Archive for the Traditional Witchcraft Category

Samhain Ritual Write-Up: The Dead Supper

Posted in Divination, Heathenry, Necromancy, Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2014 by Sypheara

With November fast disappearing, I have finally been able to complete the writeup for the PDF version of the Rite that was undertaken this Samhain. It was a powerful one,  that both me and my friend, Kagekabuki, put together for a local pagan group.

Rather than wax and wane on, I will instead let the introduction I have written for it describe the rite fully. The download link can be found in resources as well as below:

Samhain – The Dead Supper

This ritual is written for performance on the night of Samhain, and is a variant on the traditional dead supper ritual carried out by many groups and covens. It was first performed on Samhain night in 2014, where it was successful in evoking the gods and the mighty dead, as well as directing the participants downwards to experience the celebrations being held within the underworld. 

The the main focus of this ritual falls heavily on the hallowed dead, of peoples spiritual lineage, and requires an active involvement by participants to connect to these spirits. The ritual requires two leaders, ideally one male and one female. The presiding Gods of the ritual that will be invoked are Hecate/Lucifer, and Woden/Hel, with the Path of Flames being the route the powers are accessed.

Although the crossroads where The Path of Flames cross with Germanic Paganism may be obscured, it is a syncretic bond that arose out of the combination of two lines of practice, that was divined to be acceptable / encouraged by the Gods in question themselves. People who are interested in running this ritual are encouraged to carry out a divination of their own to detect/perceive this relationship to settle their minds if they find it a concern.

The ritual itself makes use of the usual circle, invocation and building of the energies, followed by a ritualistic descent to the underworld, a dead supper and possibly a guided meditation. The guided meditation aspect must be worked / recorded by the leaders of the ritual before its carried out in ideally a joint working, on the 30th of October, the night before it is to be performed.’

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An example of the main altar used for this rite from Samhain 2014

As mentioned in the PDF, I’d like to thank the people who took part, as well as Kagekabuki for helping me get everything together and running the ritual alongside me. Please take a moment to visit her blog, which is unfortunately in that place we do not name.. Tumblr!

http://the-wyrd-wanderer.tumblr.com/

In other news, I will be spending the next month or so on personal workings with the new doll i received, to empower it as to become my secondary familiar. I hope to detail this, as well as provide images before the empowering ritual has been performed.

The spirit residing within it has already offered its sigil, so the process should be an intimate and rewarding one. The body for the primary familiar is finally on its way.

Thank you for reading, I hope everyone had an enjoyable Samhain, and I look forward to the Winter solstice!

~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

samhaindeathmaster

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~

 

Basic Altars and an Update on Publication

Posted in Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2014 by Sypheara

With August falling off the edge without a solid entry, due to work and endless sword seminars, I thought it would be a good idea to get  around posting something i’ve been meaning to get around to for awhile.

First off however, I would just like to state that I received a reply from the editor of the anthology I submitted an entry to, and he has confirmed that my article has been selected for publication! As such, hopefully once i’ve seen it in its final form and cleared it, I will be able to link and recommend the finished product, as I will be unable to share the article publicly until one year after publication in print. It is really encouraging to get something possibly published, and might mean an easier job in getting any further works into print in the future.

The topic of this post however will be altars, specifically, mine in regards to Hecate and the other witch gods. I often get asked about my altar set up, and usually the answer has been pretty simple: It is basically an amalgamation of everything that I have come across, have made, or otherwise possesses some occult virtue alongside offerings to the Gods.

It must be said before I go any further that this post, in regards to my own altar, is going to be picture light. I will be illustrating my post where possible with existing pictures of Hecatian altars that belong to others that are publicly available on the internet. I myself do not agree with taking pictures of a space that is for personal use in regards to communing with the Gods. As a sacred space, I feel it should be kept private, and viewed only by ideally oneself, other practitioners, and very close family members at the most.

This is my own personal taboo, but interestingly, both Mark and several other practitioners I talk to have mentioned this to me only recently as either a warning that this shouldn’t be done or that they personally also don’t share pictures of their own altars. I respect and understand why others feel differently however, even if I don’t necessarily agree, and they do serve an educational purpose to those who wish to construct their own.

 

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Altar of Hecate by Zingaia 

Without further ado then. Altars can be small or large, simple or complex, or anything inbetween. My own altars for the last few years have served primarily as a stop gap – somewhere I can practice and give offerings, as a practical space, with the hopes of in the future creating a more empowered altar that would serve as the ideal replacement. Due to the fact I had no permanent residence, or would often have little to no privacy for occult work whilst watched over by religious types that disagree with my practices, these have been small, compact, and easy to relatively easily deconstruct. These are the ones that I now will detail.

The altar itself is a small, round circular table upon which is laid a very basic red altar cloth. This is more for practical reasons than anything else, due to the amount of incense I burn and the capacity of things to spill. This is about one metre high from the ground, so a relatively low table.

The most important part of my altar, arguably, are the central fetishes. These are the objects that in the main, help channel Hecate and  the other Witch Gods. The main two are talismanic – that is, in some manner constructed by myself to be suitable for their purpose. There is a statue of a dragon with an inset green geode, that has been consecrated and empowered to act as a central focal point. Alongside this, is my spirit box which I have detailed the construction of elsewhere on this blog. This box acts as an even arguably stronger link that the main statue, and links the altar to the Witch Gods to which it was created as well as the mighty dead, with Hecate being prime and first.

The box itself sets upon a sigil of the three crossed staves, and the the geode of the dragon often contains small pieces of paper with prayers, requests, questions written on them and folded up into the crevice so they can be charged. Once an answer is given, these are burned in the open air with thanks and libation.

Alongside these two talismanic objects are things i have just seemingly ‘acquired’, based on intuitive judgement, If you keep your own altar, and work with the spirits, you’ll understand what I mean by this. Sometimes you are just compelled t acquire a certain object for its use upon the altar, some internal ‘voice’ tells you it is required or desired.

These central fetishes are supported by a ring of 36 brass skeleton keys, all of which have again been consecrated and arranged around the box. These help strengthen the links further to Hecate and her Key Bearing /Master of Locks and Doorway  aspects, and I intend to use them in important workings in the future.

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Altar of Hecate by an Unknown Practitioner

Alongside these objects, are several others i have just seemingly acquired. Working with an altar dedicated to the spirits seems to attract all sorts of associated objects over time. A non exhaustive list would be the following:

+A salt dried piece of driftwood that acts as a wand, given by the sea in return for my first pentacle, which i lost upon being gifted the branch. It compelled me to take it, and it has acted as my primary tool since acquiring it. It will be further enhanced and worked with in the future, but it gives off an energy which means I feel like I have little to do to it.

+3 stones, 1 quarts, 1 feldspar, and 1 moonstone. These act as further enhancers, and have been placed around the box alongside the keys.

+1 large tree seed of unknown origin. Placed as above.

+1 piece of grave stone, bought from the spirits at and collected from the local graveyard.

+1 glass encased spider corpse, due to my affinity with the creatures on a spiritual level.

+1 dagger, that came into my possession and consecrated, that is used in a multifaceted manner.

+ Several bits of red string left over from the box consecration ritual

On top of these, the practical tools for giving offerings and the offerings itself exist upon the table as follows:

+2  incense burners, one large, one small.

+3 candle holders, sitting atop the three main sigils of the witchgods.

+3 Glass bottles contain a water and pepper mixture corked.

+1 mug containing a suitable libation, usually black coffee or some form of alcohol

+1 glass jar, containing a mix of water, pepper, and numerous essentials oils that are mixed in with it (usually patchouli + others) used to feed tools and the box and as an offering in itself.

+1 ash holder, for containing all the burnt ashes, as they can be used for a multitude of purposes.

Working with this altar is very simple – every week the ingredients are changed on a Monday, and any libations are poured away around the thresholds of the doors in entrance to the house. This fortifies the protective shield around my own home, and feeds the genius loci. Any left over solid offerings that may have been given in addition to the above are taken to the nearby graveyard or a wooded area of seclusion and left there.

I ensure that my altar is kept private, and when necessary, it is quickly dismantled with each object being carefully and respectfully packaged away until the interference subsides and it can be rebuilt.

Things are added to the altar on an intuitive basis, either due to containing there own natural power or added as part of a talismanic construction on my own part.

By adding and growing and interacting with our altars, we work closely with the Gods and Spirits, creating a personal space of connection between us and them. Hopefully this post has illuminated my basic setup. Going forward, I hope to construct a much better, more permanent altar which I will detail the creation of and share if possible in the form of a document.

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Outside Altar by Unknown Practitioner

Thanks again for reading, and I look forward to the next post. Soon, Samhain!!!

Ave Hecate!

~S~

Ritual Write-Up: Spirit Box Creation

Posted in Luciferianism, Necromancy, Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2014 by Sypheara

After a long and hard write-up, the Spirit Box Creation PDF is finally complete, and now available in the resources section! Although seemingly taking forever, I can honestly say that I am very pleased with the results. Writing in-depth with others in mind, deciding what is appropriate and not to include, in such a document is a far call from writing up it my own journal!

What spurred me to write the document is the powerful amount of information gained through it’s construction by the spirits contacted through it. Made to help give me a more concrete, physical link to the mighty dead, the spirit box which resulted from this process has gone on to be an invaluable tool, and has pride of place on my personal altar whenever possible. As such, for those who feel comfortable, want to attempt it, and feel ready to do so, I can say I have learned and gained a lot from it, and it is worth an attempt if you feel drawn to it.

Clocking in at around 20 odd A4 pages, it must be said that this is definitely NOT the lightest of documents I have ever produced. However,  it contains pretty much every aspect of the ritual I used to empowering my spirit box. Details on method and ingredients are all listed, along with relevant sigils, and the file also contains images. These I took at relevant and appropriate times during the ritual before the box was ensouled and the invocations began.

Without further ado, the quick link is below:

Spirit Box Creation

Lastly, I would like to thank those who have read over my work and have given their feedback to it. It is much appreciated that people would be interested and give their time to look over it for me. I’d also especially like to thank Mark Alan Smith, who has gracefully given permission for several of the sigils revealed and channeled through his work with Hecate and subsequently published in the Queen of Hell to be used in this document. 

Thank you for reading as always,

~S~

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On Reflection: Witchnames

Posted in Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , on November 24, 2013 by Sypheara

The idea or concept of a Witchname has never been an appealing to me. However, recent events have forced me to re-evaluate my take on it, and I thought it would make for an interesting, small post. A quick and to the point explanation for those who have not come across the concept:  A witchname is a name taken or given by a witch to describe their magickal self identity.

You can come across such a concept in in multiple places, and I was introduced myself to it through reading different source materials.  It is often approached in several, widely differing ways across traditions, which vastly alters the meaning and reasons behind having having one. Again, to keep it short, I will describe both extremes of the spectrum, although it is to be reminded that most traditions and schools fall somewhere in between these two examples.

At the most extreme, a witchname is said to be the literal, true magickal name of the practioner.  To know somethings true name, is said to have complete control over it, and examples of this type of approach can be found in several older  demonological  texts and other even older sources which predate industrial society. This is said to be a self awakening experience, said to give control over your own self in a much greater, more concious way, and be a secret to hold exceptionally guarded. A witchname is in this sense supposed to  be given or otherwise discovered, and is not self given as its a property belonging to said practitioner beyond their control.

AstarothSigil

The Sigil of Astaroth. Sigils can also be seen as a form of true name in symbolic form.

At the most open, and at the opposite extreme, is where the witchname is self given, and acts as a simple pseudonym. This pseudonym is adopted often for many various reasons, usually to separate or abstract the persons magickal identity or activities away from their regular everyday self. This is said to elevate the magickal side of a person, whilst helping them separate from the mundane when carrying out workings so that they can be more effective. Often, this name is used for all activities, is not kept secret, and is often used in a public space. This can be seen in many online communities, where users often use their witchname, in this sense, as also their viewable username.

Although knowing of it, I have never been one for the concept of the witchname. Although holding some sympathy with the first concept, and believing it is technically possible, I have always regarded witchnames with suspicion. This has come from meeting other practitioners who are very vocal about their witchnames. Many of these people have left me with the impression that such a name was only adopted to fuel the ego – not due to some internal discovery, spirit or god given gift, or for practical application.  Also, from a personal standpoint, I feel no need to outside of ritual to dramatise my belief, believing that this can often do great harm to the path by making it seem frivolous or pure self indulgence.

As such, the whole concept was although not forgotten, certainly not dwelt upon. After finishing my second journal, I was at a loss at how to start the other despite having plenty to actually write up. How would i begin? Locked in this thought pattern for several weeks, I finally had a break through of a sorts. On the night of the Frosty Moon, I was wide awake for the majority of the night time, unable to sleep in any way. Thus annoyed, I continued to try and sleep with little success, until I eventually passed out for a duration of perhaps 40 minutes sometime very late on in the morning as the sun was almost risen.

themightydead

The Mighty Dead, artist unknown

I immediately found myself in a powerful dream, in which I was sucked through and into the spirit box I had constructed for Samhain. I followed this dark tunnel for awhile and found myself standing in a clearing amidst a dark wood, with a pale, sickly blue sky.  In the centre, I could see a figure tied to a stone table that was inclined at a 45 degree angle. Looking closer, I could see that this figure was infact myself, or a form of myself that I often use whilst travelling. Briefly described this form is faun like with notable differences. It possesses horns similar to a gazelles, and large wings that are feathered, but bat like.  Its skin is ivory white, contrasting against the black shadowlike fur and black veins and markings. This was the first time me seeing this body from an outside perspective, and I could see the serpent like eyes vacant –  open, with the colours shifting within them dulled. I moved towards the shell and began to step into it, merging my form with it. Once this weird, but not unfamiliar process was mostly complete, I could see from my new eyes. Removing the bounds of the form that kept it tied to the table, I tried to move off. 

Immediately, I could feel a cool rush of wind and black forms rose up from the base of the pedestal, with a hissing. These forms assumed the forms of shadow like figures, in the main appearing as vaguely female in shape. They surrounded me, touching me across the flesh, being at the same time warm and ice cold, leaving temporary marks across the flesh. Repeatedly, they whispered a name repeatedly into my ear. The word was clear and distinct, penetrating my being as it was spoken. This got louder, and more intense, with several of the forms passing in and through my own body. I was overcome with a feeling that they were calling to me, with a name that refered to me that I had never encountered. This persisted for what seemed like at least ten to fifteen minutes, before they grew quiet, their forms dissolved, and they sank back into the ground.

shadowwoman

Shadow Person, artist unknown

With this, I attempted to stand from my stone support but felt incredibly drained, and fell to the ground. The impact startled me into actually waking back into normal awareness with a large jump.  Analysing this experiment in context, much of my previous assumptions, perhaps unfair ones in light of this event, have been removed.

Having my own experience of what I believe to be the Mighty Dead speak to me what is effectively a kind of witchname has made me look upon the concept with renewed interest and as an avenue for future exploration. The inspiration from this experience cleared my ‘writers’ block, and I plan to make use of the revealed name in future magickal work starting with the beginning of my new journal.

Recommended Reading: Modern Whitewashing

Posted in Other, Paganism, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , on November 12, 2013 by Sypheara

The watering down, the ‘cleansing’ from Modern Paganism of it’s more ‘unsavory’qualities  has always bothered me. When I began my path, it was an arduous journey to find information which seemed concrete, amidst the apologetic titles which were aimed at ‘white witches’.

These information sources never seemed to relate to my personal path at all – nothing I read in them, when compared to the dreamspaces I had traveled to and the spirits I had talked to seemed to ‘fit’ in any sense. Their  portrayal of a nature or reality without its savage, dark and cruel side seemed to me to be more than simply misrepresentation.  A lie perhaps,  meant to make the content more palatable to sell more books. I feel that these false divisions, which exist purely to satisfy ourselves and our egos, do not help a modern witchcraft in any form. Denying any side(‘light’/’dark’, ‘good’/’evil’ or life and death) is simply self limitation and promotes a dangerous withholding and disarming orthodoxy.

Thankfully, it seems many others share this viewpoint, especially with publications such as Apocalyptic Witchcraft finally being produced. I was recently linked a blog post by a good friend of mine which goes into this on a much deeper level, and I share many sentiments with the person who posted it.

Despite being overly busy, I thought it was far too good to not share.  As such I will post it as it is and let it speak for itself.

http://www.blyssfulwitch.com/the-whitewashing-of-witchery-in-american-neo-paganism-the-taming-of-the-witch/

I hope you all enjoy it, discussion welcomed as always.

~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’

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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.

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’.

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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.

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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.

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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~

Review and Summary: Apocalyptic Witchcraft – Part One

Posted in Occultism, Paganism, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , on September 19, 2013 by Sypheara

Introduction

So at last I finally have managed to get  around to working on and completing this entry. This is going to be a large one, revolving around a new work released through Scarlet Imprint, known as Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Written by Peter Grey, I believe that this book is another important milestone within the world of Occult Publishing and Witchcraft in general. For those who are already on the fence and have some inkling as to what this book relates to, my whole recommendation and this post can be summarised quickly and simply: it’s an important work, if you are the least bit interested, order a copy at the next available opportunity. For those who have yet to be introduced to this work, and know very little about Scarlet Imprint, hopefully this will be an informative post.

The Publisher and Build / Aesthetic Quality

Founded in 2007, Scarlet Imprint was originally created in order for Peter Grey to self publish his work, The Red Goddess. Since then, alongside several other Occult publishers, Scarlet Imprint has gone on to contribute massively to the growth of the Occult publishing scene releasing many works by a diverse range of authors. These works cover a large section of differing paths, and alongside Ixaxaar, has become for me one of my primary sources for new texts.

Upon seeing that Peter Grey was releasing a new book authored entirely by himself, and having not had the pleasure of yet reading The Red Goddess, I made it a mission of my mine to acquire a copy of Apocalyptic Witchcraft.  The edition I went for was the standard hardback edition – my usual compromise between quality and cost when it comes to purchasing Occult books.  Called the Of The Doves edition, this book as described on the site,  is an octavo book of 200pp, that has been bound in rough black linen cloth. A picture of both the side version and my own can be seen below.

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Picture from the Scarlet Imprint Website showing the Of The Doves edition.

From first glance, the book looks very striking both inside and outside of its dust jacket. As the website states, the Doves are a symbol that is highly important within the work itself and the meaning of them is brought forward in the text. Although not in the same league as the talismanic and consecrated magical books I own, it does seem to still to exude a power of its own that really does invite it to be read, and understood. As with all other Scarlet Imprint books I own, I can therefore say it appears to me to be of high quality in its construction. The paper used feels thick and good quality, and appears to be well bound as well.  It feels weighty, and robust, and like it could survive in my often perused collection for quite some time.

Several images of the exterior and interior follow. Unfortunately, all I have got to really take images is my phone camera, and the results vary widely. I have trouble getting it to focus sometimes even with setting changes. Hopefully these will be sufficient to illustrate the above point.

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Exterior shot of book in it’s dust cover.

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Shot of the interior of the book, displaying the title page and the end papers.

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A shot showing the rear and spine of the book.

With the pictures of the exterior and interior out the way, I wish to move onto the contents of the book itself. Here I intend to summarise each section and also add what I took from each part of the book.

Exordium

Firstly, the book opens with a small prefacing chapter called Exordium. An Exordium is a a beginning or introductory part, especially of a speech or treatise, designed to put the reader in a favourable state of mind before reading the main text. The Exordium in Apocalyptic Witchcraft does this excellently, and summarising it here will I think give the reader a good overall impression of its content and what the author is trying to cover/convey.

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Interior shot showing the hand numbering of my copy.

The Exordium opens with a clear statement declaring the books radical approach. From its own pages, it loudly declares that it ‘is a book which dares to prophesy’ and that it ‘is a perilous book, and one which does not aim to please’. It also states that its goal is to presents a view on ‘witchcraft for those who know that the wheel of the year has broken from the spokes of the seasons’. The Exordium tempers this stark opening two paragraphs with the following, ‘It does not ask for belief, adherence or followers. …. it simply asks that you listen’.

This section is followed up by a clear and precise mission statement. In the authors own words, ‘This is a naked proposition put before you; to read again meaning to all these things [witchcraft]. To ask, what is it that underlies the pattern of our magic? What is the essence of Witchcraft itself?’.

With the mission and feel of the book made aware to the reader, the author then goes on to describe the language the book will use to describe its concepts. ‘Neither is this an easy book, though the ideas are simply enough, and they need to be expression in the language of magic, as poetry ….. If i have taken liberties with ideas, then the mistakes are mine. If my writing is more ragged on the wing that writers who precede me, I answer that it can still fly. If this work is needful of more time, I confess it is a luxury none of us possess. My wish is that readers find new avenues of inspiration from these sources and enrich their practice with them. Time is of the essence now’.

The Exordium does a great job of introducing us to the topic the author wants to break open and display the guts of – that Witchcraft and Paganism must grow into something new and radical, with a renewed spirit, to become something that is highly relevent for the modern, apocalyptic age in which we live within. Peter Greys passion and use of imagery to bring a point home is illustrated in this section before we even get to the main text, and begin consuming the main body of his work.

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The entire book is written in a poetic like prose that helps to convey the meaning far better than dry text. Interspersed between the chapters, poems like these help reinforce each prose section and help one chapter blend well into the next.

Main Chapters

With the Exordium over with the book launches into the meat of the topics at hand in the following chapters. There are 10 chapters in total, each covering a specific topic. These build one from the other, and as the author states in the Exordium, are best followed in order to be fully understood.

Apocalyptic Witchcraft

A  Manifesto of Apocalyptic Witchcraft

She is Without

The Cup, The Cross, and the Cave

A Spell To Awaken England

The Scaffold of Lightning

The Children That Are Hidden Away

A Wolf Sent Forth to Snatch Away a Lamb

Fifteen

Hic Rhodus, Hic Salta!

With the chapters listed, I’ll now try and attempt to summarise them in a basic form along with comments.

Apocalyptic Witchcraft

In this opening chapter, the author launches into full flow. In this chapter, the groundwork foundations fo the entire book is lain. The author points out several important points in this chapter, that run throught he rest of the work. For example, he describes in poetic fashion the force of Babalon, and goes on to point out how Witchcraft is rooted in in the land, and the web of life. He goes onto further elaborate the reason for the books antagonistic tone – that he is opposed to how witchcraft is seen and used as an excuse to retreat into seclusion within the practioners own mind.

Following on from the beginning of the chapter, he asserts that witchcraft is rooted in the the world as it is, and as radical changes cascade through our world, our traditions must by necessity also change. He goes on to point out that in witchcraft and paganism is not only tradition, but by necessity innovation, becoming and necessary revolution.

From this, he argues that due to Witchcraft  being a tradition of renewal, coupled with the dying age in which we live, by necessity it must rise to confront the new challenges presented to it and take on new, renewed form. As the author says quite poetically, ‘ World’s end is not a threat from the pulpit, we have assembled it with dextrous and sinistrous fingers, bunkered our oblivion for the days of the final division of plunder now at hand. We will not follow the smoke to the stars until we are burned on the pyre of the earth. Love is the war to end all wars, and the war is upon us’.

This section really hammers this point home. That through breaking from nature, all humankind, including ourselves, are complicit in the conditions which assail our environment and the real physical world in modern times. This is an important point the author makes. Not only is it the big multinational corporations, corrupt governments, and greed driven cultures but also each individual that wittingly or unwittingly, has contributed to the problem.

From this position, the author goes on to define witchcraft how he sees it. He paints a unified, undiluted picture devoid of any attachment to a particular form, holding back from ascribing to his arguements any sense of orthodoxy. ‘You will find witchcraft at the end of a pointed finger…. To prettify witchcraft is as ill-judged as to disfigure it. You cannot deny the Goddess in any form of cast lantern light or play of shadows. You cannot say white witchcraft or black witchcraft without doing violence to Her complete being. It is time we heal this wound. Consider the words of the Thunder Perfect Mind: I am the Whore and the Holy One’.

He then asks the question as to why modern paganism  and witchcraft has thus far been insufficient to deal with the problems facing us and confront our enemies. He goes on to identify ‘modern’ paganism as witchcraft as beginning primarily as a compromise with the repeal of the witchcraft laws, and the careful experimentation that arose from this. He argues that current teachings that hold witchcraft to be practiced in a harmless or watered down fashion need forgetting, and instead a more proactive way forward should be sought. In his own words, ‘ I say that the power of the witch is in having every option open. Witchcraft will not lie beneath, will not be disarmed… Witchcraft, and by that I mean malefica, is the strong face we should show to this world. This is a merciless path…. [Example of the the solonaceae is given] enable us to fight poison with poison. There  is no way to separate the powers, and no way we should be cleaved from our rights to exercise either’.

He then goes on to caution however, against infighting within the Pagan and Witch community. He wants against horizontal hostility between people who fundamentally, hold similar values and belief systems no matter their mythic underpinning. He stresses this is additionally important in an age where a united witchcraft and paganism on some level will be necessary to survive, and that instead, Witchcraft and Pagansim should collective grow and adapt into a force for change and effectiveness.

As an opening chapter, I feel this does a good job of introducing the reader to the text, as long as its followed in a logical manner.

‘It’s all blood and roses from here  on in.  As witches, we should prepare to fly on the wings of the storm’.

A  Manifesto of Apocalyptic Witchcraft

This chapter is the shortest of the entire book, however arguably the most important for the author to lay bare his intentions, motives, and views. This is done in bullet point form, the author specifically deciding to cover thirty three points.  The author keeps these succinct, and they help illustrate and clarify the points the author first covers in the Exordium and First Chapter. Several extracts follow that I hope illustrate this.

‘1: If the land is poisoned, then witchcraft must respond’

‘2: It is not our way if life, it is life itself which is under threat’

’16: There is one Witchcraft under many names. There is one Grand Sabbat on One Mountain.
 There are many ways to fly.
 There is no witness present at the Sabbat’

’33: Witchcraft is present, it is ensanguined and vivified. Witchcraft is prescient, it gazes on the future.
 Witchcraft is oracular, it will not hold its tongue.

This section ends thus quite powerfully, after having delivered to the reader the undiluted essence of the books message. Its effect is amplified, coming after the first chapter, and is thus well framed by it and sets the reader up for the following chapters.

She is Without

Arguably the chapter with the potential to be the most confusing of the book, She is Without is dedicated to the author and his partners visit to the Cave of the Apocalypse, where John was said to have received his visions which would later go on to become the Revelation of the Bible. It is written in a dreamlike, poetic fashion, which really captures the thought processes of the author in his search for understanding on the Isle of Patmos.

She Is Without paints a picture of John as a tortured figure, heading deep into the cave tortured by images and hate for the world. This is described with cold, baleful imagery which paints the cave as a reclusive chamber of death. This is joined with similar description of the industrialisation around the island, and the other pilgrims who have arrived to also visit the cave for themselves. This is starkly contrasted with imagery and descriptions of the island itself, which is vibrant, alive, and flowing instead of being stagnant:

‘The Island never finds him. Marigolds, poppy reds, proud purples open in a Spring which cannot unfurl in the cave. He [John] feeds on bitter herbs, not honey. A Hades grown so hateful that the Persephone he drags down with him remains chaste, spat at with curse…. No Petals will open to the sun, unless tortured Christ returns to blight and blame. Ishtar is split into Maria and Whore, and the wound is opened’

Although short, the chapter is powerful and can be difficult to follow and interpret, especially on first reading. However, as we will see, it is closely paired with the next, and sets it up in a profound way to deliver an important message, a method which the author uses throughout the text.

The Cup, The Cross, and the Cave

In this chapter, the seeds sown in She Is Without bear fruit, as the author moves on to discussing the important of dream, dream incubation, and most importantly, the healing dream. The chapter opens by clearly stating a metaphor for purpose of arguement – that of an assault on dreaming and the meaning of dreams has been carried out, and that needs to be addressed and fixed to rediscover the power of dream. This is best summed up by the following quote:

‘The decisive action here is the one embarked upon by John of Patmos, another exile bound to a far flung isle. His was a deliberate action which set out not merely to loose chimeras in the garden of the mind, but to bar the games of dream itself. So this is where we decant our vitriol and dissolve the locks that John applied, which State and Church imposed.’

From this this point the author launches into discussion. He goes into discussing the healing dream – ie, the door that opens up the shamanic pathways between the Witch/Shaman and the Goddess/Higher Power, and how this is profoundly changing. He goes on to ascribe Johns bitter Revelation text as the rejection of his own healing dream, due to when presented with seeing the both aspects of human nature, falls into the trap of dualism and rejects half of himself. From this point on, the chapter goes on to discuss how dreams in the present have been branded, corporatised and polluted like the world around us, and goes on to say how dream has been hammered away in our culture away from a mythic importance to being seen as an irrelevence

This chapter was particularly important to me and resonated, due to my own dream experiences I have related in the about section and intend to do a post on at some time or another.  I could identify with the healing dream, and see the experience reflected in his writing of another that had undergone a similar experience, and was startled to see it reflected in this section.  This chapter is essential reading, and really helps make sense of the preceding one.

johnapocalypse

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Viktor Vasnetsov

End of Part One

On this note, I’d like to end the first post. This is in the main due to its length, I’d love to be able to cut it down as promised into two more readable parts.  Hopefully this has been a good first half and has sufficed as a good introduction to the book and its contents so far. In the next section, I will continue summarising the chapters to the best of my ability and commenting on them. These chapters delve much deeper into the what the author believes is the  underpinning of witchcraft and pagan belief, and how it can be channelled. I will then finish up with a conclusion and a final verdict.

Thanks again for reading,

~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.