Martin Shaw on Old Gods

“But the hour is getting late now. And when the stories we tell only have a human directive peering back at us we start to get very lost. We hypnotise ourselves with our own gaze. In such a moment it is quite possible to bury your heart under a rock and forget where you put it.But I mean what I say: the rough gods are still amongst us – and not just the porcelain ones that look a little like us on a good day, but the big bad bunch – the raggle-taggle, rhino tusked menagerie of the Original Ensemble, the Other Folk, the Gentry, the Benji. I know you’ve glimpsed them, once or twice. They’re about.

They are gnawing on the edge of these sentences.

The Otherworld is also this one, when it chooses.

It’s a convenience to believe that the Old Gods are leaving. Gives us permission for all kinds of nonsense.

That they are squatting in the departure lounge of Heathrow and LAX with hurt feelings, waving old bones about and shaking their heads. Clambering into some metaphysical elevator that’s going to deposit them in a nursing home for Abandoned Primordials on the other side of Pluto.

We have to stop saying that they die if we stop thinking about them.

That’s a degraded idea. Yet that’s what so many claim mythology is – us thinking these beings up.

But what if they were allowing us to think them? What if we were getting thought?

Not as manikin puppets, but as part of a profound conversation we can barely remember the moves for anymore.”

— Martin Shaw, writer, teacher, mythologist
(Via Serpent And Stang)

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Of Christianity,God, and Changing.

I’m scrolling through Gods and Radicals when a phrase, an introduction to the topic of a post in fact, caught my eye:

… on what we lose when we accept the categories of identity

Now, that line was the intro for this post, which I have not read, but it caught my eye because it’s in line with something I’ve been pondering for a while.

I promise this gets to witchcraft eventually…

Categories of identity are pretty cool in a way. They allow us to find people like us or who think like us, to delineate between us and them (admittedly not always a good thing) and to organise to protect vulnerable groups (Transgender people, homosexual people etc). Those are good things. But there’s also a downside to it.

As teenagers, when we’re still figuring things out, it’s considered normal to change your mind about your identity. You are growing up, you’re changing rapidly, and so are your tastes, sexual attractions and internal identity. As adults those categories can become incredibly restraining. They can become boxes you can’t step out of for fear of ridicule, ostracisation or upsetting loved ones.

And that’s kind of where I’m at right now. Things have changed massively for me over the past few years and I’ve been very quietly reassessing many things. Among those things are questions around my sexual identity, my gender identity and, somewhat more relevant to this blog, my religious and magical identity.

As far as magic goes I dropped Pagan years ago. I’m not comfortable with it, nor with a lot of people who identify as Pagan. I remain part of the community anyway, because it’s where I find many like minded people and have many old friendships I won’t be giving up any time soon. I simply refer to myself as a witch, which is still fine and dandy in and of itself. It’s a pretty broad category covering a lot of people of all kinds of different paths.

Where I’ve been really hung up in recent months is religion.

My last post opened with “There’s a crucifix buried in the garden. Roses grow from it.” What it didn’t touch on is the urge to go find it or the confusion that it is causing. I grew up in a very loving Christian household, and when I chose to walk away from Christianity that household, my family, remained very loving and supported me in my explorations. My parents have never turned their back on me and have actively supported my choices. I was very lucky in that (even if it did mean I ended up with some truly woeful dragon statues over the years), but what I was never able to reconcile that household, and even many of my childhood churches, with was the larger institution of the Church and Christianity and the truly horrific things that have and continue to come out of it. Honestly that’s why I left – The horrific hypocrisy of the Church.

And yet I never really stopped believing in God. So now I’m grappling with where I sit, witch will never leave me but am I still Christian? I’m have the vague feeling the answer may be yes.

God is the divinity in all things. To me They are so far removed as to be unknowable. They are the divinity behind and in everything, and we are so tiny as to be flickers on the edge of Their perception. They do not answer prayers or inflict children with diseases. They certainly do not condone the actions of humans, anymore than They necessarily condemn them. They are too far removed to notice it all in my mind.

Which is where the spirits come in, they are the intermediaries. I believe this of all gods and entities including angels, demons, and even the one I refer to as the Wild God from time to time. He’s a big, very powerful, very old, spirit. The spirits and entities give us a knowable face, something we can comprehend and communicate with. Which ones we are drawn to tends to be dependant on where we’re at in ourselves and where we need to go.

And behind them all sits God, Divinity, The Creator. Whatever it is you wish to call Them.

I don’t really have anywhere to go with this. I just wanted to get it down.

As silly as it sounds I’ve been sitting on this for a long while. In part because of my natural loathing of a church that sees me and mine as deviant, corrupt and wrong and in part because there’s a low key fear that it will make those I love look at me like I’ve grown a second head. It’s out now.

And off to my tutorial with 4 minutes to spare…

Ashes and Dust

Pulling apart the pieces of my craft and exploring new areas. It’s a never ending search for what’s missing, what isn’t sitting in the right spot or in the right way, what’s absent and what needs to be discarded.

There’s much to chew through.

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Rose by Claparo-Sans (click through for artist)

There’s a crucifix buried in the garden. Roses grow from it.

My earliest paths in paganism are grown over from lack of use, and I have no urge to explore them further. Pieces were already thrown into the bonfire willingly, but almost everything is gone now. I hold onto the hands of my lover for he alone still walks with me.

Chaos magic served it’s time and there a practices, tiny bits and bobs, that I continue with. The mind set it allowed me is more important than the ritual or paraphernalia that went along with it. It goes, almost in it’s entirety, into the fires and the path grows over. It can not be un-walked. The mindset – the do what works attitude – remains, and the skills I developed in this time will never be idle.

Both this city and The CITY are home, and nothing can seperate my blood from them, but they are no longer under my feet each day. Their paths grows over, but welcome my step with perfumed roses and jasmine when I walk their ground. Rarely as witch, always as beloved and lover.

The Ancestors, well one does not discard ones blood, but it is time to find a better way to work this path. It is grown over and full of tripping hazards. I need to tend this path, burn away the debris and weeds. Tend it so it meanders less and less. There is work to be done on this path, always.

And the paths I’ve walked recently…

Witchcraft, eclectic, somewhat traditional but not quite… I walk the same ground over and over, collect and discard, collect and then burn. It grows over as fast as I tend it. No roses grow here. No belladonna. No lily. No ivy. Just weeds. There’s nothing to be burnt or tended anymore. There were skills learnt whilst trying to navigate this jagged path that will serve me, and interests piqued that will continue for many years no doubt. This path is closed to me.

This land continues to breath beneath my feet. That path needs neither tending nor discarding. It is old and implacable. It cares not if I walk upon it, but welcomes me, and any other, who does. Provided we walk with care and tend it as needed.

The path of stardust and compass is not mine. I walked it for a while, and loved it dearly. I can wish nothing but the best for the Coterie. May they breath, may they live, my the excel and may they explore ever onwards. Here is not my home, but I hope here I will always find friendship.

The Fox is waiting ahead in the garden, together we will continue to explore.

Oudeira

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Oudeira is the Stardust Compass’ world tree.

I have been slowly becoming acquainted with it. I’m honestly 80% head blind and this stuff takes a while, which is fine for me. Tonight, finally pronouncing Oudeira correctly, I made some very good headway.

Some context in regards to my magic: I do most my magic stationary. When I was younger it was because I was working in confined spaces. Now it’s because pain and fatigue is a thing, and not wasting energy moving around in a sore body means I can do life stuff. This means that I tend not to invoke into my space but rather travel into ‘other’ or ‘trance’ space to work. Whenever I speak of walking, running etc I am doing it in ‘other’ space, because in this space my ass is firmly on the couch. 

So, Oudiera.

I move, initially, into my usual liminal space. This is a very literal white space. Stark white and bright as far as the eye can see, no landmarks, doors, stairs etc. I speak my intent to Fox, who has been acting as a wonderful guide in and out of this space since I first started working with it. We dance around a little until there’s a shift in the energy, and when I look up there are thousands of cables of light above me, and again below me. This is Oudeira.

There is a particular space on the floor that calls to me. One of the cables of light ends here today. It’s not small. It’s around the size of my lounge room in diameter with two concentric circles towards the outer edge of the cable. Fox leads me along the path between these – it becomes very hard going very quickly – this is a way opening. I am, at this point focussed mostly on my own two feet and Fox so it comes as a surprise when, after I have come to the point I can no longer move along the path, I look up to find myself within a circle of doors.

I open one that stands out from the others and enter an endless half of… you guessed it, more doors. Fox paws at one quite a bit further along.

**What happens from here falls into the need to know and doesn’t need to be online right not category, so we’ll skip to coming back.

Returning through the doors I’ve entered I come back to the original node and doors. I don’t need Fox to show me the steps. To close this node for my uses is easy, walk the path in the opposite direction, this time with my head up so I watch the doors recede into the floor and become part of the wall of the node beneath my feet.

Erm… title goes here

I can not for the life of me think of a title for this post. I blame the wonder of a hot bath full of beautiful scents.

Firstly, if you’re a fellow Australian please do follow the link and check out the wares of the lovely Belladonna and Bones. She specialises in magical herbal tinctures, oils, balms and flying ointments.

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So, I did a fantastic guided meditation with the very delightful Belladonna and Bones after a wonderful chat about her garden and some of what grows in it today. There were a few moments of note, and for obvious reasons I am not going into much detail here, but it’s been ages since I posted so…

  1. Clary Sage is a delightful entity.
  2. She was there and we got a brief chat in. This was nice as Himself of the Dark Heart has dominated in the past few years.
  3. V is an ass, but it was nice of him to show when I first arrived.
  4. Fox was pinned to my side the entire time. I actually can’t remember the last time I did any magic without Fox being there, and for some reason this only hit me today.
  5. I came through stark fucking naked. This is actually the bit that got me. It has never, ever, happened before. At least not so that I’ve noticed, but that self was naked. I am pondering the why’s of that and I think I have an answer which is for another day.

I picked up some of the Clary Sage ointment to use and plan to continue getting to know the spirit as I grow the seeds we were all so kindly gifted with today.

Right now, however, it is time for sleep.

Good night.

Walking Between

I walk between.

It’s often not deliberate. I throw on some music or or pop my headphones in and start daydreaming vaguely as I move around, next thing I know I’m walking between worlds. One foot in the here in the city and one on the otherworld.

I’m sure there are those reading that with horror due to the lack of active intent behind the act, but it’s actually incredibly useful a skill. It also requires a lot of trust in the spirits I walk alongside, but these are times when I am most open to hearing. Out of my head and into the heart the voices are clear, the visions are solid as to be touched and the only drawback is the slight disorientation when someone starts talking to me midway through. Traffic I can deal with but not human interaction.

It’s not a skill I ever worked to develop, nor refine. I am currently side-eying myself over the later, I mean really you have a skill and you neglect it to try and learn another one that achieves the same thing but it what you’re ‘meant to do’. I’m now well past the ‘do because you’re meant to stage’ but there’s all these weird hangovers that I run into. Insidious shit is what it is, but I digress. Not that there was much to digress from.

Point of this stupid ramble is that I had a moment today where I dropped in line with Her. Standing between worlds, feeling the difference between my bod on one side, Her’s on the other, and for no other reason than Uptown Funk was on I/She danced. It was a brief moment, I went back on my meds yesterday so sinking deep isn’t something I will be doing in the next fortnight or so, but it left me giggling like a fucking idiot. Sometimes you just need to let go and let it be fun…

There is no purpose to this post other than to document that it’s hilariously funny to dance as I/She and leaves me feeling quite grounded mentally and physically.

And it can serve as a reminder that I need to get out and start actively working on developing this skill and refining it till I can step between at will as well.

A Naming

The Fox leads me true, to the heart of the great dark forest where He waits. We run through a forest that gradually becomes darker, closer, more claustrophobic until we reach the heart. It’s dark here, the light only trickles in. It’s a place of death and dying. You walk over old bones. You can smell the wet decay of fur anId flesh.

You can smell loam so rich that it feeds an entire forest. What returns here, brings life out there.

He’s waiting.

Cross legged on the ground, hidden in the shadows of the tree’s massive roots, he’s waiting for me. He always knows I’m coming, but he’d normally be on the throne in the tree. Forcing me to climb for his attention… or just shout. I’ve done that before.

He told me once, long ago, that his name was of no concern until such time as I figured it out for myself. I take a breath and hesitate. This has been a long time and a lot of research in the making. He waits until I’m ready. Patiently, he knows. Finally I find it in me to speak.

The God of the Wild Places.
The King on the Bramble Throne.
Lord of the Black Heart.

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He smiles and speaks, and I am given a new name.

 

(Despite best efforts I could find no artist to attribute this image too, if you know of them let me know please.)

Honey, Milk and Bloodied Hearts

I dream of an altar of stone, angled so liquids poured onto its surface trickle in to the centre then down to the ground below, nestled between olive trees and night blooming jasmine. I dream of lanterns and spirits, of offerings of honey, wine, oil and fresh bloodied hearts. Of the curls of incense reaching to the night sky. I dream of furs and blankets and union. 

I dream of foxes eating hearts. 

I’m undergoing a huge period of transition at the moment. In truth it probably started four years ago. The year prior I had spent in crisis – suicidal, isolated and distressed. The first of the last four years was the death of three relationships and the start of something causal an entertaining… 

Or so I thought. We’re now due to be married so, casual, yes, that was a thing.

The olive cutting is showing signs of getting new leaves. It lives. 

Over the past four years my life has made a series of transitions. The crisis was followed by a period of restlessness, another crisis then a period of rapid transition. My path has shifted with it. I noted about two, maybe three, years back that my path appeared to be shifting from the Chaos Magic I had practiced for over a decade to something a little bit more… Traditional was the word I used at the time.

The altar is in a cave lit by torches. Water is poured the tall thin man with one arm, and incense lit by the huge viking like-man. A small black goat is lifted and held by the viking looking one while his companion slits it’s throat. Blood washes over the stone altar and trickles to the floor. 

The truth of the matter is that traditional isn’t really a good word for it and I think the Chaos never really went away. It all just shifted into a new form. There are now elements that resemble traditional witchcraft in what I do. The Fetch, Ancestors, more traditional land spirits (I live just off of a nature reserve in the suburbs now), and my altars are littered with feathers, bones, and candles. 

And a small ache that’s been in my chest for so very long became a distracting one. I have been restless, searching, reaching. I looked for community, and found an amazing one, but it didn’t stem the dull ache and restless. I reworked and tweaked my path so many times that I started to resemble a flakey new-ager chasing the latest soul saver to no avail. I worked harder, pushed more at the edges, and nothing changed.

He watches me quietly from the end of the bed. Taller than I, rangy and dark haired. No horns today. Those come and go as he pleases. He curls around me when I come to bed and in the moments between waking and sleep I feel fur and rough hewn blankets instead of silky sheets. 

I still wanted. I still needed. Something was missing and I couldn’t name it.

So I settled. I worked with what came to hand and what fascinated me the same as I always had with Chaos Magic. Can’t say it went wrong even if I look back occasionally and wonder what I was thinking. I can see how I got from there to now. There are the skulls. There are the roses. There are the feathers. There is Babalon as sexuality and sex really took a front seat. There are the bones. The Fox showed up and I rolled with it. The Wild One became a magical partner as the sex took a turn for a whole lot more than just sex. 

They catch my eye, a small flash of white in the dirt. A minute later I’m digging bones out of the dirt. Days later I’m presented with a small blue butterfly by my Wolf, always so considerate.
Then there’s tiny vertebrae found caught in the fence. The Fox demands their skin.
There’s a bird wing drying in the shed, and a whole skeleton to be stripped and cleaned. I gather bright blue feathers from the ritual site and mourn the Bowerbird I couldn’t save nor give proper burial.
Things just come together of their own accord, they always do that. 

And then THEY came knocking. 

You want to know what I have actively avoided since the end of my first fledgling year of magic? Deity. But there’s something bigger at the end of this. Something so much bigger than any spirit I have ever seen.

That odd little dream I kept having with the altar… The slanted surface liquid was poured onto, that let it run to the earth. The offerings of honey, milk, oil, alcohol and blood. The hearts. The incense and olive trees. The Foxes. 

Outside, low to the ground… 

The foxes that ate the hearts…

The term Chthonic takes on a meaning outside of the hypothetical.


Offerings – Thoughts and a link to someone more eloquent (like a shit ton more)

I don’t often link to other people’s writings. I should.

Another Witches Blogg – Making Offerings to the Gods

This is a fantastic article on a part of magic that seems often overlooked, especially in public ritual. Offerings are a large part of my practice – Incense smoke, water, large amounts of alcohol and good quality beeswax candles. I couldn’t really imagine not doing them at this point and my practice went from vague and frustrating to very full on and fulfilling quickly after I got my head around the offerings and how they should work.

I think it’s a little easy to forget that these relationships are meant to be reciprocal, not just us demanding. It’s not that you can’t demand and get results, but to date I’ve found that working with someone/thing tends to get everything done that much faster, easier and better.

R is for Rites

We’ve never followed a conventional path, him and I. I don’t think we even know how. No words are ever spoken, not to start it nor to end it, truly. As always this is how our rites go.

I inhale the incense, letting it sooth away the aches and griefs of the past few days. Melting into the blankets as much as the shadow and flicker of the light. He runs his fingers over my face and through my hair. Sweeping them down my throat.

I still beneath his hands, letting go of everything but the sensation of his hands and my own breath. Still, quiet, sinking away. Palms sweep flat down my chest, fingertips drag across my abdomen… At some point a tug and pull of energy and I wake a little for a brief moment before surrendering, trusting, he acts in my interests as much as his.

I sink.

The smell of the Woods is achingly familiar and foreign at once. This is the Dark Heart of the Woods. As rich with life  as it is it smells of iron rich blood and decay in equal measure. Here is an underworld of it’s own kind. At it’s centre a tree large beyond measure with gnarled roots knotted through with bramble, littered with bones scattered by wild things. Above this, at the base of the tree where roots meet is the cavity where the bramble rise to form the Throne.

And on the Throne HE sits, or more accurately lounges, possibly slouches. One leg slung over what I take for the throne’s arm, the other stretched out. He has no care for the formalities that come with a throne the way you’d think one would. He’s barefooted and barechested, wearing naught bar worn leather pants. Draped across his shoulders is a wolf pelt, one that matches the colour of the Great Black Wolf’s. There is little light here and the air feels thicker than any I’ve known.

Here is the God of Wild Places.

Those are the words I wake with:

I see you,
I see Him.
The King upon the Bramble Throne,
The God of Wild Places.

He turns me over and I relax into his hands, awake now, aware of the pull and tug of energy more. I wrap myself around him and we sink together to other places built of breath and touch.