Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes

As the snow covered valley slowly lights up from the new born sun, I sit here contemplating life and death, ends and beginnings, old and new, cycles within cycles, wheels within wheels.  The words of Semisonic's song, Closing Time, echo in my memory, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

(Please note that this is the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, but the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, which much different associations and implications.)

Many, many holidays that are celebrated can be seen as new years.  Samhain marks the end of any possibility of harvest in the British Isles.  It truly is the beginning of the dark fallow time of winter, despite most modern calendars proclaiming today as the first day of winter.  On that night in Ireland, all lights were extiguished and New Fire was brought to light and heat the houses through the cold Winter.  Beltaine marked the rebirth, for spring comes later most places than Imbolc and the US celebration of the Ground Hog, reflecting the much older custom of the serpent emerging in February.  Beltaine, an ultimate fertility festival, celebrated the return of life after that long fallow winter.

In the far north of Europe, where harvest comes at Midsummer, Midsummer marked the beginning of the raiding season, when the men went to sea.  That ended before the first snows, usually long before the Autumn Equinox.  The short summer meant two very short periods, the first for farming, the second for raiding.  Planting, growing, and harvest all came within a few months.  And raiding didn't last long before the Norse, the Swedes, and the Danes retreated back to hibernate for the long, dark, cold winter.  When you realize how long the nights are that far north and how cold, you see quickly why the Norse end of the world is marked by Winter, not fire, why the fear is that Winter will never end, why the idea of the sun and moon being consumed to no longer light the day makes perfect sense for the end.

The Chinese New Year occurs on January 23rd this year, according to the Western Gregorian calendar, basically a month from now.  The New Year always falls on the second New Moon (Dark of the Moon) after the Winter Solstice.  Since the Chinese months are lunar based and start on the New Moon, this means the New Year is always the beginning of the second month that starts after the Solstice (unless there's an extra month that year).  On that day, this year of the Rabbit (Rabbit is actually a bad translation, it is the Year of the Hare), a year of compassion (the US didn't get the message, obviously), creativity, and sensitivity, will give way to the Year of the Dragon, a year of dominance and ambition, of independence and raging passion, of innovation and bravery.  Lanterns are lit to celebrate the New Year.

The Hebrew calendar has two New Years, one ecclesiastical, i.e., the religious New Year, and the other secular, i.e., the political New Year.  The first lands on the first of Nisan.  The Hebrew months begin on the night the first crescent is visible after a New Moon (in contrast to the Islamic calendar that begin when the last crescent vanishes, and Chinese month that begins on the actually Dark Moon, half way between the Hebrew and Islamic; all three have lunar based months).  It fall on March 24th this coming year.  You'll note this falls very close to the Vernal Equinox.  Nisan always begins the first new crescent after the Equinox.  The secular New Year falls on the first Tishrei (the seventh month starting as Nisan), and falls on Septmeber 17th this year.  Called Rosh Hashanah, the Head of the Year, this New Year falls right around the Autumn Equinox, just before it this year.

The Islamic New Year begins on the first day of Muharram and is called the Hijri New Year, because it is the day the Hijri calendar started.  The Islamic year is purely lunar, so it shifts in relation to the Gegorian calendar we're used to.  The New Year was about a month ago, November 24th, and will be November 14th next year.  For Shai Muslims, it is a day of grief, not celebration, as it marks the day of the death of Muhammad's grandson and his family.

So, does the New Year begin with the death of the old (like Samhain) or the birth of the new (like Beltaine)?  Does it begin with the beginning of Winter or its end?  The Winter Solstice is both.  Each night until this point gets longer and longer, and each day gets shorter.  The further north you go, the more apparent this gets.  It's not surprising that in southern Europe, the celebrations in Winter had very little to do with death and rebirth, that the Celts, further north, focused on Samhain and Beltaine, with less focus on the Solstice, but that in the far north, only the Solstice was important.  While it was the death of the Old Sun, which had been getting shorter and shorter, it's also the birth of the New Sun.  From this day forward, the days get longer and the nights get shorter.  The Solstice is the promise that Winter will end.  If the sun doesn't rise, it's Ragnarok, and we have winter and darkness for three years with no break for summer.

But the sun did rise, and the day is new, like the phoenix rising from the ashes.  "His mercies are new every morning."  So we great the day and great the sun in new life, new light.  With the sun, we died last night.  With the sun, we were reborn this morning.  Let us go forth and not just exist, but live.  Make this New Sun, this new life, this new light, count.  Go forth and change your world!

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Throne of Bone

The Throne of Bone
A Poem of the Winter Solstice
By Muninn’s Kiss

Darkest night and shortest day,
Shadows reign and darkness calls,
The shadowy figure of Death stands by,
Patiently waiting for all to fall.

Each child born will surly die,
None is spared and all know why,
At Death’s bone throne each one will come,
He needn’t search for all will come.

The sun sets earlier for half the year,
Night grows longer, shadows strive,
The year he ages as do all,
Growing weaker, growing frail.

The time draws near when he will die,
The year we’ve loved so hard to watch,
The mourners all do gather round,
For letting go is the hardest task.

With the sun, the year does set,
Sinking down into the grave,
Like each man, he bows his knee,
And presents himself at the throne of bone.

In his birth we knew he’d die,
For every beginning contains the end,
We watched him grow like a new born lamb,
We watch him die at the Slaughterer’s hand.

Every beginning has it’s end,
But every ending is born again,
With Dawn’s first light like the Morning Star,
The new year rises and live once more.

Fresh and hopeful, full of life,
The year reborn begins his flight,
We watch him stretch and try his wings,
We glory that he lives again.

Forgetting the grief and sorrow past,
We pretend he didn’t see Death’s own face,
With the new year, we fly away,
Trying to forget our own mortality.

Winter Solstice Song

Winter Solstice Song
By Lisa Thiel

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

On the longest night we search for the light,
And we find it deep within.
Open your eyes to embrace what is wise,
And see the light of your own soul shining.

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

Wrap up in the cloak of starry darkness my child,
And you’ll find the center of all things.
For from this space of the deepest dark place,
Life Eternal does spring.

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

So when you find that spark
When you dream in the dark,
Hold it close to your heart and know.
All that you see is all that can be
When you give birth to the dreams of your soul.

Enter the night and you’ll find the light,
That will carry you to your dreams.
Enter the night, let your spirit take flight,
In the field of infinite possibilities

Friday, 16 December 2011

Grimr's Grimoire: a Book of Myths from the Spider's Web?

I'm contemplating writing a book called Grimr's Grimoire: a Book of Myths from the Spider's Web.  If I do, it will contain poetry, lore, myths, praxis, theory, and other things in it.  Writing it, I'm not concerned with.  I can do that easily, as I have time.  My big concern is the cost to get it published and if I could sell enough copies to offset that cost.  I figure I need to sell about 500 copies to break even.  Here's my tentative list of chapters:

1. Introduction
2. The Prophet and the Mirror
3. The Priest and the Bridge
4. The Poet and the Cauldron
5. The King and the Wasteland
6. The Wanderer and the Mask
7. The Mistress and the Blade
8. The Heidr and the Ten Thousand Things
9. The Vordr and the Compass
10. The Grimr and the Spider's Web
11. The Tvennr and the Eternal Dance
12. The Nagara and Everything
13. Ex nihilo

~Muninn's Kiss

Friday, 2 December 2011

Grimr Reading List

The following is an incomplete reading list.  I put this together randomly over the last two hours.  There is no particular order to it, and it is missing the authors currently.  Additionally, to make it a complete list, I would want to provide a summary of each book, my opinion of them, and a link either to a place it is available to read online in the case of older books, or a place to purchase them for the newer books, if either of these exist.  Some of these are easily obtained.  Others are out of print but not out of copyright and very hard to find, especially at a reasonable price.  The first section is a list of books.  The second is a list of magazines and periodicals.  Anything on either of these list, I recommend or it wouldn't be on here.  Some, however, I have not read and/or do not currently have access to.  I have included some that are highly recommended by people I respect.  I have included some that I know the author and the author's work, and hence know the book listed will be good.  I have included some that I haven't finished reading but recommend it based on what I've read so far.  I have included fiction and non-fiction, history and myth, religious texts and magic texts, esoteric and exoteric texts.  Some people will like some things on this list, others will not, but will like other things.  Some of these are based on years of research, some completely intuitive.  Some are very intellectual, some are very mystical.  Some are very practical, some are purely theoretical.  But all are related to my path, my walk, my stream, and I recommend all of them, just not to everyone.  Take it for what it is.  Your mileage may very.

Book List

  • The White Goddess
  • The Golden Bough
  • Tubelo's Green Fire
  • Riding Windhorses
  • Drawing Down the Spirits: The Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession
  • Share My Insanity
  • Goddess Initiation
  • Fifty Years in the Feri Tradition
  • Etheric Anatomy
  • The White Wand
  • Evolutionary Witchcraft
  • Kissing the Limitless
  • Spiral Dance
  • Magic and Witchcraft
  • The Zohar
  • Practical Chinese Medicine
  • The Web That Has No Weaver
  • Tao Te Ching
  • I Ching
  • The Herb Book
  • A History of Medieval Christianity: Prophecy and Order
  • Religious Dissent in the Middle Ages
  • Witchcraft in the Middle Ages
  • A History of Witchcraft: Sorcerers, Heretics, Pagans
  • Satan: The Early Christian Tradition
  • Dissent and Reform in the Early Middle Ages
  • Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages
  • Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World
  • The Prince of Darkness: Evil and the Power of Good of History
  • Dissent and Order in the Middle Ages: The Search for Legitimate Authority
  • A History of Heaven: The Singing Silence
  • Paradise Mislaid
  • Inquisition
  • I Asked For Wonder
  • Plants of Life, Plants of Death
  • Primal Myths
  • Goddess of the North
  • The God of the Witches
  • The Elements of the Grail Tradition
  • The Jewish Book of Days
  • The Kabbalah: The Essential Texts From the Zohar
  • The Book of Qualities
  • Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies
  • Stillness Speaks
  • Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia
  • Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy
  • The Elements of the Runes
  • The Art of War
  • Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
  • A Field Guide to Irish Fairies
  • The Encyclopaedia of Celtic Myth and Legend: A Definitive Sourcebook of Magic, Vision, and Lore
  • The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind
  • Magic that Works
  • Aradia: Gospel of the Witches
  • Roles of the Northern Goddess
  • Pillars of Tubal Cain
  • Thorns of the Blood Rose
  • The Formation Of A Persecuting Society: Power And Deviance In Western Europe, 950-1250
  • Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation
  • The Origins of European Dissent
  • Diodorus Siculus: Library of History
  • Lilith's Garden
  • Azoetia
  • Qutub
  • The Roebuck in the Thicket
  • The Robert Cochrane Letters
  • The Complete Brother Grimm Fairy Tales
  • The Book of Fallen Angels
  • Masks of Misrule
  • The Lesser Key of Solomon
  • The Greater Key of Solomon
  • Witchcraft: A Tradition Renewed
  • History of the Kings of Britain
  • Book of Invasions
  • Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism
  • The Middle Pillar
  • Chicken Qabalah
  • The DustBunnies/MarchHares Big Damn Handout Volume I
  • Black Book of the Yezidi
  • Drawing Down the Moon
  • The Religion of the Teutons
  • The Guide for the Perplexed
  • The Book of Lies
  • The Book of Thoth
  • The Book of the Law
  • 231 Gates of Initiation
  • The Cloud of Unknowing
  • Little Flowers of St. Francis
  • Miracles and Pilgrims: Popular Beliefs in Medieval England
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • Le Morte D'Arthur
  • Living with Contradiction
  • The White Hart
  • Taleisen
  • Merlin
  • Arthur
  • Pendragon
  • Grail
  • Avalon: the Return of King Arthur
  • The Crystal Cave
  • The Hollow Hills
  • The Last Enchantment
  • The Wicked Day
  • The Prince and the Pilgrim
  • One Thousand and One Arabian Nights
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Andersen's Fairy Tales
  • The Traveler
  • The Dark River
  • The Golden City
  • Vellum
  • Ink
  • The Interior Castle

Magazines and Periodicals

  • The Cauldron
  • Witch Eye: A Journal of Feri Uprising 
  • Circle Magazine
  • Witch's Almanac
~Muninn's Kiss

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Let Us Give Thanks

On this day that people in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, it's a day with a lot of energy, both of thankfulness and of hearth and home, larder and abundance, of friends and family.

It's a day associated with the harvest, like many other days between the Summer and Winter Solstices, though probably the latest harvest festival of the Gregorian year.  It is a day that's the height of increase. It's interesting that this year it falls so close to the New Moon, at a place of decrease, and also that it falls when Mercury is retrograde, a time often associated with things going backwards.  Appropriate since there is a general spiritual climate with the current economy, with the unemployment, with the recent protests, of lack, not abundance.

With the importance of family on this day for most Americans, it begs the question, who are you thankful to?   Is it to the Divine or land spirits, those that bring abundance?   Is it to your living family and friends, those that are part of your life in the now, the present, and all the blessings they give you.  Is it to your ancestors, recent or ancient, blood or spirit, the ones that helped you get where you are today?  I think it's as important to know who you're thankful to as what you're thankful for, for this tells a lot about you.

When you hear the word "ancestor", what do you think of?  You grandfather that died a year or two ago?  Your father that died?  Those who you're descended from who made the crossing to the New World?  Someone sitting in a grass hut in pre-history?  Or do you think of the Might Dead, of the dead of your spiritual line, those who mentored you, who mentored them?  Those form part of the current you ride in your journey?  If you believe in reincarnation, do you only think of the ancestors of this life, or of all lives?

Memory is passed in the blood and is stored in the bones.  Not the memories like what I had for dinner last night, but the ancient memories.  Who we really are, where we really came from.  As the baby grows in the mother, their blood mixes.  Her blood flows through her bones, picking up the memories.  Her blood flows down the umbilical cord, mixing with the baby's, and passes, along with the oxygen and nutrients, the memories in her bones of what came before.  And the baby's blood circulates through his body and those memories join others in his bones.

And other memories come also, memories from the Neshamah, who has lived many lives before.  She passes these memories along the cord, very much like the physical umbilical cord, that connects her to the newly developing Nefesh.  These memories are carried within her in the Threads of Wyrd, of Fate, that lie at her core.  They are passed down that cord to Nefesh.  And Nefesh is closely tied with the blood and the bones, and takes these memories and stores them in the bones to join the others in the baby's bones.

These memories are what ties us to both our physical ancestors and our spiritual ancestors.  And the new born baby knows all things that came before, but can't communicate them, being without words.  But with the coming of words comes restriction of memories, for the memories that he can't put into words no longer hold meaning and are forgotten.  With language comes ignorance and forgetfulness.  And we spend the rest of our lives re-learning, re-discovering, re-remembering.  But the memories are still in our bones, as they are still in the wind that blows across our skin.  So close, yet so far.  Right there, yet they might as well be in the stars.  And they are.

Magic and the craft is in our blood and our bones, for those who aren't clayborn.  It's tied up in those memories.  Call it Witchblood, call it the Witch's Mark, call it whatever you like, but it's there, waiting for use to find it.  As it was in our parents, whether physical or spiritual, and in theirs, all the way back.  And where do we go, looking back?  How far and to whom?

There's a story common in the Craft, and elsewhere, both esoteric and exoteric, both legend and myth,  The story tells of beings descending, seeing the beauty of the Daughters of Man, and having children of them, and teaching them all things, all crafts, all sciences, all arts, all magic.  Some call them Watchers, some call them Guardians, some call the Gods, some call them the Sons of God.  There are different counts of them, seven, eight, twelve, 200, other counts as well.  In many traditions, those with the Witchblood or Mark are those descended from these beings.  The things they taught aren't just passed down from teacher to student, master to apprentice.  They are in those memories, in our blood and our bones.  If we're not taught, still we can learn.  If we just listen to our bones, listen to our blood, listen to the wind.

If we are descended, both physically and spiritually from the Watchers, from the Guardians, they aren't guides or teachers or protectors.  They are our flesh and blood, some of our most ancient ancestors.  They are family.  When we encounter them in the Circle or Compass, or at Dawn or Dusk, yes, they are distant and removed, the ultimate reaches, the stars in the sky.  But they are also family, also our ancestors, the most ancient of the Mighty Dead.  They are distant, but they are also close, in our very blood and bones, just as we were in their loins and seed.  The connection is more than just a teacher and a student, or a protector and witness to our Arte.  They are one with us and us with them.  One blood, one body, one soul.

When we say we're thankful on this day, yes, let us look to the spirits and the Divine, yes, let us look to our friends and families, yes, let us look to our ancestors.  But let us look to all our ancestors, recent and ancient, physical and spiritual, human and stellar.  We are made of stardust, and we also carry it in our blood and bones, in our Nefesh, our Ruach, and our Neshamah, in the very strands of Wyrd that connect us to the past, the present, the future, all that was, all that is, all that will be, all space, all time, all earths, all heavens, the mundane and the sacred, the human and the divine.

"Let us give thanks..."

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

What Would You Sacrifice for Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis/Power/Mystery/Wisdom?

"The Tempation of Eve"
by William Blake
It's been said that G-d lied to Adam and Eve, that he said they would die if they ate the fruit, but that they didn't...   Oh, but they did die!  But that's part of the point.  First the "small deaths" of leaving the Garden, toiling in the field, and the pains of childbirth, then the "great death" at the end of their lives, Adam at 930 years old.

What would you give up to gain Knowledge?  What would you give up to become "like G-d", to become a god?  Is the immortality of your physical body a sacrifice worth giving?  They traded a posh (Port out, starboard home, around the Cape of Good Hope, for those who don't know) life of ease, caring for the trees but not working hard, but living in ignorance, for a life of toil and hard work and pain and eventual death, but gained Knowledge, Da'ath, Gnosis.

How many Americans living a comfortable, easy life would give that all up for Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis?

Essentially, it's Initiation, dying to gain Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis/Power/Mystery/Wisdom, then being reborn/remade.  It's like Odin said:
Down to the deepest depths I peered
I know I hung on that windy tree,
Swung there for nine long nights
Wounded by my own blade
Bloodied for Odin.
Myself an offering to myself
Bound to the tree
That no man knows
Wither the roots of it ran.

None gave me bread.
None gave me drink.
Down to the deepest depths I peered
Until I spied the Runes.
With a roaring cry I seized them up
Then dizzy and fainting I fell.

Well-being I won
And wisdom, too.
From a word to a word
I was led to a word.
From a deed to another deed.
It's essentially the same story, sacrificing yourself to yourself on the tree, and gaining  Knowledge/Da'ath/Gnosis/Power/Mystery/Wisdom.

G-d mislead them by creating a taboo that the plan ultimately required to be broken.  The serpent mislead them by making it sound like the promised death was immediate and absolute, rather than in the future and temporary.  But ultimately, Adam and Eve made their own decision, not based only on what G-d said, and not only on the serpent.  They gave up something to gain something else, and though they suffered the consequences, they changed EVERYTHING.  They took their Destiny into their own hands and overcome Fate by breaking the taboo, while G-d and the serpent stood back to see what they would do.

~Muninn's Kiss

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Seed of Inspiriation

In Kabbalah, there are four worlds, the World of Emanations, the World of Creation, the World of Forms (if you know Plato, you'll get that one), and the World of Action.  We live in the World of Action, which is the world change occurs in, and those changes ripple back up to the higher worlds.  Everything in our world begins in the the World of Emanations as seeds of an idea.  You can see these as pre-thoughts, pre-ideas.  This is the Yod floating in the Zoid that will become creation.  In that Yod are all the letters.  It is the seed from which everything comes, the DNA of the universe, if you will.  From the seed of an idea in the World of Emanations grows an idea fully formed.  This idea is in the World of Creation.  This idea grows into a plan, in the World of Forms.  The World of Forms, or Plato's World of the From, is the blueprint for what's in our world.  And the plan is put into action in the World of Action.  All Hebrew roots are verbs, not nouns.

The Gather has spent generations gathering berries, gathering nuts, gathering herbs.  She (or he) has seen that the seed falls to the ground, and that from it grows a new plant.  This is the seed (ha!) of an idea, the World of Emanations.  It dawns on her one day, after all those generations, that maybe the seeds she gathers can be grown, so she doesn't have to worry about where to find them.  This is the idea, the World of Creation.  She decides to try it, decides which seed to try, where to plant them.  This is the plan, the World of Forms (I typed World of Farms; lol).  She gathers them and plants them and they grow.  The action in the World Of Action.  Previous generations might have had the seed, but never had the idea.  They might have had the idea but never formed the plan.  They might have made a plan but never put it into action.

The Gather is now the Farmer.  She watches the plants grow.  And one day, made her, maybe a later generation, notices that when one left or branch becomes sick, it spreads through the plant.  There is another seed.  She realizes maybe she can cut the deceased leaf or branch off to save the rest.  Another idea.  She figures out she can use the knife she uses to skin animals or cut herbs to cut off the leaf or branch.  Another plan.  She does so.  Another action, and pruning becomes part of life.  And so on.

The Hunter has been watching the wolf hunt for generations.  He (or she) has learned from it, improved how he hunts, generation by generation.  One day, he wonders what it would be like to hunt with the wolf instead of watch, instead of hunt apart from the wolf.  This is the seed of an idea, the World of Emanations.  He wonders if he can catch the wolf, and train it to hunt with him.  This is the idea, the World of Creation.  He makes a plan to lure the wolf in with food, get the wolf comfortable with him.  This is the plan, the World of Forms.  He does it, and ends up with a wolf half trusting him, eventually hunting with him, sharing life and food with him.  The action in the World of Action.  And, once again, each step might have happened in previous generations, but it wasn't until him that it was carried out.

And he or his descendant observes the wolf, seeing it's strengths, it's weaknesses.  And they make the connection that with humans, a strong father usually has stronger children, a smart, sunning father usually has smarter children than the ones that aren't as bright.  This is another seed.  He wonders if he got two wolves with the strengths he wants with another one with the same strengths whether the pups would be better than normal. Another idea.  He decides to observe more wolves, either wild ones or the ones he's hunted with, find the ones with the strengths he wants, and get them together to bred.  Another plan.  And he does so.  Another action.  And so on.

A man named J. H. Muller, in 1786, wondered if a mechanical machine, a difference engine, could be designed that could do calculations for him.  This was the seed of an idea, the World of Emanations.  A man named Charles Babbage proposed such a machine in 1822 and set about doing so, designed an analytical engine and an improved difference engine.   They were built but too expensive to manufacture.  This was the idea, the World of Creation.  A man named Konrad Zuse in 1936 designed a new machine from the idea of a difference engine.  His design didn't do one operation, or several operations like the ones before, but could be programmed to do different things.  This was the plan, the world of Forms.  And from there, the modern computer evolves, the action in the World of Action.

I could go on, but my point is that an idea forms that leads eventually to an action.  The idea comes first, not the technology.  Sometimes the idea is successful, sometimes not, but often the failure leads to new seeds, which lead to new ideas.  In scientific terms, the seed is a question, the idea is a hypothesis, the plan is the design of the experiment, and the action is the experiment itself.  And it's our culture, our lifestyle, our setting (which is the term I use in my Social Dynamics) that provides the experiences that bring about the seed of an idea.  Our Gatherer wouldn't have thought to plant seeds if she didn't gather them first.  Our Hunter wouldn't have thought to domesticate a wolf if he hadn't been following the same herds.  Muller, and engineer in the Hessian army, wouldn't have thought of building the difference engine if he hadn't seen the steam powered machines of his time.  He also, by the way, designed and built and improved version of Leibniz' adding machine. Leibniz added division and multiplication to Pascal's calculator and invented the first mass produced calculator.  Without Pascal's seeds, ideas, plans, and actions, Leibniz couldn't have done what he did.  Without Leibniz, Muller couldn't have done what he did.  All this lead to the first computer, which changed the world.  So the seeds that brought about the computer, the ideas, the culture, started at the latest in 1642 with Pascal's mechanical calculator.  The ideas that led to the computer took almost three hundred years to get to the first computer and it's been almost 80 years to get where we are.  Technology comes from ideas.  Then technology spawns new ideas, which spawn new technology, and so one.  A cycle, a process, thought begets change, change begets thought.  Technology doesn't develop apart from thought, in isolation from an idea that came from the culture and the setting of the culture.

The question is, why the 'sudden' change?  Why, after thousands and thousands of years, generations and generations of observing these same things, living this same way, with little change, why, 'suddenly' does someone change all that?  What plants the seed of an idea in the first place, since it never happened before that point?  Around the same time, independently, in at least six places, the change occurs, the seed is planted, germinates, and grows, and the world is never the same.

The changes that occurring in lifestyle and technology (the square house, the domestication, the pottery, the metal working, the walls), and the supposition made from these of the changes in thinking, the changes in world view, all these things are interesting but don't get us to the meat of it.  These things are the elements, the symbols, in the Mystery Traditions, the elements the initiate sees when they're ready, be it the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Dionysian Mysteries, the Arcadian Mysteries (my personal favourite), the Mithraic Mysteries, the Orphic Mysteries, the Isis Mysteries, early Christianity, or even modern Feri.  The element, the symbol, the Key, only has meaning to the initiate because they are ready for the Mystery they point to.  This is the heart of mysticism, moving beyond the symbols and elements to the Mystery behind them.  To me, the societal changes are only interesting in that they point to the changes in thinking to brought them about and that they brought about, and those changes are only interesting because the point to the Mystery that caused the initial change, the Catalyst, the planting of that seed of an idea.

Something changed.  Something in six places (is there a seventh we're missing, I wonder) about the same time, after generations upon generations, thousands upon thousands of years (Carl Sagan is saying billions and billions in my head right now).  Was it greed that lead to stockpiling, and that to the rest?  I think not.  The first things they started stockpiling were food, plants and animals, but you couldn't do that without first domesticating them.  It was the realization that they could domesticate that came first, then the action, and only then did greed come in.

But what changed?  Someone drank from the Welsh Cauldron of Inspiration.  Someone was given fire by Promethius.  Someone gave up an eye to drink of the Well of Wisdom.  Someone saw a burning bush and turned aside.  Someone ate from a forbidden tree and gained knowledge.  Someone was baptised in the River Jordan and had the Spirit descend on them like a dove.  Someone was sitting by a river beneath a tree and realized there was another way.  Someone wrestled with G-d in the night.  Someone was taught by angels.  Something happened, and someone, well, at least six someones, realized there was another way beyond what had always been true, the way things had always been.

Not saying it was G-d or a god coming to them, or anything else particularly, just that something changed, something planted that seed, and everything changed, first with them, then their family, then their neighbours and so on.  Not in everyone, of course, but it rippled out like a still pond when a rock is thrown in.  And once that seed of an idea was planted, nothing could ever go back.

From Cain's, the farmer's, line, not from the nomad line, Lamech's wife Adah gave birth to Jabal and Jubal, and his wife Ziilah gave birth to Tubal-Cain and Naamah.  Jabal is said to be the father of all who live in tents and raise livestock, the nomad herders we've talked about.  Jubal is the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.  Tubal-Cain to all those who forge tools of bronze and iron (and weapons).  And by Jewish tradition, Naamah is the mother of all demons.  Many British traditions look to this passage.  Hence, the Clan of Tubal-Cain, which the association with metal working.  There's a change here. the beginning of stringed instruments, the beginning of forging.  And these things are in the line of Cain, the farmer, who is contrasted with the line of Seth which is seen as the good line.  The author(s) of Genesis seem to think the change brought about in the Neolithic Revolution was a bad thing, just as eating of the Tree and gaining Knowledge is shown as bad.  But the witchcraft traditions usually look to Cain and the line of Cain.  I find that interesting.

From a 1600s York manuscript:
"Before Noah flood there was a man called Lamech as is written in the Scriptures in ye Chatr of Genesis And this Lamech had two wives ye one named Adah by whome he had two sons ye one named Jabell ye other named Jubell And his other wife was called Zillah by whome he had one son named Tubelcaine & one Daughter named Naamah & these four children founded ye beginnings of all ye Sciences in ye world viz Jabell ye oldest Sone found out ye Science of Geomatre he was a keepr of flocks and sheep Lands in the Fields as it is noted in ye Chaptr before sd And his bother Jubell found ye Science of Musicke Song of the Tongue harpe & organ And ye third brother Tuball Caine found ye Science called Smith Craft of Gold Silvr Iron Coppr & Steele & ye daughter found ye ara of Weaving And these persons knowing right well yt God would take vengencance for sinne either by fire or water wherefore they writt their severall Sciences yt they had found in two pillars of stone yt might be found aftr Noah his Flood And ye one stonbe would not burn wth fire & ye othr called Lternes because it would not dround wth wtr etc."
Four children, the Herdsman or Horseman, the Musician or Bard, the Smith, and the Weaver.  All of these hold importance in the later witchcraft of Europe and the British Isles.

The other common thing in many witchcraft traditions is the Watchers, coming down and teaching mankind all sciences and magic, including the things listed in the previous quote.  The story is of the Watchers watching humans and falling in love with the women (from Genesis and from Sumerian myths) and having children, the giants and men of renown in the Tanakh, the "witchblood" in some witch traditions.  And they taught man these things.  Science and math, forging and weaving, magic and witchcraft, domestication and farming.  Basically, that the Neolithic Revolution came about from their teaching.  The seed of the idea.  The fire from heaven.  The Inspiration.  In Sumerian myth, the Apkallu were seven, associated with seven stars.  They are the Watchers and taught mankind, bringing about the first civilization, Sumer.  In Cochrane's Basic Structure of the Craft, there are seven wind gods, the sons of Night and Man, the seven stars.  In Feri, there are seven Guardians, who are the true teachers of the witch.  They are the watchers, and they are seven stars.

Regardless of whether there were watchers or whatever, that point, that seed, that inspiration, that formed in six places around the same time is ingrained in the psyche, the cultural memory, of the people of the earth, and seems present in one form or another in the myths of people throughout the world.  That moment that began the Neolithic Revolution that is such a Mystery is remembered and engraved in all of us.

And that, I think, is the important part of the study of the Neolithic Revolution.  And the ultimate goal and central pillar of mysticism.  And the essence of witchcraft.

~Muninn's Kiss

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Year is Drawing Nigh, a Samhain poem

The Year is Drawing Nigh
A Samhain poem by Muninn’s Kiss

As darkness fall, the veil thin,
The year is drawing nigh.
Shadows lengthen, gather strength,
The year is drawing nigh.
The dead they stir, and look around,
The year is drawing nigh.
Tonight they walk, tonight they dine,
The year is drawing nigh.
The sinks down, she’s dying now,
The year is drawing nigh.
Beneath the hills, the dying sun,
The year is drawing nigh.
Hollow hills, they open wide,
The year is drawing nigh.
Faerie folk, the mighty dead,
The year is drawing nigh.
Samhain’s fires, burning bright,
The year is drawing nigh.
To dance around, in death’s embrace,
The year is drawing nigh.
Ancestors dead, some long gone,
The year is drawing nigh.
We tip a glass, we place a plate,
The year is drawing nigh.
Death stands up, tonight he reigns,
The year is drawing nigh.
In darkness strong, the dying year,
The year is drawing nigh.
The revelers grow deathly quiet,
The year is drawing nigh.
All knees bend and all tongue stilled,
The year is drawing nigh.
For Death takes all and all will come,
The year is drawing nigh.
The Gates of Death, they open wide,
The year is drawing nigh.
His face you meet, at Death’s great doors,
The year is drawing nigh.
A friend, a judge, a lover, a blade,
The year is drawing nigh.
His embrace is sweet, but deathly cold,
The year is drawing nigh.
In love he strips you, bone from bone,
The year is drawing nigh.
Nothing left, you pass beyond,
The year is drawing nigh.
The veil it parts, the doors swing wide,
The year is drawing nigh.
Your last strong breath, last orgasm,
The year is drawing nigh.
And through you go, to what’s beyond,
The year is drawing nigh.
But Death’s great doors and Life’s fair doors,
The year is drawing nigh.
What’s dead and gone, will be reborn,
The year is drawing nigh.
A new breath breathed, a new day dawns,
The year is drawing nigh.
Death to Life, he takes your hand,
The year is drawing nigh.
All is gone, but all in new,
The year is drawing nigh.
The new dawn’s sun, in the east,
The year is drawing nigh.
The cold it flees, the shadows hide,
The year is drawing nigh.
Dark Samhain’s night to new year’s light,
The year is drawing nigh.
What was dead has come again.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

On Centres, Actions, Webs, and Spiders

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

Another is the mantra, "Each person is responsible for their own action."  This mantra is very important in defining my personal ethics and is very important in informing my understanding of not just the human world, but the natural and spiritual worlds as well.  The following passage from Riding Windhorses expresses this mantra in a very well and in a way that makes a lot of sense to me.  This is in the context of Northern Asian shamanism, primarily among the Siberian and Mongolian peoples.
"Shamanism is concern with personal power and bringing good fortune into one's life.  In the context of the cosmology described above, one must remember the saying, 'Everyone has his own universe, everyone has his own path.' While every day brings an individual into contact with the personal worlds of others, the core issues of life lie within one's personal universe. In this individual aspect of the cosmos, a person stands at the perfect center of the universe, supported by Mother Earth and enveloped in the clear blue vastness of Father Heaven. At the center one's cosmic soul (suns) shines as a bright white star, and the body soul (ami) is a red point of light. One can fly freely within the vastness of space or travel upon the earth. Because one has his or her own path, one is ultimately responsible for his or her own actions."
This also expresses a lot of other important concepts in my beliefs and practice.  Present here is the concept of the Guardian of the Centre, and also of Witch Herself.  Modern science and common belief says that it is pure ego to say the earth is the centre of the universe, and especially to say yourself is the centre.  But who doesn't feel, at least subconsciously, that they are the centre?  That doesn't mean no one else is important, or that all should serve and cater to you, or that it's all about you.  But you relate to the world from your own person, not from the centre of the galaxy or solar system, nor even from the person you hold most dear.  You relate to the world from your own person, so that is the centre of your world.  You are the centre of the web, the weave.  All the threads in your life radiate out from you, connecting you to the things and beings around you.

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

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

The Norns
And, of course, Aumakua, Neshamah, your higher soul, Godself, has a web of her own.  Many people, whether they believe in it or not, know the concept of Fate, Destiny, Necessity, Weird, Karma.  Consequences that influence the future, things in the past that direct the present.  Many cultures talk of the Weaver or Weavers, in whatever form.  Spin the thread, measure the thread, cut the thread.  Birth, Life, Death.  A good way to understand Godself's web is to look at the concept of Weird or Wyrd in the Germanic traditions.
O.E. wyrd "fate, destiny" (n.), lit. "that which comes," from P.Gmc. *wurthis (cf. O.S. wurd, O.H.G. wurt "fate," O.N. urðr "fate, one of the three Norns"), from PIE *wert- "to turn, wind," (cf. Ger. werden, O.E. weorðan "to become"), from base *wer- "to turn, bend" (see versus). For sense development from "turning" to "becoming," cf. phrase turn into "become." The modern sense of weird developed from M.E. use of weird sisters for the three fates or Norns (in Germanic mythology), the goddesses who controlled human destiny. They were usually portrayed as odd or frightening in appearance, as in "Macbeth," which led to the adj. meaning "odd-looking, uncanny," first recorded 1815.  (
Frigg Weaving the Clouds
Another world used in Old Norse is ørlǫg, literally, "beyond law".  Frigg is said to know all ørlǫg, but not say it.  She is often portrayed as a Weaver.  Think of her sitting at her loom, letting the threads go where they go and seeing ørlǫg in them.  But the Norns control the threads, control ørlǫg, control urðr, Wyrd, Weird.  You'll notice a few words above.  "To turn, wind".  Like a thread on a spindle or distaff.  "To turn, bend".  Like the threads being bent into a pattern on a loom.  (Note that one possible root meaning for witch is "to bend", also.)

Wyrd itself is Fate, the web of all things that were once whole.  Orlog is the ever changing threads which are found in the athem.  It is the fate of the individual itself.  Orlog affects hamingja and vice versa.  The hamingja bears the orlog in this life.  By fulfilling and bettering the hamingja, one takes care of orlog.  This in turn “feeds” the fetch, or spirit, by fulfilling fate and bringing the fetch one step closer to completing the true “Great Work.”  So it would seem that Orlog is the transmitter of wyrd to the hamingja and that by improving hamingja one can create a better wyrd for the future.  (
The Athem is the spirit cord, divine spark or “breath of life” which flows through us.  These cords, which all things possess are the “Threads of Fate” which tie all things together.  It is when these “threads” cross that we become attached to another being or thing and thus generate more “fate” (understood by most modern cultures as karma.)  It is the series of all athems which bind all things together in the great tapestry of Fate.  It is both a completion and destruction of the tapestry, by resolving all fate that we shall finally achieve the Great Work as a universe and allow the Godhead to be whole again.  Each athem by itself also binds together each part of the individual anthropos.  It is through the athem that we make contact with entities of spirit and, indeed, our own spirits.  This is because the athem is in constant contact with the spiritual forces of the universe.  It is interesting that the Egyptians seem to have believed that life ended when the ka left the body, which seems to support our analysis here.  (
The fetch is the portion of the soul complex that truly lives on after we are no more. It is what truly carries wyrd from life to life. (
(Note that he is using the word fetch differently than I used above, much closer to what I mean by Godself.  Read his whole articles to understand his use of it, which is Germanic in origin, whereas my usage comes from Feri.)

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

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

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

The Lady of Shalott, by
William Holman Hunt, 1905
Which brings us back to the passage from Riding Windhorses and my original mantra.  Other's actions, other's threads, be they aka threads, social threads, or Threads of Fate, effect us, influence us, come into contact with us.  We are effected by them.  When people enter our personal universe, they are part of that universe, and each one has an effect, like the butterfly flapping its wings in chaos theory or the observer in the slot experiment in quantum physics.  But ultimately, they are responsible for their actions and I'm responsible for mine.  It's not what they do to me that matters, it's how I respond.  It isn't what they give me, it's what i do with what they give me.  It is my web, my weave, my tapestry, my personal universe, and I am responsible for it.  I make my own decisions, I do my own actions, and I am responsible for what I do, not for what they do.  If I take responsibility for their actions and their decisions, I give them power over my life, I submit my life force to them.  Same thing if I let them dictate my decisions and actions.

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

~Muninn's Kiss

Sunday, 16 October 2011

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

Observation and Calculation: Laziness and the passage of time

 There are certain feasts and festivals that are considered "movable" in Christianity.  Easter is the most well known by the general public outside the churches.  But Easter is only movable because of laziness and an insistence on defining lunar feasts based a solar calendar.  As we talked about around that time earlier this year, Easter started out as the Sunday after Passover.  Passover is fixed, but obviously to the Hebrew calendar, not the Julian or Gregorian.  Passover is *always* the week of the 15th through 22nd of Nissan, which is sundown on the third Friday of Nissan until sundown of the next Friday.  So Easter was always 24th of Nissan.  But non-Jewish Christians didn't observe the moon, so they had to ask a Jew when it would occur, and, as relations got more and more strained between the two religions, the Christians wanted to know it themselves.  So they figured out a calculation, so they wouldn't have to observe.  And they did it based on a solar date, the equinox, and even that was set on the calendar by then, not observed.

Both the Hebrew and the Islamic calendar are based on observation and lunar cycles, not calculation and solar cycles.  The Jewish months aren't set, nor are the Islamic.  The Romans said, this month is this long and this month is this long.  The lengths are arbritary, not based on anything in nature.  Hence Julius Caesar was able to steal a day from February and put it in the month he renamed after himself, and Augustus did likewise.  But the Jewish months are based on observation and not arbitrary.  When the moon disappears from the final crescent into the dark of the moon, the new month starts.  And the Islamic, when the moon reappears after the new moon, in the first crescent.  But this varies.  First of all, because the moon isn't tied to the solar days.  Some lunar months are 29 days and some 30 days, or some people say 28 or 31, it's hard since the new moon doesn't last only one day, just as the Solstice is hard because there are three days real close.  So the length of the months are different from each other and based on observation, not the same, and not arbitrary.  The length of each month are pretty close to the same each year, day wise, but this isn't guarantied.  Even if it drifts, the Hebrew and Islamic calendar will still be consistant, because the exact length of each month doesn't matter and won't mess up other calculations.

That's the thing, we're lazy, so we prefer calculation to observation.  That's why the standing stones were more accurate.  As I said, nature isn't orderly and consistent.  We like to make laws and rules to define nature, to show its order and show it as static, but they always fall short, because nature is chaotic and dynamic, always changing.  Just look at the length of a year.  We have a nice calculation of 365.2425 days, but this is an average.  Each year is different in length.  It's pretty obvious it would vary, if you think about gravity.  When Jupiter or Mars are closer, earth is pulled out further, and when Venus or Mercury are closer, it's pulled closer to the sun.  These four planets aren't on a cycle relating at all to any of ours.  Depending on the timing of this, if the earth stays out further more of the year, the year is longer, but if it spends more time closer, the year is shorter.  The same thing happens with the lunar cycles, hence to the tides, and so on.

And even the "Law" of Gravity doesn't give the whole picture.  Even Newton saw that Mercury osculated in a way the Law couldn't account for, be he couldn't find a solution and no one else could, so they just kind of ignored it until Einstein looked at it and started from scratch and came up with the Specific Theory of Relativity, which he later expanded.  The point is that *everything* effects everything else, so the universe and nature is far too complex to calculate.

So calculation will only give averages, not specifics.  To really know the cycles, it takes observation.  In Genesis, G-d says, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth."  They are signs.  A sign is meaningless if it isn't observed.  The seasons, the days, and the years, are seen watching these signs, not calculated with an easy formula.  If the earth took an extra day to make it around the sun, or the moon an extra day to make it around the earth, how many people would even notice?  And if we noticed, would it be when it happened, or afterwards when the calculations start failing?  Would we change the calendar, or just pretend it didn't happen?  And if we changed it, would we just change the calculation and hope it happened again the next year, or watch and wait and observe and see what happens?

Do we as a modern people notice the signs and omens around us every day?

~Muninn's Kiss

Music of Ecstasy

The following is my Ecstasy playlist.  I'd love to just turn it on and dance in ecstasy for an hour or so, but I never have the time.  Some of them are great for ecstatic trance, and I've used some of them that way.

  1. A Place in the Hills - Bethany de Maio
  2. Harvest of The Moon - Steeleye Span
  3. We Will Dance - David Ruis
  4. The Old Ways - Loreena McKennitt
  5. Shalott - Emilie Autumn
  6. The Lady Of Shalott - Loreena McKennitt
  7. All Souls Night - Loreena McKennitt
  8. Spirit Of The Sovereign Lord - Andy Park
  9. The Mystic Dream - Loreena McKennitt
  10. Starkindler - Michael Card
  11. Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble? - Delirious?
  12. The Bonny Swans - Loreena McKennitt

Saturday, 15 October 2011

לס, the 179th Gate

Long ago, I started a series of posts on the 231 Gates mentioned in the Sepher Yetzirah, the Book of Creation (or Foundation).  I posted a summary, then the first three gates, in my LiveJournal, then took a break and never got back to then.  A person approached me a few days ago, asking me what my thoughts were on the Samech/Lamed Gate.  So I wrote up the following in the form of the three I had done before.

(The LiveJournal posts can be found at

The 179th of the 231 gates is לס, Lamed Samech.

ל - Lamed - Ox Goad, Staff, Prod, Go Forward, Tongue, To Learn, To Teach, Secret Heart of Eve, Tower Soaring in the Air, Heart that Understands Knowledge
סַ - Samech - Prop, Support, Turn, Beginning, End, Endless Cycle, Equality, To Be Satisfied with Your Portion, Dependency, Support of Heaven by Earth and Earth by Heaven.

סַל, Cal - Basket (woven of rods)
בָּלַס, Balac - To gather figs, tend sycamore trees.  [root]
סָלָה, Calah - To make light of, toss aside, to flout, reject, to weigh, balance, to be weighed.  [root]
סֶלֶה, Celah - To lift up, exalt, Selah, a technical musical term probably showing accentuation, pause, interruption
סֻלָּם, Cullam - Ladder

סַל, Basket, is the heart of this gate.  This is a round or oval basket woven of slender rods, or reeds, or rushes, tightly woven, a wicker basket woven tight enough to be water proof.  Though it's not the word used, this can be seen in the basket Moses' mother placed him in.  Samech is the supports the rods, the reeds, the rushes, that form the support for the basket, the outside of it.  You can see Samech in the shape of the basket.  Lamed is that which is inside the basket, hidden, the secret knowledge, the occult knowledge, the dark space within.  And the hollow, round basket with a secret within is of course a Womb.  While Mem is the Womb of Creation, the Womb from which the physical, the revealed, the manefest, comes from, Samech is the Womb of Wisdom, Womb of Understanding, Womb of Knowledge.  Mem is the lower Womb, and Samech, pregnant with Lamed, is the upper Womb.

The meaning of a tower in the air, Lamed, and of the cycle of Samech gives us a tower, spinning without motion, which is the heart of Mystery.

Lamed (30) + Samech (60) = 90 which is Tzaddi.  Tzaddi is the fish hook or to hunt, but the newer name, Tzaddik means righteous, and the Aramaic word means Chaos.  Tzaddi is total, complete wisdom, but the wisdom below and the wisdom above, like Samech which the complete cycle, the the beginning and the end, which are one and the same.  90 is full consciousness, also complete and total, like the circle of Samech.  In the Manna and it is Mem, water, everything we need to survive, complete and total.  But when is a basket total and complete?  When it's full.  So we come back to Lamed within Samech.  90 of course reduces to 9, which is Tet, the Good, Tov, serpent.  We've all seen the cobra rising up out of the basket to the music of the snake charmer.  The serpent is often associated with teaching of man.  The most well known verion, or course, is the serpent teaching Eve and through Eve Adam to become like G-d (for good or for ill).  Lamed is the teacher.  And if you look closely, you will see that Lamed is a slithering serpent, and Samech is a curled one.  The symbol from Greece of the snake, the Ouroboros, eating it's own tail.  Or Jörmungandr, the Midguard Serpent in Norse mythology, encircling the world.

The lesson of the 179th gate is creating a place for the wisdom, the understanding, the knowledge we receive.  Create an outer support for an inner secret.  Make the basket and it will be filled.  And allow it to be filled.  Listen, digest, take in the teachings that come to you and allow then to fill that space you prepared, the place where only you will know what fills it.  And when it is full, when you've chewed it over, you will find the Mystery buried within.

~Muninn's Kiss

The True Meaning of Celebrations...

The issue with any calendar, the reason it will have issues, is because nature isn't exactly set patterns that can be predicted and set down in a mathematically defined calendar.  So we keep refining the calendar to try to better reflect nature, but never get there.  So we have many ancient calendars that were lunar based, 13 28 day months, so 364 days a year, and others that are solar based, but 12 30 day months, so 360 days, and some have an extra 5 days outside to get it closer.  Both of those  wander slowly over the decades.  So the Julian tried to fix this by having 365 days with a leap day every four years, but even that wandered by three days every four centuries, and got ahead, so the Gregorian tried to correct this by first resetting it to where it had wandered from, then taking out some leap days to avoid the wander.  And later we added a leap second, but it still doesn't exactly work.

Because the solar year is tied to the rotation around the sun, not the daily rotation of the earth.  The two aren't connected at all.  Just as the moon's monthly cycle isn't tied to either.  You can't define a solar year, a lunar month, or an earth day by each other.  So no calendar will ever work 100% the way intended.

All the calculator does is convert between the different calendars, not define exactly when the solstice or equinox or cross-quarter really occurs.

But the feast days were defined by the Julian calendar, not by the true dates of the event that earlier existed.  In the two examples you listed, more than likely, that was when the Solstice was thought to be at, because that was probably when the Solstice was when the Julian calendar was first created, so we kept that date, ie, December 25, even though we adjusted the calendar, so the Solstice lands on December 21 or 22 depending on the year, yet Christmas is three to four days off.  The Solstice hasn't moved, just the calendar day it lands on.

If we want to go by the calendar, we won't stay accurate to the astronomical event, and if we go by the astronomical event, we won't be consistent to the calendar.  But is it the calendar that truly matters?  And is it the astronomical event that really matters?

We say that the Autumn Equinox is the beginning of Autumn, the Winter Solstice is the beginning of Winter, the Spring Equinox is the beginning of Spring, and the Summer Solstice is the beginning of Summer.  But where is this true?  And when?

In Argos, there were two Horae, who represented Summer and Winter, but in Greece, there were three, basically bloom, growth, and harvest, Spring, Summer, and Autumn.  Later, the became four, from which our seasons come, before they became the hours, of which there were nine or ten, and later 12, which became our 24, 12 of night, 12 of day, at the Solstices.

In Wyoming, Winter begins some time between September and December, depending on the year, but always well before the Solstice, usually closer to the cross-quarter, Samhane or whatever name.  Spring usually doesn't come until May or June, so later than the Equinox, closer to the cross-quarter, Beltaine or whatever name.  Summer doesn't usually start until well into July, after the Summer Solstice, and Autumn starts early August to late September, depending on the year, usually well before the Equinox.  So the feasts, the Solstices, the equinoxes, the cross-quarters, Don't match too well.  And it varies from year to year.  Two years ago, Winter came mid September and snow fell and stayed until mid June, Spring was a month, then Summer lasted until late September.  Last year, Autumn went from late September until mid November, and Winter from then until a week after May Day.  But that was in the valley.  In the mountains, a half hour from town, all the roads were closed under twelve feet of snow until mid July this year.  And Autumn started around Labor Day, which was September 5 this year.  Snow came last Saturday, about a foot, but it's definitely still Autumn now.  It was back up to the 60s F the last two days.

So you can't match the seasons to a calendar, nor to astronomical events.

What are we actually celebrating at the Solstices?  The Equinoxes?  The Cross-Quarters?  The Feast Days?  The Saint Days?  Any other day?  That's what we really need to decide.  That's what will tell us when they should occur.

~Muninn's Kiss

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Six New Books, From Inanna to the Grail, From Mongolia to the Modern World

Yesterday, I bought three new books from Night Heron, the local used bookstore, and ordered three from Amazon, which will be here in a couple weeks.

Starhawk is the author of the famous book Spiral Dance.  She is a Feri initiate who went out and did her own thing.  This book, Truth or Dare, is a look at the nature of Power and how to find us in our lives to create change in our lives and communities.  It uses the myth of the descent of Inanna, in several different retellings, to present this idea.  It uses the descent to show how we need to identify and shed off the things that hold us back.

This book, Elements of the Grail Tradition by John Matthews, looks at the test, trials, and initiations found in the Arthurian and Grail legends in the pursuit of the Grail, from the most ancient known Celtic legends up through the Middle Ages, to identify what the Grail truly is.

This book is by my friend Francesca De Grandis.  I've been wanting to get Goddess Initiation since I picked it up in the Tattered Cover down in Denver a year or so ago, before I knew Francesca and didn't notice who the author was.   I was very excited to find it here in town.  The book is basically a year long lesson plan on how to find your inner goddess and your priesthood.

This book, The Book of Qualities by J. Ruth Gendler, is basically a book of personifications of common human qualities.  A friend of mine from of mine from high school posted a piece about Beauty from it on Facebook and it really touched me, so I found it and ordered it.  It looks amazing.

This book is a guide to Mongolian and Siberian shamanism.  The author, Sarangerel, is actually trained in Mongolia.  She was born in the US but of a Mongol bloodline, and traveled to Mongolia and did the work and study and research to truly know the tradition and the people of her ancestors, then share it with world.  This book is her introduction to the tradition, including rituals and techniques.  It is one of the major sources for one of the books I'm reading, Calling Down the Spirits.

This is Francesca De Grandis's newest book, just recently released.  It looks amazing.  It is about finding and realizing your dreams, seeing your own beauty, and finding your freedom.  I'm really looking forward to it arriving.

~Muninn's Kiss

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