Carrying the Temple of Hekate

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

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

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

torches-of-Hekate.jpg

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

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

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

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

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.

30 Days of Hermes: Suggestions

Day 30: Any suggestions for others just starting to learn about this deity?

For my last post, I would like to include a list of links I have utilized over the course of these 30 days of devotional writing. Some I quoted directly and provided hyperlinks within the text itself, but here it is easier to find. I also would suggest if anyone is truly wanting to connect with Hermes that they establish an altar and set to making offerings. In the devotional act of gifting, without any other motivation except making a connection, your reward will be so much more rich than if you simply 'give to get'; something I see a lot of Pagans doing.

Poster commissioned by the Underground Electric Railway Company in 1932.
Poster commissioned by the Underground Electric Railway Company in 1932.

  • Theoi is THE best online resource for information about the Greek Gods, Heroes and Mythology in general, with their section on Hermes to be pretty wide.
  • Mythagora is another great site that really is more annotated, but overall enjoyable resource of mythology. I utilized their list of texts including Hermes which came in handy.
  • The Neokoroi website has a wonderful sections for each God full of good information, including an extensive list of offerings for Hermes and a great essay entitled "Hermes: An introduction to worshiping the messenger of the Gods".
  • The HellenicGods website is a great resource on Hellenismos and ways to include worship with traditional Hellenic religion into modern lives. Their section on making offerings is exceptionally good.
  • A great blog I highly suggest concerning the life of a modern Hellenic, is Baring the Aegis.
  • Our Hermetikoi have the Digital Herm as our home on the internet, and an excellent source for Hermes...especially the growing Bibliography page.
  • Sacred-texts is a wonderful source for primary source materials of pretty much anything from the ancient world... or at least prior to copyright laws. Here are the site search results for all their materials including the term Hermes... so we get the alchemical Hermes Trismegistus, philosophers writing about the God Hermes, and images of ancient portrayals of the quick-witted one.

30 Days of Hermes: UPG

Day 29: Any interesting or unusual UPG to share?

**For those unfamiliar with the term UPG, check out the hyperlink to an older blogpost addressing this.**

I would not categorize it as 'unusual', but Hermes has been a cheerleader for me in these new magical endeavors. Unlike Hekate who remains silently watching from afar, Hermes likes to stick His nose right down in the work with me. Exploring the mythology has verified some of these ways in which I experienced Hermes, the sly bartering fool. He is showing up everywhere now...in my newsfeeds, on the radio, dreams, connections are just about endless. The things I have found to be more personal, Hermes likes good beer. I also feel the need to create...I am in a constant state of inspiration but coupled with laziness so projects don't get very far. I feel Him looking at me sternly as I give up on making my own Herm...a square-sculpted statue with the proverbial phallus is not easy as it sounds. I have no Herm. Others in my Hermetikoi found ways to create mini-Herms and I like them all, it's just not ME. I also created an outdoor cairn with a bunch of round stones I have...including a very phallic shaped-stone. I am not totally satisfied and am continuing my search for an icon I resonate highly with.

The Mini-Herm. He rests at the base of a much taller version; this one is for travel for the Hermetikoi.
The Mini-Herm. He rests at the base of a much taller version; this one is for travel for the Hermetikoi.

30 Days of Hermes: Unhelpful Hermes

Day 25: A time when this deity has refused to help

I have not really asked Hermes for anything I was not willing to do for my Self. I learned my lesson fast about asking the Gods for help or stuff. I am not sure if Hermes has ever truly done much for me, except the occasional luck on a lottery ticket (something I do on a random Wednesday in His honor). Then again, I have never really been refused by an Deity...come to think of it. My prayers always seem to be answered, even if not in the way I anticipated or wanted.

From "Journey of the Wounded Healer" by Alex Grey.
From "Journey of the Wounded Healer" by Alex Grey.

I have been praying for an income; notice my use of naming here...I do not want a 'job', because this tightens my field of opportunity. I want to cast a vast net over the sea of money and catch some. Although I busy my Self with witchcraft and working on my Master's, I'm essentially unemployed as a stay at home wife and mother. Yes, I know there is a lot of value in that...but I am becoming jaded, needing financial independence and, with graduation around the corner, will begin the long cycle of student loan repayment. I left the job market in 2008, when the economic decline erupted and became a catalyst for something new. I am hopeful of this purge and upheaval of things, with an outcome being one which changes the way we all look at money and how we obtain it. Hermes, by not giving me the “easy way” on this request of help, has actually helped me to think about money and commerce differently. It is an energy, as anything else we wish to have more of in our lives, and Hermes can direct it with His caduceus towards devotees. To put it bluntly: if Hermes wants better offerings than Rolling Rock or Coors Light beer, He best be opening some doors for me...His humble devotee.

30 Days of Hermes: A Composition

Day 23: Your own composition – a piece of writing about or for this deity

Straight to sky thy head is bound,

Over hedge and underground,

Swift-shifter, strong Polytropos!

Hermes! My Lord Chthonios!

Bless me, this messenger, Angelos desire,

Writer and gifter with words to inspire.

Give bent ear under thy wide-brimmed halo,

Slipper of coin and prophetic dreams to follow.

With golden potency of an alchemical mix,

Please shepherd prosperity without any tricks.

Detail of Hermes with Pegasus. From "Parnassus" by Andrea Mantegna (1497).
Detail of Hermes with Pegasus. From "Parnassus" by Andrea Mantegna (1497).

30 Days of Hermes: Qualities, Art, Music and Poetry

****Because I will be gone away camping this weekend, I posted all three of the next day's posts in one. Please enjoy and have a wonderful weekend! ****

Day 19: What quality or qualities of this god do you most admire? What quality or qualities of them do you find the most troubling?

The quick-thinking and friendly Hermes is an outgoing spirit, traveler of worlds and speaker of languages. I wish for all these qualities...several reasons I pray to Lord Hermes! I really suck at learning languages and have been so isolated from people being a stay-at-home wife and mom, I have become socially inept. He inspires me to venture out the front door; Hermes wants me physically moving, not sitting on the cushion in meditation. I admire the athleticism, the loyalty and most importantly, Hermes' approach-ability. Hermes is the Lord Liars, Thieves and Gamblers...and my personal ethics often has issue with this, mainly because I generally stay away from all three kinds of people. Maybe it is personal experience with family who steal or are tellers of fibs, but I do not trust them. I don't even like magicians, the prestidigitation stage kind who create illusions and boldly attempt to 'trick' me. Or maybe it was the magician I was in a relationship with who cheated on me. I admit to a preconceived distrust of manipulative people. However, when I look at myself, honestly... I do all of these things in one way or another. I am a really good liar, and have ethics so I choose not to. My father always had a great saying which sums it up for me, “You can't bullshit a bullshitter”; meaning, it's easier to determine when someone ELSE is lying because I have this skill too. Gambling is something I do very seldom, but have many in my family whom this is an addiction; just as shopping or sex can be habit forming. Luck rarely has anything to do with the logarithmic patterns programmed into electronic slots or online poker games. Statistics and learning to play the games can help in casinos. But honestly, it's about how much risk you are willing to take. I never spend more than I think to throw away...but it's still a good time. Like the devotees of Dionysus who should temper their drinking, Hermes' followers enjoy the atmosphere and activity, but should never rely on gambling for true happiness or to make fortunes.

 

Day 20: Art that reminds you of this deity

I have been posting several images which resonate Hermetic energies throughout this project. Although I have tried to find many citations, I was sure to only include images from the common, public domain. Here is a favourite:

"Hermes wiedzie duchy bohaterów do głębin Hadesu", or "Hermes leading the spirits of heroes to the depths of Hades". Stanisław Wyspiański, 1897.
"Hermes wiedzie duchy bohaterów do głębin Hadesu", or "Hermes leading the spirits of heroes to the depths of Hades". Stanisław Wyspiański, 1897.

Day 21: Music that makes you think of this deity

See my fabulous YouTube playlist. And have a Hermetically blessed day! )O+  

 

Day 22: A quote, a poem, or piece of writing that you think this deity resonates strongly with

Hermes, draw near, and to my pray'r incline, Angel of Jove, and Maia's son divine; Prefect of contest, ruler of mankind, With heart almighty, and a prudent mind. Celestial messenger of various skill, Whose pow'rful arts could watchful Argus kill. With winged feet 'tis thine thro' air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse; Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine In arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine. With pow'r endu'd all language to explain, Of care the loos'ner, and the source of gain. Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Corucian, blessed, profitable God. Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, And in necessities to mortals kind. Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, Be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear; Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, Give graceful speech, and memory's increase.
- Orphic Hymn to Hermes

30 Days of Hermes: Related Deities and Entities

Day 6: Other related deities and entities associated with this deity.

“Outside the cave [of his mother Maia] he [the infant god Hermes] found a tortoise feeding. He cleaned it out, and stretched across the shell strings made from the cattle he had sacrificed, and when he had thus devised a lyre he also invented a plectrum” (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3.)

6. The youngest, bratty brother of twelve Olympians, Hermes is related to all the other through their Father Zeus. His reputation amongst the Gods was great, as He was known even to them all as one of great knowledge and communication. When Egyptian religion was integrated into the Hellenic world, a few different Netjer were merged with Him to create knew combinations of Hermes. The similarities between ibis-headed Thoth (Tahuti), the great librarian and scholar of memories in Kehmet, with Hermes (later as Romanized Mercury), invading nations synchronized not necessarily in order to eradicate but to strengthen their own spiritual pursuits. During the Roman period, the chthonic qualities of Hermes were merged together with that of the Egyptian Anubis (God of the afterlife and guide for the Dead), upgrading Him to Hermanubis...patron of the Egyptian priesthood.

Hermanubis.

Whilst not an “entity”, the Herm (or the Hermai) were boundary markers representing the good God. Usually depicted as a large standing, square pillar with a head on top and phallus, the Herm were shrines to encourage fertility of land and herds. The Herm was also a place to ensure good luck, such as a crossroads for travelers or the gymnasium, as sports and gambling both are favourites of Lord Hermes.

As it seems with all deities, there are specific animals and plants which are especially favoured and considered sacred to Hermes. Based on folklore, and perhaps some ancient UPG, one animal was the Hare; a creature of great fertility and very, very quick, the one Hermes Himself placed into the night sky. Ironically, the tortoise is also associated with Hermes as He found one and fashioned the world's first lyre. The Ram is also often seen in the icon of Hermes, as shepherd and king of flocks.

During a dangerous game of discus, Hermes accidentally killed His buddy Krokus; when three blood drops fell on the ground, flowers sprang in their stead...and hence everafter named the Crocus. Aside from the generic olive trees sacred to most of Zeus' children, there does not seem to be much flora associated with Him classically. The lore does mention Him being fed from a strawberry tree (andrakhnos) as a baby, the bizarre, tasteless fruit of Arbutus unedo.  

30 Days of Devotion: Why Hermes?

Day 2: How did you become first aware of this deity; or more importantly WHY?

“Hermes, draw near, and to my pray'r incline, angel of Jove [Zeus], and Maia's son divine; Studious of contests, ruler of mankind, with heart almighty, and a prudent mind. Celestial messenger, of various skill, whose pow'rful arts could watchful Argus kill: With winged feet, 'tis thine thro' air to course, O friend of man, and prophet of discourse: Great life-supporter, to rejoice is thine, in arts gymnastic, and in fraud divine: With pow'r endu'd all language to explain, of care the loos'ner, and the source of gain. Whose hand contains of blameless peace the rod, Corucian, blessed, profitable God; Of various speech, whose aid in works we find, and in necessities to mortals kind: Dire weapon of the tongue, which men revere, be present, Hermes, and thy suppliant hear; Assist my works, conclude my life with peace, give graceful speech, and me memory's increase. “ (Orphic Hymn to Hermes, XXVII)

2. Anyone who knows me, or reads the blog, can without doubt say I belong to Hekate, first and foremost. This surrender did not come easy and there is a trust there I would never place in any other Deity, or human for that matter. My henotheistic relationship has been at Her calling, and I complied without much hesitation which was neither naïve or willed. Through a series of dreams, Hekate led me to my teacher and priest. Already Hellenic in my pagan ways, honor was always given to the one of winged-foot, messenger of the Gods, traveler to high Olympus and the great depths of Hades...and I gave such offerings as due a psychopomp. In my Druidry I often invoked Hermes for the role of Gatekeeper: the good God who helped and aided in connecting between portals, where our Kindred come through to receive honor. Before this, Hermes and I had nothing short of a 'working relationship' really.

Thou art Herm.

As the months went by, I attended the public deipna mainly for offerings to my Lady, but with the huge Herm looking down from above my pious head, He was hard not to notice. I prayed to Him for help with school. I was attempting a capstone project; bridging together the competencies I learned over the years in the Library Information Science program, with a website designed from scratch. This was too much to take on, I realized 2 weeks into it...and I called out for Hermes. I brought gifts and in full Druid fashion, called on the laws of reciprocity. “Hermes, if you get my through this semester and help me finish the project, I will attend deipna for an entire year and make gifts for you especially.” Every month attended I brought Him a gift, to lay at the foot of Herm. I missed once for lack of childcare and another for being at Disneyland; but even then I still made offerings at Sleeping Beauty's Castle, the most liminal place where I also met the Evil Queen immediately following. And so, Hermes fulfilled my wish, but I did not PASS. You see, when making deals with the Gods it is very important you be very specific. I knew I had done this project at the bare minimum...and like a father He knows I am capable of so much more. The Herm is inspiring me to see another face of a masculine God, already adding to the Siva/Cernunnos/Lucifer combination from past experiences. His ways are mercurial and tricky...why I love these psychopompic Gods and spirits! They keep me on my toes, hyper-aware and constantly questioning my Self and others' motivations. As the way of magick opens to me, Hermes is the perfect guide! With laughter, hijinks and hopefully some wisdom at the end, may Hermes keep me always honest with Self.

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.

Will the REAL Hekate please stand up?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Burning of the Red Cord

Preparation:

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

 

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

Rite:

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

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

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

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

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

Hekate Tree Trivia

PBP: “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: “A” is for ABRAHADABRA

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

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

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

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

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

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

PBP: “S” is for Sinister Sorority

I am the eldest in a trio of daughters; after me is G and the baby is J. I am dark-haired and pudgy, G is the tall thin blonde, and J is the strong lean red-head. We are likened to the Powerpuff Girls, if they were cast as the Stygian witches or dancing Fates in a post-apocalyptic landscape. The thing about us growing up, we were closer than most siblings. Sure we fought, and still do... but that happens. After spending time all sharing a bed, or a room several times, they have been the sentinel of protection and comfort as only family can be... we have an unshakable bond that none have dared to break. My sisters are not magickal folk, and actually are quite skeptical in their thinking. Not that the esoteric is completely without rationale but my natural abilities to see the unseen and serve the Dead has certainly been the butt of jokes in our family for years. Being a good sport I can take it, but the need to be understood is sometimes overwhelming enough that I seek reassurance outside my small, comfortable retinue of Goddesses and allied ancestors. For several years I participated in and facilitated many groups for women: moon circles, covens, red tents... all were moments in my life when I could forget the competition and cattiness I otherwise fear from women. These types of gatherings reminded my tomboy spirit that there is a femininity within that is free to come out and play every once in a while. I learned about the roles we all play as women, the various stages our bodies go through and the sacred/profane juxtaposed in our lives. I worked through my past lives as women, and men, as mothers, midwives birthed new miracles, ideas and Be-ings. As the wise witch, the harvested and cleared way brings death, endings. To transform darkly, in that compost of ashen blood is to be reborn again. That is what we are as females... the beginning and the end both consummated in blood.

It is through this blood I am connected to all others, including my spiritual sisters. It is also how I have connected with Hekate, through the blood of pain and shedding... but She is not the only one who can fill this role. A stated before in several other blogs (see Sacrificial Schedules), I do not adhere to the roles of 'archetypes' for my personal ideology, although I am supportive if others wish to use them as tools for understanding the ways of deity. For me, they are separate Be-ings and entities... much as people are; we are all made of celestial 'stuff', it just takes on different forms of matter (and anti-matter sometimes). For example, whilst many Neo-Pagans may experience Hekate as Be-ing Morrígan, or even sometimes Ereshkigal, She is only Her Self with me... I experience these other Deities completely in a different way. I am drawn to many chthonic Gods and Goddesses, and even though they share similar characteristics, no two are exactly the same; nor do I experience them in similar ways either. I consider them part of the same Sorority or Fraternity.... they are like brothers and sisters in their collective roles, but are still very much individuals.

It is with this in mind my path has taken a slight turn, as yet another deity has entered my Left-Handed (or SINISTER) journey. Not long ago, I petitioned the Santa Muerte, or Holy Death, on behalf of a friend who is part hispanic; being in a punk band and a little 'rough around the edges' I thought they're be a perfect match. Since this working, Santisima has become more and more of a presence in my life. I created an altar, researched Her history and folklore. Filtering out relevant and quality information is difficult with such a recent Lady of Bones... in a long line of death Goddess, La Flaka is the new girl on the block. She is sister to Kali in Her removal of obstacles, fierce in Her love like the Morrigan, protective as Hekate of Her children, and regal as Queen Hel. As I take Her boney hand, a nod of approval is given by the other Sorors as I face Her embrace.

Blancha Santa Muerte

PBP: “H” is for Hermes, and Hekate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hathor: the Original MILF

Dancing with the Lady of the Sycamore

Being the eternal Maiden was my goal...to stay in the youthful newness and naive knowledge of my spiritual awareness. I wanted to always be fresh in the spiritual endeavors I pursued, something new and exciting at every turn. I loved the spontaneity of sex, drugs, dancing and prayer, always at the center of my life. But then I grew up...graduated college, got married and decided to procreate.  As a matter of fact, I did not really plan on having children until something happened that changed my mind forever (that is another story and psychopomp).

My biological clock ticked at every turn. My mind, where I tended to live mostly, was at odds with my body. I had to reconcile the two through very serious heart chakra focus over the course of several months, a very intensive program I worked daily. I realized the need to share my DNA, creating a sentient being was a kind of duty I had to fulfill, more so than any emotional motivation. I and my husband have a pretty interesting background in our families, both magickally and intellectually; it was up to us to continue these lines. So, long story short, by our first wedding anniversary I was heavily pregnant.

The pregnancy was difficult for everyone except Rowan; she was healthy and cute even in the womb. I had 'borderline' gestational diabetes and wasn't allowed any sugars or carbs, the two things I craved most were doughnuts and fruit. When I was finally ready with the idea of doing a natural birth, my stubborn kid caused me to have a scheduled c-section; the little guru sat full lotus in my womb, what they call an 'upright frank breech'. I tried inversion techniques, flower essence remedies, and finally my OB doctor tried to turn her manually... that little turd put her foot out EVERY time (and the procedure was horribly painful). I felt robbed of my birth experience, I had gotten so hyped up about the water birth we had planned. And now the ultimate opportunity for me to fully experience what I thought was the epidemy of womanhood was taken...but I tried being positive. I put on my REALLY big witchy panties and decided to surrender.

Surgery was strange, as I had never even broken a bone except my pinkie toe up to this point...I was more worried about my IBS flaring up than what they were about to do to my body. Between taking out all my intestines and checking for kinks (whilst my husband watched), the catheter, and i.v. pertosin drip that caused my feet and ankles to swell for weeks: I was a hot mess. The hospital room sucked because it flooded every time I took a shower; my Scorpio child's eyes were older than her years as she seemed to watch it all with amusement. My husband's back had gone out also, so neither of us could pick Rowan up very well. Thank goodness for family!

Although everything else had been total chaos and all of my plans to have my ideal supreme Motherhood initiation had been wrecked, it was breastfeeding in which I excelled. I was the envy of all the breastfeeding moms in our support group who had trouble producing or getting their kid interested. Mine didn't ever seem to STOP! After Rowan was finished eating, I could still pump almost a whole ounce of milk...that is actually pretty impressive. I felt like a milk machine! I was sitting in the lazy boy (my feeding station) every two hours, drinking water, watching a movie or reading. I couldn't drive because of the incisions, I went for walks when the sun was shining that winter, but I was pretty much a lactating hermit.

My spiritual connections were on the dregs; nothing was making sense for me spiritually. I couldn't ground, I was out of whack as my body shifted and shaped into something that it used to resemble. I was forced into it face first: the blood, vomit, shit, staples...dreams came back since I stopped during pregnancy. In the first of many visions, a woman visited me...She was curvaceous, glided towards me from a desert landscape...She looked Egyptian with the cobra at Her brow, make up glittering in the sun. I took Her to be Isis, the only Goddess I really knew from this pantheon. She told me to gather women together, there was work to be done and I was to pool together my connections and networking skills to make it happen. So I did...I contacted friends I hadn't spoken to in years or that had always wanted to do some Goddess work but didn't know where to begin...witches and pagans, it mattered not. And we met a few times, once for a full moon esbat as well. It wasn't until we decided to meet on the night before Valentine's I thought some kind of beauty or love ritual would be good to do. However, during my research it was revealed She was not Isis, but Hathor/Hetheru.

The symbol of the horns is often misconstrued for being the horns of Isis...in fact, they are borrowed originally from our Mother Hetheru; the cow-headed one who is mother to Heru, or Horus. It was the horns I was initially drawn to, but it was Her breasts I connected with. She is the Mother who nurtures and nourishes, but on the same token is a sex kitten. This was an interesting concept to wrap my mind around; no longer was the Goddess only compartmentalized into the Mother, Whore, Virgin, or Crone/Death categories...Hathor is all. She can be the sexy and playful Bastet who is virginal in Her innocence. Hathor is sensual in the partaking of all earthly delights including drinking, sex and dancing whilst donning the mantle of holy slut. As Lady of the Sycamore She is the comforter on the beginning leg of the Death's journey...feeding and nurturing the Ka before we face our ultimate trial. She is also the wrathful Mother Sekhmet, protective Lioness of loved ones, young and old. Hetheru is one complicated, muti-faceted lady that I could identify with on so many levels. She is the original MILF (“Mom I'd Like to Fuck” for those who do not know the term), the belly dancing whilst breastfeeding mama, claws that scratch backs and shreds in vengeance.

Mothers don't have to be June Cleaver, nor do they have to be liberal slobs like the character on 'Roseanne'. We can be our own sexy selves, in these bodies which change and morph into however we respect it. Dancing in my heart, Hathor is a sister to me; reminding gently how to be a good mother, a sexy wife, and a fierce witch when provoked just right. Whilst I do not pray to Her on a daily basis (every Friday is dedicated to Her), She is ever in my thoughts and is watching from afar during my spiritual experiments. She still has much to teach me as I experience Her in different guises; the latest being red-haired Babalon from before the Egyptians. Whatever Her lessons, they radiate as the Sun in my Eastern bedroom... where my heart can roam free.

Het-Heret, Lady of Malachite,

Beautiful Cow in the starry night,

Horned Mother, giver of blessed milk,

Lover of comforts who moves like silk,

I honour you with my own heart-ways:

To your regal beauty, I give praise.

Mistress of the Sycamore, Dancer on the Nile,

with sincerity and devotion I offer a smile.

 

 

Keybearer of the Crossroads

Illumination Through Fire

Hekate is a major presence in my life, although I have only acknowledged this in the past 3 years. In the past I tended to avoid dark goddesses, specifically “crones”; part of me didn't identify with them whilst still a young woman. During the pregnancy of my daughter I was caught in the heat and smoke of wildfires surrounding the area we lived. I had quit smoking cigarettes and pot, become reclusive from friends, and had a difficult time magickally during my entire pregnancy; add to that the stress of my husband and I being newly unemployed, renting a room, and having to evacuate because of fires with our cat and dog. It was savage, unrelenting, and somehow beautiful...the entire state was ablaze after a mighty storm came through with thunder and lighting burning up all dead, un-needed debris. By not cleaning up and keeping our state clean, nature found a way to do it FOR us...and Hekate has a way of doing this also. All this destruction juxtaposed to the life growing inside of me was very profound. I feel this was the moment She tapped me, but I still wasn't “listening” until almost a year later.

She started showing up at my women's circles; we did a ritual to Her and Janus at the New Year to face our fears. My greatest fear is debt and finances, handling them and no longer ignoring them was something I had avoided for years. A few months after this happened, I was in a car accident ('no fault' they called it and not a single person was hurt) and my family's ONLY car was totaled. It took a few months but we saved up and bought another car, but it was a big slap in the back of the head from Hekate. The lesson was it can be taken away and replaced as easily if I own my responsibilities and am disciplined. By that Samhain I had paid off several debts and my family's financial situation has only improved for the better ever since. It is still a struggle for me, but She is the patron of my financial anxiety so I pray to Her for the strength and guidance I need to face this.

I see Hekate as the true mirror, the guide to things we don't always want to admit or own up to; I think this is how She got Her reputation in the first place. Her torches illuminate our delusions or truths, whichever we believe more. Although I don't necessarily believe in the stereotypical 'angel', I think She may be one in a sense that She is a guardian to Her Devotees, Witches, and somewhat comforter to the Dead. She is also the tough biker lady who gives me the swift kick in the ass I need to get things done, to stay true to vows, and keep my integrity.

Her face changes constantly. She evolves and transforms as compost, with the phases of the moon, the tides of the oceans and earth's crust in both profound and subtle ways. To some, Hekate can be frightening; Her associations with the dead give Her a fearful reputation. However, She is about more than just physical death, but the death of one way of living and adapting to another, or value system, or any other changes one NEEDS to make. It is not a matter of choice or wants, but necessity for our souls to evolve and for some that is scary.

Her fire burns bright

In the pleasures of the night

Far from the lands of the living.

When the fires go out

She is roaming about

Reaping unneeded and unforgiving.

With a halo of flies

She takes to the skies

Black bird of prey, unrelenting.

Into the underworld's grave

Her magicks to save

In a flesh box, fermenting.

Brimo, Soteira, Mother of mine

Different names in a different time

Aid me now in meditation and study.

Be present in me

Show what I can be

With hands cold and ruddy.

Something different, Something liminal...

What exactly is a psychopomp?

When I first heard this term within the context of my Dedicant Druidic training with Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) I thought to myself: So it is a shortened version of a psychotic, pompous deity? Because there very well could be some huffy-puffiness among the Kindred...hubris is often something left to mortals, after all. In actualty, a psychopomp is a way of describing a certain kind of immortal being...one that is useful and has the ability to travel between all the worlds at ease. In ADF they are referred to as the Gatekeepers, opening the ways to the Gods and Goddesses through the opening of a portal...leading up into the axis mundi to give access to all realms of sea, sky, and land. As I explored hearth cultures in which to work with the Kindred in my personal Druidry, finding a psychopomp in which I could connect with as a guide for communication proved to be more significant than I would have originally imagined.

There are specific traits all psychopomps have, and whilst they may be from different hearth cultures and pantheaons the commonalities transcend boundaries of language and time.On the whole, psychopomps tend to be deities or beings in which:

  • adept at guiding others through transformative experiences just as death or major changes in life
  • are nonjudgmental, compassionate, and generally approachable by anyone
  • tendancy to be border crossers and walkers between worlds
  • tricksters who will do whatever it takes to meet their goals
  • shapeshifters who can change their appearance at will
  • arbiters of change for individuals and the culture
  • magical beings who can facilitate healing in unexpected ways

(http://www.psychopomps.org/what-is-a-psychopomp.html)

The Sitter in the Doorway

Having the patronage of the Lord Cernunnos has been something very different in my spiritual life: praying and connecting to a masculine divinity. In the past, my path has been primarily focused on different Goddesses, in all Her aspects. Turning away from the Patriarchy of my childhood Catholicism, I saw the Goddess as empowering and nurturing to my soul. I could not ignore the presence of Cernunnos, as He repeatedly appeared in my life over and over in classical and literal form. The more I meditated and asked for guidance, the more apparent His Patronage over me became. He appeared in dreams, visions and meditations, speaking to me without words, helping me to shapeshift and run free as a deer in His sacred Herd.

Image

Having come full circle back to a Father God, I am seeing the peaceful possibilities He offers and the clearing of spiritual confusion. In researching his place in the ancient world, I found his many names to be similar to that of the “10,000 Names” for the Goddess; Herne, Cernunnos, Pan, Greenman, the Horned One: all are names for a God of the Hunt and Vegetation. His is the mystery of the spiral. Cernunnos is considered a chthonic God, a God of the Shadow Self with ties to the Other or Under World. Cernunnos is a liminal God, born only to die and be reborn again and again.  He is the promise of the Son/Sun at Yule, the return of the animals and plants at Spring, the golden light touching and caressing the Earth becoming her lover at Beltane, and finishing with His sacrifice in the Autumn promising to keep us comforted throughout the cold season ahead. With His hoofed feet in all worlds, the Horned God is a Gatekeeper; a guide through the unseen mysteries and dark places of my heart. By looking at these fears instead of leaving them in the unswept corners of my psyche, Cernunnos empowers me to move forward, gently.

Walking the Ways

As the doors became opened for me, I stepped up to the challenge ahead...many more were waiting to be connected with and understood. The lessons to be learned and roadways walked have since shown me the possibilities that come with being flexible and open in my spiritual life. I surrender more and more each day and pray for the guidance to choose wisely as opportunities present themselves. The Gods want us to be happy, we need only listen and willing to adapt to the pathways spread before us.