Archive for Horned God

The Quicksilver of Light and Madness – The Laughing God

Posted in Luciferianism, Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2018 by Sypheara

With Samhain now receding (although that said, a truly cunning witch knows how to make this blessed Sabbat extend for quite a while into November!), I want to make the post I alluded to in earlier entries.

This is a difficult one, to the point that is almost impossible to put to paper. Only those who have invoked Lucifer in high levels of possession will be able to truly understand the content here at an emotional and spiritual level, but it is one I want to try to convey.

Lucifers current is the lifeblood of mans universe, and can be physically experienced inside and outside of ritual in various forms. It can be felt as an electricity permeating the body, and can be raised to extremely euphoric levels by those who have become sufficiently tied to him via theurgic work. A side effect of this bringing closer of this current is that it can start to be Heard. This starts as a simple rhythmic pulsating beat as it animates the flesh lent to us by Belial, which becomes detectable when doing higher level workings. As one becomes more sensitive, one can begin to tune into it on an audible level – where it can be perceived as a persistent high vibrational tone, changing between consonant and dissonant tones constantly, both a chorus and drone lain out over the other.

This current is extremely empowering and life giving. Channelled in and outside of ritual it can be used to create extremely strong circles of power, even outside of any corresponding ritual action. Part of this is alluded to in the entry on the Synchronomicon. It can renew physical and mental exhaustion, and has positive healing effects on the entire body. That said, I want to talk about its counterpoint in the main today. This is where this entry comes into its own, for Lucifer also has a ‘dark side’ – and in no way is this the one that is often presumed and presented by juvenile minds. This is the current which I now detail.

The Laughing Jester (15th Century, artist unknown)

This particular current is overpowering. So strong in fact, that it can push well beyond euphoria into a manic sort of madness, and threatens to overcome all sense and reason when encountered. This is the black solar force that contrasts Lucifers bright side – the sinistral side of the Lord of The City of Pyramids. It would be foolish to think that this force can in anyway be controlled when channelled if it was not moderated in some fashion in it’s flow. Even when allowed to come through in a filtered way within the circle, the mania induced can sometimes threaten to divert or derail the operation being performed, and only experience can allow for the thin line to be rode in this regard to produce the desired theurgic effects.

In this way Lucifer reveals the other side of him that I’ve simply come to call the Laughing God aspect, for lack of a better description.  In this aspect Lucifer becomes the Fool and The Emperor combined, and everything seems to descend into chaos without rhyme or reason – in this aspect the universe of man appears a sheer force of uncontrollable competing will without governance, any concept of ‘good’ or ‘evil’ melts away accompanied with really any objective sense of reality. The vibrational tone mentioned before becomes maddeningly loud, threatening to overcome the self and shatter the mind like a mirror exposed to a sharp blow. This reveals Lucifers destructive and decomposing aspects which rend all structures into their components, returning them to their most base form. This drone at this point becomes almost indistinguishable with the droning of the Great Abyss – not surprising when we consider his relationship to it and one of the highest works of theurgy, the Rite of the Phoenix.

This is the necessary balance inherent in Lucifers divine form, and is the force which prevents stagnation in the great cycle. It is perhaps better if it is not perceived as a dualistic force at all – as I suspect that perception itself results from our unique position as incarnated beings existing primarily within a particular point in spacetime. For example, just as heat gives life but at high temperatures it breaks down bonds of molecules, so does Lucifers energy act on everything. The souls of our universe paradoxically rely on Lucifers energy – for without it they would not be able to exist – but at the same time in this state they are always on the verge of being overcome by the very energy that empowers and grants them the power inherent in divine will. In this form Lucifer becomes the master of the Great Dance of the Sabbat, but it its most wild and unrestrained form. He becomes the Eternal Dance, over which Hecate alone seems to have control and direction, whilst simultaneously being an ever present and active participant herself.

2017 Totality by John Christiansen

The devotee who is able to understand and tap into this power with Lucifers help and channel it successfully (by no means an easy feat) will truly begin to work with this great entity at the level required for the deeper work of this arte. Whilst he is best approached by many through his lighter aspects (in my opinion), facing and assimilating the gnosis of his full nature allows for a transcendent understanding and experience, which takes the great work much further for the individual concerned. It is exactly this innate understanding of his dissolving force which is needed to truly appreciate, understand, and process the nigredo stages of alchemy and survive it successfully.

As stated at the beginning, most of the above is truly impossible to relate with words alone. It must be felt, and experienced, through many repeat occurrences of successful possession work. I hope this small detailing of this aspect gives enough context and contrast with previous posts to help those who are working with him get orientated if nothing more.

From myself and the spirits here, I wish you all a productive dark half of the year as we go towards the winter solstice. May you work be beneficial and fruitful in the nights to come.

Ave Lucifer,
Laughing God!
Lord of Madness!
Master of the Dark and Light of the Sun!

Pour forth thy Poisons of the Highest and Lowest Paths
Dissolving all which stands in Our Way,
We shed ourselves of False Ego,
Like the Sacred Serpent

As we journey this Road Beyond,
We walk In Love and Devotion
Unfailing,
Yearning,
Following,
The Sunset of Amenta
~S~

The Summer Solstice: The Blessing of Lucifer

Posted in The Path of Flames with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 21, 2018 by Sypheara

I would like to simply make a short post to wish everyone a beautiful and productive summer solstice on this wonderful sabbat night.

I have enjoyed it in the traditional sense, spending time with some great friends and enjoying the powerful energies released from our creative endeavours!

Tomorrow is when the main meat of ritual will be conducted, and is something I have to begin truly preparing for! In this work, as mentioned before the whole aim will be the quickening of the world soul and the drawing through of Lucifers solar fire to bring individual and group illumination.

On that note, Id like to simply offer forth two of the calls from the work in honour of Lucifer to share some of this energy with other devotees who walk this path. I don’t pretend these to be works of art, but they are sincere and powerful and I hope they bestow upon the reader at least of fraction of Lucifers solar power and blessing!

The Solar Invocation of Lucifer

‘O Morning Star, hear me!
I invoke thee, Light of my Heart,
The Lord of the Universal Trees of Man,
The Perfect Red King of Sulphur,
O Stellar One!
Phoenix of the Purest Fire!

He who holds in his hands the Light Sun,

Ruler of Life Giving Power fed to the Flesh of the Earth

He who holds in his hands the Black Sun
Master of the Cemetery Rites who shepherds the Mighty Dead!
I pray to you Lucifer, to be present at our hallowed rites of celebration,
Always bestowing your blessings upon your gathered kin!
Now

I ask of you, O Perfect Stellar Flame,
In the name of Hecate,
Supreme Goddess,

In Love and In Honour,

As I walk the Path of the Wise,

Enter now my flesh,
My blood,

My bones,
Witch Kin and God become One!’

The Phoenix Reborn by Tomasz Alen Kopera 

The Drawing Down Of the Suns of Lucifer

‘I CALL DOWN NOW THE SOLAR POWER OF THE KING OF LIGHT
THE LIGHTNING FLASH OF THE LAUGHING GOD
AT THE HEIGHT OF HIS POWER
INTO THE VERY HEART OF BELIAL
AND INTO THE HEARTS OF GATHERED KIN

THE POWER OF THE BLACK SUN

CHANGE BRINGING JEWEL OF DESTRUCTION
COME NOW

CLEAN AND PURIFY US

ALL IS CONSUMED WHICH IMPEDES OUR PATH AND
HARMS OUR EARTH

THE POWER OF THE WHITE SUN

LIFE BRINGING JEWEL OF CREATION
COME NOW

INVIGORATE AND EMPOWER  US

GRANTING STRENGTH AND RENEWED LIFE TO US AND THE BODY OF BELIAL

THE POWER OF THE CRIMSON SUN

PERFECT JEWEL OF THE RED KING OF SULPHUR
COME NOW

LIFT US UP

GRANT TO US THE ACCELERATED EVOLUTION OF THE WORLD SOUL
AND IN SACRED THEURGY
BATHE US IN THE KALAS OF THE SON OF HECATE

THUS IS THE CURRENT SENT FORTH
IN FULL POTENCY
IN LOVE AND IN HONOUR
IN THE NAME OF SHE WHO CAME FIRST

Unknown by Tomasz Alen Kopera 

May the light of Lucifer drive away the lie,

And usher in a new age upon this Earth

Ave Hecate, 
Ave Lucifer,
Ave Belial,
Ave Sepheranz

~S~

Welcoming the Ivory Spider

Posted in Luciferianism, Occultism, Paganism, The Path of Flames, Traditional Witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2015 by Sypheara

The Gateway given by the Gods now stands successfully opened on the physical and spiritual planes. Directed by Belial and Lucifer over three separate rituals across an entire lunar cycle, the formula was given fully and the Stele of the Elemental Guardian and Guide constructed, carved deep into wood, inked in love, and filled with rivulets of blood in devotion.

This would be my first work in the medium of wood. However, even as I prepared the first lines, etching them deep into the surface of a birch end grain block, it became evident that it had been the correct choice. Each chiselled shape seemed to radiate power, the lines dancing across the vision. The process was kept simple. Using a basicc set of chisels, and a hammer, the outline was created and then enlarged to suit the icon given. Once completed, the lines were brought to life with a thin line of artist’s ink, which ran slowly throughout the prepared image.

The first ritual saw the Gate Sigil granted at the Temple Initiation pre-merged with the incredibly powerful Stellar Glyph to form the complete Gate. This symbol was blooded in the name of the Gods, with attention being given to its particular patron, as the work was commenced under the influence of the darkened New Moon.

In sexual magickal communion the Trident were called forth into the Flesh. With the invocational possessive state achieved, Belial took charge, merging with the Self. At the height of Sexual Communion, an explosion of energy up and through the spine and from the Sigil occured, for a split second resulting in the loss of awareness. After recovering, the voice of Belial could be heard, confirming the validity of the formula and the priming of the Gate via blood and bone.With one final act prompted by him, subtle visions of the Gate on the other planes could be seen, its surface now glowing a powerful and radiant silver. Lines of blue and gold energy ran across its surface as it opened slowly to reveal a dark recess through which no light penetrated, confirming the success of this first stage of the work.

Gradually, from the darkness, a sigil danced forth of a moon being split in twain by numerous receding dancing rectangles. This vision, although clear and calm, grew frustrating and maddening as the shapes danced into inconceivably impossible shapes within the mind’s eye. Soon however, as I calmed myself down with Belial and Lucifers aid, a distinct shape came into focus. Of a large, moonlike eye surrounded by astrological symbols in a web like shape. This sigil burned brightly, and Lucifers energy became more intense.

As this experience settled, the initial rite was closed with the Gods thanked for their assistance. Gnosis was given, the Gods indicating that the new granted sigil was to be etched into the other side of the block, and opened in the similar manner to the first on the night of the next Full Moon.

blue-cheese-moon

Blue moon, unknown author

Again calling the Trident forth in ritual, this time Lucifer took a much greater role, elevating his energies to match that of Belials. As the new sigil was blooded, the Lord of Thaumiels energies could be felt, slowly enveloping the self in a strong and powerful energy. In the possessed state, Lucifer made it clear that the sigil was in fact the sigil of the Elemental Guardian. He hinted at its vast power, and mandated it be unlocked in the same manner as the gate of Belial itself, using Belials physically bestown gifts merged with his own current. This was carried out as directed, resulting in the seal brimming with energy, seemingly coming alive to the eyes.Continued sexual meditation saw the gate in bilocation glow with an intense energy, the gate now filled with a strange luminescent light. This energy came in waves, vibrating from low and subtle to high and overwhelming. Similar to the visions in the first ritual, the gate swung open.

From the darkness beyond, a great, white writhing mass thrust forth without delay, a startlingly chthonic emanation contrasting greatly with the stellar current that had been up to that point powerfully delivered through the gate itself. It rapidly grew in size and mass, spilling outwards into the cave area, assembling itself into various forms as it did so.First, it assumed the form of a gigantic, furred white serpent, with piercing amber eyes. This form was not ‘pure’ snake, being also possessed of many writhing centipede like tentacled legs. This form quickly shifted fully into a centipede, and before the senses could even adjust, it had transformed into a gigantic, arachnid like entity. This visage first merged through the guise of a spider, before proceeding to that of a gigantic, pincerless white furred scorpion. Its form settled there, as gigantic, white wings burst forth from its back, yellow eye upon yellow eye covering their surface. These looked not dissimilar from bat wings, but unlike a bat’s, were covered in large, beautiful white feathers. Upon its head the entity bore a large azure crystal inset into its flesh. Beyond this, further along its back, its primary sigil was evidently marked upon its flesh. Like the gate, its entire being let off a startlingly powerful stellar current despite its appearance.

With the being having presented itself, and no warnings or feelings of insidious intent detected by myself or indicated by Lucifer and Belial, it was invited into the physical flesh to take part in the communion. It obliged readily, coming into the form.Even as it did so any clear vision of the cave itself dissolved, instead replaced with images of this beings aura being superimposed over my own form. I began to feel the spine beginning to curve as the energy levels heightened further. Suddenly, without any prior warning, a very intense vision of this entity stabbing one of its appendages deep into my stomach, continuing on up into the ribcage, filled my entire being. My physical, mental and spiritual form contracted reflexively as it deposited something within the soul body, and I began to thrash violently. This lasted for several, tense seconds, resulting in a total loss of bodily control. The pain suddenly ceased, and the presence of the entity was replaced by that of Belial, stepping in to moderate the flow of energy from the contact.

hello_cthulhu__shoggoth_by_ensoul_invert

An inverted version of Ensouls Illustration (linked) depicts an entity similar to the Ivory Spider

At this point my awareness shifted back towards my physical form, and I could hear my own voice now, repeating an unknown mantra. A repeating pattern of four distinct words that seemed to resonate with the same pattern of the encountered entity. The entities presence could still be felt subtlety, and it began to communicate, first in images and then by voice. It confirmed the mantra was its words of power, and identified itself primarily with one of them, the final one, as its name. It referred to itself by a title, ‘The Ivory Spider’, and related its task as a Primary Guide, Protector and Pathfinder on the road to Middle Road Ascension, revealing stellar gnosis for assimilating both sides of the tree.

The second ritual was closed as the first. Over the proceeding two weeks further gnosis and communication was had with the entity outside of any active ritual workings. This consisted of contact not just with the entity but information released via the injected venoms themselves. Flashes and sigils depicting this process were released clearly to the conscious mind. The venoms could be seen congealing around the soul, wrapping around and infusing deep into its makeup.

A third ritual to settle the process was requested via the entity. To fully create the finished gate, the entity instructed that the four words of power, including the word of its primary name, were to be written around the edge of the block in a widdershins fashion in the Theban alphabet, each word being blooded individually and invoked from within the constructed circle. From this, as communion was taken at the level of the flesh, the Ivory Spider disclosed more.

Initially this was knowledge pertaining to the middle pillar, and the uniting of both life and death on a Stellar Path of Ascent. The entity made clear the extent of neglect of the Paths of the Stars by Man in the current age, detailing how now few travel or attempt to earth Stellar Currents, compared to ages in our past that could be considered relatively recent. The entity described itself as a pathfinder and guide along these pathways, describing how it also maintains and spins new connections.

Of most importance, the entity gave advice to finish existing, grounding works, before work with Belial and Lucifer himself should be undertaken, under Hecate and its own watchful eye, to initiate the beginnings of these powerful soul transmutative rites.

The entity was not only supportive, but confirmed planned work with granting the primary familiar a body was of importance; The entity heavily indicated that this will be of great importance in providing a physical grounding, assisting greatly in the forthcoming rites which channel these stellar currents. It is to be noted here the importance of a physical anchoring point. This fact is one that is often overlooked, even though it is of utmost importance to the work. Their successful construction is one that becomes mirrored through every realm when worked correctly. The entity in its own words was adamant that the ‘triad’ of the gateway stele, as well as both familiars was complete before any further work commenced on the path to ensure correct balance in the self. Whether integral to the work itself or simply a personal step needing completed before the new path is walked was not disclosed.

With discourse and communion finished, the entity withdrew, and the completed Stele of the Ascending Gateway of Belial and Lucifer was wrapped in black silk, tied with red cord, and placed into the guarding and waiting hands of the empowered doll familiar.

scorpionScorpion, unknown author

It is at this point an honest word must be said. These works will be powerful, and due to their innate nature, contain sensitive information and not everything can be disclosed immediately onto the blog. As such what can be shared will need to be limited until this part of the path is walked to its conclusion, the gnosis assimilated, and the Watchers give license for it to be disclosed in detail.

As always however, as much as can be shared openly will be made available via the blog, so the path can be illustrated as a guide to others.

In Nomine Hecate,

~S~

Belated: Happy Imbolc

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

800px-Imbolc_Festival_February_3rd_2007

Imbolc celebration in Marsden

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

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

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

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

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

~S~

Review and Summary: Apocalyptic Witchcraft – Part Two

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

Continuing on

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

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

A Spell To Awaken England

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

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

ted-hughes

Renowned Poet and Author Ted Hughes

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

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

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

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

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

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

TheThoughtFox

The Thought Fox by Ingrid-Karlsson-Kemp

The Scaffold of Lightning

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

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

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

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

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

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

He comments on this with the following:

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

great_he-goat

The Great He-Goat by Franciso Goya

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fall of Lucifer by Gustave Doré 

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

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

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

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

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

The Children That Are Hidden Away

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

The opening paragraph sets up the chapter fittingly:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Gheyn_Sabbat

Sabbat et cuisine de sorcière by Jacques de Gheyn

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

A Wolf Sent Forth to Snatch Away a Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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~

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.