Archive for the Necromancy Category

Modus Operandi: Graveyard Workings

Posted in Necromancy, Occultism with tags , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by Sypheara

This morning, I put the final touches to a working involving the offerings to the Gods of the Arte and Mighty Dead in relation to Samhain. In addition, I can also say with some degree of confidence that the spirit box is completed, and will now hopefully serve its purpose as a housing for them in the future, even outside of the dark seasons of the year.

I intend to write as fully as I can on that process, sharing what I am able, including many pictures from the work itself. However, since I am back at work tomorrow after Samhain break, I unfortunately won’t be able to post that installment until this coming weekend at the earliest.

However, whilst within the graveyard this morning giving the final offerings to the dead and sealing the work, I realised it might be good to share how I operate within the graveyards. What follows is based on my own methods combined with methods I have adopted/learnt from outside sources. Hopefully this will illustrate the importance of having some rules when interacting with the dead. As such, this can be considered a small ‘primer’ for the ritual outlined that will follow in another post,

Background

My attraction to graveyards as places stems from further back than any obvious spiritual connections I can think of, and definitely before I became in any way involved in Paganism or Witchcraft.  It was when I was around 17 when they became attractive places to me, and I often enjoyed visiting them.  I found them hauntingly beautiful, and it was probably these feelings in my period of maximum morbidity that would later nudge me in the direction of spirit work after I had experienced my healing dream. Many of these visits were with a friend of mine, someone I valued higher than any other person at the time, including members of my own family. These activities seemed mostly harmless, and for the most part they were.

However I would later have an horrendous experience visiting a graveyard with said friend. When analysed retrospectively I realise I had made a massive mistake. Without going into all the long and lengthy details, suffice to say that the dead in graveyards, the dark dead, do not enjoy their environment being played in and messed with. On said occasion, after interfering with a particular gravestone, and eating lunch above said grave, there was a very dark change that came over me and my companion. We argued over seemingly small inconsequential things, odd being people that never argued with each other at all.

After the visit, I felt increasingly hopeless, without reason considering the worst had been put behind me at this time, and i was in a more secure position only recently having had my healing dream. The other person reported feeling the same, unnaturally depressed, energyless, and drained after the visit. Although these effects seemingly wore off, the relationship worsened quickly, and soon disintegrated. Other negative things happened, with me seemingly having constant bad luck. It was only several months later after working with Lucifer on that years Halloween that this trend finally seemed to be broken, and my mood and luck finally changed for the better.

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Picture from a Graveyard in Durham, United Kingdom. Credit goes to the artist linked

The reason I am relating this? These kind of effects are typical of interference by the Dark Dead, a name referring to the earth bound spirits that have overall negative qualities, and can cause adverse affects on the living. These types of spirits congregate around areas where death is common, graveyards being one of them.
Whilst it would be too much risk of confirmation bias to confirm that indeed this was the case several years after my experience subsided, it has taught me to be much more cautious, respectful, and take seriously places where any kind of spirit dwells, never mind those that can have such negative effects.

Modus Operandi

As such, as soon as I began to work in the graveyard doing necromantic work, I made sure to begin employing several techniques to minimise the risk to myself whilst carrying out said work. I relate these below, with a quick explanation as to why I personally carry them out, I recommend that these are employed whenever working in graveyards, and that the more contact with the Dark Dead specifically sort, additional steps are added to ensure that they are not brought back from where they should remain. These are to be read with the knowledge this is my personal method of working – it likely needed to be adapted depending on how you interact with these spirits or do workings in general.

Ask for permission to enter

Before entering the graveyard, I always either ask for permission to enter from one of the guardians (usually Hecates aspects relating to the dead, or Señor de la Muerte) . This is usually done before leaving the house, and can be performed in many ways. It can be intuitive, with the question simply being asked and internal thoughts scrutinised for any sign, be in a vision or feeling.

In addition or instead of this,  a more concrete method can be employed such as asking a candle,and requesting it to be extinguished before it burns down completely if the working is to be prevented from going ahead. If once asked, indications are that it can go ahead, protection and empowerment is asked for and the working goes ahead.

The alternative is to ask the question before the entrance gate to the cemetery, which although offering usually more clear indication and better results, also is more visible and only suitable when privacy is easily obtainable, such as when the location is seldom visited.

If once asked, indications are that it can go ahead, protection and empowerment is asked for and the working goes ahead. If indications are bad, the working does NOT go ahead, regardless of anything else, and alternative methods and or locations are sought.. The important part is the question is asked in a way that you personally can relate to the power in question, and can get a reliable answer.

 

Enter on the left foot

When crossing the cemetery threshold, doing so on the left foot, whilst proclaiming thanks for permission to work within the graveyard, is an affirmation of your intent showing you accept the opportunity offered to you. The left side of the body in general is often seen as otherwordly and magickal in the occult, and the left side and path is closely connected to some of the Death Gods and spirits in my work. It is therefore much more than a symbolic act, but a reinforcement between my own actions and their higher, commanding natures, allowing me to be empowered through sympathetic action, which is important in magick.

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St Ebba Graveyard, Ebchester, County Durham. Credit goes to the photographer linked

Don’t steal from the spirits

Do not take anything from the graveyard that could potentially belong to the spirits. To do so would give them a physical link between yourself and them, especially if it is taken back to ones home. The Dark Dead are jealous and possessive, and will take offence to this, and is something I have personally experienced that as related, potentially caused me considerable grief. Even spirits not related to the Dark Dead can require payment, and can themselves become angered in a similar manner. Anything that has been left overnight in such a place becomes ‘claimed’ by them, or otherwise linked to their energies, and cannot be retrieved without being paid for. This includes any personal items you may have forgotten, or otherwise lost accidentally in such a place and have returned to retrieve the next day.

Retrieving items / materials from the Graveyard

Any item that is to be retrieved from a Graveyard must be bought and paid for, and only retrieved as a matter of necessity. The method of buying such items from Graveyards varies significantly depending on what it is you are buying. There are numerous methods of buying graveyard dirt and other items from the graveyard, depending on the spirit being interacted with. Often these revolve around a specific grave, and making a petition to the spirit to give up X item in exchange for gifts, typically coins (See below), distilled beverages, red wines, coffee and tobacco. Burning incense or leaving an equivalent gift is also sometimes practiced. Since graveyard dirt and other items can indeed be needed for certain operations, there will be times when working necromancy items are needed to be acquired from a graveyard in this fashion. Whats important is mostly that some sort of agreement is made with the spirits to retrieve said ingredients, and that they arn’t simply ‘lifted’ and pilfered. I will hopefully be able to post my own variant of this up in the future when it becomes necessary and I have the time.

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St Oswalds Graveyard, Durham. Credit goes to the photographer linked

Leave Three Coins for the Dead

On leaving the graveyard it is customary for me to through threes coins of the same value, usually ‘copper’ rather than ‘silver’ coins, over my left shoulder upon exiting. This is a step learnt from working with the necrosophic currents related to Qayin, and has folk connections that have been researched. The reasons for this seem to differ on who you ask, but I personally believe it is to pay the guardian spirit for its protection and as an offering on leaving for its work and to ensure it restricts any of the Dark Dead from following once you have left the cemetery. As such, I see it as a vital step and always prepare the payment before entering, so  I will not be stuck upon leaving.

Do Not Look Back

This particular rule comes from greek belief, where it is believed that to see spirits following behind a person was to indicate that they too would soon join the ranks of the dead. As such, when a ritual is completed, and exit is become from the cemetary, I never look back, the work having been completed. Once done, it is important that one makes a concentrated attempt to return to the land of the living, and not be distracted or otherwise caught by the influence of the Dark Dead whilst attempting to leave.

Parting Observations

It is always good to remember the practical limitations when working in and around cemeteries. Most people won’t take kindly to you working in them, so it pays to find a location where such encounters can be minimised.  In more built up and populous areas, choosing larger, more spacious cemeteries often helps as I have found that the larger the cemetery, the less likely people are to wonder in / through or otherwise go there especially at night. Whether this a purely psychological thing, or also down to the work of the spirits, I’ll leave up to the reader to decide.  Otherwise finding an out of the way, country location is most likely the most ideal solution, if not always the most realistic.

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Personal picture of my new working graveyard. Densely packed, abandoned  crumbling church, with very few visitors

As usual, hope you have enjoyed this smaller entry. Hopefully it will prove useful, especially when seen in the light of the Samhain spirit box ritual write up to come. In additional, unrelated news,  I will soon be setting up an email address for the blog, in case anyone has any questions they wish to ask they are not comfortable with using the commenting system for. Thanks for reading as always, and I hope everyone enjoyed Samhain as much as I did!

-S-

Small update: Happy Samhain!

Posted in Divination, Necromancy, Occultism, Other, Paganism with tags , , , on October 31, 2013 by Sypheara

Hello all, a small update as promised following on from the review and the last tarot reading post. Alot has happened, for the better, thats caused me to be a very, very busy individual lately. Before I launch into it all though, I’d first like to wish you all a Happy Samhain, and hope you enjoy whatever it is you have planned. If you have nothing planned, whether recreational or work wise, then I say you are going to miss out! Its a fantastic time of year, and an important one at that.

Tarot / Personal Update

It seems that my previous reading turned out to be much more spot on than I expected. After a hard slog, and not so little faith, I have finally managed to land a job, fulfilling what I believe was the Judgement card in my favour. I have been watching out for any pitfalls, especially in my own behaviour. Controlling problematic aspects of my behaviour and demonstrating alot of patience has finally paid off, and I am now much more financially secure and free.

As such, I have moved out of my old home to stay with friends, a temporary stop gap to acquiring my own place. This is going to affect the rate of updates, but its something I have needed to do for a long while, especially with the eventual goal being complete privacy for my practice going forward into the future. This would allow me to do much deeper, powerful rituals without affecting others, and enable me to really have the space to pursue many ideas im currently still unable to.

I am keeping in mind the earlier warnings in the reading, and hopefully it will continue to work out, Hecate willing.

Observations and Projects

With a bit more freedom and more understanding people around, moving back to the city has been a really good experience. Despite more people being around and it being an environment that can in no way be described as being ‘near to nature’, it will provide a much more ideal ground for me to move forward with many areas of my life. It’s closer to friends, a more active pagan community, and is generally a nicer place to live than where i was previously based.

If you look hard enough, you also occasionally find gems hidden amongst the rough..

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I haven’t positively identified this planet yet, but seeing such an interesting specimen in the heart of the city, with such impressive flowers, has sparked my interest and brought a smile to my day. Hopefully its a perennial plant, and I’ll be able to take a sample or two in the future for curiosities sake to see if the small hunch ive got is correct. Need more hands on after all, and less book learning.

However, that will have to wait. Tonight I plan to make my gift to the mighty dead and the Gods, in the form of a spirit box. Hopefully this will make a good offering, and im looking forward indeed to crafting it / presenting it at the graveyard tomorrow or the day after, depending on how the process goes. I’ll be detailing this as best as I am able, depending on what feedback I get from the spirits tonight. A picture of the box i’ll be using, along with the central quartz crystal, is pictured below.

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Blog Roadmap

With all the above , the planned content for the blog has shifted. Ill still be delivering the sigil and ritual working write ups as promised, for general perusal, but it is more paramount to concentrate on my own Samhain working to ensure its correctly carried out. Once that is over with, Ill be for the short term concentrating on updating my own personal journals, which have gone neglected for too long despite the amount of ideas/sigils that are swirling around in my head since the witch mark was acquired.

Hopefully once this is done, the ritual writeup will be of interest and use to some of you out there, I do plan on posting more pictures where possible.

Have a good one,

~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.

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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’

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

gray-wolf-sanctuary

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 One

Posted in Necromancy, Occultism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , on May 30, 2013 by Sypheara

Firstly, I’d like to apologise for not making an entry sooner. This week and last week have been exceptionally busy for me, in all ways! The lack of posts is definetly not due to lack of things to talk about.. just that my own practice coupled with keeping my own  written records up to date has took its toll.

With that said, I’d like to move swiftly on to the topic at hand that I have chosen for this post. The title, ‘Lines of Power’, refers to the different lines and fields of energy that run through and around the Earth.  This concept plays an important part within my own tradition in understanding certain phenomena and working with them, as its seen as the arteries of the planet, which to us is the physical body of one of our Gods.  Unfortunately, this is often seen as a predominantly New Age Idea with little merit to it, due to the sometimes outlandish claims made involving all sorts of nebulous and undefined terms.

To make this core belief seem more plausible and ground it in some sense of reality,  I am going to go over several concepts to hopefully  show that the actual lines are infact several systems existing parallel to each other of a different nature, which all combine to make up the whole. More importantly, I hope to show that these conclusions are in some manner grounded in much older beliefs.

Ley – Lines Origin and Development

The most obvious and exoteric theory when talking about ‘lines of power’ is found in the concept of Ley-Lines and associated beliefs.These are very well known within New Age groups and in Popular culture as being magical lines through which ‘Earth energy’ or other such things flow. In this section I wish to show that the original concept, and the actual natures within the  Ley Lines, has become confused with other ideas to be blended into a whole that does not work as an explanation and actually detracts from the original nature and understanding of the Leys. Hopefully this will demonstrate that its several existing systems that combine to make the whole picture rather than the Leys that encompass everything.

The Ley-Line theory was originally concieved by Alfred Watkins. Watkins, a self-taught amateur archaeologist and antiquarian, believed that in a flood of ancestral memory he had gained insight onto something whilst looking over a map of Herefordshire. He saw that various prehistoric sites, such as burial mounds and standing stones fell into straight lines for what appear to be miles in length across England. From this point on, Watkins spent many years studying such alignments in the field and on maps, taking photographs, and writing books and giving lectures on his theory.

For a few years in the 1920’s, Watkins referred to these alledged alignments as ‘leys’. This was derived from the Anglo-Saxon word meaning ‘meadows’ or ‘cleared ground’. Watkins explanation for the leys themselves were that they were old straight traders’ tracks laid down by surveyors in prehistory. He claimed that using surveying rods resulted in the roads being built in straight lines. His use of the term ‘ley’ was in regards to the clearings on either side of the road that he logically deduced would have had to be made, due to several of them cutting through dense forest or other problematic terrain. By 1929 however, he had discarded the term ‘ley’ and simply refered to them as ‘old straight tracks’

Additionally, Watkins believed that many of the key sighting points along these old tracks evolved into sacred sites of their own over time with use, resulting in standing stones and burial mounds. He also believed that in the historic, Christian era, some of the Pagan sites became Christianised, explaining why many ancient churchs appeared to stand along his alignments.

Watkins died in  in 1935. A year after his death, the renowned occultist Dion Fortune wrote a novel, called The Goat-Foot God, in which she put forward the notion of ‘lines of force’ connecting megalithic sites such as Avebury and Stonehenge in Southern Endgland. Two years later, Arthur Lawton, a member of Wakings Straight Track Club, published a paper claiming that leys wern’t just trading roads after all, but lines of cosmic force which could be dowsed. He himself was a dowser, and had been impressed by the work done on Dowsing in both France and Germany which claimed that there were lines of force beneath standing stones and at other neolithic sites. Putting these together in his own head, he came up with his own theories about leys.

Over the next few years, this more occult theory became the one that was predominantly spread. Some of the ideas developed from it were interesting, however it soon became interspersed with some very up the air New Age claims, even including gaining an association with UFOs and Alien Channelling. To save another three paragraphs, needless to say that Watkins original idea was buried beneath this more popular conception which caught on in wider culture.

Ley – Lines : Shamanic paths and Death Roads

It has not been to relevently recently that the original ‘Ley Line’ theory has been taken more seriously. This has been spurred by finds in other countries which not only shed some interesting light on the original theory, but tie the original to more believable, real lines of psychological and spiritual power.

This revival has been spurred by the discovery of similar constructs in other parts of the world, such as the Americas. Here, straight roads can be found in relative abundance across certain areas of the landscape. Some of these roads are easily seen to be engineered features, with primary ones being 30 feet across. Even when changing direction, these roads do not bend, instead prefering to angle sharply maintain the road as straight as possible.

Several archaeological sites in Mexico contain very old straight road systems. Sometimes, altars exist on these causeways or they seem to lead to other sites of natural significance. Further south, the Maya built long straight roads, called sacbeob or ‘white ways’. These paths interconnect temples, plazaz, and Mayan cities. Now only existing in fragmentary sections. arches, ramps and other curious structures are related to the Sacbeob and according to local Mayan tradition, the physical network of the roads themselves are joined to non material, spiritual routes. Several of these are said to run underground or into the air itself.

When we examine the prevalence of these roads and neolithic artwork  influenced by straight lines across many cultures, it doesn’t take a very large leap of faith to show something is occuring on mental and spiritual level across the human spectrum.  Anthropologist Dobkin de Rios explained that she believed that they derived from entoptic patterning that occurs in the human cortex early in trance states. She explains that she believes these ‘within vision’ images are universal to every human, and adhere to a basic, specific range of constant geometrically shapes – grids, dots, spirals, lines and so on. These basic elements she explains makes up the basis of the vivid geometric patterns associated with psychoactive substances, and heightened trance states and therefore shamanic practice. As the trance gets deeper and intensifies, she explains how they can take on full fledged imagery.

This would result in straight lines, a common entropic pattern in the form of a tunnel constant, becoming associated with spirit flight and ‘crossing the hedge’ to the spirit world. It is unsurprising then that archaelogists have discovered alot of these paths are used as ‘death roads’, which some still today being used for carrying corpses to burial and material used in the construction of tombs and cemetery walls. While the evidence for such practice is more prevalent in new world locations such as Costa Rica, it’s not a large leap of faith to imagine that they were used in this capacity elsewhere. Infact, evidence continues to exist in folklore and spiritual belief for the connection between people and these death roads and other important landmarks.

It is common in areas of Oceanic and Southeast asia for houses to not be built directly infront or behind another house. This is said to be because spirits travel in straight lines, and when corpses are moved from the house for burial they must go straight out of the house.

The native americans have several interesting beliefs on this as well. Buryat tribes people bury their deceased shames in special places in the landscape, so that their spirits can act as a guardian in the afterlife over the location. In this way, they could be said to augmenting the Genius Loci of a place. These shamanic spirits are thought to travel along specified routes, called goidel. They envisage their territory being criss crossed with these invisible tracks along which the spirits of the dead shamans.

In europe, similar invisible spirit lines are thought to occur, with features like fairy passes in Ireland. These link prehistoric earthworks, upon which it was not permitted to build upon. Archaeologically, there are many strange physical linear features. These include the bronze age standing stones in Europe which pass through burial cairns, and have “blockings tones” at their ends. Even older then these are the avenue lines called “cursuses” in Britain which can be seen connecting neolithic burial mounds. In addition, in Britain ancient bog causeways exist constructed from timber – some of these straight tracks have been excavated, showing that at least one of the uses of these tracks was transporting the dead.

The folk beliefs surrounding straight versus crooked is highly interesting, especially when we consider Old Europe. Often spirit traps consisting of webs or nets of material woven over a frame or tangle threads residing in bottles were placed on paths leading to and from cemeteries, houses and at crossroads. These can still be found in use in parts of Europe today, in places such as Bavaria. The logic behind this idead was that since straight lines facilitate the travel of spirits, winding lines or other forms could confuse or perhaps ensnare them, keeping them at bay or confined. There are also some pieces of evidence that suggest that labyrinths of some kind, whether stone or hedge, were employed to similarly confuse, confine, or cause to get lost spirits that inadvertly travelled into them.  The fact that similar elements appear in Feng-shui is highly interesting, showing that this belief was across cultures, bringing us back to our earlier findings.

In such a manner, I believe that some Ley-Lines do indeed serve a function for Spirits and their travelling. In this manner, the Ley-Lines are indeed lines of ‘spiritual energy’, but relate to the spirits and not some nebulous undefined earth energy. I think that ascribing such a blanket description to the Leys does nothing useful, and only serves to take away from their potential use as a spirit road and fails to account for the human element.

In part two, I hope to cover other fields, most importantly earths magnetic field, showing that it is infact several systems that make up the actual matrix of the different types of energy that are part of the body of our planet. I hope to finish by explaining how my own tradition sees it alongside analogues – hopefully this part will less dense and long!

Thank you for reading as always.

The Refusal of Death Within Modern Western Society

Posted in Necromancy, Other, Paganism with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2013 by Sypheara

I recently stumbled across an interesting video on BBC News relating to georgian families visiting graveyards and holding feasts within them for their deceased family members. It was highly interesting, not really for what it said in the actual video but more the presenters reactions and the fact that this video was made as a curiosity piece in the first place.  This thought  got me remembering a topic I’ve givrn alot of consideration in the past, which is really two issues which play off of each other. So I can launch into it, I will link the video below so you can see it for yourselves.

Firstly, I just want to point out that, whilst the georgian families depicted are in fact Orthodox Christian, the practice of going to burial sites and leaving offerings, feasting with the dead, and other similar practices is nothing unique to them. It has been carried out and is carried out in many religions, and I would also contend that, in the majority of Pagan paths both new and old, the same kind of veneration is in some way present.  As such,  I’m using it to highlight modern social attitudes to the subject on a deeper level.

This ‘attitude’ that I mention is none other than the devaluing of death and its place in the world and the wool being drawn down over peoples eyes instead. This has, I would argue, had the impact of making the subject taboo within modern western culture, which has resulted in an overall unhealthy attempt to suppress it despite it  being an unescapable fact of life. In many countries, it would now be impossible to celebrate death as a part of life how the Georgians did above in the video, for the fear of being labelled strange, out of place, or macabre. I attempt to cover why I think this could be the case in this post.

My target is the modern culture we live within, which has seen seen the rise of antispiritual sentiment and suppression on a large scale. This in turn has led to a disconnection between us and our world, and this death aversion I would contend has led to a widespread psychological issue on the cultural level. To explain this, I will cover two approaches to how the universe can be seen. These are linear, cyclic respectively.

Many belief systems, especially Pagan ones, either see existence as being cyclical or incorporate some ideas from this basic concept.  An example of this  which is usually given is the natural cycle of the seasons, which can be seen demonstrated in the modern contemporary interpretation of the wheel of the year. In Wiccan belief, the common narative for the Wheel of the Year is that of the Horned God and Goddess. Horned God is born from the Goddess at Yuletide, comes of puberty at the vernal equinox, impregnates the Goddess at Beltane, reaches his full strength at the summer solstice, ages at Lammas, and  finally, dies and passes  into the underworld at Samhain. The cycle begins again, as he is once again resurrected and reborn at Yuletide to continue the cycle. These narratives and observations are seen to be the microcosm of a macrocosmic truth which asserts that the universe consists entirely of such infinite life cycles, all important to the other in eternal change.

Seen from this perspective,  it explains the approaches surrounding death within such belief systems that hold to this cyclic truth. Death is seen here as a transition not a final end, a metamorphosis of sorts.  Just like one season transitions to another, rather than nonexistence, so to does the person who has died. Whether their destination is the underworld, some form of heavenly afterlife or to be reincarnated, is usually up to the individual belief system. An example of this can be seen in the Norse concept of the Ragnarök, where the world would be destroyed,  and be remade and repopulated. Not even the Gods would be immune to the hand of change in this event, which it was said would cause  several of the major Gods (including Odin and Thor) themselves to die because of it. Even the Christians, inspired by earlier beliefs, still hold that the Earth will be eventually judged, destroyed, and then remade into a new Heaven and Earth.

wheeloftheyear1

In modern contemporary culture,  this is however not the prevailing case, where such interpretations were challenged by the rise of philosophical concepts that arose in the Enlightenment period such as Secular Humanism. A product of the enlightenment age, Secular Humanism is the position that human reason, and philosophical naturalism, are the basis for morality and decision making. Whilst supposedly an essential part of secular humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, it rejects completely the notion that  spirituality is essential to the human experience and that truth can be gleaned from spiritual practice.

Whilst this did have the positive effects of freeing us from the dogma that was enforced under the bootheels of a militant christianity, in the end it would end up evolving into its own ‘naturalist’ dogma  of sorts which has gone on to have a profound impact.

The cyclic model was thus slowly replaced and eroded into a new model, that instead concluded that infact fact reality was a linear construct and not cyclical, progressing along a line with a definite Beginning, and a definite End, without necessarily leading to new creation.  This, coupled with the correspoding rise in antispiritual sentiment led to a repression of the former dissenting world view. With this scale the concept of death and destruction changed,  becoming final instead of part of a cycle. This resulted  in the confrontation with Nothingness and the concept of Eternal oblivion.

Faced with the meaningless of life and the concept of eternal oblivion, the philosophy of Existentialism was born, which posits that an individual is responsible for imposing their meaning onto their own lives in what is essentially, an apparently meaningless, insane and absurd universe. A world that began without cause, and will end without cause, with the only meaning in a  persons life being defined by the individuals themselves.  For many, this position leads to that of Existential Nihilism, where the intrinsic meaning given by an individual is not sufficient to replace the fact that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. It is well summed up by a section of text from “The Specter of the Absurd: Sources and Criticisms of Modern Nihilism” by  Donald A. Crosby. “Strut, fret, and delude ourselves as we may, our lives are of no significance, and it is futile to seek or to affirm meaning where none can be found.”

hourglass

When faced with such a bleak outlook, its not surprising such a taboo regarding death slowly seeped into western culture. No longer was it a  transitory stage, but the extinguishing of a person. It became something to be shunned, something to be not looked at or investigated, in a a way that ironically smacks of  superstitious fear. Don’t talk about it, don’t invoke it. By being out of sight and out of mind, the concept of Eternal Oblivion hangs like a spectre over many today whose only answer to it is that they ‘choose not to think about it’ and shove their heads into the sand in terror. From this, it’s also not surprising to see that in such modern ‘advanced’ cultures that things such as harmful live for the moment  lifestyles,  widespread ecological damage in the name of profit, and a false belief in transcendental technological salvation come about alongside sky rocketing suicide rates, amidst a growing cloud of unrelenting cynicism and depression.

However, Man is not cast adrift into life like a shipwreck survivor onto an island, who can only ‘make do’ with his woeful fate and  stamp his feet in anger and nash his teeth until death claims him. This thought is nothing short of modern psychosis. I hope one day people can see this, and that scenes such as these shown by the BBC from Georgia could occur in my own ‘fair country’ of England’, instead of being seen as some weird, alien ritual that we seem to be incapable of understanding.

I  wish I could express the same desire publicly as they do, I wish others could even approach the subject with seriousness and not disgrace the memory of their dead by forgetting they ever existed.

I’ m not holding my breath.