9 November 2013

The Pentagram of Creation: A New Myth and Pantheon

I spent some time recently pondering about the guardians of the four quarters and elements. For some time now I'd been treating them in a rather neutral manner, simply calling upon the spirits of each element in ritual without any specific names or forms. But now as I thought about them, images begun to take shape in my mind, and a story...

This may have been in part inspired by reading I'd done lately about the Feri Tradition, a form of witchcraft not entirely different from Wicca, but distinct in many ways. My own roots are firmly in Wicca and it's not like I'm going to suddenly switch over, but there is a certain kind of... energy in Feri that is fascinating, and a pantheon of deities that is wider and maybe, in some ways, a little more imaginative than mainstream Wicca's... In any case, the deities I describe below are creations of my own mind, not directly borrowed from any tradition.

As I write this article, these are still new ideas for me, and I have no idea whether they will end up as actual parts of my practise. But they seemed interesting enough to put down in writing.

A Creation Myth

In the beginning, there was chaos, and there was Goddess, and the chaos and Goddess were one. Goddess carved out stars and planets from the chaos, and thus our Universe was born.

22 August 2013

Exploring the Darkness

Note: This is a draft of a post I wrote sometime last year and then entirely forgot about. I expect I intended to expand it, though of course I no longer remember what (if anything) I had in mind. It's not exactly along the lines I'm exploring these days (being more interested in Wiccan tradition), but I think it's still worth publishing (and of course the Wiccan God and Goddess have a dark side, too).

Recently I went for a stroll outside, musing about spiritual matters once again, and, as usual, not really making heads or tails of the workings of the universe. No, that's not the best way to put it. The universe is simple, it's myself, and how I should handle that universe that's the problem. But I digress. As I was drawing closer to home again, the wind picked up a little, the skies grew a little darker, and raindrops started falling. It was just a shower, no big storm. But, most important, it was not a warm, calm summer's day. And I felt invigorated. And I thought: 'There is real power in storms, gloom and darkness.'

13 August 2013

The Re-Wiccaning, Part N

It's been a long time since I've written in this blog. A whole year, actually. A lot happens in a year.

Anyone who's browsed through the posts on this website will know that my views on spiritual topics have never been very stable. For many years now I've been searching for the spiritual path that best suits me, moving between Wicca, qabalah, ceremonial magick, chaos magick, left-hand path philosophies, Discordianism etc. In the end I always seem to get sidetracked by something else, or simply bored.

Last Christmas I spent a couple weeks in the country with family. What with limited internet access and all I had plenty of time to kill there, and as often happens at such times, I got to thinking about spirituality again.

One of the things I thought about was Wicca. Books about wicca were the thing that originally got me started on this path, after years of passive agnosticism. And it occurred to me that I kept returning to Wiccan ideas time after time. This was my first exposure to the world of the occult, and it had made a lasting impression. As recently as early 2012, I was writing about a resurging interest in Wicca, although I veered off that path once again... to other ideas that lasted no longer.

So I made a New Year's resolution. For one year I would try to be Wiccan again, and try not to go chasing after every idea that crossed my mind. I'd try to hold regular sabbats and esbats, based on (more or less) traditional Wiccan forms, and, you know, just... be Wiccan.

8 August 2012

Words without Meaning

Traditional occultism is steeped in layers upon layers of symbolism. But symbols can be problematic. They are man-made constructs, the realisation of which may hinder some from truly 'believing' in them. And in the endless multitude of symbols available to us these days, it can be hard to find a set that feels right. It is far too easy to spend hours upon hours contemplating the meaning of symbols instead of actually doing something with them.

It might be better in some cases to think in terms of function rather than meaning. What is the essential function of, say, simple rituals like the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram or pagan circle castings? Their role, as I see it, is to cause a shift in states of mind, from everyday existence to a spiritual state. Concepts of elements, mysterious deity names or complex theoretical presentations of the universe have, in the end, very little to do with the desired effect. It is the act of recital and motioning that counts.

10 June 2012

An Invocation of Darkness

I am the rustling of darksome wings
I am the screaming of unseen things
I am the infinite beauty of night
I am the shadow encircling the light
I am the ravening creature of lust
I am the lover of ruins and of rust
I am the fury, the breath of the storm
I am the creeping mist without form
For I have drunk of Its ichor like wine
The power of Darkness itself is mine!

7 June 2012

A Simple Circle Casting

This is a simple formula for a circle casting. It is based on segments of verse originally written by Wiccan author Doreen Valiente, for the verse version of the 'Great Rite' (i.e. a symbolic conjoining of male and female), which is also the third degree initiation in Gardnerian Wicca. While of Wiccan origin, I don't see any reason why these lines could not be adapted for use with any theology (and neopagan faiths in particular). The words aren't originally part of a circle casting ritual, but the segments I've borrowed seem to be perfect for just such a thing.

The 'circle casting' is basically just a Wiccan term for the Ritual of the Pentagram, which originates from the Victorian occult society Golden Dawn. The main difference compared to the generic pentagram ritual is that Wiccan circle castings, as the name suggests, usually include the distinct act of tracing a circle around the working space (whereas in the pentagram ritual a circle is implied as the magician moves his tool from quarter to quarter). It is generally used as the opening part of a ritual, and could be followed by more specific acts of magick, celebration of a particular holy day, or merely simple meditation or prayer.

30 May 2012

The Chthonic, the Celestial and the Cosmic - Conceptions of Divinity

Supernatural entities are often divided into multiple categories. For instance in Greek mythology, the division between chthonic and Olympian deities (with differing cult practises) is pretty common. Here are some thoughts about such categories, and how one could interpret different types of deities from a more modern perspective.

God and Goddess Pentagrams

The pentagram is of course one of the most widely used occult symbols. There are many, many ways to interpret its symbolism, and no interpretation is any more or less correct than another.

I've previously written about the downward pointing pentagram as a symbol of the Qabalistic Tree of Life. But here's another, very simple suggestion, with some Wiccan flavour: the downward pointing pentagram represents the Horned God, while the upward pointing pentagram represents the Goddess.

Associating the pentagram with two points upward with a horned figure is of course blatantly obvious. It is of course particularly associated with the figure of the goat's head, as in the so-called Sigil of Bathomet, used as the symbol of the Church of Satan. But the goat is of course equally associated with pagan Pan, there is no reason whatsoever to view it as Satanic, let alone 'evil'.

The pentagram with one point upward, on the other hand, is sometimes associated with the human body, traced inside the symbol with arms cast wide open. This welcoming pose seems perfect for the Goddess.

Individual points of the pentagrams don't really need specific associations of themselves, I think. No need to overly complicate things, particularly when it comes to more down-to-earth pagan practises. (Although if you wish to use correspondences, such as the traditional elements, by all means do.)

17 February 2012

Bríd - Goddess of Computers?

Just a little, light-hearted thought exercise (though it could certainly have practical implications, if so inclined).

The Irish goddess Bríd (or Brigid) has been described as both a goddess of poets and of blacksmiths.

Now, blacksmiths deal, in a very literal sense, with hardware. Poets deal with language.

What do you get when you bring together hardware and language? Computer systems! Software! Programming!

Technology has become an integral part of our culture and the very core of our being. Yet most mythological figures obviously don't have a clear connection with this modern reality. Deities of wisdom might be among the most obvious to call on for IT issues, but then again, computers are intricate physical objects as well. It wouldn't be a great leap to associate them with magickal items of myths, and the gods of smithing who often created such things. Technology is magick, in a very real sense.

16 February 2012

What's in a Name?

It is ancient wisdom that names hold power. But for the modern neopagan they can also be a source of much confusion and distress. This mainly stems from what I've termed the 'authenticity dilemma'. In a nutshell, we borrow elements from distant cultures, far removed in time and/or space, yet their distance means we can never be sure of how they were originally understood or worshipped.

This shouldn't really matter. The pagan world was, by its nature, quite syncretistic. The history of religion and myth is littered with examples of deities being supplanted, combined, and reinvented. In most instances there simply is no single, authentic version. Unless you're interested in a strict reconstruction of a historical practice (and I kinda feel sorry for anyone who is, making any kind of sense out of historical pantheons is no easy task), this chould be viewed as license to make whatever you will of your deities. But sometimes it is easier said than done.

Below I'll briefly discuss some possible approaches to deity names, and problems related to them.