This was supposed to be posted on Tuesday, but didn’t take for some reason. Oh well, now you have an inaugural audio introduction rather than anything else, but I think it’s an exciting thing to play with, don’t you?
Of course, you may realize I mean audio in general as well as the voice in all its variety, with its pauses and repetitions; all its little shifts in pitch and tone. After all, the day we learn to talk is the day we learn to refine our baby cries even further into precise mechanisms for getting our ideas into other people’s heads, into getting what we want done, done.
Communication changes things and you don’t have to be an expert in advertising to be aware of that, or have any expertise in linguistics to begin to realize it. The issue isn’t whether you’ve got a psychology or linguistics degree, or even any formal training, and in fact sometimes it’s better not to have any because theory can get in the way of the obvious.
Because the obvious is horribly mundane – that you can tell someone’s emotional state from the sound of their voice or the way they’re standing. You can tell if someone’s stressed by the way they hold themselves; how comfortable they are by how they sit, or how defensive they’re feeling.
What’s more, these things have the proven effectiveness of evolution. Without them one might die in a very messy way, and the fact that you’re here today is certainly down to your ancestors not dying in a very messy way. Or at least, not doing so before they did the squelchy.
This then, is something of an experiment – a chunk of audio within the span of six minutes; recorded on an Android mobile in the wee small hours – a piece, if you will, of direct thought; an opening and beginning. What I hope to achieve is something akin to a demonstration of the raw brain-product, the way words are laid down, one in front of the other, to take you somewhere interesting, as they do me.
I say this because, for me, each of these pieces is following a path, moving in a certain way as I plot my course by landmarks in the spaces of thought, the call of something that catches my interest, the scent of it on the air. Now as you listen to what I’m saying, bear that in mind; and if you wish you can allow yourself to spot possibilities in all of the pauses – they’re certainly not being all tied up.
And the 3rd Angel sounded
And a star fell from heaven
Burning as it were a lamp
And it fell upon the 3rd part of the waters
I’m a ball of fire
Fire from heaven
Terror from nowhere
You’ll never shoot me down
Days turns to minutes
5 seconds till it hits us
3 seconds to ground
1 second to ….
Coming in from the void
On the bed of the ocean
Where history lies
Days turns to minutes
5 seconds till it hits us
3 seconds to ground
1 second to ….
Nature renewed by fire made whole
And I climb to the mountain
Light to dark
Behind time and space
A hole in your Ark
Days turns to minutes
5 seconds till it hits us
3 seconds to ground
1 second to ….
Asteroid – Killing Joke
It’s been interesting reading blogs over the past few days, and not least because it’s quite obvious how interconnected ideas can provide inspiration and comment. I always find it extremely intriguing that certain subjects appear to suddenly well up and and flow as currents through people’s thoughts and actions.
I say this because, just like physical currents, the currents of thought and idea can vary – some can be deceptively placid and yet exhibit a vicious undertow that leaves you struggling to break free. Others are powerful streams that move within larger bodies of work, of thought and memory, or gentle journeys that take you on meanderings into the vast sea of imagination and possibility.
Let’s take for example, three blogs that I’m fond of reading for their varying perspectives:
On Rune Soup Gordon’s put up two posts which I greatly enjoyed. In this one, he goes into detail on his thoughts regarding Holy Places, in particular a site associated with St. Nectan, down in my native Cornwall. The notion of landscape and environment as sacred, combined with a focal point of veneration has always struck me as peculiarly important. Gordon’s words reminded me of an article I occasionally return to for inspiration – THE EROTIC LANDSCAPE written by Mogg Morgan.
It has repeatedly struck me that the notion of embracing the landscape, the spaces we move through, is a spectacularly potent technique. Rather than viewing it as a thing to contour and control, if we view it with the range of emotion and action one would allow oneself when engaging with a loved one, we can be presented with a level of nuance and subtlety which goes beyond the level of appearance and into the realm of deep understanding.
Further, if we cultivate such an understanding deliberately, if we allow ourselves the pleasure of being within the environment, being open and accepting to it, as we would a lover, we engage in a communion and communication with that which lies beyond the confines of the civilized ‘human’ world.
“We who are about to partake of each other, shall walk past all amorous sickness and deaths, for we are within the magical equinox.
We who proudly make unto ourselves every graven image, shall have great copulations and are allowed to love our Gods, for we know the Sacred Alignments.
We who do not crucify – nothing shall hurt us that is of the ‘Nature’; neither our comings and goings from the womb, for we have the Key to all aesthetics.
In this sacred moment (here occurs the symbolic eating of flesh and blood) we forget our enemies: therefore let our dead children sleep. And let our dead loves arise, so they too may watch and enjoy our ecstasies. Let their animation be power to our memories and so resurge all ecstasy, for in this day there shall be no inhibitions.
Thou insatiable peripheral quadriga of sex.
Amen.” – THE PRAYER OF COMMUNION, Zoetic Grimoire of Zos
Above we see the words of Zos vel Thanatos – the sorcerer-artist Austin Osman Spare, honoured ancestor and geezer to a million chaos magicians, whether they know it or not. Spare’s erotic exploration of aesthesis has a great deal in common with the Cosmogonic Eros mentioned by Ludwig Klages, and for Spare, the highest principle is that of Self-Love.
Such a principle is not solely masturbatory; rather it is a recognition, through Eros, of the multitude and variety of beauties and grotesqueries which the individual is capable if containing and expressing innately! To engage with all things in a Sexuality which has only a tangental relationship to the act of copulation – an erotognosis as it were; enabling a knowing of the world in its totality, a knowing in the Biblical sense almost.
If we are speaking of flesh and blood forming a carnal gate to the soul as we have been, if we are suggesting that body and soul are, in fact, not at all separate, then Gordon’s second post quite neatly backs us up, doesn’t it?
Here, he recounts the conception of the blog – the incarnation of it, and his return to doing magic. I hope he won’t mind me quoting a portion:
“Then at the end of the tomb I arrived at St Peter himself.
It bowled me over. I almost cried. The energy emanating from this tiny gilded casket was like nothing I have ever felt. Something had happened to this man.
So I stood there and thought about what this something might have been.
This man may have met something divine that we can still feel two thousand years later even after his bones have turned to dust.
He was somehow raised up or elevated about normal human status by… Something.
The faith of more than a billion people currently living on planet earth converging on this one tiny chamber have built something.
Whichever way you look at it, this was magic.
And this is what I love about chaos magic. The explanation doesn’t matter in the slightest. In fact, it’s probably speculating beyond the data. All you can know for certain is that something magical is happening.
The universe is magic. It didn’t matter that I currently had no ‘use’ for practical magic. Magic’s existence is too important to ignore. If magic exists -and it does- then that colours everything about your life.
That was it.
In that tomb I committed to pulling the sheets of the furniture in the wizard’s tower and firing up the octarine generator.”
The bones of St Peter, the flesh and blood focus of the Catholic Church, had an effect. A contact was made, and it wasn’t with some ethereal thing, but a very real and physical object. Now, we can argue for ages about whether it was directly the object, or something more subtle – that’s not the issue though.
The issue is that, by interaction with the physical, Gordon’s awareness shifted and he was spurred into becoming committed while he was in a tombin the heart of the Roman Catholic Church. You know the one, the sprawling edifice of Empire which has millions committed to it. The same Church that had the pagan temples shut down and regularly used to execute people on grounds of heresy!
Think about that for a second, and as you do, as you ponder the strangeness of that fact, have a read of Jason Miller’s posts on the Strategic Sorcery blog and the comments they’ve engendered, here and here – also here.
Are you done yet? If so then, you’ll have no doubt noticed that a lot of strong feelings are engendered by the subject matter, and the way it’s quietly connected to Gordon’s posts too. Perhaps you’re not so sure what I’m alluding to, and if not then I suggest you take a look at this post, or this one from Frater R.O.
I’m sure you can see both the similarities and differences in all these perspectives, can’t you? After all, that is what blogs and the internet are about – communicating ideas as we surf the web by hyperlink, moving hither and yon in a veritable galaxy of information. Now, you might have worked out by now that I’m a polytheist – the world is full of gods and spirits and other wights.
Personally I have no problem with people choosing to be monotheists, henotheists, monolaters atheists, agnostics or just plain confused – that’s their look-out. All that matters to me is that possibility is allowed, that the sheer multiplicity and variety of ways of being is acknowledged.
In all the posts I’ve linked so far, what should become obvious is that there are icebergs in the current, that each of the ideas discussed, each opinion expressed, is somehow connected to each other by the web, by the people behind the keyboards. Many people see only the surface connections – the obvious contact points, the pins and holes as it were.
I say there are icebergs in the current precisely because the lion’s share of a given idea-stream occurs beneath the surface, just as the majority of an iceberg is said to dwell beneath the surface of the freezing waters. When I and the other chief contributors of The Sutra Of the Poison Buddha– say hello Jack and Ryan, there’s good bastards – wanted to take on new material, we’d look at our lives, our works, and our thoughts. Then we would literally free-associate without censure, following the maze of twisty passages as we rode the Synchronicity Highway at breakneck speed, laughing all the way before the shock of it would sober us up.
The same technique can be applied to enter a current from any of the tips of any of the icebergs, until suddenly one is washing up on strange shores which seemingly have no connection to where you were before. The key is to abandon any notion of cause and effect, and instead become aware that connections are multiple-way, that meaning may be manufactured, and to realize the ability to make connections is in actuality the fundamental Arte.
If you’ve read this far, you might be wondering what this has to do with the song lyrics I’ve used as an opener. I suppose it depends how much you trust me, doesn’t it? Ask yourself if I would waste time on such a thing without there being a purpose, given what you have previously known of me – and if you know little, then perhaps you should read the things I have already written with an eye on what’s between the lines, yes?
Once you’ve answered that question enough for your own satisfaction, I’d like you to re-read the lyrics and drink them in; think of them not as dry words, but things that are wet with salt water; with sweat and blood and burning fire borne from the celestial sphere down into the realm of men.
An incarnate ecstasy, alive with the fury of divinity, with the fellowship that comes from the fire and the sword brought to men, to reveal the Mysteries to those half asleep. drowsing in their rote definitions of existence. Read those words, and imagine how they might inflame you, how you can allow them in to ignite your heart and sear your soul. Can you see the look upon the faces of those who watch it fall from heaven, a burning thing with the body of a star descending to you across the ages?
Watch the way their features shift as its light washes over them how their bodies rock and sway in glorious anticipation and growling thunder announces the coming, how the electricity sizzles in your veins and your heat leaps. How the silence falls and the voice speaks, as the tension grows.
You know this.
And if these things are difficult to conjure and comprehend, then watch and see the video below. Embrace it as a living thing, watch it as many times as you like, so that with each run you become more aware of what lies behind the simplicity of a song…
Now, regardless of what your taste in music is, I am sure you saw that the crowd were extremely into the experience, and I’m absolutely sure you can appreciate the sense of theatre that Jaz Coleman and the boys have, and equally that you can begin to see the connection between that and what I’m saying, right?
Given that that’s true, I’m fairly certain that you can join me in following through on that and the other connections which I’ve illuminated earlier, in spite of the fact that they might not be obvious at first glance – after all, if they were, I’m sure each one of the posters would have written about it by now because well, duh.
If we’re going to take a dip in that stream, to dive off the icebergs and swim down to find the structures and connexions, then I’d ask you to pause a second and consider what all these things have in common; the shared figures and symbolism, the distinct notion of an esoteric gnosis which has been either lost, or hidden over the years.
There is definitely a division between the people who simply accept what they are told, and those who explore it for themselves, isn’t there?
There are those who delight in being guided, in having the yoke lifted from their shoulders, in giving themselves over to something larger then themselves, and of course, there is nothing wrong with doing so provided that the thing, person or group they submit to doesn’t abuse that trust.
There are also those who are drawn to experience directly, to seek out what lies behind the ideas themselves, searching, always searching. I’m sure you can tell which of the two I am, but what about you? Would you leave behind all you knew to seek the truth, and live the Life – knowing that you can never go home again?
Except, Simon the fisherman and his brother throw down their nets and follow, don’t they?
“Unless you want to believe the fairytale…”
The crucified serpent is alchemical symbolism for the operation known as fixing the volatile – transmuting mercury into a usable elixir. Add to this the revelation that nachash or serpent, in Hebrew Gematria has a value of 358, the same value as mashiach or messiah. So we have the image of a serpent that, according to Genesis, brings mankind to knowledge it wasn’t strictly supposed to have, elevated beyond its original design. As well of this, there is the erection of a brazen serpent on a pole by Moses in response to a punishment set upon the Israelites by YHVH, in the form of fiery serpents. The brazen serpent would cure all those bitten by the fiery wyrms if they looked upon it.
In terms of symbolism then, the notion of Jesus’ crucifixion may be squarely equated with fixing the volatile – the transmutation of a figure into a Saviour – that’s to say a healer and preserver. This fits in well when we consider the Christian Communion and the Catholic notion of literal transubstantiation, or the symbolic version of the same in other denominations. The congregation partake of the body and blood of the Saviour, consuming the elixir which gives them access to the Kingdom of Heaven.
But let’s consider the notion of a descent from that place a second – orthodox Christian Doctrine claims Jesus was sent from the Father, and the more Unorthodox versions have a great deal to say about who/what that Father is – be it the Logos or the Nous. The word asteroid is composed of roots aster and eidos – making it literally an object that has the form of a star.
Crowley said that ‘every man and a woman is a star.’ Might we then be able to suggest that Jesus-as-Saviour might have provided an intercessory method of finding the Kingdom of Heaven within mankind, instead of the standard exoteric notion of a post-Apocalyptic bliss-fest?
Let’s think back to the imagery of fire, the sensation of the electricity in your veins, remembering the ecstasy, the immanent otherworldliness as it crawls up your spine and seizes your lungs; as your skin crawls and something uncurls at the base of your spine, hotter than suns as it twines through your body, energizing and strengthening you, unlocking centres of excellence and terror you didn’t know you had.
It immerses you in the awareness of something beyond your skin, a billion eyes opening and looking right at you, and for a moment you think you might shrivel to nothing, be blasted to dust before that gaze, as the wings are removed from their places and you are struck by the Truth of the serpentine choir.
Can you survive such a transition, or are you clinging on like grim death to your humanity? Do you fall sick, your soul burned to naught by that fire, cast adrift and drifting towards the grave as the source of your identity is shattered?
Or do you exult, and join your voice with a thousand others, tongue dripping with glossolalia, eyes wide and unblinking, full of shining ophidian gnosis which whispers of the days in Eden? Does Moses’ Egyptian wisdom give you the way to survive, imbued as it is with ancient sorcery and power?
In a small room over Jerusalem, can you hear the rushing wind and see the flames leap from the crown of your brethren? Can you feel the urge to speak in a tongue like rain, to pass on the gnosis by sound alone, knowing full well that it lies beyond language – that the wisdom passes on like a contagion, from one person to another. The Master’s words echo in your ears:
“He who has ears, let him hear!”
Now you may begin to see what’s here – the notion of scriptural lore as a transmission method, an encoded symbolic language capable of altering someone’s thought processes to enable proper integration with a new way of being. Is it any wonder that this might become exoterically misinterpreted?
Just think about that – when consuming psychoactives, one of the important things to remember is set and setting – how things are framed dictates responses and that means a great deal.
Now, as a dirty heathen, I’m apparently a prime target for evangelizing – except in my case, I’m actually an apostate. As such, when I am evangelized at, I actually smile, because many of those who others find so irritating are wielding their words with no skill other than fervency. The heat of what they are saying is like a candle-flame when compared to the blazing roar of nature.
That’s not to say its without value – it’s prime setting material, a psycho-social grounding framework that enables them to function, and that’s right and good for them. Similarly, the hateful fundamentalists provide me with (g)no end of amusement – they’re waving around the equivalent of a twenty megatonne gnosis-bomb and clocking people on the head with it as if its’ a club.
(Mind you, a person with a club can still knock your brains out, so it’s best to keep an eye on them and either disarm them or find some way to avoid their attention!)
Then there are the honest ones, the ones who have faith and attempt to love their neighbours as themselves. Wait a second…Love one another – isn’t that what the Man said? Love thy neighbour as thyself!
I’d like you to see the grin on my face as I write this, bearded and evil-minded though I be. I’d like you to picture the gales of laughter that shook me as I realized the way this post was going, because you’re probably going to want to go back to the beginning of these words and look for it, stated as plain as day.
I couldn’t be that devious could I? That would require precision, hidden in all the verbosity, surely? To do that, to dive into the current and end up connecting things which supposedly have no connection at all, and hence start you thinking about the deep structure within it all. Because once you start seeing the deep structure,within any given current you can recognize it, and spot it, even though it’s cloaked in a form that bears no direct representation to what it reveals.
Go back if you like, with that new recognition, that texture in the dark, that scent on the wind, the string in the labyrinth that spirals on through infinite eternity. Go back over it all in your mind and let me tell you a bit about my past, and allow me to show you something…
I have priests and preachers in my family, missionaries, lecturers and political activists on both sides; this is a true fact. The drawing you are seeing is a depiction of the village church of which a close family member was Rector – an ordained Anglican priest. I spent much of my early life in a family where the symbolism of Christianity, and the twin poles of church and pub were central to the Cornish village in which we lived.
Imagine a Sunday if you will, the bellringers standing at the Lychgate – the gate to which corpses were brought – filing the air with fragrant blue pipe-smoke, the Cornish drawl and lined faces, the smell of the wild garlic growing greenly as it festooned the old stone wall. I used to pause there when I was young and pluck a few leaves to chew in the service. The moss on the gravestones seemed to bristle and flex as you made your way up the path through the graveyard and round the tower.
Pausing now, you take in the war memorial, the worn stone steps that lead up and further into the graveyard that’s been open for as long as the church has been here, way back in the 13th century. Feel the weight of eight hundred years of folk, of living and dying and praying and laughing.
It wraps around you, the green does, and if you were to move on, you might find the holy well said to be where the Celtic saint for whom the church and village are named began to preach when he first came to this vale. If you’re so inclined, you might fall to wondering if there’s another layer to the tale; whether that well might have held offerings to some pagan god or spirit long before the coming of Christ – and truth be told you would not be the first to wander along those paths of thought, I assure you.
For now though, you might open the heavy wooden door inside the porch and step inside the church, immediately struck by the scents of old wood and the faint tang of polish as you pass by the font where generations have been baptised , running your fingers over the intricate carvings on the pew ends, just like I did as a boy.
Stand in the nave then and look past the rood-screen to the altar, topped with slate and supported by weighty Cornish granite…
And now, we’ll shift and it’s not a Sunday but a Friday, a Good Friday – that day when a man-god died and descended into the grave to preach and pass the gnosis to the dead so that they might be liberated.
Picture the scene; that same church all unlit as the priest of your blood leads the way through the Stations of the Cross halting to read the tale of Christ’s death, mimicking the journey through ritual and meditation as the voice rings out and though it’s a spring day, the place feels hollow like a ribcage and the light is thinner somehow.
And as that familiar voice, the one you hear every day, speaks the words and weaves the way, you see all the falls, all the stumbling on that day in Jerusalem, so very long ago. You can smell the sweat and the blood and the roughness of wood against your skin, the gape and flex of broken flesh from the scourging. Your vision wavers in the painful heat, blood trickling into your eyes and mixing with the unshed tears as the thorns snag your scalp.
One foot. Then another. Then another. It seems endless, this path of sorrows. You are so very weary – all you want to do is rest, to flee the agony and the jeering. But you can’t, though you know there’s far worse to come yet, a terrible darkness as you are drawn to the place of Place of the Skull, as you stumble to your knees, and are almost immediately dragged onto the wood by the soldiers.
The cross tears at your skin, and you give it blood in return, staining the grain with your blood, the blood of a man and a god, son of your Father. It’s your lover now, that rood – it will be with you until death you do part; you are wedded together in pain.
Hoisted into the air then, part of a stand of trees, a grove of execution. Somewhere in the back of your mind, amidst the spiralling and narrowing of your vision, the painful pounding of your heart, you are aware they are nailing you to the wood. It might strike you as funny – how many times in your younger days did your carpenter’s hands drive nails into wood, loving as you did the crafting and making of things? Yet now, it is you who are being crafted, made holy by the sacrifice.
Some part of you, the part that was something other than flesh and blood, remembers that you are not alone, that you partake in all the sacrifices that have ever been made since the dawn of time. Bound and brought to death, all of you have done this, do this for others, be it willing or otherwise. Yet still you wonder, as it becomes harder to breathe and you can feel your lungs filling with fluid, feel something tear in the shattered remains off your palms:
“Why am I doing this?” You cry out, wondering if the Father has deserted you. “Why have you forsaken me?!”
The doubt tries to blossom, but it is choked like a weed by the agony – the blessing of flesh – until all of you burns and there is nothing at all but fire. You try to scream but your lips are dry, your breath weak.
The moments stretch on, until bitter vinegar is pressed to your lips. You suck without thinking, glorying in the bitterness and the sting as it spills into your cuts, knowing that it is merely a matter of faith and will – how else did you turn water into wine at Cana?
What’s left of your human mind embraces it, embraces the whole world, and with the strength of the rood at your back, with the power of your pain and suffering, you love them, you love the whole world because there is no other option. You love them with the fierceness that only a dying man may muster, you love them with the infinite, furious and all-encompassing love of the Divine.
You beg forgiveness on their behalf, you grant the thief a seat at the Father’s table, you forgive all their sins and secrets and their lies and their petty vindictiveness and all the horror that has been and is yet to come; to unborn generations and those gone before, you give the gift of your blood and the forgiveness that it buys.
Your last act as a mortal is to cease to be human, to commend yourself to that daimonic realm from whence you came. As the sky turns black and the force of the sacrifice ripples out through all there ever was, you descend into hell and open the way to heaven, your immortal form a way and a road, the cross an axis mundi to climb upward once more…
And now, back to that church back to the silent staring at the wooden cross which stands in the nave on this day, taller than a man. It stands there stark and empty as you realize its nature, not as an instrument of torture and execution, but rather as an icon, a key to unlock the deep Mystery of death and sacrifice.
As you sit there in the pew, surrounded by the accoutrements of exoteric Christianity, the fine work and hollow building, the silence of meditation all about you, notice something. Notice, as I did in those moments, year after year, that the gnosis of blood and love is combined with the gnosis of death and words.
Think on this deeply then, as I did – until I walked away, until I began to take the steps which ultimately led me to throw down my nets and never go home again. For though it has taken years and I no longer sit before that cross on Good Friday, I owe a great deal to the things it taught me.
Perhaps you know a little more now, and perhaps you can allow yourselves to navigate with your eyes closed and follow the streams, and see where you end up. Go on, have a wander – I’ll still be here.
This is another one of those posts that is written for no reason, and that is, I think, completely fine. I always find that the urge to write comes on as a slow, warning rumble; it’s as if the pressure builds and the charge grows until the crackle can almost be tasted on the back of the tongue – the senses sharpen and the world seems more alive.
That living world thrums with vitality; rain-slick pavements and blades of grass strain towards you as patterns are seen in the passage of passers-by, in the spaces between their bodies, the passing of the cars and the wind against your skin. There’s a kind of weight to existence, a sense of the heaviness of the weave of things.
Complexity reaches the level of emergence – odd thoughts unfurl inside the darkness of memory; bubble up and cross-fertilize to create new hybrid concepts that reveal some grinning skeletons in their genealogy, buried in the wardrobes and armoires of the Deep Mind. Can you imagine what kind of moths such places would spawn, what monstrous Lepidoptera would flock to that dark light?
Right up there with Mothra, I should think – strange beasts, vast in their might, if not size.
For the fact is, consciousness is a strange beast and precisely how it fits with the few pounds of sludge inside our skulls has puzzled mankind for ages, and when the urge to write arrives, the world is suddenly a conscious thing of its own. Wights and spirits dance in almost everything, a kind of animistic furor as the weltfeuer rages on and the pyre of existence becomes a bonfire in that blue and endless hour.
A fire that is wild and untamed, at whose heart sits a figure whose zoomorphic nature has engendered many names, but is best known as simply that which is Pangenitor andPanphage.
“We know what happened to those who chanced to meet the Great God Pan, and those who are wise know that all symbols are symbols of something, not of nothing.
It was, indeed, an exquisite symbol beneath which men long ago veiled their knowledge of the most awful, most secret forces which lie at the heart of all things; forces before which the souls of men must wither and die and blacken, as their bodies blacken under the electric current.
Such forces cannot be named, cannot be spoken, cannot be imagined except under a veil and a symbol, a symbol to the most of us appearing a quaint, poetic fancy, to some a foolish tale. But you and I, at all events, have known something of the terror that may dwell in the secret place of life, manifested under human flesh; that which is without form taking to itself a form.
Oh, Austin, how can it be? How is it that the very sunlight does not turn to blackness before this thing, the hard earth melt and boil beneath such a burden?” -Arthur Machen, The Great God Pan
How indeed? I say this to you in all seriousness:
The sun does indeed turn black and the earth melts, flowing and twisting in a seething, roaring mass of chaotic funambulatory ecstasy – the dance of the noose, the walking of the serpent-spine; the twin snakes about the caduceus of Hermes – god of thieves, liars, gamblers, merchants, and all round dodgy geezers.
Hermes, leader of the dead; psychopompos and root of Hermeticism, presiding deity of Western Esoterica. Hermes, god of shepherds.
ET ARCADIA EGO
Silet per diem universus, nec sine horrore secretus est; lucet nocturnis ignibus, chorus Aegipanum undique personatur: audiuntur et cantus tibiarum, et tinnitus cymbalorum per oram maritimam.
“All day long, heavy silence broods, and a certain hidden terror lurks there. But at nightfall gleams the light of fires; the chorus of Aegipans resounds on every side: the shrilling of flutes and the clash of cymbals re-echo by the waste shores of the sea. – Pomponius Mela
There is an ecstasy here, one that infuses and transcends Traditions, turns them into Mysteries. Over at Rune Soup Gordon made an interesting post about the roots of Western Magic, about how the flow of ideas may have moved from a particular city/area way back when, and gave some pretty compelling suggestions.
For all that I believe ancestry is important, I’m afraid the idea of an origin point for any idea is something of a blind alley, or rather, the idea that any one source is the ‘beginning’ is missing the point. Consider the notion that any idea is an emergent property, a synthesis and re-ordering of constituent parts into something new – can you honestly say that anything is born ex nihilo, or instead, might you say that the whole of the WMT is itself synthetic?
From multiple streams, multiple roots, comes an emergent thing, rearing its head out of the flux – all strangely featured and amorphous. So strangely featured in fact, that when we turn our eyes backward in order to meet this potency, it is unrecognizable – unintelligible and seemingly nonsensical.
Darkly dreamt, with burning eyes brighter than the sun; the pitiless blank-faced sphinx; the extra-terrestrial music of the spheres; the cries in the Outer Dark; the ancient, antediluvian Atlantean sorcery; the death and resurrection of a solar figure; an Indo-European stream moving westwards on the backs of merchants and horsemen who come out of the dawn; the fetish and the wanga and the veve brought out of darkest Africa long before Egypt was a dream; the songlines of the Aborigines, the peoples that moved north from the east and passed through Siberia to the cold circumpolar regions, and the serpent cults of 70,000 years ago…
All these are our roots, all these are emergent things, born of environment, culture and human experience with things that are not human. When the human meets the inhuman, it either dies, flees or becomes something else. This elseness is the fulcrum, the axis mundi, about which all magical endeavour turns.
Whether it simply be knowledge or understanding beyond the norm, or a recognition of the abyss between perception and any potential actuality, the hard fact is that any Magical Tradition – be Western, Eastern, or Transplutonian Yuggothic Union with the Crab-Men of Nous-Nous – is an attempt to understand, to comprehend, to systematize and contour the experience of the deeply strange and alien to your advantage and benefit!
Because of that, because of the hard, icy realization which dwells at the heart of the weltfeuer, you might protest at this. After all, you might feel as if I am saying you are bound to fail – that even trying to define this welter of ideas and complexity by calling it the Western Magical Tradition is an act of artifice; an act which can only ever hope to provide you with a comfortable category by which you can maintain some illusion of control over through so-called naming and understanding – after all, it can’t do anything more than than that, can it?
Or perhaps you can accept that behind all this lies something fundamental, that magic itself as a concept is an edifice built on top of a stark fact, like a carpet of moss which is green and vital as it spreads across a stone which is older than mankind by many millions of years. That its febrile vitalism springs from a bedrock which is in itself the essence of singularity – a ‘hole in your mind’ – an indescribable, imperceptible absence which, for the qabbalists amongst you, might be described as a microcosmic Ein/Ein Soph.
Da’ath. The Abyss. Consider these two concepts – pause here…
And then – turn them over and examine them.
Feel them with thought and see them with the eyes of memory…What textures and sights do they conjure in you, and more importantly, what do they tell you?
What does the daemon-voice whisper, all sibilant and roaring in mauve silence?
Then the Devil of the Aethyr, that mighty devil Choronzon, crieth aloud, Zazaz11, Zazas, Nasatanada Zasas.
I am the Master of Form12, and from me all forms proceed.
I am I. I have shut myself up from the spendthrifts, my gold is safe in my treasure-chamber, and I have made every living thing my concubine, and none shall touch them, save only I. And yet I am scorched, even while I shiver in the wind. He hateth me and tormenteth me. He would have stolen me from myself, but I shut myself up and mock at him, even while he plagueth me. From me come leprosy and pox and plague and cancer and cholera and the falling sickness. Ah! I will reach up to the knees of the Most High, and tear his phallus with my teeth, and I will bray his testicles in a mortar, and make poison thereof, to slay the sons of men – Cry of the 10th Aeythr (ZAX)
Choronzon howls with the desert-wind, with the scritch-scratch of a million pen-nibs, Scripture endlessly churned out, nonsensical and empty glossolalia found in the hooting of monstrous Apes of Thoth as they clatter on a myriad of keys and fill the world with a plague of soul-eating zombie memes.
Oh what a Lurker at the Threshold, what a Thing On the Doorstep. What a blind idiot god, what a Daemon Sultan seated on his throne in the blasphemous depths of nethermost infinity!
See how it loves to craft weird and eldritch horrors? How signs and sigils from elder days groan under the weight of its assault, how easily it leaps from the triangle which attempts to define and hold it in place, how it rapes the Scribe with the fire and the force of the Beast?
Can you comprehend how tightly the noose cuts and frees the neck by restriction, the throat opened by the precision of the Mystic Dagger laid against the veins, that sets the blood to gush, all unceasing, into the black graal of Babble-On? Drinking, and then drunk thus – becoming aware of the void behind the eyes which glitter like obsidian mirrors, so the black speech is born of a matrix most silent!
Tell me, prey:Have you heard of the Cult of the Bloody Tongue?
It lollops about obscenely with a life of its own; this muscular thing, this scarlet soaked wyrm; all spangled with the purplish-green, the colour of magic(k). This is the thing that builds wizards’ towers, those things seen clear as crystal to be lightning rods, yet still those within are caught by surprise when the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes down; still shocked beyond belief as the that which lies behind the thunder blasts down, leaving gunmetal stench of ozone as it shatters all conception and sense.
“Then I saw the body descend to the beasts whence it ascended, and that which was on the heights go down to the depths, even to the abyss of all being. The principle of life, which makes organism, always remained, while the outward form changed.”
“The light within the room had turned to blackness, not the darkness of night, in which objects are seen dimly, for I could see clearly and without difficulty. But it was the negation of light; objects were presented to my eyes, if I may say so, without any medium, in such a manner that if there had been a prism in the room I should have seen no colours represented in it.
“I watched, and at last I saw nothing but a substance as jelly. Then the ladder was ascended again… [here the MS. is illegible] …for one instance I saw a Form, shaped in dimness before me, which I will not farther describe. But the symbol of this form may be seen in ancient sculptures, and in paintings which survived beneath the lava, too foul to be spoken of… as a horrible and unspeakable shape, neither man nor beast, was changed into human form[.”] – The Great God Pan
I speak of bleak necessity – the words you ingest, devoured by your eyes and gobble with your ears, are flavoured with many and varied intoxicants. This you understand, for you know the insidious nature of advertising, the slickness of spin. You have heard the politicians attempt to manipulate those who hear and those who see. You are easily aware of the potency of language, its effectiveness for so communicating and enfolding, for binding thought and releasing dream.
Have you now begun to feel as a blind person feels, or scent the note of understanding hidden in the cacophony of the weltmusik which transmutes the noisome mundane existence into the symphony of the sphere? I am certain you have, even if you are not consciously aware of it yet.
Turn inward then, and luxuriate in the velvet hardness of the silence of your deep soul, slipping easily into the coolly oblique realm behind the stage-show of the Magician and his pomp and circumstance. The path is obscurely direct, and the crooked staff of the sorcerer shepherds and guides you home.
To Hrothgar was given such glory of war,
such honor of combat, that all his kin
obeyed him gladly till great grew his band
of youthful comrades.
It came in his mind
to bid his henchmen a hall uprear,
a master mead-house, mightier far
than ever was seen by the sons of earth,
and within it, then, to old and young
he would all allot that the Lord had sent him,
save only the land and the lives of his men.
Wide, I heard, was the work commanded,
for many a tribe this mid-earth round,
to fashion the folkstead. It fell, as he ordered,
in rapid achievement that ready it stood there,
of halls the noblest: Heorot he named it
whose message had might in many a land.
–Beowulf, Grunmere trans.
So runs the prologue of Beowulf, one of the oldest surviving tales written in English. King Hrothgar is a mighty man, mighty enough to have erected his meadhall called Heorot. The noise and tumult of a great king’s court rouses the monster Grendel from his lair, who goes on a murderous rampage and slaughters many of the king’s thegns. What should have been a beacon of light and joy, evidence of Hrothgar’s might, now becomes a deserted place.
The great man of the Geats, the hero Beowulf, arrives with a band of men, to slaughter Grendel and win much fame and fortune. Along the way, he kills the fiend’s mother and, later in life meets his end as a grey-bearded king who kills a dragon that threatens his kingdom, dying himself by a wound inflicted by that very same wyrm.
Imagine if you will, how the tale would have been told: a mead-hall with long benches and burning fires, long benches for the warriors and folk to sit at as food was served and mead was drunk from horns and cups; laughter and mirth as the chieftain sits there, responsible for his people and his land.
Close by sit his trusted men, a body of men bound by oath and loyalty – all fierce fighters and practical sorts – and about their arms and necks they bear the gifts of their lord, recognition of their valour and service. Imagine the firelight glinting off metal, gleaming off weapons and worked jewellery.
Can you hear them call out loudly for a tale, a narration of mighty deeds and great things? Might you perhaps see someone shake their head, busy as they are with the business of feasting? Hear again the roar, the cajoling and the cursing of those assembled which ripples out in a wave of good-natured complaint to be met with a heavy sigh and a nod.
Rising to their feet, the scop makes their way forward.
Now the scop is smiling, slow and easy, with a quick tongue that flicks a few barbs in the direction of the more vocal or insulting detractors, to the delight of the crowd. A reminder then, if any were needed, that this one can make weapons out of words and ways out of songs. Meeting the eyes of all present, by the strength of gaze and a raised hand, silence falls.
Do you recall how that goes, how the silence comes – first as a drip, then as a trickle, then as a wave breaks over them all? The way you find yourselves adjusting into a familiar, comfortable position – allowing your body to prepare itself for the long haul – as you begin to listen, even before the storyteller speaks. It’s intriguing how easily you can do that; adopting an attitude of acceptance even before any sense of the story is known, because you are in a very real way placing yourself in the hands of the storyteller; you are giving them and I license to transport you.
For Hrothgar was a mighty man, and Heorot was a mighty hall, as befits a king. Mightier still was the fiend Grendel, for he drove Hrothgar from that place until the coming of Beowulf. Mightier than king or monster was Beowulf, and this you know – for were it otherwise, there would be no tale, would there?
Since all this is true, and since you are here reading these words, following me as I write them in the past, you are indulging in looking backward, aren’t you? So I’d like to make a suggestion – that now you realize how easily and simply you can look back, you turn that sight back over certain concepts with me now.
Consider then this tale of mighty men, of mothers and monsters – consider it as a beacon from over a thousand years ago; a gleaming treasure flickering in the fire-light.
Cen byþ cwicera gehwam, cuþ on fyre
blac ond beorhtlic, byrneþ oftust
ðær hi æþelingas inne restaþ.
The torch is known to every living man
by its pale, bright flame; it always burns
where princes sit within.
The best leaders are cunning – they know how to get the most out of their men and their environment. Cunning men and women then, these folk; knowledge, will and ability all combined into something, distilled down to some essence that sets them apart. They have the wherewithal; the ways and the means to inspire and to lead their followers to their goal in defiance of obstacles.
This means that a mighty individual is one who is capable of surviving where others fail; Beowulf kills the three monsters, doing the seemingly impossible, returning Heorot to Hrothgar, winning fame and becoming a king. Not bad for a man who casts aside his sword and wrestles with Grendel and tears the monster’s arm off,is it?
Can you picture it? Beowulf vs. Grendel; circling, waiting for the moment to strike, each looking for weakness in the other, when suddenly and without warning the Geat tosses the sword away and leaps on the monster who has torn men asunder and gobbled their flesh, cracked their bones and sucked out the very marrow!
Locked together in loathing, struggling and striving for the upper hand in a mead-hall surrounded by corpses and wounded men in the depths of the night, Grendel’s jaws are scant inches from Beowulf’s face as he snarls his hate…
Could you bear to meet that infernal look, a look that would kill you, and deal with the knowledge that if it fails there’s row upon row of razor teeth that would finish the job? Can you allow yourself to conceive of the strength of will that must have taken, to hold Grendel as close as any lover, to embrace your potential death and dismemberment, or does your heart quail within your chest at the thought of meeting that dread abyssal gaze up close and personal?
Not so for Beowulf! He tightens his grip and pulls the monster closer as claws rake his flesh and jaws snap; foul breath fills his lungs, his vision narrows and Grendel’s awful visage swells to fill the entire world. Then Beowulf, brave Beowulf of the Geats, Beowulf the wave-rider, mighty Beowulf son of Ecgtheow…
Rips off Grendel’s arm. At the shoulder. With his bare hands.
How easily might you hear once more, here in the now, the roar that raised in the mead-halls? Do you know how raw that cry of exultation is, sent forth from myriad throats across a thousand years? I think you do – and that is mighty fine! For this is what greets a hero’s deeds, an exultation, a joy which transcends time and space.
In that moment we are all elevated, all drawn in to dwell with those who hear, and the sense of it, the raw, unrestrained emotion rips through you; all those times you have punched the air, howled with laughter or felt the rightness of something deep inside – I’m certain you know of what I speak!
This is the sheer presence of it. The knowing of the power as it flows from an individual, the way they move, and the the way they act. We’ve all seen it – the way some people are inexorable, how their confidence marks them out, their progress a seemingly foregone conclusion. We recognize it, are aware of it subconsciously – something beyond mere physical prowess, beyond circumstance. Some part of our lizard brain is aware that they could do anything.
Watch them. Watch them closely. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger!
Then there’s the way that these people seem to be able to get away with murder. How do they do it, always landing on their feet, even in situations which would cause most people to grind to a soul-destroying halt? You know the feeling – when your options have fallen away and you’re staring at an impasse; dead-ended as the walls are closing in. It saps your strength, makes you wonder why you bother sometimes, right?
It’s exhausting, frustrating and, if you care about what you’re doing, not a little painful.
There’s only so much pain we can take, only so many times we can pound our fists against that wall, head-butt the desk, feel our heart gripped by despair, our guts twist in sick horror at the unfairness of a situation.
Only so much we can deal with; we reach the end of our tethers, finding the limits of our resources and feeling our resolve beginning to crumble, until eventually we have to let go and move on. Because you know, you can’t win ’em all, can you?
Except, they seem to be able to. Those thrice gods-damn bastards, those lucky sods. It’s like some people were just given a greater portion of luck by the gods, by chance, by whatever the hell it is that deals with these things, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing though:
Most people find themselves thinking that way at some point or other in their lives, even if they know it’s irrational. I’d bet you good money that you can recall a moment when you thought something similar – and I’m certain I would win. The reason I’m so certain is that such a concept is very very old, and has been used in magic and various nefarious sorceries throughout the ages.
Have you perhaps idly wondered if it might be possible to…appropriate someone else’s luck – after all, they have bucketloads and wouldn’t miss a little would they? Or maybe you’re of the school that says you make your own luck, and because of that you wonder what exactly these super-lucky people do to be that successful?
Repeatedly. Over and Over. Again and Again.
Maybe you’re hungry for that edge – and I certainly wouldn’t blame you if you were. Look at the way the mighty are remembered, how they achieve virtual immortality. From Einstein and Socrates, to Beowulf and Jack the Giant-Killer – they are all legends. All of them are larger-than-life, enduring icons and heroes in the technical sense.
late 14c., “man of superhuman strength or courage,” from L. heros “hero,” from Gk. heros “demi-god” (a variant singular of which was heroe), originally “defender, protector,” from PIE base *ser- “to watch over, protect” (cf. L. servare “to save, deliver, preserve, protect”). Sense of “chief male character in a play, story, etc.” first recorded 1690s.
No longer just an ordinary human, almost half a god, raised above ordinary mortals. These are mighty men and women, by any stretch of the imagination – extraordinary people. Now, hopefully, if you have read my work, you’ll know by now that it’s the extra-ordinary that fascinates me, and if you’ve been following me through the paths and byways of this piece, you may begin to realize that there’s a connection here.
Maybe it’s obvious to you – that mighty means extra-ordinary, and if so then I congratulate you. By way of congratulation, I’d like to flash you a quick grin and note that I do tricksy things with words. Part of that tricksiness is to dig down into the roots of my native language, and by now you’re wondering what on earth Necropants are, or what they have to do with mighty folk.
We’ll get to the grisly couture, the deathlytrousers, the pantaloons of peril soon – I promise.
Hidden in our everyday use of language are secrets that can be used to great effect; occult roots which when applied properly, can reveal secret paths to power. After all, the world is full of communication, full of mutual agreements of how things should be done – all based on shared assumptions and empathy. It’s a tenet of neurolinguistic programming that you can change people’s internal states by judicious use of words alone. Sorcery on the other hand, is the art – and believe me, it is an Art far more than anything else – of changing things; an attack on the status quo of reality itself!
Accepting this, what if the words I’m using now – the words you are reading here – have deep roots which might be used to change things? What if our language, our stories, contains secrets our ancestors knew, what if mighty men and women was more than a mere descriptor?
O.E. miht, earlier mæht, from P.Gmc. *makhtuz (cf. O.N. mattr, O.Fris., M.Du. macht, Ger. Macht, Goth. mahts), from PIE base *mag- “be able, have power” (see may (v.)).
Consider the above for a moment – that might is intrinsically linked to ability, that the mighty are more able than others, because they have more might. The luckier you are, the more opportunities you might (pun intended) have. There is some quality which is possessed by, or is intrinsic, to certain individuals.
What if it was in your interest to be able to take advantage of anything and everything, wouldn’t it be a good idea to align yourself with the ones who seem to know how to do this instinctively? What if, by aligning yourself with one of those people, you increased your chances of survival, and because of that, you became known as a mighty individual?
Such things form the basis of social engineering of course, but suppose we go even beyond that. Suppose we begin to notice that a culture of success tends to breed even more success, and that culture shares a root with cultus and cultivate. Suppose you could be able to cultivate might itself?
A little heretical perhaps, in these days when performance-enhancing drugs are cheating, when everyone is supposedly equal – or at least ideally so. But when we are dealing with survival, that may just go out the proverbial window – you would try to survive with all your might and main, wouldn’t you?
O.E. mægen (n.) “power, strength, force,” from P.Gmc. *maginam- “power,” from *mag- “be able, have power” (see may). Original sense preserved in phrase with might and main. Meaning “principal channel in a utility system” is first recorded 1727 in main drain; Used since 1540s for “continuous stretch of land or water.”
early 13c., “large, bulky, strong,” from O.E. mægen- “power, strength, force,” used in compounds (see main (n.)), probably infl. by O.N. megenn (adj.) “strong, powerful.” Sense of “chief” is c.1400
I am pretty sure that the notion of mægen is a little alien to us today, and yet it could be said that some might find comfort in the notion that such things are hardly modern, or even New Age. On the contrary, it is a deeply old concept which is tightly bound with the world-view of those who came before us. Because of that, with our eyes turned backward, we are already hip-deep in waters that run through underground rivers beneath the words.
All it takes for us to understand these things is an open mind, and the realization that our ancestors held no illusions about the fact that life is precarious. The closest most people get to an ‘act of (G)od’ these days is an insurance policy!
So what does it mean to us, this faculty of concentrated ability, this elixir of luck and potency? Might you muse on it a little, allow yourself to be drawn into a heavy consideration of power and mastery, so that you can do what is required? Or perhaps you could let yourself drift back in time, to follow the lines of your blood and your thoughts back to the space where both converge into one?
In either case, may be confronted with the stark fact that in order to harness your full abilities, you would have to reject those things which limit you, in whatever form they may come. You may have to cast aside many dearly held beliefs about yourself, and more importantly, others around you.
For the issue is not one of ethics or morality, it is how you can maximize your ability and how you choose to affect the world. Everybody wants to be better at what they do, to follow their dreams and be greater than what their critics deem them capable of. Even those who simply desire to be content wish for the ability to be so without restriction.
Imagine what you could do if you divested yourself of all the things that hold you back, and then add to that the notion of being able to enhance those things which enliven and strengthen you, until they cause you to be so very much more than you had ever dreamed.
Imagine that out of next to nothing, you could somehow bring forth all you needed to wax and thrive well. Wouldn’t that be something to desire above anything else?
Would you wear a dead man’s skin? Would you dig him up, and peel the hide from his cold flesh, put a coin and a magical stave in the scrotum, then feel joy as they melded with your own body? For these are some of the things you must do, should you desire a pair of Nábrók, which literally translates as ‘Necropants.’
I first heard of the Necropants via a good friend who was giving a talk on runic magic and sorcery, and was reminded of them by a question asked on Jason Miller’s Strategic Sorcery blog. So Jason, if you read this, the entire post is indirectly your fault, all right?
Now, the rune-stave comes from Iceland, so I’ll let the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft do the explaining:
All of the signs and staves seen here can be found in Icelandic grimoires, some from the 17th century, some from later times though all of them seem to be related. The origin of this peculiar Icelandic magic is difficult to ascertain. Some signs seem to be derived from medieval mysticism and renaissance occultism, while others show some relation to runic culture and the old Germanic belief in Thor and Odinn. Much of the magic mentioned in court records can be found in grimoires kept in various manuscript collections. The purpose of the magic involved tells us something of the concerns of the lower classes that used them to lessen the burden of subsidence living in a harsh climate.
More information is available at the Museum site, which is full of wonderful things, including what is required to make the deathly trousers work properly:
If you want to make your own necropants (literally; nábrók) you have to get permission from a living man to use his skin after his dead. [sic] After he has been buried you must dig up his body and flay the skin of the corpse in one piece from the waist down. As soon as you step into the pants they will stick to your own skin. A coin must be stolen from a poor widow and placed in the scrotum along with the magical sign, nábrókarstafur, written on a piece of paper. Consequently the coin will draw money into the scrotum so it will never be empty, as long as the original coin is not removed. To ensure salvation the owner has to convince someone else to overtake the pants and step into each leg as soon as he gets out of it. The necropants will thus keep the money-gathering nature for generations.
According to the commentary on the website, the coin stolen from the poor widow must be taken at Christmas, Whitsun or Easter. These three festivals all occur at times when pagan feasts occurred before the coming of Christianity – Yule, Summer’s Day and Eostur-monath respectively. Also that the sorcerer must make a pact with the man while still living, and that if the sorcerer died in the necropants, his body would be infested with lice.
This is particularly interesting since Early Christian doctrine held that the bodily Resurrection required the dead to be intact – those infested with lice would be unclean at best and rotten at worst, certainly not suitable for the Kingdom of Heaven. Add to this the fact that the sorcerer must find someone to stand in the right leg of the necropants before he steps out of the left, and we are left wondering if the notion of the via sinistra and all the associations with widdershins and leftness applied here also.
Further, the commentary states that wealth would be taken from ‘living persons’. Let’s consider this for a second:
A pact is made, wherein an individual agrees to let the sorcerer wear his skin after he is dead. The skin is synonymous with form and shape in many cultures, so could we be looking at an act which allows the sorcerer to take on the form of the dead? Note also the importance of the scrotum, the sac beneath the generative organ.
Into this is placed a coin stolen from a poor widow, echoing the biblical story of the widow in the temple:
1And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
2And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
3And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
4For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. –Luke Ch.21
There are multiple ways to look at this theft – the coin may draw the blessings of God to the scrotum of the necropants in the form of money, the theft breaks through morality into necessity, or that the coin provides a magical link to money held by others. There are probably even more valid options, but they have been lost under over four centuries of time.
Regardless of the fact, we once again see the importance of the dead in Northern sorcery, and that of might. The notion of Mighty Dead who are not bound by mortal law or the structures of the human world is extremely important. Whether they be in service to the sorcerer through being bound by force, a sense of familial obligation or an altogether more wyrd pact, they are ever-present.
What is also fascinating is that the wealth is taken from the living – one might suppose that in elder days, the wealth might have been something far more esoteric, which in turn enabled the acquisition of what was necessary for survival. To requote the Museum:
The purpose of the magic involved tells us something of the concerns of the lower classes that used them to lessen the burden of subsidence living in a harsh climate.
The harshness of the environment is something that should never be understated – survival is not a right, despite what we would like to think. Is it any wonder that those exposed to the Elemental turn to magic of an equally visceral and Elemental nature? There’s absolutely no need to say more on the necessities of existence than to quote the saying Flags, flax, fodder and frig!
If you’ve read this far and not walked away in despair, indeed if you are as intrigued by these ideas as I am, then perhaps you might muse still further. As you digest all that I have written, as the concepts arrange themselves in a way that makes some kind of sense to you, perhaps you may find yourself considering all this again when you perform the necessities of your life – the eating, the drinking, the having sex, the way you can notice shifts in temperature as you cross a threshold…
All these things can serve as reminders, doorways into understanding the magic of mægen , the sorcery of survival, born of the icy North.
That said, does anyone want to give me their hides for some pantaloons of peril..?
[W]ithin us, the element recalls its limitlessness amid the primordial flux, as element and flux devour themselves anew: the winds, the trees, and the stars now speak. Through immeasurably distant ages, death and birth greet the soul of man in the wavering blade of grass, and they hear the dark inner night of the blood of man in the falling rain, as it trickles through the leaves outside. -Ludwig Klages
The above is quoted in David Beth’s Voudon Gnosis – first by published by the good folks at Scarlet Imprint in 2008, and soon to be given an expanded edition by the eminently respected Fulgur Publishing. It should come as no surprise to those who are aware of my leanings, or indeed have read my work either here or in Scarlet Imprint’s own Datura, that I was very curious to hear his thoughts on certain matters.
Help was at hand in the form of Diabolical Discourse – Craig Smith has done a wonderful job of tempting some very fine speakers up North to Manchester, and long may it continue!
(As a side note to my geographically challenged friends, I dwell still further up North than Manchester – something I am still getting used to as for much of my early life was spent in Cornwall, so everything is instinctively supposed to be up-country from me.)
This was originally going to be a not-quite review of David’s talk, but I found as I was making notes that, as usual, it became something far more organic and wyrd. With that in mind, I am afraid you will have to make do with things, and after all if you’re here, you are going to have to learn to enjoy that, aren’t you?
But it was much earlier even than that when most people forgot that the very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. – HOGFATHER, Terry Pratchett
The truth of the above quote is fundamental to my work – how many times have you suddenly raised your head and looked about, feeling and seeing the hollow nature of things; the bloodless paper-thin veneer that seems to spawn an unease and then a desperate hope that there must, surely be something more to life? After all, if this rote existence is all there is, then what exactly is the point of the business?
Now, leaving aside the obvious teleological fallacy that there must even be a point or a reason for anything at all, we are still left with the unsettling conviction that something is missing. When that gap raises its head, when the dim recognition of a void somewhere a little too close to comfort begins to insinuate itself into our fore-brain, we are presented with a choice. As with most choices, there is a vast roaring chaos of probable actions, but most human minds wibble a bit when presented with more than say, 3-5 options.
Often then, the choice and its plethora of possibility – its raging cornucopia of angles and roads and paths-not-taken – is subject to a reduction into two options, an either/or. Void or solid, illusion or reality, life and death – you know the sort of thing we mean. This analytic drive, the urge to reduce things to a fundamental, simplistic, ultimately causal and mechanistic world is an essential survival skill. It has enabled humanity to make a multitude of short-cuts throughout our existence as a species; saving us valuable processing power, laying down patterns and reflexes that keep an individual alive – and I here I would like to pause a moment, to allow you to consider the fact that survival is paramount and recall all those times your instincts have unconsciously saved your proverbial bacon…
Good, aren’t they, those primal instincts of yours?
Really rather efficient at keeping you alive; lungs inflating, heart beating – and let’s not forget those bacteria and enzymes, busily working away like tiny powerhouses, giving you the energy to go about your day. Nor should we forget your brainmeat, squirting those hormones and regulating the entire equilibrium of your biosystem, giving you that burst of adrenalin to get you moving, or that flood of endorphins which are precisely calibrated to hit the spot more accurately and efficiently than a dozen doses of opiates – your own personal bliss-factories and munitions plants!
It’s these same instincts, that same Spirit, which builds the world and conveniently excludes vast chunks of the universe from your conscious awareness, rendering them irrelevant to you. Because it’s easier that way, less messy and complicated to comprehend, and though that same Spirit drives you on and keeps you running, the universe is a big damn place, full of interesting and wonderful things.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Spirit is awfully good at what it does; that it’s given us the pattern recognition skills which spawned so much of culture and endeavour; that it’s tailored toward valuing comfort and contouring our experience in terms of escaping the sheer ambivalence of the cosmos at large. It’s driven us to escape the elements, to develop technology which gives us control over forces that burn in the hearts of of stars, the ability to spread a network of voice and thought over the whole planet.
It has led us to the top of the food chain, levelled the playing field, and given us the ability to give the finger to predators older and more well adapted to survival than us, or more properly, shoot those fierce creatures square between the eyes with a roar of thunder and a hammer blow of metal.
All these things it has done, and more besides; we have become things of speed and poison and hunger, hope and endless striving towards an endless paradisal abundance. Heaven stands before us as a shining city, a goal of perfection and eternal life; an image of immortality, a singular future wherein all and anything we desire is within effortless reach. Spirit, as it quickens in humanity, shall lead us on, and ever outward, escaping bondage and setting us free!
Amidst this gleaming future, amidst this glorious orgy of construction and reconfiguration, amidst the abundance and the desire made manifest, we pause. We pause and feel the gap between the dream, the hope, and the actuality. We clear our throats and look at each other with quick, sidelong glances, momentarily nervous, an instant wherein the normal flow of everyday events is disrupted.
A blip. A quirk. A momentary anomaly.
A snatch of silence that’s abruptly out of-place and your voice rises, loud and alone as all other conversations drop away and all eyes are abruptly upon you. The pattern is broken, and you can feel your blood pumping and your senses sharpen as the awkwardness rises to an almost unbearable degree…
Click. Boom. The hammer-blow, right between the eyes.
You freeze up.
Then the moment is past; empathy reasserts itself and the collective smiles, shrugs and moves on. The frozen river has been crossed, the chains unloosed and the void has been filled; the gap has been crossed and life can proceed as normal.
But for some, that gap is a door; a threshold and a focusing point; the void becomes pregnant, a vast womb which engenders a multitude of children, quickened by the very absence which unnerves so many on an atavistic level. There is a frozen realm there, as we pass through a kind of roaring Ginnungagap, a yawning void which holds echoes of the primal myth concealed within the Eddic tale of creation – the bloody slaughter of Ymir.
...in opposition to all humanistic culture we are lured ever to the brink of chaos. We want to go where we are forbidden. We want to know what has been denied to us. We want to know what has been denied to us. We seek, in a word, the ‘more’. – M. Bertiaux, The Voudon Gnostic Workbook
Ice in the blood, glittering beneath the flesh – he who men call Allfather is born of the cold and giant blood; grandson to Buri. Each cut sets the red to run, reveals the icy Soul beneath, burning cold with blue potency. The blue endless hour of the in-between, of twilight and dusk in their infinite possibility, called kosmic as it is drawn from some esoteric Northern space. Call it Avalon-Thule or Hyperborea and also in this place – COLD ALBION.
Call it as we do, allow yourselves to take a breath and observe Spirit within that moment. Consider its movements and shapes, and the way it quickens and slows, as it restricts, binds and and directs, as it dismembers and casts aside. And as the understanding flows, as blood fills veins and sets the flesh to pulse, you may wonder at what is revealed…
For as you become aware of the near infinite variety of moments which are constantly occurring in order to maintain your integrity, your perception of the base status quo, you may not immediately notice what lies beneath them, and that is fine and good, for Spirit is busy even now in its business of maintenance of your world and has always been so. Yet because of that, when the Soul’s cold glitter is revealed, when the scales fall from your inner eyes and the taste, texture and touch of the rime fills your awareness once more, you might realize how easily you could return to that fundamental place within your nature, and how nigh-on impossible it is to forget, despite and even because of the activities of Spirit.
In fact, all the activities of Spirit which render the world just-so can be seen as secret beacons into the Mystery of the Soul, shining most visibly, most unquenchably, as the shadows of the in-between. For as the shadows lengthen and twist, as the light shifts, so the business of the world reaches its place of transition and upon the threshold the Soul welcomes you home!
In the shadow lies the land of dark fecundity and fierce fury. It is that same fury that seizes poets, the wôd, the furor poeticus. Adam of Bremen once wrote:
“Wodan id est furor.” – “Wodan, which means fury.”
Is it any wonder then that the kosmic light is a deep and icy blue? That the Allfather stands as a generator of the same by definition, and through some esoteric way is fundamentally kosmic in identity; that the forms in which the Mysteries are revealed suffused with that light, silhouetting the figure of the Wanderer striding through the icy Meon, across realms utterly inhuman in nature.
The Drighten stalks the frozen lands, moving through Ghostworlds, utterly alone as he leads his band of brothers on. Drottin of Draugr so the old tales whisper, Lord of those who are the walking dead, possessed of some strange vitality. Terrifying are they, called hel-blár – blue-black as death.
Aptrgangr – literally the “after-goers” in Old Norse, or “those who walk after death”. Where their Chief walks, so do they; each is bound by to the others by an advanced esoteric re-ordering of their faculties and flesh. Where one stands, so do they all, ranged about as an army of harriers, a wellspring of inexorable, implacable strength.
So it is that these Hyperborean sorcerers, warrior-poets of furious and merciless intensity, may walk ways which none who are merely human can even penetrate, their blood cold and gaze potent with what Beth refers to in Vodoun Gnosis as Esoteric Vision.
The gaze is fixed upon the flame, until such time as the eyes are forced to close by exhaustion or over exposure. Any visions or lights are to be allowed to arise, occur, and pass. They are by-products of the human desire for light, desperate echoes captured by the retina in the face of impending darkness.[…]After the eyes reach their limit, the practitioner, is to open their eyes again and attempt to view the periphery of their vision as opposed to anything else.
Again, any appearances should be allowed to rise and pass away as before, the gaze relaxed and taking in the peripheral vision.
Similarly, with the increased sensitivity, it becomes easier to notice one’s surroundings, since one is now practised in observing peripheral vision in a relaxed and comfortable way. By utilizing the whole visual field, one is is able to perceive events slightly ahead of time when compared to normal so -called tunnel vision.
Rather than focusing on the method of line and enclosure – encapsulating an objects as a method of resolving them- one begins to perceive the in-betweeness which is far more rapidly responsive to change than objects themselves.
This relaxed mindfulness allows one to perceive far more data than before, and with practice, one may develop a level of perception which is better suited to one who dwells in the spaces which are not delineated by walls and human architecture.
Such a practice enables one to say, observe a flock of birds in flight and garner information about the world, or to walk along the streets of a city and follow the currents of emotion rippling outward. It is the wide-angled gaze of a bird, a predator and hunter.
All things are said to speak, if one knows how but to listen.
– Extract from an unpublished manuscript of mine entitled The Book of The Ravens’ Head.
The fundamental disengagement from Spirit as away of existence necessitates a recognition that perception is limited and tautological. As Spirit contours and limits in order to maintain ease via short-cuts, so we become aware that the associations and connexions we use to model the world are not based on actual accuracy or any kind of righteous order.
Rather, we are in a sense, ultimately at the mercy of our senses. Descartes’ evil genius of a demon whom God keeps from deluding us by virtue of His divinity is suddenly revealed to be an ambivalent daimon – a demiourgos (from demos “common people” and ergos “work”.) which when latinized is rendered as demiurge!
Upon this realization that we are at the mercy of the demiurge, it is natural to feel a certain kinship with the ancient Gnostics of varying traditions. However, one must take a deep breath and reconsider this in the light of all that has gone before – the notion of escape is a product of Spirit, a denialism that is insidious in nature, since it renders the future possibility of escape as the thing to be achieved at all costs.
Yet, we have already touched upon how the products of the Spirit cast shadows which are pathways to the Soul, and this is true here also. The shadow cast by the urge to transcend is the urge to embrace, to involve and immerse, to plunge deeply into the unknown which hides behind the familiar.
The demiurge is no singular daimon. Rather it is the self-maintaining product of society, an almost endless feedback loop of Spirit which engenders a Nietzschean “Spirit of the Times” which in turn powers the status quo. The demiurge is thus born of the urge towards integrity and hence enforces limitation and order.
To be clear the relation between Spirit and Soul is equatable to the relation of Nous and Psyche.
How then might we be free of the restrictions of the demiurge, our quasi-benevolent dictator who has been elevated above us by the majority who seek stability and ease? How might we become seekers after Sophia, the kosmic wisdom, lighting our way with lamps forged of will?
He who is inhabited by Eros-Dionysos is a daemon whilst he yet remains a man. Such a being sees through the shadow-body of things into the flaming night of the images. He himself is destiny; he incarnates a Gorgonic dread. The streams of earth, the storms of heaven, and the starry vaults are all within him, and his power reaches beyond the orbit of Saturn – Klages
Or, in more familiar terms:
Like Dionysus and Woden – uncanny in their fury, masters of that same inspiration – the story-teller makes war on the static ennui of reality. Enlivening and breaking apart, rearranging and reconfiguring, we speak of strange lands and stranger ways, opening eyes and hearts to possibility and vital joy. – My COLD ALBION Biography
To thusly declare war is to arrogate to oneself the authority to do so, to partake of the daimonic and exercise the sovereign aristocratic blue-blood of the kosmos within, to unify Eros with Psyche.
In Norse myth, mankind is shaped by three beings, the sons of Borr. Odin and his two brothers take trees, driftwood in fact – sodden with the sea – and impart the faculties of humanity to the same. It is telling that the axis mundi of Norse shamanic sorcery is a tree containing many worlds and three wells. This tree is known as Yggdrasil, or ‘Steed of the Terrible One.’, that is to say Odin/Woden.
(Interestingly, one of the major temples of the Voudon Gnostic tradition was named Temple of the Two Yggdrasils – a fact not lost on this author.)
Since the human body is hence, in an esoteric sense, an axis mundi directly descended from two trees imbued with the fury and wisdom of the sons of Borr, it follows that by the laws of ancestry, the blood of mankind is possessed of a direct link to that daimonic triad, grandsons to Buri who emerged from the ice. Personal esoteric investigations have suggested a great many things about Buri, but these are not yet ready for public dissemination.
It is sufficient to note that within the context of Northern Sorcery, as with Gnostic Voudon, ancestry is paramount – the alignment of oneself with one’s ancestral dead is vital as is the reconfiguration of one’s esoteric anatomy to accept the ancient wisdoms and fuse them with one’s own personality.
When that furious blood is awakened, it becomes charged with power and many subtle changes begin to occur as the esoteric anatomy of the sorcerer is altered to become a suitable home for the daimonic reality of the axis mundi. As this begins, the fierce erotic link between the kosmos and the sorcerer calls forth and enlivens many slumbering aspects of the personality, rendering a pandaimonium within the mind of the sorcerer, mirroring the variety of life and entities found on the macrocosmic Yggdrasil. It is only through Soul-faring, that is to say, journeying through the ancestral roads laid down in one’s Soul, that the individual grasps his roots.
The dead have much to teach, and there are often mighty figures waiting by the side of the road as the sorcerer walks his way – and it must be understood that the traffic between living and dead is two way. Those no longer corporeal will seek to strengthen their kin and by doing so strengthen for themselves, for ancestral power is timeless. As the one waxes, so do they all – this is the heathen way, for there is no escape; no future, only past, present and the obligations arising from them.
Thus it is that Northern sorcery is fundamentally kin to Gnostic Voudon – the awareness that merciless inexorable forces exist outside of the world of man, and that to pass beyond the limitations laid upon us by archontic forces we must be equally daimonic and merciless in our actions. By furiously partaking of our blood and all that entails, maximizing our affect, far beyond the notions of simple ease and satisfaction, we become as hungry as wolves, as fierce as eagles, as sly as serpents and as cunning and foreboding figures as ravens.
For nine nights the Father of All hanged himself upon the axis mundi. sacrificed to himself, speared and starving, deliberately defying those forces that would limit his actions. This is an act of clear esoteric significance – a submission to and identification with the kosmos, infusing himself with it and, in doing so, becoming a transmitter of that gnosis without effort.
So it is with the Northern sorcerer – able to descend to the deepest places and the highest reaches.
For there is an esoteric secret here: that the body of the sorcerer becomes the horse of Ygg – not simply a vessel, but a fusion with that Terrible One. It is often said that a master horseman and his mount are one without division, though I leave it to the reader to ponder that fact.
As we’ve already said, there are those who stalk the Ghostworlds and still darker places, by virtue of that bond – but what has not been stated is the method by which one might travel that way. In fact, it is similar in nature to the crossing through the hidden gate between Yesod and Malkuth which may take the adept to the back of the Tree of Life and the so-called qlippothic realms.
Just as the Voltiguers travel where they will, so certain kinds of Northern sorcerer may choose to plunge into the lowest of the wells upon Yggdrasil, Hvergelmir or ‘Roaring Kettle.’ This writhing mass of chaotic water bubbles and roars in a most awful way as, surrounded by hissing serpents presided over by Nidhogg – the dragon-wyrm that gnaws ceaselessly on the roots of the tree – one is pulled under and dragged through subterranean rivers that chill the bone, battered and bruised and totally out of control, until one is at last ejected, and spat out into a realm of utmost existential dread.
Thereupon, one must recall one’s true furious nature and give up any pretence at humanity, drawing on the bondage of the noose which marks one as one of those belonging to the Hangatyr. If successful, one undergoes metamorphosis which unites the alien vitality of those particular mysteries with the flesh – enabling once again a movement beyond death.
This is but one of the unique and strange movements within the apparently perennial cultus of the Furious One – a movement wherein there is no distinction between life and death by virtue of utter in-betweeness. Another is the practice of keeping a Fetich so that the sorcerer does not always have to go personally. What follows is another extract from The Book of the Ravens’ Head:
As the primary fetish, the House of the Bone Wight should already have been anointed with the blood of the sorcerer. What follows is fundamentally unique to both Wight and practitioner, however, in the case of the author, the Bone Wight came in the form of a buck deer and its skull.
From personal notes:
‘I spent some time, an hour or so, locked in silent communication with the spirit of the deer, my eyes fixed on its brow and empty sockets in flickering candlelight. I saw a beast’s life, slow and easy as a querying intellect touched mine. It was as confused as I, for how is it otherwise to one who is not a man?
And after a time, the confusion seemed to pass, and we had established some form of rapport. I conveyed my desires to the spirit, that it would travel through the worlds seeking the Old Grey Wolf, with whom I would speak. In return I should feed it, and share more of the experiences of mankind, allowing it to know such things as are unique to the human species.
Upon mention of the Wolf, I perceived an almost ancestral memory which, while at first seemed to involve the experience of deer-as-hunted – an animal atavism – it triggered in me a primordial recall of human hunting practices, seemingly in some bygone and ancient time.’
Upon meditation, the understanding arose that the distinction of hunter and hunted is not clearly distinct. The hunted is a creature of flight or speed, while the hunter must act with speed in order to catch his food – the two must partake of each other for their roles to function. Hunters are often dressed in the hides of their prey, particularly if they are human; while any hunter, regardless of species, must learn the habits of his prey.
With this in mind, we recall the ancient art of the palaeolithic period – zoomorphic figures fused with human. So it is that the blood marking on the fetish – the deer skull in the case of the author – provides a method of that partaking.
Thus after developing a relation with the spirit, one is now inextricably bonded with it due to the blood shed, much as a hunter is truly bonded with their prey.
In ceremonial magic, there is a practice known as assuming a god-form. At first glance, what is now to be done is similar in nature. However, in this practice, it must be noted that the spirit does not overshadow or possess the sorcerer. Rather it is a fusion and wakening.
‘The skull grins. This is the final expression of mirth, the ultimate primate threat. The room is dark and the candle flickers. The last echoes of the hailing of the Dwellers in the House on the Borderlands die away
The breath moves easy, turning the inner into outer, the outer into inner. The gaze blurs and things shift at the edge of vision, the thumbs tracing the blood markings of the skull over and over.
Abruptly the knife is in hand, metal kissing brow, lips and throat. The blade gleams as it passes through flame, blackening with soot, muttering the spirit’s name as the stinging teeth cut and blood flows slick. The pain is sent as a savoury spice, a new kind of feeling to draw it closer as the hand daubs the skull’s design upon flesh, and it is cold, shockingly cold against the skin.
The iron stench, the bitter taste of cold spilt blood. Visions of butchery, steaming meat upon the snow, pale bone displayed as the mouth stretches to match the rictus grin. Skin and muscle, sinew and tendon; a sliding like melted wax and the eyes shrink inside sockets suddenly deep and dark.
Ice in the marrow as shuddering fits snap to painful spasm after spasm. Breath is steaming in the cold as the head grows hollow and heavy with it all. Antlers fuse and flow across the wall, shadows crawling and twitching as they writhe into each other.
The heart pounds, like hooves, like the stamping of the dance. I am no longer alone, for we dance together, in step. They surge around the flame, drawing me inward and spiralling down. Down, and down we go, moving through the forests and across the plains as night races behind us, vainly seeking the sun as the darkness envelops, cocoons us.
What skin there is is paper-thin, the luminous blue inside my bones blazing dully as frost on a moonless night. We breathe together and all of us – the flowing beastfolk, – sense the freezing mist. Its wind whistles through bone flutes, a chilling gust that would blacken and burn flesh if we possessed any left.
And on that wind is carried the sound of myriad voices, those long fallen, drawn to us by our movements in the lands of stillness. We are made of bone and ice and our gait is high, our footfalls rapid and light…
Back then, drawn down into the cave-darkness. The skull looks us in the eye, neither beast not man. Sharp teeth and smiling patience, full of recognition – of self awareness.’
Here we can see necromantic and blood practises fusing together to create a weaving which transcends division – the sorcerer and fetish have aligned and blended their fields, a spiritual conjugation which results in a beneficial entanglement enabling increased potency – a kind of sovereign zoomorphism which allows a new form of movement with all its attendant possibilities.
“If there were a cavern in the earth so deep that the sun could never reach it, and if it were possible for a child to be born in that cavern, do you know what that child would be?”
“Almost certainly blind,” I replied; “beyond which my imagination failsme.”
“Then I will inform you, Mr. Knox. It would be a demon.” – Sax Rohmer, Batwing.
I am writing this for no reason. There is no purpose, no end goal, just an extrusion, an extension, a growth; words upwelling, evoking and recalling: I remember staring at a tree yesterday from a distance as its branches swayed in the warm summer breeze and the leaves stirred, whispering in their sussurating voices.
Imagine then, if you will, the warmth of summer on skin; the heat that seems to thicken the air and enrich it with a variety of scents excited by the sun. The smell of hair and flesh and the subtle perfumes of the worlds, all woven together; city, town and countryside all rising to meet the sky, that azure blue dome that kisses the cold velvet lips of the void.
If this were Ancient Egypt, that arched back, that slow and infinite curve, would be Nut, the goddess arched above the black land of Elder Khem; the red land of blazing heat and liquid tongue. If this were the land of pyramid and stellar river, of solar barque and Seven Gates, then my shape might be different, my voice might be different.
I might be a black-faced Pharaoh, the serpent springing from my brow; the snake all silvered gold with eyes of glittering lapis lazuli, bluer than blue and brighter than fire. Or, if that doesn’t come easy, brought to mind double quick and strong as stone…then I could come to you as a dog-faced god, dark of muzzle and white of teeth.
Kin to the wolf-lords of far distant lands I would be, with lolling, laughing tongue and lazy loping gait as I fill your mouth and slip the words of Opening behind your teeth and bury them like the bones of knowledge, hidden deep within your tongue.
Still again and yet to come, I might stand with sceptre in hand, bright as blood and red as earth, lord of storms and stranger ways, hawk’s-head kin with bright spear and roaring strength, to drive the serpent back in the night-black Nile of the Deep-Below; lend the gods my arm so that the sun might rise anew.
All of these could I be, were this that land of magic, all of these allowed by ancient pact, lit by moon, etched by the hand of curved-beak and unwinking eye. Those oh-so potent words written by a smiling ibis-head in an ink made of blood, spit and semen and drawn from between the stars – those words, these words which would bind and set you free to dream so strongly, to summon up ancient wisdoms and deep roots untouched by time!
By those dreams, rich and strange would I sit before you and smile, raise a hand and bid you welcome! By that mystery that stirs within your heart, though it may be long forgotten, I might rise from the hiding place, the secret and impregnable fortress which rests amidst the seas of wild and inexorable, unstoppable imagination.
By all these things, by the reading of these words, their evocation and conjuring within your mind, and by your very attention to the same, could a great change come upon you, might the scales fall from your eyes and you may allow yourself to see truly once more.
Would that this were that land where all these things are possible, would that I might invite you to sup with me at the source…
Alas, this is a different land, this land of summer, where I stared at a tree amidst the green. So green it was that you would forget the sand and silence of Khem, the black earth rendered fertile by the Nile. So green and pleasant that you might forget the perfumed incenses and the glyphs and the spells and the ancient temples, the hymns of praise raised to gods of old, the multitude of wonders lying there in your memory.
So soft were those whisperings of leaves, there in that yesterday. Softer than the silks and satins adorning smooth bodies in service to ancient understandings. Softer even than the suppleness of flesh, gleaming in torchlight as rites were performed to blend deity and humankind into a thing of wonder and strangeness.
Forget all these then, I beg you, though they may rise to mind as you drift to sleep, or set your mind loose while the flesh is busy. Forget them, for they are not what we are about, here and now. Here and now, we are about the green and the whisper of the wind, about the summer sun and long nights beneath a sky of endless twilight.
Here then, the words that bind and twist and shiver and set images to dance in the mind and inflame the soul; these words are carved in wood, painted on rock, breathed to life and risted by blood. Runes they are, and Mysteries too, just as the glyphs in that far southern land of sand and wonder held keys long etched in stone.
For as I stared yesterday, I saw those leaves anew. I watched them unfold, uncurl as you might uncurl your fingers, might stretch your back and circle your head to loosen the tension, ease the restriction in your muscles even now, or sometime yet.
The ease of the movement, the flow of it, like a cat sprawled on a windowsill; all lazy yawn and purring pleasure at touch and warmth and life – this I saw, this I beheld, this I knew inside myself.
Do you know, have you seen such ease all about you in times past? Or perhaps you have forgotten it. Perhaps it lies sleeping, waiting to be wakened at the proper, perfect time.
Whichever, be it sleeping, or awake and aware, nestled within, the truth of it is shown in what I saw, revealed to me in that stare, in that frozen moment of epiphany in summer’s light. For you it may be different, whoever you are, and that is right and good.
I am, after all, all I ever was. No matter which land I may have dwelt within, no matter what earth I called my home, whether that be the black or the red of Egypt, or the rocky shores and roaring spume of the Island-in-the-Sea. If I laid my head on granite or swam beneath storm-tossed lakes and walked over ground carved by glaciers countless years before, it did not, and does not matter still.
I spoke and sang, I brought forth the Mysteries, I pulled aside the curtain, rent the veil and opened the door. So as I sat before that tree, and became aware of the uncompromising beauty of each leaf, the merciless fractal relationships of growth and vitality; as it whispered to me of leaf and branch and questing root seeking the sweet waters of the Deep Below in spite of stone and pavement and works of man; as all this came upon me do you know how I felt, can you imagine how the shock of it bubbled up within me like a boiling cauldron?
Even now, as I write this, I am transported to that very threshold, to that very sense of climactic tension, the awareness rising like a wave, moving like sap within that very same tree; as each letter follows its fellow, syllables making words, making phrases, making sentences, making sense!
The words find a way, weird though it is; the trees grow, the leaves unfurl. From seed to shoot, to root and branch, stretching high and seeking low, onward wyrd shall ever flow! And by the noun and by the verb, by the plant and by the herb, by the ever lasting word…we find our road, our journey right, and so we live and wax in might!
Stronger now than ever before, the words reveal unwritten law, reveal to us the hidden shore that lies beneath the world of men. So now we see the path before us bright, merciless and unyielding in the light of dawn and dusk; the in-between, that hour most blue,when all seems strange and new.
Thus we stand as trees upon the beach, the depths of the earth at our feet and the stars within our reach, our fingertips brushing heavens, yet capable of stooping down to hells. Here we drink of freezing wells, the waters crystal clear and burning like fire, visions of your life appear; from birth to death, from womb to pyre – all are carried on desire!
For death is not the issue here, nor life at all, but that which quickens the seed and sets the tree to be tall! That which gives nourishment to ravens despite their feeding on the dead, perching there on fleshless head with unending smile; that which is the memory of mortality, the burning of the world’s fire until only black ash remains!
What is it that burns, what is it that drives; what invisible concatenation of events; what confluence of contact, what coming together of circumstances gives rise to the terrible fury of existence?
Unassuaged of purpose, unyielding and cold beyond cold, seemingly insatiable, there is within, a terror. A terror which is never still, which is ever moving, uncaring of obstacle or barrier, that seeks no goal for it is complete in and of itself.
This is stone medicine, storm medicine; smoke on the wind made of rime and frost that nurtures and preserves, recalls survival and disrupts the notion of stasis. Have you ever become aware of your own breathing and found yourself suddenly gasping for air as the rhythm ceases, as stillness occurs?
Now, in that disruption we find a truth, harsh and uncaring though it may be. Severe in its focus, the tree grows, the glacier moves and the fire burns. Would you know more of it, allow yourself to open that door, and in doing so run a risk that you will never be able to return? Or perhaps you would rather board up the the door and pretend it does not exist, wall it up and attempt to forget the howl of the wind in the night that means the wildness is unleashed, despite your attempts to convince yourself otherwise.
Maybe you will not notice the way that same wind sounds eerily like voices as it rattles your windows, or the way there is an invisible presence behind the roar and rumble of the storm; a silent voice speaking in a way that bypasses hearing and language, reaching inside you and setting you to shiver in spite of your walls and roof and sanity.
Such things are not held by locked doors, not swayed by disbelief or rationality; a million years of evolution tells you this is true, the reflexes and responses that kept your ancestors alive and surviving have no truck with such things. You recognize this, even if you are not yet fully aware of it.
It keeps you awake at night, trickles into your dreams and manifests as strangeness, sets you to loop along old paths to reinforce the urgency. You must survive, you are not safe, never safe completely.
Perhaps you might start at shadows; those times when something flickers at the corner of your eye, or a familiar shape is somehow infused with menace.
An angle, a building, a particular arrangement of lines; these can become unnerving; a cold shiver up your spine as you recall a disturbing memory, a snatch of everyday speech suddenly becomes meaningless babble, then reconstitutes itself and twists into a message from somewhere deep and dark, the buried bones gone yellow and rotten with sublimation and age.
In cities it bleeds through architecture, the hollow spaces contrast with the thrumming hive – the solid with the void, the flies on garbage in crooked alleyways that the civilized would rather ignore. The world behind the world; the world behind the wallpaper that is no world at all, no place of safety and peace.
There is a fierceness there, an awful joy which does not care for your concerns, beyond boundaries and restrictions and within them also. The walls may melt, may breathe, may give ground to your shadows, site your terrors and bring the inexorable nature of it home to you.
Can you imagine what that would be like, to have it seize you, until your fastness becomes your prison? Are you capable of entertaining such a notion, playing with it now, as if you were a child, as utterly single-minded in your play as you were back then, in defiance of apparent rationality?
Because if you are, then you are on that crooked path already. All that remains is the choice, and you are presented with that choice every day, and now that you have read, now that you have tasted and seen these words, the threshold can reveal itself, visible everywhere you look, lurking behind your sight and around every corner.
It is fine to be afraid, whether it strikes suddenly, or slowly as a nagging unease. Equally, you may find yourself exhilarated by it, your heart racing and the blood pumping as the excitement rises.
Both of these are valid ways, and whichever occurs to you, and whenever it begins, believe me when I say that what lies over that threshold is way beyond the ordinary. It is in fact – and grammar, and spell, in truth and faith – an extra-ordinary thing.
For beyond that that threshold lies the the Other world, whose denizens are Otherworldly by definition. The nourishment found there is unlike anything else, its sights are endless in permutation and possibility, its movements near endless in configuration.
Already it has reached to you, in songs and stories, old tales and patterns you did not notice because they were ancient and ubiquitous. Consider then, all those things you have heard, that slipped silently inside your mind to work with subtle influence upon your life; recall those icons and narratives which you have had passed down to you, their nature cloaked and hidden – truly occult.
As you consider them, as you brush the dust from them to peer at their faded colours anew, as you feel the heaviness and richness of their worth, you can taste their heady mix.
Embrace the intoxication then, as you wish, and feel the crooked grins spreading across inhuman faces as they welcome you across the threshold.