Saturday, September 21, 2013

Witchery

Let us set aside the notion of “men's mysteries and women's mysteries” for the moment, as they often beguile the unwary.

Instead, let us look elsewhere for our notions of witchery and its representation. The rhyming chant and dance work best; the dancers move together, their actions begin mirror the other at a certain point. Their words flow, rising and forming something else. The whole is more than the sum of its individual parts.

And yet something individual is occurring, too:

The Other is both represented before the self, and that larger thing is growing from gradually assuming the shape of it.

Some foolishly assume that the shape of the thing they are defines their capabilities:

Female witches have access to the same Secret Sun, the Sun-at-Midnight, that often guides male witches. In the hands of a witch, even every day household tools and toys become potent weapons. Take, for example, six young lady witches with a simple object: the doll. In the hands of these witches the toy becomes a weapon; the everyday object assumes new characteristics, new features.
Take a piece of Red String, not so different from the Golden Strings of Destiny woven and held by the Fates, encircling it in key places:
Bind the Feet, saying: “I bind you feet, that may not tread upon my paths.”
Bind the Hands, saying: “I bind your hands, that your actions toward me shall be impotent, without craft or agency.”
Bind the Mouth, saying: “I bind your lips, that you may not speak about me.”
Bind the Eyes, saying: “I bind your eyes, that you may not see me, not even reflected within the pools of Memory.”
Bind the Ears, saying: “I bind your ears, that you might not hear of me from the mouth of another.”
No need for pins, glass shards, nor the venom of bee stingers struck across the Poppet. Our young ladies have rendered their opponent obsolete; our dancing Maidens have simply taken control of the Field of Battle. Presumably at this point, they all take up broom-staves and fly off to the Sabbat dances of the Fair Folk and the Secret Sun, the Terrestrial Fire-Bringer who was beloved by the Moon, and the Stars, and all the Lands and Denizens of the Otherworld.

Who needs enemies when you can roam with the Wind, and Speak the Language of Stars, and Dance at the Border of All Things?

Men can look forward to the Crown of the Moon, not unlike Mercury being crowned by the Lunar Horns. Learning intuition. Subtlety. Different crafts to the usual. No need to have the biggest Sword, to confuse the ultimate Mystery of the Self with your Cock.

In the same way a mother can predict a child's action, learn to predict and see the patterns around one. They're easy to miss. Especially if your eyes are always focused downward.

Learn to avoid war; it taxes the resources, the patience, can leave you confused and bewildered. If you must engage the enemy, refute their terms. Hunker down, blend in. Covered in mud and plants may not sound like the ideal, but it allows for the choosing of a field. The enemy drawn in, hopefully at the dead of night, won't expect the metaphysical equivalent of IEDs. Beserkers do not hide and wait, and then flip out with the Blood Clouding Their Eyes and emerge as a series of explosions grip the world. They especially don't forgo the traditional weapons of war for a simple, poisoned dagger.


That's a great big Sword you've got there, sir
. Too bad you won't get to use it.

Still, one learns to prefer love and joy to war. The passions can be transmuted into dance; the frenzy can coalesce into poetry or prose. Great events are always occurring. No need to pretend we need them to be shaped by our own hands. Better to gather with the Maidens and Muses on the Moon.

They know all the best stories, already,
anyway.

And why fight men when you can parlay with dragons, hobgoblins, brownies? Barter with the Other Side, run sly deals from the crossroads. Retreat to the Secret Hearth to collapse at the End of the Day at the side of the Goddess.

And how was Your Day, ma'am?”

Agency and subtlety. Different co-mixtures, different potential paths, similar actions. Like the dancers at the beginning, working together for the Secret Task – be it healing, blighting, loving, or just stamping upon the ground in sheer joy.

The Witch Maidens need not confine themselves to the Hearth, like they've faced some Saturnian blight. Plenty venture into the wild, surrounded by the specters of werewolves, their beloved ancestors, friends that were never forgotten after they passed on.

Lads can extend their understanding of the bounded confines into the world around them. Narrow their focus from a vast swath, into a specific zone of interest. So many crafts to learn, you know? Abandon the outward expected appearance and move with their allies while seeming to be alone.

He was just sitting there,
Peering into the Coffee Cup:
A very Simple Thing to See,
And yet I'm quite sure –
He was in Another Place,
Talking to Other People.
The lips didn't even move.
Bounded and unbounded. Shifting and phantastic. Spectral, and suddenly all too material and solid. The witch dances between and with these things, taking their Other as they find it and working it until they become a bit more like it, a bit different from what they were before.

Fire learns to flow like Water. Earth becomes almost as Spectral as Air. Air condenses, the witch surrounded by an impenetrable veil of mist. There's no predicting what form it takes. It's the magic of dancing between raindrops, and shifting between times.

Did you know –
Once you saw the 15th century, and gathered with the beloved dead before that in the slums of Rome? You knew Saints, and saw the Fall of Byzantium.

Maybe once, you were a female Cathar. You've forgotten, and only the specters of Memory restore it. The Lethe's shackles broken and suddenly:

Oh, god, I remember now.

She left. I had only work. I'd been staring at a manila envelope, someone else's taxes written on pages inside. And I thought:

I'll just end it all.
Welcome back. But there's more than just misery on the other side. You've had loves, dreams, hopes, different notions of the Self, since the start of existence.

Round and round we go. Where we end, we never know.

Stop focusing on the obvious. Witches can be like Joan of Arc: with fairy-friends, and knowing the secret whispers of those that live in the hollows of trees... And then picking up the sword, crowned by the Everlasting Glory of the Sun.

Or they can be the spectral forms of the men, grinning from the shadows of times past. The no-good sorcerer; a bit to clever, a bit too intuitive, a bit too happy to learn whatever is necessary to keep going. The Hag him taught the Craft all too well. Introduced him to the Voice of Toads, uttered Prophecy of where to seek his Mask.

Each balances, forms the other side. Breaks out of the expected norms.

The ultimate Mystery, though, is how they all fit together. And this remains beyond my conception. Defies my understanding. Insists I keep searching and wondering.

But I'm fairly sure the key to it sits within the hands, and in the movement of the feet, of my Other.

Be seeing you,

Jack.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dosages and Soporific Spells

Let us be clear:

When it comes to flying ointments, potions, etc., and tropane producing plants:

- The alkaloid content of the plant is variable.

It depends on when you plant it, when you uproot it, and a number of other potential factors.

- You cannot measure the alkaloid content of the tropane producing nightshades if you do not test them in a lab.

Anyone that seems to indicate otherwise is wrong. There are 'tricks' for hopefully avoiding an alkaloid heavy plant, but they remain risky. The only way to be sure is to have the plant matter analyzed by those with the skills to do so, in a lab outfitted with the proper equipment.

- Some plants have a higher content of specific tropanes versus their relatives.

- The tropane content of the plant also varies depending on the area of the plant being used.

In some plants, the roots contain fewer tropane alkaloids than in others.

- Fuck up, and you may die.

- When medieval surgeons used the soporific sponge, sometimes people died.

This occurred because they often couldn't accurately measure the dosage of the alkaloids. Their 'dosages' consisted of the amount of plant matter applied together, which failed to take into account the true danger of the plants: that you don't know precisely how potent the sponge would be.

In theory, application to the skin versus ingestion decreases the amount of tropane alkaloids that pass into the blood stream and then cross the blood-brain barrier to affect the acetylcholine receptors. But, again, this is not exactly a sure method. There are still factors such as:
- Whether or not the person is taking drugs or medicine for a medical or psychological condition.

- Whether or not the person has, for example, ingested a compound which will increase the effectiveness of the the tropane compounds within the body.

Additionally, just like the tropane alkaloids can be stored in fats for a flying ointment, they are stored in the body's fat cells. This can be... problematic, particularly if the content becomes too high.

There are, of course, also mitigating factors. But they do not relate to the exact measurement of the plants being used in the ointment, nor to the application of the ointment on the body. They relate rather directly to the mitigating actions of the secondary metabolites of other plants, and with the variable content again being an issue they are hardly tried and true.

In short? Be careful. And unless someone happens to have a lab they can test the plants in? They may not actually know how powerful the thing in their hands is. This isn't a laughing matter.

The Obligatory Cunning Magic Post

The subject of Cunning Magic, whether it's been a realized aspect for readers of this blog or not, has come up in several of my entries over the last year. As such, I've been feeling the desire to put something down about the subject; first, to introduce readers who are unaware to “fairly historically accurate sources,” and second to deal with the issue of white-washing on the subject.

Many witches have probably heard about “white witches,” by now. They may very well see themselves as continuing a long-standing tradition of aiding and abetting one's community as a practitioner, complete with offering services that in fact stretch back in time. Others very well may never have heard of the subject aside from allusions and statements along the lines of: “a good witch will never [insert vague statement here, followed by]; we're all good people here!”

Unfortunately, the reality of history rarely stands the test of such ideals. And Cunning Magic – and Cunning Folk in particular – serve as an excellent example of this factor. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Okay, so what is Cunning Magic? And who were Cunning Folk?

In his introduction to Popular Magic: Cunning Folk in English History, the historian Owen Davies writes of the folk:
“Cunning-folk was just one of several terms used in England to describe multi-faceted practitioners of magic who healed the sick and the bewitched, who told fortunes, identified thieves, induced love, and much else besides. It is employed in a general sense here not just because it was widely used, but also because it conveniently encompasses both sexes. Wizard and conjuror were also popular terms in some regions, but these were masculine titles, and to refer to wise-women and wise-men all the time becomes unwieldy. White witch, although now a part of common language, was actually little employed in popular speech prior to the twentieth century, except perhaps in Devon.” (P. VII – VIII.)
In certain respects, Cunning Magic or the Cunning Craft forms what I like to call “the other face of witchcraft.” It was widespread and included multiple aspects that are related to the subject of witchcraft as was practiced both in the past and some that even continue to be practiced today. Additionally, of the mythical and legendary elements that have seeped into the practice of witchcraft today derive in part from Cunning Magic, although they occasionally hearken back to earlier sources, or commingle with those sources.

But to really get a glimpse at how they came to become such a significant force – and they
are significant – we have to place them into a proper historical context. Cunning Folk were largely an occurance of a time period that scholars refer to as the “early modern period.” Specifically, Emma Wilby uses this term for the time period under discussion which ranged from around the arrival of the printing press (1450 CE or so) to the early 19th century.

In his excellent (from the stance of historical accuracy, at least) lecture in
Witchcraft and Magic, Professor Wrightson of Yale says:
But the world of magic also had its specialists; and they were those who known as the Cunning Folk, Cunning Men, or Wise-Women. These individuals were those who were known to have special knowledge, over and above the average knowledge of magical practices, and who were often believed to have a special inherent power... often inherited. It was thought to pass in the blood. The Cunning Folk – who were pretty numerous – one survey of known Cunning Folk in East Anglia suggests there was a cunning man within ten miles of any village.”

Later he says: “Again, they were appealed to for the diagnosis of witchcraft. If a person suspected they might have been bewitched, they might go to the cunning-folk for the provision of counter-magic...” […]
 And, most interesting to me:
“Well: this world of popular magic had long existed, and it was long to endure. You can find much of it still alive and well deep into the 19th century. And it endured because in various ways it helped.
But the problem of witchcraft is altogether more distinctive. That involved a specific kind of magic: the causing of injury or death by the malevolent and malicious use of supernatural powers against another or their property. And that was the practice which was known as maleficium.”
Finally, much later he states, referring to the work of Keith Thomas and Alan Macfarlane and suggestions made therein: 
“It [witchcraft fears] was partly because of the loss of the protective magic which had been supplied by the medieval Church. The Church of England allowed the belief in witchcraft to continue, but it wouldn't offer ecclesiastical means of counter-magic and it forbade people to resort to them.”
In many respects, the members of the Protestant Reformation were very much against aspects of the magical world that permeated popular culture – and in some cases, still do today. In this respect the explosion of Cunning-folk that occurred across Britain, but also extended in some ways into other areas of Europe, can be seen as balancing factor against witch-beliefs as they re-emerged and were reshaped by Elite authorities.

Nonetheless, Cunning-folk remain ambiguous figures. As much as they might be desired for the valuable counter-magic and healing services (along with other pragmatic services), they also were treading a dangerously thin line when it came to the outlook of those around them. It didn't take much for the conception of such a person as a valuable and capable agent against witches to shift into the figure of a witch itself. Both Ronald Hutton (in
Triumph of the Moon) and Owen Davies note cases in which particularly fearsome cunning-folk came to be seen as witches, and faced the terrors of “mob justice” (or injustice, as some cases may be).

Additionally, Owen Davies (in
Popular Magic and Murder, Magic, Madness) notes situations in which cunning-folk were accused of taking advantage of their would-be clients, or actually did so. This is a subject we will return to in a bit.

Okay, well, what were some of the characteristics of their practice?

Unfortunately these were too numerous and potentially different to generalize about. Despite that, we can still note several relevant practices that recur in work by Owen Davies and Emma Wilby:

- Divination
This ranged from astrology, to divination by analysis of urine (uroscopy; see Davies'
Murder, Magic, Madness p. 38), to asking a “familiar” spirit, or use of the divining rod (also occasionally called the “wishing wand,” although there are different types of Hazel wands that were in use) and probably quite a few other methods I'm forgetting.

- Healing the sick.
This could be done with the use of herbs; by the use of simple charms, or even archaic and newer incantations, or with the aid a familiar spirit (quite often in this case a fairy or the ghost of a dead man).

- Counter-magic
As noted several times, many specialists in cunning-folk circles appear to have actively promoted themselves as being capable of undoing harmful sorcery or witchcraft (
maleficium). This could be done through ritual or talismanic means, including calling upon angels and fairies and other tactics that practically borderline on “shamanic healing.”

- Magic to aid in the acquisition of pragmatic needs.
This has always been a selling point for magicians and magical types of many, many ages and requires little expansion. Health, wealth, and love, and “luck” are fairly consistent things that have been peddled by magicians to their clients across a huge swath of European history.

Okay, so what about the spirits dealt with?

It should be noted that between the 12
th century (if not significantly earlier, as the rituals in the PGM would suggest) and 14th century there were significant amounts of blending when it came to the subject of spirits. (This state of affairs lasted much longer, however, extending into even the Industrial Revolution in certain ways.) While occultists of late have favored neat and seemingly tidy ways of looking at the subject of the spirits, with elaborate taxonomies and hierarchies and distinctions between types, the popular outlook tended to blend them together.

A good example is the subject of fairies: while today there is a mass of individuals whose idea about the subject is inspired by Disney films and a rather quaint Victorian outlook, the information we can glean from sources reporting on fairy beliefs during the early modern period are far more flexible. In some cases, we are discussing spirits thought to be semi-Angelic or perhaps even Angelic in nature. During the Middle Ages, there occurred a belief that the Kingdom of the Fairies sat next to Hell, and was inhabited by “neutral Angels” who had not taken a side in the War in Heaven. Subsequently, they did not inhabit the Kingdom of Paradise with God, but rather their own territory. In some cases they were imagined to Guard the Grail – or the chalice which Christ drank at the last supper. Between the 14
th and 15th (and even extending into the 16th) centuries we begin to see tales wherein King Arthur is imagined to exist alongside Germanic elves and dwarves in the Hollow Hills of Fairy-land spread through German literature. Similarly, the tales of the Venusberg and Sibyllenberg are spreading across Europe during this time which intermix different cultural mythological and supernatural elements relating to the practitioners of magic, and classical Daimones and spirits. A very good way to referring to this state of affairs has been suggested by Jake Stratton-Kent: “mythic fluidity.”

During this time period, the elaborate systems and taxonomies favored by many occultists fail to hold much weight. Fairies perfectly represent this: sometimes they are Greek Daimons (like a Sibyl living in the Other-world, or Venus hidden beneath the earth), sometimes they are semi-Angelic or Angelic, and sometimes they are the dead or Gods from Germanic and Celtic tales. All of these different concepts co-mingle together in the over-arching world of popular culture and setting any hard and fast rule about them is bound to run into historical contradictions in practice, concept, and outlook.

Because of, or perhaps despite, this cunning-folk had numerous examples of individuals who claimed (at the very least) to work with fairies. The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, recently put out by David Rankine, shows precisely this blending of utility. It contains rituals involving Goetia (summoning demons and fairies), Angelic “sorcery” (requesting Angels, for example, to held one find lost and stolen goods by conjuring them into a glass of water), as well as charms of a sort, prayers and excerpts from Agrippa and different Grimoire and Grimoire related manuscripts. It is an example of a specialist's Grimoire from the 17th century; in this case the specialization is in regards to the practice of evocation.

Of particular note within this regard is the Oberion or Oberon evocation, which I excerpted, and “restored” (it was really kind've easy) the missing seals and images for that purpose* in
Well Met By Daylight to as the Grimoire itself does not cover it, and Rankine left them out for that reason. They occur in another book of magic. It directly follows a copy of the Fairy Sibylia or Experiment of the Dead ritual from Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft. There is also a rather hoary ritual to obtain a Fairy Familiar towards the end of Gauntlet's work that includes mention of the Seven Fairy Sisters which show up in the Sloane materials published by David Rankine in The Book of Treasure Spirits. Overall, it represents an individual who was somewhat exceptional with regards to the way material is dispersed and commingled throughout the Grimoire. On the other hand, it also perfectly falls in line with another aspect that both Davies and Hutton highlight.

What would that aspect be?

Magical books. It is easy to forget that following the moveable type Printing Press making its way across Europe, pirate printing and even mail-order access to materials that would once have belonged to the elite became
the norm. Pirate printing of occult materials was not only extremely common, it was a booming business. (See Davies' Grimoires: A History of Magical Books) And Cunning-folk seem to have taken advantage of it.
“In popular cultures where most information was transmitted orally, and only a minority were able to read and write, literacy meant power. It comes as no great surprise, then, to find that cunning-folk made a great show of the fact that they possessed and used books and manuscripts. Not just any books, however, but ones that would impress. Size mattered, as did the appearance of antiquity. It also looked good to display volumes in foreign languages so as to enhance the impression of erudition in the eyes of those who could read a little...” (P. 119)
 Both Davies and Hutton, for example, highlight a number of examples where Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft and Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy were owned. Similarly, astrological tracts by popular Astrologers of the 18th century seem to have been owned, such as those charts and discourses put out by “Raphael” and “Zadkiel”. But there were many other books – on herbalism, medicine, and magic – that were owned besides those two by different cunning-folk.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is that some of these books aroused suspicion and fear – which both Hutton and Davies seem to agree could be good for business:
“The popular mind did not merely associate cunning with the printed or written word, but the figures regarded as their natural enemies, and targets, the witches. One of the traits likely to draw upon a person a suspicion of being involved with bad magical dealings was an apparently unnecessary appetite for reading, especially if (rightly or wrongly) the texts were believed to be connected with the occult. In Sussex one informant of a folklore-collector, recalling a long-dead local suspect, stated that 'that kind of wicked old woman always had books – powerful books, which have a great deal of evil written in them'. […]

This fear of the physical volumes brings home a point that also affected the cunning folk: that books of magical lore were thought not merely contain information but to possess power of their own, which could affect those who opened them. In a still semi-literate society, the written word was credited as intrinsically potent.”
- Hutton, Triumph of the Moon (P. 90 – 91.)
In some cases, merely owning the information that they did could arouse suspicion, and when being accused of defrauding or even cursing others this reputation could become a rather perilous factor for the cunning-man. More importantly, there were plenty of authorities that disliked what the cunning folk offered to the populace. And when one mixes fear, paranoia, and the potential for wrong-action or defrauding others together one has a mixture that is intrinsically volatile.

Did that volatility ever reach a tipping point?

Perhaps the best example of this is found in Davies'
Murder, Magic, Madness which is a narrative about a man (William Dove) who – having consulted a cunning man and wishing to be rid of his wife – decided to poison her. It is worth noting that he was warned by the Cunning Man, Henry Harrison, that such an act was foolish and would be discovered. Dove, however, was not particularly intelligent – he was clever in a mean or brutish sort of way, but not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

Harrison – the “Wizard of Leeds” – on the other hand later found himself entrapped when the former Defense Lawyer of William Dove wound up as his prosecutor with an ax to grind in a rape trial. Given the evidence that Davies' presents, it is quite possible that Henry Harrison was a rapist. And in fact, some of the issues that arise from the book are quite telling when it comes to cunning-folk and those posing at them and how they might manipulate their clients and those around them:
“As we shall find later, Harrison was quite capable of committing rape, but in this instance magic becomes a complicating factor in interpreting what took place in his consulting room. The question is one of whether Harrison physically forced Eliza or whether he used psychological coercion, playing on her yearning for the affections of Stephenson and her fear of his magic powers to induce her to have intercourse. This act of what could be described as consenting rape was not unique to Harrison; there is evidence of other cunning-folk using the same ploy to force clients into complying with their sexual demands. A Cornish contemporary of Harrison's, the bisexual cunning-man James Thomas, generated considerable notoriety for suggesting that male clients would have to sleep with him in order for his magic to work.”
- Owen Davies, Murder, Magic, Madness (P. 190)
Overall, even if you begin to side with Harrison, details later emerge about him that will make you loathe him utterly. And furthermore, while Davies makes these distinctions, I consider them rather off-putting. Whether by psychological coercion, or physical force, I consider rape a problem. Period. There are a few other things to say on this matter, however:

This matter is not one unique to cunning-folk. Rather, it is an over-arching issue that still exists to this day in multiple circles. Sexual predators are not unique to any practice, but can probably be found within a great many of them.

The question might be begged as to why I should bring such a thing up, and it is rather a blunt matter: quite often, when neo-pagans and witches bring up “white witches” or reference cunning-folk, it is with an idealized and romanticized image behind them. It is also a false face, for these were real people. Some of them were criminals. Some of them were not actually cunning-folk at all. Some of them ended up facing trials, and even “witch-hunts”.

While we may regard certain work with a degree of respect, we should still always keep that in mind. Otherwise one runs the risk of creating the illusion of perfect “anti-witchcraft” forces who never themselves did anything wrong... All the while, some of them
actually did.

This is also a critique that can be extended to most every magical practice currently in use today. And a very good reason to keep from assuming that someone is what we imagine them to be. But, at the same time, we need not let it overwhelm us or make us paranoid. Because for as many examples as one can find of individuals who abuse their power, how others view them, or take advantage of others to an extreme degree, there are counter-examples of individuals who
did not do these things. As in all things, the only way to accurately look at something is to understand where the greatness lies, while also understanding the problematic aspects. When addressing either, it's easy to get carried away and perhaps even misrepresent something.

Overall, cunning-magic and cunning-folk come across as largely benign. It is only in the examples of precisely the opposite that we start to realize that we all face the same issues.

Suggested further reading:
The Witch's Familiar and the Fairy in Early Modern England and Scotland,” by Emma Wilby.
Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic by Emma Wilby.
Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History by Owen Davies.
Murder, Magic, Madness by Owen Davies.
The Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet (edited) by David Rankine.
The Book of Treasure Spirits (edited) by David Rankine.
Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton

* Unfortunately, the ritual is still somewhat incomplete... of which there is really only one way to fix...

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wherefore they do often meet children, women, and poor and mean men.

And in Philostratus we read, when Apollonius and his companions were travelling in a bright Moon-shining night, that the Phantasme of a Hagge met them, and some times changed it self into this shape, & some times into that, and some times vanished out of their sight. Now assoon as Apollonius knew what it was, grievously reviling it advised his companions to do the like: for he knew that that was the best remedy against such invasions. His companions did as he advised, and the Phantasme presently with a noise vanished away like a shadow: For so fearfull is this kind of spirits, that they are moved, tremble, and are compelled by a feigned terrour, and false and impossible threats. Whence Chereon the holy scribe saith that these are those things by which especially the spirits are compelled. There is moreover as hath been above said, a certain kind of spirits not so noxious, but most neer to men, so that they are even affected with humane passions, and many of these delight in mans society, and willingly dwell with them: Some of them dote upon women, some upon children, some are delighted in the company of divers domestick and wild animals, some inhabit Woods and Parks, some dwell about fountains and meadows. So the Fairies, and hobgoblins inhabit Champian fields; the Naiades fountains: the Potamides Rivers; the Nymphs marshes, and ponds: the Oreades mountains; the Humedes Meadows; the Dryades and Hamadryades the Woods, which also Satyrs and Sylvani inhabit, the same also take delight in trees and brakes, as do the Naptæ, and Agaptæ in flowers; the Dodonæ in Acorns; the Paleæ and Feniliæ in fodder and the Country. He therefore that will call upon them, may easily doe it in the places where their abode is, by alluring them with sweet fumes, with pleasant sounds, and by such instruments as are made of the guts of certain animals and peculiar wood, adding songs, verses, inchantments sutable [enchantments suitable] to it, and that which is especially to be observed in this, the singleness of the wit, innocency of the mind, a firm credulity, and constant silence; wherefore they do often meet children, women, and poor and mean men. They are afraid of and flie from men of a constant, bold, and undaunted mind, being no way offensive to good and pure men, but to wicked and impure, noxious. of this kind are hobgoblins, familiars, and ghosts of dead men. Hence Plotinus saith, that the souls of men are sometimes made spirits: and of men well deserving are made familiars which the Greeks call Eudemons, i.e. blessed spirits: but of ill deserving men, hags, and hobgoblins, which the Greeks call Cacodemons, i.e. Evil spirits; But they may be called ghosts when it is uncertain whether they have deserved well or ill. Of these apparitions there are divers examples; such was that which Pliny the Junior makes mention of concerning the house of Athenodorus the Philosopher of Tharsis in which there appeared with a sudden horrible noise the ghost of an old man. And Philostratus tels of the like of a hag of Menippus Lycius the Philosopher turned into a beautifull woman of Corinth, whom Tyaneus Apollonius took to be a hobgoblin; the same at Ephesus, the like in the shape of an old beggar who was the cause of the pestilence, who therefore being by his command stoned, there appeared a mastive [mastiff] dog, and presently the pestilence ceased. We must know this that whosoever shall intellectually work in evil spirits, shall by the power of good spirits bind them; but he that shall work only worldlily, shall work to himself judgement and damnation.
- Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, Of Occult Philosophy, Book III (Part 3).
 I couldn't decide on which sentences I liked best. So, you get the whole section sampled.

Thanks to Ms. Krasskova and Sannion for having me on the Wyrd Ways Radio podcast tonight. I had a lot of fun.

In a few hours...


I'm pretty sure it'll be good times. Here's hopin' I don't make an ass out of myself!

Jack.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shape-shifting, Black Dogs, Barrows, and Necromancy [NSFW]

I'm still having trouble actually finishing a longer post on the Restless Dead. So, while I continue working toward something coherent, I've decided to post some of my favorite confessions featured in Christina Hole's A Mirror of Witchcraft. I've decided to include images from Jules Michelet's La Sorciere... Largely because I rather like his dainty witch ladies.



VIII. “A Pretty Boy in Green Clothes.”
Pittcairn: Jonet Watson's Confession,
1661 CE.

Jonet Watson confessed that in April last bypast, or thereby, she being at the burial of Lady Dalhousie, there was a six-dollar given to Jean Bughane, to be parted among a certain number of poor folks, whereof she was one. And the said Jean Bughane did run away with the said money, so that she got no part of it. And she come home to her own house, being very grieved and angry at it, wished to have amends of Jean Bughane. Upon which the Devil appeared to her, in the likeness of a pretty boy in green clothes; and asked 'What ailed her? And what amends she would have, he should give her.' And at that time the Devil gave her his marks; and went away from her in the likeness of a black dog: – And constantly, for three days thereafter, there was a great bee come to her; and upon one morning, when she was changing her shirt, it did sit down upon her shoulder (she being naked) where she had one of the marks.

As also, about the time of the last Bale-fire night, she was at a meeting in Newtown-dean with the Devil, who had green clothes upon him, and a black hat upon his head; where she denied Christ and took herself to be a servant of the devil. Wherefore she acknowledged that she was from her heart sorrowful for the doing of it. And likewise, he gave her a new name, and called her 'Well-dancing Jenot' – and promised her money at the next meeting...
- Chapter II: “Coven and Sabbat” P. 48 – 49.
[Comments: I rather like this one for there being a “devil” as a “pretty boy” in “Green Clothes” – a very Robin Goodfellow state of affairs – and for the form of the Black Dog and Bee being taken by the spirit. In Greece, the dead were often associated with bees and swarms of bees. The Black Dog, meanwhile, is associated with Hekate, as well as a type of Ghostly Omen in and of itself in the British Isles. Finally, who doesn't appreciate a well-dancing witch? That devil has excellent taste.]


VI. “The Silver Bullet”
Heanley

It was some years before the cattle plague in the garthman... came to me one morning 'in a great doment', as we say in Marshland: 'Master Robert, hast thee a crookled sixpence?' … and he took me to the pump, which stood just outside the cowshed, in which about half-a-dozen milch cows were stalled and showed me a straw or two, apparently twisted around the handle by the action of the wind. 'Thear,' said he, 'I've fund 'er oot; yon's a witch straw, an' along of t' pump hannel shea's milking aal oor cows; but I'll put a stopper on 'er ef thou'll len' mea yon crookled sixpence. I see 'er run thruff y' yard las' noight as a black bitch, an' shea canna' stan' silver.' So I produced the coin, and he had his shot at the black bitch, and now comes the pathos of the tale. That very night a dear old woman, wife of our own gardener, in getting upon a stool to reach some crockery from a high shelf, fell and broke her leg. But the garthman and many another held to their last breath that they had 'fund t' witch'.
- Chapter III: “Shape-shifting and Familiar Spirits.” P. 62 – 63.

I. “The Healing Powder.”
Webster

It happened in my time, and I was both eye and ear witness of the trial of the person accused. And the first hint of it from the pen of Durant Hotham, in his learned Epistle to the Mysterium Magnum of Jacob Behemen upon Genesis in these words: 'There was (he saith) as I have heard the story credibly reported in this Country a man apprehended for suspicion for witchcraft; he was of that sort we call white Witches*, which are such as do cures beyond the ordinary reasons and deductions of our usual practitioners, and are supposed (and most part of them truly) to do the same by the ministration of spirits (from when under their noble favours most Sciences grew), and therefore are by good reason provided against by our Civil Laws, as being ways full of danger and deceit, and scarce ever otherwise obtained than by a devilish compact of the exchange of one's Soul to that assistant spirit for the honour of its Mountebackery. What this man did was with a white powder which, he said, he received from the Fairies, and that going to a Hill, he knocked three times, and the Hill opened, and he had access to, and converse with a visible people: and offered, that if any Gentleman present would either go himself in person or send his servant, he would conduct them thither, and show them the place and persons from whom he had his skill.' To this I shall only add thus much, that the man accused for invoking and calling upon evil spirits, and was a very simple and illiterate person to any man's judgment, and had been formerly very poor, but had gotten some pretty little means to maintain himself, his Wife, and diverse small children, by his cures done with this white powder, of which there were sufficient proofs; and the Judge asking him how he came by the powder, he told a story to this effect:

That one night before the day was gone, as he was going home from his labour, being very sad and full of heavy thoughts, not knowing how to get meat and drink for his Wife and Children, he met a fair Woman in fine clothes, who asked him why he was so sad, and he told her it was by reason of his poverty, to which she said, that if he would follow her counsel she would help him to that which would serve him to get a good living; to which he said he would consent with all his heart, so that it were not by unlawful ways; she told him that it should not be by any such ways, but doing of good and curing of sick people; and so warning him strictly to meet her there the next night at the same time, she departed from him, and he went home. And the next night at the same time appointed he duly waited, and she (according to promise) came and told him that it was well he came so duly, otherwise he had missed of that benefit that she intended to do unto him, and so bade him follow her and not be afraid. Thereupon she led him to a little Hill and she knocked three times, and the hill opened, and they went in, and came to a fair hall, wherein was a Queen sitting in a great state, and many people about her, and the Gentlewoman that brought him presented him to the Queen, and she said he was welcome, and bid the Gentlewoman give him some of the white powder, and teach him how to use it; which she did, and gave him a little wood box full of the white powder, and bad him give 2 or 3 grains f it to any that were sick, and it would heal them, and so she brought him forth of the Hill, and so they parted. And being asked by the Judge whether the place within the Hill, which he called a Hall, were light or dark, he said indifferent, as it is with us in the twilight; and being asked how he got more powder, he said when he wanted he went to that Hill, and knocked three times, and said every time I am coming, I am coming, whereupon it opened, and he going in was conducted to by the aforesaid Woman to the Queen, and so had more powder given him. This was the plaint and simple story (however it may be judged of) that he told before the Judge, the whole Court and Jury, and there being no proof, but what cures he had done to very man, the Jury did acquit him; and I remember the Judge said, when all the evidence was heard, that if he were to assign his punishment, he should be whipped thence to the Fairy-hall, and did seem to judge it to be a delusion or Imposture.
- Chapter IV: “The Fairies and the Dead” P. 77 – 79.

[Comments: This story is typical of some of the trail records we have regarding the Good Neighbors aiding a witch. Emma Wilby, in her excellent paper
The Witch's Familiar and the Fairy in Early Modern England and Scotland,” notes: “Both familiar and fairy could be encountered either as the result of an invocation, or spontaneously […]. The initial encounter with both types of spirit was often described as spontaneous and conformed, in fundamentals, to standard encounter narratives found in fairy anecdotes and folktales of all periods. The individual was usually alone, either in the countryside or at home, and in some sort of trouble, the the spirit suddenly appeared and offered help.” This is precisely what we see here. It also brings to mind a number of fairy tales in which similar events take place, such as when Cinderella is greatly upset and her Fairy Godmother appears and offers her aid. Incidentally, this also gives us some insight into what might be taking place; being extremely emotional or upset is a type of altered state of consciousness, although not one we typically pay attention to. Additionally, the above confession also conforms to the typical promises made by fairies to other Cunning Folk. They do not promise riches or vast wealth, but as Wilby puts it: “a life”.
“Although the familiar is most notoriously associated with offering the witch powers to do harm and revenge herself on her enemies and so on, trial confessions attest that generally the first and most frequent offer made by the familiar was the promise of help to ease the witch's material suffering, a service also offered by the fairies. Although both familiar and fairy could promise great wealth, they more frequently promised something rather less grand. In te majority of cases, particularly in Scotland, the devil offered what was often termed “freedom from want” which in many cases amounted to helping the witch earn a basic living.”
This sounds rather inglorious until one considers that the alternative is starvation and a life constantly in a state of struggling to get by. This is one of the reason the individuals such as Mr. VI and myself refer to certain actions, when it comes to witchcraft, as being “a matter of survival.” Incidentally, this account is rather full and rare. Typically, Judges dismissed Fairy confessions and insisted on hearing about Devils and Demons, as noted by both Wilby and Carlo Ginzburg.

Incidentally, when dealing with certain spirits the pattern of three knocks or three utterances has been a repeated motif in my dealings. I relate this to the triplicity of Hekate, but... I strongly suspect it has another meaning I've yet to figure out.]



VI. “Three Persons Upon Three Broom-Staves.”
Glanvil

Another Evidence was the Confession of Julian Cox herself, upon her Examination before a Justice of the Peace, which was to this purpose: That she had been often tempted by the Devil to be a Witch, but never consented. That one Evening she walk'd out about a Mile from her own House, and there came riding towards her three Persons upon three Broom-staves, born up about a Yard and a half from the ground: two of them she formerly knew, which was a Witch and a Wizard that were hang'd for Witchcraft several years before. The third Person she knew not; he came in the shape of a black Man, and tempted her to give him her Soul, or to that effect, to express it by pricking her Finger, and giving her Name in her Blood in token of it... but she said she did not consent to it.
- Chapter IV: “Fairies and the Dead” P. 85 – 86.
[Comments: You don't see many tales with the ghosts of witches showing up directly in trial records, so I dig this one. Plain and simple. I also like the Blood Pact aspect appearing. Because that is Traditional.]


VII. “Necromancy in Lacashire.”
Weever

[Edward Kelly**] … upon a certain night in the Park of Walton in le dale, in the County of Lancaster, with one Paul Waring (his fellow companion in such deeds of darkness) invocated some of the Infernal Regiment, to know certain passages in the life, as also what might be known of the Devil's foresight of the manner and time of the death of a noble young gentleman, as then in wardship. The black ceremonies of the night being ended, Kelly demanded of one of the gentleman's servants what corse was last buried in Law churchyard, a church thereunto adjoining, who told him of a poor that was buried there but the same day. He and Waring intreated this foresaid servant to go with them to the grave of the man so lately interred, which he did; ad withal did help them to dig up the carcase of the poor caitiff, whom by their incantations they made him (or rather some evil spirit through his organs) to speak, who delivered strange predictions concerning the said gentleman. I was told thus much by the said serving-man, a secondary actor in that dismal abhorred business; and the divers gentlemen and others now living in Lancashire to whom he hath related this story.
- Chapter IV: “The Fairies and the Dead” P. 86.
[Comments: you may recall the second ritual in Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft – to raise up the ghost of a hanged man – that I brought up in the last blog entry? While the details of the ritual are not in this account, the act of forcing the corpse – or the spirit of the dead to use it – to speak follows along the same lines as that ritual did. Incidentally, there is a PGM ritual wherein one consecrates a skull to act as a “speaking oracle” by transforming the ghost to whom the skull belongs into a more “powerful” Daimon through the powers of Helios or the Sun... Although, this could often be a fraudulent practice, as Lucian's mockery of Glycon would suggest and Daniel Ogden discusses in one of his two books.]


* A term generally applied to Cunning Folk. See Owen Davies
Popular Magic, or Emma Wilby's Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits for more information.
** Yes, that is totally Eddie Talbot, the companion and seer that worked with John Dee.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Regarding the Dead


It is, however, difficult to account for the whole fairy-creed by any single theory, for like the spirits with which it was concerned, it was always shifting, nebulous, and many-coloured. It seems to ave evolved from a medley of ancient beliefs in nature-spirits, ghosts, and half-forgotten heathen deities, and confused traditions of vanished Neolithic peoples and their ways of life.
[…]

Many stories show that fairies were often confused with ghosts, some of whose characteristics they shared. They haunted barrows and other ancient burial places. In their underground kingdom time ran strangely, as it did in the land of the dead, so that those who stayed there a day or two, as they thought, sometimes found on their return home that many years had elapsed in the upper world. Some who strayed into that enchanted country returned with their vitality mysteriously drained from them, became silent, morose, and melancholy, and did not live long after. The known dead were occasionally seen in the fairy host. Bessie Dunlop saw the Laird of Achinskeith riding with them, though he had died nine years before, and her own friend among them told her he had been killed at the Battle of Pinkie. Robert Kirk himself, after writing so learnedly about them, was said to have passed in the end to the fairy hill at Aberfoyle, and not to the grave...”
- Christina Hole, A Mirror of Witchcraft (Chapter Four, “The Fairies and the Dead.” P. 75 – 76.)
***

Over a decade ago, I took one of my initial trips into my former home town of Fresno, California with Hermes. I've written about my experiences during the first trip before. But as far as I know, I've never talked about the second experience that occurred that year. It was the winter solstice, and I invoked the deity before exiting my house and then did as I had been instructed on the first occasion.

The fog had rolled in; there was no sky to be seen. A gray length of impenetrable clouds stretched across the sky, even as the white mist rose up across the streets. I still recall how startling the sensations of trance were on that day. I was clearly
out of it, and I knew it.

As I ventured down the street with my unseen companion, I began to notice something strange. Around me figures were emerging from the mist. They didn't seem to move “normally,” which is to say that as they walked their bodies seemed to stretch or elongate. They were dressed normally, and seemed to take no notice of me. They just “walked sideways,” which is the closest I can come to describing what I saw. It wasn't so much they they weren't moving along the sidewalks or through the street as the average citizen of the city might. It was more that the visual image of their bodies elongating or stretching as they did made them
appear as if they were walking sideways.

“Why are those people moving so strangely?” I asked my unseen companion – although I'm not sure whether or not I spoke the words aloud.

The response was almost instantaneous. “They are the dead.”

“They don't seem to notice me,” I noted.

“They won't notice you while you are with me,” the deity seemed to reply. It is rather amusing to note that this comment was lost on me for many, many years.

Above the moving figures hung street lights, which seemed to create incandescent globes of white and yellow above the forms.

“Come along,” I was told, “I want to show you something...”

And that was the occasion that I was taken to me first 'crossroads,' of sort. An underground tunnel that stretched out beneath a street running above it. It was there that I got all kinds of crazy with predictable results, and conducted some of my first thaumaturgical rituals. And it was a
great place to practice.

But I've never forgotten the strange forms shifting in and out of the mist. How they walked, and how, above all else... They didn't seem to be aware that they were ghosts. The first time sticks with you, even years later. The slight terror of realizing that you're not completely alone – ever – in a city.


***


“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.”
- Orphic Hymn to Hekate. (Taylor translation.*)

***

There is this long-running joke that the West forgot its dead, and furthermore, completely forgot how to interact with them. This is counter-acted in a number of ways; first, we have rituals in Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft (1665 CE) that detail how to interact with the Restless Dead. Specifically, the Fairy Sibylla or Experiment of the Dead ritual relies upon a spirit of that category:
“First, go to one that is new buried, such a one as killed himselfe or destroied himselfe wilfullie: or else get thee promise of one that shalbe hanged, and let him sweare an oth to thee, after his bodie is dead, that his spirit shall come to thee, and doo thee true service, at thy commandements, in all dales, houres, and minuts.”

The second ritual is entitled
How to Raise up the Ghost of one that hath hanged himself. It is as interesting as the first; the magician or witch even references Hekate during the process, which is explicitly Goetic in the original sense of the word. This process is done so that one will have revealed “why it strangled it self; where its dwelling is; what its food and life is; how long it will be ere it enter into rest, and by what means the Magitian may assist it to come to rest: Also, of the treasures of this world, where they are hid: Moreover, it can answer very punctually of the places where Ghosts reside, and how to communicate with them; teaching the nature of Astral Spirits and hellish beings, so far as its capacity reacheth.”

Finally, on seeks to discover “the cause of thy Calamity, why thou didst offer violence to thy own liege life, where thou art now in beeing, and where thou wilt hereafter be.” At the conclusion of the ritual, the magician or witch is to “out of commiseration and reverence to the deceased, to use what means can possibly be used for the procuring rest unto the spirit.”

Both of these rituals have a specifically Goetic pretext; they involve working with a spirit – possibly even an inimical one – in a context of mutual alliance, followed by the magician seeking to put the spirit at rest. (The ghost sought out at the beginning of the Fairy Sibylla ritual is to be aided in much the same way as the Hanged Ghost in the second ritual.)

***

The issue of whether or not necromancy survived in the West becomes trickier as we come forward in time, too. In 1848 two sisters in New York caused quite a sensation; in fact, it progressed to the status of an international phenomenon in due time. It was the same year that Paschal Beverly Randolph – who would for a time count himself as a member of the Spiritualist movement and whose work includes quite a few references to working with the dead – arrived in New York. I am, of course, referring to the Fox sisters (Kate and Margaret) of New York. They claimed that they were communicating to spirits through the medium of 'rapping' (knocking) with the spirits. One of the sisters later admitted to trickery, but as news of their ability to convince the spirits to knock in answer to them spread, it gained momentum.

A number of different schools of Spiritualism began to make headway, almost all of which claimed to work with the dead. Today we regard Spiritualism with contempt, and occultists generally do their best to avoid referencing it. However French Spiritualism – which rephrased itself as Spiritism – continues without the blatant charlatanry that European Spiritualism degraded into in South America and the Caribbean to this day. Alan Kardec has a stamp, for example, in Brazil bearing his visage.

Kardec's work follows a fairly typical outlook with regards to how the Spiritists viewed spirits themselves. In fact, many of their outlooks were directly inspired by working with the spirits and asking – much like the magician or witch in Reginald Scot's texts – them questions about their world. In fact, in several places the
Medium's Book has sections where Kardec notes that deceptive spirits are a problem. He also, however, comments on mannerisms and differences between types of spirits. In the Medium's Book all spirits are regarded as spirits of the dead.****

“Pure Spirits” are ghosts who have achieved awareness of God and the Higher Realms, and lived their lives as befits a good being and with the outlook to get to a “better place”. They are analogous, in Kardec's Spiritism to Angels.

“Lesser Spirits” or “Lower Spirits” are those who are still entrapped by the habits of the flesh. They still want to lie, cheat, and steal – God and his purity be damned! They are very close to the idea of the “Crew That Never Rests,” or the cavalcade of riotous and problematic spirits who seek to drag man closer to their state of affairs. That is if they have any agenda at all, which is assuming something that may not exist.

When asked about whether or not “demons exist,” the spirits being consulted in Kardec's
Spirit's Book respond in a way that would make any Goes happy:
It is only in its modern acceptation that the word demon implies the idea of evil spirits, for the Greek word daimôn from which it is derived, signifies genius, intelligence, and is applied indiscriminately to all incorporeal beings, whether good or bad.

The spirit answering the medium in the book goes on to note that since God is good, the idea of demons is antithetical to the awesomeness of God – who does not create evil, nor demons or devils. This does not mean that there aren't “bad spirits” from the view of the Spiritists and the spirits they worked with, but that they have made a conscious decision to act as such.

Nonetheless, this is spirit work in a very classical sense despite the Christian accretions that have occurred. The mediums – when they weren't pursuing fraudulent practices for personal gain – are working directly with spirits, and Kardec himself notes that calling up spirits requires the use of evocation. This aspect is especially tantalizing, given that it is coming out of French spiritist circles and the way that French occultism informs the system developed by Paschal Beverly Randolph.

As an aside, Randolph uses a categorization similar to those still used today in Afro-Caribbean and hoodoo circles. In The Unveiling: Or My Thoughts on Spiritualism (the copy I have was scanned from an 1860 edition) Randolph writes that:
“Approach mediums, and in two minutes you can tell whether they be under the influence of good or evil spirits. Sit by them and touch the hand: if you feel an unusual coolness, a blandness of sphere, gentle, wakeful sensation, the indications are good. If on the contrary, you feel a positive glow, an unusual warmth, a soft, seductive, somnolent influence, a tendency to sadness, to love, to endearment, then look out – and run out, for the evil is at work; you must fly, else the morbid gas or effluvium will pervade and taint you, you will carry the poison to others, and so the pestilence will spread.” (P. 49)
Here he is distinguishing between the “cool” or “cold” and “hot” or “warm” spirits! And despite the melodrama – which is quite missing in his later and more calm works – his treatment of these two types is very telling. “Cool spirits” tend to be less potentially hostile, take longer to work with, and are less likely to do something crazy. “Hot spirits” – which is to say fiery spirits – sit on the other end of the pole entirely, and may well burn your fingers. Because where there is warmth, there is a fire of sorts. And as we all know, fire can get out of hand.

These warnings do not recur in
Sexual Magic (Magia Sexualis, written in France and not published in the US), although there are hints of them in Seership! (1870). It appears that Randolph had switched from making warnings about the spirits themselves, and begun simply teaching methods for dealing with them. Volantia, Descretism, and his Tirauclairism all must be practiced before the magic mirror is created and anything is conjured. Volantia establishes the link between the will and the “force of the thunderbolt,” Descretism allows for one to give unavoidable commands to spirits (it is preferable that the individual also have the backing of an Authority, however), and Tirauclairism is his term for evocation. Taken together, they constitute a means for dealing with potential problems and gaining spiritual allies without the sheer danger that certain schools of Spiritualism failed to account for in Europe.

Tirauclairism also is a means, he explicitly states, for one to interact with the dead:
Tirauclairism, or the power of evocation, which allows communication with those absent, the dead, and invisible entities, is a very difficult practice...” (Sexual Magic, p. 27.)
***

I had hoped to get into the spirits themselves, and different views of them beyond what is discussed above. However, if I continue to write about the subject then this blog entry will end up being like 15 pages long. So, if I have time tomorrow I will continue.

In the meantime: I should like to remind blog readers that I will be appearing on Galina Krasskova's
Wyrd Ways podcast on September 18th (four days from now), to chat Ms. Krasskova and Sannion up regarding this very subject. Hopefully, I'll be able to have one more entry on the subject out before then, regarding the Restless or Unquiet Dead. I've been attempting to write that entry for a couple weeks now and failing, however, as there is so much to cover that I get distracted... As happened with this entry.

Ah, well.

Be seeing you,
Faustilocks the Damned.



* Taylor actually combined the Hymn to Hekate and the Hymn to Musaeus together in his translations, for reasons unknown to anyone presently living. This actually threw me for a long time, until I came across a note about it.
** Italix mine.
*** Between 1200 CE and 1600 CE or so, Elite authorities attempted to link any spirit dealt with to “demons.” To a certain degree, this attempt succeeded. And yet, at the same time, it seems to have utterly failed. Thus when magical practitioners were caught dealing with the dead, they were treated the same as those who make pacts with the devil.
**** This is a view I toe the line on. I think plenty of what we encounter are, in fact, spirits of the dead. Or perhaps another way to put this is that some are spirits that were once ghosts as we imagine them typically. They moved on to become “something else” later. But I am certainly a Cretan when it comes to this, and we certainly always lie.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hail to the Oracle, Hail to Hermes Kthonios!

“The word hag is now used commonly to mean an ugly old woman, but in medieval times it meant a witch. It derives from the same etymological root as the ‘hedge’. This derivation implies that here was a woman who gathered plants and other material from the hedgerow and used them for her nefarious purposes. Take, for example, the broomsticks. They had both occult and erotic powers. The ash handle protected her from drowning and the birch twigs (of the brush) bind evil spirits together. The birch twigs were held together by strips of willow (osier) as this latter tree was sacred to the goddess Hecate, the archetypal witch. This goddess was also thought to ‘own’ certain plants such as henbane, belladonna, aconite,mandrake, cyclamen and mint.”
- M.R. Lee, Solanaceae III: Henbane, Hags and Hawley Harvey Crippen.
At this point, I consider my “UPG” regarding the rulership of Mandrake by Hekate to be completely verified.

Cheers to the Oracle!

Now, then: moar to dig up.

Be seeing you,
Jack.

EDIT: This article isn't perfect, but it just adds to the mass of other things I've seen that agree with what the plant told me.

Monday, September 9, 2013

As I Pre-Emptively Out Myself

I appear to have accidentally - well, without thinking the issue through - outed myself as a member of my tradition elsewhere.

As such there is no reason to continue avoiding to discuss which tradition of witchcraft I'm a part of... So:

I'm a member of the Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft. The thoughts in this blog do not necessarily reflect the outlook of other members of my tradition, and as such anything I say should be seen as reflecting my opinions and not those of the Alexandrian tradition.

I do not speak with the authority of my line, and I'm often quite wrong about plenty of things. In fact, you can expect me to discuss the subject of Wicca on this blog... almost never.

Jack.

[EDIT]: Please not that I am not implying that I was kicked out. LOL. I accidentally gave myself away, and it's about time to be open about the matter, anyway.