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Time of Vulture

In Central Texas Vulture arrives on the North Wind.  We felt the first fluttering a week ago. In the Tejas Faery Working Group vulture is associated with the ancestors, the Llano uplift, bone, and is a stellar person of power.239px-Vega_in_lyra.svg.png

Circles & Cycles; Guardian & Gateway

Esoteric associations with vulture go back into human prehistory.  The celestial pole figured as an early conception of the divine, at least in the northern hemisphere.  In fact, many of our Elder Gods were stellar. Around 12,000 BCE the northern pole star was Vega, the falling vulture.

Watcher & Transformer; Earth & Sky

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Vulture stone from Gobekli Tepe ~10,000 BCE

In Egypt the predynastic (6000-3150 BCE) vulture goddess Nekhbet is one of the oldest deities and is connected to the dead, as well as birth.  In fact, her city was one of the earliest necropoli.  Vulture, soaring high overhead, was among the first raptor type birds to be associated with the “eye of god.”   In Egypt, the goddess Nuit swallowed the sun each evening, it traveled through her body, and was reborn from her vulva each morning. The dead also became stars along the body of Nuit, the Milky Way, as she nourished them..

Beak & Talons; Sun & Wings

Many cultures have a history of defleshing the dead so their bones can be used for sacred purpose.  This was often accomplished via what we call sky-burial. The bones could then be transported by family members, placed in the floor of a dwelling, or worn by a person as an amulet. It has been argued that metempsychosis was accomplished during, or at least aided by, the defleshing process, specifically as the bird of prey consumed the flesh, taking the dead into their own body then flying into the sky – the vault of heaven.

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Crux, an important vulva constellation, disappeared below the horizon in the northern hemisphere ~2,000 BCE;  Nuit arched

Above & Below

fig-1-boiiRoman writers associated vulture with the bird of prey that devoured dead bodies on continental Celtic battlefields.  Even Dhumavati, the Hindu goddess, is considered to be a vulture goddess, known as the Smokey One.  She is the remnants left over from the destruction of the universe. These remnants are themselves (or Hir self) the sub-basis of the elements that create the next universe.

 

 until we buried them, Vulture ate all our ancestors

Vulva and Vulture

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Egtved Girl

In  ancient Japan the goddess of dawn, Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto, jumped up on an overturned tub near the cave where the sun goddess was hiding and danced on it lifting her dress to reveal her vulva.  The gathered gods found this very funny and the laughter brought the sun goddess from her hiding place. In ancient Greek stories, the fertility goddess Demeter was in mourning following the loss of her child. Nobody could cheer her, so Baubo lifted her skirt showing her vulva to Demeter,  helping the goddess to laugh again. In ancient Ireland, after the Dagda escaped the Fomoire by eating a lot of food, he drug his large penis along the ground, had to empty his swollen belly into a pit, and then had sex with the daughter of Indech, who had been taunting him this whole time, after she jumped on his back and her pubic hair tickled him.

The Egtved girl, a young woman buried in Denmark in 1370 BCE, was found wearing a revealing fringe skirt with a solar disk over her belly.

There is a beautiful connection between the star constellations association with vulva imagery such as Vega and  Crux, vulture, the dead, the Milky Way, and rebirth — the Starry Vulva which the ancestors enter to travel through the otherworld to be reborn.

 

References

http://www.rigelatin.net/vulture/

https://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/nekhbet.html

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/catubodua-queen-of-death/

http://www.tsubakishrine.org/history/ame-no-uzume-no-mikoto.html

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

 

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I’ve written elsewhere about bringing our practice home, and with the help of my current working group (D, C, D, K, H, J), building on the work of the New Moon group (S, B, C, D) I’ve been doing just that.

Welcome to the beginnings of the Central Texas Wheel of the Year:

In central Texas our year is divided into two halves: the Long-Hot (May – September) and the not-as-Hot (November – March).  Moisture flows during the two liminal periods of May and October – the time between,  the dance of the twins.

The Long-Hot brings southeasterly winds and rare gift-of-life thunderstorms.  The not-as-Hot is normally dry.  But this story, like so many others, depends….

It depends on Little Sister and Little Brother. When Little Brother (el niño) comes to visit the not-as-Hot turns cold, as well as wet. Some say this is because the Hag of the North swoops down to steal him away from his sister, and as he is carried away his tears fall frozen.  But when Little Sister (la niña) raises her fiery head searching for her brother we are dry as a bone and our throats are parched by her anger.  Little Sister often brings with her The Wild Mother whose winds push all things down and whose wetness drowns cities.

Life here begins in the dark, with the stirring of the winds; The North Wind.

Blood; blackland prairie
Bone; llano uplift
Ash; edwards plateau

The Guardian of Bone arrives on the North Wind.  Vulture, wings spread soaring high.  The eye of god.  The Starry Gate of transformation and rebirth. Guardian and Gateway, we enter the womb of the Milky Way through the starry vulva. You know, until we buried our dead Vulture ate all our Ancestors.

The point of balance between the hottest and the coldest temperatures of the year  (October 31/November 1) is the Autumn Equitherm.  Our first harvest begins now…all things in pairs.  Pecans fall and we remember those who have fallen. We remember what has been sown and harvested. What is remembered lives …along the starry path.

The longest night, Winter Solstice (Dec 20-23), we dream; dream the Guardian of Ash who emerges from the Starry Mother, God Hirself.

At the Winter Thermistice ( January 6), the peak climatic temperature for the colder time of the year, we begin to smell change, the rising of life, the stirring of loins, and the arrival of the Guardian of Ash.

Some years that may be Gray Fox (January 6 through May 1), with their full body environmental awareness, their relaxed effervescence and curiosity, some years it may be someone else.

At the Spring Equinox (March 20) we cross the celestial equator, no longer stirring we now roar full force into our first Time of Planting. Bluebonnets, Mountain Laurel, Mexican Plum run riot.

The balance of the temperatures at the Spring Equitherm (May 1) whispers the approach of the Long-Hot.  Dread, even as rain soaks us, stirs in our heart.  Second harvest begins; peaches, blackberries and tomatoes are ripening.

With the dread of the Long-Hot on our minds, the Guardian of Blood – Snake – arrives. It’s time to digest, absorb and integrate. The egg with the Golden Yolk inside.

Summer Solstice (June 20-22) – the Sun is ready, eat it. Open wide. Become whole and complete unto yourself.

And as we burn, as we digest, as we integrate under the sweltering malefic sun, the peak of the climatic temperature, the pinnacle of the Long-Hot, approaches.

Summer Thermistice (August 6), the Dying Time.  All fields are withered and bare, the grass is brown, leaves crisp, the land is ripe for wildfire. We propitiate the fire, call the water and digest the sun into night along the cosmic path to the Starry Gate. But….what if it’s too much? Did we bite off more than we can swallow?

The time of The Knife’s Edge (mid-August to mid-September) is the “danger” time.  We have ingested the Sun but are still integrating, absorbing.  It could go either way.  Tricky, Dangerous.  Wildfires or Hurricane.  We balance and wait….

Then hope arrives, the sun slants, it crosses the celestial equator again and Autumn Equinox arrives (September 22) bringing the second Time of Planting.  We sow our seeds. It is the turning time, the liminal gateway, and rains come.

As we await the beginning of all things, which rides on the North Wind…..

Enchanted Rock

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During a recent conversation I said that the Anderson Faery/Feri lineage of witchcraft is helpful for trauma survivors  because it is an embodied lineage with a focus on ecstatic experience – all things that steer us out of over intellectualizing and into body awareness – but only insofar as we work to heal our trauma, else it will retraumatize us.  I’ve been pondering that statement ever since, because while I feel it to be true I have never upacked it.  I’m going to try and do that a bit here.

What is trauma, and what does it mean to be retraumatized?  We often think of trauma as tied to emotional, physical or sexual abuse, war, or natural disasters, but there are a whole range of life experiences that can be traumatizing, like surgery, the loss of a loved one, etc.  Trauma happens when our nervous system is overwhelmed and our coping strategies don’t work.  If the trauma is not processed or if we aren’t able to fight, flee, or in some way manage what is “attacking” us, then we freeze in a way that the unprocessed fear gets locked into our body.

A way some of us deal with the trauma locked in our body is by dissociating –  we try to get away from our body, and thus the traumatic situation — but other expressions of trauma are anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, avoidant behaviors, and addiction.  These expressions of trauma are almost always enveloped by  a sense of shame.  Something happens, we get traumatized and we cope the best we can, then hate ourselves for it because it doesn’t look or feel good.  It’s the shame that binds the entire process together.

Effects of early trauma are a laundry list:  a disrupted sense of self in relation to others, emotional instability, social dysfunction, difficulty recovering from stress, disorganized thinking, a limited window of tolerance, a limited capacity for relationships, poor impulse control, low self-worth, core shame, inability to recognize one’s own needs, a sense of isolation…. Oh, so much!  And oh so many of the very reasons we seek out spirituality, even witchcraft; we are searching for healing.

If that search leads a person to the Anderson Faery/Feri lineage of witchcraft before therapeutic work with a qualified therapist has been done to address past trauma the very tools of the tradition could be dangerously retraumatizing.  In this lineage we are asked to be present in our bodies, to be fully present for Sex, Self, Passion, Pride and Power.  Meditators are now realizing that mindfulness meditation is retraumatizing for the same reason; in mindfulness practice we are asked to be present with the feelings and sensations of the body.  If we have unprocessed trauma fear locked in our body, our own breath and body awareness can be jarring, flooding us and popping us right out of the body.  We feel the trauma all over again and dissociate.  In fact, we will happily watch our body sit and breathe on the cushion – we are well used to dissociating –  thinking we are engaged with the practice, when in actuality we are not experiencing embodiment at all.

Retraumatization is a conscious or unconscious reminder of past trauma that results in re-experiencing of the initial trauma itself.   It can be triggered by a situation, an attitude or expression, or by certain environments that replicate the dynamics (loss of power/control/safety) of the original trauma. – by Patricia Shelly, MSW, Shelley Hitzel, MSW, and Karen Zgoda, MSW, LCSW, Preventing Retraumatization: A Macro Social Work Approach to Trauma-Informed Practices & Policies

For those of us who dissociate, clearing the mind and entering stillness is a familiar state of numbness.  It can be a blissful state, and hard to distinguish from altered states of consciousness.  Yet, it is not the mindfulness taught in yoga, and it is not the embodiment required to engage Faery witchcraft safely.  Embodiment is the beginning and foundation for more advanced practices in Faery.

Dissociation vs presence?
Table
Meditation instructors and health care professionals who work with trauma survivors are taught to use trauma informed practices which focus on a sense of safety and stabilization (it is not in most of our scope of practice to offer trauma-specific work that focuses on processing trauma).  One thing Faery witchcraft is not is safe, and its tools are notoriously destabilizing.  Some do survive the crash course of a Faery induced healing crisis, others do not.  With so many qualified therapists who specialize in integrating trauma, and so many excellent protocols, like EMDR, there is no reason to risk a student, or risk ourselves.

If you are drawn to Faery, but come from a trauma background, seek out a skilled EMDR therapist first.  Give yourself a year of calming the central nervous system and finding safety within your body.  You will be grateful you did.

*I am not a professional therapist.  My insights come from my own experience and what I have found effective. 

incantation

Incantation; Francisco Goya

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This working requires a sacrifice. Give to a local group engaged in the work of social justice, either by volunteering or by supporting them financially.

Call upon your Mighty Dead to support the work.

Acquire an image of the Lady of Liberty to place on your working altar. This can be in a public place, like your work place.

Offer the litany to her regularly, and any other offerings you feel called to give.

LITANY OF FREEDOM

Liberty, Lady, Mother of Redemption;
Mother of Exiles;
Mother of Eagles;
To you and, through you, to the Dark Mother of the Heavens and the Earth…

Come to me

We ask for the light of your lamp to heal us and fill our hearts with grace.
Let there be freedom,

Come to me

Let our sisters be free to live safely, in public and in private!
Let our sisters be free to choose what happens to their own bodies!
Let our sisters and brothers of color be free to live in dignity and respect!

Come to me

Let our Trans brothers and sisters be free to live authentically!
Let our gay and bi sisters and brothers be free to live authentically!
Let our gay and bi sisters and brothers be free to love openly whomever their hearts are drawn to!

Come to me

Let our sisters and brothers of indigenous birth be free to live in peace and health upon their ancestral and sacred lands!
Let us all be free to speak and create and express as Spirit moves us!
Let us all be free to enjoy the fruits of prosperity and our own labor and right livelihood!

Come to me

Let us all be free to enjoy and honor clean soil, water and air!
Let us all be free to live in peace!

Come to me

Let us all be free to honor and be honored because, and not despite of, our respectful differences!
Let us all be free to unite for our common well being!

Come to me

Let us all be free to join together in resistance to those who would abuse us!
Let us be free to follow the path of beauty and bliss!
Let us all be free of the fears that bind us from our deepest aspirations!
Let us all be free from deception and oppression, and the systems that support them!
Let us be free of the chains even in our own minds and hearts!

Come to me

Let us be free to build anew and better for ourselves and our communities!
Let us be free to speak truth to power!

Come to me

Lady, By your crown,
let those who would abuse us or our loved ones be stripped of their claims to power!

By your lamp,
bring their words and deeds to light, and to the notice of the world!

By your book,
never allow the misdeeds of tyrants to be forgotten, nor the lessons of history fail to inform present events!

Let us be free

Consider placing her image upon the words of her poem:

“Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

You can add the creation of a (resealable)cursing bottle, filled with images of the appropriate politicians and organizations, and inscribed with this three part curse on the back:

“May God abandon you ; May knowledge forsake you ; May apathy claim you”

as well as thorns, needles, broken glass, and every manner of vile thing like rotting muck, poppy seeds, ghost peppers, what have you. Piss in it. Then drown it in liquor, and pour your own rage into it. Scream at it. Make them want to die. Work yourself into a frenzy. It might help to be drunk, or to pour your fury and frustration into a cup before the pouring that in the bottle. Then recap and seal it with wax and place it on the altar or hide it away somewhere. If the proverbial shit ever does really hit the fan, take it back out and work yourself into a frenzy again. Shake it and scream at it and name the afflictions you place upon them, focusing on things that will actually make things better and make them unable to carry out their atrocities. Then hurl it and cause it to shatter on an appropriate target, like a federal building, or bury it somewhere likewise appropriate.

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Episode 4 on the folklore podcast

Druidcast episode on the Black Dog

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the Urban Hedge

Living in Ireland is one thing, living in an American city quite another.  I find city magic different from the magic of the countryside.  I also find central Texas magic different from southern Irish magic.  This is common sense really, as there are different partners in the work.

The energy of the American city  I live within is one of motion, and literal energy generation.  Perhaps it is more like a stellar nursery, or star-forming region: a dense area of exotic cosmic brew.

I don’t work with the entire city.  I build relationship with the area I can –and regularly do– walk the bounds of.  Boundary walking, and tending, is the age-old habit of the witch.  It’s where we draw our power.  During the liminal times of day, it is easy to find the urban Hedge.  Within my own bounds, those are odd crossroads, where odd numbers of pathways or streets intersect.  Also, the alleyways.

In any Hedge crossing endeavor, caution is needed.  Persons of dubious nature are attracted to liminal spaces, and times.  Do not trust every Person you meet, corporeal or not!  Victor H. Anderson cautioned his students to make such journeys with their Lights on.  That is, have a strong and direct relationship with your own Godsoul, the ancestral spirit directly connected to you.

Also, test the spirits.

Just because some non-material dude chats you up, doesn’t mean you should give him your number.

During urban hedge crossing, I do not sit and trance.  I walk.  This is a skill I developed working with the Reclaiming Pagan Cluster, and learning to use my magic during direct action protest.  I also carry a protective talisman in my pocket, or on my person.  I set an intention, whether that be exploratory or specific.  These forays are not for entertainment.  They are for the purpose of accomplishing my will, and my work.

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The danger in possession is if you let alien beings in to use you — and there are plenty out there that will. They’ll split your personality. They’ll touch certain parts of your personality that you don’t even know you have. And then, you won’t be able to consciously remember when one takes over or when one doesn’t, even though it’s all you. That’s the danger of possession. Another danger is that they can come in with cruel and terrible ideas and infect you with them. Because when someone knocks at your door, and I’m not just speaking about spirits, don’t let them in unless you know who they are. You turn on the light first and that light is right above your head. — Victor Anderson, The Heart of the Initiate: Feri Lessons

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