Friday, December 28, 2012

Alone by Edgar Allan Poe

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I loved—I loved alone—
Then—in my childhood—in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still—
From the torrent, or the fountain—
From the red cliff of the mountain—
From the sun that ’round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold—
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by—
From the thunder, and the storm—
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view—

~Edgar Allan Poe

The Cauldron

More than the broom, or even the stang, the cauldron is the classic witches’ tool. In classical Greece we find stories of the witch Medea who brewed the elixir of life and death in her cauldron. Across Europe among the Celtic peoples are tales of Cerridwen whose potion of Awen was simmered in her own cauldron for a year and a day, and Bran, whose cauldron would regenerate fallen heroes. The cauldron of Dagda also featured in the celtic myths. His cauldron poured  forth endless food and wealth. It is echoed today in tales of Baba Yaga and Strega Nona  both of whom have special cook pots that are never exhausted of food, provided that the correct magical phrases are uttered over them.

 Even Shakespeare's infamous three witches from his play MacBeth are seen to gather around a cauldron and chant their nefarious rune.
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poisoned entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Sweltered venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first in the charmed pot!
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake!
~William Shakespeare
MacBeth, Act IV, Scene 1

Robert Cochrane writes on the “two words that do not fit in the cauldron” as a mystery of the Craft. The answer to this riddle is “Be Still” for within the cauldron lies all motion, all potential, and all things. It cannot hold stillness, but this too is a mystery. The cauldron is used not just for the brewing of potions, but also as a vessel for scrying in liquid or flame. To accomplish this we must find stillness within the cauldron, by quieting our own minds.

The cauldron is also very similar to the Holy Grail of legend. We must ever seek it and its mysteries, for in it lies true communion with the Gods, and deep healing of our souls. “Who does the Grail serve?” is the riddle traditionally associated with this quest. The Grail serves all who seek it with honest intent, for it is only in not questing for the mystery that it serves no one.
“In fate and the overcoming of fate, lies the true Grail.” ~ Robert Cochrane
In our tradition the Cauldron is associated with the Grail Queen of the Silver Castle -- Castle Perilous -- as Cerridwen-Babalon. We drink deeply of her bloody cup, and rejoice in the coming of the Season of the Witch at the Autumn Equinox.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Weather Magic

Witches were once believed to be able to raise the wind at their pleasure. In a confession made at Auldearn in Nairnshire in the year 1662, certain women accused of sorcery said, "When we raise the wind, we take a rag of cloth and wet it in water, and we take a beetle and knock the rag on a stone, and we say thrice over":
I knock this rag upon this stane,
To raise the wind in the devil's name.
It shall not lie until I please again!
When the wind was to be allayed the rag was left to dry.

In Scotland, sailors and fishermen would buy a piece of rag with three knots within it, from witches who were said to tie up the winds to fill their sails, The winds were released by untying the knots as follows: The first knot produced a wind to fill their sails, the second a strong wind, and the third creating a tempest or storm. Other examples of making the rain include tossing a flint stone over one's left shoulder or sprinkling water with a broom.

To Whistle Up the Wind

Like attracts like. As you focus your breath, so can you use it to whistle up the wind. Focus your energy and inhale. Infuse the inhaled air with your energy in a command. Whistle, and as you do, command the wind to blow as you are forcing the air from your mouth. The sharpness and tone and length of the whistle will denote the type of wind you are summoning. For example, a short, sharp and loud whistle will bring on a gust. The wind may also be controlled by the use of an old magical phrase:  Sha Gadda Galat. When used with the proper concentration and Will, these magic words will bring up the wind and will call in magic.

Cutting a Storm

This spell should be kept for diverting severe weather only. To cut a storm you will need your black handled knife. Focus on becoming at one with the oncoming storm, and when you can feel the rush of the thunderstorm within you, run screaming at the approaching storm, brandishing your knife. Plunge the knife into the earth with the blade facing the wind. As you do this visualize the storm being cut in two and diverting itself around you.

The Watchers

The Watchers, or Grigori, are ancient angelic beings associated with stellar lore that watch over witches. They are sometimes envisioned as the Watchtowers of the witch’s circle.

In the stellar cults of Mesopotamia there were fourstars known as Lords or Watchers. Each of these stars “ruled” over a cardinal point of the compass, circa 3000 BCE. Aldebaran was the star of the Vernal Equinox, and was the Watcher of the East. Regulus, star of the Summer Solstice was the Watcher of the South. Antares was the star of the Autumnal Equinox and was the Watcher of the West. Finally Formalhaut was the star of the Winter Solstice and Watcher of the North. Seven-stepped pyramid towers were constructed bearing symbols of each of these four stars and times of year. These ziggurats formed the first instance of the Watchtowers.

The Watchers are echoed in the four winds of the ancient Greeks, and in the four Archangels of Christian belief: Michael (Fire), Gabriel (Water), Raphael (Air), and Auriel (Earth). However, the Watchers are also mentioned as fallen angels in the apocryphal  Book of Enoch. These Watchers are said to have instructed the daughters of men in certain magical arts. The usual associations are as follows:
  • Araqiel: signs of the earth
  • Armaros: enchantments
  • Azazel: masking, smithing, and witchcraft
  • Barqel: astrology
  • Ezequeel: signs of the clouds
  • Gadreel: making weapons
  • Kokabeel: stellar lore
  • Penemue: written spells
  • Sariel: lunar magic
  • Semjaza: herbal magic
  • Shamshiel: solar magic
These Enochian Watchers were said to have mated with the daughters of men and produced a race of giants, the Nephilim, who were gifted with magical powers. These Nephilim possessed odd genetic traits that are similar to the “Witches’ Marks” of old, such as giantism, extra teeth, polydactylism, and supernumery nipples. Indeed, some modern witches still claim descent from certain specific fallen angels.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Season of the Witch

From the Autumn Equinox until just after the Wild Hunt rides out around Samhain is the Season of the Witch.  People all over the United States seem to know that this is true without being told so.  The stores decorate for Halloween, reporters develop stories about local Witches, and Witches themselves feel a certain thrill in the chilly autumnal breeze that stirs something wild and magical within them.

We honor this season by flying out as much as possible during this time, in preparation for the Wild Hunt.  We also begin our Samhain season preparations, which include: changing over to black robes from white, ancestor contact, a dumb feast, pumpkin guardians, deep divination, and, of course, flying to the Sabbat.

Our friend and mentor Pythia Blackthorn, of the Classic Witchcraft Blog, has a wonderful excerpt from Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes that sums up the Season of the Witch beautifully:  The Autumn People:
“Beware the autumn people. … For some, autumn comes early, stays late, through life where October follows September and November touches October and then instead of December and Christ’s birth, there is no Bethlehem Star, no rejoicing, but September comes again and old October and so on down the years, with no winter, spring or revivifying summer. For these beings, fall is the only normal season, the only weather, there be no choice beyond. Where do they come from? The dust. Where do they go? The grave. Does blood stir their veins? No, the night wind. What ticks in their head? The worm. What speaks through their mouth? The toad. What sees from their eye? The snake. What hears with their ear? The abyss between the stars. They sift the human storm for souls, eat flesh of reason, fill tombs with sinners. They frenzy forth. In gusts they beetle-scurry, creep, thread, filter, motion, make all moons sullen, and surely cloud all clear-run waters. The spider-web hears them, trembles—breaks. Such are the autumn people. Beware of them.”

- Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Our totems for this time of year reflect the themes of this dark tide. The Autumn Equinox is the time we honor the early face of the Black Goddess: The Grail Queen.  We see her as the Silver Queen of Castle Perilous, whose treasure is the Holy Grail, the Cauldron of Cerridwen to which we must all return.  It is also the bloody Cup of Babalon, who collects blood offerings of sacrifice and transmutes them into magic.  Her totems are the swine, the chicken, and the grapevine, all of which offer forth their flesh and blood to feed and nourish us.  Early October's totems are those of deep wisdom: the salmon, the hazelnut, and lapwing.  These symbols of sacrifice and wisdom prepare us for our journey into the underworld to seek the heart of all magic at Samhain.  Samhain's totems are the toad, the crane, and the elder tree.  It is the time when we honor Tubal Cain in his dark aspect as the Lord of the Dead, keeper of the Quench Tank, the Deathhelm, and the West Gate.

Witches all, we hope to see you at the Sabbat, be it atop the Brocken, under the Walnut of Benevento, at the hill-top cromlech, or around the well-worn Mill Grounds.  Celebrate the coming of the Season of the Witch!

The Descent of the Goddess

In Ancient times our Lord, the Horned One, was, as he still is, the Consoler and the Comforter. But men knew him as the dread Lord of Shadows. Lonely, stern and just.

Now our Lady the Goddess had never loved, but she would solve all the Mysteries. Even the mystery of Death, and so she journeyed to the Underworld.

The Guardians of the Portal challenged her thus: Strip off thy garments, lay aside thy jewels, for naught mayest thou bring with thee into this our land.

So she laid down her garments and her jewels, and was bound, as are all who enter the Realms of Death the Mighty One.

Such was her beauty, that Death himself knelt and kissed her feet, saying: Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways. Abide with me, but let me place my cold hand on thy heart.

She replied: I love thee not. Why dost thou cause all things that I love and take delight in to fade and die?

Death replied: Lady, 'tis age and fate, against which I am helpless. Age causes all things to wither; but when men die at the end of time, I give them rest and peace, and strength so that they may return. But thou! Thou art lovely. Return not; abide with me!

But she answered: I love thee not!

Then said Death: An thou receivest not my hand upon thy heart, thou must kneel to Death's scourge.

It is fate - better so, She said. And she knelt, and Death scourged her tenderly. And she cried: I feel the pangs of love!

And Death raised her, and said: Blessed be! And he gave her the Fivefold kiss, saying: Thus only mayest thou attain to joy and knowledge.

And he taught her all his Mysteries, and they loved and were one. And she taught him her mystery of the sacred cup which is the cauldron of rebirth. And he gave her the necklace which is the circle of rebirth and taught her all the Magics.

For there are three great events in the life of man: Love, Death and Resurrection in the new body; and Magic controls them all.

For to fulfill love you must return again at the same time and place as the loved one, and you must meet, and know, and remember, and love them again.

But to be reborn, you must die and be made ready for a new body; and to die, you must be born; and without love, you may not be born; and this is all the Magics.

Traditional, from the Gardnerian Book of Shadows.

Note: although our tradition is not Gardnerian, we are informed by it, among other things.  This piece of liturgy is not a part of our own tradition, but is appropriate to this season and the concept of the Lord of Death as a beneficent being.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Autumn Equinox 2012 Photos

Autumn Equinox 2012 altar.  At this Sabbat we celebrate the Grail Queen of the Silver Castle -- Castle Perilous -- as Cerridwen-Babalon. We drink deeply of her bloody cup, and rejoice in the coming of the Season of the Witch.

Altar detail.  The lovely stone sphere is Chimera Stone (tm).  The large gold and scarlet chalice is the Cup of Babalon, used each year during the Feast of the Beast at the Babalon Rising Festival.
At the base of the altar are L-R: coven chalices, the Spiral Castle, Tubal Cain & his anvil, coven member totems, salt water, sterile lancets, and our Grimoire.
The Housle Song
To the tune of Greensleeves

To Housle now we walk the wheel
We kill tonight the blood red meal
A leftward tread of magic's mill
To feed the Gods and work our Will.

Red, red is the wine we drink
Red, red are the cords we wear
Red, red is the Blood of God
And red is the shade of the Housle.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sabbat Wine, Flying Ointment & Enthogens

Entheogen is a Greek derived word that means "generating the divine within." An entheogen, therefore, is a psychoactive substance that is used in a religious, spiritual or shamanic context. Traditional Witches have used entheogens of several types for centuries, as recorded in the lore of mythology, in the records of the trials and persecutions, and in the regional indigenous shamanic practices  that have been assimilated into the Craft various locales.

Among the most commonly used and widely known entheogens in European and American Witchcraft practice are Sabbat Wine and Flying Ointment. These are the two on which we'll focus our attentions in this exploration. (While there are many and varied regional entheogens that have found their way into Craft practice in some form or another, they are just too numerous for me to mention here. Furthermore, I really don't feel qualified to speak on them since I'm very inexperienced with them.)

Sabbat Wine

Wine, just as it is, constitutes a powerful entheogen. The Dying and Resurrected God is embodied int he wine in the form of Dionysos -- and in Jesus, for that matter, whose symbolism and mythology associates him with the wine. Dionysos, though, is the "Twice Born" God of the Vine, and his cup is the offering of ecstasy and madness. "I am the vine," he says, and he offers insight into death and rebirth, despair and joy.

Many Witches drink wine -- either a little or a lot -- as a part of their Sabbat rites no matter what. In American Folkloric Witchcraft, we include Sabbat Wine for two separate and distinct purposes -- and the wine is different depending on that purpose.

If we are celebrating the Housle as we usually do within the regular course of ritual, we will sacrifice a cup of red wine. It is the shed blood of the Red Meal that is the Housle.  In this instance, we don't add anything to the wine because we don't need any additional entheogenic effect.

If, however, we are doing trance work, flying out, seiding, or otherwise seeking an altered state of consciousness, we might prepare our special Sabbat Wine (vinum sabbati). We also prepare this Sabbat Wine for initiations. In our case, the vinum sabbati is a local sweet red wine (Oliver Soft Red) in which mugwort and lemongrass have been mulled. After straining the herbs, we add local honey to sweeten the mix and cut the bitterness of the mugwort. Both mugwort and lemongrass have gentle psychoactive properties.

It's interesting to note that the term "vinum sabbati" has actually been associated with flying ointment, or the witches' salve, which is the other major entheogen of witchcraft. In fact, Nigel Jackson said flying ointment was "the black wine of owls."

Flying Ointment

This greasy, trance-inducing substance was traditionally made of hallucinogenic (and often fatal) herbs that had been boiled in pig fat and then strained. It was called "green salve" or "witches' ointment" and it some of the stock ingredients (solinicaeds) caused a "flying" sensation as the hallucination began -- hence the popular image of the flying witch.

Great care had to be taken in preparing this ointment, though. Traditional ingredients included such components as henbane, monkshood, deadly nightshade, belladonna, hemlock, and mandrake -- all lethal in too large a dose. In some cases, that does could be quite small. One witch learned from another how to properly prepare the salve and how to administer it to herself, and I'm sure it was still "At your own risk, sister."

I'm simply not a brave enough woman to fool around with these poisons. So, I looked to some of the other traditional ingredients in the old flying ointments -- the ingredients that wouldn't cause a person to exsanguinate from their skin, for example. (Belladonna does that. It's the key ingredient in rat poison.) Cinquefoil and Balm of Gilead made the cut from the old recipes. Then, I gathered together herbs known for trance and vision work -- many of which I'd already used successfully. Mugwort, Dittany of Crete, lemongrass, clary sage, wormwood, rue.

I use vegetable shortening as the fat, and I add benzoin powder and vitamin E for preservation. None of the last is traditional in any way, but I want it to last and not get funky.

Our coven uses this mix a fair amount. We fly out at just about every Sabbat. Does my blend make you trip? No. Does it help you fly? Oh yeah. Everybody whose used it add reported back has shared positive results. At this point, that's been a fair few people, since we do sell this in our Etsy shop.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Castle of Stone

Castell Dinas Bran
4-Cornered Castle
Mont & Bailey
Top open to the sky
Warriors' Fort (training, defense, offense, strategy)
Hillfort (castillo)
Not a place of luxury
Guarded by legged creatures (crawlers, walkers)
Home of Cernunnos
Summer Solstice
Mysteries of Rebirth

The castles of our system are based on Grail Lore, but they also have representations in the none world. These castles are symbolic of the energies inherent in their names and attributed to them by myth and legend. In the Arthurian cycle, the knights journey to seven castles, but most mythographers interpret this imram as an Otherworldly voyage, akin to the shaman's journey into the soul, using the World Tree as a ladder. Robert Graves, in The White Goddess, indicates that each of the seven castles is synonymous with the Spiral Castle, Caer Sidhe (or Caer Arianrhod).

Graves' interpretation makes good sense to us. Each of the castles is so intimately connected in symbolism and meaning, and it is impossible to separate any one of them from gestalt of Caer Sidhe. It is based on this concept that, while we talk about the castles as separate places, we ultimately view them each as a tower or turret on the great Spiral Castle.

The Castle of Stone is the home of Cernunnos, in our system. He is the keeper of the castle and the guardian of its treasure, the Stone Bowl. Cernunnos is honored at Summer Solstice as the Oak King, and the totems present in his time of honor are the Oak, Stag, and Robin.

One of the names of the Castle of Stone is the "4-cornered castle," in Welsh Caer Bannawg. This name became Carbonic or Carbonak later. Graves suggests that this castle is in fact a burial place like a kristvaen (which is formed from four stone slabs that make a stone box). It has also been suggested that "4-cornered" refers to the castle rotating four times, which certainly ties it symbolically to the Spiral Castle.

Carbonak is an important locale in Grail myth, as it is the home of Elaine (the Grail Maiden, wife of Lancelot, and mother of Galahad). It is here that the Grail is revealed in the saga, when Elaine shows it to Lancelot.

Carmarthen -- a 4-cornered castle
The Old French version of this name is cor beneoit, meaning both 'blessed horn' (alluding to the Grail as a horn of plenty) and 'blessed body' (referring to the Grail as a Eucharistic vessel). The reference to horn also works nicely as an allusion to the Horned God of this keep.

Carbonak is also heavily associated with ravens and with Bran the Blessed. Corbin, which the castle is called in certain parts of the myth, is the Old French word for "raven." Bran means raven in Welsh and Cornish. An extent hill-fort in Penwith, Cornwall is associated with Carbonak, and it is called Caer Bran. The Brythonic possessive version of this name is Kernowek. Castell Dinas Bran ("Castle of the City of Crows") in Wales is assumed by scholars to be the most likely site of Carbonak, however. Bran is inescapably tied to the Grail mythologies in the sense that he, too, went on a voyage in search of a sacred vessel, The Cauldron of Rebirth. Like the Grail-King, he was pierced by a spear and the land suffered until he was healed. Bran is honored and remembered in the Arthurian cycle as Brons, one of Arthur's knights, the son-in-law of Joseph of Arimehtea (who, of course, is said to have brought the grail -- as cup of Christ -- into Celtic lands).

The Stone Castle is no palace, no place of luxury or entertainment. It is a fortress, a place of training and of siege. It is the Vault of the Mysteries. It is a place of safety, and it is a storehouse. It is a seat of power and is built at a site of strength (or one with protective needs).

Several castles and forts spring to mind when envisioning Caer Bannawg for oneself. The Krak de Chevaliers, for instance, is a wonderful example of a medieval fortress. It is a "Mont & Bailey" castle, and it is practically impenetrable. It is functional and foreboding, and it takes very little manpower to defend it.

Cliffords Tower (in York), the Alamo (San Anotnio, TX), and the Castillo del San Marcos (St. Augustine, FL) are all great examples of the Stone Castle.

Krak de Chevaliers

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Tis June!

Friends, we have made it though one round of the Compass together on this blog!  It is festival season here for Laurelei and I and that means that we might not be posting as much as usual for a while.  It also means that Blade and Broom Botanica will be on the road, and our online store will be taking a temporary break.

Here are some of our articles from last June to keep you entertained until we return.

June Totems:

The Sabbats: 

The Oak King:
Faces of the Oak King
Meditation of Visiting the Oak King

You can learn more about our tradition's Wheel of the Year here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stang Lore -- Construction, Magic, Dressing

From the version of "1734 Papers" Laurelei got in 1999
We've covered already what a Stang IS. Perhaps it's time we cover what one DOES with it.

Over the years, I've tried to collect as much lore and writing on Stangs as I could find. I'm sad to say there isn't much available. That isn't to say that people aren't using Stangs, just that they aren't writing much about them.

Still, I'm happy to share the little hodge-podge I've cobbled together in the hopes that it's of use to us all. Our cuveen adores the Stang as a working tool -- for group and individual work. I think I can safely speak for all of us in saying that we would LOVE to hear what you all are doing with Stangs, particularly if it varies from the bit of lore accumulated here.

The information shared here comes from a variety of sources, including:

class notes from Clan of the Laughing Dragon (Laurelei's former coven)
Robert Cochrane/Roy Bowers writings
Call of the Horned Piper by Nigel Jackson
Sacred Mask, sacred Dance by EJ Jones
The Roebuck in the Thicket by EJ Jones
Secrets of Modern Witchcraft Revealed by Lady Sabrina
"What's a Stang and Why do I Have So Many?" by VALIRE'BRAND

Construction Basics

A Stang is usually made of Ash, relating it to the World Tree, but Ash is getting hard to come by in the Americas due to the work of the emerald ash borer. At this point. I think most American Traditionalist would suggest using any sacred wood, and I would add, any American sacred wood. I like Oak, and I really like Hickory. (Hickory is the hardwood of choice in these parts for tool handles, and it has a long association with the forge, which makes it a good wood for the Stang in my book.)

You want a nice dry piece of wood that is forked into a Y shape. Otherwise, you'll need a simple pole that you can attach horns or metal prongs in order to create a pitchfork. Of course, you could also *begin* with a pitchfork, and that wouldn't be wrong, either.

If you're using a piece of wood, you'll probably want to remove the bark and give the whole piece plenty of time to dry. You can also treat the wood, once dry, with linseed oil to help preserve it.

"Shoe" the Stang with iron, either by adding a metal cap to the base or by driving an iron nail into it. I prefer to drive an old-fashioned "coffin nail" into the base.

The size of the Stang is really up to you. Our coven Stang is taller than any of us by just a bit. Our personal Stangs are about staff height. And we each have mini Stangs, as well.

You may want to fashion a hook or a flat space between the "horns" of your Stang for placing a candle or hanging a skull, arrows, etc.

Placement of the Stang

According to Lady Sabrina, "when the Stang is accompanied by the cauldron, it represents the totality of life-giving properties of the masculine and feminine powers of the universe." The covens in which I've worked have always located the Stand with the cauldron, along with the anvil. In the case of the Spiral Castle Tradition, we envision this all on the Sacred Mound, the Tor. The Stang is the World Tree, as we have discussed before. The Cauldron is the Well, and the Anvil is the Stone (our Oath Stone). This Mound, Tree, Well, and Stone combination is a powerful one for us and it works very well as the central point, the Axis Mundi, of our Mill.

The Stang is also the tool we use to mark the Moat, the outer edge of the compass. So it is both center point and circumfrence, in a manner of speaking.

Stang Magic

Riding the Stang is a ritual that is used to manhandle one's superiors or to run a person out of village. It is alternatively known as skmmington, skimmity or rough musicking. The basic idea is that a gathering of folks join in the making of loud, obnoxious noises -- often at night -- from the various locations in the village to the doorstep of the offender.

You can make a "sprite trap" or "spirit trap" with a stang by embedding a charged stone between the forks and weaving a pattern of red thread. These are usually made of Rowan or Ash wood and incorporate specific symbols into the woven pattern.

Dressing the Stang

In our Tradition, a ram or goat skull hangs on the Stang most of the time. This represents the Witchfather and the center of intellect.

Atop or behind the the skull, between the horns, is a candle. This is Cunning Fire, and it is also a symbol of balance.

On the shaft of the Stang, hang 2 arrows -- one black, one white. For us, these are all the dualities in our Trad -- the Black & White Goddesses, the light & dark halves of the year, the Summer & Winter Lords. From Spring to Fall, the arrows point up, and the white arrow is on front, representing the dominance of the White Goddess. From Fall to Spring, the opposite is true -- the arrows point down, and the black arrow is in front.

We hang linen shifts (robes) -- one black, one white -- at different times from the Stang, as well. During our Samhain cycle, we hang the black shift from the black arrow. This is also how the Stang looks if the coven is performing blasting magic. We hang the white robe from the white arrow for weddings, initiations, etc.

A bloodied shirt can be hung on the Stang for several types of magic. It can be used in healing and vengeance magics, as well as in maternity and Women's Mysteries.

Seasonal wreaths and garlands can also go on the Stang.

Qayin Lore -- Melek Taus, Lucifer, Azazel, Shamash

Melek Taus
All Gods are not one God. The Ancients didn't see it that way, and we are not trying to put forth that claim, either. And yet, there are Gods -- great, ancient spirits (daemons ... δαίμων) who are so closely related in myth and religion that we can't mistake their relation. Just as a Red Thread connects us to the Witchfather who brought the Cunning Fire to humanity, so too does the Red Thread connect many of beings from whom mankind has sought wisdom.

This is our experience with Azazel (who is called a demon -- literally, a "spirit"-- and an angel -- "messenger"), Qayin/Cain and Tubal Cain, as we've expressed in other posts. Very directly, in our communications with the Witchfather, he uses these names of himself almost interchangeably, and we have come to use them the same way.

There are other sources of information, though, that inform our understanding of Qayin-Azazel, and we'd like to share them.

Melek Taus

"Melek" means "king" or "angel" and "taus" means "peacock." The peacock angel is the central figure, the benevolent and creative demiurge, of the Yezidis. He is seen as repentant after the fall from God's grace, his tears quenching the fires of hell.

Though the Yezidis would disagree, others in the Arabic world (particularly those practicing Islam), equate melek Taus with Lucifer or Satan. Kabbalistically, Yahweh rules in the heavenly/spiritual kingdom of Kether, and Melek Taus (Lucifer/Azazel) rules in the earthly kingdom of Malkuth.

Within the sacred text of the Yezidis, the Black Book, specific reference is made to Azazel, equating the Peacock Angel with Azazel. There are several versions of this book extent from the Middle Ages, copies transcribed online.

Alchemical Symbol for Antimony
Azazel and Alchemy

We have touched on Azazel before, but there are some specific and noteworthy things to share about Azazel's connection to alchemical lore.

Enoch reveals to us that Azazel shares with humanity "all the metals and the art of working them...and the use of antimony." As it turns out, antimony (or stibium), was critical to the alchemical process of creating the Philosopher's Stone. This same element was called kuhl (or kohl) by the ancient Arabs. (You might also recall references to women decorating their eyes with this substance, and that art also being taught by Azazel. This may, in fact, have been a veiled reference to the alchemical process and not to cosmetics at all.)

Sir Roger Bacon tells us that when antimony is processed with vitriol, it is reduced to a "noble red oil" with all of the lesser sulfur having been purified out of it in the process. Red, then, is Azazel's color.

It is doubly his color when we consider that man is made from red clay, according to Middle Eastern tradition, and that Azazel is master of the material world from which man is made.


Oh my Holy Goat, there is so much that needs to be said about Lucifer in relation to the Witchfather. There is so much dross to sift through, so much misinformation that has been propogated about this one figure over the millenia, to reach the golden kernels of wisdom.

For now, let's keep it very simple, shall we?

Lucifer is the "light-bearer." He is Qayin in the East, the Morning Star. He is the torch-bearer of wisdom, inspiration, the Divine Spark, the Cunning Fire.

He is "Prometheus" (literally, "fore-sight"), who rebelled against God (the Gods) to give Fire (the Cunning Fire) to mankind and fell from Divine Grace.


The Nephilim, the "Fallen Angels" or spirits who descended into the material realm to interact with and guide mankind, were first seen as the "Shining Ones" or Gods of Sumerian lore. We've mentioned them before, and we'll write more about them in future posts, but for now, I'd just like to make the connection between Utu/Shamash and Azazel.

It's not a new connection. We're not the first to have made it, by any stretch. You can read this account, for starters. (There's lots of information there about goetic daemons and their counterparts in other lore.)

Utu is the Sumerian name, while Shamash is the Babylonian name for the Sun God of justice,law and salvation. He is linked in a triad with the Nannar-Sin (the Mood God) and Ishtar (the fertility-Earth Goddess, who incidentally is represented by the planet Venus, the Morning and Evening Star).

Ishtar and Shamash are divine twins.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cleansing Chants

In our home covenstead, we honestly do not cleanse the caim for every rite. However, there are times when feel it is necessary, and we are often guided by instinct in these situations. We also usually cleanse the space with representatives of the Airts when we perform rites outside of our normal surrounds or anytime we are performing BIG magic.

The following cleansing chants are patterned on rhymes taught to Laurelei in her first cuveen, although they have been altered a bit (in some cases, quite a bit).

Each portion of the chant requires a Witch to walk the compass either once or thrice, wielding the appropriate (and obvious) cleansing tools.

Smoke and fume, now as you burn,
cause all harm from us to turn;
let nothing harmful here be found,
as we tread the witch’s round.

Fire that burns and light that glows,
send all harm away from us;
let nothing harmful here be found,
as we tread the witch’s round.

Water and salt, brine of the sea,
wash this circle clean and free;
let nothing harmful here be found,
as we tread the witch’s round.

Besom sweep and besom clean;
above, below and in between;
let nothing harmful here be found,
as we tread the witch’s round.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Dorset Ooser and Atho

The Dorset Ooser and the Head of Atho are two relics with ties to witchcraft that have both, sadly, disappeared.  Each of these relics ostensibly depicts the Horned God of the Witches, the Witchfather himself.

The Dorset Ooser

The Ooser was written about in Doreen Valiente's ABC's of Witchcraft and in Margaret Murray's The God of the Witches.  It was a hollow mask made of painted wood, trimmed with fur, and crowned with bull's horns.  The lower jaw of the Ooser was movable, and it possessed a strange convex boss on its forehead.  Valiente claims that this boss was representative of the third eye, a seat of psychic power.

The original Ooser mask disappeared in 1897, though a modern replica, made in 1975 by John Byfleet, is held in the Dorset County Museum, where it is taken out as a part of a procession of Morris dancers atop the Cerne Abbas giant on May Day and St George's Day, though some records indicate that in the 19th century it was paraded at Christmas instead.

It is unknown when the original mask was made, but appeared to be in a tradition of making animal and grotesque masks to be worn in procession; in the 7th century book Liber Poenitentialis by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Theodore, he stated:
"whoever at the kalends of January goes about as a stag or bull; that is, making himself into a wild animal and dressing in the skin of a herd animal, and putting on the heads of beast, those who in such wise transform themselves into the appearance of a wild animal, penance for three years because this is devilish".

The etymology of the word "ooser" is of special interest to we Indiana witches, as we Indiana natives are labeled by the strange moniker "hoosier", which is a variation of ooser.  The Indiana Historian Jacob Piatt Dunn, Jr. found that the word, "hoosier" was used, in the south, to refer to woodsmen and rough hill people. Mr. Piatt traced this word back to England and the word "hoozer," meaning anything large in the Cumberland dialect. This was derived from the Anglo-Saxon "hoo" meaning high or hill. Mr. Pratt suggests that this word was brought from England and applied to people who lived in the southern mountains. This word then migrated north to the southern hills of Indiana. "Hoosier" is still sometimes used in the southern United States to characterize someone who is less then sophisticated, or more bluntly, an "ignorant rustic."

Thus, a hoosier is a Pagan!

The Head of Atho

The Head of Atho was claimed by Raymond Howard and The Coven of Atho to be a genuine relic of the ancient rites of Witchcraft.  Although an article in the Eastern Daily Press from March 6 1967, stated that laboratory examination had shown the statue to be carved of English Oak around 2200 years ago, the head was recently proven to be a fake.

"It is hollow and has many witchcraft symbols carved on it... When a small crucible of water with a lighted candle under it, is placed in the back of the head, the result is awe-inspiring. The red glass eyes of the head light up and steam emits from the tips of the horns."

Only a month after the newspaper report, in April 1967, the head was stolen from Howard's shop, and was the only item taken in the robbery. It has never been recovered.

Doreen Valiente suggests that "Atho" is a corruption of the Welsh Arddhu, or Dark One.

Heads in Celtic Worship

Why masks of the Horned God?  Why not horned crowns, or full statuary?  The imagery of the talking head is widely considered to derive from the ancient Celtic "cult of the head"; the head was considered the home of the soul.  Celts had a reputation as head hunters. According to Paul Jacobsthal, 
"Amongst the Celts the human head was venerated above all else, since the head was to the Celt the soul, centre of the emotions as well as of life itself, a symbol of divinity and of the powers of the other-world."
Arguments for a Celtic cult of the severed head include the many sculptured representations of severed heads in La Tène carvings, and the surviving Celtic mythology, which is full of stories of the severed heads of heroes and the saints who carry their decapitated heads, right down to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where the Green Knight picks up his own severed head after Gawain has struck it off, just as St. Denis carried his head to the top of Montmartre. The head of Bran is said to protect the British people and was said to continue to speak prophesy even after death.

The ravens of the Tower of London are said to belong to Bran, whose name means "raven".  It is said that should these ravens ever leave -- and Bran's blessing be revoked -- that Britain shall fall.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Powers of the Sphinx

 There are said to be four primary things essential to magic.  These four principles are the Powers of the Sphinx: TO KNOW, TO WILL, TO DARE, and TO KEEP SILENT.

Eliphas Lévi indicates where to start in our endeavor to use the Powers of the Sphinx:

“When one does not know, one should will to learn. To the extent that one does not know it is foolhardy to dare, but it is always well to keep silent.”

    Thus the Four Powers are employed much like steps in a process; we must know before we can will, and so on. This idea is reinforced in Lévi's Transcendental Magick:

“To learn how to will is to learn how to exercise dominion. But to be able to exert will power you must first know; for will power applied to folly is madness, death, and hell.”


“In order to DARE we must KNOW; in order to WILL, we must DARE; we must WILL to possess empire and to reign we must BE SILENT.”

These four principle powers relate to the four fixed signs of the Zodiac, and the four magical elements.  Together these faces of the fixed signs of the Zodiac create the four creatures composing the Sphinx.

For our purposes, there is no substitute for any of these powers.  Firstly, it is imperative to Know one's Craft in so far as one can at the level that they are currently at.  It is this vital beginning to magic that has compelled us to share our own knowledge of the Craft through this blog.  Secondly, one must have proper force of Will in order to raise and direct power for a purpose.  Thirdly, a magician or Witch must have great Daring to walk the Crooked Path, to travel to other realms and stand in sacred space.  Finally -- and this is the most sacred and most challenging Power, as it is the Power of Earth, which is lowest of matter and closest to beginning over at Spirit -- is the Power to Keep Silent.  In Silence is Wisdom, and there are many Mysteries that cannot be spoken of but must only be felt with the soul.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Saining of Tools

After acquiring a new tool it is traditional to cleanse and bless the implement and to consecrate it to its new owner and new use.  This process is known as saining.  Saining may be performed together as a coven or privately and individually.


You will need: the tool to be sained, dark bread in a bowl (or lipped dish), red wine in silver quaich or chalice, the Red Knife, a portion of purification or blessing incense, and a thurible with a lit charcoal.


1.) Cast the Caim as usual.
2.) Place some of the incense on the lit charcoal and run the tool through the resulting smoke, visualizing all past energies of the tool being carried away and dissolved with the smoke.
3.) Say: "I cleanse this "XXXX" in the name of the Mighty Ones, that it may serve me well in my Craft."
4.) Raise power by seething.  Rock back and forth, hum, chant, wail, and draw power up from the third realm and down from the first realm into yourself and into your tool. 
5.) Perform the rite of the Housle.
6.) Pour the remainder of the wine into the bread bowl, and anoint the tool, giving it a name at this time if you so wish.  The Housle is the blood of the Mighty Ones, and with it you seal in the energy that was raised by seething your power into the tool.
7.) Complete the rite of the Housle.

It is best to use a tool for its intended purpose as soon as possible after saining.

Newly consecrated tools should be kept in as close connection as possible to the body for at least a month (under the pillow, or in a bedroom corner is a common place). When not in use, all tools and weapons should be put away in a secret place. this place is also commonly near your sleeping place. Some traditions recommend that you handle your tools each night before retiring. Do not allow anyone to touch or handle any of your tools until they are thoroughly impregnated with your energy, the usual term for this is near to six months.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Meditation: Visiting the Red God, Qayin, at Beltaine

Our tradition uses guided meditation to help impress certain symbols on our members' consciousness. Below is our Beltaine meditation. It takes place at the Eastern Gate of the compass, the place of fire and sunrise.  It is the home of the Witch Father, whom we know as Tubal Qayin, Lucifer, Azazel, Melek Taus. 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 Red God, Qayin

You awake in a broad, newly plowed field just before sunrise. The world to the West is still dark, murky and sleepy-looking, while to your East a fiery sun is beginning to rise on the pale lanscape. The chill of an early spring morning clings to you. The soil beneath you is rich and dark, marked in deep furrows from the plow. The fertile, damp smell of the land fills your nose as you breathe deeply and begin walking toward the East, toward the growing light.

A fence with a gate is ahead of you across the field, and you can hear the lowing of cattle now. As you get closer, you can see the shapes of the cows becoming clearer. You open the gate and cross into the grassy pasture where the cows graze and move lazily. They watch you intermittently as you continue across their field. One of the cattle watches you intensely, but it is no cow. This bull shifts his weight impatiently while keeping his gaze fixed on you. You continue your path across the field, hurrying as the sun continues to rise, and light and heat start perking up the countryside.

A hedge of dense, knotted Hawthorn trees spreads along the next fence, and you spot the gate in its midst. You cross through the old farm gate as you take notice of the trees. Their bright white blooms and long thorns both welcome and warn.

In the glinting light of the sunrise, you see bees bobbing and buzzing along the Hawthorns. You watch them dance as they work. One lands lightly on your hand, and you know that it has no intention of stinging you. Raising your hand to eye level, you look at the tiny creature for a moment. Its feet tickle your hand, making your skin twitch, and it flies away to the East, where you lose sight of it in the now bright sunrise.

Looking along the landscape in the direction that the bee flew, you see a mound of earth. As you focus your attention on it, you’re certain you hear a clinking sound, as well. Curious, you continue your eastward path until you find yourself standing in front of a small hill with a stony cave door. Strange markings have been carved and painted onto the stones around the mouth of the cave and you take a moment to look at them.

You’re certain now that the sounds you heard came from within the cave, and you can see the glow of firelight coming from deep within. The wet, mustiness of the cave’s scent is mixed with the smell of burning coals, here.

The cave path is smooth and descends slightly as it curves naturally to the left. The sounds have grown distinctly louder since you first heard them. No longer a vague clinking, you now hear the rhythmic beating of metal against metal – tap, tap, bang; tap, tap, bang. The cave is both hot and bright here, and as you round the last corner, you see a large chamber filled with both the glinting metal of finished projects and the carbon-blackened metal of work waiting to be done. Plowshares and picthforks lean against one wall, accompanied by spears and swords. In a far corner, you see the glint of gold and silver wrought into fine filigrees and tooled with delicate markings. You also see pieces of unshaped, untouched metal, dull but full of potential

A fire in a ringed enclosure dominates the middle of the room, and a large man is silhouetted by its flame. His skin looks burnished from the heat and soot, and you watch as his powerful form easily handles the bellows, the large hammer upon the massive anvil.

His eyes glint as he sees you, and he holds you in a piercing stare, though he doesn’t stop his movement and work. Tap, tap, bang; tap, tap, bang. You notice the metal in his hands and you recognize what he is making. He places the object back into the forge fire, allowing it to regain a red-hot glow before removing it again.  Tap, tap, bang.

Still working, he speaks to you. “The forge of the Witch Father holds much magic and mystery. This is a place of transformation, of alchemy, of great power.”

He beckons you toward him and places your hand upon the anvil. It is very hot, but it doesn’t burn you. Holding your hand upon the anvil with his own, he looks into your eyes and speaks a message only for you.

You thank him, and after a moment more of looking at you, he resumes his work. Knowing that the time has come to leave, you turn and walk back up the cave path, curving on a right-hand path now toward the fresh air and daylight.

You pass again by the bees, busy in the Hawthorns, and by the cattle in their pasture. Returning to the plowed field, you take a moment before sitting down in the rich soil. You close your eyes and breathe deeply, coming back to yourself.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Also: May Day, Walpurgis, Roodmas

Beltane, celebrated at the peak of spring around early May, is one of the four main fire festivals native to Celtic culture. The other festivals, commonly referred to in Neopaganism as the "Greater Sabbats" are Imbolc, at the peak of winter, Lammas, at the peak of summer, and Samhain at the peak of autumn. Beltane is usually celebrated on May 1st and the night prior to it, although some celebrate the festival on its alternate date, astrologically determined by the sun's reaching 15-degrees Taurus.

Origins of Beltane

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season for the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians started at Bealtaine. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as the Aos Sí. Like the festival of Samhain, opposite Beltane on 31 October Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand. Excavations at Uisnech in the 20th century provided evidence of large fires taking place.


In Irish Gaelic, the month of May is known as Mí Bhealtaine or Bealtaine, and the festival as Lá Bealtaine ('day of Bealtaine' or, 'May Day').

Since the early 20th century it has been commonly accepted that Old Irish Bel(l)taine is derived from a Common Celtic *belo-te(p)niâ, meaning "bright fire" (where the element *belo- might be cognate with the English word bale [as in 'bale-fire'] meaning 'white' or 'shining'; compare Anglo-Saxon bael, and Lithuanian/Latvian baltas/balts, found in the name of the Baltic; in Slavic languages byelo or beloye also means 'white', as in Беларусь (White Russia or Belarus) or Бе́лое мо́ре [White Sea]). A more recent etymology by Xavier Delamarre would derive it from a Common Celtic *Beltinijā, cognate with the name of the Lithuanian goddess of death Giltinė, the root of both being Proto-Indo-European *gʷelH- "suffering, death".

In middle Europe, May 1st is celebrated as Walpurgisnacht, named after the English missionary Saint Walburga. As Walburga was canonized on 1st of May, she became associated with May Day, especially in the Finnish and Swedish calendars. The eve of May day, traditionally celebrated with dancing, came to be known as Walpurgisnacht ("Walpurga's night").


Fertility is the major theme of this festival, as it is a reflection of the fertility of the earth at this time of year.  Maypoles, which are phallic symbols, are wrapped in ribbons through a weaving dance on this day.

Purification is another theme of this festival, and the fires associated with it. Saining, the process of ritually purifing something by exposing it to open flame, was common during this time in the form magnificent bonfires that are lept for luck, prosperity, and fertility.  Saining also takes place with the livestock, which was traditionally driven between two bonfires to bless and protect them.

The bonfires hold the secondary role of "burning away" the last remenants of winter, that summer may come in.  The old English round "Sumer Is Icumen In" is often sung with this in mind as the bonfires blaze high.

    Sumer is Icumen in,
    Loudly sing, cuckoo!
    Grows the seed and blows the mead,
    And springs the wood anew;
    Sing, cuckoo!
    Ewe bleats harshly after lamb,
    Cows after calves make moo;
    Bullock stamps and deer champs,
    Now shrilly sing, cuckoo!
    Cuckoo, cuckoo
    Wild bird are you;
    Be never still, cuckoo!

Also on this day are parades with mummers in traditional roles such as the 'obby 'oss, the May Queen, and the Puck.  The May Queen is chosen each year from the Maidens of the area to represent the Goddess in her youthful springtime aspect.

May bushes are decorated with eggs, ribbons, and garlands.  These May bushes were usually the hawthorn, which blooms in May, and which is famously collected when "going a maying".  May bushes gave way to may boughs, which are also of hawthorn.  Usually bringing hawthorn indoors is considered bad luck, but it is worse luck to not "bring in the may" on this day!

Bannocks, which are fire-cooked oat cakes, are made an eaten in celebration of Beltane.  These are known as belcakes.  Morwynn of House Shadow Drake writes of their own family's bannock traditions (and includes a recipe!) here:

In addition to the promise of spring, and prognostication, other neopagan themes common to Beltane include the transformation of the Goddess from Maiden to Lover (this is often celebrated by enactment of the Great Rite in the fields) and the wooing of the sun God. These differ according to various traditions.

The Spiral Castle Tradition

In our tradition Beltane is one of the two times of year when  we pay homage to Tubal Cain.  This is Qayin in his fiery aspect, rising in the east.  He is the Morning Star, the bringer of light and enlightenment to mankind.

The Spiral Castle is turned to face the East Gate, place of Fire, Spring has risen triumphant in our area of the country, and the Lord of the fiery forge of creation holds sway.  The Wheel is turning to the bright promise of summer once again, and there is great rejoicing.

Beltane Chant (by Rudyard Kipling):
O do not tell the priests of our arts,
for they would call it sin!
We will be in the woods all night
A-conjuring conjuring summer in.
And we bring you good news by word of mouth.
For women, cattle, and corn:
The sun is coming up from the south,
By oak and ash, and thorn!
(Continue chanting 'by oak and ash and thorn')


Colors: Deep green, white, red, pink, orange, violet
Herbs: Mandrake, Damania, Basil, Patchouli, Violet, Vanilla, Rose, Frankincense, Lilac
Foods: pork, beef, red fruits, wine, mead, oat and barley pancakes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The White Witch

The White Witch
by James Weldon Johnson

O brothers mine, take care! Take care!
The great white witch rides out to-night.
Trust not your prowess nor your strength
Your only safety lies in flight;
For in her glance there is a snare
And in her smile there is a blight

The great white witch you have not seen?
Then,younger brothers mine, for sooth
Like nursery children you have looked
For ancient hag and snaggle-tooth
But no, not so; the witch appears
In all the glowing charms of youth

Her lips are like carnations, red
Her face like new-born lilies, fair
Her eyes like ocean waters, blue,
She moves with subtle grace and air
And all about her head there floats
The golden glory of her hair.

But though she always thus appears
In form of youth and mood of mirth
Unnumbered centuries are hers
The infant planets saw her birth
The child of throbbing Life is she
Twin sister to the greedy earth

And back behind those smiling lips
And down within those laughing eyes
And underneath the soft caress
Of hand and voice and purring sighs
The shadow of the panther lurks
The spirit of the vampire lies

For I have seen the great white witch
And she has led me to her lair
And I have kissed her red, red lips
And cruel face so white and fair
Around me she has twined her arms
And bound me with her yellow hair

I felt those red lips burn and sear
My body like a living coal
Obeyed the power of those eyes
As the needle trembles to the pole
And did not care although I felt
The strength go ebbing from my soul

Oh ! she has seen your strong young limbs
And heard your laughter loud and gay
And in your voices she has caught
The echo of a far-off day
When man was closer to the earth
And she has marked you for her prey

She feels the old Antaean strength
In you, the great dynamic beat
Of primal passions, and she sees
In you the last besieged retreat
Of love relentless, lusty, fierce
Love pain-ecstatic, cruel-sweet

O,brothers mine, take care! Take care!
The great white witch rides out to-night
O,younger brothers mine, beware!
Loo knot upon her beauty bright
For in her glance there is a snare
And in her smile there is a blight.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Pentagram

The Pentagram of the Witches is a five-pointed star formed by five straight lines, and encased in a circle, with one point upwards. The five points of the pentagram represent the five elements. The crowning point represents Spirit, and continuing in clockwise order, the remaining points symbolize Water, Fire, Earth, and Air. The circle is related to the magic circle of Power, and connects all of the elements together, all of which is under the dominion of Spirit.

When inscribed on a disk, it represents the Pentacle, or ritual tool of Earth. Small silver Pentagrams are favorite amulets of Witches, and are often worn as ritual jewelry.

The first known uses of the pentagram are found in Mesopotamian writings dating to about 3000 BC. The Sumerian pentagrams served as pictograms for the word "UB" meaning "corner, angle, nook; a small room, cavity, hole; pitfall".

The Pentagram is a very ancient magic sigil, and has been used by many groups under many names. Among the names are: Pentalpha (the five A's of Pythagoras), the Endless Knot, the Eastern Star (used in Masonry, and the star the Magi followed in Biblical myth), the Star of Knowledge, the Seal of the Templars, the Seal of Solomon (although this is a misattribution, as Solomon's Seal is actually a six-pointed star), the Pentagrammaton (or "the five letter word": YHShVH, the ineffable name of the God of the Hebrews when coupled with the Shekinah), the Goat of Mendes, the Seal of the Microcosm, Gawain's Garter (Gawain used this symbol on his escutcheon after defeating the Green Knight) the Witch's Foot, and the Goblin Cross.  Christians once used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Jesus.

The inverted pentagram represents Spirit triumphed by Matter, and is used as a symbol for the second degree in some traditions of Witchcraft.

The planet Venus traces a pentagram in the sky every 584 days, and the pentagram's associations with this planet – the morning star and the evening star – form some of the earliest stellar lore.

Cutting an apple in half reveals a pentagram within, formed by the seed cavities.  The apple blossom is five-petaled, as is the rowan, and the rose, all of which are associated with Witchcraft and magic.

The Pentagram is used magically as a portal.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tubal Cain: an Introduction

Tubal Cain, T'Cain, Qayin, Qābīl, Kain, Vulcan, Hephaestus, Wayland, Gobannus, Atho, Janus, Óss, Azazel, Azazil, Melek Taus, Lugh

Stations of the Wheel
East and West, Samhain and Beltane, October & May, Gates of Fire and Water, Blood and Merry Moons

Cow, Hawthorn, Bee (May) Toad, Elder, Crane (October)

Sword, Stang, Shelg, Anvil

Of special interest to Witches is the concept of the Smithing God. Metalsmiths were among the first alchemists, and, by virtue of their powers of transmutation of ore into steel, they were once credited with magical powers. Blacksmiths were considered the mages par excellence of this group, and today we find iron horseshoes (iron ore transformed into the God's horns) prized as good luck symbols. The Smithing God is often associated with lameness, which is attributed to a folk practice of laming the village smith so that such an important member of society could not leave. The shambling step of the lamed God is echoed in the most basic Witch dances.

Tubal Cain appears to mean "he who spices the craft of Cain." Gordon Wenham suggests that the name "Cain" means "smith”, or that he is called "Tubal Cain" in order to distinguish him from the other Tubal, the son of Japheth. Henry Morris suggests that etymologically, his name is "the progenitor of the name of the Roman God Vulcan."  Tubal Cain is sometimes thought to be the progenitor of the Celtic peoples.  He is the “first ancestor” and the Witchfather.

Genesis 4:22 says that Tubal Cain was the "forger of all instruments of bronze and iron" or an "instructer of every artificer in brass and iron". Although this may mean he was a metalsmith, a comparison with verses 20 and 21 suggests that he may have been the very first artificer in brass and iron. T. C. Mitchell suggests that he "discovered the possibilities of cold forging native copper and meteoric iron." Tubal-cain has even been described as the first chemist.

According to the Book of Enoch, which brings Azazel into connection with the Biblical story of the fall of the angels, located on Mount Hermon, a gathering-place of demons from of old.  Azazel is represented in the Book of Enoch as one of the leaders of the rebellious Watchers in the time preceding the flood; he taught men the art of warfare, of making swords, knives, shields, and coats of mail, and women the art of deception by ornamenting the body, dying the hair, and painting the face and the eyebrows, and also revealed to the people the secrets of witchcraft and corrupted their manners, leading them into wickedness and impurity.

According to Luciferian tradition, Azazel and Tubal Cain are the same entity.  Azazel having chosen Tubal Cain as his earthly vessel when he lead the rebellion of the fallen angels.  Tubal Cain is of the line of Cain, through his father Lamach, marking him with the holy blood of Lucifer.  By teaching the daughters of man witchcraft, Azazel/Tubal Cain became the Witchfather.
Prayer of Cain Al' Shajarat
(or Tree/Green Cain, Master of the Forge)

Holy Master,
First and Most Cunning of Tillers
By fragrant smokes
And the power of Thy name
I hallow Furnace, Forge, and Flame:
Cain Al' Shajarat,
Sa'Ira, Sa'Ira, Sa'Ira.

Holy Master,
Unto the Craft of the Green
And the Spirits of the Wise
Bear thou from shadow Celestial Fire
And cause the Dead the rise:
Cain Al' Shajarat,
Sa'Ira, Sa'Ira, Sa'Ira.

Holy Master,
Nine times they Name be sung;
Temper these hands and their Work
In thy Fornax and Forge
For Thine is The Kingdom!
Cain Al' Shajarat,
Sa'Ira, Sa'Ira, Sa'Ira.

~Ars Philtron by Daniel A. Schulke

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Line of Cain

Are Cain, Tubal Cain, and Azazel the same entity?  Yes!   And no...

Cain, Son of Eve

Cain/Qayin is the son of Eve through the serpent, Ha-satan. In Genesis when Eve says "I have begotten a man with the Lord" she is referring to Lord Satan-Lucifer.  His brother Abel was the son of Adam and Eve, a creature of clay made flesh, whereas Cain was a creature of spirit made flesh.

Cain was the first to till the earth and harvest plant matter. For this reason he is known as the Lord of the Green Kingdom.  While Cain harvested plants, Abel shepherded flocks of beasts.  When the time came for Cain and Abel to make offerings to Yahweh Abel's offerings of blood pleased Yahweh, but Cain's offerings of burnt plants did not.

It was for this slight in the eyes of Yahweh that Cain killed Abel.  Cain offered forth his most cherished gift of blood (his own brother) to Yahweh.  Abel's blood watered the field and made it fertile. The Necrosophic tradition claims that the blood of Abel that 'watered' the garden also empowered it, making the plants within linked to the bloodline of Cain. This is also the origin of plant spirits or the "Black in Green."

Because of the fact that Cain was the first murderer of man, he eventually became the reaper.  He is the Lord of the Western realms, and the guide of the dead.  Cain was also marked for his crime, and it is this mark (the Witches' Mark) that all children of Cain carry, though in diluted form.

Azazel and Tubal Cain

Azazel was chief among the angels in the story of The Fall of the B'nai Elohim in the Book of Enoch.  The B'nai Elohim is a term that refers to angels. It occurs four times in the Old Testament and is rendered "Angels of God" in the ancient Septuagin translation. These fallen angels, or Watchers, descended to the realm of matter (earth) where they took the descendants of Cain as human vessels. They took women as their wives, taught them, witchcraft and other skills. Azazel took Tubal-Cain, the blacksmith, as his vessel and further improved the arts of smith craft and witchery. Naamah was the human vessel of Nahema-Lilith (Lilith the younger or Lilith's daughter).

The Nephilim

The children of the watchers were the giants known as the Nephilim, which derives from the Hebrew naphal (to fall), or the Fallen Ones. (The Greek Septuagint renders this term gigantes, which actually means "earth-born." This is often misunderstood to mean "giants".  They were marked by extra teeth, extra fingers and toes, double crowned skulls, giant-ism, and other traits that future generations would interpret as witch marks.

The Watchers were originally the four stars Aldebaran (the East), Regulus (the South), Antares (the West), and Fomalhaut (the North).  Witches then, are those who can trace their bloodline to Cain -- the Red Thread -- and are the children of the stars.

For more information:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Alraun

We have discussed the calling and uses of familiars -- both corporeal and incorporeal -- before, but there is another kind of familiar that bridges the gap between the two forms.  This is the ancient magical talisman known as the alraun.
Alraun by Paul Huson

The alraun is a root that has formed in a roughly human shape.  The root may grow this way naturally, or may be carved to resemble a human figure.  The alraun is traditionally a mandrake root, as these have the unique habit of growing in a vaguely humanoid shape.  Any root may be used, however, as it is the virtue of the cthonic properties of the root that provide the necessary magical energies.  Ash and briony are popular choices.

Alraun (also Alraune, Alruna, Alrune) is a German word that means simply "witch".  It derives from the same linguistic root as "rune" and "rowan".

According to The Mystic Mandrake by C.J.S. Thompson, the alraun was wrapped or dressed in a white robe with a golden girdle, bathed every Friday, and kept in a box, otherwise it was believed to shriek for attention. Alrauns were used in magic rituals and were also believed to bring good luck. But possession of them carried the risk of witchcraft prosecution, and in 1630 three women were executed in Hamburg on this charge.  By the 16th century the German word "Alraundelberrin" (Mandrake-bearer) had taken on such a strong connection with witchcraft that to be condemned as such was a death sentence.

The alraun was difficult to get rid of because there was a superstition that it could only be sold at a higher price than bought, and there are legends that owners who tried to throw an alraun away found it returned to their room.

According to German folklore, an alraun assisted easy childbirth, and water in which it had been infused prevented swellings in animals. Alrauns were said to grant wishes of their owners, and to do magic for them, just as a familiar spirit would.

Alrauns are fed milk, honey, and their owner's blood to empower them.  It is best to make these
A mandrake alraun from Pan's Labyrinth
offerings to the alraun each time it is used for magic.  You must treat the alraun as a beloved member of you family, letting it know of family news, and always talking sweetly to it, as if coddling a small child.  Sarah Lawless adds: "[The Alraun] is a sentient familiar spirit and not a curio to be tossed aside. The alraun has the power to bless or curse its owner so think carefully on your intent before making one."

For more information on the Alraun see:

Alraun Crafting at The Witch of Forest Grove Blog by Sarah Lawless
Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
Mandrake in The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes
The Mystic Mandrake by C.J.S. Thompson 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Elemental Weapons

Each of the four elemental gates is traditionally associated with a martial weapon.  The masculine elements of air and fire are represented by offensive weaponry: the staff (or spear) and the sword.  The feminine elements of earth and water are represented by defensive weaponry: the shield and helm.  These weapons have antecedents in the four suits of the Tarot: swords, staves, coins (shields), and cups (helms).  They are also representative of the four Celtic treasures of Nuada: sword, stone, spear, and cauldron.

The Sword

In the east, the gate of fire, is the forge of Tubal Cain.  Created on this primal forge is that most iconic of forged weapons, the sword.  The sword is a symbol of nobility and initiation.  It is the "sword bridge" we cross to enter the circle of initiation, just as Lancelot had to cross the sword bridge to enter the enchanted country of Melagant.  It is also the "sword that cuts both ways", demonstrating that both initiate and initiator are creating a solemn pact.  In Arthurian legend the sword Excalibur was drawn from a stone, but in the earliest forms of the myth the sword was drawn from an anvil.  In our tradition the "oath stone" of the coven is represented by an anvil in honor of Tubal Cain, Lord of the forge, and the fire of creation.  In the old song "Tubal Cain", we find this refrain:

“Hurra for Tubal Cain,
Our staunch good friend is he;
And for the ploughshare, and the plough,
To him our praise shall be.
But while oppression lifts its head,
Or a tyrant would be lord,
Though we may thank him for the plough,
We’ll not forget the sword.”

The Staff

The staff is the most personal tool of a witch.  It can be a stang, a distaff, a blackthorn blasting staff, a battle staff, a spear, or a simple walking stick.  The form matters far less than the function of the staff.  It is the weapon of the northern gate, sacred to the Black Goddess, who, in her crone aspect walks with a staff.  In her aspect as the spinner of Fate, she bears a distaff, and in her bloodthirsty warrior aspect she carries a spear.

The staff is a truly personal tool of a witch. It is not passed down as a kuthun to students or family.  It is best if the staff is destroyed upon a witch's passing, or that it is given back to earth, water, or fire with the witch's remains.

The Shield

The shield is both a physical and a metaphysical tool.  It can be a literal shield, like a targe, held as a piece of symbolic regalia upon which the symbols of the coven or the witch are emblazoned, or it can be a magical tool which we cultivate through visualization and discipline.  This shield is a semi-permeable barrier of etheric energy that we use for self-defense and cloaking magic.  The shield is a symbol of guardianship of the mysteries.  It is the weapon of the southern gate of earth, and is sacred to the White Goddess.  It is her shining white light which builds the etheric shield, and it is her seelie magic that weaves glamor and cloaking spells that depend on the shield.

The Helm

The helm, upturned, is the cup or cauldron of the western gate of water.  It is the helkapp that Tubal Cain as the Lord of death wears to grant invisibility. The helm is also symbolic of the mask, which we use in transformational magics, and ecstatic ritual.  The helm protects the head, which the Celts perceived as the seat of the soul. Thus, just as the shield protects the physical body from harm, so does the helm, or mask, represent protection of the soul.  It is appropriate, then, that the helm be the weapon of the western gate, that place of rest, that realm of the dead, that healer of the soul.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...