Pagan Studies


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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

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Yuletide Lore

art by Arthur Rackham

The winter solstice is approaching.

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Winter Crone

Cailleach walks the winter hills: in an old Gaelic song 'Cailleach Beinn a' Bhric' she has 'a great grey grisly paw' and is cold and wet, but cares for her deer. The hunter who sings to her laments her keeping the deer from him. This version is from Songs & Hymns of the Gael:

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The Fairy Widower: A Story Spell

Last night, I had a dream which instructed me to write this blog post.  I am not sure for whom this teaching has come through, but if it is you, please contact me.  I do not think it needs to be understood literally, but perhaps it should be.  In any case, I simply had an overpowering need to share it.

***
In my dream, a young witch came to me distraught.  Her father had begun to act confused and violent, some kind of sudden onset dementia, for which the doctors can find no cause.  Eventually, she had out of him that he had gone into the woods behind his home, and there made love to the forest.  And so I gave her this ritual to preform, to free him from fairy enslavement.

You may need:
a trash bag
three iron railroad spikes
a bottle of salt water.  ideally, this should be made with Holy Water (whatever that means to you) and be more than 9% salt by volume.
a large steel knife.  a sword is better.
buttered bread, whole milk, good honey, dark beer
a reliable flashlight, and a backup flashlight, and it wouldn't hurt to have a third one.  expect at least one to fail on the third night.
protection from weather.
a small bag of white pebbles
a toy bulldozer
$23 dollars in gold coins
three nights
courage

The First Conjuration:
Go into the woods at night, when it is very dark and still.  Walk randomly, as if you are lost (but do not become lost).  Drop white pebbles behind you, to show the way back out; you need to leave by the same path you entered.  Gather any trash that you find.  Begin to sing a song about walking through the wood, and a mist rising up, and finding yourself at the center of the woods between the worlds.  The tune and the words will come to you as you walk; I cannot teach them to you, but you knew them as a child, and you need not try to remember.  Just hum and sing a tuneless song, and the song will form itself.

When you have come to the center of the woods, you will know the place when you find it, you must place the bread, milk, honey, beer, and $7 before you.  Begin to call, saying something like this:  "Lovely Lady of these Woods, Mother of the Fair Folk, Elf Queen, I call to you.  I have brought you milk and bread, honey and butter, good ale and friendship.  I come to you by the old path.  The compacts between our people are not forgot.  Come, and eat with me, that we may speak as friends!"

Wait for a sign of presence.  Rustling leaves.  A cold breeze.  An out of place bird song.  An apparition of the Lady of the Wood.  Continue:

"Lady Fair, Radiant One!  Hail to you!  I come to you to beg for justice!  My father has been taken by one of your people.  My father has been enchanted by one of your people.  My father has been bewitched by one of your people.  Release him to me.  Set him free, Lady.  Make him whole.  It is for this reason I have come.  I shall come again tomorrow, for good or for ill.  Set my father free."

Now leave the wood, picking your pebbles up as you go, and go home.  If your father is improved, then go again, and thank the Elf Queen, and admonish your father about the stupidity of making love to the Kindly Ones.  Go again, the next night, to the woods, and there offer the remaining gold coins, elderflower liqueur, a vanilla milkshake, and some sort of very fancy pastry.  Give thanks to the Lady of the Wood for releasing your father.  This is a powerful spirit ally who has done you a great boon, and who favors you.  Be gracious, thankful, and maintain this relationship, but be on your guard.  Never forget that she seduced your father, and then tried enslave him.  She is not your friend; she is the Queen of the Other Wood.  Take her offerings at every full moon.  Bake her a fancy cake, or give her a necklace you have made.  You might paint her a picture or perform for her a song, if you are a good artist.  She would like that.  Do not do this if you have not the skill for it; it will be taken as an insult.  It is NOT the thought that counts; it must be something lovely and well made.  A fancy store bought cake is much better than an ugly painting, but it is best to find something of high quality which you have made with your own hands.

However, if your father is not better, you must go once again into the Wood Between the Worlds, and continue to fight for his soul.  Enter the wood as before, picking up trash along the way, and when you come to the place where you offered last night, make no offering.  Begin to call, saying something like: "Lady Fair, Shining One, I have come again as I said I would.  I have followed the twisted path, I have set bread and milk and honey and beer for you.  And yet you have been false!  Release my father, and let him be troubled no more!  I came to you honoring the ancient ways, but you have returned my courtesy with spite.  I am no mere mortal peasant, that you can treat me thus.  I am witch of the highest order!  I am NAME, MORE NAMES, MAGICAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS (example: "who has bound the four Kings of the Compass to my service", "who rides on the Other Wind", "who journeys between the Worlds", "who calls Buddhas, and Saints, and Demons my friends".  Be elaborate, and spin a good tale, but do not flat out lie).  I stand before you, but I am not alone.  My ancestors stand behind me.  The angels attend to me.  I know the names of the gods of all nations, and I have allies from every corner of the Heavens.  NAME SOME ALLIES.  Yesterday I asked, but today I insist.  Return my father to me, and trouble him no more!  It is for this reason I have come!  I will come again tomorrow night, for good or for ill.  Set my father free."  Now leave the wood, following the same path you entered by.  If your father is improved, thank the Queen as before, but if he is not, then gather all your courage and all your allies to you, gird yourself in your best armor, and head again into the wood.  Fill your bag with inorganic trash; beer cans, plastic bags, six-pack holders, that sort of thing.

Enter the forest again, as you have twice already.  Make your way to the sacred grove, and begin to call.  "Wood Woman!  Fairy Frau!  Goblin Maid!  You soot-face imp!  I am NAME, the Witch of these Woods, and you have done me wrong.  Release my father, and trouble him no more.  This is your final warning.  I brought you bread and milk, honey and butter, and fine beer.  I called on you in the ancient ways, but you have ignored me and returned my courtesy with spite.  You are rude and inhospitable, a disgrace to your people.  You bring shame upon yourself and on your mother.  I have come again, but this time I am not asking.  I bring the power of my people, the power of my office.  I am a child of the Iron God, the child of Pavement and Flame.  I ride the Bulldozer of Your Destruction.  You are weak in this land, and I am Strong.  Your kind is failing, buy my kind Rules over  the whole Earth.  I have set before you cakes, and treated you as a friend, but you have scorned me.  Remember, it is you who have brought your own destruction, you who would doom your wood.  I would have brought you cakes and liquor, but now I set before you this!"  Drive an iron spike into the ground.   "Return my father to me, set him free, and trouble him no more!"  Drive a second spike, about a foot away from the first.  Cry out: "Return my father to me, set him free, and trouble him no more!  Drive the third spike, forming an equilateral triangle about a foot on each side.  Goblin!  Thief!  Mannerless One!  You are powerless against me!  I have at my call the Bulldozer, I have at my call the Concrete!  If you do not release my father, I will bring blight and trash and poison into the heart of your wood; I know the ancient way here, and you cannot keep me out.  If you do not give my father back, your sacred grove will become a midden [shake the trash bag out in a pile, in the center of the triangle].  I will not bring you beer, but only the cans.  I will not bring you cakes, but only the plastic forks!  Your sacred grove will be my dumping place, and burning tires will be your only libation.  Return my father, and trouble him no more, or I will level this forest and turn it into a parking lot.  I know the powers of Walmart and Highway!  I ride the Bulldozer and the Backhoe!  I carry the machete and the flame!"  [put the bulldozer on top of the pile of trash]  "Return my father, and all will be well between us, but if you do not, my wrath will be upon you!"

Leave the wood.  Be careful as you do.  This wood is now your enemy.  You will prevail, but you are at war.

When your father improves, take cakes and liquor and gold coins.  Act just as through she had delivered him on the first night.  Remove the trash; yours and whoever else's you have found.  Thank the Lady for her Courtesy and Hospitality.  But do not linger too long in that wood.


Photo (c) Martin Liebermann

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  • Angel Z Avery
    Angel Z Avery says #
    Wonderful esoteric story on working with the Fae with every fun correspondence woven in! I esp loved the part where you go "I am w

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Role Vs. Identity in Magic

Recently I've been watching the second season of the Crown on Netflix. One of the things I've really enjoyed about the series is how the show explores the concepts of identity and role and makes clear the distinct difference between identity and role. A little further down, Ill use the show to demonstrate what these differences are, but let's take a moment and consider what each of these terms has to do with magic. 

In some magical practices, people can choose to take on a particular role that they use to embody their connection to magic. An example would be coming up with a magical name. The magical name serves the process of assuming the role that the name represents. When a person uses their magical name they are choosing to make that role prominent in the moment they are in.

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Right Relationship with Spirits: Knowing when to stop working with spirits
When I think about the work I do with spirits and my relationship to them, I frame that work and relationships in the context of right relationship. And what right relationship means to me is, "Is this relationship healthy for me and the spirit and is the work we're doing contributing something meaningful to the relationship between us as well as the distinct identities we inhabit?"
 
Recently, I decided to do a review of the spirits that I'm working with. I've gone back to ground zero with my magical practice and work and I felt it useful to examine my relationship with the spirits I've worked with, so that I could ask myself and them some important questions:
 
1. Is this really working for either of us anymore? I decided to take a hard look at my relationships with the spirits I've worked with and ask whether that relationship as it is, was still working for us. And I asked them to tell me if they felt the relationship as it was still working for them. I didn't want either side of the equation to feel like a relationship had to be maintained, unless the relationship was actually working.
 
2. Am I continuing to work with you out of obligation or because there's a genuine joy to the relationship? I also asked myself if I felt any sense of attachment or obligation to working with a spirit. If there was a sense of obligation or attachment, I wanted to own that and let go because then the relationship wasn't coming from a place of genuine connection and joy (and yes I know its not always easy to work with spirits, but I do feel there ought to be a joyful connection with them even when the work is hard).
 
3. Is my work with you creating more complication than anything else? I'm not a fan of needless complexity and when the work I'm doing with a spirit becomes needlessly complex it takes away from the relationship. Needless complexity comes down to doing things where it isn't clear why you're doing it and it just gets in the way of the actual work.
 
4. Is there a clear purpose for us to work together? There may not be a clear purpose for why you're continuing to work with the spirit. And if you're not clear about the work or the relationship, then why continue in it?
 
As a result of asking these questions, I decided to stop working with a few of the spirits I'd bee working with. It wasn't clear to me that was the work was beneficial or that the relationships would continue to serve a purpose that was fulfilling to either side of the relationship.
 
Coming to this decision was hard, because it meant I had to recognize that I was attached to certain spirits out of a sense of obligation. Recognizing that the relationship was no longer serving either side meant also realizing that simply sticking with a relationship with a spirit without really checking whether that relationship was healthy wasn't ideal for either party. How could I genuinely show up in my spiritual work if part of me wasn't fully engaged.
 
Yet this decision was also liberating because I gave myself permission to stop holding onto something which no longer felt right. And clearing out my spiritual house felt good, liberating and refreshing. I found myself able to focus on the spirits and work which really called me to instead of putting energy toward maintaining connections that weren't speaking to me or the spirit.
 
What about you? Do you ever stop working with spirits and why.
 
Taylor Ellwood experiments with magic and writes about his experiments at his site magical experiments.
 
Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash
 
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Tethys Speaks

Tethys Speaks

 

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The Magic of Childbirth: Rites of Protection

Violet Moore Higgins, "Three days agone - I found a tiny fair-haired infant"

This year has been a year of changes for me, some of which have yet to occur and others that have already occurred. The biggest, of course, was the birth of my second child in August. With her came the upset of routine, family dynamic, sleep, and all those other disorienting but completely natural shifts inherent in bringing a new life – a new spirit (or spirits, depending on your conception of the Self) – into this brilliant, dynamic world of the living. Of course, thanks to modern medicine, childbirth for me was a much less daunting experience than it was for my ancestors (and, sadly, for those today who live without access to adequate medical care).

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