Tag Archives: spirits

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.

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.

~Lorekeeper, Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in muninnskiss


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Thirteen Points of Advice for Those Starting on the Path

The following are thirteen points of advice and guidance I’d give to anyone starting out of the path.  They aren’t exclusive, there are other things to know.  And they aren’t original, they are drawn from many sources.  And they are from my point of view, so should not be taken as gospel.  I hope they help some who read them.  Before getting into them, four books I’d recommend before most others, and I have a very long recommended reading list, are the following:

And that being said, here are the thirteen points of advice that are my intention if sharing this:

  1. Mutual respect is essential. Respect the spirits, and expect respect in return. If you don’t receive it, they’re out, burnt, or cut off.
  2. All things have a spirit, and that spirit can be worked with and learned from. Some work with them as servants, or worship them and become servants. I prefer to work with them as partners. There is an authority in knowing you are equal with all things.
  3. People (and spirits) see what they expect to see. Open your eyes, then open them again. Observe. Perceive. Understand.
  4. What conceals also reveals. Look beneath the surface, both in of what your senses (physical or otherwise) tell you and what teachings, lore, and myth tell you. What they hide is as important as what they say.
  5. Learn to ask the right questions. Asking the wrong question will send you in the wrong direction. There are no bad questions, but often looking at the question in the right way opens doors. And always ask the next question, don’t let the answer be the end of the question.
  6. When all else fails, cheat. Don’t assume that the traditional way to do something, the way everyone does it, or the way you’ve always done it is the only approach. If it doesn’t work, do something else.
  7. Divide and conquer. If something is baffling or seems to be concealing something you can’t quite grasp or see, break it down, look at each part of it separately, determine where something is missing, concealed, or not working, and focus there.
  8. Only you are responsible for your actions and words, no one else, and you aren’t responsible for anyone else’s. Do what is necessary, but accept the responsibility for it. Own what you say and what you do, regardless of the consequences or what you think of them later. Don’t pass blame, and don’t take it on.
  9. Learn from all things. All beings, objects, persons, spirits, circumstances, lore, teachings, regardless of the source or pain or issues, contain beauty, knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, and can be learned from, if you ask the right questions, look beneath the surface, and separate what has value from what doesn’t. There’s a saying in Hawai’i that not all knowledge is found in one shed.
  10. Be willing to consider any idea, no matter how different from your own. Examine it, understand it, but don’t just accept it in you process. Hold on firmly to what you know, and only change it if there is good reason to do so.
  11. Everybody lies, misrepresents, and hides things. This goes for spirits as well as living humans, and all things. Never assume you are being told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We all speak through our filters, understand based on our experiences, hide what we don’t want seen, and mislead when it will gain us something. Make no assumptions about the truth of, completeness of, or accuracy of anything you are told. This goes for what you tell yourself as well. Look deeper, examine. Observe. Perceive. Understand.
  12. What is yours, you need to hold, protect, defend. As Cochrane said, “What I have–I hold!” You are guardian and keeper of what is yours. Find what that is, and keep it against the storm.
  13. What you put in, you get out. As we say in computers, garbage in, garbage out. Only you control what you get from the path. No effort, no result. No danger, no gain. Victor Anderson said anything worth doing is dangerous, and Cochrane said take all you are given, give all of yourself. Huna teaches that where your attention goes, the mana goes, and Taoist thought teaches similar, where the mind goes, the chi follows. Where you focus, that’s where your energy is, what you think about and contemplate, that is where you will learn. It’s all about you. You hold the reins. Make the most of it.


Hope these are helpful for some.


~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on November 23, 2013 in muninnskiss


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Mistress Over the Dead: a look at the “Witch of Endor” and related myths

The subject has come up often lately in various places online of the “Witch of Endor”.  This is said as if it was title, and I read a discussion one place that said, was there’s only one witch in Endor, and was there never a witch there before or after?  The very question implies not understanding the passage, so thought I’d dig into it a bit.  ‘Eyn Do’r, or, technically, b’Eyn Do’r, “in ‘Eyn Do’r”.

First off, in case people are confused, we’re not talking about the moon called Endor in Star Wars.  🙂  This is in 1 Samuel in the Jewish Tanakh and Cristian Old Testament.  Endor is the way it’s typically rendered in English, but it’s two words in the Hebrew text.

Here’s the whole verse, from the Revised Standard Version:

Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at Endor.” ~1 Samuel 28:7 RSV

And the Hebrew:

ז  וַיֹּאמֶר שָׁאוּל לַעֲבָדָיו בַּקְּשׁוּ-לִי אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב, וְאֵלְכָה אֵלֶיהָ וְאֶדְרְשָׁה-בָּהּ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ עֲבָדָיו אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

The phrase that matters here is:

Behold, there is a medium at Endor.

אֵשֶׁת בַּעֲלַת-אוֹב בְּעֵין דּוֹר

Breaking it down:

אִשָּׁה – ‘ishshah – woman, wife, female

בַּעֲלָה – ba’alah – mistress, female owner, sorceress, necromancer  From בַּעַל:

בַּעַל – ba’al – owner, husband, citizens, inhabitants, rulers, lords, master of <>, lord.  From בָּעַל:

בָּעַל – ba’al – to marry, rule over, possess, own

אוֹב – ‘owb – water skin bottle, necromancer, one who evokes the dead, ghost, spirit of a dead one, practice of necromancy, one that has a familiar spirit.  From אָב:

אָב – ‘ab – father of an individual, God as father of his people, head or founder of a household, group, family, or clan, ancestor, originator of patron of a class, profession, or art, producer, generator, benevolence and protection, term of respect adn honour, ruler or chief.

בְּעֵין דּוֹר – b ‘eyn do’r – in ‘Eyn Do’r

עֵין־דוֹר – ‘Eyn-Do’r – Endor, Fountain of Dor

עַיִן – ‘ayin – eye, spring, fountain

דּוֹר – dowr – period, generation, habitation, dwelling.  From דּוּר:

דּוּר – duwr – to heap up, pile, to dwell, to remain, to delay, to inhabit, to go around.

דּוּר – duwr – ball, circle

My translation:  “There is a woman that is mistress over the dead at the eye of the circle.”

So Saul disguised himself and put on other garments, and went, he and two men with him; and they came to the woman by night. And he said, “Divine for me by a spirit, and bring up for me whomever I shall name to you.” ~1 Samuel 28:8

ח  וַיִּתְחַפֵּשׂ שָׁאוּל וַיִּלְבַּשׁ בְּגָדִים אֲחֵרִים וַיֵּלֶךְ הוּא וּשְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים עִמּוֹ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאִשָּׁה לָיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב וְהַעֲלִי לִי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-אֹמַר אֵלָיִך

Divine for me by a spirit

קָסֳמִי-נָא לִי בָּאוֹב

קָסַם – qacam – to practice divination, divine.

נָא – na – please, if you please

לִי – li – to, for (first person singular)

בָּאוֹב – conjure up, invoke, in/with + אוֹב (see above)

My translation:  “Please divine by conjuring for me.”

The woman said to him, “Surely you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land. Why then are you laying a snare for my life to bring about my death?” ~1 Samuel 28:9

ט  וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֵלָיו הִנֵּה אַתָּה יָדַעְתָּ אֵת אֲשֶׁר-עָשָׂה שָׁאוּל אֲשֶׁר הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ וְלָמָה אַתָּה מִתְנַקֵּשׁ בְּנַפְשִׁי לַהֲמִיתֵנִי

cut off the mediums and the wizards from the land

הִכְרִית אֶת-הָאֹבוֹת וְאֶת-הַיִּדְּעֹנִי מִן-הָאָרֶץ

הִכְרִית – hkarath – the + כָּרַת

כָּרַת – karath – to cut, cut off, eliminate, kill, cut a covenant, to hew, to be cut off, to be cut down, to be cut off, to be chewed, to fail, to destroy, to take away, to permit to perish.

אֶת – et – to, with

הָאֹבוֹת – havot – the + אֹבוֹת

אֹבוֹת – avot – plural of אֹב:

אֹב – av – father, male parent, ancestor, forefather, progenitor, originator, prototype

וְאֶת – ‘owb – and + אוֹב (see above)

הַיִּדְּעֹנִי – hyidde’oni – the + יִּדְּעֹנִי

יִּדְּעֹנִי – yidde’oni – a knower, one who has a familiar spirit, soothsayer, necromancer.  From יָדַע:

יָדַע – yada’ – to know, to perceive, to discriminate, to distinguish, to know by experience, to recognise, to consider, to be perceived, to be made known, to be revealed, to cause to know, to be known, to make oneself known, to declare, to reveal oneself.

מִן – men – from

הָאָרֶץ – haarets – the + אָרֶץ

אָרֶץ – erets – country, land, territory, district, earth, ground, soil

My translation:  “removed ancestors and spirit knowers from the ground”

The king said to her, “Have no fear; what do you see?” And the woman said to Saul, “I see a god coming up out of the earth.” ~1 Samuel 28:13

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמֶּלֶךְ אַל-תִּירְאִי כִּי מָה רָאִית וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל-שָׁאוּל אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

a god coming up out of the earth.

אֱלֹהִים רָאִיתִי עֹלִים מִן-הָאָרֶץ

אֱלֹהִים – ‘elohiym – rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, gods, god/goddess, godlike one, works or special possessions of God, God

רָאִיתִי – raiti first person singular past tense of רָאָה:

רָאָה – raa – to see, to have vision, to observe, to look at

עֹלִים – ‘alim – plural indefinite form of עָלֶה:

עָלֶה – ‘alah – to go up, ascend, climb, meet, visit, follow, depart, retreat, spring up, grow, shoot forth, rise, excel, be superior to, be taken up, be brought up, be taken away, to take oneself away, to be exalted

מִן – men – (see above)

הָאָרֶץ – haarets – (see above)

My translation:  “a godlike one I See, rising up from the ground”

As Saul can’t see the shade, raa here is vision, the Sight, not physical mundane sight.

He said to her, “What is his appearance?” And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew that it was Samuel, and he bowed with his face to the ground, and did obeisance. ~1 Samuel 28:14

יד  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהּ מַה-תָּאֳרוֹ, וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע שָׁאוּל כִּי-שְׁמוּאֵל הוּא, וַיִּקֹּד אַפַּיִם אַרְצָה וַיִּשְׁתָּחוּ

And she said, “An old man is coming up; and he is wrapped in a robe.” And Saul knew

וַתֹּאמֶר אִישׁ זָקֵן עֹלֶה וְהוּא עֹטֶה מְעִיל וַיֵּדַע

וַתֹּאמֶר – vatomar – and + תֹּאמֶר

תֹּאמֶר – tomar – third-person singular imperfect of אָמַר:

אָמַר – amar – to say, think, pronounce, intend

אִישׁ – ‘ish – man, husband, adult male

זָקֵן – zaqen – old, elderly, aged

עֹלֶה – ‘alah – (see above)

וְהוּא – vakharash – and + הוּא

הוּא – hi – he, it, he is, it is

עֹטֶה – atah – to wrap, cover, veil, clothe, roll, array, be clad, cover, fill, put on, turn aside

מְעִיל – m’il – robe or coat worn over a tunic by men of rank

וַיֵּדַע – vayeda – and + יֵּדַע (see above)

My translation:  And she pronounced, “And an elderly man rises and he is wrapped in a obe” And he knew

Interesting her is that “knew” is the same “knew” from which “knowers” above is derived.  He knew it was Saul when she spoke in the same way that those who had been removed knew spirits.  Insight, intuition, the beginning of Sight.  His eyes were opened, through her words. The story continues with him and Samuel taking directly.  He appears to now be able to both see and hear him.

Then Saul fell at once full length upon the ground, filled with fear because of the words of Samuel; and there was no strength in him, for he had eaten nothing all day and all night. ~1 Samuel 28:20

I won’t worry about the Hebrew here, as it doesn’t reveal anything interesting to the discussion.  I will note that “ground” here, “earth” from which Samuel arose, and “land” from which the ancestral spirits and spirit knowers were removed are all the same word.

In summary, Saul asked for a medium and was told there was a mistress over the dead in the eye of the circle.  He seeks her out, and asks her to divine for him by conjuring a shade.  She is fearful because the king (whom she doesn’t yet know is him) had all ancestral spirits and spirit knowers removed from the land/ground/earth.  He reassures her and she calls forth the one he asks for (ingress).  She sees it is a holy man and gets an inkling what is happened, and tells him what she sees.  He asks what the shade looks like and she describes him, and in that description, he Sees and Hears and has congress with him.  After he is gone (egress), Saul falls to the ground, with no strength left. Afterwards she feeds him so he can renew his strength.

This conjuring brings to mind Odin conjuring the volva in Baldrs Draumar (Baldr’s Dreams).  Henry Adams Bellows’ translation (found at puts it thus:

1. Once were the gods | together met,

And the goddesses came | and council held,

And the far-famed ones | the truth would find,

Why baleful dreams | to Baldr had come.

2. Then Othin rose, | the enchanter old,

And the saddle he laid | on Sleipnir’s back;

Thence rode he down | to Niflhel deep,

And the hound he met | that came from hell.

3. Bloody he was | on his breast before,

At the father of magic | he howled from afar;

Forward rode Othin, | the earth resounded

Till the house so high | of Hel he reached.

4. Then Othin rode | to the eastern door,

There, he knew well, | was the wise-woman’s grave;

Magic he spoke | and mighty charms,

Till spell-bound she rose, | and in death she spoke:

5. “What is the man, | to me unknown,

That has made me travel | the troublous road?

I was snowed on with snow, | and smitten with rain,

And drenched with dew; | long was I dead.”

Othin spake:

6. “Vegtam my name, | I am Valtam’s son;

Speak thou of hell, | for of heaven I know:

For whom are the benches | bright with rings,

And the platforms gay | bedecked with gold?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

7. “Here for Baldr | the mead is brewed,

The shining drink, | and a shield lies o’er it;

But their hope is gone | from the mighty gods.

Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still.”

Othin spake:

8. “Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee

All to know | that I fain would ask:

Who shall the bane | of Baldr become,

And steal the life | from Othin’s son?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

9. “Hoth thither bears | the far-famed branch,

He shall the bane | of Baldr become,

And steal the life | from Othin’s son.

Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still.”

Othin spake:

10. “Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee

All to know | that I fain would ask:

Who shall vengeance win | for the evil work,

Or bring to the flames | the slayer of Baldr?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

11. “Rind bears Vali | in Vestrsalir,

And one night old | fights Othin’s son;

His hands he shall wash not, | his hair he shall comb not,

Till the slayer of Baldr | he brings to the flames.

Unwilling I spake, | and now would be still.”

Othin spake:

12. “Wise-woman, cease not! | I seek from thee

All to know | that I fain would ask:

What maidens are they | who then shall weep,

And toss to the sky | the yards of the sails?”

The Wise-Woman spake:

13. “Vegtam thou art not, | as erstwhile I thought;

Othin thou art, | the enchanter old.”

Othin spake:

“No wise-woman art thou, | nor wisdom hast;

Of giants three | the mother art thou.”

The Wise-Woman spake:

14. “Home ride, Othin, | be ever proud;

For no one of men | shall seek me more

Till Loki wanders | loose from his bonds,

And to the last strife | the destroyers come.”

We don’t see the weakness at the end, as it ends with her parting speech.  But there’s a feel to the conjuring much similar, with the spirit rising up from the ground, the spirit none to happy to be called and having a threatening tone.  Neither rose willingly, and neither could resist the call.

There is another tale we have of summoning the dead, that of Odysseus in Homer’s Odyssey.  Book Eleven says:

At the furthest edge of Ocean’s stream is the land to which all journey when they die. Here their spirits endure a fleshless existence. They can’t even talk unless re-animated with blood.

Accordingly, I did as Circe instructed, bleeding a sacrificed lamb into a pit. Tiresias, the blind prophet who had accompanied us to Troy, was the soul I had to talk to. So I held all the other shades at bay with my sword until he had drunk from the pit.

He gave me warnings about my journey home and told me what I must do to ensure a happy death when my time came. I met the shades of many famous women and heroes, including Achilles, best fighter of the Greeks at Troy

~Mythweb –

While we don’t have the patterns we saw before, no rising from the ground, no hostility, no weakness afterwards, there is a parallel with Odin’s conjuring.  Odin road to just outside Hel to do the conjuring, the place of the dead.  Likewise Odysseus travels to the land of the dead before using blood to allow the dead to talk.

It is interesting to note that Odysseus’ name comes from ὀδύσσομαι, “to be wroth against” or “hate”, from μισώ.  The beginning of the name brings to mind Óð (as in Óðinn).  Many of Odin’s names bring to mind hate or anger.  While it is unlikely there’s a link between the two tales, it’s interesting to entertain.

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in muninnskiss


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All knowledge is not taught in one shed: My thoughts on books, oral teaching, and experience

I’m a firm believer that there is truth and things to learn in everything, even crap. And by crap, I mean many “occult” books that which are being published lately. And my “occult” (verses, say, occult), I mean things that claim to be secret or new but are just rewording of a thousand books mass produced before them. Even in the shallowest, fluffiest, most full of plagiarism and dribble book, there is still truth and still things to learn, because even the most unoriginal and unimaginative person in the world is still led by the Muses once in a while, and will hit on truth and “secrets” and things worth learning unintentionally and often unaware. I would of course rather read an author for whom that is the norm than the exception, but no book is without a nugget of truth for those that have eyes to see and ears to hear. Though, that doesn’t mean it’s often worth the time to read the dribble to find it.

Point being, learning from a book, or a teacher, or the spirits, or anything, relies on the one learning more than anything. You can’t teach a rock to fly, you can just throw it and see if it can avoid hitting the ground. The author may only produce dribble, but the right reader could find the secrets of the universe in the book (to quote Men in Black, “I promised you the secrets of the universe, nothing more.”). An author could be inspired and breathe the most profound truths into every sentence and the wrong reader might throw it away as nonsense.

Of course, on the other hand, it was fairly recent that the verb that is now our English “to learn” became the action of the student. Even into the early 19th century, the usage was “He learned me to do it”, not “I learned it from him.” A teacher, or author, imparts truth to the student, or reader, breathing that truth into them. The teacher, or author, does the action, the student, or reader, only receives. Receiving that truth is passive, teaching or writing it is active. But, to passively receive something, you must be open to it. Holding a fist in the air does not allow someone to give you a cup of water, but holding an open hand out in the air does.

This is what I mean above. When I read, I read in a way that’s open to receive whatever truth was breathed into it, intentionally and consciously or unintentionally and unconsciously. I experience the truth in the book. Same thing when I go out into the world. When I stand on the top of a mountain 10,000 feet above sea level with the wind whipping through my hair, the solid rock under my feet, I’m open to receive what the spirits of that place want to teach me. When I draw a circle, call to the spirits I work with and invite them, and perform a rite, I’m open to what the spirits and the rite has to teach me. Reading a book really isn’t different from learning from experience, it’s just a different medium.

The key is to be open to it, and not make it your only source of truth. There’s a saying in Hawai’ian, “a’ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka ha lau ho’okahi”, basically “all knowledge is not taught in one shed.” This stems from a period when spiritual teachers in Hawai’i would teach in the three sided sheds that were common, to anyone who came to them. The point being, each teacher teaches differently, and teaches different things. The same is true here. There are things best learned from a book, but things you can never learn from a book. There are things best taught orally, teacher to student, and things that can never be passed through oral language. There are things best taught only by experience, and things you can’t learn from experience alone. The moment you limit yourself to one source of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom is the moment you limit your knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

A’ohe pau ka ‘ike i ka ha lau ho’okahi.

~ Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on February 3, 2013 in muninnskiss


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What Does it Mean to Be Religious?

“Religion” comes from the Latin “religionem” meaning “respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods.”  Cicero claimed it came from relegare meaning “go through again, read again,” from re- “again” + legere “read”.  ‘However, popular etymology among the later ancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare “to bind fast” (see rely), via notion of “place an obligation on,” or “bond between humans and gods.” Another possible origin is religiens “careful,” opposite of negligens.’ (

If it’s “careful”, it would mean to show respect to the being, to be careful around them.  If “to bind fast”, this would include any tying of yourself to the being, whether it’s by making a deal with them, as in all the stories of demons, djinn, faeries, and all manner of other beings, or leaving offerings to them, like milk for the faeries or coins at a crossroads, or a gift for a genii loci, or swearing allegiance to them.  I’m not sure about read again.  Maybe that’s what Francis has been talking about today.  🙂
But for the actual Latin meaning, “respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods,” we have the question I asked a while back, what makes a being a god?
O.E. god “supreme being, deity; the Christian God; image of a god; godlike person,” from P.Gmc. *guthan (cf. O.S., O.Fris., Du. god, O.H.G. got, Ger. Gott, O.N. guð, Goth. guþ), from PIE *ghut- “that which is invoked” (cf. O.C.S. zovo “to call,” Skt. huta- “invoked,” an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- “to call, invoke.” But some trace it to PIE *ghu-to- “poured,” from root *gheu- “to pour, pour a libation” (source of Gk. khein “to pour,” also in the phrase khute gaia “poured earth,” referring to a burial mound; see found (2)). “Given the Greek facts, the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound” [Watkins]. Cf. also Zeus. (
So our word god is whatever is invoked or called.  Hence my comment about connections to any spirit.  And you see the connection to the dead as well.  Of course, That’s Germanic, whereas religionem is Latin, so:
Zeus – supreme god of the ancient Greeks, 1706, from Gk., from PIE *dewos- “god” (cf. L. deus “god,” O. Pers. daiva- “demon, evil god,” O.C.S. deivai, Skt. deva-), from base *dyeu- “to gleam, to shine;” also the root of words for “sky” and “day” (see diurnal). The god-sense is originally “shining,” but “whether as originally sun-god or as lightener” is not now clear. (
diurnal – late 14c., from L.L. diurnalis “daily,” from L. dies “day” + -urnus, an adj. suffix denoting time (cf. hibernus “wintery”). Dies “day” is from PIE base *dyeu- (cf. Skt. diva “by day,” Welsh diw, Bret. deiz “day;” Arm. tiw; Lith. diena; O.C.S. dini, Pol. dzien, Rus. den), lit. “to shine” (cf. Gk. delos “clear;” L. deus, Skt. deva “god,” lit. “shining one;” Avestan dava- “spirit, demon;” Lith. devas, O.N. tivar “gods;” O.E. Tig, gen. Tiwes, see Tuesday).  (
Which of course brings to mind Victor Anderson’s talk of the 72 Bright Spirits, and of God Herself choosing two Bright Spirits as her consort, the Divine Twins.  And in the Magic Society of the White Flame, which is Arabic based and fairly Ishtar-centric, there is the Apkallu of which there is seven, who guide the universe.  The names given by Nineveh of the Society are the Sanskrit names for the main seven stars of the big dipper.  They are very stellar in nature.  They are relevant because in Shani’s first book, she says, “Ante-deluvian cuneiform texts, discovered in the Middle Eastern regions once known as Sumer and Akkad (Mesopotamia) suggest an intriguing origin for mankind.  From translations presented from these clay tablets, many have posited the possibility of advanced proto-‘Shamanic’ beings named ‘Apkallu’ who may be considered synonymous with the ‘Elohim’ (plural and of both genders).  As great ethereal guardians, the ‘Shining Ones’ were bearers of deep knowledge and wisdom, who through their shared exalted status accelerated humanity’s development beyond his natural evolutionary capacity.  Speculative sexual impregnation by these beings produced a hybrid race is very probably the most popular and enduring legend.  Certainly, this belief is recorded in the distinct myths of all peoples of the world, from China throughout Europe, it’s sub-continents and into Britain.  Analysis of all extant creation myths conceal praxes fundamental to this premise; of superior beings in spirit or flesh becoming the benefactors of mankind, introducing animal husbandry, agriculture, smith-craft and the arts, both aesthetic and spiritual.  Commonly these beings are attributed with ‘God-like’ status.”  She goes on to say they are given as numbering seven, with a leader making eight.  Note “Shining Ones”, like Bright Spirits.  Also note that she’s talking about the Watchers, and the number seven.  Like the seven Feri Guardians, who are also stellar, and also associated with the Watchers, as you can see in DRGN’s article (  And the Watchers, of course, are essentually angels.
And we can look at other Germanic words.

Tuesday – O.E. Tiwesdæg, from Tiwes, gen. of Tiw “Tiu,” from P.Gmc. *Tiwaz “god of the sky,” differentiated specifically as Tiu, ancient Germanic god of war, from PIE base *dyeu- “to shine” (see diurnal). Cf. O.N. tysdagr, Swed. tisdag, O.H.G. ziestag. The day name (second element dæg, see day) is a translation of L. dies Martis (cf. It. martedi, Fr. Mardi) “Day of Mars,” from the Roman god of war, who was identified with Germanic Tiw (though etymologically Tiw is related to Zeus), itself a loan-translation of Gk. Areos hemera. In cognate Ger. Dienstag and Du. Dinsdag, the first element would appear to be Gmc. ding, þing “public assembly,” but it is now thought to be from Thinxus, one of the names of the war-god in Latin inscriptions.

Notice it comes from the same Proto Indio-European root as Zeus and deus.  And just a bit more.

The Sanskrit deva- derives from Indo-Iranian *dev- which in turn descends from the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word, *deiwos, originally an adjective meaning “celestial” or “shining”, which is a PIE (not synchronic Sanskrit) vrddhi derivative from the root *diw meaning “to shine”, especially as the day-lit sky. The feminine form of PIE *deiwos is PIE *deiwih, which descends into Indic languages as devi, in that context meaning “female deity”. 

Also deriving from PIE *deiwos, and thus cognates of deva, are Lithuanian Dievas (Latvian Dievs, Prussian Deiwas), Germanic Tiwaz (seen in English “Tuesday”) and the related Old Norse Tivar (gods), and Latin deus “god” and divus “divine”, from which the English words “divine”, “deity”, French “dieu”, Portuguese “deus”, Spanish “dios” and Italian “dio”, also “Zeys/Ζεύς” – “Dias/Δίας”, the Greek father of the gods, are derived. 

Related but distinct is the PIE proper name *Dyeus which while from the same root, may originally have referred to the daytime sky, and hence to “Father Sky”, the chief God of the Indo-European pantheon, continued in Sanskrit Dyaus. The bode of the Devas is Dyuloka.

All the Romance languages (Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian, and the other I forget, and all the dialects of all of those) use words coming from the Latin word, not the German word ours comes from.  And you’ll notice the Persian word that deus means demon or evil god.
So we’ve included all spirits, the dead (including the ghosts you mentioned, but also revenants and also the Mighty Dead which many trad witches talk interact with, and also the saints of Catholicism and the Lwa and similar beings of Voudou and similar traditions, and the ancestors revered by many in hoodoo and conjure, and across the world, from Japan to China to Europe to Native Americans), demons, angels, gods, faeries (which might be the dead or might be angels who didn’t choose a side in the war in heaven or might be demons), djinn (who are like us, but made or smoke and fire instead of dust, and who are sometimes hard to distinguish from demons, angels, Watchers, etc), what have we left out?  What do you call or invoke?  What do give offerings or gifts to?  What do you show respect to or honour?  What are you careful around?
Wikipedia says:

Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. (

Nothing about there having to be a being in a superior position or about appeasing anything.
Concerning religious experiences:

Religious experience (sometimes known as a spiritual experience, sacred experience, or mystical experience) is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine. 

A religious experience is most commonly known as an occurrence that is uncommon in the sense that it doesn’t fit in with the norm of everyday activities and life experiences, and its connection is with the individual’s perception of the divine. Studying religious experience objectively is a difficult task, as it is entirely a subjective phenomenon. However, commonalities and differences between religious experiences have enabled scholars to categorize them for academic study.  (

So, if you say you’re not religious, yet have contact with spirits, are your experiences subjective or objective, i.e., can you prove that they exist, objectively, using repeatable scientific measurements?  Did you contact something beyond the objective physical world?  I guess you could argue they aren’t divine, but “divine” comes from our words above, so you get back to my original argument that all these spirits are included. 
~Muninn’s Kiss
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in muninnskiss


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Spirits of Place, Magic of Place

Lake Marie in the Snowys near
Laramie.  The area around 10,000 feet
I was referring to.  Image from PlanetWare.

In the mountains at 10,000 feet, all alone, crystal lakes, aspen and pine groves, bare rock peaks, thin air, simple white and yellow flowers (the higher in elevation you go, the closer flowers come to only being white, but even at 12000 feet, you can find a few white flowers), a few deer in the distance, on the edge of the clearing. No humans for miles. The wind in my hair. So peaceful, I feel at one with the wind, floating, flying, light as a feather, relaxed. A place of old spirits that don’t really notice humans.

An aspen grove.  Image
from Chomper’s Chatter.

In an aspen grove, nothing but green leaves and white bark. I can’t see more than five feet in all directions. The ground is soft and mossy under my feet. The air smells like new life. I can’t feel a breeze, but the can hear the wind playing in the leaves and branches above me, I can feel their pleasure to dance in the wind that is my heartblood. I put my hand on a tree trunk and she welcomes me and I feel the life of the whole grove, hundreds of trees, from newly spouted saplings to ancient trunks soaring 50 feet above me. I come upon a little stream at the center, crystal clear water over black soil and grey rocks. A slight babble as the water slowly meanders between the trees. I’ve forgot about humans, forgot about everything but the life around me. Many spirits, one spirit, and me in its heart.

A rain forest in Oregon very
similar to the one I was remembering.
Image from 123RF.

In a dense forest in Oregon, the canape soars two hundred feet above my head. It is dark as twilight down here at their roots. The underbrush rise above my head, with smaller trees that love the shade rising above these bushes, reaching for the douglas fir above. Ferns and other plants are at my feet as I walk silently around them. I lean over and pick sweet clover and eat the leaves, so energizing, so strong, so unique. I can’t hear or feel the wind. The air is so still. Birds sing above me. The air is so moist you can taste it. My skin shouts for joy as it drinks deep. I can’t see far through the underbrush, but the soaring pillars and the vault high above bring to mind a cathedral in England, with the same awe and sense of huge space. But in the cathedrals in England, you feel man reaching for God; here, all you feel is God, nothing reaching, just presence. There are more spirits than you can count, all playing, all interacting, but slow, timeless, for there is no time here.

A pool and tree in the canyon
oasis I was talking about, Nacapule
Canyon.  Image from

In the hills in Mexico, in the middle of the desert. We walk up the narrow canyon and turn a corner and it comes to life. Not the brambles and cacti of the land below, but bright greens and blues, like the feather of a peacock. The palms tower above us, but are dwarfed by the rock above.  After the dryness of the desert, the moisture is suffocating in this desert heat, but I revel in it. The spirits here are quiet, sleepy, waiting. We are intruders, but they aren’t concerned. Humans come, humans go, but the spirits remain.

The glacier just below the Lower Saddle
in the Tetons, where I slept the
night before attempting the summit
of the Grand.  Image from
jcross’ personal site on MIT’s server.

On the great rock saddle that connects the Grand Teton to the Middle Teton, way up here at probably 11000 feet. There is no plant or animal life up here, just the rocks and the humans camped here. I look out one way across Jackson Hole,. way below me, like I’m on the edge of a canyon. It seems so remote, so far away. I walk a hundred yards and look out the other side, toward Idaho, and it is just as remote. On my left and right, the mountains, so severe, so massive, rise above me. There is nothing here but rock and wind. The night before was dark as pitch, but the sun now is so bright. The thin air is so clear. I breathe heavy, but I’m not out of breath. I feast on the clear clean air. I raise my hands and become one with the wind. It’s chilly way up here, even though its July, and the night before was frigid. It had been warmer when at the end of the day, in the last stretch before the saddle as we hiked through the glacier that is now below us on the Jackson Hole side. Soon, we will head on up the Grand Teton. Up here, all is ancient. No tree feels as ancient as these rocks below us and above us. The spirits here are unconcerned by our presence.  We are gnats that they could flatten easily, but why bother? We’re not that important.

A canal with swans in Salisbury.
All our pictures of that trip aren’t
digital, but this looks a lot like
it, but wider.  Image from Trip Advisor.

Sitting by a canal in Salisbury, England. The man made banks rich with bright green grass, rolling down to the crystal water in which the ducks and swans play. To the south, an old wooden water wheel on the side of an old wooden mill, so rustic, like something off a post card, but it’s not famous enough for post cards here. The groomed trees rise above us in a perfect row, spaced so the leaves almost touched. This small city has existed far longer that the United States has, let alone towns in Wyoming, and it has had people here for much longer. There is no separating nature from man here, for man has been here way to long to do that. But the beauty is breathtaking, the balance of human and nature. I am at peace and relaxed.  We sit here for a while before we head to the cathedral. This spot, not on any tourist map, and unknown to even many residents, has captivated us for now. The spirits here are playful, more active than a forest or a mountain.  They are at harmony with us, not from indifference or not noticing us, but because humans are such a part of their world. The spirits laugh in the wind and play in the swiftly flowing water, glad for life, glad for this place to play.

Time Square in New York City.
Image from the midweek post.

I stand in the middle of New York City, in Time Square, cars fill the
streets, bumper to bumper, all rushing to their destination. The buildings
tower above me, the sun reflecting of their windows. Everywhere is movement and sound. My pulse raises, matching the flow of humanity. My heart beats the rhythms, in my mind I see the ever changing patterns dancing across the map in my head. There’s no nature here, but there is life, a fast paced, roaring, torrent of life, pulling at me, filling me. I vibrate with it.  The spirits here rush about and revel in the energy. They’ve known humanity for so long, they are humanity, the spirits of humanity, of technology, of progress. The movement, the stress, the rush, the flow of humanity is worship to them and I feel them in my bones as strongly as the spirits of the mountains or the forest. The life of this place, so different than that of the wilderness, is still its Twin, the balance of the life of the wilderness. There is magic here, but a different magic, a roaring magic and moves fast and ever changes.

Where do you find magic?

~Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in muninnskiss


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