Winter Solstice Mysteries

Winter Solstice Mysteries


The longest night of the year is at hand. For three days and nights the sun stations below the rim of the horizon, deep in the underworld. Our ancient ancestors, immersed in, and dependent upon, the fluctuations of natural light and darkness, feared what would happen if the sun failed to return to the upper world, leaving them in perpetual night.

The further north our ancestors lived, the greater was their necessity to insure the resurrection of the sun, yet the sun’s strength was needed in all lands for the growth of the crops , whether they be fields of grain or vineyards.

In the pre-Christian world, people perceived that everything was alive, that all of nature was imbued with spirit; animals and plants were animated by the same divine life force that filled mankind. The planets and stars, remote and shining, were gods, the earth was the fertile mother.

The sun was the most glorious of the heavenly gods, for it provided heat and light and quickened the life in the soil. The sun was thought to be a living being that died and was reborn, whose return from death made the plants blossom, the animals give birth, and gave joy and prosperity to the people. Therefore was the sun considered to be the savior of mankind. Because of this, Winter Solstice has always been a time of encouragement and celebration.

It is interesting to note that in northern climates, where the dark is long and cold, the sun is perceived as exclusively benign, whereas in countries closer to the equator, the sun becomes a tyrant that dries up the land, whose heat and light is oppressive. These qualities are reflected in their religions. The extremes of dark and light mirror the duality of good and evil in Northern Europe, whereas a harsh, angry jealous god who must be placated in the Mediterranean and South America.

The symbols of Christmas come out of the ancient Mysteries. The evergreen tree symbolizes everlasting life. Lights are placed in the trees to simulate the sun shining in the branches, ornaments in the shape of pine cones are added to encourage the trees to bear, shining orbs of all colors are also representations of the sun. Before electricity, candles were lit in the trees; fire stolen from the gods has the power to lure them closer to the earth.

Cultures from ancient Egypt to Northern Europe celebrated the return of the Light of the World around December 21st or just after with feasting, songs, and gift giving. The giving of gifts was not always a commercial activity, but an affirmation, and participation with the earth bringing forth its many gifts to support the lives of the people.

Saturn and Santa

Folk tale depiction of Father Christmas riding...
Image via Wikipedia

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, god of agriculture, with a celebration of Misrule, turning everything topsy-turvy to break apart the old crystallized pattern of the previous year and create a new order. The tradition of ordaining a peasant King for a Day, and making the real king a pauper, symbolized transformation from darkness into light. This practice also accorded the king the same status as the sun, hidden away in the darkness for one long night before he returns to set things right again.

Santa Clause has his origins in Saturnalia. As God of Agriculture, he gives many gifts in anticipation of the plenty to come. He carries the holly, an evergreen tree with berries that mirror the stages of life, and the mistletoe with its suggestions of Druidic fertility rites. Originally called Saint Nicolas, or Father Christmas, he was slender and dressed in green before the Coca Cola company requested he be dressed in the red and white of their logo and associated with merchandising. He grew fat and greedy, reflecting a more sinister alignment with Saturn as devourer of his own children.  With this stroke of marketing propaganda, the true Spirit of Winter Solstice, of Christmas, of Hanukkah, and all festivals of light, has been confined in the darkness of the unconscious of modern people to make way for a frenzy of consumer spending. Yet we, though all of focus on material things, a longing for the return of the Child of Light can still well up in those moments when we stand in the glow of the colored lights on the houses, smell the fragrance of the tree, or are stilled by the sight of candles flaring in the darkness. We may still even pray for the spirits of peace and goodwill to shine over the earth with the rays of the new born sun.

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Have Joyful Winter Solstice! Celebrate and be Inspired!

Have Joyful Winter Solstice!

Let’s have a magical feast and invite everyone who desires to share in the spirit of love,  generosity, elegance, and creative imagination.

Cheers!

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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees: Rowan

Rowan

After November 1st, we enter the darkest time of year. A bright branch of Rowan is like a torch in the night and at the heart of each flame-colored berry is the five-pointed star of protection. Little wonder a Rowan wands were used to ward off enchantments.

The Faery gateway of the Green and Burning Trees, suggests the  green and burning quality of Rowan.

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Witches Wheel

Rowan berry, rowan berry
Ends in a yellow star.
A wand of rowan above our beds
Is an anchor in dark December dreams…

Luis ( loush)

The lovely Rowan is the fire in the night. With its bright orange berries, it lights up the perpetual twilight of winter with a touch of brilliant warmth much like the hearth fires our ancestors gathered around as they hunkered down for long hours indoors.  For most of their waking hours, the fire and the candles were the only sources of light. Small wonder that a tree bearing the color of flames would be perceived as protective.

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There was a time when fire was so scarce that it was kept very safe and was never allowed to go out. Our very early ancestors did not know how to create fire; they knew it as a gift from the Gods. Fire was carried in lamps and delivered from lamp to lamp. Woe to the person who let the fire go out!

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In the Book of Balymote, “Luis is the delight of eye that is Luisu”, or the lambent color of flame. In modern Irish Luise indicates a red glare with added luster or sheen. As fire keeps off predatory animals and freezing cold, it also has the power to ward of demons, faeries, and ghosts. To that end, rowan is planted in graveyards to keep the dead from rising. The wood of the Rowan was used by the Druids on funeral pyres for it had power over death and rebirth.

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The association of Rowan with fire is one reason it is ascribed to Candlemas and the Goddess of the eternal flame, Brighid. The poetry of this may be why the Ogham was made to correspond to the Julian calender of a January 1st New Year. But the symbolism of the Rowan also suits the festival of Winter Solstice. The use of Rowan as a protective amulet toward off the darkness of December, to survive for the time when the light begins to return, is a strong point in favor of Rowan belonging to December.

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The magic of Rowan guards us against the forces of chaos and destruction, strongly linked in the minds of our ancestors with darkness and the creatures that prowl unseen and hungry at the doors and windows. Rowan promises rebirth with the increasing warmth and light that comes after the Winter Solstice.

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Rowan was said in ancient times to have been guarded by dragons.

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Rowan Tree and Red Thread,
Gar the Witches tyne their speed.

Rowan tree and red thread slow down wicked witches, for it has the power to bind to malevolent forces. Magic wands made of Rowan branches are excellent for this purpose. In celtic countries, spindles and spinning wheels were made of Rowan.
Rowan, also known as Mountain Ash, is one of the trees of the sacred Faery groves of oak, ash, and thorn.  Scottish Faeries are known to hold celebrations within stone circles protected by Rowan trees.

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It is so sacred to the Scots that the old law does not allow use of any part of the tree except for sacred purposes.
Another reason for the Rowan’s protective influence, and its magical nature, can by found by examining the berries themselves, for at the end of each one is a tiny five-pointed star, or pentagram.

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Rowan Working

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It is the deepest dark of winter. You sit close to the fire to stay warm. The fire sets you dreaming so that you see the flames part and desire to walk between them. In you minds eyes, they flames become two Rowan trees. Pass between the trees, bright with red berries, into the snowy landscape on the other side, bringing with you the fire of Luis. Let it illuminate your path.
A necklace of Rowan berries is the Red Thread that confers protection from evil spells.

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Divination by Rowan: You need protection and nourishing through this time. Creativity, vision art, poetry and storytelling are inspired as you slow down and focus inwards with the flame of passionate inspiration to guide you. Health and strength improve.
Magic can be done by placing Rowan twigs above the doors and windows for protection. Place Rowan twigs in the shape of a cross and bind with red thread to be carried as a protective amulet.

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Another name for Rowan is Witch Tree or Wicken Tree and can be used for divining precious metals in the way hazel is sued to find water. Rowan can be used to increase psychic powers, and is a fine ingredient in spells for healing, success, safety, and is used to make excellent magic wands.

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Magical Correspondences:

Ogham Name:
Letter: L
Tree: Rowan
Deities: Brighid
Birds: duck
Animals: unicorn, bear
Color: flame red
Uses: magical protection

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Babalon Diaries: # 17: Invocatory Theatre and the Babalon Project

Aline DeWinter: Invocatory Theatre and the Babalon Project

Interview by Alison Rockbrand

This is Part 17 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.

by Air Adam

by Air Adam

As part of her on going academic research into esoteric acting and performance/theatre at the Rose Bruford College, Alison Rockbrand interviewed me about my creative process. She was  especially interested in my use of ritual to develop roles in acting and dance.  Most actors at one time or another, study Method Acting developed by Constantin Stanislavsky in the late 19th century. I recently learned that he made great use of esoteric methods in training actors how to embody their roles. I wonder how far he originally took them in terms of Otherworld contacts….

Alison Rockbrand:

Aline DeWinter is an American medium, tarot reader, witch, writer and performer whose work has crossed from the Seattle Shakespeare Company,to the dance performances of the Companions of Musavir, to working on esoteric theatre projects in London, England where she lived for nine years. She is the writer of a detailed and extensive blog on what she calls ‘the magical path’; included in this blog is an account of her experiences while working on the esoteric play by Paul Green, Babalon, of which I  myself was the director. I spoke to her on her experiences as an individual performer in the realms of esoteric theatre and dance.

Interview with Aline de Winter

AR: You describe yourself as a witch and as a performer, can you give me some idea as to how you interpret these terms and how they relate to each other?

AD: Well, I think I have always been what I would call a witch. When I first started working with the Seattle Shakespeare Company in the 1980′s I started to feel that there were deeper levels to Shakespeare that no one was really investigating. I tried to bring my magical awareness into my performances.

AR: What do you mean by ‘magical awareness’.

AD: At the time I was doing a lot of Kabbalistic magic, you know from the Jewish Kabbala. I was getting up at five in the morning to do these meditations which were based on that system, trying to increase my esoteric knowledge. But I was always a natural witch, I always just somehow knew how to do magic. It was like what they say about shamans, I was just called to the path I am on by the spirits themselves. I have heard the same sort of thing from Native Indian shamans with whom I have had a lot of experiences. Basically I knew how to tap into other dimensional reality and bring stuff through, though my body. I would move my mind through a door. But at the time of my work with Shakespeare and particularly with the part of Lady Macbeth, I was just trying to integrate my knowledge with what I felt were the deeper levels in that play.

AR: How did you accomplish this integration?

AD. One example is the scene where Lady Macbeth conjures of all of these dark spirits or demons in order to make herself stronger. In the performance, we thought of that scene as an actual magical ritual. We drew a circle, and conjured the directions, and treated the scene very much as you would in ceremonial magic. We thought of the scene as an actual magical ritual though we were quite careful not to fully conjure the dark energies that Lady Macbeth was conjuring, or at least I did not conjure them into myself as she was because that would have been too chaotic. But we still  treated it as though I were real, as though the spirits were being spoken to during the performance. We also banished them everyday after the rehearsals and performances; we were careful to cleanse to space magically after every performance.

lady-macbeth Ellen Terry as Lady MacBeth

AR: Can you tell me something about your preparation for the performance of that role?

AD. Well as I said I was doing all this Kabbala, and that helped me to get to some of those deeper levels. But the way I always prepare for such roles is through ritual and through the use of images. I would find the right image of the magical levels within the character I wanted to use during the scene and then I would take those images into my own body, or my own awareness. I finally found that it was easier to do this with dance because then I can just totally let go in performance and let the character or the spirit I am trying to work with completely take over, like a kind of shamanic possession.

AR: You said you also used ritual?

AD: Yes, when I practice at home I always begin the practice by drawing the circle and calling in to it the energies I need for the performance. Its a magical ritual that I repeat every time I rehearse because I am trying to do magic on the stage and it takes a lot of practice of that ritualistic kind to accomplish that. The ritual might vary, but its a ritual the same as in ceremonial magic where the circle is drawn before the spirits can enter. It was the same when I started working in dance.

AR: Can you elaborate about your work in dance?

AD: I started to work with the dance company, Companions of Musavir, performing sacred dances. I was initiated into the Sufi Order in Paris in 1982.  In those days when I was dancing an doing a lot of theatre my whole desire was to use theatre as a magical vehicle.  There were very few people, if any, who had the same idea as me- only Elizabeth Dickinson, the director of the Companions of Musavir - had this as the real reason behind the dance company. I was one of two dancers who got that. I felt I could do more of what I wanted with them. I started doing my own choreographies which sprang out of my desire to unite with a Goddess or God- as Circe, Melusine, Salome, Ariadne and various others.

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Circe by Waterhouse

AR: What was your process in preparing for that kind of role?

AD: When I was working on Circe, once the choreography was set, I would move my consciousness into what I have to call ‘the Circe current’. I would try to connect my consciousness with that of the Goddess, which feels more like a specific current of consciousness rather then the mind of a character. Its something from a different reality. Then I would often find new ways to move in the choreography and a lot of it would change based on my connection. I would do this over and over again, as a ritualistic, magical and spiritual practice as a preparation for performance.

AR: How was the performance different from the rehearsals?

AD: In the rehearsal phase I would just be contacting it myself, letting the Circe current show me the dance and letting in use me to find the right choreography. In performance, I would mediate on stage between the Goddess Circe and the audience. I would try to bring something magical through to the audience. However, you never know if its going to work. You can’t control the spirit. Its a willing co-operation. If it does not want to manifest in a certain performance then there is nothing you can do. You have to work with it and develop a relationship with it, so that is why there is so much ritual practice involved- it makes the connection stronger.

AR: How do you develop this connection?

AD. I always invoke, I develop in magical circles. I make a circle, I invoke the spirit and then I let it take over me but without letting go of my critical side so that I can work. It develops through the ritual practice, but in that practice I am making my self very open emotionally. I am trying to release my conscious mind and go into the subconscious, which opens you up emotionally, and then  you can connect to the spirit through a strong emotion. In magic we often use sygils and symbols to get in touch with the subconscious mind and I use those to connect the spirits as well. I use the heart chakra combined with the third eye, which then makes you telepathic with spirits that are good for you,that have a higher energy level. From the solar plexus into the lower chakra levels you get demons who feed off your sexual energies, which can be very debilitating.

AR: What is there to be gained from this kind of connection to a spirit?

AD: Every time I perform in this way and get into the body of a spirit, or mediate for a spirit to an audience, it alters me in ways I sometimes do not know about until much later. I have gotten many gifts from this kind of practice, mainly new abilities or new insights into myself or the world. These are magical gifts which are given from the spirit who has a different reality to me, and when I communicated with it on this level, something of the spirit always stays with me, forever. And it can alter reality as I know it as well. Things change, strange things happen, my life changes. It could be a dangerous practice and many people on the occult path go insane from conjuring demons. If you conjure positive entities, then good things will follow, but often when you deal in Black Magic, then bad things tend to happen and people loose themselves. With the Babalon project, I felt that the energy of Babalon was very fiery and chaotic and many bizarre things happened during the rehearsal process in London. But I gained a lot from Babalon, especially lots of Kundalini energy rising up my spine.

AR: Can you tell me more about your preparation for Babalon?

AD: I have written in my blog about the experiences with Babalon by Paul Green and with the spirit of Babalon because it was something that altered my life in many ways and in which I saw how the use of certain energies and types of magic can have major effects in reality. In preparation it was very magical because the play itself is alive- it contains some of the Enochian keys of John Dee and Edward Kelley which were used by the occultist Jack Parsons to complete what he called “ The Babalon Working”, a magical rite to call the energies of the spirit of Babalon into the world at large. Those energies were not the kind I was used to dealing with. They were darker, more fiery. In rehearsal we sang the Enochian keys and it would get very weird. There was definitely something happening when we sang the keys in rehearsals. Since all the actors were occultists and magicians, it would seem that we could not help but actually perform aspects of the Babalon Working whenever we performed those scenes in the play.

AR: Did this differ from your private practice?

AD: In my private practice I would draw the circle, call the directions as is done in most Wiccan and ceremonial magical rituals, then I would use the Babalon sygil which Aleister Crowley created to try to connect to the ‘Babalon current’ . I would work to bring through the Babalon energy. What it felt like was a very disruptive energy, like the earth was falling from underneath me. As always I experienced it as a dimensional shift. Then Babalon would appear to me. Babalon shows up as a red fiery figure covered with jewels. Then I would walk into that figure. I would just move my body into the body of this spirit Babalon and I would focus on what that felt like, and try to remember the feeling of that for the rehearsals with the rest of the cast.

AR: Was the same thing happening in performance?

AD: No. In performance I felt as though Babalon was talking directly through me to the audience. There were moments in the performance when I felt as though the energy was really being manifested directly to them. My performance was a magical act to conjure Babalon and I think she was definitely there and I think the audience could feel that. But each time one of these spirits manifests though a medium, it will take on aspects of that person as well. So my invocation of it would be different from another actors.

AR: You said you experienced magical phenomena during the rehearsals for Babalon. Can you elaborate?

AD: The play had a magical effect way beyond just the rehearsal room. Not only on myself but in the real world as well. There is one incident which happened during the rehearsals. It was towards the end of the rehearsal process and nearing the performance. I had a problem with my flat and so I had to go and stay with a friend of mine near Hampstead Heath. At one point  she told me to find someplace else to stay because another friend of hers was coming from Germany for her job in Hemel Hempstead. The German friend’s return home was delayed all of a sudden when the factory she was working at blew up. It turned out that the factory was a producer of airplane fuel.  It’s very bizarre because Jack Parsons, the protagonist of Babalon, was, in real life, one of the inventors of rocket and air plane fuel. He was killed when he dropped a canister of rocket fuel and it exploded. His death is also the climax of the play.  I find it incredible that this should have happened so close to where Babalon was being performed and only a few days before the performance, and that I who was  playing Babalon, was directly connected to someone who worked there. It’s horrible though, really.

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The Babalon Working as it was performed by Jack Parsons was supposed to bring the energy of the ‘Babalon Current’ into the world at large, to affect the outside world and to have a major effect on humanity. Many people have wondered what was actually accomplished by it though, as Parsons was killed in an explosion not long after. I think we awoke something in our rehearsals that had a similar effect. We  performed a version of the Parsons Babalon Working and a factory close to us that stored air plane fuel blew up.  That is what I mean about real effects. This type of esoteric theatre effects things.

(Aside by me: This why we say “Don’t do this at home….” Luckily no one was hurt.)

AR: What effects did the experience have on you personally?

AD: Its always like a kind of initiation because something in me changes and a whole new side of my personality can develop. The experience with Babalon brought through something that was not there before. Initiation is about creating a holistic self  from these currents, dimensions, or conciousnesses, and letting them add to by body and to my knowledge. I have more energy then I do this. Also, the spirit becomes a muse for me, and though it new connection are born and I gain in gnosis. Working with Babalon I contacted things I had not contacted before, but now I always can again. I can always call that spirit or energy back. I still feel very connected to it today. It affects objective reality.

AR: Do you think this kind of experience is possible though other theatrical means? Do you need to be an esoteric actor to experience this or can it happen in other theatres, such as those in which use shamanic techniques ?

AD: I have done a lot of work with shamans and I have seen many of their rituals on Native American reservations in America. You cannot take the techniques of shamanism away from the shamans and expect to get the same results. Those techniques are tied to the land, to specific trees, or lakes or other natural elements, and to a specific tribe. I have seen shamans perform with feathers that were 1000 years old passed down a family line- a lot of the magic is in those feathers. Shamans are healers and they work for the whole community. There may be some similar techniques in esoteric acting, but its not really shamanism the way it is used traditionally. Our practice of Esoteric theatre is urban, it travels with us, its not tied to a place or a people. Its like a kind of urban shamanism. But these shamans like esoteric actors are trained to be able to see into other dimensions and to bring things back. I do not think that is what is happening in other theatres because the people involved are not trained in that way, the audience in not being changed in the same way because the actors are not calling in other dimensions of reality. They are exploring this reality, but we are going somewhere beyond there.

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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…

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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees – Birch

Birch

The graceful Birch is the White lady of the Woods. It is fitting that these trees,
ghostly in twilight, should stand at either side of the gate of the Celtic New
Year of October 31st, for it has come down to us that passing among the
birches can take you into the Otherworld.

_2F_images_2F_origs_2F_909_2F_new_beginning_autumn_aspen_paintings_birch_tree_art_by_jennifer_vranesNew Beginnings by Jennifer Vranes

Witches Wheel

Birch, white stemmed birch
Stands pale in the dark forest.
A rod of Birch will cleanse us of evil
And usher us through November’s long doorway…

Beth (Beh)

There was an old Samhain tradition of running down an avenue of birch trees
while being flogged with the twigs as a means of purification for the New Year.
This birch portal at the gate of the New Year mirrors its position as first of the
letters, for it is the opener of the gate to the Ogham, the creation of Ogma
Sun-Face, God of Eloquence.

Birch was traditionally used to make cradles for babies to protect them from
being stolen by the Siddhe. It seems typically paradoxical that the tree that
opens the doors to the Otherworld would be used to protect a child from
possession by it, but perhaps the birch bark cradle served to fool the Gentry
into thinking the child was already theirs…

In Britain, the maypole is made of birch while the wonderful scraggly birch twigs
are used to kindle the Beltane fires. The best witches brooms are made of birch with those wonderful black twigs as sweepers.

There is an old tradition of burying the dead with conical birch bark hats on their heads to insure the purification of their souls.

The lines are from the English ballad: The Wife of Usher’s Well. The lady’s sons appear wearing their birch bark hats — proof that they are dead.

It fell about the Martinmass,
When nights are lang and mirk,
The carlin wife’s three sons came hame,
And their hats were o the birk.

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Birch Working

Imagine the birch trees standing across from each other, their topmost branches in the shape of a Gothic arch. On the other side, calling you with its mysterious, mist filled grandeur is Faery. If you walk through, you will enter the trance that allows divination by the Ogham.

Divination by Birch: Protection from harm both physical and magical. Cleansing, leaving the negative, life draining energies behind to start over refreshed. A time of going inward to store power in purity. Clear the ground of
obstructions so that new things may grow. Change comes gradually with the turning of the Wheel.

Magic can be done for fertility and creativity, healing and protection.
Tie a red ribbon around a birch tree to ward off negative energies. Hang birch twigs over a new baby’s cradle. Use birch bark as magical parchment to keep your writings safe.

Magical Correspondences:

Ogham Letter: Beth
Letter: B
Deities: The White Goddess, Belin, White Ladies of the Forest
Bird: Pheasant
Animal: White Cow
Herb: Fly Agaric Mushrooms — The Flowers of Annwn
Color: White

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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees – part 2

The Alphabet of the Gods

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According to the Irish Bards of old, the Ogham was received by a great poet, mac Elatha mac Delbeath from the God Ogma Grian-ainech or Ogma Sun-Face, a mercurial God of language and poetry. It was instantly conceived as a magical tool. One only has to cast the mind back to the times when uttering spells and charms was enough to change reality at will, or to recall the opening of the Bible, “In the beginning was the WORD”, in order to grasp the power of letters and language in the old world before books usurped the power of communication and turned language into a standard collection of letters printed on pieces of parchment. Of course every witch knows that books themselves in those times were believed to be magical, and for some of us, they still are.

The first letter written was the Ogham for Birch, Beth, carved seven times on the birch bark paper by Ogma for the God Lugh, as an oracle to warn him that his wife would be carried away.

Blogger, Kevin Jones, at: www.taliere.tripod.com, has these interesting things to say about the word Ogham:

Ogham is named after Ogma. However, in Greek ogmos means a line, row or
furrow, which is quite an apt description of Ogham… In Scots Gaelic the word
for Ogham, oidheam, means ‘a notion of anything, an idea, an inference, hint’.
This is an accurate description of the Ogham. The cognate word in Latin,
agmen, means both ‘boatmen’s oars’ and ‘speech’, which is very apt! There is
also the rather obscure word ogygia which is best translated as primeval or
‘before time’. This may or may not be related but if it is, it is apt since the
Ogham does concern primeval things.

Primeval…yes! What could be more primeval than the trees and the sky and
the birds and the earth?

Wooden portal of the Stave Church at Urnes

Deer nibbling the leaves of the Ash Tree
that is also like a door into the Otherworld.

Witches Wheel

Two trees on either side of a path can be perceived as gateways
into the Otherworld. Therefore you must pass between two birches on the Eve
of Samhain, or All Soul’s Night, to begin your journey around the Wheel of the
Year through the grove of sacred trees.

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photo:Michael Hudson

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As pretty as the correspondences are, I feel the current popular trend of creating Celtic Tree calenders with Birch on the threshold of January is  wrong. The Ogham is an ancient Celtic system. The ancient Celtic calender, and one adopted by many who follow a magical Celtic path, begins at Samhain and the Rites of the Birch are meant to be carried out at that time.

Robert Graves, author of The White Goddess, was among the first to popularize the Ogham as the sacred alphabet of the Celts.  He also claimed that all true poetry sprang from this sacred source, magical words formed of magical letters seeded in the subconscious of the inspired poet, and behind that was the power of the Great Goddess. His description of this alphabet, which he called Beth, Luis, Nion, or Birch, Rowan, and Ash respectively, follows the Celtic year of thirteen lunar months. beginning on November first.

I am following the order of trees in a poem I wrote in the early 1980’s called Witches Wheel. I wrote this poem under the influence of The White Goddess, well before the New Age version of Ogham hit the bookstores under the guise of “Celtic Astrology”. Each tree in this book is accompanied by a stanza of this old poem of mine, which was the first poem I ever had published. Even this order is unusual, but it the one that works for me. I give my reasons in the text, though I wrote the poem in a completely intuitive, stream of consciousness state that intellectually justified none of my choices.

The truth is that the idea of a Celtic Tree calender has more to do with the Celtic Twilight of the Victorian Age than with any historical facts. Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful concept that inspires the imagination and gives us a sense of place in a world where human beings are increasingly alienated from nature.

As one who resonates with the most primal levels in magic, I will attempt to reach back intuitively  into the origins of the Ogham in the mists of the “Dark Ages” on the British Isles.  Fact or fantasy? Who cares!

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Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees

Thirteen Moons: A Year of Magical Trees

by Alyne deWinter

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Writing is a magical rite, a way to ‘alter consciousness at will’. Writing opens the door to the unseen…

Ogham: The Mysterious Language of Trees

I am intrigued by the power of Ogham, the sacred alphabet that is formed by the way the branches of the trees cross each other against the sky. Imagine reading the branches, and then the sky through the branches…. a bird flies across the ‘empty’ space, the wind blows causing the branches to move and re-arrange themselves. The meaning changes, a sentence is created, a poem…
Whatever you communicate with communicates with you. Everything is connected.

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Trees and the Moon

The first timekeeper was the Moon. Our earliest ancestors living as close to the earth as they did, would not have been able to help noticing the regularity of the lunar cycles. Women would have noticed their bleeding came and went with a particular phase of the moon — most likely the dark moon associated with death and the void. Ovulation, the preparation of the womb for the insemination of life, would have been linked to the full moon. Our ancestors would, of course, have noted the passing of the months by the changing moon,  the transformations of the seasons by alterations of the land, and the renewing cycle of the year at the crux of the thirteenth moon when the world was plunged into darkness.

Trees display the changing seasons quickly and dramatically. When trees begin and bud and burst into flower, we know that it is Spring and the days will grow longer and warmer. When the flowers turn in on themselves and become nuts, fruits, and seeds among leaves of lush and vivid green, it is a sure sign of Summer. When the trees start to turn golden, flame, russet, and brown, we know that Autumn has arrived and that the bare bones of Winter will follow like Fate.

So it is not difficult to understand how the moons were linked with the trees, and how someone might notice how trees express the characteristics of the seasons, and might suggest a connection that not only allows people to tell what season, and more precisely, what month it is, but also to know the qualities of that month and how to prepare for it.

Not all Faery Seers will agree the following associations of months and trees, but it seems most fitting to place Birch at the threshold of the New Year.

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Trees as Oracles

Our early ancestors would also have noticed how trees begin in the Underworld and reach up to touch the sky. There was a time when people saw the sky as a great dome set over the earth, so it must have seemed very magical that the trees could seem to touch the roof of the sky. Birds also live among the trees, fly through the branches and across the sky. Some birds migrate on schedule and were thus also tellers of the time. The coming of winter could be judged more exactly by when the birds chose to leave and how long they chose to stay. Thus our ancestors foretold the future by the flight of birds, and they used the patterns of the crossing branches to divine the deeper messages of earth and sky.

As the trees touch the sky, they also delve deep into the earth. In many traditions the place below the ground is the realm of the dead. This makes sense when we know that for many cultures, the dead are buried in the earth. Faeries, who are the spirits of ancestors, and even old gods “killed” by the invading cultures, also live down below in the Underworld. Both ancestors and Faeries have magical powers — living among the roots and seeds, they may have been credited with maintaining the fertility of the soil, of making the crops grow and even making the earth give birth to animals and humans alike. Thus, the trees join all the worlds: the Underworld of ancestors and faeries, the middle ground of earthly life, and the sky of weather, sun, moon, stars, and the birds who are their messengers.

Would it not be too far fetched then to see how our ancestors may have thought that the Gods spoke to them through the trees?

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Interview with Tarot Artist Robert Place: Part 2

Interview with Tarot Artist Robert Place: Part 2

Robert Place and I had so much fun with his first interview that we decided to give you Part 2. Robert is such a interesting man having not only designed five beautiful tarot decks, but being an occult scholar as well. So please enjoy more of our fascinating conversation.
Click here for Part 1 or just scroll down:

Interview with Robert Place: Tarot Illustrator & Historian

There is also another brilliant interview with Robert about the Vampire Tarot at:

http://arcanalogue.blogspot.com

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Aline:
Can you tell me what The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery is about? It sounds very intriguing. Is it  based on a Mystery Tradition?  The art I saw looks very beautiful as well.

Robert:

I started on The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery in 2001. At present, it consists only of the Fool, the 21 trumps, the ace and two of coins, the ace of swords, the ace of cups, and the ace of staffs. I also completed a set of the Fool and Trumps printed oversize with annotations in the margins and background done in a calligraphic script. I completed this for my exhibition in the Crafts and Folk Art Museum in LA in January, 2010. I made 17″ high prints of these and they were the main focus of the exhibit. They are also included in my book based on the exhibition, The Fool’s Journey: the History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot.
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The inspiration for the deck came when I was looking at the paintings of 19th century English Pre-Raphaelite artist Burne-Jones. Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites believed that art was a spiritual or magical endeavor and toward this end they formed a mystical brotherhood of artists dedicated to recapturing the sincerity of the art of the early Renaissance—the same historic period that gave us the Tarot. In many ways they paved the way in England for the Golden Dawn. Burne-Jones, in particular, based his tall female beauties and melancholy heroes on the paintings of Botticelli and Michelangelo, two artists whose works are considered primary examples of Renaissance Neoplatonic mysticism. I noticed that Burne-Jones painted some of the same allegorical figures that are found in the Tarot such as Foolishness, Temperance, and the Wheel of Fortune. I always loved his style of painting and I wanted to complete the Tarot deck for him that he seems to have unintentionally started.
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Robert Place: The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery
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As the deck progressed, besides being enamored with the beauty of the style, I found that it was the perfect means to express all of the insights that I had developed concerning the nature of the Tarot and its mystical message. It allowed me to bridge the gap and synthesize the Renaissance ideas expressed in the original Tarot with the broader archetypal interpretations of those images that were added by 19th century occultists.
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The name of the deck comes from my belief that the Western system of seven virtues, is a yogic system designed to purify the seven soul centers, which ascend the human spine, and that have been known in the West at least from the time of Pythagoras (the 6th century BC). The World card, in particular, represents the virtue Prudence, who is the culmination of the four cardinal virtues. The other three virtues: Temperance, Strength, and Justice, were considered the parts of Prudence, and that fact helps to explain why the three are more explicitly illustrated in the Tarot. Prudence as Sophia (the Wisdom of God) was also the mother of the three Christian virtues: Faith, Hope, and Charity. Prudence symbolizes the enlightenment that is achieved when the virtues have completed their jobs and brought each soul center into balance and health.

Aline:

I went to an exhibition of Burne-Jone’s work in Burmingham when i lived in England. His work is absolutely stunning. I can see why you would be inspired by him. He also did so much! In England even some of the small country churches have stained-glass windows by Burne-Jones. That is a perfect medium for his work with the light coming through. Come to think of it—your work would make amazing stained glass.

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Edward Burne-Jones

Robert

I use to be a stained glass apprentice for about a year when I was first out of college in the 1970s.

Burne-Jones did a lot of stained glass in the US also.
I did a search to find some of his pieces and saw some great ones in Boston and Delaware.  But it turned out  that his first US commission was in the Episcopal Church right here in Saugerties where I live.

(Here’s a link to the stained glass windows in Saugerties:

They are gorgeous—Angels by William Morris., the rest by Burne- Jones)
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Aline

I want to explore more about symbolism with you
and how you find your inspiration in other arts like painting and films and magic.

Maybe something like:

Is there a mystical unity between your tarot themes?
Is there an alchemy in the art of Burne-Jones as there is with vampires?
There is certainly a link between vampires and the PreRaphaelites.
Did you know that John Polidori who wrote The Vampyre, was
D.G. Rossetti’s uncle? Did you know about the vampiric myth that grew up around Lizzie Siddal?
I have a screenplay half written about that.

What about the Grail legend? Is that part of your alchemy as it is of Burne-Jones?

Your themes of Saints and Angels — how do they fit in? There is a Gothic quality to your
work taken as a whole I think.

Chew chew chew

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Robert Place:The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery


Robert:

These are good questions and I will try to answer them as best as I can.
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I feel that there is a unity behind all of my Tarot decks. At first glance, this may not be obvious because my first three decks: The Alchemical Tarot, The Angels Tarot, and the Tarot of the Saints, were based on Western mystical and religious themes, and then with the creation of The Buddha Tarot and The Vampire Tarot, I seemed to be drifting further and further away from that area.
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But, my goal from the beginning was to recover the original mystical message that was expressed by the Tarot’s 15th century creators and to find ways of expressing that wisdom by illustrating its connection to popular mythology or mystical systems.

My Buddha Tarot is not just about Buddhism but how it is similar to Western mystical traditions and how this comparison helps us to better understand our own traditions. My Vampire Tarot, which although it was just published last year, was actually the second deck that I began after The Alchemical Tarot, is about Dracula and how this story is based on the Grail legend which was one to the early influences on the Tarot, and that this story in turn grew out of the shamanic practice of soul retrieval.
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I believe that Edward Burne-Jones was a mystic and that his paintings were his alchemical practice. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which he belonged to, was founded in 1848 by a group of artists in England who came out of the Romantic movement and shared a romantic fascination for the art of the Middle Ages. They wanted to capture the sincerity and honest piety of the works created before the time of the Renaissance painter Raphael (1483-1520). A time when paintings were believed to have magical curative powers, were used in rituals to heal and protect cities, and were the inspiration for pilgrimages. They believed that their art could uplift their viewers to a higher moral state and counteract the illnesses brought about by industrialization.
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Burne-Jones was a second generation member of this movement and the art critic Ruskin labeled his variation the Mythic School. He focused on a mythic Classical or Arthurian world populated by tall, pale, beautiful heroines or femme fatales, and equally beautiful armored heroes. He was a major influence on the Symbolist painters that became popular in the rest of Europe at the end of the 19th century and helped create the atmosphere that led to the revival of occultism.
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Edward Burne-Jones
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Toward the end of his life, beginning in 1881, Burne-Jones worked on a large mural,”The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon.” During this period he also created a number of works depicting the legend of King Arthur, including a series of tapestries (1890-1891) designed for Morris & Company, sets and costumes for the play “King Arthur” (1895) performed at the London’s Lyceum Theater under the management of Dracula author Bram Stoker, and illustrations for Sebastian Evans’ The High History of the Holy Grail (1898). But “The Sleep of Arthur” became a personal work that he slowly perfected between other commissions. When he worked on it, he would say that he was retreating to Avalon. He finished it in 1898 and died shortly after. When I read about this, I had a strong intuition that he had achieved his goal and escaped to his inner world –escaped to Avalon.
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I didn’t know that Polidori, the first author of a Vampire prose, was D.G. Rossetti’s uncle. Rossetti, of course, was Burne-Jones’ mentor and was a major influence on his style. But the vampire theme comes out of the same Romantic movement, with its obsession with the Middle Ages, the irrational, and the occult, that gave rise to the Pre-Raphaelites. I believe that the pre-Raphaelites and Burne Jones in particular influenced Bram Stoker. In Dracula, Stoker created, a strong beautiful heroine, several femme fatales, and a group of heros that were basically knights –characters that were similar to Burne-Jones’s figures. I acknowledged this by incorporating a Pre-Raphaelite style in my illustrations for my Vampire Tarot. Some of the figures are based on photos of the famous Pre-Raphaelite model Jane Morris; for example, the Mina trump.
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Robert Place: Vampire Tarot
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Aline
I love the Jane Morris paintings. She had a very mysterious, silent quality that suited those mystic images of women.
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Robert
Rossetti first wife, Lizzie Sidall, was the artist’s primary model and in spite of their class differences he married her in 1860. With his instruction and encouragement she also became an artist. By 1862, Lizzie feared that her husband was looking for a younger muse. After her daughter was stillborn and she became pregnant again she was hopelessly depressed. She committed suicide by taking an overdose of laudanum. Overcome with grief and romantic ideals, Rossetti placed a book containing the only copies of his poems in her grave. After seven years he had second thoughts and had her exhumed so that he could retrieve this book. Her body was said to have been in perfect condition. Her red hair had continued to grow while she was dead and now filled the coffin framing her and creating a memorable last impression. The image of the beautiful dead Lizzie surrounded in her luscious hair captured the public imagination and led to the rumors that she was actually undead. Red hair in itself is often associated with vampires. Stoker was likely to have been influenced by this description when he wrote the scene with Lucy beautifully laid out in her coffin.
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Burne Jones’ son, Philip Burne-Jones, was also a painter, but his only well known painting is “The Vampire,” a portrait of a femme fatale vampire leaning over her male victim. The model for Philip’s vampire was Mrs. Patrick Campbell, an actress who in 1893 played the lead in “The Second Mrs. Tanqueray,” captured the public eye, and became famous for her beauty and talent. Philip dated her for a while, showered her with expensive presents, and painted her several times. But for the vampire portrait he worked from memory after she broke his heart by dumping him for a leading man and then a series of other lovers. In 1897, he displayed the painting at the annual summer exhibition of the New Gallery, a major show that included works by Sargent as well as Philip’s father. Alongside the painting, Philip included a poem “The Vampire” by his cousin, Rudyard Kipling, that described the foolishness of a man allowing himself to be destroyed by a heartless woman. This exhibition was held only a few months before Stoker’s Dracula was first in print.
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Philp Burne-Jones: The Vampire

Philip’s painting received good reviews in London, but bad reviews later, after a New York showing. Some reporters also recognized his model, and speculation on the circumstances that led to her depiction as a vampire became the focus of gossip. During her American tour, which coincided with the American exhibition of “The Vampire,” Mrs. Campbell’s agent played up her connection to the painting. Philip, his painting, and Mrs. Campbell all came together in Chicago and the press had a field day with the story. In 1907, Porter Emerson Browne was commissioned by the actor Robert Hilliard to write a play based on the painting, which was called ” A Fool There Was.” Katherine Kaelred played the vampire and the play was carefully constructed so that it ended with a tableau that echoed the painting. The play was a popular success and influenced the burgeoning American movie industry. William Fox bought the rights to the play and created a film version, which stared Theda Bara. This role as a heartless femme fatale, which Bara continued to play in over 40 films, earned her the nickname ” the vamp.” As you can see, Pre-Raphealites, vampires, and popular imagination and culture are all intimately connected.
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Aline
This was a really fascinating interview, Bob! I have long been a fan of the PreRpaelites and Dracula—-all of it and you told me things I didn’t know. Thank you Robert, it has been wonderful talking to you.
I would like to mention that Robert has a beautiful new book out:

The Fool’s Journey: The History, Art, and Symbolism of the Tarot

An 8.5″ by 11′ full color book
$53.00
A PDF download is also available for only $10.00.

For more info:

http://thealchemicalegg.com/The-Fools-Journey.html

Robert also has a Zazzle store. His tee-shirts and tote bags and mugs are to die for so go here for Christmas or other wise:
http://www.zazzle.com/robertmplace

He is as prolific as Edward Burne0Jones and also has some gorgeous calendars to be found here:

Lulu.com

Buy Tarot Decks and Books by Robert Place Here:

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Judika Illes’s Field Guide to Witches

Judika Illes’s Field Guide to Witches

September 21st, 2010

Interview by Kala Ambrose: author, psychic intuitive, wisdom teacher, inspirational speaker, muse, oracle and voice of The Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show at www.ExploreYourSpirit.com

Reprinted with her kind permission.

My good friend Judika Illes has written the most sumptuous encyclopedias. Her 5000 Spells, Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Encyclopedia of Spirits have been sources of endless inspiration and fascination. They are great reference books for not only magic but history, anthropology, and culture. This is a wonderful interview she did with Kala Ambrose–and she even quotes yours truly.

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Welcome to Kala’s Quick Five, where I chat with fascinating authors, artists, teachers and researchers and ask them five questions about their work. My guest today is Judika Illes, an independent scholar, educator, and author of several books of folklore, folkways, and mythology about the subjects of magic, the occult, divination, diverse spiritual traditions, witchcraft, and the paranormal. She has a certification in therapeutic aromatherapy and taught introductory courses on that subject for the Australasian College of Herbal Studies (2000-2002). She is a practitioner of taromancy, tasseography, and other forms of divination. Her published books include The Encyclopedia of 5000 Spells, The Encyclopedia of Spirits, The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, and the topic of our interview today – The Weiser Field Guide to Witches.

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Kala: Judika, it’s a pleasure to speak with you again. I so enjoyed our conversation on the Explore Your Spirit with Kala Show, where we discussed your work and your book, Magic When You Need It. We’re back again, this time to discuss your new book, The Weiser Field Guide to Witches: From Hexes to Hermione Granger, From Salem to the Land of Oz, which hits the stores on October 1, 2010.   What prompted you to write a field guide about witches?

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Judika:
My very earliest encounters with books of magic and metaphysics involved the old Samuel Weiser bookshop in New York City and so it is such a wonderful, marvelous karmic turn of events that I now find myself affiliated with the Weiser publishing house whose historic roots stretch back to that store. Last year, Weiser Publishing initiated a metaphysical field guide series: Raymond Buckland’s The Weiser Field Guide to Ghosts was the first book in the series. When Weiser asked whether I would like to write a field guide to witches, I jumped at the chance. I am honored to be following in Raymond Buckland’s footsteps and I feel so blessed to be working with Weiser Books.

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Kala: The book covers famed historical legends including Aleister Crowley and Marie Laveau to popular cinematic figures such as Harry Potter and the Wicked Witch of the West. I’m excited to see that you included historical figures as well as modern day pop icons. I saw Wicked performed live this year and found it to be a fantastic twist and representation. What did you uncover during your research for this book that you found to be most fascinating?

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Judika: Did you read Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, the Gregory Maguire novel that the musical is based upon? I loved it.  It addressed a lot of my own personal issues with the MGM movie, The Wizard of Oz. These issues are discussed more fully in one of my other books, The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, which has substantial sections devoted to L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wizard of Oz, the movie versions, and Maguire’s novel. I would really like to see the Wicked musical one day.

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I’m always fascinated by twists, always trying to look at old subjects from different or fresh perspectives. I can’t say that there’s one most fascinating thing in The Weiser Field Guide to Witches for me because the entire topic enthralls me. There’s nothing about witches, witchcraft, or even just perceptions about witches and witchcraft that doesn’t interest me. But I am always uncovering new details. Researching is like intellectual archaeology and so you’re always digging up something new, something that will help you re-examine a topic from different angles.  During the researching of The Weiser Field Guide to Witches, I was able to uncover new details about people I’ve written about before- new for me, anyway.

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For example, while writing this book, I read a lot of Sybil Leek’s work: now I’ve loved Sybil Leek since I was a kid and saw her on television, I think on the Mike Douglas show but I did not know she had written a children’s book, The Jackdaw and the Witch. I also hadn’t realized that all of Sybil’s many books, many of which were best-sellers, are now out of print, which I find very distressing.

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For a change, I focused on Franz Bardon’s involvement with folk magic and herbalism, something that is rarely discussed as emphasis tends to be on his work with Hermetics. For those unfamiliar with him, Franz Bardon is an extremely significant figure in the history of witchcraft and magical practice but he was a modest man who lived behind the Iron Curtain and is all too often overlooked.

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Many of the details of Veronica Franco’s life were new and surprising for me. She was a Venetian courtesan who survived Europe’s witch hunts. She was a rarity: a well-educated, very literate and articulate woman who successfully defended herself against witchcraft charges and was freed.  When you write about the history of witches and witchcraft, you inevitably tell a lot of sad stories. Veronica did not have an entirely happy ending—she was quite poor at the end of her life—but it was a nice change to discuss a witchcraft-accusation tale that did not end in complete tragedy.

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Kala: Of all of the titles that women have claimed, the term witch I believe, has been the most misused, misunderstood and misrepresented over the centuries. I have past life memories of practicing the wise woman ways and being condemned for doing so in those past lives. It is so sad at times to still see how misunderstood the term is to this day. Can you define and bring some clarity to our readers on who witches were and who they are today?

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Judika: I have similar past life memories, Kala. My absolute favorite definition of “witch” is from author Aline DeWinter—I quote it in The Weiser Field Guide to Witches: “A Witch is a person who sees everything as alive and powerful. We walk in a sacred manner and all of nature responds.” I can’t possibly say it any better.

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For me, a witch is a person possessing both spiritual freedom and personal power. A witch has a kind of freedom of soul and mind, even if she sometimes finds herself oppressed by life’s circumstances in other ways. A witch is in touch with her own personal spiritual and magical power and makes conscious choices and decisions regarding when and if and how to access and use that power. I think those are eternal definitions that apply now and forever.

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But the word “witch” also gets very carelessly thrown around a lot: it’s evolved into an umbrella term encompassing incredibly diverse, often contradictory definitions. That’s as true now as it was in the past. The word “witch” has historically been applied to healers, priestesses, magical practitioners, shamans, and practitioners of polytheistic faiths. It’s also used as a derogatory term for people interested in the occult, unconventional people, and also as a misogynistic term for women in general, especially uppity women who don’t display sufficient submissiveness.

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I am constantly asked whether I’m a witch and my consistent response is to ask the questioner to define the word “witch” for me, which usually really annoys them.  Now I’m not a particularly confrontational person but it’s crucial that the word “witch” be defined: you have to be careful because one person’s definition is not the same as another’s.  I define “witch” very positively. I have always loved and admired witches: as a child, I perceived Hansel and Gretel as a tragedy because the witch was murdered. Hansel and Gretel was a really stressful story for me to hear but I was worried about the witch, not the kids. However, I am well aware that not everyone shares my perspective. So when someone asks you if you are a witch, for safety’s sake, before you answer, you need to know whether they perceive witches as role models or as servants of Satan.

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>High Priestess by Thomas Dodd

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Kala: In your book, you also explore the ancient goddesses including Isis, Hekate, and Aradia among others. Do you feel that the calling of the high priestess is returning? Many express an awareness that the Divine Feminine energy is rising at this time, how do you feel this will affect the world?

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Judika: Lilith, Kybele, Yemaya, and Oshun are also among those included in The Weiser Field Guide to Witches. And Naamah and Nephthys, too. I can’t overlook my Ladies! I create field guides and encyclopedias and so I try very hard to write from a neutral position. I present a lot of diverse information, I’m not writing only about my own personal experiences but, that said, a lot of what I write about is very personal to me. I write from within the traditions, not merely as an observer.

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I think the calling of the high priestess has never gone away—the difference is that in the 21st century more of us are now in a position to heed that call and to demonstrate our devotion in a public fashion and thus serve as inspiration and encouragement to others. So the response to the calling can expand exponentially whereas previously, for reasons of safety, these practices had to be maintained under deep cover, very discreetly and secretly and on a much smaller scale. If the Divine Feminine energy is nurtured and allowed and encouraged to rise, then that will be humanity’s salvation.  We are in trouble without it.
But it is very much a calling.

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There is a basic shamanic tenet that the Call of the Spirits—or a specific deity or goddess—can only be ignored at your own risk. If you feel that call in your heart, mind, or in your blood or bones, you must respond. The alternative is depression, illness, general frustration and unhappiness. But the wonderful thing is that the spirits—and I use that word as an equalizer, I write about so many of them from so many traditions that I very consciously try not to impose a hierarchy—the spirits do respond. They speak with us and will negotiate methods of veneration and communication that suit each of us. So just as there are many ways to be a witch, there are many ways to be a high priestess. And new paths are being forged all the time. We are blessed to live in a magical and spiritual renaissance and it is crucial that we nurture and protect it.

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Kala: Judika, looking back at your life thus far in review, how has your practice of the metaphysical arts enhanced and affected your life. Have you been surprised by the journey along the way?

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Judika: Kala, it has enhanced and affected every aspect of my life. I cannot even begin to imagine who I would be without it. I do believe in the concept of the witchblood. My fascination and identification with witches, witchcraft, and metaphysics manifested at such an early age: it was just there inside me from the start. I can’t even begin to explain it otherwise. I have personally had a very circuitous spiritual journey, a surprising and unpredictable personal path. For example, what I am working on now is another massive encyclopedia, this one devoted to saints of many spiritual traditions. If you had told me twenty years ago that I’d be working with saints, I would have laughed. I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet here I am.

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Kala: Judika, thank you for joining me here on Kala’s Quick Five. More about Judika and her book The Weiser Field Guide to Witches at www.judikailles.com

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Judika: Thank you so much, Kala! It’s always a pleasure speaking with you!
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Psychic Development, Magick and the Other Stuff

Psychic Development, Magick and the Other Stuff

A guest post by Nathan.

Victor Vasnetsov - The Magic Carpet

Victor Vasnetsov – The Magic Carpet


I was wondering what kind of article I can write for this website. And then it just hit me – there are so many categories and topics here, so many things Aline is talking about, why not merge them all together?

I begun my adventure with the supernatural in 2005. I am definitely young explorer of the paranormal, but I already know a few things. What was it that I begun with? Psionics – a little bit  of a fluffy and childish approach to psychic development. But I wanted more, so from fluffy websites I moved to reading books, from there to occult practices – different systems, from Tai Chi meditation to Norse Runes, from Shamanism to Chaos Magick. With time, all of this merged into one thing. No longer was I talking about different systems, different practices. The terms became worthless, and even troubling as I was talking with people.

Everyone got their own set of terms. I was unable to communicate with Chaos mages, Wiccans thought I was a vampire, vampires thought I was just an asshole, but most people thought I had no idea what I was talking about – while in reality, they were those who had no idea what the occult really is. Not all of them, of course, I’ve met many people who thought like me.

For me, shamanism, psychic abilities, chaos magick, Norse runes, tarot — all of this is the same thing. They are  the same kinds of occult practices – using our will to use some supernatural energies to shape the universe we live in as we want it, or at least -to perceive the universe using extraordinary means – like divination systems (runes, tarot, i ching) or psychic abilities, different forms of clairvoyance.

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Needful Things

It is my belief that people who think that ancient shaman and modern Chaos mage perform different occult arts, those people are simple wrong and there are  a lot more for them to learn. Every single occult practice is based on four elements:

The Place:

Needs to be prepared for the practice. Occult orders usually create whole temples, modern psychic vampyres simple cleanse the place of negative energies, Wiccan creates altars, psychics turned one room into simple meditative space. This creates a place where higher energies are created. And these enrages support the occult art process.

The Energy:

There are so many terms: PSI, Ki, Chi, Prana, Kia, Odic Force, Ethers and many more. But these terms represent the very same energy, the energy that cannot be easily defined, but the energy that is used to shape the universe (telekinesis, law of attraction, different forms of occult spells), and transfer information (telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, astral projections).

The Goal :

What do you want to achieve? What is your goal? It is something we want, it might be a wish to send a telepathic message to a friend, or attract $10 000 USD within next 24 hours. The goal is what we want to achieve while sitting in specific place, using specific energies, with…

The Will:

The power that shapes the universe and our life. When you have the goal, the will the  I really want this to happen and the power to make it happen.

Those are four primary elements of every occult practice. If you will look closer, you will find all these elements in every magical or psychical system in existence.

odin_2 Odin: Eric Tesol

Choosing Your Occult System


Everyone of us have to choose the system to follow – some people choose Wicca, some Chaos Magick, some becomes psychics, and some mix all the systems there are. As one wise magus said,  “With time each one of us creates his own practical system.”

If the principles are all the same, there is really no difference which system you will choose.

But you need to  feel the system. That is  where some books come to be – for example, I do not really feel good with modern occult systems, but I read some books about Hebrew occultism, and I was always fascinated with Norse mythology. In my practice I often use Hebrew rites, and I am a big fan of runes, I have implemented some rites from Runic Magick in my own practice.

These are the archetypes, and you should read a lot of books in order to find out which archetype speaks to you. Thor is a god of War, but I prefer Thor over Mars from Roman mythology – although these are the same archetypes, I respond better to Thor – therefore, my occult practices gives me better results, only because I perceive Norse archetypes as more powerful and more real. Someone else would say I’m nuts, because the only real spirits are these from The Goetia. But the reality is – we’re still dealing with the same archetypes.

The same thing relates to divination – I prefer Norse Runes over Tarot cards, but I don’t think either of these systems is better than the other one. Some people prefer Tarot because they feel it – I don’t feel the cards, I feel the Runes.

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Terminology is the Source

The source of all problems. I do not say we should create ultimate set of terms for all occult practices, it is impossible. But based on this article, you must understand that you need to keep an open mind. Never assume that someone is lying or have no idea what he’s talking about, or he is just wrong. Discuss the case, try to get to the bottom of things. If I say PSI and someone from India will say Prana, I will simplified things in such manner, so the guy will know that what he calls Prana, I call PSI. You get it?

Because at the source, all things are the same – you say tomato, I say tomato. With hundreds of years, different terms and names has been created to represent the same things. Around different terms, different systems of beliefs has been created. But at the very core, it’s all the same – the place, the energy, the goal and the will to shape the universe. This creates magick, this creates the occult philosophy.

People face problems without understanding this – they practice psychic abilities, and they wonder if they should start practicing some magick system, and vice versa. Let me tell you something: As long as the occult system works for you – stick with it. After all, what matters the most, is the result of your practice. Everything else is just the language that is too limited to explain what we really think…

Nathan is AN energy worker and paranormal investigator based in Poland, Europe.

He IS also non-fiction writer, check out his “Psychic Development Guidebook”

http://astateofmind.eu/how-to-develop-psychic-abilities/

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