Considering Online Magick Classes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

The Pyramid of Magick

To attain the SANCTUM REGNUM, in other words, the knowledge and power of the Magi, there are four indispensable conditions–an intelligence illuminated by study, an intrepidity which nothing can check, a will which cannot be broken, and a prudence which nothing can corrupt and nothing intoxicate. TO KNOW, TO DARE, TO WILL, TO KEEP SILENCE–such are the four words of the Magus, inscribed upon the four symbolical forms of the sphinx.” - Eliphas Levi

Early on this path I came across the above passage and didn’t fully understand what it meant until I actually started to practice magick. I only revisited it recently when my 8 year old daughter decided that she, too, was a witch and demanded that I teach her the Arte. Well, I have no background whatsoever with children’s magick; except to say my past experiences with kids have produced their own natural kind of effects. So I thought the best thing to do was begin like I would with any student who came to me for training...just dumbed down a little.

We started with meditation, as it is the foundation of all spirit work. Learning how to clear her mind, imagine a blank movie screen from which she could project simple images at first then hold more detailed pictures progressively was quite easy for her. It was a few months later she came asking for MORE training and I was at a loss where to begin. She really was passionate about jumping in to make potions, burn stuff and couldn’t wait to tell her friends at school about what we were doing. It was then I reminded myself about the foundational ‘rules’ of magick, and thought perhaps to explore them with my little witchlet.

TO KNOW

It is said ‘knowledge is power’, when concerning magick it is only half true. Studying, accumulating data, learning about various tools of the trade are all part of this ‘knowing’. But just like any other skill, having the books and correspondence lists really only takes you so far. Developing relationship with herbs, stones, properties of colors and omens can be considered with discernment when making choices for spellwork and magickal operations. As I put it to my daughter, the ABC’s are only understandable when you see how they relate to an object; A is for ‘Apple’, and adoration; B is for ‘Belladonna’ and it’s baneful beauty, etc. We learn by seeing, hearing, touching and smelling...exposing her since of walking age to the plants, stones and anima of our garden taught her what they look like, how they help or hex. Eventually the knowledge of these spirit allies have their own secret lessons to pass on for her.

TO WILL

Being compassionate of the ones around us, having empathy for other creatures and persons, reaching out with our own ‘spidey senses’ often drives our motives for magick. Enthusiasm spurs forward our personal drive to do things others only have fantasies, or nightmares, about. Doing magick is not something we do out of pure boredom or to appear powerful to others...although glamour has it’s own effectiveness, it’s not reason enough for bending the universe. Her will gives inspiration to do what needs to be done. Having a clear vision of the end results, an idea of what she wants to accomplish, can help determine the goals of magick. I tell her, we don’t make the time to find a good cake recipe and assemble ingredients to just make a batter… we follow through to have a beautiful, yummy cake in the end. This action is taken to deliberately DO something, not to satisfy an impulse; so it is with magick. Otherwise it is the same as a sloppy, half baked cake no one wants to eat.

TO DARE

Witches do not fear, I tell my daughter. In the lonely woods, on a dark crossroads, at a haunted house the magick worker should be brave and honest of their uneasy feelings. Since a toddler, I have explained that should she ever be afraid the spirits of our Ancestors, the allies of the Land and our Gods are there to surround and protect her. She need only call on them. Sometimes these anxieties are more than our imaginings, our intuitions are telling us there is something stronger than ourselves lurking out there and meaning real harm. This is when we need to call out the ‘big guns’. To challenge ourselves is part of growth, how we become stronger by overcoming this trepidation, but armed with the knowledge of our own limitations. But the main point of this ‘daring’ is to not put ourselves in harm’s way, I tell my little one...it is to jump into that deep end of the pool after our years of swimming lessons are over.

TO KEEP SILENT

This, I told my daughter, is by far the most important lesson a witch should heed. After all is said and done...the Gods and spirits invoked, the things burned, and the spell has been sung we are to sit in the stillness of our mind and wait. The patience of watching for our intended results is exciting, so much that often we wish to share the wonder and miracle of our magick with the whole world. And many do. A quick tour through Pinterest, Instagram and other social media clearly shows there are many self-proclaimed magick workers who are either bragging or not really manifesting. That is, unless the intentional working includes the general public to VIEW this working. Magick, I tell her, is a mystery which must only be shared by others who understand it; and only after the results have been seen. It’s like planning and making decorations a surprise party for someone we really care about, and showing them before the event; it ruins the wonderment and satisfaction of seeing the delight on their face. In the case of witchcraft, she sadly had to hear, it is also a practicality: long ago witches were killed for their Arte, and still are in some parts of the world. It is still a dangerous practice others do not understand and are fearful of… and that ignorance is dangerous.

We are still digesting and learning how to apply these guidelines to our Arte. We have yet to actually perform a ritual spell together, but the time will come soon enough. The seeds of magick have been planted, tended and her little garden weeded of bullshit the outside world has planted to usurp the imagination she naturally possesses. As the magic of children begins wearing off with age, it is my hope these lessons will stick to her heart as the craft develops and blossoms there.

The PantheaCon Report: 2017 edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

PantheaCon Report ~ 2016 Edition

A lot can be said by an attendee's first and last presentations during the long weekend of PantheaCon; mine were “Willful Bane: the History, Techniques and Ethics of Hexing” and “Rite of Needful Unbinding”. Although the schedule was rather bland, the few exceptional rituals and lectures I attended  really rejuvenated some witchy feelz. I wrote haikus to pass the time, but some were post-Con also. Orange sunburst, leaf

A funk has arisen here.

A room of Pagans.

Appalachian

Wit and humour empower.

Magick of true grit.

Urine in bottle,

Spit over the left shoulder,

Eating of power.

 

Horse-faced one sat close,

You are forever the fucked.

Exorcism, lost.

Crumbling castles,

False One of the Happy Camp,

Surround and keep you.

Brown bird in her nest,

Piety does not protect

Justice in the wind.

Cover your babies,

prepare for the coming storm.

Excrement flies far.

Enemy thine mine,

Look to your mountain and weep,

Rabbit on the run.

Disco, Baba witch

The dark mask of a Mother.

And you shall have none.

Over-rated suites,

Danger is so near

And much cheap liquor.

Man who stands too close,

Violate and desecrate

Holy woman, FIGHT!

No one noticed this?

Masters of Destiny here

Ignore the victim.

Is it Boy or Girl?

Spirit does not care witch one.

Practice magick, now.

Give of your Self child

And know the universe Is.

We are all learning.

Selene, honour.

Chthonic Ones, forgotten.

Hekate, old key.

Absinthe and battle,

Discordian candy flies!

Warrior standing.

Running with scissors,

Mead with the Librarians,

Sweet Asian kisses.

Priestess binding me,

Chains made of my own doing.

Rattle shake, drum bass.

Domina, we cry!

Vulnerable space, bless-ed!

Foot in mouth, pale, raw.

The bullshit, no more!

Release what does not propel!

A blade deconstructs!

While the weather was sunny and warm outside the Doubletree, indoor climates ranged from freezing cold to stifling rainforest in many rooms; most wondered if we really WERE having hot flashes. Surges of power, others might say... and they were. Witch Giants were everywhere, filling the halls and rooms with their subtle energies. Real practitioners of magick came together in corners of the Con, discussed and invoked, banished and destroyed. Several times I was surrounded by a group of powerhouses in the Craft and felt slightly woozy...this concentration of power is overwhelming but also reassuring as I was among them, an equal finally. I also dropped some baggage for more capable hands, for annihilation. Leaving behind those things and people who no longer serve me, who are nothing but asuras... banishing bellicosity and distractions from my Work.

On a disappointing note, it was really too bad all these warriors and holy people did not notice the women being assaulted over the course of the weekend... several violated for simply being intoxicated, and not by just 'men'. Over and over I heard the words “consent”, “safe space”, “proper pronouns” being spoken by presenters, but their words were lost on many. These people are lucky I didn't see it myself...because I am not one to be polite or soft about others hurt and pain. And there was plenty to go around. The overtly sexual environment was sickening sweet: beautiful rituals such as the honeyed-Pomba Gira were replaced with artificial saccharine imitations that didn't come close to satisfying, except for those with vampiric appetites. It's scary to me that we “police ourselves”, I imagine to save public face; abusive leaders are kicked out of organizations without charges being filed, predators escorted out of festivals but not into police custody ...it happens in plain sight and so many choose to ignore. It is my eternal wish that we take off our blinders, use our true witch vision (if you have any at all) and finally learn some compassion, develop empathy and generate loving kindness with equanimity.

It was an added bit of bummer to NOT see the "PantyCon" schedule distributed throughout the hotel; I guess the party-poopers had that removed too. And yes, the community seriously lacks a sense of humour. Between the leather clothes, crystal pyramids, special snowflakes and over priced books there are those less pretentious ones who play Fool to the World. Those easily offended are missing out on the worship of Eris, inviting discord into one's practice is liberation with entertainment.

But honestly, we really are so very lucky to have access to highly qualified and experienced ritualists. I realize after attending some bad rituals, my spiritual path has been really blessed. Groups like the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn and the Discordians were a breath of fresh air. The genius of sacred space was kept sentinel again in the Coru Cathubodua's Temple of the Morrigan, even though I did not need to visit. Every year I go and make offerings...but I also end up taking folks there who are broken or needing reprieve. As one of the only purely sacred spaces available in the Con, I am glad to see it offered for those who need to experience it.

It was also really awesome to meet and give a sniff to some oils from Rosarium Blends, Catamara is a witch who knows her stuff. Decanting from the mother bottles, the oils were oozing with herbal essences of magickal concentration...it was lovely. I, of course, had been eyeballing some of their Hekate oil online, so was glad to get the chance of smell before purchasing. Together with her partner, they are organizers for the Viridis Genii Symposium held in Oregon... I am already making plans to attend.

Episode 6: The Death Current

In this episode I explore the practice of Ancestor worship and share some personal anecdotes as well. Music in this episode features songs by Faun, from the albums Totem and Licht.  

[audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Ep6_The-Death-Current.mp3"][/audio]

Resources mentioned in the podcast:

Martin Coleman's "Communing With the Spirits"

Sarah Iles Johnston's "Restless Dead: Encounters Between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece"

"Liber Falxifer: The Book of the Left Handed Reaper" Vol. 1 by N.A-A.218 

Hekate's Wheel

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

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

Hecate's_Wheel

Hecate's_Wheel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

Liminal Book Review: Ritual Offerings

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

7 Tips for Witches

We all started somewhere on this path. Whether it was a strange thing that happened as a kid, an inspirational person willing to reach out or just intellectual curiosity, everyone has a different motivation for practicing magick. Some people never reach out to community, are completely satisfied with solitary practice, with some it is more fulfilling to work in a coven or lodge. The thing we all have in common though, no matter the tradition or methodology... if done correctly, magick happens. Witches around the cauldron.

In my 20 year magickal career I have faced personal conflict, doubt, spiritual laziness, poverty, parenthood... a whole scope of life experience wherein I kept my Will focused on perfecting and mastering certain occult skills. And whilst I am still working on them, by no means a Master in the broadest sense of the word, my commitment to this way of life has inspired others, brought questions or others seeking advice. I can only offer my reflections thus far, certain rules for which still works for me.

  1. Meditation is essential to propel practice further. My entire experience in magickal work began with meditation. Learning tantric techniques and tools early on such as breathe, visualization and focus have all been solid skills. even years later.
  2. Grow a plant. Being responsible for a living thing, other than your Self, helps to foster empathy and compassion. Nurturing, developing relationship and protecting something completely dependent is only a fraction of what being a parent is like, but close enough for practitioners without children. The innocent, eternally giving nature of a vulnerable thing in this universe, and the appreciation of it, will sow into our own spirit.
  3. Performance of daily ritual is imperative, after all practice makes perfect. Whether it is something as simple as lighting a candle or saying a quick affirmation in the shower... ritual means to actually perform over and over... repetition. It is the continual renewing of the spell/enchantment which keeps the magick in momentum.
  4. What happens in circle, stays in circle! It has been my experience that to treat a coven as a 'social clique' is one of the most dangerous things a young witch can do. Aside from the very immature results of an “us versus them” attitude which comes from being together all the time, group work can also stifle real spiritual and technical growth in one's Arte. Movie nights and bowling trips are for fraternal organizations or corporate team building activities... not a powerful group of witches.
  5. APO PANTOS KAKODAIMONOS. Learn to banish, properly. Yes the LBRP and other Olde Rites of Ye Past seem silly or stuffy, but they work! Belief or experience of lineage are not needed, there are no prerequisites required. From the Adept to the Novice, banishing is the strongest charm in a witches arsenal. Learn one really good method and master it.
  6. Keep as many friends and family who are not into magick, close. Surrounding oneself with only witches and occult practitioners is like being around a bunch of “yes men”; they are more likely to confirm or be sympathetic to your experiences. Whilst having a positive support group is very nurturing for one's confidence and ego, it is also not working magick in a well controlled environment. Our magickal peers create a biased space which can disallow mundane comparison or healthy skepticism to be explored, sometimes. Having a shared paranormal experience with a non-believer, at least in my own experience, is one of the most rewarding validations and feedback received.
  7. Be a Master of One, a Slave to None. One skill, one form of divination, one God... all my knives are sharp, but certain ones will have a handle which fits like a glove. This is the knife to perfect using, and so it is with my Arte. Working with the same tarot deck for 15 years, Developing relationship with one spirit/Deity at a time, perfecting and expanding the breadth of experiential dreaming... I have not summoned any demons of the Goetia, but I also don't need them.

Fire and Water, Then Earth Begins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Air

“Every man and every woman is a star.”
― Aleister CrowleyThe Book of the Law

Astrology confuses me, only in that I understand Astronomy. Some schools of astrology say my Sun is in Gemini, others that I am a Taurus: both I identify with whole-heartedly. However, I am still very much an Elemental creature. All living things are, as Crowley's quote suggests, made from starstuff. In the beginning maybe some God put it together, or we crawled from water, or crashed here from another planet...the Earth, the Water and the Fire still needed that key ingredient which set us apart from our floating-rock neighbors: Air. And I have been spending the last 30 days breathing, shouting, invoking this all-encompassing Element...tool of intellect and mindfulness. Sharp as a tack and willful as wind, I very much identify with this element. Since I can remember, my mind has been involved with two modes of action: reading or writing (this is why I love being in school so much I suppose). During this time period of daily invocation and manipulation of Air, there was a different effect than I expected. Mercurial, feathered and flights in dream I experienced academic revelry in my undergraduate studies...this was the last time I did an Elemental discipline. One week of each Element as a young witchlet, was a way of experiencing them purely, getting to know the 'critter' (as my teacher would say). And as I greeted the Eastern Sun every morning, chanting the seed mantra to Wind, my mind became sharpened, grinding quicksilver, hardened on steel.

Alchemical symbol for the element of Air.
Alchemical symbol for the element of Air.

But I am a different person these days, and my relationship with the Elements has changed as well; environmentally rather than spiritually. Whilst I lived in the rural areas of Northern California, it was much easier to interact with the Be-ings of primordial magicks. I mean, they are EVERYWHERE! The rivers are full of water sprites, mountains alive with flowing lava and sulfur springs, the trees sentinels and stewards of all who walk beneath their sappy arms. But I am in the suburbs now, as they call it...too urban still for this country witch. The property I live on has six sad baby palm trees and a few bushes; no trees to speak of. All my plants are in containers, keeping them somewhat protected from any soil pollutants. The nearby freeway fills the atmosphere with sounds of busyness, not to mention exhaust. The Fae and other unseen folk are hidden in the landscape, hardened by the asphalt and cement which line their land. They do not come so easily with offerings of sweets and shelter, but draw near to the light which only gets brighter with magick.

For the first week of invoking Vāta, I used the traditional invoking pentagram as provided in the GD system. After performing my Star Ruby, I take refuge in the tradition of our Hermetikoi...and begin the invocation. At first I used one written by my brother Devotee, only in that I loved the way it sounded coming from him. I soon found this was not necessarily true for my Self. Coming from my voice, the invocation left me feeling weepy the whole rest of the day. I was confused as the wording was quite practical and reminiscent of my academic years...a focus on the sharpness of mind, quick of wit, eloquent speech and seeing through deceit. I asked my Priest why he thought this was happening...he told me to ask the spirits of Air and invoke through improvisation. The problem with this, I didn't want to use my old style of “off the cuff” magick as had always worked so well in the past. I have been on a strict diet of Thelemic ritual with tried and true words. I was doing this as a spiritual challenge. Focusing on the one Element after a month of all four...well, let's just say the unbalancing effected my practice. It shifted and I needed to INSPIRE my Self.

My invocation is short and sweet:

“I call forth the power and the presence of Air,
Powers of the Mind, Be present within Me.”

I say this aloud, commanding and firm, with the appropriate invoking pentagram in time with the words. Drawing from my right shoulder, my dominant hand...the only wand I'll ever really need. No athame can withstand the magick a living, human bone does. I draw this energy into each of my chakras...illuminating and spinning the wheels with winds of spirit.

Throughout the day, I think about the air I breathe and the other creatures who share it with me; animals outside, bugs, birds...but people most of all. I see light polluting atmosphere, stars are so dim and washed out. I see smoke from fires to the north, sacred lands burning as part of a natural cycle. To the south, a hurricane with torrential rains. Why could not wind blow this storm north to help with these wildfires? If there was a witch among us in California who could, why did it not happen? Because there are some natural cycles, such as wind and weather, stronger magicks than all; Mother Nature is the last wildness of our planet some days. I also became immersed in a fantasy novel...and enjoyed it a little too much.

My friends, the spirits of Air are fast, flighty but also fierce in the focus; like fanning fires of fastidious fashions. Forever fawning over the facts, leaves fantasy in a final funk. Fussing and fighting is fucked. Face forward, find flowers and frolic in the forest.

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: Hermetic Appearance

Day 3: Symbols and icons of this deity; or How does Hermes appear?

“The Guide, the Slayer of Argos (Argus), contrived within her (Pandora) lies and crafty words and a deceitful nature at the will of loud thundering Zeus, and the Herald of the gods put speech in her; the Father sent glorious Argos-Slayer, the swift messenger of the gods, to take Pandora to Epimetheus as a gift” (Hesiod's Works and Days, lines 68-85).

3. Most of the time we cannot really, actually, tangibly SEE Deity. We see the effects They have on the worlds, but to visually encompass the True Forms? I doubt our tiny, mortal bodies could withstand nor comprehend the hugeness of Them. And so, They manifest in forms, manipulations of energy, thoughts placed in our minds via inspiration, and other means communication has been open for the past 10,000 years humans have been doing it. Glimpses, shadows, montages in the fabric of time really is all we can handle...the poetic dance of Life. Symbolism, art and storytelling are all ways we perpetuate our relationship with Them; keeping connections alive through piety, psychology or whatever means necessary.

The Caduceus.

The primordial, older Hermes is a Lord of Thievery and His cleverness is expressed through tools. Inventor of the lyre and pipes, Hermes traded with Apollo for these things in exchange for materials of great magick and skill...this hints at the entrepreneurial spirit the great Herm embodies, and why He carries a leather bag. He pushes the limits, tilts things in favor of His motivations which some would think as trickery. The cunning Hermes is most recognized in modern times by His winged helmet and sandals; well known icons adopted in art and some company brands. His swift shoes make Him an ideal patron of runners and general athletics. His usually wide-brimmed cap was in later years identified as winged too, but originally a tool of invisibility acquired by Aidoneus (the Unseen). The most well-known symbol of Hermes is the Caduceus, or the Herald's Rod, called kerykeion . The prototype for all magician's wands, this is a potently golden staff which brings sleep, guides the Dead and herds animals.

In His later incarnations within the Roman pantheon, Hermes was called Mercury; associated with the swiftest moving planet in the spheres. The snakes are the symbols for Zeus, often a daemonic protector of home shrines and kept at family altars. The mythos surrounding an addition of the two intertwined serpents is fuzzy as there are two different origin stories. One theory suggests the snakes were added from an encounter with it's previous handler, Teresius...a pythian oracle transformed into a woman for 7 years as punishment for killing a female snake.

The physical Herms found at crossroads, and in some neo-classical garden designs, are the legacy of His cult. Large wooden or stone, phallic and like Egyptian obelisks reaching between all the worlds, Herms were traditionally square and had a large head on the top; sometimes a phallus was also attached to express fertility of abundance. Living in liminal places of in-between, these boundary markers where places of refuge for travelers and often markers on roads. Whilst Hekate is the guardian at three-way crossroads, Hermes can be found where two roads overlap at a four-way cross. Part of this manifests in the great alchemical/astrological symbol for Mercury; a horned circle with an extended “crossroads”, usually associated with the symbol of “female”. For blessings of Lord Hermes, I draw this symbol over or on anything I wish to imbue with His energies: my car, computer, travelers on the road...and on that note: May all people enjoying their American Independence weekend be safe on the roads, with fires, and with each other in the name of Lord Hermes!

The alchemical/astrological symbol of Mercury/Hermes.

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 Baphomet

"And he shall separate them one from another,
as a shepherd divided his sheep from the goats.
And he shall set the sheep on his right,
but the goats on his left."
— Matthew 25: 32-33

  Spooky and adorning more than a dozen heavy metal album covers and t-shirts, this spirit is something conjured out of the middle ages; literally. An alchemical egregore, the Sabbatic goat we, as witches, tried hiding it, motivated by a need for acceptance in the mundane world. It is Baphomet...an idol descending from Knight Templar records. Steeped in archaic and Kabbalistic symbolism, which I do not pretend to begin understanding, the duality is perfectly clear even to an untrained eye. In my exploration, I am trying to answer my own questions: Is Baphomet a Deity, a Spirit, or simply a mandala for meditation and contemplative purposes?

"Baphomet", from Eliphas Levi's "Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie", 1854

Baphomet is hermaphroditic, having a phallic penis with swollen breasts. The snakes intertwine around the phallus, looking something similar to the caduceus of Hermes; I don't think this was by chance. His 'rod' is a wand, an extension of Hermes' creative energies and the mages' staff. At the same time, the breasts are enlarged and full of nurturing milk, inspiration. The anthropomorphic head and hooves are that of a goat, more specifically the Sabbatic Goat of witchcraft. Between the goat-headed antlers is the illuminating flame of intellect; that 'fire in the head', driving the Arte of witches and mystics from a primal/bestial place. The themes of duality continue with the placement of human hands, the feminine pointing up toward the white moon and the masculine down at a black moon, connecting as a liminal gesture signifying something like “As Above, So Below”. Written or tattooed reads the Latin words SOLVE (“separate”) on the upraised arm and COAGULA (“join together”) on the down-pointed arm.

I know...these are heavy-duty mysteries. Baphomet is a composite Be-ing that takes on all kinds of imagery from opposites, combined in a harmonious image of stark beauty. It is the 'moonchild' of Crowley's theories, a result of unifying Babalon with Chaos, the poster-child for left-hand path practitioners, who hope to become deified through apotheosis. Everything at odds within oneself at ease, working together in equilibrium, as one unit. There is no inherent “good” nor “evil”, Baphomet destroys all dichotomies of ethics and morals...why this idol has become adopted by many Left Hand Path practitioners, in the breaking of taboos and embracing ALL sides of magick. I embrace that flame and alight my heart with the fires of Baphomet's inspiration.

PBP: “Y” is for Yod He Vau He(יהוה)

The first mantra I recognized as 'not prayer' was given to me at 18. A budding Buddhist playing with the feminized witchcrafts of Starhawk, Ffiona Morgan, Zsusanna Budapest, and even Scott Cunningham; all I had read were warm fuzzies of magick and meditations. My teacher/mentor/father-figure 'A' challenged me to meditate with him after a meeting with our journalism department. I had no clue he was a meditation teacher and master of invocation, but thought the strange little German man was putting me on at first. So I tread carefully forward. We went for a walk in the woods behind the junior college campus. The jogging trails were full of the late summer's poison oak and the large oaks were just starting to turn brown. My cynical, youthful mind thought it was boring, but might be a good place for a meditation teaching he promised. I look back and think how young, naïve and stupid it was to go into the woods with a man in his 50's I barely knew except as an editor of the college paper I wrote for. Being very good at investigative reporting, I had checked with our professor at first to make sure A was legit... and I was assured, even encouraged, to learn what I could from the man.

As we walked along the trail, A and I came to what at first appeared to be a man-made pond, but turned out to be a cesspool. The early, clean morning air immediately was swallowed by the stench of excrement and urine and whatever else was floating around out there. I suggested we turn around and go another way, but A insisted we go forward. I was so grossed out... I was going to vomit, but needed to be confident more. In his thick German accent, A asked me “What are these theengs there? Flouting in the vater?” I looked closer at what he was talking about. “They are tampons A. Used, nasty tampons floating on ponds of shit. Can't you see?” He turned to me and asked “So, how do you meditate?” I was stunned... no clue what to say. We went from talking about the toxic sludge that surrounded us to sitting on the ground and staring out at the ponds.

“Show me what you do”. So I sat... and he stopped me. “No, no... not here. Over there!” and A's finger pointed to a 'deck' of sorts built off from a narrow pier,  jutted out into the middle of the pond. I looked at him and asked “Are you serious? You want me to go sit out there, in the middle of all this shit, and meditate?” I really thought the red, hairy, almost Santa looking man was joking... A always had laughter in his eyes, a smile on his lips, and a loud booming voice to match the belly. At this moment, he was not smiling. He was not laughing as he looked me seriously in the eye and told me “Go show me how you meditate”.

I humored the old man and walked out there. . The planks leading to the deck did not feel sturdy and all I could imagine was slipping, falling into the pools of waste. The poo smell was stronger out there... the sun was shining on my back and glistening off the melting frost. I sat with my legs crossed in full lotus on the cold concrete slab. I took a few deep breaths and thought vomiting might be better; an acidic burp mixed with my morning chai was all I could muster. I closed my eyes only the find my sense of smell more heightened. I tried breathing through my mouth and could taste the acrid air. “What are you trying to prove here old man?” I asked aloud, with my fingers still numbing and breath hanging in the mists of dung. I tried to concentrate but no matter what I did the place was toxic and invading my every thought.

Frustrated and nauseated, I stood up, walked back to the bank and sat next to A. He was in meditation and just gazing at the black waters with the strange fuzzy fish. We sat there in silence for what seemed like hours. After fighting the smells, the boredom, and finally the cold...it became suddenly still. I didn't notice the smell, or my breath, or the damp grasses under my behind making my corduroy jeans wet. Nothing was heard within or without, except my breath. And in that silence was the peace I never thought possible: my mind went completely empty. I didn't have to try, just be.

Some time had passed before A roused me, asked how I felt and if I could see the difference between trying to meditate and actually doing it. I told him yes, but didn't understand the purpose of meditating in front of a pit of bio-hazardous waste. He asked me to contemplate and meditate on it... which I did. I understood the purpose of this first lesson: Meditation is mutually exclusive of everything else. It doesn't matter where you are, what kind of conditions you are in, the state of your physicality...there is no limit to what the spirit is capable of experiencing.

It was this answer my mentor wanted from me... and also the focus. I made the pilgrimage up to the mountain Shasta (where he lived) and spent an intensive weekend learning the art of mantra. I woke each morning early to chai tea and sitting meditation. We'd walk and talk, then more meditation and invocation, dinner and evening meditation. It was on the second night I received the thunderbolt...and my perspective of Deity was changed forever. But this is not what I wanted to share about this week... it was the mantra assignment A gave to me that shook me up in a more lasting way.

Narcissus by Caravaggio (1573–1610)

 

So when A gave to me a mantra for my own practice to go home with, I was ecstatic, on fire and ready for whatever challenge he deemed good for my soul. Being of the magickal persuasion, he knew I'd want some thing uber powerful and impressive. And I was surprised with Yod He Vau He. I had no clue it was the Hebrew name of God, and much more. It is a magickal formulae, just as Sanskrit mantras or barbarous words. 'Yod' is the Father of creation, who comes together with 'He', the cosmic Mother. The union producing their offspring, the 'Vau' Son and a Daughter obviously named after her mother, another 'He'. For me, this was the most sexist formulae I could have received...why is the feminine energy of the universe, no matter how many daughters She produces, always just named the same? Why does the patriarchal line continue to evolve and change in it's essence, but the matriarchal remain the same? It is only years later, when I come back to this formulae for greater workings (LBRP) that re-examining it with mature, educated eyes can I see the secret lying within.

Man is the mutant and Woman is the more perfect of the species. Their extra chromosome turned the womb and vaginal cave inside-out, forgetting to erase nipples. The spirit works similarly.... there can be no evolution without the base remaining, the Terra Firma which churns and turns and burns the refuse in Her cauldron. She is the chaos, which in it's ever-changing is never-changing. 'He' is from a very primal place... it come from the womb, sounding deep within “hay”. It is the breath, warm and melting; moist condensation and sweat of tears. She is the buffer between 'Yod' and 'Vau', as Mothers are the eternal peacemakers. The interjection of 'He' assures me that Yahweh is even effected by the instability and ecstatic energies of a chaotic, and sometimes uncaring, Multiverse.