Sunday, December 4, 2011

Faces of the Holly King

Janicot, Woden, Odin, Gwyn ap Nudd, Arawn, Iuan, Krampus, Hod, Hob, Basajaun, Lucibello, Iu-Hu, Old Nick, Misrule, Pan, Baphomet, Scratch, Puck, Buccos

Station of the Wheel
Northwest, Yule, December, Glass Castle, Cold Moon

Goat, Holly, Wren

Glass Orb, Druid's Egg or Glain y Nidir

The Holly King is a speculative archetype of modern studies of folklore and mythology which has been popularized in some Neopagan religions. In his book The White Goddess, the author Robert Graves proposed that the mythological figure of the Holly King represents one half of the year, while the other is personified by his counterpart/adversary the Oak King: the two battle endlessly as the seasons turn. At Midsummer the Oak King is at the height of his strength, while the Holly King is at his weakest. The Holly King begins to regain his power, and at the Autumn Equinox, the tables finally turn in the Holly King's favor; he later vanquishes the Oak King at Yule. Graves identified a number of paired hero-figures which he believes are variants of this myth, including Lleu Llaw Gyffes and Gronw Pebr, Gwyn and Gwythr, Lugh and Balor, Balan and Balin, Gawain and the Green Knight, the robin and the wren, and even Jesus and John the Baptist.

Wōđanaz or *Wōđinaz is the reconstructed Proto-Germanic name of a god of Germanic paganism. Woden probably rose to prominence during the Migration period, gradually displacing Tyr as the head of the pantheon in West and North Germanic cultures.

Testimonies of the god are scattered over a wide range, both temporally and geographically. More than a millennium separates the earliest Roman accounts and archaeological evidence from the 1st century from the Odin of the Edda and later medieval folklore.

The name of Woden is connected to a Germanic root *wōd-, preserved in Gothic wôd- "possessed" and Old High German wuot "rage". Old English had the noun wōþ "song, sound", corresponding to Old Norse óðr, which has the meaning "mad furious" but also "song, poetry". Modern English preserves an adjective wood in "dialectal or rare archaic use", meaning "lunatic, insane, rabid". The earliest attestation of the name is as wodan in an Elder Futhark inscription. For the Anglo-Saxons, Woden was the psychopomp or carrier-off of the dead, but not necessarily with exactly the same attributes of the Norse Odin.

A celebrated late attestation of invocation of Wodan in Germany dates to 1593, in Mecklenburg, where the formula Wode, Hale dynem Rosse nun Voder "Wodan, fetch now food for your horse" was spoken over the last sheaf of the harvest. David Franck adds, that at the squires' mansions, when the rye is all cut, there is Wodel-beer served out to the mowers; no one weeds flax on a Wodenstag, lest Woden's horse should trample the seeds; from Christmas to Twelfth-day they will not spin, nor leave any flax on the distaff, and to the question why? they answer, Wode is galloping across. We are expressly told, this wild hunter Wode rides a white horse.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Meditation: Visiting the Holly King, Janicot

Our tradition uses guided meditation to help impress certain symbols on our member's consciousness. Below is our Yuletide meditation. It takes place in the Glass Castle, which is the northwest area of our compass.  It is the home of the Holly King, who we honor as Janicot.  To use this meditation let yourself relax comfortably and picture yourself drifting downward and inward to the third realm, the lower realm. The third realm is a place of darkness and mystery.  Let yourself sink down into the third realm and rest there peacefully.

Meditation: Visiting the Holly King, Janicot
You awake in a grove of holly trees at night.  Frost has made the ground around you hard, and sparse snowflakes drift silently through the air.  A full moon illuminates the grove and causes the frosty earth to look as if it were made of glass.  It is cold enough to see your breath fog the air. Other than the sound of the frosty forest floor crunching beneath your feet the grove is entirely silent. 

Despite the chill and silence you are certain that you can feel something watching you.  You are startled to make out the shape of a large black goat silently standing between two holly trees near you.  The goat watches you, motionless, except for the steady rhythm of breath.  As he stares into your eyes you feel that you can hear his thoughts.  The goat claims he has something important to show you.  He moves towards you slowly and turns so that his side is facing you.  He then asks you to climb on his back for a ride.  You do this, silently and carefully. 

When you are situated comfortably on the goat's back he begins to walk.  Slowly at first he plods through the stands of holly, then trotting faster as the forest clears.  Now through an icy meadow he runs at a full gallop.  The cold wind whips at your clothing and snowflakes sting your cheeks.  The goat charges faster still and ahead you can see the edge of a steep cliff.  You cling to the goat's shaggy hide as he leaps over the cliff's edge. 

You are surprised to discover that your steed is now flying.  Swiftly through the night air you ride atop the black goat.  He soars high above the holly trees.  Higher he climbs and faster too.  Into the snow clouds he flies, and across the mists above the clouds he carries you. 

Through the mist you can see a sparkling castle.  It appears to be made of glass or ice, and it shines like cut diamonds in the moonlight.  From its turrets hang banners of pale blue and white.  As you approach the castle you can hear the sound of a choir singing softly from within. 

The goat alights on a snowy bank near the great mirrored castle doors.  He says that he will wait for you outside.  You ask him what place this is and he answers, “There are many names for this place.  Some call it Merlin's Tomb.  Others call it the Fata Morgana.  I call it the Castle of Glass.  It is the home of King Janicot and his glass orb.” 

The doors of the castle fly open suddenly and reveal a glass staircase within.  You enter the castle and climb the staircase.  You are surprised to find that although the staircase is very long the climb is an easy one, as though you were floating.  Yet, as you reach the top of the stairs you find that you are suddenly gasping for breath. 

In front of you are two large intricately carved doors of glass covered in countless symbols. Among these you notice a wren and a goat. You move to touch the doors and they swing open at your gesture.

The room inside twinkles with pale icy light. In it you see a cloven-hoofed man with a long black beard and a crown of goat horns. He is seated on throne of glass and he wears fur hides. His eyes are dark and he regards you with a cool countenance. To his right is a table with a large glass orb hovering over it. To his left is a staff of holly bearing leaves, and berries. “I am called Janicot” he says. His voice is soft and low like thunder in the distance. You can feel your body chill when he speaks. The scent of pine and mint fills your nostrils. Your entire being is infused with piercing coolness and you feel shocked into alertness.

He smiles knowingly and gestures to the glass orb to his right. “This is the treasure of the Glass Castle.” You peer into the glass orb and can see a mist swirling within it. From the mist come shapes and symbols, some from your past, some from your present, and some from your future. The symbols evoke feelings of joy, wonder, sadness, desire, heartbreak, and deep love.

The symbols swirl faster in the mist, causing you to feel overwhelmed with emotion. Janicot laughs. His laugh is jarring and you can feel your mind spinning into multiverses you dared not dream of. Janicot steadies you with a sharp glance. “I have a message for you,” he says.  He leans forward and whispers his secret message in your ear. [long pause] 

Janicot bids you farewell and shakes your hand.  Your flesh stings at his frigid touch.  The room begins to fill with mist and you take your leave of it hastily.  You hurry down the glass staircase and through the mirrored doors.  The black goat waits for you on the snowy bank.  You climb aboard his back and he launches into the air, accompanied by a flock of small brown birds.  They are wrens, you realize, as you soar back across the misty moat.  The black goat flies you beneath the snow clouds and down over the tops of the stands of holly.  He lands gently in the same grove of holly trees where you first met.  You settle in beneath a large holly tree and rest.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Invocation of the Circle: Doreen Valiente

Doreen Valiente
By stang and cauldron, cup and knife,
By right of office that I hold,
Ye ancient powers of death and life,
Forgather to the circle's fold.

Kinship to kinship, blood to blood,
By wild night wind and starry sky,
By heathland brown and darkling wood,
To this our circle now draw nigh.

In likeness of a henge of stone,
Stand guard around this circle's rim,
While looming through the dark alone,
Stands in the east the Hele-stone dim.

I summon forth the fairy hounds,
Sharp-fanged, white-coated, red of ear,
To prowl beyond the circle's bounds,
And put intruders' hearts in fear.

Ancestral powers of this our blood,
We are your people, guard us well,
By earth and air, by fire and flood,
By magic mime and spoken spell.

Our craft's own Goddess I invoke,
And Ancient Ones of hill and mound.
With fire aflame and drifting smoke,
I dedicate this circle's bound.

By three times three,
Thus shall it be!

~Doreen Valiente, Witchcraft: a Tradition Renewed

This rhyme was specifically created for the Tradition of Craft that Evan John Jones outlines in his book Witchcraft: a Tradition Renewed.  Thus, it calls for officers of the quarters "By right of office that I hold" and calls forth a henge of stone to guard the boundaries of the circle.  Our tradition is similar in that we call forth the Sacred Grove of totemic trees of the Wheel of the Year when performing a full casting.

I personally love the verse about the Gabriel ratchets guarding the circle.  This is easily my favorite chant for setting wards.

EJ Jones had Doreen write a second Circle Invocation for his book (he knew a good thing when he had it!) beginning: "By magic staff and flame of fire-light; Eldest of Gods, we call on ye anew!"  Witchcraft: a Tradition Renewed is worth a read if you would like to see how the Craft of Cochrane continued to develop.  It has influenced modern practitioners of Cochranian Craft, and contains many gems of liturgy, including Doreen's poetry and Bill Gray's lovely and useful Sangreal Prayer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lunar Magic

As above, so below. Look into the sky and observe which phase the moon is in. Then you will know where you are in the growth cycle of each lunar month. To discover what phase the moon is in, hold your hands in front of you, cupping your thumb and forefinger into “C” shapes. If the moon’s curve fits into your right hand, the moon is waxing (growing from new to full).  If the curve fits into your left hand, it is waning (fading from full to new).

Where is the Moon?

Why is the moon sometimes visible during the day? And why does the moon sometimes rise very late at night? The answers lie in what phase the moon is in, which reflects the angle between the sun and moon as seen from earth. For each of the eight moon phases, the angle between the sun and moon progresses in 45 degree increments. Each phase lasts approximately 3-4 days of the moon's entire 29 1/2 day cycle.

The new moon (or dark moon) rises at sunrise and sets at sunset. Astrologically, the sun and the moon are in conjunction. Because the sun's light overpowers the nearby moon in the day, and the moon is on the other side of the earth with the sun at night, she is not visible in the sky at all.

The crescent moon (or waxing crescent moon) rises midmorning and sets after sunset. She is the first visible sliver of moon, seen in the western sky in the late afternoon and early evening.

The first quarter moon (or waxing half moon) rises around noon and sets around midnight. Astrologically, the moon is square to the sun. She is visible from afternoon, when she is high in the eastern sky, until she sets in the west.

The gibbous moon rises mid-afternoon and sets before dawn. She is the bulging moon getting ready to be full, visible soon after she rises until she sets.

The full moon rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. Astrologically, the sun and moon are in opposition (i.e., opposite each other in the sky and in opposite signs of the zodiac). She is visible all night long, from moonrise to moonset.

The disseminating moon is the waning full moon getting visibly smaller. She rises mid-evening and sets midmorning. She is visible from the time she rises almost until she sets.

The last quarter moon or waning half moon) rises around midnight and sets around noon. Astrologically, the moon is square to the sun. She is visible from the time she rises until midmorning, when she is high in the western sky.

The balsamic moon (or waning crescent moon) rises before dawn and sets mid-afternoon. She is the last sliver of moon, seen in the eastern sky in the very early morning and late dawn.

Moon Magic

The full moon has been associated with magic and witches for millennia.  The ancient Roman writer, Horace, made a reference to a witch drawing the moon down out of the sky.
Horace (Epode 17)---says the Witch Canidia "... must I, who can move waxen images and draw down the moon from the sky by my spells, who can raise the vaporous dead, and mix a draught of love lament the effect of my art, availing nothing upon you?"
Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon, has a picture from a Greek vase, supposedly from the
Ancient lunar magic on vase.
second century BCE.  This depiction has some Greek lettering near both of the figures. The word on the left is translated as, "beautiful." The words on the right apparently translates as, "who [are] of the moon mistress."

Werewolves famously shape-shift during the full moon, and the cult of the werewolf has ties to the ancient witch-cult. Essentially, the full moon was a time to use the moon's power to enhance shamanic shape-shifting work.

In Aradia, The Gospel of the Witches Aradia, the holy daughter of Diana, left these instructions to her followers:
Whenever you have need of anything, once in the month when the Moon is full, then shall you come together at some deserted place, or where there are woods, and give worship to She who is Queen of all Witches. Come all together inside a circle, and secrets that are as yet unknown shall be revealed.
The traditional use of the phases of the moon for magic are as follows:
  • The new moon is the most auspicious time for banishing and neutralizing spells.
  • The days of and around the crescent moon are the most powerful time to work spells for growth and beginnings, which should manifest at the Full Moon.
  • The waxing moon is the best time to do a spell for growth, beginning new projects, initiation and enhancement.
  • The days of and around the gibbous moon are the most powerful time for spells of fruition and completion
  • The Moon looks full in the sky for two or three nights, and each of them are excellent for magic that depends on power flowing at its peak.
  • During the waning Moon, do spells to banish evil influences, lessen or remove obstacles and illness, neutralize enemies, scry, divine, and to remove harm.  These influences become stronger as the moon darkens.
13 Moons of the Year

The 13th Moon, or "Blue" Moon can occur at any time during the year. A Moon is called Blue only when it is the second full Moon to take place that month (moon-th). The second New Moon in a month is known as a Black Moon. Blue Moons are considered to be stronger than regular Full Moons, and Black Moons are considered to be stronger than regular New Moons.

Below is a chart detailing the names associated with each of the moon cycles of the year.  The "Witch" moon names are from The Witches Almanac.  The "Calendar" names are from Llewellyn's Witches' Calendar.  "Almanac" names are from the Old Farmer's Almanac, who claims that the names come from east coast Native American names.  The "Celtic Tree" names are associated with the attributions from Robert Graves' The White Goddess.

The Moon names of our tradition are based on each of the sources listed above, along with a comparison to the totems and energies we honor at each month.  Our lunar names are as follows:

January -- Wolf Moon
February -- Storm Moon
March -- Hare Moon
April -- Seed Moon
May -- Merry Moon
June -- Mead Moon
July -- Wort Moon
August -- Corn Moon
September -- Harvest Moon
October -- Blood Moon
November -- Frost Moon
December -- Cold Moon
13th Moon -- Blue Moon

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Stang and Distaff

Stangs from Cornish Witchcraft website

Evan John Jones claimed that Robert Cochrane informed him that there were three branches of witchcraft. These were said to be memorialized on a megalith detailed in Justine Glass's much-maligned book Witchcraft: The Sixth Sense for which Cochrane was a source of information.  Though he intentionally provided Ms. Glass with misinformation throughout the book, he claimed until his death that the analysis he provided regarding the menhir and the Mysteries of Witchcraft were true. The meat of his analysis, available in full in Justine Glass's the book, is repeated as Craft teaching in Evan John Jones's work The Roebuck in the Thicket.

Traditional Mysteries

The first branch of mysteries is the masculine mysteries, centering on the legends of the Horn Child and the Sacrificial King (the Oak & Holly King stories).  The second branch is the feminine mysteries, centering on the mysteries outlined in Robert Graves' The White Goddess and the weaving of Fate.  The third branch, which Cochrane claimed was lost to time, were the Necromantic mysteries.  These have been reconstructed somewhat by modern practitioners like ourselves in rituals such as ancestral worship and the Tapping of the Bone.

The stang, revealed by PIE etymology to be a "stick" or "pole," is perhaps the most complex tool of Traditional Craft.  In it are contained each of the three paths of Craft.

The Stang and Male Mysteries

The most common interpretation of the stang concerns the masculine mysteries.  The stang is often thought of as a simple representation of the Horned Lord or Witchfather, with its forked tines standing in for the horns of the God.  Sometimes the skull of a horned animal is bound to the stang to reinforce this idea.  This practice may have old ties to the use of horned animals as a substitute sacrifice for the King.

Many, if not most, versions of Cochranite Craft use the same elemental quarter associations that we have described here before. Furthermore, EJ Jones actually writes about a very similar deity association, as taught to him by Cochrane, to what we use here at AFW.

East = Fire, the birth of the sun, the seat of the Horned Child
West = Water, the place of the dead, the seat of the Master of the Wild Hunt, the Sacrificial King
North = Air, winter, the Dark Goddess
South = Earth, summer, the Light Goddess

In both the East and West, though not always specifically identified with the name Tubal Qayin, we can recognize him in his guises as the light-bringer and the lord of the dead.

East and West, Fire and Water, are opposed in the Traditional Witch's compass, as are North/Air and South/Earth. Elemental opposites are called into the center along roads of power. We very literally have a crossroads at the center of the compass. What's more, we have a Devil who stands there. He is the Witchfather, the Horned One. The stang, with its horns, is symbolic of Qayin himself and of all the masculine mysteries.

The stang is often dressed by hanging two arrows (sometimes with points up, sometimes with them down) on the shaft. These arrows are symbolic of the male msysteries, as well.

The Stang and Necromancy

The stang is also the world-tree upon which we travel through the three realms.  It allows us to move from this realm to the land of the dead, among other places.  It is a gandreigh that we use to ride to the Sabbat, to cast the caim, and to center the compass.  These attributes make it a prime tool of magic, and one without which we would struggle to contact the dead. An animal skull upon the stang speaks of the masculine mysteries, but it also speaks of the Mighty Dead.

Often, a stang is outfitted so that it can hold a candle between its horns. The flame is said to be the Cunning Fire, the light shared by all Witches. When there is no candle, there is often a middle tine. This middle path, neither masculine nor feminine, is attributed to the Dead.

Our coven places skulls and bones (either crossed or uncrossed, depending on whether we intend to access the Dead or not) near the base of the stang, as well.

The Stang and Feminine Mysteries

The third branch of witchcraft, and the third use of the stang, is as a traditional woman's tool -- that of the distaff. The older versions of a spinner's distaff was either a two or three pronged "stang" ("stick"). The distaff and spindle were once the main daily working tools of all women, and Cochrane is very specific in his writings about the distaff being the main working tool of women of the Craft.  The distaff is a traditional handspinner's tool used for holding raw fibers as they are spun into thread on a spindle.  Robert Cochrane in his writing "On Cords" states:

    “The so-called ‘sacred object’ held in such reverence by some witches was in fact a weaver’s distaff–and could easily be mistaken for a phallic symbol. The weaver’s distaff, bound with reeds or straw, appears frequently in rural carvings and elsewhere. It again has reference to the Craft and supreme Deity. It would appear that the witches were not in the least influenced by Freudian concepts.”

Sarah Lawless, in her excellent post about magical sticks, suggests from her studies that the distaff/stang wrapped in flax for spinning was mistaken for a broom in folklore and art. Quite possibly. The stang is certainly a tool for travel.

Laurelei's first coven/Trad, which was also Cochranite in origin, didn't always hang two arrows on the stang. Often, it was a single arrow, with a linen shirt hung from it. The shirt was either white or black, depending on the ritual or time of year. We cannot deny that the stang is the hayfork that represents the Horned God, but it is also the spinner's distaff (a symbol, then, of the Black and White Goddesses).The linen shirt on a single arrow is an allusion to the flax wrapped around the distaff.

When we  view the stang as a feminine tool in the center of the magical space, the compass can be viewed as the spinning wheel of the Fates, our own Black and White Goddesses.

More Stang Lore to Come

Stay tuned for upcoming posts regarding "Magic and the Stang" and "How to Construct and Dress a Stang."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Admission: The Way In

This post will be relevant to potential seekers along the Crooked Path who are both in our local area (South-Central Indiana) and those who are not. As we've been receiving requests for more information about how one goes about joining the coven, messages of regret from cunning folk who live too far afield to come circle with us, and a wild boost of page-views for our "admission requirements" post, we feel that we would serve our readers best by sharing one or two of the (many) paths "in."

It All Begins with a Request ...

However it may work in other groups, we hold to an old tradition of expecting potential students to ask us for admission at each step of the process. Even if we know you personally and really think you'd be great, that choice -- and the leap of faith & fear that goes with it -- must be yours and yours alone. We've been there. (Laurelei's initiating coven even had the practice of denying potential members at least three times before granting admission, which added a whole other "gulp factor.")

Do not wait for an invitation from us. Even if we know, love and see you regularly, that personal invitation will not come. If you're not asking for what you need and want, it's because you aren't ready yet; and, honey, that's okay with us. You take your time. We've been sitting on this Tradition -- nesting and hatching -- for years.

Near and Far

If you live close to us, you'll probably be asking to join us through the first admission, which means Greening. That's a trial period for both you and us to figure out how well we work together, if you really want to walk THIS path, and for you to learn some of the very basics. You don't need much: a couple of binders and a flash drive. We need to have met you in person, since you'll be coming into our home and interacting with our family (including our children, who are at the Greening and Adoption stages, respectively). And, of course, that "formal request" mentioned in the requirements is a reminder that you need to have actually asked us to take your green cord.

What if you don't live close to us and you still want to walk THIS specific path, learn from US, etc? If you lived close, you would ask right now, but you don't. You live on the South Coast. What then?

Here's the thing: We can't really take vows with you from a distance, and there ARE vows at the Greening and Adoption. However, we feel certain that we can teach green- and red-cord materials at a distance, and we can offer you self-led variations of the Greening and Adoption rituals, as well. So, through the basic levels, anyone who wishes it can be taught, we feel, at the same level as a student we would take on here locally.

We would teach you individually. If there are truly several authentically interested individuals in pursuing this option, we might start a private e-mail group or something to facilitate communication, file-sharing, and camaraderie. Both Glaux and I would be your teachers and guides, just as we are for students in-person.

But then we come to the Raising ritual -- the point at which you become a full-fledged Witch. After all the time spent together on-line, we would probably have developed a sense of family, and Glaux and I feel that we would be willing to raise any Witches that we taught in this way. But we'd have to do it in person. The Raising involves trials and tests -- and Mysteries -- that we simply cannot convey except in person. Luckily, we have access to wonderful sacred ground in Southern Indiana (with our own cabin on it), where we can go to perform the Raising, if no other site presents itself.

How Long?

The time-frames suggested in the requirements document are a rough estimate. The Greening requires a "getting to know you" time, but it really shouldn't last too long, either. If you haven't decided, for instance, within a year to ask for Adoption, you probably have reasons NOT to ask that you should heed. (Think of Greening as being akin to childhood within a family structure. It's over in a flash, and by the end of it, you have a good sense of your own mind -- and skill.)

On the other hand, you may spend significantly longer than a year and a day wearing your Adoption red cord. There is a lot of material to cover, and we won't be surprised if it takes you more than a year to do it. It just can't take less than that. (Adoption is like young adulthood in a family/tribal setting. You are learning vast amounts of knowledge, gaining independence, discovering what draws your interest, making significant bonds with your peer and family groups.)

Once you've been Raised, and you have red, black and white cords, you will govern your own studies and perhaps begin your own coven. You don't have to jump right out and hive off. Feel free to stick around for as long as you need. Forever, if that's what you choose. (A "Raised Witch" is like a full adult in a family unit -- completely independent, held by bonds of love and kinship, a contributor to the internal workings of the clan.)

Getting in Touch with Us

Laurelei --
Glaux --  Glaux on Facebook

Samhain Totems: Toad

In our tradition we divide the year not only by eight solar and agricultural holidays, but also by the Kalends. We celebrate twelve months of the year by the common calendar, plus a special thirteenth month for Samhain.  These month cycles are associated with different totemic spirits. Each month is assigned an animal, a bird (or other flying creature), and a tree. Samhain's totems are Toad, Elder, and Crane.

The totemic associations are as follows:

Toad – (Buaf) transformation, inner visions, death and rebirth, hidden power and beauty
Elder (Ruis) – death and rebirth, change and transition
Crane – (Corr) longevity, remembrance, past lives, secret knowledge, patience

A witch feeds her toad (and rat) familiars.

The toad is a powerful symbol of transformation, as it grows from tadpole to toad.  It has associations with fertility, magic, fairies, and Witchcraft.

The toad represented the uterus in ancient Greece, Rome, and Scandinavia. Because of this symbolism, the toad came to be the symbol for a midwife, thus leading to associations with Witchcraft.

In Basque country toads were said to be favored familiars, with witches going so far as to “baptize” their toads in cemeteries, and adorn them with velvet ribbons and bells.

Toads secrete a thick white poison through their skin.  This “toad's milk” or bufotenine is sometimes hallucinogenic, and is said to be an ingredient in some ancient flying ointments.

In Shropshire it was said that the spirit of a well would manifest as three toads, the largest of which was to always be addressed as the “Dark Lord” – a manifestation of the God of the Witches.

Witches' marks are sometimes referred to as a “toad's foot”, and a birthmark shaped like a toad is a sure sign of witch power.

Toadstools are so named due to the toad's associations with fairyland, and with their hallucinogenic properties.

Doreen Valiente was a fan of the natterjack toad, and recommended them as pets and excellent familars.  The natterjack toad has associations with the “yellow ringed” toad which produced the legendary Toad Bone amulet.

The Toad Bone amulet was said to confer many strange magical powers on those that carried it.  It is related to the toadstone, a stone said to rest in the head of a toad.  The toadstone could grant invisibility to its bearer.

Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelt'red venom sleeping got
Be thou first i' th' charmed pot.
 -Macbeth, Act 4, Scene I 

Links for more information:


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Witch Ethics, Ardanes and the Rede

I (Laurelei) was trained in a variation of Cochranite Craft, and we had no Ardanes (Witch Laws). Nor did we give oath to the Wiccan Rede. We did, however, expect each member of our Clan to spend time developing a personal statement of ethics that reflected his/her own moral convictions. The statement was not so much a codified set of rules, but an understanding that one has with oneself regarding what is right and wrong. Having looked deeply into that well, woe be unto the Witch who does not hold to her own moral standards!

The Craft (in its truest sense) does not offer a moral guidepost. It is a system of magic, a way of reaching out to the Unseen World and being more closely a part of it. The Black Goddess, White Goddess, Tubal Qayin -- do not look to them for your moral compass, for they are Nature's Compass, Magic's Compass. They are Powers, neither "male-" nor "bene-" (bad, good).

You are responsible and accountable to yourself, your family, your cuveen/clan, your community, your country and your world. How you keep yourself on your path is up to you.

That being said, as a piece of Craft Lore (and even as a starting place in thinking about your own ethics), it is interesting to look at the Ardanes and the Rede. Bear in mind that these pieces are modern constructs with occasional bits of arcana thrown into the mix. Some of the advice here -- for we can only truly consider it advice and not Law -- is worth a look. Other pieces seem very out of keeping with the Craft as we know it.

The Ardanes

The Ardanes or Ordains first appeared in Craft documentation in 1957, when Gerald Gardner presented them to his coven after a disagreement about his own interactions with the media while insisting on secrecy within the coven. No known record of them in any older documentation exists prior to that date. While it is possible that he received them from his own initiator and teacher, the mix of archaic and modern phrasing in the Ardanes would suggest that they were created at that time.

Doreen Valiente, among others, was suspicious of these Laws which (unsurprisingly) eventually led to her ousting from the coven by Gardner.

These Laws have had several iterations, and they vary amongst covens/Traditions who hold to them. Some are anachronistic, misogynistic, or oddly Christo-centric. A fairly close copy of the original Gardnerian Ardanes exists here.

The Rede

Many, if not most, Witchcraft traditions use the Wiccan Rede as the foundation of their code of ethics. The first published form of the Wiccan Rede is a couplet that appeared in 1964 by Doreen Valiente: “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, An it harm none, Do what ye will.” Rede is a Middle English word meaning “advice or council,” while, in this case, an is an archaic conjunction meaning “if.” Other versions, including much longer poems, have been written since then, but this is the basic tenant of Wiccan ethics.

Much exegesis has been written on this topic, and debates are continually waged within the Wiccan and Witchcraft communities over the exact meaning and execution of these few words. On the one hand, the Rede seems simple enough. It is a mandate to do no harm, much like the Golden Rule or the Hippocratic Oath. On the other hand, words like “harm” and “will” can be seen as vague or amorphous to members of disparate traditions. Is “harm” the same or different than “hurt?” What about “will” and “want?” Or is “will” closer to True Will?

Then there’s the question of self-defense. Is it ever okay to harm someone if they’re attacking you? A common psychic shielding technique involves mirroring negative energy back to its sender. If this causes harm, have you violated the Rede? The logic for any of these questions can get rather circular as you ponder them, and if you follow a debate of this sort online, it will often do just that.

Some traditions use other similar creeds (but with different implications) as the basis of their moral and ethical codes. One prominent standard, though not Craft in origin, is the Law of Thelema which says, “Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law; love under will.” Aleister Crowley wrote these words in 1904, inspired in part by the writings of Francois Rabelais in 1543. Rabelais had said, “DO AS THOU WILT,” because men who are free are inclined to virtue and disinclined to vice. Here, we are absolutely talking about doing one’s True Will and not simply doing the whim of the moment.

Ultimately, we encourage you to pursue a line of *independent* thought regarding ethics and a Code. In other words: know what YOU believe to be ethical behavior and hold to it. Remember that ethics and morals are not really about being held accountable to a power higher than yourself. If you believe an action is wrong, and you proceed in doing it, you will
pay a price for doing it.

Ancestor Altars

The Samhain season is a wonderful time to create an ancestor altar in your home.  This can be a permanent dedicated space to honor your Beloved Dead year-round, or a temporary set-up for use during Samhain.

To create an ancestor altar you will need:
  • A skull (this can be a ceramic imitation skull, a candle in the shape of a skull, a drawing of a skull, or any other representation). Search the stores for Halloween decorations and you should find something suitable.
  • A covering for the skull. This can be a handkerchief, a hat, sunglasses, or any item that suits you.
  • Photos of deceased loved ones and ancestors.
  • Items you associate with your Beloved Dead. These may include antiques, gifts from your loved ones, or inherited items. 
  • An offering area, such as a small plate on which to burn incense and spirit money, or to leave offerings of food, liquor, ghost water or other items.
During the Samhain season lay a compass and cast a caim with yourself and your ancestor skull within.  Ask your the Mighty Ones to send forth your Beloved Dead to inhabit your skull for the season of Samhain, that you may honor your ancestors and share in their wisdom.

After the rite is complete, take the skull to your ancestor altar and cover it.  When you wish to speak with your Beloved Dead remove the covering and make your offerings to the spirits.

Here is a recipe for Ghost Water, which is a traditional potent offering to the spirits of the dead.

Ghost Water

At midnight on the night of the full moon (the full moon before Samhain is ideal) go to a graveyard with a glass container of spring water.  Leave the spring water on one of the graves in the cemetery, making sure that the light of the full moon falls on the spring water.  Remove the water after midnight but before daybreak.  Bottle and label the water, and use it as an offering on your ancestor altar.  Some witches like to add a splash of anisette liquor to the Ghost Water when making the offering.  Good anisette will produce a milky cloud in the water, like unto a spirit manifesting.

Graveyard dirt is another ideal offering to the dead.  I have a dear friend who is very interested in her family's genealogy.  She spent one Samhain season collecting dirt from all of the graves of her ancestors that she could locate.  The resulting jar was massive and fairly sung with ancient power.  Powdered mullein or patchouli are often labeled "graveyard dust", and these too make a nice offering, either with or without actual graveyard dirt.

Other offerings to the dead include incense (a Samhain blend or an ancestor blend will work well) and spirit money.  Spirit money is imitation money, such as can be found in children's playsets.  It is burned with prayers that the Beloved Dead have all they need in the world beyond this one.

Keep your ancestor altar clean and make offerings regularly, disposing of any old offerings in living water or at a crossroads.

Your ancestors deserve your respect and remembrance.  Samhain is the ideal time to create an ancestor altar for seasonal use, or as a permanent place in your home and in your life.

You can read more about The Ancestors at this blog post.
Ghost Water, Graveyard Dirt, and many other ritual supplies are available through our Etsy store.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Forgetting Human, pt. IV (guest post by Robin Artisson)

Part IV:
The Spirit-Language and the Sorcery of Sense

-The Secret Granary and the Cup That Must Be Broken
-Red Dragon, White Dragon: The Book of Fate and the Grand Grimoire
-A Spirit Trap Governed by Sun and Moon
-Tunnels for the Ghost-Wind
-The Sorcery of Bodily Sensation and Sight
-The Shimmering Wind and the Wraith Prayer
-The Soundless Language and Conjuring the Familiar

Th’ treasure-horde of old is more than mere gold
It is th’ art that constrains th’ rain to speak again
It is th’ art that pries open th’ hidden eyes
It is th’ art that makes bloom th’ rot-dead tree
& leaps th’ Hedge that never dies.

-The Resurrection of the Meadow

The Secret Granary and the Cup That Must Be Broken

For all of the people out there who are looking to spiritual systems, whether exoteric or esoteric, or who look to sorcerous systems and metaphysical pursuits to make themselves into better people, find peace, increase their overall well-being, to them I say "keep looking and good luck." Exoteric religions alone among those various interests may give someone the impetus or inspiration they need to become 'good' (at least according to some specific definition unique to the religion) but the rest of those pursuits aren't really about that.

The practice of Sorcery, in any of its genuine recensions, isn't primarily about moral growth or peace and tranquility, though some people may, by happenstance of Fate, find some element of that inside it. But you can't come looking for that, or you really won't find it, and for an important reason.

Sorcery is impossible to pin down, just like the wind. Few people have the constitution to deal with such an insubstantial Art, such an unpredictable and indescribable metaphysical reality. But far from discarding Sorcery, or the pursuit of it, most people take the other route- they just change it to suit them. By changing it, by telling the wind that it has to be earth now, they actually lose it altogether, but they keep holding on to something they describe as "sorcery". You'll know these people easily, if you keep your mind on the wind- they tend to talk a good deal, but yield nothing in the way of tangible results.

Can the intangible yield tangible results? I must say, it can; but its results are often very subtle. Don't feel let down- when its results aren't subtle, they are as visible and unquestionable as a thunderstorm. But sorcery, like wisdom, is good at hiding, and good at avoiding people who aren't yet ready to be like the wind. It scorns the people of inflexible concepts, who have to have everything explained and "locked down"; it looks kindly upon the people of fire and wind.

And this insubstantial nature of Sorcery is more profoundly insubstantial than you think- sometimes, right when you think you don't have it, is when you discover that you do. Sometimes, or oftentimes, in my experience, the unplanned workings, the unplanned and rather spontaneous trances, visions, conjurations, and works are the most powerful.

That should trouble anyone who wants a formula-book; formula books are only good for one thing- they orient the mind and the desire towards the sorcerous worldview and aesthetic. After that, if you are lucky, the magic comes and begins to find you, largely spontaneously. Our friends in "Golden Dawn" type magical lodge-working are champions at planning out every detail of a magical work; for the wicked life of me, I can't begin to imagine how that can be "magic" as I have come to understand it. It may be an almost yogic sort of mind-conditioning, a transformative practice in some ways, but certainly not sorcery in the ancient and visceral sense.

If it's authentic sorcery you want, as the ancients had it, you have to be able to do impossible things- like tying the winds together, or making a dead tree come back to life. Maybe braiding the hair of a toad, or capturing the sound of a cat's footfall in your left hand might be called for at times.

These "impossible" tasks force a person's mind into a helpless quandary, which is right where you want to be. Paradox? Of course. But an initiatory one. Ordinary people don't want to be confused or helpless or befuddled. The sorcerer knows how to adjust to those kinds of situations and make them work, because like air, like the wind, they can take any shape, move around any obstacle, fly over any mountain, cut through any person, and, over time, even wear the great mountains down to sand. Helplessness can be strength. Silence can be noise. Death can be life.

You should welcome challenges, as a test of sorcerous cunning- an opportunity to learn and sharpen one's subtle skills. The problem with the above mentioned "sorcerous tasks" isn't that they may be impossible, but that you are reading them and thinking about them while connected to your red fetter- the body. In reality, the body isn't a trap, isn't a fetter, but until you learn to use your white body, your wind-body, the witch's flying fetch, your thinking is centered in a very material-seeming sense to a world with a few simple rules- rules that don't include "tying" gasses or clutching at sounds.

In that limited way of seeing, the body seems like a big weight holding you down, and limiting you to space, time, gravity, and the never ending struggle of wealth versus poverty, and health versus illness. But the wind body- it can transcend the apparent rules, quite easily, as easily as a breeze passing by you in the night.

The soul, the wind-body, is a granary full of grains of power. Countless powers- countless capacities, many which have never been named before- all gathered inside that silo of a body that you bathe and feed and give medicine to when it feels bad. Ever notice how taking care of the ordinary body is precisely like keeping a pet? We respond quite carefully to our bodily pains and wants, but never to our soul's needs and wants, at least, not often. Unlike your body-pet, the soul won't die on you one day. However, unless you've gotten used to living and experiencing the world in that sorcerous wind-body by the time you die, you will miss your pet greatly, and be pained by it- maybe confused, maybe lost.

The soul is the secret granary of witchery. But every collection of great grains needs a silo to house it, so the body is an anchor to completeness. There is no "soul=good, body=bad" logic to be found in real sorcery. There is no "ignore the senses" logic, either, as we have seen. The senses are tied to the body, making your body, like your soul, a sorcerous vessel. It's just a vessel that has a particular destiny, while the soul has another. For this meeting we call a lifetime, a full being has expressed itself, and that is a being of fearful terrors and many wonders.

If you're only living from the red body, the body of blood and tissues, sorcery is just a bunch of words and lame, weird ideas. There is no explanation for it that will suit you, at all. When you engage the white and the red, soul and body, you start to realize the uncomfortable truth- Sorcery has no actual "hard and fast" rules. It doesn't work on a "logic"- it works because the world is sorcerous, and you by nature are also sorcerous, and because in such a nature, strange things occur pretty regularly.

You have to pay attention to their occurrences- they flow here and there, mostly unpredictable, but sometimes not- and leap into their weird flowing. You have to be ready to have faith- some sorcerous occurrences are signaled by subtle events that lead up to them, and you have to take a chance at them. You have to learn to recognize, to be very aware, very awake, very attentive, with all your senses.

Every real sorcerer is a master or mistress of opportunity. They don't miss much. And I know what they are all looking for- the secret that makes magic really work- something I call "the authentic moment", or the owl's blink. An "owlblink" is also a folkloric name for a curse or a harmful hexing; but, as a swift, silent, sudden occurrence, which really can't be predicted, it is another name I give to the magical "authentic" moment.

And this moment, which happens when it will, is one of the sources of your real power to bring about sorcery. It is a moment in which many insubstantial threads all get tied together and coincide just right, just perfect. You've experienced them before, trust me; but the more aware and awake you make yourself, the more you see with the soul, the more you'll see that these special moments are moments when anything can really be possible.

This is the final truth at the bottom of the bag of sorcerous cunning- the authentic moment is something you search for, something you can live in joyful anticipation of. You can't search for it without inspiration, without a passionate love for the aesthetic of sorcery, the mystical, and the insubstantial. You have to be excited for this kind of strange pursuit. You have to love it. And, without even planning it, you'll feel that sorcerous moment coming for you- there, at night, alone, as the winds pound the trees outside, your imagination will suddenly flare up, quite outside of your control, filling you with visions of the Pale People moving quietly through the crust of the Earth outside, and you'll want to go to them.

Some of them look like dead people you've known; others have unearthly beauty, and some unearthly ugliness. You'll feel like you're as light as a feather, a leaf on the wind, and you'll dream of just flying through your window on the wind, to fly right into their company. You'll have insights about things you needed insights on. You'll have spontaneous emotional reactions. And just like that- maybe in minutes, maybe in an hour, you'll be "you" again. Things will seem more ordinary again. But you will know that it was very real; it doesn't feel the same as what you might call "an idle imagination"- you felt the chill in your spine; you know that, for a brief moment, or series of moments, your soul went away, and danced with otherworldly things. And this experience can never be repeated.

No real sorcerous work is ever repeated precisely as it was done before, just as no wind blows the same way twice, and no river flows the same way in the same place twice. To grasp the Sorcerous, authentic moment is to drink from "The Cup That Must Be Broken"- the ancient vessel of sacrifice that was destroyed as soon as it was used. That sacrifice was never repeated, always new, always evergreen, any time it was done.

No authentic sorcerous work is "repeatable" because the conditions that made it possible at the moment it was possible are gone forever. New conditions may arise in the future- you may even conjure up some of those conditions, when you get powerful- but they'll be different each time, too. And there are so many conditions, seen and unseen, that create every authentic, sorcerous moment. You can't grasp them, or the magical moments, unless you first become aware of them. Becoming a seer, using the senses and soul properly, is thus required first, before a person becomes a "doer", a worker of the Art.

Red Dragon, White Dragon: The Book of Fate and the Grand Grimoire

The most obvious set of conditions which have the most profound impact on the "mysterious moments"- and a profound impact on every moment of your entire mind- is the Land itself. And right back to irony, when we talk about the Land being so important, we are also talking about a collection of powers that is everywhere obvious and apparent- so how comes it that people completely forget to notice it? When you can answer that question, you'll be well off. It's not that the land excels in making itself invisible; it doesn't need to! It's confident by now that people largely won't see it at all.

And yet, the spirit of every place- wherever you happen to be right now- is creating the atmosphere that your mind totally relies upon. You can't feel anything, think anything, perceive anything, without the place, the location of perception, the location that you are a part of. The textures of the place- its sounds, its colors, its smells, its contours, its people, its buildings, all of it- these are sorcerous things, and your senses are your connection to it. It fills you, constantly, and yet, most people never give it a second of attention.

David Abram says it best, when he says:

"Each place has its own mind, its own psyche.
Oak, madrone, Douglas fir, red-tailed hawk, serpentine in the sandstone,
a certain scale to the topography,
drenching rains in the winter, fog off-shore in the summer, salmon surging in the streams -
all these together make up a particular state of mind,
a place-specific intelligence shared by all the humans that dwell therein,
but also by the coyotes yapping in those valleys,
by the bobcats and the ferns and the spiders,
by all beings who live and make their way in that zone.
Each place its own psyche.
Each sky its own blue."

This should be all you need to read, to get out and really engage the spirit of your place, wherever you are. As you do this, as you open your senses fully to everything around you, you'll discover that you can slip over to everything inside you, too- because in reality, inside and outside are parts of one unified realm of experience.

Every time you make a real sensory connection with your environment, you unlock a spool of sorcerous inspiration that can make "the authentic moment" recognizable by you. The place where you are, itself, can lead you down the sorcerous trail of whatever you need to find, discover, or accomplish, whenever you need to do it. This is one of the most powerful secrets of the sorcerous art.  And it hides, like all great secrets, in plain sight, in plain sound, in plain scent, in plain feeling. We call them "plain" just out of reflex- even in our writing- but when I say "plain" here, I mean anything but. In reality, every sight, every sound, every smell, is a sorcerous power intensifying itself in you, and you in it. If you don't know this, if you can't retool yourself to experience it this way, sorcery will remain beyond your ability.

When you can open yourself to this new (and very old) way of seeing, you'll discover that every moment can be the "authentic moment" of which I spoke of before. It's a matter of being inspired, and seeing the secret beauty and wonder in everything, at every moment. It sounds tiring, or hard- and it sounds like such a thing might rob the sense of wonder from things, but I've found that it does just the opposite. The power of this strange world is infinite. It doesn't ever "get old". Just as you can see the full moon rise a thousand times, or watch the sun set a thousand times, and never get tired of it, so we can tell that this Nature, this reality, is a pool of infinity that is really inexhaustible.

And when you can open yourself to this way of seeing, in conscious conjunction with your immediate surroundings, your environment, the land beneath you (and sometimes above you) and the kingdom of the winds we call the sky- you can begin to "move out" from the central location of the seeming body and begin engaging reality in a very intense, broad way.

People talk about books of magic with some great respect; there's no doubt that our Medieval and Renaissance texts about magic contain many treasures- despite its heavy reliance on Christian metaphysics, the grimoire entitled "The Arbatel" has much to offer to the discerning witch, at least on the level of natural wisdom in dusty corners. But the entire conversation on grimoires becomes tiring, quickly- written words on dusty pages don't have souls, the way spoken words, animated by living wind do. And books stay the same, while the souls who created them change and fly away in gusts of death's wind.

The greatest grimoire is the legendary "Grand Grimoire"- and if you want to find it, and the secrets it contains of taming the Red Dragon and the White Dragon, you're fortunate; you're standing on it, or at least, sitting on something that's in a building that's standing on it. While many books may purport to be the “Grand Grimoire”, only one thing is the true grand teaching book of sorcery.

The Red Dragon is the body; it is also the Land. The White Dragon is the great world-wind, it is the little winds that trace the meadows and hills- and it is your soul. Red and White are the two "colors" of the powers of Nature, and entwined, they create life and power. They are the two serpents entwining the Caduceus staff, one of the Master's most ancient symbols; they are the two prime forces of everything. The Grand Grimoire is the Land itself; it is nature- the same "book", precisely, as the "Tablets of Fate" or the Book of Fate, held and read by the Bloodmother, the Ancestress of all life, the Lady Below the Earth, the Earth-Indweller.

Sorcery's deepest secrets are inscribed in the Land. They are etched in the bark of trees, and they are announced in the gurgle of streams and rivers. Learn to read these things, and there's nothing you can't know. The wind carries these sorcerous secrets; the earth hides them in her bosom, and yet, to eyes that really see, there's no real trouble finding them. You'll have more troubles really using your eyes to their fullest potential than you ever will with generous Nature revealing her treasures.

I can share with you a secret given away by Nature, a spell, as it were, from the pages of the Book of Fate, which is the Book of Life and Death, really. As I said, Nature hides things, but to the eyes of the cunning, she gives. Things are moving intensely in your experience, every day, and they are chanting a song to you, reciting spells, offering you help. The way the sun and the moon appear to move on their ancient roads is one example.

Poetry should rule these matters; of course we "know" now that the sun doesn't move; that it only appears to because the earth moves. But the deeper point is this: perspective is what is real to each individual. Individuals have to deal with the story their senses are telling them; they have to grasp it. The sun appears to move sun-wise, deosil, or clockwise in the sky. Nature has brought about a situation in which the sun- the chief emblem of warmth, triumph, and security- appears to move in a way that humans can imitate. And, taking the deep hint from Nature, they have imitated it since time immemorial. They have turned "right ways" with the sun to bless, to protect, to cleanse, to purify, to banish evil.

The moon follows the sun and sets like it. The sun is ruler in the Above world, the world of clarity and light. The moon is the ruler of the Underworld, the world of murky surrealness and darkness. That's how it looks to people not in trances, of course. In the Great Reversal of trance, these two things are juxtaposed, and the moon "takes to the sky", and the sun becomes a radiance in the darkness below- because the mind is thrust into the unseen by trance. The mind radiates it's mindful light in the unseen mirk. Outwardly, the world becomes more indistinct and not as illuminated (the moon being in the formerly light-filled sky symbolizes this)- so in a weird way, every night-time, every time the moon moves above and the sun dips below, is a trance of types. This is why night is the sorcerous meeting-time par excellence.

But Sun and Moon are the great luminaries, the rulers of seen and unseen, and their right-ways motion enforces right order, the existence of balance and the vacancy of harmful powers. Some powers can't be driven away by the sun; but they can be driven away by the moon, or forced into another state of being. Some powers can resist the moon, but they can't resist the sun. So, any strong apotropaic working needs the power of sun and moon, of light and dark, of seen and unseen, to really be universally effective.

A Spirit Trap Governed by Sun and Moon

So here's one for you. It takes a bit of preparation work, but it's strong, very strong. Naturally, you won't ever do it the same way twice, really, not precisely, and you'll want to find "the moment" for the work that's just right. But certain aspects of this work are tied to certain events in the world. When you have workings that are tied to certain worldly events, you have a ritual. Ritual work can be sorcerous, if sorcerous seeds grew it in the first place, and if it maintains that spark of life and imagination that is required to really fill its sails with ghostly wind. And I think that this one meets those qualifications.

On the day of a full moon, take an all-day candle outside and make a flame on it, when the sun is high above and shining down strong. Slip into the forgetting trance and speak with the soul of the sun, and the soul of the flame. Ask the sun for a portion of its great and awe-full presence, and using your breath, breathe some of the sun's power into you (more on this in a minute) and breathe it out into the flame- not too hard, lest you kill the flame. Then, put that candle away in a safe and sheltered place, because that flame must be kept burning all day, to be used later that evening. It cannot go out for any reason. Any candle lit from it maintains the flame and the solar force, just in case you have to "transfer" the flame to another candle.

When the full moon of that day rises, take a fine silver vessel or a crystal glass vessel, or an earthen vessel full of water- clean well water works best- and sit it under the moon, shining down on it. Use your forgetting trance to speak to the soul of the moon and the soul of the water- ask the Moon, and the Terrifying and Majestic Queen Below the Earth before whom all demons tremble, to bless the water with the power to command the harmful powers of night.

Then, go inside of your house, put a nice sized hunk of fresh bread in the center of a white or yellow triangle drawn of flour, and under the bread should be a black piece of linen, or burlap, or some other dark scrap cloth, three true copper pennies next to the bread, and under that cloth, a cord- it should be black, but yellow or natural color works, too.

Walk in a clockwise circle around the area with the bread and the rest of those things at the center of it. This is best done in the main room of your home, or of the house you are working upon. Carry that Sun-flame with you, three times clockwise, and as you move, carrying this little sun, command all harmful spirits and demons and wicked powers that exist in or near this home, or who dwell in the bodies or souls of any present, or who trouble those who sleep in the home, to enter the bread and copper before you all in the name of the Soul of the Sun, the majestic power of right-turning. Tell the powers of the place that you offer this bread and copper to ransom the people who dwell in the house, and tell the powers that cause accidents and sudden strokes of ill fortune that if they are present, that they must yield to the right-turning power of the Sun and enter the bread, to feast there.

Then, place the candle down to the east, and get the water. Carry it clockwise around three times, and, as you walk, make the same commands and requests as above, except this time in the name of the Soul of the Moon, and in the Name of She Before Whom All Spirits Shake in Fear, and All Demons Tremble. Tell the powers that cause accidents and sudden strokes of ill fortune that if they are present, that they must yield to the power of the Moon and the Queen Who Holds the Keys of the World, and enter the bread, to feast there.

Then, put the water down to the west, and catch the bread and pennies up in the cloth, wrap them quick, and start "binding" the whole mess with the cord which should be there. Bind it around nine times if you can. Then, quick as you may, take the whole bound bundle away from the home, swiftly, and either take it to a distant crossroads, or to a running river (preferably one that runs in a direction away from the home) and either leave it at the crossroads, or toss it in the river. Walk away without looking back- if any wicked power compelled by your work "sees" into your eyes as you walk away, it may return easily with you- the eyes are the gateway of the soul, after all.

As it is, compelled by the Sun, Moon, and the Terrifying One, it probably won't be at liberty to just go- and the crossed roads or the river will force it away into the Unseen with great and final force. If you have neither crossed roads or a river or good stream to use, you can hang the bundle in the branches of a distant and large oak tree, or bury it in sand or mud somewhere, as far from your home as you may. A nice bog disposal never hurt, either.

I'd do this once a month, if I were you- it's more than just about spiritual protection; it's also about being protected from accidents and disasters around the home, the kinds that can kill people or maim them. The same powers that can cause accidents around the living area can follow you and cause them in the rest of the world, too.

This working borrows the two right-moving celestial powers and binds and banishes with them. A simple work, taught to anyone who can see the sky with sorcerous eyes. I always use the copper coins because they are Venusian in nature, attractive and seductive to spirits, and they offer blessings from the greatest of Enchantresses herself- but they aren't strictly necessary. Just the bread and cords and cloth would suffice. In lieu of copper coins, fresh rose petals might be nice. So would fresh rosemary. Anything you think might bait this "spirit trap" well.

Rituals are odd like this- if you are really engaging the proper "moment", in that inspiration, things can happen you don't expect; even this ritual may not "go" like you'd expect. So long as the Sun-touched fire is there, and the Moon-filled water is in the rite, and as long as they make deosil circuits, all is well. This is one of the workings I read off the pages of the Grand Grimoire, and I'm very pleased with it. And there are countless more.

This work is a “ritual” (as I said) because it is tied to the occurrence of the full moon- the ultimate “authentic moment” that makes it possible can’t occur except when the moon is full. The moon’s own ancient cycle anchors this sorcery into a ritual form, makes it less “wild” than other forms of sorcery. I’ve spent a good bit of time talking to you about how unpredictable and unrepeatable sorcery was, and then immediately taught you a form of sorcery that seems rather measured and repeatable! Sorcerous irony, again. But this is ritual sorcery, as I have said, and thus tied to some repeating aspect of nature which, though it repeats, maintains the infinite depth and inexhaustible power of nature.  Not all sorcery will be this way; in my own life, most isn’t. Most seems to plan itself, happening suddenly, without me realizing it was about to happen.

But there’s something else that needs to be mentioned- something dark, something disturbing to most. Every act immediately invokes its opposite. This is true for non-sorcerous acts, as it is for sorcerous ones, and this simple fact is as deep as a bottomless well. You *never* truly know all of the ultimate outcomes of sorcery, because the Weird of this world is like a very deep and murky pond. For everything seen, I have often said, “nine things are unseen”- and casting a rock into a pond, sinking it to the depths, can provoke unseen changes deep below.  There’s a hint of danger here. On top of this fact, is the magical and sorcerous reality of “transference”- a fact of life and sorcery that has been present in the mystical life of humans since the dawn of human cultural time.

Transference is a topic that is so very nuanced and complex, that I can’t cover it in detail here, but I can say this:  the malevolent spiritual powers “trapped” in the above-described spirit trap aren’t destroyed by your trap. They are transferred to it, and thence to someplace else- washed somewhere by a river, scattered somewhere (or onto someone) at a crossroads; they can be transferred to a tree, to the winds that blow through its branches, to spirits in the ground, to deeper places in the unseen, but still, they go somewhere.

Can you be certain that your ill fortune, banished from your house, won’t become someone else’s’ ill fortune? You can’t be certain of that. And according to the beliefs of ancients as far apart as Brazil and Scotland, transferred powers almost certainly always go to someone else, human or non-human, and discharge their malevolence onto them. They find someone or something who is too weak to resist them; they find new homes, and discharge their malevolence there. I can’t tell you that this always happens, personally, but I think it often does. Life and reality is a system; it is a fully connected interaction system of massive proportions. Ripples in the pond of life always have to go somewhere, and affect everything else.

Does that change your opinion of this simple but effective sorcerous working I just described? Of sorcery generally? Does it help you to understand why witches in the past, though valued by some, were feared by many or most? I don’t think it was the witch they feared as much as it was the sorcery, the magic- strange, unpredictable, and there was always the dread that something “bad” would or could happen to them which might not have happened otherwise, had the witch not been around.

These are important questions to ponder, and I hope you will. You never perform sorcery in a vacuum. Everything is affected by it, often in many unseen ways. If you could see the full impact of sorcerous activity, you would certainly have a new respect for it, a new awe, and a new hesitation that you might not have felt before when you utilize it. This is another branch of the “game of power” that begins to challenge everything you thought you knew before. Are you still going to play?

What looked like a “good” working, a protective working, can now seem like an evil one, a dark one, one that comes with a cost. Well, get used to it; aside from the omnipresent reality of moral ambivalence that surrounds all sorcery, comes the reality of the hidden cost of it. They say nothing’s free, and as usual, “they” are quite right.

Tunnels for the Ghost-Wind

Now, we’ve reached a turning point. I’ve spent a good deal of time discussing the subtle science of the soul and the senses, tragic misuses of the sacred technology of writing which caused a real shift in our minds, bodies, and cultures from the past, and focused on a basic and powerful trance technique, more powerful, I think, than any you’ll find anywhere. I talked about the Witch-Master, his Holy Wind, and his servitors. I then talked about the strange spontaneity and deep mystery that is the nature of not just sorcery, but of the soul, and of nature itself.

Lastly I have discussed not just a working taken from the earth and sky of the Grand Grimoire, but the perilous and disturbing reality of transference, an important topic for any sorcerer to consider. We’ve come a long way. But now things change- from this peak, high in the windy sky of sorcerous insight, we must plunge to the great finish of this treatise.

I’m going to stop being quite so open-handed about these matters, and now leave it up to you to tie the strands of these invisible winds together. In the next sections, leading to our conclusion, I am going to present further keys to sorcery, the sorcery of the soul and wind, but in an abbreviated form which I trust you will have no trouble accessing to their fullest extent, if you can apply all I’ve said so far. What I am about to say will complete the previously granted understandings of the sorcery of breath and wind, culminating in the “Wraith Prayer”- the formula, learned by me from the seen and unseen, which can apply to all I’ve said here, and to any sorcery anywhere, and bring it to full fruition.

The Wraith Prayer is not just a formula for flying, though it can be used for that. It is also a formula for spirit-contact, for touching the soul, and for talking in the soundless language, the language of spirits. It is the last and most important secret that I have gained from years of this life occult, and this strange world.  The understanding of the wraith-work, and all that I’ve said here, all these uses of the soul and wind, is the true dividing line between what I recognize as witchery and sorcery, and all the other things that sometimes pass for witchery and sorcery today.

I must begin right where we are now, in the soul, mind, and body. Any study of the soul, mind, and body of human beings is an anthropology, and so what follows are necessarily notes on a sorcerous anthropology. But any study of the soul, mind, and body of humans becomes a study of the soul, mind, and body of everything else- like the Land itself, because everything is intensified in everything else. Start walking or flying in a human mind or body, and you will find yourself in a tree or a root, or in a mountain, or in the sky somewhere. All is in all- an oft-repeated and always true sorcerous fact, from time immemorial.

The land has tunnels in it- caves, fissures, openings, holes, which lead to the Underworld and into the reaches of the Unseen. Your body does, too. Tunnels in the land, tunnels in the body- this is a fact and a perspective that you hear little these days, and probably for good reasons. People who are half-aware of the power of natural tunnels and openings in the land always seek them out (rightly) to get access to the Underworld, but if they suspected, or knew, that their own bodies were entrances to the Underworld, they might find themselves dangerously close, all the time, to that mighty and mysterious realm.

When I say that your body has tunnels, I mean also that your souls have tunnels- but during life, the body and soul, the red dragon and the white dragon, the red serpent and the white, are mixed together. Every time you breathe, they mingle, and you can feel this happening. Because of this mixture, the entwining of serpents, the “tunnels”, which are actually points of force in the soul, meet the body at certain predictable areas, at least if you’re a human being. And these tunnels are direct entrances to the Unseen world, more powerful and immediate, it seems, than a natural tunnel in a forest somewhere, under a tree. But never build too much of a division in your head- the land’s body has tunnels, and so does your body, because we are one with the land.

And just like the winds of the world blow in and out of the tunnels in the mountains and land, your own soul, your own wind, blows in and out of your tunnels, all the time. These sorcerous openings found through your body are points at which your soul travels in and out, and the points at which spiritual beings can enter you and communicate with you- or enter you for fair or foul purposes. Also, as we shall see, these points are points at which your soul communicates with the souls of others, reciprocally, and secretly. These are points that you can learn to sense, explore, and use, to “fly in and out” of yourself.

Spiritual damage, blockages, hindrances, and intrusions in your body and soul lodge themselves in these tunnels. They do it to other people’s souls and bodies, too- so knowing what I’m about to say will help you in countless ways, to help yourself and others… or hurt them. Because knowing these things will make you capable of both; no healer isn’t a potential agent of harm- and no person who can bless is ever without the capability of cursing. More sorcerous ambivalence, and more “soul searching” for all.

There are many tunnels, but certain points on the body correspond with the major ones- ones you should know about. Two of the most important are found through what you call your head- the skull-hole, and the forehead door. The skull-hole, at the top of your skull, is the tunnel that your soul mainly uses to “leave” and “reenter” your body anytime it does- it may perceptually, at times, “leave” the body by the mouth or chest, but that’s a seeming- at birth, it chiefly came in through that opening up there, the opening (as we will see) of a “chimney” or central channel that runs vertically through the soul-body.
Contact with the unseen happens at lot in the skull hole, and treasures are hidden in it, as with all these tunnels- in this case, the treasure of your connection with the rest of reality or nature itself.

 Connected with this skull-hole are the mysteries of life and death- of birth and death, for when your final breath exits that corpse, it leaves by the chimney-hole at the skull-roof, just like it came in. While you are sleeping, the skull-hole is one way that your soul slips out quietly while you’re dreaming, though it can leave through other tunnels, if it leaves at all, for not all dreams are found outside of the body. Most, as we will see, are found in the tunnels within you, during sleep. But the image of the witch flying up a chimney on her broom or flying-pole, to achieve her aerial liberation and go among the unseen powers, is full of much meaning and potency, particularly when you begin to make these connections.

The forehead tunnel has made its famous mark throughout history, appearing as the legendary location of the “third eye”, though most people place it a bit high on the forehead- it’s actually closer to between the brows of your face. Centered in this real vortex of power is a person’s entire capacity not just for healthy ordinary perceptions and general sense use (the sense of sight, especially) but for extraordinary sight- soul-sight, as it were. You might call it “wind-seeing” or the “other sight”, but it isn’t something radically apart from the senses as we ordinarily experience them; it is an intensification of the senses, such that all is seen, as we discussed in detail earlier in this work. A person with hindrances in their soul located near this area often suffers from headaches and eye malfunctions; but more than that, they lack the capacity to “see” in the extraordinary sense, which is most people who do not engage the senses properly.

Other “major” tunnels in the body are the throat-cleft cave, the heart tunnel, the sun tunnel, the blood string hole, and the serpent hole. The throat-cleft cave, found right where you’d expect, is the region of the soul-body that corresponds with communication, both the ordinary types of verbal communication (singing, talking, whispering) and the extraordinary kinds, such as hearing or speaking with the inner ears and voice (the spirit-language that we will discuss soon) and what is called “channeling” or psychism these days.  It is also the well-spring of creativity in a person. Unexpressed emotions, particularly anger, colludes this tunnel.

The heart tunnel, which acts as a bridge in the body between the higher and lower tunnels, is the center of the human capacity for affinity- with one’s self, others, and the world as a whole, and the home of all refined emotions, like love for another. It is the home of intimacy and affection, and it is occluded by grief, primarily. Those who “sob” while crying are expelling force from this tunnel. Those with low self-esteem or intimacy issues are very likely dealing with an intrusion or blockage at this “soul region”. The harmony one can feel, between self and world, self and other, and self and one’s own body and soul, is a gift of this tunnel’s ghostly presence when it radiates itself healthily.

The “sun tunnel” is found somewhere near the solar plexus region on the body, and it governs the use of power by the body, the allocation of power to the body and soul, and to the assertion of power- those who have this region colluded by various means are often tired, listless, and withdrawn. Those who are empowered here can command others easily- control and command audiences, lead people, and assert their presence and will on others.

The blood-string hole, also called the moon tunnel or the hare tunnel, is somewhere about two inches below the navel. Raw emotions emanate from it, anchored here by the body-soul mixture- the wild power of sexuality and reproduction, the capacity for fertility, and sexual attraction. Sexual traumas from the past occlude this tunnel, more often than not; but like the serpent hole below it, its condition judges the basic overall health of the body. Those who can use their winds (as we will discuss) to flood this tunnel can command sexual attraction over others.

The serpent hole, about an inch above the anal opening, is the deepest tunnel in the body, and it opens facing the earth. It is the storehouse-point of greatest power in the body-soul. Its great power- or the lack thereof- is the chief occult determinant of the health of the body overall, and any challenge to your bodily survival is met by the power of it. Fears are therefore attached to this tunnel- those often paralyzed by fear, worry, or uncertainty are being dominated by this aspect of their body-soul by some occlusion. Through this tunnel, the only true “grounding” technique that ever worked can be performed; the red serpent of the land and body contacts the body-soul here, chiefly.

I give these very basic and general notes about the bodily tunnels because they will be useful to you once you study the next body of lore I give here, and which I will give now- the use of the breath and winds for an ancient bodily and soul purification. Later, I will discuss simple by powerful bits of sorcery that utilize the tunnels. But first things first- and remember, all these “strands of wind” build on one another; it will be up to you to tie them together, however you will.

As this treatise continues, and as you know and experience more, my descriptions become less lengthy and full. Soon, generalized formulas will really be given, because working with the senses and soul directly, you don’t need much more than that; the Unseen regions of your mind and body will “fill in” the details. Don’t worry that this won’t happen- let the symbols and colors and imagery given lead you, and trust in the power of these things, as they have great antiquity.

The nine breaths purification, a sorcerous tactic that I teach now, is very ancient. Originally from Central Asia (as was the teacher who taught me), it goes back to one of the world’s oldest shamanic systems of belief and practice. When I realized the connection of this technique to the movement of the windy soul in and out of the body, I realized its applicability to European witchcraft, aside from the many powerful benefits it has all by itself to the body and soul. I adopted it as a sorcerous working to my repertoire.  

After months of doing it, I realized its enormous power, and the way that it truly transforms a person’s ability to gain trance, leave and return to the body, and be free of spiritual intrusions and damages done to the soul by spirits, but also to be free of things that we let ourselves become unconsciously attached to (things that don’t actually matter, but hold us back) and things that we learn to hate and become angry about. Being angry or hateful, as an emotional experience, is natural. But as I have pointed out countless times before, not all natural things are necessarily healthy for us in the wrong amounts, or at the wrong times and places (hurricanes are also natural, for instance.) Hate and anger, more than most intense emotions, can block a person’s sorcerous potential, and inhibit the soul.

But then, so can the secret things we allow to obsess us- those nagging attachments we make to people, places, things, conditions- and which we largely become unconscious of. Being unconscious of unhealthy attachments means that they go on ruling you from the dark regions of your soul, inhibiting you in multiple ways you aren’t aware of- but the results can be disastrous. For us, the chief disastrous result is in how your soul simply can’t be moved “out of body” or in how sorcery becomes impossible for you. Also, an emotional roller-coaster can be caused by your own secret hang-ups.

The last obstacle (aside from anger/hate and secret attachments) is the soul-damage done by hostile and malevolent spiritual powers to the body and soul. And as strange as it may sound to us today, just about all of us are harmed in various ways by such powers, without us realizing it. What we DO realize is the final outcomes of that damage- our unhappiness in life, our loss of health, our sense of being “dis-spirited”, our persistent ignorance that leads us to ignore our connection to the rest of the world, or ignore the aerial freedom represented by soul and breath and wind.

This has nothing at all to do with Christian “demons” coming after us and trying to take our souls. The world is pulsing full of spiritual beings, and not all are pleasant or helpful. There’s no conspiracy here to hurt you, as a human; a spirit may hurt you just because you wandered through its territory, in the same way a bear might, in the woods. Getting around corruption and degradation- a quick drive or walk through a blighted inner-city ghetto or a very poor neighborhood where despair and poverty has given way to violence and crime can result in the same thing, as malevolent powers are often near such places.

Even a pristine place somewhere in a forest, far from humans, may be home to a non-human person that’s just vicious or savage. Just living these days, in a world polluted in more than one way, can result in many “nicks and cuts and scratches” on the soul- or outright bleeding- that you might not be aware of fully. And I haven’t even gone into attacks sent against people by witches or sorcerers!

And, fortunately for us, there is an ancient technique for using the breath itself- and the soul- to cleanse the soul and body, and undo these sorts of blockages and damages. You can’t do it once and expect it to be a done deal; I’ve done it for months daily and discovered that while every use of the technique helps, the “damage” and blockages often take a while to get “smoothed out”. That too, is the price of living in our mad world today. But the need to get started is definitely there! Your sorcerous power, clarity, and insight will increase, I guarantee it.

This technique requires you to see the three chief factors of the soul-body. You know about tunnels that lie along the vertical axis of the body already. Now, understand that the “vertical axis” of the body, deep inside the body, is a “spirit trunk” or a channel, running from your serpent-hole to the skull-hole. When you visualize it, you should visualize it as blue in color (this is not a modern new age “visualization” technique; it is actually very ancient.) It is about as thick as a cane. This channel is of enormous importance to what we will talk about soon- flying- so roll with this strangeness! On either side of this spirit-trunk, are two thin veins- the dragon or serpent veins.

One is red, and one is white (no surprise!) If you are male, the red vein begins at your left nostril, curves under your skull, and goes down the left side of your body alongside the spirit-trunk, and “goes into” the spirit trunk down around the region of your blood-string hole. The white vein begins at your right nostril, curves under your skull, and goes down the right side of your body, where it also meets the spirit-trunk about the level of the blood-string hole, two inches below the navel. There is a three way junction there, where these three channels meet. The serpent-veins are thin, like veins, but must be thought of as tubes. If you are female, the red and white veins are reversed in you! This is very important. In women, the red vein begins at the right nostril, and the white at the left, and they travel down the body and meet up in the same way at the juncture down below.

The red channel is the home of all blockages and hindrances related to attachments. The white channel is home to all the blockages and hindrances related to hate and anger. And the blue central channel is the home of all spiritual damages done to us by spirits themselves, or sorcerous attacks generally. But there is much, much more to this. That blue central channel, which does merge with your tunnels, is the most central “home” of the breath and soul- or at least, it should be; the problem with damages and hindrances is that the breath of you, and the soul of you, gets shunted around and trapped in various places that are not the central channel. This causes all the morbid states of mind that we have to suffer under- and the disorganized, chaotic way we dream at night. Blockages and hindrances in this system stop you from being able to undergo soul-flight, and can also (most tragically) stop you from dying with any ease or peace, causing the soul to have troubles “exiting” (as it were) or forcing you to become bound to the body or some place at death, or to some nightmarish subtle condition, as subtle as breath- remember, the “landscape” of the spirit world and afterlife is, after all, a subtle landscape of windy, shifting reality.

To do the purification, you start by purifying the white channel, then the red, then the center. I’m going to give the instructions as though you were male; if you are female, alternate your fingers and nostrils for the appropriate channels! It’s really very simple. The man raises his finger and closes his right nostril, and inhales through the left nostril, steadily and strongly. This forces air to move in through just the red serpent vein, and it goes all the way down to the three-way conjunction place. The teacher said that you could visualize the air coming in as green and spiritually clean air, but that isn’t strictly necessary. Then, the man takes his finger away and lets the right nostril open, and closes the left nostril, and breathes out, forcing the air to exit through the white serpent vein to the right. As it comes out, it is expelled as a cloud of lightish blue colored tainted air. This is done three times, thus cleansing the white channel.

Then, for the next three breaths, the man closes his left nostril, inhaling as before through the right nostril only, down the white serpent vein, and before exhaling, he switches his finger, letting the left nostril come open and pushing closed the right, expelling the air through the left nostril only. That wind comes out as a pinkish colored tainted air, cleansing the red serpent vein. By this point, you’ve done six breaths, and cleansed the white and red serpent veins.

Then, you inhale deeply with both nostrils, taking the clean air down both channels to the three-way conjunction, and when you exhale from both nostrils, you must ‘see’ and feel the air rising up your blue central channel, and coming out of your skull hole, out of the top of your head, as a smoky, grey and black and ashy-colored smoke. Three breaths of that, and you’ve reached nine breaths, and purified your central channel, removing the harm done by spirits. Now, your winds- and your soul- can move more freely through the subtle bodily system, and workings of sorcery will be stronger- particularly trance. Feel free to do the purification as many times as you want, whenever you want; it doesn’t take long, and a few per sitting per day can change everything. There’s no such thing as doing it too many times. You will very shortly see the massive benefits of this work, internally and externally.

The Sorcery of Bodily Sensation and Sight

Now, before I get to the “peak” of this work, in which I attempt to tie together- in my own way- so many of these sorcerous strands for you, let’s talk about the body and the sense of sight. This is one of my favorite conversations (though sadly, not one I can have here at the length I want) because I’ve had so much profound experience with the sorcerous utilization of the body itself. We’ve talked a lot about the breath and winds, the soul and the like. We’ve talked a lot about the “white dragon”- but now, the red dragon needs her due. And here, we come face to face again with simple, ancient, and profound methods of sorcerous experience that can unlock many secret doors, and pluck so many grains from the secret granary. It’s almost outrageous to imagine that such simple and subtle things could have hidden from us, right in plain view, for millennia, and yet, here we are. It’s reality.

When you’re dealing with the body itself, the red serpent, you’re also dealing with the land and its great red serpent, because the body is as much a part of the land as a boulder or a tree. As I pointed out before, there are tunnels in the land, and tunnels in the body. But you’re also dealing with whatever is in the land- like the Underworld. The flight down, the sinking down, the descent to the underworld is deeply connected with the conscious experience of the body. The Underworld is not just a big void under the “ground” that you see with your eyes and feel with your feet; it is also the depths and darkness of the immediate sensation of the physical body.

This term is very important- sensation. You have a bodily sensation, only you probably don’t feel it very often. And this bodily sensation- the feeling of all of you, the feeling of being you, the feeling of having a body- is sorcerously powerful. We’ve all learned to ignore it, all our lives, and yet learning to be aware of it again is easy. The reason why it is powerful is because it is the anchor of the soul, the feeling of being a “being” When you are alive, your wind-soul and your body are mixed together fully; every in breath lets you feel the “mixture” happening. Your flesh is permeated by wind and life-vitality, the same way the sorcerous Master himself permeates the solid, dark land. This is how the most Mercurial being in existence is also so Saturnian.

So the body can be used to “sense” or experience that soul, because while you’re alive, the body and soul really can’t be meaningfully divided. This is the key understanding. Now, go sit down somewhere, and put your feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Can you feel the pressure between your buttocks and legs and back between what you’re sitting on? Easily you can- but take a deep breath, relax, and really examine that pressure, and that heat. It feels different in those places than in the places (like your face, or the tops of your hands) that aren’t touching and pressing against something.

Look into that pressure and heat. Deep inside, you’ll notice a tingle, or a vibration or just a deep “sensation”. It’s easy to feel when you’re standing up, and just your feet are pressing against the ground. It’s easy to miss because you’ve become so used to ignoring it. Look again. Feel again. Any place that you press some part of you with weight against something, there is a pressure, a heat, and a deep sensation, which can feel many ways, but at first, it is always subtle.

When you feel it- and it is EASY to feel; don’t try too hard- you must focus on it and realize that this sensation isn’t just in the places where you’re experiencing pressure. It is all over your body, in every cell of you, every iota of you. Go to a place where there is a “boundary” between where your body is pressing on something, and a place where it isn’t, and examine the boundary. The sensation seems to ‘stop’ at the boundary, but in reality, it doesn’t. It’s on the “other side” of the boundary too. It has to be, because that deep, pervasive sensation is the feeling of the red dragon, of the body, charged with the vitality of soul. Every tiny bit of you has it- you are buzzing with it, all day, every day, all your life.

What usually happens is that people start to feel it all over- and it’s really rather effortless once you focus on it- and then, their whole body starts to tingle and the buzzing of pleasant, dark life is all over them, right where it always was anyway. Welcome! This is a surprising and powerful sorcerous initiation. Bear in mind that when I say “sensation”, I am not talking about the tingling of nerve endings, as you get when you slap your hands together hard and then hold them close together. That’s the sense of touch. Sensation is something that is one step deeper than sense, just the feeling of being you, of having a body and soul mixing and buzzing with life.

Once you have your whole body buzzing and tingling with sensation, congratulations- you didn’t make it happen; it was always there; you just became aware of it again, probably for the first time since you were an infant. And guess what? This sensation doesn’t stop with you. The air has it. The wind has it. Trees have it. Rocks have it. Other people have it. All of reality is endowed with this vitality. You are connected to everything, as I said before, and this sensation of the body, like the vitality of the breath, is another way to experience it.

You can sit there and, in deep experience of sensation, open yourself to another person, or an animal, or tree, and start to feel their sensation. And most importantly, this sensation, like the wind that is part of it, isn’t isolated to your body. You can “sink” into it, and go down, down, down, into your body, and into the Underworld at the exact same time. To sink in sensation isn’t hard at all; sitting there, focusing on NOTHING but your sensation, it almost starts to happen automatically, so long as you focus on nothing but this. It seems slow and heavy and sluggish at times, or perhaps at first; but in reality, it is very free and strong.

When you die, your outward senses fail, but this sensation remains. It sinks down into the Underworld, and on to whatever dreams may come. Before you were born, that’s precisely what you were- this intense feeling of sensation, in the great dark pool of sensation that IS the Underworld, connected to everything, within everything. Breath is part of this- as the soul-breath is exhaled from the body at death, the interior experience of sensation intensifies and “moves away” from the body into aerial liberation and flight to the depths. At conception and birth, you arose from the deep, sensation and soul-breath vitalizing the forming body.

Let me tell you about two of the most profound uses for this special and easy-to-attain sorcery. First off, just becoming aware of sensation- something you can do while walking around, talking to people, typing on your computer, or any time- is a form of trance. If you’re standing in line at a store, you can do it by focusing on your feet, finding that sensation down there, and then becoming aware of it gradually or quickly all over your body. You can “greet people” in your sensation, by focusing on it as you stand in front of them and sinking down into it a little bit, and feeling their sensation. It’s a subtle way of greeting someone, but a real one- you are contacting them on a subtle level.

Pay attention to how you feel when you are in contact with your sensation, because your body and soul will send you messages and feelings, sometimes of great importance through it. How other people are feeling, or whether or not they are dangerous, or lying, or what they conceal, can be broadcast to you through it, as feelings. Danger that has not yet arisen can be sensed by you, if you are in touch with this bodily sensation.

And most importantly, the dead who are in the Underworld can be found in it. They can communicate with you through it, if you “sink down” to them through it- which is really just a matter of focusing on nothing but the sensation, sinking, sinking, while focusing on their names and visualizing their faces in life. You will “reach” them, though the depth of the trance to do this causes you to essentially lie down and appear to be asleep, unmoving. And other beings, too- the Master, the Queen Below, the familiars- they can be met in just the same way, following the same method. Like the breath, the body is the only sorcerous “tool” you could ever need.

Trouble sleeping? Not anymore. Lie down tonight, focus on your bodily sensation (it’s easy to find when half your body is pushing against a mattress) and then, when your whole body is a-buzz with the vital power of your soul, which is the sensation, just focus on nothing but that. Within minutes, you will fall asleep- I promise. This is a secret sorcerous “cure” to insomnia, but something else too- the dreams you have when you do this tend to be vivid and meaningful. It can be used as a dream oracle. The trick is to focus on nothing but the sensation, and just let go, just sink into it, and into the whole world. You can’t let yourself think about other things; if you find yourself doing that, re-focus on the pervasive and everywhere obvious sensation. It’s relaxing, and powerful. It also destroys stress, and makes a person more intuitive and calm, the more they perform this simple, organic work.

This technique had a name among the ancient Greeks- it was called incubation. It was used by the ancient Iatromantoi-shamans to heal people, but also to journey into the unseen world and talk to spirits and the dead. You will discover that it still has healing power- if you are ill, incubate. Sink. You will either feel better, or you will, in trance, meet with beings who can offer you a way to heal yourself, or just have visions showing you what you must do- or feelings, intuitions telling you what to do. This technique goes back to the foundations of western civilization, and has many layers of power and use which you are free to now explore. But for me, the greatest use is this: it is a way of using the body to know the soul, and to know one’s connection with all things, and reach out to all things. It is the pure primordial essence of sorcery.

Let us shift to the sense of sight now. I have said before that our senses are magical connections between us and everything else, and I quite meant what I said. Our entire experience intensifies itself in us- our experience of everything in the world- and we intensify in those things. Our senses are the channels by which we come to knowledge of this process. Sense isn’t just side-effects of sense-organs like eyeballs or ear drums. The senses are deeper things than that, and sensation is one layer deeper than them.

If you are hearing a song, that is a hearing connection between you and the song that is intensifying in you, and the “you” that is intensifying in the song. If you are seeing a bird, that is a seeing connection between you and the bird that’s intensifying in you, and you in the bird, simultaneously. It’s a circle; the senses describe a perfect circle that contains the things we call “sense organ, sensing person, and object of sense”, making them all one watercourse, all one mysterious reality.

So why not use that sight in new ways? What could you be “looking” for out there? There’s only one thing you can find- yourself, out there. Read carefully: looking at the world enough- really looking- that’s what you’ll find: yourself. You have a presence in everything you see, just as it has a presence in you. And if that is the case, why just be “over here” in this red serpent that you’re feeling? Your red serpent is “out there”, too. This white serpent you have in you, breathing in? It’s exhaled, shooting out there, too. Use your eye-vision as the bridge! It can reach miles that your breath can’t immediately or so quickly reach!

Go sit outside, and look, really look, with the piercing gaze. You probably already did this when you used the forgetting trance- and you need to use that again! Engage that sense of sight, without concepts to blunt it! Gaze into a tree or boulder nearby. Really look INTO it. Your eye “sight” may stop at the bark or the rocky surface, in which you can now see details you might have missed before as your sensory visual mind really “grabs” it, intensifying in you, but you can “look” further still. Imagine that you are focusing on a point a few inches into the tree or rock. You “see” the surface, but “look” deeper, set your focus point inside it. It may take hours, or even days of doing this, or perhaps only an hour, or minutes, depending on you- but something’s going to hit you like a ton of the same boulders or trees you might be looking into- you’re going to find yourself in there.

Urge it on. Your piercing gaze, your eye sight, is already a connection between you and whatever you’re looking at. The connection is full and established. Now, “feel” yourself “in” there. Feel what it would be like to be a tree or a rock. Keep staring; be easy, but firm. Be focused; be consumed with just the object that you are using the gaze on. Ignore distractions; be consumed in the vision. Soon, the conceptual walls between “you” and “it” will start to collapse, sometimes even violently!

What happened for me the first time I accomplished this, was as so: I was staring at a pine tree, about 15 feet from me, a real big one. I gazed at it first, letting my soul tell me what “point” to focus on- and you’ll have to “feel” that point; then, I locked onto that point and wouldn’t let go with my eyes. As the tree intensified in me, and I in it- remember, there was no conceptual mind at work here, I was just in the pure experience of the sense- I started to feel like I was “over there”, in the same place as the tree.

It was gradual, but it grew stronger, and then, I could sense what was about eight feet around the tree in every direction. I felt like there was a circle, about eight feet in diameter around me, full of leaves, and fallen pine cones, and even a bird, picking at the ground- and then, I realized that I was sensing this because this was what was around the tree. I was in two places at once! On the one hand, I was staring at the tree from a distance, and on the other hand, I was sensing as though I was the tree. It made sense to me then, how witches were legendarily supposed to have the power to appear in other places aside from where they bodily were- because this particular capacity, this sorcerous effect, tears open the intense, participatory nature of reality and sense.

David Abram learned this very same technique from a Nepalese shaman, and he covers the instructions that Shaman gave him in his book “Becoming Animal”- and he does it with more detail and panache than I can do here, so read that book! The shaman-teacher of Abram told him that to do this exercise with animals, one had to either focus the gaze- the “being inside” gaze- on a point a little low on the chest of the beast, or on its back, near the bottom of the back of its neck. Those were the two places that animals could be “sense entered”, or in which you could find yourself in them, and Abram, upon achieving his mastery of this art, was able to enter a raven and experience its flight.

These things are very powerful, ancient, simple, organic, and (most importantly) possible for you, this very day, in the next few weeks or months, if you are subtle and clever enough to gain anything from my words here, or from Abram’s great works. In the simple power of the soul, all of these wonders are possible. This is what it means to re-member your humanity. It is to re-member your participation with everything, and why forgetting the human is such a horrendous loss.

The Shimmering Wind and the Wraith Prayer

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for- and which I know I’ve been waiting for- a chance to tie these things all together. It may seem like I’ve taken you on a brief tour of many corners of the sorcerous caverns and forests of the world, and that’s really what I’ve done; my brevity can be turned into an endless tome of sorcery by you, your soul, and your senses, using these intriguing and traditional starting points.

To “shimmer” is to have the awareness outside of the body, in the windy, aerial release of the soul; it is to achieve soul-flight. It has many degrees; it doesn’t have to be a full-on “out of body” experience, though it can be. How far you can take it depends on one thing, above all: how far your desire can reach. A person can “shimmer” only a little, almost as though they “breathed out” the awareness or the soul a short ways from one of their tunnels- usually the skull-hole, the forehead door, or the throat-cleft tunnel. In that state, one can see and perceive the world with soul-eyes. Of course, this isn’t the only way to do such a thing; just sinking into sensation, or using the piercing gaze as I instructed before, or using the forgetting trance that engages the senses with power can achieve another sort of soul-sight, or soul experiences. So, in this forest there are many paths to extraordinary experiences. This Art is never “just this or that.”

Take our tunnels, for instance. A person comes to you terrified about something- genuinely scared out of their wits. Sit them down. Do your nine breaths purification, then sit in front of them, the front of your body facing the front of theirs. Breathe in, and concentrate your breath into your spirit trunk, the central channel. Keep doing that. With every in breath, it “goes into the channel”, fills it, and sinks down a bit to the bottom. With every future breath, it does the same, but it begins to accumulate “down there” and get higher and higher. When you have a lot of breath concentrated in your spirit trunk, breathe out and force it up into your forehead tunnel. Use your will to ‘send’ the sorcerous winds there, and fill that tunnel with a howling wind. Keep “breathing into” that tunnel.

Now, the next few times you breathe in, let the air “scour you and hollow your body out”- so that you feel like there’s not much left of your body, only that windy tunnel floating up around your forehead, and then, as you exhale, “blow yourself” up into the forehead tunnel and come out of the front of it. It’s like your head or your awareness will be sticking out of your forehead, or looking down that tunnel.

Now, look at the other person’s soul body. It may resemble them a bit, or a lot- but it’s their tunnels you need to be looking at, specifically their serpent hole, where fears reside. You’ll discover that in this subtle state, you can easily “float closer” to the person. Float your unseen face close to their serpent hole and look in. Don’t bother with what you see now; you can see many things, secret things, but the Art of removing evil things from those tunnels- or putting them in- is not for discussion now. In this instance, speak into their tunnel. Whisper with your unheard voice that they should calm down; not be afraid; that all will be well. Whisper into that tunnel well and then tell the tunnel that you are done speaking, and go back into your body through your forehead tunnel.

And then, that piece of sorcery is done. You may be surprised at how quickly they seem to feel better, at least a bit. Of course, “speaking into the soul tunnels” can be done at any tunnel, for any reason- such as encouraging a person at the soul level to feel passionately, sexually attracted to you (whispering into the blood-string hole). That might be seen as dark sorcery; as sorcerous seduction, and well, opinions aside, it is what it is. I merely point it out to show how the tunnels I mentioned before can be used as vessels of sorcery and communication, with the secret winds.

If you think that unseen beings- or sorcerers powerful enough- can’t “elf shoot” a person, drill them with “elf shot” or unseen (but deadly) ‘arrows’ of malevolence, I must say, you just aren’t thinking about this correctly- and if you didn’t guess that whispering horrible, terrifying things into a person’s serpent hole couldn’t give them nightmares, or degrade their mental health, you’re really just perhaps too nice for this business. I’m not saying you have to do those things, but know that they can be done, and are.

And not just by humans, as I said- the “Faery Host” or the Aerial host of the dead and the beings of the unseen, led by the Elf-Knight (The Master) makes it a cyclical habit of flying about the world on storms and winds and selectively killing the souls of human beings and animals, to collect them into the “Company of the Storm”- and witches in the past, like Isobel Gowdie, found that they could become a part of that ancient company. They aren’t killing to be evil; they are manifesting Fate, and strengthening “Them over there”. Others will be born to replace those taken by the Wild Hunt.

“Killing” the soul is possible- but what it means is that a fatal injury is inflicted on the soul-form on the subtle level, which leads, a while later (usually not too long, depending on the power of the attack) to the physical death of the person. A person may be “dead already” in the Unseen, but not be aware of the fact. This is one of the reasons why people, in traditional folklore, “see their fetch” leaving them a short while before they die, in dreams and in visions, quite often.

Now, here is the formula of the Wraith Prayer. Remember how I said I would give it as a skeleton, and allow you to give it flesh with your own soul (another sorcerous paradox?) I hope it gives you much joy and insight. I hope it doesn’t lead to your death or the deaths of others, but that must be listed as a possibility.

The Wraith Prayer, or Fetch-Sending Formula of Four Parts
(The Master Keys to Trance and Flight or Liberation from the Red Body Fetter)

I. Perform the Nine Breaths Purification

II. Engage the Forgetting Trance and enliven the senses to pure sensing power (Sensory Soul Intensifies, White stage) Really get a sense for how your whole environment around you is intensifying in you, and you in it- how much this “world around you” IS your state of mind at present, and you are in it.

III. Engage the Bodily Sensation (Body Intensifies, Red Stage)

IV. Breathe in the World-Wind, concentrating it in the Spirit-Trunk. As you breathe in, feel the white soul and red soul, the breath and body, mixing and combining fully. As you breathe in after a bit, feel the “Great Wind”- the world-wind, the Master’s kingdom- “pushing in” to you, filling you, lending you your human life and mind, and when you breathe out, feel your personal wind, your soul, being “pulled” out into the World-Wind. This technique, the “bellows breath” should be done for a while, until you feel the “Great Wind” as though it were a mighty person or being, or collection of beings, noticing you. Then, take a deep breath, and as you exhale make the sound “eh”- the same sound made by “e” in the word “set”. Drag it out, slowly- ehhhhhhhhhh- and end with a hard “t” noise. “tuh!” Doing it a few times is best, but every time you do it, let your flesh and soul become one with the sound.

 At this point, you should have a strong sense of connection between everything- sensory connection with environment, a “feeling” connection with everything, a strong sense of your own body, and in the central channel or Spirit Trunk, you should feel that “you” can “look and speak” up through your skull hole, or look down and speak through the serpent hole. Above and below should seem open to you. You should start to have a sense of “liberation” of “I can move or be discovered anywhere”- you may find your mind darting off, your soul moving about like it’s yearning to be free, or just flying already. Or you may just feel that all these things are possible. Most often,  you may feel that you’re in more than one place at the same time- sitting or standing there, but also being “near you”, behind you or beside you.

From this point, you can work as you see fit: you are ready for anything. Using your breath, you can send a howling wind into any of your tunnels, or, if you wish to engage full spirit flight, you must first concentrate a lot of wind into the Spirit Trunk (described earlier) and then, “scour and hollow out” the body with breath, and then- lastly- with one forceful out breath, once you feel like you aren’t “much left” bodily, blast your awareness out of the skull-hole on the top of your head- “ride the wind up the chimney” and out of you.

You may feel like some part of you is still “in your body”, at the same time that you feel like you’ve “gone up and out”- or, you may feel that you exited through your mouth as you breathed out- even if it feels like you “exited” through your mouth, it’s okay; you actually went out (if you went out) through the skull hole.  And the feeling of being “in two places at once” is normal and natural at first, and throughout your career doing these things. Just gently “focus over” on your other breath-self, and you’ll more and more be able to experience what it is experiencing. Remember, to “fly around”, you only need the air and wind- and that’s everywhere. It connects your wraith, your flying fetch, to everything.

The Soundless Language and Conjuring the Familiar

I thought I might end with some notes about the Soundless Language, and the art of real invocation. Saying words out-loud is powerful; they are given life by your soul-wind, and have sorcerous value. But I have discovered that after such words are said- or even if they are not said- my familiar spirits and Magistellus don’t respond as strongly unless I use the soundless language- the heart language- to call them. And when you have done the wraith prayer and are no longer “just a body”- when you have a strong sense and connection with the Spirit-trunk in you- you are in a perfect position to use this soundless language.

And it’s quite simple- you don’t use words at all. You use feelings. It’s hard to describe, it works in several ways. Let yourself sink down the spirit-trunk and come out “under” you a bit, and “inside” of the whole world under you- and “feel” into the whole world whatever it is that you want to communicate to the spirit you are trying to conjure. That sounds funny, but it works- if you want your familiar to come to your presence, to fly down your skull hole and take up residence inside you, or fly into you some other way, you go down, exit a bit, sink into things, until you feel that connection with everything (the whole world, seen and unseen) and you just long for the spirit. Feel wanting, feel the genuine longing you have for it to be near, and it will come.

It’s liberating to not have to “say” anything- just let your feelings “speak” for you. If you are troubled because you can’t pay your rent, and are about to be homeless, and working to find extraordinary resources to get around this problem, even prayers to the powers can be translated into the language of the heart, into the soundless language- let yourself feel the sorrow and depression and frustration of your situation, and present it to them- “feel it out there”- They already know what’s wrong; this is another way of communicating “I need help!”.

“As far as desire can reach…” The longing for the Master is an invocation to him, just as it is for the familiar powers or the magistelli. They will “come up” from the depths, and enter you, or hover near you, or “feel” closer, perhaps below you, but near you. If they will come, I mean; I can’t speak for what other spirits may or may not do for you personally.

Another way of communicating with the unseen which I find profoundly powerful doesn’t even involved having to do the Wraith Prayer- just bring up your awareness of your bodily sensation, and “speak”- whisper- “into the sensation”. Speak consciously into your sensation, and you will discover that it “echoes” into the Unseen quite strongly. Remember- your bodily sensation is a tiny bit of sensation thrust up from the great ocean of power that is the Unseen and the Underworld, and is connected to it. Speaking into the depths of your sensation is like speaking into a portal directly into the world-depths.
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