Welcome to the Samhain issue of the Pagan Friends Webzine! We’re celebrating the move into the darker half of the year with a selection of great articles, poetry and fiction from both new and old contributors. We’re sure you’ll enjoy reading this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together.


Interviews

An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Opalmoon (Penny Cash)

Articles

Alchemical Yoga: Asanas and The Language of the Birds, by Paul F. Cowlan

Carew Castle, Princess Nest and Satans’ Ghost, by Liz

Time; how do you see it?, by Jill Malenoir

The Seprioth from the bottom up (Part 1), by Simon Cash

Essays & Extended Features

Grimoire Shamanism: The Shaman and the Solomonic Path, by Aaron Leitch

Regular Features

Samhain Week Moonlore, by Liz

Pumpkin Spice Cake, by Calidonia

Animal Spirit Guides, by T. Fox Dunham

Tools, Tricks & Ingredients

Salt Crystal Lamps & Tea Lights, by Beth Holtum

The Elements, by Beth Holtum

Spice: Cumin, by Rebecca L. Brown

Stone: Cinnabar, by Rebecca L. Brown

Events

Treadwells Events

Reviews

Review: Carry On The Flame: Destiny’s Call, By Jodine Turner

Fiction

The Ghost of 22 Captain, by Joshua J. Mark

Poetry Corner

Ancient Elders We Remember You, by Liz

Wrestling, by Carolyn Agee

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Want to contribute to the Yule issue?

Are you a budding writer, artist or photographer? Do you have something to say to the pagan community? We’re already looking for exciting new content to include in our Samhain issue. We’re interested in your personal anecdotes, poetry and short stories; if its interesting and relevant, we want it. For more information on how to submit to us, visit our submissions page. We’re looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

We are now also accepting material for review and events listings for inclusion in the webzine.

The views and opinions expressed in this webzine are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily represent those of the Pagan Friends team. Any advice given within articles is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice, legal advice or otherwise.

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An Interview With The Pagan Friends Forum’s Penny Cash

Q: I know you come from a very “interesting” family background. How do you feel when people say your family history is like a “bad vampire novel”?

Ok, first off folks you can choose your friends but you can choose your family!

My family tree is full of nuts and weirdos and we come from all over the globe. I don’t claim to come from a 7th century witch family (I probably do but then so does most of the population if you all managed to look back far enough). I have no need to lie about or big up my family; it is what it is, simple really. Folks who have met me will now this. So what if my great granny was a Javanese princess and my great, great, great uncle was a lion tamer on my mum’s side or that we are related king someone or another on my dad’s side.

If folks think I need to lie about where I come from then they really don’t know me, but then I have more in my real life to worry about than some trolls on the internet!

Q: I would like to know if your water witchy-ness is only linked to the sea, or does it extend to cover rivers, lakes or rain etc.

This is an odd one for me; the sea and I have a very special link having spent my life close to it. My favourite time is when there are high winds, as the sound of waves crashing can induce such energy. I do like rivers, but they tend to be small fast flowing rivers and waterfalls are just amazing. Big, slow, meandering ones, for me, are dull like the drudgery of everyday. As for lakes, they make me cold; to me, they are dead energy, kind of like seeing an animal in the zoo. The water is just still and stagnant, it can’t flow and move. I do, however, love a good downpour as I feel its gives everything a good cleanse and I do recommend a good dance in a downpour. I feel the water can wash away worries just for that moment and everything smells better after a good downpour.

Q: I would also like to know if you have a Patron God/Goddess or if you work with any other kind of lifeforce,. Have you encountered any form of ethereal essence of a place? Are there particular places you like to be or any you find a need to vacate quickly?

Now, the whole god goddess thing has me at a kind of crossroads. I don’t feel the draw of any particular god or goddess if I believe in them at all. To me, the sea is ‘my’ god and the earth is ‘my’ goddess. The work of earth and water to create energy and life is what I work with, if that makes any sense!

As for places where I feel a presence, this happens a lot to me. Whether I am in tune with the land or place, I don’t know. Many times, I have had to up and leave places and houses. The best way to describe these places is troubled; to me, the air feels thick and the energy is wasted. Other places, I never want to leave I feel so welcome and comfortable. For example, there is a house down the road from my dad. It is a converted chapel that was desecrated years ago. I even have to cross the road to walk past it today; heck, even writing this I feel all yukky!

Places I love… I love St Donats castle. My grandparents are buried at the church and it feels so serene and calm there. The church there actually predates Christianity and even though it  is home to the graves of shipwrecks it still feels so beautiful.

Q: I would also like to know if you have ever worked in a coven, or perhaps in a partnership with anyone. Have you ever had, or been, a mentor?

Sorry but covens are not for me! I don’t really play nice with others and there is always too much bitchcraft for my liking in group meetings. I have worked with others when asked to, but only if I know the people involved well enough. Often Si and myself will work together; we both approach things from a very different perspective, but when working together we do mix things well and get some great results.

I’ve not ever really had a mentor as such. There are a very select few folks who I will listen to, but I tend to tweak things to my way anyway and I pity the poor person who wants me to mentor them; that’s an express ticket to hell if you ask me!

Q: Are there any working tools you consider special and would hate to be without?

My mind! I don’t really place any value on tools. Normally, I use what’s to hand.

Q: Are there any tools you wish you had but haven’t got yet?

A bigger selection of herbs would be the only thing I really want more of.

Q: What’s usually on your altar at Samhain?

My altar tends to stay the same all year around. I don’t tend to add anything for special days; boring I know! Now where did I leave the goats skull…

Q: Do you have a favourite Sabbat?

I only really do Samhain and Beltane if I’m honest.

Q: …And what do you usually do to celebrate it?

For Samhain, we normally have a ritual on the beach and then have a bit of a do at the house with lots of noms and drinks with friends. Beltane is normally a nice big tasty meal with Si and the kids.

Q: Does colour matter in your path work? Do you have a favourite colour?

Depending on what I am doing, if a certain colour is required then I will use it, but often I don’t stick to the rules on colour and will go with what feels right. As for a favourite colour, it has to be PINK! I’m just such a girlie and love the colour pink, but I’m known for loving purple as well!

Q: Have you a favourite crystal or group of crystals to which you have bonded and which you like to work with?

Opals in any form. It’s my birthstone. I find them calming and very easy to work with and wear. I am also partial to a bit of amethyst as well; I was given a gorgeous piece recently that I made into a necklace for my wedding. It now sits on my altar.

Q: Do you find any of the herbs more helpful than others?

This would depend on what it as needed for really as all herbs have great uses. I do grow quite a lot of my own herbs and what I can’t grow I like to keep in my stock cupboard. In cooking, the addition of a certain herb can make a dish taste so much better; the same can be said in workings. A little pinch of a certain herb can make the results so much better.

Q: Do you use things in your pathwork that are natural (like sea shells or lemons) or do you made things (like poppets or amulets)?

I would say most of what I use is natural even when making poppets or amulets. I use natural things; I do a mean line in sand poppets using driftwood, shells and pebbles to help. I also enjoy making wands and staffs from driftwood stripping. Sanding the wood, then seeing what the wood would work well as gives me hours of pleasure. I also enjoy cooking as a form of pathwork making all sorts of dishes and cakes I find can get me in the right mood for some certain workings.

Q: Have you had a special connection with any of your cats over the years? Have you had any other animals that might have been familiars?

I do have a very special connection with cats. At the moment I have my Mab, a little black kitty. She is stunted so will always look like a kitten. She is my protector and will often be at my side during a working. She is also great at sending anything sent to the house packing as well; she will often hiss at nothing I can see, then come and sit on me.

Before I had Mab, we had a family cat called Raggs who loved doing banishings with Si and would always be at my side in a circle. Funnily enough, she always slept at the top of the stairs at night so she could protect us all as we slept.

The only other animal I could say I have had a connection with was a dog I had as a kid called Joseph. He was a Heinz 57 and it was me that walked him twice a day. One day a kid who lived down the road from me set his doberman on me. I didn’t know until I turned around and my dog had it pinned by the throat to the floor. He was my protector through some very troubled times and I was very close to him.

Q: Is there a witchy ambition you have yet to fulfill?

Somebody you’d like to meet, perhaps, or somewhere you’d like to go?

For me, everyday is a school day when it comes to the witchy in me. I would love to visit Boscastle and the museum of witchcraft. I have a bit of a fascination with voudoo and would love to visit Haiti to see it at its roots.

Q: Have you a favourite form of scrying?

What’s the most interesting message you have received from it?

Unfortunately I don’t really do scrying. I do own a black mirror but have never felt the pull to use it, so I cant say I’ve ever received any messages from it; sorry, boring ain’t I!

Q: Do you ever have times when you feel un-witchy?

What do you do to feel re-connected?

I think there are times we all lose the connection to our witchy side. My health issues over the years have set me apart from my witchy way as well. I find a trip down to the beach is often the best medicine to get me all connected back up and working away again.

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Alchemical Yoga: Asanas and The Language of the Birds

By Paul F. Cowlan

At first sight there might not seem to be much common ground between yogis and alchemists, between the cloud-driven hermitage and the smoky laboratory, but closer investigation reveals that the differences are largely illusory, while the similarities, both in origins and aspirations, are striking. Both disciplines consider the interplay of ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’ to be fundamental; both pursue an advanced metaphysical goal; both require dedication and patience; both seek to purify, transmute and perfect.

There is no space here to go into alchemy’s Egyptian, Classical, Chinese and Indian roots, or its transmission back to the mediæval West through the medium of Islamic science and mysticism. India alone claims our attention, and there, some fourteen hundred years ago, the emergence of Tantra, and of the so-called siddhas, or ‘perfected ones’, already provides numerous examples of widespread joint practice of yoga and alchemy.

Titus Burkhardt writes of ‘Tantric spiritual methods which are more closely related to Alchemy than to any of the other spiritual arts.’ and adds, ‘The Hindus, indeed, regard Alchemy as a tantric method.’ From Marco Polo himself, and five hundred years later, from François Bernier, we have first-hand accounts of yogis versed in the traditional alchemical skills of gold-making and the preparation of longevity elixirs compounded from mercury and sulphur.

The combination of yoga and alchemy is, therefore, a long-standing one, and my own rather eclectic system, which has evolved over many years of private practice, makes no claim to any great originality.

At this point it is important to remember that the practice of Alchemy has always maintained a balance between the manual and the psycho-spiritual, the laboratory and the meditation space, but whatever the proportion favoured by any given practitioner, both components are essential. This is one of the characteristics which distinguishes the Royal Art from supposedly pragmatic modern science. The alchemist’s spiritual alignment was, and is, considered crucial if there is to be any hope of success.

One of the many epithets for the Alchemical mysteries is ‘The language of the Birds’, a concept with deep and wide-ranging ramifications throughout the fields of mythology, folklore and magic. As denizens of the air birds were always thought to have access to divine secrets, so it was logical that alchemists, who were also keen sky-watchers, should find such an image congenial.

As a travelling musician ‘on the road’ in approximately ten different countries per year, there was never time for me to enroll in any regular course of instruction, so my yoga is self-taught, over a period of about thirty-five years, through the medium of many books, sometimes painful trial and error, and tips and hints from various practitioners met along the way. It is an amalgam of predominantly Iyengar-based asanas, Tantric chakras, Sahaja-derived mudras (hand gestures), and alchemical imagery which, combined with various stretches and pranayama (regulated breathing), forms a sequence of approximately ninety minutes duration. Clearly, I can only hope to present a general outline here.

I have studied and practiced psycho-spiritual alchemy for twenty-six years and, from the very beginning, found it natural to incorporate it into my yoga practice. Therefore the beginning of my development of Alchemical Yoga dates from approximately 1985, and my system, if I can venture to call it that, is based around the seven major chakras, or psychic energy centres, imagined as situated along the spine, from the perineum to the crown of the head. Three channels connect these; the lunar Ida, the solar Pingala, and the central Mercurial Sushumna, which together form an intertwined helix or, as an alchemist would see it, a caduceus, the Wand of Hermes. (See Figure 1.)

Figure One

Each chakra is associated with an asana, a colour, a number, a planet etc., and thus far we are dealing with moreorless basic Tantric concepts. In the accompanying diagram I have retained the traditional Indian chakra names, in addition to my personal alchemical labels, but this is where Alchemy begins to make itself felt.

The four Elemental chakras of Earth, Water, Fire and Air also align with the planetary metals of lead/Saturn, tin/Jupiter, iron/Mars and copper/Venus, together with appropriate stones. The accompanying animals are also alchemical in their associations. The three Spiritual chakras continue this pattern with mercury/Mercury, silver/Moon and gold/Sun: respectively Spirit, Soul and Lapis, or Philosophers’ Stone. I also visualise the five Platonic solids, made up to seven by the addition of an ovoid and a sphere. However, for a first encounter, we are probably complex enough already.

Figure Two

Although separated by basic stretches and other asanas, the seven main postures, beginning with the Earth chakra, are: Earth-padmasana (Lotus), with arms locked and straightened behind, forehead to the floor; Water-ugrasana (Formidable Posture); Fire-salabhasana (Locust); Air-matsyasana (Fish); Spirit-sarvangasana (shoulder stand); Soul-Third Eye mudra; Lapis-shirsasana (Headstand). Although there is a broad consensus concerning the appropriate asanas for the last three chakras there are many variations among the others, and those listed here are simply the ones which emerged as the most appropriate for me. (See figure 2, in which Sandra Scherer demonstrates the simpler Tadasana instead of the Headstand, and in which the Ajña massage is different from the one which I now employ.)

The practice begins with asanas and poses which balance and stretch, but regulated breathing and visualisation are intrinsic throughout. The first of the chakras visited is Fire, followed by Earth. Then come Water and Air, linking all four Elements. Thereafter the upward direction is reversed, moving downward from the Lapis, to the Soul, and finally the Spirit; the latter providing the essential link between what might be termed the Spiritual and the Elemental.

To the casual observer the entire sequence would appear to be a succession of conventional yoga asanas, combined with other physical postures, and as such they fulfil the simplest part of their intended purpose; toning, limbering, health-giving excercise. This benefit is not to be underestimated.

However, the ongoing alchemical visualisation, constituting the essential inner work, would of course remain unseen. After twenty-six years of development this is intricate and sequential, with even the smallest details possessing relevance, and the entire process has evolved from a combination of reading, practice, dream study and intuition.

The complete cycle intuits and imagines the creation, preparation and combination of the Philosophic Sulphur, Mercury and Salt, culminating in the successful creation of The Stone. Of course, I am not so misguided as to think that such perfection is so easily attained, but this is the concept which gives direction to the overall structure.

Although it is useful to visualise, and meditate upon, each chakra individually, they are not separate entities any more than water, steam and ice can be described as unrelated; and the same is true for the four Elements, forever transmuting, one into the other. Each of these images comprises part of an undivided landscape through which it is possible to travel imaginatively. There is no hope of adequately outlining sufficient details within the scope allowed by this article, but here is a very superficial checklist.

EARTH: The setting is subterranean and involves a black, green-eyed bear, a giant lead statue of Saturn, a black onyx stone cube and other additional details. For the alchemists one interpretation of the bear was the Earth, the ‘lead’ which is to be transmuted into gold; the prima materia, the raw, unrefined first substance, containing, in potentia, everything necessary for the Work; the fixed, unmoving basis from which the Opus starts, and upon which everything is founded. Powerful, instinctive, requiring discipline. This is the fertile ‘black earth of Egypt (al chem) from which the word ‘alchemy’ derives. Alchemical symbolism is inexhaustible and there are many alternatives. The Dragon is another prima materia symbol.

WATER: Would include orange fish, a girasole icosahedron, a lifesize tin fountain-statue of Zeus the Rain-bringer, a lake with a waterfall, showers, a rainbow, and so on. In alchemical symbolism fish share their watery element with sirens, whales and sea-monsters. The ‘makara’, associated with this chakra in Tantra, is just such an all-devouring sea-creature, hungrily consuming desires and pleasures. But fish too have their associations with Venus, the lusty goddess of sexual passion, and as denizens of the deep they also represent the instinctive contents of the unconscious. When shown in pairs they represent the Soul and the Spirit, immersed in the ocean of the Body or the Opus, and although they appear to be two individual creatures they are, in reality, a unity. Sometimes they are depicted in the cooking pot, being subjected to the fire which, as they stew in their own juice, will render them wholesome and nutritious.

FIRE: The preferred alchemical sequence of the elements is Earth, Water, Air and Fire, with the last two often being combined, but the position of the solar plexus in the human body dictates that fire is located in the third chakra, the centre of will, power, laughter, anger and joy. Lions have always been solar symbols, and are everywhere in alchemy, where they come in a variety of colours but, among their many meanings, one of the most important is that they represent the sun, gold; the perfect form, towards which all metals are striving. Lead contains the seed, gold is the fully ripened fruit; and the lion is king of the beasts, just as gold is king of the metals. Fire and water, sun and moon, king and queen; the opposites must harmonise. A ruby tetrahedron and an iron statue of Mars share a mountaintop with the Lion.

AIR: Eagles, like lions, feature frequently in alchemy. They, too, are of many different colours, often have more than one head, and can symbolise either gold or mercury. But their essential quality is that they are creatures of the air, swiftly ascending into that element, leaving mundane existence behind and enjoying a wide overview of the world. Balance, compassion and love can be the result. In alchemy birds of any sort represent the volatile substance, ever ready for flight, and prone to escape into the open sky if not carefully restrained and obliged to engage with the fixed components of the work. They can also symbolise fleeting spiritual insights which are liable to escape before the conscious mind can fully grasp them. In a forest glade, below the eagle’s flight, a copper statue of Venus is surrounded by flights of doves and sparrows. In her hand she holds a topaz octahedron.

SPIRIT: The white unicorn represents the Spirit, the essential energy of life in its pure, impersonal state. When the unicorn stirs the water of the forest pool with its horn, all the other animals know it is safe to drink because any poisons will have been neutralised. The unicorn is swift and fierce, impossible to take by force; but if a young virgin sits down alone in the forest it will come and lay its head on her lap. Therefore one should approach the potential of this chakra in an open, receptive state of mind, the wisdom it offers is not based on reason or logic, but on the underlying wisdom of the cosmos itself. This is the centre of communication; of æther, sound, creativity, and change. The Unicorn is found in company with the god Mercury, and is associated with a sapphire dodecahedron. Mercury is central to alchemy; guide, trickster, giver of wisdom, he represents the psyche itself, mutable, deceptive, indefinable, always to be handled with caution, but capable of bestowing priceless insights.

SOUL: The white stag, with stars glistening on each tine of its antlers, is perpetually in flight, never allowing itself to be caught. This is the region of light, of dreams, intuition and alternative states of consciousness. In alchemy the fleeing stag cervus fugitivus almost always represents the Soul. When it meets the unicorn in a woodland clearing, this symbolizes the Soul and the Spirit, meeting in the Body. (See also Water; two fish in the sea). In terms of Paracelsus’ ideas, the body is represented by Salt, the Soul by Sulphur, and the Spirit by Mercury, and an alchemist would expect to find Diana here, silvery goddess of the Moon and of all wild creatures. An Egg of dark amethyst encloses these images. Often known as the ‘third eye’, this chakra relates to the pineal (in some systems, the pituitary) gland, and strangely enough, the very first amphibians to live on land seem to have had a light sensitive organ in this position.

LAPIS: Glimpsed in a radiant diamond sphere, the gold and purple Phœnix, symbolising immortality, spreads its wings from a nest of fire, surrounded by flights of birds radiating out and upward. Immolating itself on a pyre of spices it is continually reborn from the flames, always young, always potent, and infinite in its capacity to communicate its perfection. To put it another way, to the alchemist it was the long-sought Philosophers’ Stone, The Elixir, The Universal Panacaea, the goal of the alchemical quest; capable of turning base metals into gold, restoring the sick, raising the dead, and ensuring the fortunate possessor of immortality. In contemporary terms it was an indication of true enlightenment, bestowing an experience of oneness with the Ultimate Reality, resolving all doubts and conundrums. But its ultimate source is none other than the Black Earth of the first chakra, the prima materia, refined and refined again, through numerous gruelling stages of development, until it emerges at last in its pure state, freed from all imperfections. Another name for the prima materia is The Stone of the Philosophers’, the raw material of The Philosophers’ Stone; two titles which sound deceptively similar but which, in fact, represent the Alpha and the Omega of the Great Work of Alchemy.

Experience has proved this to be a living system, when practiced regularly as an integral part of a balanced lifestyle. Consistency is the key, for both the physical and meditational aspects. As in most situations, you get what you give.

To illustrate how these images can assume a dynamic of their own; on one occasion, after several days of meditation at a centre in the Swiss mountains, I had the following experience.

During one of the later meditation sessions, I was imagining the process of my breath passing up and down through my ‘alchemical’ chakras. Suddenly I was aware of the breathing as if it were a process happening independently of myself. I could hear it but was not consciously responsible for the production of the sound. I then saw the sahasrara as a glittering diamond sphere with a blazing phœnix at its heart, surrounded by darting flights of smaller birds inexhaustibly emanating into infinity. I was fully aware of myself, and the fact that I was witnessing this very special sight, but my elation in no way interfered with the process. Perhaps this vision lasted for five minutes, it would be difficult to say, but as it began to withdraw I allowed it to do so, continuing the breathing, and feeling very fulfilled and privileged….. It took me some time to return to plain consciousness.

I have had alchemical visions before, and this one was not entirely ‘autonomous’, in the sense that what I saw was what I always actively imagine for the Lapis chakra during my daily yoga practice; but it was not consciously created, emerging from the subconscious spontaneously and, apparently, self-generated.

This brief excursus is clearly not an attempt to provide the necessary information for anyone to begin practicing. It was written in response to an invitation to give an introductory account of my Alchemical Yoga, and makes no attempt to do more than that. Apart from one or two workshops I have never made a concerted drive to teach the system outlined here, and I certainly harbour no missionary ambitions. However, I would welcome communication from anyone interested enough to know more.

Paul Cowlan is a professional songwriter-poet-performer who also gives illustrated talks on alchemical topics. He can be contacted via the following websites, where his CDs, poetry, artwork and alchemy publications are all available.

www.paulcowlan.co.uk
www.alchemical-yoga.co.uk
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Carew Castle, Princess Nest and Satans’ Ghost
By Liz.

Carew Castle

When I first came to Wales, back in 1975, aged just fifteen, I did an awful lot of travelling around the Pembrokeshire area. I wanted to walk some of the coastal path, to see the beautiful sights of the sea, to visit the relatively unspoilt villages and most of all to indulge my love of castles. One of the castles I particularly fell in love with was the atmospheric Carew. I’ve learned quite a lot about it’s history over the years, so I thought I would share some of it with you.

The famous Carew family take their name from the place and still own the castle, although it is now leased to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park which administers the site. Set in a stunning location overlooking a 23-acre millpond, Carew Castle is in the civil parish of Carew in the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire. With a history spanning 2,000 years, the castle as we see it today is an interesting blend of the strong defences of a Norman fortress and the grandeur of a Tudor mansion house.

The castle stands on a limestone bluff overlooking the Carew inlet — a part of the tidal estuary that makes up Milford Haven. The site must have been recognised as strategically useful from the earliest times and recent excavations in the outer ward have discovered multiple defensive walls of an Iron Age fort. The Norman castle has its origins in a stone keep built by Gerald de Windsor around the year 1100.

Gerald was made castellan of Pembroke Castle by Arnulf of Montgomery in the first Norman invasion of Pembrokeshire. He married Helen Nest, princess of Deheubarth and the daughter of the late Welsh king, Rhys ap Tewdwr around 1095. Nest brought the manor of Carew as part of her dowry and Gerald cleared the existing fort to build his own castle on Norman lines.

The original outer walls were timber, and only the keep was of stone. This early keep still exists in the later structure as the “Old Tower”.

Nests’ story

Princess Nest, also known as Helen of Wales, was renowned for her great beauty. She had been the lover of King Henry with whom she had 2 children out of wedlock. In her marriage to Gerald, the couple had five children together.

During the Christmas holidays of 1108 the story goes that Cadwgan ap Blethyn, Prince of Powys, held an eisteddfod in Cardigan. To this entertainment, every man of position throughout Wales was invited. Bards sang their songs, the mead passed round, the revelry was fast and furious; then one of these wandering minstrels told a tale about Nest, the fairest of the fair, old Rhys’s daughter, royal Gryfudd’s sister. He told  them about how she had enslaved the English King and now was wife to the robber chief Gerald of Winsor who had seized land.

Fired by this song Owain, Blethyn’s son, became determined to grab Helen from her lord for himself.

When the feast was over, Owain collected a number of his friends together, and they sallied forth to Pembrokeshire. Claiming kinship with Nest, he was well received by her husband Gerald and left the castle later feeling lust mad. That night he returned with a considerable following, believed to have been fourteen or fifteen men and, having in some way obtained entrance to Carew, laid siege to the room in which Nest and her husband lay.

Gerald, when he discovered that resistance was hopeless, was persuaded by his wife to escape through a garderobe (i.e. the lavatory chute). She let him down with a rope and thus saved his life. Meanwhile, Owain burst in the door, seized Nest, her two boys, and two other children (the illegitimate offspring of her husband), fired the castle and carried off his prisoners into Powys.

The children were later returned to Gerald.

Nest is said to have borne Owain two sons before finally being returned to her husband. Owain ap Cadwgan left the country to avoid retribution, whilst Owain’s father, Cadwgan ap Bleddyn, lost his own lands in subsequent war. Gerald waited for Owain to return to Wales, then ambushed and killed him in combat as retribution for kidnapping his wife and children. After Gerald died, Nest went on to marry again and to have further children.

She died some time after 1136.

Satans’ Ghost

The new castle Gerald built served the increasingly less affluent Carew family until financial circumstances forced the family to mortgage the castle in 1480. The new owner was Rhys ap Thomas who gained wealth and power from his support of the Yorkist kings during the War of the Roses. In 1485, he switched sides and made a significant contribution towards the victory of Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. He was knighted on the battlefield and rewarded by the new King Henry VII who made him chief justice and chamberlain of South Wales and a Knight of the Garter.

To celebrate his elevation to the Order of the Garter, Sir Rhys held a Great Tournament at Carew, the last medieval style tournament ever held in Wales. Sir Rhys completely modernised the castle, turning it into a lavish residence.

Following his death, the castle was inherited by his grandson, Rhys ap Gruffudd, but when he was executed for treason in 1531, the castle became Crown property.

In 1558 the castle was leased to Sir John Perrot, reputedly one of Henry VIII’s illegitimate sons. Sir John demolished the northern section of the curtain wall and added a new range in the architectural style of the day. The three-storey building had rows of mullioned windows and semi-circular bays on each floor. The entire top floor was a long gallery where Sir John and his guests would be able to stroll during bad weather. In 1591, before the building was completed, Sir John was found guilty of high treason and he died the following year while imprisoned in the Tower of London.

In the 17th century, the castle’s lord, Sir Roland Rhees, a former pirate captain, is alleged to have kept a Barbary Ape, most likely a mandrill, inside the castle. Rees had acquired the creature on one of his many voyages. Rees was a very ill-tempered and mannered individual, and would host banquets at the castle just to shout insults and laugh at his guests. The ape, whom he named Satan, would mimic him and laugh at the guests.

One stormy night, when there was strong wind and rain, the ape grew restless while Rees drank heavily in the dinning hall. There was a knock at the door and a Flemish tradesman appeared to deliver his rent, but had only half the money needed. Rhees was already upset at the man because he did not approve of his son’s relationship with the man’s daughter. In a drunken rage, Rees loosened the ape’s chains and goaded it to maul the tradesman close to death. The tradesman escaped but, weak through loss of blood and struggling to make his way out, collapsed in semi-consciousness.

The tradesman was rescued by a benevolent servant who tended to his wounds and hid him away in his quarters, intending to let him go when the violent storm past. As the two men talked a violent cry and mad laughter was heard coming from the dinning hall.
They rushed to the scene to find Sir Rees dead on the floor, his throat gashed open, and the ape burning in the fireplace.

The ghosts of the ape, and its master, are said to haunt the castle to this day. Footsteps are reported regularly, objects throw themselves, and the mad cackling laughter of an ape echoes through the halls.

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Time; how do you see it?

By Jill Malenoir

Most folk nowadays think of time as linear, a straight progression from birth to death. Our modern life encourages this, with ease of travel, timetables, appointments, deadlines, etc., we live at great speed going from A to B each day. Everything is scheduled and timetabled. We are expected to conform to this regimented life with rush hours, gridlock etc. We even talk of ‘Time’s Arrow’.

Compare this to our ancestors, even 60 years ago most people worked on the land. They could watch the change of the seasons, meditate whilst doing a repetitive job and they were far more in tune with the land. They could see, as each day passed the cyclical nature of Time.

My grandfather was a Master Carpenter, his speciality was ornate staircases for Stately Homes. He worked at his own pace with hand tools. My other grandfather was a farmer, he had a mixed farm with a few cattle, some sheep, a few pigs, geese, hens, ducks, and of course Shire horses for the work and a smaller Cob for the marketing. Both had time to appreciate the seasons and the changes in the land that we barely notice now.

Look at a clock with a second hand, sweeping around the dial. Then look at the minute hand, slower, but following the same path, and now the hour hand, twice around the dial in a day. Where does the cycle take us next? The lunar month is the next cycle, from New Moon through to Full and back again, slowly winding us through the seasons from Samhain to Samhain.

Why is Samhain considered the New Year?

It goes back to a time before clocks, and the smallest convenient measurement was the day, but when did one day end and another begin?

Our ancestors knew that life began in darkness, in the womb, so it was no great stretch to surmise that the new day was born from night, and so they set the change from day to day at sunset. You can even find this confirmed in the Bible, where in Genesis, when God is creating the Universe, it states ‘And the Evening and the Morning were the first Day’. So it became no great leap for the year to change when the Earth went into Her resting phase, the time when the animals were brought back inside for the winter, and the people prepared for the cold weather and the dark nights were long. the Goddess awaited the rebirth in Spring.

Even today, the Jewish and Muslim calendars are Lunar ones, their Sabbaths and Festivals begin at nightfall. This also is the reason for Easter being a movable feast, it is timed from the Jewish Passover, which begins on the first Full Moon after the Spring Equinox. Good Friday is the first Friday of Passover.

Copyright Jill Malenoir, 2010

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The Seprioth from the bottom up (Part 1)

By Simon Cash

A lot of the Magic texts I’ve read concentrate on the Sepiroth from the Top down, starting at Kether which is the highest Sphere (literally the Godhead) and can take a lifetime of work to understand.

So here, I will start with the lowest Sphere and work upwards as Malkuth is the one which we are most familiar with and have the most experience in. Now while I am concentrating on the Spheres or Sepiroth of the Kabbalistic tree of life, I will sometimes touch on the paths than connect the Seprioth as the two are interlinked.

Malkuth the Tenth Sephiroth

Malkuth is the “largest” Sephiroth; large in a physical but also a mental sense. Many magical diagrams show Malkuth as the same size as the rest of the tree of life, but this is only done for symmetry in the two dimensional world of books and paper. If the diagram were to scale, then Malkuth would be many times larger than the rest. Bearing this in mind, a lot of the lessons and parables of the Kabbalistic books will make more sense. Malkuth is the foundation on which we stand and it is important to have strong foundations. It is also more a balance point or a pivot point, as some Kabbalistis believe in the Quippoth, a “Tree of Death” as it were.

The mission in Malkuth is to recognise ourselves and recognise the temptations of the Physical world, the distractions. But its not just physical; we can end up mentally in debt to people just as easily as we can end up in debt to the bank. Malkuth contains both the physical and mental distractions and also the sheer physical beauty of the World; beaches, waterfalls, places of quiet contemplation, nature at its finest and also the works of mankind at its finest too; churches and temples, works of art, places where mankind has made a positive impact on the world. All of these things are tangible and physical. All of these things both the good and the bad we can recognise ourselves with a little bit of introspection.

Makluth is the world around us, which is partly or our own creation and partly the creation of others. The two not only overlap but overlay as well. This is to say we are experiencing our own and everyone else’s “reality” simultaneously. This is how distractions happen. This is how we allow ourselves to be led.

Even in basic psychological terms, a person on their own is capable of making rational decisions, yet the same person in a crowd will be led and go with the flow. Imagine that in a large gathering everyone else’s Malkuths are closer, overlaying your own. Think of it as Malkuth is like a lecture theatre before the teacher enters; all the students are shouting to make themselves heard, some are gossiping some are talking about the lesson but everything is equally as loud and confusing, The key is self awareness.

Going back to the “largeness” of Malkuth; there is more of everything.

Malkuth is where the light and energy of God (and I’m using the term God in the Kabbalistic sense of Godhead rather than the Christian sense of ineffable omnipotent being here) is diffused and diluted. Now, that is necessary a bad thing. This diffusion means the raw energy has been contained in many specialised forms and vessels, each one for a specific purpose. Think of Herbalism and Alchemy how the same plant can contain both the poison and the medicine; the essence is there it is the vessel and the preparation which forms the end result.

This is one example of the diffusion of the energy.

Malkuth is the easiest Sepiroth to perceive and its the one in which we spend the most time. It is also one that we should spend a lot of time understanding as it is linked into Kether in many ways.

Yesod

The next Sepiroth “up” is Yesod. In Ceremonial Magic, the pathways between the Sephiroth have names and attributes too. the pathway between Malkuth and Yesod is path number 32 and is represented by the “world” card of the tarot. There are exercises and rituals which deal solely with the paths and the ways they interconnect but for this essay I am concentrating as much as possible on the Sepiroth themselves.

Yesod is the lowest Astral plane. It is associated with the Moon, the nines of the tarot, the sexual organs of man and woman, the element of Water and the emotions. It is also a part of the Spiritual body made up of six Sepiroth known as the ‘Yetzira’. This association with Water is very much a metaphorical one as water is a physical entity, yet it flows its always fluid and moving. It is the place of the unconscious mind the place where ideas come from. It is also the psychic centre of your being, a place of the intuitive skills,

Yesod can be used as a retreat, a place to step back from the World of Malkuth, to recharge the batteries and bring forth creative ideas. It’s link with the Sexual organs make it a place of potential of ‘seeding’. A lot of Kabbalistic literature deals in metaphor especially around the area of sex and reproduction which can confuse the issue. Remember its metaphor not literal truth.

Yesod could be described as the foundation of the spiritual body. To use modern terminology, Yesod is very much a interface between the higher realms and the physical realm of Malkuth. Yesod is the commonest as in the most experienced Sepiroth. But it is the bottom of a much larger spectrum.

Hod & Netzach

The next two Sephiroth are Hod and Netzach, the 8th and 7th spheres. In diagrams they are situated above and to the Left (Hod) and Right (Netzach) of Yesod.

Hod, the 8th Sepiroth, is associated with the 8 card of all the Tarot suites. It is on the left hand side of the tree of life which is the known as the pillar of severity or Boaz and is associated with amongst other things female energies, lunar energies and the north.

Hod is also known as “Majesty” or ‘Splendour’ and deals with the power gained through the act of submission or conceding, the power gained not through brute force of will, but through learning and adapting. This submission is an admission there is something larger than your will and your intuition, then learning to accept and work with it. This is the ‘Shamanistic’ sphere. Hod is where the Magician realises that there are other spiritual entities apart from himself and communes with the spirits. Its associated with many archetypes of the Magicians who rule over language and communication, such as Annubis, Thoth, Mercury and Hermes. As an aside, this is why, in some Cermonal Magic rituals, Evocations to several Gods of differing pantheons are made at the same time; the ritual is dealing with the Sepiroth associated rather than that particular god or goddess themselves.

Hod’s opposite number is Netzach the 7th Sepiroth, which is associated with the 7 card of the tarot. It is as the base of the right hand column, the pillar of mercy or ‘Jocaim’ and is associated with the Male side the south, solar energies including the element of fire. Netzach is also known as Victory and Eternity. This column is known as kindness or mercy but be warned its not a indulgent kindness, just as the column of Boaz is not Severity in the sense of bullying or wanton abuse. Netzach is the opposite of Hod in that the Magicians own will or sense of discipline is what’s important here. This is the place of endeavour a place where the power of the soul can overcome obstacles. It is the place of instinctive behaviour rather than educated behaviour.

In some ways Netzach is paradox as its archetype forms are Love goddesses such as Venus and Aphrodite and is associated with love. But its not the love of a partnership it is the love of a Mother for her children, sometimes tough love is what is needed.

Its sometimes beneficial to apply a little bit of a Eastern Philosophy to the twin Spheres of the Seripoth, Hod/Netach, Gebura/Chesed and Binah/Chokoma and see them as Ying and Yang symbols where they both compliment and balance each other. Like the Ying and Yang, there is a touch of the opposite characteristics in the other.

The Two Sepiroth of Hod/Netzach have another role and meaning; their role in the Kabbalistic ‘body’ is as the legs (The Spheres are situated on the hips) and are associated with the ‘Pillars of Hermes’, a physical representation of these pillars can be found in classical architecture in the two pillars flanking a doorway, such as are found on the entrance Masonic temples and older civic buildings such as courts of law, banks and even some churches. This symbolism is so old it has become lost on many people. For those interested, The Pillars of Hermes appear on The High Priestess card of the Raider White tarot, one of the more Kabbalistic influenced cards, and again on the Hierophant and Justice cards.

A word on gender and the Sepiroth; it is important to remember not to apply such rigid definitions of Male/Female to the Sepiroth or to separate gender from genitals as in the case of The Biblical Angels which are often described as Androgynous. Once you pass Yesod, which is associated with the genitals then such things become irrelevant.

These four Sepiroth make up two worlds of the Kabballa, the world of ‘Assiah’ or of Action, which is Malkuth on its own and the world of ‘Yetzirah’ or the world of Formation. If you were working down the Sepiroth, then the worlds are:

Atziluth-Emination,

Briyah-Creation,

Yetzirah-Formation

Assiah-Action.

These four worlds are separated by barriers or ‘Veils’” which the Magician must cross (almost like a quest). The two main Barriers are the veil of Paroketh which is above Hod and Netzach and the veil of the Abyss which separates the highest three Sepiroth, Kether, Binah and Chockoma from the world of Briyah, which I shall deal with in the next essay.

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Grimoire Shamanism: The Shaman and the Solomonic Path

By Aaron Leitch

For at least the past two or three generations, the Solomonic grimoires have been popularly associated with lodge-style ceremonial magick and secret societies. Therefore, when I first suggested the grimoires are more intimately connected to paganism and folk/witchcraft traditions, than to men like MacGregor Mathers or Aleister Crowley, I expected the idea would become somewhat controversial. Instead, to my surprise, it has stirred much more interest than controversy. I have not only received requests for more information, but I have also heard from many modern-day sorcerers who have come to similar conclusions about the Solomonic material. (If you have read my essay Modern Grimoire Magick, you have seen how I stumbled upon an entire Solomonic movement among the same people who practice Hoodoo, Hexcraft and other folk-magick traditions.) So, it turns out my message was given directly into the hands of a waiting audience!

I would dare say such an audience has not existed since Gerald Gardner’s publication of High Magick’s Aide in 1949. Written to mask real magickal practices in the cloak of historical fiction, the story depicts a medieval Solomonic wizard and a Pagan witch working hand-in-hand, as if their practices were closely related. (Which, of course, they were!) In Gardner’s day, the Solomonic grimoires were still held in high regard by practicing witches. For example, you can find elements of the Key of Solomon the King within “Old Religion” covens- such as the New Forrest- and even in Gardner’s Wicca.

Today’s students have apparently come full circle. They want to break away from the “self-help occultism” of the past two or three decades. They are now willing to learn about the very same Old Magicks from which- just a few years ago- they would certainly have been told to steer clear. Santeria, Palo, Voodoo, Hoodoo, Hexcraft- even Solomonic magick itself (especially the Goetia and similar texts)- were so recently subjects to be avoided or derided. Now, people who desire magick that “really works” are exploring systems descended directly from tribal shamanic worldviews, where Angels and spirits are real rather than mere psychological constructs.

With all of this in mind, I feel there is a place for this essay- especially for those who would like more information about the shamanic nature of the Solomonic texts. In what follows, I will briefly summarize the premise you can find elaborated within Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, and then offer some illustrations of modern Solomonic mages at work.

Shamans and Exorcists

First and foremost, I would like to take a moment to explain my use of the term “shamanism.” I am aware that many scholars are moving away from using that label as a universal “catch-all” for any system of primitive tribal spirituality. It does, in fact, make it easier to assume that different cultures in different times and places all practiced “the same thing”, viz.- “shamanism.” Nothing could be further from the truth(!), and I can assure the reader that I do not use the term in such a manner. Instead, I am using the term to indicate the social conditions surrounding the shamanic vocation as opposed to those social conditions that typically surround the Temple Priest in history. The “shamanism” I describe can be found in any culture, ancient or modern, tribal or metropolitan.

Given my broad use of the term, I cannot attempt to offer a cohesive definition of shamanism. Instead, I can only outline those practices that collectively make a tradition shamanic: Common aspects of the Shaman’s vocation are withdrawal into solitude, ritualized death-rebirth, the gaining of Patrons and Familiar Spirits (from whom the Shaman learns most of his magick) and learning a secret language of some sort (such as the languages of birds or animals). Once he gains mastery, he must be able to exorcise the dead, demons and nature spirits without falling prey to them. He must also develop relationships with the Gods of the tribe or community, so that he can petition Them for aide in times of distress (such as plague, drought, failed hunts, crop shortages, etc).

Perhaps most universal to shamanism is the ecstatic trance- often obtained via drugs or physical discomfort/exhaustion- which allows the Shaman to visit the Gods in the celestial realm, or descend into the underworld to retrieve the lost souls of the sick and dying. These ecstatic states are his primary source of power – not only making his astral journeys possible, but also granting him such superhuman abilities as invulnerability to pain/injury from fire, snow and freezing water, blades or blunt weapons.

Also, many of the Indo-European tribal cultures that bear directly upon the development of Western civilization shared a common cosmology. They believed in a three-fold universe- consisting of a celestial world, a physical world and the underworld. The celestial world was the home of the Gods, beginning with a transcendent Father God who was most often the Creator and directly associated with the Sky. This “Father Sky” was followed by a number of Sons or Messengers – often in groups of seven or nine, and associated with visible heavenly bodies (such as the seven Planets). These younger Gods were not transcendent, but regularly interacted with the physical world and human beings. Shamans were charged with gaining the favor of these Gods for the good of the tribe, and it was often one of these Gods who would become the Patron or Spiritual Spouse of the Shaman. He was also charged with keeping the spirits of the underworld either appeased or at bay.

Of course, no single culture or tradition will include all of these aspects, or place them within the same context, or even place the same importance upon them. They are not even the exclusive jurisdiction of the Shaman, as the Priest will often fulfill shamanic roles when the Shaman is not available. (Such as when the medieval Church drove out Pagan healers and replaced them with their own clergy.) However, the Priest is much less likely to engage in astral trips, or acquire Spirit Familiars. He usually comes by his knowledge in a university-style setting, rather than a death-rebirth initiation in solitude. Plus, the Priest performs his work under the authority of an established religious body, while the Shaman almost never does so.

Where it comes to the Solomonic grimoires, we find a curious mixture of the shamanic and priestly vocations. While the intent of the magick hearkens back to tribal witchdoctors, the content borrows much from established Church ritual and procedure. Thus, we find spells for such things as retrieving lost property, divining the future, healing sickness and getting ahead at work, that require such things as the performance of a Mass, the use of a consecrated Host and the singing of Psalms.

I believe this is because the grimoires were written by a group of people who fell somewhat between the two extremes of Priest and Shaman. On one hand, many of them were clerics of one type or another. Some of them were priests or even higher-ranking officials, while a likely greater number were low-ranking scribes and other Church personnel. (Called the “purified ones”, these clerics performed minor duties such as carrying holy objects, preparing the altar, writing music, transcribing texts, etc.) On the other hand, their occult practices were most certainly not sanctioned by Church authorities. While this put many Solomonic mages’ lives at great risk, it also afforded them some freedom to act as freelance shamans within their communities.

It is possible that much of the Solomonic genre was created by members of the clerical Order of Exorcists. Consider, for instance, this quote from the Key of Solomon the King:

He who hath attained the rank or degree of Exorcist, which we are usually accustomed to call Magus or Master according to grade…

The Key and other Solomonic texts often refer to the operator as an “Exorcist”, and we can see from the above quote that the term indicates some kind of rank. When we look into the medieval use of that term, we find it within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

The medieval Church was divided into three major and four minor Orders. The first three (Priesthood, Deacon and Subdeacon) require ordination, while the final four merely require appointment and are mainly composed of the low-ranking “purified ones.” These minor Orders have changed according to time and place, and have included such offices as Acolyte, Reader, Doorkeeper, Porter, Lector and- of course- Exorcist.

The Exorcist was charged with “laying hands” upon new converts- to cast out lingering spirits before one was baptized. It was also his duty to tend to the sick, exorcising the demons of disease. Thus, ailing peasants in a medieval village would visit the exorcists at the local church, just as they would have previously visited the local witchdoctor. Because of this, there were few requirements for the role of Exorcist beyond a charismatic personality and (preferably) a knack for faith-healing. In many ways, the Exorcists lived on the outer fringe of Church dogma. Unlike ordained

Priests, the Exorcists would often break with the official rituals (such as the Rituali Romanum found in the Catholic Book of Exorcisms) and develop their own styles and techniques. I suspect they got away with more than their share of heresy, because their vocation called for what really worked at any given time and place.

This likely contributed to the fad for exorcism in medieval Europe- during which appeared countless “exorcism manuals”, each one outlining its author’s favored methods. They commonly begin with exhortations for the operator to live a clean and pure life, to obey religious laws, observe chastity, etc. They describe spiritual preparations involving prayer, fasting and solitude. They include discussions of what to expect when the spirits appear, and how to behave toward them during the exorcism. Finally, they outline the ritual itself- usually including confession, Psalms, the Pater Noster and other established Church prayer. They also contain lengthy conjurations, repeated multiple times, that admonish the spirits in the Names of God, Saints, Angels, Prophets, etc. In fact, I believe these manuals are where the Solomonic grimoires come into the picture.

Books like The Key of Solomon the King, the Goetia and even parts of the Book of Abramelin follow the form of medieval exorcism manuals. The difference is that the Solomonic grimoires are extreme examples, and incorporate much more Pagan and occult lore than the Church would tolerate. (Again, see my essay Modern Grimoire Magick, where I discuss the “receipt-book” or “wonder-book”- another grimoiric parallel known for inclusion of such pagan lore.) Possession of these grimoires led many clerics to prison, torture and execution.

Regardless, the grimoires proliferated so far and so fast the Church was unable to burn them all. There was just something in the human spirit that kept people writing, transcribing and preserving them, even at their own peril. I suspect that “something” was the same thing that called the most primitive tribal shaman to his duty, and every shaman, prophet and mage that followed. There will always be a need for humankind to interface with the spirits of the world, and thus there will always be a need for the Shaman. In medieval Europe, one form the Shaman took was that of the grimoiric mage.

The Solomonic Magus and the Way of the Shaman

We can easily find several examples of such shaman-mages in action. In the Book of Abramelin, we follow the journeys of Abraham the Jew as he heals the sick, offers magickal aide to kings and princes and even raises the dead across Europe. In his journals, Dr. John Dee recorded instances of himself and Edward Kelley performing magick and divinations for their community, colleagues and even the Queen herself. (Legend has credited Dee with creating the storm that sunk a Spanish fleet before it could attack Britain.) Henry Cornelius Agrippa, author of the famous Three Books of Occult Philosophy, once confronted a local Inquisitor on behalf of a poor woman suffering imprisonment and torture on charges of witchcraft. He succeeded in securing her release, had her accusers arrested, drove the presiding Inquisitor from office and (some say!) ended the Inquisitor’s life via magickal means.

The above are merely the more popular examples of grimoiric mages working to protect their communities, nation or humanity as a whole. If you would like to read more anecdotes about the grimoires and the people who wrote and used them, I highly recommend the Magic in History series from Penn State Press. Take special notice of E. M. Butler’s Ritual Magic and Richard Kieckhefer’s Forbidden Rites. Both books include in-depth discussions of the culture that gave rise to the Solomonic texts, as well as excerpts from medieval records depicting both masters and amateurs attempting to use the magick.

At this time, I wish to focus upon the manifestation of the Shamanic Arts within the grimoires themselves. I have already outlined many of the points that can earn a practice the label of “shamanism.” Therefore, I can now revisit that list and provide examples of the same principles within a few of the more popular grimoires.

To begin with, I should mention that the Solomonic texts generally adhere to the same tribal shamanic cosmology I described earlier: a celestial Father God (the Creator) who charges His many Sons or Messengers (Angels) with the governance of the physical world. While the Father God can be invoked for aide and authority, He truly remains transcendent and far-removed from reality. It is His Angels and spirits whom the mage summons for any given purpose.

We can also see that the shamanic three-fold cosmology was adopted by mages like Agrippawho based the structure of his Three Books of Occult Philosophy upon it. (Agrippa actually described a celestial realm, an intellectual realm and a physical realm. He recognized the infernal realm, but left it “unspoken” in his three-fold cosmology. Instead, he added the intellectual realm to represent the mind, where man and God meet. This may have been a Gnostic influence- as the Gnostics tended to view the physical world and Hell as the same place, and placed much importance upon the Mind of God.)

Moving forward in our list: The initial vocation (or calling/initiation) of the Shaman often involves a long period of seclusion, during which a death-rebirth ordeal must be endured. Often during such an ordeal, the spirits of sickness and injury will attack the would-be Shaman in a kind of spiritual-alchemical process. As each attack is endured and survived, the aspirant is further purified and strengthened- until the spirits eventually lose all power over the new Shaman. It is this ordeal that grants the Shaman his primary source of spiritual authority. As the spirits have already failed in their initial attempts to kill him, the Shaman enjoys a position of superiority to- and invulnerability from- the dangers they might pose to a layperson.

It is not difficult to find parallels in the Solomonic texts. Nearly all of them insist the aspirant must remove himself from public life, preferably spending his time alone in ritual purification and prayer. Each text outlines its own regimen, but it is generally agreed that the longer and more intense the seclusion and preparations, the more powerful the magick. Also, I note that these preparations are more often associated with evocation of spiritual entities, rather than with folk-magick spells or talisman creation.

A great example is the Book of Abramelin, which requires a full year and a half (or, in the French version of the text, a mere six months) of seclusion and ritual preparation before attempting contact with the Guaridan Angel and the infernal spirits. Every single day, the Abramelin aspirant must wash, enter an established Oratory and recite prayers before an Altar. As the regimen progresses, more prayers and ritual preparations are added until- by the time the evocations begin- the aspirant has become consumed by the process. Not only that, but he is also experiencing the mental stress associated with such long periods of seclusion. This creates an altered state of consciousness that allows one to perceive the Angel and spirits.

The Book of Abramelin is also the best example of the ordeal of death and rebirth in a Solomonic text. I have covered this aspect of the system in another essay, The Holy Guardian Angel: Exploring the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage, so I will share some excerpts with you here. These are from my descriptions of the final seven days of the Rite:

The second day is the first day of the invocation of the Angel. This is where the funerary symbolism of the Rite comes into play. At dawn, one is not to wash or don the White Robe, but instead must put on the Robe of Mourning [made of black sackcloth]. Once inside the Oratory, ashes are taken from the Censor and placed upon one’s head (a funeral custom found in Biblical literature- such as the Book of Job), and a black veil is placed over the head and face.

[…]

Day three … continues the funeral rite. At dawn, one enters the Oratory as in the previous day, wearing the same Robe of Mourning. Now, the aspirant must lay prostrate upon the floor, with his head at the foot of the Altar, and pray silently for three hours or more. This is the symbolic “laying within the tomb” found in many solar Dying and Rising God mythos.

[…]

The fourth day … progresses from the death symbolism of the previous two days into the rebirth half of the equation. Here at last the White Robe is worn once more- symbolic of the resurrection and spiritual purity of the aspirant. (The donning of a white robe at the end of such an initiation is found as far back as ancient Egypt.) One is to kneel at the Altar and begin to offer prayers of thanks to the Highest as well as invocations to the Guardian Angel. If all has gone well, it is here the first tentative contact with the Angel will be achieved.

The objective of the Abramelin process is to bring an end to the old way of life, and initiate an entirely new path. Thanks to the extended seclusion, social contacts will have waned, old habits have been broken and the aspirant faces an entirely new life on the other side of the process. The death-rebirth symbolism of Abramelin merely symbolizes this fact, and associates it with the death and resurrection of holy figures like Christ and Osiris.

The next point is perhaps the most obvious: A shaman’s vocation usually involves the reception of his spiritual Patron and Familiars. He then learns his magick directly from those spirits, and has the ability to communicate with them in times of need. We can find examples of this dynamic in nearly every grimoire.

The Book of Abramelin is dedicated entirely to this process – beginning with the permanent invocation of one’s Holy Guardian Angel. That Angel, then, is supposed to teach the aspirant countless magickal secrets – including the methods of summoning and binding the infernal spirits. The infernal spirits are also expected to teach the aspirant some magick, as well as provide the names of any number of lesser spirits who will serve the aspirant as familiars. Four of these lesser spirits, in particular, are charged to stay with the aspirant at all times for the rest of his life. Having achieved all of this, the final book in the grimoire provides hundreds of talismans for use in communicating with the spirits for any necessity or desire.

The Pauline Arts, one of the five books of the Lemegeton, also pays special attention to the aspirant’s Patron Angel. This time the Angel is one of a group of 360 who govern the degrees of the zodiac. According to the text, you share a special relationship with the Angel who rules the ascending degree of your own nativity. By following the process outlined in the book, you can establish contact with that Angel and learn magick, gain information, receive guidance, etc.

At the other end of the spectrum are books like the Goetia, also of the Lemegeton. Here we find no mention of Patrons or Guardian Angels. However, we do find a list of 72 ranking spirits of the infernal hierarchy, any of whom can teach the aspirant mysteries (magickal, scientific, philosophical, etc) or provide personal familiar spirits. Such spirits can be bound to a brass vessel (or something similar) and become permanent members of the household. (This is also covered in depth in Modern Grimoire Magick.) I will go further into this aspect of the grimoires below.

There are so many wonderful examples of this dynamic in the grimoires, I couldn’t hope to list most of them here. To my knowledge, no Solomonic grimoire in existence fails to include this to some degree- and most of them are dedicated to this subject alone. Outside of a few folk recipes their authors may have found useful, the bulk of the grimoires focus upon the evocation of Angels and/or spirits, and assume the aspirant will learn the magickal arts directly from them. As the author of the Book of Abramelin states:

In time, I have become able to recognize the holy angels and the good spirits. I now share their friendship and have discussions with them. They have explained to me the basis of true magic and how unredeemed spirits need to be- and must be- controlled. To finish, I need to say that I learned the holy secrets through Abramelin’s teachings from God himself; and I learned to do the true, not false, magic from the holy angels.

The above is also related to the next aspect of shamanism- the ability to command the dead, demons and nature spirits without falling prey to them. We have already seen that both Abramelin and the Goetia outline how to exorcise and bind the infernal spirits as familiars. To these we can add texts like the Theurgia-Goetia, the Key of Solomon the King, the Heptameron, the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy and the Magus. All of these, and hundreds of similar and derivative texts, include directions for commanding, binding or overcoming the infernal spirits- or communing with the spirits of nature and the Elements.

Unfortunately, this aspect of the grimoires has led to many generations of misunderstanding. Because the books describe how to “summon the demons of Hell” (or the lesser spirits of nature), many have assumed they must- by definition- be rituals of black magick. The question, perhaps asked first by the medieval Church itself, was why a God-fearing person would wish to deal with devils.

However, I feel that question misses the point entirely. As we have already seen in this essay, there was a time when holy men were expected to work with infernal spirits. Just like the exorcists who cast demons out of peoples’ homes and bodies, and the shamans and witchdoctors that preceded them. While there are a few rare examples of grimoires that call upon Satan or Lucifer instead of God and His Angels, we find that most demonology grimoires place the mage on the side of God and directly invoke Holy Names and Angels to control the infernal spirits. As mentioned above, the intent is usually to overcome and bind them- placing the mage in a position of superiority and authority. Only with that spiritual authority can the Shaman cure disease, retrieve lost souls from the underworld and protect his community from demonic spirits.

Let’s now examine another aspect of the shamanic vocation that bears directly upon the grimoires – learning a secret language. In ancient tribal cultures, this was often associated with the languages of animals or birds- with whom the Shaman was believed to communicate directly. (An important skill for any tribal shaman who practiced animism.) By the time we reach the point of written history, we find that magickal languages have become the dead languages of past human civilizations.

For example, the Priests of Babylon used ancient Sumerian as their sacred language. The Egyptians, too, utilized older forms of Egyptian hieroglyphs in their magick. The point was that the language had to be obscure- unspoken by the common people and known only to those who study it. A dead language remains static- unchanged by linguistic evolution resulting from common daily usage. It should also have some foundation in the history of a given culture. All of this makes it sacred something that can be set aside, and allows mystics to assign correspondences to the letters or sounds, incorporate them into established rituals, etc. Thus was Sumerian useful to the later Babylonian Priests. So, too, were Hebrew, Greek and Latin sacred languages within medieval Judeo-Christianity.

For the Solomonic mages, nearly any ancient tongue was sacred. They adopted names and conjurations from Egyptian, Chaldean, Babylonian, Sumerian, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Coptic and even more sources. Of course, it was rare for an author to have any real knowledge of more than one or two of these languages (such as Latin, Greek or Hebrew). As such, many of the ancient names and conjurations were handed down in a haphazard fashion. I suspect the words were transmitted orally for some time, during which they would certainly have mutated to some degree. Then, when the grimoires were penned, their authors simply recorded the words phonetically, writing down what they had heard from their teachers. The problem was further compounded as the magickal texts were circulated and transcribed. For example, scribes who did not understand Hebrew made glaring errors- quite often mistaking one Hebrew letter for another letter with a similar shape. It was even worse when they attempted to transliterate the Hebrew characters into English, as every individual scribe had his own style of transliteration. (The same is true today, which is why we can see the Hebrew QBLH- Qoph, Beth, Lamed, Heh- spelled “Qabalah”, “Kabbalah” or even “Cabala.”)

Over time, small errors were compounded on top of small errors until (in many cases) the words had lost all semblance of their original forms. In the grimoires themselves, we can find truly bizarre conjurations such as the following from the Key of Solomon the King:

I conjure ye anew by these other names of God, most holy and unknown, by the virtue of which names ye tremble every day – BAZUC, BACURABON, PATACEL, ALCHEGHEL, AQUACHAI, HOMORIONS, EY, ABBATON, CHEVON, CEBON, OY, ZOYMAS, CAYE, EHEIEH, ABBAMACHI, ORTAGU, NALE, HELECH, YEZE – that ye come quickly and without any delay into our presence…

Today we call words like these “Barbarous Names of Evocation”- which simply means “foreign words of command.” The phrase is taken from The Chaldaean Oracles of Zoroaster, which is neither Chaldean nor Zoroastrian. It first appeared during the Renaissance, making it contemporary with Solomonic mystics. The relevant passage from the text states: “Change not the Barbarous Names of Evocation, for there are sacred Names in every language which are given by God, having in the Sacred Rites a Power Ineffable.”

The admonishment to leave the “barbarous names” unchanged likely arises from a recognition that the ancient languages were not understood. They were already corrupt in the Solomonic texts, and it would therefore be unwise to attempt to alter them further. This philosophy resulted in the establishment of a new sacred language- of sorts- as we see in the above quote from the Key. Having been committed to record, these words are as static as those of a real dead language. They are never spoken in common business, and their derivation from the ancient Western languages gives them a cultural foundation and history.

Finally, I can’t let the subject of sacred languages pass without mentioning John Dee’s and Edward Kelley’s Angelical Language. It is especially relevant to our discussion, because it adheres so well to our model of shamanism. Not only did Dee record for us a large portion of a new Secret Language, but he received that language directly from the Angels themselves. Most of the invocations Dee recorded (consisting of 48 Angelical Callings) are intended for use with a specific magickal system. However, his journals reveal that Angelical was used for several purposes beyond the Callings, and the Angels told him they preferred it “before that which you call Hebrew”- presumably meaning the Hebrew Dee would have used in his occultism. (In fact, there is one example in the records of Dee creating a talisman with Angelical characters for a woman in trouble.) Both Dee and Kelley were assured that the Angelical language would grant them unprecedented ability to communicate with Angels and command spirits.

Since Dee’s lifetime, the Angelical language has had a large impact on Western Esotericism. Most of that impact has come through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – which had its own particular approach to the language and rules for its pronunciation. Several groups who followed the Golden Dawn have also created their own recensions. Today, scholars have a much better grasp of Dee’s original system, and are revisiting his journals to study Angelical in its original form (with its original pronunciations). We should see some of the results of these newer studies within the next couple of years.

At long last we reach our final aspect of shamanism- the use of the ecstatic trance to produce magickal power. This included nearly everything the Shaman accomplished- communing with spirits, physical strength/invulnerability, celestial flight, divination and- of course- creating visions. All of these things depend on the alteration of consciousness to an ecstatic mental state. It is literally the opening of the mind to the greater spiritual universe, so that one can perceive the Angels and spirits who live there.

Agrippa gives a lot of space in his Three Books… to this subject: Book I dedicates seven consecutive chapters (61-68) to explaining the passions of the mind and their importance to magick. In Book III, he returns to the subject in six chapters (45-50), where he explains the ecstatic trance or “phrensy.” In chapter 45 he describes this as the vacation of the spirit from the mage’s body, followed by the entrance of the Holy Spirit to fill the space. Once the Holy Spirit has “possessed” the mage, both prophecy and magick are possible:

…prophesying is not made according to the will of man, but holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. When oracles and spirits descend from the gods or from daemons upon them, and are delivered by them; which descendings the Platonists call the falling down of superior souls on our souls. … Of which sort of deamons … were wont to enter into the bodies of men, and make use of the voices, and tongues, for the prediction of things to come…

But these kinds of fallings down, or senses, come not into our souls when they are more attently busied about anything else; but they pass into them, when they are vacant. Now there are three kind of vacancy, viz., phrensy, ecstasy and dreams. [Three Books… Book III, Ch. 45]

These phrensies and ecstasies are outlined by Agrippa over the next four chapters. The first type he describes is the phrensy “from the Muses”- which basically indicates revelation through inspiration. The second type is “from Dionysus”- indicating ecstasy through religious fervor (such as we see in modern faith-healing). The third type is “from Apollo”- indicating ecstasy gained by the creation of mind-altering drugs and medicines. The fourth type of phrensy belongs to Venus- indicating ecstasy gained through obsessive love and devotion.

Finally, in chapter 50, Agrippa explains that the removal of oneself from earthly distractions (seclusion and ritual purity) and turning the mind toward celestial things (invocation and prayer), results in the elevation of the soul to a near-God-like state. In this state, the human vessel becomes fit for habitation by divine things. Thus, while the human mind is flying through the heavens with God, the Holy Spirit might enter the body to prophesy or perform miracles.

When we understand the Art of Ecstasy, it brings into focus many grimoiric spells that might otherwise appear to defy reason. For example, the Book of Abramelin contains a chapter of talismans for “Traveling in the Air”- on a ship, a cloak, a cloud, etc. A more obscure grimoire, today called the Munich Handbook of Necromancy, contains experiments for obtaining horses (winged and otherwise) and even a flying throne. Richard Kieckhefer classifies these as “illusionist experiments”, meaning that these horses and thrones are not to be taken literally. Instead, they represent visionary trips the mage can take into the heavens, to meet with and petition the Angels.

Kieckhefer also classes spells to create visions and illusions (of castles, armed men, banquets, etc) under the same heading. In some cases, these visions are seen only by those engaged in the magick, and witnesses often report seeing nothing unusual at all. For example, in the Book of Abramelin, Abraham the Jew describes a woman who concocted a flying ointment, which the two used with apparent success. However, when Abraham later asked to observe the woman as she took such a trip alone, he only witnessed her fall the ground and sleep as if dead for a couple of hours. Eventually, she awoke and described her journeys to Abraham, but her trip had been entirely visionary.

Much the same can be said for most instances of spirit evocation “to physical appearance.” The grimoires are ever romantic in their tone, and they tend to imply that the spirits will literally take on flesh and stand before the Circle. However, according to the records we have of actual Solomonic mages at work, the summoned spirits hardly take on physical form. Previously, I mentioned such records can be found in Butler’s and Kieckhefer’s work on the grimoires. Likewise, the journals of Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley are extremely enlightening- as Kelley could always see the Angels while Dee most often could not. In some cases, the participants will drink or eat some kind of mind-altering brew- and even offer it to those witnessing the rites. (Such as the flying ointment with which Abraham the Jew experimented). If such a concoction is not offered- or is refused by a spectator- then the Angels and spirits are generally perceived only by the person(s) skrying the entities.

Mind-alteration is also a big part of divination. Whether one is summoning a spirit to ask about hidden information, or attempting to skry directly into far away places, the foundational purpose of the ritual is to create a vision that reveals the desired information.

Perhaps understandably, the subject of mind-altering drugs in the grimoires (Agrippa’s “Apollo phrensy”) generates the most controversy today. Unfortunately, there are even some who insist that drugs have nothing to do with either shamanism or Solomonic mysticism. (Such a stance comes from fear of the modern Inquisition called the “drug war.”) In truth, however, drugs have always been an established aspect of these practices. Ancient cultures have used tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, mushrooms, ayahuasca, belladonna, henbane, hemlock and many more mind-altering substances in their mysticism. And, as I mentioned previously, medieval records indicate the grimoiric masters were no exception.

Agrippa obviously knew about such techniques, and wrote about them in more than one place in his Three Books. A great example is found in Book One, chapter 43:

So, they say that if of coriander, smallage, henbane and hemlock be made a fume, that spirits will presently come together; hence they are called the spirits’ herbs. Also it is said that a fume made of the root of the reedy herb sagapen, with the juice of hemlock, and henbane, and the herb tapus barbatus, red sanders, and black poppy, makes spritis and strange shapes appear.

Today we have a good understanding of these “spirits’ herbs” and their effects on the human brain. Plants like henbane, hemlock and black poppy produce hallucinogenic chemicals, and have traditionally been associated with the evocation of spirits, production of visions and illusions, etc.

Unfortunately, these particular drugs are also deadly neuro-toxins that tend to accumulate in the brain over time. Their physical side effects include such things as nausea and convulsions. As such, these drugs are generally associated with goetic evocation and necromancy- contacting demons and the spirits of the dead. They open one’s mind to the infernal side of reality, and will eventually kill you.

It is very likely that such a drug was intended for use with the Goetia– which instructs one to apply an Anointing Oil to one’s eyelids and temples. We can find the same instructions given with “flying ointments” of the same era – just like the Witch’s ointment given to Abraham the Jew. It is necessary to rub the oil upon the body where it can be absorbed directly into the bloodstream. The temples and other pulse-points of the body are good places. There is a rather large vein in the centre of the forehead- the “third eye” spot where anointing oils are most often applied. And, of course, the eyelids offer a very thin bit of skin to absorb the oil. (The descriptions of the demons in the Goetia– as fearsome and dangerous creatures who inspire terror on sight- could very well be records of henbane or belladonna trips.)

Some typical recipes- taken from Scott Cuningham’s Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews– follow:

Flying Ointment #1 : Cinquefoil, Parsley, Aconite, Belladonna, Hemlock, Cowbane.

Flying Ointment #2: Hog’s Lard, Hashish, Hemp Flowers, Poppy Flowers, Hellebore

Notice that most of the ingredients listed are psychoactive (many of them listed by Agrippa as “spirits’ herbs”), and several of them also happen to be deadly.

It is also possible to create oils with more benign drugs. For example, there is much speculation that the Holy Oil described in the Bible (Exodus 30) was intended to include extracted THC from cannabis. (This Biblical recipe was adopted whole-cloth into the Book of Abramelin– though there is no evidence the author believed that cannabis was intended.) However, such an oil would not likely have the astounding effects we see with toxins like henbane and belladonna- which is likely why we find the latter in most flying ointments.

Before I end this section, I should point out that the other phrensies described by Agrippa also come into play in the grimoires- especially those involving religious fervor and devotion. In fact, these play a larger role than mind-altering drugs, and are achieved via the extended periods of prayer, confession and rituals of worship adopted from Christian and Jewish religion. We also find a heavyemphasis upon fasting, seclusion, vegetarianism and general stimulus deprivation (abstinence and moderation in all things). Taken together, all of these combine to create a shift in brain chemistry for the grimoiric magus. I cover all of this in considerable depth in Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires.

Modern Solomonic Shamans

Last year, I was invited to speak at the first Austin, Texas Western Mysteries Conference. For my lecture, I chose to read my recently-published essay Modern Grimoire Magick: Folk Magick and the Solomonic Path. However, I also wanted to add something new- in case anyone in attendance had read the essay on their own. Therefore, after the reading, I went on to discuss the work of a fellow Solomonic mage, who drew from my work and had posted his results for all to see. I hoped to give the audience an idea that this isn’t all theoretical, but that real people are out there, right now, actually doing this kind of work.

Now, I would like to do the same in this essay. First, I will relate the same anecdotes I shared at the conference. Then, I would like to share some entirely new anecdotes- this time about the magickal quest of a young lady who once came to me for advice on Solomonic magick in general, and the Lemegeton‘s “Pauline Arts” in particular.

Frater R.O. and the Goetia

Our first Solomonic magus is best known by his motto- Frater Rufus Opus (or, at the time I gave my lecture, Frater Redactum Opus). Frater R.O. was hardly a beginner when I first encountered him. However, he had been inspired upon reading my essay Modern Grimoire Magick, as well as some forum discussions concerning “Spirit Pots.”

To explain briefly: the creation of a Spirit Pot is an extremely ancient method of working with lesser spirits and familiars. It appears in cultures around the world- though the most common in America are likely the gnangas fashioned by practitioners of the Afro-Caribbean faiths Santeria and Palo. A gnanga is often an iron cauldron- sometimes a terracotta pot- filled with substances that are in natural sympathy with the familiar spirit. (For example, the gnanga of an ocean spirit will include water, plants, fishes and objects taken from the sea. A river spirit would require such ingredients taken from a local river, a mountain spirit would require items taken from a natural high place, etc.)

There are just a few examples of this concept in the grimoires- the most famous being the Brass Vessel of the Lemegeton‘s Goetia. According to that text, King Solomon attempted to entrap 72 ruling spirits of Hell within a vessel of brass, which he then tossed into the sea. His goal was thwarted, however, after the Babylonians witnessed him dispose of the vessel. Believing it to be full of treasure, they later fished it out of the water. Much like ancient Pandora opening the forbidden box of Human Woes, the Babylonians broke the seal and released the evil spirits into the world again. The Goetia further implies that a Solomonic mage can use a similar Brass Vessel to bind any of the 72 spirits, or any spirit at all.

Part of my Modern Grimoire Magick essay was dedicated to explaining Spirit Pots in detail, and suggesting ways to incorporate the same ideas into the Goetia‘s Brass Vessel. Most modern occult texts suggest one summon, question and finally banish the spirits each time we have need of them. However, I made the suggestion that the spirits could be bound to the Brass Vessel instead- creating what I facetiously called a “Solomonic Gnanga.” This appealed to Frater R.O., who began his own experiments with the process.

The spirit he chose to work with is the 26th of the Goetia, named Bune- who is described as bringing riches to the Exorcist:

He is a Strong, Great and Mighty Duke. He appeareth in the form of a Dragon with three heads, one like a Dog, one like a Gryphon, and one like a Man. He speaketh with a high and comely Voice. He changeth the Place of the Dead, and causeth the Spirits which be under him to gather together upon your Sepulchres. He giveth Riches unto a Man, and maketh him Wise and Eloquent. He giveth true Answers unto Demands. And he governeth 30 Legions of Spirits.

According to the Goetia, Bune is a Duke of Hell- which makes him a spirit of Venus whose Seal should be fashioned from copper. However, Frater R.O. decided to use the correspondences outlined in Crowley’s 777, which assigns Bune to the zodiacal sign of Sagittarius. Personally, I would have suggested he stick with the attributions of the Goetia itself- though I must stress that Frater R.O. was not “incorrect” in his choice. Spiritual entities are not restricted to the correspondences we assign to them, and it is possible to work with any spirit from the standpoint of various “Paths.” Thus, Frater R.O. simply chose to work with a “Sagittarian Path” of Bune, rather than the more traditional Venusian Path.

To begin with, Frater R.O. obtained a brass pot with a lid, and decorated it according to the instructions in the Goetia. (The Divine Names of the Goetic Magickal Circle are inscribed around the circumference of the Brass Vessel, which our Frater did using the letters of the Malachim Magickal Alphabet.) He also fashioned a Secret Seal of Solomon and placed it under the vessel’s lid.

He then followed my instructions by filling the vessel with objects sympathetic to Bune (as listed in 777 for Sagittarius)- such as Rush grass, incenses of lignum aloes and sandalwood, dates and raisins, an arrow carved from cedar wood, etc. Most important, of course, is the Seal of the spirit itself which is the main focus for the entity inside the vessel. Frater R.O. reported that Bune’s presence was distinctly felt as soon as the vessel was created- and he placed small (appropriately-colored) candles around the pot to attract and feed the entity until it was time to formally bind him to the vessel.

At last, Frater R.O. performed the full evocation ceremony outlined in the Goetia. (Remember that modern systems usually begin at this point!) He placed the completed vessel into the Triangle of the Art, summoned Bune and asked the spirit if it would like to reside therein. The spirit agreed and was commanded into the vessel once and for all. There was no banishing.

It was only afterward that the real work took place. Frater R.O. began to interact with Bune and the vessel on a daily basis- eventually developing a relationship with the spirit. It took some trial and error in order to learn how it operates: at first, he hoped Bune would help him win the lottery. That didn’t work at all, but he soon found that Bune was perfectly willing and able to bring new clients and contracts to his job. Before long, Frater R.O. had more work than he knew what to do with, and the collective profit he stood to make went into the thousands of dollars! (Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, and Jupiterian spirits are notorious for bringing riches through labor rather than free and easy money.)

This has only been a brief introduction to Frater R.O.’s experiments with Bune and the Brass Vessel of the Goetia. If you would like to follow his experiences as they developed- including photographs of his work- simply visit http://www.rufusopus.com and click the link for “Spirit Pot Operations.”

Kathy McDonald. and the Pauline Arts

Kathy McDonald is one of my favorite success stories. Not only is she one of the most seriously dedicated Solomonic mystics I have met, but she also came to it through much trial and tribulation in her life. Her experience has truly been a shamanic vocation.

I first met Ms. McDonald through my Solomonic Group at Yahoo. At the time, her life had recently undergone drastic changes. She had incredible emotional obstacles to overcome- the worst of which was her feeling of helplessness in facing a big and often dangerous world with her young daughter. Because of this, I believe Kathy came to us on a quest- even if she wasn’t sure what exactly she sought. I didn’t mark her as someone with much interest in grimoire-style magick (an erroneous observation, as we shall see!). She seemed more interested in simply talking with people she felt had attained some spiritual advancement. Eventually, as often happens in these on-line encounters, Kathy simply vanished from the forums.

After a couple of years passed, she suddenly reappeared in the groups, and we were surprised to meet a very changed woman. I’m not precisely sure what we told her, or what exactly she took away from her encounters with us, but she returned with her emotions and her mundane life much more in check. We also learned that, during her absence, she had obtained a copy of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires and was avidly devouring the book! She had returned because my presentation of the Lemegeton‘s “Pauline Arts” had piqued her interest, and she had further questions. As she related in a Yahoo post:

Yes my focus started with a desire to learn more about astrological magic and timing and a desire to work with a system as opposed to winging it. The Pauline Art offered both a structure and a planetary focus that sat well with me. Contacting the angel of the degree of my nativity is the goal. Also after reading your book I was keen to try a few things out and have increased things like preparation, timing, attention to details and exploring their origins.

Now, I have already described part of the Pauline Arts– involving the Angel of the zodiacal degree of your nativity. In order to summon this Angel, it is necessary to make its talisman from a specific metallic alloy. Then, the Angel must be summoned at a specific magickal time- on the proper day and hour attributed to its Planet, and when the Sun has entered a zodiacal sign of the appropriate Elemental Triplicity.

Kathy wished to know if it is truly necessary to fashion these complicated alloys and wait the necessary months for the Sun to enter the correct sign. Couldn’t she just fashion the Talisman from colored paper and get on with it? We answered that is was certainly possible to use simpler methods of evocation, but the results would only be as impressive as the effort she put into the work. Not only that, but simplifying the Rites would mean she was no longer working the Pauline Arts system of evocation, but merely drawing from it.

What set Kathy above so many who ask such advice was the fact that she took it to heart! It was going to be a full year before the Sun again entered the sign of her birth, and she decided that was just enough time to properly prepare for the evocation of her Angel. Over the next months, she completely analyzed the Pauline Arts– even tracing the alloy recipes to their original source (Paracelsus, for those keeping score) and deciphering them. She was meticulous about the magickal timing, and had the Renaissance astrologer Christopher Warnock go over her astrological election in detail. (He even corrected a mistake she had made.) And she also had plenty of time to create the Holy Table and other magickal tools necessary to the Rite.

In a particularly interesting twist, Kathy did in fact perform a simplified invocation after all. Soon after she began the Pauline Arts project, she fashioned a paper Sigil for the Angel she wished to contact and offered invocations and candles. She placed the entire process under the governance of the Angel, who provided both guidance and continuity throughout the work. (Notice how Kathy used this method as a smaller part of the larger operation, while most folks settle for this in place of the Rite itself!)

Most fascinating was Kathy’s exploration of metallurgy. This isn’t something with which I have experience, and I learned much from her prolific posts about what she was learning- including photographs of the tools and equipment she accumulated. One by one, she tackled each metal called for in the alloy Talisman. She learned what equipment was necessary to melt each metal (easy for the soft metals, but progressively more difficult and dangerous for the harder metals). Like a true alchemist, she learned through trial-and-error how these metals behave when heated and cooled, and thereby learned tons about the Planetary spirits who are associated with them. She experimented with making several metal talismans, each one revealing what she had done right or wrong during the process.

By the time her year ran its course, Kathy had gained a solid education in the Solomonic magickal arts. She had learned how to create magickal tools, prepare her Temple, choose astrological elections and magickal timing, design and paint Talismans, work with metals and forge alloys- and that merely scratches the surface! She also discovered the writings of past occultists like Paracelsus, Trithemius, Agrippa and more. Further, she learned much from the growing relationship between herself and the Angel with whom she was working: what the Angel liked or disliked, and what it expected of her.

Perhaps you’ve heard the term “Renaissance Man”- indicating someone who has education in many different areas. Kathy’s year-long quest earned her a true Renaissance education in the magickal arts, which she would have missed entirely had she chosen the “easy” route instead. She could have performed the simplified evocation and therefore say “I’ve done that.” But, instead, she undertook a longer journey of truly life-changing significance. She learned that the Rites outlined in the grimoires are not the end-goal, but merely the keys with which to unlock greater mysteries.

This is a point I have tried long and hard to make with would-be students of the occult. The constant search for an “easier way” to perform the magick is counter-productive. Contrary to popular belief, mere “intent” is not the most important aspect of magick. In fact, it is relatively unimportant when compared to virtues like effort, discipline and dedication. Like the Knight searching for the Holy Grail, the Solomonic mage gains his (or her) power from the Quest to achieve what might otherwise seem impossible.

In the end, Kathy’s evocation of the Angel was successful. You can read her write-up of the entire process in A Pauline Arts Magical Adventure (http://www.zapgarden.com/MCDONALD). After the ordeal was over, she took some time off from the Yahoo Groups in order to rest and reflect on her accomplishment. During that time, her house was struck by lightning! No one was harmed, but a lightning strike is an age-old sign of true Shamanic initiation. It was a perfect sign that she had succeeded in drawing vast energy to her home, and in gaining the attention of her Angel.

There is much more I could add about Kathy and Frater R.O., but I’ll leave it to the reader to follow the links I have given to learn more about them. Each of these aspirants are perfect examples of how modern Solomonic mages should work. You may also gain much from these essays about the grimoires (all of which I have mentioned in this piece):

Medieval Magick (Ch. 1 of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires

http://kheph777.tripod.com/secrets_chap1.html

Modern Grimoire Magick: Folk Magick and the Solomonic Path

https://thepaganfriends.wordpress.com/#leitch

http://jwmt.org/v1n10/modern.html

The Holy Guardian Angel: Exploring the Sacred Magick of Abramelin the Mage

http://kheph777.tripod.com/art_HGA.html

Copyright(C)2007 Aaron Leitch

Visit Aaron: http://kheph777.tripod.com/

Contact Aaron: kheph777@yahoo.com

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Samhain Week MoonLore

By Liz

Sunday, 30th October 2011 – Samhain Eve

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, having just left Sagittarius and just entered Capricorn. Being a Sunday, the focus will be on Healing, Spirituality, Success, Strength and Protection, while Moon in Capricorn means the focus will be on strong structures and we really should take time and care to see to our responsibilities and to fulfill our obligations. Don’t leave business unfinished when the sun sets this night if you want the outcome to be favourable.
Monday 31st October 2011 – Samhain

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, in Capricorn

Being a Monday, it will mostly be about Peace, Sleep, Healing, Compassion, Friends, Psychic abilities, Purification and Fertility, whilst Moon in Capricorn today means it’s a good time to set boundaries and enforce rules. Start as you mean to go on, keep everything tidy and organized and you can’t go wrong.

First Footing: Don’t forget as the clock strikes Midnight, you would do well to have arranged a tall dark handsome man to come through your front door carrying a lump of coal (so you may not know cold) some ale (so you may not know thirst) and some cake (so you may not know hunger) for the coming year ahead!
Tuesday 1st November 2011 – Witches’ New Year

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s First Quarter, just leaving Capricorn and just entering Aquarius. Being a Tuesday, the spotlight will be on Passion, Sex, Courage, Aggression and Protection while Moon in Aquarius today will find us in a rebellious mood. New year, a new you? Get that besom out and give your world a nice clean sweep!!!
Wednesday 2nd November 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, in Aquarius,

Wednesdays being all about study and travel, it’s a good day to go to places new to meet people and to learn things which will expand your horizons and broaden your mind whilst Moon in Aquarius today means giving up bad habits and letting go of negative thoughts should be quite easy to do. A positive start to the witches new year so far!
Thursday 3rd November 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, in Aquarius

Being a Thursday, the focus will be on money, investment, generosity, growth, and prosperity whilst Moon in Aquarius should put the spotlight on personal freedom and individuality. Time to see if balancing those books can’t be sorted out to cut you a little slack so you can afford something you really want. Spend it wisely though.

Make it something that has multiple benefit, then there will be no regrets.

Friday, 4th November 2011

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, leaving Aquarius and entering Pisces

Being a Friday, it will all be about love, friendship, reconciliation, and beauty whilst Moon in Pisces at this time means the focus will be on looking back, nostalgia and dreaming. Time to chase up long lost pals, maybe?

Saturday, November 5th 2011 – Guy Fawkes (Bonfire) Night

The Moon will be Waxing, in it’s Second Quarter, in Pisces,

Being a Saturday, the focus will be on Longevity, exorcisms, endings, homes and houses, whilst Moon in Pisces means this day will be a good one for spiritual persuits and philanthropic activities. Sounds like a good day for stocking up on those things which help fetch us comfort through the dark cold months of winter too.

For those of you lighting Bonfires and having FireWorks parties or attending “public” events this night, take extra care, please check for hibernating Hedgehogs before igniting the woodpile, keep the fireworks in a lidded boxes (preferably metal ones), remember to use a battery powered torch to see them with in the darkness, not a naked flame, make sure there is plenty of water nearby for putting out accidental spread of flames and please watch the little ones with sparklers as even they are dangerous while hot. Having said all of that, have a great evening and may the weather be with you!

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Pumpkin Spice Cake

by Calidonia

Ingredients

2 cups pumpkin mashed

4 eggs

¾ cup oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs ginger

mix well and set aside

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

1 Tbs pumpkin pie spice

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

Mix well and add to pumpkin mix 1/3 at a time

Stir well, pour into greased cake pan. Bake 350 for approximately 30 min.

Chai Cream Frosting

6 Tbs butter softened

3 oz cream cheese softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp milk

pinch of salt

1 – 2 tsp chai spice (to taste)

Cream together well

2 cups powdered (confectioners’) sugar

Add gradually into cream cheese, continually stirring

Frost the cooled cake. Garnish w/ chopped nuts and dried fruits if desired. Store in refrigerator

This cake is amazingly good and very moist. I made it yesterday, and it’s gone today!

Samhain baking is much more pleasurable than that for Yule. Perhaps it’s because it isn’t as commonplace and presumed. Or possibly because getting fresh pumpkin is so much easier to find when it’s in season.

(I cheat and buy blended spices when I can find them. If they aren’t available, here’s a breakdown to keep on hand in your kitchen. Pumpkin Pie Spice ¼ cup cinnamon, 2 Tbsp ginger, 2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp nutmeg, & ½ tsp cardamom. Apple Pie Spice ¼ cup cinnamon, 1 Tbsp allspice, 2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp ginger, & ½ tsp cardamom. Chai 2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp cardamom, 2 tsp cloves, 2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp black or white pepper, & a pinch of salt.)

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Animal Spirit Guides
By T. Fox Dunham

At my side these hard years has walked a companion with a red, furry tail. He sometimes walks ahead, finding the path, at my side to keep me walking straight, or behind to kick me in my bum to keep me going. He is my fox, my spirit guide in these lives, in many worlds a shaman traverses, and my spirit would be incomplete without him.

Animal spirits assist us in several capacities. They come as guides, as teachers and protectors. They comfort and assure. They traverse the silver veil into the otherworld, bringing us wisdom, and they lead us back to guide us on the path we need to follow on the other planes. These planes are vast worlds, often tangled and sans trail, but our animal spirit guide can perceive through the mesh and lead us to the next step in our growth.

I’m aligned to the fox as we share the same nature. The fox is diplomatic, cunning, looking to avoid direct confrontation though guile. We are gentle, family orientated, love the dawn. We are survivors, adapting to changes in our environment. Foxes thrive in urban areas, adapting to the human sprawl that is consuming the natural world. The various traits of animals have been witnessed over the eons and used in legends and folk tales to help us learn from them, to recognize their energy in ourselves.

Shamans of tribal societies dressed up as animals, using their aspect and then enacting their behaviour to share in the spirit’s energy. This is what’s known as shape-shifting, to see the world through the eyes of the animal. This was another method to gain wisdom or the medicine of the animal spirit. It was also used to enact a metaphysical hunt to bless the coming hunt and honour the animal prey.

As a practicing shaman, I journey into the other planes—often the inner wilderness, the realm we all share within ourselves where we go to heal and grow. Before I begin my meditations to Imramma, I summon my fox to come to me or meet me there at the gate or the well, depending on my vector of entrance. I place his symbol on my altar or by my side in the grass: a fox figurine. As I meditate and use the metaphysical map, I’ll begin to notice my fox communicating with me. Sometimes I hear him breathing or yelping. I’ll feel his fur brush along my arm or see his teal eyes watching me in the dark turning light of the ‘tween places.

Animal spirit guides can also aid in the healing of illness. During my battle with cancer, I used a metaphor technique during meditation. At night, I’d visualize an animal spirit attacking the cancer cells in a symbol. At that time, I employed leopard energies. The cat stalked the cells—usually an animal of my own creation, dark and possessing several heads and several limbs, mutating wildly, devouring all the countryside and leaving it a barren land. Then my leopard would run and tackle the dark animal, devouring it and protecting the natural world.

There are many methods to discover and summon your spirit guide both ancient and new. Over time I developed my own system, and this is the method I prescribe to others seeking their spirit guide. It is the first step I apply to anyone who wishes to explore shaman practices in their own capacity. The animal guide will guard them and guide them on their journey.

I begin with asking about affiliations to animals in their lives. Was their one special animal they’ve always related to? Found a strong connection? Often, they’ll feel it in their chest, in their lower energy centre. I once worked with a young woman, who when she first made contact with a dolphin, her lower chest surged with an energy. The dolphin felt familiar like she possessed an innate empathy to the animal. I ask if there are any special stories with animals. I gained the red tailed hawk as an ally after I saved an old mother hawk, finding her paralyzed on the forest floor. I told this story in the summer issue of Pagan Friends Zine. Seabhac: The Wounded Hawk. They may have also dreamt of the animal and found kinship in their night reveries. If they’re not sure, I send them on a dream quest. Before sleeping at night, I instruct them to meditate then focus on the question of their spirit guide’s identity. This is a way of sending an invitation for your animal to come to you. You open your mind to it.

Once they feel certain they know their animal totem, I instruct them to use one of their gifts of spirit to invite it into their lives. If they are an artist, I suggest they paint a picture. Poetry for a poet. A song for a musician. And so forth. This acting of the creative energy into an application based on the invitation is like a beacon, a sign you’re putting up for your animal to come to you.

I then send them to make an offering in a sacred place. In the case of my friend Paul, he left an apple on a sand island in the middle of a parted stream.

Once the animal is summoned, you create an icon. I use a fox figurine. This is an item of your own choosing. You place it on your altar or your power centre, slip into a medicine bag or carry it with you.

Once discovered and summoned, an animal guide is a close friend and teacher. In a world where humans are disconnecting from nature, we are losing a valued tradition, a tool to bring healing and balance into our lives. Inviting these spirits into our lives will return to us a missing element, fill a void we all sense and return to us a love and respect for our natural world. Only in this way can we find harmony with our environment and harmony in ourselves.

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Salt Crystal Lamps & Tea Lights
By Beth Holtum

Salt Rock lamps and tea-light holders are hand crafted from huge deposits of crystallised salt from Himalayan mines. Each piece has its own unique colouring and character.

Halite is the mineral name for salt crystal and it is valued by crystal healers for manifesting self-love, blending the energies of the heart and solar-plexus chakras. This is useful for someone who needs to find time for their physical and spiritual well being.The gentle heat of a Salt light generates ions carrying a negative charge, improving the surrounding air and general health and well-being. It’s a similar atmosphere to standing next to a waterfall or by the sea, giving good breathing space for relaxation, and particularly beneficial for asthma or rheumatism.

Salt has hygroscopic properties, and therefore it draws water—so never wash or wet your salt light and don’t keep it in a damp room or outdoors. If the light does gain moisture it may form crystals, which can be removed with a soft brush, or it may puddle. To avoid this, have it alight regularly so that it is maintained by dry heat.

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The Elements
By Beth Holtum

The traditional elements of earth, air, fire and water are still valued for giving us a key to our place in the world, long after the development of the modern Periodic Table.

Here’s a reference table I drew up of the crystals associated with each Element, and a reminder of the characteristics, in Chakra order. I hope you find it useful!

The Elements

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Cumin
By Rebecca L. Brown

Cumin (Cuminum Cyminum) is a spice native to the Egyptian and Mediterranean. The seeds, either whole or ground, are widely used in traditional Moroccan and Mexican cookery, as well as in curries and certain Dutch cheeses. The harvesting and use of Cumin is mentioned in a number of ancient texts including the Old Testament, the Ebers Papyrus, a scroll from King Ashurbanipal’s library at Nineveh and Pliny the Elder’s Historia Naturalis and it was most likely used in prehistory. Traditionally, cumin is ruled by Mars and associated with Scorpio and Taurus.

In Ancient Egypt, cumin was used in cooking, perfumes and to treat digestive problems. It was included in unguents to relieve headaches and added to a drink given to women who have recently given birth. Cumin was also traditionally placed on altars as an offering to appease the gods.

During the Middle Ages, cumin was one of the more commonly used spices. Since it was believed to encourage love and loyalty in love (it was said to keep lovers and chickens from wandering!), it was taken to weddings and given to soldiers in a loaf of bread by their wives. Traditionally, it was also blended with wine as a potion to create lust. In the seventeenth century, Culpeper wrote in his English Physician that cumin was a strengthening plant.

In Ancient Greece, cumin was a symbol of cruelty and greed. It was also used for protection.

Many people believe that cumin will protect against theft when it is attached to an object and in Germany it is baked into breads to stop them from being stolen by fairies. In protective workings, cumin is blended into an incense with frankincense. It can also be scattered with salt to repel evil or as part of a banishing.

Cumin is used widely in Eastern medicine as it is believed to travel through the digestive system to react the liver relatively intact. In Ayurvidic practices, it is used to treat digestive problems (a purpose for which it was also used across a variety of cultures throughout history).

The seeds of cumin act as a carminative and a stimulant. They are rich in antioxidants and may have anti-fungal and anti-carcinogenic properties (there has been some evidence that cumin seeds may be useful in treating colon cancer, although some of the compounds they contain may in fact be carcinogenic until cooked). The essential oil has been used to treat headaches and tiredness, as a digestive stimulant and for muscular pain because of it’s warming properties. It is potentially phototoxic, so skin which it has been applied onto should not be exposed to the sun.

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Cinnabar
By Rebecca L. Brown

Cinnabar

Cinnabar is a reddish ore of mercury which occurs in veins where there has been recent volcanic activity or at certain hot springs. Since it contains mercury, it can be toxic to humans and animals. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio recorded the effects of cinnabar on the men who mined it as including shaking, mood swings, hearing and visual impairment, madness and finally death. It is therefore not recommended for use in jewellery or as a fetish.

Cinnabar is found in artefacts from ancient Greece and Roman, as well as in trace amounts in objects from China dating back to the second millennium BC. It was used to create the pigment vermillion. The Romans, at least, were aware of it’s potential toxicity and it was mined and prepared by criminals and slaves.

To the Olmecs, cinnabar was a symbol of life, the ‘blood of the earth’. Important people were often coated with cinnabar after death. It may also have been traditionally ground up, mixed with tallow and painted onto the skin of living people.

In China, the Taoist alchemists believed that they would be able to find a way to transform cinnabar into gold and that it could give a person a variety of incredible or miraculous powers if used correctly. The Arabic alchemist Geber included it as an ingredient in his recipe for the Elixir Vitae which would rejuvenate and bestow immortality.

As a gemstone, cinnabar is associated with transformation, the manifestation of wealth and gaining insight into things. It is linked to luck, good fortune and protection from evil, as well as longevity.

Cinnabar is available to purchase at the Rainbow Spirit online shop.

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Treadwells Events

More details are available at the Treadwells website.

02 November 11 (Wednesday)
Ritual in Early Jewish Mysticism:Descent to the Chariot and Angelic Adjuration
S. Leigh
Tonight’s lecture explores early Jewish mysticism not in terms of theory, as is so commonly done, but in terms of actual ceremony and ritual practice. How were altered states achieved, and what actions were taken by Merkabah (Chariot) mystics? The speaker is a practicing Jew with an ardent interest in the traditions mystical techniques, including practical Kabbalah. He brings to these studies a familiarity with Western Mysteries esotericism, so is able to make connections, comparisons and to speak in terms familiar to those who are not grounded in Hebrew or the Jewish religion. He returns to Treadwells, for his third lecture, by popular demand.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

05 November 11 (Saturday)
Foraging for Herbs:A Hedgewitches’ Teaching Walk
Natasha Richardson, Herbalist
Qualified Herbalist Natasha Richardson leads a walk round Hainault woods, teaching and demonstrating: herb identification; medicinal facts and herbal folklore; and  foraging techniques.  This afternoon is pagan-oriented, friendly and practical, and will involve engaging intuitively with the plants as well as learning skills and information.   This November walk concentrates on barks and roots; you will come away with a deeper appreciation of how you can find and work with herbs growing all around you. Great for beginners. More on Natasha Richardson here.  Advance booking required.
Price: £8.00
Time: 12.45 for 1.00 pm departure from Hainault Tube Station

10 November 11 (Thursday)
The Cult of Ku:The Occult Chinese Poison Cult
Andy Sharp
One of the most exotic of the many enticing tendrils of Kenneth Grant’s Typhonian Trilogies is The Cult of Ku. References to an illusive coterie of Chinese adepts run through his work like dreamed wafts in a Limehouse Opium Den. Grant’s hints that such a cult once existed in London: did it? In this talk Andy Sharp will trace Ku back to its roots as a form of poison magic in ancient China. He will explore Ku as a multi-layered monad, its syncretic correspondences with alchemy and UFOlogy, Grant’s extrapolations, and its collision with the pulp horror of Sax Rohmer. Sharp will also discuss how this particular obsession of Grant has fortuitously intruded into his personal wyrd. Andy Sharp is published in Strange Attractor and runs the creative occult project ‘English Heretic,’ an imaginary organisation dedicated to the reification of malefic energy spectres and the adumbration of a modern qliphoth.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

19 November 11 (Saturday)
Healing with Herbs, Seventeenth-Century Style:An Afternoon Course
Julie Wakefield
Learn and make plant-based remedies from the 1600s at this lively practical day course. First is a look at the sources: Culpeper and Gerard’s herbals, and the recipe books of gentlewomen. Then you will recreate some of the remedies yourself and sample a few of them. And what about magic? We will look at 17th-century astrological herbalism and plant folk magic – from alleged cursing to protection. Cambridge graduate Julie Wakefield is a museum freelancer in historic medicine, who works at the Old Operating Theatre & Herb Garret and others. Price includes, all handouts, samples and potions made (NB. If pregnant, you will not be able to ingest remedies).
Price: £25.00
Time: 1.30 – 5.00 pm

23 November 11 (Wednesday)
Your Own Hypnosis and Trance Induction:For magical practitioners, shamanic workers, pagans, magickians
Mark Smith
A practical evening teaching hypnosis methods to self-induce trance states and to work on unconscious mind patterns, in your magical practice.  Techniques will enhance visualisations and pathworkings and intensify your ritual workings — whether you work in chaos magic, shamanic journeying, general meditation or witchcraft. It will go through the three levels of trance; trance induction and deepening. Plus fractionation techniques, fixation techniques and progressive relaxation. Practical exercises through the evening mean you can immediately apply these methods. Mark is a professional clinical hypnotherapist, professional drummer, gym addict and chaos magician. A rare opportunity from someone with a remarkable blend of experience and skill.
Price: £10.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

24 November 11 (Thursday)
Queer and Pagan:History, Theology, Society
Lou Hart
In this lecture Lou Hart reviews some of the historical context for a queer approach to magic and paganism, and discusses the transformations that occur in a queer magical setting. Queer Paganism is a term that is intentionally broad-brush, its fusion of politics and differing magics producing a potent brew of practices and beliefs. These work on the basis of self-identification, inclusion of ‘otherness’ and self-authentication, operating within a radical framework that changes the way we look at or act on things. To be queer is to challenge the accepted notions of gender, sexual orientation and relationships. Queer magic challenges stereotypes, polarity, authoritarianism, and the relationship with the surrounding world. Lou Hart is a queer witch and a founder of Queer Pagan Camp, which is probably Britain’s most important and longstanding pagan network and event community for people of alternative sexualities. An experienced and engaging speaker, she has also written about the need to include queer approaches in magical practice (Magic is a Many Gendered Thing) and is a contributor to The Wanton Green (forthcoming).
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

28 November 11 (Monday)
Tarot Reading Intermediate Course:Progression, Depth, and Complexity
Monday Night Class with Diana Taylor
Okay, you know your greater trumps and your Minor Arcana, you’ve just about got the hang of basic readings. Now you want to go further, and gain competence. This course is her for just that, as it guides you in sharpening your abilities and skills. Deeper knowledge and hands-on practice combine with more depth understanding of complex card meanings. The gifted Diana Taylor takes it to the next level. This course is for people who have taken a Treadwell’s Foundation class in tarot, or and equivalent course elsewhere.  Break over Christmas / New Year.
Price: £160 for eight week course. £80 deposit, balance due before first class
Time: 7.00 – 9.30 pm

30 November 11 (Wednesday)
Baba Yaga & the Virgin of Guadalupe:A One-Woman Performance
Xanthe Gresham
On a road trip through Mexico two deities dangle like dice from the rear view mirror… One is Baba Yaga – once a goddess of fire and fertility, now just a witch in Russian fairytale. With iron teeth and cannibalistic tendencies, she scuttles through the forest in a hut balanced on a pair of hairy chicken legs. The other is The Virgin of Guadalupe – Latin America’s iconic Mother, who launches Mexican waves of tea towels, plastic bracelets and prayer cards across the country. Unlikely travelling companions perhaps, but only they can guide the way to the 360 degree hilltop epiphany, where you, me and the moment collide… Hold on as you ricochet through haunted hotel rooms, day of the dead celebrations, visions and peculiar folklore. Xanthe Gresham is an award-winning storyteller, performer and magical adventurer, who performs across the UK. Seeing her is breathtaking experience.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

02 December 11 (Friday)
Dark Working Sorcerers:Illusion and the Occult
The London Magician
Magic, the occult science rather than the dodgy card trick, has been around for quite a while. Shamans, alchemists, cunning folk and fortune tellers have all plied their trades since the dawn of time. Some were just out to make a living, others to show that there’s more to the world than meets the eye.  Suspect techniques were sometimes used to turn lead to gold, manifest spirits, control men’s minds and otherwise convince the general public that magic was real, and when they were, then they might have looked something like this… the things you will see tonight. Feats will be performed, spirits conjured, minds read. In this lecture-cum-performance you will meet John Dee, Michael Scot, Aleister Crowley, Roger Bacon and Rabbi Loew.  By London Magician, who brought you the sellout show, ‘Through a Glass Darkly.’ Book early.
Price: £10.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

07 December 11 (Wednesday)
Bohemian Occult Subculture:Golden Dawn in Britain’s 1890s
Dr Christina Oakley Harrington
The Order of the Golden Dawn is the late Victorian ceremonial magic organization which created the template for subsequent occult magic. Western mysteries, Kabbalah, Celtic mysticism, and even Wicca would follow forms it developed. It was an occult renaissance, sudden and powerful. Historians stress the founders’ connection with freemasonry, giving the impression of a club of old Establishment men: gray suits and gray beards, boring and patriarchal. In fact, the Golden Dawn core group were young creatives – friends collaborating, inspired by the mysterious. Together they made art, made ritual, did meditations, had romances – tried to reach into something beyond the normal. These thirty-somethings were bright, feisty achievers with active social conscience. Seeing them anew, we can see the Order of the Golden Dawn anew. Christina Oakley Harrington runs Treadwell’s Bookshop, and is co-editor of Abraxas, Journal of International Esoteric Studies. Repeat of sold-out New York City lecture.

Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

10 January 12 (Tuesday)
The Famous Psychic Investigator:The Life, Adventures and Tragedy of Harry Price
Sarah Sparkes
Harry Price (British, 1881-1948) was the most controversial and famous psychic researcher ever to live. A celebrity in his day, he still deserves to be recognised, for he was an emblematic of an important facet of Edwardian society – the mass obsession with the supernatural. He did fascinating studies on haunted houses, investigated psychic activity, visited and tested mediums. He aimed to be scientific and impartial, and ended up discovering a great deal of fraud, as well as a few things he couldn’t explain away. Tonight, Sarah Sparkes introduces this remarkable man, his work, his collection. An engaging speaker, Sarah is also an artist and researcher running a creative research project centred on the Harry Price Library now in Senate House.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

17 January 12 (Tuesday)
Make it Really Work:Results Magic with HypnosisTechnique
Mark Smith
Mark Smith, a clinical hypnotist and magical practitioner, leads this four-part intensive short course, in which each participant will select a specific life-enhancing positive magical goal. Then, with hypnosis and chaos magic techniques, each person will work to achieve it by the end of the course. Mark will teach the steps and techniques from both disciplines, and there will be feedback all the way through. Attendance at all four sessions is essential, and intensive work independently is expected. Included in the price of the course is a private directed session with Mark and his hypnosis CD, The Chaos Chamber available only to students of this course). Rave reviews from previous students. Numbers strictly limited  in this results-based, focussed group. Dates: 17 Jan, 24 Jan, 31 Jan, 7 Feb.
Price: £130 (£60 deposit, £70 balance due on first night)
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start to 9.30 pm

18 January 12 (Wednesday)
Sun Struck:On the Dangers and Pleasures of Solar Sexuality
Dr Stephen Alexander
“How strange it would be if some women came / forward and said: / We are sun-women! / We belong neither to men nor our children nor / even to ourselves / but to the sun.” D. H. Lawrence.  Stephen Alexander tonight investigates this strange, queer idea in the context of Continental philosophy, in a formal paper followed by discussion. Whilst the sun is undoubtedly delicious, if you are a woman in love, to feel warm kisses upon one’s skin and to open like a flower before the sun, so too does the sun drink blood and burn flesh. ‘Melanin and melanoma’ could be an alternative title for this presentation. In learning how to love and be loved by the sun in a cosmic-carnal sense, one is left dehumanised and stripped naked before an uncaring universe wherein integral being ceases and life is soon exhausted. Please join us for a mid-winter’s night of object-oriented philosophy, perverse materialism, and pagan astro-porn (please note: sun cream and other lubricants are not provided). Stephen Alexander received his PhD in Continental Philosophy from Warwick University. He writes and presents occasional papers at Treadwell’s.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

25 January 12 (Wednesday)
Eliphas Levi :Father of Modern Occultism
Dr Christopher McIntosh (Exeter)
Eliphas Lévi (French, 1810-1875, Alphonse Louis Constant) was a key figure in the development of occultism as we know it today. HP Lovecraft called him as ‘that cryptic soul who crept through a crack in the hidden door and glimpsed the frightful vistas of the void beyond.’ He influenced not only esotericists such as Madame Blavatsky and the Golden Dawn but also writers such as Huysmans, Baudelaire and Yeats. Famously, he popularised the Tarot as a magical system. His books are still widely read, and his Goat of Mendès drawing is now iconic. In this illustrated lecture Dr Christopher McIntosh talks about Lévi’s life and work, examining his significance and enduring legacy. A night of esoteric history, alive and engaging. Dr Christopher McIntosh is an historian of Western esoteric traditions, on the teaching faculty of Exeter University’s Esotericism Centre. His book Eliphas Lévi and the French Occult Revival, first published in 1972, has recently been re-published by SUNY.
Price: £7.00
Time: 7.15 for a 7.30 start

15 February 12 (Wednesday)
Planetary Magic :Eight Week Course of Theory and Practice
Sue Merlyn Farebrother
This course immerses you in planetary magic. Working with the planets – with their personalities and powers – has been at the core of Western magic for over a thousand years, from Picatrix to Golden Dawn to Chaos Magic.  We are proud to present a course where this core knowledge can be learnt and digested in depth. It explores mythological, astrological and psychological meanings as used in esoteric thinking and magical practice. Sue Merlyn Farebrother has been a professional astrologer for over 30 years, is trained as a psychotherapist with the Psychosynthesis and Education Trust, and gained an M.A. in Cultural Astronomy and Astrology at Bath Spa University in 2007. She is bright, organised, focussed — and has delightfully dry sense of humour. The course meets on eight Wednesday evenings.

Price: £160 (£80 deposit, balance due on first night)
Time: 7.00 pm to 9.30 pm

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Review: Carry On The Flame: Destiny’s Call, By Jodine Turner

Jodine Turner is an Oregon-based writer of young adult and adult fantasy fiction, a therapist and a consecrated princess.

Carry On The Flame: Destiny’s Call is the third book in the Goddess of the Stars And The Sea series, which Jodine began writing whilst living in Glastonbury. Despite being part of a series, it can be enjoyably read as a stand-alone novel in it’s own right. In it, Jodine has explored a young woman’s initiation into the spiritual, her difficulties accepting that initiation and the horrors of a jealous aunt in a style which is well-written, thoughtful and a thoroughly compelling read. Destiny’s Call is a well-written love story which touches on some of the issues facing humanity in relation to our connection with the Divine. After enjoying the well-developed characters and captivating plot of Destiny‘s Call, we look forward to reading the next in the series!

Visit Jodine’s website at http://www.jodineturner.com for more news on her writing and other work.

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The Ghost of 22 Captain

by Joshua J. Mark

The return of 22 Captain to his family land elicited an ambiguous response from his dead family. As he reported it, they “showed their teeth” but said nothing. Realizing this gesture could be interpreted as either a blessing or a curse, he set off on his journey home, conscious only of a certain relief at putting some distance between himself and his deranged relatives.

Quite a walk – and he only three feet tall – if that – marching his little leather boots through the forest – under trees fifty or a hundred times his height with the wails and cheers of those who had cared for the earth while they lived bouncing off his wooden ear. His smile was fixed – his thin moustache undampened, and his high blue captain’s hat sat tilted back on his head. He knew the way home. No amount of passing seasons – not even ninety-eight years worth – could cloud his memory. Nor did the changes in the terrain set him off course; he would have known his way should sky scrapers have been reared across the land since his death. He toddled on (he would prefer “marched” but one owes something to verisimilitude) until he broke from the forest and found a paved road. True, he did marvel somewhat at that but no matter – he knew where he was and who he was – and it was time he was getting home.

A freak October snow storm had blanketed our town only days before. Shops were selling Halloween candy next to shovels and salt. The two feet of snow on the ground slowed his passage through the woods – one would have seen only his resolute hat and two eyes pushing through the forest. On the paved road he made better time. The night was clear with a three quarter moon that refracted off the snow and illuminated the road and trees – their branches and trunks silver and white in the strange, luminous darkness. And, he said, he sang a little song as he “marched” – a song they used to sing in the fields at harvest time – but I have forgotten the words.

This all happened long ago now and yet, really, it seems like yesterday. I was not at home at the time. I was staying at my friend Kayla’s house while she was in the city at her mom’s funeral. I didn’t know her mom but I sure knew funerals and I didn’t envy her the experience. Her house was a large place she’d just expanded from an older, smaller home on a wide patch of land ringed by woods near the far end of the village of Galen’s Mills. I had been seduced by her satellite TV and my life, that night, revolved around trying to orchestrate the taping of three movies – on three different channels – on three different video tapes. Yes, I said `video tapes’. I told you this was long ago.

I had this loathing of inconsistency then. I could not bear to have a six hour video cassette of, say, “Apocalypse Now” and “Hearts and Minds” with “Annie Hall” sandwiched between. It was all or nothing. It had to make sense. None of this mixing. Mixing bothered me. Mixing confused things -confused emotions, confused thoughts. I wanted things simple and uncomplicated.

I’m not a great thinker now and I wasn’t one then. I’m easily confused. I can hardly figure out how turning a metal key in a cylinder starts a car. I have no idea how I can move two tons of steel by pressing my foot on a gas pedal; never mind serious stuff. But I was trying my mind at serious stuff back then. I was reading books on spirits – ghosts – and what worlds could be waiting to welcome the soul after death. I had only just learned that Halloween is known by pagans as `Samhain’and how the veil between those living and the dead grows thin at that season.

I’d experienced what some people call `hauntings’ all my life, raised in upstate New York where, as everyone knows, the dead rise to walk as the evening descends; but experiencing and understanding are pretty different things. You know, someone you love goes to France or Germany, you get a postcard telling you what it’s like and what they’re doing. Doesn’t happen with death. No one sends postcards back from that place, at least no one I knew. My dad had just taken that trip a few months before and I missed him. I wanted to know where he was. I wanted a postcard. I thought of trying a séance that night, what with the veil being so thin and all, but I couldn’t muster up the courage to do it alone. I wasn’t even sure one could do a séance alone. Then, of course, thinking about talking to a dead person just scared me; it was much more comfortable to concentrate on the TV.

The knock came at the door at precisely 12:05 am. “Mr. Jordan” had just ended and I was inserting the cassette to record “Liberty Valance”. The trick was to get the satellite swinging as I changed the tapes in the VCR; by the time the new station was selected I had the new cassette in and was perfectly poised, fingers lightly on the buttons, to snatch another film from the ether.

I glanced, surprised, out the living room window at the front porch, saw no one, and turned back. The little black box atop the set clicked into place on satellite station T4 and I flipped through the channels to number 16 – the knock came again – a bright knock – one could say “sprightly”, a lively rap-rap-rap -unmistakable now. My attention was diverted. Who could be at the door at midnight Monday morning? Kayla’s place was quite isolated out at the far end of the village; no trick or treaters had knocked on the door all night. Why now at midnight?

Yes. My attention was diverted. It was only – at most – two seconds; but it was enough. I whirled back to the TV and, Good God, the opening credits were spanning the screen. I slammed the record button and just as quickly slammed the stop/eject. It was just not done. It just could not be done. Better no movie than one clipped and slipshod like a thrift shop tux. I pounded the `off’ button into the TV and the screen went black; then I proceeded out to see to the cause of this untimely rapping.

I opened the door – and no one was there; until I looked down. He was as I’ve described him earlier: about three feet tall, thin, in a dark blue fireman’s cap with 22 Capt on it, blue fireman’s coat and pants and knee high boots. He had a cheery face and very merry eyes which radiated an electric delight.

“I’m home!” he smiled.

“Home?”

“Home,” he said.

He walked past me, through the kitchen, and hopped up on the sofa in the living room. His feet stuck out over the edge. I stared at him stupidly from the kitchen, my hand still on the knob of the front door.

“Oh, moving pictures!” he chirped. “I love `em. Never seen `em, but I knew I’d love `em.”

He turned and grinned at me – then turned back to stare at the blank screen.

“Would you mind?” he smiled, turning toward me again.

I walked silently over to the TV and pulled the set on. The screen filled with light and the room with sound.

“Hot damn,” he said. “Ain’t that somethin?”

I sat down in the chair next to the sofa and watched him watching TV. I knew who he was. I had read of him in Kayla’s local history book – only a passing reference there. But the old people remembered 22 Captain from stories their parents told and, if you stayed around Galen’s Mills long enough, you’d sooner than later hear someone talking – remembering events that happened before their time; when the mills still ran down by the river near the ice houses and the great estates rose high on the hills of the town, 22 Captain was a folk hero in his own time. Fighting fires was his idea of fun – and they’d say he never lost a single life in any fire he put down (except once Mrs. Milroy’s hog – a prize winner – of course).

I had been intrigued by the man – as I am always intrigued by those who have what I have not or can do what I can only dream of, and I’d pictured him strong and robust, a good six feet. No one had ever mentioned the fact that the man was only three feet tall – a significant detail to omit, I feel anyway.

“Sir?”

“Yes?” he said, his eyes on the screen.

“You’re Twenty-two Captain.”

“No doubt about that.”

I sat back and stared down at my sneaker. I wiggled my toes and thought – then leaned forward again.

“Sir?”

“Yes?”

“Do you know that you’re dead?”

“No doubt about that either.”

He glanced at me, then back to the TV.

“You sure do like to state the obvious, boy.”

“Well, I didn’t know if you knew,” I said. “You see, I’ve read how sometimes spirits’ll come back to a place – sometimes haunt a place for years – `cause they don’t know they’re dead. I just thought -well – that you should know.”

“Thank you, son.”

I sat back in the chair and watched him watching TV. I was no stranger to the occult and the supernatural; to some I was a master, to others a novice – as it is with anything. Whether one or the other, I was used to it all by now, living in a region of New York where the woods and streams, the houses and the rotting hovels were alive, swirling, with past inhabitants. Mill workers or transparent daughters of the Cooper, an Indian Prince or phantom bucks – one or more had roamed or run through my living room or kitchen any hour of the day or night ever since I was aware I was alive and had a memory. I was used to invisible feet on the stairs and faucets going on by themselves. I was used to sightings out of the corner of my eye or the lights flipping on and off. What I was not used to was one who wanted to stay, one who was solid, one who appeared, not in a sudden flash to be suddenly gone again, but at the door – knocking at the door – stating he was home. I leaned forward again.

“Sir?”

“Call me Captain.”

“Captain?”

“Yes?”

“What do you want?”

“Oh, nothing for now. Maybe a beer a little later.”

“No, – no. I mean, why are you here?”

“Felt like coming home.”

“This was your home?”

“Sure was. The land, you understand, not the house,” he said. He glanced around and then said, “Well, parts of it I recognize. Wasn’t nearly so large in my time.”

“And – that’s it. That’s all you wanted – was to come home.”

“Yep.”

“You don’t have some – some mission, or – uh – message, or warning or anything?”

“Nope.”

“You don’t want to talk? Ease some regret – some guilt you carried with you to your grave?”

“Nope.”

I stared at him.

“You just want to sit here and watch TV?”

“You mean the moving pictures?”

“Yeah -those.”

“Yep.”

This contradicted everything I had ever read.

So that night we watched television. I tried to explain it to him and also what the VCR was – but he wasn’t interested and told me to hush up finally. He somehow drank a beer and enjoyed it immensely as he laughed uncontrollably all the way through “Days of Heaven”. Sometime between three and four I fell asleep.

The next morning I’d have thought the whole thing a dream – but there was his empty beer bottle on the couch table. I knew I hadn’t had a beer because if I had I’d have woken up with my usual one beer hangover. Even so – and even after all my reading and experience – it was difficult to believe the events of the night were anything more than an elaborate dream.

I spent the day in the forest behind my own house cutting and hauling cords of wood to sell. I’d lost my job at the health food store when the boss caught me eating a Big Mac in my car one afternoon. I didn’t live far from Kayla’s house and, after a quick stop at KFC, I returned there. The TV was going when I came in and there on the couch, feet up, beer in hand, was 22 Captain. He nodded and smiled. I smiled back. His gold buttons shone brightly in the flickering light from the TV screen.

“Is that fried chicken I smell?”

“Yeah. You want some?”

“No, thanks, son. Just love that smell. Reminds me of home.”

So I ate my chicken and sat on the couch next to him watching TV. A Clint Eastwood western was on and the Captain was really getting into it. I had a thousand questions but he was having too much fun and I didn’t want to bother him.

Later, though, when the movie ended, I asked him, “What’s it like to be dead?”

“What’s it like to be alive?” he said.

“Well – ok, I guess.”

“Same here.”

“But – what’s that mean? Can’t you tell me anything?”

“What do you want to know?”

“Well – anything. What it’s like.”

“Where you been besides here?”

“Travelled to?”

“Yep.”

“Not many places. Maine mostly. The coast.”

“So what’s Maine like? Never been.”

“Oh, it’s beautiful. The ocean air is so fresh – I always feel like my lungs are getting cleaned out when I’m there. And the pines – you go inland a little? The pines are so sweet smelling and tall. I just lay there sometimes on the soft needles after breakfast and watch the sunlight dancing through the branches above me. Dancing down – to me, you know?”

“Knew a fellow from Maine once. A logger. Don’t know if he was from the same part you’re talking about. But I asked him the same question I just asked you.”

He turned from the TV and smiled at me.

“He said the state of Maine was God’s outhouse and the Lord just hadn’t gotten round to mucking it yet.”

He laughed.

I smiled and looked at him.

“Same with death -or life. Depends on who you ask. I can’t tell you but what I’ve experienced. When they first get there most say they’re miserable – they want their woman again or their man again or their baby again in their arms. Some moan after a cigarette again in the morning with the winter sun coming through the kitchen window, or a cup of coffee or the sound of birds toward dusk. They miss the earth something awful. Others don’t give a damn `bout anything – probably didn’t notice what they had when they was alive and didn’t give a damn then either `cause they were worrying over things too much to even notice an Autumn leaf.

“But they pretty much all calm down -some sooner and some later and there’s some never do. Depends on their understanding. You see, folks fear death because they think it’s everything you’ve ever had being taken away. It’s not. It’s everything you’ve ever lost being returned to you. It’s just that, well, some people don’t know what they got when they’ve got it – so they don’t feel the value when it comes on back to `em. They don’t recognize it, see?

“For me? When I get to missing the earth too much, why, I just pay a call.”

“Is there a Heaven?”

“Sure there is – if you want to go there.”

“Are you there? Is that where you’re from?”

“Nope.”

“Where then?”

“Right here. This is my home.”

Throughout the week I stayed there 22 Captain visited every night. We always watched TV but in the early morning we’d sit and talk before he left. He told some great stories. Funny stories. I’d never laughed so much. I forgot all about taping movies. He said he visited all the old places during the day or sometimes sat and watched me cutting wood. I told him to make some sort of sign, if he was out there with me when I was sawing, but he wouldn’t. He said I was doing dangerous work and ought to keep my mind on it instead of looking around for signs from spooks.

The last night we were together he took from his pocket a small, thin pen knife and put it in my hand.

“Keep this,” he said.

“Thanks.” I was startled.

He sat back on the sofa, his stubby legs protruding his feet over the edge.

“You worry too much, son,” he said. “It’s in your features. You don’t even have to speak – it’s all over your face you worry too much.”

I smiled at him and looked down at the knife. It was thin, inlaid with pearl, and had a small, gold chain attached to one end. I ran my finger across the smooth sides, keeping it closed.

“You take that thing out now and again.” he said. “You get to worrying, you take that thing out and recall to mind that when that knife was made, when I carried it, the earth was a different place – but folks then was worrying same as you. They worried themselves and they worried others but they endured and the earth endured after them. And when you’re gone the earth is going to be an even different place – but folks’ll worry still and endure still. Things ain’t half so bad as you think. You read too much – I can tell in how you put your words together and by the kind of moving pictures you watch. You see things sorrowful and you see things pained. But you oughta know that it doesn’t all have to be that way.”

I nodded, looking down at the knife.

“I’m not giving you a sermon. No call to look so hang-dog. Could I get a beer?”

“Sure.”

“I’m going back tonight.” he said, setting the beer down on the table. He looked like a four-year old sitting on the sofa.

“Back where?”

“See the family. They’re an odd bunch, but they’re blood.”

Then he told me of his leaving and his march through the woods the week before.

“You coming back ever?” I asked

“Might. Don’t know.”

“I enjoyed your visit.”

“You’re good company, son. Hospitable, a good listener – you got fine beer here – if only you didn’t worry so much.”

“I’ll work on it, Captain.”

“You do that,” he said. “Who’s your lady friend lives here?”

“Oh, that’s Kayla. She’s just a friend. I mean, she’s not a `lady friend’ or anything.”

“I see,” he said, then smiled, winked at me. “You might want to work on that, too.”

He was gone when I got up in the morning -there was not even the empty beer bottle as a souvenir. I went back and lay in bed and handled his knife over and over. I wondered how a spirit could produce a heavy, material object from a ghostly pocket and leave it with me – how a phantom could drink a beer or leave an imprint on a sofa cushion – why none of these things were ever discussed in the many books on the supernatural I’d read. And then I remembered and tried not to worry.

That night I watched TV by myself and felt the knife in my pocket and I missed the Captain; but I tried not to worry. I felt like I’d gotten my postcard, sure, and I could imagine my dad with the Captain under some great canopy of violet and gold by some eternal lake, laughing at the old stories and I’d smile and feel all right. Then, a moment later, I’d miss him again, miss them both, and I’d feel it all just wasn’t enough.

I never told Kayla about that night; I’ve never told anyone until now. Maybe I should have told her. Maybe it would have changed how everything turned out and we could have started something new together instead of drifting apart on our own separate seas of grief. I thought I’d just sound crazy talking about a ghost but now I don’t care. He was real; it was all real. He never came back and I’ve never forgotten him and, even now as I am writing this page, that knife hangs heavy in my left breast pocket – and I’m still trying not to worry all these years later. It’s not easy. I suppose the only way to really stop is to open the knife up and use it. But then that’s not what he gave it to me for.

Back to the Index

Ancient Elders, we remember you
By Liz.

As we gather in this sacred place,
to meet friends, old and new,
To mark this Samhain Sabbat,
an Ode dear Ancient Elders,
we write for you,

Without you, we’d not be here
to share this love today,
So Ancient Elders hear us,
especially when we say,

Our lives you did give too us,
to live to the full, and to enjoy,
A heart that’s strongly beating
in every girl, and in every boy.

Your blood is pumping through our veins,
your wisdom in our mind,
Your spirit rides with us every step of the way,
And your kindness is all around, we find.

Your love and nurture steering us
so we may be the best,
Your gracious ways of forgiving us
whenever we put you to the test,

Your guidance there to help us
at times when we want to climb tall,
Your patience there to catch us
at the times when we happen to fall,

And as the young grow older,
They should really know,
It was you, dear Ancient Elders
Who helped us all to grow

Past, present and future,
Cradle to Grave, you are there
So hear us Ancient Elders,
With these words we stand and share

The great wheel turns,
Hail to Death!
Rebirth Comes.

Back to the Index


Wrestling

By Carolyn Agee

 I grow wary of dreams,
and what what they tell me, unbidden,
in the unconscious hours of slumber.
Solemn warnings grasping for the corners of my mind,
vivid colours to set my soul on fire,
dread cloak of foreboding to snuff it out.
Fate spins on a single strand, ever twisting.
In the noon of waking, still, hangs the grey twilight,
a gift I would forgo.
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