The Faery Queen and the Horned God
In March 1998, I went to live in London, England. I had thought I would stay there for 18 months while I researched my Grail Bearers’ Tarot, but the Spirits of the Land had other plans for me. I have since come to believe they called me to the British Isles because of certain Magical links I had made, and because of my contacts with the Celtic Faery who are the true Grail Bearers.
As a Celtic Faery Initiate, I received powerful visionary visitations by the Tuatha de Danaan, or the Irish Faery. This began just after Samhain in 1996 a few weeks after a workshop I took with R.J.Stewart. The Tuatha de Danaan not only came to my house and opned portals into the Otherworld for me to pass through, they taught me many secrets of the Underworld Faery and their connection to the Holy Grail and the Arthurian Mythos. I was compelled to go the U.K. to wander through the lands of Arthur and Merlin to ground the visions into my soul and body — for when we embark on the Initiate’s, journey our blood changes, our ancestors wake up in our blood.
My King Arthur Tour to the U.K. took place in a beautiful March of 1997. During the month I was there, I roamed through England, Wales, Cornwall and Ireland. The last thing I did before I came home, was an eight hour overnight coach trip to Edinburgh to see Rosslyn Chapel, reputed to be the final sanctuary of the Holy Grail.
I had many powerful experiences on this Quest of mine that will be shared in future posts.
Mystical Encounters with the Spirits of the Land
Having grown up in the woods in Massachusetts and maintaining my bond with wild nature throughout my life, I have always had a strong sense of how different places have their own spirit, and spirits who are particular to that place. The liminal twilight atmosphere of the Massachusetts woods, the low rolling hillls, swamps, and changing light, the striking cycles of seasonal transformation, suit beings very akin to traditional fairies, the types you find in Grimm, and in the Romantic descriptions of Yeats or Fiona Macleod; seasonal spirits of snow, ice and flaming and then falling leaves, silence, and subtlety. There are also witchy spirits, for the Black Man of the Forest, ruler of the witches lives there. There is the Salem Witch current, ghosts, and Iroquoise False Faces and Manitous.
Some of these seem to have been brought from England during Colonial Times. There are records of Scottish Faery Seers coming to these shores in during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I who brought their spiritual contacts with them, or drew them here over the water after seven years of separation.
Mexico has spirits of another sort: desert beings, spirits that rattle in the night, wind ghosts, an earth that vibrates with living currents of serpent power that you can feel as you walk over it. The animals behave in mysterious ways. Coyote appears on the horizon and in the blink of an eye is gone; the sea tortoise comes ashore under a moonless sky, and vanishes under the waves of the sea as if she never been. The sun charges the Earth so that, even in daylight, the spirit world is palpable.
In Ireland, I took a bus ride over the Burren. As lead singer in a Celtic band, Castlerigg, in the 1990′s, I had heard form Irish players that many tunes had been given to the bards by the Faery. Maybe it was imagination, but as my contacts with the Underworld Faery, especially of Ireland had taught me, imagination is the key to the Kingdom. But I heard music, the same as that of an Irish tune, coming up from under the Earth. Had I been a proper musician, I could have written it down.
As the Queen slays the King in the Upper World, so he rules in the Underworld.
Tarot of the Grail Bearers
I wasn’t in London long before the God and Goddess of the British Isles made themselves known to me. I was living near to Hampstead Heath, formerly the stag hunting forest of the Royal families of Britain. I had arrived in that neighborhood in late April of 1998, finding a cheap bedsitting room with a large bay window that gave me plenty of light to paint by.
I was working on a Tarot Deck, Tarot of the Grail Bearers. Each image was designed after intense 3-dimensional visions given to me, in an ordered fashion, by the Tuathaa de Danaan. It was clear they wanted this Tarot deck to be painted, and to be painted by me despite my lack of skill. The project took over my life for four and half years during which teaching after teaching was given to me along with the images for the cards.
Perhaps the Tuatha deDannaan chose me because I had been reading and teaching for most of my life. The Tarot lived in me. I have been told that my images have great spiritual intensity. I think this is because, as I painted each card, I was passing back and forth a doorway of its symbols the entire time. This deck is charged with Faery magic.
To see the full Tarot of the Grail Bearers, please visit my website at http://www.whiteswan-tarot.com/ and look through the Gallery. It used to be called Tarot of the Holy Grail until I realized it is not about the Grail. but about those who guard and keep it in the Otherworld.
50 The Drive
I had no idea the house was haunted. Not only haunted — but also on the Spirit Line of the Wild Hunt!
See my post How to Know if Your House is Haunted for another angle on this tale of woe.
Initiation of the Horned God
This etching looks like Old London, doesn’t it? My bedsitting room was in a house down below there, on the path the Wild Hunt has taken through North London, over the Heath, from antiquity.
It began with nightmares.
Not long after Samhain, 1998, I was woken at 3AM by the presence of a shadowy Stag/Man standing near my bed. He was looking down at me with pale, fiery eyes. I had been visited by such a spirit as a child in Massachusetts, ( See my post: The Horned Ones) but never had he displayed to me such awesome power, never had he focused his entire being on me. Alarmed, I sat up, but the vision did not go away. I was experiencing the same level of clairvoyance that brought the visions of the Faery and Holy Grail. But, where the Grail Bearers were gentle, lofty, sometimes tricky, this being was dangerous.
The Stag/Man was not endowed with a human conscience, he did not let feelings or emotions concern him. He embodied raw, untamed, male sexual power. There were nor reasons, no inhibitions, no consideration for me. He intended to take me, to possess me as if I was the same as he — a wild animal from the forest. I wasn’t about to let him.
Since I was well versed in magical protection, and because I thought this was an illusion brought by some kind of psychic attack, I got to work. On the first night, I performed a Rite of Banishing, sealed my space and, finally, at 6AM, went back to sleep.
I thought I had succeed. It was peaceful for two nights. Then, the third night, at 3AM, the Horned One was back again, and much more insistent and violent. This time, the Stag/Man was also accompanied by a wolf. The wolf prowled around the edges of my protective circle. I was so grateful my Rite had been strong enough that he couldn’t get in! The wolf was beautiful, with a shimmering silver coat of thick fur. He howled and stared while the Stag/Man commenced to try to attack me.
I chanted all the spells of protection I knew, and refused to go to sleep and surrender control of my being.
To cut a very long ordeal short, over the course of six weeks, I was stampeded by Wild Riders that raged through the bed room from the windows through the wall. Vines grew up from under my bed, crawled up from the foot of the bed, wound around me, bound me in tendrils and stems as thick as your arm so that I could not move. Under the blankets, great phallic stems rushed towards me like special effects in a horror film. Spirits of darkness circled around the room, uttering strange piercing cries like night birds hunting, wolves prowled, and owls fluttered across my dreaming eyes. A strange man entered my dream/ visions, playing crazy clown, Ringmaster, or walking on stilts, trying to get into my brain.
There was no place to go! For me the invasion of my very inner space, always my last ditch sanctuary, was just not acceptable. The Stag/Man came every night at 3AM to get into bed with me, holding me down while I fought. I refused to go to sleep until 6AM when the visions stopped with the dawn.
It is unfortunate that I did not understand what was going on, for in my desperation to ward off the nightmare, I began to throw psychic fireballs, and to attack these beings, devastating my inner world. This was because I was afraid that if I surrendered, I would be possessed. My training in kundalini Yoga had taught me to send spirits away and purify myself so that the serpent could rise without triggering karma. (snark) Well…
I am sure for initiated Wiccans this attitude is incomprehensible, but I was not, and am not, an initiated Wiccan. I was born with the Witchblood, so much of what goes on between myself and the Otherworld is unexplained. My teachers have been lax in this area also. There seems to be a conflict of interest.
If you wonder why I refused to surrender to my mystic, nocturnal visitor, it was also because of the raw power, strength, and violence of the God. Imagine being chased through the forest by a horney wild elk! How can you surrender to that?
Eventually, near Christmas, I was so exhausted that I just stopped fighting. As I slept, exhausted and unable to care, I felt the Stag/Man enter me. I was instantly consumed in a fire that burned from head to foot. I was wrapped in flames. This sensation lasted for three days — even in during my daily activities. I burned, and burned, and burned…It was highly charged erotic energy. Soaring fire and burning eyes. As a student of Alchemy, I knew I was in the furnace.
I made a decision to stay away from magic after that. It was the wrong thing to do because the magical people were the very ones who had an explanation of what I went through…
It comes to mind that such a fiery Initiation seems to mirror the fate of witches burned in Elizabethan times, and later under King James. How passing strange it all is…
We hunt him and then he hunts us. The God of Death and Rebirth.
I had spent so many years connecting with the bright side of Faery. Little did I know that I would be forced into the dark, that my pursuit of the White Hart into the Forest of Brociliande would carry meh into the abyss as the God took on his cthonic, or Underworld, form.
For seven years I felt I had been a spiritual victim. Afraid of psychic attack, I avoided the magical practices that had once been second nature to me. I stayed away from like-minded others: magicians, witches, magical people. It was lonely trying to fit in with mundanes and New Agers, but at least I was safe…I thought.
Unable to bear the isolation any longer, I found my way to Treadwells Bookshop in Covent Garden. There I found a thriving and brilliant community of occultists and pagans. With much trepidation, because I was afraid of being thought mad, I approached the owner, Christina, and asked her if she would explain something to me.
Over tea and cookies, I gave her my horrific story. Despite my trauma, I knew my experience was significant. I wanted to know what it meant, what was it for, and why did I have to go through it? What she told me was actually quite beautiful. She gave me an illustration of a circle patterned after a labyrinth. At the bottom of the circle, a powerful stag stood in a dark forest. At the top of the circle was a little cottage with smoke coming out of the chimney.
Christian explained that the bottom, the dark forest where I had been, represented death; that as we hunt the Horned God, so he hunts us, and takes us. At the top of the circle, where the sunlight shines upon the cottage, is our reward when we pass through our ordeal successfully: safety and coziness.
Of course this idea of the ‘hunt’ is not a literally about killing for food or sport. One chases the white stag into the forest of the deep self, the unconscious, the soul, if you will. The goal is to find a transcendent experience, perhaps to gain healing, or powers, or a gift from the Otherworld. But in entering the uncharted, moonlit labyrinth of the soul, one must encounter the dark forces that dwell there, the repressed things, the caged animals within, the history of old hurts, rages, and hates. To avoid this experience is impossible once one has set foot on the Path, and dark experiences are necessary if one is to gain spiritual maturity, true depth, and wisdom. Without these qualities, one is not fit to take one’s place as a teacher of the Mysteries. I had been a teacher before, and a healer. But now, my work is made richer, and more potent, for my having passed through the Abyss.
Christina also told me that Hampstead Heath, near where I lived, had been a Royal stag hunting forest since Norman times. So it was no surprise that the Horned God might follow an ancient trackway through the haunted house I lived in.
One of the great hunting monarchs of all time was the Faery Queen, Elizabeth Tudor. So it was no wonder that the two came to me hand in hand, symbolizing the inner marriage of the polarities of the Land.
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