Phil Hine posted recently.  You should read it.

Interestingly, it contained a link to a post which I had not read, but which was fascinating and fairly relevant to the possibility of gods experimenting with us.  Also: mmmm…. Baphomet.

In turn, that post linked to another which I had read before but which I try to link to whenever it comes to mind.  It also happens to be relevant to the subject of sacred sexuality.

Further Musing on Experimentation and Other Things

The other post that got me thinking over the last week wasn’t actually about experimentation… or even about the things that actually caught my eye.[*]

The first thing I want to talk about is something I had never even heard of before: Godslavery.  Now, aside from what’s in the post, I was only able to find one link from a primary source—that is, someone who actually practices it.  I have to admit that my first thought was “Oh, look: someone hasn’t deconstructed their monotheism.”  … but even the cursory research I’ve been able to do has made clear that this isn’t the Biblical “marriage” to God, or the “slavery” to Allah I’ve heard some Muslims talk about.  And while I’m finding ever more evidence to support my theory that sex-with-gods is not a new idea in mysticism, this doesn’t seem to fit into any of the patterns I’ve seen so far.

Which leads us to the question: is this something that some gods have always demanded of certain people?  Are there records?  Or … is this something new?  Do the gods, themselves, experiment?  Do they demand different things from different people out of scientiffic inquiry or (slightly more frightening to contemplate) idle curiosity? 

If you stop for a moment to recognize the mechanisms of social control implicit in the religious idea that the divine is unchanging as well as immortal … suddenly the answer to that question seems very likely to be “of course!”  This line of reasoning puts a certain spin on the reality of people’s conflicting UPGs.

Lacking sufficient information, of course, I’m not actually drawing any conclusions about anything.  But it’s interesting to think about.

The other thing that got me thinking was this:

“I also remain ambivalent and unhappy about many discussions on sex – including “Sacred Sex,” which I’m honestly not sure what people mean when they discuss. Is it sacredly charged sex? Ritualistic sex? A way of living in tune with one’s sexuality that is also in tune with one’s spirituality? Depending on the author, it could go any which way. And where is the distinction between sacred sex, and sex magick?”

Which is actually a pretty fair complaint.  I’ve probably read some of the same books, articles, and blogs, because I’ve definitely come away with the same opinion more than once.  Hell, my own limited discussions on the issue are possibly part of the problem.

Solution?  Write more, write more clearly.  For the past week I have been working on a Personal Manifesto of Sacred Sexuality.  It, obviously, won’t actually speak for anyone but myself.  But hopefully it will inspire others to speak.  And I can always revise it as I go through life.


[*] It was actually one of those posts we all have to write sometimes, where we realize we’ve totally failed to comprehend where someone else was coming from and had to apologize publicly.  There’s also a couple good links, and if you’re not reading Jack Faust already, you should be.

Of Tradition, Synthesis, and Danger

You may have noticed by now, dear readers, that I cannot keep my mouth shut when I see people talking about things I have an opinion on.  And y’all know that I have opinions on nearly every fucking thing on this mad, spinning Earth.  But that’s what blogging is, right?  An opportunity to express our opinions?  Well, that’s one thing, anyway.  Unlike some of last soapbox moments, though, this is not a direct response to anything.  People write things, I read them, and it makes me think.(*)

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a traditionalist.  I have never been invited to join a Lodge or Coven.  I had long disdained the grimoire traditions, and while I have come around on that issue in theory, the fact is (for reasons too numerous, and ultimately too obvious) that they will never be a major component of my practice.  It would be an oversimplification, but my practice could be fairly described as eclectic Wicca.

Nor am I a cutting-edge radical, disdainful of everything that has come before.  Hell, I didn’t even get into studying Chaos Magick until I started my ceremonial project.  Embarrassing as it is now, I didn’t really understand where the one ended and the other began; I just thought of Chaos as post-modern choose-your-own-adventure ceremonialism.  I know perfectly well that it’s a fucking bad idea to summon Goetic demons without the full pomp and circumstance: they’ll take that shit personally.  I know better than to mix and match traditions with no regard for the histories involved or the subtleties of difference in technique and emphasis.

My practice lies somewhere in between these two extremes.  I have pushed the Wiccan framework as far as it can go and serve my needs, and in doing so I have read about as far and wide as one can on the subject without ever being initiated.  I have moved beyond Wicca using shamanic techniques gleaned from Michael Harner, Gale Wood, Christopher Penczak, a few friends, a hand-full of workshops, and an ever-growing body of UPG—ever conscious of the deeply problematic elements of neo-shamanic practice, ranging from bad scholarship to appropriation of indigenous practices to outright “playing Indian”.  I have incorporated energy work with no parallel in any tradition I can find in print—Maya Heath’s Energies is the closest I’ve ever seen—but which a significant minority of the practitioners I’ve encountered in the world recognize as close enough to something they, too, did when they were young.  I’ve incorporated some of the Chaos techniques from my as-yet-incomplete survey—sigils in particular—and I’m working on comprehending certain portions of ceremonial arts as well—the evocation of spirits.

But, as you have already surmised, I am not content to merely reproduce the work that has been done before: I’m pushing forward in the directions that are most interesting to me, and where my native talent calls to be explored.  I’m experimenting with mask-making, and the particular sort of invocation and embodiment unique to mask-work.  Through my shamanic work, I’m engaging in congress with spirits the likes of which I have never seen addressed in anything I’ve yet read.  I’m experimenting with the use of sex, drugs, and music in my magic: this is fucking ecstatic work, folks, and sometimes I need higher octane fuel than I can (yet) get my brain to produce on its own.

RO (and all the others) is right to point out that yes, there are dangers.  When you mix traditions and tech—and I do both, for all my concerns about cultural appropriation and pissing of the various Powers That Be—things can go horribly awry.  But I’m with RO on the next step, too: do it anyway!  Magic has been a process of experimentation and syncretism for as long as people have been doing it.  Sometimes you’re going to botch.  Sometimes you’re going to piss off some people … or some spirits … or maybe even some gods.  People can be managed.  Spirits and gods can be propitiated.  Magical backlash can be healed.

Hell, some day you might even fuck up so bad that you have to step out of the game for a year.  Or three.  But you come back to it.  Trust me: you’ll fucking come back to it.

We’re hip deep in the forces of creation, y’all.  No matter what you’re told, there are no flawless systems.  Even when it looks like you’ve found one, you’re still going to have to adapt it to your own particular brain and body.  And even if you don’t, some spirit you get involved with is going to issue a geas or taboo that’ll fuck up your perfect tradition, rock your boat, and maybe even upset your whole damn world.  (Trust me on this one: if it’s happened to me once, it’s happened to me twice.)

(*) But rather than link to any of the inspirations for this musing in the text body above, I’m going to collect them here to make sure that none of this very interesting reading material gets missed.

RO has posted twice (at least) on similar subjects, and introduced me to some very interesting and important work being done in the Celtic traditions.  Jason Miller has also talked about his syncretism, personally, and recently more generally (though his snark about the issue of appropriation is grossly inappropriate).  Peter Alexander Vaughn has a couple posts that touch on the issues.

I’m sure there’s still something important that I’m missing.

NY, NY: Checking In With My Goals and Keeping My Shoulder to the Wheel

So, I set myself a number of goals to have complete by the end of the New Year, New You project—almost exactly two weeks from today.  Up until now, I have been dong a fairly good job, even if there has been some last-minute completion, but let’s check back in:

1) Finish interpreting my own natal chart.  I’ve been working on it off and on for half a year, but my ego keeps getting in the way.  [Hahah.  No.]

2) Illustrated meditation on the Element of Earth and finish my meditation on the Element of Water.  [Oh, right.  I forgot about that one.]

3) Develop an outline for the new book of shadows.  [Uh … been thinking about it.]

4) Transport this blog to wordpress.  Blogger is getting on my nerves.  I hope this won’t irritate my established readers too badly, but there are just so many technical advantages to wordpress.  I wanted to use it originally, actually, but it was broken the day I decided to register my domain.  [WIP.  Any thoughts on improving the layout while it’s in beta?]

5) Successfully achieve astral projection.  [WIP.]

6) Complete (for the purposes of my survey of ceremonial magic, though not in any larger sense) my studies of Earth/Malkuth and Moon/Yesod. [Houston, we (may) have a problem.]

With two weeks to go, I haven’t actually gotten very far on these.  Ironically, this is in part because I’ve been working at the long-term master list from which it was derived from other directions.  But only in part.

My natal chart has been derailed by having too much work to do.  As much as astrology interests me, the fact is that it’s fairly tangential to everything, and it’s disproportionately time-consuming.  Because of the degree to which I’m an amateur, I can write an A paper in the amount of time it takes me to write a D natal chart. 

As far as the elemental meditations … I’d love to pretend that I’ve been too busy, or working on other things, or … But, no.  I just fucking forgot about them.  I should get back on them if for no reason other than that they’re fun.  Also, my newly stripped-down altar needs more pretties.

The Book of Shadows thing has gotten derailed by some of the same things that have derailed my ceremonial studies as a whole.  It’s not that I’m not thinking about it; it may be that I’m thinking too much about it.  More on that in a bit.

Migrating the Dream to wordpress is one thing that’s actually seen some action.  So is astral projection, though I doubt that I’ll managed “success” at the rate I’m going, it still counts for something.  The work speaks for itself.

Finally, we come to my ceremonial studies.  By one way of counting, they have ground to a complete halt: I haven’t opened Penczak’s High Temple of Witchcraft since I wrote the review, let alone made any progress through that rubric.  On the other hand, I haven’t exactly been idle.  I’ve been pawing through Donald Michael Kraig again, dabbled in some Israel Regardie, made myself some Mercury talismans, read the Arbatel in its (surviving) entirety, and performed the rite of the Stele of Jeu the Heiroglyphist (and a few less interesting things as well).  As my ceremonial studies shift from theoretical to practical, my methods are necessarily in flux and I find myself searching for, among other things, a new rubric that isn’t hip deep in the assumption that I’ve never cast a spell before in my life (sorry Kraig) … but which doesn’t assume I already know everything, either.

Here we see a glimpse of the thing that’s hard for me: pick a thing and stick to it.  It’s a large part of what’s gone wrong with my daily practice.  I’m damn good at whipping it out and getting shit done.  I’m not so good at keeping on top of things.  This is why I take yoga classes instead of just maintaining a practice in home; after three semesters, I ought to know what I’m doing well enough to follow one of the countless routines on YouTube.  This is why I’m blogging instead of doing homework or sleeping.

In theory, of course, I could continue with the Penczak psuedo-GD structure, just adding bits and pieces to compensate for his failures.  Like, say, conjuring the planetary spirits using Kraig’s system in conjunction with Penczak’s visionary work, and/or making a Planetary Talisman like I did with Mercury.  After all, there are a lot of things about Penczak and his system that I do like.  But … I’m mad at him.  Which is absurd and immature, but there you go.  Also, I’ve absolutely run out of patience for his fluffy-bunny-bullshit, which essentially means that in order to use his shit I’ll have to re-write it from the ground up at which point I … may just be on to something.  But it’s also somewhat beside the point, because I’m this is the means, not the ends.

The ends, the actual goal, is this: to become a more competent and well-rounded witch.  To get closer to the Mysetery I can’t name, but whose call I can’t ignore.  To live well, and to die well. 

And what do I need to achieve those ends?  Work.  Every day, at least a little bit.  Keep the Sabbats; mark the Moons; struggle to do something, even a little bit, every day.

Nose to the grindstone.  Shoulder to the wheel.

Do the Work.  Let the serpent bite its tail.

On it.

Imbolc 2012 (Insert Clever Title Here)–Also Blackberry Mead

Imbolc—the Witches’ Sabbat where we huddle together in our cold, cramped apartments, relight our sacred fires, pray for the sun to come back soon and quietly acknowledge how glad we are that we’re not actually bound to the agricultural cycle anymore.  (Except for those of who are actually suffering from food shortage, but that’s a post for a social justice blog.)  Wait.  What’s that you say?  What the fuck?  It was fifty-fucking-four degrees Fahrenheit outside today.  How do you celebrate the desperate hope for the return of Spring when it feels like Beltaine outside?

Well, if you’re me, you duck off into the woods and celebrate like it is Beltaine.  Because why not?  Hooray, hooray!  Who needs to wait for the First of May?

Monday, I bottled my Imbolc mead, made from Pasiphae’s beautiful home-grown blackberries.  She gave me so many that, by the time I was done, I had somehow ended up with two gallons of mead.  I kept one and left the other with Aradia.  It turned out beautifully, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone at the local meat-up tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I can’t really share the recipe: it was too seat-of-my pants.  With the fruit-to-honey ratio I ended up with, it might be more accurately described as “blackberry wine”.  Also, I seem to have lost my notes.  If I were going to do it over again, this is how I would do it:

4 lbs honey

1 gallon ziplock of blackberries (with another waiting in the freezer)

Lavlin 1118 Champaign yeast

Yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, &C.

Start by sanitizing the must using Campden tablets or the equivalent in your primary fermentation bucket, then add the yeast.  Because of the fruit, you’ll want to let this one sit longer than usual.

When you’re ready to rack, break out the second bag of blackberries, let them thaw, and throw them into your secondary fermenter (if you’re lucky, that’s a 2-gallon carboy; if you’re me, that’s dividing them between two 1-gallon jugs), and rack the mead onto them.  Again, leave them in there a little longer than usual.  Repeat as many times as you have blackberries.

Bottle in time for the festivities.