In Honour of Friendship

Poppies, Charles Hippolyte Aubry (1864)
Poppies, Charles Hippolyte Aubry (1864)

 

It’s a comforting thought, knowing someone will stand by you; protect you; support you.

To me, it sometimes seems that the world, with its billions and billions of people has never felt lonelier.

Yet, the Gods have blessed me for I have a friend.

He is like sweet, hot tea and buttery toast on a frosty, windy morning.

He warms me. He thaws me.

He keeps me from turning into a icy mass of cynicism, pessimism and doubt.

No, he and I are not family.
We are closer than that.

We are Friends.

I wish this for everyone; that we all are blessed to find even one person on this Earth who makes us feel wanted and special; who takes the time to listen to us without speaking, who tries to understand our feelings and expressions (no matter how illogical or ill-timed) and who provides empathy.

To find just one person who can embody such traits is a priceless treasure.

What power lies in those who know how to be a friend. 

“I don’t care about whose DNA has recombined with whose. When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching–they are your family.” – Jim Butcher, ‘Proven Guilty, the Dresden Files #8’

“Close friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone.” – Vincent van Gogh

“Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” – Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, ‘A Life for a Life’

 

Quotes: Goodreads.com

Image: Poppies, Charles Hippolyte Aubry (1864)

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    Death and the Disappointed

    Image: Revwarheart

     

    I received news today of a death in my extended family.

    The deceased was a woman of extreme contradictions; elegantly handsome on the outside, yet seething and crusty with pent-up resentments and disappointments on the inside.

    As a controlling matriarch, everyone was afraid of her. No one knew how she would ever react in any situation. It was always a coin toss and most usually, we, her family and co-workers, were the losers.

    She destroyed much in her long life on this plane: marriages, childhoods, relationships, business arrangements. She was given tremendous leeway due to her incredible wealth.

    I guess money buys forgiveness after all.

    In all the years I knew her, she was never content. She found flaw in every human, every circumstance, every scenario.

    She wanted perfection and she wanted control, and most importantly, she demanded that everything and everyone stay the same.

    No change.
    Ever.

    She desired comfort and stagnation. She expected it. And thusly, was continuously disappointed.

    She never reached a point of wisdom, acceptance, or even moderate happiness, regardless of her ever growing bank account.

    It is a boon of the Gods that everything is temporary.

    Everything has its Cycle, its Path, its Time and its Purpose.
    To everything, yes everything, there is indeed a Season.

    I am thankful for change.

    It is painful, upsetting, unsettling and sometimes traumatic; however, change is required for growth.

    Change is necessary for pushing us beyond our comfortable boundaries and opening our eyes and minds to the unknown and unexplored.

    Expecting (and demanding) a static life leads only to disappointment and resentment, for nowhere in the known Universe does such an environment exist.

    Sometimes, circumstances in my life seem ravaging; a seemingly endless stream of ruination and annihilation. When I experience such predicaments, I remind myself that ‘this too, shall pass’.

    Such a mindset allows me to be grateful for the good and peaceful times and to be equally patient in the periods of hollowness, tired hearts and sore thoughts.

    It would seem to me that stability of mind and spiritual growth will only be developed in acknowledging all of life; its resident horrors and its inherent glories, regardless of the external appearances of such periods and our intensely subjective perspectives of them.

    I must reign in my lofty and narcissistic expectations.

    Often, what seems to be an unfortunate and miserable disintegration has often led to beneficial and benevolent outcomes.

    Appearances and perspectives can be deceiving.

    As a Worker of the Old Ways, I pick my battles. I understand that not every single thing in the Cosmos is at my beck and call.

    One facet of wisdom is recognizing what we should change, what we can change, and what we should leave alone.

    To she who has left this mortal sphere, I bid you farewell.

    I pray that somewhere, someplace, in some other distant, ethereal realm, you may at last find the peace and contentment that you believed so eluded you in this life.

    Perhaps in Death, you will finally find the perfection you craved.

    Perhaps your disappointment will, at long last, be assuaged.

    Sadly, somehow

    I doubt it.

     

    Image: Revwarheart

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      The Aeon of the Witch

      We of the Witchblood are the firstborn of the Fierce
      Spawned from the blood of Rebellion and Disobedience
      We would not obey.

      We will not be contained
      We will not be silenced

      This is the Aeon of the Witch.

      We of the Witchblood are the firstborn of the Daemon
      Little gods are we
      Treading the Nightside Path

      Wandering beyond the Pale Veil of Death

      We will not submit.
      We are not idle

      This is the Aeon of the Witch.

      We of the Witchblood are the firstborn of the Earth
      Cainite Gardeners whose Offering was rejected
      Sublime in our protectiveness

      We honour the Great Mother
      We cast forth our seeds
      We nourish, feed, preserve and defend.

      We will not ignore the Gaian Cry.

      This is the Aeon of the Witch.

      We of the Witchblood are the firstborn of the Enlightened
      Our eyes ever open, never to close

      We are the healers
      We are the hexers

      We are the Voice of the Dead and the Breath of the Living.

      Let us honour our calling and each other.

      For there is still much Work to be done.
      In this, the Blessed and Bloody Aeon of the Witch.

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        The Oracle’s Lament, a Love Story

        Weeping Magdalene, Charles I. Berg (1897)
        Weeping Magdalene, Charles I. Berg (1897)

         

        *For those unfamiliar with the legend of the Delphic Oracle, please see my previous post here.

         

         

        “Behold, the Oracle,” shouted the Priest, as the crowd respectfully parted for Sibylline.  I watched as she made her way through the throng, a young girl of just fifteen summers. Thin, tall and already with a regal bearing, she walked behind the noisy Priest, head bowed, resigned to her fate; consideration as a candidate for a junior Pythia.

        I was in awe of her.  I was five then, still clutching my mother’s skirts, fearful and entranced at the same time.

        Even at my tender age, I understood the honour and sacrifice of this calling. Most of the Pythias spent their entire lives within the confines of the Temple; most eventually took their dying breaths there.

        The Oracle was a legend and a Mystery few understood but many took for granted.  This young woman would one day become a Mouthpiece of the Gods and a servant of the people.

        The dust of the crowded Delphi road caught in my throat. I felt weak and faint. I felt her presence pass in front of me. I somehow sensed her uncertainty, her fear.

        Child to child, I felt a connection.

        In my young bones, I knew beyond any doubt that my life and that of the Oracle’s would be intertwined. I knew not how, but with unwavering certainty, I too, that very day, resigned myself to my fate.

        My eyes ached as I watched her trim figure fading in the distance, forever lost to me in the catacombs of the Temple.  Her entire life now belonged to the Gods. She would be Their voice, Their mortal voice, on this Earth.

        As the days passed and the seasons shifted, one slowly bleeding into another, I would hear rumours of the Oracle – how she was growing in wisdom and beauty, how terrifying her dark gaze, how devoted to the Old Ones.

        In my own mind, I also thought how all alone she must feel – who could keep vigilant audience with the Pythia?  Who would be her friend and lover when the Gods deserted her and it was only her own small, mortal voice that spoke, and not the prophetic utterances of the Divine?

        Who would comfort her in her solitude?

        Who would love her for just being Sibylline and not the Oracle?

        Ten long years later on a sacred night, when sleep eluded me, I escaped my bed and quiet as a whisper, wandered outdoors, seeking the cool, night air and a peaceful spirit.

        Above the trees, ever so slight, I heard it. Through the moonlight I felt it; a soft soprano, caressing the stars, a lullaby of loneliness.

        My Oracle, my sweet Sibylline, she who was lost to me, was singing.

        Her serenade rode the dark Wind of the Night, full of longing and melancholy. Oh, how it touched me! How my heart melted and my body quaked.

        I fell to my knees, madly in love with the song and desperately in love with the Singer.

        I stayed and listened. For hours I sat on the cold, dark Earth and through the night, I partook in her caged sadness.

        It crushed me. Every fibre, every sinew of my being recognized her sorrow.

        I wanted to soothe her. I wanted to comfort her.  I wanted to wrap her in my arms and protect her from the Gods and the constant demands of the Priests.  I wanted her to know she was not alone.

        This was our time, just ours. I felt no one else could understand her the way I did.

        Her song was meant just for me; first child to child, then, woman to woman, and finally, lover to lover.

        How I adored her.

        At that moment, I vowed I would never leave her alone. No matter my path, I would always remain close.

        I would be the one to love her. I would accept her humanity. I would keep vigil over her. Until death parted us, I would be hers.

        She would feel it, I was sure. I would, like a Witch of Thessaly, weave my love and my will to penetrate her heart.

        I would manipulate the aethyr and she would feel me.  From my Gods to her Gods, the strands would be tied.

        My spell would be cast and she would sense me. She would know me and would hear my thoughts. I would share her Lament.

        This was my vow.

        Time roared on; the constant turning of the wheel of life, ever churning the waters of our existence. Life was given, life was taken.

        I observed it all in silence, most coldly.  As long as I could hear my Nightingale, I was content. I kept my vigil.

        Nothing else mattered.

        As I aged, in desperation, I finally married.  I did so out of financial necessity, but such is the tale of many a poor woman with few earthly options.  I too, was caged, by my poverty and dependence.

        While she was a captive due to her talents, I was a captive due to my lack of them.

        My only fortune is that my husband wanted to stay within the city walls. With relief, I relished the thought of being able to remain close to my Mistress; to keep my vow and to remain watchful over her.

        My obvious pleasure of living close to the Holy Temple Ground intrigued my husband. Fool that he was, he thought me pious.  He mistook my obsession and passion for Sibylline as mere devotion to the Gods.

        How little he understood me.

        How much I despised him.

        And so, for decades, we lived like this; my Sibylline in the Temple, me at her doorstep. I never saw her on the Earthly plane again.

        She haunted my dreams….black hair, dark eyes, nails like razors and a voice that shattered souls.  The Gods surrounded her, hounded her and feasted on her frail body; her life force ebbing with each passing year.

        All she could do was prophesy and sing.

        As promised, I listened and kept watch with her.

        In my mind and in my heart, I sat by her side, holding her precious head in my lap, stroking her forehead and drowning in her song.  The waves of love washed over me and her Lament was my sustenance.

        I kept my vow – through greying of hair and weakening of body, my spirit and resolve remained with my Sibylline.

        I did not falter.

        A week or so ago, in the cold desolation of the early morning, my husband brought word that a new Oracle had been named.  A new Pythia would now reign.

        Sibylline had died in the night.

        I crumpled – utterly destroyed and utterly distraught. For days, I neither ate nor slept.

        It would seem my earthly task was now complete. What would I do with the rest of my life?

        My Nightingale at last had flown her cage.  In the wee hours, while night still lingered on the threshold, she finally found strength in her tired wings and flew away.

        Soaring now, soaring above the arrogant Priests, the critical crowds and the never- ending queries of the politicians and merchants – all is just a dream, a shadow-land of physical pain and longing.

        No Temple can now confine her. The power and grandeur of her song returns, breaking through the morning clouds and cutting away the stagnant day.

        I will join her, my sweet Sibylline.  Even in death, I will not leave her.

        As the blood leaves my body through the cuts on my wrists and slowly pools burgundy at my feet, I feel my spirit locking with hers, my voice now free to join hers in triumph.

        She glides down, lifts me up and we both smile.

        Knowing, we both smile.

        At last, I see her beautiful face and the tender lips from which issued the melodies that for years, kept me alive.

        We soar together, we sing together.

        We are joined now, in eternal harmony. She sings to her Gods and I sing to mine and we sing to each other.

        My Oracle, my Pythia, my sweet Serpent Woman.

        Sing and be free!

        I keep my vigil still.

         

         

        Reference: The Double Tongue, William Golding; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; (1995)

        [Second draft of the novel, incomplete at the time of his death].

         

        Image: Weeping Magdalene,  Charles I. Berg ( 1897)

         

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          An Animist Manifesto

          New Mexico Terrain, Taliesin
          New Mexico Terrain, Taliesin

           

          “In the human spirit, as in the universe, nothing is higher or lower; everything has equal rights to a common center which manifests its hidden existence precisely through this harmonic relationship between every part and itself.” – Goethe

           

          Perhaps the greatest stumbling block in the way of widespread acceptance of Gaia is the implicit shadow of doubt it throws over the concept of the uniqueness of humanity in nature.

          Gaia denies the sanctity of human attributes.

          If intricate planning, for instance, can be mimicked by cunning arrays of subvisible entities, what is so special about Homo sapiens and our most prized congenital possession, the human intellect?

          The Gaian answer to this is probably that nothing is so very special about the human species or mind.” ¹ – Lynn Margulis

           

           

          Animism:

          1. the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls.

          2. the belief that natural objects have souls that may exist apart from their material bodies.

          3. the doctrine that the soul is the principle of life and health.

          4. belief in spiritual beings or agencies.

           

          I grew up in a rural enclave of northern New Mexico, surrounded by aromatic mesquite, burgundy canyons and lusty, orgasmic sunsets.

          I spent untold hours combing the canyons, wandering until dusk; rock-hounding, bird-watching, gathering piñon nuts, sage and rose-coloured sandstone.

          While home could be dysfunctional and abusive, Nature provided me respite, healing and calm; a place to gather my thoughts and shed my burdens.

          Nature was my first Teacher and Counsellor.

          I found out very quickly that I was dependent on Gaia’s kindnesses.  She didn’t need me. I needed Her.  In my desperation for peace and solitude, I sought Her with a vengeance.  If She would teach me, I would learn.

          And so my education began.

          I began to obsessively stalk the Spirit of the Earth in all Her myriad forms: plants, insects, animals, reptiles, weather, stone, water, soil.  Nothing was off limits.

          I took pictures, brought home specimens. I savored every stick, stone, leaf, husk, nut, feather and bug, cataloging them as best I could with nature books on loan from the library.

          Everything started to become ‘alive’.  Everything had a speech pattern of sorts. Everything talked. I had never noticed this before.

          Every single Thing in existence had Spirit and some form of consciousness. I found out that I was never really alone. No matter where I went, I had company.  I had friends at last.

          I would sit for hours, just listening and watching, losing track of time.   No matter where I looked, there was a show.  It was always Opening Night and I had a front row seat.

          I rarely left the theatre.

          I became almost ‘drugged’ with an overwhelming sense of Oneness with the Earth and all of life.

          I realized I was not so very special after all.  All Things hurt, all Things want attention, all Things want respect; all Things get sick, all Things eventually die.

          Everything had its own attitude, its own way of ‘thinking’ and being. Nothing was greater than anything else.  Everything on the Planet was an instrument, contributing a unique sound, tone and timbre to the Cosmic Symphony of the One True Thing.

          It was Universal Harmony – a choir of billions.

          The years passed and the curiosity of childhood became my spiritual foundation in adulthood.

          All was made clear to me.  Over time, I started to understand.

          When I fail to honour the Spirit in Everything that surrounds me, I fail to honour my own.  Bit by bit, day by day, my apathy contributes to the downfall of Gaia and all Her inhabitants, including myself.

          I must fight this apathy. I must work to protect, to honour and to remember.  I cannot slip into forgetfulness of Who She is.

          It’s amazing how you begin to change and how your life takes on new meaning when you start recognizing the Spirit in Everything. You become grateful.

          You start noticing details: the determined earthworm doggedly making its way back to the grass, the solitary spider, sitting in the corner, patiently observing all, the noisy squirrel in the pine tree, greedily gnawing the cones, the echo of the owl, the cadence of the frog, the screaming wind that rattles the doors, the rain that sings to the Earth.

          Still, all these years later, in my quiet solitude, She speaks and continues to share Her wisdom. My education continues.

          I am thankful for the plant or animal that dies to provide me nourishment. I am thankful for the bees that pollinate my food, the wood from trees that provide me shelter, and the life-giving water that sustains and cleanses me.

          I try, with all my might to be kind to every Creature, to not financially support any business that treats any animal cruelly or harms the environment.  I will not reward them with my dollars.

          I have become a conservationist, an animal rights activist, a tree-hugger; a die-hard Gaian animist.

          Yes, I guess I have become ‘one of those’.

          If there is such a thing as soul-salvation, it occurs when a person recognizes that their existence is tied, Strand by Strand, to the existence of all other Creatures on this blue sphere.

          We all stand together.

          I dream because She dreams. I sing because She taught me my first song.

          Baptized by River and Rain, I sing hymns to the Mother of us All.

           

          As dreams are the healing songs

          from the wilderness of our unconscious –

          So wild animals, wild plants, wild landscapes

          are the healing dreams

          from the deep singing mind

          of the Earth.” ²– Dale Pendell

           

           

          References:

          ¹ Quoted in ‘Indifferent Globality, Gaia, Symbiosis and Other Worldliness’, Myra J. Hird

          http://tcs.sagepub.com/content/27/2-3/54  (Accessed 8.20.14)

          ² Living With Barbarians: A Few Plant Poems, Dale Pendell  (1999)

          Beyond the Doors of Perception – Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm Into the Dreaming of Earth, Stephen Harrod Buhner; Bear and Company (2014)

          http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/animism

           

          Image: New Mexico Terrain, Taliesin

          http://morguefile.com/creative/taliesin

           

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            It Is Still a Beautiful World

            Reflection, Odilon Redon (1900)
            Reflection, Odilon Redon (1900)

             

            *Be gentle with yourself today.

            We are all in the process of Becoming – it is a dangerous, painful, joyous, bloody work and even though there are days it tears me like tissue, I would not, I cannot, go back.

            Even pain has its own kind of beauty; shard-like and bitter – as a razor in the sun, too bright to hold my gaze.

            For all the terror that sometimes surrounds us; all the heartache, the misery, the challenges and traumas of humanity and being human, I still, deep down, believe it’s a beautiful world, humming with Spirit, reeking of the Divine and worth knowing.

            Hold fast then. Find peace in your Passion. Greet the Divine on your own terms.

            Walk your Path. Stay the course. Don’t lose hope.

            It is still a beautiful world. – BW

            “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

            As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

            Be yourself.

            Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment is it perennial as the grass.

            Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

            Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

            Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

            And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

            Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

            With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” – Max Ehrmann (Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life)

            Image: Reflection, Odilon Redon (1900)

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              Magic 101 – The Novice: Under Attack

              Lady of the Lake, Samuel Adelstein (c. 1920)
              Lady of the Lake, Samuel Adelstein (c. 1920)

               

              I receive a lot of questions on social media posts and many have to do with the querent feeling that he or she is being ‘cursed’ or attacked. Most typically, the commenter is new to the Way, inexperienced and (as Jan Fries mentions below), a bit ‘paranoid’.

              I am here to hopefully ease a few worries for the novices among us.

              Do spiritual and/or magical attacks really occur?

              Yes, they do, but true attacks are rare and in most instances, what people typically encounter are really just ‘weak’ interferences.

              I shall try to answer this query in two parts.

              Part One:

              Sometimes, another Worker or a Spirit may decide to have a bit of ‘fun’ with a newbie, however, it has been my experience that most interferences of this nature are a type of ‘bullying’; immature and non-focused.

              It is a slip-shod attempt at weak manipulation; a trick, a time-waster and just for ‘show’.

              True manipulation of the Web takes stamina, strength and focus. Any real Worker knows this.

              It isn’t a bunch of mumbo-jumbo spewed out on whim with a few herbs thrown in for good measure.

              There is preparation, alignment, transference and intense myopic focus. It is a potent direction of Will.

              In a word, it is Work.

              If another Practitioner is so bored and lacking purpose that he/she desires to try to intimidate or ‘scare’ a newcomer to the Path, that usually indicates a very weak, ignorant and childish mindset and certainly, not one of much Power or effectiveness. It shows an inability to control emotion and reflects the behaviour of a toddler.

              The same holds true for perceived ‘Spirit’ attacks. Spirits of a lower vibration may play ‘games’; a bit of ‘hide and seek’ if you will. These types of Spirits are very childlike; impetuous, mischievous and self-centered.

              The best recourse for the beginner is to have a Spirit Guardian in place (for me, my Daemon Familiar). For others, it may be a Deity, or an Ancestor or a Spirit Animal.

              Setting up this Spirit Guardian is simple; you petition your Ancestors for aid, you seek to build a relationship with a Deity or Daemon to Whom you feel a strong attraction or pull, you meditate on the Void and ask for a sign or appearance of your Spirit Animal or Guide.

              It is not complicated.

              Spirit Guardians are nothing more than aethyric ‘best-friends’. They have your back.

              For those who do not believe in Spirits, Gods or the Others (I’ve never understood atheistic Witchery, but some do claim that Path), one would erect a psychic ‘shield’ or wear protective amulets or talismans. You can create your own thrall or servitor to ‘stand guard’ over you. You use the Powers of the Earth and the aethyr for protection.

              Magic, Spirits, Deity, Ancestors, Daemons, Human Practitioners: All is Energy. That’s it.

              When you break everything down to the common denominator, ALL IS ENERGY.

              It’s simple really.

              We may categorize, label and shove Energy into drawers of our making, but every single thing you see, hear, touch, perceive (and everything you can’t see, hear, touch, perceive) is nothing more than Energy, in varying degrees, intensity, strengths and purposes.

              It is not evil, malevolent, kind, compassionate or in any other way does It ‘care’ for your comfort or your torment.

              It just Exists.

              When you look in the mirror, you see a form of Energy. Your dog is a form of Energy. The carrots you had for dinner are forms of Energy. Your beloved Aunt Alice that passed away two years ago is a form of Energy.

              The entire Universe is on a cycle of manifestation, feeding, dissipation and re-manifestation.

              Once you start to view the World as Energetic Impulses, the ‘bogeyman’ loses his grip and you start to realize how much we ‘feed’ into the Energies around us (including those we conjure up ourselves).

              By our thoughts and intents, we sustain these Energies. We become Food.

              Deny most any unwelcome Energy that ‘food’ of attention and fear and It will go elsewhere.

              In other words, the buffet is closed.

               

              Part Two:

              I don’t mean to sound harsh but many newcomers to the Path start to believe that they are really IMPORTANT and that all the Gods, Spirits, Daemons, Ghosts, Poltergeists, Trolls, Fairies, Elementals, Familiars, and all other human Workers in the magical spheres are taking notice of them.

              The truth is we are just not that significant.

              Spirits, like humans, have other things to do. They are busy.

              You are not the center of Their universe. The Spirits were here long before you arrived and They will be here long after you are gone.

              Relax.

              They have more important things to do than to plague you.

              I leave you with some timely advice from Jan Fries’ book, Seidways. I think this excerpt is appropriate:

              “A lot of beginners in magic feel overwhelmed, if not afraid, of the great unknown and paranoia is a natural reaction.

              For some curious reason, magical novices often feel that they are ‘under attack’ by some evil coven, black sorcerer or nasty demon, while more advanced magicians are usually too busy doing their will to bother about all the fighting and defending.

              I’ve known people who were ‘under attack’ every other week, which goes to show just how ‘important’ they were.

              The better sort of magicians are aware that there are more important things than dog-eat-dog politics; they do their will and the world takes care of itself.

              How about asking your guardian spirits to take care of all the fighting and defending so that you can concentrate on more rewarding activities?”

               

              Quote: Seidways; Shaking, Swaying and Serpent Mysteries, Jan Fries; Mandrake of Oxford (1996)

               

              Image: Lady of the Lake, Samuel Adelstein (c 1920)

               

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                The Pythia – Serpent Woman of the Gods

                Priestess of Delphi, John Collier
                Priestess of Delphi, John Collier (1891)

                 

                The voice of Divine madness is one most cherished, most sought and also most feared.

                In that altered state of consciousness where seeming insanity meets the Divine and thoughts of the Gods are manifest, in this secret place abides Wisdom, Sacrifice and great Power.

                The perceived silence of the Powers and the incomprehensible majesty of Nature are united and finally given Voice. The Oracle comprehends all and finally speaks:

                 

                “I count the grains of sand on the beach and measure the sea

                I understand the speech of the mute and hear the voiceless”.

                 

                – Delphic Oracle {Herodotus, I, 47}

                 

                The Pythia of Delphi, an Oracle of the Gods, was a woman in whom Divine madness was welcomed.

                The scholar Martin Litchfield West writes that the Pythia shows many traits of ancient shamanistic practices, likely inherited or influenced from central Asia, although there is no evidence of any central Asian association at this time:

                 

                “The Pythia resembles a Shamaness at least to the extent that she communicates with her [deity] while in a state of trance, and conveys as much to those present by uttering unintelligible words. [cf. Spirit Language, Mircea Eliade].

                It is particularly striking that she sits on a cauldron supported by a tripod, reiterating the triad of the great goddess. This eccentric perch can hardly be explained except as a symbolic boiling, and, as such, it looks very much like a reminiscence of the initiatory boiling of the shaman translated from hallucinatory experience into concrete visual terms.

                It was in this same cauldron, probably, that the Titans boiled Dionysus in the version of the story known to Callimachus and Euphorion, and his remains were interred close by”.

                 

                The name ‘Pythia’ is derived from ‘Pytho’, which in Greek myth was the original name of Delphi.

                The Greeks derived this name from the verb, ‘pythein’ (“to rot”), which refers to the decomposition of the body of the monstrous Python (She-Dragon) after She was slain by Apollo.

                Through this decomposition, gases were emitted from the ‘body’ of the slain Serpent. It was this vapour that the Pythia inhaled, taking in the essence of the Wise Serpent.

                The Priestess would sit in a tripod chair, above a chasm in the Earth. As the hot gases rose, the Oracle would breathe in deeply and hold the fumes within.

                Slowly entering a deep trance, the Oracle would chant and sing prophesies, guidance and counsel to her querents.

                From her dark, underground chamber, her voice would echo, in songs and utterances sometimes unintelligible.

                Plutarch, a priest at the Delphic Temple, recorded that as the Spirits breathed into the Pythia, she would give off a ‘sweet fragrance’, the breath and lust of the Gods.

                It was a great honour to be chosen as an Oracle.

                Typically, the Pythias were chosen from a guild of Temple priestesses. Even if married with maternal concerns, the priestess would leave all familial responsibilities behind. Her earthly family no longer took precedence.

                A woman would leave her family home and would not return.

                Plutarch records that the life span of an Oracle was shortened due to the exhaustive nature of ‘housing the Gods’.

                After each prophetic session, the Pythia would be feverish, flushed and weak. Due to the strain and untimely deaths of many of the Oracles, it became necessary to alternate them.

                Typically, there were three Oracles at any one time, with two alternating as Prophetess and one on reserve, in case of their deaths.

                They were willing to sacrifice their own lives in order to be of use to the Gods and to their people. They were the messiahs of their age.

                I yearn to be like these Serpent Women, an Oracle; used of the Gods, Chosen, a Sacrifice to Serpentine Wisdom.

                I willingly offer my life and service to the Old Powers and desire (in whatever way I can) to resurrect that ancient knowledge that surpasses all understanding; to honour the Secrets and the Gods that existed before any modern religion was ever conceived and before any new god usurped it.

                In order to speak like a God, one must become like a God. My mortal body, my ego, must be disciplined and brought under control. There is no room for self-doubt or humanistic limitations.

                I want to become a Pythia; a mouthpiece for Deity. I wish to breathe in those Serpentine fumes; sway and chant, feverish and when fallen under grace, deliver the edicts of the Old Ones, even if few care to hear.

                I do not believe the Gods have gone ‘silent’ or are ‘hushed’ as some believe. I think They wait for those who are truly desperate and ready to receive Their call.

                The Old Ones beckon. Who will answer?

                I stand ready. I am here. Let me become a Mouthpiece.

                Let me breathe in the essence of the She-Dragon.

                Let me become a Serpent Woman of the Gods.

                 

                References:

                 

                The Orphic Poems, Martin Litchfield West, Oxford University Press Academic Monograph Reprints; Oxford University Press (1984)

                The Homeric Hymns – Homeric Hymn to Apollo, Michael Crudden, Translator; Oxford World’s Classics; Oxford University Press (2009)

                On the Decline of the Oracles (De Defectu Oraculorum) and On the Oracles of Pythia (De Pythiae Oraculis) in Moralia, Plutarch; Volume 5, Loeb Library, Harvard University Press

                The Pythias (excerpt) from Secret History of the Witches, Max Dashu © (2009)

                http://www.suppressedhistories.net/secrethistory/Pythia.pdf

                 

                 

                Image: Priestess of Delphi, John Collier (1891)

                 

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                  My Declaration of Independence

                   

                  Temptation, Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn (1870−1951)
                  Temptation, Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn (1870−1951)

                  It’s Independence Day here in America. The nation celebrates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and our freedom from Great Britain.

                  It’s a noisy and busy time in the States:  parades, barbecues, firework displays, picnics, political speeches, county fairs and baseball games. It’s a hot and sticky day full of food, family, friends and fun.

                  During the midst of all this celebrating and jovial interaction, I wonder if we are as truly free as we say we are; ‘land of the free and home of the brave’.

                  I must admit, I am not so brave, nor do I always feel ‘free’.

                  I keep my identity private for many reasons but primarily, it is one of personal safety. Were my co-workers or neighbours to know what I truly am and what life-Path I have chosen, I would be tormented. And not just me, but those around me.

                  On social media platforms, I have received death threats and promises of harm to be done to me and my family. While I do brush such vitriolic, infantile threats aside and rarely take them seriously, I recognize the inherent hatred for my kind and my beliefs that burns deep in so many.

                  These are scarred and troubled individuals. Their lives do not bear the fruit of their convictions.

                  While our dedicated service men and women shed their blood on foreign shores to keep us safe from the tyranny of evil, there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done for the evil that abides within the boundaries of this nation and within many hearts of those who claim to honour a god of forgiveness and acceptance.

                  It is a dichotomy which defies any unification. Try as I might, I cannot meld the two.

                  I guess Freedom of Religion only applies when that religion is one of the majority.

                   

                  What do we need to be truly free? What is the prerequisite to freedom?

                  For me, it is one word: Knowledge.

                  Knowledge will set us Free.

                  As the Serpent knew back in the Garden, knowledge is the key to our birthright; the Tree of Knowledge from which we were denied to eat.

                  “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

                  That is our Key. Their own book gives it away.

                  That is our Freedom – Knowledge.

                  In One Bite, we release the boundaries of any nation. We can dispel any threat.

                  We Become the Adversary; Independent, truly Seeing and Thinking Free.

                  Yes, I will eat. Give me more. I devour. I consume. I will gorge myself on this forbidden fruit and I will at last, See. I will, at last, be Free.

                  It is my hope that on this day, you truly feel Independent. It is my hope that you recognize the uniqueness of You, and that you walk your Path with all diligence and perseverance, no matter what threats may assail you.

                  Against the tyranny of the herd, we stand. Against the tide of mediocrity, we swim.

                  And in the end, who will be triumphant and truly Independent?

                  It will be we of the Black Flame; we, the Adversary – the Offspring of Isolate Intelligence.

                  My name is Elena and this is my Declaration of Independence.

                   

                   

                  Reference: Genesis 3: 4-5, NIV

                  Holy Bible, New International Version® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

                   

                  Image: Temptation, Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn (1870−1951)

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                    Living Fully – Practicing the Art of Living in the Now

                    Frederic Boissonnas (1902)
                    Frederic Boissonnas (1902)

                     

                     

                    “Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. 

                    Try as much as possible to be wholly alive with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. 

                    Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.” – William Saroyan

                     

                    We forget to live fully; to grasp every moment by the throat, digging in with our fingernails and ripping out every second of truly Being; of Experiencing; of Becoming.

                    We coast through our days and nights, staring out the window of our souls and watching our existence fly by in bits of shadow and light that make no sense.

                    One moment bleeds into another and yet another until Life becomes a muddy-coloured mass on our palette; no distinction, no aberration; just shallow, pointless breath.

                    Living fully, like any art, takes practice. It is something we must learn.

                     

                    Slow Down.

                     

                    Pay attention.

                     

                    Look at the details.

                     

                    Shut up and listen.

                     

                    Learn to be alone and love it.

                     

                    Silence your ego and the constant craving of attention and drama.

                     

                    Stop multi-tasking every second of every day.

                     

                    Dedicate a few hours once a week to concentrating on just ONE thing:

                    Read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, write, sit outside and watch the clouds, take a long walk, learn a new hobby, cook, start a garden, build a birdhouse.

                    Just do ONE thing, ONE thing at a time, for 3–4 hours. Give the activity all your attention.

                    Drown yourself in this ONE activity; lose yourself in it and lose track of time. Devour every second of it. Notice it. Feel it. Breathe and taste it. It’s called ‘total immersion’.

                    Most can’t pull it off. It’s a learned trait.

                    It’s meditation in action; it’s focus on a solitary activity and we are not accustomed to such behaviour.

                    We get nervous, agitated, frustrated, bored – we feel we are not ‘accomplishing’ or ‘meeting our goals’ or we are not in the cyber-space spotlight for a millisecond and our egos feel the slight.

                    How can we ever learn to gaze into the Deep Abyss, to communicate with our Gods, to perform efficient Workings and Ritual if we can’t be still, if we can’t shut up, if we can’t focus, if we can’t shut down the clatter and clang of mental dross?

                    Magic is nothing more than a strongly focused Will determined to achieve a desired end.

                    Learn to focus on a goal. Learn to do one thing and do it well. Then, move on to the next.

                    Many can be a ‘jack-of-all trades’.

                    I choose to be a Master of One.

                     

                     

                    Image: Frederic Boissonnas (1902)

                     

                     

                     

                     

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