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The Watchers, the Fey, and the Witch: A Study of Blood

Let’s consider for a moment several bits of myth and several bits of lore, and how mythic history interweaves with how things work in the craft.

The general starting point is the often misunderstood or misrepresented concept of witch-blood. I’m going to start from a mythic understanding here, with the warning that confusing myth and science can be damaging to one’s mental processes. Work with me here.

Starting with the premise that all who work the craft have witch-blood, that all witches are of the blood, you might say. Now, those with witch-blood have the Sight. The Sight, as folktales and folklore and myth and lore will tell you, is the ability to see what’s truly there, to see through glamour and see the true form of those who have assumed another shape, shapeshifters if you will, and other such things where the average observer doesn’t see what’s really there. People tend to see what they expect to see. The Sight shows otherwise.

Now there’s lore, a myth, of the Founders. I won’t go into it here, but the witch-blood comes from the Founders, and to them from the Daughters, and to them from the Watchers. And through the Ninth Mother to those with that witch-blood. So that’s the start of it.

So, the Sight, True Sight, being that which, in Celtic folktales, allows those with it to see through the glamour of the Fey. Now, if the witch-blood gives the Sight, and that blood comes from the Blood of the Watchers, the Sight comes from their blood. Now if the Sight is the seeing through the glamour of the Fey, it has power over their glamour. It would make sense that that which is greater trumps that which is lesser, so the witch-blood must be greater than the glamour of the Fey.

Now, consider the connection of the Fey to burial mounds and corpse roads, and other bits and pieces, and what this and other things imply. Now one group of the Fey are of interest here, at least in Ireland, which is the location I want to focus on here, the Sidhe.

Now Sidhe did not indicate a people originally, it means mound, as in a burial mound. And the stories are of them living in Hollow Hills. I’ll leave the connection between the two to you.

Now it was Manannán, son of Lir, that great sorcerer and shapeshifter, who was powerful in glamour among many other things, raised the Veil that separated Ireland into that above and that below, and the Tuatha De Danann went into the Hollow Hills. This was when it became obvious the Milesians, who myth says became the later Irish, would defeat the Tuatha. It’s not a huge leap to consider the possibility that the Tuatha are the Sidhe.

Note Manannán’s shapeshifting and glamour, and other abilities, this might be important.

Now, the Tuatha De Danann are often described as very tall, giants if you will, as were the Fir Bolg. The Fir Bolg were the people who living in Ireland when the Tuatha invaded, and the two fought for some time until the Tuatha ended up victors. Some descriptions, however, show the De Danann being a sect or offshoot of the Fir Bolg.

Consider, then, the Nephilim. “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” Or, “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.” It is not a stretch to link the descriptions of the Nephilim, the children of the Watchers and the Daughters, with the Fir Bold and De Danann. Other tales around the world similarly fit this parallel.

Now if Manannán’s powers, most of which are later seen in witch trial accounts and folktales of witches, and in various cultures around the world including modern trad craft, came from his bloodline, and his people, his blood, comes from the Nephilim, and hence from the Watchers, and if those are the same powers that witches possess, consider again the Sight, and who the Fey are.

Is it impossible that the Fey, especially the Sidhe, are the Mighty Dead, those of Watcher descent, of the witch-blood, who have passed beyond the Veil? And this Veil being the same that separates the two Irelands in the story of the descent of the Tuatha De Danann into the Hollow Hills?

Now, those living can see through the glamour of those who have passed if this is the case, and the blood is the source of Sight as we said, and also of the glamour and shapeshifting and other abilities the tales ascribe to Manannán and later the Fey and to witches.

Now blood is iron and blood is life. The dead have no blood, as we all know, as they have died, hence they have in much of the lore an aversion to iron, which is, as we said, of the blood. This is the reason it runs red.

So the power of the Fey is the result of blood no longer there, but for the power of a witch, the blood is still there. So the blood has power over the dead who have no blood, as the Sight of the witch overcomes the glamour of the Fey.

So the blood is the difference. The witch-blood. If you get my meaning.

FFF,
~Lorekeeper/Muninn’s Kiss

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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in muninnskiss

 

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On Veils and Webs and Hedges…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FFF,
~Lorekeeper, Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2015 in muninnskiss

 

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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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An Abstract on Abstraction

The focus on the abstract and the symbolic in many modern traditions is a bit odd in my opinion. Not that the abstract and symbolic don’t have a place or value, of course. As a born mystic, these things have always intrigued and interested me. It’s the amount of focus and the importance placed that I think is a harmful thing for really growing and practicing.

As a specific example, my main objection to the Classic elements in folk magic is the lack of practical application to the real work. I can’t hold elemental Fire or Water or Earth or Air in my hands, I can’t mix them and make something out of them. But I can take the soil of the land and mix it with water from creek or pond or river or lake, to make mud, and form it into a figure of someone or something or a tablet or a disc for an amulet, and can sit it out for the wind and sun to dry.

You won’t hear a farmer use a blessing like, “may you have water and air and earth.” That is too abstract to be meaningful. You would hear something closer to, “may you have rain or irrigation water to water the crops, may you have fresh air to breathe and wind to blow away harmful insects, may your land be fertile and rich and produce.” Or something more along those more practical lines.

This holds true in many areas. What good does a symbol do if it isn’t applicable in a material or at least methodical way? The Work is about doing the work, not about symbols that can be meditated on but have no pragmatic purpose.

The toad bone was not obtained by some because it symbolized all the things it can be seen to symbolize. These symbols aren’t of no importance, nor are they not real, but they aren’t the point. The toad bone was obtained for very specific purposes, to control animals, to have power over people, and others. Read Andrew Chumbley’s The Leaper Between, and you will see the application is the major focus, not the symbolism, though that exists as well.

I come from simple people, even if I work in an industry far from that, and move at times in higher society. My ancestors on both sides were mostly farms, and when not farmers, still working class people. Salt of the earth, honest folk. This is why my grandpa lost everything twice, as to him, a handshake was a deal. This is why my father always felt more comfortable out with his drilling team in the forest pulling up rock core samples than in the office with those who were more concerned with politics than the work. My father tastes dirt to know what it is made of. My grandpa on my mother’s side worked the ground most of his life, as his father did, and his, all the way back to Germany and Prussia. I come from simple, working class, people, not academics or philosophers, not politicians or old money. And when you live that life, or come from that seed, or do that work, you do what needs to be done, rather than worrying what it means.

Both my father and my mother’s father were water witchers, and could find whatever they were looking for beneath the ground with their skill. It didn’t mater what the meaning of anything was, it mattered that it worked and they could find what they needed. My father used that skill with the drilling team, and they always hit the vein they were trying for when he told them where to drill. There was no symbolism, no hidden meaning, just a skill others couldn’t use that was accurate and got the job done.

Except among philosophers and theologians, symbols and meanings are secondary to what you can use the thing for. The Classical elements are great for discussion and even as symbols in ritual, but, as Bearwalker would say, you can you grow corn in them? The abstraction from the physical things that we interact with when we get our hands dirty to the philosophers’ symbols and metaphors is often a distraction from the work, work that only truly gets done when we get our hands dirty and do the work.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in muninnskiss

 

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The Narrative of What is Taught

One thing I see a lot that I think is detrimental to the passing of what we know and learn, the lore the spirits have given us, and the lore our teachers, both formal and informal, have given us is entitlement.

I’m talking about the entitlement that because someone knows something or can teach you something, they should and that what they know should not be kept to themselves, that all information should be free and accessible.

This is kind of a general war cry in our time, from the call for all software to be open source and license free, to the idea that all government records should be available to the public, to the idea that if something is published on the Internet, it is automatically public domain and can be used without citing or credit, to the idea that copyrights on music and patents on things developed by corporations are automatically an attack on the people. While there might be legitimacy in several, maybe all, of these in some cases, the general idea that all things should be free and available, when we want it and how we want it actually does us all a disservice. We are all singing with Queen, “Here’s to the future, hear the cry of youth, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.” But if we’re going to live a Rock and Roll slogan, maybe we need to hear the Rolling Stones singing, “No, you don’t always get what you want, no, you don’t always get what you want, no, you don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you might find, you get what you need.”

I’d like to quote one of the tenets of Toteg Tribe in regard to this, as I think it expresses well what I’m referring to.

“We listen with consideration to those who choose to share their wisdom with us, and respect their rights to do so in their own way, in their own time.”

The thing is, the process of learning from someone, whether they are formally teaching you or not, whether they are human or not, is not a dump of information like you can get by using Google or Wikipedia to find answers fast. The narrative, the context, and the story that goes along with the teaching is just as important, and stories don’t live in the “I want it all and I want it now” range. The story gets lost there, and the information loses its meaning.

It’s in the narrative between teacher/master and student/apprentice that the craft is taught, not in the facts and information. Facts and information might help you learn dogma, but the craft isn’t about dogma. Facts and information might help you learn a liturgy of lore, but that liturgy is of no use in the craft if it’s just that, just words repeated like the catechism of the Catholic Church. Facts and information might, maybe, point you in a direction where you might be able to apply them and make contact with spirits, and learn on your own, but why do you need a teacher if that is your course? It’s the narrative between the teacher and student, master and apprentice, where any craft is taught, and our craft even more so. You don’t learn enough to start a business in smithing after a weekend course. You don’t learn enough to wire a house after a weekend course with an electrician. You can’t build quality, beautiful cabinets or build a house after a weekend course in carpentry. You can’t build a cathedral after a weekend course in masonry. If you could do any of these, the requirements for a license would be to watch Youtube videos. No, it takes time to learn these crafts, training with a master, and it’s the stories and tales of their experiences that you learn more from than lessons in the simple skills or a dump of information. Why would our craft be different from that?

The teacher that can and will teach you will do so in their own way and their own time. You’re job is to be receptive and live the story they share.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 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.

FFF,

~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 http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/poe/poe13.htm) 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 – http://www.mythweb.com/odyssey/Odyssey.pdf

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.

FFF,
~Muninn’s Kiss

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in muninnskiss

 

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