Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lammas: Sitting Upon a Throne of the Eternal Harvest

Tonight is when it is traditional to celebrate Lammas, and to conduct rites that unite this tide with the Work in which we do. It is a time referred to as First Harvest, and it is the first of three harvest festivals marked upon the Witch’s calendar.

To seize the full potential bounty, spiritually speaking, from our work then the nature of the Harvest, and furthermore the nature of First Harvest, needs to be understood. In such a moment of understanding the knowledgeable Witch with the will and courage to do so can reap the Sun from their Heart Vessel. The Witch will be as is their spiritual center, the same universal naval that permeates the whole of all existences.

As I have said before, the inherent nature of the cycle, transience, is the only permanence. This, however, is not the whole story of the truth. The very nature of continuous transformation has certain qualities; one of which is a harvest that never ends. Likewise, the land, that which is the upholder of the transient, that which appears to come, go, age, die, and be born, is also eternal. The landscape is simply that which is manifested in this very moment from the potentiality of all the yet to come. Part of what the Craft is designed to do is to ensure that this landscape is sustaining, nurturing, fulfilling, and able to feed the whole of the Kingdom.

Tonight marks the point upon the Wheel in which we honor the first reaping. Note that Lammas is not until tomorrow. You see, tradition dictates that the Tide of Lammas is born from the womb of the night before. First Harvest is all about being mindful of the now. Death looms for us all, however, now is the time of sitting and seeing the fruits of labor. It is sitting in the knowing, intimate heart knowing, not head knowing, that the harvest that begun in the now will not only sustain but is everlasting. In fact, the harvest is the first sign, first omen if you were, of the continuation of this cycle.

First Harvest is also a time of sacrifice. The crops must be reaped in order to be of benefit. There is much labor and work to be done to keep the harvest from dying in the field or soiling improperly prepared. The Work is worth it though. In the end, the spiritual fields and landscape will be cleared revealing in this moment to the eye of the Witch that which the crops have obscured. Admiring this view, the Witch sits and prepares the next harvest in their feast of sacrifice. It is a feast of false-self consumption, a feast that will keep during the winter, and it is a feast that will reveal the Sun.

Harvest, eat, and celebrate; Lammas-tide is here!

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Margot Adler: Honor, Initiation, and Ritual

Margot Adler died.

The news, as with many things, brings on a flood of emotions. Stirring thoughts walk in wanting to take up a bit of awareness before they transition back to the source from whence they came.

Elders and early shakers and movers of this community have died before, in fact all are destined to, but this particular death strikes a particular chord in this moment of awareness that reverberates across the spectrum of memory to an earlier time. From the depths of the well of memory, I stand before my Dad’s bookshelf deciding on which book to read to learn more and settle on a dusty tomb… I am at circle waiting for ritual to start and in conversation with the Priestess I mentioned starting to read “Drawing Down of the Moon” and discussing different aspects she points out… I am sitting on my bed flipping from index to page number as I look for specific information… I stare hypostatized at the cover, drawn inward… I stand with my feet in a stream… I contemplate the metaphysics of magick… I remember… there and here unite in this moment.

As many of you know, I am a second generation Contemporary Pagan. Whereas my introduction to our Craft came via my Dad taking me to the Church of Rhiannon, it was through his books that I got to know my own place in it at the time. “Drawing Down of the Moon” was one of those books. As a result of this, the death of this Elder touches upon those memories and evokes emotions that cry out for a perceived personal lose. Looking closely I can see that the sense of loss is the vehicle for something more, something vastly more encompassing. These emotions carry forth a sense of the entirety of my Pagan youth and the connection therewith, they carry gratitude to this person whom I never met that shaped much of the core of what followed, and they carry an understanding of the inevitable truth that even in this moment shapes the dance.

In this moment, her initiation into the Halls of the Mighty Dead echoes a shadow of the mystery received. Death, it is here. It is now. It is both universal and intimately personal. It is a point upon the Wheel that often draws pain and suffering up in the hearts of those that long for the Initiated Dead. This is a transformative experience, a crucible, whereby the Initiated Dead reach back across the veil as teachers. If we allow them, they will rip the curtain of illusion away in a moment of transcendence and immanence revealing a taste of the eternal.

Even in death, our Elders teach on. They are our Mighty Dead. They are our Ancestors of Spirit.

I would like to share a simple rite of offerings and communion with the journey of the Host of the Mighty Dead. On one hand it is an offering unto an Ancestor of Spirit and their journey, on the other hand it is an offering of our own journey, but at the crossroads where the two meet it is an offering uniting all incarnations that have, will, or are permeating the Wheel.

Rite of the Ancestor Wheel

The following items are needed:
Bottle of Red Wine (not sweet).
Black Candle.
Loaf of Bread.
A Bell or similar (rattle, drum, horn, etc).
Ancestor Token*

(Note: Best done outside)

Begin by ringing the Bell once. Then place the Ancestor token on the ground in front of you.

Ring the bell six times.

With the opened bottle of wine and starting in the West begin pouring the wine on the ground around you into a circle so that the ancestor token is the center of the circle (Alternately, if you are inside you can pour the wine into a large vessel, such as a cauldron, while facing the West. Just drop a dime into the vessel right before pouring the wine. This dime is no longer yours, do not reuse or spend, it can be buried at the roots or a tree or tossed into flowing water such as a river.). While pouring either paraphrase or say the following:

“Hail (ancestor’s name), accept this offering of labor and pleasure in honor of your memory throughout time. May it echo unto your past manifestations and energize the lessons and experiences of those lives.”

Continuing pouring around the circle until there is but a few drops remaining. Drink these last few drops and say or paraphrase:

“Echo unto and energize past manifestations.”

Next in the North West of the circle of poured wine (or approximate), place the black candle.

Ring the bell seven times.

Light the candle and say, or paraphrase:

“Hail (ancestor’s name), accept this offering of warmth and light in honor of your memory of this life. May it comfort and guide you in this time of crossing the veil.”

Cup your hands around the candle’s flame, close enough to feel the warmth but not burn. Make sure you can still see the flame. Say:

“Guide and comfort in the turning and cycle of the Wheel.”

Go to the North with the loaf of bread. Ring the bell six times.

Begin to tear small pieces of bread from the loaf and while walking sun-wise around the circle drop the pieces just outside the parameter of the wine circle, creating a second circle of bread pieces (or if inside drop them onto an altar placed in the North specifically for this). While doing this say:

“Hail (ancestor’s name), accept this offering of nourishment and prosperity in honor of your drawing tide. May it echo into your future manifestations and energize the lessons and experiences of those lives.”

Continuing dropping bread around the circle until there is only one small piece left. Eat it and say or paraphrase:

“Echo into and energize future manifestations.”

Go back to the center of the circle and pick up the ancestor token.

Ring the bell once.


Blessed be the Mighty Dead!

Boidh Se!

“Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.”
*In this instance, in honor of Margot Adler, a copy of “Drawing Down the Moon.”

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Song of Existence and the Work of the Witch

It is common for Witches to mention the Work of the Craft and refer to engaging in the Work. Additionally, it is common for the Priesthood therein to talk about doing the Work of the Gods. Certainly all of the various books that touch upon Craft magick and the Craft are also about the Work of the Craft, even if none of them specifically get into the topic. I do not think the topic is purposely neglected or bound by oaths either. Like much of the lore within various currents of the Craft, it is simply something that is passed on through association.

Frankly, the Work is nothing more than that which we do. It is our practice; all of it. Everything from offerings, rituals, meditation, you name it. All of it is the Work. Easy enough to understand and to see why it is not a topic that is generally used to take up much space in your basic 101 book when getting into those various practices is more important, likewise the advanced books just assume the topic is already understood. The Work though is the whole point. Not just doing it or knowing how, but knowing why too. Every religion has an eventual goal, or many, and the Craft is no different.

In passing I would say the Work is about Transformation of Self and Transformation of the whole of Existence. After all, this is what appears on the surface to be taking place. If this paradigm of practice works for you, then roll with it. For that matter, I use such a model regularly to explain and think through various aspects of the Craft. Just remember that such a perspective is a tool to better see the truth of the matter, it is not necessarily the truth itself. The Work though, is about clarity. It is about seeing the inherent nature that is already there. It is not about transforming the heart vessel into a brilliance that shines as bright as the sun, but seeing and sitting in the knowing that the heart IS the sun.

By engaging in the practices of the Craft the Witch brings their mind into alignment with the current related to that specific practice. This is no secret. More importantly though, the Witch imprints this current directly unto the stars, “As above, so below,” thus all of existence is crafted in that moment based upon the touch of the Witch unto the infinite. This is how the Work works. For some it is about transformation, for others it is about creation, but for me, it is both of those with a dash of poignant clarity.

The Priesthood of the Craft is different than the Priesthood generally thought of from the standpoint of Western Religion. This topic has been dominated with thought originating in Christianity. I am not saying there is anything wrong with Christianity. I am saying that the paradigm of the Craft is different, and likewise our Priesthood fulfills a different role at its core. At the core, for us, it is about doing the Work of the Gods. Sure, sometimes a Priest or Priestess is called into other roles such as the more commonly thought of pastoral duties that the aforementioned has trained us into thinking of where clergy is concerned. There is more than one type of Priesthood though.

As I said, our Priestesses and Priests are primarily concerned with accomplishing the Work of the Gods. So just what is the Work of the Gods? Well, ask any two Initiated Priest/esses and get a dozen or so answers. What is agreed upon though, is that the Craft is orthopraxis. As I mentioned previously, the Work is all of the practices of the Craft. The Work of the Gods then, is all of the practices of the Priesthood. For example, the initiates of Wicca (a Priesthood of the Craft) perform specific rites in their Craft that are directly related to our God(s) and Goddess(es).  As a Mystery Cult this Work reveals not only to the Wicca certain mysteries pertinent to divinity but also weaves/transforms/creates/clarifies them as the fabric of existence.

Every Witch that has a regular practice, regardless of whether or not they engage in specific Work, such as that done by the Priesthood, are doing the Work. We become as the Work is. We are not it, nor are we separate from it. The whole of every existence resonates the same chord in the holy and sacred song of the Work.

Boidh Se!

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

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Neither Thicket Nor Path

For some years now, one of my driving mottos, if you were, has been “Lost in a thicket bare-foot upon a thorned path.” In fact, this was why way back in the day I named this blog “Thicket of a Witch.” The whole point of the blog has been to explore my Craft—as it is. I have just let y’all peek through the window a bit. Understandably, I have always kept much of the inner working of my Craft, much of which is oath-bound based or extremely personal, just beyond view.

This phrase used to blossom in my mind as the rudder of what I do. It was an axil in the center of my Arte. Today though, it did not. There are nuances therein that no longer apply to reality as it is.

I am not lost, I have not come from anyway, and I am not going anywhere. I am as the Thicket is. I have always been and will continue to be. I am not the Thicket though, nor am I different than it.

I have no feet that take me down a path. I am as the path is. The landscape is crooked with the marking thereof. I am nothing and everything all at once; everywhere and nowhere. I am neither being nor no-being.

Neither thicket nor path, neither lost nor found, neither being nor no-being!

I think though, I will hold it close, it is a well that has and will continue to do the things that such does do. ;)

Boidh Se!

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

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sacred Contrast

The tangled web of the Craft can often present simultaneous truths which can appear to some to be contrary. It only takes a fleeting moment, a nuance in the now, any catalyst in the moment of the Witch to trigger symbols that are keyed within the mythic paradigm of the Witch causing them to shift seamlessly from one perspective to another. To Western society at large, a society which is used to clear and hard fast distinctive lines of black and white, this can falsely be pointed out as a flaw in theology or as illogical. To the Witch, this is not only natural but central to our arte. In one moment the Sun is our Lord born anew and in the next it is nothing but a large burning ball of gas.

One of skills of effective magick is the ability to change one’s consciousness in accordance with Will. For example, as the Witch paints their tapestry of a spell there is a moment, needs to be a moment, has to be a moment where the Witch no longer hopes the spell will work but now believes that it already has manifested. There is a greater lesson here than just one of practical and effective spell-work.

In the cosmology of the Craft, everything is sacred—everything. Logically though, this presents an apparent contradiction. It is a contradiction that the Witches’ Craft enables them to surround about them in such a manner that the contradiction is transformed into truth. You see if everything is sacred, then nothing is. Think of it like using a highlighter to makes words stand out in contrast to those around it. If every word is highlighted, then none of the words create this contrast since none can stand out. It should be easy enough to see how many conclude at this point that either nothing is sacred or that sacredness must exist in a binary sense paired with the profane. This is not how the Witch uses it though.

This is the key. Here is where the Witch becomes master of their own existence. It is about perspective. The Witch accepts their own perspective as true and likewise accepts the truth of differing perspectives. Both are correct. Purification can be the removal of poisons from one’s being and yet too much cleansing does not allow needed poisons to purify. Both are needed, both are true, both at each moment can and are more than one limited perceptive. The Witch welds their highlighter of sacredness in such a manner that not only is everything highlighted but there is contrast. After all, when we use the entire spectrum of colors there is not only contrast but an entirety that is colored.

There is a trick to it though. Simply proclaiming that everything is sacred does not mean the logical parts of the mind are ready to accept such. Sure fetch-self, the part of the mind that speaks in feelings and symbols, has this knowledge instinctively. So the Witch wears the seeing mask of fetch-self to color the eyes and world of talking-self, the logically focused part of the mind. Color the world around you in myth, in symbols, in meaning, and extrapolate in each moment a myriad of perspectives with which to paint a truth that is beautiful beyond any reality where there is no contrast or there is only either or. It can and is both.

Boidh Se!


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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Here and Now

Life sure is transient. In fact, as every Witch knows, change is the only permanence. Far too often this is forgotten in daily life and the focus is upon some distance goal or what our memories tell us has happened. Such a manner of existing removes our consciousness from the here and now. As such, we are never truly present in the moment of transformation.

Change is continuous. Each and every moment is the womb unto the next and the tomb of the last. Each moment is one of change and transformation. Part of living the life of the Witch is applying the arte of change to our life. This is why the Craft is called a craft. It is an art form.

In order to wear the Crown of Sovereignty over our own lives in the here and the now the Witch must master the ability to be present at the crossroads of change that is this instance—each and every instance.  The reason for this is so that the Witch whom desires to shape and mold their own life can touch upon the moment of transformation and use it as a catalyst under their Will. This cannot be done if the individual is too focused upon the past or even the future. This does not mean we should discard these times, nay, but that instead even these should become tools of the Witch in the application of their crafting of the now.

There are many ways to do all of this. The easiest method though, that I have found, is simply to recall in the moment a focus thereof as well as the transient nature of such. For me, I engrain this into the mind through using a daily affirmation and by expending the effort to be mindful of the now. It is not easy and it takes practice, but practice is what a Witch does.

Boidh Se!


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