May 21, 2009

Not Awake, Not Asleep: Opening the Faery Portal Trance




NOT AWAKE, NOT ASLEEP

Opening the Faery Portal Trance

A discussion regarding extraordinary states of awareness within the stream of traditional witchcraft and postmodern or revivalist sorcery

By Robin Artisson
Copyright © 2009

* * *

PART I: The Bridge Between Night and Day

"Aloneness haunts. The crack of the sky.
A primordial thing
Where blurred vision first cleared its way
Into an ancient eye.
The first vacant look, the first stirring
Mingling night and day."

-Peter Makem


Concerning the Necessity of Trance, and its Dangers

Since my learning, and since the time of my formal writing, I have always emphasized the need for modern traditional witches and sorcerers working within the streams of European mystical "craft" (pre and post-Christian) to master the trance state.

I have held to my position that no authentic work can be claimed without mastery of altered states of consciousness, those states to which a "trance" is the bridge. I have claimed this for one very important reason: while I believe that chants, charms, conjuries, and incantations have their own force and effectiveness when said even outside of a trance, by one who emanates the proper personal magnetism and power, the internal, subtle effect of these things- their great ambiance and hidden aspects- are missed without the trance.

Why is it so important to experience the inner side of things? Because we cannot gauge the true efficacy of our work without the "other side" of the experience, but more importantly, we cannot gain the spiritual transformation that any work of Art promises without it. The cunning witch or sorcerer gains something very tangible from experiencing the hidden flashes and waves of force that accompany a true work of art- they gain something akin to faith in their art. They grow in true certainty of their craft, and this is worth the reading of a thousand grimoires from ages past.

But trance- the passageway to another state of mind and being- is not without dangers, as I have long endeavored to warn my reading audience. It is one matter to point out how trance opens us to the massive whirls and eddies of the unseen world, and all of its unpredictability; it is something else to point out something more immediate: it gives men and women access to the antechambers of the unconscious, places where the half-forgotten and repressed materials of the mind reside, pulsing potently under their own perceptual cobwebs and dust-piles.

In my work with my clients, I often encounter those who balk at the idea of facing what things have become stored unconsciously deep within themselves- a dark shirking of responsibility, indeed, for what we conceal inside ourselves, from ourselves, almost always holds the keys to our own destruction- and, for those bold enough, our salvation. A mind is truly a terrible thing to waste, and wasted it is when it becomes dominated by unconscious material and powers which, like a primordial sludge, begins to give birth to sentient things, demons and tormentors that cobweb the insides of dreams and the underside of waking with their own tyrannical limitations.

Eventually they burst forth- sending their hosts to a madhouse, or to a grave. If you keep a "full house" as it were, and refuse to deal with it and its inhabitants as the essential man or woman should, and if you should be lucky enough to make it to a natural death uninspired by your own personal hidden unseelie court deep within, then you have escaped little: death will be the time of their ascension, and you can look forward to your journey into the Great Incomprehensible being accompanied by terrors you'll have spent a lifetime trying to deny or ignore.

Such a journey, in which rose-petals will become rose-thorns, might be thought of as its own sort of hell, as there will be no one there to spare you by waking you to physical sense again- the body will lie inert in its lasting sleep, and there will be no escape for the wandering mindstream. I can imagine, in my own disturbed thinking, those poor and tormented souls taking their desperate shelter in dark and deep places, trapped for awfulness-knows how long as the phantoms summoned scritching and tittering by more than one hero or sorcerer from history and legend. Those who can only whisper long to shout.

This would be an ignominious end for those who would style themselves either as "human" in the best sense of the word, or "wise" or "cunning"- so if you consider yourself to be a member of the spirit-rade of our Master or the Lady, or of Dame Dark and her Devil, don't lead yourself to such an experience. Shock the deep mind with the glare of the eye of wisdom and awaken; Learn to use the trance to gain access to what is ever-present, and forever intimate, but often unseen. This goes for our own hidden kingdoms within, as well as the omnipresent force of the unseen world.

Like with so many other things, the bridge that leads to danger also leads to salvation; the hand that blesses can also curse. What comes to pass is determined by the heart that walks the path, and the heart that rules the hand.

Concerning the Word "Trance"

The Random House Dictionary clears up any ambiguity regarding the word "trance". Here are given its five definitions, and its origins, according to that work:

TRANCE

1. a half-conscious state, seemingly between sleeping and waking, in which ability to function voluntarily may be suspended.

2. a dazed or bewildered condition.

3. a state of complete mental absorption or deep musing.

4. an unconscious, cataleptic, or hypnotic condition.

5. Spiritualism. a temporary state in which a medium, with suspension of personal consciousness, is controlled by an intelligence from without and used as a means of communication, as from the dead.

Origin: 1300–50; ME traunce, state of extreme dread, swoon, dazed state; MF transe, lit., passage (from life to death), deriv. of transir, to go across, pass over; Latin trānsīre, equiv. to trāns- trans- + īre, to go.


This fine definition, I think, covers it all nicely. The first definition is the focus of the present treatise; I shall make little mention the others, though much could be said for them. They are another story, for another night. The first usage says "a half-conscious state"- and while this is fine enough, it is clumsy, for language loses the power to grasp the full reality of the trance. It is, however, "between sleeping and waking"- a finer turn of phrase the author of the definition could not have used.

What does it mean to be neither awake nor asleep? Few can say, for in that marvelous and hidden place, language breaks apart. But this is a state that all people- and all beings that must sleep- venture through every time they lie down to rest. For a subtle moment, passing all too quickly for most- a "moment" called by me the "thirteenth hour"- all minds travel down from waking, to sleep, crossing the region of the between, the twilight region of the trance. To learn and halt the downward sinking, and remain suspended in that great space, which opens itself upon every other space in reality, is the essence of the trance-art.

The origins of the word "trance" are interesting- it begins with the “traunce” being good for a swoon of dread, for those who see what lies on the other side! But the trance, as it points out, is a "passage"- as from life to death- or a "passing over"- how perfect! Trance is a passage, from one state to another, whether it be from the day of waking to the night of sleep, or from life to death. We know this place- all of us know it. Few have taken the time to consider it as an alternative to simply being awake or asleep.

Trance is a bridge between two states, and to "build that bridge" with conscious attention and will is the key and the goal. I shall give the pass-keys to such a feat; in so doing, I become a Pontifex for those who take my advice- a "bridge builder". Such is my vocation and duty to the souls of the Hollow Hill Fellowship, my friends all over the world, and those of the Hethite strain of Craft- that covenant of souls to whom I owe so much.


Let your bridge be built; become the builder. Your hidden world awaits, on your own far shore- but the hidden dimension of all worlds also awaits, if you can negotiate with your own internal guardians for entry. Those who know me well will pardon the humor, but there is a real troll under most bridges, and it will take more than simply ignoring this troll to gain your own passage to authenticity as a person, and as a sorcerer or witch. It will take bravery, will, and cunning.


PART II: The New Sorcery of Modernity

"Modern man is ancient as the hills.
Neither science nor philosophy
Can temper his extremity.
He returns, he always returns,
The distant prodigal,
The stranger at the door.
Death welcomes him.
Death loves him."

-Peter Makem


The Lost World and the Modern World

I have always looked to the primal wisdom of the peoples of the "first world"- those native peoples who, even into our recent centuries, have maintained powerful strains of living sorcery. I have devoured (in the manner of a good white male spiritual imperialist) many of the texts recounting their wisdom, their cultures, and their native beliefs. I always choose to focus upon the words of their shamans, sorcerers, and specialists at healing and altered states, and upon their mythologies, for without understanding their mythologies, one cannot grasp the secrets to their trance-work.

The secrets are all there- primal peoples do not "hide" things as we Westerners assume; we project our own paranoia and silly obsession with occult secrets onto them. If it is a secret these peoples have, it is the simplest and best secret of all: if one must "hide" something, the most sublime things are best hidden in plain sight. The simplicity with which native informants speak hides a great complexity of thinking and spiritual experience. It is we Westerners, again, which shun simplicity and seek over-complexity, to the point that we invent nonsensical twists of word and argument, forever missing what stands naked and obvious.

I shall say it now, as I have said before, many times: true magical treasures- the real treasures- all contain within their magic a unique failsafe: they cannot be found if they are looked for. When you stop looking, you gain them instantly, for real magic is not apart from "everyday" things. The trance is a real magical treasure that shuns the seeking eye; true Wisdom is another. If you must "look" outside of yourself for these things, they will never be found, for you convince yourself in the looking that you don't have them, and thus, so long as you maintain this stance, you never will.

One cannot "out think" the real magic of the world- you cannot choose to "stop looking" or pretend not to look, for this is another form of looking, and the oldest powers cannot be so fooled. The only fools so created are those who try such lame things. We may all be fools from time to time, but a real fool is only someone who cannot recognize other fools. Recognize your own folly, and you take a step towards power. Honesty and self-awareness become the sorcerer's real tools.

With Ease For the Children of the Forest

While reading the excellent ethnographic works of James Walker, (the only white man to ever be given the title "Wicasa Wakan" or "Holy Man" by the Lakota Sioux), I was struck by the power of the words given to him by his informants, all of them holy men of the Lakota Sioux, and most of them shamans (or Wicasa Wakans) who were privy to the inner workings of Lakota religion. They speak of spirits and the supernatural world often, in a way that matches well what we know of many other first-nation peoples.

I've long known that the "secret" to trance lied in simple features of worldview- why can the "white man" not hear the words of the trees in a forest? One famous native American character from cinema insisted that "white man had forgotten how to listen". To this, after all my years of research, I must say- it may be true that white people have forgotten how to listen, but the forgetting happened a long time before now. Most white people now have never known- and not just white people, but people from all over the modern world.

Why have we never known? Because modernism and modern worldviews are power-stories: they are spells, workings of intense force, and all of them are laced with assumptions about reality that become entrenched in the minds of young people at a very early age. Our ears are battered from day one by the sounds of machines and cars and the horrid sound of television commercials and the mainstream mind-garbage television shows that the majority of people watch; we hear the terrible noises of industry and smell the awful stench of modernity, every day of our lives. Our counterparts in the deep Amazon and in the few other "virgin" places of the world hear what? The songs of birds, the sound of wind, the sound of crackling fires and human voices. They hear the cries of animals and the crash of falling trees or waves on the ocean.

Why do I make such an issue of this? Because I know that this parade of sounds not only shapes the neurological architecture of the brain in certain ways, but it transforms the mindstream in ways that give a wholly different perspective on the world, whether we would have it or not. Another two decades of Western "education" will finish the job that the cantankerous noise of our "civilization" has begun- we will send our children forth into the world looking for numbers, formulae, theories, and money-making ingenuity, and caring little for the subtle and beautiful powers that flow around us like rivers. We will care even less for the darker powers that take root in us every day and grow in the fertile press of our ignorance of spiritual matters.

When a few of the children of such a civilization finally feel and see the spiritual wasteland that they inhabit, they may long and ache for another way of seeing, another way of being. They may sense the Otherworld, the promise of magic or the unseen, but will be constantly frustrated at finding it. The ranges of awareness and consciousness they need are not gone, for they cannot be destroyed, but too much contrary force and assumption has been planted in them to ever hope to gain the trance with the ease of the people in the first nations or the primal world.

Old Puck's Laughter

It's frustrating to consider, but old Puck was right to laugh at the people of the Old World, when they sold their souls away to the new sorcerers who brought them the new spells of modernity. There is much to be recommended in a world of aspirin and air-conditioning, a world where babies and their mothers don't die nearly as much in childbirth and where tumors can be cut out of ailing people, but there is a downside to our brilliant avoidance of death: we get to die in other ways, in ways far more ominous than any rotting body.

The death of loneliness is our real death: people today have many miraculous devices to put between them and actually looking into the eyes of other people, and hearing their words. A web of light connects us all, and yet, my clientele overflows with people in the chasms of depression regarding their sense of being cut off from others, not being able to communicate with others, and feeling as though no one understands their most essential dreams, wants, needs, and desires. We've sold the cow of life, the warmth of breath, for synthetic milk and fake leather.

Those who have no belief in a life beyond this one cling with terror to this life, even while despising it at times; they eagerly justify every miraculous invention of the modern day, regardless of its negative impact on humanity and this world. If there were a such thing as an "untrance"- a reversal of trance, a reversal of the passage between two states, and a solidification into a state of constant focus on the material and the passionless, stale fear of existing, these modernists can be said to have mastered it. Their sorcery is the sorcery of despair and shallowness, and (as we have seen) it is a potent sorcery, indeed, for now it, more than any other sorcery, commands the fate of the world. Or so it would appear.

I am not suggesting that you take a club to your "modern devices", nor that you shun sensible medical treatments; technological artifice is a venerable and useful part of human beings, though it appears that our technological advancements have outstripped our humanity, and grown beyond whatever fund of wisdom we once commanded. This imbalance inhibits us when we attempt to approach the true "Old Ways" across the bridge of trance. It walls us off from the preternatural world, from the direct experience of the sacred, unfiltered by presumption and expectation.

This "barrier of hateful modernity" can be overcome, but not without enormous effort. I am not certain that it can truly be overcome by Westerners who are not born with a special predisposition towards preternaturalism and mystical endeavor. Some sorcerous blood runs in us yet! But the sleeping serpent of that magic doesn't sleep in quiet: it sleeps in noise, and is (in a reversal) stirred to wakefulness by silence- by a return to the primal sounds that once filled our ears, before our modern walls of noise came to disturb us into slumber.

Thus, a good preparation for the quest of the trance is to remove oneself to a place where only natural sounds- sounds not produced by machinery- can be heard, and staying in that place for as long as one can. The "silence of nature" is actually quite full of noise- it includes birdsong and wind; it includes creaking trees and the like. Anyone who has ever taken a lengthy, lonely vigil away from cities and crowds of people, and heard nothing but their own voice for many days or weeks, alongside the sounds of nature, knows that after a while, when a strange longing and loneliness for the familiar passes, a new "space of mind" opens up- and a peace settles with it.

It is this silence that is the great teacher of shamans worldwide, as recorded by Michael Harner from his informants, and it- nature's true voice- is the teacher of all the cunning, if they know how to hear the silence.


PART III: Not Awake, Not Asleep: An Outline of Praxis

"Consciousness has broken open
The ethereal veins
Where caribou trek north to give birth,
Where salmon glide the Bann,
Where starlings wheel and turn in the rains
To their blind voyage south.

Consciousness has taken rafter
And roof down, and the wall
Laid flat and all opened to the sky.
Sleep along might restore
Paths and patterns, routes invisible
To the conscious eye."

-Peter Makem


The Blade-Edge Bridge in Twilight

Trance is the pass-way, the bridge or portal to an unseen world. This trance, the veritable "faery portal" of legend, is a work of consciousness that begins in a prone position, in a secret place, but, after it is mastered, begins to "travel" with the master or mistress, and live with them and in them in everyday "waking life". It is a mastery of the "third estate", the third way of being, between sleeping and waking, in the perpetual twilight of the mind, which is a distant glimmer of the finest point of all people, the deathless spirit.

There are two halves of this work of trance, two realities that must be considered. The first layers of the process will take a man or woman into a space wherein the sights and sounds of their own minds will be broadcast in a state that is neither fully conscious nor fully unconscious. The first powers, sights, sounds, and emotions to appear begin in the "recent" memory and begin to proceed apace to the deeper reaches of memory, and finally to the unconscious.

This great wall of experience must be passed- it is an enormous hedge or tablet of personal force or "personal vibration" that has to be negotiated. Those who are daily living in stressful situations, those who sleep not enough, or who experience prolonged frustrations or difficulties will find this part of the work- the first bridge- very difficult. Any untamed mind will be like a leaping stallion, so very hard to handle or control, and indeed, "control" reveals itself for the illusion it is. The mind at the opening stages of the work is more like a slippery eel or fish, forever struggling out of grasp and back into the deep rush and confusion of murky water.

This work must be performed in as private and quiet a setting as possible, at least initially. The face should be washed with water from a sacred well or spring, and the bridge-builder should lie comfortably flat on their back, but never so comfortably that one would regularly sleep in such a position or upon such a place.

This work cannot be done if the mind and body are tired, so do not attempt it; the best results may occur earlier in the day, after one has awoken well refreshed. A dark cloth should be (at the beginning stages) wrapped about the eyes. When lying prone, washed and blindfolded, take four deep breaths, and then begin the simplest of all chants, within the mind, and, if one desires, at a low whisper:

"NOT AWAKE, NOT ASLEEP"

Relax and let yourself begin to withdraw your mind or awareness from its contact with the senses of the body; feel as though you are sinking down to sleep- let the "sink" begin, but go slowly. The act of willing oneself to "withdraw from contact with the senses" is a difficult task- you must will your awareness to turn away from the inputs of the sense-portals, but you must know that, unless you lose consciousness fully, such a task is truly impossible. Thus, withdrawing from the senses means willing the inner awareness to turn away from the senses, to scorn their inputs, but always accepting that inputs will still remain, will still be with you.

You will discover that scorning the sense-portals yields something interesting- it does, if done correctly, instantly cause a person to turn the arrow of awareness inward somehow, building an "inward focus". It is a strange but mystically sensible state of "two-beingness"- to turn away from the senses, yet still be experiencing sensations, sights, and sounds.

It must be tried to be understood. At any rate, do not try too hard; withdraw from sense input without trying to ignore it too hard, and just relax. Sink a little, and truly let yourself realize and believe- truly believe- that you are no longer "awake"- and indeed, by lying still in the quiet and dark and relaxing, and sinking down a bit, turning one's inner attention away from sounds and sensations, one truly is no longer "purely awake". But one is also not purely asleep yet, either; the very fact that the droning words, softly in the mind "Not Awake, Not Asleep" are whispering through you is evidence- you are consciously willing to keep this chant going.

Now, let the other voices chant it with you. As the sound of the whispering continues to permeate your consciousness on its slow descent, imagine what it would sound like if dozens of other men and women were whispering the key words, "Not Awake, Not Asleep". Let yourself drift with them.

Let yourself become precisely what the words are describing- neither asleep, nor awake. It is easy to realize that you are no longer purely awake; it is exciting to realize that you aren't purely awake anymore, yet, you are still conscious of your chant and thus not asleep in oblivion.

A Fabulous and Formless Darkness

When you penetrate "one level down"- feel a tangible shift towards relaxation and the inviting embrace of a nap or sleep, you will know that you have made great progress. But here, caution and wits must reign- you cannot ever allow yourself to become comfortable with "slipping down". You cannot go all the way to the country of sleep and dreams. You cannot fall asleep, for if you do, you have missed the trance and the working ends in failure. When you feel a "warm, comfortable shift", be alarmed and rouse your mind to re-focus on the words of the key chant. Keep repeating them.

In the chant, is a safety net; you will discover that soon, as you keep yourself on the "middle" of the road, the road between the peaks of waking and the chasms of sleep, and as you enter into the "not awake or asleep" state, songs, conversations, memories, words, sounds, and every other distraction begins to fly through your head. They may begin to come in large numbers, and the chant may temporarily go out of your head, to be replaced by such "mind noise"- but if you are willful enough, the chant will return. You will recall it and begin chanting it again, thus breaking up the thick, tired, distracting cloud of thoughts and memories.

This is the first layer, the first barrier thorns: and if you can feel it like a thick cloud, a confusion and a sleep, a fabulous and formless darkness that tries to rob your work from you, you are making progress. Here and now, you must keep a cool focus on the key-chant, and on creating the state (in that strange, effortless effort sort of way) which truly is neither awake nor asleep- trust in the words and your mind! Your mind will respond to the words; it will become "not awake, not asleep", so long as you focus yourself thus.

You are taking the reigns of the inner horses of the mind and holding them, with will and repeated, whispered inner command, between the region of wakefulness and oblivion. You are holding the middle course, and staying focused on your goal by saying the four key words over and over again. The untamed aspects of the mind will rush out to contest your way- but your will must be stronger. Over-exerting the will to defeat the mind will only cause the distractions to become stronger and eject you from the work. Will must be used calmly and coolly, without strain.

I find that this state comes quickly, if I go into it properly prepared and with the needed energy. This trance state is subtle; You know that you are in it, but it may take days or weeks to really integrate your "knowing" such that you become clearly conscious of your condition- though this "clear consciousness" is not the consciousness of pure wakefulness. No, it has become something else entirely. And in this state, any feat of mind is possible, any motion in the unseen world- one becomes truly unfettered in this state.

Because you are not awake fully, you are not bound by physics and the limits of perception. Because you are not asleep fully, you are not bound to mindlessness and unconsciousness. Desire and imagination become your new wings with which to fly, your new guides, the new powers that will light the way on to wherever you are intending to go. Where your desire can reach, you can reach, and without much time or effort, at all. What imagination can illuminate, you can experience.

When you have mastered this trance to the point that your mind is no longer a murky bog of watery thoughts and dreams and half-forgotten images, you are ready for the next step, which is into another world, beyond space and time. But the "harrowing of the personal hell" is not easy; a lifetime of dark subject matter, sensation, and experience has filled the mind and gives it an inertia that is hard to overcome.

But a few sessions a week, perhaps one short session a day, of trying to edge down into the "between state" and remaining clearly conscious there, while dispassionately observing the coming and going of hidden, unconscious and half-conscious material, has the marvelous impact of cleansing the mind and making safe one's own personal darkness. It has a way of preparing the ancient inner eyes to open more often and with greater power. Success is, of course, not guaranteed, but those who are shod by Fate for the Road of Initiation will succeed.


Road Maps to Faery

When the portal is ready, you will know it. I suggest eighteen months of work, at minimum, before you are ready for a road map that will take you beyond the immediate clarity of trance and into transpersonal regions beyond the typical understanding of “mind”- though nothing is beyond the fullness of what we truly are. When you are ready, you will find that the folk tradition provides the needed maps- the ancient works hid nothing from anyone. It is only we who assume that the truest and best secrets are hiding.

Begin with the map given below: it is only one map from a very old tradition, but there are many more to be found. May the old powers make safe your darkness.


I.

ENCIRCLED WHITE AND WITH THE LAMP-LIGHT OF SPIRIT
I SPEAK WORDS OF ART THAT EMBODY MY WILL:
MY WILL TO THE STARS AND SHADOW-DRAPED SKY,
TO THE FIELD AND WOOD, AND STARING MOON:

OPEN THE DOORWAY BELOW, AND GIVE ME ENTER
AND SAFE RETURN AGAIN.
WITH HAZEL-STAFF AND HEARTH STONE,
ONE TO GO FORTH AND ONE TO COME HOME,
I STRIDE FORTH INTO THE OTHERNESS.


II.

SEW THE THREAD, MAKE THE STITCH
UPON IT PLACE PITCH AND KNOCK WITHIN YOUR NAILS!
ACCUSER SHADOW, WALK THE WAY WITH ME
THOUGH I SHALL GO MY WAY JOYFULLY;
FATE'S GREAT SPINDLE I TRUST TO POINT ME RIGHT
IN SORROWFUL DAY OR PERILOUS NIGHT.
AND WITH CUNNING,
THE DARKEST NIGHT IS AS DAY DAWNING.


III.

THE VILLAGES OF THE WASTE ARE SMALL:
THEIR TRADESMEN SMILE, THEIR WIVES CARRY WATER,
THEIR PEOPLE GO ON UNCOVERED FEET.
I WHO WEAVE AND STITCH,
AND YOU WHO MAKE THE ARMOR OF THE HEEL,
TO THE FOREST WE GO, WHICH SUN CANNOT FILL,
BEYOND WHICH LIES THE GLEAMING CITY OF A KING.


IV.

HERE THE FOREST OF SHADE BEGINS
PENETRATED BY TWO ROADS, A FORK AND FEARFUL DOUBT
THE HIGH ROAD DEMANDS SEVEN DAYS,
THE LOW ROAD ONLY TWO
WHICH SHALL BE WHICH? WHAT SHALL WE DO?
WE HAVE NO GUIDANCE SAVE TRUST IN DAME FATE
ACCUSER SHADE, CARRY SEVEN DAYS' BREAD
AND I SHALL CARRY ONLY TWO
INTO THE FOREST WE GO.


V.

THE TORMENT OF HUNGER STALKS ME
AND THE ACCUSER SHADE MOCKS ME
OFFERING TO PRESERVE ME ONLY TO BLIND ME
SUCH A FATE TO ALL WHO GIVE SOUL AWAY TO DESPAIR!
BUT THE FOREST HAS ENDED, GIVEN WAY TO EMERALD FIELDS
AND IN THE DISTANCE, A HUNDRED-TOWERED CITY.
BETWEEN THE FOREST AND THE CITY, A GALLOWS POLE
AND ON THE GIBBET THE CORPSES OF TWO HANGED MEN
WHO WHISPER THE SECRETS OF THE DEAD WHEN THE MOON IS HIGH.
THERE WITH THEM, ON THEIR TANGLED HEADS, PERCH TWO CROWS
WHO WATCH ALL PASS WITH THE BALEFUL GLARE OF FATE.
THERE IS A JUSTICE WHICH SEES ALL,
AND WAITS TO STRIKE ON BLACK WINGS.


VI.

FOAL OF BROWN AND WHITE, RUN STRONG AND FREE
MY HAND IS THE HAND THAT RELEASES THEE:
MOTHER DUCK, QUEEN OF PONDS AND LAKES
YOUR TWELVE YOUNG I WILL NEVER TAKE.
QUEEN BEE, YOUR HIVE WILL DRIP SWEET AND GOLD
WITH THE HONEY THAT WOULD RESTORE ME
BUT I PASS IT BY LEST IT OFFEND THEE!
BOG-KING, MARSH-KING, COUSIN LONG-LEG AND SACRED
I SPARE YOUR NECK, MASTER OF THE SKY
NONE SHALL SLAY YOU AND ESCAPE THE BLIGHT OF FATE.
FOR MY REGARD, REMEMBER ME, AND LEND YOUR POWERS FAIRLY.


VII.

A KING'S COMMAND SENDS ME FORTH
MY LASTING DEATH SHOULD I FAIL:
MOTHER DUCK AND TWELVE FAITHFUL KIN,
FROM THE BOTTOM OF FAERY'S WATER RAISE THE CROWN
THAT I REQUIRE, ANCIENT AND LOST.
QUEEN BEE, MAKE THE ENTIRE WORLD FROM WAX
MISS NOT A MOTE OR A MARK.
HORSE OF BROWN AND WHITE, GALLOP ROUND THRICE
AND WITH YOUR HOOVES STRIKE,
MAKE THE WATER BENEATH THE EARTH RISE TO THE SKY
A FOUNTAIN THAT WILL EVEN SOOTHE THE DEAD.
COUSIN LONG-LEGS, SACRED WHITE WING,
TAKE FROM THE DEEP POND A PRINCELY CHILD,
AND THROUGH THE SKY DELIVER HIM
TO THE DAUGHTER OF THE KING.


VIII.

HORSE AND DUCK, BEE AND STORK,
FOREST AND GIBBET AND CITY GATE,
DARK TREES AND ROADS THAT FORK,
ACCUSER SHADE AND KINGLY COURT,
I AM THE ONE WHO WEAVES AND CHARMS
WHO CRAFTS AND JOURNEYS BETWEEN THE ARMS OF DAY AND NIGHT.
CROWS OF THE DEAD, SEE ME PASS,
BLIGHTS AND WEIRDS OF HUNGER AND PAIN,
PRINCESS OF THE SIDHE, AWAITING YOUR MATE,
ALL THE POWERS OF FORCE AND OF FATE,
PRESERVE ME NOW; THE CHILD COMES.


XI.

ACCUSER FLEE, CAST AWAY ARE THEE,
DOWN BY THE GIBBET YOU WILL FALL:
THE CROWS WILL TAKE YOUR EYES, AND THE FOREST SWALLOW YOU.
NEVER AGAIN WILL THEY HEAR OF YOU,
AND I WILL WEAR THE CROWN.


May 2, 2009

Sundown Door: Opening The Way to the Sky


The Path to the Star-Throne of the Lady

Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: I sense the longing in your soul and the triumph of the evil powers. Chaos and madness reign where once the deer was hunted and the fire of people was joy for all. Listen, way-watcher and way-maker and I will show you the old magic that summons the vision you need. To see is not enough, but it may be all that you are to have. Suffering men and women, I and those others like me have become ageless spirits, like unto those which we sought aid from when we lived in the boundaries of flesh. I see so far and so much, I know the good and the evil. I see so many men and women lost, and terrible powers running free. I know that nothing ever ends and things will be well, but great is the need for men to embrace their task. Men alone complete what begins unseen. The great unseen alone completes men.

Arrow-maker: You have all that you need, save one thing: you do not know what to tell the Lady when you meet Her, the words that say what so many have forgotten, and without which, no peace or health is possible. The Lady is the earth, source of every life and goodness, source of every food and healing herb, life's faithful sustainer. You must recognize Her for this. That is all. Her true worship is recognition.

Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: Here is how the magic is made. The earth powers and the growing powers will show you the place. The sun rises and sets in a straight line over the place; at its middle point are two trees standing near one another- they form a passage-way. The sun passes between them and goes below far beyond them; you can see its red death from between them.

Take a staff of ash or oak and etch upon it a horse and a rider, and set it up far to the east of the two trees, but always between them. Pour from it a line of water, running between the trees, the length of twenty men- and where it ends, build a fire of wood from the land all around. Kindle the fire as the sun is sinking and walk back to the horseman's pole. Pour honey, milk, and blood into the ground in a pit dug before the pole. Say the words:

Wisdom spirit, gallop and trot to me!
Into my hand place the key.
Life spirit, give your offerings,
And we will rightfully repay.
Fate spirit, bind unending as you will,
But spare me wisdom.


Walk backwards on the water-trail for the space of five men, never taking your eyes off the horseman's pole, and look beyond, to the dark eastern horizon. See there a man on horseback, watching. Send him a voice:

Master of tree weird, Master of earth weird,
Riding between day and night and through the dreams of man
Leaper over ditch and mound, river and wood
Holder of the secret key, ride forth and appear!
Not above nor below, not there, not here
But in the knowledge clear of woman and man.
Come with wind! Come invisible if you will,
Come with the people of the storm.


Turn around and fix your eyes on the fire in the twilight. Walk towards the two trees, with your palms towards the ground. Walk along the water-trail you have made; do not ever leave it. Speak:

Fate-weaver's strands, binding grove and well
Pond and tree, fire and circling rock
Not by hands nor words is Fate woven
But by the Woman with star-filled eyes
And her great field of darkness.
World of nine times and nine deeps,
Where weirds hide their truthful shapes,
And life and death struggle forever:
Let summer fade and winter win,
Let winter break and summer grow,
Always the ebb and the flow.
In that turning, let light increase
Let the power collect in me, rising without end.
Amid the darkness of unseen things,
The Master rides with his rade
Let him bring the key of life and death.



Arrow Maker: As you reach the trees, turn around and face the pole. It will be gone; in its place, you will see the Horseman. He will ride forth with great might and come to a circling halt before you. He will reach down and hand you the Key of life and death- an arrow. Etched on it will be many strange signs, but you need not worry as to their meanings. Bend your neck to him and say "I honor the Lady and the Old World". He will nod and ride away to the east. You will turn and hurl the arrow between the two trees, towards the fire, but it will not land before you; it will vanish as it passes between the trees.

This is a sign that the Sundown Door is opened. You will place your hand over your heart and commend yourself to the Lady and step through the two trees, but as you pass through, watching your fire, the twilight will vanish, to be replaced by a night full of stars. The fire will still be there, glaring through the darkness, and it will seem further away than it was before. The two trees will no longer be to your left and right; instead, a man and a woman, naked and covered with dark markings, will be standing- they are the weirds of the tree and the dead. They will walk you towards the fire, which is on a land-rise. When you reach it, you will pass the fire by a few paces, and hear the voices of many people in the valley below.

Under the bright stars, and with the full moon overhead, you will see many smaller fires below you, and distantly. The shapes of men and women will be next to them; they are the ancients, still worshiping the stars by building fires on earth to match their places in the night sky. Look up; you will see the arrangements of the stars in the sky have been recreated on the earth with the fires of the earth. The people are gazing up, making their songs. You have forgotten what shapes the stars made- the hunters, the beasts they chased, the heroes who killed monsters. Before you on the ground, in the star-fires, is the Lady's bower. Above you is Her bower. Behind you, the ghost-fire you kindled is the pole star come to earth.

Walk away from your fire. Walk down into the dark valley, and pass the other star-fires. The people there will not turn to see you; you are a spirit to them. They will continue to adore the stars. You will walk to the center of the Lady's bower, and before you, out of the darkness, will come bounding a great and majestic red deer. She will stop before you and gaze at you with the most ancient eyes. She waits.

You must bend your knee to her and tell her that you recognize her as the source of life. You must say it with your heart. You must withhold nothing. She will nod her head back and a blessing will enter you. Then, the red deer will turn into a great deer of wood and straw. She will burst into flames, and the fire will rage bright; hundreds of sparks will fly upwards, seeking the stars. That is how the stars came to be in the sky.

Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: You will reach out and seize one of the sparks, and it will carry you upwards like a glowing moth into the sky. You will be lifted upwards by the spark, into the darkness between the many brilliant white stars, all of which will turn into men and women, all standing on a field of utter darkness- the ground which is the sky. They are white-skinned, draped in white animal skins, all facing towards a larger light, which you could not see from the earth. In that light, on a great chair of silvery and white, sits the Lady, whose earth-form you just met and honored in Her form of the red deer. Through it, you and She have both transformed upwards, and you can come into the presence of Her starry-form, Her true shape.

From above She sees all. From far beyond Her light, in the darkness, is the sound of the weaving of eternity. Her people are gathered around Her seat, and She smiles in recognition at you. She is the source of all life, and She has revealed Herself to you as best a mortal man can receive Her.

Arrow Maker: I am there, in Her court of stars, and so is the Old Man Who Lives In The Stones. So are all of us who once lived on the earth, and whose ghosts stay bound to the earth. We are here, above, too. The Horseman is here, too- see: he is the Son of Light. The great Life Spirit is here, too- everywhere. We are all Fate; no power is excluded. But the source of it all is the Lady, she is the power of powers, the fiery spirit of fires, the source of the many waters.

To live perpetually among the stars of the sky is not difficult; the key to this place is knowing the source of all things and recognizing it, withholding nothing. Those who forget their true source are capable of every evil; they become the servants of the evil powers that tear the world and life down to the murky clot of water, blood, earth and salt in which it began. They reduce things to their roots. They do this by making incomplete that which should be complete; their words are evil, and their dreams are evil.

They follow a road that is broad and dark- you must follow the narrow road of the water that passes between the two trees, for those trees are life and death. It is a road full of the redness of blessings, the blessings of the deer that the ancients hunted, and which sustained them. The earth sustained them, because they recognized it and loved it. The sky sustained them and the stars- we, the stars- sustained them. They knew harmony then and now, for true harmony is beginningless and endless. They knew how all things have many shapes, how trees and stones spoke like people and could look like people. They knew the old magic.

Old Man Who Lives In The Stones: Take this harmony, offered to you now- look at Her, on Her throne: She beckons. Two lives for you begin today, a life above and below, which are the same life.

Before you came here, only the earth and the underworld were in your range of power; now, the stars, earth, and underworld are; the star-court has become your new earth, and the earth of old is now your underworld, and you will see its many lost souls and dangers, all in a new light. And below that? In the darker, deeper underworld? There is no deeper; if you were to return to earth, and go below, you would find yourself here again, in the stars.

For you, the dark underworld's once dim and terrifying shapes have become stars! That dark source below- mother source of waters- has become the bright throne! Know that they were always stars; it was a dark dream that led you to believe otherwise, a dark dream that is also among the Fateful powers. Embrace the joy you feel now. There is a joy at the heart of Fate, a crystalline body of indestructible life for all.

In joy, one day in your life below, commit your body and soul to the ground. Should you go onto a pyre, the sparks will carry you back here, instantly. Should you go into the mound, you will merge as we did and become a phantom bound for countless millennia, at least from the reckoning of mortal men and women who still wander the earth and eat meat and bread. For you, time will cease. You can teach those few who may speak to you to find their way to the sundown door, or show them what other things Fate asks you to tell them.

But your spirit will still be here, as well as below. Your spirit will no longer sleep in the wholeness of the sky, sleeping here as many others do; it is awake now for all time.

Look at the Lady; She is calling you to come before Her. There is someone she wishes you to meet. What remains of your mind of earth and water and air is about to become whole.