Monday, 27 October 2014

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.”

~Muninn’s Kiss/Lorekeeper

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Forming a New Working Group

What follows is a brief outline of an approach to forming a new working group.  I have deliberately attempted to make it general and not path, stream, or tradition specific.  These are mostly off the top of my head, so their usefulness for others might or might not be significant.  I’ve tried to include all the things I see as necessary and essential, and encourage the reader to think about these and determine what is useful and what isn’t.  Adapt it, re-work it, expand it, prune it.  I put it out for anyone to work with, as is.  Your mileage may vary and use it at your own risk.  I may later expand this into a more substantial work, I’m not certain.  I’ve given an attempt at defining a few terms at the end.

  1. The Virtue, the essence, the stream should be present first.  This is the guiding force on where the group goes and is essential for focus and success.  Those seeking to form a group need to establish this first.  The Virtue includes the lore, ethics, methods, spirits, and members, both living and dead, depending on the age of the group, and more than these things.  Without those elements, the Virtue is demonstrably absent, though the details will vary for each group.

  2. The Call, the sending out of the draw to bring those needed to the group, should be performed early, after the Virtue is present but before trying to get started.  The specifics of this will be specific to the stream and Virtue, and involve the spirits and the lore, and all the founding members of the new group.

  3. A vetting process, a way to weed out those that are called from those that are curious, those that meld well with the Virtue from those that do not, is necessary before taking in members.  Those starting the group should determine how they want to approach this.  This of course requires the Sight, decrement, and observation.  This should point toward an approach, as each of those seeking to form the group, presuming there isn’t just one, will have different skills.

  4. Clear goals for the group, what is the intent, and how to approach it, is necessary before inviting those called into the group, as these should be clearly described and enumerated to those coming in.  This does not mean those who are still in the vetting process, which could be quick or over time depending on the skills and needs of the group, don’t necessarily need this knowledge.  It should be clear to those starting the group, however, before that vetting process begins, so should be outlined prior, even if there is no one yet to share it with.  These should flow out of the Virtue, and relate to how the Call is conducted.

  5. The ethics of the group, stemming from the Virtue and consistent with the goals, should be clear and known to all members, possibly even those in the vetting process.  Their willingness to conform to these ethics should be part of that process, and should also connect with the way the Call is conducted.

  6. Commitment and dedication are necessary.  The bringing of new people into the group should include some type of agreement both on the group’s responsibility to the new member and the new member’s responsibility to the group.  This may take different forms, depending on the makeup of the group, the Virtue involved, and the cultural context the group exists within.  This should be outlined and refined before it is needed, based on the vetting process, ethics, goals, Call, and Virtue.

  7. Evolving methods are important.  The group should have an initial basis for working, built on the Virtue, Call, goals, and ethics.  This should be flexible and adaptable enough to begin to grow and evolve with the group needs, not set in stone.  To begin with, this is a framework, a skeleton, a place to start working from.

  8. The Initiation or Ordeal should be outlines.  This will vary greatly depending on stream and region, and should be based on spirit guidance and the lore.  It should not be something easy for the new member, should provide a clear transition into the group, include opportunity for the spirits to contribute, and be impactful, something not easily forgotten.  This doesn’t have to be the same for each new member, but there should be clear connections with different types of initiations and ordeals to each other, the lore, and the Virtue.

  9. The Pact or Oath should be defined.  This may or may not include an actual oath, depending on the stream, tradition, background, and ethics of those forming the group, and is different from the commitment and dedication, as this isn’t a pact or oath with the group, but with the spirits tied to the Virtue and participating in the Call.  This is the agreement between the spirits and the new member of the group.  This is important because you are not looking for, in the forming of a group, a clergy and a laity.  You want each member to have their own connection to the spirits, and thereby to the stream and Virtue.  This doesn’t need to be defined as an exact agreement or oath, the form should be defined, the purpose should be defined, but the specifics typically are better the new member’s own words unless the stream already has predefined words, as this makes it the new member’s own. The Pact or Oath can be part of the Initiation or Ordeal, or immediately following it, or as part of a ceremony or ritual later.  I favor the idea of during.

These last two parts aren’t just for new members, part of the receiving of Virtue involves Ordeal and Pact as well, and the new members are being connected to the existing Virtue through the act.

A few definitions that might or might not help:

  • Call - The sending out of a beacon, basically, to draw those that resonate with the group to the group, or to the founding member or members.  It both draws those that need to come to come, and establishes the group in the place it is performed.  The details and methods will vary based on tradition.

  • Initiation - The beginning of things, the rite or experience that brings a new member into the group, and, more importantly, introduces them to the spirits and the lore.  Often the same as an Ordeal, but can be separate.

  • Oath - A sworn agreement with the spirits or with the spirits as witness, with major consequences on breaking them.  Different from a Pact in that the one swearing is bound by the Oath, not the other party, whereas a Pact is mutually.  An Oath says, this is my commitment, a Pact says, if you will do thus, I will do thus.  In some cases, both will be present, in others one or the other.

  • Ordeal - An experience that has to be passed through, suffered, or survived in order to join the group.  Often the same as an Initiation, but can be separate.

  • Pact - An agreement between a person and the spirits, for mutual benefit, usually with both conditions for ending the Pact (if possible) and with the results of breaking the agreement.

  • Virtue - the essence and sum total of the group, stream, or tradition, including the lore and spirits, the Thread of Fate making up said stream, those that came before, are present, and will be part of it.  This is the life force or egregore of the group, but more than these.

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

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.

~Muninn’s Kiss

Monday, 21 July 2014

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.

~Muninn’s Kiss

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Hominidic Awareness

"I see people."

I'm not talking about the phrase from Sixth Sense, "I see dead people".  I won't confirm or deny that statement.  I'm talking living people here.

"I see people."  Do you?

Likely your answer is, of course I do.  Unless you're living as a hermit, or working a night shift alone, of course.

"Of course I do."  Do you?

Do you really see people, or do you just notice they are there?  Do you even always notice they are there, or do you only notice some people, with others blending into the background of humanity, human habitat, and wild places?

"I see people."  Do you?

If you live in a city, a large town, or even some small towns, or ever visit this places, you have likely passed someone standing on a corner with a cardboard sign with something written on it.  Think back to the last such person you passed.  What did their sign say?  Do you remember?  Were they obviously male?  Obviously female?  Of indeterminate gender just looking without talking to them?  Did you notice?  Do you remember?  How were they dressed?  Do you remember?  What did they look like?  Do you remember?  Did you notice their eyes?  What colour were they?  Did they smile at you or frown?  Or even notice you?  Did you see them?  Did they see you?

"I see people."  Do you?

Have you ever been that person with a sign on the corner?  If you have, are often still are, what do you notice about those who pass by?  Who meets your eyes and who looks away?  Who seems happy and who seems sad?  Could you recall someone that had passed by and giving you something ten minutes before?  Someone who didn't give you anything?  Those who took notice of you?  Those who didn't?

"I see people."  Do you?

Do you drive a lot?  If you do, do you notice the people in the cars around you?  People walking or riding a bike along the road?  A minute later, can you count how many people walking or riding their bike you passed?  What they were wearing?  If they looked happy or sad?  If their heads were down or they were looking forward without noticing anything to the sides or if they were taking in everything around them?  Do you notice the driver beside you as stop lights?  A minute later, do you recall what they looked like?  What they were wearing?  If they looked happy or sad?  Did you even notice any of these people?  Did they notice you?

"I see people."  Do you?

Do you walk a lot?  If you do, do you notice the people around you, not just other walkers but the people in the cars passing or stopped?  A minute later, could you recognize them if they were no longer in their car?  Or even if they are?  Do you notice if they are happy or sad?  What they are wearing?  What they look like?  How about the same for walkers you pass going the opposite direction?  Or the same direction, or passing you going the same direction?  What do you notice about them?  Anything?  Everything?  What can you recall a minute later?

"I see people."  Do you?

Do you work in an office building?  In an office position or a service position?

If you work in an office position, meaning the building is what you work in, not your job itself, do you notice those who keep the building clean, who restock things, who work in the cafeteria or coffee shop or gym or as security if you have this things?  Do you hold doors open for them?  Thank them?  Say good morning or good afternoon?  Or do they blend into the background for you to the point you only notice them when something goes wrong?  Can you count from memory how many people serve these roles where you work?  Or how many you see in a day?  Do you know any of them by name?  Do they know yours?

If you work in a service job like the ones described above, do you notice those that just use the building or facilities but aren't the ones who care for them?  Or do they blend in as obstacles to your job?  Do you talk to them?  Do you know their names?  Do they know yours?

"I see people."  Do you?

All people who live and work and play where you do are part of the place you live in, your home, your Land.  Every one of them are a part of that whole, as much as the animals and plants and rocks and streams are.  You share habitat with them, as readily as a vole might share habitat with a rabbit, or with another vole.  Being aware of where you live isn't just about noticing the non-human aspects but the humans as well.  With awareness comes consciousness, with consciousness comes caring, with caring comes community.  And community is an important and needed things for humans, who are inherently social, even if the degree of need and tolerance vary.

"I see people."  Do you?  Do you notice those around you?  Do you interact with them?  It is important to develop hominidic awareness, not just awareness of the non-human portions of your environment.  Start paying attention to those around you and build your awareness today, and see how that changes how you live.

~Muninn's Kiss

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Approaching the Land

We live in a world, among people and animals and plants and streams and rocks and all manner of things.  So we know where we live, right?  We have a working knowledge of the place we live?  You would think so, but this is far from a certainty.  How we approach it, or don't, determines both out experience of it and our knowledge of it.  What do you truly know about the world around you?  How do you approach the world around you?  How do you approach the Land?

I would postulate that there are three main ways people approach the world around them.  These might be a bit oversimplification, or they might adequately describe the human approach.  My observation shows them to be fairly encompassing.

1) To Let the World Happen to You

In my observation, this is the most common.  It is an approach of not approaching.  Most people don't approach the world, they let the world approach them.  They go through life just trying to go through life, and learn of the world by how it collides with them, often in cross purposes to how they are trying to go through life.  Their experience of the world is that of opposition, that which is trying to stop them, delay them, irritate them, upset them.  As such, the world outside their skin becomes the enemy, something to fight against, the strive against.  Whole religious doctrines have been built off this view of the world, and are a result of choosing not to approach the world, to let the world happen to you.

2) To Seek What is Known to You

This approach is a very academic approach. You start with what you know, what you've learned, what you believe, what you think is true.  Your truth.  You take that idea, and look for the proof in the world around you.  If you find it not to be true, find proof that it isn't true, or don't find it where you expect to, you refine your idea, research a new idea, or come up with a new truth.  Rinse and repeat.  This is an abstract and symbolic way of approaching the world, because you start with something abstract or symbolic, something you believe to be Truth but don't have the experience yet to apply, then test it and find what it looks like, or doesn't look like, in the world around you.  Much of the application of scientific method uses this approach, where the theory starts in the abstract and in equations or calculations, and is then tested to see if it is true.  A lot of market research also takes this approach.

Unlike the first approach, this approach sees the world as a test bed, not as an enemy.  The world becomes that which will aid me in refining my Truth, distilling it down to its essence.  Truth becomes the driving force, and both that within my skin and without becomes the tools to obtain it.

3) To Observe the World and Find What It Teaches

The third approach is to assume nothing.  Presume you don't know anything and go out to see what the world will show you and tell you.  This doesn't mean dismissing what you know or not taking it into account, but observing the world and using it to understand what you already know.  Instead of, I know the he East means this, so what does that tell me about it, this approach is to say, if I knew nothing about the East, and I look to it and think about it and observe what is there, what would I see, and what would that tell me about what I already know or think I know?  Instead of, this is a green ash and I know these things about ash trees so how does that apply to what I'm seeing, this approach is to say, I know this is an ash, but if I did not and if I knew nothing about it, what would I see before me now, what would I learn, then, what does that say and show me about what I already knew?

In this approach, the world isn't the enemy nor the test bed, it's the teacher, showing us what is truly there.  Our Truth is refined and distilled as a byproduct rather than the goal, the goal it to know the world, the Land, around us, to understand our place in it, and to learn what it would teach whether that is relevant to what we already knew or thought we knew or isn't.

You can likely tell from my wording my thoughts on each approach, but I want to be clear, none of them are bad.  We each approach the world the way we know and can, though if aware of how we do, we have the option of changing it.  These three approaches are all acceptable approaches, and the results aren't necessarily better or worse than each other, just different.  It depends a lot where you want to go in life and what you are comfortable with.

That said, the third approach is the one I tend to recommend, the one I encourage when asked, and the one I try to take for myself.  The results of it are the results I want in my life and in the world around me, and results I'm biased for when encouraging others.

What is your heart, where do you want to go, what do you want out of life, the world, the Land?

~Muninn's Kiss

Sunday, 27 April 2014

On the Paradigm of Opposition Between the Human World and the Natural World

The disconnect that is often propagated between the human world and the natural world, and the dichotomy created by it, has slowly lead to an understanding that pulls us away from some very important truths, creating a cycle of misunderstanding that pulls us further and further from a healthy and beneficial coexistence with the world we live in.

This can be described as the urbanization of the human mind, the movement away from a realization that we are part of the world around us to the idea of human habitat as an urban bastion of non-nature in a sea of natural world, and the growth of cities as the expanding of the walls and driving back that which is beyond.

While there is truth in this image, it tends to manifest in two different mental processes, both of which miss the true nature of both the reality and of the issues created.

The first mental process is that of the natural world as the aggressor.  This mental process grew in the transition from hunter/gatherer nomadic society to an agricultural fixed location society.  It is less present among nomadic cultures that aren't fixed in location.  The image is of humans behind walls or fences or hedges, with all of the natural world besieging.  This is a position of fear of the unknown beyond the boundaries.  There is truth in it, but it creates a us and them idea of the world.  It seals the humans within the walls, with limited ability to identify with what is beyond.  It also can and has lead to an image of the natural world as something to be conquered, manifest destiny if you will.  The idea that if humans don't subjugate or suppress the natural world, that the natural world will do so to humans.  Kill or be killed.

The second mental process is that of the human world as the aggressor.  This mental process grew out of the developments of the last century, of seeing the negative impact of human actions of the natural world and determining humans should thereby be seen as a virus or disease that threatens the natural world.  This leads, and has lead, to the idea that the only way to protect the natural world is to exterminate the human threat.  This is usually not taken to the full extreme, but the idea creates the idea that the goal is to limit human activities as much as possible, preserve the remaining wild areas by completely preventing human presence.  Quarantining the humans to prevent their spread.  Containment.

Both of these mental processes, while being rooted in concerns and truths that are very real, miss the truth that humans are part of the natural world, that human habitat damaging that of others is only different in scale from certain ants that consume everything in their path, of large amounts of predators decimating prey populations, of large populations of herbivores decimating plant populations.

The goal of subjugation of nature hurts not just what is perceived as the natural world, but the human world as well, as we depend on that which isn't human for food, for oxygen, for climate regulation, for clean water, housing, for many things we need for survival, to make human habitat possible.

And humans are a part of the environment as much as any other species.  The elimination of humans will have the same results as the elimination of a predator or grazing species.  This is well seen in changes between fire management policies.  A change from a policy to put out all fires to a let it burn approach results in danger not just to human habitat but to many other habitats, as the prevention of fire allows fuel to build up, and a sudden stop in prevention results in worse and wider spread fires that would naturally occur.  Likewise, fire prevention if too aggressive prevent the processes that would naturally occur.  For instance, fire reduces pine beetle populations, lowering the amount of dead pine timber, which are the cause of large spread fire, and stimulates the cones to replace what was burned.  Fire also stimulates root activity in aspens, causing growth in size and density of aspen groves which are habitat to many types of species.  Any change in policy, or in human behavior, if not gradual with a smooth transition, will have unexpected ramifications that might not be beneficial.

The solution to the problems that arise in human vs nature interactions is not to fight against nature or against humans, but to understand that there is no separation.  Human is part of nature, not a separate thing.  In this understanding, solutions arise that can facilitate human needs while taking into account the impact on the other parts of nature.  Only then can a better balance and better approach be possible.

This, however, isn't a matter of writing up a plan, or defining policy, law, or procedures.  The issue is one of mental process, of paradigm and world view.  Such changes can't be regulated into manifestation.  Mental process changes, paradigm shifts, and changes to world view aren't a matter of law but of practice, not a matter of top down enforcement and dictation, but of individual changes spreading.

A different type of disease than was discussed above, a fire of inspiration and passion igniting change from individual to group, from group to community, from community to region, and outward.

What is needed is not laws and regulations, restrictions and policy.  These things are not bad, especially as an intermediate step to treat the symptoms.  But they won't create change.

Change is a whirlwind, chaos, it is prophecy and inspiration, the meed of poetry, heady and potent.  Law is my its nature a thing of stasis and control, order, establishment.

Change begins not in law but in hearts and minds.  Change is spoken.  Change is acted.  Change is a thing done in the day to day life, impacting that spot you live in, that soil you are planted in.  Change is shared with those you are in contacted with, with community, with clan, with tribe.

Light the fire of inspiration and change in your own heart and mind, plant the seed in the fertile soil of yourself.  Let it spread.  Let the fire light in others by contact, let the root reach out and grow into trees in the soil of those around you.

Let those that are lit by your fire do the same, and those lit by theirs.  Change the world where you are, and the ripples and waves across the pond that is our world will be seen in all places.

Embody change, embody spirit, embody the unity of all things, the interconnected web that is all living things.  Look for what you can do where you are, and do it.  Don't hesitate, don't be afraid.

Be a flame burning bright.  Let your flame spread.

Consider this well, and think on it.

~Muninn's Kiss

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Land Where I'm Planted

This is an interesting part of the year, with various holidays and special days all dancing through the days together.  The Jewish Passover began last week and will continue though tomorrow.  The Christian Easter was yesterday.  Living in Colorado, I must mention that yesterday was also 4/20.  And today is Earth Day.  We are between the Equinox and Beltaine still, in the second Moon of Spring, the Willow Moon, for which the Bright Moon, the High Tide, was last week.  Trees are budding, flowers blooming, grasses turning green.  A time of renewal and rebirth no matter which way you cut the seasons and days.

With the nature of this time, and with today being Earth Day, which many celebrate as a specific focus on helping the environment, and for many, the planting of a tree, it seems appropriate to look at what I do in relation to the Land here, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, sometimes proactively, sometimes just in an over all sense of what is important to keep in mind.

In this area, I focus more local that global, focused on the Land where I am at, including the human portion of that, not as opposed to it. I work for better practices and behaviors that allow humans to coexist with all other things in this space, animal, plant, fungus, mineral, spirit, and anything else that lives here, minimize the things that are harmful to the Land and all those that live in it, regardless of guise, and against those things that harm.

This includes:

  • fighting human trafficking (which is one of the things biggest on my heart)
  • how the homeless are treated
  • biases/prejudices and dangers based on those biases/prejudices to portions of the community (specifically trans* and the wider LGBT community)
  • mining/drilling/pumping techniques that are harmful (not shown by hype as harmful but truly harmful)
  • minimization of waste both to lower impact in consuming and to lower impact in disposal
  • supporting local businesses and producers (especially local farms and ranches) to improve the economy here and to minimize the impact of transporting from other parts of the country
  • limiting and clean up of litter and other things that can hurt the plants and animals around us
  • support for the Open Areas and encouragement of responsible development to both meet the human needs and minimize the impact on our neighbours be they animal, plant, fungus, or mineral, gardening and growing of your own food as much as possible

That type of thing.

Some of these I work more actively toward, some less so. Some I work primarily towards in my personal habits and behavior, others in outreach and education, others in more action based approaches. Some I use magical techniques toward, others it's very much physical and direct.

And many of these, I can't do much beyond my own actions without help, so I have plans to try to gather a group to work toward these aims.  If you live in Plains Edge, the Northern Frontrange Area of Colorado, or near this area, or have ideas or would like to talk, feel free to reach out to me at  I have no certain plans nor a sure direction, but I'd love to talk with anyone with a heart of the area, or who would like to connect for other reasons.

~Muninn's Kiss

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Good Folk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~Muninn's Kiss

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

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

Saturday, 1 March 2014

On Doing the Work

Training is good, yes.

Books are good, yes.

But you can be trained in formal training for twenty years and never "get it", and you can go out your back door with no training or knowledge at all and just "get it".  There is no guaranties, and none of it is where you actually get experience and wisdom.  You get those from doing it.

If I went through the best medical school in the world, I wouldn't be able to go straight in and be able to do everything day one.  As an example, I want into the emergency room for something.  The doctor was concerned about something else because he hadn't ever seen it, but the nurse told him, no, that isn't normal, but it's not abnormal, and convince him not to worry about it.  He had far more formal training than she did, but she had worked in the ER for many years and seen much more than he had.  He had more knowledge, but she had more experience.  In general, nurses see more and experience more because they handle most things that don't require the expertise the doctor has because of training, so have more wisdom to see things as they really are and know what to do in a lot more circumstances.

I read a quote in a book last night, Witches, Midwives, and Nurse: A History of Women Healers.  "If a woman dare to cure without having studies she is a witch and must die."  Note the emphasis on studying (indicating training, not reading, in this context).  While the restriction of women in medical schools and the prevalence of women over men in folk practice was an issue at the time, it was more about credentials vs no credentials than about gender.  The doctors felt only they should be able to heal because they were the ones with training, who had put in the time and effort to be trained, and could prove they were training.  Not really different from today when the main argument against alternative medicine in the US is not about if it works or not, but about lack of a medical degree.

Back to the craft, same thing.

Training is good, and is required in some *traditions* to practice that *tradition*, for very good reasons, but is not required to practice the craft, and doesn't guaranty success in it, any more than reading books do.  It's the experience that builds wisdom, and if you don't do anything until you have learned sufficiently to make no mistakes and always be good at it, you'll never reach that.

Read what you can, sure.

Get the formal, or informal, training if you can, sure.

But are real teachers are the spirits, our experiences, and our own self, seen through a mirror darkly.

~Muninn's Kiss

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Rite of Pacific Storms

I have many friends on the West Coast of the United States who are talking of the draught in that region at the moment, both in the Pacific Northwest and in California, possibly up and down the coast of Mexico, Canada, and Alaska as well, I'm not certain.  The rest of the US is being hit hard, colder temperatures than most can remember, and a lot of snowfall and rainfall.  The snowpacks reached 110% in December, quite early.  There is unlikely to be drought conditions in the rest of the country this year, and similar in Europe, it seems.  But the West Coast is suffering, with a very mild winter and much less rain and snow than normal.  The storms are all hitting further east.

I said flippantly that I would try to do something, but I didn't mean it as flippantly as I said it.  I have called winds, and called and raised storms, usually with some success, most of my life, but it would do little good to call them from here in the Rockies, as I'm more likely to draw them away from the coast than to it.  As such, I'm sharing the following rite, for those that would like to try it and live in the area it is crafted for.

Feel free to adapt it.  It is crafted from my practice, and might need modification for you.  And the wording or details might need changing, as each of us are different.  The important part is the binding done when the shell is driven down, the rest can change as needed.  I've made it as simple as possible, both for ease of use, ease of adaptation, and to minimize the need to bring anything but what is needed with you.  It could also very easily be adapted and expanded to a group rite.

This rite would be best done this coming Dark Moon in March, on the first, though you can do it at a different time if you prefer or have a reason.  It is best done on the shore, preferably in a sandy area, or at least soft soil or mud, for practical reasons.  It is best done at the low tide closest to that Dark Moon, at night, near the water's edge, on land that is usually water.  But this, too, can be done otherwise if there is a reason.  But near the water's edge at low tide on the night of the Dark Moon on March 1 is best.  Preferably a shore facing out to sea, west or northwest being best.

Most important item you will need is a shell.  Preferably, find this on the shore sometime before the rite.  You want a shell you can easily stab into the sand, so one with a sharp tip or edge is best.

Some red thread, string, or yarn is a plus, but not necessary.

You don't need anything else but yourself.

Stand facing the water's edge, preferably facing west or northwest.  Hold the shell in one hand, whichever feels best (typically the hand you give or send with, but not always).  If you have string or yarn, hold it in the other hand.

Raise your hands over your head, closed palms outward toward the shore (you objects in your hands facing the sea, the backs of your hands away).  Close your eyes and feel the wind on you.  Where does it come from?  Which direction?  How strong is it?  How wet?  Keep your attention on the wind.

Speak the following (or an adaptation of it) to the wind:
Bringer of storms,
Bringer of moisture,
Bringer of wind,
I call you.
Come to me.
If you have string or thread, bring your hands down and tie it around the shell, saying:
What begins here,
I do bind with this thread,
What I have, I hold.
After tying it, return your hands to where they were.

Repeat the following:
Let the storms come!
Let the the moisture fall!
Let the wind blow!
I call the storms to these shores,
I bind and fix them here!
With the last line, bend down and bury in one action the shell as deep in the sand as you can.

Turn and leave the shore, not looking back, knowing the waves with cover the shell, the shell that binds the storms and moisture and wind to the earth and sea, the sand and waves.

And the storms will come.

~Muninn's Kiss

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Coming Year

With Bride's Day and Candlemas, my New Year, coming up, I've been looking back at the last, a year of change.  It was a year of starting new things, of revelation and contemplation, of moves and reorganization.  A year of flux.

And I consider the coming year, what is in store, what I can expect, where my focus will be.

I don't really do New Years resolutions, regardless of what New Year I'm talking about.  But having some areas to focus on throughout the year is always a good thing.  Here are the areas I am planning on focusing.

Being more open and authentic to who I am.

This affects many areas of my life.  A lot of the time, I hide parts of myself because I'm not sure how people will respond to them.  Not because I think they will judge me, nor that they would be upset at me, but because I am afraid it would hurt them or disturb them, that they would worry or not know how to handle it.  So I lock off parts of my life based on possible issues revealing them could cause.  Which, in trying to avoid hurting people often hurts me or ends up hurting them anyway, likely in ways that telling them never would.

This doesn't just mean over all, it also means in the moment.  There are parts of me that change, cycles and shifts.  These aren't constant, they are fluid.  Being open and authentic doesn't just mean being such to the stable, static aspects (though nothing is really static, just the life cycles of them are much longer), but to the changing, dynamic aspects as well.

This also doesn't mean telling everyone everything.  I'm focusing on avoiding hiding parts of me, avoiding not being true to who I am, but that doesn't mean I need to advertise and promote it either.  That is no more authentic than the hiding is.  The goal is a general shift to hiding less and being more open and true.  Of giving others the chance to accept who I am instead of taking that from them.

Understand my own cycles.

To do this, an important part is understanding those cycles.  I spent much of the last two years working to understand the cycles of the land, the seasons, the moons.  Now I need to add to that an understanding of my own cycles, those of my body, my mind, my souls.  How do I change with time?  What cycles exist?  Are they regular or are the influenced by outside things?  I need to know me before I can be true, authentic, and open about it.  I have a fair understanding of myself, of the various aspects, of what changes and what stays basically the same.  But I know these things in the moment, not how I get to them, what patterns exist in the shifts.  It's time to identify these.

Learning to be an oral storyteller.

I have many stories I know, enough to fill several lifetimes of telling, and more keep coming.  As Lorekeeper, I keeper the lore I am given and am responsible for getting it to those that need to hear it.  I'm a decent writer, I think, and good at crafting stories.  But presenting them to others orally, not so much.  I can speak, I can share, but I don't have the skills to bring them alive.

This year, I'm going to focus on developing those skills.  Learn what those skills are.  Learn how to learn to use them.  Learn how to use them.  Practice and hone them.  It won't be finished in a year obviously, but I can begin the journey, I can actively pursue it, I can make choices that will bring it to me.

Hone my skills at and determine if I can start doing readings for others.

I've found over the last year I'm decent at doing readings, not just for myself, but also for others.  I've used readings to determine what people need, and present that in a form they can relate to.  I don't know if I could make money with it or not, or if I could do it actively enough to make it a thing I do, whether I'm paid or not.  This year, I want to focus on honing my skills at it in relation to others, as most of my experience is for myself, and look into what directions it can take beyond what I do now, whether it could be a business or a community service, whether there are other related areas or techniques I need to learn, and what form it might take in whatever direction I take it.

Just as understanding my cycles relates to being authentic, this relates to storytelling.  For reading for someone else is essentially telling the story.  I can say all I want, this card typically means this, and in this position it usually means this, but a reading is so much more meaningful if you bring it to life.  It's fortunetelling, not fortune-analyzing.  I'm good at the analytical side, it's time to learn the telling side.

Additionally, I want to practice dowsing more in the coming year.  I re-awoke it this last year after not doing it since my father taught me as a child.  Now I need to practice and hone it.  And to determine what uses I can put it to for others, whether pro bono or for money.

So, four areas:

Understanding Personal Cycles

We'll see where this all leads and its effect on the rest of my practice, life, and future.

~Muninn's Kiss

Friday, 3 January 2014

Stoicism, Denial, and the Craft: A look at self-imposed hardship, in particular, fasting

Self imposed suffering and denial, purposeful tribulation and ordeal, has a long history, and if present in different forms in just about if not all cultures.  It serves many purposes depending on the context, but it typically of a ritualistic, ceremonial, religious, spiritual, or magical nature, breaking down the physical or ego in some way to allow something of a spiritual, magical, or religious nature to occur.

We use the word "stoic" or "stoicism" for these practices, a name that traces back to Ancient Greece.  The Stoics, Στωικοί, were a sect in Ancient Greece who followed the teachings of Zeno of Citium, who believed that it was our mistakes, our poor choices, that resulted in negative emotions, and that it was important to use logic, knowledge, and ethics to prevent this to a level that you never experiences these.  In later times, the term took on a different meaning, to prevent happiness, pleasure, and enjoyment, rather than anger, fear, and hate.  In effect, the emotions seen by the original Stoics as positive and allowed were grouped in with the negative emotions, in the understanding people had, and have, of the term.  This is not to say all those who were considered Stoics in later time would have agreed and didn't experience these.

Stoicism, referring to post-Greek stoicism, and things that could be referred to by the term in older times, has taken many forms.

We see John the Baptist, dressed in camel hair, living on only locusts and honey in the wilderness.  Camel hair is very course, much like wearing burlap.  I've worn a burlap robe.  John wearing camel hair constantly would mean rashes and calloused skin, for the movement would never allow your skin to get used to it.  Locusts and honey is of course a very limited diet.  He was likely very thin and somewhat malnourished, as it would take too many locusts and too much honey to not be so.  He was in the wilderness near the River Jordan, and the wilderness of Judea, modern day Israel, is very unforgiving, with wild animals and physical dangers, and hot sun beating down.  He would have had leather skin, tight, wiry muscles, be thin and gnarled, a wild man.  But people came to him to hear his message because he spoke with the Divine, and connected with the spiritual in a way few others could.

We see similar from the Desert Mothers and Desert Fathers of the following few centuries, who gave up everything and went to live out in the desert.  This is what the part in Life of Brian, where Brian falls in the hole where a hermit with a vow of silence is living and spoke for the first time because of it was making fun of.  The hermits went out to live in the desert and devote themselves to God, putting various restrictions on themselves.  But people began to flock out to find them, as they were thought to speak for God because of their stoic life.

One such example if Saint Benedict, who, finding he had a large group of followers after trying to be alone, realized there was no order and it would go bad quick without some, so he wrote what is now called the Rule of Saint Benedict (possibly orally and later wrote down or dictated and recorded by one of his followers), outlining how the people should live,  This became the basis for the monastic movement that followed, where orders and monasteries were established for people to be alone with God (monastic from monasticus, ultimately from monos, alone).  Each order had vows, which were of a stoic nature.  They varied order by order, and sometimes monastery to monastery.

Vows of chastity, vows of poverty, vows of silence, vows of temperance, were all to be found, and others.  Each of these is a denial, a taboo.  Chastity is to abstain from sex.  Poverty is to abstain from ownership, in some cases everything but your robe or smock, a staff, and sandles (following what was stated in Mark 6:8-9: "He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.") and in other cases, just a limiting of possessions.  A vow of poverty also sometimes prescribed eating only what was begged for, to be like the poor that are poor without choice or vow.  Silence is not speaking, sometime like what was shown in Life of Brian, never speaking, sometimes only speaking at prescribed times, like meals, sometimes just a limiting of speech or of what could be spoken of.  Temperance is the abstaining from alcohol, one of the least common, as the Eucharist used wine for the Blood of Christ, though some monasteries had vows that only allowed this communion wine, no other alcohol.

Later, there was a movement called Anchorism, where the devote who had taken no vows and weren't part of an order wished to remain in the presence of the Lord, so were bricked in to a portion of the church.  They did not leave, and remained there until death, their needs for food and water being brought to them.  It is a very curious tradition, as most other examples of living on church grounds before and after were that of a priest or friar or monk who was the caretaker for the building or site.  Anchorism was laity with no tasks to do, living out life in a bricked in cell in the church.

One of the most wide spread forms of stoicism, is fasting.  Fasting, though sometimes applied to other things, is very specifically abstaining from food, just as chastity is from sex and temperance is from alcohol.  It is a very specific act, it is a temporary giving up, for a specific reason, not a purging of things to be got rid of completely, which is either cleansing or sacrifice, to me, cleansing when it is getting rid of the bad, sacrifice when it is giving of something valued.  Fasting can be a sacrifice, and can be used as a means to cleanse, but it isn't the same as either.

Fasting has been around since time began, to all indication.  It is used in may cultures before various rites, and has a direct line of practice and theology and lore tied to it, from Ancient Judaism through Modern Judaism and Christianity.  It is one of the few traditions with that type of longevity with little variance.  This is important.

From a more Craft context, considering a historical viewpoint, both modern ceremonial magic (meaning Dr. Dee and forward) and the examples normally looked at as witchcraft before 1900 like cunningfolk and the like, grew up in Christian context, usually what we now call dual-faith if not fully seen as Christian. Fasting has been an important idea in Christianity since the beginning, though its importance has faded more recently. As it was most often seen as a means to get closer to God, or to show suffering or purity to get God to answer prayer, it likely held similar importance in various magical practices, be they ceremonial or folk practices. As such, they were very likely used in the context we're talking, and likely as a means to either get closer to the spirits, earn their trust, open to them, or get them to do what the practitioner wanted. As such, I suspect it was used both for what I use it for, some spirit contact, divination, and personal soul searching, and for what CMs use it for, preparation for ceremonies or workings, among cunningfolk and other folk practitioners.  I can also see the use of it after a working, for a time specific working, fasting until the time it will manifest.

Ok, let's look on a more intellectual level, leading to present time application.

Fasting, like any form of stoicism, is emulation of the physical. My favourite example is anchorism, where the seeker was literally bricked in to a church so they lived in isolation but in the presence of God (not the greatest description the way I phrased it, but sufficient). It is the denial of the "flesh" to encourage the "spirit", the breaking down of the ego to get it to step aside. To an extreme, of course, it leads to a dualistic view, that the flesh is bad and should be punished or destroyed, or to health problems. We need our strength and full health for some things. To quote a common paraphrase of Aristotle, all things in moderation. Via media. Used correctly, safely, and with wisdom, it becomes a means to temporarily put the ego and general desires aside by replacing them with a baser and stronger desire based on need, in this case, food.

This can serve several purposes.

First, the distraction from every day concerns allows us to gain a new perspective, seeing things differently. This can aid in decision making, in contemplation, in self analysis, and in helping us walk the edges between worlds.

Second, the weakness created opens us up, both to receive wisdom and knowledge, and for possession and similar work, as our barriers and boundaries are weakened, allowing what couldn't pass normally to do so.

Third, the weakness can help with entering a trance state, with all the goals and uses that includes, being very useful in divination and in spirit contact.

Of course, these imply the danger as well. The distraction can cause us to miss physical issues that shouldn't be ignored. The weakness can open us up to things we don't want in us, whether ideas and opinions and suggestions, or spirits that are not of the type we want to open up to. And a trance state and weakness can both be bad in certain activities. You should avoid fasting and driving. All things with wisdom, all things in moderation.

~Muninn's Kiss

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