Monday, February 12, 2018

Death's Bounty Upon the Land



It is that time of year again. The sap is beginning to rise in the trees and they shake off their winter slumber as buds begin to slowly form. The ewes born a few weeks ago are growing quickly from their mother’s milk. The harsh grip of ice has loosened and begun to recede to the cold realms from which it came. And Death is cast across the land.

Our Lady walks among the tiny plants, seeds, and slumbering trees; and with each step she awakens them. She wears a crown of flowers and is youthful in her mannerisms. With each flick of her finger a leaf uncurls and the inevitable fate of the tomb sealed upon that moment of birth. She is both the womb and the tomb, for let us not forget that She is the Queen of Hell, the Queen of Death.

Look about you, all of the potential growth and bounty that is to come is bound for the silent rest of death. This isn’t one of those common themes that Witches dwell upon between Candlemas and the Spring Equinox, but the signs are there. The bees buzz and the birds sing their own funeral dirge.

I beseech you to look at it, stare it in the face, and smile knowingly. Smile because you know the beauty and embrace it. As a Witch, the evident truth of death will sharpen the edges of the moment. With each acknowledgement that it is the Queen of Death that brought this bounty to us, the taste of it is sweetened. The world at its fullest is made more beautiful by knowing the hand that painted it will be the same that is at the final embrace claiming us all for Her own.

So as the signs of awakening life make themselves known to you, smile and allow the imprint of death upon the land to shine in glory, beauty, and splendor.

Boidh Se,

-SM

“Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path.”

Monday, December 11, 2017

Step into the Night this Yule



All around us are Yule-tide carols, yet if it were not for the night there would be no dawn. If it were not for the dark there would be no womb from which the Sun is born.

As Contemporary Pagans we celebrate the birth of the Sun, but as Witches we embrace the Night. Ours is the ride upon the North-wind; the howl that calls from the inner terror of the unknown. It is this taking up of the transgressive as our calling that strips us of our costume—it bares the hidden for us to see. Only when we stand naked is our true nature revealed. The night makes this possible. So Witch-kin, step into the night this Yule.

When our Sun is born, it is born from the cold tomb of the Underworld as a phoenix is born from ashes anew. To be born from the Underworld you must first descend into the hidden realms thereunder. The depth of the forest is far from the comforts of the fire. There is no eggnog or presents, no decorated tree, and no boughs of holly. There is though, the face of the Sun yet to be born. The dawn only comes when you have found the spark which will rise as the Sun in the spiritual landscape.

If this sounds dangerous to you, it’s because it is. The night is dangerous. Stripping flesh from bone to reveal what is underneath is dangerous. Standing naked in a screaming blizzard is dangerous. Witchcraft is dangerous. It is wild and terrifying. This is why the Craft invokes fear in those whom do not understand revelry in the hunt, in the slaughter of the ego, and the consumption of the self upon our own feast table so that when everything is gone all that remains is that which is eternal and the whole glory which is at the center of everywhere.

First though, the Witch must take the step out into the unknown, into the hidden, into the unseen, into the depths of the night when winter’s grip is upon the heart of the land. Go where only the shadow of the moon is cast in Her name and see what you find this Yule-tide. Step into the Night.

Boidh Se,

-SM

“Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path.”

Saturday, November 4, 2017

On the First Day in The Age of Seed and Fruit



The rolling over of an Age doesn’t happen every day; that is unless you measure an Age by lengths of one day and then I guess they do in that case. However, in the calendar I learned growing up in the Church of Rhiannon (CoR), an Age is 3888 years long. Go read my blog here for further context. As you can see, I’m going to talk a bit about this. For good reason I feel. Today is the first day of the first month in the new lunar calendar; thus today is the first day of an Age.

I wasn’t going to write this blog until this morning when I was thinking about it. I recall when I was maybe 12-14 sitting around the campfire before Circle (what CoR called our rituals) and listening to discussion about the coming Age of Seed and Fruit. At the time I didn’t know how to calculate the moons and so didn’t think about the lore attached to them in regards to the turning over of an Age.

Well, here we are. With the arrival of Samhain, the year ended officially and we entered into a period of time that is not on the calendar. It is a time that belongs to the thinning of the veil, of mystery; it is a time that is not a time. This has ended too, with the arrival of the first Full Moon after Samhain the new lunar year begins with the month of Beth.

Beth is the tree of birch, called the Lady in Silver, and is all about new beginnings and initiations. This is under the horns of Taurus, which amongst many other things is associated with our Lord of the Mound in the Craft. Also, it is the Beaver Moon. This is the bit that made me think to write today. You see, the beaver is all about the creation and making of things—they build.
 
On this 1st day in the month of Beth (birch), the Beaver Moon, in the sign of Taurus, the Age of Seed and Fruit, I implore you to build. Build and craft whatever it is you want your life to be right now as we all step off into the new age. It doesn’t come again for 3888 days.

Boidh Se,

-SM

“Lost in a thicket, bare foot upon a thorn path.”

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Our Face Before We Were Born: The Song of Ancestors

Today is Hallows Eve, and most of Contemporary Paganism here is the West, this day, tomorrow, and the following week is saturated with Ancestor Work. I wanted to a take a moment and share with you a quick train of thought about this time that came to me last night right after meditation. My hope is that it will provide you with substance of contemplation in this tide.

Exhale. Focus sharply upon it. Keep extending the breath out until you can't anymore and allow the awareness of that movement to shift to the space just beyond the outbreath. You will find that beyond the outbreath is both neither something and simultaneously a thing.

This is the song of the ancestors. It is your eternal face from before you were born. Think about that. 

What did your face look like before you were born?
Distinct features should not come to mind; it is not a thing. Yet, there is the vague feeling of something there; it is a thing. This same face permeates down through the ages every day from this day forth. This is one of the reasons for celebration during Hallows-tide. In this way, we are the total sum of all of our ancestors. As such, today we celebrate the shared eternal hearth of our ancestors enacted in the manifestation of the present experience of our life.

The praxis associated with this time of year is our ritualization of this experience. Dressing in costumes, Dumb Suppers, rites associated with a particular Tradition, whatever, are all myth and symbolism expressed in the experiential.

Just as you found at the end of your breath, when you exhaled, a thinning of the veil, this is the time of year when the cycle of the year exhales and the veil thins. Take the time to gaze upon the reflection of the ancestors that comes through. Call them and feed them. Redden their bones so that they may dance the night away within the sphere of your life and hearth once more.

Now inhale.

Boidh Se,

-SM

"Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Witchcraft in the Face of Suffering


The world is a place saturated with hardships, with suffering, and it has always been this way throughout history. Regardless of what myths of a Golden Age may get touted, there wasn’t one. Not in the least. The same can be said about today. Take a peek at your local, national, and world news and it will become instantly apparent, this is of course assuming that you aren’t already well aware.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in light of the ongoing and continuous onslaught of political upheavals and social tragedies across the world. For example, the recent mass murder/shooting in Los Vegas by Stephen Paddock. This is one example of many. Like most, I don’t have an answer that will solve the world’s problems.

There is a famous line from the rites of the Wicca that has encroached upon the greater Contemporary Pagandom. I blame the early authors. It goes, “art thou willing to suffer to learn?”

The line instantly reminds me of the passage from Charles G. Leland’s Aradia: Or the Gospel of the Witches that would inspire much of the Charge of the Goddess ole great* auntie Doreen wrote. In this section, Aradia the Daughter of the Queen of Witches, Diana, has come to the mortal plane to teach sorcery and witchcraft to the oppressed, and all those whom suffer, at Her mother’s direction and this is what She say’s to Her pupils:

“When I shall have departed from this world,
Whenever ye have need of anything,
Once in the month, and when the moon is full,
Ye shall assemble in some desert place,
Or in a forest all together join
To adore the potent spirit of your queen,
My mother, great Diana. She who fain
Would learn all sorcery yet has not won
Its deepest secrets, then my mother will
Teach her, in truth all things as yet unknown.
And ye shall all be freed from slavery,
And so ye shall be free in everything;
And as the sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also: this shall last until
The last of your oppressors shall be dead;
And ye shall make the game of Benevento
Extinguishing the lights, and after that
Shall hold your supper thus:”

If you take a quick look over a few sections of the Charge of the Goddess and you will see the immediate influence:

“Whenever ye have need of anything, once in a month, and better it be
when the Moon be full, then ye shall assemble in some secret place and
adore the spirit of me, who am Queen of all Witcheries.

There shall ye assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet have not
yet won its deepest secrets: to these will I teach things that are yet
unknown.

And ye shall be free from slavery; and as a sign that ye are really free, ye
shall be naked in your rites; and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music
and love, all in my praise.

For mine is the ecstasy of the spirit and mine also is joy on earth; for my
Law is Love unto all Beings.”

As Witches we exist upon the fringed liminal spaces of society. For many, they were pushed there by suffering. Perhaps society rejected them for their gender, orientation, economic class, race, etc. Or by some other means they have found their place at the edges that is the threshold between the wild and the tamed. As I don’t know each Witches’ story, I can’t say what called them to the Sabbath.

The Craft teaches us to strip free that which the world of suffering has wrapped us in and lay ourselves bare to learn in the process—to be free. Yet in this, we are empowered by which we find when we are naked in our rites of life. 

Depending upon the context, the line “willing to suffer to learn” can mean many different things. Lately though, for me, it has taken up the meaning of being willing to participate in the world, to engage our own suffering and that of those around us. Specifically, to “actively” engage. At the end of it all, everything but our actions can be taken from us. So ensure that your actions are of measured worth.

Boidh Se,

-SM

“Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path.”

Friday, September 15, 2017

Riding the Winds of Change Like a Witch


When you have practiced magick for a while you begin to attune yourself with the flux of its current that run through your life. You begin to become more conscious of the subtle shifts that it brings. This includes when your own practice is transforming. Metaphorically we could say it's like being aware of an approaching breakthrough. Only we aren't really because the concept of movement in this manner is only abstract, an illusion we would not want to get trapped in. Anyway, those attune to their happenings in the now will notice when the focal axis of this now is in metamorphosis. Plus, the symbol of movement is a useful one.

Right now, as I write this, I'm standing on the shaking earth. I have over the past months, since a major life change coupled with an initiatory experience, stripped down my practice to bare-bones, and something, I dunno what, is about to erupt out of this ground before me. Not like crops cultivated over time either, more like the ground opening up and a drake bursting forth from the bowels of the underworld kinda erupt. It itches, it's on the peripheral, and it's pulling me every which way. The only constant in it is the centralization of the Craft, but only in form and not interpretation.

This is all fine and dandy for me but I'm sure you're wondering what this has to do with anything. Well, I'm not going to claim to be some expert in these things but over the years I have learned from my own experiences thereof somethings that have made such transitions easier, for me at least. I figured I'd share them with y'all in the case any of it can help in your own times of spiritual transformation.

Patience

A long time ago, like twenty'ish years ago, one of my first experiences of having a spiritual change of this nature had to do with patience. If you are like me, you get excited when you have the mindfulness to recognize being on the cusp of these moments. Well, I was excited and decided I was going to give it a little extra push. With the help of some friends and fellow Contemporary Pagans at the time, I constructed a sweat lodge with the intent on submersing myself into a journey to my spirit allies at the time and ask them to give me a little push over the edge into the next phase.

I thought it was a great idea and spent a long time planning it, coordinating it, and setting it up. Then the time came, in the depths of the inner landscape and I called out longing to bring the action to a climatic peak that would culminate with this breakthrough. Only it didn't. I kept trying though. Finally I gave up and asked my spirit allies, what gives? And they said, "patience, have patience."

That was it. Nothing more. In that moment I realized my breakthrough was learning to have patience with breakthroughs.

Acceptance

Change is the only constant in life. That's it, nothing else. This is why in my own practice I try and stress my actions as being ethical in application. After all, everything else can be taken away, but not my actions. So they are my only possessions and I strive to make them worth more than gold. I spend a lot of time in reflection upon coming to understand my moral compass because of this. I do it for me, the only person that can judge our success in this regards is ourselves.

With change being the only constant, there comes other implications. One of which has to do with approaching major change. It is that of acceptance of change being inevitable. You can't hold the past, sure you can learn from it, but it's already manifested into the fabric of fate-past. Nor can you prevent change from coming, it's already here and any attempt to divorce change from the present is futile.

Surrender

There is a Zen Nun that I know whom relates acceptance of change back to breathing in meditation, amongst many other things. I'll do my best to reproduce the idea she shared with me a couple of months ago. As I'm not a Zen Buddhist, keep in mind that I have filtered her words through my own inner interpretation and though I am trying to stay within the boundaries of her words, I could be in another ball-park playing tiddlywinks instead of sports-ball*.

Now to paraphrase on the fly:

Breathe out as/with the world. Out, out, out until the breath reaches deep down and hits bottom. Breathe out just a little bit more and allow the truth that lay beyond the threshold of that bottom to draw you deeper into longing for what lay beyond. Relax, and without plan or form, release so that the in breathe comes and opens up into surrender. Follow this rhythm of deeper and surrender unto it. Be like the flower that opens and turns towards the sun. Just be, just sit, breath in and out, nothing more.

So with that said, be like the flower turning towards the sun of change.

Fin

That's it, that's all I got. These three little things that sound so simple and yet take degrees of practice that can be difficult: patience, acceptance, and surrender.

Boidh Se,

-SM

"Lost in a thicker, bare-foot upon a thorn path."




*Insert whatever flavor of a ball based sport of your choice here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Changing the Drapes

Change has arrived. Or rather the drapes on the wall are being made to match the rest of the room. You see, the about tag line at the blog has been updated. Up until today, it said “Ramblings relevant to Contemporary Paganism, British Traditional Wicca, Traditional Witchcraft, Traditional Initiatory Witchcraft, and more…”

Back when I started this blog, err… restarted, it in 2012, I wanted to write about ALL THE THINGS! Sure I've written about tons of topics, with whatever whim comes through the door, but the focus of the blog had always been about my practice of the Craft and over time it became about my sharing of that experience.

You see, at first, the blog was a project to write more. Then it became something I fought as my ego did its best to weld it. All in all it was a transgressive experience of learning to just let the blog be what it is and not stress about people reading it. That being a vehicle for me to explore my practice of the Craft and sharing it with others.

Just as my own personal practice is influenced by different streams of Craft, such as those I’ve been initiated into, but also the works of Cochrane, Anderson (Feri), and Chumbley, so too the blog reflects this. On that note, since my own Craft is heavily influenced by Druidry, specifically the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD), Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), The Henge of Keltria (HoK), and Ord Draíochta Na Uisnech (ODU), there is a bit of that hidden away here too. The ODU is especially influential.

However, I don’t specifically talk about Druidry. I had planned to when I first started the blog, because ALL THE THINGS. The blog tag line even listed Druidry at that point. Although I like Druidry and incorporate the influences thereof into my personal practice, I do so all in the context of Witchcraft and not Drudiry. So I took it out of the tag line.

Anyway, I think the new tag line is more indicative of what the blog is really about, me choosing to share thoughts on the Craft as I stumble around this thicket we call life.

Boidh Se,

-SM

“Lost in a thicket, bare-foot upon a thorn path.”