This is the ninth in a series of posts about my adventures during 2005, leading up to the performance of Paul Green’s play Babalon. The story is full of cloak and dagger, initiatory strangeness, chaos, and hysteria. It shows what can happen on the Magical path if one is not careful…(as if one has choice…)
Directed by occultist, Alison Rockbrand, Babalon was performed on December 5, 2005, at the John Gielgud Theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts to a sold out audience of London’s finest occultists and magicians. If you want to listen to it, click Radio QBSaul: Archives: Babalon. I played Marjorie Cameron/Babalon. I am called Angela Murrow because I had to hide my identity.
The Stuff That Conspiracy Theories Are Made Of...
Below is a video full of controversy.
The life of Jack Parsons is tailor made for conspiracy theories.
Born on October 2, 1914, Jack was a brilliant chemist, who grew up in the hey day of science fiction: Weird Tales, the mass hysteria of 1938′s War of the Worlds, and the whole scary genre of horror films including the famous Frankenstein about a mad scientist and his homunculous monster.
When Jack Parsons got involved with Aleister Crowley, the Great Beast was old. His health was failing and the “wickedest man in the world” was reduced to selling love potions on Brighton Pier just to stay alive. He predicted the desperately needed arrival of a “rich man from the west”. This turned out to be Jack Parsons.
In the 1940′s Parsons was engaged in rocketry experiments in the desert with a group of friends who would become the founders of the Space Program after WWII. He also opened an Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) Lodge in his childhood home in Pasadena, California, a once wealthy suburb of Hollywood. This branch of the OTO was called Agape Lodge, and it was devoted to free love and experimental drugs.
This group attracted L.Ron Hubbard, science fiction author, and dubious founder of Scientology. Fate would have it that Hubbard would become deeply involved in Parson’s Babalon Working. The purpose of the ritual was to draw a Scarlet Woman into Parson’s orbit who would then become impregnated, through a series of sexual rituals, with a Magickal Child, Horus, the avatar of the New Aeon. The Scarlet Woman was the visionary red head, Marjorie Cameron who arrived on Parsons’s doorstep when he returned from several intense, mad nights of invocation in the desert.
Fallout from Babalon
When I was studying to play Cameron/Babalon in the play Babalon, by Paul Green, I knew none of this stuff. I had been given the script and then a book by Sara called “Strange Angel” about the life of Jack Parsons. The book was factual and focused primarily on Parson’s contributions to the Space Program and his invention of rocket fuel. The Babalon Working was discussed, but aside from Parson’s horrific death at the age of 38, it did not delve into the further consequences of the Babalon Working. This was taken up by Kenneth Grant, and videos like this one.
Connections have been made between Parsons, Hubbard’s Scientology, Hollywood (Kenneth Anger says he called his books on movieland scandals “Hollywood Babylon” in honor of Crowley), the film “Rosemary’s Baby”, Charles Manson as a member of the OTO, and on and on….
During rehearsals for the play, I experienced a lot of weird fallout. Its effects continued for a long time, and I am constantly aware of how my personality has changed because I embodied Babalon, not once, but for several months as we worked on the play. Jung would call this experience “Shadow Work”.
The weirdest thing is how this scarlet shadow of mine has a connection to the Holy Grail. My Grail initiation in 1996 through the Tuatha deDannan was the reason I went to England in the first place and its trasmutations seem endless.
These details will come to light as the Babalon Diaries grow. Suffice to say here that in December 2005, my life became a journey through a series of explosions, both symbolically, psychically, and literally, and in some of the most uncanny ways.
I have always loved the Moon. I watch it in all its phases, read myths about the moon, even identify with the Moon and her Goddesses. When I found a book called The Moonchild in the 1980′s, I was drawn more to the idea of a Moonchild than to its author, Aleister Crowley. I thought The Moonchild would be a magical novel along the lines of Dion Fortune’s Moon Magic. I was right, in the sense that it was a novel with a Moon ritual inside of it. But the atmosphere and intent were far different.
A Moonchild is created by impregnating the mother-to-be under certain Astrological tides related to the Moon. For the entire nine months, she is wrapped in a kind of occult cocoon in order to cultivate the extreme passivity needed so that she would be receptive to lunar visions. The images and energies of these visions imprinted the unborn child with the vibrations of the Moon. The mother dressed in white; she slept and ate in a room that was decorated as a kind of lunar chamber. She ate “moon food”: white, flabby things like oysters and cheese, and lived in a constant twilight state, almost of suspended animation.
Crowley’s description of this Moonchild Ritual stayed with me for years. As a born psychic and lover of the Moon, this ritual was attractive as a fantasy, but totally repellent as a real experience. Cold, damp, endless, twilight or darkness, extreme passivity, loss of consciousness are pretty disturbing and unhealthy conditions. But then the Moon has a way of casting a glamor over things, and it is that lunar enchantment that makes the ordeal of the nine month preparation of the Moonchild so compelling to the subconscious mind.
In the year 1966, the closest numerical approximation to the Beast’s famous number 666, the film Rosemary’s Baby was released. Based on a best selling novel of the same title, it is a story about the creation of the Moonchild.
(As I wrote the last sentence, I had an intense deja vu…I think I have written it before and had the same deja vu then, as well…..)
Since Roman Polanski directed Rosemary’s Baby, and the film is about the anti-Christ, connections to the tragic, and apparently occult murder of Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate abound.
While filming, Polanski had Devil Worshipper, Anton Lavey, on the set acting as consultant for the ritual elements of the film
Manson was a member of the California OTO.
Manson had studied Scientology. L.Ron Hubbard did magic with Parsons. Hubbard’s own son admits that Scientology is Black Magic.
Sharon Tate, while filming Eye of the Devil in England in the early 60′s, was initiated into Wicca by Alex Sanders. I believe she based her characterization of Odile on Maxine Sanders.
The media makes a connection between Roman Polanski’s alleged interest in the occult and Sharon Tate’s death. (I think that is B.S. and victim blaming.)
The Scarlet Woman brings in the Age of Horus through bloodshed. “Force and Fire!”
It was said that when Jack Parsons did his Babalon Working he tore a hole in the Universe and let in something evil. Is it any wonder that these illusions and allusions pile up under the influence of the Moon?
If you want to experience the atmosphere of the Babalon Working click this link:
It is deep twilight. The altar is decorated with a hot red cloth, and a dozen red roses fan out brightly against the blue gray light at the windows. Just under the roses is a stag’s head whose branching antlers hold two silver candles that are anointed with rose oil. To his left is a round silver hand mirror, and to his right, a red dish filled with blackberries. Five goblets of red wine ring the altar, five more candles ring the circumference of the circle.
I wear only a long wedding veil, for the Summer Solstice is a time for the Alchemical Marriage as the Goddess and God join in the love that is death, for darkness encroaches on the threshold of Summer, as the strength of the sun begins to fade at the very height of his glory.
I cast the Circle round, pointing with a sharpened bone wound with a red ribbon, and charged with a white swan’s feather.
As I light the candles, I call the God to come through the Stag, and ask that the Goddess’s face shine in the Mirror. The berries are for the Faeries, who love brambles and black wine. I lay at the foot of the altar a plate of crescent shaped white cakes. All of this is for them, my gifts of gratitude for my good fortune and fulfillment of my dreams.
Shaking a deer-toed rattle, I go into the North where the God waits for me under an oak. My journey begins at the door in the Oak, the hollow in the tree that leads to the Green Land in the Hollow Hills. As the way of the North is before me, with its old moon like a hook of silver in the sky, the energy of the South comes through me, bringing the brightness of the Sun to illuminate the darkness.
Between the worlds, I fall into heavy trance where I dance with the Horned One, on a floor of thorns and roses, the spiral dance that erases all duality.
The Goddess of the Moon and the Sacrificed God
Diana of the Moon and Hunt
This Summer Solstice is most powerful. I am writing this on June 22, the day after the Solstice proper, and the night of the New Moon.
New Moons are excellent for new beginnings, for as the Moon grows, your desires will manifest in much the same way that flowers will bloom and the tides come into the shore.
I love to explore symbols and see where they take me.
The year of this Summer Solstice is 2009. Nine is the Qabbalistic Number of the Moon. It correlates to the dewy atmosphere between the Moon and the Earth where life is created and sustained. Mistakenly referred to as the ‘astral plane’ by Theosophists, the ancients described this sphere, more accurately, as the Sub-Lunar Realm.
2+9 = 11 a master number of psychic potency. Eleven is a bridge between the divine and mortal worlds. The Moon is called the Treasure House of Images, the dispenser of dreams. She is the Goddess of Romance, for is it not the illusion of true love that compels us to regenerate our species? And is not the Moon the force of fertility, of the Mother and Child, in nature, of which we are a part?
The Illusion fostered by the Moon as 9, and the psychic perception of the 11, which is the two ones in relationship, conjures an image of the Stag God, Acteon, who dared to gaze upon the naked form of the Moon Goddess, Diana in her bath. It is the energy of the Quester lost in the dark forest with only the moon to guide him. The moonlight shimmers and makes one thing seem like another until he is, not guided at all, but lost, confused, prey to madness as he is stalked by unseen creatures of the night.
The Moon as Virgin
After the sexual awakening of Beltane, Summer Solstice is meant to be a time of consummation, the joyous celebration of the marriage of the Goddess and the God. Bonfires are lit, the marriage rite is enacted, but it always ends in death.
At one time the sacrificial victim was placed in a Wicker Man and burned. Over time this ritual killing was replaced by the making of bread figures representing the Sacrificial Victim. They were often hung in trees, and eaten at the conclusion of the Rites. Always, there is this theme of love and death. After the marriage with the Goddess, who is the land, the God’s representative is sacrificed so that his now divinely illuminated blood, source of life and power, is spilled upon the earth, charging the land to make it bear and bloom.
This year, the Solstice moon is an old moon, in the sign of Capricorn. Capricorn is the sign of the Horned God. On this night, he barely appears. Like an old antler, he is soon shed into the darkness. Cancer, sign of the Moon, of the Great Mother Goddess, is now in the place of the Sun. She has become the Sun. Moon and Sun combine within Her in an Inner Marriage. Now She is One Unto Herself, Virgin, no longer in need of an Other to complete her.
The Moon/ Sun in the sign of Cancer strengthens this idea, for Cancer is the crab living in its shell under the sea, isolated, hidden, moving sideways over land, to slip away under the waves, back to the safety of its dark, enclosed little world of tides and currents moved by the pull of the Moon.
No longer needed, indeed internalized, the Old God, Capricorn, retreats into the abyss of stars.
Eros Riding Capricorn
Capricorn, the Sacrificed God
But Capricorn is traditionally symbolized by the mountain goat with a fishes tail. He reaches the stars with His horns, and plunges into the depths of the sea with His tail, where Cancer, the Moon Goddess hides…He won’t allow Her to forget Him!
This Summer Solstice, the Virgin Moon waits for a fortnight for the Full Moon to arrive in the sign of Capricorn, the Horned God in all His splendor, reflecting the brilliance of the Goddess of Moon and Sun in the Mirror of Himself. But this Summer Moon will be eclipsed; He will not be able to meet the Goddess full on, for the Earth shall cast its shadow over the him, casting him out beyond the pale.
As Moon, reflecting the potentized lunar Sun, Capricorn continues to follow the cycle of the Sun, but does it as the Moon. Another kind of Inner Marriage thus takes place.
There should be no surprise that the planet Pluto, God the Underworld Kingdom of the Dead, should be waiting at the star gate of Capricorn to receive the God into His dark kingdom. Yet in the darkness of the Underworld, the God shall gain the great power of Pluto, planet of transformation, transmutation, and transcendence through cycles of death and rebirth.
The Goat is one the most commonly sacrificed animals in the ancient world. It where the term ‘scapegoat’ comes from. The sins of the tribe were placed on the goat, and he was turned loose to wander alone in the desert to die, and take the sins away with him…Perhaps the universe is playing out this scapegoat theme, for the sins of humanity have been very great as, in our refusal to sacrifice even the simplest of things, we come close to destroying the earth.
But It’s All Right…
Venus and Mars by Sidney Harold
While all this drama, this Greek Tragedy, is going on between the Sun and Moon, all this Inner Marriage and Virginity and Sacrifice, good old Venus and Mars are getting it on together in the most earthy of signs, Taurus!
The fertility of the earth shall continue in its creative, fertile duality with these two opposites attracting, magnetically, electrically, and in every other way. Add the sextile of Uranus in Pisces for thunder and forked lightening, a charged meeting of serpent power rising in the midst of the more earthy marriage!
This is a most powerful Summer Solstice! I am glad I took the effort to celebrate it!
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Do you have strange, haunting childhood memories? Or is it only my morbid love for eerie ghost stories that makes these images stick in my mind?
I am sure you have had some odd occurrences as a child? Perhaps even paranormal ones. Isn’t that one of the gifts of childhood? A time wondrous strange, when anything is possible because we haven’t learned that some things are not?
Nostalgia is heightened when I hear a child song like this from the dazzling film, The Innocents, based on Henry James’seerie Victorian ghost story, The Turn of the Screw.
Play it while you read this post, and maybe you will have a mysterious memory or two…
The Horse in the Woods on Crow Hill
My mother’s parents, Meme and Pepe Caron, lived in a rather ramshackle house in a clearing at the bottom of Crow Hill in Worcester, Massachusetts. As children my brother, Jim, and I spent many long summer days up there. I remember the slopes being covered in golden rod, young birches, and slatey rocks that shone like silver in the bright sunshine. Unlike the humid, swampy, mosquito filled woods that surrounded it, the top of Crow Hill was drier, the air fresher, weeds pricklier, and the views went on forever.
One side of my Grandparent’s yard sloped up to a narrow plateau used for parking, and from there was a straight path up the hill. To the left was a stand of trees that turned into deep woods. There were the remains of a house that once been next to the woods, but was now only a basement with a treacherous wooden floor and a fireplace with a fallen chimney. I was about nine years old, when, always the explorer, I decided that instead of climbing the hill from the obvious path, I would see if there was a way through the woods.
I walked for quite a while, always wondering if I should back, but then there was a brambly little path to follow so I wouldn’t get lost. I always loved the way pine needles layered the ground like a brown carpet, so that the little streams shone black and sparkling in their rocky beds, ferns glowed bright green, and the occasional prize of a Lady’s Slipper would appear. Eventually I arrived at wide clearing and saw a fenced enclosure with a horse inside trotting back and forth under a canopy of oak leaves. I had never seen this horse before! And even stranger, there were no buildings anywhere about, no shed, barn, or house anywhere nearby.
I have the ability to converse with horses — an Irish jockey who came to me for a Tarot reading in London told me I was Horse Whisperer — and so the beautiful bay horse and I spoke for some time; he was a gentle civilized beast who like to run around pretending he was free.
I went home and told my Grandmother. She listened as always with her mind someplace else. She didn’t seem to know about the horse and the fenced yard in the woods. I decided to go back the next morning and bring my brother along.
And indeed, I picked up the path of the day before, walked across the brown needle floor, stepped over the little streams, but could not find the fenced yard or the horse! Jim told me I was making it up! But I wasn’t. I just could not find it. I think I was still looking when we were called in for lunch. I never found it again….
White Rabbit Trick
One Easter morning, I received a very fine toy rabbit. It was white, and had a fine blue dress, and very long ears. I was so happy with this rabbit, that when we went to visit some family friends, I brought it with me.
The adults being boring, I went outside with my rabbit and wandered around in the large back yard. In those days every house had a swing set…I don’t seem to see those any more…This one was in front of a tall green hedge , probably of the ubiquitous mountain laurel.
I always loved to swing and would always try to force myself higher and higher. I had the idea that if I flew high enough, I could swing in a full circle over the top bar and come back down safely. Good thing I never accomplished that! But I was holding the rabbit, and flying so high, that I was pulling the legs of the swing set out of the ground. Suddenly the rabbit flew out of my arms, straight behind me, and into the hedge!
So what? you say. A rabbit in a hedge. Big deal! But I couldn’t find it! I looked up, and down, inside and out. I remember walking through the hedge into someone else’s yard, and still, no rabbit. I called the adults out into the yard to look for it, and they couldn’t find it either. I was distraught! I had only just gotten it after all.
I still don’t know what happened to that rabbit. At the time, I imagined it went into a Time Tunnel, those being quite popular back then. Or maybe the Easter Bunny took it back. But even now I wonder if I had swung myself into another dimension without realizing it, lost time, and simply forgot to bring back my toy rabbit?
UFO Dreaming: Speaking of Other Dimensions…
When was a child, I used to love The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. This drove my my mother crazy for some reason. She could never understand my taste for the macabre and the paranormal. But maybe the era of the 1960′s, with all the buzz about the 21st century, when everything would be robots, space ships, we would love on other planets, and automation would make life so easy that nobody would have to work any more. When I was small, TV was fairly new, and it only came in black and white.
As I have said many times, I grew up in a house in the woods in Massachusetts. (If you want to see it, you can google map it, and explore the whole neighborhood. It is still the same! Google 4 Lexington Avenue, Leicester, MA. and you will find it, including the woods.) At night there was always a light over the treetops, moving from side to side, in what appeared to be the depths of the forest. Many times we got on top of the old stone walls that ran all through the woods, intending to follow them to the other side where we were convinced we would find alien spaceships. The stone walls didn’t go straight or very far, as they were the remains of pasture boundaries from 200 years before. We never made it to the space ship, so the mystery lingered on.
It was one thing for there to be a light above the woods at the back of the houses. We were used to that! But one hot summer night, a light appeared above the trees in the direction where the sun came up, above the tiger lily stream and the grassy clearing where grasshoppers, frogs, and crickets lived. This was the bright place.
I decided that that was definitely a UFO and told the other kids that we should try to go and find it. It couldn’t be that far away. But they poo-pooed me! I guess they weren’t as into the Twilight Zone as I was.
One night, though, I had a dream that was so real I have never forgotten it. It was like a black and white B-movie scene. I was wakened by the sound of thunder and a flash of lightning! I opened my eyes, and saw that the wall where my window was had been peeled back like a piece of steel, leaving a large space through which I could see a lone tree on a low bare hill lit like something from Night of the Living Dead. Around the tree, these little gray people with large black cat eyes, and vestigial features, were gathered. Suddenly, they poured through the gap in the wall, and into my room, to stand there, just looking at me with all of these big, glassy , vacant black eyes. Then a very tall figure, wearing a floating gossamer robe surrmounted by a very large bald head, and the same pupiless black eyes, walked through the crowd of Greys and sat on the edge of my bed. To this day, I can feel the touch of its hands as it slid them around my body. I began praying to Jesus. He came did His shepherd thing, herding them all back out through the gap in the wall, out to the tree on the hill.
What was that about?
When I was in my healing practice for a few years, I attracted clients who complained of being kidnapped by ETs, taken onto space ships to be subjected to horrible scientific experiments, and implanted with monitoring devices much as the ones we use to tag wild animals for study. I took much of this with a pinch of salt, for it was all over the media in the 1990′s, and people can be highly suggestible. Still, my healing energies seek to clear the source of the trauma, the symptoms are not the defining thing.
Having remembered this dream I had as a child, I would tell it to my clients. Every single one of them told me that that was what their dream/visions were like: very real, very B movie, and very surreal.
One of these clients had an actual photograph of two spirits she saw in her hedge. They were very clearly there, looking mischievously out, but they looked like faeries to me, not ETs. It was a remarkable photo either way! There was no way it was doctored. It was an actual image of these two faces peering out of the hedge.
Do you believe in the Grey Aliens? In my childhood in the 1960′s, they didn’t have a common description; they weren’t called Grey Aliens. I didn’t even know about them. Sometimes I wonder if they were a breed of faeries. Disappointed in me when I called on Jesus, they fled.
My Hebert grandparents lived in a very spooky Victorian house with deep walk-in closets, and steep rickety stairs going down into a dark basement worthy of H.P. Lovecraft. The father of my grandfather had been very clever with his hands and made mahogany bookcases, a wonderful box incised with apple branches that I loved dearly and that my mother couldn’t wait to get rid of. It was made as box for a handmade wooden jig saw puzzle of a Guardian Angel escorting two children over a bridge in the forest. My great grandfather also made weird things such a wooden Crucified Christ inside a large bottle you would normally expect to have a ship in. He made a splendid medieval style cabinet for a Communion Chalice and the Host, or Blessed Sacrament. This cabinet could be brought up beside the bed so the priest could give Absolution to the dying.
My grandparents bedroom was wallpapered in wine colored brocade, with French windows that opened out between lace curtains, all very down at heel, the faux luxury of the French. The bed was against the north wall under a painting of the Virgin Mary, and I often slept in it. At the opposite end of the room was the walk-in closet, full of hatboxes, powdery smelling old people’s clothes, high button shoes, and my father’s childhood toys.
Among these was a wooden rocking horse. I remember one night, I was having trouble sleeping beside Meme who was snoring. Living in the country, I was used to absolute darkness, and absolute silence in the night. This house was in the city — in a back road off of a busy street, and the noise of snoring combined with passing cars bothered me so that I tossed and turned for ages. Also, the moonlight, or streetlight, was streaming in through the lace curtained window, casting a wide beam of light across the floor that touched off glints and shines on things stored in the shadows of the open walk-in closet. At the threshold of the door was the old rocking horse, white as a ghost with a pale, stiff flying mane, and tail.
Someplace between waking and sleeping, I remember opening my eyes and gazing at the rocking horse as it rocked back and forth, back and forth. There was no wind, no sounds of the house settling. The horse just rocked and rocked, creaking quietly. I fell asleep for a while, until I was disturbed by intense moonlight at the window. I opened my eyes again. The horse was standing still, but then, as if it knew I was looking, it began rocking. Intrigued, I shut my eyes, and kept them closed until the creaking stopped. As I slowly re-opened my eyes, the horse was standing still, but again, as if it knew I was watching, it began to rock back and forth back and forth all over again.
There is probably some rational explanation for this. Of course there is! But still, it was one of the spookiest things I ever experienced, and that is a big part of it, don’t you agree?
The Grave in the Woods
Last but not least, have you ever stumbled upon a lone grave in the woods? My friend, Mary, and I did. We were walking across a field, looking for wild strawberries, when we came to a stand of maple trees and a grassy clearing. Since wild strawberries grew very close to the ground, we were combing through the long grass and there it was! A grave with the name Abigail something, who died in the late 1700′s.
It was strange to find a grave all alone like that. One could not help but wonder why she had been buried far from everyone else, rather than in one of the cemeteries that had been built when Massachusetts was a colony of England. I don’t think she was very old, which for kids like us, would make it doubly shocking.
In my adult years, I have since learned that suicides would be buried far away, in unhallowed ground. The reason was fear of haunting, or that the suicide, being damned, would come back as an Undead, and Vampire…
Did a Vampire stalk the night in Leicester, Massachusetts?
If you like these type of stories I have a related post about Salem Witchcraft and my experiences with some dolls.
I know I have been writing a bit fewer posts this month, but it is because I am learning how to stream audio onto this blog and create podcasts.
This will be amazing! I am rejoining a former member of my 1990′s Celtic band, Castlerigg, and we will recording some of the Scottish Fairy ballads that in the archives of this blog. Hearing the music will enhance your understanding of why these songs are the Keys to Faery.
I also plan some podcast interviews with prominent occultists. For instance Paul Green, author of Babalon, has agreed to speak about Crowley, Parsons, Carmeron, Babalon and the Rite of the Moonchild as part of the Babalon Diaries.
I think the addition of audio will make the blog more fun and hopefully interactive. I may also have to write something very controversial to get a conversation going on here…what do you think?
Also! News! A couple of months ago, my love of writing fiction caused to start a new blog Gothic Faery Tales: For the dark side of Faery Tales….
I have a few posts but it is new. Nonetheless, there seems to be a lot of interest. I plan to read tales via podcasts on there as well. There are some very old tales, some new — for instance there is one by Angela Carter posted already, and one by A.S.Byatt from her great novel “Possession” some original like my forthcoming “Roses, Briars, Blood”.
Guest Post About Automatic Writing by Jack Roberge
Here is wonderful guest post by my friend, student of Faery Witchcraft, and surrogate nephew Jack Roberge.
He practices many magicks, and quite excels at poetry. He has written many beautiful poems about the Pagan deities on Facebook. I have written a great deal of poetry myself. The best poems often seem to come from some place else. For instance, I would have a glimmer of thought, an image, an emotion, and begin to write it down. It would flow as if I was taking dictation from a far away voice. I have published and won a few prizes for my poetry, and every poem that won was written in this way: one draft flowed out on a scribbling tide of feelings, I did a little tinkering, and it was done! I was always shocked when at poem written like that won a prize, or was published, because it took no time or effort to write the thing! The ones I struggled with, and re-wrote over and over , never got anywhere. They failed to make the impression or have the effect on readers that the instantaneous poems did.
Perhaps the same could be said for Jack! Perhaps that is why he chose to write about Automatic Writing for the Winterspells blog. For the practice is something he is very familiar with.
This is one of Jack’s poems that I really love about an Irish Goddess very special to me: Brigidh, triple Moon Goddess of Poetry, Healing, and Smithcraft — or what we in the Craft know to be shapeshifting.. This poem is an excellent example of the deep mind at work in the Faery Realm, intuitively picking up the images, scents, sounds and icons of the Goddess.
Yesterday at 10:52pm
I wept at the bier of St. Brigidh,
Magnanimous even in flames.
The weepers thronged in from the village
But Brigidh recalled not their names.
Three years had I watched at her cauldrons;
Three years had she called me her son;
Three years had I borne piny pauldrons
Defending a prickly old nun.
The Cailleach to her persecutors,
To heather, to hill, and to tomb,
With embers and bright seeds of rowan,
And apple, and elder in bloom.
Their roots, devouring malice,
Their seeds, abolishing greed.
Blessed Bride, won’t you grant us your power
On this day, in the hour of our need?
Automatic Writing is a magical technique used by the old Magical Orders such as The Golden Dawn and the Theosophists as a tool to get the ego-mind out of the way so that the writer could receive, and record, messages from the Deities or spirits from any of the realms that Jack discusses in his fine article. New Agers would call this Channeling. Druids would call a poet who works this way, a Bard.
The Scribe puts pen to paper, blanks his or her mind, and lets the pen move over the page on its own. It’s a bit like a Ouija Board without the Ouija. I am not sure it is less dangerous, for both involve contact with spirits.
You can be said to channel your Higher Self, or Inner Self, or what I like call the Deep Self as well. It depends on how ‘scientific’ you are and how involved consciously you are, or are not, with Magical Realms.
So here are Jack’s Instructions. Let us know what happens if you try this, or of what your experiences have been. with Automatic Writing by clicking Comments at the top of the post.
A Brief Introduction to Automatic Writing
by Jack Roberge
Though most people have heard of automatic writing, few are familiar with its myriad applications. Also known as “scribing,” automatic writing is possible for those who are willing to set aside “the self” and receive creative inspiration from one or more outside sources. Success in this practice will depend on the practitioner’s patience and willingness to establish relationships with these sources.
In this article, I will introduce the process of discovering amenable writing partners, which to my mind may be drawn from one of four “realms”: (1) The Realm of the Deceased, (2) Faerie, (3) The Celestial Realm, and (4) The Terrestrial Realm. Please bear in mind that everyone’s experience with scribing is different; my personal opinion is that anyone claiming to comprehend all its dynamics is probably a charlatan.
(1) The Realm of the Deceased
I recommend that those new to automatic writing begin by working with a loved one who has recently passed away. Ideally, this will be someone with whom the writer was on good terms at the time of passing.
Too often our loved ones pass without having the opportunity to express certain sentiments. As an automatic writer, you become a medium through which the spirit of your loved ones is allowed to speak. It is a truly beautiful practice.
I suggest that you begin by building a small memorial altar to the loved one of your choice. Include photographs, cremated remains, jewelry, etc. If you are lucky enough to have a computer, typewriter, or pen which belonged to the deceased, use it!
Set aside an hour’s time during which you are assured of having no distractions. By means of meditation and/or herbal infusion, calm and focus the mind; herbs of Pluto, such as Turnera diffusa, and gemstones associated with channeling, such as amethyst, should assist with this practice.
Most scribes will agree it is essential to establish some form of ritual by which a sense of self is clearly delineated and preserved; even the most benign of spirits is apt to playing mind games with the living. For instance, light a candle and speak aloud the name of the loved one you want to summon; when your scribing session is complete, blow out the candle and gently ask the summoned spirit to leave.
Some spirits are more effusive than others; if the first writing companion you summon seems reticent, try another!
(2) The Fairy Realm
Personally, I can only recommend communication with fairies to those who have been walking a magical path for some years and feel abundantly protected from their potential mischief. Fairies are neither angels nor demons but something in between. They exist among humans who believe in them, injecting beauty, mystery, and wonder into the ordinariness of daily life. Fairy companions repay caution, humility, and faith, and they ask relatively little of their human counterparts.
That said, I cannot recommend scribing with a fairy companion until one is competent in the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram or another banishing ritual of equivalent force. Keep a steel knife close at hand, for it is the best defense against baneful fairy magicks. No matter what any fairy tells you, remember that Robin Goodfellow is among their number. Call out for Robin if your companion proves unruly; he will bring all his Merry Men to your defense if need be.
The herb Elecampane (Inula helenium) and the gemstone Staurolite (also known as Fairy Cross or Fairy Stone) should prove helpful to those wishing to commune with The Folk.
(3) The Celestial Realm
Though it is possible to serve as a medium for divine messages, I have relatively little experience in this practice and thus cannot recommend it to the casual scribe. Access to the higher realms in which divine energies exist is seldom permitted to mortals. Only those who commit themselves to many years of prayer, meditation, and devotion are likely to find themselves blessed with the opportunity to channel the divine wisdom of immortal gods and goddesses.
In my experience, the herbs Gota Kola, Holy Basil (Tulsi), and Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) are helpful in elevating consciousness to the higher planes where communion with divine energies is possible. The gemstones Tanzanite, Lapiz Lazuli, and Herkimer Diamond may assist those wishing to explore divine mysteries.
(4) The Terrestrial Realm
Those who have persisted in psychic development may find it possible to perform a fourth form of automatic writing worked purely in the terrestrial realm. As a terrestrial scribe, you telepathically channel the editorial input of a living friend or teacher. Personally, I have only used this technique in order to refine information I have received from the first three realms mentioned in this article. As with all telepathic communication, only attempt terrestrial scribing with those whom you thoroughly trust.
Third-eye herbs, such as Cinnamon and Anise, and gemstones associated with psychic development, such as clusters of quartz crystal, may assist in this practice.
In closing, I should mention that many helpful books have been written on the topic of automatic writing; the most useful one I’ve discovered is “Swan on a Black Sea: Study of Automatic Writing” by Geraldine Cummins. Thanks again to Arlene DeWinter for inviting me to pen this brief article; I trust she will add any pertinent caveats which I have omitted. Good luck!
I have received inquiries about my free e-course recently that lead me to believe I must clarify where I am coming from as far as my magical path is concerned.
What is it, actually, and what is its purpose?
In the global environment of the web, there are so many versions of magic and witchcraft, couched in so many cultural contexts and traditions, that I have been made aware that my Euro-American, Native American perspective grown out of the 1960′s and 1970′s era of social change, is not as obvious to others as it is to me.
I began this blog as a potential platform for my magically inspired fiction: dark fantasy, ghost stories, occult thrillers, weird history, and paranormal tales. As many of my fictional ideas and images are harvested from my life experience, it seemed logical to tell some true stories on a blog and, since I want to get my fiction published, I chose to keep it off-line for now. In writing content to the initial version of this blog, I began peeling back layers of memories and found that the important events in my life share an underlying theme of occult study and magic, and sometimes ordinary events perceived in non-ordinary ways. I am a symbolist and tend to mythologize events in order to make them meaningful, or to cope with the difficult stuff. In trying to understand why this is so, I came to the conclusion, quite a while ago now, that my unusual abilities (I have been seeing spirits since early childhood, raised kundalini the first time I sat meditation, left my body easily to go ‘out and about’ in the night, and entered and exited Faery at will) fired my imagination, driving me, by an overwhelming need, to ground my visions and insights into the various mediums of art.
It is the Shaman’s, or Faery Seer’s, duty to enter the Otherworld and bring back treasure…
As the years passed, I naturally developed my own Magical Path. I look forward to completing my Life Story/ Magical Timeline, on this blog so I can see the overall pattern. This may or may not be instructive to readers, but I hope it is at least interesting.
What the Winterspells Magical Path Is:
* Earth Based Magic
My first love is nature, my second love, the arts.
Configurations of the landscape, an arrangement of trees or rocks, open and closed spaces in the woods, seaside at dusk and dawn, mountain passes, places with histories of ritual, healing, or horror, act as doorways into the Unseen. The beauty, mystery, and transformational power of the natural world comes first. The occult idea the natural world is a ‘veil over the face of the Goddess’ woven with mountains, seas and forests, fueled my intense desire to see behind that veil into the pristine, dare I say, Edenic, dream of the Creator. In attempting to do this, I have learned and developed techniques along the way that enable me to enter and explore parallel dimensions very close to mundane reality.
I especially hold keys into the Realm of Faery.
Why Faery? Because the Faeryland is, where the greatest beauty, poetry, art, inspiration, music, dance, sensuality, stories, forgotten worlds, mysteries, and power begin. It is creative womb of the Goddess.
* Winterspells Faery Witchcraft is in the Romantic Tradition.
You can see that my path is Romantic by the images I consistently choose, such as the mysterious la Chateau Reine Blanche, or Castle of the White Queen in France. In medieval times, widows wore white, thus the White Queen was often so, if not a ghost, a spirit, or a Faery.The mist over the lake suggests that the chateau is in the Otherworld; one must often cross water to enter Faery. The land of the dead is inferred in this equation, but not in a chaotic, nihilistic way, rather as the twilight place between the living and the dead that vibrates with a very special kind of light.
I am steeped in the literary Romances of King Arthur and the Grail Quest. The Celtic Twilight of Yeats, Fiona Macleod, Bards, Ovates and Druids, Irish music, Scots border ballads, Elizabethan folk music, all inform my imagination. Especially resonant are Shakespeare’ plays, the life of Queen Elizabeth I, Dee and Kelly, whatever number King James and his Demonologia. The witches of 17th century Scotland shown in crude woodcuts of the period, so like the brooding atmosphere of my native Massachusetts. deeply inspire me. And of course fairy tale images haunt me still…
This magical life is Romantic in the old sense of the word — full of drama, dark and light, a search for the soul in all its shades and colors, a quest for adventure, opulence, even extravagance, courage, strong emotions, and sacrifices for the sake of love and art.
What Lies Behind the Veil of Nature
Winterspells Faery Witchcraft, is a way of life that focuses on beauty and the seeking of spiritual treasures. It follows a path between the worlds.
This way is heart centered, for the heart center in our bodies is the energetic link between us and the whole of nature, the Faery, and the stars from which we come. We are all stars; everything on earth is composed of congealed light. The light vibrates, sings, moves in waves, and flows through everything that lives through the heart center. When we are in alignment with this energy, magic happens.
I avoid dark paths that deny love and seek to use power as a weapon. This is not out of self righteous judgment, or some hypocritical pretense to be ‘good’. I love dark symbols, dark literature, dark gods, the Dark Ages. Rather, it is because the light shines in the dark. And because in the dark is mystery, discovery, moonlight, starlight, quietness; darkness is the atmosphere that leads to inner reflection and dreams. In order to be mature, we must see into our dark places and release forces into consciousness that may have been exiled there out of ignorance and social pressure, but are still very important parts of our psyches.
I think it was Dion Fortune who said something along the lines of, “Be careful exorcizing your demons or may cut off the best part of you.”
What Winterseplls Faery Magic is Not:
I have had many experiences of the dark. Many of these were painful. I don’t seek pain; I hate it! If it seeks me then there is an imbalance I need to know about, or some part of me needs to grow — or even to be removed. By the same token to use magic to inflict pain on another because they wound our vanity has no purpose except to return the wound. Since many relationships are fraught with projections and misunderstandings, a magical attack may be against the wrong person, or retaliation for our problems against those we perceive as being better off. We may want to impose ourselves on others, to pass our pain around, or buttress our need for control. This kind of attack thus uses uncreative, destructive, dead energy. In my opinion, since magic involves wonder at the beauty of creation, it is not magic at all.
Misuse of power literally shuts the doors to the dimensions where real magic is worked.
Dark Magic, magic for manipulation, for power over others, will always fail. Why? because the organ of connection to the ground of being where magic can be worked can only be approached through love. Negative, ego-minded, ugly motives may open doors into the Unseen, but the places they access are dead ends that will ultimately turn on the magician. ‘Power- Over Magic’ always backfires. Our myths, and even our popular fiction, are full of stories about malign magicians getting something worse than they bargained for.
Here is an example: Animals are highly in tune with Faery, very much in twilight mind. Being so open and heart centered, animals will always respond in a trusting, friendly way to people who are the same. If you are hostile, mean, potentially violent, even if your energy field is merely darkened by spiritual pollution, animals will give you a wide berth — especially cats. When your energy field radiates love, kindness, and clarity even wild animals will approach you.
I have always gotten along with animals, especially cats who are particularly psychic. When I lived in London, I was subjected to constant, vicious psychic attack spurred by the vanity and envy of another Tarot reader in Camden Market. My aura was constantly being torn at by spirits that, in then process of trying in, inflicted literal physical pain on me. Sometimes the negative vibrations that evil witch sent my way would get into my being, and turn my aura very dark indeed. I was often stressed out and emotionally unbalanced by the draining toxic vibrations of her vindictive sorcery.
During that time, animals ran away when they saw me coming. This was very upsetting, not only because I missed my contact with the animals, but it was also a strong sign that I was in worse shape than I ever dreamed. The evil coursing through my aura on those dark tides was noticed by the neighborhood cats! Of course, once I saw this, and got some help, ( another wild story) I regained my good reputation among my furry friends.
I am sure the woman who cast those horrid spells got a nice blow back –simply because energy must return to its own level! The clean dimensions cannot accept it. There is no resonance. Negative energy is polluting and must find its way back to its source. Not only that, but the negative magic she sent out was carried on the strength of her emotions — her spells were such an intimate part of who she is that they must snap back like a rubber band.
Sooner or later, everything goes back to its creator. It is not a matter of tit for tat. It is the Law of Nature.
It is the heart that speaks to trees, to stones, to hills, and wild creatures; it is the heart that calls forth the Other, and the heart that opens the twilight vision, the second sight, the third eye. The heart responds to beauty, Silence is the medium through which the ancient voices of Earth will speak to us. Silence, and listening to the soundlessness as we gaze into the Unseen. The shift in awareness that happens in the silent core of the heart, erases all ego striving, quiets the mind, ends discussion. One walks into the Otherworld as one walks into the sea, sensing the change in temperature, the currents moving against the the body, the play of light on the mirror-like surface of the waves. If your heart is open, and respectfulness is your frame of mind, deeper doors may open to you. You are allowed in because you cause no harm, you are allowed because you bring love and beauty. The Faery are always curious about the vibration of love, drawn to beauty, and anxious to participate with us on that level.
Winterspells Faery Witchcraft is Life Affirming.
Body and Spirit are One, God/Goddess are One, it is all One energy. We don’t have to go anywhere — to another planet, or a star system, or space ship, or leave our bodies, or strive toward any other condition that denies life.
We are already in the star system! We are made of starlight, and the Earth floats in a universe of stars.
Below is a small lesson in magical perception. Even if you already know this one, it is fun to be reminded.
Apple of the Goddess
Take an apple.
Cut it crosswise in half
Pull it apart
inside, see the star
A five pointed star
made with seeds.
A pentagram inside an apple made by the Goddess and opened by Eve who desired knowledge of Earth.
The stars are in the Earth
The Earth is a star
All creatures, stones, trees, oceans, mountains, clouds are stars.
Reach into the starry matrix with your mind
Touch the currents of energy
Hear the ethereal music of the spheres
You do not have to strive, deny yourself, attain, or ascend
During my early adolescence, the call of the Otherworld intensified to such a pitch that I had a very hard time being present. Vivid dreams assailed me, astral projections, and visits from the horned Spirit of the Woods upset my sleep. Perhaps my imagination was merely fueled by the constant reading of fantasy and fairy tales, combined with my taste for the supernatural. These pastimes may have contributed a great deal to my susceptibility to the Unseen. This was the 1960’s remember. In rural Massachusetts, my experiences were way beyond the pale. Nobody understood me — or maybe very few.
I used to walk down a woodsy road that ran between two reservoirs. Open on the sides facing the road, they were bounded on the further sides by tall hedges of arbor vitae. These trees were so old and tall that I could see the tops as I approached. The subtle movements of their leaves had a powerful, trance inducing effect on me so that I felt as if I was going through a doorway into a different dimension that existed close to the real world, but was more vivid and beautiful. It was pleasant in the summer months to lie in the lush green grass beside the water and watch the birds and small animals and the arbor vitae. I was convinced that the trees spoke, that they were aware of my presence, and that their movements expressed feelings and intentions. They explained things to me about nature, and revealed certain spirits that would show themselves briefly before backing away again into the shadows.
One day I remember very clearly that I decided I was a Pagan. I knew the experiences I was having were spiritual, but no one ever spoke about things like spirits and nature in church or in catechism. Obviously, the trees were not Catholics so maybe they didn’t count. I struggled to find the word Pagan. I didn’t really know what it meant. But atheist and agnostic didn’t work. Witch was too strong a word at the time.
The Magic of Old Cemeteries
The new neighborhood we moved to when I was eleven had a few things to make up for the loss of the woods and the sawmill road. Cemeteries. They were very old. One was along Main Street and held the graves of the local blue-blood families (Protestant with Mayflower ancestry). Minute Men who had met to plan the Revolution on our village green over 200 years ago. Fallen English ‘Red Coats’ from the Revolutionary War, were also buried there.
There was another cemetery further away. I had to walk down along road that went through the woods to get there. This cemetery had many old graves. They still outnumber the new ones. I used to wander around, enjoying the sense of history, the quietness, and park-like beauty of the place. I always thought my attraction to cemeteries was because of a streak of melancholy stemming from my old French Catholic roots and the somber atmosphere of New England. Now I think I was picking up on ghosts, or sensing the ‘betwixt and between’ nature of a place that trembles between the worlds of the living and the dead. Such places are a threshold to the Otherworld.
There was another, hidden, cemetery in the woods far off the reservoir road. It had a high stone wall around it with a wrought iron gate we called Spider Gates. The graves inside were extremely old. We partied there as teenagers but did not damage anything. In those days we respected those things. I can only pray it hasn’t been seriously vandalized since then, for it is a very mysterious, Gothic place with a reputation for weird goings on including blood sacrifices on Sacrifice Rock.
Sometimes I would just find a lone grave in the woods from the 17th century or so.
I just made me aware of how old my home town was. Something about stumbling on a grave in the woods makes the person under it more real than words written in the pages of history books.
My Discovery of Tarot Cards
The circus occasionally came to town. I was privileged to see the Flying Welenda’s trapeze act. I still remember how astonished I was watching the women stand on their heads on the trapezes, their blond ponytails hanging down, and their legs in splits — all without a net!
There was an odd circus that came once and camped in a clearing in the trees along the road leading to the reservoirs. They had a row of tents pitched. I remember them vividly: cream colored canvas, with peaked roofs set against a green background of pines and arbor vitae. Though it was twilight and the show was over, it seemed as if the Circus was still open for business in their camp in the ring of trees, because when I went to check them out there were other visitors milling around. There was a kind of side show, if I recall, but I had no money so I couldn’t go into the tents. (After reading Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, I now know what must have been going on, but back then it was way over my head.)
Circus people hanging out in midst of the trees was an odd sight. Some of them were still in costume. This image left an indelible mark in my imagination and still crops in stories I have written over the years. In the middle of the grass a skinny guy covered in tattoos (extremely unusual in those days) smoked a cigarette while he talked with an acrobat in a tutu. There was a woman sitting under a tree dressed as a Gypsy. She had some cards spread out on a table in front of her. I stood looking down at them and she began turning them over. Unlike the playing cards, or Old Maid cards, I was used to, these had pictures on them that looked like illustrations from a story book. They appealed to something very deep in me. The images were enigmatic, inducing a sense of wonder and curiosity that other artwork did not. I don’t remember much else, except that I wanted those cards.
Many years later, I was given my first deck by my boyfriend, J.B.
I used to summer for a weeks in Ogunquit, Maine with a group of other kids from my High School. This was the mid 1970’s when the beaches were wild and free, the Victorian and Edwardian hotels elegant and few. Cat Stevens had just released the evocative Moonshadow, and water beds were a novelty.
Here is Cat Stevens circa 1976. Moonshadow was a background song for one magical summer by the sea. Check out my post John Barleycorn is Dead for another magical song from this period.
During my first Ogunquit summer, I remember going along a wooden boardwalk with a small string of shops on one side, their white paint weathered to gray. My walk was stopped, at the very end, by a closed door. I was so struck by it that I still remember it after all this time. I can only figure out that it was a sign for me, so it stayed in my mind until I could understand what it stood for. The door was white and had a life sized red hand painted on it, fingers together pointing up, palm facing out. There were lines on the palm with little symbols, as a palm reader would use. There was nothing else on the door except a small sign saying Do Not Disturb.
Someone later told me that there was a man in there who read Tarot Cards, but you had to give him money. Not having that, I couldn’t go in.
But the seeds were being planted….
New England Witches
As girls, we gathered in the woods and played at witches. Sometimes I knew the magic we did was real because it overpowered me, and made me wild. The sea at twilight had a powerful effect when we called out to spirits, or sent wishes on little paper boats on the waves. I wonder if any of those girls turned out like me?
It being New England, there were always spooky rumors. Tales were told of an old lady who lived in certain very creepy Victorian house nearby. One girl told me that she and her friends went there, and the lady invited them in. Inside, the walls inside were painted black, and there was a black cat on the sofa. The old lady asked my friend to sit down next to the cat. When she reached out to the pet it, she found that the cats was stuffed! The lady gave them tea and told them she was a witch and that she came from a long line of witches who had lived in that house for generations…
This was said in all seriousness, how could I doubt? Dark Shadows was on TV. It was an era of spookiness!
I wrote my first short story when I was eight about fairies living in a fallen log in the woods behind our house. I always won prizes for stories in school, and my finished my first novel in my teens. Of course it wasn’t very good, but I was totally into it. In my first year at Worcester State College, I took a supernatural writing course and wrote an ‘evil child’ story. I can’t remember the story, but the professor, an old lady with a silvery bun and a penetrating gaze, looked at me strangely suggested I go to the library do some research in The Encyclopedia of Magic andExperimental Science. It was an unusual assignment. This encyclopedia took up a whole shelf! But started to look through them and became totally enthralled with the early volumes on Magic, discovering pages of fairy lore, folktales, hauntings and fascinating ‘superstitions.’ It was here that I read that the bite of a red haired person would drive you mad!
In retrospect, it became clear to me that this lady professor of mine was probably a witch, and saw in me a kindred spirit.
I also started writing my very witchy poetry at this time. I couldn’t even think of other subjects. My poetry professor told me about the ‘Collective Unconscious’ That led to my discovery of Jung. Jung’s ideas began to have a strong influence on the way I looked at spirituality and magical perception. Jungian Psychology became very fashionable in the 1980’s, and it was difficult to see things any other way. I had to go to Europe to break out of that box!
It was in this year I also had a powerful past life memory that I wrote about on the blog under the title Death in Art.
I was always drawing images that I felt came out of the land and the woods. They had fairy tale themes, but I wasn’t conscious of that. I drew mysterious figures in the woods, standing among candles in the snow, wearing sweeping cloaks. Even a man coming up from under a snow bank with a candle in his hand, and a ‘black man with a black book’ standing inside a circle in the woods like a figure from a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
When some of my art work was compared to the Pre-Raphaelites,I looked them up. I had to agree, for there was a strong romantic and mystical quality to my art. I became so smitten with the Pre-Raphaelites that I began to wear my hair long and curly and dressed in the Victorian vintage clothes you could still find back then in second hand shops.
In retrospect, I realize I was seeing spirits and that some of those drawings I made about them were psychic impressions that I mistook for imagination. I know this because I later learned who it is that lives underground, and who the ‘black man’ is, and how past lives are experienced.
When I get my pictures out of storage, I will post them on the blog.
All these things may not seem particularly magical. Maybe they are just imaginative.
But it shows a predisposition towards the mystical, and an innate attraction to the unseen that would lead me to the full blown knowledge that I carry the Witchblood.
Most of my drawings throughout my teenage years were self portraits. I didn’t know this consciously, but those wild haired women in wind swept cloaks standing under the trees at the edge of an abyss filled with stars, were alter egos of mine — signs telling me who I was and what I was born to do.
This isn’t me of course, it’s Monica Belushi. But you get the drift!
Paul Huson from the back of my copy of Mastering Witchcraft, 1970
Paul Huson is one the most interesting writers on the occult. His approach to witchcraft has inspired many magical people since the publication of his classic Mastering Witchcraft in 1970. He is a proponent of ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ , rather than Wicca. The most apparent difference between these two approaches is that, while Wicca is a highly structured religion that mixes Masonic Lodge Magic with fertility rites aligned with the cycles of nature, Traditional Witchcraft is a way of life filled with magical spells and charms based on folk traditions in harmony with the land. A lot of readers feel that, in Mastering Witchcraft, Paul Huson cuts to the chase and provides instruction and guidance in how to begin life as a Traditional Witch.
Since reading Mastering Witchcraft and The Devil’s Picture Book long ago, I have been burning with curiosity about this man and wonder at his deep authority on the ancient practices, spells, charms, regalia of witchcraft.
Huson’s originality and dramatic writing stlye contribute a great to the enjoyment of reading his books, as he creates an aura of mystery around his subjects. He is also an artist, and his books are full of many delightful line drawings. His new Tarot Deck Dame Fortuna’s Wheel displays his talent for elegant, evocative images that read like a charm. Many of the concepts he discusses in Mystical Origins of the Tarot, for instance the use of the figures of the Nine Worthies for the Tarot Courts, have made their way into his Tarot deck to great effect.
He is delightful man and shares a lot of wonderful bits of information on tarot and magic in the interview.
Paul Huson was born on September 19, 1942 in London, England, the son of the author Edward Richard Carl Huson and painter and motion picture costume designer Olga Lehmann. “He claims that one of his Scottish ancestors, Alice Huson, was hanged as a witch in the seventeenth century. While he works in motion pictures and T.V., he has had a lifelong interest in the occult.” –(from the cover flap on Mastering Witchcraft.)
Huson currently lives in Los Angeles. His partner and frequent collaborator is William Bast
Arlene: Hi Paul! I would like to thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts and ideas with my readers and myself. Why don’t we begin with a little background about you. What brought you into magic and witchcraft?
Paul: I discovered I could scry at a very early age, when I was still a tot – something I suspect a lot of children can do; later I found I also often seemed to be able affect the course of simple events by the power of concentrated thought. To try to explain these things I read whatever occult or magical books I could lay my hands on, and in the early ‘fifties wrote to G.B.Gardner to describe my experiences after I read his book “Witchcraft Today”. He put me in touch with the Society of the Inner Light, although he doubted they would accept me for magical tutoring at such an early age. In fact I waited a couple of years until I had entered college, and then the SIL accepted me as a student.
Arlene: Whenever I read Mastering Witchcraft, I imagine you must have come from a long line of witches. Is this true?
Paul: Alas, no. At least, not as far as I know. An Alice Huson was prosecuted for witchcraft in seventeenth century England, but I have no proof I’m her descendant. In fact I do happen to be directly descended from one of Oliver Cromwell’s extremely Puritan generals, and I’m quite sure he had no connection with Alice H. However, back in the sixties, if you shared a name with anyone accused of witchcraft in the historical record, it gave you status in the witchy circles I attended. When Putnams heard about this conceit of mine, it appeared in the advertising blurb on the book flap with a lot of other gothic stuff; along the way Alice also somehow acquired a Scottish provenance. Arlene: How were you able to master witchcraft at such a young age?
Paul: I would never have claimed to be a master of the craft. However, again, the title of the book resulted from a compromise with the editorial dept. The manuscript I submitted had originally been entitled “So You Want to be a Witch?” However, they wanted to call it by what I considered the rather stodgy “Witches, Warlocks & Covens” – in fact, they already had the graphic of this title designed and ready to print. I thought the teaching element was missing, so suggested “Mastering Witchcraft: a Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks and Covens” as a compromise, which allowed Putnams to use their graphic.
Arlene: What is the difference between Traditional Witchcraft and Wicca? Can you elaborate so readers understand?
Paul: Traditional witchcraft is what Margaret Murray — a British historian who during the twenties advanced the notion that Witchcraft was originally a clandestine pagan religion that had continued to exist alongside Christianity — referred to as “Operative Witchcraft”, to distinguish it from what she called “Ritual Witchcraft”. Operative Witchcraft, to use her words, encompassed all charms and spells, whether used by a professed witch or by a professed Christian, whether intended for good or for evil, for killing or for curing. Ritual Witchcraft on the other hand, embraced the religious beliefs and ritual of those who practiced what Murray referred to as the Dianic Cult, the worship of a deity that was incarnate in a man, a woman, or an animal, traces of which she believed were to be found in Italy, in Southern France, and in the English Midlands. The god was named Janus or Dianus, the goddess Diana. “Wicca” or “Wica” was arguably G.B. Gardner’s own personal take on the Dianic cult. “Mastering Witchcraft” for the most part dealt with processes of Operative Witchcraft that I had learned over the years, but it also gave a nod to the cult aspect in the final chapter. It was not basically a Wiccan tract, although it drew on a lot of the same material that Gardner did.
Arlene: Where did you see your first Tarot deck? Was it one you were drawn to, or was it a gift?
Paul: During the 1950s I used to read articles about tarot written by one Madeline Montalban in a UK magazine named “Prediction”. They featured illustrations of the RWS (Rider Waite Smith) deck, and I used to faithfully copy them onto file cards and arrange them around my bedroom for meditation purposes. I acquired my first deck, an Insight Institute one designed by Frank Lind, by mail order from “Prediction” magazine, sometime soon after I wrote to Gardner.
Arlene: What is it about cards that hooked you in so that you spend a lifetime exploring this subject?
Paul: I was attracted to the standard deck of cards when I was still a very small child, and used to lay them out on the pattern of the living room carpet to contemplate them. Something about those strange little people featured on the Court cards magnetized me. Who were they? What powers did they possess? How did they relate to one another? Maybe I psychically intuited their history, even that early.
Arlene: Do you practice cartomancy?
Paul: Yes, to a limited extent. I don’t really fancy precognitive divination, although my friends tell me I’m accurate in my tarot forecasting. Actually I’m more interested in tarot history and the varied forms of the cards themselves.
Arlene: In The Devil’s Picture Book, you suggest that the Fool and Magician are a duality — twins in a sense.
Fool comes out of a childhood dream, and the first person he meets is a — thimble rigger?
Most Tarot creators, influenced I think, by Christianity –like Waite– created the myth that the Fool goes on the spiritual path expecting a gentle awakening The first person he meets is a lofty practitioner of Magic, an Initiate. Before this interpretation, you suggest the Magician was more of con artist.
Can you explore the interpretation of the Magician as Mage vs. the Carnival trickster of the older decks, and how that skews the Fool’s journey?
Paul: I believe interpreting the Juggler (as I prefer to call him) as a mage puts undue emphasis on this lowly card. It’s not for nothing that he comes at the very beginning of the deck among the Lesser Trumps, right after the Fool. In the oldest decks the Juggler is a quite obviously a mercurial Mountebank, a Tregatour, a Street Huckster, who is bamboozling the crowd with the oldest trick in the book, the Cups and Ball trick or Find the Lady. He was elevated to mage status by Éliphas Lévi during the nineteenth century as part of Lévi’s transformation of tarot into an instrument of Transcendental Magic – not even the earliest commentators on the cards, Court de Gébelin, de Mellet or Etteilla himself, made that mistake. I feel that making the Juggler into an all-wise wizard is just plain wrong. Real magic, per se, is not actually represented in the historical tarot.
Arlene: It puts a different spin on the Major Arcana as a whole as well, don’t you think? It seems much more earthbound in the Magician is a con.
Paul: Precisely. The Lesser Trumps are supposed to be earthbound. That’s exactly their point. The tarot trump parade describes an arc beginning with the lowest of the low, the homeless Fool, climbs through all the ranks of society, through betrayal and death and hell, and finally ends up in the celestial regions with sun moon and stars and finally eternity, as shown in the so-called Greater Trumps. As I say in my most recent book “Mystical Origins of the Tarot”, basically they tell of the soul’s journey through life into the afterlife, an archetypal and perennial story recounted in Christian imagery typical of the late medieval period.
Arlene: How do the Fool and the Magician mirror each other?
Paul: I would say as victim and victimizer. The person who is ruled by the Moon, taken in by the person who is ruled by Mercury.
Fool & Juggler
Arlene: Where does this idea of the Fool’s Journey come from? Do you agree with it?
Paul: I think A. E. Waite first introduced it in his book “A Handbook of Cartomancy, Fortune Telling and Occult Divination” that was published under his pseudonym “Grand Orient” in 1889. I do agree with it to some extent, although I don’t think the historical trumps had the exact connotation Waite placed on them. Allow me to quote him: “As regards the Fool … signifies the consummation of everything, when that which began his initiation at zero attains the term of all numeration and existence. The card which bears no number passes through all the numbered cards and is changed in each, as the natural man passes through worlds of lesser experience, worlds of devotion, worlds of successive attainment, and receives the everlasting wisdom as the gift of perseverance.” This is basically a neoplatonic idea, and there are wise folk who believe the tarot originally had this kind of deep philosophical underpinning, although I have yet to be convinced of that. I think it can be read into the cards, but I don’t think they were originally conceived with this in mind.
Arlene: Do you think the trumps were always arranged in the order we have them in now?
Paul: Pretty much, with only minor exceptions of a card here or there. In some decks the Justice trump figured among the Greater Trumps at the end of the sequence, but I suspect this only happened because it was similar to, and therefore linked thematically with, the Last Judgment. The Fool, being without number, can theoretically be placed anywhere, but generally he is placed at the beginning, sometimes at the end. The Florentine Minchiate on the other hand have an entire zodiac, four more Virtues and the four Aristotelian elements shoehorned in between the Lesser and Greater Trumps, but this was a later innovation made for the sake of complicating the game and probably introduced by folk who knew little and cared less about the original meanings of the trumps.
Arlene: Was there any perception that they needed to be in any order?
Paul: We have documentations of the various marginally divergent orders; these can be found in Kaplan’s tarot encyclopedias.
Arlene: Do the numbers on the cards have relevance to the images on the trumps, and what are they?
Paul: Some tarot historians believe they do, but they’re in the minority. Personally I don’t think there are any numerological connotations, except maybe for the Fool’s lack of number, and the fairly consistent placing of Death in the thirteenth position.
Arlene: Does Tarot belong to the Qabbalistic Tree of Life, or this a conceit?
Paul: A conceit is putting it mildly! The Society of the Inner Light, having inherited the notion from the Golden Dawn, presented me with the idea as a factoid, but try as I might I couldn’t really fit the tarot onto the tree however I arranged it. Something always didn’t quite fit and had to be fudged, and calling it a blind for the uninitiated didn’t do anything repair the damage. When you analyzed the god names of the Sephiroth, for instance, they had nothing intrinsically to do with the planets.
If you wanted a Gnostic planetary ladder, you really didn’t need to tie it to the Sephiroth at all. Then when you add up the signs of the zodiac, the seven planets and the four elements, they result in 23, not 22. Furthermore none of the verses of the Sepher Yetzirah really made any sense paired with the trumps, either. I finally came to the conclusion that the Qabalistic theory was an utterly mistaken concoction of Lévi’s.
Arlene:I love the idea that Tarot trumps were influenced by Mystery plays. I have seen many Italian paintings of Gods and Goddesses on floats with all their icons around them, that look just like Tarot cards. Do you have any new thoughts that you could share about this history, maybe ideas that didn’t get into the book?
Arlene:How do you imagine card games were played that included the Major Arcana?
Paul: Rather like Bridge without bidding, or Whist. You had to follow suit. The object was to win tricks, and every trick contributed to the point-count total, which included extra points for the courts and trumps. The Fool could be played sacrificially if trumps were led and you had a high trump you wanted to protect.
Arlene: If they weren’t used for play, what was the intention in creating them and adding them to the playing cards that you know of or can guess? Were they always meant to spiritual tools for meditation and divination?
Paul: No sequence of trumps, either in cut or uncut sheet-form, has yet been discovered unattached to the pip and court cards of the Minor Arcana. This leads one to suspect they never had an independent existence. However, a negative like this is very difficult to prove. Just because we haven’t found a solo trump sequence doesn’t prove that one never existed. It’s tempting to believe the sequence originated in some other work, possibly didactic or devotional, maybe even divinatory, like one of the many sortilege wheels of images that were consulted in medieval times.
Arlene: Do you know the history of the use of Tarot for divination? What about playing cards?
Paul: In 2005 tarot historian Ross Caldwell discovered a paragraph in De Rerum Praenotione, a text proscribing various types of divination published in 1507 by one of Savonarola’s disciples, one Gianfranceso Pico della Mirandola, that includes divination by the images depicted on playing cards, so we have documented evidence that card divination existed in the sixteenth century. I’m sure the practice goes much further back however. If you think about it, card reading is basically a type of sortilege, a divinatory practice dating back to the time of ancient Greece at least.
Arlene:The Pope Joan angle so interesting. Why do you think she was replaced by the High Priestess?
Paul: I think Court de Gébelin was the first to call her this. Undoubtedly his Ancient Egyptian take on the cards was the cause.
Arlene: Does their symbolism match? How is Pope Joan like and unlike the High Priestess?
Paul: Well, again, like the Juggler, elevating the Female Pope to the rank of a High Priestess works against the basic meaning of all the Lesser Trumps. She follows the Juggler in the sequence at the beginning because she’s low in virtuous ranking, a heretic, something bold and scandalous and outrageous, not because she’s the mysterious and mystical wisdom figure Lévi and all his followers turned her into. Interestingly de Mellet had the right idea, I think, when he deciphered her (only negatively) as Pride and Idolatry, taking his cue from her Besançon incarnation as Juno with her peacock. But maybe the substitutions of Juno for the FP and Jupiter for the Pope were not so far off the mark, after all?
Arlene: Besides the presence of 2 Popes, and one being a woman, why did the Church dislike Tarot and playing cards in general?
Paul: As far as the Catholic church was concerned, chiefly because they were used for gambling. I think the fact that cards were used for unsanctioned sortilege too could also hardly have endeared them. We do have a seventeenth century English Puritan rant against playing cards as actually being pagan gods disguised as legendary heroes such as Charlemagne and Lancelot, which indicates the Protestant church’s attitude at its most extreme.
Arlene: The Church didn’t like the Tarot, but it still survives. Like the Grail legends, Tarot is stronger than its persecutors. You even mention a connection between Tarot and the Holy Grail when you discuss the emblems of the suits. What is it about these subjects that makes them so powerful they have never been driven underground and lost?
Paul:I think it’s that mysterious something Jung was striving after when he coined his theory of archetypes, certain compelling patterns in nature that also find expression throughout humanity as complex recurring symbols in dream and vision.
Arlene: I painted a Grail tarot in the 1990′s. They seem to be naturally connected.
Paul: The arrival of playing cards in Europe and the popularity of Grail stories appear to be roughly contemporaneous. Historians also believe the cup suit came in with Mamluk cards, from the middle east. Maybe the Grail legend is also a middle eastern import? The connection seems tenuous to me at best, however. But I do feel that any literate person playing with a cup suit in the late middle ages or early Renaissance would have been bound to note the Cup/Grail similarity, whether or not there were a connection of provenance.
Ace of Cups by Paul Huson
Arlene: If Tarot was a Teaching tool, what was it meant to teach? What were these images meant to represent to illiterate people? They certainly are not very Biblical. Any thoughts on that?
Paul: Not Biblical, but religious and philosophical in the way that Morality plays were.
Arlene:You have a side that is little known, I think. A screenwriter! Have you written any screenplays about the colorful characters you discuss in Mystical Origins of the Tarot. I thought Etteilla had an exciting story, as does Levi. Can you share anything about your film work as related to occult subjects?
Paul: I’m working on a script dealing with what you might call the occult at present, but would rather not talk about it.
Arlene:Fair enough. Your Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot is really lovely. It reads clearly and precisely. No clutter. It speaks. Non-traditional decks, though artistically beautiful, are sometimes unreadable, I find. Can you address the issue of how the correct images carry divinatory power, where more innovative Tarots may not?
Paul: Power lies in the baldness and simplicity of the original images. They work together as a thematic unit, and add up to more than the sum of their parts. I think we should also remember that the trumps were originally drawn from what one would have to call the world of medieval pop entertainment, the imagery of medieval drama, mystery and morality plays, chansons de geste and works of historical romance, Arthur and Charlemagne. They are, to fall back on the cliché, quite literally archetypal.
Dame Fortune's Wheel
Arlene: What is next for you? Do you practice magic? Do you give seminars, or talks?
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Paul: I shall be concentrating on my screenplay and my next book. I only very occasionally practice the Art these days. And no, I don’t give seminars or talks.
I think I’ve probably shared too much already…
I hope this isn’t all too daunting!
Thank you again Paul Huson. That was totally fascinating and enjoyable!
Please hit ” comments” at the top of the post and let me know what you think. There is so much food for thought in here!
If you would like to read Paul Huson’s works click on the Amazon link below. His Dame Fortune’s Wheel tarot can also be purchased from
Llewelyn’s or at Alidstore.com. Part of own Tarot of the Holy Grail, now Grail Keepers’ Tarot can be found on page 95 in the volume 4 of the Encyclopedia of the Tarot.
Galadriel in Lord of the Rings is a typical Faery Witch. The swan is a common totem for us as well. Here Galadriel is like the Lady of the Lake in the Arthurian Mythos.
Characteristics of the Fledgling Faery Witch
*A Faery witch is one who has a special affinity to the Faeries, especially those who are the spectres of the ancestors and the Old Gods.
*Unlike Witches initiated into Wiccan traditions such as the Gardnerian and Alexandrian paths, the Faery Witch is one whose talent comes from deep communion with nature alone. There is no necessity to connect to a line of initiates to become a channel for power. The connection is through the Fay who work through the land and the imagination.
*I believe the Faery Witch is one who has traveled between the Faery and Mortal realms for many lifetimes. Therefore, she or he has a natural ability to ‘see’ spirits in the wilds, is drawn trees, rocks, hills, the turning of the seasons, the moon, and the waters. One such as this will have an innate desire to return ‘home’ in dreams and waking reveries, and maybe even to try to bridge the worlds so that the Faeries can access the Mortal Plane.
Do you want to train your Second Sight?
*Wiccans use many branches of Magic to forge their consciousness and work their enchantments. They often begin with woodland pantheons and expand into other occult traditions and ceremonial magic . As I am not initiated into the Wiccan traditions, I cannot say more. The Faery Witch more often defaults back into communing with the Fay.
*The Faery Witch may be content to walk across the land with intent and heightened consciousness to feel the workings of magic. The relationship between the Witch and the Fay is the magic.
* Animals trust Faery Witches and will communicate with us telepathically.
*Faery Witches are usually drawn to the Arthurian and Holy Grail Mythos. This is because one of main branches of Faery, the Tuathaa de Danaan are Grail Keepers. Many of the stories and myths that came to comprise Arthurian Romance were drawn from the visions of Faery Seers, or Bardic Poets.
*Faery Witches often have poetic talents. Visionary language comes naturally to them.
* Faery Witches do not like iron! Therefore swords are not part of our Magical Regalia.
* Young Faery Witches love Faeries. They also understand what Faeries are at deeper levels than those who may like Faeries but are not Faery Witches.
*Faery Witches are not afraid of disturbing psychic images and undercurrents. We are drawn to the mystery.
I like to think that Faery Witches have a special glamor of beauty and youth, a quality of stillness and mystery.
*This comes from reading Grimm’s Fairy tales about beautiful Enchantresses and Princesses, the ethereal Faery Queens of Arthurian Romance, legends and folk lore. We must never let ourselves go, or the glamor will be lost. Once the glamor is lost, our power can go with it. For what is glamor but the creation and maintenance of our Magical Self?
* Even as she ages, the Faery Witch exudes the quality of beauty, sexuality, and charm.
* Sometimes alliance with the Faery can take over one’s life. This may cause isolation and loneliness as most others are put off for some reason.It is difficult to inhabit many worlds at the same time.
*We must always guard against psychic attack, for we seem fragile even when we are very strong. This quality disrupts the assumptions of those who would overpower us, inciting their drive to engage in battle.
*The ability of the Faery Witch to see and communicate with the Unseen endows him or her with the ability to heal others. Alliances with the Fay increase the effectiveness of Faery Healing.
Can Faery Witchcraft be Learned?
Do you want to be a Faery Witch, but are not sure if you are right for it?
* Faery Witchcraft can be taught much as painting, music, poetry, dance, or any art can be taught. There are techniques that can be learned. But also, as with any art, talent will dictate success. We do what we are good at. Anyone can use the techniques I teach and benefit form them considerably. The true Faery Witches will exceed expectations.
Can studying Faery Witchcraft cause any harm?
*No. The mind will absorb the lessons in its own measure. Even if one does not develope psychic powers, exposure to the Faery Realm inspires the heart and is a well of creativity that anyone can drawn upon. You can be as you were meant to be and still wear the Glamor of a Faery Witch.
*Psychic Protection is part of the training. Harmless Psychic Self Defense is valuable to everyone.
How old do you have to be to become a Faery Witch?
Old enough to read and carry out exercises. Young people are much closer to Faery than jaded, stressed out adults. Early tuition in Faery Magic can help one cope with life as one ages with a constant sense of curiosity and wonder. There are endless subjects to explore. For this reason, the Faeryland is called the Summer Land, or Land of Eternal Youth.
This course no longer exists. Sorry!I may tunr it into some blog posts–that should do it!