Archive for April, 2015


All magic – all Life – is influential. It\’s simply not possible to exist in a vacuum, because any thing will affect another thing. As part of an interconnected whole, we\’re all at the mercy of the larger kosmos. So when we talk about magick and influence, that \’k\’ has an affect. Because somewhere along the line, the illusion reveals itself as not really an illusion; its context shifts and all the smoke and and mirrors undergoes a kind of alchemy and we observe real-world effects.

This post has been in the back of my head for a month or so, luxuriating in the dark of my hindbrain, waving lazily at the last post as it got itself sent out into the aether. As with many things, the reason it is being written is not because of some magical revelation but because another part of my brain seized on something someone else wrote. This time, it\’s writer Warren Ellis in his weekly email newsletter ORBITAL OPERATIONS:

[A]lso about the nature of networks and \”influencers.\” Some…are citing my Twitter follower count, which is a ridiculous metric for influence. I was an earlyish Twitter user. I have some 530K \”followers,\” but Twitter is bad at clearing out dormant accounts and spam accounts. Between that, different usage patterns, timezones and timeline churn, I\’d have to work really hard to reach fifty thousand live humans from that five hundred thousand. The follower count is a meaningless number. Engagement is the other metric — not even how many people click on a link, but what kind of conversation is happening, and with who. Here\’s a great example of actual understanding: Medium measures not hits and clicks, but how many people read to the end of a Medium post.

So if you only have three hundred followers on Twitter but you get to talk with them all the time and you share your tastes and you follow up on each others\’ recommendations? You have more actual influence on the shape of the world than some crappy fast food brand with a million followers.

And here\’s where it gets interesting, because we as humans have limits to the numbers of people we can model as people, with thoughts and desires all their own. There\’s a limit to the number of folks we can maintain stable social relationships with. Beyond that, entities get amorphously lumped together as Them, The Other Folks or whatever. Mostly popularised as Dunbar\’s Number, other research takes the 150 person mean and ups it to nearly 300, which is interesting to me because,  do you know what else is around about that size?

A military company.

Let\’s consider, for a second, that such a company is a group of primates. Let\’s also consider what I spoke of, in the last post:

 [A] thing of humanity, of shared bone and blood. Of survival and compassion in a world that shows itself as not some heaven, but instead as a forest in which there is much to nourish and strengthen us, but also much that which might disrupt our existence and perhaps even make things appear hostile.

Understand then, that when I speak of liberation, I do not speak of freedom in the absolute, but within the context of room-to-move, a territory in which we are allowed to pursue our individual Beingness.

When I speak of sovereignty, I do not speak of the tyrant; instead I speak of the proto-monarch. I speak of the one who has-the-knowing-of-how-to-Be-and-is-constantly-doing-so. The One who recognises and remembers that they are merely First-Amongst-Equals. I speak of the person who knows that a gift demands a gift.

Imagine, if you will, the proto-monarch, the one who has others agree to support them, who gathers about them household, a band of loyal warriors and retainers.  The web of influence and loyalty between them forms them into a singular unit. A cohesive group of individuals that work for the benefit of each other. Suddenly, the hand of that king, that person who knows, becomes capable of so much more. Suddenly \’I\’ becomes \’We\’, the singular becomes the multiple.

And that is when the band is made, when each member is elevated beyond themselves, while also being themselves. This multiplicity, found in bands, is precisely what exerts social and physical force. We all know that Many hands make light work, and yet we also know Too many cooks spoil the broth.

There\’s a tendency in much modern thinking, to head towards acquisitiveness which goes hand in hand with the so called \’individualism\’ of  much of the monoculture. To think that we can gather resources ourselves, without recourse to others. That we can boot-strap ourselves to any goal we choose. This is patently ridiculous, as ridiculous as someone declaring themselves monarch without support or some form of validating authority.

This also has implications in modern occultism; acquiring occult \’bling\’, collecting different \’initiations\’ and \’titles\’ as if we were in the cafeteria or playing Pokemon. If we can just acquire enough, so the narrative runs, complete enough goals, then we\’ll be happy and fulfilled. When somebody is told that no, they shouldn\’t pursue a particular path, they don\’t fulfil certain criteria, or the system is not open to them, the reaction is often outrage. Why shouldn\’t they be able to access that technology as easily as subscribing to Netflix?


Given what I and others have written on the Forest Passage of Junger, you might think I\’m contradicting myself by saying that one\’s resources are not enough to boot-strap oneself. After all, didn\’t Junger say that the Forest Passage was a banishment where;  \”[A] man declared his will to self-affirmation from his own resources.”

Except it\’s not a contradiction at all, because it is their own resources that draw others to that proto-monarch I\’ve spoken of.  Their own skills and affinities, which when honed, make them recognisable as the one who is living out their own Being. Similarly, in magic, we all have resources – as Jack said on his Tumblr:

The Gods and spirits I know had by and large ‘wanted’ to get to know had always lurked around me, waiting for me to come around, nudging me. Visions that left me speechless and feeling like I didn’t know what was going on were trying to point me towards what to pay attention to. But I was blind to their significance, and convinced of my own ‘freedom’ of movement in spiritual spaces.

We all have ancestors, we all have certain skills and affinities which, when practised will, in sometimes odd and convoluted ways, bring us to those gods, spirits, wights, and daimons which have been waiting for us to reach out, to notice them. We each have our core band, whether we notice it or not; the seed grouping of entities which, once we build relationships with, enable us to wield our influence. This is why offerings are so important, because they build that relationship – that gift demands a gift spoken of in the Havamal. It\’s not even a case of  you scratch my back and I\’ll scratch yours, but about building and maintaining relationships.

becomes We. Because it always was. Because we were never apart from each other. Our ancestors lived, and it is by their life that we also live. Every move I make, every breath I take, every word I speak or type, happens because of them.

Those exiled to the forest do not exist alone. On the contrary, they see it as a living, breathing environment of which they are part. They relearn the sights and sounds, the way to be who they are. Forced to rely on their own resources, they can no longer avoid looking at that which stares them in the face. The band, the company, which was hidden before, begins to reveal itself, and in that revelation, their influence increases, precisely because they have no alternative.

To quote Camus: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Because freedom is not something that can be taken. It is not something that can be acquired. It is something that you are. It is a principle of Being which, paradoxically, is only discovered when all ideas of freedom as that which is outside of you, are annihilated.

For this reason, the search for the next Big Thing, the  next coolest form of spiritual technology, rarely engenders any sort of depth, and often fails, precisely because it forgets the fundamental principle that you must be enough.

Stripped of all kit, all ritual paraphernalia, even all technique, only you remain.  And how did you come to be, here and now? What powers brought you into existence – what fingerprints did they leave behind. What is it that gives you breath and pulse?

Ask then – who are your Hidden Company? Who are the ones you can call on with your heart\’s-blood? Because, when you are utterly alone, they will reveal themselves. When there is only silence and darkness, wordless and primordial things awaken in your heart. Beings you never thought you knew come into your life and greet you like old friends.

becomes We. 

And you learn to trust them. Because you build relationships, and suddenly, if you\’re very lucky, you begin to realise that in some strange way, you are one of their hidden company that they  can call on, because relationships are never one way, are they?

influence (n.) \"Looklate 14c., an astrological term, \”streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men,\” from Old French influence \”emanation from the stars that acts upon one\’s character and destiny\” (13c.), also \”a flow of water,\” from Medieval Latin influentia \”a flowing in\” (also used in the astrological sense), from Latin influentem (nominative influens), present participle of influere \”to flow into,\” from in- \”into, in, on, upon\” (see in- (2)) + fluere \”to flow\” (see fluent). Meaning \”exercise of personal power by human beings\” is from mid-15c.; meaning \”exertion of unseen influence by persons\” is from 1580s (a sense already in Medieval Latin, for instance Aquinas). Under the influence \”drunk\” first attested 1866.

Slowly, over time, you become as they – because you always were, you just forgot.


Imagine then, what  having influence with that company can do? Imagine how much your reach extends, how the network grows. How, if you need something, you ask your trusted advisers and friends to do what they do, and find you someone who can do what you need?

Suddenly you\’re not the one blindly picking what looks good in the cafeteria, you\’ve got an experienced chef hand on hand who knows your dietary needs, tastes, and has a better grasp of how flavours work than you. Over time, purely by exposure, you become better at recognising what\’s good for yourself, and can become a gourmand if that is your particular wish. Or, you ask your personal chef to teach you how to cook nutritious meals   on a budget, or with whatever you have to hand.

That doesn\’t make you a master chef, mind you. Not unless you have the same level of training, which takes a specific specialist form. And not everyone has the talent for it. But that\’s OK, because your personal chef has your back.

(This is, incidentally, the logic of the guru or the surgeon or the craftsman. It\’s not about hierarchy, it\’s about skill, and ability. Your surgeon might be an arrogant shit with a god complex, but would you prefer a diffident amateur messing with your insides?)

So, if you\’re a proto-king, the one who knows? Start looking for your warband. Because they\’re there, all about you.

But first, you have to strip down. Not many are willing to do that, to acknowledge their utter restriction.

Are you?


Not all sick men are utterly wretched:
Some are blessed with sons,
Some with friends,
some with riches,
Some with worthy works.

The halt can manage a horse,
the handless a flock,
The deaf be a doughty fighter,
To be blind is better than to burn on a pyre:
There is nothing the dead can do.

It is always better to be alive,
The living can keep a cow.
Fire, I saw, warming a wealthy man,
With a cold corpse at his door.

A son is a blessing, though born late
To a father no longer alive:
Stones would seldom stand by the highway
If sons did not set them there.

He welcomes the night who has enough provisions
Short are the sails of a ship,
Dangerous the dark in autumn,
The wind may veer within five days,
And many times in a month.

The half wit does not know that gold
Makes apes of many men:
One is rich, one is poor
There is no blame in that.

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead

Fields and flocks had Fitjung\’s sons,
Who now carry begging bowls:
Wealth may vanish in the wink of an eye,
Gold is the falsest of friends.

In the fool who acquires cattle and lands,
Or wins a woman\’s love,
His wisdom wanes with his waxing pride,
He sinks from sense to conceit. – Havamal, Auden & Taylor trans.

The Havamal is not holy writ. It is not some decalogue, some list of commands. It is a poem, and must be remembered as that which would be spoken in the halls of Iceland.

Yet, as a poem, we have to understand; these words were recited to the audience by the skald, as the words of the High One, the wisest god of all. Imagine then, if you will, these words spoken in a room lit by flame, occluded by smoke, filled with the press of bodies. These words are spoken, not in a revelatory context, but rather, in a realm of cultural knowledge.

Even if it never happened that way, even if the details are wrong, recall that these words, these concepts were not spoken in isolation, but as the product of, and part of, a living breathing culture.

Imagine then, the rise and fall of the skald’s voice, the poet’s rhythm; see the heads nod – the wordless agreement, the murmur of yes, this is known. This is how it is. Through the words, the metre of the poetry, with all their kennings and allusions, truths are revealed. Deeds are highlighted, connections are recognised, made and reconfigured.

Laws are spoken in similar ways, in this place of combined Thought and Memory we inhabit now – customs enshrined by being spoken in the holy places of the Thing. Words follow words, becoming deeds which follow after each other . Laid down like threads, woven together. For if memory serves, and it always must, lest so much be forgotten – even Odin fears loss of Muninn – we find ourselves confronted by the sheer humanity of our ancestors.

Have we not all been in that place, experienced a heart’s knowing, a gut-certainty which seems to possess, in that moment, so much more potency and depth than an intellectual knowing?

Have we not known something in our bones, felt it in our water, a primal understanding which can be communicated with a glance, with a nod; a knowing which passes between people, between folk who live in each other’s world?

Understand then, what I am saying to you, although it will be long, is not a thing of intellect. It is a thing of humanity, of shared bone and blood. Of survival and compassion in a world that shows itself as not some heaven, but instead as a forest in which there is much to nourish and strengthen us, but also much that which might disrupt our existence and perhaps even make things appear hostile.

Understand then, that when I speak of liberation, I do not speak of freedom in the absolute, but within the context of room-to-move, a territory in which we are allowed to pursue our individual Beingness.

When I speak of sovereignty, I do not speak of the tyrant; instead I speak of the proto-monarch. I speak of the one who has-the-knowing-of-how-to-Be-and-is-constantly-doing-so. The One who recognises and remembers that they are merely First-Amongst-Equals. I speak of the person who knows that a gift demands a gift.

And we all have gifts – the poem says that, does it not? The crippled, the sick, the deaf – are not these mentioned above? Were they not uttered, these words in that old hall, full of smoke and shine and laughter.

Were there not nodding heads? Yes, it is  known. Yes, so it is.

Known, aye

Known by virtue of a gift of an eye. Known by a gift of pain, of blood and stolen breath, upon a windy tree. Known by nine nights of hunger and sacrifice upon the gallows. For the old meaning of ‘victim’ was sacrifice:

victim (n.) late 15c., \”living creature killed and offered as a sacrifice to a deity or supernatural power,\” from Latin victima \”person or animal killed as a sacrifice.\” Perhaps distantly connected to Old English wig \”idol,\” Gothic weihs \”holy,\” German weihen \”consecrate\” (compare Weihnachten \”Christmas\”) on notion of \”a consecrated animal.\” Sense of \”person who is hurt, tortured, or killed by another\” is recorded from 1650s; meaning \”person oppressed by some power or situation\” is from 1718. Weaker sense of \”person taken advantage of\” is recorded from 1781.  

A holy embodied creature; a functional participant in the numinous world of the Powers. A necessary bridging of the gap between thought and action. A thing of blood, breath and bone, of meat and chemicals and electric lightning crackling down nerves.

There is a form of theological engagement within certain streams of Roman Catholicism known as Liberation Theology. In this theology, it is held that the revelation of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross was for the benefit of all; that the suffering of that god was undertaken to liberate all mankind from suffering. For those who follow this theological stream, it follows that to be Christian is to follow as that god would, to do all that they can to liberate others from forms of oppression, social injustice and inequality. Furthermore, it suggests that those who suffer and are oppressed are, in some sense directly connected to that sacrificial act, that the death of that god was even more for those who suffer and are oppressed in every day life.

A gift  demands a gift. This is known.

As Heathens, we are aware of the threads of wyrd which bind us together. Yet Ygg, the Terrible One, did not sacrifice himself to another higher power. Instead, the hanged god sacrificed himself to Himself. There is none higher – he is High, Just as High and Third, as Gangleri found. He is Fetterer and Loosener.

That sacrifice, that willing  participation in the numinous flows of power and experience, even unto death and beyond, revealed the runes to Odin; gave the master of fury, the  roaring shrieker, the knowing of the secrets; the doors of which are found in sound and glyph, in the heart of language and song itself.

And it was not, unlike Christ, a gift for all. Not in the sense of intercession or redemption. The Gallows God hanged himself, for himself, not for mankind. He doubled down on his Being, tripled down even – hanged, wounded and starving.

Thrice on Thrice. for nights all Nine. This is known.


Yet, for all that, we benefit from that wisdom. We benefit from the wisdom learnt through that suffering, that most terrible ordeal. We benefit from his blinding, from his wounding, from his starving, from his thirst. We benefit from his pain, from his agony.

For without that wisdom he would not be the Being that he is. Would not be the beloved of Frigg, the student of Freyja, the blood-brother to Loki, the stealer of the mead of poetry, the witch-dancer, the eagle-headed raven-black shaman, the wandering wizard wrapped in corpse-blue whispering to his child on the pyre, protected from the coming storm by Hel’s hollow hall..

Would not be the High One who seizes the poet, and stirs the cauldron to bring the intoxication of inspiration so that the words of the High One might be written, that even this piece itself might be written nearly nine centuries later.

Would not be the Father of Victory, who sends the spear to claim all all sides in the battle as his own. For those words make clear a truth – all that will endure is the memory, the glory of the great dead.

All that will endure is the poetry and song; these meadhall moments, these rites and acts of numinous power which cast us, even now, into the closest proximity with our ancestors; into the heart knowing, the blood-gnosis of our ancestry, our history and songs.

Word followed word. Deed followed deed, from me.  This is known.

A gift demands a gift – the reciprocity is clear, for unlike the Christian tales, wherein god gave humankind the earth by divine right, we know as Heathens that our world, that fragile bounded space, that age of man with all its comforts, extends only as far as the firelight.

There are giants and monsters and trolls, thurses that make the earth shake and the sea roar, sickness and death; events which may descend and change us irrevocably. We have gods with missing eyes and hands, gods with stitched-up lips and mothers who mourn for dead sons. We know the ice can be treacherous, and that storms and cold can kill even the mightiest.

We have the stories and the tales, from times before the electric light and the certainties we certainly take for granted. We have the tales of great deeds when kings fared forth to answer ties of kinship, who entered barrows to slay monsters that would threaten their people.

We have the songs of great and terrible battles, where folk were hewn down to lie forgotten in the dust of some foreign fields, while their sons haul aloft a stone to mark their memory.

We understand then, the ties that bind; ties of blood, but more than that, ties of oath, to the mighty folk who gathered others to them. We comprehend how travellers from distant lands might settle in new soil and become as its true-born sons by weaving their wyrd with its wights.

This is known.

Or at least, it should be.

For such a knowing is very old. The knowing that the gods have arranged things so that we might thrive. That through our cleaving to these powers, we have established, by act, and oath, by piety and pact, a relationship with these powers, these wights, these gods. These Beings, whom when we encounter them, are understood by the knowing of their sheer, undeniable Presence.

And this then, is where we conceive, not of an Almighty, but a multitude of powers; the kosmos is revealed to be alive, pandaemonic, brimming over with vitality. With this knowing comes an understanding of the reasoning behind rta, maat, Puruṣārtha  – even order itself:

order (n.) early 13c., \”body of persons living under a religious discipline,\” from Old French ordre \”position, estate; rule, regulation; religious order\” (11c.), from earlier ordene, from Latin ordinem (nominative ordo) \”row, rank, series, arrangement,\” originally \”a row of threads in a loom,\” from Italic root *ord- \”to arrange, arrangement\” (source of ordiri \”to begin to weave;\” compare primordial), of unknown origin.

This weave, this tapestry, this structure, is a product of artifice. It takes work to achieve, activity and process. It does not merely happen, but just like the human body, requires constant adjustment in order to maintain the appearance of stability.

There is that which must be done, that which must be performed, in order to ensure survival. This then, is  the eternal work of the gods; even and especially their death, for only by that most terminal of functions of existence, can a new world be born. The cyclic, spiralling paths of existence, their labyrinthine twists and turns, must be explored, no matter their extremity.

This is the essence of survival, which our ancestors knew; a doomed battle which both mankind and gods must face, for death claims us all. Only Memory remains.

This is known.

The war then, is not a war. The struggle is one of survival, framed by the understanding that victory is impossible, that it is only achievable by the impossible; by the willing participation in a numinous lived experience which transcends ordinary notions of time and space.

It is in fact, a rescue mission – the gods reach out to us, we who have forgotten the proper ways and uses of Memory, we who are obsessed with real and unreal. We who crave results, and things,  who are told we are merely interchangeable, identical cogs in the machinery of existence, rejected and derided if we raise up our faces and ask: Is this all there is?

We, who in this reductionist, logocentric universe seemingly ruled by an absent or long dead Absolute, have nevertheless been drawn to the memory our many and varied gods, to here and now and the knowing which goes beyond the rational, beyond the intellectual.

Despite every dismissal, ever derisive smile, we do not believe – we know that we are experiencing something. Something that draws us to apparently long-dead tales and half forgotten gods; something that rises up from deep within our bones, whether we be gay, straight, queer, bi, trans, white, black, brown, indigenous, non-indigenous, healthy as horses, old or young, crippled or chronically ill…

On and on, so it goes, this rescue; this extraction from prison. For some it may be swift, others years in the making; For survival lies beneath it all, a primal recognition that we cannot survive alone – that we are better, as people, together, because safety is an illusion, and we are all a hair’s breadth away from suffering. That we are all part of an inextricably linked whole.


“Young and alone on a long road,
Once I lost my way:
Rich I felt when I found another;
Man rejoices in man,

A kind word need not cost much,
The price of praise can be cheap:
With half a loaf and an empty cup
I found myself a friend,”

The world is wild; the veneer of civilisation thin – and those with eyes to see can spot the primal forest, even amidst the streetlight and concrete. Earth is a giant, and our youthful adolescent arrogance will soon be crushed; by storm, fire and flood, by melting ice-caps and burning droughts. We shall have to pay attention to our ancestors and their ways sooner than we should like to think.

And even then:

Down we shall go, all of us, into the place of dissolution; into old age and pain and suffering – these are the doors to death. And those who suffer and are oppressed, who are hated and enslaved by the machinery that would squeeze out our very blood, our very blood, for counterfeit gold?

Are we not confronted with the necessities of existence? The recognition that this world which has been built, this so-called civilisation has no place for us save as interchangeable blind parts? As slaves? Cast aside, reviled when we can no longer serve, or when we disrupt the precious ‘norm’?

Do we not feel pain, do we not feel wounds of the soul, the mind, as the failed attempts at cutting us into ‘proper’ shape ache and twist us up with scar tissue?

Do we not  feel hunger and thirst, like all human beings, like the god hanging on that Tree?

And does not that ache grow more powerful, that agony swell as our blood quickens? As the pulse beats out its drum-beat, does not the agony of our own negative capability drive us to bite back a shriek?

Do we not struggle against our bonds, to little avail; feel them bite deep, and deeper still as the blood-flow surges? Our pain, our suffering, our restriction, our terrible knowing of how-things-are; yet with no excuses; we must survive, we must live, eat, drink, take shelter on this the Longest Road.

There is no escape. This is known.

The half wit does not know that gold
Makes apes of many men:
One is rich, one is poor
There is no blame in that.

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But the good name never dies
Of one who has done well

Cattle die, kindred die,
Every man is mortal:
But I know one thing that never dies,
The glory of the great dead.”

And so, those who suffer, who are with little comfort; there is no blame there, for us. No censure. It is what it is. This is known.

Has been known, for centuries, perhaps even thousands or millions of years. It is we, who have forgotten. We who, all unthinking, have lost our memory of what it is to be human.

But Memory has not lost us. The hall remains, all bright-darkness, smoke and mead; there is shining gold there, lit by the light of the blood pulse, the sheer biological necessity of existence.

Within us, within all phenomena, lies that gold which makes us not apes, but more human than human.

Here then, in a world suffused with the monolithic, the monocultural which seeks to co-opt and reduce diversity, we are confronted by the empty eye of Odin; the blazing monocular intensity of hollow bone and endless death’s head smile.

Vision reduced – an expression of the implacable esoteric wisdom, so One Eye takes the singular narrative, the binding noose which throttles the Life from existence , and bears down upon it with terrible fury and endless gravity.

Under that unblinking gaze, all is shattered and broken, all is ruptured and set free. The feral, primal understanding at the heart of humanity leaps to meet us, to rescue us at the fundamental level.

And in being rescued, we recognise the Other in ourselves; the countless multitude of ancestors who gather about us and others, who guide our arms and words. It is we then, who filled with the most primordial impulse, with Memory singing its golden mead-songs in our veins, become the stranger on the Long Road who offers the lost one  half a loaf and the drink they need to carry on on their journey.

This is the ancient duty of hospitality writ large.

hospitality (n.) late 14c., \”act of being hospitable,\” from Old French hospitalité, from Latin hospitalitem (nominative hospitalitas) \”friendliness to guests,\” from hospes (genitive hospitis) \”guest\” (see host (n.1)).

host (n.1) \”person who receives guests,\” late 13c., from Old French hoste \”guest, host, hostess, landlord\” (12c., Modern French hôte), from Latin hospitem (nominative hospes) \”guest, host,\” literally \”lord of strangers,\” from PIE *ghostis- \”stranger\” (cognates: Old Church Slavonic gosti \”guest, friend,\” gospodi \”lord, master;\” see guest). The biological sense of \”animal or plant having a parasite\” is from 1857.

Only by this primordial attitude of fierce kindness do we become human, do we allow ourselves to become sovereign, do we become re-connected to our humanity throughout space and time.

Only by allowing ourselves to receive the kosmic Stranger, do we  find ourselves once more amongst the familiar, do we find ourselves part of a community which works together for the benefit of all.

And as our ancestors knew, the leader gains strength from those who pledge themselves to them, such an interwoven web of pledge and loyalty that it brings benefit to all. The sovereign’s duty is to their land and people.

So too, with the  one who has-the-knowing-of-how-to-Be-and-is-constantly-doing-so. For while gnosis is the knowing, that same knowing radiates outward, for it changes its receiver irrevocably.

For the Wanderer, the Waytamer is the Lord of Strangers. The Strangest of the Strange. The Queerest of the Queer. Yes indeed, the most Ergi of the Ergi.

He who receives all comers, no matter which side you were on. And so it is with his teacher in the mysteries of seidr; the Lady who knows no boundary, who is Free as Free Can Be. For it’s she who gets first-pick of the battle fallen, or did you forget?

This is known.

rescue (v.) c. 1300, from stem of Old French rescorre \”protect, keep safe; free, deliver\” (Modern French recourre), from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + escourre \”to cast off, discharge,\” from Latin excutere \”to shake off, drive away,\” from ex- \”out\” (see ex-) + -cutere, combining form of quatere \”to shake\” (see quash). Related: Rescued; rescuing.

The mead ferments; the cauldron bubbles, full of blood and and honey. The blood seethes in your veins and arteries. Embrace the fury. Shake off your chains and aid your brothers and sisters in shaking theirs.

Their’s work to do, remember?

Our sentence is up.

This is known. Would you know more, or what?

I messed up and typo-ed principle instead of primitive in the previous post. It\’s since been corrected. Sorry Gordon, my bad. I do want to raise something brought up in the comments though.

And I\’m not wrong. You\’ve mistaken a suburban obsession with old timey country wisdom -and a cosplay fetishisation of taking grimoire ingredients literally- with some sort of ranking of English counties. If you want to talk about Cornwall, go nuts, but don\’t say I\’m wrong when I can point at any number of tumblogs or instagram pictures from Minnesota or wherever working to precise formulae from 250 years ago across an ocean, from a place they will never visit.

I get that, and for the most part I agree with you, but honestly I shall stick by what I said, precisely because while you are right about all those tumblogs, instagram pictures etc, the fact remains that there are people there who\’re not obsessed with those things, and it seemed to me making a blanket statement like that stuck in my craw. You\’re quite right. Cornwall is STILL a fucking shithole in many ways, which is precisely why people who are there (a small proportion, granted) were and are working, operative magical types in order to survive. What I wrote was not about defending some mythical ranking or any such thing, but precisely about that.

Perhaps I did misread it, but nevertheless, I think that differentiation between the folks who are fetishising things, and actual folk living and working and doing things on the ground needs making clearer in general discussions – in general occult discourse as a whole there is an assumption that \’Everyone is like me.\’

I\’m not saying Gordon thinks like that – his work has proven not, in my view. However, there\’s an assumption prevalent in Western occultism that everyone has the same time, money, resources etc. A kind of faux-egalitarianism which only seems to pay lip-service to the marginalised individuals who practice magic. Look at the prices of books, or academic texts. They\’re almost prohibitively expensive for folks on the edges.

What exists there then, is word of mouth based on practical experience, not some fetishised ancient lineage. That\’s the kind of stuff that spawned some of the nineteenth century crap we\’re still having to deal – mythical fertility cults for goodness sake.  As if we know what one of those is.

So, just in case it isn\’t clear, I have no beef with the general content of what was written. I did indeed say it was a good post, and that our esteemed London Correspondent was not in fact, wrong.  It\’s just that paragraph which I feel is easy to mis-take – just as it appears I did. But I\’m fairly sure my points still stand to some degree.


I was originally going to call this one Tellurian Gothick and the \’k\’ would have been important, like the \’k\’ is supposedly important in magick. Then, I realised that would make me a bit of a pretentious knob. I mean, what kind of person goes round adding extra \’k\’s to perfectly good words in order to be a special snowflake because they\’re afraid their audience will get all confused?

So, instead, I picked the road of pre-supposing the audience of this blog would be able to follow what I\’m talking about. This is probably a mistake. But, probably not as big a mistake as our beloved Antipodean Down South made in his latest post at Runesoup –  Chaos Magic: Fracking the Spirit World

Oh, it\’s a really good post and you should all read it. Particularly dwell on this little gem, if you would:

I think the time has come to unilaterally declare that any magical premise you wish to hold for all but the shortest of time periods must have consciousness as an ontological primitive.

I\’m not going to tell you what that means. It bears meditating on, that consciousness as an ontological primitive.  Because words are tricky and consciousness is trickier. It\’s quite capable of holding double, triple or n +1 meanings. The levels of information in that sentence are staggering, as are the number of paths you  can take through it. Study language long enough, and you begin to realise that it\’s perfectly possible to twist it any which way in order to influence the world. However, what people don\’t often realise is that language can also twist you up.  

So, I urge you – take that sentence and read it as many ways as you possibly can. Because everything we say also carries unsaid, unnoticed potentials; shadowy possibilities that lead us into a twilight world.

And that\’s where Gordon, gods love him, has made his mistake.

[Th]e traditional witch types don’t like to hear that toad bones and the rest of these icky ingredients are proxies for some symbolic/psychological language and that 18th century Cornwall was not an intellectual mecca of folk wisdom but a hillbilly pirate shithole (which is way better, anyway).

Them\’s fighting words my \’ansum. Because, you see, I happen to be born of that hillbilly pirate shithole. Born and bred, with traceable family going back to the 1500\’s, at which time the parish records become…scanty. And them\’s fighting words, not because Gordon is wrong – which he isn\’t by the way, because it\’s totally better to have come from that sort of place if you\’re some kind of wizard, rather than somewhere full of Enlightenment wonder. Or at least, I think so but I\’m biased.

Trust me. Go to Cornwall and pretend, even if you\’re  not, that you\’re some sort of witch or wizard. See what the place gives you. Then, tell me it\’s not its own place with its own dreams and spirits and Wyrd interface points where lights in the sky met ghosts and witches and sorcerers.

No, they\’re fighting words because. frankly, he\’s missed a trick in a post dealing with fracking the spirit world. That\’s not his fault though, because after all it\’s barely half a paragraph that\’s made me want to write this. But it\’s still a mis-take.  He\’s grasped at the language and, while it\’s been delivered effectively enough, there\’s so much further he could of gone. But he\’s busy, so why should he comb over his use of metaphors?

Why indeed. So it falls me to point out the thing that wasn\’t conveyed. See, the hillbilly pirate shithole was, up until 1998, famous for something. Something it was famous for, at least 2500 years ago. Something that was done there beyond even that, from around 2100 BC.


Dig a hole for FOUR. THOUSAND. YEARS. and you\’ll find a Cornishman at the bottom of it. Go to Australia, America, Africa, and you\’ll find people who left to mine elsewhere when the markets crashed. You\’ll find Cornish names anywhere there are long term mining operations. You may even find folk who were not born there, but studied mining there at a specialist college nonetheless.

I\’m not joking. I went up to Cumbria the other year and found Cornish Miner\’s cottages. So, you need a whole digging, get someone  from Cornwall. That\’s the way it\’s been for as long as we humans have had alphabetic script.

Now, by now I\’m sure some of you\’re wondering what this has to do with magic. So here\’s where the Gothic comes in – the Goths being a  barbarian  tribe, which perhaps most famously, sacked Rome. Gothic becomes a pejorative term in the Renaissance when applied to certain architectural styles of the mediaeval period, as opposed to the Classical styles – synonymous with \’that barbarous Northern European Shit\’.  Of course, being barbarous northern Europeans, the terminology stuck. Mediaeval spires and archways become Gothic,  and in no time at all, a form of Romantic literature springs up with its characters and events haunting Gothic arenas.

The use of the word of \’haunting\’ is deliberate here. The fusing of the fantastical and the modern can be seen in Dracula or Frankenstein. There\’s a real sense of the uncanny in the Gothic – a kind of spiritual or existential unease. In German, the equivalent is Schauerroman or \”shudder-novel\” – albeit, as Wikipedia puts it:  However, Schauerroman\’s key elements are necromancy and secret societies and it is remarkably more pessimistic than the British Gothic novel.

haunt (v.) 
early 13c., \”to practice habitually, busy oneself with, take part in,\” from Old French hanter \”to frequent, resort to, be familiar with\” (12c.), probably from Old Norse heimta \”bring home,\” from Proto-Germanic *haimat-janan, from *haimaz- (see home). Meaning \”to frequent (a place)\” is c.1300 in English. Use in reference to a spirit returning to the house where it had lived perhaps was in Proto-Germanic, but it was reinforced by Shakespeare\’s plays, and it is first recorded 1590 in \”A Midsummer Night\’s Dream.\” Related: Haunted; haunting. Middle English hauntingly meant \”frequently;\” sense of \”so as to haunt one\’s thoughts or memory\” is from 1859.

Because you see, the dead aren\’t supposed to come back. It\’s against the rules. Just like it\’s against the rules for there to be things we can\’t understand, can\’t pin down to one thing in particular, or another. As I\’m writing this, we\’re approaching the festival of the most widely known resurrection story in history – Easter. For there to be a creeping strangeness, a wyrdness in the ordinary world, well…it\’s not very civilised, is it?

I\’ve talked about our terror of incompleteness before, and also how it might allow us to perceive holiness – in The Ruins of Absence:

And with each passing year, still it conjures. In its presence, the stone possesses a power, a power which reaches out across the centuries. Human ingenuity suffused with inspiration, from an urge to mimic and create awe and glory; a massive undertaking to speak of the service of divinity.

For some, that divinity reaches out as a sense of holiness, and that is a wonderful thing because holiness presents a wholeness which you may use as a reference point – a greater pattern perhaps, or simply the notion of smooth-running nigh endless complexity; an emergent biosphere which has developed its viability ins spite of, and also due to, circumstance.

For others, the very fact that these ruins might be conceived by some kind of sapient intelligence echoes the notion that divinity is a property of both sapience and sentience. Either that fusion creates the notion of divinity, or it is suffused with it –  mankind as microcosmic avatar of the macrocosm; children of the very gods themselves.


To suggest then, that the Gothic is, as was once true, synonymous with vandal – yet another barbarian tribe – is  to suggest that which disrupts and breaks ordinary modes of experience. Whether that be ruined landscape or the uncomfortable sensation that we\’ve moved into taboo territory, where our superiority is not by any means assured, the Gothic disquiet remains. Even just looking at our words for ghosts suggests that these are apparitions, they appear and disappear in accordance with their own logic:

ghost (n.)
Old English gast \”breath; good or bad spirit, angel, demon; person, man, human being,\” in Biblical use \”soul, spirit, life,\” from Proto-Germanic *gaistaz (cognates: Old Saxon gest, Old Frisian jest, Middle Dutch gheest, Dutch geest, German Geist \”spirit, ghost\”). This is conjectured to be from a PIE root *gheis-, used in forming words involving the notions of excitement, amazement, or fear (cognates: Sanskrit hedah \”wrath;\” Avestan zaesha- \”horrible, frightful;\” Gothic usgaisjan, Old English gæstan \”to frighten\”).

Ghost is the English representative of the usual West Germanic word for \”supernatural being.\” In Christian writing in Old English it is used to render Latin spiritus (see spirit (n.)), a sense preserved in Holy Ghost. Sense of \”disembodied spirit of a dead person,\” especially imagined as wandering among the living or haunting them, is attested from late 14c. and returns the word toward its likely prehistoric sense.

Most Indo-European words for \”soul, spirit\” also double with reference to supernatural spirits. Many have a base sense of \”appearance\” (such as Greek phantasma; French spectre; Polish widmo, from Old Church Slavonic videti \”to see;\” Old English scin, Old High German giskin, originally \”appearance, apparition,\” related to Old English scinan, Old High German skinan \”to shine\”). Other concepts are in French revenant, literally \”returning\” (from the other world), Old Norse aptr-ganga, literally \”back-comer.\” Breton bugelnoz is literally \”night-child.\” Latin manes probably is a euphemism.

The sense of appearance is key. Because apparitions occur all the time. You\’re actually perceiving several hundred now. Why? Because perception is weird. This is why the perennial 1st year philosophical questions revolve around the hoary old chestnut of whether trees falling in forests when there\’s no-one about make any sound. Or what the sound of one hand clapping is.

When things appear in our perception, we think of them as \’real\’ and when they\’re not perceived by us, we just don\’t give them the same brainspace. We\’re not wired that way – and it\’s not surprising because usually what we perceive is likely to either be a threat, or to be useful in some way. So the tree falls in the forest, and yeah, it makes noise – specifically it disturbs the air and impacts on the earth and kicks off vibrations, which are then perceived by myriad perceivers. And you know, some of those perceivers may not have ears.

So the question becomes, what actually do we mean when we say \’sound\’? Because there\’s never no-one in that putative forest. But we\’re not there, are we? So of course, we say there\’s no-one there. Because we\’re arrogant, anthropocentric apes and what we mean is NO ONE LIKE US.

Nothing and no-one we recognise as \’like us\’. Which bluntly?

Is. Fucking. Naive.

Naive and probably responsible for every environmental and social screw up our species has ever made. The sound in the forest only exists as that sound, that particular shape or flavour, because we\’re there. Because we interpret it that way. So when Gordon comments about wholly imaginary friends, he\’s right. Because everything is imaginary. We\’re Image-Making, Story-Telling Machines.

And the secret that magicians know, be they Chaos Magicians or not, is that everything is made up. Even you.

Actually especially you.

And this is why you\’ll get magicians falling over themselves to say its all psychological, that it\’s all in your head. Because they, we, are smug bastards. We\’re the children of Hermes, that messenger of the gods, whose silver tongue translates information just as he pleases. We\’re the interpreters of signs and omens. We\’re ones who go to war with your nightmares, and we\’re the ones who can craft them too, because…shhh…it\’s a secret. We can kill you with a word. Eat up your insides, leave you a hollow shell. Heal the aching wound in your soul that you never knew existed.

And post-modernism says, it\’s OK, everything\’s made up. You can interpret it how you want. It\’s all psychological. And that\’s like crack to naive, arrogant, anthropocentric apes who think their interpretation is the only one that matters.

It\’s baby\’s first mindfuck. And the thing with that kind of realisation is, it\’s something that stays with you. It\’s even more insidious, because it gives you a leg up, results wise, over someone who doesn\’t know that we create what we experience via the interpretive matrix of our bodymind.

Now, I started writing this on good Friday, and it\’s now Easter Monday. What a nice three day period for a post to gestate over, eh?

You might notice, that in the comments on Gordon\’s post, he\’s basically said he didn\’t forget the mining in Cornwall, that it\’s an Easter egg. Fair enough, say I. The thing with an Easter egg is that it\’s only going to be received by those who know its there. Like a real Easter Egg, you have to find it.

A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to – Gandalf

Consider me then, the Cornishman at the bottom of Gordon\’s post then. Mining away, like my folk have done for several thousand years.


Because if there\’s something a miner will tell you, it is this: It\’s not safe down here. Not at at all. At any moment, something might give, a prop might weaken, a spark might ignite some gas that rises up. Maybe it\’s the same gas that the Oracle of Delphi used to huff. Maybe not. But there\’s deep water here, hidden pressures, to say nothing of the Knockers, those chthonic spirits and long-dead miners that beat out an eerie rhythm in the dark.

See, the Earth\’s a giant, and at any moment, that subterranean Lady might decide to swallow me. So I make my deals, leave my offerings; I cast the last of my pasty into the night and whisper a prayer, then its on we go. I can say there\’s no-one here, but that doesn\’t stop the pressure. Doesn\’t stop the  echoes, down here. And no matter how much I might tell myself it\’s just my imagination, the press of the rock around me says otherwise.

Has always said otherwise, to those down here. Down in the Deep Below, working in the dark, waiting for the shine, the gleam of light reflected back on the eye.

I live in Lancashire. I\’ve felt the Earth quake as they fracked over in Blackpool. And she doesn\’t quake here, not hardly at all. But it\’s fine to frack, because they say it\’s safe, those barons of industry, who love their paper representation of gold so very much. And thousands of years of Cornish folk laugh in my ear: Perfectly safe, my \’ansum  they whisper mockingly from blackened lungs, clotted with time, bones knocking together with their laughter. You\’m be leavin\’ soon enough. 

And of course, they are right, those old ghosts. The Unearthing occurs, and the rivers run red. That\’s just the way it is.  There\’s stones and bones down here, a hollowed out honeycomb. And those who walk above forget; right up until the thin crust cracks and the Earth yawns open to swallow cars or houses, devouring our markers of civilisation.

Tread careful, cock. There\’s a good lad.

And what happens when you can\’t leave? What happens when the way becomes hard, and you\’re sat in the middle of the wreckage of everything you thought you knew?

See, the thing is? You can\’t just extract in isolation. Oh, you can pretend you might. Just like you might pretend that the forest is silent, merely waiting for your presence. But you\’d be wrong, wouldn\’t you?

See, here is the heart of it, friends. Creation isn\’t a Roswell crash-site. That is, if I  may say, a spectacularly easily misinterpreted metaphor. Because such a metaphor implies that the Wyrd comes in from Outside. Actually, all it does is intrude on our perception. Creation isn\’t Eden, either, or not the Eden you grew up hearing about, some neatly maintained and ordered garden.

No. For while it is abundant, there is no wall. Eden is full of lions, jaguars and other things that have no interest in your human perspective. You will create the experience of being eaten, to be sure, but you will still get eaten.

Yes, as Gordon says, we have done little to nowt with the data on Western heart attack NDE\’s, and that\’s crappy. But he\’s off the mark in assuming those neolithic shamans would cry at the wastage, I reckon.  Why? Precisely because the data is about a situation that does not concern them. It concerns only those who match that type of evidence.

It\’s like suggesting the Stanford Experiment says something about humanity as a whole rather than a certain class of American college students in the 20th century.

Similarly, just as we don\’t actually know what the psychological actually is,  we have no bloody idea what \’consciousness\’ is. Just think about that for a second. We have absolutely no idea what we are, or how we fit in the larger universe.

The ethos behind chaos magic is good. It\’s practical. Find out what works, and use it. The way it goes about it though, is definitely a product of its 20th Century Western Enlightenment mindset. Ask anyone not completely immersed in that mindset, and you\’ll find that the magic they use already works well enough for them for practical purposes.  Because if it didn\’t they wouldn\’t use it. Neither would those marginalised in Western society. It wouldn\’t keep developing, shifting, fusing and syncretising if it didn\’t confer some advantages.

Which is, of course, what Gordon is saying, using deliberately provocative metaphors. Because Chaos Magic is a reaction against Western Magic\’s tendency to \’do\’ magic solely as a intellectual or spiritual exercise. Of course, this is actually reaction against certain nineteenth and twentieth century forms of ritual magic. Because, at heart, that\’s just rooted in Enlightenment snobbery, which itself can ultimately be laid at the feet of Monotheism for giving us the idea that there is an Absolute, transcendent aspect to so-called \’reality\’ which renders everyday life irrelevant.

There\’s a reductionism at the heart of modern and post-modern Western thought which says that there must be an answer that covers everything; just psychology, all made up, etc.

Anyone with any hardcore magical experience eventually needs to take off the stabilisers, throw away the training wheels and progress beyond Baby\’s First Mindfuck. Because once you leave that to one side, you begin to realise just how deeply bloody weird existence is. And that means you have to recognise the massive multiplicitous plurality involved in every single breath you take.

The world is alive, a Pandaemonic All which, when you embrace it, blows our brains to pieces and confronts us with our chronic naivety. You soon realise that you\’ll never, ever be in control. The best you can do is learn how to ride the roaring flux.

Remember the quote from Gandalf above?

Well, have an addition: A wizard always says precisely what they mean to.

Of course, what they say, can mean many things. And that, is the point.

“The right word is not the one that names the thing but the word that gives the effect of the thing.”
— Marshall McLuhan

Twilight language. Shadow-communication.

It\’s that effect which is important, and since we live in that plurality, we have to accept that words and practices may be different when we go places or enter different conditions. There is no one size fits all method of survival, of waxing and thriving well. Because magic, as with all life, is about that. Finding out what allows you to be you, more completely

Which means our metrics may be very, very  different. You might be a corporate lawyer, or a crippled bearded madman, I dunno.

And I find myself wondering, how many times will you read mine or Gordon\’s posts? How many paths will  you take – if you\’re willing to go beyond Baby\’s First Mindfuck and into the Gothic, barbarian, feral Night?

Because remember, you can\’t extract anything in isolation.

So, from the bottom of a hole filled with bones and stones…

Be seeing you.