Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Traveling Scholars, Necromancers, Fairies, and Goddesses.

Antoine de la Sale, Depiction of Monte Sibilla. [From La Salade.]
“Harff comes fully prepared to find that for which he is looking.

“Here at Noxea [Norcea] we heard tell of Dame Venus' Mount,” he begins, and ingenuously adds: “Since in our country so many wonderful things are told about it I prevailed upon my companions that they do me the favor to go a few miles out of the way to see this mountain out from Noxea and came to a little place called Arieet... Thence we went to a village called Norde. Close by lies Dame Venus' Mount, at one end of which is a castle. I quickly got acquainted with him and told him in Latin how we were minded to see the Mount of Dame Venus since in our country so many wonders were told about it. The castellan began to laugh at me and entertained us well that evening. In the morning early he rode with us to the mountain. In it were hewn holes as in the Vackleberch or at Triecht; from these the town and castle had been built. I accompanied him into these holes. I could see nothing there except that some of them were fallen in and some were still open. With the castellan we then left the mount and he took us to the castle as his guests, where he entertained us during noontime. After noon he rode with us up to the top of this mountain. Here was a small quiet lake. By it stood a little chapel, like a place of worship, and inside was a small altar and there, as he related to us, in earlier times when the art of necromancy was still abroad in the world, its devotees came and conjured up the devil and practiced the black art. So soon as this happened there always arose from the waters of the little lake a cloud which descended in a thunderstorm, drenching the whole land thereabouts for six leagues so that there was no grain there that year. Now the people would no longer suffer this and made complaint to the owner of the castle. He immediately had erected an upright gallows between the chapel and the lake and forbade that any one should ever practice necromancy any more upon the altar. Whoever did so was hanged on the gallows. The castellan gave us this account and then said he know of nothing else concerning the place, whereupon we took our leave of him and went to Fossata to our rightful road. This castle lies nine leagues from Noxea.”
- Stephan Barto, Tannhäuser and the Venusberg. (1913 CE. P. 25) [Note: Quoting Arnold von Harff. (1471 CE – 1505 CE.)]
Liber Vagatorum's Title Woodcut
Of Vagrants, or Strollers.

[…] These are beggars or adventurers who wear yellow garments, come from the Venusberg, know the Black Art, and are called rambling scholars. These same when they come into a house speak thus: –
'Here comes a rambling scholar, a Magister of the Seven Free Arts (id est, the various ways of cheating [Beseflen] the farmers [hanzen]), an exorciser of the devil for Hail, for Storm, and for Witchcraft.'

Then he utters some magical words and crosses his breast [two] or [three] times, and speaks thus: –
Wherever these words are said
No man shall suddenly fall dead,
No murrain, mildew or other miserie
Shall touch this ground to all Eternitie.'

and many more precious words. Then the farmers [hanzen] think it all true, and are glad that he is come, and are sorry they have never seen a wandering scholar before, and speak to the vagrant: –
'This or that has happened to me, can you help me? I would willingly give you a florin or two.'

And he says, 'yes,' and cheats the farmers (Besefeltden den hanzen ums mess) out of their money. And after these experiments they depart. The farmers suppose that by their talking they can drive the devil away, and can help them from any trouble that has befallen them. Thou canst ask them nothing but they will perform thee an experiment therewith; that is, they can cheat and defraud thee of thy money.

Conclusio: Beware of these Vagrants, for wherewith they practice is all lies.”
- Liber Vagatorum [The Book of Vagrants and Beggars, with a preface by Martin Luther]. [1510]
(Note: the account is obviously very hostile, and one can only imagine why My Ancient Enemy would have loved it so. On the other hand? Chicanery abounds the world over.)
“In the Hessische Hexenprocessacten, going back apparently of the middle of the seventeenth century, occurs a very illuminating account of all the Mountain of Venus was at the time considered to mean. A fellow named Diel Bruell is on trial for witchcraft and in his confession he says that it was seven years since his wife and children had died. He had been much disturbed over the misfortune and had laid himself down to sleep and when he awoke he found he had been in Dame Venus' Mount. There he had seen many things, that Dame Holt hung up a kettle of water and that certain people were sitting in the fire; others lay upon their faces with food and wine-flagon before them but no bread; the gospels too were written on a board, but he heard no one reading. Nothing really wrong was going on and yet he wished he were well out of it. Hame Holt went ahead into the mountain and people followed her who were not distinguishable because they were only in semblance. There were cattle too and horses with long hair which entered the mountain together. The horses were of the best. There was a man in the mountain who looked like a Priest and with him Dame Holt talked, but not for long. Then she washed and bound up the wounds of such as were lame and halt. When he was questioned what they then said, Thiel replied that the mountain was so large one could distinguish nothing except sound; people wee there too who were already burning... The trip into the Venus Mount took place on New Years day nor did he know himself how he got there. Bast Ludwig, late mayor of Schlirbach, was sitting in the fire. He understood him to speak of someone here in this world, not did he know how he had come into the mountain, for he lay down and fell asleep... in front Dame Holt was like a fair woman, but from hehind like a hollow tree with rough bark. In the Venus Mount he had also learned something about herbs...


After his confession, Diel Bruell was executed on the twenty-fourth of November 1632 at Büdingen... and was buried outside the churchyard wall.”
- Stephan Barto,
Tannhäuser and the Venusberg. (P. 36-37)
Via Rachel
“The name 'Venus Mount' is once directly associated with paradise in the line:
'On Venus' Mount and into Paradise.'

The mountain of Venus is really the evil other-world.* The most frequent methods by which it is reached are shown in Sachsenheim 1453, Sachs 1517, 1545, 1559, Zimmerische Chronik 1565, Rotenburg 1608, Hessische Hexenprocessacten 1628. By means of a potion, by flying through the air upon some sort of steed - nightmare, goat, or calf - by lying down to sleep, by falling into a trance, and usually at night, these are the ways by which the Venusberg has been reached and all point to the fact the place is not of this earth.”
- Stephan Barto, Tannhäuser and the Venusberg. (P. 44-45)
Finally, there is this:
“Stone Age man created a massive network of underground tunnels criss-crossing Europe from Scotland to Turkey, a new book on the ancient superhighways has claimed.
German archaeologist Dr Heinrich Kusch said evidence of the tunnels has been found under hundreds of Neolithic settlements all over the continent.

In his book - Secrets Of The Underground Door To An Ancient World - he claims the fact that so many have survived after 12,000 years shows that the original tunnel network must have been enormous...


'In Bavaria in Germany alone we have found 700metres of these underground tunnel networks. In Styria in Austria we have found 350metres,' he said.

'Across Europe there were thousands of them - from the north in Scotland down to the Mediterranean.
'Most are not much larger than big wormholes - just 70cm wide - just wide enough for a person to wriggle along but nothing else.

'They are interspersed with nooks, at some places it's larger and there is seating, or storage chambers and rooms.

'They do not all link up but taken together it is a massive underground network.'


The book notes that chapels were often built by the entrances perhaps because the Church were afraid of the heathen legacy the tunnels might have represented, and wanted to negate their influence.
In some cases writings have been discovered referring to the tunnels seen as a gateway to the underworld.”
- Going underground: The massive European network of Stone Age tunnels that weaves from Scotland to Turkey. (

Well that was a productive day of reading! Hahahahahaha.

Be seeing you,

* The Cthonic Underworld, d00dz and d00dettes! At this point the process of reducing everything to diabolic elements is very clearly pronounced. heh.

[EDIT]: I tell you, Blogger hates open-office. As soon as I fix one shrinking section of text, another appears. Fuck it. Sorry for the weird mismatching.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tannhauser and Venus

“For in the year 1544, Martin Crusius, in his Annales Svevici, cites a curious tale, borrowed from an older chronicle. Wandering about the Swabian countryside were certain clerici vagantes who wore yellow nets draped about their shoulders in the place of capes. They had approached a group of peasants and told them they had been on the Venusberg and had seen extraordinary things there. They claimed knowledge of the past and could foretell the future; they had the power to discover lost objects and possessed charms which protected both men and animals from witches and their crimes; they could even keep hail away. With such boasts, intermingled with fearsome words mumbled ominously through clenched teeth, they shunned both men and women, especially the latter, and extorted money from them. As though this was not enough, they also declared they could call up the 'Furious Horde', made up of children who had died before they were baptized, of men slain in battle and of all 'ecstatics' – in other words of those souls who had had to abandon their bodies, never to return. These souls, they said, were accustomed to gather in the deserted places on Saturday nights of the Ember seasons and on Thursdays of the Advent, andering about, sorrowing, until the appointed timeof their deaths, when they could be received amongst the blessed. These clerici vagantes claimed that they had two lenghts of rope, one for grain, the other for wine: if one of them was buried, the price of grain or wine would increase that year...

Once again, if this evidence had come from the Fruili instead of Swabia, we can be certain that these clerici vagantes would have added being benandanti to their boasting. Here too there are obvious similarities: the journey to the mysterious kingdom of Venus (where, in the popular mind, there was believed to be a real afterlife as we shall see later) gave them the power to cure spells, and, during the Ember Days, to summon the ranks of those who had died prematurely, to which 'ecstatics' like themselves belonged, whose souls had not been able to return to their bodies; it also gave them abilities to obtain wealth for farmers by working their magic, not on the fertility of the fields, as did their Friulian counterparts, but curiously enough, on the prices of agricultural products. This was the year 1544... At any rate, groups of clerici vagantes who claimed to have been on the Venusberg appeared at Lucerne in 1576... and again in 1599 and 1600. A similar group, belonging to an association called Johannesbruderschaft, was tried at L'vov in 1694: like their Swabian fellows of a century and a half before, these clerici vagantes searched for treasures, claimed to have seen the souls of the dead on the Venusberg and tried to call them forth.”
- Carlo Ginzburg, The Night Battles.
I'm working on a post on masks, strangers, and ghosts.

But in the meantime,  I'm feeling very 'Tannhauser'-ish. Not that I'm a Minnisinger, mind you, but some days I just want to go and hang out on the Venusberg with other ecstatics.

So here are some images revolving around Tannhauser and Venus:

Otto Knille's Tannhauser and Venus. 1873

's Scene from Tannhauser. 1864.
The three images that follow come from here.


Lawrence Koe's Venus and Tannhauser. 1896.

The following come from Willy Pogany's (1882 - 1955) illustrations of Wagner's Tannhauser:

... Goddamn it, Harold. You're Awesome.

I... I've actually read about this before, but never seen it blatantly stated, just referred to in a way that discussed veiling 'the mysteries' of magick.

So I was pleased to see Harold Roth's link on Plant Codes elsewhere.

And then I looked up the PGM section he mentioned, and sat in shock... realizing I'd never read that bit before. EVER. /Noobsauce.

So. I'm just going to straight up quote it, because, fuck. I should've read and known this sooner:

PGM XII. 401-44:
Interpretations which the temple scribes employed, from the holy writings, in translation. Because of the curiosity of the masses they [i.e. the scribes] inscribed the names of the herbs and other things which they employed on the statues of the gods, so that they [i.e. the masses], since they do not take precaution, might not practice magic, [being prevented] by the consequence of misunderstanding. But we have collected the explanations [of these names] from many copies [of the sacred writings], all of them secret.

Here they are:
A snake's head: a leech.
A snake's “ball of thread”: this means soapstone.
Blood of a snake: hematite.
A bone of an ibis: this is buckthorn.
Blood of a hyrax: truly of a hyrax.
“Tears” of a Hamadryas baboon: dill juice.
Crocadile dung: Ehtiopian soil.
Blood of a Hamadryas baboon: blood of a spotted gecko.
Lion semen: human semen.
Blood of Hephaistos: wormwood.
Hairs of Hamadryas baboon: dill seed.
Semen of Hermes: Dill
Blood of Ares: purslane
Blood of an eye: tamarisk gal.
Blood from a shoulder: bear's breach.
From the loins: camomile.
A man's bile: turnip sap.
A pig's tail: leapard's bane.
A physician's bone: sandstone.
Blood of Hestia: camomile.
An eagle: wild garlic.
Blood of a goose: mulberry tree's “milk”.
Kronos' spice: piglet's milk.
A lion's hairs: “tongue” of a turnip.
Kronos; blood: … of cedar.
Semen of Helios: white hellebore.
Semen of Herakles: this is mustard rocket.
A titan's blood: wild lettuce.
Blood from a head: lupine.
A bull's semen: egg of a blister beetle.
A hawk's heart: heart of wormwood.
Semen of Hephaistos: this is fleabane.
Semen of Ammon: houseleek.
Semen of Ares: clover
Fat from a head: spurge.
From the belly: earth-apple.
From the foot: houseleek.”
The sad thing? A number of items are derived from Dioscorides, as both Betz and Mr. Roth note, and I've read a lot – not all by any means – of De Materia Medica and never picked some of this up. I suuuuuuck.

Now I'm going to be obsessing for weeks about Materia again.

DAMN YOU, ROTH. Err. I mean. Thank you. For enlightening me.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Socrates on Madness, the Divine, & The Soul.

The Super-Moon Over Greece.
Socrates: Know then, fair youth, that the former discourse was the word of Phaedrus, the son of Vain Man, who dwells in the city of Myrrhina (Myrrhinusius). And this which I am about to utter is the recantation of Stesichorus the son of Godly Man (Euphemus), who comes from the town of Desire (Himera), and is to the following effect: “I told a lie when I said” that the beloved ought to accept the non-lover when he might have the lover, because the one is sane, and the other mad. It might be so if madness were simply an evil; but there is also a madness which is a divine gift, and the source of the chiefest blessings granted to men. For prophecy is a madness, and the prophetess at Delphi and the priestesses at Dodona when out of their senses have conferred great benefits on Hellas, both in public and private life, but when in their senses few or none. And I might also tell you how the Sibyl and other inspired persons have given to many an one many an intimation of the future which has saved them from falling. But it would be tedious to speak of what every one knows.

There will be more reason in appealing to the ancient inventors of names, who would never have connected prophecy (mantike) which foretells the future and is the noblest of arts, with madness (manike), or called them both by the same name, if they had deemed madness to be a disgrace or dishonour; they must have thought that there was an inspired madness which was a noble thing; for the two words, mantike and manike, are really the same, and the letter t is only a modern and tasteless insertion. And this is confirmed by the name which was given by them to the rational investigation of futurity, whether made by the help of birds or of other signs-this, for as much as it is an art which supplies from the reasoning faculty mind (nous) and information (istoria) to human thought (oiesis) they originally termed oionoistike, but the word has been lately altered and made sonorous by the modern introduction of the letter Omega (oionoistike and oionistike), and in proportion prophecy (mantike) is more perfect and august than augury, both in name and fact, in the same proportion, as the ancients testify, is madness superior to a sane mind (sophrosune) for the one is only of human, but the other of divine origin. Again, where plagues and mightiest woes have bred in certain families, owing to some ancient blood-guiltiness, there madness has entered with holy prayers and rites, and by inspired utterances found a way of deliverance for those who are in need; and he who has part in this gift, and is truly possessed and duly out of his mind, is by the use of purifications and mysteries made whole and except from evil, future as well as present, and has a release from the calamity which was afflicting him. The third kind is the madness of those who are possessed by the Muses; which taking hold of a delicate and virgin soul, and there inspiring frenzy, awakens lyrical and all other numbers; with these adorning the myriad actions of ancient heroes for the instruction of posterity. But he who, having no touch of the Muses' madness in his soul, comes to the door and thinks that he will get into the temple by the help of art-he, I say, and his poetry are not admitted; the sane man disappears and is nowhere when he enters into rivalry with the madman.

I might tell of many other noble deeds which have sprung from inspired madness. And therefore, let no one frighten or flutter us by saying that the temperate friend is to be chosen rather than the inspired, but let him further show that love is not sent by the gods for any good to lover or beloved; if he can do so we will allow him to carry off the palm. And we, on our part, will prove in answer to him that the madness of love is the greatest of heaven's blessings, and the proof shall be one which the wise will receive, and the witling disbelieve. But first of all, let us view the affections and actions of the soul divine and human, and try to ascertain the truth about them. The beginning of our proof is as follows:-

The soul through all her being is immortal, for that which is ever in motion is immortal; but that which moves another and is moved by another, in ceasing to move ceases also to live. Only the self-moving, never leaving self, never ceases to move, and is the fountain and beginning of motion to all that moves besides. Now, the beginning is unbegotten, for that which is begotten has a beginning; but the beginning is begotten of nothing, for if it were begotten of something, then the begotten would not come from a beginning. But if unbegotten, it must also be indestructible; for if beginning were destroyed, there could be no beginning out of anything, nor anything out of a beginning; and all things must have a beginning. And therefore the self-moving is the beginning of motion; and this can neither be destroyed nor begotten, else the whole heavens and all creation would collapse and stand still, and never again have motion or birth. But if the self-moving is proved to be immortal, he who affirms that self-motion is the very idea and essence of the soul will not be put to confusion. For the body which is moved from without is soulless; but that which is moved from within has a soul, for such is the nature of the soul. But if this be true, must not the soul be the self-moving, and therefore of necessity unbegotten and immortal? Enough of the soul's immortality.”

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Few Stray Comments.

I suffered from depression for years. For about a decade, I'd oscillate between deep and long-lasting depression and being okay. I described it once, to a friend of mine, as “the Cycle of Complete and Utter Shit.”

It has been five years or so now since the problem was fixed. I'm constantly amazed by how warped my perceptions were by the intense and long-lasting cloud of Doom that I felt hung over me. And I attribute the fact that I no longer suffer from it due to two things:
  1. A series of initiations that broke apart how I saw myself and what I desired in life, and more or less purged me of some of the bullshit expectations I felt I had to live up to.
I now realize that a lot of what caused my internal conflict was a struggle to try and be Everything to Everyone. It was a weird mix of having parents with serious Protestant values and who wanted me to “do well,” but had a very specific line of reasoning as to what that constituted. Plenty of other crap was involved, of course, but the thing that really triggered some of my “I Hate Everything” loops came from feeling like I needed to have very specific goals and status symbols attained to “Live Right.” It was complete and utter crap.

It probably would be fibbing to leave out my survivor's guilt, too. Because during my teens it felt like “I” was racking up a body-count. Almost every year until I was 19 involved a death during the winter, spring, and summer. I had friends that died in car accidents, were in a collision with drunk Marines, committed suicide... And quite honestly, it took a toll on my mental health.

The first and most intense period of depression was triggered by a suicide. I sometimes wonder if I was haunted, but it would be unfair to place any blame on the poor little girl who couldn't handle being alive anymore due to her conditions. So I don't, really. I just... wonder sometimes. If she was about, I'm pretty sure that she's left by now anyway. And I wouldn't dream of blaming her for my internal struggles; rather, she triggered them. She forced me to confront something that I very much consider part of my spirituality now.

  1. I made an alliance with the Mandrake.
While I have noted, and am very aware, of the plants alkaloids and their ability to positively affect mental health, I do believe that it quite literally opened me up to new possibilities as well. It helped me tie together practices I had been performing even while depressed and give them greater meaning. We are not alone. We live amidst a sea of souls, they swarm around us. Some buzz around us like flies; others glide and zip through the air like bees. It depends on the spirit.

When the Dionysian individual drinks, it is not simply to 'escape' reality. Because – and alcohol will certainly teach you this – there is no escape. It may, at times, lighten your mood and help you feel happy. And many people reach for different drugs for just that reason. But inevitably, there is no escape from those feelings.

For me such acts – whether they involve plants or they involve booze – are always sacramental. When I drink, I am joyously saluting both the divinity of the alcohol and those that have gone before me. In that moment, we are all one and the same. A part of a greater whole. Time stops. It reverses itself. I am now in the Roman catacombs; in the ecstatic dances of the past, in the presence of the dancers, the ancestors, the spirits, and most importantly: my friends, who are never far from my thoughts departed or not.

Long after I am dead, there will still be those that feel that way about different aspects of 'intoxicated magic'. Whether you're smoking a joint, or drinking a beer, or having a glass of wine, or downing shots: you are always in great company.

On the matter of pot, Hakim Bey writes (in Orgies of the Hemp Eaters):
The Shiva who uses hemp is called Bhola, the Fool. He is the mendicant mad Shiva and himself a wild Saddhu, naked and ash covered, haunter of the cremation-grounds, etc. He's to be visualized blue-skinned, hair tied with live snakes, smoking a chillam, as the goddess Parvati sits beside him preparing more ganja. She would do this by slightly roasting palmate leaves and buds, washing them, wringing out the mass, then chopping it up with some tobacco. The chillam is lit with hot coals from lifted from the fire with Shiva's tongs, and the mouthpiece protected with a slightly damp cloth. (Obviously some of these techniques are modern, such as the tobacco mixture - others may be quite ancient.) In smoking a chillam, the point is not to touch the cloth with one's lips, otherwise any method of holding it will do. Some of the saddhus had fancy two-handed grips I could never duplicate.

Perhaps Bhola drinks bhang from his human-skull-cup, or serves it to his boon companions the graveyard ghouls, efrits, forest fairies, naga, ogres and magic dwarves. What would God say as he drinks or smokes? His followers on Earth, the saddhus, touch the chillam to their foreheads and repeat the mantra “
Bom Shankar” (Hail Shiva), or “Bom Bom Bhola!” or “Bholanath,” Lord Bhola. (“Bom” is a form of OM, the basic mantra. “Bhola” is pronounced with the “h” in the first syllable, b-h-o, and the second syllable la becomes lay, as if the whole word rhymed with the Spanish Ole! – which of course is simply a "corruption" of “Allah!”)*

“Bom Bom Bhola!” is not really an initiatic mantra in the sense of being restricted to those who “receive” it from their Guru. It functions more as a prayer, or a toast! (It is even arguable that the slightly comic sound of bom bom is deliberate.) I learned it from the late Ganesh Baba in Darjeeling in 1969...”
There has long been discourse on how similar Shiva and Dionysos are in certain respects, and recent research has show intense correlations between certain Daimons (notably the Agathos Daimon) and other elements in Greek culture have deep Indo-European roots. Following Alexander's expansion of the Greek Empire into India, it is also highly likely that elements from Vedic religion also seeped back into Greek religion. Orphism, as a category of beliefs, certainly has a number of features that correlate to Vedic religion.

Thus, I see both using the sacramental consumption of alcohol and cannabis as being the “same thing.” The plants producing the intoxication may differ, but the result is very similar. Incidentally, I've found that praising Dionysos while taking bong-rips produces... interesting results. And a far more enjoyable high.
  1. After the crossed conditions of an initiation ended, I have simply never experienced depression again.
I wish I could convey just how wonderful it is... Both to be free of the shadow that clouded me before and which could only be fought off with sheer, unadulterated rage, and the fact that I can now wander around with the same “intensity” as before, but without the negative feedback loop that lead to inevitable self-destructive behavior and foolishness.

But, at the same time, I don't want to suggest that my practices have “fixed” it or will help anyone. I'm just... feeling very strange after being confronted by someone feeling very much like I once did, and wondering if there was a way I could someday confer those benefits on others.

After all – what's being happy if you can't share it with those you love?

On the other hand: I spent more than enough time as a teen trying to be Superman.

I'm very happy to just to be a guy, now, doing what he loves and living life on his terms. It doesn't always work out perfectly; or even well, sometimes. But it beats what I felt before...


* All italics in the quoted section are mine.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Inverted Mirror

Given some of the recent events in Europe; particularly Spain, France, Greece, and the UK,  and the fact that America is inundated with a similar movement in our own culture, I thought it was time to link to a couple of things:
It is a much longer essay version that has often been condensed into his Eternal Fascism: 14 Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt.

While they might not seem similar on the surface, consider this: the changes in culture and politics during the 1960s was fueled in part by education. Meanwhile, in reference to Eco's work, fascism is in part fueled by ignorance. His 14th point makes this exceedingly clear:
Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak.
Newspeak was invented by Orwell, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show.
The first is an odd story - with a very strange character at its heart. It is about how in the 1950s the richest man in the world, an oil billionaire in Texas, invented a new form of television journalism. It pretended to be objective and balanced but in fact it was hard core right-wing propaganda. It was way ahead of its time because, in its fake neutrality, it prefigured the rise of the ultraconservative right-wing media of the 1990s - like Fox News, with its copyrighted slogan, "Fair and Balanced".
The billionaire was called H. L. Hunt - Haroldson Lafayette Hunt. He made his fortune in the early 1930s by getting hold of one of the biggest oil fields in America - in the pine forests of East Texas. He was a ruthless, driven man and from early on he became absolutely convinced that he had superhuman qualities that made him different from other humans.
 I think they all tie together fairly nicely.

Be seeing you,

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mournful Songs

“The second phenomenon with which goetes regularly were connected was singing and more broadly music of all kinds. The Suda and Cosmas defined goeteia as an act of “calling upon” (epiklesis) the dead; earlier sources repeatedly connected goeteia with the epoide, or chanted song. The Dactyls were credited both with the invention of various forms of music and with the composition of epoidai. Their student Orpheus, of course, was the most famous singer of all – by classical times we find him using his lyre and his voice to persuade the gods of the dead to release the soul of his wife, and by Varro's day he was known as the author of a book called the Lyre, which taught others how to invoke souls through music as well. The crediting of such a book to Orpheus verifies that in ancient eyes what Orpheus did with his music was not really different from the way a goes used epoidai or the incantations written on curse tablets to call up a soul, even if Orpheus and the goes desired the souls they invoked for very different reasons. Broadly, all of these connections between invocation of souls and song are part of a belief in the ability of all kinds of sound to enchant the individual soul.

But we need not go so far afield in proving the importance of this association between goeteia and song, for it is attested by the very term itself. As already noted, goes and its cognates are built from the same root as the older words goös and goao. This makes sense: the goes, like the lamenter, wishes to communicate with the realm of the dead...” (p. 111-112)

“[...] the second way of understanding the connection is to remember the role that music played in communicating with souls and with the powers of the Underworld: since mystery religions depended upon an intimate knowledge of how the Underworld worked, the highly talented singer could also become an excellent initiator. This point can be inferred from the fact that an Orphic poem entitled Journey to the Underworld (Katabasis) included doctrines important to mysteries, but it is also made very nicely by Orpheus himself, in the opening lines of his Argonautica, when he claims that everything he sings to mortals about the Underworld was learned when he descended to Hades, “trusting in my cithara, driven by love for my wife.” The Argonautica is late in the tradition, but articulates what the Journey to the Underworld and other works from Orphic literature imply: Orpheus knew what he did because he had special connections to the powers of the Underworld, and he was able to make those connections because he was a good singer; now, as a good singer, he would pass his knowledge on. There is a fluid triangularity between music, mysteries, and goeteia that operates in all directions. Some mythic figures or religious milieux emphasize two of the sides in preference to, or even exclusion of, the third (we never hear of Musaeus or Eumolpus interacting with the dead in extant sources), but the structure as a whole hangs together, and at least once was crystallized into a single figure, Orpheus himself.” (P. 114 – 115.)
- Sarah Iles Johnston, Restless Dead: Encounters between the Living and the Dead in Ancient Greece. University of California Press, 1999.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Images from Dominus Flevit and Kefr Kilkis [EDITED]

I first came across mentions of Kefr Kilkis – one of the places where the earliest Christians settled and artifacts have been discovered that predate the Gospels – in Peter Lamborn Wilson's Shower of Stars and have looked for images of the finds periodically since running into it. In fact, Wilson's comments regarding the finds there never left my mind. And while they may be incorrect in some cases, I liked them enough that I shoved them at Ryan Valentine during the writing of one of the Sutras of the Poison Buddha:
“In the village of Kefr Kilkis, near Hebron, a large body of believers settled after the fall of Jerusalem and buried their dead under inscribed tombstones. These constitute almost the whole corpus of Christian art prior to the Roman Catacombs, and are thus immensely significant. Why are they not more widely known?

Each stone is carved in the rough outline of an angel, sometimes combined with a “Jacob’s Ladder” shape. The symbols include birds and animals, trees and crosses, sun-wheels and variants of the “star out of Jacob,” reminiscent of the Sumerogram for “deity,” a simple shining star. Detached heads and erected phalluses are also seen. Most intriguingly for us, the stones also include many inscriptions – but in an unknown alphabet. Later Jewish magic makes much use of “angelic scripts,” often represented as patterns of stars, and it seems clear that Kefr Kilkis stones must be seen (if never deciphered) in this context. It also seems quite probable that Kefr Kilkis represents a graphic rendition of the glossalia or speaking in tongues described by St. Paul and apparently practiced by all the early Churches as one of the charismata promised by Jesus himself…

We may assume that Kefr Kilkis inscriptions were susceptible of interpretation by the inspired leaders and prophets of the sect. Who can say how much of this material, “revealed by spirits,” Angels, perhaps even by the risen Jesus, might have made its way into the Gospels (which are later than Kefr Kilkis)? The first Christian “book” is unreadable – a true bible of lost dreams, long-forgotten visions that left behind them signs carved in stone, inscribed with stars, and dedicated to the process of becoming an Angel.”
- Peter Lamborn Wilson, Shower of Stars: The Initiatic Dream in Sufism and Taoism.
Incidentally, I recently came across a copy of Buried Angels and was pleased to discover that the author had a piece on Kefr Kilkis... as well as some of the images I was looking for. 
“In July of 1960, in the village of Kefr Kilkis outside of Hebron, an Arab digging in the field by his home made a discovery on a par with the Dead Sea Scrolls, but which no one outside the tiny world of academic Biblical studies has yet heard of. The man unearthed, among fragments of human bones, strange doll-like and doll-sized figures. It was an ancient cemetery filled with esoteric manikins marked with crosses and unintelligible writing, which looked like nothing so much as an army of petrified ghosts.

During his discussion on the items (in a section entitled “The Tomb of the Angels”), the author compares the finds at Kefr Kilkis to ossuaries found at Dominus Flevit:

Plants depicted growing beside an Ossuary at Dominus Flevit. Note the way one of the plants has been turned into a Cross.

But perhaps most fascinating about the Kefr Kilkis finds is that many of the mannikins that were found bear depictions of plants growing – much like ossuaries at Dominus Flevit – and so does the Chrism vials that were found. Given some of the quotes I have pilfered from Earl Lee's book, and the fact that the imagery ties in with his theories, I wanted to post those images:

With circumsized penis (?!)

Chrism vial found at Kefr Kilkis
Happy sunday. hahaha.


[EDIT]: I realized some of these images may simply be grave markers and have edited the entry accordingly, as well as adding a quote from Buried Angels.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Among the Cannibal Christians

Mr. Earl Lee, who wrote From the Bodies of the Gods, dropped by and linked me to his blog for additional resources regarding the material in his book. The entries are freaking awesome. ... Which means that I can probably look forward to a few strolls through JSTOR in the coming weeks.

I've added his blog to my bloglinks, and already spent perhaps too much time today reading through some of the things he samples. I'm really digging all the information on honey I've seen so far.

Go check that awesome shizzle out, mang.


Late Night Viewings. [EDIT]

Many thanks to the excellent fellow that linked this earlier.

[EDIT]: Even if I disagree with elements,  this is DELIGHTFUL.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Follow-Up

Following up on the Supper left at the park...
“It smells like a dump and sewage,” said Alfred Lobatos Jr., a nearby resident who was out biking with his son, Alfred Lobatos III, on Monday.

Both were perched curiously on the pier right by the crowds of local children playing in the park's playground. They were watching a neighborhood volunteer fish out the remaining dead catfish from the pond, using a branch and some netting.

Earlier they had watched the city's cleanup efforts. “One of the city guys said, 'The water's hot. It's not supposed to be like that,'” Alfred Lobatos III said.

Jose Ibarra, who works on maintenance for the facilities at Southside Park, watched the cleanup crew in action. “They just left with a trailer filled with fish,” said Ibarra. “Not full of it, but you know fish are heavy, so they had to come back.”

City spokeswoman Linda Tucker said the fish kill was the result of an algal bloom – a rapid increase in the population of algae – that quickly starved the pond of oxygen, killing fish and plants in large numbers.

A peculiar foul smell at the pond was noticed the week of Memorial Day. The city was contacted and sent out a contracted park management company, which confirmed an algal bloom...”

“Tucker said she is certain only one treatment is necessary, and that as the pond's health improves, the smell will dissipate.

About 30 dead fish were removed Sunday morning and about 80 dead fish were removed Monday. Tucker said the city would be out every morning until the situation is resolved.

Tucker was thankful that a voter-approved sales tax is providing funds to help maintain ponds in city parks. “As a result of Measure U, we now have the resources to hire a pond management company, helping us keep the ponds as healthy as we can,” she said.

There were no other reported fish kills in the 230 parks across the city.”
- Video: Algae kills scores of fish in Sacramento park's pondby Ellen Le.
Published: Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3B
Last Modified: Thursday, Jun. 13, 2013 - 9:53 am
 Obviously, I can't take any credit on this. But it is the fastest I've ever seen the city to respond to such a thing. I think the combination of the meal and multiple complaints by nearby residents to the city and the paper worked out well. I also might not be totally insane.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Prices, Magick & Pop Culture

In response to my complaints about the Rumpelstiltskin meme from Once Upon A Time and such, Taylor Elwood has added a few additional comments that I quite liked:
“But I think that Jack, and others miss perhaps a more subtle message that is implicit in that statement of magic coming at a price. It’s a negative message, a negative belief about magic and what it costs. If you watch Once Upon a Time, magic is treated as this corrupting force, this power that can’t really be controlled, which makes the people who practice it become complete asses to everyone. I don’t buy it, don’t really agree with it, but I see it as an example of mainstream culture using pop culture to comment on magic, to paint it in a very specific light (ironically in the process just making it more attractive). All magic comes with a price…and that price is the sacrifice of your child or something else you don’t want to give, but that you’ll willingly give for something you prize more. when magic is looked at that way it becomes both something tragic and malicious…pity the magician who has fallen sway to the forces of darkness, while recognizing all over again that magic is something a person shouldn’t dabble in.”
He is correct that the treatment of such subject matter is pretty common in America. He is also correct that the source of the show – Disney – is a pretty common proponent of such ideas. This fact doesn't really bother me; except when it influences younger magicians or (perish the thought!) older Pagans and magicians who really ought to know better. With a few notable exceptions, the treatment of magic in entertainment normally comes with the subtle suggestion that to perform such acts is at least dishonorable, if not outright evil.

As someone who views magickal acts as morally neutral in most cases (“intent” is only part of it; you can easily fuck things up for someone else while “intending” to help them), I very much try my best to simply ignore such cultural suggestions and baggage. But I am nonetheless aware of it.

On the other hand, earlier today I was browsing a Chaos Magick forum and saw someone asking what the 'going rate' for 'souls' was. I assume the individual was being sarcastic, but I've actually met a few other Chaotes over the years that really believed you could 'sell' your soul. And despite having been young enough and pissed off enough to consider doing so, I've yet to meet a daimon interested in 'purchasing' my soul. Rather, the trope of 'selling one's soul' seems to be a corruption of the medieval 'pact.' The pact was a formal alliance; an agreement between the spirit (daimon) and the magician to either look out for each other over a length of time, or perform actions on behalf of one another to bring about a specific event (wealth, love, Gnosis, etc). A notable change occurred during the production of the 'Faust' tales I – knowingly and with humor – take my magical pseudonym from. A big part of the joke for me is that you can't sell your soul, but you can certainly be easily beguiled and mislead (either due to your own errors in judgment, or by a tricksy spirit). The latter part is something I consider actually instructive in plays and stories revolving around such tropes. Should you actually find love or something like that? Don't let either Mephistopheles or your fears push you into abandoning it. The pact, meanwhile, remains a possible action today as it did in the past, however, and magicians the world over still practice it.

As a final comment: that meme isn't heavily circulated on occult and pagan blogs; but it makes the rounds on Facebook and forums, which was where I first began seeing it. VVF had actually brought it to my attention, and shortly thereafter I saw a dozen examples of it from various folks, and mostly boggled over seeing it so much. Since complaining about it, I actually haven't seen it again.


Blogs, Booze, and Plants.

Earlier today, I was pleased to see Herr Doktor Phil discuss some solutions for the squabbling that has going on in the bloggosphere and elsewhere on the 'net. I especially liked the solution for finances, which is similar to what Sannion seems to do when he needs to build cash for one of his projects.

Although, frankly, I'd just like to see more sources to pilfer regarding Hermes Kthonios. I also don't think $20 is gonna convince to write about Goetia, because again, this person probably knows of scholarly material that I'd like to yoink for... reasons. But I'll still look at how funds are and what bills are left to pay around the end of the month and either send some cash his way or at the very least throw down a blessing on one of the Days o' Jupiter for this person. Because I like how hirs thinking, and the material he puts out. If you want to learn more about any Graeco-Roman, or Celtic gods/spirits/heroes, now is a good time to invest in this person for additional information.

Meanwhile, while I'm not a hard polytheist and I won't even be considering going silent next month, there will be points where I'm silent because I'm working on things. Some of those things will result in emails to folks that might like them... Or not. We'll see.

I've got entries slated for:
  • Wolfs bane (Aconite)
  • Enchanter's Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna)
And, very soon, Mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris).

Additionally about four to five times a year I get questions about cannabis mysticism, magical rituals with cannabis, information on cannabis... Seriously, the list goes on and on and on. So if you want me to write about cannabis: let me know now so I can draw an entry or two up. I don't consider the subject even remotely taboo, and with the shifted stance from certain states in the US, now is a good time to write about it. So I'm pretty willing. But if no one cares, I can focus on other things.

Finally, I finished From the Bodies of the Gods. But the last five or so chapters of the book left me feeling very... 'meh'. The fact of the matter is that I'll need to consult several sources that the author mentions, most notably: Dawn of the Gods: Minoan and Mycenaean Origins of Greece by Jacquetta Hawks, The Encircled Serpent: A Study of Serpent Symbolism in All Countries and Ages by M. Oldfield Howey, Dionysos by Karl Kerenyi... And probably a dozen others... And I'll need to do that just to understand some of the ideas that inspired the author in his final chapters of the book. Some of what he's saying matches up with what I've read really well... And some of it sounds batshit crazy. While I typically feel pretty good about sorting between the two, the book left me feeling very uncomfortable and unsure at specific points.

Since I only pick up a few books each month (to keep from blowing all our money, all the time, on books), it'll probably be a while before I return to it. In the meantime I'm going to start in on Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermination by Stephen Harrod Buhner, which VVF has been greatly enjoying and came highly recommended by Mr. Harold Roth. Why? Henbane and mandrake based booze, man. Why wouldn't you want to make that?! Obviously, you can't sell them in most places. But who cares?

It takes making booze to give to spirits to a whole new place!

Obviously, I'd proceed with caution on any such task.

Monday, June 10, 2013


(Hecate, armed with torches, and killing a giant; Christie's, London, Catalogue des pierres graves antiques de S.A. le Prince Stanislas Poniatowski ([1830?]-1833), 51, Cornelian) Via some Helenismos folks on Facebook and Rachel.


A blog reader wished to know why when talking about Hekate's Supper, I didn't explain its relation to the Noumenia. The honest answer is that while re-consulting the first three chapters of Ms. Johnston's Restless Dead, I noticed that she makes a strong case that such acts were performed on an as-needed basis. Thus, I didn't want to leave people feeling like they needed to wait like two weeks if they had a situation that needs to be sorted.


While preparing the fish, I had VVF run some divination, which was very good. At the last minute, I changed my plans to take the supper to an Old Town trivium, based on the fact that as of yesterday all the fish in the small pond/pusedo-lake attached to the park behind our house had died. The smell was... wretched. Suspecting that some weird shenanigans were going on, I instead gave my meal at the park.

We found a small, boarded area right over the lake - I kept flashing back to Ogden discussing necromancy practiced on bridges over rivers and lakes - and gave our devotions there. I actually took the miasmatic bag of gross to a T-junction at the edge of the park and left it there before returning to dedicate the meal. Somehow I managed both things without 'looking back' at either point.

Since getting up, the atmosphere of the house and the park are noticably... airier and lighter. Subsequent divination reveals a successful working.

So I have to wonder... did we, however briefly, somehow manage to purify some of the park's atmosphere and cool off the rising anger I felt from it?*

Or am I just completely fucking crazy?

Only time will tell.

* Arguably, we did very little and Hekate did all the hard work. I mean, cooking a meal isn't even comparable to the difference felt in the park. I'mma go read some Orphic hymns in it this week. 'Cuz that place feels niiiice.

Social Animals

I don't interact much with large groups. I prefer not to.

A certain subset of humans have been taught that the most important thing for everyone is to harmonize, to basically reduce all our differences and ideas and beliefs into one homogenous intellectual soup that will 'save humanity.'

It has been my experience that such a group, particularly when it is faced by something it deems threatening, will militantly try and stop that something. Whether it is a person, or a religious ideology, or a nation-state.

At which point the whole point for harmonizing in the first place is turned inside-out and the group dynamics boil down to 'in-group' versus 'out-group' dynamics.

I find this recurrence annoying. And when I catch it happening, I have to resist trying to destroy the group before everyone resorts to goose-stepping and strapping on military boots, if you get me.

Not very long ago I wrote a post about mirror scrying with thoughtforms because I thought:
1. The debate regarding pop-culture vs. religious ideas in magical practices was based on differences in experiences.

My hope was that if I could get one group to try something they hadn't, they might relax about the others. Meanwhile, if I could get the other group to start heading toward the actual evocation of traditional spirits, they might relax about how mean the polytheists are for not letting them in to their club. I suspect that my antagonistic tone probably resulted in neither happening. No one to blame there by myself, you dig? So - I apologize for being antagonistic to those that were offended. In particular, for calling certain people's assessment of 'metaphysical validity' stupid. I won't apologize for the use of the term 'noob', however. We're all noobs sometimes, and that shit isn't bad. Being a noob is how you learn.

2. I was particularly unamused by a few of the hard polytheist commentators. In particular, some of the comments that Sannion sampled from Galina looked to me very much like someone validating their own spirituality based on the presumed deficiencies of someone else.

If you basically have to hypothesize that someone isn't practicing like you because 'the cult of the dead' or whatever else can't pierce their 'selfishness'? Don't. You may very well be right, but you're basically smearing your opponents in a way that is very hard to disprove. It's a cheap tactic, and you are the person I was referring to as 'stupid'. What I should've said was that the move was cheap, and petty. I have since seen other individuals, just as intelligent as Galina, make very similar comments. Why? Because once that cat's out of the bag, the group-harmonizing is going down.

3. Don't argue with noobs.

This stands to reason with either side. Beginner's are more prone to agreeing with whatever side they take than certain others because they feel the pressure to fit in far more keenly. Additionally, they lack the experience to realize what it is that they may be missing and dislike being told rather viscerally that what few, cherished experiences they've had and which encourage them to keep at it, don't matter.

Noobs need to be left alone to develop. Plenty will drop-out altogether once they plateau out in terms of experience, and become your average middle-class liberal new-age hippy. Others will continue and may find - much like I did - that their early assessments were flat wrong. Even later they will realize that bits of what they previously considered 'flat wrong' was actually 'slightly right,' but the reasons or whatever that you assumed were right were still off.

The most important part of this last part I'm saying is this: plenty of you are saying things that will discourage others from exploring their experiences in a way that may lead them to what you believe. But when you basically just throw down a wall and shout, as though you're a wizard in a beautiful movie that I hate and a far better book, 'None shall pass!'... You create clear lines of separation where there might not be any need for such a thing.

Some of you have spent more time slapping around ideas you don't like than you have spent exploring the things that get you going. And while the pop-culture arguments may have initially spurred interesting or not discussions, they have now revealed the seedy underbelly of arguments on the internet: when you upset people enough, they take it personally. And then they try to do what they see the Supermen on TV and involved in our state do: they wage smear campaigns.

As a magician, I would recommend making an evil gossip eating servitor. But that might wig out some of you hard polytheists. Which is why I'll never join your club. But that's okay, really. I like your club. But if I joined your club?

I'd probably say the very crap I'm pretty much against in this entry.

Now: I am, admittedly, an asshole. And by the strictest definition, I am also a bastard. So take everything in this silly, pointless entry with a grain of salt.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Hekate's Supper [EDITED]

Given that I recently complained about the information on Hekate's Supper at a certain website, it is probably fitting that I provide some of the information I feel was missing from it. This entry may very well end up being lengthy because I will also provide a discussion on the different types of the dead in classical antiquity – particularly Greece – as I understand them. I'm probably going to make a few mistakes, so if you catch them? Correct me. Finally, I have put some of this information in other entries, but I will be adding it here simply to keep all of the information together.

As it stands, a discussion on Hekate's Supper must begin with a discussion on the dead. It is here, however, that I must pause. Some of the terms I am using are context dependent. As Sarah Iles Johnston explains in a footnote in her excellent Restless Dead: “The same problem obtains for alastor and palamnaios as for apotropaios: these words can represent the angry dead, a supernatural agent working on behalf of the angry dead, or a god who averts the angry dead—indeed, Alastor was even a title given to Zeus in his role as avenger of the dead. The meaning in any given instance can be determined only through context.” (P. 49, footnote). At least one of the terms I will be using, Apotropaioi, generally refers to a class of the restless and unburied dead, but the similar term Apotropaios can refer to their anger, which might be shown by the spirit acting directly, requesting another spirit (most likely the request was made a deity of the dead) harm the living, etc. This post is largely about avoiding that anger, and about one of the potential tools for doing so. For the sake of simplicity, when I use terms to refer to the classes of the dead, I am focusing on the classes versus their means of activity.

The Dead: Who Are They, Where Are They, and why do they trouble us on occasion?
In many cases, I've previously simply made two distinctions between the types of the dead: Heroic Spirits and Ancestral Spirits, and the Restless Dead. Heroes and certain types of ancestral spirits (such as the Daimones Khryseoi and Daimones Argyreoi) are generally helpful spirits and protective spirits. However in the case of both heroes and the Daimones Khryseoi, suggestions have been made that they could become angered. Daniel Ogden in Greek and Roman Necromancy notes several tales of heroes being angered at their tombs by their still-living country-folk; and in Restless Dead, Ms. Johnstone comments: “Hesiod, in lines 121-23 and 126 of his Works and Days , tells about how the privileged dead of the Golden Race return to earth to protect the living and bestow wealth upon them. Some scholars have interpreted a later passage (252-55) as indicating that these souls of the Golden Race also play a role in punishing the misbehavior of the living. It describes the 30,000 deathless guardians of mortals who “keep a watch over lawsuits and wicked acts, wandering over all the earth, clothed in mist.” The latter two lines of this passage are also inserted by some manuscripts after line 123, in the middle of Hesiod's description of the Golden Race, which would serve to equate the souls of the Golden Race with the 30,000 deathless guardians” (p. 16-17).

Thus, if angered, they would need to be ritually appeased in a manner similar to the manner in which the Restless Dead are placated. The largest chunk of the latter category is the Apotropaioi, who became stuck residing next to or alongside our own world. The most likely reason for this is failure to perform a proper funeral; Ms. Johnston notes that funerary rites had specific protective services added to them. The fear was that those who were left untended might be attacked by another spirit while in a weakened state, or come under compulsion by a magician and thereby enter spiritual servitude. In the case of one's ancestors, either situation was deemed untenable and as such those rites were seen as necessary. Failure to do so would anger the dead, who would seek spiritual or supernatural means to enact vengeance upon those who had failed them in a rather brutal way. But failure to see proper funeral arrangements employed was only one way that one could end up being restless. Suicides, who had not finished out their mortal lives until the arrival of Thanatos, would be forced to remain amongst the living until their time was up. Children who died in accidents could also become members of the Restless Dead, as could unmarried women. We might suggest that these later additions are due to attachments; having not lived out a long life, or having fallen in love, etc. But I am, frankly, unsure of all the reasons that the Greeks imagined one to end up Restless. There is a final, subcategory of the Restless Dead who I should not omit: the Biaiothanatos Daimon, or the Violent Death. This spirit was specifically injured horribly during their final moments and seek vengeance for the wrong done to them. Like others, they were thought unable to enter the underworld because their time on earth had not ended.

Ms. Johnston describes these spirits as “envious or jealous” or the human condition and goodwill; thus, at times of celebration and while one is joyous, they are more likely to come upon them living and muck it all up.
[...] in the Greek view, death did little to change the essential features of human personality. Ghosts retained the emotions of living persons and were assumed to feel the same way about both good and bad treatment as they would have felt when alive; the real difference lay in what the dead were able to do about their feelings. There were some types of dead who were predisposed to be unhappy and vindictive, most often because of something that had happened while they were still alive, but even the kindest soul, if left unhonored, would become angry and make that anger known. This lack of any real qualitative difference between the angry dead and the peaceful dead — and thus the potential for the latter to become the former — is reflected by the fact that actions performed to soothe the angry are often the same as those used to honor the peaceful” (P. 38-39).

As such they were expected to be either driven to a point where they could no longer harm the living (a rather untenable prospect these days), like the crossroads, with exorcisms. In other cases they were placated; the wrong done to them was sought to be fixed, or a purification specialist was sought who could fix the problem.

The most important thing to put down, here and now, is that the individual person was thought to be incapable of taking on such a spirit themselves. It required the blessing of one of the Cthonic deities, or a deity that could specifically avert the evil. One of the potential means of securing release from the ill-will of the dead was a meal, dedicated to Hekate, known as Hekate's Supper (deipna Hekates, Hekataia ). This meal was given, according to K.F. Smith in Stephen Ronan's The Goddess Hekate, to placate both the spirits of the dead and Hekate herself:
... [T]he offerings laid at the crossroads every month for Hekate. Their purpose was to placate not only this dread goddess of the underworld, but also we learn from Plutarch (Moralia, 709 A), the Atropopaioi, i.e. the ghosts of those who for some reason cannot rest easy in their graves, and come back to earth in search of vengeance. An army of these invisible and maleficent beings follows in the wake of its leader as she roams at large through the midnight world” (P. 57 – 61).

Thus it fulfills two purposes, both of which will interest the magician or sorcerer seeking to use the crossways for their purposes: to, through devotional service, gain and help maintain the good-will of the Mistress of the Netherworld, and to placate those unhappy souls that remain swarming around us even now.


In any event, there is preliminary work to be done before the meal is even prepared. First, one cleans themselves and then cleans out their home taking care to gather any “polluting” (miasmatic) material from the house-hold altars or around them, gathering these items together. These can, I think, include left-over incense sticks, incense residue, fecal matter left by animals living in one's house, and some of the offerings given to deities (particularly if one has been giving them meat). These things could be sources of power for the spirit that needed to be cleansed. This can also include katharsia, or trash. As such trash that is particularly foul can be added to what will be taken with one to the crossroads.

Next one aspurges the residence with incense, and perhaps sprinkles consecrated water as well. (Mixing in salt with your water may work here. The dead generally don't like salt.) The incense was carried in a censer of bake clay, which would be left at the crossroads with the meal. Given that many of us use metal censers we aren't willing to part with, I'd recommend using incense sticks as they can be more easily carried and disposed of at the crossroads.

I also recommend stealing a few lines from the Orphic hymns while blessing the incense:
to my holy sacrifice invite, the pow'r who reigns in deepest hell and night; I call Einodian Hecate, lovely dame, of earthly, wat'ry, and celestial frame, Sepulchral, in a saffron veil array'd, leas'd with dark ghosts that wander thro' the shade; Persian, unconquerable huntress hail! The world's key-bearer never doom'd to fail On the rough rock to wander thee delights, leader and nurse be present to our rites Propitious grant our just desires success, accept our homage, and the incense bless.”

Fumigate the entire house, and gather the remains together with the katharsia and other items. You will be taking these to the crossroads. Obviously, sort the most disgusting elements to be transported only. If you have too much trash? Just take it out and leave those items which are truly foul to transport to the crossroads.

In the event you're lamenting not having a trivium near you, just find a nearby quadrivium to use after midnight. There should be one... like... everywhere. It may be symbolically inapt, but it beats leaving those items near to your home where they can empower things that you would prefer not be empowered.

The Meal
“There was also a “supper” (deipnon or dais) of various foods; the dead who partook of these sometimes were described as eudeipnoi, which we best can translate, perhaps, as “those who are content with their meal.” The word, a euphemism, seems to reflect the hope that, once nourished, the dead would realize that they had nothing to complain about. There is some evidence that water was also given to the dead person so that he could wash, just a host would give a living guest water in which to wash before a meal. Offerings to the dead might also include jewelry, flowers, and small objects used in everyday life such as swords, strigils, toys, and mirrors (although gifts, like lamentation, were sometimes restricted by funerary laws). It is hard to avoid the conclusion that these gifts were expected to be useful in the afterlife, particularly when ghost stories tell of the dead demanding objects that were forgotten or omitted at the time of burial.”
- Sarah Iles Johnston, Restless Dead. (P. 41)
What did the meal consist of? K.F. Smith indicates the following:
As is usually the case with offerings to the dead, the regular Hekates diepnon on the thirtieth of the month consisted of food. The specific articles, so far as they are mentioned, were magides, a kind of loaf or cake, the shape and ingredients are not clear, the mainis, or sprat, skoroda, or garlic, the trigle, or mullet, a sacrificial cake described by Harpocration as “somewhat like the psaista,” eggs, cheese, possibly the basunias a kind of cake, for which Semus, in Athenaeus, xiv. 545 B, gives the recipe.”
The basunias is a form of honey-cake, the likes of which are often associated with being given to the dead. JSK in the Geosophia indicates that honey-cakes made from Bran were given to Cerberus, and includes them in several contexts. If one cannot make such a cake, like this one, then the most profitable thing to do is to slather some high quality bread or cake with honey.

A well rounded meal will probably include at least:
Some sweet wine, or cool water,* or milk.
A meat-type component, such as mullet, sprat, or along those days. Today I picked up some weakfish (“sea salmon”), which are hardly traditional. However, I'm going to honey-glaze them and add nuts and then bake the fish to round out my preparations.
A cake, preferably made with honey, or at least with a good deal of honey added to the top.
Some sweet fruits.

Even if one cannot get the items traditionally given to Hekate, items that are dedicated to heroes and the dead often overlap and offerings can be culled from such sources. Additionally, adding honey to anything is always a good idea. While I am not sure that the Oreganos mentioned by Ms. Johnston as a funerary component is oregano, divination seems favorable for adding it to the meal as a spice.

Finally, along with the meal and polluted elements, these items are brought to the crossroads and dedicated to Hekate. I normally perform this dedication in the West, much like the prayers to the unknown divinity (who was probably Hekate) prior to plucking Mandrake. If you feel another direction works better, feel free to ignore what I do. At then end of this comes perhaps the most important part:

Turn around and leave “without looking back.”

In the event there are no spirits to be rid of, I see nothing wrong with simply preparing a meal and bringing it to the crossroads to dedicate to Hekate in hopes of procuring her favor. Others may disagree, however.

* Cool water was typically given so that the dead could clean themselves, in which case bringing along a disable bowl to add it to is probably a good idea.