June 18, 2009

A Sabbatical Hodge Podge

A Sabbatical Hodge Podge: The Problems of the Eightfold Sabbat System

Why Your Eightfold Sabbat System of Worship is Killing the Spirit of Genuine Paganism- and the Witchcraft That Sometimes Lives Inside It.

Copyright © 2009 by Robin Artisson
http://www.robinartisson.com

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Beating a Well-Known Horse

It has become the mainstream currency of neo-Pagans everywhere to follow the calendrical observations of the "eightfold sabbat" year. Even though I feel like I'm beating a well-known horse by saying this, those eight sabbats are (beginning with the darkest) Yule, Imbolg, Eostre, Beltane, Midsummer, Lammas, Mabon (or the Autumn Equinox), and Samhain. Four are equinoxes and solstices; the other four are (today) positioned directly between the four solar events, and called “cross-quarters.”

Ever since my first days being cognizant of neo-Pagan religions, I've had issues with this system, and those issues turned into a full-blown illness when I did the research behind the creation of the Eightfold Sabbat system. I won't do like I normally do and write eighteen paragraphs before I get to my actual point. I'll just say it: the system, as it is, is unforgivably new-agey and invented.

Now, let me unpack what I just said. Let me start by saying "hey guys- if you like your eight sabbats, then by all means, keep celebrating them." But don't walk around thinking that you're doing anything remotely similar to Pagans from pre-christian times. These eight "sabbats" were assembled by Gardner and team for you, about 60 or so years ago. He was inspired by many then-available sources, chiefly his pals in the revivalist Druid movement- a movement that is far more Christian than Pagan, and whose luminary members and founders were always church-attending men.

The eight sabbats, as they stand, are a hodge-podge of Germanic and Celtic holy days. Before I unpack this, let me say that "Germanic" and "Celtic" are not words that refer to unitary, singular cultural traditions, but very, very broad terms that refer to linguistically-related tribes and nations of people which numbered in the hundreds. The chances that all Germanic Pagans, everywhere and at all times, kept some sacred "wheel" of rituals every year are so tiny as to be negligible. The very same thing goes for the many peoples that we now call "Celtic".

The Summer Begins Twice This Year

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that many Germanic peoples saw the Yule-tide as a very sacred time. There is no doubt that Beltaine in Ireland was a sacred time for the peoples of that Island, at least around the time of the visits of the probably fictional "St. Patrick." We do know that, historically, SOME Celtic and Germanic peoples celebrated these seasons: we know that there was a Lugh's Commemoration Fair, a Lughnassadh, in ancient Ireland, and a shadow of a cognate in Christian times. We know that Midsummer stands tall in the folkloric memory of Germanic-descended people. A few other notable nights and seasons stand out. For instance- we know that the Romans, in all places where Roman culture was strongly spread, celebrated Saturnalia around the time of the Winter Solstice- just like the Germanic Yule.

But when you look at history more soberly, you will discover quickly that taking the Celtic Beltaine, and putting it on a calendar with a Germanic Midsummer or Yule leads to the creation of a calendar that is neither historical, culturally accurate, nor very respectful to the broad ancestral metaphysics of either culture-group. Beltaine, the celebration of Bel's summer fire, seen as a great fertility drama by most neo-Pagans today, stands as the crown of the neo-Pagan conception of the "Celtic Summer": to follow it with the equivalent Germanic "First of Summer" festival- Midsummer- is nothing short of redundant.

One culture-group, at certain times and in certain places, had their summer's beginning on Beltaine, and the other, at Midsummer. These were different cultures with many different ideals, different Gods, and different destinies. They blended together eventually, sure- but they maintain, even now, their own unique treasures to offer, and they can't offer those without people who respect them enough to approach them on their own merits. Celebrating Samhain, followed by Yule- two prominent festivals that include the return of the dead kindreds or ancestors to dwell with the living- is also a bit redundant; your ancestral dead are probably annoyed by being moved twice in the space of seven weeks.

Now, if you're an "eight wheeler", and unless you're claiming to follow a "Celtic-Germanic" Pagan reconstructionist path, what are you really doing? And why on earth would you invent a modern "Myth cycle" with oak kings and holly kings and Persephones and Ishtars, to follow the eight hodge-podge sabbats, as though the ancients believed in any way similarly?

People are passing off "Paganism" (and worse yet, "witchcraft") as gleeful talks about "The God" (that annoying nobody-everybody God of Wiccans) getting married on Beltaine, and reaching the "height of his power" on Midsummer, and blah blah snore- people, please- spare my poor heart.
We're better than this. We don't have to "invent forward"- we can "go back" and see what is still there, written for us in the sacred seasons and in the land. We can "go into" the land around us, and see more. What we'll see is important because it's what the ancients saw, before they began doing the things that we eagerly seek out ourselves now.

Each of these sacred seasons that people toss around, within the context of its own generalized cultural group, has its own mythology- it does not "link" to others with invented neo-Pagan Godforms. Every season and time contains its own mythology, its own sacred powers, its own moods and forces. They are universes all their own, not just steps on a stone-lined path.

I know some of you have heard this sort of rant before. Many of you have not, or have and don't care. I care about getting to the real treasures that have come down to us from the past, and I know for a fact that over-inventing modern contexts and overlays for the treasures of the past is the fastest way to obscure the power and wisdom that is sitting right there, calmly and simply, waiting for people to live it again.

Lugh’s Festival Has Nothing To Do With Anglo-Saxon Loaves

When we examine the origins of these "solar" holy days and festivals, like Yule and Midsummer, even a fool can see that they were inspired by ancient people watching the sun's apparent motions in the sky, and what impact that had on earthly life and weather. When we examine the origins of agrarian festivals and culturally-encapsulated festivals like Lughnassadh or Beltaine, we can see that they were not solar; they were not timed to equinoxes and solstices; they were cultural relics of the many Celtic peoples- particularly the ancient Irish- and they have their origins in the mythical life of those people.

The very widespread Celtic God Lugus, in his Irish hypostasis of Lugh, declares a time of mourning and of competition and games for his foster-mother, who gave her life for the people of a particular region of Ireland, and thus was the mythical origin of Lughnassadh, the commemoration that was established by Lugh.

This is not a universal Pagan holy day. It belonged (and in a sense, still belongs) to a specific culture. The Anglo-Saxon harvest rites of Lammas are not the same thing as Lughnassadh. They are not a "Germanic equivalent"- the Germanic peoples who came to settle in England had no equivalent to Lugh's ordered commemoration event. And they might have been as confused as I am about people leaping all over a disordered year with all these various "holy days" dragged together and forced on one another, as though there was some secret universal pattern to them.

We have no evidence that all Celts or all Germans in every Celtic or German community followed a "four-fold" year. In fact, we don't have a single historical record saying that anyone in Northern Europe "came together this many times a year on these days" for this or that sacred day or ritual. What we do have, however is the common sense to study the everyday lives of these various peoples, and, by adding an understanding of how central nature and the land were to Pagan religions all over Europe (and the rest of the world) we can reconstruct a more sensible vision of what their years might have been like.

To begin with, when you rely on herds and crops for your very life, weather-cycles become very important. But weather-patterns are not everywhere the same: what is a killing cold in England is a balmy day on the shores of the Mediterranean. It was the cold that may have threatened life in the north, but it was drought and heat that threatened life in the Mediterranean world. Their planting seasons and growing seasons were different. What they grew was different. What they hunted, fished, and herded was different, all over. Gods and spirits associated with these animals, crops, and weather were different. They were not all faces of "one divinity" or even two, or three, or ten. They were countless, and unique to each community. The Goddess of the Land was not even called by the same name everywhere, even within cultural boundaries.

This is the key issue: how unique genuine Pagan religion was to each community, or tribe, or grouping of people. Neo-paganism destroys the very fabric of the traditional Pagan vision by trying to bang together a "sacred year", without recourse to the context of small village and community life in ancient times, and even in recent times. There was no internet; no phones; various practices and customs sprang up all over the world, in response to the unique environmental and spiritual conditions of many places, without the other places even knowing about them or understanding them. We are speaking of a non-standardized, totally decentralized way of approaching the natural spirituality of life.

A Hammer Hallows Our Fields… A Penis Hallows Yours

What genuine Pagan people living in a village somewhere in the middle of the woods and fields in the middle of Ancient Germany would have "done" for their community "calendar" is radically different from what Pagans on the top of Norway would have done, or Pagans in Iceland, or Pagans in Britain, or Pagans in Rome. Their local weather- and thus the start of their "harvest" season, would have been different from Pagans in other parts of Europe. What local land-spirits and powers were unique to their community would have been the ones receiving their harvest or planting sacrifices. What larger "Gods" or "Goddesses" they culturally believed in would have been invoked in various ways, but probably not in the same ways, or at the same times, as the Germanic peoples just a hundred miles away, in another part of that same region.

Iceland is a good example: the God that most of the farmers of Iceland prayed to for the well-being of their crops was Thor. He was the God that sent rain and fertilized fields. In southern Sweden, the God farmers traditionally relied on the most was Frey or Ing, for the same goals: fertility and well-being for the land. And beyond these national Gods, whose names were known generally by all Swedes or Icelanders, were the local divinities and land-spirits that only the people in those communities knew and sacrificed to. Those local powers had every bit of say over what grew in their land. They were a crucial part of the old Heathen religious complexes.

Roman and Greek sacred days and seasons were and are radically different from Northern European ones. I don't need to bother going into the very well-known Roman calendar and pointing out how it bears no resemblance at all to anything the Northern Peoples were doing, with almost one exception: Saturnalia coincides in a general way with the Yule-time, and has similar themes. But this can be explained in various ways. It is not an outgrowth of a universal "Pagan year wheel".

Gerald Gardner and the Wiccans (as said before) working in tandem with their Revivalist Druid friends (those Druids who believed in the Helio-Arkite pseudo-pagan christian mythology) gave us the "eightfold sabbat" system. And before you think I'm just against it full stop, let me say a few things that are good about it.

Gardner, like all of the people of Britain now, was a mix of ancient native British and Germanic bloodlines. One might make a case that all Europeans from Northern and Northwestern Europe (as well as Spain and Italy) have Germanic in them, considering it was the German people who migrated to all these places, conquered them (yes, even conquered Spain and Italy- the Visigoths settled Spain and the Ostrogoths ruled Italy, bringing their Gods, culture, and having sex with the local women) and created the "Europe" we know now.

By making a "half kinda-Celtic and half sorta-Germanic" Calendar for his vision of a new Witchcraft, Gardner was in a way being true to his mixed-blood roots. And, for a time, all over Europe, Celtic peoples did celebrate their own local holidays alongside Germanic settlers who followed their own ways. Thus, the folkloric and historical tradition will mention "Lammas" and "Midsummer" alongside things like "Samhain"- but the chances of some small tradition of "witches", the likes of which Gardner claimed to meet, following a clockwork calendar of four Celtic and four Germanic holidays are nil and none.

The Witch of That Small Village… Somewhere Out There…

The local witch of later times, after the names "Celtic" and "Germanic" meant little and national names like "English" or "French" were in place, would certainly have gone to the harvest festivals or his or her community. That festival may have coincided with some more ancient Pagan festival, but it was no longer the same. Some of the same powers may have been there- some of the same impulses, and even some of the same practices (big bonfires, corn dollies, feasting, or what have you) but this is not an instance of "survival" of Pagan rites. Our fictional witch may, in fact, be the only person at the harvest fair that still senses the older powers and spirits of the time- I would hope they would- but again, we are a very long distance from an ancient "Lugh's Commemoration" to the local "St. Agatha's Harvest Home".

That witch might have recognized the power of these times- for they all have power- and used them, as I do myself in my own life, to assay trance work and wisdom-gaining workings. But then, all times have their own power- not just special days. I think that the folk-calendar, which does in fact contain a hodge-podge of older-rooted holy days from different cultures, has its own unique wisdom. But there was no one "folk calendar" for all of Europe. Not now, and not ever. And it certainly didn't contain a "wrap-around story" that told of the progress of some singular Goddess or God.

This modern attempt to bolster Gardner's calendar with new mythology is forlorn, because it is miles from the Land itself, from the unique spirit of unique places.
The "witchcraft"- the native sorcery- of European folk-customs, ancient Pagan spirits, folk-beliefs, and the whole mystical spirit of ancient Europe as it came into the modern day, it will flee before people that automatically ignore the individual sacred lands and places, the subtle messages of individual customs or lores, in favor of some "over-arching" new Pagan calendar that sweeps up the biggest chunks of history, and sweeps away the divine, mystical details.

Gerald was, in his own way (along with those pseudo-Druids) among the first Pagan reconstructionists. And that's good. Without meaning to do so, they certainly inspired a lot of research into the Pagan origins of certain times. But in doing so, they obscured the power of local, land-based rituals, rites, and yearly observations, and how important those are to people today who are fortunate enough to take part in them, and how important they were to the ancients.

Paganism was never meant to be a centralized religion with a liturgical year, like the Catholic year or the Jewish calendar. It was meant to communicate something of the uniqueness of each and every stand of trees, field, or corner of the woods. It was meant to engage every person who lives on a land, grows their own food, or sees their own local wildlife. It was meant to be an expression of each individual's life and land, and their family, and their community. This is what organic religion is. This is why the Gods are not all "one"- they are there, in the land, hills, and mountains of many lands, and in the group-soul of many people, following them on their long migrations. They are in the storms, the skies, and the seas. They are living out their ageless lives alongside human beings, being met by humans everywhere humans go.

Pope Cernunnos

It seems to me that too many neo-Pagans don't see how similar they've become to Christianity or Islam or Judaism: they rush to ram all their Gods into "one", so as to keep some ridiculous claim on a monotheistic-ish seeming religion, in what can be described as nothing short of a fear of true Polytheism- for centuries, Polytheism has been excoriated by Monotheism as ignorant and chaotic, and these lessons have been entrenched in our cultures, in our scholarly fields, and in our basic thinking.

Many of our "New Pagans" don't seem to have the depth or the courage to challenge the Monotheistic claim that Monotheism is just better or "makes more sense". It makes no sense to place all of the rich treasures of human spirituality, all of the unique spirits of places, and all of the unique cultural Gods of the past into an immense blender and make a horrid sludge out of it, all in the name of being able to tell disapproving Christians "well, we all worship the same God, just under different names and facets..." And they've come up with a liturgical calendar, complete with "colors" for the different seasons and precise days of worship, precisely like the Roman Catholic liturgical year.

The more one thinks on it, the more disgusting and shallow it becomes. It is a betrayal of the very essence of organic, traditional Paganism. I don't need Christian approval, and I don't have to be a sorta-monotheist to be taken seriously in a philosophical debate. I don't have to debate at all; I only need to know the closeness of the sacred powers, wherever I am. I need to bond with them and live in peace and harmony with them. That is what Pagans did. That is what "Pagans" worth the name still do.

I don't need a calendar created by Popes to tell me when "Beltaine" is. I can see the bluebells come to the trees, see the bloom of hawthorn, and know that my Summer-fire festival's time is here for me and for mine. They may bloom early one year; they may bloom later- but that's fine. It's the sacred power of the Earth itself telling me that it's time to celebrate. This custom, incidentally- of waiting to see the Hawthorn flowers- is not my invention. I wish I could be so rustic and deep sounding. It was an old custom from some parts of England and Ireland.

Pagans don't need "books on sabbats" to tell them how to worship. They need the sacred book that the ancients had: the Land itself. The Land at YOUR house will show you its own seasons. People need to pay attention to that, if they want to "celebrate the cycles of nature". People claim that the point of "celebrating the cycles of nature" is to gain "balance". I disagree. Balance comes from being part of a place, part of a family, part of a community, part of a vision of life that gives you peace. The seasons cycle around that, through that- but the balance, the "Frith" as many ancient Heathens called it, comes from belonging. You belong to a place, first, then it teaches you about its moods and seasons. By honoring those moods and seasons, you honor it and yourself, because you've become a part of it. The land and the people are one.

Even A Broken Clock Is Right Twice A Day: Let’s Go Deeper

I said that I'd say more than one good thing about the neo-Pagan calendar cycle, right? I did... and, well, I suppose I'd rather see people doing something unforgivably new-agey, and getting excited about the moon or the sun or racked-up Pagan holidays, than getting excited about Jesus and the twelve apostles. At least neo-Paganism is a move back to the sober sanity of nature, and away from the invented "triumphalist" linear story of "sin and salvation" with its absurd notion of "time beginning" and "time ending" at the hands of the ancient Hebrew God. I'd rather a modern story that excited people about nature's sacred powers, than an ancient one that excites people about physically crawling out of their graves one day to go to heaven and watch as most everyone else goes to hell forever. There's just no competition in my mind.

So, thanks to Gerald. But we can't stay right where Gerald or anyone else started people off. We have to use our hearts and reason and go deeper. Unless we all want to be content allowing "Paganism" to be perceived as a bunch of new-agers tossing together Greek and Roman Gods alongside caricatures of Norse and Celtic ones, (and a few Hindu divinities tossed in, alongside some Semitic ones, all slammed into a "one god and one goddess" duo-theism/bad monotheism) and ignoring local lands, powers, and folklore, and then worshiping on "Sabbats" that are blends of Germanic and Celtic holy days, all tied up with a big ribbon of radical liberalism and eco-feminism, we have to go deeper.

June 15, 2009

Trance-Work of the Three Forked Tongues



The Art requires command of extraordinary states of conscious awareness. The head-body complex- that natural state of conscious waking, locked in the head-eye-ear consciousness- is one of three complexes that stand like markers on a road that regresses to totality or wholeness. Three states of conscious awareness concern us here- the common consciousness of the head-body complex; the "feeling consciousness" of the soul which is half-awake in the average man, woman, or child, and the "heart consciousness" of the utter depth, which is dark and hidden in most.


From the perspective of one layer of consciousness, any of those deeper appear to be subtle, irrational, or simply absent or draped in darkness. Thus, from the perspective of the head-body consciousness, the feeling consciousness is wordless and strange, though active in an intuitive manner which grants the conscious person emotional textures, though without a seeming rational pattern or explanation. One merely "feels" a certain way, and sometimes a connection can seem apparent between forces operating in the apparently "objective" world and the feeling; at other times, the feelings simply arise.

From the perspective of the head-body complex, the heart's deep messages are absent. One may speak of "feeling with their heart" or "knowing in their heart", but this is poetic license to describe a decision or way of believing that is in line with no other evidence beyond a deeply held intuition. In this sense, the heart-consciousness may in fact be manifesting something to the feeling consciousness, which is struggling to do its best to transmit that message, and being interpreted in various ways by the most coarse, everyday consciousness, beset as it is with years of rationalizing and perilous, linear "educational" perspectives that have been forced upon it. The explanation that emerges for the entire chain of experience is normally a sad explanation, indeed, as is any explanation of the ultimate "meaning" of the entire experience.

A sublime trance and wisdom-gate exists for the opening in any man or woman who can regress from the head-body complex to the feeling region of the chest, and beyond that, into the boundless deep of the heart-field: a field whose very infinitesimal edge seems to touch the physical organ of the heart in the middle-body, and then extends far beyond the body, reaching out to touch all the invisible.

The process is as simple as it is powerful, and it draws on the tongue of the serpent, and can be increased threefold in strength if the rattle of his tail is used.

Fill a hollow gourd with some pebbles, and, if possible, the vertebrae of a serpent, dried well. Do not kill a serpent to attain them; you must find it deceased already. Seal the gourd and form from it a rattle. Any rattle constructed by you, from any simple material will do. This rattle is not needed for this work, but it increases its strength.

To begin, situate yourself calmly and in a lonely, quiet place. Quietly enter into the full use of your eyes, ears, and senses- the portals of the head-body consciousness. Let yourself fully enter into whatever you are hearing and seeing and feeling on your skin. Spit once and take a deep breath, and assay the serpent's hiss, by releasing the breath slowly and steadily through your teeth, making a faint whistling noise. As you do this, shake the rattle, if you are utilizing one, as though it were the warning-rattle of a serpent about to strike. Shake it sparingly, rapidly, suddenly, alarmingly- but never too much. As you are making this serpentine music, do not neglect the fact that your ears are hearing it, and immerse yourself in the sound fully. If your eyes remain open, immerse yourself in whatever you see. Be as present as you can be with the gifts of your head and body senses.

When the breath runs out, fall silent. If you feel that you have "entered into" your coarse experiences fully, then proceed. If not, undergo another cycle. There is nothing you need do except be fully present with what already effortlessly presents itself.

When you are ready to go one level deeper, bring your mind's focus to your chest, the place where you feel- the chest, and further down, the stomach. In both of these places you feel the swelling of pride, of joy, the gut-wrench of sorrow or hurt, the burn of panic, of humiliation. The chest primarily, and the stomach secondarily, are the houses of the feeling-sense consciousness.

You may give yourself leave now to withdraw from the eyes and ears and focus on the chest and stomach- and as you begin another long hiss, and perhaps rattle, now enter totally into whatever you happen to be feeling.

The final cycle of regression on the back of the sound of the hiss and rattle is from the feeling consciousness-realm to the heart-reality. Just as you gave yourself leave to regress a bit from the eyes and ears to the feeling region, now give a similar leave to sink below the place of feeling, to the purity and aerial-seeming freedom of the heart: an immense space that has no boundaries, somewhere indeterminately "deeper" in you and then beyond you. A hiss and the rattle may flow you deep into it, as well. Release yourself to it.

In that third space, greater than all, you have arrived at a subtle but clear space that is your own interweaving point with every other spiritual power. It is through this strange void that the messages from the boundless approach and begin to move through our three levels, to arrive in the coarse mind quite disfigured by the common man and woman's conscious and unconscious preconcieved notions. It is through this deathless void that spirits swim and dwell, and through this place that they may speak to us, and we to them- with the language of the same void, which is something more essential than feeling. It is, in essence, a wordless communication, a "suddenly knowing all that the spirit was intending to communicate", while "suddenly expressing all that you intended to express back, without words or thoughts, all at once."

This void is the very veil of Fate, the closest approximation that our humanity can create with our minds to the incomprehensible and non-corporeal reality of the grand mystery: a dazzling and sable midnight though without darkness, stretching without effort to all times and places and powers, silent and clear, free and vibrant, darksome and mind-withering, timeless and deathless. It would seem to be what so many people half-sense and call "God".

Our experience of the heart-space is our own personal window into the weird-world of the intangible, that well of potencies that has no bottom or boundaries. It is the source of dreams, though how we experience dreams is skewed and transformed from their original luminous nature, into objects, thoughts, and images that we impute reality and meaning to.


The most cunning will discover that they feel a certain different manner when resting in the third space; most will discover that resting in it for very long is difficult. As one drifts in and out of touch with it's subtle mystery, one may "bring themselves back down" by walking through the three regions quickly: re-immerse oneself in the eye and ear, then the feeling, and then back down and within to the silent, expansive space of heart. One must bend the will to it, but never too hard. To sink within, to the weird-space that borders both the heart and every other reality, is neither easy nor difficult.

When in contact with the heart-consciousness, with the weird-space, one may speak invocations with the mouth, and "feel" their impact rippling out into the unseen and filling up the world around them. Of course, one will hear with the ears, and feel with the chest and belly, and interpret the feelings with the common mind; but some third thing- some deeper aspect of the human man or woman- will know the difference, as a partial experience of the heart-field will echo into the person with a strange "contact" that cannot truly be explained well.

However, the cunning witch or sorcerer will know that they are "there": having an experience that is part place and part placeless; they will know “in their hearts” that they have made this regression and contact, and their feelings and even their outer senses may shift and verify this, in various ways.


One may also speak invocations in the manner of the "ghost language"- speak them with the mouth, but then "regress" them to the chest and belly, "saying" them only with feelings, before regressing them a final time, allowing them to be communicated into the great void-space without words or feelings; merely willing that the essence of the invocation be manifested all at once, fully, perfectly, in the great "totality". The feeling consciousness will report when this has occurred- One will feel, in a wordless way, that the invocatory message has "filled up the seen and the unseen"- the message itself becoming as large as the universe, its essence becoming one with all things. The most powerful invocations are done in this manner.

June 7, 2009

Apotrapaic Charms


Witch bottle sketch by Rima

A fine selection of apotrapaic charms never hurt anyone- and indeed, these have saved and spared many from much harm. Be cunning and well in all you do.


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Rowan and Oak Crosses

Either of these two woods are excellent apotrapaic powers. Forming their well-harvested branches into equal-armed crosses, bound by red thread, makes a time-honored charm against the encroachment of evil forces into a home in which they are hung. A ritual area can be protected with them, as well. I find that attaching bells to them adds a further element of protection.

"Well-harvested" in the context that I have used it means "gathered with honor done to the tree-weird at the proper time and with proper offerings, and taken in such a manner as to disallow the twig or branch to touch the ground." If you are aware of which current of power the tree-weird participates in, you will already know what day is needed to approach it for gathering some of its parts. The tying is the key- with the red thread dipped in a good boiling brew of oak shavings and leaves and a single solar herb- like cedar. It is to "HIM" that the Rowan or Oak crosses are devoted- the great and awe-full father-weird of the sky and ruler among spirits and weirds. A small cross like this can be made for personal wearing around the neck.

OAK BEAMS FOR A TIMBER WALL
OVER WHICH EVIL CANNOT CALL
OR SLINK OR LEAP OR FLY OR FALL
HARD WOOD AND WICKED BANE
HE WILL NOT BREAK NOR BLEED,
NOR GIVE NOR WANE,
AND HOLD THIS HOME HIS HOLY FANE
AND RED THREAD BINDS HIM TWO BY TWO
A CROSS OF THE SKY, GOODNESS TRUE
IN THE NAME OF HIM, UNSPEAKABLE.
NO WICKEDNESS SHALL ENDURE OR BIND
IN THE PRESENCE OF THIS FOURFOLD SIGN.


Mandrake

By far the most complicated and powerful of all anti-evil charms, particularly for the home. A complete treatment of the mystical botany and science of the Mandrake is found in my work "The Horn of Evenwood".


Fire Seed Water

Take a kettle of spring water, and into it add a few drops of water from a sacred spring. Failing this, natural, running water from a river or stream will suffice. Kindle a fire in the name of the great howling and raging spirit of the wilderness, overlooking the fire with an antlered skull or the horned skull of a cow or some large bovine. The fire has to be "red"- a bloody portion of meat has to be burned into it as an offering to the great raging and antlered spirit that protects wild places. Failing that, a bit of your own blood soaked into a ball of flour and water will have to do.

Make the fire with oak and holly wood, and make it rage. Ask the wild king, as the face of his skull glows golden in the fire light, to manifest the power of his fear and terror in the flames- so that any evil spirit or power would flee from it, or from anything touched by it. When the fire dies down, select three good sized coals, still glowing hot, and drop them one at a time into the kettle of water. The water, after this, is hallowed and powerful for protection, and for averting evil powers. Sprinkle it on yourself and around your home or places of ritual work.

FEAR LIVES FOR THE FOES OF THE WOOD
A NIGHTMARE FORM OF HOOF AND HOOD
AND WRAITH-ARROWS DEADLY.
HE IS THE WAILER, LOUDER THAN WIND
THE ROARER, TERROR TO SEND
TO THE ENEMIES OF THE LAND.
BLOOD-SOAKED LOCKS AND BOW OF BONE
A FLESHY CLOAK WITH TENDONS SEWN
AND HOUNDS OF SAVAGE RED,
BRING YOUR DARK GRACES ON THE HEAD
OF THIS GROWING FIRE WEIRD
AND IN THE SHIMMER, IN THE GLARE
FIX WITHIN YOUR HORRID STARE
WHICH WICKED POWERS CANNOT STAND:
AND ALL THAT ARE BURNED BY THIS FIRE
LET YOUR POWER ON THEM RETIRE
AND REMAIN FOREVER.


Sage and Sweetgrass

The ancient peoples of the Americas have used these two herbs since time immemorial for their specific powers- the smoke of burned sage destroys the presence of evil, either spirits or enchantments, and purifies an area. Sweetgrass burned after it attracts the good Sacred Powers that mean well to humankind. No ritual is necessary, in the strict sense of the word, but one must be polite and thankful to the weirds of these two herbs, or you can be certain they won't help as much as they could.


Salt

Spreading lines of salt across the bottoms of windowpanes and thresholds is a time-honored method of protecting the house from the passage of evil entities; it still works today as much as it ever did, so long as the salt is enchanted sufficiently with the will of a person to cleanse it of spiritual pollutants, and to mark it with a will to protect.

CREATURE OF STINGING EARTH, SALT SO PURE
THROUGH AGES IN EARTH YOU HAVE ENDURED
TO COME INTO THE LIGHT OF DAY.
LIFE AND GOD, CLEAN AND WHITE
OF SEA AND CAVERN DEEP ALIKE
BE FREE OF WHAT DAIMONS RESTRAIN YOU
IN THE NAMES OF INDARA AND THRICE-GREAT TAS
AND FREE FROM ANY POWER THAT MAY CONSTRAIN YOU
FROM YOUR GREATEST MIGHT.
AND JOIN THAT MIGHTY WILL NOW TO ME:
BE A FAITHFUL WARD AGAINST ILL WEIRDS
AGAINST HARMFUL WIGHTS OR FOE ALIKE
WHETHER FROM SEA OR LAKE OR SKY OR VALLEY
OR FOREST OR FIELD OR RIVER OR STREAM
IN THE NAMES OF EDRIC AND GODDA.


Flour and Bread

Bread pulled into many small pieces is a common protecting agent in the Faery tradition of Ireland and Britain- if you make a circle of flour, and place the small pieces of bread all over in the circle, it is bound with the same protecting power as a circle of salt.


Witch Bottle

A classic which never gets old- the Witch Bottle is one of the ultimate shielding charms, particularly against hostile spells hurled by sorcerously-inclined opponents, but also against the powers of hostile weirds. The idea of the witch bottle is to create a sorcerous doppleganger of yourself, such that magical forces seek it out instead of you. What it finds is a sharp, deadly welcome- a bottle full of broken glass, nails, needles, and thorns.

A glass jar or bottle of some kind must be found, and in it placed many broken shards of glass, rusty nails, pins and needles, and thorns- and then, on top of them, enough of your blood, spittle, and urine to finish filling the bottle up. It must be sealed with wax over the cork or lid. The bottle must be sorcerously "named" after you in a rite- and buried somewhere secret. So long as it stays buried and full of the liquid, you will have splendid protection from hostile weird-powers.

BOTTLE OF BITTER BRINE, LIFE OF MINE
NOW RESONATE WITH ME, FOR ALL EYES TO SEE
FOR HOSTILE EYES MAY SEEK THEE.
TAKE THEM TO YOURSELF, AND BE THOU ME
AND FROM WITHIN YOU GIVE THEM THEIR REWARD:
THRICE PIERCED BY DARKLING NAIL
THRICE CUT BY JAGGED GLASS
BUTCHERED BY HARSHNESS WITHOUT FAIL
PIERCED BY NEEDLES, A BITING FLAIL
AND REDUCED TO NOTHINGNESS.
IF SOME POWER CAUGHT BY YOU
SHOULD SURVIVE YOUR SAVAGE, BITTER BREW
LET IT FLY BACK HOME TO ITS MASTER'S HAND
AND INFLICT ON HIM WHAT THEY HAD PLANNED
WHEN THEY SOUGHT ME OUT AT FIRST.