Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Rite of Death

Beneath the canopy of the Stars of Heaven and the Moon’s almost full shimmer, I shiver from the cold trail of death’s wake and the chill of the Western wind up from the Isles of Annwyn from which it returns.

Kneeling in the damp grass before the shadow cast altar I pick up the incense I had laid out and hold the end to the flame of a candle. As I blow out the lit tip the smoke wafts it sweet fragrance about me invoking the memory of rituals past.

I place the incense in the holder before the picture of the deceased and watch as the smoke passes across the image. “Holy art thou ancestors of the Witch Blood, of kith and kin, you whom sit upon the Thrones of the Mighty Dead in the Halls of the Fated-folk, witness these offerings and heed the call to guide one of your own into your company ,” I say just loud enough for my own ears.  Then I toll the bell seven times, each chime shatters the silence in sharp contrast to the calm night.

The chalice is cool to the touch and drips condensation as I raise it in salute to the night sky before beginning to tip the contents upon the ground. The red wine splatters the grass and roots before the altar. The dark stain reflects the dim of the night sky as if it were freshly spilled blood. “Accept this offering o Mighty Dead, may it stir your memories in aid of this rite. Allow it to uplift you and the one who joins you now.” I invert the chalice and sit it back on the altar.

Then I pick up the small loaf of bread from its silver dish next to the photo. Holding it to before the altar, I rip at it, tearing at it with my hands as crumbles fall upon the earth. The last few pieces I sprinkle across the altar itself before wiping my hands against the sides of my robes. Then with my right palm gestured towards the altar I say, “Accept this offering o Mighty Dead, may it feed your power in aid of this rite. Allow it to sustain you and the one who joins you now.”

Stooping I grab an unlit black candle staged beneath the altar. I hold it wick to wick with the lit white candle. I watch the flame pass, growing in strength, mesmerized by the swirling of the dripping black wax as it commingles with the white. I sit the candle in its brass holder before the photo next to the incense and inverted chalice. “Accept this offering o Mighty Dead, may it illuminate your path in aid of this rite. Allow it to warm you and the one who joins you now.” I reach down and pick up the bell, ringing it seven times more.

Sitting the bell down I knock three times upon the altar and pronounce, “So mote it be.”

Boidh Se!


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

Friday, September 11, 2015

Where Witches Go and How to Get There!

There is a metaphorical place that is really a state of awareness in which those of us practicing Traditional Craft attempt to achieve. The idea is akin to one our ritual axioms where we say we are building our circle and temple space in a “time that is not a time and a place that is not a place.” This is also us talking about ourselves. We, our Craft, is designed to create our life about us, just like the casting of circle, a place that is not a place and a time that is not a time. In essence this state in which we aspire transcends but also permeates immanently throughout the entirety of our life—if we make it so.

Mythically this state of being is spoken of as the Witches Sabbat(h) unto which the Witches would travel. At the Sabbat they would metaphorically sing and dance the story of life and intimately, meaning on the personal level, enter into ecstatic congress with divinity. For those of you familiar with flying ointments and the practices of hedge-riding, I’m not talking about those practices at this junction but the whole of the Craft. On that note it is important to remember that our praxis and lore can have multiple meanings. The Witches’ Sabbat is one of those items that is also a symbol of the aforementioned state of being.

Reaching the Witches’ Sabbat is in one sense the same as being the time that is not a time and place that is not a place. The trick is getting to the Sabbat so that the Witch can create about them a life that echoes throughout the whole of existence as the indistinguishable marriage to the sacred. In this our praxis is the vehicle for getting there. This is the reason that Traditionalists stress orthopraxy, or at least one of the reasons.

In the story of the Witches’ Sabbat, Witches travel to the Sabbat by flying on their besom. Our practice, the Craft that we are the legacy of, is like the besom. The besom is our vehicle. Likewise, our practice is the vehicle that allows us to travel to the goal. For this to happen successfully the Witch must become adept at their magick or the besom will never take flight. Additionally, the Witch must come to know and trust the workings of the besom (read as our practice) in order to traverse the journey. In this the focus has to be on the flight and not the eventual destination, continually adjusting one’s heading, grip, and magick, or the Sabbat won’t be reached. This of course is all a teaching story.

Ultimately, the Sabbat is not there, it is here. It is right now, right here. The praxis is not a besom but it is the means. In time the illusions of place and time, and the metaphor, fall away. That is if the Witch takes refuge in the heart of their Craft. To do all of this, the Witch must climb upon the besom and make it their tool.

Boidh Se!


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