It was in St Petersburg, whilst staying at a hermitage, Crowley was inspired to write on of his best beloved and critically acclaimed poems, City of God. The following excerpt emphasizes Crowley's playful use of words, pushing his imagination to the very edge, whilst conjuring images of an ethereal city:

“Gold upon Gold, dome upon dome, faint arrow
Kindling sharp crescent, as the sunrays swept,
Save for one midnight moment when one narrow
Fierce ray, exhaling from no eye that slept
Of God, our God, the sun – gold upon gold,
Frond upon frond, fold upon fold
Of walls like leaves and cupolas like flowers,
And spires and domes that were as fabled fruit
Of the low lands beyond the pillared seas...” (Crowley, 1945).

Most remember Crowley for the controversial associations he was not afraid to make public through anecdotes. His ramblings of astral journeys and literary focus on ancient traditions, Crowley's imagery was thematic of Egyptian and Kabalistic teachings. His work with John Dee's Enochian magick brought a renewed interest into the scholarly pursuits for young magicians of the next 100 years. Crowley's spiritual ideologies crossover all religious, esoteric traditions; combining not only high ceremonial magick but also personal gnosis, sacred geometry and alchemical mathematics. The complex and rich teachings of Crowley left the world of the occult sciences with the challenge evolving to new realms of consciousness and ways to thinking about connections between science and religion.

Resources

Symonds, John. “The Great Beast: The Life of Aleister Crowley”. (1952). Rider and Co., London, U.K.

City of God 

More myth busters and fun facts

PBP: “B” is for Babalon

All is in thy hands, all power, all hope, all future. One came as a man, and was weak and failed. One came as a woman, and was foolish, and failed. But thou art beyond man and woman, my star is in thee, and thou shalt avail” (Liber 49, 43-46, The Book of Babalon by Jack Parsons).

LBRP, Liber AL, Tantric meditation, sex magick...all awakening parts of my Self never thought to have existed. Remembering and re-enacting these rituals...words out-loud dripping from my tongue, dancing in my head and reaching out beyond the screen, all sends a rush of familiarity to this heart. I don't believe in angels yet invoke them daily; my tantric practices include Western Gods; the Beloved Dead surround and assist my magicks. Hekate is my Holy Guardian Angel, leading and guiding the way forward as I come to the edge. She asks if I wish to fly above the abyss, towards the cup of Babalon where I can dip my burnt wings in the salve of Her wine.

Babalon as depicted in the card "Lust" in the Thoth Tarot deck.

Poetry aside, this Babalon is another egregore like Baphomet; I wrote about Her in a review for the book The Red Goddess. The last line stayed with me... “For those brave enough to face the fear and shame, the promise of liberation is just around the corner”. I thought about this for a long time and believe I found the solution. Whilst this is all over my head essentially, one thing is very clear: Crowley pushed himself to the brink, how could the 'wickedest man in the world', the Beast 666, shame himself? He lavished in the stories which circulated about, whether true or not, of orgiastic sex magick, sacrifices and beastiality. It was going to take something REALLY degrading for a man like Crowley to be humbled and 'broken'. I think that is what Crowley found in the desert with poet Victor Neuberg. They attempted rituals of magick to work through the entire Enochian system...AGAIN with the angels! It was only when Crowley assumed the submissive 'bottom' position during homosexual sex magick, did the clarity come. He was a 'top' man, in charge even with his Scarlet Women...allowing himself to be 'taken' by another man was just the thing to shame Crowley, strip him bare so he could progress through.

We must annihilate the Ego; what a strange goal of attainment for magicians. We become God-like in power through psychic and scientific means, then let it all go for the ultimate prize of liberation. How do we get there though? If I follow along with Crowley's process, I have to ask what 'shames' me? I regret nothing in this life, and see no reason to become a 'holy whore' searching a beast to ride. How can I approach this current without hurting others, like family and friends? I am not sexually repressed in the very least. In fact, I'm rather proud that in my ten-year relationship we still have several sexual encounters a week; I share not to brag, but help illustrate a point. Throughout my entire adult life, even late adolescence, I never masturbated. It was forbidden territory to touch, let alone talk. Catholic girls are taught early on that God is watching, it is a sin and sex is only for procreation. Well, when I left the church I had no issues with any of those points and went along my merry way. But when I came into my be-ing with the Gods, I felt they WERE watching; or I didn't really know how to turn my SELF on. With a partner it's easy...alone requires focus, relaxation and solitude; all things difficult for me to attain consciously.

With patience, meditation and porn I set to crossing that Abyss of self love. On pleading bloodied knees, burned in the fires of shameful lust, hands calloused, I approach the cup She holds between flaming thighs. Babalon gifted me Self Love. I learned to love my body in it's new post-apocalyptic form, because it really isn't ME, only the vehicle/vessel to get around in. Sensuality spills out into daydreams of poetry and fantasy. Even the Moon and Sun chase each other in an endless display of flirtation. Not only do I see the Love which pervades all the Universe, but I am learning to accept it unconditionally. Love of Dark, Love of Heart, Love of Blood and Dirt. I become enraptured in Her current, strip off the shackles and skin leaving bare bones exposed. I am a raw lump, shaping and molding... no longer looking toward the future for happiness and potentialities but in present joy. I hope to live more heart-centered rather than head-strong.

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.

PBP: “Y” is for Yahweh

“Yahweh, I know you are near. Standing always at my side.

You guard me from the foe and lead me in ways everlasting.”

- Lord You Have Searched my Heart by Dan Schutte (communion hymn)

Yes, I was a Catholic at one point in my life... but left before confirmed. I knew Yahweh was not the one for me very early on. My mother likes to tell a story about when I was a toddler living in Hawaii. I almost remember the moment.... my memory can go back far. I came to my mother and told her “Mommy, God is knocking on my heart”. She asked me “So, what are you going to do?” I smiled and replied, “Let Him in”. There was a huge weight that fell on my chest; this I recall because it feels the same way even now.

I was always afraid of this moment coming, after hearing and seeing hippies speaking in tongues at the beach during some religious excursion my rebellious mother took me to. She was trying to run from her roots for a while (and still does), but I think this was the best thing my mother could have ever given me. I had witnessed people being 'saved', even traveled to Alaska with a church member without my parents when I was 4... I remember that too: the Anchorage Zoo, playing with kids, no snow was disappointing. The flight was long but the military airlines always took very good care of us kids. Even when I was older and much more skeptical, I reached outside the confines of my Neo-Gothic church built of red bricks. Our tiny town has this church with beautiful spires, flying buttresses, huge stained-glass windows, murals of the twelve apostles on all the ceiling panels with their names in Latin, and the high altar gilded in light, sliver and gold. You would never think a cowboy town in Northern California would have something so wonderful. I really loved the peacefulness of Jesus, the comfort of Mary, and the obscurity of Joseph... but was afraid of Yahweh. The Father God, the highest, creator and destroyer of the Universe on a whim. The Old testament was always rallied about in these other churches I visited with friends or paternal family members (Jehovah's Witness, Pentecostal, Southern Baptist).

"The Deluge", Frontispiece to Doré's illustrated edition of the Bible. Based on the story of Noah's Ark, this shows humans and a tiger doomed by the flood futilely attempting to save their children and cubs.

The problem was in realizing these were two different Gods. Almost like my own Father, Yahweh was firm in His love and very much a disciplinarian. Mom was the softness of Mary, but the purity and wholesomeness of Her is something every Catholic girl tries and fails at attaining. I asked the wrong questions, unsatisfied with answers: If God loves us so much, why does He keep destroying the world and His children? Why is 'original sin' all Eve's fault? Why can we pray to saints and Jesus with it not being considered a broken commandment? After leaving home for college, I got my answers as I delved deeply into Religious Studies and doubled with Humanities, trying to answer these riddles. It never did make sense except that I wanted nothing to do with the lot of them.

Yahweh still knocks at my door, over and over, especially during the Christmas season. The Ancestors egg Him on, my blood screams to talk with Angels of the Highest Orders, but for reasons not fully understood I have taken control of these urges. It has been especially apparent since I have begun a regular routine of the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram (LBRP). Last year my experiments with Thelema, Crowley and Magick began with doing this most basic, and effective, ritual. At first I really fought the urge to stop, as the uncomfortable feelings surrounding the names of God from the Judeo-Christian lineage played with the childhood memories of the wrathful Jehovah. So many people come to witchcraft and Pagan religions with the Christian baggage they claim wanting to leave behind. Instead they intend on pigeon-holing mysticism and occult teachings into a religious organization comparable to the very ideologies they 'left behind'. After doing the prayers backwards, know that the past is dead. (Our Father).

After weeks of daily LBRP, I meditated on the Archangels I was invoking to surround me. I wondered, how could I sense them when I didn't believe? Re-examining this, I considered they were more like Buddhas: a strong presence there of intent. I had also been intoning the name of my Goddess, Hekate, at my heart in the beginning and end (instead of Crowley's Aiwass) of each ritual. For me, no other presence was allowed to stay without Hekate's permission, as She is the sentinel in all my workings and devotions these several years. With Her in my center, as the middle pillar I become Her axis mundi... Yahweh has no place here. His Angels, Saints, Prophets, Worshipers are all held in the same esteem as any religious person or entity I encounter; with caution and from a distance. With Hekate, I was able to face my fears of Yahweh and be firm in my choices with whom I share sacred space with.

There comes a point in our paths when we can make a choice in whom to serve. We have free will, no matter what our beliefs concerning destiny or pre-destination are in our personal philosophy. We are always given the decision of accepting friendship with a person, so why not a God? I don't invite the Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons into my home, and so I “just say no” to Yahweh as well.

PBP: “T” is for Tantra

Soon after attending regular Dark Moon devotionals to Hermes and Hekate at The Sacred Well , I began reading a book by our Hermetic Priest, Sam Webster , called Tantric Thelema. New to Thelemic thought, I am taking my time (so far 6 months) with this very dense, short book. It's funny, but although intentions were quite the opposite surely, I am learning about Thelema (in general) through Webster's application of eastern tantric methodology to the Book of the Law, Liber AL vel Legis . This topic is one which many Neo-Pagan and New Age communities have the wrong impression of... if they truly understood the genuine techniques and value of Tantra, their whole attitude about the good/evil dichotomy would change forever. Instead most Westerners think of it only in relation to sacred sexuality, specific breathing/touching techniques, and delayed orgasms... which is all true as well, but not what Tantra is ALL about. From the Sanskrit root meaning 'looms' or 'weaving', Tantra essentially means the sharing of revelatory teachings or group of lessons from a guru, often from a mystical perspective. As Webster points out, Liber AL is a perfect example of a Tantra and offers a simple definition which I think might be more understandable from a Western perspective:

“Tantras tend to have the characteristics of presenting a theory and goal of practice, a means or vehicle of practice and a divine form that embodies the practice and its successful outcome” (Webster, xiii).

It is easy to understand how this word can be thrown around; after all, there are two cultures which use it in some similar contexts, Hindu and Buddhist. In ancient India, Tantra essentially had 4 branches: Action, Performance, Yoga, and Highest Yoga. This stratification is a way of describing the path to Vedic enlightenment and escaping samsara (cycles of rebirth). Some other Westerners seem to think it's COOL in having past lives... they brag about how many famous people they have been, when in reality they should be ashamed. If you were so great, why are you still HERE and not off in the seven realms of heaven/hell (another topic for another day)?  I digress, only to come back to how these four descriptions help in understanding Tantra.

It begins with taking on Action Tantra: trying to pursue knowledge as one seeks a lover... a thirst and desire which rises upon first glimpsing a grimoire, sutra, or an illustration which teaches and touches. We share in our Performance Tantra: giving attention and fawning over to satisfy Self and the object of our affections... this is a place of creation. Offering of gifts, establishing a shrine or altar space, enticing and delighting the Deity/Lover creates an inviting space. Using sly moves, the physicality involved in Yoga Tantra is sleek and smooths out the 'hand-holding' process... we are now at second base, so to speak. Beginning a practice, we are also forming a personal cult to touch and caress whatever is laid before us. It is when we are able to embrace and become One with Deity/Lover in the act of either physical sex or intense meditation... there is no third base as the ball is hit out of the park, so to speak. Devotional workings, prayers, offerings, disciplined meditation eventually pay off in Union with the Divine.

“The desire born from sexual passion can be used to destroy the desire that binds beings in samsara, like using a thorn to remove a thorn” (Lopez, p. 228).

On the flip side of the tantric coin, there are meditations of death called chod, a short-cut through to completely destroying the ego; the goal of Vajrayana Buddhism. Tantra, in this way, is about killing demons of attachment. More about this aspect in another future post.

This is a lot for Western thinkers to take on, and it is also why this practice is not suited for everyone. For those who are willing to  engage in meaningful and often challenging growth spurts of spiritual grace... the tantric path is waiting for you.

 

References

Webster, Sam. Tantric Thelema. Richmond, California: Concrescent Press, 2010.

Lopez, George. The Story of Buddhism: A concise guide to its history and teaching. San Francisco, California: HarperCollins, 2001.

PBP: “R” is for Random

Rites of Passage 

Every religion and culture seems to have them. The problem we face as Neo-Pagan parents is that we are trying to create (or in some cases re-create) rituals to celebrate or mark specific times in the lives of our children and families. This is what religion essentially IS anyway... a series of rituals brought together under the canopy of a central belief system (kinda), more often than not involving a community (or some sort). Man, I love the way anthropologist Arnold Van Gennep describes and breaks it down in his masterpiece “The Rites of Passage”:

“Man's life resembles nature, from which neither the individual nor the society stands independent. The universe itself is governed by a periodicity which has repercussions on human life, with stages and transitions, movements forward, and periods of relative inactivity. We should therefore include among ceremonies of human passage those rites occasioned by celestial changes... from season to season... and from year to year” (Van Gennep (pp.3-4).

Secularists and religious folk alike still share an in-ant need to fulfill this craving. Naming ceremonies, secular emphasis on holidays, graduations... all are newer traditions that speak to this very human condition. Whatever words we wish to use, terminology or lens we view these acts through... it is essentially still special to us as a species.

Van Gennep, Arnold. (1960 reprint). The Rites of Passage, translated by Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L. Caffee. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. 198 pages. Available at Amazon.

Macrobius, Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis. Diagram in folio 25 recto. The Universe, the earth in the centre, surrounded by the seven planets within the zodiacal signs, carried on the shoulders of four giant male figures (Barker-Benfield no. 1).

Rinse, Lather, Repeat

Things from the beginning are becoming popular again. Just look at the styles which keep repeating in fashion, politics, music... nothing is original except maybe 10 stories, right? So why do we always seem to have the same problems unsolved? For example in Neo-Paganism there is this issue of Racism raising it's ugly head again... not that this is a topic to be ignored but the difference is that these discussions are not supposed to be coming from a civil space. Religion is exclusive and we cannot expect to play by the same rules as society when it comes to sacred spaces and communities. I would never barge into an orthodox Jewish synagogue or an Islamic mosque and demand for them to allow the genders to mix. Just because many mainstream religions and paths of spirituality have a history of tradition, does not make them more valid over the Neo-Pagan ideologies or methodologies.

Renegade Thelema

The more I read of Crowley's work, the further my interest wants to pull me along deeper down that snake hole. Part madman, part genius: I GET what he was doing (or should I say, what Aiwass said and did). The thing is though... I'm not a 'joiner' and think the whole point of “Do What Thou Wilt” goes against organizing Crowley's philosophies into a religion. I contemplate the mystery of Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel but have no idea how to get there without learning about Kabbalah (which I really don't want to). I also want to know what my True Will is, as I feel I am ON the very path but am Be-ing led either blindfolded or the torches of my lady Hekate's torches: only illuminating the present, where and when I am now. I am experimenting with the rituals of the pentagram, activating my yogic desire for movement and changing the ways I nourish my spirit (and body). I have come to realize I can only go so far in this spiritual path until my body will begin to work against me. The accumulated sludge in my lymphs, muscles surrounded by built up calcium and limbs aching to be filled with fire from Asanas... no more excuses as Uncle Al, with His buddy Lucifer, whip this blob into a voluptuous shape which expresses the perfection of my Self , not what others think I should be.

PBP: “Q” is for Queenly Ways

Playing with my daughter, I notice she is much more 'girly' than I was at her age. I never wanted to be a princess, waiting for some prince to rescue me. When I was a kid the only role models I had which even remotely reflected what I could aspire to be were more like She-Ra (a tough and tumble feminist), Rainbow Brite (who was really more like Strawberry Shortcake as a thoughtless little girl), and Barbie (ruining girls' self images since before my mother was born). We were playing in my daughter's princess dresses (she settled on Merida) when she told me “Mommy, I am the princess and you're the Queen, okay?” I asked her, “Why do I have to be the Queen? Why can't I be the witch in the dungeon?” And she reminded me: “Mommy, Queens can be witches TOO!” She made a good point. This reminds me of the 'sovereignty' which has been a theme in the Pagan community lately. Here in the Bay Area, I am blessed with seeing the microcosm reflecting the greater magickal population, at least I think it's fair to say. It started flowing through with the work of T. Thorne Coyle with Morpheus Ravenna and the Priests of the Coru Cathubodua at Pantheacon last year... a blood ritual to the Morrigan. It was through this donated blood which participants became part of the same tribe, under the leadership of this Queen. And what does this mean, 'sovereignty', for the Pagan community in general, not just devotees of the Morrigan? Why would a bloody war Goddess be interested in modern Pagans embracing their own power and independent nature? Does Be-ing a Queen mean authority of others as well? Is it a superiority complex or Satanic focus of Self fulfilling prophecies? Perhaps it's not so much this particular deity/entity/Be-ing which is requiring it, or should I say commanding us all to look at self rule.

The sorority of feminine sovereignty is pretty big: ancient Ishtar/Inanna, Babalon of the New Aeon, blood thirsty Queens such as Morrigan and Kali; red dakinis are reaching out in Her name as Lilith and Tara/Kurukulla. Heeding the call are priestesses, witches, energy workers, and many others who are attuned with the currents our planet passes through. This wave of new generation community leaders reflects how our Paganism is evolving and changing with the times. They are initiating and ushering new ways of thinking and practicing ancient concepts. I was deeply reminded of this during conversation with another initiator in this sovereign wave, Lasara Firefox Allen; Priestess, International Author, Educator, and Activist for sexual liberation and revolution. Allen published Sexy Witch (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide) and  is currently preparing to facilitate a weekend workshop she has titled “Embracing the Red Queen: Women, Competition, Cooperation and Co-Creation”; an intensive She reminded me that the actual etymological root for the word Queen is actually “wife”... “a sovereign woman as in one who does not need a King... (symbolic of ) the evolution of consciousness”. This is interesting in that lineages were at one point carried through the royal lines of women... a King was made by the Queen he married, not the other way around. Women are learning to have worth not in comparison to her consort, but standing in her own community of women.

From "Through the Looking Glass", 'Queen Alice' by John Tenniel.

 

For Lasara Allen, the Red Queen is not just the Sacred Whore but a kind of 'egregore' which has evolved from the consciousness of all the ones who connect with this red current, something beyond the simple Archetype. “For now just think of it as RED; power, sex, love, anger, passion, desire, strength, blood, wounds, healing, birth, death. QUEEN” (Lasara Firefox Allen). Something I have known for a long time, and that is also a factor for many other women, is that ladies have a tendency to “tear each other down”; sure we might be supportive face to face, but even at rituals or other public events I have overheard the cattiness which still lingers, usually spurned by envy or cowardice. Allen explained to me how “Women do not have a language for competition... this is about stepping into full power, full actualization”. She describes a place many feminists promise but eventually fail to deliver: a real sharing of power. In her 30-something years of training and service (which consists of several formal titles along with applied practice), Allen draws from her experience in reviewing patterns and seeing what stages of development worked in success situations.

COMPETITION: Learning how to claim our power in an authentic, straight-forward, honest way. Owning the edges that we stand at and sometimes step over. Admitting we are powerful. Admitting that we are vulnerable. Entering into a willingness to become naked in our RED QUEEN energy.
COOPERATION: When we come together in our truth, we learn to become true allies to one another. We learn how to support one another in full expression and creative action. We learn how to hold one another up while staying strong in our core.
CO-CREATION: Building from cooperation, we move into the ability to trust ourselves and one another enough to give ourselves over to the process of creating a whole that is more beautiful, powerful, complex, healing and healed than we may have ever thought possible.” (Lasara Firefox Allen)

As a Queen, Allen also holds a title I find many leaders in the Pagan community lacking: Mother. Allen does what she calls “Transparent Parenting”, not hiding the services she provides or teachings from her family. Surrounded by a supportive network of family and friends, Allen, like many Priestesses, lives her life “walking with the entity”. “Our life is the biggest prayer we can offer” she tells me. The openness shared with her children and spouse gives me something I can realistically envision for myself: the Queen rules the house, with one hand on a child and another a septor.

 

**Embracing the Red Queen Retreat will take place on privately owned, beautiful, Goddess-Blessed land here in the Willits area. It’s out Pine Mountain way, south-east of the valley. Spending the weekend in the great outdoors, we will ground our practice and process in the Earth Itself. Sleep under the stars, bring a tent, or sleep in the large, common-room tent space. There may be space inside the house to sleep on the floor by prior request, and there are a couple of beds that will be available by prior arrangement. There is a jacuzzi (bathing suits optional!), a beautiful fire circle, a lovely little garden, and a beautiful home in which meals will be prepared and served. Directions to the location will be made available with your other registration information before the event.

PBP: “L” is for Love

A philosophical cliché, the most requested of magicks, some chemical reactions in the human body... my search for Love has propelled me through many lifetimes. This has been the year of exploring Love. I've had issues with the acceptance of Love and giving unconditionally; I always wait for the rug to be pulled from under me. I didn't really know the depth it could go until I had a child, the connection went beyond anything I could even imagine. I sometimes fantasize about the Gods having this kind of love for us, the humans and other creatures who can express adoration for the Divine. I am IN LOVE with my deities... there is no question of that, but is this Love reciprocal? Earlier this year I attended a more private gnostic mass, as practiced by the Ordo Templi Orientis. It was a very intimate gathering with no one I really knew. The only light was from the roaring fireplace I sat in front of, and the illumination from a high altar, which the priestess later sat upon. She transformed from Nuit wrapped in the veils of night, to the naked Babalon. I approached Her, took the cake of light into my body and drank from Her cup. The Scarlet Woman offered Her arms to me and I accepted the embraced. The feeling of Love divinely flowed through my body, carried by the rotten, red blood of earthly fruits. Her nude skin, wide hips and face disappeared into the mantle of Nuit and it fell about my shoulders very gently, enrapturing me in a self-love I had never knew was there. I remembered what it was like to be a woman, not the wife or mother or sister or any other mask I wear. Underneath the raw part of me quickened, awakening a primal energy which I did not realize had fallen asleep. My arms tightened around Her as I buried my head in Her lap, and felt as a lover in afterglow.

Last weekend I embraced Mata Amritanandamayi, also known as Amma; a simple woman who has taken on the role of Mother to the world. She is something of a phenomenon:  has hugged something like 32 million people, donated time and money to several charitable/humanitarian issues, and is someone I have wanted to meet for many, many years. I went to Her ashram center, located less than 20 miles from home I discovered. I arrived at 4:15 pm and left around 2 am; most of that time was spent waiting to see Amma. It was a carnival atmosphere with people queuing up nicely and leaving their shoes neatly outside the temple. Large television screens all over the grounds allowed everyone a chance to shop for Amma memorabilia, food, clothing, massage... it was a marketplace with all proceeds going to Amma's Ashram and charity works. I was 'adopted' by an older Indian couple who wanted to show me the ropes; they also told me how they had once waited 7 hours to just enter an Indian temple for an Amma event. I was becoming steadily nervous as I anxiously sat through the seating sequence, Her procession in, and the talk She gave (Amma is actually a VERY funny lady). We were all given blessed water as well.

Mata Amritanandamayi, Amma in an Embrace.

After She changed clothes, from a simple white cotton sari of purity to the red/gold cloth of a Goddess, that She was ready to gift the world Her unconditional Love. Under an elaborate umbrella and flower petals thrown in blessing, She commenced the hugging which sometimes can last 14 hours solid. I just sat there watching Her for a good hour or so, in awe. She embraced whole families, played with and kissed little children, hugged humbled business men who knelt crying, new age ladies in flowing white dresses and henna adorning their hands wrapped around Her in a familiar manner. There were all kinds of people, from many different walks of life, all wanting to hug Amma.

When my turn came up it was around midnight. I sat in anticipation, moving up the line which fast approached the dais She was seated on. I watched as Amma held the people before me, all  I had spoken with earlier who were so surprised I was there alone, never having attended an event like this before, nor the ashram, and also that I had volunteered during my wait (called Seva, it was service helping in the bathrooms... appropriate considering my IBS issues I thought). Amma received them sweetly, gently, and with the grace of a mother fitting snugly against Her child. I longed for that type of embrace, secure and loving in an unconditional way, bridging across dimensions in the arms of a Goddess... for She was no longer jolly Amma, but a bigger than life presence, a Be-ing of light which radiated throughout the interior of the Ashram. I felt intimidated and unsure as I approached Her, on my knees. I crawled and wanted to bow in reverence, but was forcefully brought up by Her attendants. They pushed on my back, grabbed the back of my neck, and gave me just enough time to look in Her eyes and say “mantra Amma” before they plunged my face straight into Her bosom, which was full of fresh flowers. She smelled of rose and sandalwood, it permeated my mind sending a piercing sting to my heart. She gripped my head, hugging me fiercely She placed Her lips against my right ear and said something I still have no clue of (which made me nervous). Then She did something I did not expect... She kissed me on the forehead, roughly and then released me just as quickly, ready to accept the next devotee.

I was handed a special card and given instructions if I wanted to come back and wait to receive a mantra. So whilst I was waiting, it finally settled on me... and I began to weep not tears of joy, but tears of disillusionment. She wasn't at all gentle and nurturing with me... I could feel Her fierce Love bubbling beneath the surface of an otherwise joyful face. Her compassion was intense, something I have only felt in sexual union or with divinity... She expressed it to EVERYONE. I was jealous in a way... that someone could have that capacity and really, genuinely LOVE us all! She was like Babalon... a cup that runs over, which I could dissolve myself into and forget who I am, where my past lies and why I wanted this. Just Be-ing in Her presence I could continue to feel the Love spreading infectiously... no wonder so many people waited for hours on end!

I received my mantra and promised never to tell it to anyone. Today I was praying with it and my four year old came in... she started immediately saying the words I was struggling with. I knew then, my little guru was the living embodiment of my Love, that was initiated by my husband, and created in my body. The mantra brought the simplest awareness of presence back, I reconnected with Babalon as priestess and mother Goddess as Amma, realizing I contain part of them inside, mixing with the stardust and DNA which already makes up 'me'. Upon the path of Love, none is mundane or profane... Love is sacred and the universal Law.

Inflaming Myself in Prayer

I read a wonderful quote that (I believe) is Thelemic in origin: “Invoke often. Inflame thyself in prayer”. It matters not who originally said/wrote it, but I like the concept and have been applying this to my spiritual discipline. And really it can be applied to ANY religious belief system; this is the genius of the statement. It captures the path of the passionate spiritual seeker, forgoes the madness and gets to the heart of progress. To understand and apply properly, I have broken it down into two essential parts: 1) Inflaming Prayer and 2) Frequent Invocation. By examining these two concepts separately, I believe eventually these two sides of the same coin will come together, fulfilling the pursuits and answers to questions long held in my heart. To inflame is to be impassioned, caught in a frenzy of feeling. This is similar to many different ways of being 'moved' or inspired; such as when viewing amazing art, listening to meaningful music, having an orgasm, or anything else associated with a beauteous rapture. It is a trance of sorts, a fleeting euphoria which we try so hard to grasp onto and save for a rainy day. I remember experiencing this for the first time in a religious act. I was learning to say the “Hail Mary” prayer for my catechism class as a kid. For me, practice makes perfect so I kept repeating it all the time: at night when I was laying in bed trying to sleep, walking to the school bus, on the playground when I was by myself.

It wasn't until I made my first confession I learned what it was to be 'inflamed' in the fervor of prayer. I was sitting in the pew, praying with my rosary the penance I had been charged by the Monsignor as the price for lying to my parents (3 decades of 'Hail Mary' and a few 'Our Father' thrown in for good measure seemed fair). As I was sitting there, looking at the large Madonna with Her feet stepping on the snake, candles lit for novenas, that I allowed myself to really think and FEEL the words I was saying. They were not just words thrown into the universe at random, it was a petition to the Queen of Heaven; asking Her to pray for me, and all the other sinners: for as I was led to believe as a Catholic, we all cannot help but sin. I wanted to be like Her: 'full of grace', “blessed amongst women' and to have the Lord with me. My aspirations were too high, but in that moment it felt completely possible. The prayer became a song in my mind, a rhythmic chant of becoming, I was guided to the Goddess within and without at the ripe age of 12. She wrapped Her arms around my spirit, knowing every hurt and mistake, the compassion was overwhelming in my little heart. I knew then my soul was much more capable then what my church could ever offer. And so, before making my Confirmation and becoming an adult in the eyes of the holy Roman Catholic Church, I left Christianity and embarked on a journey to replicate this experience many times over, until I became Goddess. Inflamed in prayer

Invocation is not something taught in most religious educations. I don't even think people quite understand what it means, usually confusing it with 'evocation'; meaning to summon or call forth an being/spirit/deity. To truly invoke is more than petitioning for guidance or help; it is actually inhabiting or becoming a host for the energies of the being/spirit/deity. Evocation is without oneself, whereas Invocation is from within. My experience with the “Hail Mary” prayer was not initially intended to become an invocation, but due to the frequency of petitions it ended up with me experiencing the ecstasy of Her energy inside my little body.

Now as an adult I work with Hekate and whilst I intentionally invoke Her, She remains aloof and outside myself. To become enraptured in Her flames and carried off into the serpentine trances is the easy part; allowing my heart to fully open and let Her in is something which will come with devotion, time and patience. As I repeat my prayers and adorations, the focus does not turn toward petitions which may come in future times. My pagan prayers are filled with more love and reverence than begging to forgive unknown sins. The responsibilities are mine and the compassion comes from within.