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On Veils and Webs and Hedges…

Much folklore, tradition, and mythology talk of a boundary, an edge, a division between worlds. Why this is common should be fairly evident. If there is an Otherworld, Underworld, any type of world beyond ours, if there was no separation, there would be no other world, the two would be one. For the two to be distinct, or function as distinct, something must divide them.

There are different words in different languages and cultures, different meanings, different methods to cross this boundary. But the boundary is constant, because it has to be. If there’s another world, there is a boundary making these worlds distinct.

One common word used in English is the Veil. This is the term I most commonly use. As do many others.

The term brings to mind for some the veils of nuns or brides, the veils of mourners, the veils of Islamic women. For others, it brings to mind the veils of belly dancers, or harems, or erotic chambers. For others still, it brings to mind the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem, and of the verse in the New Testament of that veil torn in two from top to bottom.

These imaginings of the Veil are useful, of course they are. But how accurate are they? Why do we use the term, and do our images match the reality the term is trying to describe.

Lets start with the meaning of Veil, and it’s origins.

veil (n.)
c.1200, “nun’s head covering,” from Anglo-French and Old North French veil (12c., Modern French voile) “a head-covering,” also “a sail, a curtain,” from Latin vela, plural of velum “sail, curtain, covering,” from PIE root *weg- (1) “to weave a web.” Vela was mistaken in Vulgar Latin for a feminine singular noun. To take the veil “become a nun” is attested from early 14c.
(http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=veil)

The beginning of this description of course is some of the uses we described above, a head covering, a curtain. But note first the Latin vela, velum. Despite it’s use as singular, vela is plural, and that is the word we get veil from, not the singular. Of interest, though, is that the Latin velum also becomes the English velum, which is the soft palate, the roof of the mouth. A veil is thin and covers, but it isn’t necessarily cloth or fragile.

Of more interest is the fact that Velum comes the reconstructed *weg- meaning “to weave a web”. It is the image of a spider’s web across a surface or over an opening. Have you ever walked into a room or cave or cavern or between trees and walked right into a spider web at face level? That is a veil.

Web comes from the same word and so does weave. These two retained that meaning well. Most of the words coming from this root mean something along the lines of entwined, interlaced, woven.

But, as words do change meaning over time, do these meanings hold relevance to our Veil, the way we use it in the context of this discussion?

Consider for a moment, the idea of the endless Web of Fate I have described elsewhere. Each being, human or not, has a knot of Threads at their core, that tie them to everything else. These Threads interconnect with other Threads of those we encounter and interact with, and to our ancestors by blood, lore, or past lives. These form a multidimensional Web, woven by the one who weaves. I describe the web like this:

“Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking.”

What if this Web I describe is the boundary between worlds? What if it is our woven interconnectedness throughout Time and Space that separates us from that which is outside our Time and Space? If this is the case, the Web that binds us together holds us in what we think is reality. This would make crossing over that boundary very difficult, because we ourselves become the sentilils and guards, the Guardians of the Gate if you will. All our experiences and pasts and futures and interactions in this world tie us deeper into the Web and more to what we think is reality. People tend to see what they expect to see.

But, then, crossing that boundary also would mean being disentangled from it. Not necessarily cut free (after the one who cuts cuts our Thread, we cross the Gates of Life and Death; completely cut free of the Web is freedom from this world and our bodies, for the Threads are what knits flesh and spirit, spirit and flesh) but loosed. So, to cross over, the knots that hold us to what we know and expect of reality must be loosened and the Threads allowed to bend. The Threads of Fate but be bent, Fate must be bent.

Consider for a moment the word “warp”. In most common usages in Modern English, it is to “to bend, twist, distort”. This word is believed to come from the reconstructed Proto-Indoeuropian *werp- meaning “to turn or bend”. In weaving, it is used in contrast to “woof”, the woof being the set threads in the loom, the warp twisting and turning through the woof, bending it, to create a fabric. “Woof” comes from *webh- meaning “to weave”, which is the source of both our English weave, web, and wave.

If the Web of Fate is the boundary between worlds, and the All as a loom, and we see it as the woof in that loom, the threads that aren’t connected to the woof that twist and turn between them and bend them become the warp. The warp bends the woof, the weave, the Web. Without a warp in a loom, there is no fabric. Cut the ends and the woof is a pile of strings. But with the warp wove through the woof, a fabric forms. The warp hold the woof in place, and of course gives it colour and pattern. The woof is the foundation, but the warp defines its form.

Some Celtic sources describe the worlds as the Endless Knot, two separate lines interwoven but never connecting. The is of course the two worlds, the world we know, and the Otherworld. The two are seen as being tied together in certain places, and the Veil being thinnest there. Places meaning points on the earth, spatial places, and points in time, temporal places. At certain locations, the Veil is very thin because the worlds are so close. At certain times, liminal times, the worlds draw close, and the Veil thins. This idea of two interwoven worlds fits well the idea of the fabric of the Veil being the interweaving of the woof, our world, and the Threads that connect us, and the warp, the Otherworld and the Threads that connect those that live beyond the Veil, beyond the Gloom out in the endless Gleam.

Then, expanding the metaphor, and the reality it describes, crossing over is a matter of being tied to that other Web, that is the warp, which would mean that those who cross over are tied to both webs, that the Threads at their core run both out into the Woof Web of Fate and the Warp Web of Fate. They span the worlds, are the Gates, and guardians thereof, they are of both worlds, so not fully of either.

It’s by no accident that one of the folk etymologies for “witch” is that it came from a word meaning “to bend or turn”. Especially when we consider that the English “weird”, from the Germanic “wyrd”, urdr, ultimately meaning Fate, and is the name of one of the three Norns in Norse myth, comes from *wert-, from *wer-, the origin of *werp- we discussed above, “to bend or turn”. The warp of the loom, the wyrd, the fate, the Norns who decide the fate of all beings, the Spinner who spins the Thread, the Weaver who weaves it into the Webs, and the Cutter who cuts to on the Black Altar. The Grimr.

Moving on from weaving and webs and veils, let’s consider another common term for the boundary between worlds, the Hedge.

The image here is English style hedgerows of the type that separate fields or surround a residence. These form a living, wild boundary between two fields, or between what is inside and what is outside. For metaphoric purposes, we can use the image of a hedge around a residence, separating the inside and the outside.

Taking this idea back, and looking at the residence with a hedge around as an extension of the hill fort with a baracade or the castle or city with a wall, the inside becomes “us” and the outside “them”, the hedge as protection from the Other beyond it. Inside, we cultivate and control, we build and grow crops, we live life in relative safety. Outside, there’s uncertainty, danger, the settled, civilized farming settlement with the dangerous dark wood beyond, the image of the shift from nomadic to settled life.

The hedge is a wild and dangerous place, but intentionally so. There’s a reason two of the most common hedge trees are the whitethorn (hawthorn) and blackthorn (sloethorn). While pretty trees, and both producing fruit (the haws and sloes) that provide food for those within and without alike, and to birds and rodents and other animals, the thorns are the important part. These are thicket forming trees with long, dangerous thorns. The blackthorn’s thorns will cause nasty infections, and both are long and very sharp. You can’t cross the hedge without a lot of pain and threat to your body. Among the thorns creatures live and other plants, including other trees, grow intermixed. The result is a very dense wild boundary almost impossible to cross.

The hedge, though, being a wild space, also becomes a space where many herbs and other plants grow, giving rise to one of the two major modern usages of the term “hedgewitch”. The second meaning relates more to the hedge metaphor I’m going toward than the mundane hedgerows.

Often stiles are built where passage is needed. Stairs up one side and down the other, these triangular constructions allow passage over the hedge, the only safe passage. And these often can be gated at the top, and also mean limited known ingress and egress points.

Our hedge is like that, a wild space that both keeps us in, we that live in the Dreaming, the reserve if you will, and keeps the Other out, the deadly things that roam the Gleam, dangerous things our hedge protects us from. The hedge itself is dangerous to both, but limited and defined, a wild place that keeps the inward inward and outward outward.

The thin spots we talked about above function similar to stiles, but it should be remembered that what allows one to go outside the hedge also allows one to come inside the hedge. The stiles both allow passage out into the Gleam through the Gloom and become a dangerous gateway for things to possibly come into the Dreaming.

Just like with the mundane hedgerow, there are things in this hedge that can provide healing and nourishment, and things that are poisonous or deadly. Those who enter the hedge can gain much for it, but also must be cautious. And those that cross completely through or over the hedge instead of riding it must be very careful, because there’s a reason we live inside the hedge. The risk can definitely be worth it, though.

FFF,
~Lorekeeper, Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in muninnskiss

 

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The Good Folk

It’s interesting so many people do so much to invoke the fae, but historically, the widespread charms were to keep them out of placate them rather than draw them.

There are examples in older surviving texts of people talking to them, but none I know of that imply invoking them or calling them to you by whatever means. If there are, I’d love to hear about them.

Talking to them is not the same as inviting them into your home. As they say, good fences make good neighbours (1). And they are likely already there anyway. No need to invoke more, just need eyes to See what’s already there.

I had a conversation related to this with a friend a few days ago and I’d like to share my thoughts here.

I’m not trying to disparage or say anything negative about authors, teachers, and practitioners who recommend seeking contact and invoking the fae, or do so themselves. I just recommend caution and a good dose of self possession. While I won’t say their approach is wrong, I would say I don’t see much evidence of such active seeking in the materials that have survived from earlier time, and I think the reason for that is valid.

The Victorian view of the fae did a lot to defang them in the eyes of the general populace, and this is both good and bad. I’ll leave the good for a different discussion. The bad is the lack of caution that has resulted.

The fae were not called the Good Folk because they were benevolent, kind, or forces of good fighting evil in the world any more than calling mafia good fellas implies upright morals. It was to avoid offending, because of the result if you do.

The thing to remember about the fae is that they don’t see anything through human eyes. Their ideas of ethics and morals, good and evil, right and wrong, and benevolence and malevolence are different from ours. Even those that might wish us good aren’t thinking what we are. Accomplishing your goal but dying in the process might be seen as your own good, for example.

The thing to remember is you are in charge of your own life (this is much of what makes a witch), you are responsible for your decisions and actions, and you must not submit your life force to another (2).

Point being, make no deal you can’t live with the consequences of, agree to no condition you aren’t willing to meet, and don’t assume you must do what they say. While I’m against attempts to enslave them (which will end badly regardless), I also caution not to allow yourself to be enslaved to them.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

(1) This is an old adage, now famous from Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall.
(2) As Victor Anderson put it. Or, as Robert Cochrane put it:

“In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated. There is no fate so terrible that it cannot be overcome – whether by a literal victory gained by action and in time, or the deeper victory of spirit in the lonely battle of the self, Fate is the trial, the Castle Perilous in which we all meet to win or to die” http://www.1734-witchcraft.org/lettertwo.html

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2014 in muninnskiss

 

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Picture a Spider Web

<img src='https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-zYlBmiYhGy8/UKfUv_JRFDI/AAAAAAAAAKk/MKRZOl95vHo/s288/1.jpg' border='0' width='281' height='187' align='left' float='left' style='margin:5px' alt='"orb web." Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 17 Nov. 2012.
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Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking.

Now picture a spider, an orb spider with eight hairy legs and eight black shining eyes. She sits at the middle of the web, sits at that centre, all the threads radiating out from her. Her eight legs rest across them, the sensitive hairs on each leg able to detect the slightest vibrations from anywhere on the infinite web. With her eight eyes, she looks out across the shining threads, watching for change. Watch her. When she’s still, she is the web. Everything that touches it touches her. She feels the slightest breeze, the movement of the branches and surfaces holding the infinite web, every piece of dirt or leaf that lands on its sticky threads. And that insect that lands on it? She knows it’s struggles, knows it’s not something large enough to run and hide from. She knows it’s not inanimate like dirt or a leaf. She knows it’s prey, knows what to do with it. She and the web are one. What the web knows, she knows. What the web feels she feels. She is each thread, each junction. She is all.

A thread breaks and she knows, no matter where it is on the infinite web. She moves to that point, knowing where it happened and when, because it is an extension of her. She works quickly to repair it or replace it before the weakness, the unraveling, the damage brings the whole web down. She is a weaver, attaching a new thread, running it over to where it needs to connect. She is a repairman, pulling both ends to herself, lashing thread around a broken thread to repair it. The web is her, if the web is lost, she is lost. She is quick. She is accurate. She is attentive.

Something large hits the web. She knows what it is, or at least that it’s not prey, could be danger. She moves across the web, hides at the borders, waits for whatever it is to leave. She knows it is dangerous and that her life is more important. She waits. She is patient. When the web stops moving and she can feel whatever it was is gone, she ventures out to inspect the web.

A part of the web is damaged. Some object or being fell or moved through it. It doesn’t matter what. The threat is gone. She begins repairs. Replacing the threads, reforming the web. She needs the web and it needs her. It is a time to rebuild, all else can wait.

The web is whole. She returns to the centre and waits. She feels, she watches. She is the web. She feels something hit the bed, something small, something moving. Prey. She moves quickly, bites the prey inflicting her poison, binds the prey, lets it die. She can feed now as she has time.

Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking.

If you can, picture that web not in two dimensions, a infinite web on a plane, but three dimensional, the guide lines stretching not on a plane but in all directions. Picture the threads connecting all of them, not just on a flat plane. Picture an infinite web in all directions, like the light of a star from its centre, with cross threads connecting each ray.

Now, if you can, picture that web in six dimensions, three dimensional in space but also three dimensional in time, infinite in all directions, not just space as we know it. And picture more dimensions and more dimensions, an infinite dimensions of an infinite number of threads, infinite webs, all one web.

Now picture a spider, an orb spider with eight hairy legs and eight black shining eyes. She sits at the middle of the web, sits at that centre, all the threads radiating out from her. Her eight legs rest across them, the sensitive hairs on each leg able to detect the slightest vibrations from anywhere on the infinite web. With her eight eyes, she looks out across the shining threads, watching for change. Watch her. When she’s still, she is the web. Everything that touches it touches her. She feels the slightest breeze, the movement of the branches and surfaces holding the infinite web, every piece of dirt or leaf that lands on its sticky threads. And that insect that lands on it? She knows it’s struggles, knows it’s not something large enough to run and hide from. She knows it’s not inanimate like dirt or a leaf. She knows it’s prey, knows what to do with it. She and the web are one. What the web knows, she knows. What the web feels she feels. She is each thread, each junction. She is all.

That spider is you.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2012 in muninnskiss

 

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Taboos and Geases: Before you can advance, you must first withdraw…

Learning T’ai Chi Chuan, I learned a valuable lesson about the often misunderstood Yin and Yang.

I understood them on an intellectual level, from my study of Taoism and Traditional Chinese Medicine.  I knew not to think of Western dualism, the product of Zoroastrian influence.  I’ve talked before of the descriptions in The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted J. Kaptchuk.  His five descriptions greatly helped me understand Yin and Yang:

  • All things have two facets: a Yin aspect and a Yang aspect.
  • Any Yin or Yang aspect can be further divided into Yin and Yang.
  • Yin and Yang mutually create each other.
  • Yin and Yang control each other.
  • Yin and Yang transform into each other.

These principles describe a concept foreign to most Westerners.  The poetic understanding of the two is a hill on a sunny day, with no other hills or trees or mountains to cast shadows.  Before Dawn, the hill is all in darkness, is all shadow, is all Yin.  As the sun rises in the morning, it hits the Eastern side of the hill.  This is Yang.  The Western side is still in shadow, still Yin.  As the sun rises, the Yang part grows and the Yin shrinks.  Yin transforms into Yang.  by noon, the entire hill is sunny, all Yang, no shadow, no Yin.  But this doesn’t last long.  As the sun moves West, the Eastern edge darkens, shadow forms at the base, Yin, then grows as the sunny section shrinks.  Yang transforms into Yin.  As Dusk fades, it is all Yin again.  Yet it’s all one hill.  The hill doesn’t change, only the ever changing light.  It is Yin changing to Yang, changing to Yin again.  But it’s all one, the Tao.

Easy to understand intellectually and to observe, but what does it mean personally, how does it effect me and you specifically, beyond the intellect?  This is what T’ai Chi Chuang taught me.

T’ai Chi is the tent with a ridgepole, with form.  It is always moving, constant movement, constant change.  What changes, though, from what to what?  The forms change, our body, constantly in motion, moving, moving Chi, energy.  It changes, like the light, from Yin to Yang, to Yin, to Yang, and so on.  But what does this mean?  Have you ever tried to move without preparation?  Can you hit without pulling back your fist and have any force?  Can you step without first lifting your foot?  In T’ai Chi Chuan, Yin is pulling inward toward your centre, toward your lower Don Tian, preparation.  Yang is moving outward, away from your centre.  You learn quickly that before you can advance, you must first withdraw, and advancing puts you in the right position to be able to withdraw again to prepare for the next advance.  Yin transforms into Yang then back to Yin again.

That idea of advancing and withdrawing is visible in the Sepheroth of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah.  The two outer Pillars, the Pillar of Mercy and the Pillar of Severity, are named for the middle Sepherah of each side.  The Pillar of Mercy is the Pillar of Chesed, of mercy and loving kindness and forgiveness.  The Pillar of Severity is the Pillar of Geburah, of severity and justice and judgment.  Ultimately, in a base and stripped to the core manner, Chewed is infinite, unlimited expansion.  Geburah is infinite, unlimited restriction.  Geburah is Law, Chesed is Liberty.  Geburah is Yin, withdrawing, pulling inward; Chesed is Yang, advancement, moving outward.

Ultimately, Law (Geburah/Yin) takes one of two forms: a taboo or a gease.  A negative law or a positive law.  A taboo is negative in the sense that it says no, “thou shalt not”, it’s restrictive.  A gease is positive in the sense that it says yes, “Thou shalt”, it’s proscriptive.  But both are Law, and both are Yin, bring withdrawal.

At the scale of a large society like most modern societies, and the scale of large organized, taboos and geases are used to control and to prevent people from finding the power and strength and mystic connection that might make them a challenge to that established structure.  This is an extreme use of Law, of Geburah.  This is the legalism so common in organized religion, and the totalitarian tendencies of most government.  The more anarchic elements of society tend toward the other side.  The complete ignoring and breaking of taboos and geases just out of principle.  The “don’t tell *me* what to do!” attitude.  They assume all rules are wrong and made to be broken.  Of course, only a few take this to it’s complete extreme and break all rules including murder of random people and suicide.  The elimination of all rules, of all Law, is what Chesed as government would be, all is forgiven, all is allowed.

On a smaller scale, the extremes fall away.  Or do in the right context.  A tradition or teacher that operates fully in Chesed tends to become too “fluffy”.  The lack of Law tends to lead to a lack of structure and boundaries.  This can make learning from the tradition or teacher very difficult.  On the other extreme, a tradition or teacher that operates fully in Geburah, all Law with no Liberty, where everything that is not forbidden by taboo is dictated by gease.  The lack of Liberty tends to keep all students following the same path, which makes it easier to make sure the right things are learner, but it also stifles creativity and self discovery.

I think the best approach is a balance, more Tipherah, Beauty, than Chesed or Geburah.  The balance between Law and Liberty, Love, leads to Knowledge and Wisdom.  That balance leads to Da’ath, Knowing, to Binah, Understanding, to Chokmah, Wisdom, and on the Divine in Kether,  the Crown.

In this balanced approach, taboos and geases serve three important functions and should not be lightly broken:

  1. They serve as a guideline to keep the group or student all pointed in the same direction. Taboos serve as a map as it were for the path the group is walking or the teacher is leading the student.  This is similar to the use in the Law approach, but less firm, allowing flexibility, a map instead of a wall.
  2. They can serve to protect the student or person new to the tradition. There are very real dangers in any path worth taking, and if you are not prepared, those dangers may cause damage that cannot be undone, physical, emotional, mental damage, or create a road block that prevents them from going forward.  This gives a safety net and buffer as the student moves forward and develops the tools, the skills, the defenses, the weapons to face those dangers and truly to be tried by them.
  3. They create a contrast for later transgression. You need to sometimes learn the rule and learn to follow it before you learn when to break it. And there lies Wisdom and when you’ve moved past basics, when you can recognize when to break the taboos, and why.  This is ultimately the process of learning when to ask questions and learning to ask the right question.  And finally, to actually ask that question.

This can be seen in Conte del Graal by Chrétien de Troyes, the oldest Graal story we have.  Percival, found wandering in the woods by the woman who chose then to raise him, is enamoured with the knights of King Arthur he sees.  He sets off to become a knight.  Lord Gornemant meets him and looking kindly on him, trains him in the basics, knights him, and sends him on the way, on his own path.  This teacher, this mentor, as he was leaving, made a final statement, a taboo in some ways, a gease in others.  “Qui trop parole, pechié fait.”  “Who talks too much, commits a sin.”  This statement, though not phrased as either, implies both a taboo and a gease.  The taboo, of course, is, “avoid excessive speech.”  The guessed is, “be silent unless it is necessary to do otherwise.”

Necessity.  Learning that is Wisdom.  As Robert Cochrane said, “Do not do what you desire, do what is necessary.”  Following the taboos and geases is learning the first half, “do not do what you desire”.  But that is only half the lesson.  Learning when to break those taboos and geases is learning the second half, “do what is necessary”.

Percival learned the first lessen well we see as the story progresses.  There’s a set of principles that many trad craft witches I know tote as almost a central Law of Magic.  It is called the Four Powers of the Sphinx.  “To Know, to Will, to Dare, to Keep Silent.”  These Powers are found primarily in the writings of Eliphas Lévi and Aleister Crowley, with no real mention before them.  Most people I see quoting them focus on the last, “to be Silent”, the very command Gornemant gave Percival.  The context is often either oaths made in relation to initiations (it should be noted that being knighted, as Gornemant did to Percival, is initiation), or in discussions of speaking of your magical practice being giving your power away, that speaking of it is sharing power and therefore diminishing that power.  There is truth in this, but I think we should look more at Lévi’s discussion as it is the foundation of later discussion.  He says several things in the Great Secret and Transcendental Magick that should enter the discussion.

“To attain such an achievement it is necessary to KNOW what has to be done, to WILL what is required, to DARE what must be attempted and to KEEP SILENT with discernment.”  “When one does not know, one should will to learn.  To the extent that one does not know it is foolhardy to dare, but it is always well to keep silent.”  “In order to DARE we must KNOW; in order to WILL, we must DARE; we must WILL to possess empire and to reign we must BE SILENT.”

There’s a lot in those quotes demanding discussion, but we’ll focus on what’s relevant to this discussion of taboos and geases.  In the first quote, the phrase “with discernment” sticks out.  Lévi isn’t talking about blindly being silent, he’s talking about having discernment about when to speak.  As Cochrane said, “I was taught by an old woman who remembered the great meetings – and she took no terrible oath from me, but just an understanding that I would be discreet. She did not require silence, only a description of what I had seen and what I had heard and said when I was admitted. The Gods are truly wise – they know the future as well as the past and they admit not those who would abuse knowledge or wisdom.”  This is what Percival needed to learn, as do we.

In the second quote, Lévi is discussing when you’re working from a point of partial knowledge.  When you don’t know, no matter where you are in the path, you become a beginner again.  In this situation, of course silence is best.  You learn more at that stage from listening than from talking, and until you know enough to ask the right question, to know and dare to speak, you might prevent yourself from learning what you need to know to be able to dare.  Leaving Gornemant, this was where Percival was at.  He didn’t know enough to ask yet, so the gease of silence was best.

The last quote gives an order.  First you must know, then you can dare, then you can will.  Will gives you dominion, but silence keeps it.  We’re seeing a cycle here.  In the beginning, you are silent until you know enough to ask the right question.  Then you ask and learn more.  But when your knowledge is complete, when you have fully dared and fully willed, you return to silence.  This is discernment, knowing when to ask and when to be silent.  When to keep the taboo against speaking and the gease to be silent, and when to break them and ask.

So, back to Percival.  Percival eventually came upon the Fisher King in his boat on the river, then to the Graal Castle.  There he feasted with the Fisher King.  While he was there, he received a sword, he saw the Graal carried through by a maiden, with two pages with candelabras ahead and a second maiden with a carving dish behind, and he saw a lance that bled.  He kept silent, remembering Gornemant’s gease and taboo, and didn’t ask about these things.  He stayed the night, and the castle was empty in the morning, so he left, hoping to find the servants of the castle.

Instead, he finds his cousin.  She asked him what he saw in the castle and he describes it, answering each of her questions until she asks if he asked the meaning.  The conversation shows he knew enough to ask but kept silent.  She tells him his question could have healed to King and his silence brought desolation the land.

He proceeds to King Arthur’s court.  A horribly ugly maiden came and chewed him out:

“Ah, Perceval, Fortune is bald behind, but has a forelock in front. A curse on him who greets or wishes you well, for you did not seize Fortune when you met her. You entered the dwelling of the Fisher King; you saw the lance which bleeds. Was it so painful to open your mouth that you could not ask why the drop of blood sprang from the whim point of the lance? When you saw the grail, you did not inquire who was the rich man whom one served with it. Most unfortunate is he who when the weather is fairer than usual waits fir even fairer to come. It was you, unfortunate man, who saw that the time and the place were right for speech, and yet remained mute. You had ample opportunity, but in an evil hour you kept silent. If you had asked, the rich King, who is now sore troubled, would have been wholly cured of his wound and would have held his land in peace–land which he will never hold again. Do you know what will happen if the King does not hold his land and is not healed of his wound? Ladies will lose their husbands, lands will be laid waste, maidens, helpless, will remain orphans, and many knights will die. All these calamities will befall because of you!” ~The Grail: From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol, Roger Sherman Loomis, Pg, 40

“…for you did not seize Fortune when you met her.”  This brings to mind something else Cochrane said, “In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated.”  “Overcoming of fate” would appear to be the same statement, “seize Fortune”, as Dame Fortune was the guise Fate took in the Middle Ages, when Comte del Graal was written.  Percival failed to “seize Fortune”, failed to “overcome Fate” when he failed to ask about the things he saw, in effect failed to ask about the Graal.  Cochrane said the true Graal was fate and the overcoming of fate, and the maiden says failing to ask the question was failing to grasp Fortune.  It follows that Fortune, which is Fate, and therefore the true Graal, is obtained by asking the right question, asking the meaning of the Graal.  You obtain the Graal by asking its meaning and whom it serves.

Percival failed to ask.  He kept the gease and the taboo, and therefore failed to ask the question, failed to grasp Fortune, failed to overcome fate, failed to obtain the Graal.  The secret lies in learning when to break the gease and taboo.  And in general, the secret to Mystery, to Knowing, Understanding, and Wisdom.  To Kether and the Divine.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2012 in muninnskiss

 

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Grasping Fate: The Graal Question

Ha! Percevax, Fortune est chauve
derriers et devant chevelue.
Et dahez ait qui te salue
et qui nul bien t’ore et te prie,
que tu ne la retenis mie,
Fortune, quant tu la trovas!
Chiés le Roi Pescheor alas,
si veïs la lance qui sainne,
et si te fu lors si grant painne
d’ovrir ta boche et de parler
que tu ne poïs demander
por coi cele gote de sanc
saut par la pointe del fer blanc!
Et le graal que tu veïs,
ne demandas ne anqueïs
quel riche home l’an an servoit.
Mout est maleüreus qui voit
si bel tans que plus ne covaigne,
si atant tant que plus biax vaigne.
Ce es tu, li maleüreus,
qui veïs qu’il fu tans et leus
de parler a lui, te taüs!
En mal eür fol san eüs!
En mal eür tant te teüsses,
que, se tu demandé eüsses,
li riches rois qui si s’esmaie
fust ores gariz de sa plaie
et si tenist sa terre an pes,
dom il ne tanra point jamés.
Et sez tu qu’il an avandra
del roi qui terre ne tandra,
qui n’est de ses plaies gariz?
Dames an perdront lor mariz,
terres an seront essilliees
et puceles desconselliees,
qui orfelines remandront,
et maint chevalier an morront,
et tuit avront le mal par toi.
~Le Conte du Graal, La cour du roi Arthur, Chrétien de Troyes

Ah, Perceval, Fortune is bald behind, but has a forelock in front.  A curse on him who greets or wishes you well, for you did not seize Fortune when you met her.  You entered the dwelling of the Fisher King; you saw the lance which bleeds.  Was it so painful to open your mouth that you could not ask why the drop of blood sprang from the whim point of the lance? When you saw the grail, you did not inquire who was the rich man whom one served with it.  Most unfortunate is he who when the weather is fairer than usual waits fir even fairer to come.  It was you, unfortunate man, who saw that the time and the place were right for speech, and yet remained mute.  You had ample opportunity, but in an evil hour you kept silent.  If you had asked, the rich King, who is now sore troubled, would have been wholly cured of his wound and would have held his land in peace–land which he will never hold again.  Do you know what will happen if the King does not hold his land and is not healed of his wound?  Ladies will lose their husbands, lands will be laid waste, maidens, helpless, will remain orphans, and many knights will die.  All these calamities will befall because of you!
~The Grail: From Celtic Myth to Christian Symbol, Roger Sherman Loomis, Pg, 40

“Opportunity has hair in front, behind she is bald; if you seize her by the forelock, you may hold her; but, if she once escapes, not Jupiter himself can catch her again.”
~”Dictionary of Latin Quotations, Proverbs, Maxims and Mottos,” H.T. Riley, London, 1866

Some groups seek fulfillment in mystic experience – this is correct if one does not forget the duty of ‘involvement’ – the prime duty of the wise. It is not enough to see The Lady, it is better to serve Her and Her will by being involved in humanity, and the process of Fate (The single name of all God’s is ‘Fate’). In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated. There is no fate so terrible that it cannot be overcome – whether by a literal victory gained by action and in time, or the deeper victory of spirit in the lonely battle of the self, Fate is the trial, the Castle Perilous in which we all meet to win or to die – Therefore, the People are concerned with Fate –for humanity is greater than the Gods’, although not as great as the Goddess. When Man triumphs, fate stops and the Gods are defeated – so you understand the meaning of magic now. Magic and religion are aids to overcome Fate, and Fate is a cradle that rocks the infant spirit.
~Robert Cochrane’s Second Letter to Joe Wilson, Twelfth Night, 1966

Who is this flower above me?
What is the work of this god?
I would know myself in all my parts.
~Feri Flower Prayer

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2012 in muninnskiss

 

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Close the world, Open the Next: a Requiem for Life, a Soliloquy for Death

What’s the first thought you have when you hear the world “death”?  What’s the image that comes to mind?  How do you handle it when someone you know dies?  Does it devastate you with grief?  Do you try to pretend it didn’t happen, or that it doesn’t effect you?  Do you rejoice for them?  Do you find skulls and bones spooky?  Beautiful?  Scary?  Indifferent?  How about graveyards?  Do you find them scary, or peaceful?

Graveyards and cemeteries are odd things in our culture.  We make pilgrimages to them on special days, we want them kept up, neat, beautiful.  We want them taken care of, in honour of the dead, in respect for them.  But most people want someone else to keep it up, not to have to go do it themselves, just like many people don’t like to visit the aged and sick.  These things remind us of death, of our own mortality, and we don’t like to be reminded.  Death is a subject even more taboo than politics and religion and sex (if the three really can exist separately).  We avoid it like the plague, like we might catch death if we talk about it, like saying the name of the Dark Lord, that saying “Death” will summon her.

We’ve become a society that thinks death and aging isn’t natural, that we need to strive against it, get surgery to hide aging, do everything we can to prolong life, to avoid death.  And when it comes, we still try to hid it.  We take the elderly and put them out of sight, often not visiting them.  We try to rush through the burial or cremation process, limit the grieving time to as short as possible, try to forget about it and pretend it didn’t happen as early as possible.  If we ignore death, it will go away.  But it won’t.

Life and death aren’t two separate things.  You can’t eliminate death by prolonging life.  You can’t break the two apart, any more than you can break day and night apart.  Day bleeds into night, into day.  Dawn and dusk.  So life and death blend into each other, birth, the dawn of our life, dying, the dusk of our life.  Yin and Yang.  As I’ve discussed other places, from the Web That Has No Weaver:

All things have two facets: a Yin aspect and a Yang aspect.
Any Yin or Yang aspect can be further divided into Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang mutually create each other.
Yin and Yang control each other.
Yin and Yang transform into each other.

These are true of life and death.  Life is Yang, death is Yin.  They ware one thing.  Yang, life, is growth.  Yin, death, is breaking down.  What is to be built up must first be broken down.  What needs to be n down must first be built up.  Life becomes death, death becomes life.  If we look, we see this everywhere.

I talked before about the lodgepole pine/beetle/fire cycle, of how the destruction and death the fire brings opens the cones that bring new life to the forest.  How the life and expansion of the beetles brings death to the trees.  How the death of the trees brings fire.  How the growth of the fire brings death to the beetles, but new life to the forest.

Life leads to death, death to life.  In Before the Beginning of Years, Algernon Charles Swinburne said:

Before the beginning of years
There came to the making of man
Time, with a gift of tears;
Grief, with a glass that ran;
Pleasure, with pain for leaven;
Summer, with flowers that fell;
Remembrance, fallen from heaven,
And madness risen from hell;
Strength without hands to smite;
Love that endures for a breath;
Night, the shadow of light,
And life, the shadow of death.

In linguistics, there’s a concept called “markedness”.  In every pair, there’s a default word, the “unmarked” word.  It’s opposite is “marked”.  Marked means you have to specifically indicate a desired response, unmarked you’ll get either side of the pair as a response.  For instance, you ask how big something is, not how small in general.  Big is used in general for size, small only when it is assumed it’s small to indicate how small.  There are many examples.  Old/young.  Tall/short.  Happy/sad.  Pretty/ugly.  Soft/hard.  Wet/dry.  High/low.  Bright/dark.  Hot/cold.  These vary with language but also with culture.  Some of what I listed above directly link to Yin/Yang relationships, others reversed of them.

We tend to see Life/death that was.  We presume Life is the default, unmarked, state with Death the marked.  We want to know if someone is still alive, not if they’re dead, unless we specifically want them to be dead.  The poem I quoted part of, however, states Life as the Shadow of Death, not Death as the Shadow of Life.  Death as the norm, Life as the exception.  Death as unmarked, with Life being specifically indicated when needed.

This brings to mind the 23rd Psalm in the Jewish Tanakh and Christian Bible.  “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Shadow of Death.  By the poem above, we could infer the Shadow of Death is Life, so, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of life.”

Shadow of Death is one word in Hebrew, צַלְמָוֶת, tsalmaveth, death-shadow, very deep shadow, basically shadow so deep and thick it’s like the grave, like the underworld, like the realm of the dead.  It is made of two roots.

The first root is צֵל, tsel, meaning shadow or shade, from צָלַל, tsalal, to become dark, to grow dark, to be shaded, to be dusky.  It’s the process of becoming dark, not the state of darkness.  And a verb obviously.  It implies hovering.  It’s something hovering over and therefore darking or shading it.  Like a cloud passing over the sun.  But it’s connected to the darkening of dusk, implying night or darkness hovering over the earth, darkening it.  It’s connected to the word צֶלֶם, tselem, meaning image, likeness, semblance, with a strong emphasis on an empty image, an image that looks like the thing but isn’t it.  It is usually used in relation to idols, but looking at the idea of a cloud over the sun, think of the reflection of a cloud in a lake or on the sea, looking like the cloud but not the cloud.  Looking at the letters of tsel, we find Tzaddi Lamed.  צ, Tzaddi or Tzaddik, Fish Hook, To Hunt, Righteous One, Chaos, Side, Manna and Water, My Beloved, To Shout, To Rejoice, Wisdom.  ל, Lamed, Ox Goad, Staff, Prod, Go Forward, Tongue, To Learn, To Teach, Secret Heart of Eve, Tower Soaring in the Air, Heart that Understands Knowledge.  These two letters are the 180th of the 231.  It’s interesting that one letter is a fish hook, the other an ox goad, both tools, one to catch, to bring in, fish, a wild, non-domesticated animal, to hunt it, the other to direct, to send away, a domesticated, non-wild animal.  Very much a Yin/Yang relationship, wild/domesticated, bring in/send out.  Sending out is Yang, bringing in is Yin.  Tzaddi is Wisdom and Lamed Understanding, Chokmah and Binah, the first division, the Divine Twins.  Combined, there can be many meanings, of course.  Teaching the Righteous one, teaching my beloved, hunting for understanding of knowledge.  It can also mean shelter, and is gramatically equivalent (120) to Support, Master, Foundation, Season (as in the time for something to happen), Strengthening, Prophetic Decrees, Veil, Imaginary, Vermin, Mocker, and Moth.  Imaginary relates well to tselem above.  Veil is an interesting one. It is טמר, tamar, used for veil or covering, which actually means palm tree.  So in sense, the palm tree covering you from the sun or rain.  Relating back to tsel, the palm tree shelters, and shades, the Tower souring above the Beloved.  Notice that tselem is the same letters as tsel, with a ם, Final Mem added.  Mem is water, so the reflection of the palm tree in water is implied.

The second root is מָוֶת, maveth, meaning death, dying, Death personified, execution, the realm of the dead, the state of being dead, a place of death.  Maveth comes from מוּת, muwth, to die, to perish, to kill, to have executed, to be destroyed.  Figuratively, muwth means the heart dying or failing, ie, dying inside, or the trunk of a tree, or land left untilled or fallow.  The middle Vev can be removed, as it is the Hook commecting מ Mem and ת Tau.  מת, Mem Tau, is the 195th gate, the letters of both the noun (maveth) and the verb (nuwth).  מ Mem, the Third Mother, Water,  Ocean, Sea, Fountain, Womb, Love, Oneness, Feminine, Severity, Shekhinah, Bride, Wisdom, Undergound, Underworld, Fountains of the Deep.  ת Tau, Mark, Cross, Seal of Creation, Passing to Future Generations, Truth, Conclusion, Active Finishing, With His Hand, Year, Wives, Time, You Will, You Did.  This Gate is the completion of pregnancy, the end that is the beginning.  And so with death, the end of Life is the beginning of Death, and Death is the beginning of Life.  Gramatically, it is 440 or 1000, so equivalent to Flashings, Zones, Members, Day, Seas, Times, Vases, Vessels, Space, Drug, Poison, Crown of Flowers, The End, Appointed Time, Terror, Horn or Rays, Tooth, Whole, Perfect, To Blossom or Bud.  Many of these can be applied.

Putting them together, back to tsalmoveth, death-shadow, we have the imagery of the completion or end casting a shadow over you.  Your Death casting a shadow over your Life.  This expresses the other side of the coin.  Instead of pretending Death doesn’t exist, it’s living in fear of it, where Life becomes purely a pursuit of avoiding Death.  In doing so, you miss the blessings of Death but also the blessings of Life.  Without either, what’s the point of living?  Is it really living?  As Garth Brooks said, “Life is not trying, it’s merely surviving if you’re standing outside the fire.”  To quote a bit more of that song:

We call them cool
Those hearts that have no scars to show
The ones that never do let go
And risk it the tables being turned

We call them fools
Who have to dance within the flame
Who chance the sorrow and the shame
That always come with getting burned

It truly live is to to risk death knowingly.  A large part of the population of at least the Western World aren’t truly aware Death exists.  They live their lives by script, puppets to Fate’s Strings, unaware that Time, Death, is stalking them.  And there’s a small minority that are well aware of Death’s Sting and who know of Fate’s Strings, know how to overcome Her, but are too afraid of Fate and Time to do so.  And there is a small minority of those who are aware, are awake, who actually take the Spear of Destiny firmly in their hands, and fight and strive and truly live, truly knowing and embracing both Life and Death.

Robert Cochrane, his article in Pentagram, On Cords, said:

Mrs. Basford has raised an interesting point about the real purpose of cords, harvest twine, string dolls, etc. They appear to have originated from the woven strands of Old Fate, the major deity of all true witches. They are, of course, the origin of such descriptive terms as “spellbinders.”

In his second letter to Joe Wilson, he said:

Some groups seek fulfillment in mystic experience – this is correct if one does not forget the duty of ‘involvement’ – the prime duty of the wise. It is not enough to see The Lady, it is better to serve Her and Her will by being involved in humanity, and the process of Fate (The single name of all God’s is ‘Fate’). In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated. There is no fate so terrible that it cannot be overcome – whether by a literal victory gained by action and in time, or the deeper victory of spirit in the lonely battle of the self, Fate is the trial, the Castle Perilous in which we all meet to win or to die – Therefore, the People are concerned with Fate –for humanity is greater than the Gods’, although not as great as the Goddess. When Man triumphs, fate stops and the Gods are defeated – so you understand the meaning of magic now. Magic and religion are aids to overcome Fate, and Fate is a cradle that rocks the infant spirit.

Fate is the hand that directs us through life if we follow the script, if we don’t become aware, if we don’t bind or loose the Threads of Fate, rewriting the script, if we don’t overcome her.  She is all gods, and the true deity of all witches, as Cochrane says, for Witch is aware of Fate and has the ability through that awareness to overcome her and write our own script, to bind and loose her Threads.  In essence, she is Life, for all life is directed by her.  Only Time operates outside her.

Cochrane says of Time is his fourth letter to Joe, “The Flood is again symbolic and represents Time.”  The context, of course, is from Robert Graves’ version of the Song of Amergin:

I am a stag: of seven tines,
I am a flood: across a plain,
I am a wind: on a deep lake,
I am a tear: the Sun lets fall,
I am a hawk: above the cliff,
I am a thorn: beneath the nail,
I am a wonder: among flowers,
I am a wizard: who but I
Sets the cool head aflame with smoke?

I am a spear: that roars for blood,
I am a salmon: in a pool,
I am a lure: from paradise,
I am a hill: where poets walk,
I am a boar: ruthless and red,
I am a breaker: threatening doom,
I am a tide: that drags to death,
I am an infant: who but I
Peeps from the unhewn dolmen, arch?

I am the womb: of every holt,
I am the blaze: on every hill,
I am the queen: of every hive,
I am the shield: for every head,
I am the tomb: of every hope.

Cochrane says:

I am a Stag Who — survived the Flood,
I am a Flood — That destroyed the world,
I am a Wind — Of God moving across the desolate world,
I am a Tear –The sorrow of Fate,
I am a Hawk — The Child who survived the Flood,
I am a Thorn — The beginning of Fate (Death),
I am a Wonder- For I alone transform.

He saw the Flood as Time.  The Flood is that which destroys the world, the end of the world, you could say.  It’s working backwards.  The Wonder comes before the Thorn, the only thing that transforms.  Chochrane says, “The wonder is survival of Death – The Wizard is Merridwen, the Sky re-creating Life out of Death.”  So the Wizard, who sets the cool head aflame with smoke, comes first, bringing Life out of Death.  That which survived Death, the Life the Sky brings forth, is the Wonder, among the flowers (think of the flowers always placed on graves).  The Thorn, beneath the nail, is the beginning of Death, the end result of Fate, for all Life leads to Death.  It’s no coincidence that Christ was crowned with a crown of thorns and nailed to the cross, Thorn and Nail.  Both pierce, of course.  It’s also no coincidence that both whitethorn (hawthorn) and blackthorn are traditionally associated with harm, the woods often used for that purpose.  Harm and it’s sting is what leads to Death, the breaking down, entropy.  Clausius’ statement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies here, “Heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without some other change, connected therewith, occurring at the same time.”  Basically, energy is lost in any process.  This includes the process of Life.  This is the sting of the Thorn, the bite of the Nail.  The Hawk, Horus, the resurrected Child, the surviver of the Flood.  The Hawk, according to Graves and the myths he connects to the Cliff, is on the Cliffs of Nonacris, in Arcadia (because everything comes back to Arcadia).  From the Cliffs flows the headwaters of the River Styx, one of the rivers of the Underworld.  In some myths, it is the River Styx that Charon ferries the dead across.  Styx is firmly rooted in Death, and is where the gods go to make oaths, swearing them on the waters.  Styx is Hate, and it’s followed by Sorrow, the Tear that the Sun lets fall.  Cochrane said, “A Crafter is born not made, or if one is to be made, then tears are spilt before the Moon can be Drawn.”  Sorrow and Tears are necessary ingredients to Witch.  The Tears fall for the desolate world, the Wasteland.  It’s hard not to think of the Fisher King here.  The Wind, the Shekhinah as Cochrane says, the Breath of God over the Waters, the Spirit, Ruach, hovering over the Waters, the deep lake.  A reference to Genesis, of course, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  The four classic elements are here, as I discussed in a previews post.  Darkness is black Fire from Geburah, the Left Hand side.  Bohu, “void”, and tohu, “formless” are snow in water, sludge.  Tohu settles, becomes Earth, bohu is Water.  And Ve-Ruach Elohim, the Spirit of God, the Breath of God, is Wind, Air. Bohu is the deep lake.  Tohu Va-Bohu, Formless and Void, Desolation, the Desolate World.  Why is it desolate, what destroyed it?  What destroys it again?  The Flood, across the plain.

Which brings us back to Time.  “The Flood is again symbolic and represents Time.”  Time is that which destroys.  Graves equates Chronos, Time with Kronos, the father of Zeus, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia, and Demeter, the leader of the Titans. While the Online Etymological Dictionary says that the name Kronos is probably not related to the word Chronos, Cicero, in his De Natura Deorum in the first century BC says:

By Saturnus again they denoted that being who maintains the course and revolution of the seasons and periods of time, the deity so designated in Greek, for Saturnus’ Greek name is Kronos, which is the same as khronos, a space of time. The Latin designation ‘Saturnus’ on the other hand is due to the fact that he is ‘saturated’ or ‘satiated with years’ (anni); the fable is that he was in the habit of devouring his sons – meaning that Time devours the ages and gorges himself insatiably with the years that are past. Saturnus is bound by Jove in order that Time’s courses might not be unlimited, and that Jove might fetter him by the bonds of the stars.

We then, following Cicero and Graves, can go back to Cochrane’s Destroyer of the World, Graves’ Flood, as Time, Chronos, Kronos.  Time, which devours its own children, Time, which is Death stalking us.  Time, who cannot be separated from Fate, for Chronos, the three-headed serpent, is wrapped around Ananke, also a three-headed serpent, Past/Present/Future wrapped around Fate/Destiny/Necessity, their movements opening the World Egg, forming Ouranos (Uranus, Sky) and Gaea (Earth), and from the Egg comes Eros, who inspires the two to Lust.  The movement of the two, of Chronos and Ananke, of Time and Fate, moves the stars and moon and sun, moves the affairs of men.  Death and Life, Life and Death.  The Puppeteer and the Devourer.  The Weaver creating, the Devourer consuming.  Brahma creating, Skiva destroying, balanced is Vishnu, the Maintainer.  Chesed expanding, Geburah restricting.  Yang and Yin, Yin and Yang, the Divine Twins.

The Devourer, Kronos, Time, the Raven God, Bran the Blessed, the Oracle of the Talking Head, like Mimir’s head that Odin consults.  The Devourer like Fenrir, who will consume Odin in the end, dying in the process.  His children, Skoll who will consume the sun, Hati who will consume the moon.  Devourers all.  The Death of Odin, the God of Death, is the end of an age.  “O Death, where is thy sting?  O Grave, where is thy victory?”  “O Thanatos, where is thy sting?  O Hades, where is thy victory?”

θάνατος, Thanatos, Death of the Body, Separation of Soul and Body, Power of Death, Thick Darkness, Netherworld, Underworld, Maveth, Death.  From θνῄσκω, Thnesko, to die, to be dead, Muwth.  Thanatos, in Greek myth, the daimon of non-violent death, brother of Hypnos, Sleep.  Both children of Nyx and Erebus, Night and Darkness, Nyx ruling the Realm of Sky, the later Realm of Ouranus, Uranus, then Kronos his youngest son, the Zeus, Erebus the Darkness Below, Tartarus, the Underworld, the later realm of Hades.  Their sisters were the three Keres, serving the Moires, the Fates.  Hypnos took people to the Realm of Dreams, to Morpheus.  Thanatos took those with non-violent deaths.  The Keres took those with violent deaths, like the Valkryies gathering the slain in battle for Odin and Freyja’s Halls, while the non-violent deaths went to Hel’s Hall.

ᾅδης, Hades, Brother of Zeus and Poseidon, given rulership of Tartarus, of the Underworld, of Orcus, the Netherworld, Realm of the Dead, Tsalmaveth, Death-Shadow, the Grave, Death, Hell.  Son of Kronos and Rhea (ruler of Earth after Gaea), father of the Erinyes, Furies, the Left Hand of Fate (Ananke), bringing Justice and Revenge on the wicked, the embodiment of curses.  Hades, Aides, Aidoneus, sitting on a throne with a bird-tipped sceptre (like Thoth’s head, Thoth bringing the dead to the Judgement of Ma’ath), the Curser.  Plouton, Pluto, Pater Dis, Father of Wealth, giver of wealth and fertility, the Blesser.

Orcus, punisher of broken oaths, Horkus, personification of Oaths, born of Eris, Strife, who’s nursemaids were Erinyes, the Furies.  Eris, Strife, Discord, Discordia, sister to Harmonia, Concordia.  Enyo, Bellona, Ma, daughter of Zeus and Hera, twin and companion of Ares, Mars, Destruction to his War, Destroyer of Cities to his Killer of Man.  Horkus as Oath relates back to the River Styx as a place of Oaths.

Oaths.  The future Olympians meeting at Ara, the altar in Arcadia where the gods swore an oath and made sacrifice before attacking Kronos and the Titans and taking over, overcoming Time and Fate.  Who did they sacrifice to?  By whom did they swear?  Who was the altar to?  Obviously not the Olympians.  Obviously not the Titans.  Also, the Norse gods meeting at the Well of Mimir to swear oaths and to plan.  The Well where Odin sacrificed his eye for a sip to gain Wisdom.  The Well from which Mimir drank.  Mimir who was beheaded, like Bran, and whose head Odin kept as an oracle, as Bran’s head was an oracle.

Oracles bring us indirectly back to the Hawk on the Cliff.  I mentioned Horus here, the Falcon or Hawk.  Horus can be seen as the rebirth of his father Osiris, but there’s also a story where his is killed by a scorpion sting, but brought back to life by Thoth. Death and Resurrection.  Most people today would think of Jesus, but there’s another parallel (well many other parallels but we’ll look at one).

There are many different myths of the Greek Dionysus, Bacchus of the Romans, Liber in other cultures, often contradictory.  And many theories of where they come from.  Most scholars believe both the name and the myths came from somewhere else, not from Greece originally.  Some versions tell of Semele, priestess of Zeus.  Semele once slaughtered a bull on Zeus’ altar, then bathed in the River Asopus to clean off the blood.  Zeus, as an eagle, flew over and spotted her and fell in love.  He seduced her and visited her often in secret.  Hera, Zeus’ wife, found out about the affair and sought out Semele, appearing to her as an old woman.  Semele told her after a while about her affair with Zeus.  Hera pretended to doubt the story and made Semele start to doubt that it was really Zeus.  Semele asked Zeus for a boon, and he agreed, swearing on the River Styx (as we talked above).  She then asked Zeus to show himself to her in his true form, in all his glory.  Zeus tried to talk her out of it, but she insisted, so, bound my his oath, he did so, abet trying to minimize the effect, but it burnt her to death.  She was pregnant, however, and he was able to save the fetus by sewing him into his thigh.  A few months later, Dionysus was born from that thigh.  As an adult, Dionysus traveled to Hades and rescued Semele, who became a goddess.  Other versions, Zeus (or Jupiter) seduces Persephone and she gives birth to Dionysus, a horned child.  Dionysus, still young, ascends Zeus’ throne while he is away, either by decree of Zeus or without it, depending on the version.  While he rules for a short time, with Zeus’ scepter or lightning bolt, the Titans cut or tear him to pieces.  Zeus, grieving, gave the heart of the child in a drink to Semele, who drank it and became pregnant.  Other versions, Zeus swallows the heart, then sleeps with Semele with the same results.

The theme here shows a horned child who dies and comes back to life, giving him power over both life and death, allowing him to cross the borders of our world and the underworld and back.  Dionysus is very chthonic, both in his death and resurrection and his ability to pass both ways to the underworld.  This is a horned child, son of Zeus, allowed to sit on the throne and rule.

But how does this relate to oracles?  Everyone knows of the Oracle of Delphi, with Apollo the oracle diety, but less talked about is the Oracle of Thrace, the seat of the oracle of Dionysus.  Also, it was said Dionysus shared the Oracle of Delphi, that it was of Apollo in the summer and Dionysus int he winter.  Greek deities are often described primarily as either Olympian or Chthonic.  The dichotomy is the Olympians living in the high place, on a mountain, above the ground, and the Chthonic deities living beneath the ground, ie, in the grave or in the Underworld.  In general, Chthonic deities tended to be concerned with fertility and crops, and were sacrificed to at night.  Sacrifices were usually in pits or sunken chambers, sometimes on an altar, and the sacrifice was killed with throat down, then either buried or burnt whole.  For Olympian gods, sky gods, sacrifices were done on raised altars with the throat up.  Once killed, the sacrifice would be shared and eaten by the people.  Olympian gods were more concerned about the affairs of men than the fertility of the land in general.  Apollo, with his association with the sun, is very obviously a sky god, and his sacrifices reflected this.  Apollo was a god of order, of reason, of control, of harmony.  Dionysus was chthonic, having died young and tasted death.  His sacrifices were of a chthonic nature.  Dionysus was a god of disorder, of intuition, of ecstasy, of being out of control. All this would have been reflected in their oracles and prophecy as well.  Their oracles would have been from two different viewpoints, from two different directions.

I’ve discussed very similar concepts in my article Living Amongst the Roots of the World that I hope to get published soon, when I discuss the differences between wands made from branches versus roots.  A branch is outward facing, whereas a root is inward facing.  So too with Apollo and Dionysus.  Apollo is direct and to the point, outward and conscious.  His prophecies and oracles, while still veiled and cryptic, would have sent out.  Go and do so and so.  It would have been daylight and the sun, actions and directions.  Dionysus is indirect and symbolic, inward and subconscious.  His prophecies and oracles would have called inward.  Come and meditate on this, take this in and understand it.  It would have been night, stars and moon, shadows and underground places, intuitions and riddles.

Likewise their healing.  Healing and prophecy are always coupled, those doing one do the other.  Apollo would have healed by promoting growth, increasing the body (or mind or soul)’s ability to fight off the illness or damage or defect.  Blessing and loosing. Dionysus would approached from the other side.  Destroy the decease or blockage, fighting the issue itself.  Cursing and binding it.

For the purposes of the main subject of this discussion, Apollo is Life, Dionysus Death.  Each rolls into the other.  Apollo gives way to Dionysus in the Death of Winter, Dionysus withdraws and allows Apollo to bloom come Spring.  These two brothers, these two sons of Zeus, are Divine Twins, always dancing, spinning around, lovers and adversaries, loving and fighting, advancing and withdrawing.  Death stalks Life, and Life stalks Death.

As anyone who has read my blogs for a while knows, I have a strong affinity to ravens (and crows and magpies and all other corvus).  There are many very interesting and fascinating things about them, but we’re talking about death here, so, focusing on that.  Corvus are mostly scavengers and carrion birds.  The carrion bird part matters here, as it is part of the association with the dead.

You’ll notice Odin, who takes half the dead that die in battle, has two ravens (Muninn and Huginn) and two wolves (Geri and Freki).  This is directly connected to his status as a god of war, of battle, of death.  On a battle field, both ravens (corvus in general) and wolves would have been found consuming the dead.  Consider the meaning of Geri and Freki, both coming from roots related to greedy.  They are ravenous wolves, always hungry, always greedy for more flesh, the flesh of the slain.  The corvus family are the only other animal wolves will allow around corpses they are eating.  They will chase off or kill anything else, but allow corvus to feed along side them.  In return, it’s been observed that corvus tend to stick close to wolves, and when they find carrion, they will call out and both other birds in their family group (often called a murder) and the wolves they live near will come to that call.  There’s a symbiotic relationship where the corvus inform the wolves of food and the wolves allow the corvus to feed with them.  Both ravens and wolves usually form close family groups.  Both ravens and wolves mate for life.  And they seem to form partnerships, family group to family group, murder to pack.  So, imagine the scene for the Northern people.  The battle is met, and the calls of ravens are heard echoing across the battle field.  It’s said ravens and crows know where a battle will occur before the fighters do, lending power to the belief in Odin’s oracular and martial nature.  The caws continue, and slowly increase, joined by the howls of wolves, as the ravens and wolves gather, watching on, waiting for their chance to feed on the slain in battle.  Is it any wonder that Odin is associated with such animals, Odin who watches the battle and takes those he chooses?  Is it any wonder Valkyries, gathering the chosen slain, are closely linked to ravens?

In Irish myth, we find the Morrigan.  She, or rather they, as sometimes the title is used singular, Morrigu, sometimes plural, Morrigna, sometimes for a single being, sometimes for three though which three varies, is Terror incarnate.  She is Death and War and Strife and Wrath.  She sometimes appears as a crow, an eel, a wolf, and a cow.  One name, Badb, means crow, and the Morrigan often flies over battlefields in the form of a crow.  Another name is Macha, plain or of the plain, in association of horses used in battle (note Odin’s horse Sleipnir).  Another name is Nemain, poison, or enemy or nemesis, or to seize or take, or wrath, or curse, or blame or crime, or greater twister or great bender.  She is battle frenzy, taking the warrior and propelling them both to kill and to death (think of Odin as Gapþrosnir, the One in Gaping Frenzy, and as Gunnblindi, Battle Blinder).  Another name is Anann, said to be the Morrigan’s actual name, probably from the Proto-Celtic *Φanon- meaning goddess.  She is the personification of Death, oracularly prodicting death in battle, but also a goddess of fertility and prosperty, bringing to mind Pater Dis in Greek myth, the Father of Wealth, who became synonymous with Pluto and hence Greek Hades as god of the underworld.  Badb and Nemain are listed as the two wives of Neit, a god of war, though sometimes Fea is listed instead of Badb, and sometimes Nemain alone.  His name means passion or fighting.  He may be connected to Neto, also called Mars Neto, the Iberian equivalent to Roman Mars.

Death has always been a big part of human existence.  As it has to be for mortal man.  To quote Tolkein’s famous poem from Lord of the Rings, “Nine for mortal man, doomed to die.”  The Christian Bible says in Hebrews 9:27-28, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”  For mortal man, the reminder of our mortality and coming death are hard to avoid, as much as modern Western culture often tries.

The idea of immortality, of cheating Death, is a theme common both in myth and folklore and in popular culture.  Take, for instance, the Highlander movies and series, with its immortals, who could only be killed by beheading (Bran and Mimir and John the Baptist come to mind), that any other death, they returned from.  Yet even they, with the contest for the Quickening, killed each other to win, and the last immortal standing became mortal when he stood alone.  Look at the Final Destination movies, with a vision saving people from impending death, but Death stalking them to take what is rightfully his.  Take Death in Gaimon’s Sandman comics, a cute, young, goth girl who comes for those who will die and comforts them but doesn’t bargain, for when it’s time, it’s time.  It also deals with a man that Dream makes a deal with Death to allow immortality.  Every century, Dream met with the man to find out how he spent the previous century, and deals with both the joys and woes of immortality.  In Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker Trilogy, there is a character that obtains immortality, and has no idea what to do with it.  So he embarks to insult every being in the universe in alphabetic order.  Tuck Everlasting also deals with immortality, where a family is immortal from drinking from a spring, and hated and feared by those around them because of it.  The book and movie deal a lot with the pain of watching those you know and love grow old and die around you.  Vampires fascinate us because of their immortality.  Anne Rice’s vampire books deal a lot with the boredom and loneliness of immortality, and the need for companionship to be able to deal with it.  In the movie Death Becomes Her, the characters take a potion giving them immortality, and then have to deal with the repercussions of that.  The Order deals with a Sin Eater who is essentially immortal, and is hated because he is Other, salvation apart from the Church, yet he is sought out for his power to eat sin and remove it and its effects.  The newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie deals with the search for the Fountain of Youth and also touches on the Other in relation to the Church, and with what the Fountain of Youth means to different people.  Earlier Pirates of the Caribbean movies dealt with Davie Jones and what it meant for the dead at sea to serve eternally as his crew, and with a curse that meant immortality and the desire to break that curse.  The World of Darkness Vampire: the Masquerade and later Vampire: Requiem deal a lot with the idea of what happens as vampires age and move further and further from the humanity of their origin, of the hunger and isolation.  Robert Reed’s Marrow books describe immortality as the advance in technology necessary for a race to move from planet based to a space fairing race, and deals with the tremendous amount of time that passes to travel large distances of space, and what humans, and other races, become when Death no longer is a reality, and what murder and death can mean when natural death is a thing of the past.  In James Clemens’ Godslayer series, we see a world where a group of immortals came and conquered a world, and are the gods of the people, ruling over them.  The books deal with what happens when an immortal god who can’t die is killed and what that means to a society.

This search for immortality, the fascination with the same, and authors’ and writers’ pursuit of just what immortality would mean, is a reflection of both our fear of death and our fear of immortality.  Both life and death hold our fascination but also our dread.  So we seek to push off the questions of life and death, to dwell on the known past and avoid that part of the future where our future might end, and try to pretend life will never change.  But life is change.

Cemeteries and graveyards are liminal places.  We set them aside, so we can visit death, but then leave it and forget it.  There is a terrible peace and silence in a graveyard, a sense of rest and stillness, yet a feeling different that other places, of a place where the Veil is thin, where the Dead are waiting just on the other side, waiting patiently and quietly, waiting for the Gate to open.

The Guardian of the Gate stands ready, waiting for us to understand.  To understand Life and Death.  To understand the Gates of Life and Death.  To understand the Guardian of those Gates and who he, or she, truly is.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in muninnskiss

 

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On Initiation, Fate, and Law

The following is adapted from an answer I gave to a post on a list.  I’ve edited it to only include my one words and ideas and for clarity now that the context is removed, and to remove things that shouldn’t be said publicly.  I’m going to ramble a bit, touching on a large number of subjects.  Just remember, I don’t know anything, just like everyone else.  😉  So take it with a grain of salt and your mileage may vary.

Sir Galahad as conceived
by George Frederick
Watts (1817–1904).

So, first, Initiation.  Though Feri initiation is unique to Feri, as Victor developed some key parts of it after his own initiation, at its core, it’s the same as Initiation found the world over, from the shamans of Northern Asia to the Greek Mystery Religions to the native tribes of Australia, North America, and South America.  And everywhere in between.  It’s the Welsh vigil on a hill in the dark of night in a storm alone with the spirits.  It’s the spirit journey to find yourself in the smoke in the forests of the Amazon.  It’s the Christian baptism.  It’s Odin cutting out his eye for wisdom, or him hanging upside down from the world tree for nine days, a spear in his side, a sacrifice of himself to himself.  It’s the ordeal of the Graal Knight, alone seeking the Castle Perilous, having to answer the question, “What is the secret of the Graal (or what is the meaning of these things), and whom does it serve?”, which is the same question as, “Who is this flower above me?  What is the work of this god?  I would know myself in all my parts.”1  Ultimately, in whatever form, Initiation is two things that are really one.  First, it is death and rebirth, torn apart by the spirits and put back together, the same person but changed, never to return.  Second, marriage to the gods and spirits, the becoming a Priest/ess.  As Cora says in Fifty Years:

“Initiation does not make you a full-blown highly trained Witch. In initiation you literally marry the Goddess, her dual consort and the Gods, whether you are male or female. In speaking to her priest the Goddess says, “I love you with the same love with which a mortal woman loves you, but raised to the power of divinity.” To her priestess she says, “I love you with the love with which a man or woman loves you, but raised to the power of divinity.” Always remember that in the deepest sense the man you love as life companion or in passing is your son, brother and lover and should be treated with love and respect as yourself and other half.”2

This, of course, begs the question of what is a Priest/ess.  Rather than make this too long, here’s my post about the subject, my own experience and ideas, of course, not “Orthodox Feri”, and almost a year ago now, so my thoughts may have changed some:

http://muninnskiss.grimr.org/2011/06/on-priests-priestesses-bridges-and.html 

Back to my list above, the idea of Initiation as the ordeal of the Graal Knight leads me to the next discussion, Karma.

Lady Justice

First off, before I explain that, I’ll say this, personally, I don’t believe in Karma, the Western broken version or the Eastern version.  The Western version is really an attempt to take the modern Christian idea of justice verses grace, or more accurately, the Medieval ideas of Lady Justice and Lady Liberty which forms much of the modern Western mythology of Government (Lady Fate got lost somewhere, as un-Christian), and make it less “Christian” by rebaptising it as Karma.  It is personified as that which spanks us if he do bad and rewards us when we do good, basically the way many modern people view the Christian god.  Though even the Medieval concept was different from that.  Lady Justice is blind.  She weighs the deeds but has no personal stake in it, no personal connection to the individual or their actions.  This is much closer to the Eastern (original) version of Karma, which is impersonal and very much a cause and effect, just on a level that’s both physical (Yin) and spiritual (Yang).  Remember, Yin and Yang in China are not two opposing forces but are two side of the same thing, connected, impossible to separate, and the Yin side can be further divided in Yin and Yang, and likewise the Yang side, a continuum, rather than duality.  Same thing in Karma, which originated in the Indian Subcontinent.  Science sees physical cause and effect.  Karma includes those, but allows for spiritual and non-linear effects.  But Karma is a principle in the world, not a god or spirit or entity like Western Karma tends to be seen.  Karma is more like Fate, but doesn’t really fully describe the way I see Fate.  Which brings me back to the Graal.

Robert Cochrane said:

Some groups seek fulfillment in mystic experience – this is correct if one does not forget the duty of ‘involvement’ – the prime duty of the wise. It is not enough to see The Lady, it is better to serve Her and Her will by being involved in humanity, and the process of Fate (The single name of all God’s is ‘Fate’). In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated. There is no fate so terrible that it cannot be overcome – whether by a literal victory gained by action and in time, or the deeper victory of spirit in the lonely battle of the self, Fate is the trial, the Castle Perilous in which we all meet to win or to die – Therefore, the People are concerned with Fate –for humanity is greater than the Gods’, although not as great as the Goddess. When Man triumphs, fate stops and the Gods are defeated – so you understand the meaning of magic now. Magic and religion are aids to overcome Fate, and Fate is a cradle that rocks the infant spirit.

Now you know what ‘witches’ are.3

To me, this is the heart of witchcraft, of magic, of Feri (though it’s from a different stream).  “In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated.”  How is death defeated?  In surviving it.  That’s what initiation is.  But, on to Fate.  What is Fate?  “The single name of all Gods”.  Elsewhere, Cochrane talks about cords and their use in witchcraft (which I’ll get back to).  There, he says, “They appear to have originated from the woven strands of Old Fate, the major deity of all true witches.”4  “The major deity of all true witches.”  This is important I think.

I don’t see Fate much in Feri writing or teaching, but She’s there, both as the Star Goddess, and as the Three Mothers (the term used in Clan of Tubal Cain, a British witchcraft tradition), the Three Hooded Ones.  I’ve only seen Feri references to the Hooded ones (often called the Cowled Ones in British traditions) in two Feri poems, so I won’t dwell heavily on the Feri lore, but I will look at some other places.

There’s a Greek creation with that tells of Chronos and Ananke, serpentine with three heads each (Chronos’, Time’s, heads are obviously the past, the present, and the future; Ananke’s are Fate, Destiny, and Necessity) curled around an egg.  Their movement around each other broke open the egg and Eros was born, along with the mud that solidified into Gaia, and the water that became Oceanus.  From Eros came Nyx and Erubus, Night and Darkness, who gave birth to Day and Light.  Chronos and Ananke came from Chaos, but those three seem to always have been there.  The movement of Chronos and Ananke’s coils keep the heavens and earth turning, the stars and planets (including moon and sun) moving, the seasons changing, the tides turning, the lives of gods and men moving forward.  Time and Fate are the two moving forces of the universe that even the gods are subject to.

The Moirae

But closer to the topic, with Zeus, Ananke had three daughters (or Chronos with Nyx, depending on the story), the Moirae, the Fates.  Clotho spins the thread of our life, setting the initial path. Lachesis measures the thread, determines what will happen during the lifetime.  Atropos cuts the thread, determines the death of the person.  Even the gods are subject to these three (except Zeus in some versions, as their father).  But man can overcome their Fate, hence why the demigods like Perseus and Hercules are so important, with the power and strength of the gods but the ability to overcome Fate like men.  (The Three Mothers are also seen in the Furies and the Graces.)

The Norns

In Norse belief, we find the Norns (there are many norns, but there are three main ones), very similar to the Fates of Greece, three daughters of giant-kin who control the Threads of Wyrd, with power over gods and men.

They appear many other places in Indo-European myth, from Ireland to India, and other places as well.  Even in Jewish Kabbalah with the Three Mothers, Shin, Alpha, and Mem, Fire, Air, and Water.  You even find them in Taoism if you know where to look.

But where I was going with this is Wyrd.  In my belief, Wyrd is the Threads of Fate that bind us together and determine each of our paths, and the paths of the universe.  It is the Chinese web that has no weaver, it is Buddhist and Hindu Karma, it is Greek Fate, it is the Soul Spark of Kabbalah.  Imagine a huge web, stretching forever in all directions in space and time.  There are an infinite number of threads, an infinite number of paths, an infinite number of possibilities.  But there are knots tied in this web, in these threads.  These knots limit the options, direct where things can go, control the past and the future.  Withing each of our Godselfs, there is a bundle of Threads at the middle.  These are our Wyrd, our Fate.  These Threads connect to the rest of the web.  These Threads determine our options, our choices, our future.  We received them from our (physical and spiritual) ancestors, and they came tied in knots to other threads, limiting us.  But each action we take, each world spoken, each choice we make, binds new knots or looses old knots, limits or expands our options.  Cause and effect.

I talked more on Wyrd and webs in this blog post, if you’re interested:

http://muninnskiss.grimr.org/2011/10/on-centres-actions-webs-and-spiders.html

Getting back to “In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated.”  Most people go through life on autopilot, essentially.  They let Fate dictate to them their choices.  They think they are deciding, but they’re really just following the Threads, letting the existing knots determine the outcome.  Eastern Enlightenment, Western Gnosis, is the realization of those Threads and our ability to change them.  To step back from the web and look at it and consciously change it, to untie a knot here, tie a knot there, and change the course of history.  To write your own Fate.  This is truly what witchcraft is, the binding and loosing of the Threads of Fate.  Once you move past letting Fate dictate, you enter the realms of Destiny and Necessity.  Destiny is what Crowley was talking about when he talked about True Will.  “Love is the Law, Love under Will.”5  It’s what we can truly be if we take the reigns of our life instead of submitting them to Fate.  As the Feri Maxim goes, “never submit your life force to another.”  Necessity is what Cochrane talks about when he says in his witch ‘Law’, “Do not do what you desire – do what is necessary.”6  Once we can see the web and know we can make the decisions, that we can create Change, we can see clearly what is necessary to accomplish what needs to be done.  This is fully integrated, of course.  It takes Fetch, Talker, and Godself to truly see the web, and see the Necessity.

And, the mention of Love being the whole Law brings me to the next subject.  Love and Law are of course both part of the Pearl Pentacle in Feri.  But they can’t exist without Knowledge, Wisdom, and Liberty/Power, either.  To just act without thought means there is no Knowledge involved.  No Point can be left out, or you are out of balance and can’t act rightly.

Sophia

Going back to the discussion of Lady Liberty and Lady Justice, ultimately Dame Justice in Medieval thought is Law in the Pearl.  Dame Liberty is Liberty/Power, of course.  But Dame Wisdom, Sophia of the Greeks and Gnostics, got lost along the way.  The White Goddess of Robert Graves fame has become an integral part of modern paganism and witchcraft (both trad craft and Wicca), but the Black Goddess, Sophia, the deeper mysteries, has been ignored by most.  The White Goddess really stands as Fate and the Three Mothers, modernly seen as the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, though this misses a lot.  But I’m on a tangent that I can’t pull back, so I’ll leave this one for now.

Law, Dame Justice, as relating to Dharma, the Laws that define how the universe work, is not really separate from Fate.  It is the workings of Chronos and Ananke, of Time and Fate/Destiny/Necessity that govern the things of the universe.  None of the Points function in isolation, they are really one and the same, just as they are in the Iron Pentacle.  Fate, Karma, is the movement, the Yin.  Law, Dharma, is the stillness, Yang.  Both come from the Tao but aren’t the Tao, they are part of the Te of the Tao, the virtue, the properties if you will.

The Tao begot one.
One begot two.
Two begot three.
And three begot the ten thousand things.7

The Tao and the One, are God Herself, the Star Goddess, the Uncreated, the Fountain of All, the Nagara.

The Two of course, are Yin and Yang, the Divine Twins, the Tvennr, their constant Dance as Lovers and Fighters being the constant change in the world, Chaos, from which Chronos and Ananke proceed.

The Three are the Three Mothers, the Three Cowled Ones that proceeded the gods, the Grimr.  They are seen are the three heads of Chronos and the three heads of Ananke.  They brought Order to the Chaos, though not stability, for they are always in movement.  In Kabbalah, the Three Fathers come from the Three Mothers, though they are really the same.

The Ten Thousand Things is the Chinese poetic description of all that is.

Of these Ten Thousand Things, we find seven, the Guardians, the Watchers, the Seven Stars in the Sky, the Vordr.  They are stillness and the foundation.  The static forces that hold the universe together if you will.  The ultimate teachers.  If the Three Mothers are Fate and Karma, the Guardians are Law and Darma.

To the next subject.  As I said above, to act in a deliberate way, a way that creates Change rather than lets Fate determine the course, requires all parts of us (“I would know myself in all my parts”).  There tends to be an emphasis in Feri to steer away from Talker, seeing Talker as bad, but this is mostly reactionary to a culture where Talker rules.  Talker has a purpose and is necessary.  Fetch cannot plan, as Fetch has no concept of Time.  Fetch only wants what she wants and wants it now, has no ability to abstain or say no to desires.  Talker is needed for these.  But Talker isn’t always right, either.  There is a time to plan and a time to act without thought or planning.  There is a time to abstain and a time to feed your desires.  Both are necessary and shouldn’t be ignored.  And Godself understands the big picture of the universe, but has little ability to understand the little things that make up life.  Godself without Fetch can’t meet the needs of the body and souls.  Godself without Talker can’t make the little discussions that can get us to the ultimate Goal, the Graal.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.8

Hmmm, I said I’d come back to Cochrane’s discussion on cords.

He starts out with:

Mrs. Basford has raised an interesting point about the real purpose of cords, harvest twine, string dolls, etc. They appear to have originated from the woven strands of Old Fate, the major deity of all true witches. They are, of course, the origin of such descriptive terms as “spellbinders.” When worked up properly they should contain many different parts–herbs, feathers and impedimenta of the particular charm. They are generally referred to in the trade as “ladders,” or in some cases as “garlands,” and have much the same meaning as the three crosses. That is they can contain three blessings, three curses, or three wishes. A witch also possesses a devotional ladder, by which she may climb to meditational heights, knotted to similar pattern as the Catholic rosary.

I began a blog post on the subject of roots that included a discussion of blessings and curses, binding and loosing, but it expanded into an article I’m going to submit to a magazine so was never posted, so I’ll include an excerpt here:

There are basically two ways to do magic.  You can bind or you can loose.  You can curse or you can bless.  Both ways can be used to do the same thing, if you’re clever and cunning.  In healing, you can either bless (improve the patient’s ability to fight off the infection or to heal the damage) and loose (release the patient from the illness), or you can curse (kill the infection) and bind (hold back the infection or attacker to give room to heal).  It is hard to bless and loose from darkness, and hard to heal and bind from light.  But we both have both in us, as do all things, the Twins in the Great Dance, Shining Bright One and Shadowy Darkling.  We can use our darkness, our impurities, our demons to heal, just as much as we can use our light, our purity, our innocence, our angels.  While plants and woods like aspen or apple might be used in the loosing and blessing way, blackthorn, and the poisons I listed above, usually comes from the other side, killing the infection, removing the cause.

The wording Cochrane uses is important here, I think.  “They appear to have originated from the woven strands of Old Fate, the major deity of all true witches.”  The web of the Threads of Fate isn’t just pathways, it is Herself.  The web isn’t just a metaphor, it is the Truth behind what we see, the Brahma behind Maya.  When a witch takes objects and ties them into a cord, s/he is taking the physical “reality” and binding the Threads of Fate, the “stuff” of God Herself, around that reality, forcing a change.

Cochrane says later:

Basically the cords of binding, as used today, are worked upon with mistaken enthusiasm. Originally they were cords of Fate, woven and bound into a charm for a defined purpose. Sometimes shaped into a semblance of the object or person to be influenced, they were also hung on a gatepost or nailed near to the object or person, preferably in a public place, as an indication of intent. In an Italian spell, the ladder is actually placed in the bed of the person to be enchanted. A beautiful witch ladder, incidentally, was once found in a church belfry: presumably one of the Old Craft could not sleep late on Sunday mornings because of the racket of the bells!

Charms made this way have interesting ramification in understanding Wyrd and Fate.  You can read the whole article (originally published in 1965 in Pentagram)  here:

http://www.1734-witchcraft.org/cords.html

Anyway, I’ve rambled enough.  Hopefully you find some kernels of grain among these tares.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

1 Flower Prayer found in Feri, originally from KaHuna
2 Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition by Cora Anderson, available from Harpy Books at http://www.harpybooks.com/Catalog/Fifty-Years-in-the-Feri-Tradition.shtml or Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0006RMANM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=grimr-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0006RMANM
3 From Robert Cochrane’s second letter to Joe Wilson, written in 1966, found here: http://www.1734-witchcraft.org/lettertwo.html
4 From On Cords by Robert Cochrane, originally published in 1965 in Pentagram, available here: http://www.1734-witchcraft.org/cords.html
5 From Liber AL vel Legis, the Book of the Law, by Aleister Crowley, found here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/oto/engccxx.htm
6 From Robert Cochrane’s sixth letter to Joe Wilson, written in 1966, found here: http://www.1734-witchcraft.org/lettersix.html
7 From section 42 of the Tao Te Ching, originally written by Lao Tzu.  This translation is by Jonathan Star.  A copy with his translation can be found at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1585426180/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=grimr-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1585426180
8 Ecclesiates 3:1-8, King James Version of the Bible, formatting mine.  In context, see http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ecclesiastes+3&version=KJV

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2012 in muninnskiss

 

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