I haven’t posted on here for a long time and would have a very long story to tell about that—in fact a whole slew of stories since stories are what have keeping me away! I started this blog as an apprenticeship, to hone my writing skills for fiction. That’s why you will find a first drafts on here and on Gothic Faery Tales, my other blog, amongst the regular blog posts. I also saw this as a place to explore my interests in magic, folklore and history — themes that also deeply inform my fiction. I want to come back to this blog and could think of no batter start than to share the research behind one of my top books.
The Vampire’s Mirror was #1 in Horror and #2 in Gothic Romance on Kindle and got several excellent reviews. But here, on the Winterspells blog, I want to talk about, not the story, but the magic of mirrors.
Blame Alice Through the Looking Glass, or perhaps Snow White, but I have, since childhood, been aware of the uncanny nature of mirrors. The mirror sees things in reverse, it may reflect what we cannot see because it is behind us, or above us, or at an odd angle. It may show us the hidden side as when we hold one mirror to our face to look into another mirror at our back. The mirror suggests hidden worlds on the other side of the glass. Mirrors can be used for spying and magician’s tricks, bending our perception of reality.
“Jack in Glass”! How could he not be a Jack being all leftwards and backwards sinsiter? And how could a doppleganger be safe?
Have you ever stared at your refection in a mirror and seen yourself morph into creatures and animals and elves? Transformations abound in the mirror.
Before glass was and silver were combined by the Venetians into clear and wonderful speculums, our ancestors looked into the surface of a lake or a dish of water, a polished stone, or perhaps, as in this tale, a sheet of polished silver, to see what others saw, but they themselves could not see: their own images.
Yet all reflective thinsg were suspect…
Though metal was a superficial thing, all metals were attributed to Gods. The surface of a lake goes deep into another realm, also largely invisble to the human eye, that nevertheless yields up treasures and food. All of these qualities were mysterious and therefoe suspect in ancient times.
“The power of mirrors – or any reflective surface – to reveal what is hidden has been known since ancient times. Gazing upon shiny surfaces is one of the oldest forms of scrying, a method of divination practiced by the early Egyptians, Arabs, the Magi of Persia, Greeks and Romans. In ancient Greece, the witches of Thessaly reputedly wrote their oracles in human blood upon mirrors. The Thessalian witches are supposed to have taught Pythagoras how to divine by holding a magic mirror up to the moon. Romans who were skilled in mirror reading were called specularii.”
The Vampire’s Mirror
The Vampire’s Mirror plays with the idea that the vampire cannot be seen in the mirror. This is an interesting idea because it suggests that the Vampire has no body to reflect. He also casts no shadow. Yet he is not incorporeal to those he presy upon who not only see the vampire, but feel him and are powerfully effected by him.
Since the vampire is a predator, then the mirror must serve his predation. Therefore it must be, as in Alice Through the Looking Glass, a portal through which he passes into the victims workd and through which the victim may pass into his. The mirror can also be used as a means of enchantment.
In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the mirror is aligned with Vanity.
Sins of Vanity and Temptation
“Giselle wouldn’t call herself a thief, but like a magpie she was pulled toward bright objects: jewels and bangles, rings and beaded sashes, embroidered reticules and fans. The mere sight of a pair of earrings lying unattended on the dressing table would set her fingers fluttering to enclose them, secretly, in the palm of her hand, to be nonchalantly dropped in the pocket of her apron. Only cleaning up, she’d tell herself. My Lady shouldn’t leave valuable things lying around like that.”—Alyne de Winter The Vampire’s Mirror
Thieving creatures like magpies and crows love bright shiny objects. Something about objects that give off light associates them with the Devil. Perhaps because all the Devil’s works are but counterfiets of God’s Creation.
The Hero of this tale, Stefan, is unable to resist the lure of the vampire’s mirror. His beloved Analise grow enraptured with her own reflection in the glass, but also sees the vampire’s world on the other side. She sees him and he sees her….
When I started this blog, I wasn’t writing fiction like a lunatic as I am now. I didn’t have my Grail Keeper’s Tarot coming out.
It is scheduled for December 2012 in book form. Like an art book.
My real love is storytelling, making stuff up and writing about magic and my experiences with it in fictional form. When I was asked to write a memoir, I tried, but decided to, in the end, to decline. there were lots of reasons, but one of the big ones was that I wanted to save my most supernatural experiences for my fiction. Didn’t want to use them up in one book.
Over the summer, I wrote lots of short stories and all of them found publishers. I even got paid. I wrote two screenplays and continued to edit and revise two novels, The Roses of the Moon and Rosewolf. I have excerpted both of them on my other Gothic Faery Tales. Thus has blogging languished.
Plus I have to work the day job.
I have also gone through changes. It would take many blog posts to describe these changes. Some of my new thoughts and insights would be very controversial in this niche. I consider shutting down the blog and re-publishing the posts in books form, making them more complete and available on e-reader formats.
I do have an Amazon Kindle page and three stories uploaded on there.
Go to Kindle, scroll down to Books and type in my name: Alyne de Winter.
All are priced at 99 cents.
At this point I have : Roses, Briars and Blood: A Gothic Re-telling of Grimms’ Briar Rose
Reflection of Beauty: Inspired by Beauty and the Beast and the film La Belle et la Bette by Jean Cocteauand a contemporary Paranormal Romance: Portrait of a Vampire.
There will be more. I’d love if you would go there and read them and write some great reviews! I do work hard. I would love to know if those stories are as enjoyable for you as the blog has been.
Occasionally one has a wildly significant dream that may hold value for others. I had this one this morning, full of archetypal symbolism.
Numerology tells me that 2010 was a 9 year for me. The end of a cycle. Time to say “Goodbye” and make room for new things. Make sure to visualize exactly what I want, and how I plan to make it happen for 2011, my number 1 year.
My birthday came in late January. I did not feel renewed. Rather I have plunged inwards. Been very quiet, had writer’s block where every sentence I wrote sounded like a clunker. I broke through that a bit, then this morning, I had this dream.
Dream — March 9, 2011
I am in a school, a university. A young man has been in causing trouble. 2 incidents cause minor concern, but I can’t remember what they were. Then the man shoots another young man in the head, just above the ear. It is all over the news.
I go into the restaurant side of the school. It is darkish, like a night club but there is no music. I rush in to get some papers out of a desk. I find two wooden ravens—one 3 dimensional and the other flat and carved in the style of the Salish tribes. The papers are messily folded up. The top one has blood all over it. I ask the host at the desk how it feels to be there after such a terrible incident. He and others say it is terrible. A sense of foreboding fills the atmosphere, a threat of death.
I leave that restaurant with papers and the two ravens. I take them nervously into a large classroom that looks like the cafeteria at Worcester State College (where I went a long time ago), but rather than tables, the room if full of children’s school desks. I want to save the ravens but cannot carry them. I must keep the papers. To my right here are big windows that let in lots of white light. I find a desk beside the window, and decide it is mine. I lift the lid and put the ravens into the back of the desk, where the pens and pencils are usually kept. They are very tactile, wood painted black, old and handmade. I am not sure how safe they are in the desk, for might not really be mine, but I don’t let it worry me too much.
I wake up with a sense that the cycle is finally complete. Several story problems ( my fiction and a screenplay I am re-writing ) are solved all at once. New ideas are being downloaded. I don’t know what else will come to life in the next few weeks but writing is bound to be great.
New Year begins with Aries indeed. Even the moon has been passing through Aries. Uranus, my Aquarius sun sign ruler, is in Aries. The first growth of life in Spring is at hand.
Ron Victor LaRochelle
Since I discovered Alchemy via Carl Jung’s famous work in the late 1970s, I have described my life to myself in Alchemical terms. The raven fits perfectly with the end of a cycle, a 9, number of the Moon, and the Alchemical phase of Nigredo. I’ve been through this before, but this time, the ravens are inanimate, toys that I can put away in a child’s desk. They are handmade, natural human creations, though for the Salish tribes, Raven is the Trickster God. What does it mean that the God of the Land on which I live, the Northwest, has been reduced to a piece of black painted wood? Perhaps it is a talisman, though even that is put away.
I’d like to think it means that I no longer have to fear God’s (Saturn’s ) wrath. That the darkness is no longer a threat. The blood on the pages of the manuscript was spilled turning my personal pain onto art, just as the ravens have been made into art. The man shot in the head symbolizes the necessity to get out of one’s head where one is firmly placed by the university, or formal education. That the others in the dream are men is perhaps a symbol of the left-brain world, the intellect vs. intuition and feeling. The fear of losing that head-space is a fear of death. Perhaps.
The Alchemical phase after Nigredo is Albedo, symbolized by the white light at the window. This is the phase in which we confront the opposite sex within, and move towards the reconciliation of opposites. Perhaps that is what all the young men are about.
I hope all of this means I am free to think and create from a pure place. I hope it means new adventures. Its been so quiet the last year or so as I strive to complete my old projects. Such a long period of retreat has been unusual for me. I am ready to leave the nest again
Willow, Saille, Willow,
Oh silver drenched tree!
Long leaves fall on water
Rippling in moonlight
Ladies who bend
On the threshold of February.
Saille ( Sahl-yeh)
Moonlight on willow is a mysterious sight, especially on the threshold between Winter and Spring when the bare trunks cast crooked shadows over the frosted grass like spirits coming through the mists of the Otherworld. The voices of the Faeries can be heard in the rustling of the willow branches, breathing, into the ear of the poet, their songs.
The willow is a remarkably feminine tree. It thrives near rives and streams, lakes and ponds, it shimmers in the moonlight, and provides shelter under its umbrella of graceful branches. Uniquely beautiful and mysterious, the willow invites entry into another world within the compass of its branches. If you have ever been inside a large weeping willow then you know how instantly the outside world ceases to exist as silence and diffused light encompass you. It is this quality of the willow that makes it one of the first trees of Faery.
Pagans have always associated the willow with the Triple Goddess of the Moon. Sacred to Hekate, Goddess of the Dark Moon, the willow stands as the gateway to the Realm of Shades or Death. The weeping of the willow mirrors the grief of those left behind, as was the Greek poet Orpheus who, armed with willow branches, entered Hades and returned, not alas with his beloved wife, Euridyce, but with the gift of poetry.
Tree of Poetry
As the “witch’s tree” tree of poetry, transformation and healing, willow is connected with the Bright Brighid whose Day of Initiation is February 2, Candlemas, a Festival of Lights. In the Pagan mind, death is also an initiation, a transformation not to be feared any more than the peace found under the branches of the willow tree under the full moon when one feels transported to a strange and beautiful place.
The willow tree reflected in the waters brings moon magic to earth, creating a numinous, visually confusing, liminal effect. This may be why it the tree of romantic love, for what can be more difficult to interpret than the varying faces of love in the throes of deep attachment? Valentine’s day is also in February, suggesting that Love is the fulfillment of the Light celebrated at Candlemas.
In some traditions, willow is the thirteenth tree. This may fit it in at the leap year, the liminal 29 day of February, that was the modern concession to the natural rhythmic sequence of the lunar year.
Throw your shoe up high
into the branches of a willow tree;
If he branches catch and hold your shoe,
You soon will married be.
The Witch’s Tree
The magical properties of willow are as numerous as its medicines. Faery magics of enchantment, wishing, romance, and divination under the moon are enhanced by the presence of willow. Its powers are beneficial, protective, nurturing, inspirational, joyful, and peaceful. This throws a provocative light on its role as tree of mourning, for how can death be evil when couched among so many life giving powers? Rather, willow traditionally inspires courage, and helps one overcome the fear of death. Willow is flexible, fluid, resilient, and strong. It focuses intuition, induces trance states, attracts Faeries and other spirits. It eases transitions, especially into the unknown.
Because of the many medicines dispensed by the willow, it was much sought after by Cunning people for healing purposes. As a feminine tree connected to the moon, willow bark provides pain relief for menstrual cramps and child bearing. The gemstone for willow is the blood-red carbuncle. This is another image that evokes women’s mysteries of bleeding and fertility. Burning willow lends energy to healing magic.
Willow wands are excellent for moon magic, and its wood is good for making magical harps, accompaniment for for poets for ancient times.
Divination by Willow:
Willow increases psychic vision into the watery Otherworld Realms under the waves. Dreams, and premonitions are stirred by willow’s influence on the deep subconscious mind. Just being near a willow tree can induce trance states in which prophetic oracles can be mediated from Faery into our reality. Divination by smoke from a willow fire while passing a willow wand through it to disturb its shapings, is a powerful divination technique for those with the second sight. Scrying into water where willow is reflected on nights of the full moon, is venerable tradition.
Awakening of dormant powers and emotions, pay attention to dreams. Love is n the way. Positive transformation from one way of life to another, The need to be flexible an adaptable. Relief from painful situations. Encounters with Faerie, or the deceased.
Robert Place and I had so much fun with his first interview that we decided to give you Part 2. Robert is such a interesting man having not only designed five beautiful tarot decks, but being an occult scholar as well. So please enjoy more of our fascinating conversation.
Can you tell me what The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery is about? It sounds very intriguing. Is it based on a Mystery Tradition? The art I saw looks very beautiful as well.
I started on The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery in 2001. At present, it consists only of the Fool, the 21 trumps, the ace and two of coins, the ace of swords, the ace of cups, and the ace of staffs. I also completed a set of the Fool and Trumps printed oversize with annotations in the margins and background done in a calligraphic script. I completed this for my exhibition in the Crafts and Folk Art Museum in LA in January, 2010. I made 17″ high prints of these and they were the main focus of the exhibit. They are also included in my book based on the exhibition, The Fool’s Journey: the History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot.
The inspiration for the deck came when I was looking at the paintings of 19th century English Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones. Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites believed that art was a spiritual or magical endeavor and toward this end they formed a mystical brotherhood of artists dedicated to recapturing the sincerity of the art of the early Renaissance—the same historic period that gave us the Tarot. In many ways they paved the way in England for the Golden Dawn. Burne-Jones, in particular, based his tall female beauties and melancholy heroes on the paintings of Botticelli and Michelangelo, two artists whose works are considered primary examples of Renaissance Neoplatonic mysticism. I noticed that Burne-Jones painted some of the same allegorical figures that are found in the Tarot such as Foolishness, Temperance, and the Wheel of Fortune. I always loved his style of painting and I wanted to complete the Tarot deck for him that he seems to have unintentionally started.
Robert Place: The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery
As the deck progressed, besides being enamored with the beauty of the style, I found that it was the perfect means to express all of the insights that I had developed concerning the nature of the Tarot and its mystical message. It allowed me to bridge the gap and synthesize the Renaissance ideas expressed in the original Tarot with the broader archetypal interpretations of those images that were added by 19th century occultists.
The name of the deck comes from my belief that the Western system of seven virtues, is a yogic system designed to purify the seven soul centers, which ascend the human spine, and that have been known in the West at least from the time of Pythagoras (the 6th century BC). The World card, in particular, represents the virtue Prudence, who is the culmination of the four cardinal virtues. The other three virtues: Temperance, Strength, and Justice, were considered the parts of Prudence, and that fact helps to explain why the three are more explicitly illustrated in the Tarot. Prudence as Sophia (the Wisdom of God) was also the mother of the three Christian virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Prudence symbolizes the enlightenment that is achieved when the virtues have completed their jobs and brought each soul center into balance and health.
I went to an exhibition of Burne-Jone’s work in Burmingham when i lived in England. His work is absolutely stunning. I can see why you would be inspired by him. He also did so much! In England even some of the small country churches have stained-glass windows by Burne-Jones. That is a perfect medium for his work with the light coming through. Come to think of it—your work would make amazing stained glass.
I use to be a stained glass apprentice for about a year when I was first out of college in the 1970s.
Burne-Jones did a lot of stained glass in the US also.
I did a search to find some of his pieces and saw some great ones in Boston and Delaware. But it turned out that his first US commission was in the Episcopal Church right here in Saugerties where I live.
(Here’s a link to the stained glass windows in Saugerties:
They are gorgeous—Angels by William Morris., the rest by Burne- Jones)
I want to explore more about symbolism with you
and how you find your inspiration in other arts like painting and films and magic.
Maybe something like:
Is there a mystical unity between your tarot themes?
Is there an alchemy in the art of Burne-Jones as there is with vampires?
There is certainly a link between vampires and the PreRaphaelites.
Did you know that John Polidori who wrote The Vampyre, was
D.G. Rossetti’s uncle? Did you know about the vampiric myth that grew up around Lizzie Siddal?
I have a screenplay half written about that.
What about the Grail legend? Is that part of your alchemy as it is of Burne-Jones?
Your themes of Saints and Angels — how do they fit in? There is a Gothic quality to your
work taken as a whole I think.
Chew chew chew
Robert Place:The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery
These are good questions and I will try to answer them as best as I can.
I feel that there is a unity behind all of my Tarot decks. At first glance, this may not be obvious because my first three decks: TheAlchemical Tarot, The Angels Tarot, and the Tarot of the Saints, were based on Western mystical and religious themes, and then with the creation of The Buddha Tarot and The Vampire Tarot, I seemed to be drifting further and further away from that area.
But, my goal from the beginning was to recover the original mystical message that was expressed by the Tarot’s 15th century creators and to find ways of expressing that wisdom by illustrating its connection to popular mythology or mystical systems.
My Buddha Tarot is not just about Buddhism but how it is similar to Western mystical traditions and how this comparison helps us to better understand our own traditions. My Vampire Tarot, which although it was just published last year, was actually the second deck that I began after The Alchemical Tarot, is about Dracula and how this story is based on the Grail legend which was one to the early influences on the Tarot, and that this story in turn grew out of the shamanic practice of soul retrieval.
I believe that Edward Burne-Jones was a mystic and that his paintings were his alchemical practice. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which he belonged to, was founded in 1848 by a group of artists in England who came out of the Romantic movement and shared a romantic fascination for the art of the Middle Ages. They wanted to capture the sincerity and honest piety of the works created before the time of the Renaissance painter Raphael (1483-1520). A time when paintings were believed to have magical curative powers, were used in rituals to heal and protect cities, and were the inspiration for pilgrimages. They believed that their art could uplift their viewers to a higher moral state and counteract the illnesses brought about by industrialization.
Burne-Jones was a second generation member of this movement and the art critic Ruskin labeled his variation the Mythic School. He focused on a mythic Classical or Arthurian world populated by tall, pale, beautiful heroines or femme fatales, and equally beautiful armored heroes. He was a major influence on the Symbolist painters that became popular in the rest of Europe at the end of the 19th century and helped create the atmosphere that led to the revival of occultism.
Toward the end of his life, beginning in 1881, Burne-Jones worked on a large mural,”The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon.” During this period he also created a number of works depicting the legend of King Arthur, including a series of tapestries (1890-1891) designed for Morris & Company, sets and costumes for the play “King Arthur” (1895) performed at the London’s Lyceum Theater under the management of Dracula author Bram Stoker, and illustrations for Sebastian Evans’ The High History of the Holy Grail (1898). But “The Sleep of Arthur” became a personal work that he slowly perfected between other commissions. When he worked on it, he would say that he was retreating to Avalon. He finished it in 1898 and died shortly after. When I read about this, I had a strong intuition that he had achieved his goal and escaped to his inner world –escaped to Avalon.
I didn’t know that Polidori, the first author of a Vampire prose, was D.G. Rossetti’s uncle. Rossetti, of course, was Burne-Jones’ mentor and was a major influence on his style. But the vampire theme comes out of the same Romantic movement, with its obsession with the Middle Ages, the irrational, and the occult, that gave rise to the Pre-Raphaelites. I believe that the pre-Raphaelites and Burne Jones in particular influenced Bram Stoker. In Dracula, Stoker created, a strong beautiful heroine, several femme fatales, and a group of heros that were basically knights –characters that were similar to Burne-Jones’s figures. I acknowledged this by incorporating a Pre-Raphaelite style in my illustrations for my Vampire Tarot. Some of the figures are based on photos of the famous Pre-Raphaelite model Jane Morris; for example, the Mina trump.
Robert Place: Vampire Tarot
I love the Jane Morris paintings. She had a very mysterious, silent quality that suited those mystic images of women.
Rossetti first wife, Lizzie Sidall, was the artist’s primary model and in spite of their class differences he married her in 1860. With his instruction and encouragement she also became an artist. By 1862, Lizzie feared that her husband was looking for a younger muse. After her daughter was stillborn and she became pregnant again she was hopelessly depressed. She committed suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum. Overcome with grief and romantic ideals, Rossetti placed a book containing the only copies of his poems in her grave. After seven years he had second thoughts and had her exhumed so that he could retrieve this book. Her body was said to have been in perfect condition. Her red hair had continued to grow while she was dead and now filled the coffin framing her and creating a memorable last impression. The image of the beautiful dead Lizzie surrounded in her luscious hair captured the public imagination and led to the rumors that she was actually undead. Red hair in itself is often associated with vampires. Stoker was likely to have been influenced by this description when he wrote the scene with Lucy beautifully laid out in her coffin.
Burne Jones’ son, Philip Burne-Jones, was also a painter, but his only well known painting is “The Vampire,” a portrait of a femme fatale vampire leaning over her male victim. The model for Philip’s vampire was Mrs. Patrick Campbell, an actress who in 1893 played the lead in “The Second Mrs. Tanqueray,” captured the public eye, and became famous for her beauty and talent. Philip dated her for a while, showered her with expensive presents, and painted her several times. But for the vampire portrait he worked from memory after she broke his heart by dumping him for a leading man and then a series of other lovers. In 1897, he displayed the painting at the annual summer exhibition of the New Gallery, a major show that included works by Sargent as well as Philip’s father. Alongside the painting, Philip included a poem “The Vampire” by his cousin, Rudyard Kipling, that described the foolishness of a man allowing himself to be destroyed by a heartless woman. This exhibition was held only a few months before Stoker’s Dracula was first in print.
Philp Burne-Jones: The Vampire
Philip’s painting received good reviews in London, but bad reviews later, after a New York showing. Some reporters also recognized his model, and speculation on the circumstances that led to her depiction as a vampire became the focus of gossip. During her American tour, which coincided with the American exhibition of “The Vampire,” Mrs. Campbell’s agent played up her connection to the painting. Philip, his painting, and Mrs. Campbell all came together in Chicago and the press had a field day with the story. In 1907, Porter Emerson Browne was commissioned by the actor Robert Hilliard to write a play based on the painting, which was called ” A Fool There Was.” Katherine Kaelred played the vampire and the play was carefully constructed so that it ended with a tableau that echoed the painting. The play was a popular success and influenced the burgeoning American movie industry. William Fox bought the rights to the play and created a film version, which stared Theda Bara. This role as a heartless femme fatale, which Bara continued to play in over 40 films, earned her the nickname ” the vamp.” As you can see, Pre-Raphealites, vampires, and popular imagination and culture are all intimately connected.
This was a really fascinating interview, Bob! I have long been a fan of the PreRpaelites and Dracula—-all of it and you told me things I didn’t know. Thank you Robert, it has been wonderful talking to you.
I would like to mention that Robert has a beautiful new book out:
The Fool’s Journey: The History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot
An 8.5″ by 11′ full color book
A PDF download is also available for only $10.00.
The gorgeous production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by the Ballet Russes is charged with eroticism and the glamor that goes with it. Indeed Shakespeare’s play with its two pairs of lover lost in the moonlit forest, love spells, jealousies, flirtations, deceptions, bands of flower fairies led by the Trickster Faun, Puck, is a rite of fertility magic. The choreographer has captured the hive quality of fairy beings, fused together in dances of sensuality and ecstasy. Oberon enters with his train of night and crown of branches. Beside him is the child, a grim reminder of the sacrifices of old, for it is Midsummer when the Summer King gives his life to the harvest. Titania is tricked by Puck into making love to one of his hoofed brethren, a donkey, for the fairies do not discriminate.
Faeries are more than nature spirits. They are the spiritual Intelligences of the earth. Its is Faery from which life springs and to which it returns in never-ending cycles of death and rebirth. Earth is a sexual planet. We see this all around us: constant reproduction, growth, flourishing, impregnating and dying off so more life can be born. This is what earth does. It what faeries do. Therefore Earth is also a Love planet, for love charges eroticism with spiritual power. Mothers tend their young with love so that they will have the strength to survive.
Faeries serve the life force. They are morally neutral but can be bent to human will. To those in harmony, the faeries will appear beautiful and grant gifts of knowledge and creative power. To those of wicked intent who call upon them for selfish purposes, the fairies will take on that pollution.
It’s sad that so there is so much left hand path magic going on today because the spirit world is darkening and suffering and becoming distorted by it, and we see what is happening to the earth. The dark and light Seelie Courts are a totally modern pop phenomenon brought about during the primal rift that separated the worlds.
In the old fertility religions, the peasants would couple in the fields in imitation of the faeries. They shared the erotic life of Faery in recognition that this is the way of the Earth. Done with full spiritual awareness of the energies involved, this was good magical participation at the high tides of the solar festivals. I believe blood sacrifice associated with Midsummer were a degradation of the original rites, because blood was used to embody spirits. This was not necessary before the coming of the Wasteland.
Wells and Springs are Entrances to Faery
Wells were one of the main entrances and exits between Faery and the outer world. The Arthurian Legend of the Wasteland describes what happened when these portals between the worlds were shut down by invaders. In The Elucidation, the tale is told of a temple of priestesses that tended the sacred wells. A drink of water from the Priestesses of the Wells was charged with healing power because of its links with the Love vibrations of the Earth and wisdom of the Faeries.
An army of brutal, warlord invaders, led by King Amangons, attacked the Priestess’s temple and raped them and stole their sacred goblet. After that, the wells were closed and the faeries were buried underground, no longer able to interact with mortals and help the earth to flourish. rape destroyed the the sacred sexuality of women and corrupted the lustiness of men to brutality. The continuity of the life forces was severed, the links between the world broken. Thus the earth did not bear fruit and was laid waste.
This was when the sacrifice of the Summer King came about represented by the little boy who is King for a Day with Oberon.
The importance of Faery can thus be seen as very great. Every wound to Mother Earth is a wound to Faery and to the spiritual envelope that is the Anima Mundi or Soul of the World. can we restore the Wasteland before it too late? Even in the Arthurian legend in the 12th century the Grail, representative of the cup of the Priestesses of the Wells, was withdrawn because of war and destruction of sacred sexuality and feminine.
“Abashed the Devil stood, and felt how awful goodness is…”
This article was prompted by a pair of short films by a documentary film maker whose work I really enjoy. The films are called Black Magic Kingdoms and can by found on the Enigma Channel of Chris Everard. In these films, Chris pans over the masonry of Narbonne Cathedral and both inside and outside of Cologne Cathedral in Germany. What he says is correct: the stone is carved over with demons from the Goetia of King Solomon. To the modern mind, impacted as it is by skepticism towards the supernatural, atheism, and materialistic science, interpreting these figures as evocations to demons rather than to devotions to Christ is an easy mistake to make. But we have to realize that these magnificent buildings were not designed in modern times by people with a post modern mind set. They are visions from the heart and soul of the Middle Ages, and quite early at that —–the 12th century.
I was born into a French Catholic family. My father’s side was intensely religious having emigrated to Quebec in the 1604 and bringing their 1604 religious practices with them. Going to the cathedral in early childhood where both French and Latin were spoken filled my subconscious with powerful, numinous images and an endless attraction to things Medieval. It also implanted with deep spiritual struggle within. As I grew in the Existentialist 1960s, I was forced to question the basic Christian belief that Jesus Christ IS God.
But people in the Middle Ages in Europe had no such struggle. They believed. Only passionate belief could explain the sacrifices that must have gone into creating these massive and intricate temples, these consciousness transformers that send your spirit soaring. Chris Everard is right that there is no place in the Bible that talks about these demons, though Satan is the constant underlying adversary of the New Testament, lurking between the lines —just as his minions cling to the walls of the cathedrals.
Medieval Christians really believed that Jesus Christ was God.
I am sure there are people who believe this now, but most have a hard time with this these days.
Mystical, esoteric Christianity is a doctrine of Immanence—-the awareness that the Divine infuses everything that exists. Everything is alive and has a soul. If you believe in a Creative Intelligence that dreamed the worlds into life, how could it be otherwise?.
God walked the earth in the form of a man to transform the world, to show human beings that we too are capable of Higher Consciousness, even of miracles. By taking on human form, God infused His essence directly into humanity, kindling the Divine Spark. His adversaries were those who ( to this day) work to reduce humanity to the level of zomboid slaves. This is where the concept that God so loved mankind that He sent his only begotten Son (Himself) to save us comes from, I think: The devil was having a splendid time in the Roman Empire. Corruption, brutality, war, enslavement threatened to devour the world and God took notice.
The story of Paradise Lost by John Milton was based on the old Celtic myths about the War in Heaven that was caused when the archangel, Lucifer, challenged the worthiness of the God’s creation. He didn’t like the human race much and wanted nothing to do with it. Archangel Michael threw him out of Heaven and that was how he came to try to destroy us ever since. So the story goes…
The Cathedrals are Encrusted with Demons.
Most people in the Middle Ages were illiterate but they understood symbols—-pictures that were worth a thousand words. The cathedrals were referred to as Books in Stone. They were carved over with spiritual lessons: The life of Christ, visions of Heaven and Hell and the hierarchies of the worlds for a few.
Symbolizes resurrection from death
The cathedral is the House of God. Often referred as Mother Church, the cathedral was meant to be the body of Mary, Mother of God. The faithful entered the body as sinners and, after receiving the Eucharist, exit reborn in Christ. For Medieval people this ACTUALLY HAPPENED. They really believed in this powerful supernatural event. Clever modern atheists like to point out that the Eucharist is cannibalistic, a vestige of human sacrifice. What they miss is that, to the believer, Christ/ God gave his life to be the LAST human sacrifice. The Resurrection made His flesh divine, no longer human but something higher that when taken into us transferred its power to us to transform our flesh. Just as corn dollies replace human sacrifices to Goddess at Harvest, the wafer and wine stand in for the transmuted flesh and life force of Christ. The emphasis on the Scared Heart links the blood to the circulation of love and forgiveness through energy center of the heart by which we connect to the highest spiritual dimensions.
What the cathedrals teach us is that, not only was God’s purpose to redeem humanity, but the entire Creation including the seventy-two demons of the Goetia.
Medieval cathedrals have an area called the tympanum, the half moon area above the door with a depiction of Christ at the Last Judgment. On His right the good people are escorted to Heaven with the angels and on his left the bad ones undergo horrific tortures by the devils in Hell.
Of course the quickest interpretation of why these devils are here is too scare sinners into obeying the Church. I believe that is the role of Last Judgment Hell, though in this depiction from Autun Cathedral there is a touching image of Christ’s mercy as His hands reach down to lift the damned up form the lower depths.
This same compassion must be extended to the seventy-two demons whether they like it or not. Demons have no free will, they are what they are, but are still part of the Creation. This suggests that in order for full redemption to succeed, even they must be transformed to their divine nature. Even the deepest darkness must be returned to God. Indeed some of these grotesques—-for they are not all gargles or gargoyles—- exhibit a kind of longing for the light of understanding, a kind of confused vulnerability.
I think it is a very beautiful belief that by entering such a place one is transformed form a body of corruption to one of divine fire and that all living things will be brought to that blessed state with you.
Can the Creation be redeemed with any piece of it missing? In Celtic Faery Tradition we learn that even Lucifer himself must be transformed, even he must be brought back to Heaven to sit at the left side of his Father.
Hierarchies of Worlds
“Long is the way
And hard, that out of Hell leads up to Light.”
— John Milton (Paradise Lost)
We can’t leave the Medieval mind set without taking into account the hierarchical view of the Creation. The above and below notions of Heaven and Hell were far more concrete when people believed that the earth was flat. Hell and the demons were under the plate of the earth. earth was like a flying saucer in space and Heaven was above. So we see in the cathedrals: The demonic figure are usually on the bottom and as the building goes higher, the angels and saints go up until, at the very top is often a Crucifix or a cross or a statue of the Virgin Mary.
Demons are in the roof, as in Notre Dame de Paris, I think reveal an awareness by the designers of the many dimensions that surround the Earth, our Paradise Lost. The limitation of stone, and all concrete images, is that they must SHOW things that are abstract by either anthropomorphizing them — as in the case God the Father as a bearded old man—-or must use space in suggestive ways that may not be understandable without an explanation. The explanation for demons being in the upper levels of the cathedrals could be that it was the only way to show that they are all around us in the fourth dimension. That they can see us through the ethers ( the sky) though we may not see them. This does not “elevate” them in status but does depict their power over us, spurring us on to take refuge with Christ—-inside the cathedral —in the body of his Mother, the Church.
As for gargoyles —many of them are not at all demonic, but rather images of peasants and common people –the only characters seen as fit to spew run off from the roofs, the only beings “low” enough to act as gutters. Just doing their jobs…..
Freemasonry and the Demonic Cathedrals
The cathedral builders were the first Masons. What was merely the artisans guild of stone cutters has been transformed in modern times to a sinister secret society said, at the very top levels, to worship Lucifer. That being said, it does not mean that the medieval stone masons were into anything of the kind. Of course their emblems and signs are all over the cathedrals just in the way that even today, real silver is stamped Sterling.
Artists, again not readers of words, would have their signs, symbols that stood for their names. That these were co-opted by modern Freemasons does not mean that Medieval masons were worshiping the Devil. An aversion to the Catholic Church does not mean that it is right to interpret some the of the greatest works of art ever created with diabolical intent. These ideas are dangerous. Three-hundred years of the executions of millions of innocent people to such ideas getting out of hand attests to how dangerous these notions can be.
For me, our current escalation into scientific tyranny is far more frightening than the works of the ancient stone-cutters art.
Interview with Robert Place: Tarot Illustrator & Historian
I was living in London when I bought Robert place’s Alchemical Tarot. I have been interested in Alchemy since discovering Carl Jung’s work on Alchemical Art in the late 1970′s and since been very aware of those forces at work in my life. So I was very excited to find this Tarot deck and even more excited at the idea of combining Tarot and Alchemy. The deck is also extremely beautiful and poetic. Robert Place’s style is so crystal clear and refined; his choices and use of symbolism inspired. But he wasn’t just inspired once—-he has gone on to be create four more decks and has two more in progress. The Alchemical Tarot was followed by Angels Tarot, Tarot of the Saints, Buddha Tarot and The Vampire Tarot. His recent history of Tarot, The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination has been described as one of the most important books ever written on the Tarot. Works in progress include Tarot of the Seven-Fold Mystery (looks gorgeous!) and the Facsimile Italian Renaissance Woodcut Tarot.
In my research, I discovered that Robert is also an internationally renowned jeweler. If his jewelry is anything like his Tarot decks it must be amazing. He is a really nice man and we had fun doing this interview by email over several weeks.
All images are copyrighted by Robert M. Place and are used with his permission
Aline: I bought your Alchemical Tarot shortly after it was published. I love Alchemy, but I was also drawn to the clarity your images and the interesting combination of Alchemy with Tarot. I would not have taken you for a Vampire fan. Is there an Alchemy of Vampirism? Does the vampire have a place in the alchemical universe? If so what would it be?
Robert:. The first Tarot I designed was the Alchemical Tarot. The thing that I liked most about it was that it was inspired by a vision of how the alchemical Great Work, the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, and the Tarot trumps were related stories. In fact alchemy seems to have influenced the original designers of the Tarot. So after I completed the Alchemical deck I wanted to find another story that was in sync with the trumps in the same way. My next inspiration was to make a Vampire Tarot because I saw it as a related story but the publishers were not ready for it at that time.
While working on the Alchemical Tarot I teamed up with Rosemary Ellen Guiley on the book for the deck. At that time she was also working on a couple books on vampires and I did some illustrations for her. I had always been enamored with vampire stories and I began to see that the literary vampire was related to alchemy. In fact in the novel, Dracula, alchemy is one of the disciplines that Dracula is supposed to have mastered.
The Philosopher’s Stone is described as a stone but not a stone, sometimes it is a liquid or it is immaterial. But it always described as red in color. The Stone is a mystical substance that can improve any substance that it comes in contact with, It can change lead into gold, it can cure any illness, it can turn an ordinary man into a sage, and it can prolong life indefinitely. This supposedly happened to the 14th century alchemist Nicolas Flamel. According to the stories, he created the Stone in the early 1400s and he and his wife are still alive. So you can see that the how this relates tot he vampire–both are looking for a red liquid that can prolong life indefinitely.
Aline: I had thought vampires might be connected to the nigredo- the shadow as well. You discuss that in your book. I am reading the book to the Vampire Tarot. Its really good.
Robert: This age old preoccupation with immortality seems to be at all time high these days.
That is an interesting topic in itself and how the Vampire mythos plays into that.
Aline: I have another question coming from the artist point of view. I am curious about your artistic path. I see the influence of the medieval woodcuts in your work. I wonder about your inspiration. Was Alchemical art an early influence on
your style and choice of subject matter?
What drew you to Alchemical art, the art or the study of Alchemy?
How did Tarot come into your life? That’s always a good story.
I have more, but I’ll save them. This is fun because we are busy people
and its nice to find a way.
Robert: I have always known that I was an artist since I could first pick up a crayon. As a child, I would look for inspiration wherever I cold find it. My first models for how to draw came from comic books but while in school working on projects I became fascinated with the pictures in encyclopedias and began to develop a delineated style like the ink drawing that illustrated the encyclopedia. I was always the class artist and I spent most of my time in grammar school working on large historic scenes that were stapled on bulletin boards.
When I was in fifth grade, we studied the Classical gods and my interest really peaked. I put together a booklet with drawings of all of the gods and goddesses that we studied. I drew them from pictures of Greek statues and the teachers and other adults were blown away by how realistically I could draw. It was the gods that put me over the edge artistically. I think that I lived another life in ancient Greece–maybe several.
When I was in college in the 1960s I discovered the occult. I spent a lot of time in the library looking at books on occult subjects and started visiting an occult book store in Hackensack, New Jersey, and another in Greenwich village. I still have books from those shops. The one in the Village also sold powdered incense and I can still smell the incense when I open those books. One of my favorite books from that time is The Picture Museum of Sorcery, Magic, and Alchemy by Emile Grillot de Givry. This book is filled with magical and occult pictures from old woodcuts and engravings and it turned out to be an important book that continues to feed my inspirations. My girlfriend at that time was into the Tarot. She used the Waite-Smith deck, which was about all you could get in the 60s. But in the Picture Museum I saw pictures of antique Tarot’s from the 1400s to the 1700s and I started creating my own deck based on the Tarot of Marseilles. I only completed four cards, though, and then, seeing how much work it was going to be, I lost interest.
I was not involved with the Tarot again for many years but, in 1982, I had a dream that changed that situation. In the dream, I received a phone call from a dream law firm in England and the ringing of the phone in that dream brought on an intense clarity that makes the dream impossible to forget. Even now I can easily visualize the dream. When the phone rang, I remember thinking, “how can someone call you in a dream? I didn’t know that that could happen.” When I answered the phone, a dream operator verified that I was Robert Place and then connected me with a woman from the dream law firm. The second woman told me that I had an inheritance coming from an ancestor in England, and that it had great power. She said that it was called “the key,” it would come in a box from England, and that I would recognize it when I saw it. When I woke up the dream had been so vivid that I expected the box to be at the foot of the bed. It wasn’t, but, within a few days, my friend Scott came to my house to show me his new Waite-Smith Deck. My head turned in his direction of its own will and then my eyes decided to focus on the deck in his hands. I immediately recognized it as my inheritance. In a few more days my friend Ed gave me a Tarot of Marseilles deck. He said that he just had a feeling that I needed it. After that, I went to New York City to buy my own copy of the Waite-Smith deck. With these decks, I started on my study of the Tarot and Western mysticism.
Aline: That is an amazing story! It sounds like Fortuna had plans for you—or the Gods were calling again.
Robert: That is how I started my obsessive study of the Tarot. I soon realized that most of the books on Tarot did not make much sense historically and that the occult correlations for the images were not that helpful either. Instead I looked at the pictures themselves and let them talk to me. The pictures soon led me further into the study of alchemy, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, mysticism, and magic, which I continued for many years.
Now, let’s jump ahead to 1987. By this time my study of mysticism and the occult had become even more obsessive. Although I was making my living as an art jeweler, I was spending more and more time reading and less and less time on my work. One day in August, I was looking at my old friend The Picture Museum and I became fascinated by a 17th century alchemical engraving representing the Philosopher’s Stone in an abstract way. The design depicted a heart in the center of a cross with images of the four elements assigned to each corner, an arrangement called a quincunx. As I looked at this image, I realized that the heart in the center was symbolically interchangeable with the dancing nude in the center of the World card and that the symbols of the elements assigned to the corners were also interchangeable with the symbols of the four evangelists in the corners of the World. Pictures like this hold tremendous power and I had just unlocked the power in this one. It was like a key opening a door in the back of my mind and out of this door came a flood of images. Within seconds, I saw that all of the trumps in the Tarot were interchangeable with alchemical images and that when that interchange was complete it was evident that the Tarot’s trumps were telling the same story as the alchemical great work, the Magnum Opus. The Tarot could be read as a text on the creation of the Philosopher’s Stone, the magical transformative substance that could prolong life.
Aline: How remarkable!
Robert: I began working on The Alchemical Tarot to illustrate this revelation and I started writing the book (although I had not considered myself a writer before this) to explain my vision. It took me seven years and the deck was published by Thorsons in England in 1995. Rosemary Ellen Guiley teamed up with me on the book. As for the images, besides The Picture Museum, I relied heavily on Jung’s Psychology and Alchemy, and The Golden Game, which is full of 17th century alchemical engravings. In keeping with the vision of the deck, I made conscious references to images from these engravings. My style of drawing is more like a woodcut than an engraving though. The biggest influence on my style of drawing in The Alchemical Tarot is Albrecht Durer’s woodcuts. I have a Dover book with all of his woodcuts and whenever I was stuck on how to render or shade a form with lines I would look and the book and see how Durer would do it.
Aline: Yes, I can see the influence of Durer in your work. But also the look of Alchemical art itself which is mostly woodcuts.
Maier: Atalanta Fugiens, 1618
Aline: One more question: You have designed 5 Tarot decks. That is amazing!
Now, I painted a tarot deck in the 1990′s that was never published.
During the four and a half years it took me to do that, many weird things happened.
I began to wonder if the concentration on the cards was effecting my life. I did not paint them in order
but received visions that came when they wanted to an I painted them in that order.
Did you find that working on Tarot caused things to happen in your life?
If so can you share a story about that?
Robert: It is funny that you should ask about the effect designing the cards has on the designer because that is actually part of the reason I stopped when I first started creating a deck in college. I noticed that the card that I drew would manifest in my life. The last one I did was the Tower and after that I had a falling out with my girlfriend. So I stopped. When I started on The Alchemical Tarot though things were different. For one thing I no longer used the cards as a way of making predictions about the future. I came to see the Tarot as a way of conversing with the Higher Self and obtaining wise advice. Every card has wisdom to impart and if that was what manifested after I did the design there was no problem. What started to happen is that I would include details in the picture, guided by my intuition and not really know why I was doing that. It was not until later when I was using the cards that I began to understand some of these details and was able to read them.
For example, when I designed Justice I placed the female figure on a stone base in the center of the picture and placed two columns behind and to either side of her. Her arms extended to either side holding her sword in her left hand and her scales in her right so that each tool lined up with the column in the background. When I did this, I was thinking that this was an odd way to compose the picture. It was not something that I would usually do because I would be afraid that it would look awkward. However, it seemed to work and I went with it. Then I spontaneously added flames and a column of smoke emerging from her crown, like she was a furnace, and I put an eye in the center for the flames. It was not until I was looking at the picture later that I realized what I had done was to relate the figure to the Kabalistic Tree of Life with its three columns. The scales on our left related to the pillar of severity, the sword on our right related to the pillar of mercy, and Justice’s body formed the central pillar with the column of smoke rising toward the divine presence. That the scales were on the side of severity made sense because one has to be severe or unemotional to find the true balance without any prejudice. Also the sword is a symbol of action or punishment and this does need to be tempered with mercy or forgiveness.
Aline: The archetypes are very powerful. They have to well up in your subconscious mind when you dwell on the symbols and then putting them paper “manifests ” them in some way. It is interesting that that was more managable when you stopped using them for divination —-perhaps your approach prevented the dark side being triggered…
Is there anything you would like to add? Are there any new projects you would like us to know about?
Robert Right now I am working on a book about the Tarot exhibition that I curated at the LA Craft and Folk Art Museum. The exhibit was a huge success. It got two articles in the LA Times and record attendance. This book will be a catalog of the show providing examples of important Tarot decks from the earliest 15th century Italian decks to the latest designs by contemporary artists. It also will have additional illustrations comparing the Tarot designs and symbols to other Renaissance and occult art and even to Egyptian art. It features all of the trumps from my Annotated Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, which I actually completed for the exhibit, and all of the trumps from my Alchemical Tarot with related examples of alchemical art.
People who are interested in finding out when it is complete should watch my web site, link to me on Facebook, or sign up for my email newsletter.
There is information at my web site:
Excerpt from The Roses of the Moon and Hungarian Mythology
I haven’t been writing the blog as much as I should because I have had to focus on getting my novel The Roses of the Moon ready for publication in September 2010. I have deadlines….
Writing a novel is journey on so many levels that trading a lifetime of travel for writing has not been too difficult. It gets to be time to start using life experiences, gleaning the lessons, and sharing the wonder of adventure while taking a much needed rest. My feet are getting itchy again, so next chance I get away I go!
The Roses of the Moon was begun in Autumn of 2007 and was written in one month clocking in at 50,000 words. It was originally called The Golden Stairs and was based on the Grimm’s Fairy Tale, Rapunzel, told from the point of view of the witch. I had done illustrations for Rapunzel while living in London in a rose covered haunted house. At the time I was meeting many people from the Balkans and Turkey and got the idea that, though we think Grimm’s Fairy Tales are German, some may actually be from central Europe as many of them they have that kind of dark quality associated with vampires and werewolves. This notion inspired me to set The Golden Stairs in Royal Hungary during the Ottoman Wars. In Grimm’s Rapunzel, the young mother-to-be desires the rampion growing in the witch’s garden. The witch desires the child and uses the mother’s desires against her to take the baby when it is born. With this in mind, I made my witch the creator of irresistible enchanted gardens full of magical plants similar to those in Nathaniel Hawthorn’s Rappucini’s Daughter.
The Golden Stairs begins with the childhood of the witch, Marcsa Virag, growing up in a Ghormanghast-like castle in the mountains of northern Hungary where her evil mother figure, the Countess Orzsebet, practices Black Magic in the manner of the famous Blood countess, Erzebet Bathory. The first half of the book is about Marcsa Virag’s confrontation with the legacy of her mother, the Ottoman Turks sack the castle in the middle of the book, and after that Marcsa Virag lives alone in the ruins building her gardens. That is where the Rapunzel story begins.
The novel grew to over 100,000 words. My editor suggested that I change the title, cut the book in half and make the two stories into separate books and go on in the manner of a family saga. She also suggested that I flesh out the background mythology.
Writing as Magical Practice
Magic has been defined as the “Art of changing consciousness at will.” When a writer wants to create a fictitious world, he or she taps into the subconscious mind and calls it up from the deep mind. You never really know where the images and ideas come from, and its quiet astonishing that these visions arrive at all when you think about it. There were glimpses of the background myth in the original version, but I hadn’t focused on it but on the outer layer of Marcsa Virag’s story. When I did go deeper into the mythology of my alternate world, I was surprised to find how deep it went and that the story was very close to the actual ancient creation myth of Hungary.This is not the first time intuition and imagination tapped into the truth, but it is a very strong example of how an open, attuned mind can work.
A few people have asked me to share this with them so I thought I would.
In this post, I will give the very start of the creation myth I made up for the novel. in the second blog post, I will re-print an article by Radomir Ristic about the Central European Dragon people.
Creation Myth of Castle Szeppasszony in The Roses of the Moon
Marcsa Viraghas found a book called The Book of the Red Queen and the White Queen. The story of those two Queens hold a key to who she is, and why she has had to endure the things she has.This is the opening of that ancient book found in the library of a monastery carved into the mountain in the time before time began.
Book of the Red Queen and the White Queen
Here is Recorded the Creation of the World
Before Death was Born
In the time before time, Earth gave birth to the Moon. And in the very place where the Moon first entered the darkness of the night sky, a terrible upheaval was wrought in Heaven whose ruler, the Sun, now had a rival.
Fearing that his sole rulership of the stars and planets was to be undermined by this usurper Moon, Sun and the Angels held a great council where they gave birth to War. The Moon must be killed before its wan, silvery rays weakened the cosmos by stealing the light of the Sun.
Some Angels argued that the Moon might offer some benefit to the Sun by keeping watch over the darkness. It would merely reflect the light of the Sun to Earth and relieve the blackness of the night with its much dimmer light. The Angels who did not trust the Moon shouted the others down, saying the Sun’s ancestors, the Stars, gave light to the darkness and nothing more was needed.
Gradually these arguments broke the Angles into opposing camps;, the ones who sided with the one and only Sun, and those who had fallen in love with the Moon.
The new child, War, grasped Heaven in its talons. The Angels who sided with the Moon became rebels and used the light of the Moon to secretly attack the Angels of the Sun. But alas! The Angels of the Sun called upon their ruler to blast the Moon with a light so bright that the Moon lit up like a beacon and was made to reveal the hiding places of the her Angels. The Angels of the Sun renewed their attack on the Angels of the Moon and cast them out of Heaven. They fell down into the hole in the Earth left open by the birth of the Moon. Sun proclaimed the Angels of the Moon to be Devils, and their new home in the Earth he called Hell.
The Angels of the Moon felt betrayed by she whom they had loved and ever after called her fickle. The Moon wept because of this, all through the nights, watering the earth with her tears. She watched over her champions, bound by love and desire for redemption.
His sole rulership of the universe besmirched, the Sun fled higher up into the sky, leaving the Moon to oversee the Fallen Ones in the center of the earth. Because of her love and desire, Moon gazed upon the earth and pulled it to her, and in sorrow for her betrayal, she hid her face and pulled away. And because of this, all unwittingly, the Moon gave birth to Time. With the passage of Time, the power of the Moon increased. Her light fluctuated as she observed the affects of her love and tears upon the earth with great emotion. The Angels of the Sun tried constantly to imprison the Moon in the low hills, blackening the night but for the undying Stars. But soon, the Angels of the Moon released their Mistress from the hills to shine in Heaven once again.
All that lived on the Earth grew strong under the Moon. Her protection in the night gave birth to Sleep. The Moon married Sleep and they gave birth to Dreams, Dreams brought forth things; the tears of the Moon became the waters that gave life to the things of Dreams such as Trees and Flowers, metals and jewels. Out of the Birthplace of the Moon, the great hole in the Earth, there grew the First Tree and it wept.
The Birthplace of the Moon is the darkest place on Earth.
The first upheaval began deep within the earth. Shelves of rock shifted, caves opened, waters gushed forth, and the land was shoved and levered towards the sky forming ridges and deep valleys. A wave of mountains rose and undulated like a serpent finally solidifying in the crescent shape of an old moon. Curled in the topmost horn of that moon was a ring of high mountains. The fallen Angels of Moon climbed out of the womb of the Earth and gathered along the tops of those mountains like thunderclouds and desired to possess the land. The Angels who stayed in the underground built majestic palaces of out of the jewels and precious metals of the Earth and practiced great magic.
Soon, waters sprang up through the ground, filling crannies and gorges and spilling over the land. Two wellheads spurted up into that O of mountains from which two streams ran, one to the east and the other to the west. Many new and wondrous creatures came out of the streams that began to walk upon the land. As the waters of the streams grew deeper and their currents thrummed over the rocks, two identical Queens were deposited on the shore and they were Giants.
A grove of trees grew up the hill away from the streams. Pure white they were and under their leafy branches, the Queens made their dwelling.
Legacy of the Witchblood and Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches
“Lasher, for the wind that you send that lashes the grasslands, for the wind that lashes the leaves from the trees.”
In her classic first volume of the Chronicles of the Mayfair Witches,The Witching Hour, Anne Rice bases the witchy status of her characters on their relationship to a discarnate spirit called Lasher. Conjured through the veil in the 17th century by Scottish Merry Begot, Suzanne of the Mayfair, Lasher’s presence is heralded by the branches of the trees and bushes lashing the wind.
Suzanne’s unwise choice to dabble in magic got her burned in Donnelaith, but not before Lasher fell in love with Suzanne’s beautiful daughter, Deborah. He gave her a bottomless purse of gold and a large emerald pendant with his name inscribed on the back to be passed down to all the Mayfair witches. For all his gifts, Lasher’s witches suffer tragic untimely deaths and madness. Deborah was burned at the stake for witchcraft in France.
Symbolism of the Emerald
The emerald is the classic stone of Faery and has many occult associations, not the least being the color of the green earth and the favored eye color of Faery beings.The Holy Grail is associated with the emerald that fell from Lucifer’s crown when he fell to earth after the Battle of the Rebel Angels in Heaven. It signifies the Emerald Tablet of Thrice Great Hermes and the philosophers stone.
In each each succeeding generation of Mayfairs, the spirit, Lasher, would attach himself to a female child gifted with the “sight”, granting her the emerald and a bottomless purse in exchange for the energy he needs to gradually acquire a physical body. Sometimes Lasher is referred to as the Devil—-the traditional King of all witches—- Lucifer.
The Question of Witchblood
Though The Witching Hour is a work of fiction, thought by most people to be a fantasy, Anne Rice got me thinking about my own inheritance of the Witchblood.
*In modern witchcraft, Witchblood is usually thought of as bloodline stemming from ancestors who practiced the Craft. It is a formal initiation that is passed down from parent to child. My abilities did not come to down through a line of practicing witches, at least not consciously.
*In Celtic Faery Tradition, Witchblood can be the result of mediating Faery—-the archetypal Realm of the Ancestors. If done long enough, your ancestors “wake up in your blood”. Since the ancestors of most, if not all peoples of earth, were pagans, then any cunning craft or magical abilities they had will come back to life in the Faery Seer’s blood.
*One thing that Anne Rice suggests is that the mark of a witch is the possession of psychic powers and the ability to see spirits. I agree that those abilities are all of a piece. What is it about these abilities that make one a witch? What is a witch anyway?
I think a witch is someone walks on the earth in a sacred manner and all of nature responds. Especially spirits. Like animals, they know who comes from the heart and who doesn’t. But if a spirit is summoned for selfish purposes—well this a realm where indeed you get what you give.
How Do You See Spirits?
I have been seeing spirits for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the woods and most of the spirits I saw were spirits of those woods. I saw the past life of the land roll out like film reels. I saw ghosts. I never feared these beings, rather I thought they were marvelous and they intrigued me. I never questioned why I could see them, I just did. I also knew by instinct that very few other people had these visions.
In The Mayfair Witches, Lasher reveals his agenda to Rowan Mayfair. She is the thirteenth witch in the family line and thus the one who is strong enough to help him to gain what he wants most profoundly, a human form.
This notion of the witch having the strength to assist a spirit to manifest got me re-thinking about how we see spirits.
The spirits exist independently of us, whether we see them or not. Since our age of gross Materialism, very few people see them any more. Some people call the ability to the view the Unseen, a “gift”, or a special dispensation from God or the Devil depending on your view. Most people who think this don’t have it.
(I think Anne Rice has it…)
I always thought this clairvoyance was just part of a package with a sensitive, nervous temperament and was kind of enhanced power of creative imagination.
Then I thought it had to do with innate spirituality. Some us are born seers, people who in ancient cultures would have been members of a priest class.
Karma was another explanation, previous lifetimes of spiritual practice that opened the Third Eye.
These were the ideas I played while reading The Witching Hour..
I also thought it might have been a genetic inheritance from my French, Irish and Iroquois ancestors—–natural mediumistic races all. I also thought of trance mediums oozing ectoplasm and causing spirits to materialize and bump the table up and down.
Now that might have at the back of Anne Rice’s mind when she was writing her book, among other things.
After reading The Mayfair Witches, I have another idea.
Spiritual Frequency as Materializing Force
Anne Rice suggests that Lasher’s ability to materialize is strengthened as each succeeding Mayfair witch grows stronger. The tide of passed-on experience and Lasher’s interference in the gene pool of the Mayfairs by pairing the most psychic family members to conceive the next child, increases the power of the new witch to bring him through.
What this means to me is that my ability to “see” spirits may not be a “sight” based thing at all. Rather, I emit the right energetic frequency that allows discarnate spirits to densify in my presence.
When the Tuatha deDanaan came through my house back in 1997-98, they came as holograms —-complete and life-sized 3-dimensional light bodies dressed in the clothing of 12th century France. By that time, I had been working as a full time energy healer in the long wake of a full blown kundalini awakening in 1989. My frequencies were sky rockets.
This level of frequency can only be attained when one is aligned to the vibration of Divine Love and the Soul of the World. It comes from the heart where no malice can be exist because it is instantly neutralized at that vibrational level. This is why I know the Faeries are not evil.
So—-did I simply lend the necessary vibrations to these Faeries that allowed them to take on material substance?
Would they have been coming through my house even if I couldn’t have seen them?
Or were they attracted to my space because of the frequencies, and knew I would be able to lend them form—and see them?
When they ordered me to start painting the Grail Keepers Tarot, I asked them why they chose me. I had lapsed as far as art was concerned and wasn’t good enough for such a project. They told me I was the only one who could do it, because I could see them and they could see me.
Children and the Sight
That still doesn’t explain how I, or anyone, could help them appear when I was a child.
The time of early childhood is a more likely time for these experiences. Is that because the purity of the child’s heart and thus vibration is so much stronger than an adults? Are many more of us born with the Witchblood than we realize?
Part of the lore of Faery is that they love to materialize. They seek to share with us this creation of life on earth. Anne Rice’s Lasher is a trickster figure, not really evil so much as corrupted by desire and ambition learned from his contact with human beings. This is also an interesting idea. The pure spirit is innocent. Physicality exerts it own influences. In Faery Tradition we say that the Faery being takes on the form we project upon it. We have the ability, in creating the conditions that allow them to materialize, to also influence their natures.
It has been my observation that many people who are raised, even today, in cultures where magic is practiced and the spirits are corrupted, flock into Christian churches for protection. They’ve been burned! The trouble with doing spells for worldly things has to do with all the desires and guilts and unclear emotions that human beings bring to the spirits. If the spirits screw it up and your magic backfires, it is because that is the energy you were exchanging with them. Love begets love, malice begets malice, and even trickier, lust begets lust and all the Seven Deadlies.
Just like Lasher…
My Faeries were never evil, but then I didn’t expect anything of them except that they show me what they wanted all of us to know.
There was a time, I believe, when many many more people, if not all people could bring spirits through. The advent of the Industrial revolution and its rampant destruction and disregard for the natural world have not only closed our inner eyes, our minds, and darkened our knowledge of our origins on planet earth, but has closed the portals to Faery. I think witchblood flows through all of us. I think it is the life force of the earth. The sad part about losing it is that we are out of harmony and taking everything else with us.
For a really great blog post about The Witching Hour by Anne Rice check out Caroline Tully’s blog Necropolis