Resuming My Visionary Practice

Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Luna, from T...
Beham, (Hans) Sebald (1500-1550): Luna, from The seven Planets with the Signs of the Zodiac, 1539 (Bartsch 120; Pauli, Holl. 122), first state of five, trimmed just outside the platemark, generally in very good condition. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Putting Will to Word, I began the process of resuming my visionary practice last night.  Because it was Monday, and because my most recent successful journey was to the Moon in Yesod, I chose that as my destination once again.

As always, I began by visiting my Inner Temple, where I finished up some business between myself, Tsu, and ZG, regarding help they had given me at Heartland.  Then I called down night over my Inner Temple, where the sun is almost always shining.  To my surprise, constellations have begun to appear in that sky: Scorpio and Gemini, so far.  The Moon hung full in the sky above my Temple, and I flew up t meet it.

Once more, I found myself in the nine-pillared Palace of the Moon[1]  The two figures were both lucid and moving, and when I asked them to instruct me in the Mysteries of the Moon, they took me between them and filled me with the light of the Moon.  When I had been filled to bursting, they took me to the Astral mists, pointing the way to the more familiar Void, and to other “geographical” features I don’t have names for or quite know how to describe.  It was not an “initiation”, per se … but, then, I haven’t asked for one yet.  When they had finished their imparting what they would for the evening, I thanked them and departed.

Filled to the brim with Lunar power, I descended to the elemental realm of Water.  Rather than seeking out the Powers of Water, as I have before, I sat and waited for my presence to draw their attention.  Soon enough, it did.  Although I could sense them, this time I saw nothing but the vast depths of the ocean bottom.  First, I asked the Powers of Water to heal and cleanse me of the damage done by the main ritual at Heartland Pagan Festival this year; despite my best efforts, a lingering miasma has remained.  A powerful current of water washed over and through me, scouring and soothing way the lingering damage.

When that was complete, I once more asked for the Initiation of Water.  I was refused again, but more gently this time.  I asked what I needed to do to prepare myself for that initiation.  They told me to ask again while I was in the water, filling my mind with an image of Lake Onessa under the light of the moon.  I thanked them, and asked leave to depart.

Returning to the waking world, Aradia—who had been doing journeywork of her own—had instructions for me that had been imparted to her: I was to make Moon water with which I would make chamomile tea to use as a kinder, gentler flying potion than the absinthe.  I did so, blessing the water with an incantation of the Orphic Hymn to the Moon.

1 – I’ve been there since last I wrote about it, actually.  The story just wasn’t interesting enough to share: the male figure was still comatose; the female figure talked to me briefly.

Of That Which Has Been Put Off : My Full Moon Reading

Sun = 14*Gemini – Moon = 16*Sagitarius – Venus Retrograde

Aradia and I had Pasiphae and Aidan over last night for some Full Moon socializing.  The place was a little too messy for a full-on Esbat (the Battle of Mount Laundry has yet to be won), but we did spend quite a bit of time with our tarot decks.  Aidan purchased his first deck at Heartland, and Pasiphae managed to get her hands on a copy of the out-of-print Rohrig deck she had been coveting for years.  After I gave Aidan a reading, he spent the rest of the evening playing with his new deck, trying to grok the Celtic Cross and the internal logic of the cards.   Pasiphae as equally eager to break in her new toy.

I actually haven’t had anyone else do a reading for me in quite some time, so I took advantage of the opportunity.  Bought gently used, she’s still getting to know the deck and attuning it to herself.   It’s already got quite a personality: it doesn’t want to deal with piddly shit.  It told me the same as I shuffled it; it also demanded a specific question rather than a general reading.

So I asked it to talk about the direction my magical practice is taking.


The central thesis here seems to be “Good job; now get to work.”  The Moon (which was central to my monthly reading as well) and the Hanged Man tell me that there’s some important work I’ve been dodging around.

“What am I avoiding?” I ask.  “I’m hip-deep in the biggest thing I’ve ever avoided in my magical career.”  I was speaking of the planetary and ceremonial magical studies I’ve been doing, of course.  I put that shit off for fourteen-odd years.

Aradia knows me well, though.  She knows the answer.  “When was the last time you visited the Underworld?”

“I … uh … don’t know.”

And … that’s unfortunately true.  The deeper into the planetary magic I get, the more my visionary work has been left by the wayside.  I could blame that on the fact that it’s not really a part of the system I’m studying—even if it is a major component of Penczack’s High Temple, which I’ve been using as an outline for my studies—but the fact of the matter is that I’ve just run into one too many things that have scared me when I’ve visited the Underworld.

Between the unsettling demands some of my newer spirit-allies have made of me, and my seeming inability to explore new territories without incurring new alliances and their attendant obligations… Well, let’s just say that I’ve become very, very good at finding reasons not to do Down.  Smart people can be disturbingly good at lying to themselves.  And with all the Work I have been doing—planetary talismans, the Stele of Jeu, puzzling my way (oh, so slowly) through Agrippa and my newfound relationship with my Natal Genius, and even the continuation of Deb’s New Year, New You, which I have fallen so far behind on in the last month—it’s been particularly easy.

“But wait!,” you (my dear readers) ask.  “Didn’t you work your way through that already?”  Yeah, I thought that I had.  Apparently I hadn’t.  It’s that bastard Dweller at the Threshold again.

So I’m setting myself a new goal: to descend to the underworld every Sunday and/or Monday night, regardless of whether or not there’s Work I think needs to be done.  It’s time to face the Moon.

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, al...
Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, also known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HPF 2012: When Public Ritual Goes to the Bad Place

[Trigger Warning for discussion of gendered violence in a ritual context.]*

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not categorically opposed to cutting-edge ritual.  I think anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time knows that I’m willing to take magical risks … sometimes just to see what will happen.  Frankly, when done responsibly between consenting adults, I’m pretty much down with any sort of boundary-pushing you can think of.  But I don’t think many of you are going to argue with me when I say that the main public ritual at a festival is not the place to try being edgy or experimental.  That’s how people—unwitting bystanders—get hurt.

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HPF 2012: Rites of Magic

Not counting the public rituals, which are a disaster I will get to soon, I did three major rituals at Heartland Pagan Festival this year.  The last, I have already described.  The first was the creation of a Moon Talisman, taking advantage of the Lunar Election; the second was my most effective performance of the rite of the Stele of Jeu to date.

Friday morning there was a window of opportunity to create a lunar talisman.  Due to a variety of factors (idiocy on my own part chief among them) I was not able to print out a copy of Christopher Warnock’s lunar talisman to assemble and charge at the appropriate hour.  Instead, having the pdf on my phone, I transcribed the invocation into my sketch book and reproduced a crude sketch of the general figure and the characters above him.  When the hour came, I expanded upon my crude sketch from memory, using my nice fountain and brush pens.


The invocation was potent, and I felt the familiar Lunar power flow through me as I incanted.  I had to leave my ritual jewelry sitting on the talisman when I was done, because it was tingling too much for me to continue wearing it (as is my wont at ritual occasion such as the festival.

I think it turned out nicely.  One of these next days, I’m going to produce a nicer version, as well as Lunar images from the other sources Warnock quotes above.

Saturday night, after the main-ritual-gone-awry, Alopex and I went back to Camp WTF to decompress.  The sun was setting, Alopex went for a walk, and I’d been wanting to perform the Stele of Jeu since I arrived, but hadn’t quite found the right moment.  That seemed to be the right moment: Memorial Grove, Camp Gaea’s small graveyard was near the encampment, there was a trivium crossroad on the way, and the sun was setting.  I made the walk and found a stone slab of an altar in the middle of the grove.  Beside it was a fist-sized rock, ideally shaped for me to paint the Beneficial Sign upon it.

I opened with my Pentagram Rite, and made my offerings of pomegranate mead.  The wind, which had stilled for a while, rose as I incanted and just kept rising.  I really don’t know how to describe the effect of the ritual except to say that I was high, and that I stayed high for hours.  I was going to leave the stone, except that it insisted I take it with me.


The next night, while Aradia and Aurora combed my aura and I tried to let go of all the accumulated pain and bullshit I hadn’t quite managed to deal with and/or banish over the semester, shortly before I performed my overzealous blessing, I was struck by my first real insight into the Stele.

Although one source gave the rite explicitly as an exorcism, the other people I’ve talked to about it insist that there’s more to it.  And there is.  The first two thirds seem to be an exorcism or banishing of sorts—“Mighty Headless One, deliver him, NN, from the daimon which restrains him”—but the final portion suddenly identifies the magician with the Headless One he has been calling upon:

“I am the headless daimon with my sight in my feet; [I am] the mighty one [who possesses] the immortal fire; I am the truth who hates the fact that unjust deeds arc done in the world; I am the one who makes the lightning flash and the thunder roll;/ I am the one whose sweat is the heavy rain which falls upon the earth that it might be inseminated; I am the one whose mouth bums completely; I am the one who begets and destroys; / I am the Favor of the Aion; my name is a heart encircled by a serpent; come forth and follow.”

Suddenly, after months of practice, this seems to be a ritual which first hollows out the magician—blasting him free of “negative” influences and forcing his aura into the shape of a vessel—in order to make room for the Headless One to fill him.  In a very loose sense, the Stele of Jeu may be the badass great-great-great-grandparent of Drawing Down the Moon.  It is an exorcism, and simultaneously a literal invocation.  Or seems to be, anyway, at this stage in my practice.  Would anyone who has experimented with this more care to comment?

HPF 2012: All Hail Camp WTF!

For most of my career as a Heartland Pagan Festival attendee, I had camped either alone or as an attaché to a larger encampment.  I partied with the Big Damn Heroes (a now-defunct band from Oklahoma and the various friends and lovers they brought with them) and with Camp Taco (several women from St.Louis, who I would party with when I moved there in 2k6), but otherwise kept to myself.  When Aradia and I started attending together in 2k9, we continued the pattern except as a couple.

This year, as the most experienced festival attendees with the most supplies to share,  we found ourselves as the heads of an encampment.  Though Pasiphae ended up working closely with Aradia on the shopping and packing lists, she and Aidan had formally appointed us “Camp Mom” as early as Beltane.  We were also joined by Camp Taco’s Aurora, a couple of her close friends, and Alopex, and old friend of mine from the early KU Cauldron days, as well as a couple refugees from the Big Damn Heroes.  There were eight of us, officially, and three or four more “satellite” characters camped with us.  Between this (unofficial) leadership role and my work exchange arrangement—20 hours of time to helping run the festival in order to get in for free—contributed to the very different tenor this festival had for me.

The transformation from a pile of Satyr’s and Aradia’s friends into a coherent encampment of festival family was an impressive one.  Unfortunately, on account of the work exchange, I wasn’t there for several key portions of it.  The credit, if such a thing is due, must go to Aradia and her meticulous diplomacy, and to the fact that we just have really, really awesome friends.

We dubbed ourselves Camp WTF, in part an acknowledgement of our diverse backgrounds and arrangements on the one hand, and the utter disaster state the camp was in at the time we were having the discussion.  They took the Rogue Potato as our mascot, and a Blanket Fire[2] as part of our heraldry.

The symbols and rituals we developed were all Great Moments In You Had To Be There, and they were all beautiful.  I’m working on drawing up our heraldic crest and designing our flag.  I can’t wait to see the madness that will grow out of this.  Everyone in camp was family by the end of the festival.