Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Mother Nights Spiral: A Rite To Be Performed In Winter While the Sun Stands Still


A Compass Round or Ring of Art is not necessary to perform this rite. A spiral of evergreen boughs is created and should be connected, in some way, to the Underworld. At the center of this stands the Maid or Magister with a candle from which all other candles shall be lit. It can be adapted for personal use by simply lighting a candle in the center.

Invocation of the Master:

Magister steps forward and rings the bell to the north:
Master
Lord of the World Below, I invoke you
I call you to bear witness to the Art,
Come to bear witness to the praise of you merry band,
It is the Sabbath!
Now is the time of the primal Misrule!
I call you to rise here, great Devil,
I call to you as a witch,
I call to you as a sorcerer calls,
Bound by oath and blood and mark to you.
Come hither, I call in your name!

Acknowledgment of Fate

Maid says:
I come in the name of She that is All!
I stand between worlds!
I stand within the Castle the turns without motion,
Beyond the great River,
Beyond the Hedge,
In the Land of the Pale Folk!
I stand before Her throne!
I come before Holda,
She that rides upon the Goose,
And spreads snow across the Earth,
And know that I am but a strand of She.



Acknowledgment of Misrule


Summoner:
Now is the time of Misrule! Now is the end of the year! The time that reminds us, we are at in the wee hours of dawn, a time of primordial Misrule, before the birth of a new aeon! Now is the time of Chaos, a time between times, when the Sun stands still! No we are reminded of the time before times, when Chaos reigned, before the gods struck against the chaotic forces, oft called giants. Now is the time when the Lord of Misrule reigns, and know that in the past it was so! In the times before, when the Sun stood still, Misrule and Chaos ruled in the cities of men, and all was reversed, for the gates of life and death stand open at this time. The Wild Hunt rides the night skies, and spirits walk the earth! So do we honor Misrule, for we are between times, and He reminds us of the times that came before, and gives we of the shunned ways hope for the new aeon!

Treading the Spiral

Magister stands before the entrance of the Spiral:
In this time of Misrule, as the Sun stands still, we must guide those of spirit home to us, and show them the way back to the Underworld. So we gather here, before this crooked road, a Spiral which descends down and around and within, to the very depths of Hel! Within we shall find the Castle, and within, the Lady. Each shall bring forth the Need Fire from the Underworld to light the way home, for both Sun and spirit! Come forth, you who would call yourselves witch, come and bring light to the spirits that walk the cold dead Earth!

All congregants gather at the entrance to the Spiral. The Magister admits them, a few at a time to tread widdershins inward until they have reached the center. Each, in turn, will then light a candle given to them by the Mother in the center. She lights each candle and as the congregants tread outward, deosil, the will pick a spot at the edge of the Spiral to set the light down. While the Spiral is being tread, congregants on the outside may sing songs appropriate for such a rite. When all are finished the Magister enters and he followed by the Mother exit the Spiral in the same way , leaving their own candles.


The Magister Speaks:
It is done! Behold the Spiral is alight! The road home is clearly shown! Let the Sun return, and the dead with it! The time of Misrule will come to pass, and all will be as it should be.

The Maid Speaks:
Come now, and feast with us, in honor of those who have gone before, and those who now ride in the Wild Hunt, across the clear night sky!

A sacrament of wine and bread can here be performed in honor of those who ride the night skies, if it is so desire, or a plate can be set for them during a group feast, so long as the are acknowledged and given proper tribute.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Review: "Balkan Traditional Witchcraft" By Radomir Ristic

I had long been awaiting the publication of this book.  After several years of waiting for the English language edition, I am not the least bit let down by it. Not only does this book give many examples of the folk magic side of witchcraft in the Balkan's, the studies given in the book show a philosophical side to the approach that may astound any reader familiar with British Traditional Craft. That is to say, astounded, not so much in surprise, but rather by the similarities in the philosophical bent of both witch cults. This work proves that the witchcult of Europe has roots in a core tradition. Those familiar with the British witches' worship of the Horned God and Mother Goddess figures will see here that this belief stretched across Europe. In addition the author interviews, as well as photographs, old practitioners of Balkan craft. In some instances entire traditional rituals are revealed to the reader. There is also a wealth of correspondence in this book, from herblore to the lore of color and number. This book comes with the highest kudos from this author!

 

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Fetch: The True Spirit and the Meaning of Life

This is the second post in relation to the human soul complex.  This was intended to be the third chapter in aforementioned book.

The Fetch:
The True Spirit and the Meaning of Life

The fetch has been known and misunderstood under many guises that we as humans have ascribed to it. The following are just a few of our (mis)conceptions of this entity: The Holy Guardian Angel of Ceremonial Magick, The anima/us of C.G. Jung, the fylgja of Germanic lore, the personal god of Victor Anderson’s teachings, the spirit, the genius, the daemon, the double, the higher self of the new age and so on. So that I make myself clear the fetch, as I will continue to refer to it through the scope of traditional witchcraft and northern Germanic lore, is the true spirit of each person. I will go a step further into animism and state that each and every naturally occuring thing must have a fetch of sorts. The fetch is the portion of the soul complex that truly lives on after we are no more. It is what truly carries wyrd from life to life. As we have seen in the last chapter, the soul and the spirit must be different from each other, contrary to popular belief in the modern world. I also believe that many today that write on the fetch oversimplify what it truly is. The focus of much of the magical work that I have performed in my lifetime has been devoted to understanding the soul complex as it truly is, and in doing so I have come up with some similar, though sometimes decidedly different viewpoints on the functions and essences of these bodies.
The fetch is indeed the spirit, but it is just that a spirit. It is an entity separate from us, not merely our double or soul, as other works often claim. It is a spirit. We only exist because of it! The fetch is closer to the Truth of Godhead than we can ever be as human beings. It is a fragment of the “shattered” Godhead that can understand what it must do in order to restore the Godhead to wholeness. It is the guide that we must contact in order to fulfill the Great Work. It is our guardian, because it needs us to complete it’s work. It is everything to human life, indeed to life itself. In short, we need our fetch, but our fetch also needs us. Confused yet? Allow me to explain.

A Brief Look Behind the Veil of “Reality” and the Meaning of Life

As I have already discussed, when the Godhead became aware of itself, in a way, it splintered or shattered. This gave rise to creation and evolution. The fetch, as a strand of Fate, is a portion of the Godhead, and thus close to the Truth, but not quite there. This entity knows what must be done to “end existence” as we know it and restore the Godhead to It’s original state of being (The True Great Work.) Each fetch is a guide to someone or something existing upon the physical plane of existence. For every lich, a fetch. The fetch guides it’s lich through life, attempting to guide the body in a way that will bring the Godhead closer to wholeness. To accomplish this the fetch affects the physical life, thoughts and decisions of the individual as much as it can to keep it on the proper path to accomplish what it must in life. This would be what we might call fate or karma. When something must be done in life, the individual may feel compelled to take a certain action. This is essentially Fate acting through the fetch to cause the individual to fulfill their fate. So the fetch is each individuals own personal emissary of Fate. Now, in less spiritually evolved persons the fetch will affect them exactly as mentioned above through “intuition.” In a normal human being this form of “intuitive contact” is rare and typically comes only at key points in the individual’s life. However, in individuals that have evolved mentally or spiritually beyond the normal human scope the fetch may have a more direct contact with them. This contact can be established either by the fetch or the individual, as in the case of a magician.
We have mention in mythology of the fetch speaking to heroes and magicians in their dreams. Sometimes this is done to protect the individual, sometimes to give them information. We also have record of the fetch preceding the lich in order to act as a sort of scout and protector. In addition we know that certain cultures believed that the fetch would reside near and protect the lich of an individual for anywhere from thirty to forty days following death. This may be a precaution in case the individual’s fate and affairs were unresolved and the soul needed to return to the body. We might interpret this as being what people today call a “near death experience.”
Going back for a moment we might ask, “How does the fetch know what must be done in the life of the individuals that it guides?” The answer is this, the fetch acts as a repository for all the combined fate, both hamingja and orlog, that is gathered throughout the lives that it has “reincarnated” in. This is how fate or “karma,” as many feel the need to call it in the occult today, moves from life to life. We have all heard of the idea that what one does in life comes back to them “in this life or the next.” This is the actual way that this phenomenon works. The fetch must resolve all of the fate that becomes attached to it so that it might return, fully, to the Godhead and let Fate be whole again. We now understand the meaning of life which many have wasted their lives attempting to discover, thinking it to be a more complicated conundrum. The meaning of life is just what is described above. The Godhead is not whole and must be whole again. Fetches are the workers that must see this task is accomplished. The fetch cannot resolve fate on it’s own, it is only spirit, it requires an entire “soul complex” to do it’s work. This is the reason that we exist. Midgard, or the physical plane of existence that we might call “reality” is the game board where fate is played out until the end of time. We are the game pieces, moved by fate through the fetch. In this way we help to shape the future of the universe by our “decisions.” Each action that is taken in life either resolves or creates fate/karma/destiny.

The Three Faces of the Fetch

The fetch has three aspects normally associated with it in traditional lore. These three aspects have different ways of interacting with the human sorcerer or magician that attempts to speak with them. Each appears in a different way and has different “uses” within the magician’s practice. I shall describe the three faces of the fetch and their basic functions below.

The Fetch Beast

Perhaps the most common aspect of the fetch is that of the fetch beast. This is the theriomorphic version of the fetch that might appear to the individual in the form of an animal. This animal may be one that the individual has always had an affinity for, this is sometimes the case for the magical practitioner. Other times the fetch of an individual appears in an unexpected form. Regardless of if the form is expected or not, the fetch’s animal form will be one symbolic of the life and fate of the individual that it is attached to. In fact we have classic examples of the fetch in the form of animals both real and imagined. Some examples of known classical fetches are wolves, owls, eagles, lions, dragons, crows and lynx. This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. I have seen confusion when it comes to this aspect of the being, as some seem to believe that the fetch beast is the witch in “flight” in the form of an animal. As anyone can tell from my previous description, this is far from the truth. This form of the fetch is that which most experience in otherworldly journeying and has given rise to the idea of an animal spirit guide. It may be noted that this is the portion of the fetch which is often seen as going forth before the individual as a protective guide. There is evidence of this in The Saga of Thorstein with the Cow’s Foot. In this tale Thorstein, while still a child goes to the house of his true family and trips as he enters a room. His grandfather happens to be in this room and tells him that he observed the child tripping over a white bear. We may do well to observe this shamanic view of the familiar as an animal spirit guide and note that this would seem to be the origination of the idea of the animal familiar. The god, Odin, was said to have had two such followers, his ravens, Huginn and Muninn (thought and memory, this should give pause to reexamine certain passages from the previous chapter.) Similarly, it was said that Aristeus of Prokennessos would send his spirit from his body in the form of a crow that would exit via his mouth when he would enter an ecstatic trance. The Finns have other such accounts that state that the henki may leave the body of a sleeper, via the mouth, in the form of a small beast, such as an insect or bird.
This portion of the fetch has, in certain cultures, been seen to dwell within the body of the practitioner released in animal form after death. This was true in Egypt where the spirit was seen as a bird which stayed with the body for a certain period of time. We also have evidences in Italian witchcraft of the spirit leaving the body of the individual through the mouth in the form of a red mouse, which has similarities to the story of Aristeus. This is interesting as the Carelians call this aspect of spirit the elohiiri or “vital mouse.” It might be noted that occasionally this form of the fetch would then attach itself to another individual, perhaps to transfer the power and fate of the previous witch into the body of another.

The Fetch Wyf

The second major image of the fetch is that of the “fetch wyf” or “fairy wyf.” This would be a husband in most cases where the fetches of women are concerned. Traditionally this aspect of the fetch is seen to be a contra-sexual spirit of the person whom it guides. In fact the word fylgja literally translates as “the female follower.” In mythology we even have reference to this aspect of the entity coming in contact with the heroes of the tales. In some tales this aspect of the fetch is seen as being passed on, or attached to a family line, if the fetch has a great deal of fate in the form of hamingja attached to a bloodline. This is the truth about the idea of a family Bean Sidhe (banshee.) This can be clearly seen in the medieval tale of Melusina. The tale is a follows:

Raymond, adopted son of Emmerick the Count of Poitou, went out hunting boar with his adopted father and retinue in the forest of Colombiers. Emmerick and Raymond road ahead of the servants and failed to kill the boar. They found themselves alone in this wilderness with night fast approaching, and being lost lit a fire to wait until morning to find their way home. Without warning the great boar plunged out of the wood and attacked the Count. Raymond drew his sword, but his first blow glanced off of the boars hide and struck Emmerick. The second blow struck home and the boar lay dead. Unfortunately Emmerick’s wound had also been fatal and both beast and count lay beside one another. In utter despair and temporary madness Raymond mounted his horse and fled the scene, not knowing where he was going.
Eventually the wood thinned and both horse and rider plunged through the brush to find themselves in a moonlit glade. Mist flowed up from a natural fountain with a stream that murmured over a pebbly bed. Near the fountain sat three beautiful golden haired women in glimmering white dresses. At first Raymond mistook the women for angels and was prepared to kneel in their presence when one of the women approached him. This woman inquired as to why Raymond was so distressed, to which he recounted the dreadful tale of the evenings events. The woman told him that all he must do to avoid suspicion in the truly accidental death of the Count would be to return to the castle, as all of the other hunters have done. She assured him that the fault of the count’s death would fall on the boar, and not Raymond.
Raymond believed her instantly but desiring her for her beauty found ways to prolong conversations with her until the break of dawn. Before dawn she told him that her name was Melusina and promised to be his betrothed, on the condition that she would spend Saturday’s in seclusion and that he would never venture to disturb her on that day, lest they be parted. Melusina then told Raymond that, in truth, she was a powerful water-fay and also possessed great wealth. She then asked that he request of his foster brother, Bertram, who would now be Count, a piece of land about the fountain that could be covered by a buckskin. He consented to this and did so straight away, upon returning to the castle.
Bertram granted his foster brother’s wish, but was a bit agitated when Raymond used his cunning and cut the buckskin into threadlike strands from which he was able to make the skin cover a piece of land. Melusina used her magical gifts and created a magnificent palace in the spot that was decided upon.
Soon after the two were wed in the palace. On their wedding night
Melusina again implored her husband to not disturb her on her personal day.
Raymond, again, readily agreed to this. Melusina expanded the
borders of the palace until there were none so grand as could compare to it.
She named this glorious castle Lusinia, after herself.
In due time the Lady Melusina bore many sons to Raymond. All of these children were disfigured in some way. Two of these children were Geoffrey with the Tooth, whom had a boars tusk protruding from his jaw, and Freimund, who was very pious and entered into a monastic life. Most of the other children grew to become warriors and heroes.
Years came to pass but Raymond’s love for Melusina stayed as strong as the first night that they had met. The fortune that had come to Raymond from Melusina spread to his real brothers and true father, the Count de la Foret. The Count spent the last few years of his life living with his son
and daughter in law.
One Saturday night at dinner the Count enquired as to where the Lady went every Sabbath eve. Raymond said only that she was unavailable on Saturdays. One of Raymonds brothers then informed him that there was gossip to the effect that he should inquire as to the true nature of Melusina’s weekly retreats, if only to settle the wandering minds of the people. Raymond grew anxious at this news and rushed to Melusina’s chambers. All were empty save for a bath chamber which was locked. Raymond peered through the keyhole and saw his wife submerged in water, her legs replaced by a white and glimmering fishes tail. He immediately withdrew and never spoke a word of what he had done, for fear of losing his wife.
One fateful day a rider bore news to the Castle that Geoffrey with the Tooth had attacked the monastery of Malliers, where his brother Freimund lived, and burned it to the ground killing one hundred monks and his own brother. Raymond was beside himself. Melusina attempted to comfort her husband, but he was so distraught that upon approaching him he exclaimed, “Away ye serpent who hath contaminated my most honorable lineage!”
This gave him away and Melusina fainted. When she awoke she tearfully embraced her husband for the last time and asked that he care for the two young babes that she would be leaving in the cradle. She proceeded to tell him that though he would never see her again, she would be seen by all of his successors, hovering over the castle, whenever a new lord would come. With that she gave a long wail and swept out the window. It was later said that her form could be seen hovering above the castle each time a lord of the line would die.

We can see several telling points in the above tale which make it easy to translate as a tale of the fetch wyf. First and foremost, Raymond first sees Melusina at a fountain in the wild while in a state of distress. We can see that the state he is in at this time could send him into a trance state that he might not normally enter. The fountain that he discovers is possibly an entry point or gate to the underworld. It must be noted that waterways are traditionally seen as passages for spirits. When he meets her she automatically knows that he will not be blamed for the accidental death of the count, and that his foster brother will grant him the land that he asks for. This would be strange if she were not his fetch and already aware of Raymond’s fate. Melusina then lays down rules that Raymond must follow if they are to be “wed.” This is of course symbolic of the Sacred Marriage or Hieros Gamos, so often discussed in the occult, a topic that I have already touched upon. This is the true Sacred Marriage, the binding of the soul of the man and his fetch. It should be mentioned that such unions between a fey creature and a human being are common in folklore, and I believe them to be symbolic representations of the Sacred Marriage.
It would do well to understand that this story teaches us to listen to the advice that our fetch gives to us for living our lives. After the marriage Raymond lives quite happily, bringing wealth and comfort to his entire family. This, of course, is symbolic of being on the correct path in life and following one’s fate, never resisting what must be. When one’s fate is followed, all that one truly needs (indeed all that is intended for the individual) shall come. When Raymond goes against the wishes of his fetch, he attempts (unwittingly) to defy his fate. This brings about Melusina’s leaving and he is heartbroken. This is Raymond losing all that made him happy and content for moving against what has been laid down for him. Melusina returns to the shadows, never to present herself to Raymond again. In this way he has also been denied the realization of his fate. In the end Melusina seems to become the form of fetch that is attached to an entire familial line. This, I believe, is due to Raymond’s refusal to adhere to the advice he was given. This fate attached to his entire family (hamingja,) and so the fetch responsible for Raymond’s life attached to his decedents as well.
We can now see that this humanized aspect of the fetch is there so that we as human beings can identify with it in order to commune with it and, eventually, perform a true Hieros Gamos and wed our souls and spirits together. This is the true work of any witch, magician, sorcerer or occultist. In future chapters I shall provide methods by which this work can be accomplished.

The Fetch God

The “fetch god” as I refer to it, is the third face of our fetch. It is by far the least relatable side to the human being. Oddly enough, when this aspect appears it is in the form of a geometric shape. This would give more credence to the theory that since there is not such thing in the (physical) universe as a perfect sphere then god (Godhead complete) is the only perfect sphere. Other spirits, such is this divine face of our own fetch, may appear as geometric shapes, but only Godhead can be a perfect sphere, for in it’s complete form it is the only perfect thing in creation. This is the face that acts as a direct repository of fate, and is closest to the godhead. It can sometimes be seen by those who possess “the sight” as a shape emerging or going out from the individual’s body, as if a protective shield. As the portion of the fetch closest in relation to godhead, it is the most difficult aspect for us, as humans, to deal with. Thus we tend to work more closely with the fetch beast and fetch wyf.

The True Familiar

It should now be noted that the fetch is the true familiar. This is not to say that other familiars cannot be acquired by the practitioner, (in fact I shall deal with this subject later in the book) but that the fetch is our true familiar. As I had stated earlier, the fetch can be asked to perform tasks that we ourselves cannot accomplish. I am of the belief that tales of witches at the Sabbath receiving their familiar’s from the Devil is a code. This, I believe, is meant to be interpreted as the witch being taught how to commune with the fetch, either by the coven’s magister, or by the Master himself while in trance. There are an abundance of tales of the Devil bestowing a familiar upon the witch. In these tales, and in the old “witch hunting” manuals, there were strange hybrid creatures that would appear as familiars, giving testimony to the fact that not all fetches fashioned themselves after real animals. One example of this was in the testimony of the witch Jane Wallis. Wallis claimed that the Devil had granted her two familiars, Grissell and Greedigut, whom came to her in the form of dogs with the bristles of hogs upon their backs. In the instance of Bessie Dunlop she was granted a familiar whom she called “Tom Reid” who appeared in the form of a contra-sexual human being. In the case of Isobel Gowdie, she named the familiars of her entire coven and all seemed to resemble contra-sexual fairies. There exists an old woodcut from 1579 that depicts a familiar in the form of a hedgehog/owl hybrid.
It was said that a witch had to “feed” the familiar as we know that fulfilling fate does. This, however, was taken literally and it was said that a witch would have a teat or mark upon their body that the familiar might suckle. This mark was said to have no feeling in it and the belief led the “witch finders” and interrogators to prod and prick the bodies of supposed witches to attempt to discover the mark. I believe this to be symbolic as well, or misunderstood. I believe that this is a reference to the “witches mark,” or “Mark of Cain” which demonstrates that one is destined to work with the spirit world. This would lead me to believe that those with the “mark” would be destined to seek spiritual council and in turn work directly with the fetch. Below I include several old woodcuts depicting witches’ familiars.



Illustration from The Wonderful Discovery of the Witchcrafts of Margaret and Phillipa Flower, daughters of Joan Flower neere Bever Castle: executed at Lincolne, March 11th 1618. J Barnes. 1619.
Illustration features all three sisters and their familiars.


The above mentioned hedgehog/owl looking hybrid familiar taken from A Rehearsal both strange and true, of heinous and horrible acts committed by Elizabeth Stile, Alice Rockingham, Mother Dutton, Mother Devell, notorious Witches, apprehended at Windsor in the County of Berks, 1579


A witch feeds her familiars, from a woodcut made in 1579



Three witches ride upon a pig-like familiar to visit an ill friend. Taken from The Witches of Northamptonshire, 1612





A practitioner rides upon the back of a goat, presumably a familiar, woodcut from 1626



A witch sends a familiar to take revenge on a neighbor, from A Rehersal both strange and true, of heinous and horrible acts committed by Elizabeth Stile, Alice Rockingham, Mother Dutton, Mother Devell, notorious witches, apprehended at Windsor in the County of Berks, 1579



A famous woodcut depicting Matthew Hopkins, “Witch Finder Generall” interrogating witches. Taken from,Select cases of conscience touching witches, 1646. In this scene we can see hybrid creatures, real animals and strange mutations. Note the bull/greyhound hybrid, called “Vinegar Tom,” and the spaniel that has no legs. We also get a plethora of the names of these familiars.


The Devil bestows a familiar upon a witch, woodcut 1720

In these woodcuts we can see examples of the practitioner with hybrid forms of the familiar, which in the fetch can be seen as the individual needing multiple aspects of the symbolism embodied by all of the animals in the hybrid. We have an image of a practitioner feeding familiars which we can interpret as the fulfilment of hamingja and orlog sustaining the fetch through the athem. In addition, in the case of multiple familiars (that is familiars which are summoned or created) the practitioner is supposed to have fed them with offerings. I will discuss this more in depth later, for now we are concerned with the fetch. Next we come to our view of three witches riding upon a familiar in the guise of a pig and the image of one witch upon a goat. Throughout the witch trials witches were seen as riding to the Sabbath on besoms, stangs and animals, most often goats. This can be viewed through the scope of sending forth the our hyde to attend the Sabbath, or make any other form of otherworldly journey. This can seen as being accomplished in one of two ways, whichever is true is not of consequence, only the result matters. The first way that is that the practitioner actually ventures forth embodied in the hyde, in this case, aware of the incident or not, the practitioner would be guided by or “riding” the fetch into realms of spirit, as a “vehicle” which can access spiritual dimensions would be necessary. The second theory as to how this would be possible would be that the practitioner would remain within the body, but have the experiences of the otherworld by experiencing what the fetch experiences while there. Both of these theories are, of course, assuming that these experiences are more than just psychological ones and are in fact “true” mystical experiences.
We also see here a witch sending forth a familiar to attack a neighbor. This idea is backed up in some of the old lore wherein we find a tale about a woman and her familiar who comes to her in the form of “a yellow dun cat.” The had first presented itself to her by the fire one evening that she was fretting over having fallen out with a neighbor, and wished vengeance for whatever wrong he had done to her (the tale is vague on this point.) This cat listened to the woman’s story and told her that he would serve her, as he had previously served a woman in Kent. He said that her neighbor had misused her and that he (the cat) would torment him. She sent this cat who then killed three of the mans pigs and one cow (it might be noted that this particular attack seems to have similarities to earlier accounts of attacks by elves and fairies.) The man, who apparently knew how to rid himself of such nuisances, burnt a pig alive and the cat could no longer torment his livestock. The cat was then sent and returned stating that he had given the man “that which he would never recover” and shortly thereafter the man passed away. It is still believed, in certain circles, that the fetch can be sent to do harm by attacking the fetch, or other spirit bodies of another individual.
In the illustration of Matthew Hopkins I have drawn attention to the familiar, Jarmara, which appeared as a legless dog, but crawled on it’s belly like a serpent. This, may well be a serpent/spaniel hybrid familiar. The purpose of such a hybrid escapes this author, though in this case the creature may be more fancy than true spirit. The second that I have drawn attention to is a bit more intriguing, however. Vinegar Tom, the ox/greyhound familiar, is a bit more interesting considering our purposes. Not only did the spirit appear in hybrid form, but was exorcized and told that it should return to the “place provided for him and his Angels.” When this was done the entity transformed into a contra-sexual spirit (a young child of four years old in this case) with no head. It turned about the house half a dozen time then disappeared at the door. This entity seems to have two of the shapes that we are looking for clearly displayed in the account, both animal and contra-sexual human forms.
In conclusion the fetch is both guide and companion to the magician, witch and occultist. It can be communicated with and acts as a teacher, friend and colleague. It, as other spirits, can be asked to do one’s bidding, but this is not the true purpose of the fetch. The true practitioner of the magical arts seeks to learn spiritual mysteries from the fetch and to forge a bond with it. This bond, of course, is the Hieros Gamos and the methods by which it can be achieved will be covered in future chapters.

The True Human Soul Complex or the Anthropology of Mankind

The following is the second chapter from a book that I am writing.  This is to give the student a basic idea of how the human soul complex works.  The samples from cultures outside of traditional Germanic culture are given as approximations only, to give a basic point of reference to those readers who may have experience with these.
The True Human Soul Complex or the Anthropology of Mankind

                           Perhaps nothing that we know of in occultism today has been more trampled underfoot and mangled than the concept of the human spirit and soul.  The idea of the soul as it was understood in antiquity has been butchered, destroyed and oversimplified in the modern world.  This is much the fault of the simple literalist beliefs that plague the world today.  Even in their meager beginnings religions such as Christianity and Islam had very deep and profound views of the soul complex, that is to say in their mystical incarnations.  Yet, due to the mass of literalist belief, the mysteries of the soul have been nearly lost.  This is in large part due to the fact that it is very comforting to the masses to believe that if they ascribe to the wrote teachings of a particular faith and accept it’s gods, that they will have to do little else to gain “salvation” or life eternal in some paradise.  To the witch and the occultist, however, this may seem a far fetched idea, as the wisdom traditions do not allow for such a simple concept to exist in what we know to be reality.  Alas, even much of what is being called “occultism” and “witchcraft” today contains watered down misunderstandings of the soul.  While I can, to a degree, agree with such concepts as the astral body and aura, in my own understanding, I see what is passing for these subtle bodies today to be an oversimplification of the true mystery that lay behind them. 
    I propose that an understanding of the ancient views of the anthropos, as it was called in the Hellenistic world, is one of the great keys to the Mystery.  The anthropos, or the entire makeup of the human being is what we might refer to today as a soul complex.  The study of which would be anthropology, as opposed to the study of anthropology being the study of mankind’s beliefs and culture.  Anthropology, for our purposes in this chapter shall be used to denote the study of the anthropos. 
    As I have already stated the anthropos is seen in terms far to simple to do it’s true splendor justice today.  It is often seen as the body and the soul, or occasionally as “body, mind and spirit.”  While the latter may hold a glimpse of the truth, that actual anthropos is much deeper and more complicated than this.  I theorize that western culture today is lacking in this area of knowledge due in part to two things. The first of these being the wide spread literalist slave beliefs, not to say that the ancient world had no literalist religions, only that the Mystery faiths were more widespread as well as philosophy.  The second of these, and perhaps the greater reason, being today’s secular media based lifestyle.  Simpler views of the soul would seem better in a populous that cares more for watching reality television and blindly accepting either secular science or literalist views purely out of laziness and lack of study. 
    It is this author’s view that it is time for the witches and occultists of our day to gain a proper understanding of the anthropos and the role that it plays in the universe and learn how this understanding can impact our lives and mystical practices.  Remember that one of the keys to the Mysteries is “know thyself.”  We cannot begin to know ourselves unless we have an understanding of our whole self.  I shall define each of the parts of the soul complex using the Germanic form of the part, as this is how I had first learned this system, but I will also include cross references from both Hellenic and Egyptian models as well.  I shall also give, in brief an analysis of how each part can be seen in the modern light of the following four bodies:  physical, mental, ethereal and astral.  It may be worth noting that in some circles these four bodies are viewed in the symbolic guise of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, John and Luke.  In this light I invite you to decipher the bodies in astrological terms (that is to say in their guises as a man, bull, lion and eagle) if you so wish, to gain a deeper understanding of their function.  It is up to the reader to look at the astrological correspondences on their own, as it is not my intent to dawdle on such here, only to give this remark to encourage further research.
      I give these comparisons  to give perspective to those that may be familiar with these four bodies in modern occult philosophy but have not experienced the ancient views of the anthropos.  Most of what I present here, I have learned through study and my sources are contained in the bibliography.  Some material however is additional and I have gained by conjecture and personal magical work.  The Egyptian variations are not always completely identical to the definitions that I provide and in several cases are only loosely comparable.   I encourage any student who wishes to learn more about these concepts to study Egyptian Anthropology by itself as well.  Some sources for this material may be found in the bibliography.

Mod/Self (the ego; Mental Body)

    This is essential self awareness, our entire being’s awareness of itself.  Mod is the whole of the “self” or rather the completion of the soul complex, properly aligned.  In the modern world this self awareness is often only seen in physical and mental terms but there is a spiritual entity, the fetch which shall soon be explained in depth, that is aware of this “self” as well.  These twin modes of self awareness make the entire anthropos a model of the self awareness that the Godhead experienced at the dawn of creation.  This means that each individual human being is essentially a microcosmic model of the cosmos as a whole.  Interestingly enough this gives a strange level of validity to the passage in the Book of Genesis that states that we are made in God’s own image.

Lich/Lyke (Hellenic: demas/soma; Egyptian: ha/djet; Physical Body)

    The Lich is the physical body.  This is the most basic portion of the entire anthropos.  It is also a very necessary part of the complex.  Without the physical realm that we all dwell upon called Middle Earth, no part of Fate could ever be resolved and the chaos of the physical realm would be eternal, leaving Fate, the Godhead shattered.  Thus the true Great Work would never be completed and all would be for naught.  This “crude” physical matter, which many spiritual traditions wrongfully preach to be worthless in the grand scheme of things is in fact the vehicle by which spirit resolves it’s wyrd and moves closer to a reunion within Fate or the Godhead.  The ancients did not share the views of many modern religions when regarding the physical world.  Indeed by adhering to certain ethics and codes of conduct such as the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru, or discovering other mytho-poetic variations of these within mythology we experience a spiritual and mystical lifestyle even in the secular world.   This, of course, should be an aspiration for true mystics and magicians.  There is no division between the physical and spiritual in true western and northern occultism.  The Egyptian djet was also used to refer to the inner self of the person.  The Hellenic soma was also used to refer to the bodies of the dead. 

Hyde (Egyptian: sheut [shadow] Ethereal Body)

    This is a quasi-material body which may be seen as having a rough shape resembling the lich.  This is what we today might refer to as an ethereal body.  I have often seen it used interchangeably with hamr which I shall speak of soon, but have seen the two to be separate, the hamr being reliant upon the hyde.  The hyde is possibly what is today identified, and simplified, as the “aura.”  It is the seat of power within the soul complex.  Victor Anderson made claim that this body would appear to be the sex opposite  the physical body, though I have not seen evidence of this, and I believe that this may have been  confused with the concept of the fetch.
    There is a portion of the hyde that is variously noted as hamr, which portrays a bit in the way of a seat of power and corresponds under this notion with the Egyptian heka or more loosely to the eastern concept of chi.
    This is the portion of the soul complex that works magic and leaves the body in spirit travel.  The practitioner who works in the otherworlds sends this portion of the soul complex “out of body” via the athem to perform otherworldly workings or join in the True Sabbat.  Some would say that this is the work of the fetch, but my opinion differs and shall become clear when I discuss said spirit shortly.  We also tap into this power when we use any form of magic.

Hugh (Hellenic: thymos; Mental Body)

    This is one half of the mind.  Hugh is the intellectual and logical portion of the anthropos.  By this part of the soul do we learn and grow.  By this do we understand and make sense of the world around us, both seen and unseen.  This is the seat of worldly knowledge and experience and is thus important to the resolving of fate.  This might also be seen as the seat of the conscience, as it encompasses the ability for rational and ethical thought.  It is this logical portion of the mind that begins to take hold in the mind of the true initiate when they begin to become something “more than human” and replace emotional responses to all that happens with rational and logical ones.  It does so in the advanced magician or witch by taking hold of other areas of the mind and soul complex.  This is made possible because the hugh is in fact the seat of the will. Being both the seat of the will and the intellect it should be easy to see that this is the portion of the soul that allows for personal gnosis, though for retaining knowledge it is co-dependent upon the myne, which shall be discussed next.   It is strange that while I equate the idea of hugh with the idea of thymos, the thymos actually appears to have been a seat of both thought, will and emotion.  If it is truly the seat of emotion as well, it is easy to see how the logical side of the advanced magician can become the more powerful side of the hugh.  Hugh coordinates with the left brain in scientific terms.

Myne/Minni (Hellenic: nous; Mental Body)

    The myne is the archetypal “well of memory.”  It governs and holds memories both mental and spiritual.  That is to say the myne is a storehouse of memory both of this life and of the ancestral and universal memories found in the collective consciousness.  Here are stored the mysteries.  The myne collects the significance of symbols, both physical and otherwise that are found in the old lore.  It is for this reason that a person may be inexplicably compelled or drawn to a particular animal, symbol, faith etc.  The myne feeds us information sent to us by the fetch through the athem, both of which I shall discuss.  It is the co-working done between the hugh and myne that allows for our true intellect and our function in the universe.  As a bit of lore, the Hugh and the Myne are represented in Germanic mythology as Odin’s ravens Huginn and Muninn.  Myne coordinates with the right brain in scientific terms.

Athem/Ond (Hellenic: pneuma; Egyptian: ka; Spirit Cord)

    The Athem is the spirit cord, divine spark or “breath of life” which flows through us.  These cords, which all things possess are the “Threads of Fate” which tie all things together.  It is when these “threads” cross that we become attached to another being or thing and thus generate more “fate” (understood by most modern cultures as karma.)  It is the series of all athems which bind all things together in the great tapestry of Fate.  It is both a completion and destruction of the tapestry, by resolving all fate that we shall finally achieve the Great Work as a universe and allow the Godhead to be whole again.  Each athem by itself also binds together each part of the individual anthropos.  It is through the athem that we make contact with entities of spirit and, indeed, our own spirits.  This is because the athem is in constant contact with the spiritual forces of the universe.  It is interesting that the Egyptians seem to have believed that life ended when the ka left the body, which seems to support our analysis here.  

Wode/Odr (Hellenic: mania; Inspiration)

    Wode is inspiration, as well as a state of mind or state of ecstasy.  This force is responsible for the inspiration of the artist, the ecstasy of the magician and the rage of the warrior.  This is a very important faculty in our lives as it allows the occultist to perform his work and the writer and artist to dream new worlds when used properly.  Experience of this as an ecstasy is a dangerous thing if not properly integrated into the life and soul complex of the individual.  It can lead one to live in a maddening fantasy of only inspired works and leave one in depression and desperation in their secular life.  This can be seen through history when we look at the tragic lives of writers and artists such as Hemingway and Poe. 

Sal/Maegen (Hellenic: psyche; Egyptian: ba; Astral Body/Soul)

    Here we come to the true soul of the anthropos.  This is a life force or vital force, aside from the athem, which encompasses the entire essence of the anthropos fully formed.  This body does not truly come into play until after death in most persons.  In life this aspect is typically passive and records the deeds and experiences of the individual.  Lore would suggest that this part of the soul complex then lives on in the underworld or with the gods.  My belief on this differs greatly, as I have seen evidence, both literary and in the form of mystical gnosis, that would say otherwise.   It is my belief that this soul is the life force supplied from the planet, or more accurately the universe, and is a part of the power that runs through it.  Most would understand this as ley lines or earth energies.  It is my belief that when the individual dies, this soul returns to this current as earth power once again and brings the imprint (in the form of the hyde) of the deeds done in life with it.  This accounts for the Well of Memory in which the ancestral memories can be viewed.  After death, this imprint of the self is what is summoned and communed with via necromantic rites.  This being the reason that people seem to think that we “live on” in the underworld.  I will speak more on this phenomenon in a future chapter. 
   
Hamingja (“Luck” or Inherited Fate)

    Hamingja is one’s personal “luck” as it were.  In the past it was often portrayed as a double of the body.  It is what many today might call karma and can be changed, for better or worse by one’s own decisions in life.  In reality this and Orlog, which I shall cover next, make up what others might call karma and what I would call personal fate or destiny.  Some of what we call Hamingja is actually inherited from ones family.  This meaning that actions taken by family members in the past (both living and deceased) have a ripple effect which is passed down the line, much as our DNA is passed on.  Thus we should live virtuously so that we pass on no dishonor to our own kin or future generations.  It can also be passed on consciously from one individual to another, as in a ritual passing of power.  It will only be temporarily passed unless it is somehow bound to the recipients own fetch.  Hamingja, in my experience is also transferred by personal association.  This may seem strange, but the company that you keep and support most certainly affects your own life.  If a friend lives in a dishonorable way and you continue to support the friend, even if it does not reflect your own lifestyle, are you not just as accountable as said friend.  Even in passing daily occurrences we should be careful of who we are friendly with, and just how much information we give about ourselves and others to complete strangers.  Even a little bit of knowledge about yourself given straight out to someone ties their fate to your own, though maybe not in a drastic way.
    This is a good reason to use what the old Magister of the Clan of Tubal Cain, Robert Cochrane, referred to as “gray magic.”  This is a method of social disguise, giving those you do not know or are unsure about little information so they develop a somewhat confused idea of who you are, so as not to link yourself to closely with them until you are certain that they are truly honorable people.  Sadly, even this is sometimes difficult to do, as there are people who can be hard to judge until it is too late.  The easiest way to better ones hamingja is to follow a good code of ethics.  I personally like the “Nine Noble Virtues” used in modern Asatru.  I find this to be a very complete ethical system and abide by it as much as I can.  I will provide a short description of this list in the appendices of this book.  Also, encouraging honorable and virtuous behavior in one’s family and friendships and frowning upon dishonorable behavior is helpful, but one must remember to lead by example.  It should go without saying that hamingja is shared on a deeper level between those who chose to marry, as the bond is a willing decision to take on all aspects of the other.
    All of this also means not supporting dishonorable behaviors in entertainment either, as many other people looking at the same entertainment are often given to follow what they are exposed to, as it were.  In today’s modern world of “reality television” and gossip mags and televison, these things are best avoided.  The gossip or tabloid shows and magazines have always made their money by exposing things about people that they would most likely rather have kept to themselves.  They are horribly dishonorable with their paparazzi and ambush tactics, not to mention the very word gossip.  Reality T.V. on the other hand typically promotes terrible unethical behavior and schoolyard hate games and backstabbing, all to make money.  Believe me, supporting such industries most certainly affects you and, if you are a supporter and watcher/reader of such “entertainment” it is likely a cause for some of the ills in your life.  Such things are not the “way of the gods.”  A true witch or magician could not truly excel with such mindless dishonor as a part of their entertainments.  A last note here is to keep yourself out of relationships with people who cannot abide by good virtuous behavior and honorable lifestyles, as this will, in the long run, affect your own life.

Orlog/Orlaeg (personal wyrd/fate)

    Wyrd itself is Fate, the web of all things that were once whole.  Orlog is the ever changing threads which are found in the athem.  It is the fate of the individual itself.  Orlog affects hamingja and vice versa.  The hamingja bears the orlog in this life.  By fulfilling and bettering the hamingja, one takes care of orlog.  This in turn “feeds” the fetch, or spirit, by fulfilling fate and bringing the fetch one step closer to completing the true “Great Work.”  So it would seem that Orlog is the transmitter of wyrd to the hamingja and that by improving hamingja one can create a better wyrd for the future.

Fetch/Fylgja (Hellenic: daimon; Egyptian: ka [the ka would appear to double under two of our distinctions of the soul complex;] Spirt Body)

    The Fetch, also called the Holy Guardian Angel, Higher Self, Personal God, etc. is a spirit which is bound to each individual in life.  It’s goals are the true purpose of our existence and hold the key to the meaning of life.  It is such a vital and complex part of the soul make up that I have decided to devote the following chapter to it, rather than include it in with the parts which make up the human being.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Origins of the Word "Witch"

The origin of the English "witch" may be the Indo-European (IE) root word weik, having to deal with magic and/or religion. From weik we get four different derivatives of the word. The first derivative is the word wih-l, which in turn begat the Old English words wigle and wiglera, meaning sorcery and sorcerer respectively. These words are also the root of the word guile. The second derivative is similar in spelling to the first and is the Old Norse wihl, meaning craftiness. The third is wik, meaning holy. From wik comes the Middle High German wich, having the same meaning as its root word, derived itself from the Old High German wihen. The fourth derivative of the word is wikk, meaning magic or sorcery. From this comes the Middle German wikken, meaning to predict. Wikk also begat the Old English wicca and wicce (respectively pronounced wee-cha and wee-chay, roughly, I am no linguist.) These words pertaining to a practice comparable to Seidr, wicca being the masculine variant and wicce the female. From these words is the verb wician, roughly meaning to work sorcery. Wicca then begat the Middle English witche and from this our modern witch.

It should be stated that if one wishes to practice what can truly be called witchcraft it will be a mystical path of Germanic, or at the least IE, origin. This is not to say that it will be of a pure strand of Germanic or IE based paganism, as true traditional craft would vary from locale to locale and pick up many magio/spiritual practices along the way. Nor is modern witchcraft called "wicca" necessarily "witchcraft." This is not to say that modern wicca is not a valid path and religion, but it is wicca, not witchcraft in a traditional sense. Much of modern "witchcraft" and wicca is derived from ceremonial practices, such as those of the Golden Dawn. While this is fine by itself, it was something of the unknown to the practitioners of wicca (Saxon usage,) a Germanic path.

As a final note I will discuss the idea that wicca is a word that means to bend or to shape. This idea has its root in fact, to a point. The Old English word (no doubt derived from the same root as those words discussed above) wican, did, indeed, mean to bend. Related words are the Old Saxon wikan, the Old High German wichan and the Old Norse vikja. All of these words having the meaning to bend.


It may also be noted that the practice of traditional wicca and wicce (Saxon uses here) and Medieval Witchcraft (the origins of the craft in many of the forms that we know it) are derived from Galdr and Seidr (mentioned above) and are the Saxon variants of these. Thus the path of the Helrunar and the Haegtessa are far closer to Traditional Witchcraft than most modern "Craft." "Witchcraft" in it's origin was very much a religion, first and foremost, and it's practitioners were "mystics" and "shamans" in a sense. This should be noted, for folk magic and witchcraft are not one in the same, as believed by many, though the former is practiced by those of the persuasion of the latter. Nor are modern wicca and old craft truly the same, as believed by others. That said, modern traditional witchcraft only bears a passing semblance to what would have passed for craft in times before. And that, as they say, is that.

The Occult Significance of the Crossing Rite

   
    The Sign of the Cross, the Hammer Sign, the Qabalistic Cross; enigmatic and essential rites within the mystical systems that they originate from.  Often such rites are used to begin a greater rite or petition.  Other times the crossing of the self has been used for protective purposes.  Yet at other times the sign is used as a blessing or to seal power.  While often thought of as a Christian rite, the sign of the cross goes far beyond the overly simplified version that so many are accustomed to: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen,” so often used by these faiths to begin and end prayer.   According to Catholicism the sign of the cross is a blessing and joining of sorts.  The “joining” means the binding of the mystery Holy Trinity with the mystery of the Redemption.  This then encompasses the entire essence of life, through to the end when a soul is joined in eternal life with Christ.  The rite breaks such boundaries in it’s occult usage, as we shall observe in the following analysis.

The Qabalistic Cross
                                           
    Perhaps the most common of the occult usages of the Sign of the Cross is that of the Qabalistic Cross, initially used by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.  This variation of the crossing rite is often tied to the Lesser, Greater or Supreme Banishing of the Pentagram Rituals.  In this variation of the crossing rite the practitioner will stand, often facing east, though it is my opinion that this direction may be altered depending upon the rite that it accompanies, if any.  Facing the chosen direction the practitioner will proceed through the following steps:

1. A brilliant light is visualized above the practitioner’s head.  The practitioner reaches up and touches this light with the index finger or the tip of a ritual dagger.  The light is then dragged down to the forehead

2. Touches the forehead and intones “Atah” (Ah-tah, meaning “thou art.”) The hand is then brought down to the center of the breast
       
3. Touches breast, in the center but near the heart while intoning “Malkuth” (Mahl-kooth, meaning “the kingdom.”) The light is visualized as descending down from the forehead to the feet.  The hand is then moved to the right shoulder.

4. Touches the right shoulder and intones “ve-Geburah” (v’ ge-boo-rah, meaning “the power.”) A point of light is visualized at this spot.   The hand is then moved across to the left shoulder

5. Touches the left shoulder and intones “ve-Gedulah” (v’ ge-doo-lah meaning “the glory.”)  The light is seen as moving from the right shoulder to the left.  It bears mentioning that ve-Gedulah is sometimes interpreted as Chesed or mercy, as opposed to glory.

6.  The hands are then brought together, as if praying, on the breast and the practitioner intones “Le-Olahm, Amen” (Le-oh-lahm, ah-men meaning “forever, unto the ages.”) 

    This technique has it’s roots with the Qabalistic tree of life.  Indeed, each point of this cross has it’s origin within one of the sephirah of the tree of life.  In addition each of these points is directly connected to one of the four classical elements so often invoked in Ceremonial Magick.  The first point Atah or “thou art” is connected to the sephirah Kether or “I am,” and also to the element of air.  It also refers, in this instance, to the spirit or higher genius of man.  The sphere of Malkuth or “the kingdom” is linked to the element of earth.  This point is in reference to the physical body. Ve-Gedulah or “the power” is related to the element of fire.  Ve-Geburah or “glory” (it is important to remember that it may also be “mercy”) is related to the element of water.  These two points are also in reference to the polarities of man’s ego, as well as the light and dark pillars of Solomon’s temple.  We can begin to see all of the polarities apparent in this rite.  All of these polarities become balanced when the hands are brought together upon the breast.

    So, though we may see a similar method to the Christian Sign of the Cross, we begin to see a far deeper ritual.  One great difference to be noted here is the reversal of which shoulder is touched first between the Christian cross and the occult crosses.  This is because the goal of the occultist and witch is to make a connection with “god” thus we might look upon “god.”  This is contrary to the Christian view that God cannot be viewed from the front, and thus our crosses are reversed so that the occultist approaches their “god” from the front while the Christian and non-initiate approaches God from the rear, so as not to look upon the face of God.  This entire philosophy goes far deeper than this involving the Tree of Life as God’s front or backside, but that could be an entire entry in itself, and I do not wish to weigh down this work on the crossing rites with such things.

    This last bit of information should have given away that a great part of the crossing rites is meant to connect one with “god.”  More on this will be revealed soon, but first there is another aspect of this crossing rite that is shared with the Christians.  This may be something that is ready to burst from the mouth of any Catholic or ex-Catholic at this very moment!  You may have noticed that the spheres reflect the occasional last lines of the so-called “Lord’s Prayer.”  “For the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory art Yours, now and forever, Amen,” or in the instance of our study “Thou Art the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory (mercy?) forever until the end of time.”  What does all of this mean?  It is a simple invocation and communion to what the magician/witch is reaching up towards in the beginning of the rite, but I shall reveal more on this later.  As for now, there are other such rites to be examined.

The Hammer Sign on the Body

    This is a crossing rite used in certain branches of modern reconstructionist Germanic Heathenry and Asatru.  It is a rite that is  meant to be used as a daily empowerment and blessing, as I had learned it.  It may also be used by the practitioner at the beginning of any ritual.  The core form that I shall display here utilizes a standard theological pattern.  The rite is performed thusly:

1.  Envision a bright ball of light floating about two feet above the head.  The hand is reached up and the light is grasped and pulled toward the forehead.  Touch the forehead and say “Tiw.”  The hand is then brought down to the top of the sternum (or occasionally the mouth)

2. Touch the top of the sternum (mouth) and say “Woden.”  The light is then drawn further down the solar plexus

3. Touch the solar plexus and say “Thunor.”  The light is then drawn to the left shoulder

4. Touch the left shoulder and say “Frey.”  The light is then drawn across to the right shoulder

5. Touch the right shoulder and say “Freya.” 

    The same pattern and, to a degree, the same desired effect can clearly be seen in these two rights.  The obvious difference (outside of the use of Germanic deities in place of the spheres) being that in the Hammer Signing we have the center invoked as the second step in the process, as opposed to being the final step.  The balance occurring in this rite at the crossing point in the end when Frey and Freya, “Lord” and “Lady,” are invoked on the opposite shoulders.  It is simple to see this brother and sister invocation as a the balancing portion of the rite.  A second difference in this rite is that the power drawn from it is meant to be drawn from the deities invoked in the process.  Thirdly, it will be noted that the shoulders are touched in the opposite order in this rite.  But what do the similarities in the rites mean, what is the luminous source envisioned above the practitioner and just what is the true intent of the crossing rite?  These are the questions that I set about to answer and so I shall answer them, in due time.  First let us observe the crossing rite of certain witches.
                   
A Witches Crossing Rite

    The crossing rites that I have come across as used by witches are a different than these others variants in that they are more simplistic in their nature.  In fact the simplicity of the rites often borders that of the modern ley Christian variant that I had listed above.  Indeed, I have often seen these rites, as used by witches, claiming only to offer protection, not a far cry from the Christian symbolism at all.  These often go something like this:

1. Touch the brow and say: “In the name of the Lord”

2. Touch the navel and say: “And of the Lady”

3. Touch the right shoulder “The Darkness”

4. Touch the left shoulder “and Bright”

5. Says: “Wisdom and Power of Fate’s Hand.”

    One can see basic differences in that this crossing has no internal visualizations. This might mean that there is less contact with anything outside of the internal self and that which is specifically invoked in the crossing.  This would, to a degree, defeat the higher working of the crossing rite, as I shall reveal as we progress.  The following sample is one that I utilize in workings of witchcraft and have incorporated into group workings as well. 

1.  A luminescence is envisioned floating above the practitioner’s head.  The practitioner reaches up, preferably with the left hand, to touch this.  The hand is brought down, drawing with it the light, and touches the forehead.  The practitioner says: “In the name of the Master.”  The light is then drawn down to the navel.

2. Touches the navel and says: “and the Dame.”  The pillar of light is envisioned as descending down through the body and into the ground.  The light is then drawn to the left shoulder.

3. Touches the right shoulder and says: “and the Shadow.”  The light is drawn across to the right shoulder.

4. Touches the left shoulder and says: “and Light.” 

5. Says: “Holiness of the Wane and the True.”

    We can see that this variant is much closer to the first two that we have studied.  The rite also tends to serve the same purposes as far as balancing goes.  This rite is most often used at the beginning of, or in prelude to, the drawing of the compass or ring of art.  All of this explanation and we are yet again left to wonder at the basic mystery of this rite.  Yet before answering these questions, I would like to cover a bit on the “lower” uses of the sign of the cross to bless, protect and bind.

A Basic Miscellany of Crossing Gestures and Their Intent
                                           
        Let us begin with the now familiar “Hammer Sign.”  The sign of the hammer is used not only in the above right, but is drawn in the air as a sign of invocation.  It is also used as a blessing and protective gesture, in much the same way that a Christian might use the sign of to cross for the same reasons.  This variant often has a shorter “foot” extending from the bottom of the “hammer” than that of the variation which crosses the body.  The cross might be used in a similar manner by practitioners of other occult arts and does have a wide range of uses in the folk tradition.

    Let us take, firstly, the old Irish example of crossing the mouth when yawning as a precaution against evil spirits from entering the mouth and taking possession of the body.

     There is an old Anglo-Saxon charm from the 10th century which was intended to protect a horse from harm (especially that which was brought about by elves) and called for the physical scarring of the sign of the cross upon the body of the animal.  A knife with a yellow horn handle taken from an ox, and inscribed with the words “Blessed Be all the works of the Lord of Lords.”  The horn is shod with three nails and knife taken before the animal in question.  The sign of the cross is then inscribed (cut) into the forehead, spine and as many limbs as can be reached.  The left ear is then pierced.  The horse is then hit upon the back with a “wand.”  All ills, and especially those caused by elves, will be cured and the horse will be protected. 

    According to Bald’s Leechbook mugwort should be picked before sunrise, accompanied by a magical incantation and blessed with the sign of the cross as it is picked.  The plant is self being said to have the magical properties to drive away and protect from evil spirits.

    According to the Anglo-Saxon Land Ceremonies Charm the sign of the cross can be used to hallow, protect and sustain the land that it is drawn over during the rite.  I, myself, continue the practice of this charm, including the use of crossing during it.  I have substituted a triple crossing in place of the single crossings originally found in the rite.  The triple crossing technique is one used by modern witches and, I have found, is typically used to hallow or seal power within an object, place, etc.  Now that I have shared these simple spells, I will explain the greater mystery that I have been putting off in the whole of this analysis. 

The Mysteries of the Crossing Rite
                       
    Now we shall investigate into the meaning behind the crossing rites that we have studied.  We know one of the mysteries already, that of the balancing act of polarized powers within the self, yet there is another balance occurring here as well.  This second balance is four fold.  You will remember when learning about the Qabalistic Cross that each point corresponded to one of the classical elements.  Each element philosophically corresponds to one of the elements of the periodic table.  They can be seen this way:

Air = Oxygen
Water = Hydrogen
Fire = Nitrogen
Earth = Carbon

    Here we see the balance made on a physical level, dealing with our carbon bodies.  From this we begin to understand that we are bringing about three fold balance in the self.  The two-fold balance of the ego/mind/soul  and the four fold elemental balance of the physical body.  You may be saying to yourself, “What is the third balance?” though it may already be clear to you. 

    The third is the balance of spirit.  This of course is not the spirit in the sense that most of the uninitiated would speak of, but rather the higher spirit that all mystics strive for communion with.  I am, of course, speaking of the fetch, holy guardian angel, personal god or higher self, as it has variously been called.  This is the entity whose fate is the reason that you live, though the philosophy of this is best left to a separate work.  The fetch, as I shall refer to it from here on, is the guiding entity that the mystic must connect with to truly begin to understand Fate and the universe.  It is through communion with this entity which all of us are governed by that we might attain inner peace and enlightenment.  It is also through this communion that we might gain true inspiration from the personal Muse. 

    The Master of the Feri tradition of witchcraft, Victor H. Anderson put forth the idea that this entity, which he termed the “personal god” and “overself,” lie in an area floating above the head.  He also stated that through this entity we could get a glimpse of the “cosmic mind” (Fate to the witch.)  This is the entity that watches over and guides us through life.  So, now things begin to become a bit clearer!  The true goal of crossing rites is the balance of mind, body and spirit.  Beyond this balance there is the greater goal of communion with the fetch.  Many magicians seek to find ways to hold communion with this entity, yet the truth is that they are already experiencing a brief communion with it each and every time that they perform their variant of the crossing rite.

    Now that this mystery has been revealed, the reader is armed with an arsenal of crossing rites to aid in the communion with the fetch.  Using the crossing rite in this way can be very effective when combined with a communal (symbolic) feast such as the sacrament of bread and wine if it is offered up directly for communion with the fetch.  In this way I find the Qabalistic Cross technique to be the most effective, as the proper symbolism is already inherent in the words that are intoned.  Do not worry about other symbols in the Qabala, it is only important, for our purposes, that the practitioner understand the words being used within this rite, and understand there depth in relation to the communal variation of the rite.  Once the communion has been made and a working relationship with the fetch is established one can call upon this spirit when performing the crossing rite to extend into the otherworlds and into the universe to retrieve other mysteries and to make contact with other spirit entities.  In conclusion, we can see that the crossing rite, in it’s many forms, is invaluable to the witch, magician and occultist.  And that, as they say, is that.
   
Bibliography

Victor H. Anderson - Etheric Anatomy - Acorn Guild Press

Rev. Maurus Fitzgerald, O.F.M. (Ed.) - Catholic Book of Prayers - Catholic Book Publishing Corp.
   
Dom Robert Le Gall, Abbot of Kergonan (author,) Ian Monk (translator) - Symbols of Catholicism - Barnes & Noble Inc.

Bill Griffiths - Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic - Anglo-Saxon Books

Paul Huson - Mastering Witchcraft - G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Nigel Jackson - Call of the Horned Piper - Capall Bann Publishing
                   
Nigel G. Pearson - Treading the Mill - Capall Bann Publishing

Stephen Pollington - Leechcraft, Early English Charms, Plantlore and Healing - Anglo-Saxon Books

Israel Regardie (author,) Chic Cicero and Tabitha Sandra Cicero (authors/editors) - The Middle Pillar
third edition - Llewellyn Publications

Edred Thorsson - A Book of Troth - Llewellyn Publications

Edred Thorsson - The Nine Doors of Midgard - Llewellyn Publications

Lady Wilde - Irish Cures, Mystic Charms & Superstitions - Sterling Publishing Co.