Autumn

My Fall rite this year – Gifted to the Aesir and Vanir, the Landvaettir, the Disir and Alfar – these are the times when I renew my bonds to these beings and the wisdom of the Earth (Jord or Nerthus) and the lessons shown by the progression of time and seasons.  I sing the Runes and reflect on life as precious, mysterious, and finite.

Simple Altar

Sigurd was honored – Man, DragonSlayer, Rune Winner, Hero, Warrior, Husband, Valkyrie Liberator.

For this time the Norns supplied Algiz as the Rune of Self, Hagal as the Rune of Empowerment, and Beorc as the Rune of Learning – these Runes will function as my guideposts for this season.

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Living Gratitude

Gratitude should be a cultivated virtue by those living a religious life; Gratitude for the earth that sustains us, for the sky that protects us, for the life we live and the challenges we are blessed with and brave enough to overcome.

One of the ways I display my gratitude for the life I live is by leaving gifts of offering.  To digress just a touch, I use prayer beads.  Usually these are beads in the form of a bracelet, sometimes I make them, sometimes I buy them.  They get used alot; when driving, when walking, sometimes when in line at the post office.  I use them mainly to recite the Runes to myself, to ground myself, to stabilize my breathing.  Anyway there comes a time when they fall apart…when they do I gather the beads and carry them in a matchbox in my pocket.

matchbox beads

I’ve got a lot of beads in there now.  So, to continue, I carry these around with me, these beads that I’ve spent hours (probably) turning and spinning with intention and sometimes meditatively, that now have very little use.  What are these beads good for?  Well, as I go about my day I’ll leave them in places as an offering to a place or a person, a building or a parks genius loci,  or a tree that I sit next to for a time.

This is a way for me to cultivate gratitude in my life for the places, things, and events that normally I would take for granted.  I’ve left them in cars, at my workplace, outside when taking a walk, in school rooms, even in bathrooms that were in the right place at the right time – anywhere that I feel needs to be honored for what it has given to me – I say a small prayer of thanks or a prayer of acknowledgment and try to place the bead somewhere out of the way, somewhere safe if possible.

We so easily take things for granted living in a society that caters to our every whim.  My gratitude beads allow me to reflect on the beauty around me daily, and to acknowledge the blessings that go ignored.

 

 

 

Pentangled Practicum – A Tolkien Tribute

A few months back, nearly a year back at this point,  I was looking through John Michael Greer’s book The Celtic Golden Dawn and felt terrible for leaving it sit on the shelf, ignored.  Even though I couldn’t get my head around using it ‘as is’, I thought that there must be something I could do with it. So,very sincerely, I began plugging Tolkien’s Legendarium into it and came up with a personal system I was calling Calaquendi.

I wouldn’t say that this is a dead practice for me, but at this point it has been several months since I practiced it in any legitimate manner.  I merely wanted to post it here and give others a foundation with which to start experimenting with this magic(k)al expression. What I present here is just the first slice of what I had developed.  Perhaps I will begin sharing the many pages of notes I had compiled if interest grows; those regarding altar structure, kabbalistic assignments, and much more…Much of what follows is not explained, but those familiar with Tolkien symbolism will understand why the Awen and the Pentangle are used, or can be used to some effect in a Legendarium based practice.

So, here are some of those original notes —- Any questions or criticisms are always welcome.

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It is a magic(K)al current utilizing the Legendarium of Tolkien. It is highly influenced by the Golden Dawn practicum, but far less rigid and less preoccupied with the toys usually associated with such endeavors.  The impetus with this practice is not worship of the archetypes of the Legendarium but of the building of a bridge between the working area of the magician/practitioner with the liminal world of Tolkien’s mythos.

My foundation for the practice is the book The Celtic Golden Dawn by John Michael Greer.  Because this book attempts to place the Golden Dawn material into a more naturalistic sensibility the modifications needed to make this work are minor.

It’s important to note that Calaquendi is not a Religious quest, it is a magic(K)al one.  By magic(K)al I do not mean hocus pocus and the limited selfishness of material need.  Gareth Knight states in his book The Secret Tradition in Arthurian Legend “Magic…is the technique of the control of images and imagination…”(1983). Magic in this sense is then a tool of personal Gnosis and not merely meant to be a path toward the inflation of self for the sole purpose of ego enrichment.  Magic(K) here, and within Calaquendi, is meant to stretch awareness and perspective toward a mythos that grows self in a positive manner and brings the richness of the Legendarium closer to the everyday reality of those practicing such techniques.

Things changed

The core changes have to do with the names and titles of many of the practices from a Druid Revivalist pseudo welsh to Quenya (or an honest attempt to do so) such as those related to practices of the LBRP, Rite of the Rays, and Kabbalah associations. Along these lines, associations found within Greer’s material and the original Golden Dawn material are being modified to suit the mythology of Arda – incorporation of the Two Trees, Silmarils, the Rings, Istari, Vala, etc.

Initial Steps

A preview of  Greer’s The Celtic Golden Dawn can be found here – In order to view the references in the following examples.

One of the first practices within any Golden Dawn derived system is the Magician’s implementation of the Cabbalistic Cross and the Lesser Banishing/Summoning Ritual of the Pentagram. Greer rewrites the Cabbalistic Cross to be the Rite of the Rays within the Celtic Golden Dawn (CGD) which makes use of the modern Druid symbol of Awen:BW-Awen-smallIn the Calaquendi version we will use the Awen symbol as well, but will rewrite some of the terms to work with the Legendarium.

Rite of the Rays (p.31)Calaquendi version performed just as listed in book, but the with changes to the vocalizations;

First Vocalization = Menel (the heavens, firmament, sky)

Second Vocalization = Rainë (peace, good will)

Third Vocalization = Laurë (light)

Fourth Vocalization = Vérë (bond, troth,honor)

Fifth Vocalization = Mi Silmë Maruvan (In starlight I will abide)

Final Vocalization = Eä (pronounced [ˈe.a]) (the world)

 

Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (p.32) – Calaquendi version performed just as listed in book, but with changes to the vocalization; Normally a godform is intoned at each direction following the tracing of the Pentagram, instead we are intoning the name of a Vala or Valie.  Once each direction has been signed with a Pentagram and a Vala/Valie vocalized the next process is to vocalize the Element and a Maiar (more immediate beings of earthly interaction) that coincide with both the Element and Vala/Valie.  In the Calaquendi system these Maiar are the Istari, the Wizards that walk among man/elf/dwarf and effect the lands of Arda/Middle Earth directly.  Again this is done exactly as in the CGD – Tracing of Pentagram with Valar vocalized in each direction – then facing the east and the vocalization of the Element and naming the Maiar associated with the Vala the direction and element.

East Vocalizations = Manwë – Air – Olórion

South Vocalizations = Aulë – Fire – Curunír

West Vocalizations = Ulmo – Water – Uinen or Ossë (As Ossë has been tainted by Melkor and is somewhat aggressive due to this I would recommend using Uinen, his consort.)

North Vocalizations = Yavanna Kementári (Q, pron. N [jaˈvanːa ˌkemenˈtaːri] – Earth – Aiwendil

~elen sila lumenn’ omentielvo~

 

A Magikal Dis-Course

I’m pretty much finished attempting to be part of a greater religious community.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that over the last few years my form of practice is entirely personal and rooted in my own studies and understandings.

That’s the same with ‘magik’ practice. For many years I kept my ‘magik’ practice and my religious practice separate, but more and more I’ve come to realize that the perception that they accomplish different goals is false. ‘Magik’ for me these days and for the better part of the last 5-10 years, has come to mean and be a practice of intentionally modifying, or re-discovering consciousness in order to slough off the muck of everyday living.  I’m not saying that what we experience on a day to day basis is false and ‘bad’ only that the activities of outer existence and societal norms begin to stick to us and slowly eat away at the truth of our beings. Religious practice is an engine of ideas that utilizes myth and story to embolden and strengthen us…Magik is similar, but unlike Religion whose myth and story is generated from an outside source, magik cultivates a personal mythic persona of knowledge(s) from within one’s own self following and while in the practice of Doing.

Magik is nothing more than, as Terence Mckenna states “making the Internal External and External Internal.”  Magik is a practice, it’s a Verb not a Noun.  It’s not a Thing but an Action that is done by the Magician. In much the same way that the Psychonaut uses DMT to turn ones own body and mind into an alchemical academy of new insights, Magik is a set of ‘doings’ and learned actions meant to allow the Magician to intentionally re-organize him/herself and repair the damage inflicted by the modern hypnotists of madness. Magikal practice is therefore radical in nature.  It, in my opinion, is an absolute revolt against modernity and consumerism, two powerful ideas that have completely obliterated the Person and the powerful wonder of being and instead replaced these with the idea that Self is discovered through the purchasing of goods, what we choose to clothe ourselves in, and what we choose to drive.  Magik reminds us, when practiced, that we are immensely mysterious beings, that we cannot and should not be limited by the roles we are presented with via advertising and television dramas, that most of what we encounter during our 9 to 5 lives is false and intentionally made to be so.  True experience of the infinite begins once we allow ourselves to return to ourselves; magik is one of the ways that economic systems become powerless, that false avatars of advertising fall, and success becomes redefined.

My magik practice these days is entirely solitary.  I create Mandalic images, either from Tarot or Runes, and seat myself actively or mentally within them. By doing this I force my consciousness to filter away the limits of daily understanding and enter into mythic worlds that are storehouses of ignored wisdom.  In these worlds, as the Magician, I reclaim what has been forgotten, and if necessary or wanted, once reinvigorated, converse with gods or perform acts of focused Intention. Setting oneself apart from others with the goal of renewal and personal rejuvenation is an extremely powerful act in a world that constantly wants us to be connected and defined through endless, usually banal, communication.

 

 

Questing P1 2017

This year I’ve decided to experiment with Questing.  Psychic Questing was a pretty popular endeavor in the 1980’s and its rebirth can be attributed to Andrew Collins and Graham Phillips.  I’ve experimented with this a bit before but this will be a larger endeavor and I even put out the social feelers in order to get others to participate. We’ll see how that goes…

Anyway, in Hedge Druid fashion I’ve done a reading to give me some helpful signposts along the way.  I used Tarot as my waymarker and chose eight cards (coinciding with the Pagan wheel of the Year)in order to better understand the lessons I’ll be touching upon throughout the year.  The Tarot is merely used to allow the landscape to better mingle with my conscious mind and to understand associations that I may miss along the way.  I chose to use the Sacred Sites deck and my first card drawn for the Imbolc season was The High Priestess.

First Steps

I selected a local hike for my first step into the questing world.  The area is used quite regularly by local hikers, it’s a series of trails nestled in a dry rocky valley.  I felt drawn to this place, and being that questing is all about going with the flow and not ignoring intuition I decided I’d give these trails a try.  I prepared a few of the normal hiking accouterments, and my dowsing rod in case I felt like pulling out the geomancy feelers.

When I arrived there were several cars parked at the foot of the entrance of the trails.  I decided to leave my rod in the car and play it by ear.  I opened myself up to the day and the morning air and began my walk on the trail, despite the number of cars, I saw no one on the trail.  I didn’t really get any strong push to go in a certain direction or another so I merely followed the trail.  I meandered off here and there, but mostly followed where the trail was marked.

I got to a fork and veered up onto a steeper section.  At the fork I paused first, however, to look around at two or three cave entrances, some below me some well above, the route I took didn’t seem to have any.  I climbed up for a few minutes, and against a steep cliff face, hidden in a tangle of trees I saw a small cave inlet.  An overhang of massive rock sheltered a dugout, a flat stone had been placed for sitting and a few graffiti scrawls marked it’s recess.  Some of these marks were the usual names but there were two very large directional crosses composed of wavy lines that intrigued me…something to note down I thought, and look up later.

I didn’t go into the shelter of rock, but continued up toward the peak.  At the peak I sat down and noticed that the massive rock face at the foundation of which sat the cave inlet was splotched with green moss.  This was an odd site and stood out to me, as I live in a desert region with very little moisture.  As I scanned the entire area from my perch I could see that the green dotted here and there on other outcroppings.  I immediately thought of something that I had read pertaining to the High Priestess/Sybil card the morning of the hike.  The sybil would write her prophecies on oak leaves and leave them outside the cave…not caring if anyone was there to gather them.  The large green mossy splotches reminded me of this, and I knew that my quest was beginning, and I was on the right trail. On the way home I thought about how I was there to appreciate the site of the moss, and perhaps in another week the weather would heat up and remove them…just in the way that the prophecies would shrivel and disappear on oak leaves not gathered.

Prior to leaving though I did spend a bit of time looking around in the small cave.  It would be a good place to sit, however as I was investigating further a family arrived with a dog and noisily made sure the peace of the place was destroyed.  I’ll certainly return another day…

Pagans moderately Prideful

Another fabulously mediocre Pagan Pride Day behind me.  I’m not sure at this point why people even bother, it’s got to be a lot of work on the part of the coordinators and the vendors – all seven of them – that show up.  Even as a lifelong Pagan ( a moniker I don’t especially like, but use for convenience) I’m bored to tears by Pagan Pride Days,  even the term makes me cringe.  I usually skip them all together, being that in my area it’s an overblown affair that usually ends up being a get together by the same handful of Pagans that attend every local event, but this year I thought I’d do something different and attempt to participate.

I was thinking to myself one day that perhaps the lameness of our local PPD has to do with the fact that no one (including myself) cares to put themselves out there and actually try and make it great (I did wholeheartedly enjoy our first local PPD in 2006, one that my Grove sponsored).  I put my money where my mouth is and volunteered to conduct a discussion this year, a small workshop on the Runes and the wisdom they reveal about Self,Community, and Society.  Now before I get to that, for years I’ve been giving workshops on several topics; Tarot Magic(k), Rune lore; Norse Mythology, Sigil Magic(K)…but in the last few years I’ve stopped because the apathetic nature of our community to participate in meaningful practice is just that, very disappointing, and participation continues to go down.  I think that, in the last few years, Pagans/Occultists/Magicians have also suffered from the disease of the virtual society/community that in modern culture seeks to keep us all glued to the computer screen instead of making real connections.  Also this disease, IMO, has made the idea of knowledge common, in that people think they aren’t missing anything by not going to hear someone speak or to experience something in the real world instead of through text or video.   I have news for you my fellow Occultists, the wisdom of experience cannot be expressed through the filter of Facebook – it has to be bestowed, offered, and earned; you may actually need to get off your ass and actually do the work, seek out that knowledge, and put it to use.  In the end Magic(K) is a verb, it’s not a thing that exists for you to manipulate, it’s an action that is done, a practice that is practiced, and a skill that is developed.

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Anyway so that brings me to the crux of this post.  When the time for my discussion came, not a soul showed up; not a single person showed interest.  Now this doesn’t upset me, because I’ve come to expect this from our community – more-so I was disappointed in myself for getting the material ready and thinking that somehow my participation and my sacrifice of time would be appreciated. I tend to be liked in our community and don’t create waves among groups, I like to think that I’m considered as someone sincere about his practice, and knowledgeable about certain subjects. And even then I saw this coming, but I hoped it would be different. As a result however, I ended up having a nice day with some old Grove-mates instead that I hadn’t seen in a few years, friends that had come specifically to hear my simple little discussion.  Instead of giving my talk to the grass and trees we left the PPD behind and went to have dinner where we discussed many things including a bit of the lore I would have shared with the wider community.

My attempt at this wider participation, when I have purposefully, in the last few years, left group work and much of the local Pagan community behind, maybe on a different level was meant to be a reminder about the importance of smaller connections.   Time and time again, the local Pagan community in my city lets me down…and I’m reminded why others who were once very active, myself included, are missing in action.

tree

Cauldrons of Poesy, Inspiration, and the Self

The beginning of all experience is the body/self …
My experience is that the body and the human mind/spirit are the primary vehicles through which awareness is expanded and manipulated.  Gods,Entities, Spirits, Ancestors, or whatever you wish to call external archetypes/thought forms can help – but all of the tools necessary to develop ourselves internally and externally are part of the human experience.  Beyond religious dogma and mythology we have the inherent ability to extend our perception and exacerbate our own spiritual evolution.
In the spirit of that idea another personal meditative practice of mine incorporates the Cauldrons of Poesy.   The Cauldrons of Poesy hypothesis comes from the 7th century, probably earlier but that’s when it was written down; it’s a Celtic idea revealing that each person has three Cauldrons/Wells of inspiration that exist within.  These Cauldrons turn and overturn, fill-up and empty depending on the persons disposition and life challenges.  I would recommend reading the poem which documents their function, but to understand or practice this meditation it isn’t necessary.
The Practice
The goal with this meditation is to turn the Cauldrons upright.  The intent is to fill the Cauldrons one by one with light or with the water of inspiration and have them feed and flow into one another.   When this is accomplished you will feel an intense energetic fire originating from the internal location of the Cauldron.  This idea plays well with my Runic and Odian practices as Odin is the master of Inspiration and the Runes are a system through which Inspired wisdom is gained, Wells/vessels/cauldrons also play a large and important role in Norse cosmology.  The lore of Odroerir, poetic excitation and deep occult wisdom gained from Kvasir also come to mind.  The CoP idea is also, obviously, derived from Celtic sources and therefore, perhaps, historically may have been utilized by the Paleo-Pagan Celts, or at least understood in some fashion and sits well with the spirit of Druid Revivalism.
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The first Cauldron is the Cauldron of Warming (incubation) and is located in the area of the belly.  This Cauldron is fundamental to Health and Body Constitution, and in a healthy person is upright, in the sick it is turned and unable to refill or hold its contents properly.
The second Cauldron is the Cauldron of Motion (Doing or Vocation) and is located in the chest.  This Cauldron is said to be turned on its side in most people, but fills and moves upright as artistic mastery or creativity is achieved or sought.
The third Cauldron is the Cauldron of Wisdom and is located in the head.  This Cauldron is upside down in everyone, but turns as one learns and develops ones reasoning and gains knowledge. I understand this Cauldron as being filled when a person uses knowledge patiently, applying wisdom and experience gained from life lessons, wisdom that usually comes via introspection, reading, studying, or the challenges of personal development.
Being that I work within a Runic paradigm I associate Runes with each of the Cauldrons.  Laguz is associated with the Cauldron of Warming, Eiwhaz with Motion and Raidho with Warming.  Why do I associate these Runes with the Cauldrons?  These three represent the three worlds for me; Underworld, Midworld, and Upper World.  You could certainly associate Ogham or even Tarot symbolism with the Cauldrons, or simply use the cauldrons on their own.  I merely use Runes because they hold the lessons of the Cauldrons within them nicely, they are not meant to supersede the Cauldrons power but only to summarize it.  I visualize the Cauldron as either bearing the Rune on it’s side or reflecting the Rune in its waters or light once it’s filled.
The Meditation
+ Get into your usual mediation posture, whatever that may be.  Achieve a state of calm and relaxed breathing.  Your breathing should be seen as coming up from your feet or originating in the belly, filling the belly first then the lungs.  The out breath exits as normal through the head.
+ As you breath become aware that with each breath your groin relaxes, the lower muscles of the abdomen also relax the more you breath and you come to realize that the earth supports you.  You no longer need to hold your tension in this area, but you are allowed to relax it and the belly region. As you breath through the following steps the earth will supply some of the energy to fill the Cauldrons, but not all, you should utilize the earth to kickstart the process but not sustain it.
+ The Cauldron of Warming > You will begin to visualize the Cauldron in the belly, seeing it as upright but empty.  The more you relax the belly and abdomen region it will begin to fill with Light or with Inspiration, with each breath the volume increases.  This may be a slow process, but as you fill it and your breath becomes more pronounced in the belly region, you will begin to feel the Fires of Being ignite and intensify in the region.
+ Once the Cauldron of Warming is filled the light will spill over and up into the middle of the chest where you will begin to visualize the existence of the next Cauldron.
+ The Cauldron of Motion > You will begin to visualize the Cauldron in the chest. Your breathing now should begin in the belly and rise smoothly into the chest and out with very little effort.  As you breath you are still fueling the Cauldron of Warming, but now that it is full the Light/Inspiration spills upward to fill the Cauldron of Motion.  As the Cauldron of Motion becomes more concrete you should feel the Light or essence of Inspiration begin to coalesce within the vessel.  As with the Cauldron of Warming it should flower with radiance and the Fire of Being and be physically felt. Take your time filling it don’t rush, allow your breath to enliven the area with energy and life.  Stay at this step as long as it takes to feel the Cauldron come to life, or just to enjoy the energy.
+ The Cauldron of Wisdom > Begin to visualize the Cauldron in the head.  Your breathing should now be a steady stream, a rythm that should be steady and calm.  We still breath into the belly fueling the Cauldron of Warming, which spills upward into the Cauldron of Motion, and now overspills into Cauldron of Wisdom.  As it spills upward the Cauldron in our head takes shape and the energy begins to fill it as well.  Again, don’t rush allow the energy to spill from one Cauldron to the next, and enjoy the effervescent feeling that comes from sitting, breathing, and living.
+ Once you have enjoyed the cycle of filling the cauldrons and the Cauldron of Wisdom is filled the overspill will exit out the top of the head.  With each out breath the life essence/Inspiration will flow out of the head like a fountain of light.  You can either see it as showering over the body and covering the body with light and energy, or it can spill up into the cosmos marrying earth and sky which each breath.
+ Ending the meditation begins by no longer filling the Cauldrons.  No longer are you pulling energy from the earth or from your base, the Cauldrons are full and they no longer feed each other.  Stop the flow of energy from the head and see the energy as being retained internally.  I’d recommend to touch your forehead to the ground to actively ground the self and cutoff the expelling of energy, this is a very effective way to eliminate energy drain and keep your power/energy/Life essence internalized.
+ Take a few breaths once you open your eyes and think upon what you accomplished.  The Cauldrons should be remembered as being upright and filled with your Life essence/Inspiration.