T is for Tools

I’m working on ‘things’. Planning, plotting, gathering.

Mostly I’m trying to figure out how the knots will work for that one over there, how to carve so that delicate lines will be maintained in relief for that thing there, and how to rejig the altar space because it’s big and yet too small. I miss my three tiered altar. I miss it’s beautiful dark stained wood and oodles of space in which I could separate the sections of my work.

This one is about tools. When most people start out they’re they’re stuck with the basic books and the basic list of tools – athame, wand, chalice, uhm, pentacle for earth? Salt? A rock? Ok, so the fact that I don’t actually know what the element of earth is represented by in generic beginner witchcraft/paganism probably says a great deal about the basic tool list and I.

I want to talk about the tool that isn’t on the basic list: The Key.

Cle De L’os – RhetoricHaystack

The key is easily the most invaluable tool I think anyone can have. It opens doors and doors show up a lot in practice right? Maybe not literally, but the key doesn’t have to be literal either. A key can work by association or by trigger or by magical working. It can open doors to mind places, to paths, to worlds, to a door in a city that doesn’t exist which leads to a warm bed where you’re safe for the time being.

They’re easy to come by, I started out using old and antique keys and skeleton keys. They’re easy to create, an item or a few linked together worked with magic to connect them to a specific door behind which lies whatever it is you want and then used repeatedly till the association takes the work out of reaching the place you’re headed. They’re easy to use, turn the key and step through the door to the place.

I’ve linked them to mind places and ‘astral’/spirit place. Here is the key for where I enter the underworld, here is the key to The City’s gates, here is the key to the house right at the end, and here is the one to the clearing on The Woods.

Anywhere I need a key to I can create one.

Keys can be bartered for many things if you have them made up right and the connections that want that sort of thing.

Unfortunately they can also be stolen. Worth keeping that in mind. They can be stolen and used to find you. Always have a way to disconnect them from the place and from you. Alway build in a failsafe. Always.

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S is for Sex

Sex is magic, magic is sex…

I’m pretty sure I got that from Hellblazer. I could be wrong though.

I’m really not going into some massive in depth discussion on sex magic here. I haven’t read widely on the subject and most of what I know is from experimentation and experience.

What I want to point out is that, despite my own love of the combination of sex and magic, it’s not a fucking given that everyone who does magic does sex. Amongst magical practitioners are the asexual, celibate and traumatised. People who for one reason or another just don’t do sex and that we put such a huge emphasis on sex and sexuality in the West is off putting to many.

Hell, it’s off putting to me. I do sex magic with my long term partner, The Wolf. No one else. It’s an intimate and private practice. My sex and sexuality is not for public consumption and the assumption that it is is far too often made. There are many who choose to display their sex, sexuality… sensuality publically and often and that’s great.

But this whole goddess in touch with her suaxual energies and yoni and menstrual magic and yadda yadda yadda…

Not everyone’s cup of tea.

Now don’t even get me started on how fucking heterosexual most people sex is when it comes to magic either. Don’t even.

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.

Q is for Question Everything

Seriously question fucking EVERYTHING!!!!

Question the status quo, because it’s not ‘just how it’s done’, because the wheel doesn’t have to be reinvented every time but you need to understand what you’re doing before you can change it..

Question authors, relentlessly, because their bias isn’t the be all and end all thought they’ll certainly paint it that way, look up their sources, demand their sources if they don’t offer them and burn their books if they’re trash because you deserve better on your shelves.

Question the gods, before you agree make sure you know what you’re getting into, before you decide to worship them make sure you know what they want from you.

Question the spirits, they will lie to you without second thought, they will omit anything they can from information and send you stumbling down the wrong track, they will bind you into agreements that will fuck you over if you’re not careful.

Question yourself, poke at your brain and you beliefs and your innermost workings over and over and over till you know what makes you tick, till you’ve distilled that vague belief into something concrete in your mind.

Question everything, it keeps you out of trouble and gets you into trouble.

It’s the only way to grow.

Question, and then think critically about the answers.

LEARN!

 

P is for Privacy

Get you some!

And no, I don’t mean a spot of your own where no one interrupts you and you can do your naked thing… I mean, yes, if that appeals and you can get it go for it, but it’s not the kind of privacy I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the kind of privacy that doesn’t see you blabbing all your practice out to the entire world. The one where you’re not a necromancer and demon summoner who has 30 kids to Loki on the astral plane, you’re just a witch or Pagan that does your thing.

There’s this horrible tendency to over share these days, especially within online communities like tumblr and facebook groups. To overshare and then get horribly butthurt when someone looks at you askew.

It’s self defeating.

Witchcraft is, at it’s core, a private kind of thing.

It’s not because there’s anything wrong with necromancy, demon summoning, or have 30 odd children to Loki (although seriously that boy is getting round…) although there will always be someone who has a fucking issue with it, but rather that it’s not anyone’s business but yours. When you start sharing this shit online you’re asking for feedback and what you get may not be what’s good for you.

On the one hand you may well be chewed into oblivion by people who think you’re insane and that can be pretty harsh to the self esteem regardless of whether what you’re putting up is insane or not (Mileage may vary, I champion my right to be a judgemental bitch, and the rights of others to do so as well. Making judgement calls is a good thing).

The other problem however is that you can get sucked into a feedback loop. You do A, those people do A as well, and you all pat each other on the back for it… and you keep doing that thing over and over. Have you ever tried to change when you’re surrounded by people who expect you to keep doing the same? It’s not easy, it holds you back and drags you down, making it impossible to learn and experience new things. It can also blind you to new incoming messages and guide you towards doing things that are not in your best interest magically…

Basically it’s a rather insidious and toxic form of peer pressure.

Developing a sense of privacy about what you do is good for you. It’s good for your practice and your growth.

Not to say you shouldn’t converse or share online. I blog for fucksake, and have… eh, more social media accounts than I care to admit really. Be particular with whom you share what however. Trust your nearest and dearest with the details if you want to, but learn to talk a bit more vaguely about the things outside of that. You can discuss techniques and beliefs without ever going in depth with your own practice – I actually highly recommend this as you can get a lot more out of a conversation where you’re not emotionally invested in defending your actual practice, but rather discussing more nebulous techniques and beliefs.

And, finally, make sure you do a check back. I’ve seen in depth details on relationships with named entities that… Would you say that about your partner in public space and expect them to not blow their shit? I’ve seen in depth takes on sexual encounters with entities written up for the world to see. Really? REALLY!?! Did you at any point stop and check in with your entity of choice to make sure it was ok to share these things? Any things actually.

Nothing gets shared on this blog without a check back. It’s either something I’ve finished working on or something I’ve been given clearance to share. The altar in the last post – totally checked in. When I talk about entities from The City – totally checked in.

Not doing so would be a huge insult to any entity I work with. I can’t even imagine an entity that wouldn’t be pissed off by some of the in depth detail people expose online. It’s not just about YOU, you are also exposing THEM. Especially if you’re naming them. Which isn’t to say that all entities will say no. Some enjoy the attention… but do be aware that others will say yes just to watch the fireworks.

Ok, so end rant. Privacy is a thing y’all.

M is for Magic

The magic isn’t in the paraphernalia. The candles can go unreplaced, herbs uncut. Sigils need not be wrought and ropes may be left unwoven. To hell with the belts and jewels, the robes and paints.

The magic is not there.

The beat slapped into chest, the beat thumped into earth by feet. The rhythm held by hips and hands. Melody by lips. Screams to the sky, whispers to the earth. Conversation held with those between in poets tongue.

Lost better waking and sleep, in trance and dream, there lies the magic.

L is for Lovers

A bit corny perhaps but I recently announced my engagement so fuck off, I’m allowed my cornball moment. If it makes you feel better I’m not going to talk much about The Wolf here in the romantic sense. I’m feeling a bit more pragmatic than that. For reasons undisclosed I haven’t been able to live with them up until now. Nothing religious, just reasons. So I moved in this past weekend and they kindly cleared me an altar space. They’ve never bothered themselves but my altar for the past few years has been, uh, extensive to say the least of it. I came home tonight to find a blade on the altar*…

The Wolf is my first magically inclined partner. Like me he doesn’t really have a ‘path’ that is easily navigable by others. One place we meet very firmly as equals and on the same track is as lovers though. So we’re both queer as fuck, and yeah there’s occasionally sex magic involved and yada yada…

Art by the exquisite Chiara Bautista

It’s interesting to have a lover who is also capable of being a magical partner. I’ve always worked solitary. Always. I’ve attended a tiny handful of group rituals, but my path isn’t something I’ve ever considered compatible with anyone elses. And now I have The Wolf and the longer we’re together the more little incidental things happen and make me wonder…

It’s the breath shared. The growl in The Wolf’s throat. The moments of absolute still. The moments of complete vulnerability. The snarl and bite.

Can this be something shared? Is there a place between or do we create something entirely new?

It’s ecstasy and breath, death and sex, at the core.

Isn’t that what magic is made of?

* I’d pointed out to him that I’d like the space to be ours, not mine so not a shock or complaint. Just one of those moments of holy shit cohabitation!! 

K is for Knight

There is a knight by the gate to the shining district. His armour shines, his blade is bright, his eyes are blue and his hair is fair. He is what a knight should be, to the eye. He holds his post in silence, unmoving.

Seriously, you can murder someone in front of him and he won’t twitch a muscle for them. Only reacts if you try to pass through the gates and are ‘unworthy’ (read, can’t bribe the sick fuck).

There is a knight by the gate to the crumbling district. His armour is rusted, his blade dulled, his eyes are blinded and his hair long gone. He is what a knight should not become. He holds his post in silence, unmoving.

The Black Knight – The Flickerees (DA)

Honestly, we’re all pretty sure he’s dead and is animated only by magic when someone tries to pass through the gate. He doesn’t need bribes, just pay your tithe. 

There are no knights by the gates to The City.

If you are bold enough to pass through the mythical forest, and clever enough to survive the trip the gates will stand open for you.

If you are stupid enough to venture out into it unprepared, well far be it for any to stop you.

But you’ll notice, if you wander that way often (and so very few do), that the crumbling gatehouse is often lit warm by fire. Should you venture there you would find old men at their ease, simple blades kept keen, and armour long discarded for soft leathers and laughter.

J is for Juxtaposition

Take their hands, for example, and study them.

His are soft, ink stained, barely calloused by anything heavier than pencil or tool.

His are hard and boney, scarred and calloused from gun grips and blade handles.

Or their eyes.

His liquid like, and so dark as to be black. They smoulder sometimes, and harden others but mostly the dance with laughter. They are warm.

His the colour of storm clouds, shades of grey that fracture and shift. They soften sometimes, and harden others, but mostly they are neutral, unreadable. They are not cold, but implacable.

We could juxtapose their domains.

His magic written in ink on flesh. Delicate hands make pricise works of art that represent, heal, strengthen, protect… He answers no prayers but will see you well cared for, for a price.

His magic is in the bullet and the knife if occassion must demand. His eye sees true, his breath steady and he vanishes quietly amongst the shadows. He is what answers when the sniper exhales and pulls the trigger – see my shot straight. He is what answers when the loved one prays come home safe.

Juxtapose these two, both small and slightly built. One short haired and the other long, one raven locked and the other silver though they are of age with each other.

I is for Isolation

Isolation can be a serious drawback in some ways.

On a physical level being isolated from community can restrict learning opportunities, the ability to network, and keep you away from all the best parties events. It can also lead to depression and other health issues. With witchcraft it can effect you if you want to work group magic or be part of a formal tradition etc.

In the case of magic, when we move away from the physical, it can also be so incredibly frustrating to get that one tiny bit of information that must belong to something bigger but it’s come to you isolated and without context.

And yet… Isolation has it’s place.

When we’re isolated and disconnected from others (yes, I DO mean disconnected from the internet too) we’re alone with our heads. On the one hand that’s sort of traumatic to start off with, if you have my brain, but when you settle and that constant mental chatter shuts the fuck up you’re much more likely to find that centre in you. When you’re quiet and isolated you can become that bit more open to the soft voices. The entities that whisper can get through to a silent mind that much easier.

And those frustrating bits of information? The opposite is equally frustrating. Getting too much, having to try and make sense of a big jumble of informations. Tease it out, my darlings. Tease it out. Isolate what’s important, isolate the individual elements and play with them. Isolation in this case allows you to clarify and master.

Too much isolation is bad. Not enough isolation is equally bad.

Find the sweet spot in the middle. Remember to make time to be alone with your thoughts and to let them quiet. Mileage always varies, what works for you won’t work for that person over there, but make the time.

And those isolated bits of information? Try thinking of them in context of your larger practice. Generally they’ll start making sense about then.

(Can you tell I had no idea what to write here and threw down the first thing that came to mind?)