Love to Our Ancestors on Samhain: The Revealers

Samhain is a time to honor our ancestors.

Time to lay out a feast and invite them to dine, to share their presence with us while the veil is thin.

So, in respect for those who came before, I have made a small Ancestral Gallery of Witches. Give them a smile, tip your hat, light a candle and say thank you for blazing the trail and holding open the gates of Elfhame.  It took a lot of courage, in those old days, to walk between the worlds. My original plan was to give space to thirteen of our forebears in one blog post, but i realized, not everyone would know them, so I shall make a series of posts with three in each — a good magical number. It is amazing to discover these great teachers and mentors all over again and to remember how they kept magic alive for all of us, sometimes at great personal risk.

These three gentlemen were controversial figures even for witches. I was not that aware of Alex Sanders until I lived in England. When a told a friend of my discovery, he  responded with, “Oh, wasn’t he just a television witch?” I had no idea. about that. I just thought he and Maxine were fascinating people. Robert Cochran’s style of witchcraft drew me very strongly. I later found how troubled he was.  The American witch, Leo Martello, was an activist, very outspoken especially about animal cruelty and Gay rights.

Alex Sanders (Orrell Alexander Carter)

Born: June 6, 1926/ Entered Faery: March 30, 1988

The flamboyant Witch King, Alex Sanders, was reputed to have been initiated into witchcraft by his Welsh grandmother, Grandma Bibby, as a child. He had accidentally come upon her sitting stark naked in the middle of a circular cloth upon which curious objects were placed. The image of the classic witch, she swore the terrified Alex to secrecy, cutting him with a knife to mark as “one of us now.” Later on, she initiated him in the “old way”, launching his career as a witch.

The, perhaps apocryphal, biography of Alex Sanders, King of the Witches, by June Johns, 1969, ends with a very interesting interview. This section may put to rest some of the disturbing ritual imagery in films of Alexandrian witches found on youtube. The Questioner is June Johns:

Q: What is the difference between black witchcraft and white?

A: White is used for the good of the penitent and must not harm even his enemies. Black involves harm being done to either the petitioner or his enemies, or the sexual seduction of women.

Q: But doesn’t the use of the fith-fath ( doll) harm enemies?

A: No, it is only a means of silencing or restraining someone.  Suppose we  are asked to restrain a meddlesome mother-in-law. We fashion a doll in wax or plasticine, fasten its lips  together with a safety pin, bind its limbs together and have the High Priestess breathe life into it as we recite the correct incantations. No harm is wished her, beyond the impulse to keep her mouth shut.

Robert Cochran   (Roy Bowen)

Born: Jan. 26, 1931/ Entered Faery: July 3, 1066

I have always thought the Cat’s Cradle was witchy game. Here are the words of Robert Cochran, founder of the Clan of Tubal Cain, a mystical branch of witchcraft begun just after the 1951 repeal of the witchcraft laws in England.

On Cords

by Roy Bowen

Pentagram (3) March 1965

“Cat’s cradle” as a game is interesting enough but as a form of witchery it becomes an interesting indication of the complex nature of the Craft. Each of the fingers on the hands of a witch has a defined meaning and purpose. It would be reasonable to assume that, to the knowing eye, the crosses and planes formed by the strings would tell much of a particular ritual.”

I found a couple of fascinating websites about Robert Cochran and the Clan of Tubal Cain in case you are interested. He had a very deep mind, and his letters are full of profound interpretations of poetry and symbolism.

Check out: http://www.cyberwitch.com/bowers/ and http://www.clanoftubalcain.co.uk/

Robert Cochran was born Roy Bowers in a down at heels area of London. He claimed that members of his family had been practitioners of an ancient pagan Witch-cult since at least the 17th century, and that two of them had been executed for it. He  also claimed his great-grandfather was “the last Grand Master of the Staffordshire witches”, who cursed his grandparents for abandoning the Craft and converting to Methodism. His father had practiced witchcraft, but kept it a secret, and forbade his wife to tell his son, Roy. Despite her oath, his mother did in fact tell him. On finding this out, he immediately embraced his heritage.

“I come from the country of the oak, ash and thorn… I describe myself as a ‘pellar’. The People are formed in clans or families and describe themselves by the local name of the Deity. I am a member of the People of Goda – the Clan of Tubal Cain. We were known locally as ‘witches’, ‘the Good People’, Green gowns (females only), ‘Horsemen’ and finally Wizards.”

Robert Cochran worked as a blacksmith at a foundry, and later on a barge transporting coal along Britain’s network of canals. He would later remark that he saw traces of paganism in the folklore and folk art of both of these professions.

The Clan of Tubal Cain, 1951-1966

Around the time that the British 1735 Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951, and it became legal to practice witchcraft in the United Kingdom, Cochrane, who was in his early twenties, founded a coven, and named it the “Clan of Tubal Cain” after the Biblical figure Tubal Cain, the first blacksmith. Blacksmiths have long been associated with wizardry because theyw ork with the four elements and bend iron to their will.  Cochrane initiated his wife Jane and several others into the craft, and they then joined the coven. Among these was Evan John Jones, who would later become an author upon the subject of pagan witchcraft.

Cochrane ingested belladonna and Librium on Midsummer eve 1966, and died nine days later in hospital without recovering consciousness. He left a suicide note expressing his intent to kill himself “while of sound mind”.


Dr. Leo Louis Martello

Born: July 26, 1931/ Entered Faery: June 29. 2000

“In the Craft, there is no hard dogma. Hard drugs are forbidden. Mindless morons can’t be a compliment to our Mother Goddess. Sex is sacred, not something to be exhibited at a peep show. Power is something personal, not to be used over others, which is contrary to Craft ethics. Those who think the Old Religion will make them masters over others are slaves to their own self-delusions. A happy person is always a powerful person and is hated by those who aren’t. A happy person is in many ways selfish; in the Craft we must protect our best interests and ensure that the power that comes from joy remains constant, knowing that none of us are immune from the vicissitudes of life, but that our Old Religion will help us handle adversity. The Craft has survived for thousands of years. After everything else has come and gone, it will remain. And one day, in the coming Age of Aquarius, there will once again be magnificent temples to the Goddess”. from: Witchcraft: The Old Religion, 1973.

A fellow native of Massachusetts, Dr. Leo Louis Martello was  certified hypnotist,  graphologist, and author. During the 1960’s, he was involved in the early spread of Contemporary Witchcraft in America.  Colorful and sometimes controversial, he worked tirelessly in the areas of Civil Rights, Animal Rights, and Gay and Lesbian Rights issues.  He is  famed for his manifesto seeking retribution for the torture and execution of Witches during the Witch hysteria of the 15th – 17th centuries in Europe, going so far as to filing suits of $500 million against the Roman Catholic Church and $100 million against Salem, Massachusetts.

His father was an immigrant Sicilian who owned a small farm, The stress of poverty during the Great Depression., tore his family apart and Leo was sent to a Catholic boarding school. Despite the hardships of his life, before the age of twenty-five Leo had achieved many things. A natural psychic, he studied palmistry and tarot with a Gypsy woman, learned hypnotism and graphology.  By the time he was sixteen, he was making radio appearances, giving handwriting analyses and selling articles to magazines, at the same time continuing his education at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Like Alex Sanders, he also had a powerful grandmother whom he was said to resemble.  Still in Sicily,  Maria Concetta was a well-known Strega Maga (a female Witch) and a High Priestess of a secret coven called ‘Goddess of the Sikels’.  After the sudden death of a local Mafiosi by heart attack, it was rumored that she had caused his death after he had threatened to kill her husband for not paying protection money.

Eventually, Leo’s father told him that his cousins from the old country wished to meet  him.  They had been watching him for years, waiting until he was ready to be brought back into the Old Religion.  On the 26th of September 1951, Leo was initiated into his cousin’s secret Sicilian coven, and thus he became a Stregone Mago (a male Witch).  The initiation involved a “bloodletting Oath”; he was never to reveal the secrets of the coven, its members, or any of their secret teachings.

In 1964, Leo sought the permission from his Sicilian coven to go public as a Witch.  With their consent, he contacted other friends and associates leading to his initiation into Gardnerian, Alexandrian and Traditionalist traditions.  He published his first book,  Weird Ways of Witchcraft in 1969.

images

That ends my list of 13 witches for Samhain.

I’m sorry to have missed any, I know there are a few more who have passed beyond the veil.

When I describe them a being in Faery I really mean it. Consider what it means for a Faery Witch who can contact any of these Ancestors. I believe they are there to help us on our path in all their different ways — and not just via their many books and articles. So, if you have a Samhain Feast perhaps invite them to share with you by name. And if you do, let me know what happens.

Just click the COMMENTS tab at the top of the blog and you will have lots of room to express yourself and share with all of us.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Babalon Diaries # 12: & Love to a Great Ancestress on Samhain

QFvUr2MgMql0er6r1UtJBEg7o1_500

Thanks to multi-talented musician,  Brian Butler, we have a brilliant biography of Marjorie Cameron and her role in the obscure Curtis Harrington  film, The Wormwood Star.

After seeing a clip from this film, I was on a mission to find it. and stumbled on this article. I really would love to see the whole thing. It is highly poetic and very beautiful. Marjorie Cameron’s presence was  compelling, deep, and wise.

I asked Brian if I could re-print it, and he seemed to say it was OK, so Brian, thank you!

This article adds so much to the Babalon Diaries and to our knowledge of Marjorie Cameron’s influence on Witchcraft.

Enjoy a fabulous story about an amazing woman.

He has a great website at www.brianbutler.prg

CAMERON: THE WORMWOOD STAR

BRIAN BUTLER

We are Stars and herald alien laws outside the Solar Wheel

invading natural systems of the earth.[1]

The late 1940’s was an interesting time to be in Southern California. World War II had just ended and for the first time atomic weapons had been detonated in warfare. Science and technology were advancing at an alarming pace. Science fiction had become popular, and space travel seemed a possibility. There were UFO sightings; tales of Black Magick and strange new religious cults were formed. For some reason, Los Angeles became the hub for such activity. There, through a chance encounter with an old navy acquaintance, 23-year-old Marjorie Cameron was led to the home of the famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory rocket scientist and master occultist Jack Parsons in Pasadena. This house, also known as the Parsonage, had become a meeting place and boarding house for cutting edge scientists, occultists, cult leaders and science fiction authors. At the time Cameron arrived, Parsons and then science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard were well into one of the most important occult operations of the 20th century — “The Babalon Working.” Through their invocations, they had set the stage for the arrival of Cameron to assist them as an elemental spirit incarnated in the form of a redhead with green eyes. This meeting was to forever alter the destiny of Marjorie Cameron and set her on a lifelong quest to manifest the Babalon[2] current upon Earth. While much has been documented from her years with Jack Parsons, until now very little has been known publicly about Cameron’s life before or after this five-year period.

Mockery is the punishment of the Gods. What fiendish laughter…[3]

Marjorie Elizabeth Cameron –later known as Cameron – was born on April 23, 1922 in Belle Plain, Iowa, the eldest of four children. Her father, Hill Leslie Cameron, was a Scot from Illinois who worked with the railroad. Her mother, Carrie V. Ridenour, of German and Dutch decent, was a native of Iowa. The night of Cameron’s birth was surrounded by chaos; there was a terrible thunderstorm and her father got drunk and attempted suicide because he thought his wife was dying. Her grandmother, a staunch churchwoman, believed Cameron to be a child of the devil because of her fiery red hair.

As a child, Cameron began to have strange and powerful visions that were so vivid, she could not be sure if they were real or imaginary. One night from her bedroom, she saw a ghostly procession of four white horses float by her window. Later she could recall these dreams in detail and was able to capture this in her artwork and poetry. In a letter to magician and Aleister Crowley associate Jane Wolfe, she mentions finding “a hole to hell” in her grandfather’s backyard:

“I remember always a tree on my grandfather’s property from which hung an old, old swing where my mother had played as a little girl. Near this spot I recall a well which I always believed was the hole to hell. – also the blue Bachelor Button flower grew near this spot. Herein I find again a new concept of the 4 elements and the name of god – the tree, the well, the swing (water’s life) and the flower –which is seed.” [4]

Bachelor's Button III

Never quite accepted in her small hometown, Cameron spent most of her childhood alone. In kindergarten, she was placed in a special school for children with above-average abilities and it became apparent that she was very different from other children. In a town dominated by the railroad, Cameron would often venture to the proverbial “wrong side of the tracks.” She was always attracted to the darker side of things and found a kinship with other individualists and loners.

As a teenager, Cameron made a hideout in the attic of her parents’ home and there she began to develop her psychic abilities. She soon established contact with spirits that would tell her detailed accounts of what had occurred at the house in the past. Like a true witch, she collected black cats and would go for late night prowls alone dressed only in a nightgown.

When she was seventeen, the Great Depression was underway and Cameron moved with her family to Davenport, Iowa, a considerably larger town than Belle Plain. Again she had trouble adjusting. After the suicide of a close friend, Cameron attempted to take her own life several times, each time through an overdose of sleeping pills. Though unsuccessful, she found that these near brushes with death had further enhanced her psychic abilities, giving her a glimpse into the realm of the dead.

Mine eyes are terrible and strange but thou knowest me [5]

In 1943, in the midst of World War II, the 21-year-old Cameron joined the Navy -turning down several college scholarships. She was sent along with 3,000 other women to boot camp in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Soon she was soon selected for a high-level job in Washington, DC, where she applied her artistic skills by drawing maps for the war efforts. She was then sent to the Joint Chiefs of Staff were she once met Churchill. She had a drafting table at the head of their conference room. Later, according to the principles of talismanic magic[6] she felt that many men died in the South Pacific as a result of her drawings. She always felt a karmic connection to these men and believed that the later tragic events in her life were the result of her participation in their deaths.

Later, she worked at the photo science lab on the Potomac, also called “The Hollywood Navy.” There she met many Hollywood celebrities such as Gene Kelly. After learning that her brother, a tail gunner in the Air Force, had been shot down and injured, Cameron walked out on her job and returned to Belle Plain to see him. Eventually, Cameron was declared AWOL and was court martialed. She spent the final six months of the war confined to the base.

819643993_m

THE BIRTH OF BABALON

After her release from the Navy, Cameron moved in with her family, which had moved to Pasadena, California. In January of 1946, while waiting at the unemployment office, she saw an old acquaintance from the photo science lab in the Navy. This man, whose identity remains unknown, was living at the Parsonage and told her of a “mad scientist” that she had to meet.  Inviting her to breakfast, he took her to a house at 1003 South Orange Grove Avenue in Pasadena, and there she met Jack Parsons for the first time. As she walked in, Parsons was standing in the hallway speaking on the phone dressed only in a black silk robe. They met only briefly but immediately felt a deep connection. Also living there was Jack’s magical scribe, L. Ron Hubbard. After this encounter, Hubbard and Parsons commanded the man to “go find her or we’ll kill you!” On January 19, 1946, at the climax of a magical operation that was begun by Jack and L. Ron Hubbard two weeks previously “to obtain the assistance of an elemental mate,” Cameron returned and in that moment her destiny was changed.

Cameron immediately became romantically involved with Jack and moved into the house with him.[7] Unknowingly, she had become Parsons’ sex magick partner in a ritual designed to incarnate the force of Babalon. Although Cameron was initially uninterested in Aleister Crowley or magick, Jack proceeded to instruct Cameron in the occult arts and told her of her destiny in the world. According to Jack, she was to become the vehicle for the Goddess or force called Babalon to manifest on earth. Years later, Cameron came to believe that she was in fact Babalon incarnate.

In March of 1946, Cameron witnessed a flying saucer over the Orange Grove house. She claimed that it was the “war engine”[8] that was predicted in Aleister Crowley’s Book of the Law and the “sign” that Jack was waiting for.

“ The flying saucers – the miracle! – our war machine! I saw the first one in the spring of 1946 at 1003. – Oh – my god. This is the sign (drawing of an inverted triangle within a circle) Flying Saucers – imagine!” [9]

Had she reported it publicly, this would have been known as one of the first UFO sightings in America and would have preceded, by one year, Kenneth Arnold’s infamous sighting on June 24, 1947 – the sighting which propelled the “modern UFO era.”

As the magical current become more intense at the Parsonage, things began to disintegrate. Hubbard had absconded with Jack’s former girlfriend and most of his fortune. In August, Jack resigned from Crowley’s occult order[10] in favor of his own system – “The Witchcraft.”[11] As a result, the occult lodge at the Parsonage was disbanded and guests became fewer and less frequent. Cameron soon found herself spending a lot of time alone painting in the downstairs drawing room. She convinced Jack to get her a German Shepard to keep her company. As yet unfamiliar with the nature of the magical operations going on, Cameron felt that the house was haunted, and Jack would often return to find her and the dogs freezing outside of the house, terrified to return. It is interesting to note that later, in a letter to Cameron, Jack stated that the performance of Aleister Crowley’s “Bornless One” ritual was known to cause “permanent haunting” wherever it was recited:

“I will send you the ritual of the Bornless One…It is a very ancient, potent & dangerous ritual, often used by bold magicians in the Guardian Angel Working. It is useful as a preliminary in almost any sort of work, causing a tremendous concentration of force. It is, however, liable to produce dangerous side phenomena and sometimes permanent haunting in an area where it is repeated, & is for this reason often avoided.”[12]

Finally, after numerous adverse psychic phenomena at the Parsonage, Cameron and Jack consulted the Ouji board and got the message “To Marjorie–Clean Ron’s room and get out!” They immediately did so and moved to Manhattan Beach, California.

ouija2

THE RED WITCH

In late 1947, Jack sent Cameron to England to meet Aleister Crowley. Although Crowley was skeptical about Jack’s recent experiences with Hubbard and Cameron, Jack believed that if Crowley met Cameron in person his opinion would change. Using her Navy connections, Cameron first sailed to Paris and decided to stay there for a while. She became a regular at a local pub in Paris, and there she was known as the “Red Witch” because of her unusual appearance. On the day she walked into the pub to announce that she was off to London for the weekend to meet Aleister Crowley, the locals informed her that he had just died.[13]

Cameron was heartbroken that she missed the opportunity to meet the Master Therion, and following the advice of a friend in Paris, joined a convent in Lugano, Switzerland. After three weeks at the convent, she had a life changing experience – she bathed, let her hair down on her face, got on her haunches and howled into the mirror like a wild animal. It was in this moment that she realized she was in fact the Scarlet Woman and had no place in a convent. She contacted Jack, who sent her funds to return to America. Cameron remained with Jack for the next year. Jack by this time was experiencing the darker effects of the Babalon Working. From Parsons’ The Book of Antichrist:

“Now it came to pass even as BABALON told me, for after receiving Her Book I fell away from Magick, and put away Her Book and all pertaining thereto. And I was stripped of my fortune (the sum of about $50,000) and my house, and all I Possessed.

Then for a period of two years I worked in the world, recouping my fortune somewhat. But that was also taken from me, and my reputation, and my good name in my worldly work, that was in science.”

In 1948, Cameron separated from Jack and went to study art in Mexico on the GI Bill. She did not see Jack for almost two years, and they corresponded solely by mail. However, it was during this period that she received the most serious instruction in practical magick from him. These letters still exist and are available on the Internet.

While in Mexico, Cameron quickly fell in with the famous artist colony in San Miguel—a group that included the painter David Siqueiros and the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Cameron felt a deep connection to Mexico and later said that San Miguel replaced in her heart her childhood home. She had met a kindred spirit in Carrington. She also met Renate Druks and Paul Matheson who would later co-star with her in Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.” She had a brief romance with a bullfighter named Armando, but when he fell ill and died, Cameron was accused of witchcraft and run out of town.

cameron-work-12-high

We dance a geometry of wizardry and wind the threads about our prey…[14]

Cameron returned to America around 1950 and lived with Jack once again as his wife in Manhattan Beach. Jack was then working for Hughes Aircraft and negotiating a deal with Israel to create an explosives plant as well as providing research for “rockets and other armaments.”[15] In September 1950, plainclothes men raided the Parsons’ home and confiscated Jack’s papers. Jack was accused of removing confidential documents from Hughes and was fired. An FBI investigation began, one that would last for over a year. An informant assessed the Parsons as follows:

“…the PARSONS are an odd and unusual pair in that they do not live by the commonly accepted code of married life and are both very fascinated by anything unusual or morbid such as voodooism, cults, homosexuality, and religious practices that are “different.” Subject seems very much in love with his wife but she is not at all affectionate and does not appear to return his affection, [deleted] She is the dominating personality of the two and controls the activities and thinking of subject to very considerable degree. It is the opinion [name withheld] if subject were to have been in any way willfully involved in any activities of an espionage nature, it would probably have been on the instigation of his wife.”15[

Although Parsons was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, on January 17, 1952, he lost his security clearance. This seriously reduced his chances for employment, so Cameron and Jack began to make plans to leave the country. They were first headed for Mexico and from there to either Spain or Israel. Jack ultimately wanted to form a magical school in Israel. Jack and Cameron moved to a carriage house on Orange Grove -a few houses down from the Parsonage.[16]

On June 17, 1952, the evening before they planned to leave for Mexico, Jack was killed in an explosion when he dropped a vial of mercury fulmate in his private laboratory. Cameron was down the street fueling the car when she heard the blast. Jack’s death was ruled an accident by authorities but Cameron always believed that Howard Hughes was somehow behind it.

P9004A_r_sm

We traveled Stellar webs to darker Worlds within the Lunar mirrors of Suicide.[17]

After Jack’s death, Cameron moved into friend Renate Druks’s Malibu home for six months. Druks could not withstand the heavy vibe that was Cameron and relates strange tales of Black Magic and astral attacks. Shortly after ejecting Cameron from her household, Druks claims to have been woken by a strange astral figure floating over her bed. Described as a sort of alien creature that appeared as a bright neon-colored brain with a tail that resembled a spinal column, it increased in size as it came at her and then suddenly disappeared. Overcome with terror, she consulted with their mutual friend, Jane Wolfe. Wolfe stated ‘That was Cameron -–how naughty of her!” and instructed Druks in the banishing ritual of the pentagram to protect herself.

Exiled from Druks’s home and still deeply affected by Jack’s death, Cameron withdrew into complete isolation in the desert of Beaumont, California. There she lived in a house in an abandoned canyon that had no water or power.

During this period Cameron found a new magical teacher in Jane Wolfe and their correspondence remains as a sort of magical diary. Cameron began to see her life increasingly from a magical point of view, analyzing her experiences in terms of a life-long magical ritual or initiation. This was also her darkest period, she writes to Jane:

“I am approaching the darkest hour of the abysmal night furthest from the sun. This is the fateful hour in which I drink the cup of poison to its dregs –- eat the tainted apple -– feel the sting of the terrible dart in the core of me. Know the fang of the deadly serpent in my heart. And thereafter I shall plunge down into the abysmal horror of madness and death –- or I shall walk upon the dawn -– golden with the golden kiss upon me. This hour is far beyond the return. The turning back point was Sunset of year. My farewells were made long ago. No –- this is the hour when I approach the terrible rendezvous when all my gods shall declare themselves – when I shall call upon the secret name – open the final door.”[18]

Cameron realized that she must face this ordeal alone:

“If you have tried to contact me you have no doubt found the going hazardous – I seem to be pyramiding a mountain of fear that is closing all doors to me  — now Renee’s[19] –.

It amounts to this – in the case of each they reach a barrier of fear over which they cannot pass to follow me. And since I can show no pity – since to do so is to pity myself – I am rapidly eliminating my companions on the journey to completion. I had not expected this – as you know– the only comfort left me– is the knowledge that I have the courage to do that which no one else seems to have.  This is indeed the luxury of Kings – but I had tried to bring joy and not fear into the hearts of others. What happens from now on – I do not know. I can only remind myself constantly in this period of aloneness and dryness that which I have known from the beginning.”[20]

It is in these letters to Jane that Cameron fully divulges her feelings and candidly describes her own rituals. Most interesting is a magical working which she began shortly after Jack’s death in 1952. This ritual included some of the same people who later appeared in Kenneth Anger’s film of an occult ritual Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. According to Cameron, this working was to bear fruit in the summer of 1953. By this operation, some say that Cameron intended to create a “magical child” or “wormwood star” sired by Jack from beyond the grave.

200px-Babalon-star.tif

“This is the star which was calculated for me to give it birth. Jane– Jane– This is the star by which I shall behold him and in that union shall he be born– he whose name shall be wonder. His magnificence cannot be foretold and this is my star the Wormwood Star which will be born this summer Solstice of the year 1953.”[21]

Cameron goes on to explain the technical details of the operation based on the seven pointed star of BABALON:

“The points of the star are seven but it produces eight. It consists of the quadrupled union of four pairs of opposites. The eighth of this is not apparent until the four unions are completed. Now when each union is made the word of god must be uttered. Do you know this word? I asked for this word of Jack in March of 1949. It was given to me with no account of the cost. I carried it with me in great secrecy, not ever daring to dream of the miracle it concealed. This word I will only give to you in great secrecy.[22] With the right combination – which is my star [Star of Babalon drawn here] this great word creates — and since there is death in all birth there are four opposites destroyed – but their destruction is absorption and here again another face of the four square miracle!”[23]

She further elaborates on the formula of the operation:

“This opposite must always be the sublime whole of the opposite of the invoked. Such as in this invocation the opposites all destroyed will be pure aspects. Here is the meaning of debauchery as sacrament – the sublime follows between the six and eight of the Tarot.[24] This is the sacrament. The exquisite edge of growth and decay and this is absorbed like the fruit, the wine of the season on the dying cycle of the year. This destruction or absorption will be done each time to the union of the 8 opposites occur.”2[this footnote seems to have been lost]

She then describes the function of the unknowing participants or “elementals” in this strange working:

“Each male in this invocation is an Elemental god and these five gods will be the five fathers of the god. Each is a perfect revelation of the four represented in the Universe card of the Tarot- the Dance of the Star and the Snake. The holy 22. The kether, the Crown, the god. These four are represented as the Bull, the Lion, the Hawk and man sublime angelic – man revealed as god. I plan to write these into four commentaries – or songs – for each of the Elemental gods in a miraculous revelation. When the star is completed and the god born, these elemental gods will be known to their voices and the whole damned union will be complete and magnificent.” 25

Cameron states that she is pregnant but not with a human child:

“The pregnancy, as you understand — was not the actual growth of a human child — but the spiritual child of a psychic union – and in the case of Cupid and Psyche – this child — was a female — called Pleasure — or the birth of Babylon — which is a symbolical — but most real birth of the age of the Goddess of Pleasure — being the union of the mind and body.”[25]

After her extraordinary experiences in the desert, Cameron moved back in with her parents in Pasadena and was considered catatonic for a time. Still in isolation and confusion, she painted a series of works that she called “the parchments.” These pieces received a lot of attention, including an offer from a psychiatrist to publish them with a commentary (which she refused). She believed that through these works of art, she literally “painted herself out” of her situation. Renewed, she emerged as a “real force” in the artistic and occult communities.

scarlet2

Death has been thy lover. Is there else to fear?[26]

In December of 1953, Cameron walked into another situation that was to alter both her destiny and that of those around her. This time it was the home of the eccentric and warlock, Samson Debreir, on Barton Avenue in Hollywood, California. Underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger had begun casting for his occult film, “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome” and the stage was once again set for the Scarlet Woman. The famous erotic writer Anais Nin was to the star until Cameron appeared, upstaging her by the mere power of her presence. The rivalry between the two became a driving force behind the film.

When Anger met Cameron, she introduced herself as “the Scarlet Woman.” And Anger replied “That’s obvious… I have been waiting to meet you for a thousand years.”  By this time, she had developed a very powerful countenance, and it was this that struck Anger. He vividly recalls, “[She had] Flaming Scot red hair…real emerald green eyes that could also turn into sea mist grey according to her mood…and suddenly Anais Nin shrunk…in front of the majesty that is Cameron because Cameron wiped her out.” Cameron had a profound effect on Kenneth Anger and was a sort of mentor to him. Soon, they were living together. Anger relates many strange stories of UFOs, levitation and astral visions, and he still considers Cameron one of the most important women of his life. 

The film, in which Cameron plays herself “The Scarlet Woman,” was well received among both magical initiates and the art world. Cameron believed that this film was proof to the world that she had manifested the force of Babalon on earth.

Up the swirling scarf of smoke rise our invocations.[27]

By the late 1950’s, Cameron was living in Malibu and hanging out with a crowd of Beat artists that included the likes of Dennis Hopper, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner and assemblage artist George Herms. In 1957, Wallace Berman’s show at the Ferus Gallery was closed by the vice squad for pornography after he displayed one of Cameron’s drawings. This drawing depicted a woman, possibly Cameron, being taken from behind by an alien creature.

That same year, experimental filmmaker and her Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome co-star Curtis Harrington directed a film that featured Cameron and her artwork called The Wormwood Star.  The film opens with titles drawn by Paul Matheson over an extreme close-up of the Seal of Solomon. “Concerning the knowledge and conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel as revealed to: Cameron.”  Introduced through a series of composed still frames, rather surreal in juxtaposition and symbolic props, Cameron is then shown seated, looking into a mirror as if in a trance. After a few minutes of this rather abstract portraiture, the film then shifts to a study of Cameron’s paintings that illustrate a desert procession of angels.  In the background Cameron recites a solemn invocation to her Holy Guardian Angel:

“Dark Star, I seek you in all the endless rooms of the universe

I have entered the maze of chaos and searched the promise of no end and no fulfillment

But I have seen your helmeted head flashing gold from the bloody triumphs and sunsets of the world

I have heard your voice singing lovely songs of desire in the world womb

I remember the artistry of fingers that held the rose in wonder

Your musical flute sounding the hymn of love seeking since the birth in the crashing star nebulae

Singing limbs of muscle and star-foam pursued and pursuing

Radiant Warrior, how long?

Beloved God, how long?

How long, how long?”[28]

Cameron later burned all of the paintings seen in The Wormwood Star while living with her second husband Sherif Kimmil, who was said to be the inspiration for the R. P. McMurphy character in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and was by all accounts insane. Kimmel and Cameron had been up for several days on speed and formed what Cameron called a “suicide club.” Kimmel went to the bathroom and slit his wrists.[29] In turn, Cameron symbolically committed suicide by throwing her paintings in the fire. According to Kenneth Anger, Cameron’s paintings were in reality magical talismans and had to be destroyed lest they turn and destroy the creator. He states, “She was doing art for the sake of magick and her soul. She never sold her paintings.”

In this hour I decide between nothingness and creation…[30]

By 1960, Cameron had transcended her darker period and emerged as an individual. She began to have a greater understanding of her life’s pattern. From her diary entry of October 22, 1960, she writes:

“I sense the approaching end to my years of exile. Some inner knowing prepares me for the return to the world in my just position. In the years of exile I compounded a state of mind that philosophically remains balanced regarding the continuity of my present state of existence or to finally win for myself a gracious and rewarding end to life. Ultimatums are impossible for one who has witnessed the broad sweep of existence. Yet I am tempted to sum up the experience for I fear already I have lost the vast majority of my impressions. I have lived frugally but I have squandered dreams and visions as only the spend thrift does – sowing wide golden plains.”

In 1961, Cameron appeared in the film Nite Tide. Directed by Curtis Harrington, this film also featured Dennis Hopper’s first staring role. Cameron played a mysterious figure that is seen prowling the beach in Santa Monica. In the film she has a strange, compelling presence.  On October 3, 1964, the Cinema Theatre in Los Angeles presented “The Transcendental Art of Cameron,” which featured slide projections of her paintings while she read from her journals.

747591624_32f4729bb8

By the late 1960’s Cameron moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. A short experimental film from this period (1969) by John Chamberlain entitled “Thumbsuck” still exists. It shows Cameron as a striking figure with long red hair and piercing eyes. She is applying makeup to her face in a sort of Kabuki style while her daughter Krystal and two other children are seen playing in the background. Cameron ignores them while staring into the mirror, smoking a joint.

And the Hag with lizard eyes embraces shadows…[31]

As Cameron grew older, she took on the image of an old witch or crone with long, straight white hair. She lived in a small house on North Genesee in West Hollywood and could often be seen practicing Tai Chi in Bronson Park. Her last art show “The Pearl of Reprisal” was held at the Barnsdall Art Park on April 8, 1989. Here she exhibited a haunted series of pen and ink drawings titled “Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House.” “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome” and “The Wormwood Star” were shown. Cameron also gave a reading of her poems by candlelight. The same year Cameron edited Freedom is a Two Edged Sword –a compilation of the writings of Jack Parsons published by New Falcon.

Cameron died of cancer on July 23, 1995. A magical rite was performed at her bedside at the VA hospital. A wake was held at the Beyond Baroque bookstore in Los Angeles where her poetry was read by friends and her paintings were exhibited, including the “Black Angel” painting of Jack Parsons as an angel with a sword.

20080509PHOWWW00153


[1] Cameron magical diary September 1962.

[2] Babalon is the companion of the Beast 666 in Aleister Crowley’s Thelemic pantheon. Crowley first wrote extensively about this in Vision and the Voice which documents his experiences with the Enochian system of magic and his own initiation. After the magician crosses the “abyss” that separates the spiritual world from the rational or mental world, he is greeted by the goddess Babalon, the great mother who resides in Binah on the Qabalistic tree of life, which is the spiritual  home of those who have achieved the grade of Magister Templi.

[3]Cameron magical diary June 21, 1964.

[4] Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe December 26, 1952.

[5] Cameron from the film The Wormwood Star 1957.

[6] Cameron considered all of her drawings to be magical talismans that had very real effects on the world.

[7] On October 19, 1946 Cameron and Jack were married.

[8] Liber Al Chap. III v7: I will give you a war-engine.

[9] Letter from Cameron to Jane Wolfe Jan. 22, 1953.

[10] Despite numerous attempts this order has yet to be revived by a competent group of magicians in America.

[11] See Jack Parsons, Freedom is a Two Edged Sword (New Falcon)

[12] Letter from Jack Parsons to Cameron Jan. 10, 1950.

[13] Aleister Crowley died on December 1, 1947.

[14] Cameron magical diary January 21, 1962.

[15] FBI file on Jack Parsons.

[16] Although the Parsonage was destroyed, Cameron believed the house to be eternal on the astral plane like Crowley’s Boleskine in Scotland.

[17] From the book “The Black Pilgrimage” by Cameron 1964. Privately published.

[18] Letter to Jane Wolfe, dated December 6, 1952, 6:00am.

[19] Renate Druks.

[20] Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe April 7, 1953.

[21] Camron letter to Jane Wolfe Dec. 26, 1952.

[22] This word not here revealed. The present writer has however obtained it.

[23] Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe Dec. 26, 1952.

[24] Atu VII of the TARO is the Chariot. The formula contained in this card is one key to understanding this working.

[25] Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe August 23, 1953.

[26] Cameron magical diary March 11, 1962

[27] Cameron magical diary September 1962.

[28] Cameron from the film The Wormwood Star 1957.

[29] While writing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey worked as a janitor in the psychiatric ward of the VA Hospital in Palo Alto, California (often under the influence of LSD). It is possible that it was there that he encountered Kimmel, who was committed to the VA Hospital for several months as a result of this suicide attempt.

[30] Cameron letter to Jane Wolfe January 22, 1953.

[31] Cameron magical diary June 21, 1964

Brian Butler

Brian Butler

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Love to Our Ancestors on Samhain : Stepping Out of the Shadows

Alexandrian Ritual

Samhain is a time to honor our ancestors.

Time to lay out a feast and invite them to dine, to share their presence with us while the veil is thin.

So, in respect for those who came before, I have made a small Ancestral Gallery of Witches. Give them a smile, tip your hat, light a candle and say thank you for blazing the trail and holding open the gates of Elfhame.  It took a lot of courage, in those old days, to walk between the worlds. My original plan was to give space to thirteen of our forebears in one blog post, but i realized, not everyone would know them, so I shall make a series of posts with three in each — a good magical number. It is amazing to discover these great teachers and mentors all over again and to remember how they kept magic alive for all of us, sometimes at great personal risk.

The three following Witches carried the movement forward each in their different ways.

Stewart Farrar, the journalist, wrote many books that dispelled the negative perception of Witchcraft and made it approachable, almost acceptable.

Sybil Leek — well she was the first Witch I ever knew of. She was a public personality in the 1960′s in America and her book Sybil Leek’s Love Signs or something to that effect was all over the place. I almost didn’t include due to the cheesiness of my her 1960′s PR, but I have discovered in my research, a very interesting person.

Doreen Valiente was the poetess who increased the deep glamor of the Craft with evocative imagery and emotional power. She did not approve of the attention seekers, yet still found herself in the spotlight.

Charm Against an Egg-boat

You must break the shell to bits, for fear

The witches should make it a boat, my dear:

For over the sea, away from home,

Far by night the witches roam.

Anonymous..

.

Stewartfarrar

Stewart Farrar:   Born: June 28, 1916 / Entered Faery: Feb 7, 2000

Stewart Farrar was an unlikely witch.

Farrar was one of the first British officers to enter Auschwitz, an experience that  greatly influenced his personal and political beliefs. It led him to explore philosophies such as Marxism, and at the time he met Alex and Maxine Sanders, he was an agnostic with only a marginal interest in witchcraft.

Farrar was a natural and prolific writer. Back in England after the war, he began a career as a journalist and also wrote detective fiction. It was when he was sent to cover a screening of The Legend of the Witches that he met Alex and Maxine. Though he wasn’t sure of Wicca, she was fascinated by them. The result was one of the most important books on witchcraft, What Witches Do and Farrar’s initiation into the Sanders’ coven. The term Alexandrian Tradition was coined by Stewart Farrar.

While working magic with the Sanders, Farrar met Janet Owen who was to become hos seventh wife. They came to prominence as Alexandrian Witches writing many important books together. The most well know is A Witches Bible.

Witches are practical people;
philosophy to them is not just an intellectual exercise -
they have to put it into practice in their everyday lives,
and in their working,
if philosophy is to have any meaning.

From: A Witches’ Bible, by Janet and Stewart Farrar, published by Phoenix Publishing (1984).



Sybil Leek:   Born: Feb. 22,1917 / Entered Faery: Nov. 26, 1982

All human beings have magic in them. The secret is to know how to use this magic, and astrology is a vital tool for doing just that…

~ Sybil Leek, 1972.

Sybil Leek had an utterly amazing life. Like a character in a romantic novel, she was born into a wealthy Staffordshire family that was fascinated by the magic and the occult, beginning in the 16th century with her ancestor, Molly Leigh. Her father taught her about nature and the power of herbs, talked to her about deep metaphysical subjects on long walks over the hills.  Her grandmother taught her Astrology, psychic arts, and divination. They entertained great thinkers like H.G.Wells, and even Aleister Crowley who encouraged her to become a poet.

She married a concert pianist  at 16 and was widowed at 18. To recover from her grief, her grandmother sent to her to coven in France to be their High Priestess. When she returned to England she lived in the New Forest, the place that Gerald Gardner claimed to have been schooled in Witchcraft. Bored by the place, she ran off with the Gypsies!

Chased out England, she moved to America where she became a regular on talk shows and wrote sixty books on Witchcraft, Magic and Astrology, as well as stories about her extraordinary life.  While in L.A. she met  Israel Regardie with whom she studied Qabbalah and practiced Golden dawn rituals. She is credited with being the one of the  first environmentalist Witches.

NewForest4

***************************************************************************************************

Sybil Leek was an excellent Astologer and this is an amusing quote from one of her many books:


Sometimes astronomers and scientists make dogmatic statements in print that “they have never discovered any truth in the claims of astrology.” What they probably mean is that they have not taken the trouble to study it other than simply reading a three-line version of Sun-sign astrology in their local newspaper. Such dogmatic statements should really open up a whole forum in which the scientist should truthfully answer the question “Have you ever studied astrology?” I can only presume that fear is the basis of all such statements. Why do people become illogical and emotional when they speak of astrology? Are they afraid we may all regress into a primitive state in which their work may not be justified or appreciated? Are they afraid that astrology may be opening doors to new scientific discoveries and new dimensions of reality and may upset their status quo? Of course, anything written in a controversial vein about astrology generally hits the headlines, but it is the idea of controversy, not the validity of an argument, that really makes news…



Doreen Edith Dominy Valiente:

Born: Jan. 4, 1922/ Entered Faery: Sept. 1, 1999

I find this photo above most mysterious. I think its the intensity of her face that does it.

She is the poet of the Craft. Her version of the Charge of the Goddess has come down to us as the primary invocation

to the Queen of Heaven, the Great Goddess in all her forms.

I have posted the Charge of the Goddess here: Wicca: The Charge of the Goddess

You will have to scroll down below the Bluebeard’s Castle stuff to find it.

Doreen Valiente was High Priestess in Gerald Gardner’s  Bricket Wood  coven. While he loved the limelight, she felt the Craft should maintain its age-old  secrecy.  I find it interesting that the Priestesses of two major covens of this period,  Doreen, Maxine Sanders, were very reluctant to go public with their Path, while connected to men who wanted gloried in the attention. Perhaps that is because the history of the Witch Craze suggests that those who ere put to death were predominantly women, or maybe that women enjoy  the  hidden, more subtle, magical  powers  of moonlight.

This wonderful poem by Doreen says it all.

The Witches’ Creed


Hear Now the words of the witches,

The secrets we hid in the night,

When dark was our destiny’s pathway,

That now we bring forth into light.


Mysterious water and fire,

The earth and the wide-ranging air,

By hidden quintessence we know them,

And will and keep silent and dare.


The birth and rebirth of all nature,

The passing of winter and spring,

We share with the life universal,

Rejoice in the magical ring.


Four times in the year the Great Sabbat 
Returns,

and the witches are seen

At Lammas and Candlemas dancing,

On May Eve and old Hallowe’en.


When day-time and night-time are equal,

When sun is at greatest and least,

The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,

And Witches gather in feast.


Thirteen silver moons in a year are,

Thirteen is the coven’s array.

Thiteen times at Esbat make merry,

For each golden year and a day.


The power that was passed down the age,

Each time between woman and man,

Each century unto the other,

Ere time and the ages began.


When drawn is the magical circle,

By sword or athame of power,

Its compass between two worlds lies,

In land of the shades for that hour.


This world has no right then to know it,

And world of beyond will tell naught.

The oldest of Gods are invoked there,

The Great Work of magic is wrought.


For the two are mystical pillars,

That stand at the gate of the shrine,

And two are the powers of nature,

The forms and the forces divine.


The dark and the light in succession,

The opposites each unto each,

Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:

Of this our ancestors teach.


By night he’s the wild wind’s rider,

The Horn’d One, the Lord of the Shades.

By day he’s the King of the Woodland,

The dweller in green forest glades.


She is youthful or old as she pleases,

She sails the torn clouds in her barque,

The bright silver lady of midnight,

The crone who weaves spells in the dark.


The master and mistress of magic,

Thet dwell in the deeps of the mind,

Immortal and ever-renewing,

With power to free or to bind.


So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,

And Dance and make love in their praise,

Till Elphame’s fair land shall receive us

In peace at the end of our days.


And Do What You Will be the challenge,

So be it Love that harms none,

For this is the only commandment.

By Magic of old, be it done!

Doreen Valiente

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Witch Museum: Boscastle, Cornwal

Museum of Witches, Boscastle, Cornwall

Cornwall is the last stronghold of the Witches….

11613153

This very interesting video was made in the 1960′s about the Witch Museum in Boscastle, Cornwall, bought by Gerald Gardener in 1952 — the year after the repeal of the witchcraft ban!

This video is very atmospheric, dramatically  sensationalizing the dark side the Magic that has such a hold over people who fear it. I include it here as a reminder of what anyone coming out as a Witch in England was up against at that time. These kind of media portrayals continue, but it was much worse in the 1960′s.

It is also  a nice bit of Halloween spookiness…

*************************************

I pirated a little clip from wikipedia about Gerald Gardener’s involvement with the Museum of Witchcraft.

The Museum of Magic and Witchcraft, 1951-1963

Gardner at the wishing well outside the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft at the Witches’ Mill on the Isle of Man.

In 1951, Gardner travelled to the Isle of Man, where, in the town of Castletown, he became employed by Cecil Williamson at the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft as the director and “resident witch”. On 29 July 1951 The Sunday Pictorial published an article about the museum named “Calling All Covens!”, in which Gardner declared:

Of course I’m a witch. And I get great fun out of it.[46]

Williamson and Gardner later fell out, when Gardner accused Williamson of focusing on sensationalist aspects of witchcraft in his museum exhibits, and Williamson said of Gardner that he was a “vain, self-centered man, tight with his money, and more interested in outlets for his nudist and voyeuristic activities, than in learning anything about authentic witchcraft”.

In 1952, Gardner bought the museum from Williamson, and started running it using his own private collection for the exhibits, including items such as the signed OTO charter issued by Crowley. Williamson meanwhile began his own museum, named the Museum of Witchcraft, across the channel in England.

Youtube channel where I found this video. He has lots of cool stuff!

Black & White footage of the Museum Of Witchcraft in Boscastle in the late 1960`s whislt it was under the ownershop of Cecil Williamson. Still open today and owned and run by a wonderful chap named Graham King – This is a place not to be missed!

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Love to Our Ancestors on Samhain: The Re-Awakeners

Samhain is a time to honor our ancestors.

Time to lay out a feast and invite them to dine, to share their presence with us while the veil is thin.

So, in respect for those who came before, I have made a small Ancestral Gallery of Witches. Give them a smile, tip your hat, light a candle and say thank you for blazing the trail and holding open the gates of Elfhame.  It took a lot of courage, in those old days, to walk between the worlds.

My original plan was to give space to thirteen of our forebears in one blog post, but i realized, not everyone would know them, so I shall make a series of posts with three in each — a good magical number. It is amazing to discover these great teachers and mentors all over again and to remember how they kept magic alive for all of us, sometimes at great personal risk.

We come closer to our time with the Grand Dame of the Witches and the Grandfather of modern Wicca. The last is an inspired poet of the kind Robert Graves spoke of in his pivotal classic The White Goddess. Poets have been and still are some if the most potent interpreters of the witchcraft stream…

They were all born at Midsummer. The uncanny patterns continue…

All Hallow E’en — The Wild Ride

In the hinder end of harvest, on All Hallow E’en,

When the Good Neighbors do ride, if I rede right,

Some buckled on a bane-wand, and some on a bean,

Aye trottand in troops from the twilight;

Some saddled on a she-ape, all graithed into green,

Some hobland on a hemp stalk, hovand to the height,

The King of Pharie and his court, with the Elf-queen,

With many elfish incubus was ridand that night.

Montgomerie (1515)

Margaret Murray:

Born: July 13, 1863/ Entered Faery: Nov. 13, 1963

Margaret Murray, author of The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches, was an Egyptologist who seems to have become obsessed with the idea of the Sacrificed King as described by James Frazer in The Golden Bough. Her search for evidence for this practice took her all the way back to the Stone Age where cave paintings of dancers masked as stags seemed to justify her thesis that there had once been an Old Religion in Europe, based on fertility rituals, in which dancers dressed as animals, particularly stags, and in which the Rite of the Sacrificed King was practiced to insure the production of crops.

Though her ideas have been proven groundless, her wonderful imaginative re-creation of an Old Religion in harmony with the nature, is frequently cited as the great inspiration behind modern Wicca as many were determined to bring back an ancient and extinct way of life.

Here she reveals what I feel is a true connection:

From The God of the Witches

Descriptions of fairies given by eye witnesses can be found in many accounts of the Middle Ages and slightly later. The sixteenth century was prolific in such accounts. John Walsh, the witch of Netherberry in Dorset, consulted fairies between the hours of twelve and one at noon and at midnight, and always went among the “hills” for the purpose. Besssie Dunlop in Ayrshire saw eight woman and four men, “the men clad in gentleman’s clothing, and the women had all plaids round them and were very seemly-like to see”; she was informed that these were “from the Court of Elfame”; she had previously received a visit from the Queen of Elfhame though without knowing at the time who her visitor was; she described the Queen as “a stout woman who came in to her and sat down on the form beside her and asked a drink at her and she gave it.” Alesoun Peirsoun, in Fifeshire, was ” convict for haunting and repairing with the good neighbors and the Queen of Elphane, and she had many good friends at that court which were of her own blood, who had good acquaintance with the Queen of Elphane.’  In Leith, Christina Livingstone affirmed “that her daughter was taken away with the Fairy folk, and that all the occult knowledge she had was by her daughter who met with the fairy.” Aberdeen was full of people who were well acquainted with fairies….”

The God of the Witches contains many evocative descriptions of these small, dark people of Bronze Age Britain who still walked around in the 17th century. When I first read this book back in 1979, I was totally smitten by it too.

Hail to Margaret Murray for planting the seeds!

Gerald Brousseau Gardener:

Born: June 13, 1884/ Entered Faery: Feb. 12, 1964

Origins of Wicca:

Gerald Gardner launched Wicca, the first religion based on the Old Religion of fertility and witchcraft described by Margaret Murray,  shortly after the end of World War II. He went public with his creation following the repeal of England’s Witchcraft Laws in 1951.  Gardnerian Wicca is a path of initiation, in which one’ s magical progress is marked by the attainment of degrees. Much of their information is secret and bound by oaths, which means it can never be shared with those outside the coven.

Gardnerian Witches identify  with their lineage, which is always traced back to Gardner himself and those he initiated.

The Book of Shadows:

One of Gerald Gardner’s most compelling magical creations was the  Book of Shadows. In reading about the original Book he made, it is clear the man was utterly inspired, for he tried to craft it like a Medieval Illuminated manuscript, filled with paintings and calligraphy — a very magical item like an ancient tome found in some  Medieval ruin charged with sorcery. Within a Gardnerian group, each member copies the coven’s  Book of Shadows and then adds to it with their own information.

His imagination was influenced by Charles Leland, Aleister Crowley, SJ MacGregor Mathers, and the books of Margaret Murray whose Old Religion he intended to re-create. I think he was also affected by the tribal rituals he must have seen when he worked in Malaysia as a civil servant, and a heavy dose of Arthurian Legend.

Gardnerian Wicca in the Public Eye:

Gardner was an educated folklorist and occultist, and claimed to have been initiated as a young man into a coven of New Forest witches by a woman named Dorothy Clutterbuck. When England repealed the last of its witchcraft laws  Gardner went public with his coven, much to the consternation of many other witches in England. His active courting of publicity led to a rift between him and Doreen Valiente, who had been one of his High Priestesses. Gardner formed a series of covens throughout England prior to his death in 1964.

Being initiated into the witch cult does not give a witch supernatural powers as I reckon them, but instructions are given, in rather veiled terms, in processes which develop various clairvoyant and other powers, in those who naturally possess them slightly. Some of these powers are akin to magnetism, mesmerism and suggestion, and depend on the possibility of forming a sort of human battery, as it were, of combined human wills working together to influence persons or events at a distance. they have instructions
on how to do this by practice…

Witchcraft Today — with introduction by Margaret Murray

Kathleen Raine

Born: June 14, 1900/ Entered Faery: July 6, 2003

Is this a lament for the loss of the Faeries?

The Wilderness

I came too late to the hills: they were swept bare
Winters before I was born of song and story,
Of spell or speech with power of oracle or invocation,

The great ash long dead by a roofless house, its branches rotten,
The voice of the crows an inarticulate cry,
And from the wells and springs the holy water ebbed away.

A child I ran in the wind on a withered moor
Crying out after those great presences who were not there,
Long lost in the forgetfulness of the forgotten.

Only the archaic forms themselves could tell!
In sacred speech of hoodie on gray stone, or hawk in air,
Of Eden where the lonely rowan bends over the dark pool.

Yet I have glimpsed the bright mountain behind the mountain,
Knowledge under the leaves, tasted the bitter berries red,
Drunk water cold and clear from an inexhaustible hidden fountain.

Kathleen Raine

I though to include the British poet Katheleen Raine not only because of her beautiful poetry, but because of her sensibilty. She seems to express a natural, even unconscious inclination towards witchcraft.

She is influenced by Yeats, himself a great forefather of magic and the mysteries –  which would alone would count her among our ancestors –  but she has also had a great attachment to the land. I think I may not be alone in sharing this quality with her.

Kathleen  was an independent scholar writing on William Blake and W. B. Yeats.
Known for her interest in various forms of spirituality, most prominently Platonism and Neoplatonism, she was a founder member of the Temenos Academy.

The story of her life is told in a three-volume autobiography that is notable for the author’s attempts to impose a mythical  structure on her memories, thus relating her own life to a larger pattern. Creating meaning out of life by the use of mythology and poetic inspiration is a very witchy thing to do.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Love to Our Ancestors on Samhain: The Faery Seers

Samhain is a time to honor our ancestors.

Time to lay out a feast and invite them to dine, to share their presence with us while the veil is thin.

So, in respect for those who came before, I have made a small Ancestral Gallery of Witches. Give them a smile, tip your hat, light a candle and say thank you for blazing the trail and holding open the gates of Elfhame.  It took a lot of courage, in those old days, to walk between the worlds.

My original plan was to give space to thirteen of our forebears in one blog post, but i realized, not everyone would know them, so I shall make a series of posts with three in each — a good magical number. It is amazing to discover these great teachers and mentors all over again and to remember how they kept magic alive for all of us, sometimes at great personal risk.

The Jackman’s Song

by Ben Jonson

The Faiery beame upon you,

The starres to glister on you;

A Moone of light

In the Noone of night,

Til the fire-Drake hath o’re-gone you.

The Wheele of fortune guide you,

the Boy with the Bow beside you,

Runne aye in the Way,

Till the Bird of day,

And the luckyer lot betide you.

The Faery Seers

Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas the Rhymer

Thomas Learmonth of Erceldoune:

Born 1643,  Taken into Faery Dec. 13, 1713

True Thomas lay on Huntlie Bank

A furlie he spied with his e’e

And there he saw a Lady bright

Com riding along by the Eildon tree…

***

He has gotten a coat of the Elven cloth

And a pair of shoes of velvet green

And in seven years that have gone and passed

True Thomas on Earth was never seen…

From: The Ballad of Sir Thomas the Rhymer

True Thomas was a Faery Seer who was visited by the Queen of the Faeries and seduced away into Elfhame to live for 7 years. When he returned to the mortal world, he had the gift of prophecy. Many of his  predictions have true.

We are very lucky that the ballad  telling the tale of his adventure with the Queen of Elfhame has come down to us, over these 300 years, in an extremely intact form, for it is a most precise initiation into Faery, rivaled only by Tam Lin, a ballad of equal antiquity, that some scholars think is an extension of  the tale of Thomas the Rhymer.

If you want the keys to Faery, the entire texts of Thomas the Rhymer, and Tam Lin, are here:

Initiatory Faery Ballad: Tam Lin

Thomas Rhymer: An Exploration of A Faery Ballad

The page will come up. You just have to scroll down to find the ballads.

Reverend Robert Kirk: Born 1644/Taken into Faery 1697

OF THE SUBTERRANEAN INHABITANTS

1. These siths or Fairies, which they call sluaghmaith or the good people: it would seem, to prevent the dint of their ill attempts: for the Irish usually bless all they fear harm of, and are said to be of  middle nature betwixt man and Angel, as were daemons thought to be of old: are intelligent Studious Spirits, and light changeable bodies, like those called Astral, somewhat of the nature of a condensed cloud, and best seen in twilight. Their bodies are so pliable through the subtlety of the spirits that agitate them, that they can make them appear and disappear at pleasure…

The usual method for a curious person to get a transient sight of this otherwise invisible crew of Subterraneans, if impotently and over-rashly sought, is to put his foot on the Seer’s foot and then the Seer’s hand is put on the inquirer’s head, who is then to look over the wizard’s (seer’s) right shoulder. [This method is one] which has an ill appearance [for it implies] as if by this ceremony an implicit surrender were made of all between the wizard;s foot and his hand before the person can be admitted to the art of Seership.

From: Robert Kirk: Walker Between the Worlds, edited by R.J.Stewart


Reverend Robert Kirk was 17th century clergyman who was always at the edge of controversy. His main task had been to translate the psalms and Bible into Gaelic. Besides that, as a seventh son of a seventh son, he had the Second Sight. He communed with the Faeries, wrote a book about them called The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Faeries.  He  talked about them openly from the pulpit of his church.

The people of hos parish thought he was taking chances, for he had broken a taboo of secrecy imposed by the faeries on those who witnessed their doings. When his body was discovered on the Fairy Knowe, or hill, the traditional dwelling of the faeries, it was rumored to be just a “stock”, a simulacrum left by the good people who had taken the real Robert Kirk to live with them under the hills.

We are being blessed, that a film about the life of Robert Kirk by Scottish director Michael Ferns, will be released around Yule.

You can see the trailers and read my interview with Michael here:

Kirk! An Interview with Film Director Michael Ferns

Kirk! Official Trailer

Isoble Gowdie:  Tried for Witchcraft in 1662

I shall go into a hare,
With sorrow and sych and meickle care;
And I shall go in the Devil’s name,
Ay while I come home again.
Hare, hare, God send thee care.
I am in a hare’s likeness now,
But I shall be in a woman’s likeness even now.

The year 1662 seems to have been a great year for Faery contact in Scotland, for all three of these Faery Seers, had their most intense experiences at that time. It coincided at a time when fairies were thought to be disappearing from the land a,nd that a vast and amazing store of cultural lore was threatened with extinction.

This process was being accelerated by the seizure of political control by Protestant extremists under Cromwell’s Commonwealth. Unlike the more tolerant Catholics, the Puritans, Presbyterians, and others, viewed anything that smacked of Paganism as  idolatry and suppressed it. This included the Faery Faith, and it was said that the Methodists had driven the faeries out of Wales.

Isobel Gowdie was tried for witchcraft in 1662. Historian John Callow told her story to a rapt audience in London in 2005. As a poor woman, changing into the shape of a hare or a raven, gave her entry into the glamorous Faery Hall where she attended feasts and danced in elegant clothes. In her raven form, she stole food and trinkets. She left a broomstick beside her sleeping husband and flew up the chimney to attend the Sabbat. In the end, she had wagered with the Devil to destroy a man she didn’t like, and her magic was so effective that she turned herself in to the authorities as a way to make her stop.

She voluntarily gave  detailed accounts of her experiences with her coven and her visits with the Faery Queen, whom she called the Queen of Elfhame. We are extremely fortunate that she did this, for otherwise her adventures would never have been written down for us to learn from, and be amazed at, three hundred years afterwards.

This interesting point of view comes from wikipedia:

It is unclear whether Gowdie’s confession is the result of psychosis, whether she had fallen under suspicion of witchcraft and sought leniency by confessing, or was she simply much smarter than her Christian inquisitors. It is also unclear whether there was some truth to her remarkable confessions. Her confession was not consistent with the folklore and records of the trials of witches, and it was more detailed than most. What draws attention to her remarkable case is the fact that her admission of witchcraft sounds very much like the actual shamanic practices that are still in use today. She did not pander to the distorted beliefs of the Christian church about witches and the worship of Satan. There is no record of her ever being executed.

John Callow suggested that guilt made Isobel confess. That she was, in a sense, addicted to magic, and it was going terribly wrong. I agree. There is a lot of psychological validity to this view as some if us have seen in our own lives. Faery Witchcraft is also a highly shamanic path. For want of a better word — if you don’t like the word “shaman” substitute “witch” and the picture comes clear.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

A Faery Feast for Samhain

You Are Invited to a Faery Feast for Samhain

Two Halloweens ago, I was prompted to do special dinner for my Faery allies.
I had just arrived back in the States after nine years living in England, and was staying with a couple of old friends, Mark and Corby,  who were also very powerful witches. There had been many magical rituals done in that house over the years on a regular basis, so the atmosphere was perfect for me to re-settle with my Faery co-walker and  other friends who had come over the ocean with me.

I will just say that, contrary to tradition, I have never found bodies of water to be a barrier to magical contacts if they are strong.

As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, I had been back in Seattle for about a month when I was seized with the desire to have a feast for the Siddhe on Samhain. What came to me first was the traditional color scheme: black, white, and red.
Then I had a shopping list given to me along with instructions on how I should prepare the feast.

The results were astonishing!

Sharing the Magic!

This year, the Faeries have encouraged me to share this ritual with the community in the hopes that this Samhain we may all participate in a Faery Feast together. They literally PROVED to me that they loved this feast and want more magical people to discover how easy it is to connect with Faery in a real way. This empowers them to bond with us more strongly so that we can help Mother Earth in her struggle with human error.

This year is great because Samhain is on Monday and the Full Moon is on Sunday, November 1st.

A Table for a Feast:

Do this in a mindful way to charge your feast with magical power.

* A table laid with a black cloth
* Red dishes or paper plates for any odd number between 3 and 13.
* Wine goblets for that many
* Forks and red napkins for that many
* Three to nine black candles
* Amber and benzoin incense
* A white cake baked from scratch

(I actually took the day off from work to make this cake. It takes quite a while and you need to concentrate your desires into it as you make it. I got my recipe from Joy of Cooking)

* Candles for the cake
* A bottle of good red wine
* Something with blackberries. I used blackberry brandy.
* Birch Twigs for purification placed decoratively on the table
* A bouquet of red roses. White will work as well if you prefer. It’s a different feel.

Maia

Maia

Plan to stay up until dawn. A good Hostess or Host does not abandon their guests.

On All Hallows Eve make the cake. You will not eat any of it. It is for them.
Set the table
You will have to anoint the black candles with rose or lily oil, or any oil that associated with Samhain, or transitioning to the Otherworld, better known as Death.

Candle Anointing Technique:

* Pour oil into dominant hand, getting your fingers wet
* Hold tapered candle in the other hand
* Beginning at the bottom of the candle smooth the oil, going in a spiral, along the length to the top. Do this for each candle.

At Midnight:

The order isn’t important. These are just what you need to do:

* Put the cake in the center of the table and light the candles
* Light the black tapers.
* Burn the incense
* Pour wine into each goblet
* Cut the cake and put a slice on each plate
* If you have a bowl of blackberries, put them on the table. If its brandy, put a bowl of brandy o the table.
* Pour a glass of wine for yourself

Read a poem aloud, something by Taliensin, Yeats, or Fiona Macleod is good. A story, a witchy song or chant, play some Celtic music especially tunes by O’Carolan. Choose according to your relationship with the Siddhe.

I like Thomas the Rhymer. You can find the text to that ballad here:

Thomas Rhymer: An Exploration of A Faery Ballad

Now just be with them. Be open, receptive.
My two friends were supposed to keep watch with me, but in the end one of them begged off, so there were two of us. Mark and I sat quietly until about 3AM, when an incredibly lovely, healing energy came down over the table. We both felt it. We basked in this energy until the first light of dawn and then went to bed.

The Flowers of Annwn

The next day, I cleared the table.
There is a tree in the back garden at that house where Mark and Corby left offerings, so I put all the cake under there and poured the wine and the bowl of blackberry brandy.
(You can have any left over wine or brandy for yourself, just not the cake.)

Two weeks later, the most amazing thing happened. Corby had been the first to look outside and whet did he see, but three big, red amanita muscaria mushrooms growing just outside the branches of the tree where I had left my offerings.

“It’s the Flowers of Annwn!” he shouted. “The Lords of the Underworld have answered!”

Here are pictures of all of us with the  mushrooms.

Do you have any idea how awesome that is? I am not a mushroom eater so I still have some dried pieces of it to use talismanically.I would probably take too much a get sick or some

thing. But amanita muscaria’s connection to Faery is legendary. These mushrooms are also sacred to the ancient goddess, Elen of the Ways, the antlered Goddess of the woods.

When I did this spell I was deep into writing  magical fiction and concentrated heavily on receiving artistic inspiration as I made the feast. The five full outlines and three first drafts of some great novels, one novella and full first draft in one month is a testament to the power of this ritual.

Since, as in everything, you get what you give, make this the same feast you would give to your favorite people, because that is what the Faeries can be to you.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Witchy French Film: La Sorciere

My friend Judika Illes brought this to my attention.

I can really relate to this witch living in the woods and being friends with the animals. Can you?

In the story, this engineer comes to this remote village in Sweden  and insists on putting a road through a beloved Troll rock even when the villagers object. Some things never change!

This problem came up recently in Iceland where developers were told they must consider the Elves in their plans. These countries were among the last to be Christianized, and it seems they may still have pockets of sensitivity to, and respect for, Faery.

Haunting and sensual fantasy/drama about a French engineer sent to a remote Swedish town to oversee construction of a road. Once there, he becomes entranced by a beautiful young woman who lives in the woods and has been accused of being a witch by the villagers.
Starring: Marina Vlady, Nicole Courcel, Maurice Ronet, Ulf Palme
Directors: Andre Michel
1956
Category: Entertainment
Tags:

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Babalon Diaries: No !! Casting

Babalon Diaries # !! Casting

Our Lady Babalon

Our Lady Babalon

This is Part 11 to 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…

Directed by occultist, Alison Rockbrand, Babalon was performed on December 16, 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.

Babalon Diaries No.!!

Babalon by Paul A. Green
Voices and Characters

Jack: John Whitesides Parsons – educate Californian, Frater 210 of the OTO

Ed: Ed Forman – technician at CIT – Californian, Life long friend of Jack

Crowley: Aleister Crowley, Baphomet, Frater Perdrabo 666, Master Therion,The Great Beast, Supreme Caliph of the Order of Oriental Templars etc etc. In this last phase of his life, Crowley suffered form severe asthma. A 1930’s recording of his inimitable voice survives.

Freida: Lady Freida Harris – artist, wife of Sir Percy Harris, Bart.  Crowley’s loyal pupil and patron. In her 60’s Patrician English

Smith: Wilfred T. Smith. In his 50’s. suave Anglo- American. Frater 132. Crowley’s original OTO representative in California

Helen: Helen Northrup Parsons, Jack’s first wife. Californian

Betty: Sara Elizabeth Northrup, Helen’s sister. Later Jack’s mistress

Ron: Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, author, explorer, religious teacher. Mid-West
Founder of Scientology

Cameron: Marjorie Cameron Parsons, aka Candida or Candy, artist and vessel of Babalon

Police Officer/ FBI Officer/ Radio Announcer/

and Young Crowley

Alison Rockbrand

Director, Alison Rockbrand as Babalon in a prior incarnation

Casting

It’s about time for another installment of the Babalon Diaries. That Mercury Retrograde in September was a real blooper. I was so scattered I forgot to blog. Imagine!

One thing I learned hanging around the Thelemites involved with Babalon, is that many Magicians are not psychic in the least. This came as a surprise to me because I am not sure I would have been a Witch if I was not a Faery Seer, and I would not have been a Faery Seer if I wasn’t psychic. So, I wondered what drew these people to magic? Was it anything more than an intellectual, or academic interest? I think not because they were practicing magic to get results in alignment with their True Will.

“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Love is the Law, Love under Will” 666

That is all well and good, but if you can’t “see” the effects of your magic, how do you monitor it? How do you gauge what is happening in the Unseen? How do you know what the spirits you are summoning are doing?

It is a very dangerous activity as those of who can “see” can attest. Even Crowley, and John Dee long before him,  employed clairvoyants to capture the visions and channel the spirits. Without a Seer, Magick is a case of the blind leading the blind down a dark alley in a storm.

These Magicians are all Londoners, city dwellers. My magical personality is totally tied up with nature, and nature is where the original psychic openings happened for me, and it was in nature that portals opened out into the Otherworld. When I asked about this, I was told that in cities, people are into Lodge Magic. That is why the Ceremonial Magical traditions like the  Golden Dawn, and Thelema, are based in Free Masonry — it is all Temple Magic done indoors with elaborate altars and trappings like the Catholic Church was before Vatican II.  This type of magic may not require psychic abilities because the rituals themselves hold the appeal, and the power that is promised is gained through study and the practice of Magic for certain results. Ceremonial Magic has much more formal rituals, very stately and beautiful ones that do indeed create atmospheres of great potency that can induce trance states and visions. In contrast, Witchcraft, and Faery Seership especially, are more spontaneous and don’t really need anything more than clairvoyance to participate in their  Mysteries.

Downloading A Goddess

So, there were difficulties.

It is too easy for me to mediate deities. I did it as a dancer, and as an actress when doing Shakespearean roles. I shift into other consciousness streams when I do readings and healing work for clients. I learned very early on, in the late 1970’s, to blank my mind with meditation so that “messages” could come through from the spirit worlds and I could know it was not my imagination, or fantasy. I was taught the importance of “slaying the ego” in order to become a vessel for the gods.

So, very shortly after I began working with my Babalon script, I was moving into Babalon’s current, and it would not be long before She would be coming through.

Trouble is, that on my side of issue, I am still me. I have simply allowed Babalon to take space in my consciousness and being, and to express Herself through me. But I do I do not have multiple personality disorder. On the contrary, I am highly aware that I am still me. I just now have emotions and forces moving through me that are not quite mine — but they are also, in the sense that these emotions and forces belong to all of us, not alien.

It seems in retrospect that some of my cast members did not understand this.

The Wiz came to rehearsal smelling of roses and working the eye contact with me/ She.
I,  of course was not able to separate myself from Babalon and wondered why he was attempting such an obvious seduction, as if I wouldn’t know what he was up to.
This would all play out in a rather unfortunate and somewhat silly way later on.

Babalon is a Love Goddess, and also a Goddess of Destruction, very much like Lillith.
She is red roses and blood, sex and transformation through the power of sexuality. Try to live in the world with this volatile cocktail of forces moving through you and you can easily court disaster, especially when She has Her own agenda.

BABALON

A Speculative Fiction for Radio
concerning the life and death of Jack Parsons (1914-52)

This conceptual synopsis and complete script of BABALON is copyright© Paul Andrew Green 1998/2005, who asserts all rights of authorship and intellectual paternity under the 1988 Copyright Act. It may not be reproduced , developed, adapted, performed, or broadcast in any form or medium or format whatsoever without the express written permission of the author or his agent. A staged version was performed by Travesty Theatre at the Gielgud Studio Theatre, RADA, London WC1 on 16 December 2005.

The live recording is now on-line at Radio QBSaul VOICES Angela Morrow Marjorie Cameron George Sieg Jack Parsons

Anthony Lewis Ed Forman/AleisterCrowley/Harbourmaster/FBI Agent Elizabeth Daily Lady Frieda Harris/Helen Parsons/Mrs. Crowley David De Blank Wilfred Smith/Warden/ Thomas Crowley/Announcer Marysia Kay Betty Northrup

Joe Murray L. Ron Hubbard/Police Officer VISUALS Sara Mulryan SOUND Georgi Georgiev/Paul Green DIRECTOR Alison Rockbrand

See how they try to hide…

Treadwells Bookshop

Treadwells Bookshop

How We Met Each Other

I went to a read through at Treadwells and Alison wanted to cast me. At that point, my American accent and acting experience made me a desirable choice to play Cameron/Babalon. I didn’t want to do, especially after the incident when, script in pocket, I went to the corner shop in Highgate where I lived, and bought a few items that totaled up to 6.66. Crowely’s Magical personality as the Great Beast was, of course, 666!

I hadn’t made up my mind. Though I was attracted to the project, I was scared. I didn’t want a Goddess of Destruction coming through. Suddenly, one day when I was home, it felt like an earthquake ripped through the flat. Emotionally, I became unstable, almost crazy with anxiety. I couldn’t sleep that night and somehow got on the phone with GG, (we had just become friends) and he was very kind and supportive, but I must have been  nightmare to deal with because I was basically freaking out.

A few days later, I was approached again by Pharaon about being in the play. I agreed to do it, ignoring my sense of foreboding…

A group of quite wonderful actors were assembled. But it was impossible to cast Crowley! It was weird. Here we were in the middle of London working out of an occult book shop, and we couldn’t find a middle aged to old, bald headed magician to play Aleister Crowely! The original plan was that, since the play had been written by Paul Green as a radio play, that only Crowley and Frieda Harris would be on the stage, along with a Cameron/Babalon, while the rest of the cast would be in hooded robes speaking from a gallery that runs along the top of the stage at the John Geilgud Theatre. Since Cameron/ Babalon didn’t come on until Act 2, this left the stage bare for half the play.

Cameron as Babalon

Cameron as Babalon

Weeks went by, still no Crowley. I asked my young shaven headed Goth friend to it — he would have been great because he was flamboyant, and funny as Hell, as was Crowley, but even he refused. Nor could we find an old lady to play Freida Harris.

Alison had no choice but to cast a couple of twenty somethings who were good for the roles but visually totally wrong for the parts, and keep them offstage. Anthony   Lewis,   who did the voice of Crowley  during the rehearsals was an amazing Crowley. He found recordings of Crowley’s voice, and really nailed it. He also gave the character of the Great Beast tremendous wit and charm.

The Darkness Thickens

We initially assembled upstairs in Treadwells, in the middle of the bookshop, because another theatre group, Foolish People, were rehearsing down in the “crypt”…I remember looking out the windows at the streets and the restaurants thinking how dark it was. It was now October and night fell early all of a sudden.

I remember how ghostly it was that year. One day, my room mates, P.& K. who were Goths, had gone to Highgate Cemetery. They had met at the Whitby Vampire Festival 10 years before and were inseparable from that moment on. They were really into horror films and vampires and death and all that good Goth stuff.   That night, I had a dream that some shadowy figures crept silently onto the flat and went into their bedroom. They had attracted ghosts into the house. Things were moving in a very murky direction.

The days grew darker. GG was the sound effects man. He was having trouble making it to rehearsals and the Babalon part of me was getting upset. I am not sure if I would have been unhappy about it on my own, or if the magic that was being done behind the scenes was too strong for me to take. Pharaon, who was playing Jack Parsons,  also had trouble getting to rehearsals on time, and the Wiz was frequently ill with asthma — Crowley’s malady at the end of his life. As a former professional actress and dancer, I was appalled that actors would be late for rehearsals, but I also sensed that there was stuff going on among the Thelemites that I, as an outsider, was not privy to. Things would get very much weirder before I found out.

And of course, if you want to listen to podcasts of our December 16, 2005 performance of Babalon, the links are just below.

Babalon: Part One

Babalon: Part Two

Please leave comments. For updates of the Babalon Diaries, subscribe to my RSS Feed or my email list. There is more to come…

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.

Human Sacrifice: Reality or Metaphor?

The Gathering Dark

In the cycle of the Horned God, there are four Harvests: the Harvest of Grain, the Harvest of Vine and Fruit, the Harvest of Nuts or Acorns, and finally the Harvest of Souls.

In October, as the light glows close upon the earth, and the shadows lengthen towards deep autumn, our natural inclination is to turn within. Deciduous trees turn inward, drawing their life force into the earth with a last fiery display, before they shed the outer trappings of life and stand in their bare bones. The animals move inside of burrows, caves, or hollows, even houses, to get away from the cold. Many birds leave and the atmosphere grows quiet without their songs.

For us, this natural inward turning is a time for reflection. Only by going within can we explore the nature of our souls, find our deepest dreams, and perhaps glimpse our own divinity. In the past, as the darkness  moved over the land, houses also grew dark and silent.  People gathered close to the fire, and in that circle of warmth and light, told stories, sang ballads, perhaps they spun and sewed, and did whatever work they could do  to tide them over the long winter months. Relationships deepened as people spent lots of time together in close quarters…


Astrologically the sign of Scorpio, straddling October and November, is the time to chase the stag into the forest, kill him, and take him home to keep the family fed throughout the winter. In agricultural societies, it was the time to cull the herds, to slaughter the animals that could no longer produce, and use them as food. This why the sign of Scorpio is associated with death, but also with rebirth and, in the old way of looking at change from one form to another, which is from mortality to spirit — Transformation.

All these journeys into personal darkness, all these deaths, comprise the Harvest of Souls. The Horned God, the Stag, rules over this time as Lord of the Hunt, for as we hunt him, he hunts us, luring us into the deep forest where we are confused by be shadows cast my the moon, where the paths end in the trees, or at the side of a lake or stream, where we lose track of where we are going, or even who we are.

Mystery of Eleusis: What Kind of Ritual Was This?

I have been thinking about the Eleusinian Mysteries and Persephone’s abduction into the Underworld in this context.

I may be mistaken, but I think that the Pagans of the ancient Mediterranean practiced human sacrifice. I also think Neo-Pagans have obscured this fact with a lot of psych-babble, Jungian theories of archetypes, etc. But my love of playing with symbols demands indulgence with this. Here goes!

Persephone, or Kore, the virgin child of a powerful matriarch is playing in a field of poppies, when Pluto, or Hades, rises up out of the earth and snatches, or even rapes her. She is taken down into his Kingdom under the Earth, where she is tricked into eating the seeds of the pomegranate. Because she eats the food of the Underworld, she is thought to have agreed to stay in Pluto’s realm forever as his bride.

I don’t know what sacrificial device the ancient Greeks used, but it seems that beautiful Virgins  have often been the sacrificial victims of choice. Poppies are the matrix of narcotics that lull people to into a sleepy, dreamlike state often associated with death.  This suggests that the virgin girl was drugged in preparation for her ravishment and demise. Pluto is the God of Death, and we know only one reason a mortal person would be taken into the Underworld — unless of course they are Faery Witches — is because they are dead.

I also wonder if the rape version ( though I think he words ‘abduction’ and ‘rape’ were synonymous at one time)  of the myth means that the virgin was raped and impregnated — this would strengthen the idea that new life would come out of death. Since the pomegranate is a womb symbol, Persephone’s eating of it could be another way of saying she is pregnant. I definitely think there was something sexual going on, an element practically erased  by a load of Victorian artists and illustrators.

Persephone eating the pomegranate seeds could also indicate her willingness to be sacrificed (sacrifices always had to be willing), but seeds are also symbols of re-birth. Seeds germinate under the soil in the darkness until they rise back up in the Spring. Death and rebirth was the theme of the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Demeter, the mother of Persephone. goes mad with grief and blasts the earth with winter. This seems metaphorical because, though the sacrifice of virgins to the Gods, or priests of the Gods,  actually did take place in ancient times, it is hard to believe a woman could have so much power over the earth as to blight it until she got her daughter back. We do know she was assisted by Hekate who witnessed the abduction and strove with Demeter to rescue her daughter from death.

Maybe as the sacrificial killing ritual was taking place in a dark cave, or underground temple,  the mothers of the victims were  weeping and tearing their hair, whether ritually or actually, up on the surface of the earth. Greek poetry is full of women ritually tearing their hair for Adonis, so why not Persephone as well?

Our tender Adonis is dying!
What shall we do?
Rend your hair, girls,
and tear your dresses
.

(I think this fragment comes out of Sappho…)

As for the role of Hekate, I wonder if there had to be someone to take the body of the sacrificila victim to the tomb, and if it that task would  fall to the Priestess of Hekate?

The theme of the Harvest of Souls, the Death part of the Death and Rebirth equation, suggests that this Mystery must have taken place at the Agean equivalent of deep autumn on the threshold of winter.

Cave at Eleusis

Cave at Eleusis

Initiation at Eleusis

The only thing I have read that scholars seemed to be sure of about the Mysteries of Eleusis was that the initiates were taken on a journey through a temple, blindfolded, and put through some kind of ordeals. At the the end of the ritual, their blindfolds were removed and they were presented with a sheaf of grain. This was a symbolic statement that that which was harvested, or killed, and dragged into the Hades, would return in the spring as new life.

What was that about?

Considering that the ancient Greeks were probably better versed in the  cycles of Death and Rebirth than we are, it seems they would not be surprised, as scholars suggest, that the grain dies and comes back in the spring.  But if the actual sacrifice of children was demanded by the Gods to insure the fertility of the land, then it might be necessary to “initiate” adults into the knowledge that the lives of their children fed the lives of the population. If they really believed that the Gods and the land had to have blood, then this might persuade them that the sacrifice was worth making. Therefore the climax of the Rites of Eleusis would be a kind of comfort for them and help them to accept the way things had to be.

It is also possible that the whole thing was ritually performed as a Mystery Play; that none of it was really happening, but was enacted, and that the gift of emotional energy was enough of a sacrifice to the Gods.

But I think this may have been the case at a later date. Folklore is full of theories that the most primal Mysteries were  real, that the sacrifices were real, and the enactments and plays came about when cultures realized that the Gods and the land did not need blood to be fertile, that devotion was enough. Apparently animals came to be the sacrificial victims as replacements for humans, much as bread figures have become substitute Sacred Kings at Lammas.

Christ has associations with Eleusis and we know what happened to Him.  Could this connection indicate that Christ was pointing out his similarity to Persephone? Wasn’t His purpose to end such rites of sacrifice? Wasn’t he meant to be the Last Sacrifice that would render all future sacrifices unnecessary? He died so we could live…a scapegoat taking al our sins with Him. (Can’t see that it worked.)

The Power of Primal Consciousness

Even though we are long past belief in blood sacrifice, (or think we are, as I feel war is the blood sacrifice on a grand scale), there is a peculiar resonance in the psyche at the idea of the land and the Gods and the need for human blood. It is primal, perhaps stemming from our origins when we were intimately bound up with nature and were part of the economy of tooth and claw, both hunter and hunted. Maybe deep in our DNA, we sense this relationship to the earth is primal.

I heard a story once about a cat and a mouse. The cat brought a mouse into the house, but he had not hurt it yet — maybe just showing off. The mouse was alive , so the cat’s owner took the mouse out of the cat’s jaws and set it out in the yard. Instead of running away, the mouse came back inside the house and sat between the cat’s paws.

This weird story tells me that predator and prey have a kind of contract. I could come up with other examples of this that suggest that agricultural people, who still live close to these cycles, are aware of this contract. Perhaps long, long, long ago, our ancestors were also aware and that this dark time of year, this slide into winter when things must be given up for future life, is why we like such good scare. It is better to control your fear through a bit of Mystery play, than to acknowledge that you must survive the time of darkness and its Harvest of Souls.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.