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~

 

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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.

 

 

Dragonlance Tarot: Fantasies and Archetypes, part 2

I thought with this post I would continue my exploration of the Dragonlance Tarot.  Again this Tarot is not for sale, and was not meant to be a profitable venture.  It was meant merely as a way for me to investigate the lessons gleaned from a world of good, evil, and neutrality; heroism, courage, and villainy.

Some  of the Cards
 –
The Queen of Orbs (Cups)
Crysania Tarinius is depicted as the Queen of Orbs
Golden Dawn title from Book T – Queen of the Thrones of the Waters
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” Beautiful, fair, dreamy – as one who sees visions in a cup” (1).
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In the Dragonlance Tarot Cups have been transformed into Orbs and the Court is controlled by Mages and Clerics.  This choice reflects the intuitive nature of magic and the inner work that allows for the healing of others via communion with the gods.  Orbs also play a central part in the themes and plots of the ‘Chronicles’ story arc functioning as a metaphysical bridge for self (personal power), the Krynn cosmos, and the near immortal essence of the dragons within the setting.
Crysania Tarinius
In the card image Crysania is accompanied by Tandar, her protector and unbeknownst to her a former trusted ally turned tiger, Valin.  Crysania is blind, a metaphor which heightens the aspects of intuition found within the Orbs suit; the Queen of Orbs/Cups is a woman of heightened inner awareness.  She may be prone to strong visions, but not controlled by them.  Crysania is the highest Cleric/Priestess of Paladine and able to mitigate the lessons of her god with the inner lessons of her intuitive wisdom.  A crescent moon also appears in the background further acknowledgement that the Orbs signify a inner wisdom and intuition.
 —
The Star XVII
Golden Dawn title from Book T – The Daughter of the Firmament, the Dweller between the Waters
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” Dog-Star, or Sirius, also called fantastically the Star of the Magi.”(1)
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Here we see Guerrand DiThon standing before the gates of the Lost Citadel, a repository for the wisdom of Magic(K) beyond the material plane.
17_star_fRWS_Tarot_17_Star
If we look at the DL Tarot and the Waite-Smith Tarot side by side we see some interesting similarities.  The mountain imagery, the stars, the fog and water.  The Wizard, Guerrand carries a staff ( a wizards staff is the symbol of marrying Above and Below, Earth and Sky) and the woman carries jugs of water, one foot on land the other in the pond, symbolizing the knowledge of elemental workings and of standing in two worlds at once.  The Lost Citadel is only accessible during the Night of the Eye, when all three moons are imposed upon on another and inhabit the same spot in the sky; there is an order to things that must be adhered to in order to gain Magic(K)al insight.
Waite associated the Star with the Sephirah Binah and therefore with the Mother of All, the matrix that informs all creation (2).  The Lost Citadel is also an enclosure of great wisdom, a place set aside by the gods of magic to safeguard the lessons and laws of Magic(K).  Both cards remind us that ultimate knowledge demands a journey of a lifetime, a journey of Hope and Aspiration, and the realization that the Truth may be unattainable or beyond the comprehension of the seeker.
The King of Swords
Sturm Brightblade is depicted as the King of Swords
Golden Dawn title from Book T – Lord of the Winds and Breezes
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The King of Swords is defined by the phrase Force of Will.  He is not merely a warrior, but a man of mental alacrity and cunning.  Sturm embodies the tenants of judgement, authority, intelligence, and law. It is the role of the King of Swords to challenge the present with Reason, sometimes that reason is born from the lessons of the past or from battles won.
ks_f
Est Sularus Oth Mithas  (My Honor is my Life) is the motto by which the Knights of Solamnia live and Sturm is the epitome of this ideal.  Sturm however challenges the notions of honor that the Solamnic Knights have embraced in his time.  He reminds them, and us, that following our Will must be done in a way that incorporates Honor and Pride and the respect of others.
The image used card is one of the my favorites of Sturm.  He stands against the cold winds of winter that seem to be a direct metaphor for the failure of the Solamnic Knights to recognize him and his code of ethics because they seem outdated.  He looks out above the mountains and the trials that await him with an even stare and a silent grace, his strength held within, his determination and bold resolve symbolized by the armor of his ancestors.
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1. Waite, Arthur Edward. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot: Being Fragments of a Secret Tradition under the Veil of Divination. New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1959.
2. Katz, Marcus. Secrets of the Waite-Smith Tarot: The True Story of the World’s Most Popular Tarot: With Previously Unseen Photography & Text from Waite & Smith.

Trials under the Oak

If you read this blog, you noticed that I left ADF a few years ago, chronicled here: Updates, Memberships, and Resignations. What you may not know is that I joined again in June 2015.  I rejoined because I found myself still thinking and practicing as an ADFer, using the same format for my daily devotionals and seasonal rites.  I lived with my decision to leave for a year, thinking through my decision,and making sure that rejoining was a positive choice.

I rejoined just after a horrible decision to consolidate the power of the organization at the ‘top’ in a vote that came from the very people the bylaw was changed to benefit.  I can no longer be part of an organization that fails to live by it’s own established set of virtues.  Clergy that would undermine the membership the way they did deserve to have the title of Clergy revoked.  I can no longer be a member of an organization that is morally and ethically empty.

A very good summary of the events can be found here: Nerdy Druid: Community before Clergy

Many members have left over this decision and honestly I would have never returned had I known of this Bylaw change. The Archdruid, under whose hand this Bylaw was passed will go down as the worst AD in the organization.  He splintered the organization, created a Hierarchy that mimics that of the majority religion, and caused groves and members to leave out of protest.  ADF is now an organization that ignores its membership and rules with a heavy hand from the Mother Grove:

From the Sixth piece of business of the February 2015-April 2015, Mother Grove Minutes –

   Point was raised that by making the proposed changes to the positions of AD and VAD, by a board of mostly clergy members, this would look like the clergy protecting themselves. 

  It was pointed out that adding the requirement of clergy would shrink the pool of candidates to approximately 30 people, that are their own gatekeepers to whom gets into the group without any input from the membership. 

These statements point to the fact that concerns were raised by MG members and Clergy in attendance, but were summarily ignored.  The change to the organization was done anyway…virtue be damned.  Let’s be clear, this ruling limits the highest offices to a sliver of the actual membership.  It limits the office of the AD and VAD to members who have the time to dedicate to the pseudo-Academic training of the organization, training programs with little to no oversight.  And the vote came from those having the capacity and resources to attend MG activities and festivals…

It’s one thing to join an organization that already has this type of Bylaw on the books, it is another to ask members to remain following such a fundamental change to the organization they’ve been part of for 10/20/25 years, a change without vote or member consideration or notice.

If ADF’s plan was to institute a Caste System similar to that of the ancient Indo-Europeans it has succeeded, there is now an “Us” and a “Them” within its circles and groves of worship.

I for one can no longer be part of such an organization.

Druid Symbols

Pagans love their symbols.  I gave a workshop not to long ago on Tarot, after the short work shop was over a participant asked what a specific symbol meant.  My answer, which was not appreciated, was to say that it could mean many things, it all depends on what books you’ve read and what Religious/Magickal/Cultural system you’re working in.

Those who have been involved in Magickal/Mystical/Faith research for many years understand that symbolism is a tool, and there are no sure meanings for anything, especially symbols.

Druish Symbolism

There are really two main symbols of modern Druid practice and philosophy.  The Druid Sigil and the Awen.  Are there more, yes…but this is not meant to be an all inclusive historical blog post, merely my insights on the two that I use most often.

 

The Druid Sigil

This symbol was the invention of the Reformed Druids working from out of the Carleton College Druid group.  This symbol resonants for me, and always has.  I think its power is in the fact that it has no true meaning.  One can contemplate its two lines and circle for years and come up with several working paradigms for reflection and utilization. One question is why this symbol came out of the mind of a NeoDruid in the first place – that in itself is a thing worth contemplating.

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There are several ways that I utilize the Druid Sigil; As a symbol of meditative contemplation, a Gate symbol, a symbol of blessing, and as a symbol of consecration/hallowing/purification.  When working acts of Sorcery I invoke it prior to whatever work I’m planning as a way to hallow an area and separate it from mundane space. I’m not one for outbursts or directional declaration so I simply trace the figure and extend it out into the area I’m working.  A mental image of peace in all spheres of existence and all directions may follow the invocation of the symbol, but it’s not a hard and fast ritualistic affair.

Being that the symbol itself has no set meaning it is an apt sigil for the nebulousness of Druidry and it’s philosophy.  I like the fact that it is probably a completely post-modern creation, that because of that it addresses the mystery of Druidry and modern pagan faith expressions.  Like Druidry the Druid Sigil reminds those who consider themselves Druidish that they practice a philosophy/faith/cult that is itself a mystery demanding to be scrutinized and understood through the lens of inspiration, practiced with a hint of academic obfuscation. After all the history of modern Druidry is a complex thing, sometimes serious and at other times silly, I like the fact that the Druid Sigil is a very serious/non-serious symbol of ‘who-knows-what’.

 

The Awen

The Awen is symbol I don’t utilize to much, but it has it’s place in my practice.  The symbol is also a modern creation, but one with an ineresting past.  Essentially, according to the inspired mythos put forward by Iolo Morganwyg the Awen represents the knowledge attained by a giant (the first being) from the All/God/Creator.  I won’t rehash the mythology, but it is certainly a myth that easily fits with those who study and implement Indo-European mythology and cosmology into their practices.

BW-Awen-small

I see the Awen as symbol of inspired lore.  Usually it is used to mean Inspiration and is intoned to reflect this idea.  For me it is a reflection of the wisdom and meta-language of Rune wisdom.  It’s rays coincide with the three Aetts and it’s story – that it is fundamentally a matrix of lore of all existence, and that it was given to Einigan ( a giant or Jotun) and then discovered by another traveler (Odin) after the Giants destruction.  I’m not saying that the Awen is actually the Rune row, but it is a mental association that I have come to utilize and may be helpful to others that incorporate  a Revival era Druid knowledge into a Heathen religious practice.

More fundamentally, for me, the Awen also represents three tenets of Druidry that I think are important: Peace, Knowledge, and Power or Truth, Illumination, and Will or The Gods, Ancestors, and Nature.  These symbols are powerful and as you can see, personal.

 

 

 

 

Sky, Sea, and Stone

Here’s a bit of personal Rune wisdom.  I look for relationships among the Runes; relationships of opposites, of like themes, relationships that detail a progression from one idea to the next.  If you’re path is Indo-European oriented and not just modern Occult or Wiccan influenced you’re probably not dealing in the paradigm that utilizes the four elements as it’s base.  Instead you’ve probably come to the conclusion that 3 is the magic number, the elemental standard and the idea of 4 was not so much an Indo-European idea but certainly was in use in the ancient middle east and greatly influenced the Hermetic traditions.

The Runes hold this wisdom.  Not just in the apparent setup of the Aetts, which literally means Clan, and displays the common social structure found in many Indo-european cultures; The Aett of Fehu = Farmer (workers, laborers, land-tenders), The Aett of Hagal = Warriors, and The Aett of Tyr = Wise Rulers (Kings, Lawyers, Priests).  If one understands the Runes well enough, they begin to reveal patterns among themselves, these patterns blossom from Aett to Aett, between and among Runes that at first seem to have little in common and are not in the same Aett.

no-y-rune-hafstad

In my previous post A Rune Meditation I discussed one such relationship between Eiwhaz and Jera.  However, other important Rune combinations are found using Runes not in pairs that may contradict each either, such as the pair relationships that begin with Eiwhaz and Jera and working outward through the Rune row, threesome combinations also divulge a deeper knowledge and display a coherence among the Runes that invalidates any inklings of randomness to the order of the Futhark.

A very important threesome in my practice is the Raidho, Eiwhaz, and Laguz threesome.  These Runes are all fourth in their particular Aetts and afford a wealth of knowledge to the Runester.  The complex revealed here in a not so occult manner is the ancient concept of Sky, Sea, and Stone or Fire, Well, and Tree or Upper, Mid, and Under Worlds.

Raidho is the wheel and holds the mysteries of not only travel and change but also the esoteric relevance of Cosmic Movement and the Order of the heavens above, represented by the Cosmic Wheel of the Sun and Stars, order out of chaos.

Eiwhaz is the axis, that which unites below and above, chaos and reason, and all polarities.  It is Yggdrassil the great holder of Worlds, that which extends from the great wells of chaotic mystery and wisdom to the heights of Asgard and the realms of Reason.

Laguz is the water of the psychic current found within mankind and Esoterically represents the Wells of original unbridled and ancient wisdom.   That which is embodied by the Underworld and the water of chaos.

Meditation upon this threesome can be an eye opening experience.  I’d recommend laying out the entire Rune row vertically to begin understanding this threesome better.  A meditation with the three can begin by taking 3 breaths to develop awareness of the Well symbolized by Laguz beneath you, 3 breaths to realize the Tree symbolized by Eiwhaz within you, and 3 breaths to become aware of the turning of Raidho above you followed by 9 breaths to link them together. Breath in bringing up the powers of Laguz (the Well)  through Eiwhaz ( the Tree) to Raidho (the Fires of cosmic light and reason).   The out breath then begins with Raidho down through Eiwhaz and to Laguz.  So awareness of the world beneath, the body, and the head and beyond becomes a powerful tool for self awareness and balance.

Moving On and Beyond

So, it’s been about a month since leaving ADF.  I’m not sure yet where I stand…kind of odd to still be using much of the liturgy found within the Org and yet not officially being a part of it.   But then the ritual structure of Fire, Well, Tree: Ancestors, Nature Spirits, Gods – certainly is not ADF exclusive as it has it’s roots in Indo-european myth and cosmology and can be easily found with very little research.

I have contemplated more than once why I don’t just rejoin if my practice is going to be similar to what it’s been for the near decade of my membership.  But then my leaving wasn’t necessarily based on my agreement or disagreement with the philosophy behind the Orgs ritual frame (although I do have certain issues with it and have for years trimmed away much of what I didn’t like)….it was more on the current motivating vision found in the physical Org.

It’s been rather cathartic being a freelance pagan again.  Though no member of any Org should ever feel locked into a certain mode of religious practice – not being a card holding member of this or that feels a bit boundless.  I’ve thought about membership in a few other Orgs…AODA, The Troth, FoDLA, OBOD, RDNA to name a few.   I did join the Troth, as I feel the richness of the membership pool and the openness of their ritual form still allows me the freedom to pursue a practice that is mine.  Also the Troth is of value to me in that it is specifically Germanic/Norse/Teutonic based, and positive in it’s outlook.  One of the things that annoyed me about being in ADF was that I had to explain what my membership meant.  I’ve never considered myself a ‘Druid’ and I’m not a Celtophile, I’d always have to add a cavaet about being a Heathen within a primarily Celtic/Druid leaning organization, it gets tiring.

If I were to join a ‘Druid’ org again it would probably be along the lines of RDNA or OBOD, a more philosophically based form of Druidry that is more personal and less dogmatic, and not as Theistic.   However I don’t feel the need to belong to any of these yet or to support them with my dues or membership…I’m still trying to cleanse my palate a bit.  If there’s one thing I’m questioning after leaving ADF is my Hard Polytheist stance while under it’s banner.  That’s not to say that I’m not as pious in my practice only that it seems to be changing.

I’m also thinking deeply about getting an independent Heathen group off the ground in my area, a challenging endeavor that has failed in the past.