Archive for the Folk Belief Category

Shapeshifting: Assuming Animal Forms (In Dream)

Posted in Divination, Folk Belief, Luciferianism, Occultism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 31, 2015 by Sypheara

Writing has finally begun on the PDF detailing the Familiar Empowerment ritual, carried out to raise the spirit of an inanimate object. This will probably be a bit of a long writeup, so I have decided to tackle an interesting side topic in the mean time.

It is well known via folklore and wise common knowledge that witchcraft is  associated with shape changing, and tales of lycanthropy  in particular are quite common to encounter when witchcraft is discussed. Actual  Shapeshifting comes in many different forms, and can be done both in the physical flesh through possession and the use of sacred plants, as well as mentally and spiritually whilst astrally travelling and exploring dream realms. A huge area of discussion, and research,  it would be quite easy to write a small essay on such a topic. As such, to keep things manageable, this particular post will focus on my own personal experiences with it rather than be a compilation of information from various sources and narrower in scope.

From these encounters, and talking to friends about them. including those who are not interested in the Occult or Spirituality at all, it becomes obvious that one of the more accessible and most experienced types of shapeshifting is encountered in dreams. Here, the journeying soul is able to quite easily morph, and change its shape, into something else. People who are good at dream recall will know what I mean – that sensation of looking down at your hands, and seeing they have transformed into something ..else for lack of a better description. Animal transformation, in either a partial or complete state, is a very common occurrence. It is often described to me by friends who have seemingly no prior experience with journeying through dreams at all – despite these instances being rarer than my own, less consistent and with less apparent ‘purpose’, they nevertheless happen and with some regularity.

In order to discuss this, I will skip any further preamble  and go straight into describing two of my most vivid experiences with commentary.

One of my more often assumed forms, when journeying,  is that of the Spider. As mentioned in an earlier post, it has become obvious to me by both dream workings and in daily life that the spider has become a totem of sorts. During astral dream wanderings, there would be times where I found myself in environments where a human form is unsuitable for travel. At this time, a conscious or unconscious choice was made to assume a form capable of navigating its environment. In one notable example, when travelling through one of the Chthonic realms, I encountered an environment that took the appearance of flesh like strands, suspended over a never ending liquid sea of crimson in some areas, that branched off into vein like tunnels. Almost instinctually, in the process of feeling myself falling, slipping down to the abyss like ‘bottom’ of the infinite cavern, I assumed the form of the spider, the transformation happening  in what felt like both an eternity and an instant at the same time.

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Red Spider Web, Artist Unknown

 

The feeling of assuming the other form once it has begun is one that is both total and overwhelming. It affects both the body, as well as the mind, and this abrupt change i can only describe as a ‘hyper real’ sensation. The physical sensation is that of new limbs erupting from your body, the compressing, contracting or expanding of your skeletal and nervous structures and it can both feel highly pleasurable as well as highly painful. The mind  and senses themselves  also experience their own kind of transformation, assuming the mental lattice of the host form. As an example as above, my vision was soon changed from regular binocular vision to what can only be described as a many coloured lattice made up of what seemed like many composite images. It was almost as if I could see around the corners of objects, seeing all their sides at once, and in the spider form I became aware of the vibrations of individual entities, and able to feel with my frontal legs for the correct direction I needed to be headed towards. The feeling was one of a maddening feeling of freedom and ecstasy, as my rational mind was entirely subsumed within that of the new form – still distinctly my own, but filtered through the new mind I found myself inhabiting. The clarity and purity expressed in mind is something that needs to be experienced – in that moment I was no longer human, all surface thoughts eliminated, acting on a pure instinctual drive to progress forward.  I pressed on, aware of a second, duller sensation, the feeling of a gnawing hunger. In this state I wandered for what was seemed like hours, descending deeper and deeper. Upon near awakening, the transformation was slowly repeated in reverse until I felt myself sucked back into my own, complete and awoken body in bed.

Whilst I have never felt i have had any special affinity with the wolf, unlike many people claim of themselves, I have found myself on occasion unconsciously assuming this form in certain landscapes. This is a differing kind of transformation – whilst the first was assumed, these second form instances have always been an unconcious or some kind of instinctual choice For example, in a recent journey, I found myself, in a large dark forest, surrounded by black spirits. The scene was not night, but a misty day, very faint golden light emanating from a washed out but golden sky. They assumed the form of wolves, and instinctively I did the same, a similar transformation experience happening as described above. My eyesight sharpened, my senses changed into that of my body form, conferring me the ability to track the other spirits by ‘smell’, or an analogue to it within that realm.  I tracked after them for many hours, as they showed me the strange sights, other creatures of their forest, and showed me how they live, as a tight knit group working in unison to survive. Once they had shown me the forest, the whole pack led on to a stream that led away from it, over a border of an azure sky, and green rolling plains. This was shown from an insiders perspective – it is only when i reached a muddy pond, did I have a ‘disconnect’ – where the human mind pushes forth for a split second with its own powers of comprehension. Tasting the muddy pond caused me to spit silt, as the liquid went from  refreshing to disgusting ans my consciousness and sense of taste began to return to their original form. Again i felt the withdrawing back into human form, again slowly awakening.

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 Forest, Artist Unknown

What is interesting is that just days later, wolves were an integral part to one of the local groups Sabbat rites, to honour a core member of the group who had passed away, and who heavily identified with wolves. It almost seemed identical in theme to my own dream. Such oracular like occurrences leave a very strange feeling indeed, regardless of how many times I seem to experience them.

In more advanced work of my own Path, when penetrating the deepest realms, it is said that the only way to survive the harsh landscape which presents itself is to take the form of a scorpion – the only creature that is able to successful navigate and survive there. Whilst this is a trial I have not personally undertaken nor come face to face with, it is remarkably similar to my own experiences of travelling the tunnels mentioned above in spider form. It is said this is absolutely necessary – otherwise the actual astral body / soul of the seeker will face grave and possibly permanent injury.

I am interested in what you my dear readers might have also experienced. Whether inside or outside of dream, it would be great to hear your stories. I must again say that transformation / assumption of these forms outside of dream, it is not something I have yet pursued actively, but there is certainly many precedents for it I can find it many magickal texts.

On that note, I leave you with a final peek at the new doll body which I hope to be a new home for the primary familiar – further images will be shown before the binding process is done, as I want to complete the physical preparations before I go ahead and do the working. This will be a separate, if related process to the other working. Where as the other was to uplift, almost in some ways creating of a spirit, this will be binding a current spirit to this matter – as well as to the weak, spirit matter which already makes up the object.

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New doll body, Self taken image

Thanks for reading as ever,

Ave Hecate,

Beloved Queen of Hell Heaven and Earth,

Ave Lucifer, 

Dark Solar Lord of the All Illuminating Flame,

Ave Belial,

Dark Horned Prince of the All Flesh of the Earth

Ave to the Witch Gods and Witch Kin this Night

~S~

Countdown to Samhain

Posted in Folk Belief, Luciferianism, Necromancy, Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by Sypheara

Hello all, hope this post finds you well.

With Samhain approaching, I have become incredibly busy. I have another Doll body on the way, a second to source, and a ritual for a rather large group to run and prepare. All this alongside also ensuring my own personal notes and writing is kept up to date!

As such, I hope to have plenty to post soon, but unfortunately most of it is likely to go up after Samhain is over with. This is no bad thing really, as it’s a time when we should be in touch with our Gods and Ancestors and our Loved Ones and Communities, rather than lost amongst a digital fog which consumes most of our attention the remainder of the year far more than it should.  (I am definitely guilty as charged).

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Samhain Altar – Author unknown

I wouldn’t post if I was completely empty handed however. I recently wrote a ritual based loosely on my very first ritual with Lucifer I undertook several years ago. This was written for an acquaintance that wanted to contact Lucifer with a means of taking him on as a patron for self empowerment. Whether this person went and performed the ritual I do not know as I never received any contact to confirm the fact.

I feel it is in a decent place to share, and a good thing to post given the season. For those interested, this Monday would be excellent to perform it, or even period over the Samhain season due to the Sabbat being within the moons Waxing phase. Please make sure to read it fully, including the calls, to understand its intent.

It can be found at the following link:

Seven Day Ritual for Unleashing the Black Fire

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Gustave Doré -The fourth horseman, Death on the Pale Horse (1865)

With that said, forgive me for being brief, and  I hope you all have a great and productive Halloween and do the Hallowed Dead proud!

~S~

 

Arachnida as Totem and Overcoming Irrational Fear

Posted in Folk Belief, Luciferianism, Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2014 by Sypheara

I wasn’t intending to write another post so soon, but with it being the anniversary of the blog the other day I felt motivated to write  another entry on a topic i’ve wanted to cover for awhile.

Spiders have always fascinated me. From a young age, I can remember being simultaneously fascinated and terrified by these eight legged creatures. As a self professed arachnophobe, I struggled like many others with my crippling  fear over the appearance of these creatures.

In one terrifying instance I can remember, clearly, was when one day I put on an item as a child, without checking it. I was rewarded with several, not one, but several of the creatures crawling all over my skin, in a desperate attempt to escape from what I can only assume was a life or death situation for them. The experience of their legs crawling across my skin had me literally petrified, unable to move or swat them off until they ran off and away from my body.

As I grew up I did not really confront this fear, even due to it being mostly irrational being from a part of the world where spider bites are almost always harmless due to the cold winter conditions limiting the types and sizes of arachnid that can survive. However, I did continue to find them,  and the power they held over me, very interesting but would be unable to watch, or read about them, for prolonged periods of time.

It was only as I started on my path that I decided to confront these fears in some manner. I forced myself to research them, to observe their pattern of behaviour, to turn them from a object of repulsion into one of reverence. In my own path, their are many spirits which are spider like, or linked to spiders, and it was through this association and encountering them that overtime I was able to accomplish this goal and realise just how potent and important these creatures are both physically and spiritually.

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Inverted colour version of a picture of a Mouse Spider taken by Fir0002 (link in image)

The spider features in many myths and legends throughout the world, usually present in one form or another. Their fearsome appearance and behaviour, coupled with their amazing web weaving skills, has inspired a myriad of stories about spider spirits and gods in all shapes and sizes. They appear in a malefic form, as well as benefic, and these often cross over in many varied ways.

For example in Japanese folk belief spiders make an appearance as Yōkai – spirits known as Tsuchigumo and Jorōgumo – that would lure their victims in to be devoured, concentrating on the predatory aspect. Interestingly, the Jorōgumo, a spirit that is said to reside at Jōren Falls as guardian, is also said to save people from drowning using it’s webs.

In other instances, the web weaving and instinctual intelligence of the spider gave voice to other emanations in the form of trickster gods linked with creation. These include such revered spirits and Gods as Anansi, god of all knowledge of stories from Western African belief and and Iktomi from Lakota Native American belief, a similar spirit who was also responsible for originally inventing language and stories, names and games before being made a spider for his trouble making ways. Another example would be Nareau or Lord Spider, who is found in the creation stories of the Kiribati people. In their stories, it is this timeless spider that lived in the eternal ‘Darkness of the Embrace’, before it gave birth to the world from a mussel shell.

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A Modern Interpretation of Iktomi by Naomichanart

Not surprisingly these spider spirits also seem to have some degree of oracular ability, able to give advice on the future or as omens as appearing as physical creatures. In the case of Iktomi, it was said he provided a prophecy that told that ‘would spread his web over the land’, which some who believe in him believe has come true in the form of the modern internet. In addition, when hiding from the English after a case of another military defeat, the future king of Scotland Robert the Bruce was apparently inspired by the spider which seemed to indicate to him his goal was attainable, due to its resilience and persistence. He would later to go on to win Independence of Scotland from England.

It’s also of note to see that that in the majority of these beliefs, the spider is not seen as a purely ‘evil’ force – but also not one that can be trusted nor necessarily understood in a transparent way by the humans with which it interacts.

The spiders web has also often been used to describe the concept of the make up of the spiritual universe or multiverse.  One example of this would be the teaching of Indras net in the Avatamsaka Sutra, which is a concept which could be comparable to a spiders web.

‘Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net that has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out infinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel in each “eye” of the net, and since the net itself is infinite in all dimensions, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that there is an infinite reflecting process occurring. ‘

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Seal of Asmoday

In my own practice, many of these beliefs are definitely present in some form or another. They are emanated in different manners, and there are many Spirits, Gods and Goddesses that can take on the form of Spiders. Examples of these would include the daemons Asmoday and Lilith, to name but a  few. Lilith is a prime example – as the ruling Goddess of Gamaliel. Gamaliel is a realm associated closely with intense physical pleasures, which can border on the extreme. As a realm known for its vampiric qualities and spirits, and described as a network of bloodied tunnels, it is unsurprising that the Goddess takes on such a form which matches her realm closely.

It is from this realm where the lesser spider spirits from my own experience seem to descend when the phase of the moon is just before or after the new moon, when only the barest of threads of light illuminate the sky. These spirits are great hunters, and make no mistake, predators, which help clean the Earth of parasites of all kinds – human and non human. I believe have only ever encountered one fleetingly, in a dream state,  and it appeared to be more of the hunting spider type than one that relied on webs to catch its prey. It radiated a strength of purpose and presence, and spoke in a silkish, deep voice. Whilst not detecting any malignance, it certainly had a certain aggressive to its disposition.  It was interested in how or why I had stumbled across it, and it considered me intently for awhile, questioning me. After several minutes conversing with the thing,  it climbed away back into invisibility, seemingly satisfied with my answers and identity. I believe that these spirits could be excellently guardians if correctly approached, cared for, and used for temporary periods only and it is something that I am excited to explore in the future.

An excellent first hand account was given English writer and graphic novelist Alan Moore in an interview with Jay Babcock for Arthur magazine, in which recounted his own encounters with  Asmoday. This being appeared as a spider that was able to distort space and time within the vision which he received. He went on to detail this  :-

‘I also had an experience with a demonic creature that told me that its name was Asmoday. Which is Asmodeus. And when I actually was allowed to see what the creature looked like, or what it was prepared to show me, it was this latticework…if you imagine a spider, and then imagine multiple images of that spider, that are kind of linked together–multiple images at different scales, that are all linked together–it’s as if this thing is moving through a different sort of time. You know Marcel Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase”? Where you can see all the different stages of the movement at once. So if you imagine that you’ve got this spider, that it was moving around, but it was coming from background to foreground, what you’d get is sort of several spiders, if you like, showing the different stages of its movement.

Now if you imagine all of those arranged into a kind of shimmering lattice that was turning itself inside out as I spoke to it, and I was talking to my partner at the time and sort of saying, This thing’s showing us it’s got an extra dimension I haven’t got, and it’s trying to tell me that it’s good at mathematics. [laughter] It’s vain. There’s something fourth-dimensional about this. This is all stuff I was actually saying at the time, while I was having the experience, which was pretty extreme.

Anyway. Over the next couple of weeks I started researching Asmodeus and found out that actually, yeah, he’s the demon of mathematics.’

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Asmodeus by Alan Moore (1994)

As a form which has held so much power over me, with the ability to both inspire and terrify me in equal measure, has recently seen me begin to take on the Spider as a source of power, as a worthy totem. I do not mean this in the modern interpretation as a spirit guide – whilst it is certainly possible for a familiar to take this form I cannot claim to be working with one that does.

Instead I mean it as an icon that i have identified with, a body form I have also once or twice attempted to take the form of in dreams to become, to gain power through association with these incredible creatures and spirits. This has seemed to be a natural process, something I have been drawn to which is an inherent part of my own psychology and soul make up.

So that to that end I continue to research this avenue of experience and go in search for the humble spider, and encourage others to do so as well. They have much to offer, and much to teach, and an important role to play in both the physical and spiritual world. I wish more people would treat them with respect, rather than simple reactionary abhorrence. Whilst they still have the power to startle me, it is great that I can finally accept these creatures and spirits into my life.

To this end i encourage others to also turn their own fears into strengths where possible through internalisation, whether that fear is is arachnophobia or some other  phobia.  Through encountering these and making them a source of power rather than allowing them power over us, our growth is rapidly expanded. Through such a process the journey empowers us, and may allow us to reconnect to an area of experience and encounters denied to us by our inability to overcome ourselves.

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Another stowaway hidden in my martial arts clothes

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Further reading on Spiders and Moths

I hope this has been an enjoyable entry, as as iterated it’s an important one to me i’ve wanted to highlight for awhile. Anyway, back to writing the essay for so it can be submitted in good time so wish me luck!

Best regards,

~S~

Beltane: Blessings and More Work Ahead

Posted in Folk Belief, Paganism, The Path of Flames, Wicca with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2014 by Sypheara

Hello everyone, thought I would post a belated Beltane to you all. I hope that you all enjoyed the Sabbat night to its fullest. It is a reminder that summer has become in earnest, and that we all have things to get on with whilst we have the opportunity and the energy. I have been up to a variety of things recently, which I thought I would share for interests sake.

I got to participate in more group workings, which I have begun to enjoy as a small addition to my own practice. My role was to keep pace and build the energy for ritual with a goatskin drum, and it was a privilege to be able to help out in such a manner in celebration of Hecate and Lucifer in their more subtle guises as the God and Goddess in a Wiccan ritual. I find it refreshing that at Beltane that pagans of differing belief systems can gather and worship in a unified manner, putting aside petty arguments for more important matters: communion with our Gods.

I purchased a simple, and not expensive mask for this ritual, which I thought would help really embody the face of spiritual fire radiated forth in the current season. Whilst a simple masquerade mask, I was actually quite happy with it.

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Interesting mask, a pity about the decor..

A rather large piece of news is that I have also been invited on request to submit an essay for a work entitled Finding the Masculine in the Goddess Anthology.

From the editors own description, ‘This anthology will explore men and their relationship with the Goddess and the overarching Pagan community. We’re looking for essays and articles that detail personal experiences with the Goddess, How as men we come to know the Goddess, and ways you have worked through challenges and obstacles being a man within the Pagan movement.’ If anyone who may be reading this believes they could also contribute, he can be contacted at his site at http://www.erickdupree.com.

For my own contribution I hope to concentrate on producing a personal essay on how Lucifer as consort to Hecate led me onto my spiritual path, and assisted me in getting to know Hecate as a distinct all powerful entity. I hope to produce an essay which conveys my experience of how all encompassing the Witch Gods really are, transcending gender, race, and even species and how I embraced them full heartedly.

Hopefully it will be accepted, and it will be where the majority of my energy and time is going to be directed for now. It would be interesting indeed to be able to add my own thoughts and views into a properly published piece of work.

Thanks again for reading,

~S~

 

Belated: Happy Imbolc

Posted in Folk Belief, Luciferianism, Other, Paganism, The Path of Flames with tags , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2014 by Sypheara

To everyone reading this, firstly I’d like to wish you happy Imbolc! Sorry the post is  a bit late, but I got caught up in my own workings.

Imbolc marks the beginning of spring, when the solar fires once again begin to return and winters grip begins to loosen.  It certainly hasn’t felt that way in England as of yet! A mild but constantly rainy weather pattern seen this be a very strange January, and  I can only hope that going forward it will calm down allowing for more workings outside to be performed. Although it can’t be said to be unwelcome, keeping everywhere around here relatively warm.

The cross quarter sabbats, are for me, emphasised more than the solstices. The liminality, the crossing points, are for me the times were I seem to combine solitary work with celebrating the event with the wider pagan community. This is something, as a solitary practitioner, I seldom do but feel is essential to prevent myself from falling into a disconnected state.

I often get asked if there is a reason behind this, in an objective fashion, but it simply more of a personal preference that for me. The answer I often give is simple.  The solstices and equinoxes become more of a personal experience for me, simply due to practicality. Not as a rule but as a guide, using the cross quarter days for communal and introspective work, and the quarter days for more workings with an objective, it allows for multiple expressions of my practice where  the staggering of priorities encourages me to take part in all of the Sabbats on some level. Not out of only a sense of duty, but missing out! Of course this isn’t roughly stuck to – if I feel prodded in a certain direction, I roll with it and do workings or rituals or whatever as required.

I participated in an interesting ritual the night before Imbolc which revolved around the Goddess Brighid and the Spirit of the Swan. This involved a guided meditation of a journey to a lake, where upon the Swan would be met, and a message potentially received.

For me it was rather interesting, and played out far differently that I could have expected. I entered a forest from the minds eye that was filled with silver light. The trees and the land itself seem infused with silver, and I felt of reduced weight. It wasn’t long before I reached a lake – the lake was a deep, sapphire blue, in vivid contrast to that of the surrounding land. On it, a swan swam, xrayed, it’s skeleton viewable through its skin. It flickered between this and a more solid corporeal appearance, as it swam towards me.

When it got close, I felt it an aura extend from it to myself. Quite quickly this enveloped me,  surrounding me in a deep sapphire light. At this point, I entirely lost any sense of being connected within anyone else present. I felt the bones push out from my skin and reach down into the ground, piercing into the roots of a great tree. My minds eye was dominated by a giant, white and blue searing eye, and a voice spoke through the swan delivering its message. The energy felt not too dissimilar from that of Belial’s, and completely overtook my body. Eventually once the message was delivered, the experience slowly became less intense, before finally my bones retracted back towards my body, and the swan began to swim away. Even as it did so, it felt like the scene and my own aura was collapsing inwards, and soon i was surrounded by a pitch blackness.

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Imbolc celebration in Marsden

In the distance, I could see an orange light so I stumbled towards it. As i got closer, I could see a skeletal figure, which looked like a ram or goat, except it possessed human hands and stood upright on it’s hindquarters. Like the swan, it flickered between this skeletal visage and a solid form. In this case, the solid form was of a creature covered in black deep fur,  with bone bleached antlers. I could see it stirring a dark, black cauldron, in which a clear, warm liquid that had the consistency of treacle circled, vortex like. As I came closer, the figure reached up, and tore off its own head, to reveal an angelic male figure underneath. This figure glowed like white hot metal, and long flowing blonde hair descended around the narrow face like streams of plasma .There was a feeling that the air around him (for the figure felt distinctly male) was electrified. The skin of the goat fell away entirely , and the figure walked over to me and extended out his right hand, and placed it on my head. There was no feeling of heat, but instead I felt an immense jolt of energy, and suddenly became aware of my own physicality. At that point, I slowly came to, and opened my eyes..

All in all it was a very rewarding and interesting journey, although far different and expanded than  what I expected or the goal of the working itself. It was interesting that I experienced no feelings from Hecate or any other feminine energies.

After everything was over, the person who was leading the ritual also gave to me and other participants a wonderful present: a hand sewn Imbolc bracelet, made out of a white material that also  bore a small charm. As someone who works with knots, knows how much concentration to create it would have taken and appreciates how much intense focus can create a powerful object, it was a very, very nice gift. It was taken home and placed on the altar immediately, and I intend to wear it close to the body between now and Beltane.

On the Sabbat night I prepared the offerings, tying them with red and white string. This included several apples, an alcoholic libation, and some walnuts. One of these walnuts was opened, and filled with the ashes from burnt incense and a small piece of coloured quartz, one I have had since being a small child. As such, i felt it would make an ideal gift. Associations were not thought of here in any large amount – just the desire to return something to the spirits for their continued presence and as  a thank you for the previous experience.

On Monday, I plan to take these offerings to an appropriate place, somewhere secluded where they are unlikely to be bothered. I hope you have all had a similarly interesting few days.

~S~

Review and Summary: Apocalyptic Witchcraft – Part Two

Posted in Folk Belief, Luciferianism, Necromancy, Occultism, Paganism, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2013 by Sypheara

Continuing on

So without further ado, i’ll jump straight back into it, following on from the previous post which can be found at https://theluciferianrevolution.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/review-and-summary-apocalyptic-witchcraft-part-one/

For those who are reading this post first, it probably wont make much sense without the context of the previous one. I was summarising and reviewing the chapters, so will first complete that before heading on to a final conclusion as to the book as a whole.

A Spell To Awaken England

This chapter is the chapter that I personally find the hardest to read, and summarise, in the book.  This is due to me possessing only a cursory knowledge of Robert Graves, Peter Redgrove, and Penelope Shuttle, having only really read some of The White Goddess and possessing limited knowledge of the other authors. As such, despite this being a long chapter, I will only be able to offer a cursory evaluation..

The chapter revolves around the importance of poets, poetry and the poetic tradition in the expression of Modern Witchcraft. In this section, the author elaborates how to him, the poets are responsible as much as any witch, perhaps more so, for tapping into the currents of land and Goddess . He writes this is a passionate fashion, firstly addressing the said Robert Graves and his book The White Goddess. As we will see elsewhere, he argues that this text is an important myth that reaches out to hit a fundamental truth, helping to further the modern witch revival, despite its accuracy. However he warns that as its efficiency is eroded due to it not being seen as powerful anymore thanks to an academic assault about its veracity, a new generation of poets are needed to reach down and return with unashamed experiences and bring them back in raw form to shake up, shock, and revitalise us with a similar, if not greater kind of vigor and power.

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Renowned Poet and Author Ted Hughes

The author from the third page onward goes onto to discuss in length the importance for him of Ted Hughes. He sees Hughes as a visionary – someone  who managed to tap into the spirit world and drag back important messages and visions, albeit leaving him a bloodied, harrowed and to a degree a broken figure, someone who has paid for the knowledge he has obtained. He goes on to relate this as a shamanic gift and curse, explaining to us how the process is necessarily painful in many aspects, to really be able to channel anything and relay an esoteric message.

In this chapter he uses many examples of animals, which Hughes used in his work, and how he relates these to totems, messengers from nature that Ted Hughes has given voice to whilst maintaining their animalistic, unashamed and of  pure natures. One particular part stands out for me here, where the author describes the use of the fox, an animal present in many of Hughes works, to point out the impact of his poems and delivers a powerful visceral image. This message is simple and clear – pure, raw oracular message that doesn’t lend itself to dissection without severing it from relevancy. This I think is demonstrated well from the following quotes from the chapter, the former from the author, the second from Hughes himself.

‘Hughes ceases studying literature after a visitation by a burned and bloody human-handed fox that delivers the pronouncement, Stop this, you are killing us. This theriograph is a magical messenger, not some prim angel made out of too many books, but a nature spirit. Poetry is not to be dissected to death, and neither is magic, nor, for that matter, sex.’

‘Imagine what you are writing about. See it and live it. Do not think it up laboriously as if you were working out mental arithmetic. Just look at it, touch it, smell it, listen to it, turn yourself into it’

As someone who has only read some of Hughes works, and was only partially exposed to the others, I still found this chapter highly effective in discussing how important mythos, and direct experience brought to life through pure unfiltered language is over an approach that through careless over intellectual analysis, orthodoxy, desensitisation, and deconstruction sees such messages stripped, diluted, and robbed of much of their meaning.

In some ways this can be seen as a continuation of The Cup, The Cross, and The Cave chapter for me, with poetry being espoused to be the purest voice we can give to relate these deep, and meaningful experiences. I found that even with my limited knowledge in the area, this was a powerful and important chapter that gave voice to some ideas that i was struggling to express.

TheThoughtFox

The Thought Fox by Ingrid-Karlsson-Kemp

The Scaffold of Lightning

This chapter deals with the Horned God, the Devil, and how and why he has remained a powerful figure and is important to modern witchcraft.  It begins with a small definition, ‘the Devil reveals a narrow path out into a dark wood.’ before continuing onward, ‘Nor does it matter that at times he seems the Lord of the World, at others a more intimate local spirit. It is what he shows us that counts’.

From here, the author talks about the absolute power of the devil, that no intercessor is needed between witch and spirit. Through this, he demonstrates the power of Lucifer to show to the would be witch the path into the mysteries. It goes on to say that it is time that modern witchcraft as a whole paid the devil his due, and not to entirely white wash him of his antinomian aspects in the process.

The author then goes onto discuss the traditional medieval image of the devil as a demonic aristocrat, the last resort of the desperate who have turned away from the church, choosing a different master. He goes onto reminding us that this is a reflection through a society dominated by feudalism, and psychological warfare.

‘What we must remember  is that the accounts we have, almost always trial testimony, are performed as a penitential theatre of accused, judiciary, nobility, and clergy. Such a court is convened on a field of folklore, myth, legend, invention, and dream drawn out through torture, threat and false hopes’

However rather than simply say thus the devil is baseless due to the above, the author goes on to cite the following quote from Emma Wilby on The Visions of Isobel Gowdie.

‘Increasing interest in the folkloric dimension of witchcraft beliefs is leading scholars to consider that confession-depiction of the Devil might be rooted in genuinely popular ideas about embodied folk spirits, such as fairies and the dead’

He comments on this with the following:

‘Note the deliberate use of the word embodied. This is dynamite. It gives the Devil an existence that is recorded, experienced, and blooded in the folk and land’

great_he-goat

The Great He-Goat by Franciso Goya

He goes on to say that that thus the devil is an aggregate, with the original folklore merging with the christian concepts and that they are bound together.

He says that witchcraft therefore must understand the contributions of European demonology and such magickal traditions, and not reject the fertile growth of new strains of Diabolism. He remarks that witchcraft should learn from the modern satanic ‘movement’ that has arisen and been drawn through popular culture, and understand the impulses that drive them whilst avoiding the dualistic trap that can easily occur within such belief systems.

‘The mistake made is often inversion, a potent formula of witchcraft in itself, but one that after breaking the social bonds often simply reforges them and chains its adherents to a dualistic script’

From this the author goes on to describe how the Devil is protean and changes as we change, taking on different masks. He argues that we cannot simply leave him behind to engage with a horned god of our forebears so easily, arguing that the masks of the Gods of the past came form the soil and social conditions, and that ours must also come from our own age.

From here he goes on to relate how the story of the God of Witchcraft is related through the story of the Devil, just as the hatred of women within Revelation tells the story of the Goddess unwittingly through Johns twisted psychology. He goes on to explain that ‘The Devil is a particularly European trickster myth’.  The author paints a scene of how the Devil was created in his current from through Christianity replacing Paganism throughout Europe.

Gustave-Dore-Paradise-Lost-The-Fall-of-Lucifer

The Fall of Lucifer by Gustave Doré 

As he develops this, he goes on to state how this image is now useful to the craft in the described age of human disenchantment and apocalypse as described in the previous chapters.

‘It is at these crossroads, translocated from lost Jerusalem and before that Babylon, that the division between high and low magic, heretic and mystic, magus and necromancer,  magician and witch. Our identities merge and are lost in the dance that we can now properly call the witch cult. Who could preside over such a gathering other than the motley Devil?’

After covering these points, the author goes on to ask us a deep question.

‘Who then is this Devil? A simple answer will not suffice, the answer is complex, personal, and the resolution of polarity..’

In light of my own posts on this issue to clear up my own approach and answer to this question, wherein i describe the Devil as simply a powerful face of the antimonian aspect of the Horned God focused and concentrated through Christianisation , i found this a highly interesting read and accurate from my own perspective.

The Children That Are Hidden Away

With the Devil addressed, the author then uses this subsequent chapter to deal with the Sabbat. This chapter is powerful, and outside of The Cup, The Cross, and the Cave my favourite chapter, due mainly, admittedly, to my own biases towards and interest in Necromancy.

The opening paragraph sets up the chapter fittingly:

‘The Sabbat is the love feast of the Witchcraft. It is the central rite by which we have been both identified and condemned. Our revels have been daubed in the blackest garb…. This list of atrocities is why many modern proponents of witchcraft have been quick to distance themselves from what has been considered a demonological imposition upon a simple folk faith’

He then brings up Carlo Ginzburgs work, which he believes by attempting to clean the Sabbat, similar to the attempted ‘cleaning’ of the Devil in the previous chapter, is misguided. He argues that rooted in the Sabbat, in all its aspects, is a deeper truth that can be explored and revealed. He argues, in his own words, that his ‘thesis is that the Sabbat is the survival of Mystery cults and a resurrection mythology which is concealed in the Great Rite itself, the mystery within the Mystery… I want us to celebrate the Sabbat again, not by standing unsteadily on a stack of books, but on the Sabbat mountain itself’.

Thus he begins his exploration. First he describes the Sabbat in broad terms, stating that ‘the Sabbat is far more egalitarian… it strips away difference. It summons us. This calling is the inner aspect that defines a witch, rather than the outer social aspect of the accusatory pointed finger of condemnation. The first flight to the Sabbat is very often a spontaneous event. One which is not mediated by  coven or ritual. It is a lucid, though often shocking, transfiguration’.

From here he begins to talk about how the Sabbat experience, through such figures as Johannes Wier and Reginal Scot became associated with delusions, and that in an increasingly materialistic world, the experience has been devalued, and is instead seen in the terms of a solipsistic, neurotic experience. The authors reponse is to reject this, and he goes on to say that it is this zone, the Sabbat experience, which must be again placed as the core practice within the craft. He cautions again that to remove the ‘forbidden’ aspects is to excise it of much of its meaning.

He then moves onto discussing entheogenic drugs – the salves and flying ointments that were often applied to induce such experiences within the witch. He goes on to explain that although indeed such salves were used, this does not discount or cover all the cases of Sabbat flight.  He specifically addresses the processes of the salves application as more than simply the reaction to polypeptides, and notes that they are also poisons, able to take us to the state that exists between life and death. He goes on to speak about this shamanic liminal state, which can be brought about by many techniques and circumstances such as fasting, and ritual practices.

He ends this section of the chapter decisively with the following:

‘My considered position on whether the Sabbat is physical or not is that the question itself is absurd. Witches do not divide the states of sleep and dream and vision. This magical monism is something rare in literate and modern minds… It is a shamanic conception that must be embodied in our witchcraft.. if it is to both have and provide meaning’.

Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Witches'_Sabbath_-_WGA10007

The Witches Sabbat by Francisco Goya

From this point onward, he begins to talk about the nocturnal associations of the Sabbat with the dead, and how the witch becomes one of them during flight, assuming the forms of ‘our [the practioners] dead, our blood, our totem’. It is through the ingredients of ash, blood, milk and dew heavy moon he argues, aligned with the necromantic and lunar aspects of the feminine this transformation is most facilitated, and goes on to ascribe timing as being critical, fixing the time most ideal for the Sabbat at the full moon. He goes on in this manner to describe the Sabbat as far older than a bastardisation of the Jewish Sabbath through Christian propaganda, instead tracing it back to its Babylonian origins from the Akkadian word Sapattu or Sabattu. It is here that the author mentions for the first time the number 15, relating it to Inanna’s descent to the underworld and other points of significance that he will go on to elaborate on in a later chapter.

He then with this said moves onto describing the sacred mountain of the Sabbat:

‘We are journeying in our transformed bodies to a singular destination, the sacred mountain. This is the vision of the Grand Sabbat. The participants come from the flung compass points, there is no uniformity, but quite the opposite, all heresies are on the wing’.

He ascribes the name kur to this mountain, where the Sabbat takes place a word the Mesopotamians used to describe it, a place that is at the same time both peak, and underworld. Here he begins the comparison in earnest, drawing comparisons between the medieval Sabattic images and Enkidu’s account of the underworld from the Epic of Gilgamesh. He draws further necromantic comparisons between the hollow kur and the skull, and how both represent an external and internal transformative process

Lastly, but not least, the author asks the question to what end is the Sabbat partook in? He then  answers it by describing what happens at the Sabbat, which in itself reveals the answer. The author selects themes common to all the tales of the Sabbat, such as dismemberment, feasting, dancing and sex. He goes deep into each of these specific sections, revealing aspects to why they are important, what they represent, with themes of ecstasy, birth and death, and the dead all combining to show quite effectively the importance and direction of the Sabbat. That is, its role as the great rite, where in mixing of these elements arises the cycle of life, a divine resurrection, where upon the living dance the dance and the dead are reborn into the world.

Gheyn_Sabbat

Sabbat et cuisine de sorcière by Jacques de Gheyn

This section is powerful and difficult to cut down into a more concise form, so I’ll leave it to the reader to explore this part of the chapter in more depth.  It successfully delivers however, I believe, the powerful intention the author is trying to make, and is definitely something that resonated with me.

A Wolf Sent Forth to Snatch Away a Lamb

With the subject of the dead, and the devil, covered, the author goes on to the topic of Animal Transformation, primarily through tales and talk of the wolf and of lycanthropy. Whilst many of the chapters are based on the female, lunar, dominating current on Witchcraft, this chapter deals with the more male aspects, of which the author brings an interesting perspective.

The chapter starts with several paragraphs laying bear, in poetic terms, the hunger of raw need for man to be ‘rewilded’, and the reader brought into the imagery of the human as animal. He then raises and answers effectively a none too basic question, which is where men fit into his mythic topology of Witchcraft, which the author himself as being, due to the Lunar links, primarily a womans affair. He answers it thus:

‘.. the answer has already been given in the song of the wolf. Men are excluded from many of the rites of witchcraft. Men do not. Thus our mysteries differ from those of women.’

He then goes on to describe the early accounts of Lycanthropy involving male witches. However, to delve deeper, he first cautions we must be careful with this train of thought, reminding us that women have also assumed wolf form in the past, and that the ‘wolf has too often been rune-hooked into a totem that the wolf itself would not recognise’. He cautions us at accepting the wolf, as the icon it has become, due to it often being seen as a left handed path image of domination that suppresses the supposed weaker, emotional feminine self.

He goes on to describe this wolf image, describing it as socially broken, the images it projects of abduction, murder, and rape not describing accurately, nor capturing the essence of the wolf. He describes such a lone wolf as sick, and makes a parallel with the witch at the pointed finger , describing the wolf as a male representation of the same ‘blame’ game.

He goes on to describe the totemic wolf as he sees it, animals that taught us how to hunt, ambush and lure, ‘mighty hunters who sing to their mother moon’. Here he also highlights the social structure necessary in the wolf, highlighting parallels between us.

He again brings up the theme of being rewilded in this context, and describes how many items from wolves were meant to have many magical  powers. He describes how even now this lycanthropy occurs in dream and dance, and points it out as the image of the Northern winter sun, the downed stag representing the summer king subdued and dominated. Again he makes the comparison.

‘The men who go forth as wolves are the retinue of the divine huntress, a reckoning at large in the land, a stormy night that beckons to the bold whilst the dogs lie sleeping in their beds.’

It is here he begins  displaying them as ghosts and teachers, linking them to the ancestral dead, our familiars, as warriors, transformed witches, and agency of the Goddess. He links the hunt to nocturnal vengeance, sexual voracity, ritual actions, animal transformation to blend in and sending forth the fetch, all occurring under the full moon. As he describes it, this Sabbat like imagery ‘is the same familiar unfamiliar territory’. That is, the territory of truths preserved, just as the Sabbat was, with a malevolent face.

lycanthropy1

Werewolf, artist unknown

It is here he delves into the associations the wolf has had with the warrior cults of northern and central Europe, and how wolf skins were seen as sacred, and used as amulets. He again sees how this was usurped, and turned into the raw, diabolic imagery described above as it was subsumed into association with diabolism by the church. Here, retaining its essential nature, but becoming  another ‘part of the sorceress conspiracy’.

He goes in to describing how this is similar to the bear cults also found in Europe, and the use of drugs such as muscaria to help drive a divine possession and frenzy within its adherents. It is here he reveals his purpose, describing war as a special kind of hunt, the male parallel to female blood shedding. He goes into this in great detail, and again, its not something I can appropriately summarise in a short manner. One quote however, I feels explains some of the authors intent.

‘The man or woman who becomes a wolf is engaged in a cyclical transformation that takes them outside of culture. For women this a given, they are periodic, but for men this requires ritual action. The WItchcraft of men is thus built and dependent upon the blood of women. Blood must also flow for men to be initiated. Whipping, sub-incision, scarification and tattooing are among the ritual actions that can be performed. This does not imply simple masochism’

It is from this image he moves into discussing truly the ‘resocialised wolf’, using it as a metaphor for the reintegration of wild aspects back into our own natures. He goes on to describe  this process in degrees. First he tackles the wolf image, again using metaphor. In this, he states that what we need aren’t lone wolves, but instead socialised, integrated wolf packs, packs that are loyal to the Goddess. He regards this as part of the inversion of the wolf’s image, no longer an image of dominance, male dominance and female suppression, but  an elevation and joint synergy between both. On this he writes:

‘What if we become wolves in her service? I suggest that Witchcraft represents such an inversion,  a reversion of the patterns of abuse and domination that … have divided the sexes in setting men upon women’

From here he goes on to describe the kind of animal transformation he sees, based on this inverted pattern. In this section he engages us to think about re embracing our physical natures, embracing our physical bodies. He warns us that we are in danger of ridding ourselves of our bodies like ‘cartridge cases’, and goes on to detail the sacredness of ecstatic and excited states. He explains that these have been under assault in common thinking, especially in some circles which overly  embrace eastern mysticism which discards this in bodily rejection. He again comes back to the entheogens, but this time talks about the sacred stimulants, as opposed to those used for night flight, again reminding us to not make an artificial distinction between either. It is through both body and spirit, he argues, that these states are accessed, and the interaction achieved.

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Gray Wolf by National Geographic

It is from here he goes on to relate about Lupercalia, and goes on to discuss the mighty dead and the Wild Hunt. He relates how the wild hunt fits into the topography, not as a simple new moon event or full moon event, but instead a complex mix of both, of both the Sabbat and Bloody Moon. He then goes on to seal this wolf tale as the final piece, that completes both halves of the mythic structure he has been constructing. He gives us an collected, summarized version of this in the text, which i think is very revealing. The last part of the text drives home why this is important in our age to understand the metaphor and image of the Wolf and our spiritual Ancestors, leaving us a great image with the end of a revealing chapter.

‘The wolf [is now] the shadow of man. We have hunted the same prey. But we have fallen out with these brothers and sisters, to our detriment and their extinction. Let us decide to play the game again. Let us turn over the cards of Dame Fortune. XVII La Lune reveals even dogs are transformed on certain nights into their ancestors, and that it is blood which provides the key. Through this slim fence slip once more the gaunt wolves into the city, our throats erupting into song.’

Fifteen

In this chapter the author begins to discuss the Goddess, leaving perhaps the topic to later in the text than we might have expected. It is here we see the revealing of many symbols of the Goddess, of the authors own personal mythological topography, which has slowly been threaded through the work.

The chapter opens up with poetic imagery of the Devil as Initiator, who has brought us to meet with the Goddess in the dark wood, stripped down to nothing but our skins. From here, he goes on to describe the cyclical life of the moon with similar imagery, referring it to the cycle of life, and the circle that connects all things. He then relates to us that the Goddess being seen as the moon is a mistake, and that instead that ‘She is Time Herself’.

He goes on to relate how its Time that encapsulates all the moon phases, the aspects, with the Sabbat marking the ‘moment of Immanence’ within the ‘cycle of flux and flow’.

From here, he goes on to explaining this in greater detail, and reveals that the Goddess is never named, only referred to in oblique terms.  These terms being ‘ciphers, blinds, riddles, points of origin’ and other aspects. He then goes on to describe the most enduring one, that of Fifteen, and describes it as important as the easiest way to envision her outside of cultural forms that can compete and clash. From here he goes onto describing the symbology behind and the integration of the lunar calender, revealing the number 15 and 13. These numbers, he relates, arise from the number of the day the moon falls on in each lunation and the number of lunations in each full year respectively. He goes on to relate to us how this is integrated with our environment and ourselves.

‘For the lunar calendar to exist required it to have embodied meaning, one which meshed into a series of species and events, of salmon runs and rutting deer and moulting bison and sleeping and waking bears. It is a cycle of seasons over which a Mistress of the Beasts prevailed. For us to engage with the mythic, we must be attuned to its many pulses over which the moon rules. But crisis intervenes.’ 

He relates how when the human race moved from being a purely hunter gatherer race to a one based around agriculture, this calender necessarily followed, along with the associated underlying mythic architecture.

‘Now it was not simply the salmon run, the story of the first flowers in the meadow, but a million tributary rivers carrying us on. Her sex runs wet … And so our Goddess slips from the reed banks and finds herself within a second cave at the temple heights’

It is here he carefully and considerately makes the connection with Ishtar, and delves deep into the symbology and meaning which embodies the number 15, the sacred marriage between the sun and moon the comes to its height on the full moon, and the day which Ishtar began her descent into the underworld.

British_Museum_Queen_of_the_Night

Queen of Night Relief, The British Museum

He goes on to describe Inanna-Ishtar as ‘the primal spring’ of the origin of the Goddess of Witchcraft, He goes on to directly link her to many other concepts of the Goddess. He explicitly singles out the greek goddess Hecate being another face of Ishtar, and highlights other figures such as Medea, Circe and Artemis as arising from out of significant Akkadian cultural influence.

He goes on to say how Ishtar has been  misidentified not only in ancient but also in modern circles. He gives an example of this in the fact the Queen of Night Relief is commonly linked with Lilith, herself ironically arising from the Akkadian concepts of the Līlīṯu, a class of  female demons.

He goes on to relate how although this could be a useful aspect, that it narrows the scope of the Goddess into simply a malevolent force, when she is infact a master of all directions. He associates the Lilith myth and angle as therefore being potentially constricting.

Again, he goes on to talk about the dark moon,  how it runs with blood and how it should not only be seen as a curse but a gift, and reinforces the importance of 15 as the centre of the cycle and the axis mundi where the aspects meet.  He discusses Kali as a overpowering face of the rotting goddess, warns us of appropriating her own rites and asks us to turn inward to find our own, western analogues. He describes this thus:

‘As our focus has been on the central rite of European witchcraft, namely the Sabbat, this has been occluded. Perhaps the best way to signal its importance and very nature is in this absence and deliberate omission. It is the shadow beneath the wings of this text, but enfolded as a blood seed at the heart of the Sabbat.’

This flows into the paragraphs describing the immense disruptive power of the eclipse. In the final paragraphs, he describes and gives voice to what he sees as the overriding presence of the Goddess and sums it up in the following manner.

‘She is not external. but is enfleshed … There was never one goddess of witchcraft, but rather a thousand Ishtars: milk white, blood red, lamp black. There can never be orthodoxy. We are simultaneously possessed, annihilated, and forever outside of Time. 

She is Immanent.

She dwells within us.’

V0045118 Kali trampling Shiva. Chromolithograph by R. Varma.

Kali by Raja Ravi Varma

Hic Rhodus, Hic Salta!

The last chapter in the book, Hic Rhodus, Hic Salta, is an effective ending which manages to, in my opinion, sum up the main messages in the book in a clear and concise manner. The epigram used to name the chapter is described at the end, but to make the summary of this final chapter more approachable, ill detail it here.

The phrase Hic Rhodus, hic salta, originates from the Latin version of Aesops Fables. Literally translated from the early ancient Greek phrase, it means ‘Here is Rhodes, jump here!’. It relates to one of the fables, where an athlete boasts that he once achieved a seemingly impossibly large jump whilst competing at Rhodes. A bystander challenges him to dispense with the accounts, and simply prove himself by demonstrating the jump right there, on the spot. Thus the term came to be a proverb, meaning ‘Prove what you can do, here and now.’

As hinted at by the book, this is the conclusion that this chapter, and that the book reaches. The author gives another version of the phrase as the final words of the book, ending it all on a simple but powerful note. Within this chapter this message resonates. It  is not presenting to us a request, or even offering advice, but a challenge. To meet this challenge, the author suggests that modern witchcraft needs to concentrate on imbuing itself with  Orientation, Presence and Imperative.

A Single Red Rose

He goes into detailing these length. I will cover these briefly.

He describes Orientation as embracing animism and finding a shared mythic topology on which to find common ground as Witches.  He believes that through the words of the poets, and through the Sabbat, Night Flight and Animal Transformation this has been found, and through the revealing of the Goddess and Devil revealed as One. He describes this as being a ‘simple and not prescriptive’ topology, which acts as a way for the witch to connect to the world through their own, internal interface. From this, he states that the doors are opened within and without, as we develop on top of this our own means of interacting with the world in a way that is based on connection as we interact with All, rather than fall into some baseless solipsistic reverie.

He then goes on to describe Presence. He begins this section by saying that we must not make the mistake of believing ourselves to be apart from the physical world, and make a fatal mistake between the physical and spiritual. He reminds us that animism sees no such divide, and therefore does not strip meaning from the physical world to abstract it away. Its through this integration, and through the paradox of travelling in and through our our bodies at night we can reach the Sabbat through the gates of dream. As such he asks us to re-sanctify it, strengthen it, and grow active again, so we can move renewed. He gives us a taste of why presence is important within the following paragraph.

‘The mythic is not an overlay, it is the worn cupolas in the rock quoits stacked in the barren moors. It is the black earth of the barrows. The earth is pregnant with meaning, with tumuli and foreboding entrances slanting down into the underworld which we have crawled from on skinned knees into solstice morning dawns. This is magic, this is what demands our presence, and furthermore this is what is at stake’

The final aspect covered is Imperative. The author uses the last two to reinforce this aspect effectively. He goes on to relate how we cannot escape into solipsism now even if we wanted to, and instead are demanded, forced, to take an active stance. He says that we are defined by not contemplation but engagement. The imperative leads to this engagement on its own, due to the fact that true witchcraft is grown from need, not want, and that in our current time it is needed more than ever. He shows us that since our shared experience is based on animism, we must defend a world that is increasingly trampled, and the imperative is in that struggle. The struggle that if it is lot,  our familiars, our family, will be irreparably injured or killed.

On this powerful call to action, and bringing the entire thesis to a powerful conclusion, this chapter concludes thus.

‘Here is the Rose,

Dance here.’

Conclusion

Writing this review has been long and difficult. However, I felt it was more than necessary after receiving, and reading this book. That is the highest compliment I can give it – that it exceeded my expectations, and was a captivating read which seemed to give a voice to many things that already resonated within myself.

The author describes the book as a revolutionary book, as a challenging one that many have found issue with. To me this is almost difficult to imagine, as it seemingly simply described what I have been consciously and unconsciously feeling ever since my own initial encounter and introduction to Witchcraft and Paganism in general.

I honestly think that it is an important work, and that it should be acquired by anyone who calls themselves a witch or is interested in modern witchcraft. It is a highly inclusive, revealing and passionate work that I think will only be increasingly referenced and appreciated as time goes on.

I’d also like to thank Scarlet Imprint for linking to my review, and enjoying it. It means a lot to think that my own personal take would be read and warmly received by them. I look forward to receiving more of their books in the future, if they are of similar quality (of which I have very little concern over).

As far as the blog is concerned, this will most likely be the last long post in awhile, due to my personal circumstances changing (for the better) leaving me with a lot less free time. I’ll be detailing this in a another, short post, that should hopefully come soon.

Thanks for reading as always.

~S~

The Lines of Power: Part Two

Posted in Folk Belief, Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2013 by Sypheara

So here it finally  is, the second part of the Lines of Power post I’ve been meaning to. This is going to be another long post, due to covering several topics, so grab yourself a coffee – you might need it to make it through!

Addendum: Leylines – Astrological Significance

Firstly, I’d like to quicly and briefly summarise that, outside of the original post’s conclusion, I do believe that SOME ley lines lie along paths of astrological significance. It is now widely accepted by the mainstream that these sites were often made specifically to identify, track, and even measure the cycles of the celestial planets. As such, it would of course make sense that certain sites are aligned along paths which facilitate this. These lines would be the exception to the examples talked about in the prior posting – these sites would necessarily have to be located along the same line, marking a real, tangible line of influence. With that said, this wasn’t the point of part two, so I’ll leave that for other people to discuss/research and keep this as a small sidenote.

Earth’s Magnetic Field

The most easily observable Lines of Power I will mention here is arguably those of Earth’s magnetic field. I have included it here to ground the other topics and to illustrate the great physical influence these have on human life and the biosphere.

Magnetic fields are produced by the motion of electrical charge. This can be seen in a humble bar magnet, where the magnetic field results from negatively charged electrons moving from one pole to another. The Earth similarly has a magnetic field. Whilst its origins are poorly understood, it is believed that the electrical currents are produced by convectice effects and rotation in the liquid, metallic outer core which is comprised of iron and nickel.

This field is constantly present but can vary considerably with time. Rocks such as basalt that are formed from a molten state preserve indicators of the magnetic field when they eventually solidify. This allows geologists to observe how the magnetic field has changed over time. These indicators show that the flow of the field is not constant, varies in strength, and has gone through several cycles of reversing the direction of its flow.

The actual poles of the field do not correspond to true north and true south, and the poles are known to wander, presumed considerably so before a reversal. This causes a declination in the magnetic field lines, which can be measured to be significant over a few hundred years.


Earth’s magnetic field is vital to life.  Our sun produces larges amount of radiation, in the form of Solar Wind. Solar Wind is not wind at all, but instead a powerful stream of of charged particles consisting of electrons and protons. These are released from the upper atmosphere of the Sun, and can be exceptionally damaging especially during intense periods of solar flare activity. Thankfully the presence of Earth’s magnetic field prevents the atmosphere from being stripped away into space, and the surface from being heavilly irradiated. Even so, the harsh battering the planet receives is enough to distort the magnetosphere significantly, as shown in the image below.

This is not the only effect the magnetosphere has however. It is known that many organisms on Earth make use of the magnetic field for numerous purposes, in what is known as Biomagnetism. Biomagnetism plays an important role in the lives of many species.

A powerful example of how it affects organisms would be in a class of bacteria known as magnetotactic bacteria. These organisms demonstrate a behaviour in which they orientate themselves and migrate along the Earths magnetic field lines. These bacteria are said to be permanantly sensitive to the fields, due to them containing magnetosomes which act as a magnetic dipole, preserving the crystalline structure of cells.

Other examples can be seen in even more complex animals, including various mammal and bird species. In these cases, the magnetic field of the earth is used as a natural inbuilt compass, to help guide the animal in some manner, as either a map, a compass, or a compass calibrator.

In addition, there are several studies that show that the Earths magnetic field can have influence upon the human brain.  Studies on the possibility of a human magnetic sense being present has been conducted, with mixed results. It is known however that humans possess magnetic bones in the human nose, and another recent study showed that low-frequency magnetic fields can produce an evoked response in human subjects.

It is interesting to note that strong magnetic fields can cause hallucinations, such as the feeling of being watched, and are in some cases are seen by some to play a part in several hauntings. It does therefore not seem too far fetched to believe that magnetosphere has some kind of psychological influence. I will leave that topic for further exploration another day however.

Song Lines/Dream Lines

In Aboriginal Australian belief, there exists a concept of the Song Lines or Dream Lines. These lines, also known as Dreaming Tracks, are paths across the land and sky which mark the route followed by localised creator spirits, during the Dream Time. The Dream Time was a sacred era in which it is believed that the ancestral totemic spirit beings created the world, making these lines actual lines of spiritual power.

These paths are recorded through traditional songs, stories, dance and paintings. By recalling these paths in song or through other methods, the indigenous people could navigate vast physical distances, travelling often through the harsh deserts that make up the centre of Australia. The continent is said to contain an extensive system of Song Lines. Some of these are only a few kilometres long, whilst others are travel hundreds of kilometres, crossing several different territories owned by differing indigneous tribes.

Someone who is knowledgeable of the lines and able to recall them in this manner is able to see the marks of the Spirits. Repeating phrases and words in song that describe of the location of landmarks such as waterholes and other natural phenomena enables them to follow the Song Line. In many cases it is said that the paths of the creator spirits is obvious from their marks on the land, such as large depressions or other signs which are said to be of their footprints, body marks or other indicators of their physical presence.

Some Song Lines have strict taboos or rules surrounding them that are observed religiously. For example, some Song Lines are thought to have a particular direction, and walking the reverse way along such a Song Line is seen as a sacrilegious act.  This is difficult to at first appreciate the severity of, but when one investigates how Traditional Aboriginal people regard their land sacred, and them as guardians it begins to make much more sense. The Aboriginal people believe that the songs must be continually song of the lines to keep the land alive, and working against and damaging the Song Lines is obviously seen in a bad light.

In both these posts I have now covered several examples of different Lines of Power, I will now go onto detailing the teaching my own Path has on this, alongside my own personal interpretation which will hopefully wrap it all up in a cohesive way.

Path of Flames Teaching and My Interpretation

The Path of Flames has its own take on Lines of Power, in the form of the Dragon Lines. These Dragon Lines are in a way similar to the Lung Meis or Dragon Paths as seen within the Chinese belief of Feng Shui.

In the Path of Flames, Belial is the God associated with the material plane. The material plane itself is the actual body of the God, and the Dragon Lines in our tradition are the actual spiritual vessels for this Gods lifeforce, analogous in some ways to the blood vessels within our own body.  It facilitates the travel of spirits and the transfer of spiritual power, and exists as a system connecting our world to the astral and the Gods. Without it, similar to the concept of the Dream Lines, we believe the world would begin to literally wither and die.

It is currently the task of those who follow Hecate and the Path of Ascending Flame to work with reinvigorating the Dragon Lines by earthing the currents found through spiritual practice. It is believed that by each individual in this manner bringing back more of the teachings and power, and feed them back into the Dragon Lines, that a much stronger spiritual age can be ushered in and humanity can reconnected with its spirits on a larger level.

Its name as the Dragon Lines is also apt, as the Dragon spirits of the path use it to travel and manifest. The Earth Dragon, Behemuth, draws alot of its power from the lines and travels along them as one of Belials most impressive and powerful servants, and is an entity that I look forward to personally working with in the future.

When this is viewed in the context of the Lines of Power revealed in my previous posts, I can now say my own view and theory on the subject. I believe that, whilst the Dragon Lines themselves exist as a spiritual (but physically existing) system, that some (if not all) of the Lines of Power mentioned also belong to this system as different manifestations of it. By this, I mean that I believe that each of these systems combines to make up the manifestations of the body of Belial, and in essence, are all differing types of Dragon Line.

In this way, I believe the nature of the system has untapped potential for exploration in much greater detail, and I’m looking forward to possibly uncovering more in the future through practical means.  By investigating each set of Lines, I hope that in the future that how each Line operates, and interacts, with the others can be explained in greater detail. I hope this is done through respecting the complexity of the systems involved, rather than trying to merge through over syncretic action separate modes of action (such as how Ley-Lines became confused with the Dragon Line/Song Line concepts in New Age thought).

Hopefully this has been a little primer.. and revealed what directions my thoughts are going on it.

Thanks as always for reading.