Light in Darkness: A Long Unanswered Call

The temple space was erected in my craft room: an altar flanked by couches and sitting cusions, air thick with incense, and lit only by candles.  I stand outside over a secondary altar, lighting a bundle of sage to fumigate each participant before entering.  A line is forming behind Aradia, awaiting my attentions.

I know all these people: they trust and respect me.  I began the night by returning to the Headless Rite.  I should be at the top of my game.  I am not.  Neither the fumigation nor the anointing packs the punch that it should.

At last, everyone is in the circle.  Aradia takes charge and we cast the circle hand to hand.  She has been feeling less than herself, as well, and asks the group for healing and purification.  As she takes her position in the center of the circle, all rise and reach out to offer what aid they can.

One by one, most of us take our turn in the center.  This is not my strong suit.  Somehow, despite a couple spectacular successes, I have never devoted any real time to energetic healing.  Mostly, I try to keep the energy level in the circle high, so that our less experienced participants are not draining themselves needlessly.

At some point, I, too, take my turn in the center.  I feel everyone reach out to me, feel them brush the edges of my energetic body.  I try to let them in, to do the work that needs to be done.  I can’t.

At last, all who feel the need for purification have taken their turn in the center and it is time to move on.

I put on a drum track and don my visionary mask and we all drift into trance.  Well, they do.  I go nowhere.  I cannot even find the Void or my own Inner Temple.  I drift, aimlessly, trapped in my own head.   Finally the beat shifts, signaling the end of the track.  I take off my mask and wait for everyone to return to themselves.

Now is the time for divination.  My guests pair off quickly, trading tarot readings while I sit dazed.  There is a song stuck in my head again.  It’s been there off and on for days.  This is something that almost never happens to me, but it has happened like this once before.

I have to wait a while, and end up ignoring too many of my guests as I remain lost in my own head, but I finally get a reading from Odyssia – one of maybe a handful of witches I have met in the KC metro whose skills are on a whole ‘nother level than Aradia and Chirotus and myself.  The reading covered a lot of territory, but one thing stood out: in the wake of my experience over the last five years, I am without a worldview.  I have system of reference by which to contextualize my experiences.  I need a frame.  I need a direction in which to explore.

Looking for something concrete to give me, rather than simply affirming my laundry list of questions, Odyssia pulled a new trick from her bag: a pack of note cards she is drafting for her own oracle deck.  At last, a clear image emerges.  A name.  Melek Taus.

I laugh.

The Peacock fucking Angel.

That song, you see, has been stuck in my head before.  My senior year of college, it was there for more than a solid month before I realized what it was: an offer; an invitation; a call.  From the one Power I had never, ever considered.  I grew up in the Satanic Panic, you see.  I spent the first decade of my practice defending against accusations of Devil Worship.  And now Lucifer is reaching out to me?

And yet …

The Yezidi Peacock Angel (who may or may not be Lucifer) features prominently in modern Gnosticism.  I have been flirting with Gnostic thought for more than a year.  It’s all over my art, and half my favorite writers and thinkers have been flirting with it for years.  The alien God who made everything and walked away is hard for me to embrace, and the desire to root itself in Christian heresy is not aesthetically or ethically appealing to me.  But the Archons and the Blind Idiot God who rule over the hologram of the Empire and everything that falls under its shadow … yeah. I can see that in the world.

Melek Taus, I learned that night, also features prominently in the Feri tradition, which I have looked into on more than one occasion.  Just to make things interesting.  Because I need another source of queer art and power.  (Actually, yes, I really fucking do.)

So here we go.  Down the rabbit hole I’ve been dodging since 2014.  I wanted a direction.  Now I have it.

I’m giving in to the Luciferian Gnostic urge.  I will write my own gospel and live my own myth.

Let’s wage war against the world.  Awaken the sleepers.  Fistfight heavenly powers.  Engage in cosmological terrorism.  Set ourselves ablaze and be lights in the darkness.

I’m in it to win it.  Who’s with me?

 

 

 

SEC Final Report

At the June meeting of the Heartland Spiritual Alliance, two of my crew on the Sacred Experience Committee put their hats in for the position.  Exhausted by my work over the last two years, I was relieved to see such enthusiasm for leadership within the committee.  At the June meeting, this past Sunday, my successor was elected, and I submitted this final report.

[Satyr Magos] Final Sacred Experience Report

When I joined the Sacred Experience Committee in 2014, I was signing up to work committee head with whom I had had loud and public disagreements over the nature and ethics of public ritual.  At the end of the year, he nominated me to succeed him.  For the two years, now, that I have run the committee, and the prior year in which I worked the ritual crew under Jason Truman, I have striven to create public rituals which have participants rather than an audience and which are both magically effective and as safe as effective ritual can possibly be.    I believe, overall, that I have been successful in my goals.

In that time, I have changed the culture of the Sacred Experience Committee Ritual Crew from one where an inner circle writes rituals that they recruit others to perform to one where all of the ritual facilitators are actively involved in the design process.  In 2014/15, there were four of us on the Ritual Crew.  This year there were nine.  In the years prior to my joining, there had only been two main rituals; this year there were five.  When I took over the committee in 2015, I inherited two totes worth of costumes, ritual bling, and craft supplies; I leave the committee now with six totes and a bit of overflow.

I speak chiefly of the Ritual Crew, because the Vision Quest and Sweat Lodge both came with existing crews and leaders accustomed to operating independently.  Out of respect for their bodies of work, and in the interests of the festival and the organization, I permitted them that autonomy without question.  I wish, now, that I had more deeply involved myself in those aspects of my committee.

I am proud of the crew I have built, the work we have done, and the prestige we have restored to the public rituals at the Heartland Pagan Festival.  The two people who ran for the position today have both been with me to the beginning, and are excellent ritualists who would have been excellent leaders of this committee going forward.

Congratulations to Lorelei.  I wish her the best of luck, and hope that she finds the garden I left her well-tended.  I look forward to continuing to work with the committee, and making the Heartland Pagan Festival a magickal and ecstatic experience for our attendees.

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had over the last two years.  I am proud of the ritual arcs we executed.  I am proud of the work we have done in the community.  I am honored to have served, and look forward to continuing to work with the Sacred Experience Committee and he Heartland Spiritual Alliance in the coming years, in less demanding capacities.

I am also grateful for this opportunity to step back, to internalize the lessons I have learned in my two years of leadership, and to refocus on my art.

I Stand Against White Supremacy

I stand against white supremacy.  Full stop.

I stand against white supremacy in the Pagan community.  Full stop.

I stand against white supremacy in modern neo-Pagan witchcraft, and in reconstructionist polytheism, and in the New Age movement.  For that matter, I stand against white supremacy in academia, and in queer culture.  I stand against white supremacy in art and literature and in fantasy and science fiction and horror and every other community of which I am directly or tangentially affiliated.  On the one hand, I would hope that — however I may, at times inevitably, fail to live up to my antiracist ideals — that would be clear from my record.  On the other hand, I’ve been around the block too many times to think that it goes without saying.

This comes to mind today because it has come to my attention that an occult store in the Kansas City area has given a platform to a white supremacist author.  When the author’s political leanings and affiliations were revealed, and the store owner was asked to cancel the event, the store owner and the general community at large responded predictably: doubling down, waving the false flag of free speech, and accusing all detractors of censorship.  They say it is the author’s detractors who are the real racists, that membership in an explicitly white supremacist organization is not proof that the author, himself, is a white supremacist.

I am utterly unsurprised by any part of this.  What else does a white conjure shop owner have in common with an Asatru author?  And the deflections are fucking textbook: “They’re not really racist, just proud of who they are.”  “Giving racists a platform doesn’t make you racist.”  “Censorship!”  “Do you believe it’s possible to be racist against white people?”

Meanwhile, over on the author’s folk assembly page, he and his crew are bragging about rumors of Antifa intervention.  You know who brags about fights with Antifa?  Fascists.  Out-and-proud fascists brag about confrontations with Antifa.  Fucking Nazis.  And the KKK.  And, apparently, folkish Asatru assemblies.

Giving a white supremacist a platform does not make you one, per se, but it does make you complicit in white supremacy.  Likewise providing a platform for homophobes, transphobes, and mysoginists.  Denying them a platform is not censorship, nor is it denying them their free speech: it is the exercise of your own free speech.

So, too, is providing a platform an exercise of speech.  It is a statement: this is speech I support.  If, per chance, you offer an individual or an organization a platform on a particular subject, and it is brought to your attention after the fact that they are best known for speaking on another, then … then you have a choice.  You can either double down or make a judgment call.  Mainstream racists will attempt to convince you otherwise, but there is a difference between sticking with an author who, say, believes that our government is run by lizard people or that the pineapple and anchovies are an excellent pizza, and sticking with an author who is part of an explicitly white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, and misogynist organization.

In case you didn’t know, that’s what “folkish” Asatru is.  Don’t take my word for it: go check out their websites.  There are dog whistles everywhere, and you don’t have to dig very deep before they get really, really explicit about those views.

Stand against white supremacy.  Stand against homophobia.  Stand against transphobia.  Stand against misogyny.

Stand against them in the Pagan community.  Stand against them in the world.

Beltane 2017: Fire and Darkness

Beltane.

In the imagination, the very word conjures images of fire and dancing, of May Poles and bonfire jumpers.  I dream of a feast of lovers, come together to share our sacred joy in flesh and intimacy.  My body aches for wine, and for warm sun that the Midwestern climate might deliver or deny at any moment.  At this moment, I am denied all these things, and coffee will have to do.

I want to share images of luxuriant, lustful flesh, but my friends who would model for such images are few and all far away, and I have been too impoverished to hire professionals.  I want to announce the precise date when my novel will be available — when my first “child” will be “born” — but the last edits are going more slowly than I had hoped, drug to a crawl by conflicts in other corners of my life, to say nothing of the miasma of exhaustion and depression which has lain thick over everything for the last six weeks.  I want to be reborn in the sacred fires of Beltane, but in this moment I do not know either who I am or who I want to be.

The fire in my heart has guttered, and the embers have all but gone cold.

All that remains is the fire in my belly: hungry and wrathful, a beast with many enemies, few friends, and fewer qualms.  That beast has devoured my life before.  It stalked my childhood, baited and provoked and trained by monsters that I mistook for my friends, until I did not believe that love or friendship were things that existed outside of fiction.  It reigned over my Failed Life in Saint Louis, devouring one relationship after another.

I know what needs to be done.  I must reignite the fire in my heart.  But the fuel it burns is in short supply, and all the harder to find in the darkness.

Fuel for the other fire, by contrast, glows in the dark.  It’s practically self-igniting.

So I stumble through the darkness.  I strive to remember where I came from and where I’m going, even as such thoughts fade into shadows, themselves.

Who am I?

Who do I want to be?

How do I get there from here?

How do I find the answers before the fire in my belly devours the questions?


* Some asshole will surely read this and try to tell the “Native American story” about two wolves and which one you feed.  That asshole can fuck off and die.  First off, Billy Graham came up with that shit.  Secondly, I use the fire metaphor for a reason: once lit, a fire burns so long as there is fuel and air, and if those things exist in the environment, it need not be “fed”.  If you can look at the world and not see a fuel-rich environment for rage, then you are a fool.

Developing My Teaching Style

Last month I took my second turn teaching at HSA Spirit Circle.  My first round, in October, was a reiteration of my Spirit Conjuration workshop that I ran at Heartland last year.  This time, I tried something new: a class focusing on elemental energy and circle-casting.  The course built on my oldest work – energy manipulation of that style that everyone I know from the 1990s learned somewhere, but which I have seen mentioned in few books and really explored in only one – and then intense elemental experiences of the rituals my crew and I designed and led for HPF 2015 and ’16.  It was a really great class, and I’ll probably write about it in detail eventually — maybe after I run it a second time at HPF this coming year — but that’s not actually the interesting part to me in this moment.

The class on spirit conjuration went fairly well, and the purification ritual I did after was reasonably received (and exceptionally potent when I re-wrote it as an outdoor ritual a couple weeks later).  But there was a …. dryness to it.  I was definitely speaking from an academic place.  It was a lecture not a class, and I don’t think anyone went back out into the world more ready to conjure spirits than they were when they came in.    Which, on the one hand, makes sense: I’m an academic as much as I am anything else.  All the very best classes I’ve taken were lectures and discussions.  My hands-on training was all much more informal, and over longer periods of time.  But the Kansas City Pagan and magical communities are … not academics, by and large.  And while the particular individuals who attend any class I’m teaching are probably not the anti-intellectuals causing so many problems in the community, it does no good to talk over their heads.  Also, I was super nervous and it really showed.

The elemental energies class, however, was a different matter entirely.  Rather than teaching from a place of expertise and authority, I came from a place of nerdy enthusiasm.  Instead of giving a lecture on a subject about which I was knowledgeable – though there was a citation-heavy introduction – I ran a hands-on class where I showed a half-dozen people how to do this thing I do.

It went fucking splendidly.  We cast circles.  We conjured the elements.  We passed around orbs of magical power.    People were engaged.  Lively.  There was laughter.  No one even tried to sit out the hands-on portions.  New friends were made.  It was a struggle to kick everyone out at the end of the evening.  Aradia thinks it was one of the very best Spirit Circles we’ve done, almost if not just as good as Shauna Aura Knight’s chanting class and full moon ritual.

In the process, I (re-) learned a thing as well.

I am large and hairy.  I have a resting bitch face that borders on serial killer visage.  I have been accused (perhaps fairly) of arrogance.  I don’t send the signals Pagans want and expect.  These are facts.  Teaching from a place of authority emphasizes all of that in all the worst ways.

Teaching from a place of enthusiasm, however, seems to mitigate all of that.  Even when my enthusiasm strays into the citation-heavy academic side of things, people are less put  off by it.  As an added bonus, I seem to have more fun, as well.

For much of my life, I have prided myself on my adaptability.  When my behavior was not achieving my goals, I changed it.  Tragically, that is exponentially more difficult at 36 than it was at 16.  But this change … this change I think I can make.

Success! Now the work.

Success!  Now the work.

If you have been living in a hole or otherwise not seeing my posts across various media platforms for the last 30 days, you may not know that I had a kickstarter running, trying to raise funds through preorders to publish my novel.

That campaign was successful, and I am excited and thankful beyond words.

Forty-five people came together to support my project, and pledged a total of $2284, with an average pledge of $50.76 per backer.  Thank you all for bearing with me as I focused on promoting that rather than producing content for this blog.  Thank you doubly if you are one of the eight backers that I’ve never met in meatspace, or one of the four who know me only as a Kansas City magician and priest.

If all goes according to plan, The Mark of the Wolf, the first volume of the Book of Secrets, will be available for purchase via major online dealers by the end of May.

In the meantime, despite festival preparation heating up, I will hopefully be able to return to producing actual content for this blog.  I just taught a class on Elemental Energies that I have a lot of post-facto thoughts about.  I just did a witchcraft photoshoot with a friend of mine, and have finally secured a model release for the shoot I did back in January.  I have things I want to tell you about the upcoming festival, and all the fun you’ll have if you come.  I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Settling In and Going Big

Well, friends, it’s been a wild ride these last few weeks.  Some of it is good stuff that I’m proud to share, some of it has been a rampaging nightmare of social politics and conflicting interests about which I will never speak publically.  As for the latter, please raise a toast and pray for my strength.  Regarding the latter, however …

Firstly, I am pleased to announce the opening of my campaign, where you can support my art and bribe your way to first access to literally all my art and writing projects, including blog posts here.  Monthly support will also free me from a lot of the financial stress that’s keeping me from writing.

Secondly, I have also launched acampaign to raise funds to get my first novel, The Mark of the Wolf, in print.  The novel is done, ready to rock, but starting an LLC publishing company, securing consecutive ISBN numbers for the sequels, and actually getting printed copies is somewhat beyond my current means.  You can support me with as little or as much as you want, but $20 or more is preordering a copy of the novel in either paperback or hardcover.

And, yes, because these are the End Times, the inaugural post here at the new address is me begging for money.  But I promise you’ll get your money’s worth.  And that the blog will continue to be free, and — as an added bonus — no longer advertise anything but me.