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The Cauldron of Annwfn

The following is Preiddeu Annwyn, the Raid of Annwyn, the Raid of the Otherworld, part XXX (30) of the Book of Taliesin, as related by William F. Skene in 1868 in his The Four Ancient Books of Wales. In it is related the Caer Sidi, Caer Pedrycan, Caer Vedwyd, Caer Rigor, Caer Wydyr, Caer Golud, Caer Vandwy, and Caer Ochren, familiar to readers of the White Goddess by Robert Graves, and the Cauldron of Annwyn, referenced by Robert Cochrane when we asked Taliesin’s question, what two words are not spoken from the Cauldron.

Note that it is nine maidens whose breath it was warmed by. Those who know Norse myth might get a parallel. Those who know Greek myth might get another. Not the question, “what is its intention”. Those that know Arthurian legend, specifically of the Graal, might get a parallel. Also note the Cauldron is lined with Pearl. Some might get where I’m leading there.

FFF,
~Lorekeeper, Muninn’s Kiss

I WILL praise the sovereign, supreme king of the land,
Who hath extended his dominion over the shore of the world.
Complete was the prison of Gweir in Caer Sidi,
Through the spite of Pwyll and Pryderi.
No one before him went into it.
The heavy blue chain held the faithful youth,
And before the spoils of Annwvn woefully he sings,
And till doom shall continue a bard of prayer.
Thrice enough to fill Prydwen, we went into it;
Except seven, none returned from Caer Sidi

Am I not a candidate for fame, if a song is heard?
In Caer Pedryvan, four its revolutions;
In the first word from the cauldron when spoken,
From the breath of nine maidens it was gently warmed.
Is it not the cauldron of the chief of Annwvn? What is its intention?
A ridge about its edge and pearls.
It will not boil the food of a coward, that has not been sworn,
A sword bright gleaming to him was raised,
And in the hand of Lleminawg it was left.
And before the door of the gate of Uffern [hell] the lamp was burning.
And when we went with Arthur; a splendid labour,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Vedwyd.

Am I not a candidate for fame with the listened song
In Caer Pedryvan, in the isle of the strong door?
The twilight and pitchy darkness were mixed together.
Bright wine their liquor before their retinue.
Thrice enough to fill Prydwen we went on the sea,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Rigor.

I shall not deserve much from the ruler of literature,
Beyond Caer Wydyr they saw not the prowess of Arthur.
Three score Canhwr stood on the wall,
Difficult was a conversation with its sentinel.
Thrice enough to fill Prydwen there went with Arthur,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Golud.

I shall not deserve much from those with long shields.
They know not what day, who the causer,
What hour in the serene day Cwy was born.
Who caused that he should not go to the dales of Devwy.
They know not the brindled ox, thick his head-band.
Seven score knobs in his collar.
And when we went with Arthur of anxious memory,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Vandwy.

I shall not deserve much from those of loose bias,
They know not what day the chief was caused.
What hour in the serene day the owner was born.
What animal they keep, silver its head.
When we went with Arthur of anxious contention,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Ochren.

Monks congregate like dogs in a kennel,
From contact with their superiors they acquire knowledge,
Is one the course of the wind, is one the water of the sea?
Is one the spark of the fire, of unrestrainable tumult?
Monks congregate like wolves,
From contact with their superiors they acquire knowledge.
They know not when the deep night and dawn divide.
Nor what is the course of the wind, or who agitates it,
In what place it dies away, on what land it roars.
The grave of the saint is vanishing from the altar-tomb.
I will pray to the Lord, the great supreme,
That I be not wretched. Christ be my portion.

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Posted by on July 10, 2015 in muninnskiss

 

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Dance Under Starless Skies, Fair King of the Pictish Witches

As more and more of a generation crosses the Veil, those of us left, both those of the generation that brought us to were where are and those of us that inherit their legacy and lore, contemplate mortality in ways that weren’t as literal not long ago. I could talk of many of the elders in our traditions and stream who have passed over the years and especially in recent years, but I’ll take the liberty of talking of one in particular.

On the Dark of the Moon this last Friday, Tony Spurlock, Brian DRGN, King of the Picts in Exile (no longer), and the founder and High Mojomuck of The First Church of The Doors, passed from the land of the living, leaving those of us remaining to mourn our loss and celebrate his gain. As has been noted, the King of Dead, long Live the King.

The timing saddens me, as I was possibly going to be in San Francisco later this month and was hoping to finally meet him in person, but it’s too late now. May he dance under starless skies. I would not be where I am or who I am if it was not for him, great soul. I will miss him greatly, and I know many others will. The Mighty and Blessed Dead embrace him, as he joins the Dragons who went before.

I have known DRGN only a short time, all said. Many who grieve have known him longer. I met him online five years ago, in 2009, on the 1734 list he had just joined, which I had been a member of for some time. At the time, I asked if he would be willing to teach me Anderson craft. He declined, not out of unwillingness, but because he felt he could not well teach it remotely. Over the years since, we shared much conversation, and I think I can honestly say that even though he wasn’t teaching me, per se, I learned more of my craft from him than any other, and wouldn’t be who I am or what I am today without him. And, though he felt in exile at times from the tradition, I think I can say the tradition would not be what it is today without him. And I’m talking the Heart of the tradition, that which will sustain and survive any tribulations the tradition may suffer, that which is true Feri by whatever name, that which is Anderson Craft.

It was with a heavy heart that I heard of his passing, and I do truly mourn, as do many. I truly wish I had met him in the flesh, and hope to meet him in spirit. I will always cherish the lore and insights and knowledge and understanding and wisdom he shared with me, and friendship and connection we shared.

Hold your head high, DRGN, King of the Pictish Witches! Dance, dance for joy, dance for sorrow, dance for all that was and is and will ever be.

“Forget the night.
Live with us in forests of azure.
Out here on the perimeter there are no stars
Out here we is stoned – immaculate.”

“For seven years, I dwelt
In the loose palace of exile
Playing strange games with the girls of the island
Now, I have come again
To the land of the fair, and the strong, and the wise
Brothers and sisters of the pale forest
Children of night
Who among you will run with the hunt?
Now night arrives with her purple legion
Retire now to your tents and to your dreams
Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth
I want to be ready.”

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss/Lorekeeper

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in muninnskiss

 

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A Warrior in a Time of Peace

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV

Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States.* Or rather yesterday was, but today is the federal holiday because Veteran’s Day landed on a Sunday this year. It is a celebration of those soldiers that returned home, just as Memorial Day is a celebration of those who died in combat. The date, November 11, is the anniversary of the armistice going into effect that effectively ended World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. It is a holiday celebrating both war and peace, or more accurately, celebrating the warrior once peace was reached.

During war, the role of a warrior is obvious. A war can’t be won if no one fights. Time won the Cold War, not the USA or the USSR, not capitalism, not communism, not democracy, not socialism, not freedom, not dictatorism or fascism. Time won. With no fighting, it was a waiting game of which structure would crumble first, and in reality, both did, just that behind the Iron Curtain was more obvious. But in a war that is truly a war, people fight, people kill, people die. The role of a warrior is obvious: kill or be killed. It’s a time to kill. It’s a time to die. It’s a time for war. It’s a time to mourn. It’s a time to weep.

But when the war is over? When the warriors return? What then? It’s a time to heal. It’s a time to be born. It’s a time for peace. It’s a time to dance. It’s a time to laugh. But what of the warrior? He or she returns, having seen and done things that will haunt them for the rest of their life. Sometime things that could have been avoided, but often things that had to be done. A duty served. They return with memories and nightmares, shock and trauma, and skills that aren’t needed and aren’t wanted in a time of peace. Of course there’s those that continue to serve, a guard in case of attack, peacekeeping forces, and the like. But there are far more warriors needed in war times than peace times and they return to a society that doesn’t need their skills and doesn’t understand their pain.

I recently heard one of T. Thorn Coyle’s Elemental Castings podcasts where they were discussing warrior traditions verses non-violence traditions. I believe it was one of her podcasts of one of the Pagan Hindu panels, but I’m not certain. The discussion was about what we can teach each other, what each person or tradition brings to the table. The discussion of warrior traditions and non-violence traditions was brief but powerful. There was a statement made that non-violence can be approached from a warrior ideal, that it is a way of fighting as much as more aggressive means. The implication is that it’s not the violence and aggression that makes a warrior, but the ideals, the training, the way of looking at the world.

Lately I read The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War by Yagyu Munenori. The book is one intended to be private, only read within the family, and provided the core framework of the family school of martial arts and the family tradition. It presumes that you will also be receiving oral teaching and martial arts training from the family, not just reading the book. The notible thing about the book is it describes the art of war at three levels, showing it applies the same. The primary focus is on individual combat, but the shows how the same techniques and ideas apply to large scale combat as well, and also that it applies to all areas of life, not just combat. Many of the author’s examples are non-combative, showing how the principle works in other areas of life, then expanding it to single combat warfare, and from there to large scale combat. He makes it clear: martial arts is not something you go learn in your spare time; it’s a lifestyle, and if you aren’t practicing the art of war, the martial art, in all areas of your life, you’re not doing martial arts and have missed the point and are just acting.

The most important item discussed in The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War was not letting your mind rest anywhere. If you focus on cutting someone with your sword, you’ll miss. If you focus on hitting someone with an arrow, you’ll miss. If you focus on where to put the needle sewing, you’ll have a crooked stitch. If you focus on smoothing specific bumps on a pot, your pot will be uneven. Part of being a warrior is keeping your mind moving, not focusing on only one thing. I saw a demonstration one time of this principle. It was an animation of a red dot with three yellow dots around it and a rotating field of blue crosses behind. If you stare at the red dot, one of the yellow dots will disappear. It’s still there, but you can’t see it if you focus on the red dot too long. (See the animation here: http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/mot_mib/) This is a very real world issue for fighter pilots. If they focus on one enemy plane ahead of them, other planes in formation with it can disappear, which can be a real bad thing in battle. Pilots are taught to keep their eyes moving, not staying on any one point, to prevent this. In a non-combat example, this can also be an issue driving a car if you focus on the car in front of you. You can literally not see something important. This is a warrior principle that applies to all parts of life, don’t keep your mind focused on one thing, or you’ll miss other things. This especially applies in magic and witchcraft, as magic requires holding opposing ideas in your mind at the same time. If you get too caught up in what is, or what appears to be, you can’t see what can be, or what is hidden.

I discovered something similar in my T’ai Chi Chuang class this last summer. The lessons would make no sense without the martial aspect (though many who take the classes for exercise don’t want to think about the martial aspect), but if they don’t touch all aspects of your life, you missed the lesson.

“Where your mind goes the chi follows.” This is very real and marital in T’ai Chi. There’s a saying that without chi, you’re just doing martial arts. Moving chi is very central to T’ai Chi. Much of the practice of forms is for the purpose of feeling your body and how the chi moves through it, and learning to direct the chi to work with you. When your fist connects, you want the chi to flow with it, increasing the force behind that fist. Same for your foot in a kick. When you block, you want the chi to form a shield, helping with the block. In the beginning posture, Wuji, “without ridgepole”, your chi is formless, pooled in your lower dan tien. When you prepare for t’ai chi, taiji, “great ridgepole”, your chi takes form. You open the Life Gate, pulling your chi out of the dan tien into your lower back, and through your spine to all parts of your body. Each move from there until completion moves the chi as you move your body. But it’s not the move, it’s your mind’s focus on the move. “Where your mind goes the chi follows.” This applies to all areas of life. Where we focus, our chi, our power and energy, our life force, our virtue (Te), is focused. Looking back to the lesson from The Book of Family Traditions on the Art of War, if we keep focused one place, our chi pools there and is of no use elsewhere. A warrior is aware of where their mind is, and disciplines it to go where they need it, not meandering, not becoming static. A warrior must be dynamic and moving at all times. T’ai Chi Chuan is movement, the interaction of Yin and Yang in an eternal dance. In, out, left, right, forward, back. There is no stopping, no holding, no waiting. To stop is to return to wuji, to remove the ridgepole form the tent and let it settle with no form.

Germanic society, including Anglo-Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Norse among others, was very much a warrior society. This was not limited to just those who were warriors by profession. While Odin was a god of war for the warriors, Thor was a god of war for farmers and other laborers, because just because you didn’t fight for a living didn’t mean you didn’t defend your family, your home, your kith and kin, your community. Everyone who could fight fought when the fight came to you. The difference was that those who were warriors by trade went out, went to the fight. Very much Yin and Yang. Those who fought when the fight came to them could be seen as Yin warriors. Those who took the fight to others could be seen as Yang warriors. But, as always, Yin and Yang are the same thing. Warrior principles touched every aspect of Germanic culture and society.

Asatru, a Norse reconstructionist tradition, often uses what they call the Nine Noble Virtues, a list of values distilled from reading the lore, Eddas, and sagas, to define the ethics of individuals and communities. Some within Asatru reject these, some treat them as guides, while others are very dogmatic about them, but they are worth looking at in this context, as they are often seen as a warrior ethic. The Nine Noble Virtues are Courage, Truth, Honour, Fidelity, Discipline, Hospitality, Industriousness, Self Reliance, and Perseverance. How these are interpreted varies as much as how much they are stuck to, but a few are very obviously warrior-based.

Courage is doing what is right or needs to be done even when the consequences may go bad for us. In battle, of course, this is standing the line or making the charge, or holding ground even when fear says to run. In normal life, it might be taking a stand at work when something illegal is being done, even if you might lose your job for it. It might be running in front of a car to save a child in the road. This, along with Honour and Fidelity, mirrors Cochrane’s “Do not do what you desire – do what is necessary” in his witch ‘Law’.

Honour is the reputation you leave in the world, basically, what people remember of you, what change you create in the world. Following honour, living an honourable life, is avoiding doing things you’ll regret. In battle, this would mean doing what needs to be done without causing unnecessary pain and suffering. Killing with as few blows as possible instead of leaving people to suffer. Not taking pleasure in the pain they suffer, knowing it could have been you dying. Not killing the innocent and those that can’t defend themselves. In hunting, it would be killing the animal with one shot when possible. In business, it means keeping your word in deals made. At work, it means doing what you were hired for, not abusing the trust given you. Cochrane’s witch ‘Law’ states this concept as, “When all else is lost, and not until then, prepare to die with dignity.”

Fidelity can be defined as loyalty, fealty, faith. It is your commitment to kith and kin, to government, to the spirits and gods. Ultimately, it is the keeping of oaths, for in the days of troth (the Norse word for this virtue), oaths were sworn to keep this faith and loyalty. Break the oath, you die. This is similar to an oath many witchcraft traditions and lines swear as part of initiation oaths, to stand by their brothers and sisters no matter what, to protect their identities as witches, and similar oaths. In battle, of course, this means you don’t turn coat and fight for the other side, you stand with your kith and kin no matter what. In marriage, this means keeping your wedding vows, not cheating on your spouse, not leaving your spouse, supporting and defending your spouse. At work, this means keeping confidential what needs to be kept confidential, being loyal to your employer as long as they are your employer, and not sharing things that should be shared even after leaving. This also means being loyal to the nation you live in, following its laws unless they violate higher troth, not committing treason, showing respect to those in authority. And more than anything, this means keeping faith with the spirits and gods you work with. They are partners in the work and as much kith and kin as our flesh and blood and fellow workers, maybe more. As Cochrane’s witch ‘Law’ said, “What I have – I hold!”

Discipline is obvious. This starts with ourselves, doing what’s necessary to do what needs to be done. Preparation and training and consistency. In war, this is putting our all into the training needed to be ready for battle, and sticking with what we trained for no matter what, not getting sloppy, not backing down. This applies directly to many areas of life. You can’t excel at your job without discipline. You can’t keep your house clean without discipline. You can’t do the work without discipline. A witch is a warrior, constantly training for battle, constantly honing her skills, increasing his talents. And a teacher must impart the same in their students, both by example and by training. If a student learns all else but no discipline, they will fail, and a teacher wants students who succeed. Discipline is the art of being a disciple. Disciple comes from the Latin discipulus, “pupil, student, follower”, from discere, “to learn”, from the Proto Indo-European *dek-, “to take, accept”. Discipline is taking what is given, as Cochrane’s witch ‘Law’ states, “Take all you are given – give all of yourself.” This is the essence of both the student and the teacher. In Old Norse, we find þegn, thane. This is both the world for follower, for warrior, and for descendant. It is a freeman who has sworn an oath to follow, defend, and fight for a lord, chief, or other head of a clan or community. This is a person disciplined to keep that troth, that oath. This requires the same commitment and training and practice any other type of warrior requires. In return, the chief allowed the thane to live in his house (or on his land), eat at his board, provided all hospitality. Basically, the chief provided completely for the thane, and the thane served the chief. Very similar to a teacher/student relationship when seen as master/apprentice as it is in many trades.

Self Reliance is also obvious. A warrior must depend on themselves, not presume things will be provided. This doesn’t mean not accepting hospitality, just being able to survive without it. In battle, your sword brothers will fight with you, yes, but you can’t presume they will always be there. This requires observation and decisiveness, being able to know when you are on your own, then the abilities and skills needed to survive on your own. This goes back to the above virtues. You need discipline beforehand to be prepared to survive on your own. Survival on your own requires courage and honour, and honour and fidelity must serve as guides in the decisions you make. And of course, this is true in all areas of life, not just on the battlefield. At work, you should make every effort to have the skills and knowledge necessary to do your job even when your team is all out. At home, you need the skills and knowledge necessary to survive if your spouse is unreachable or dead. And self reliance is very important for a witch, as if you can only do the work in a group, you can’t do the work. Self reliance also means personal responsibility. One of the core principles of Grimr, my path, is the truth that each person is responsible for his or her own actions, and only his or her own. Self reliance isn’t just the ability to provide for yourself and do what needs to be done when you have no assistance, it’s taking responsibility for the decisions you make and the actions you take.

Preseveration is your ability and determination to keep going even after defeat. It’s the old adage that it doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, just that you get up one more time than you fall. In battle, this is the ability as a leader to come up with a plan and attack again when you are defeated and have retreated. It’s the ability as a warrior to get back up and keep fighting when you’ve been hit. It’s the infamous quote from Galaxy Quest, “Never give up, never surrender”, or James Kurt in Star Trek’s belief that there’s no such thing as the no win scenario. It’s Winston Churchill’s famous quote in World War II, “Never, never, never give up.” It’s Rorschach in the Watchman’s commitment, “No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.” This is another that applies equally to war as it does to the rest of life. A warrior ethic is to never give up in any area of life, in your relationships, in your employment, and definitely in your work. This is the “and not until then” in Cochrane’s “When all else is lost, and not until then, prepare to die with dignity.”

The remaining three, Truth, Hospitality, and Industriousness, do have application both for a warrior, in every day life, and in the work, but are not specifically warrior traits.

In the book Heart of the Initiate (available from Harpy Books at http://www.harpybooks.com/Order/), Victor Anderson in one essay discusses the martial aspect of Feri, sharing a story of how he used witchcraft offensively in face of an attack. Witchcraft and magic are useless if we can’t use them to defend ourselves. He responded to offense with offense, attack with attack, pain with pain. And it was effective. Feri is a warrior tradition, and this is not just a metaphor. It’s not just an ethic based on warrior principles. Sometimes you have to fight for yourself, for kith and kin, for what is yours. “What I have – I hold!” This goes back to the principles I discussed above. Victor describes Feri as Pictish Witchcraft. By this, he means the witchcraft of the small dark people he often talked about, that took Feri out of Africa and spread it around the world. Whether in his descriptions, or in what little we know of the historical Picts on the Isle of Britain, the Picts were a warrior race. It is impossible to separate Pictish Witchcraft from Pictish warfare, in their essence. And hence impossible to separate Feri from the warrior without it no longer being Feri.

When I first read the verse in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from the Bible when I was a kid, “Blessed be the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth”, it resonated with me. I’ve always been a peacemaker, always trying to get both sides to see the others’ view point, always trying to avoid conflict and get along with everyone. And often failing. The verse is of course saying two different things. “Blessed be the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth” because if everyone pursues war, there will be no earth to inherit. Or, “Blessed be the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth” because it’s the peacemakers who ultimately rule in a time of peace, not the warriors or warmakers. When peace comes, the warmakers give way to the peacemakers, until the next war.

Being a natural peacemaker, a warrior attitude and warrior practice is hard for me. I am not a veteran of the military and never will be, because I would never make it through Basic Training, and would die on the field if I did because I couldn’t pull the trigger. I’m not a hunter for the same reason. I could never kill the animal. I couldn’t bring myself to. But I eat the meat of hunters, I support the right to hunt, I understand the need both for the survival of the family of the hunter and for the benefit of responsible hunting to the environment. I am against gun control in general, but think it holds a place in some areas and within reason, though I recognize the potential for abuse of those uses. I own several guns, and enjoy shooting them. I know how to handle a gun, and am not afraid to handle it. But I doubt I could defend myself with one, nor with a knife or any other weapon. If you draw a weapon in self defense, you need to be able to and willing to use it, or it is more a threat to you than your attacker. I don’t think I could use it. But I understand and support the ability of people to own guns for self defense, as long as they receive training in it’s use. And I understand the need for the military and the men and women who serve in the armed forces. I have friends who serve. The military and the warrior are important parts of society, but in times of war and times of peace. But in times of peace, and off the battlefield, the warrior is often treated as evil. He is not evil. She isn’t an abomination. They are important to our lives, and they can teach us a lot.

As I said, a warrior attitude and warrior practice is hard for me. But it’s a part of my path, of my stream, of my practice. I work hard to cultivate and come to know the warrior inside me, to grow into that part of me. I had a dream once where I was a warrior goddess in training at a school. I worked to receive a sword in the dream, and to receive arm blades that were wings, to become a Valkyrie and a warrior. That warrior goddess is inside me and is as much a part of me as the peacemaker I’m more comfortable with and familiar with. I work to know her, the Yang aspect of me, to understand her, to integrate her, to be her when I need to be. I work to be a peacemaker in time of war and a warrior in time of peace. And vice versa.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

*Entry started Monday, November 12, 2012. Veteran’s Day was November 11.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 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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On Centres, Actions, Webs, and Spiders

Image from National Geographic.

There are certain keys, mantras, ideas, concepts, that are central to my being, central to my work, central to my beliefs, central to my practice, central to my ethics, central to my religion, central to my witchcraft.  These keys come up again ans again.  These include the Twins (Tvennr), the Weaver (Grimr), the Mirror, the Bridge, the Priest, the Mask, the Knot, the Blade, the Tower, and the Wanderer.

Another is the mantra, “Each person is responsible for their own action.”  This mantra is very important in defining my personal ethics and is very important in informing my understanding of not just the human world, but the natural and spiritual worlds as well.  The following passage from Riding Windhorses expresses this mantra in a very well and in a way that makes a lot of sense to me.  This is in the context of Northern Asian shamanism, primarily among the Siberian and Mongolian peoples.

“Shamanism is concern with personal power and bringing good fortune into one’s life.  In the context of the cosmology described above, one must remember the saying, ‘Everyone has his own universe, everyone has his own path.’ While every day brings an individual into contact with the personal worlds of others, the core issues of life lie within one’s personal universe. In this individual aspect of the cosmos, a person stands at the perfect center of the universe, supported by Mother Earth and enveloped in the clear blue vastness of Father Heaven. At the center one’s cosmic soul (suns) shines as a bright white star, and the body soul (ami) is a red point of light. One can fly freely within the vastness of space or travel upon the earth. Because one has his or her own path, one is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions.”

This also expresses a lot of other important concepts in my beliefs and practice.  Present here is the concept of the Guardian of the Centre, and also of Witch Herself.  Modern science and common belief says that it is pure ego to say the earth is the centre of the universe, and especially to say yourself is the centre.  But who doesn’t feel, at least subconsciously, that they are the centre?  That doesn’t mean no one else is important, or that all should serve and cater to you, or that it’s all about you.  But you relate to the world from your own person, not from the centre of the galaxy or solar system, nor even from the person you hold most dear.  You relate to the world from your own person, so that is the centre of your world.  You are the centre of the web, the weave.  All the threads in your life radiate out from you, connecting you to the things and beings around you.

The Fable of Arachne by
Velazquez, image from  Hellenica.

This isn’t just metaphor.  According to KaHuna tradition as it has been passed into Feri, Unihipili, Nefesh, your lower soul, Fetch, forms threads, called aka threads, which connect her to everything she comes into contact with.  Energy, mana, flows through these threads in both directions.  Fetch is the spider, the Weaver, at the centre of the web, each aka thread connecting her to everything she has ever touched until the thread is either cut or withers away.  Energy flows across these, but that energy has memory.  Fetch is made of the same stuff as the threads, that mana, that energy, and she contains our deepest memories.  And the Fetch of each thing contains it’s memory, whether that thing is a person, a spirit, a god, a dog, a tree, a rock, a toaster.  All things have a Fetch, and all Fetches contain deep memories.  Across the threads, the memories flow.  Fetch is sometimes called the Listener, just as the middle soul is the Talker.  She sits at the centre of her web, her weave, and listens, listens to all the memories.  Her universe is made up of all those things that are part of her web, all the memories she listens to.

Horizontal Traditional Loom,
Centre Cultural Alexandra  David-Neel.

Uhane, Ruach, your middle soul, Talker, has a web of her own.  This one people are more familiar with.  We use terms like social networking all the time  Talker’s web is one of social interactions and communication.  While Fetch’s web is passive, she sits at the centre and listens, she forms connections automatically with anything she touches or that touches her, she lets the threads weave the pattern, Talker’s is active.  She actively builds a web, reaches out to form each connection, feeds the connections she values and wants to keep.  She constantly has her hands in the weave, forming them, directing them.  Fetch’s web is static.  A thread forms and stays until it is cut of withers.  Talker’s web is dynamic.  She’s constantly adding strands, cutting strands, feeding strands, pruning strands.  But for all the differences, one thing is the same.  Talker is also the centre of her web, her weave.

The Norns

And, of course, Aumakua, Neshamah, your higher soul, Godself, has a web of her own.  Many people, whether they believe in it or not, know the concept of Fate, Destiny, Necessity, Weird, Karma.  Consequences that influence the future, things in the past that direct the present.  Many cultures talk of the Weaver or Weavers, in whatever form.  Spin the thread, measure the thread, cut the thread.  Birth, Life, Death.  A good way to understand Godself’s web is to look at the concept of Weird or Wyrd in the Germanic traditions.

O.E. wyrd “fate, destiny” (n.), lit. “that which comes,” from P.Gmc. *wurthis (cf. O.S. wurd, O.H.G. wurt “fate,” O.N. urðr “fate, one of the three Norns”), from PIE *wert- “to turn, wind,” (cf. Ger. werden, O.E. weorðan “to become”), from base *wer- “to turn, bend” (see versus). For sense development from “turning” to “becoming,” cf. phrase turn into “become.” The modern sense of weird developed from M.E. use of weird sisters for the three fates or Norns (in Germanic mythology), the goddesses who controlled human destiny. They were usually portrayed as odd or frightening in appearance, as in “Macbeth,” which led to the adj. meaning “odd-looking, uncanny,” first recorded 1815.  (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=weird)

Frigg Weaving the Clouds

Another world used in Old Norse is ørlǫg, literally, “beyond law”.  Frigg is said to know all ørlǫg, but not say it.  She is often portrayed as a Weaver.  Think of her sitting at her loom, letting the threads go where they go and seeing ørlǫg in them.  But the Norns control the threads, control ørlǫg, control urðr, Wyrd, Weird.  You’ll notice a few words above.  “To turn, wind”.  Like a thread on a spindle or distaff.  “To turn, bend”.  Like the threads being bent into a pattern on a loom.  (Note that one possible root meaning for witch is “to bend”, also.)

Wyrd itself is Fate, the web of all things that were once whole.  Orlog is the ever changing threads which are found in the athem.  It is the fate of the individual itself.  Orlog affects hamingja and vice versa.  The hamingja bears the orlog in this life.  By fulfilling and bettering the hamingja, one takes care of orlog.  This in turn “feeds” the fetch, or spirit, by fulfilling fate and bringing the fetch one step closer to completing the true “Great Work.”  So it would seem that Orlog is the transmitter of wyrd to the hamingja and that by improving hamingja one can create a better wyrd for the future.  (http://artesmagicae.blogspot.com/2010/08/following-is-second-chapter-from-book.html)

The Athem is the spirit cord, divine spark or “breath of life” which flows through us.  These cords, which all things possess are the “Threads of Fate” which tie all things together.  It is when these “threads” cross that we become attached to another being or thing and thus generate more “fate” (understood by most modern cultures as karma.)  It is the series of all athems which bind all things together in the great tapestry of Fate.  It is both a completion and destruction of the tapestry, by resolving all fate that we shall finally achieve the Great Work as a universe and allow the Godhead to be whole again.  Each athem by itself also binds together each part of the individual anthropos.  It is through the athem that we make contact with entities of spirit and, indeed, our own spirits.  This is because the athem is in constant contact with the spiritual forces of the universe.  It is interesting that the Egyptians seem to have believed that life ended when the ka left the body, which seems to support our analysis here.  (http://artesmagicae.blogspot.com/2010/08/following-is-second-chapter-from-book.html)

The fetch is the portion of the soul complex that truly lives on after we are no more. It is what truly carries wyrd from life to life. (http://artesmagicae.blogspot.com/2010/08/fetch-true-spirit-and-meaning-of-life.html)

(Note that he is using the word fetch differently than I used above, much closer to what I mean by Godself.  Read his whole articles to understand his use of it, which is Germanic in origin, whereas my usage comes from Feri.)

So, according to Dr. R.J. Thompson, we have the fetch (Godself) carrying wyrd between lifetimes, with the wyrd residing in the athem.  These cords, the athem, the “Threads of Fate”, is what I’m talking about here.

The Godself, the (Greater) Neshamah is made up of three parts in Kabbalah, the (lesser) neshamah, the chiah, and the yechidah.  In the way I see these, the (lesser) neshamah contains our capacity for love, the chiah contains our True Will, and the yechidah our Divine Sparks, which are also the Threads of Fate.  The yechidah is the athem Dr. Thompson talked about.  It connects us with the Divine, to which all things are connected.  The yechidah is our Soul Root, which grows in the soil of the Divine.  Picture an upside down tree, with the roots in the ground above and the branches reaching for the sky below, which is our world, the World of Action.

These “Threads of Fate” are Neshamah’s web.  Just as Fetch’s web, the aka threads, connect to all things she has touched, to the Fetch of others, just as Talker’s web, our social network, connects to all beings we interact with, to their Talkers, Godself’s web, the Threads of Fate, connect her to the Godself of all others, and to the Divine, which is the same thing.  She, too, sits at the centre of her web, for only our own Fate, our own Destiny is relevant to us.  Other’s actions effect us, other’s threads cross ours, but only our own Fate matters in the end.

The Lady of Shalott, by
William Holman Hunt, 1905

Which brings us back to the passage from Riding Windhorses and my original mantra.  Other’s actions, other’s threads, be they aka threads, social threads, or Threads of Fate, effect us, influence us, come into contact with us.  We are effected by them.  When people enter our personal universe, they are part of that universe, and each one has an effect, like the butterfly flapping its wings in chaos theory or the observer in the slot experiment in quantum physics.  But ultimately, they are responsible for their actions and I’m responsible for mine.  It’s not what they do to me that matters, it’s how I respond.  It isn’t what they give me, it’s what i do with what they give me.  It is my web, my weave, my tapestry, my personal universe, and I am responsible for it.  I make my own decisions, I do my own actions, and I am responsible for what I do, not for what they do.  If I take responsibility for their actions and their decisions, I give them power over my life, I submit my life force to them.  Same thing if I let them dictate my decisions and actions.

I am the Guardian of the Centre.  I am Witch.  I loose and I bind.  I spin, I measure, I cut.  I weave the tapestry of my life.  I am responsible for it, and I have Power over it.  I am Human, but I am also Divine.  I am Fey.  I am God Herself.  I am the Nagara.  I am the Tvennr.  I am the Grimr.  I am the Vordr.  I am the Heidr.  I am all things.  And I am nothing.  It is my world, my universe.  I am the Centre.  I am the Circumference of all.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2011 in muninnskiss

 

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Submitting Your Life Force to Another

I’ve been discussing some things about Feri with Lee over at his blog PASSIONANDSOUL and on a private list:

http://passionandsoul.com/journal/not-a-feri-priestess

I wanted to repost part of my last response to him here.  As always, what follows is my opinion and reflects no one and no tradition but myself.

Image from TENNA-LT on DeviantArt.

I think (Feri) people tend to look at the extreme. “To be a submissive is to submit your life force to another. God forbid!” Um, no, not in a healthy sub/dom relationship. There’s a difference between letting someone else be in control and “submitting your life force”. I’ve heard it said that the sub actually has more power than the dom because she (to use generic pronouns because this sentence got unwieldy) is in control of her partner’s power over her. She decides to let him (or her) have that power and can stop it or take it away at any point. The ultimate control is actually with her, not her partner. His control and power is by consent and limited by her agreement. She still has control of her life force. It’s kind of like selling someone a license to publish and sell an art piece that you created. You still own it and can do what you want and can revoke the license at any point (in the analogy, I’m not sure legally in real world situations).

Spirit possession in Bali.
Image from Dharma Records blog.

It’s the same with the gods, I think. Ritual possession is a major part of some trains of Feri, like it is in Voudou, yet (Feri) people don’t get up in arms about that being “submitting your life force to another”, well at least I’ve never heard of anyone getting up in arms about it. Possession is by consent with a god you already have a relationship with and is limited in duration. There are limits understood by both the god and you. You willingly submit for a time. So, too, with our day to day relationship with them. We serve them willingly, submit to them willingly, but it’s always our choice, we aren’t submitting our life force to them, but lending it to them.

Whether it’s a relationship with another person or with a god, look at, as Lee said, whether you’re blossoming in that relationship. If you control your life force, you will be, but if they do, it will be a drain on you, like a psychic vampire, and you, the flower, will wither and eventually die.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2011 in muninnskiss

 

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Oil of Nimue

The Sky at Dawn

This morning, I awoke with the Dawn.  I awoke with a very specific purpose.  Right now, it is the Crescent Moon, a time holy to Nimue.  And the newness of the Dawn seemed an appropriate time to honour her.

Back in November, I bought a mask for Nimue, to represent her presence in my life and in my house.  It’s a ceramic mask designed to hang on the wall, with balloons on the white face.  I looked for masks for a quite a while and settled on this one, because it felt like her, a mixture of power and fun.  I ordered it, and when it arrived, I hung it on the wall.  When I hung it, my dog was outside.  When she came in, she noticed it up there right away.  It really disturbed her for a bit.  She kept looking up at it and wooing, talking in a way only huskies can.  She did get used to it.

I wanted to dedicate the mask to Nimue, to invite her into it and into my home.  I decided to use oil to represent her presence, her lao, coming upon it, by anointing it with oil as I invited her.  To this end, I needed an oil appropriate to her, both to use with the mask and to use in later workings.  With some prayer, some thought, some feeling, some advise from others, and some research, I determined the ingredients I would use and wrote a ritual poem to be part of the dedication and infusing of the oil.

Part of my decisions on what to put in the oil was from talking to other people.  Part came from Catholic symbolism and worship of Saint Dymphna, who is a real good parallel to Nimue for me, similar to the saints associated with the lao in Voudou.  I chose lavender oil, angelica root, and violets.  The recipe I wrote down at the time was:

What I decided on is a base of olive oil (I couldn’t buy a large enough bottle of lavender oil).
3 of my hairs (to tie it to me)
27 drops of lavender oil
3 pinches of angelica root
3 pinches of violets (the herb store actually had some)
Add olive oil.  Charge it.  Pray the prayer to Nimue I wrote three times to invite her into it.

Life got weird at that time, so I wasn’t able to perform the ritual at that time.  A few things changed by the time I did it this morning.  I rose before the dawn and got everything together.  I dressed in a way that would make me feel closest to Nimue.  Mice had got into the bag and eaten the violets I had bought.  That was in November with snow on the ground, so there were no violets outside.  I went a head with it, hoping our violets had bloomed.

Violets in Bloom

Bringing everything outside, I found that sure enough, the violets were in bloom.  It seemed like doing this in spring while they were actually in bloom was more appropriate to Nimue than the heart of winter.  I set everything down and went to work.  The sky was bright and beautiful blue and the sun was just rising, though still behind the mountains.

I began by plucking hairs from my head.  I plucked one, tied a knot in it, and put it in the bottle.  The hair is for the purpose of uniting me and her in the oil.  The knot was to bind me to her and her to me.  I found tying knots in hairs takes a lot of fine motor skills and coordination, something I don’t have.  But after a while of trying, the knots were in each hair and the hairs were in the bottle.

The Lovely, Innocent Violet

Next, I put three pinches of the angelica root in the bottle, then picked three violet blossoms and put them in.  I put three drops of lavender oil in after that.  I hadn’t reread my recipe and three is such a powerful number, I forgot completely about three times three times three for the lavender oil, since a drop is so small.  Three will work just fine.  Robert Cochrane said in his third letter to Joe Wilson when describing calling the Goddess, “Before you do this however, it is necessary to offer your devotions and prayers by bowing three times to the Altar, with arms crossed upon your chest and then turn about the Altar (which for normal purposes should be round, hence King Arthur) the number of the Deity you are invoking or praying to. The Maid is usually three times three – the Mother six times three, the Hag (which is anything but the true title), nine times three. Upon the last turn stop with your back to the Altar, and there begin your great chant. With a group one works in absolute silence, but by yourself it is easier to utter your prayer and meditation aloud until you begin to speak as one possessed’.”  As such, I associate Nimue with three, so used this heavily in this ritual.  The smell of the bottle at this point was very lovely, fresh, strong, and innocent, like Nimue.

Having put the “core” ingredients in the bottle, I said my prayer, my invocation, my ritual poem, my spell the first time, holding my hand over the bottle and focusing and channeling energy into it.

Oh sweet darling,
Girl full of power and might.
The pool of your blessing fills me,
The water pours out upon my head.
Your blessing, your loa, flows like water,
Covering me in your presence.
As I hold my hands over this oil, pour through me,
Fill this oil with your blessing, be present in it.
Oh sweet Nimue, so mote it be.

I then added olive oil, filling the bottle half way up.  I then repeated the poem again.

Oh sweet darling,
Girl full of power and might.
The pool of your blessing fills me,
The water pours out upon my head.
Your blessing, your loa, flows like water,
Covering me in your presence.
As I hold my hands over this oil, pour through me,
Fill this oil with your blessing, be present in it.
Oh sweet Nimue, so mote it be.

Filling the bottle the rest of the way, I aligned my souls and repeated the poem a third time.

Oh sweet darling,
Girl full of power and might.
The pool of your blessing fills me,
The water pours out upon my head.
Your blessing, your loa, flows like water,
Covering me in your presence.
As I hold my hands over this oil, pour through me,
Fill this oil with your blessing, be present in it.
Oh sweet Nimue, so mote it be.

Oil of Nimue

Closing the bottle, I shook it to mix it up, three times.  And it was done.  So mote it be.

From the time I awoke this morning until the time I put the bottle in a safe place to sit and let the scents and essences and her presence blend, Nimue was strong on me.  It wasn’t being ridden like the Voudou lao, nor possession of any type.  It was her sweet presence being close to me, her dwelling with me.  I felt, as I sometimes do, as a young girl, maybe twelve.  There was purity and innocence in my emotions and my actions this morning.

Nimue’s Mask

The next step is the mask.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2011 in muninnskiss

 

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