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Bull Stone Rising: Some Thoughts on Foundation Offerings

When you raise a standing stone, or build an important structure like a house or a temple, you'd do well to begin by making a foundation offering first. That's the pagan way.

What archaeologists call the “foundation deposit” is prayer made permanent. It embodies, in an ongoing way, the builder's intentions for the new structure, constituting the foundation beneath the foundation.

Among the Copper Age cultures of what archaeologist Marija Gimbutas called Old Europe—as in Minoan Crete, Old Europe's final flourishing—it was not uncommon, when building a house, to bury beneath it first a small, clay model of a house: action made articulate. The intention could hardly be clearer.

So when, at Beltane, we raise the Bull Stone at Sweetwood Sanctuary in southwestern Witchconsin's Driftless Area, you can be sure that, before the raising of the Stone itself, we'll first be laying our intentions in Earth.

The Bull Stone marks the marriage point of Earth with Sun, of People with Land. The Stone itself makes the Great Marriage with the Land both in microcosm—at the shrine itself—and in macrocosm, lining up with the notch on the horizon where two ridges meet that marks the place where the Sun sets on the shortest day of the year.

In the Earth beneath the Bull Stone we will lay three carefully-chosen offerings:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Craft Is No Thornless Rose

 “She hath a grip of all the Craft.” (Andrew Mann, 1594)

For behold: I am Queen of all Witcheries.” (The Charge of the Goddess)


Here's the thing to remember: there are many Witcheries.

Feign though we be to one amongst the many, yet are we heirs to them all.

I've been reading (and mostly enjoying) Aaron Oberon's 2019 Southern Cunning: Folkloric Witchcraft of the American South. Oberon is a post-Wiccan witch (his nutshell definition of Wicca as “four corners and gods” has got to be one of the wittiest and most succinct critiques that I've ever heard) in search of a Witchcraft with some grit and spooge to it. This he finds in the folklore of the American South, where he grew up, and in the American witch-tales collected in Hubert Davis' classic (but, among witches, much-neglected) collection The Silver Bullet and Other American Witch Stories.

Now it has to be faced that one of Wicca's great weaknesses lies in the fact that its magic is largely coven-magic. When it comes to practical magic for one, the standard Book of Shadows simply doesn't have much to offer. This explains why so many Wiccans have been off studying Hoodoo for the last 20 years: they're looking for the micro-nutrients that their own diet simply isn't providing.

In one chapter, Oberon sets himself to unravel a bit of folklore that he himself grew up with. “The Devil is beating his wife,” his mother would say when it rained while the Sun was shining.

Well, the expression raises some interesting questions, and Oberon's discussion ranges—as it should—through Scots trial disquisitions, domestic abuse, and his own dream-work.

But you've missed something important, Aaron: you're forgotten your Witch mythology. Remember the Lady's Descent? Remember the Scourging? Remember the “pangs of love”?

Feign though we be to one Witchery, yet are we heirs to them all.

The Horned drives. His Scourge, that most problematic of all His tools—as I learned from local Wiccan elder Burtrand back in the 80s—may be little-understood, but with it, he drives us to surpass ourselves, to go beyond what we thought we were capable of. Pain, adversity: these push us to transcend our own limits.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Deck the Goat

October waning away, Samhain coming on. That means it's time to deck the Goat.

Like most witches, I'm a full-fledged aigolator (< Grk. aix, aigo-, “goat”). Whence our folk's affinity for things caprine?

If you think that it has something to do with the Bible, you're probably right. The Bible famously prefers sheep to goats. Well, sheep are passive and stupid, goats smart and headstrong. As Dion Fortune says, Some love one, and some love the other, but let me ask: Which would you rather be?

But the witch's aigophilia runs deeper than this.

Long ago, when the tallfolk's red bronze broke our people's blue flint, we got pushed up into the unfertile hills that no one else wanted. There's not enough graze up there for a cow, but goats thrive on the spiny browse that grows from the rocks. That's how the witch-folk became a People of the Goat: like us, they're survivors.

In this, we are like the Kalasha of what is now NW Pakistan, the only Indo-European-speaking people who have continuously practiced their traditional religion since antiquity. They too got pushed up into the mountains, in this case the Hindu Kush. They too survived thanks to the Goat.

Along with their herds of domestic goats, the Kalasha also reverence the argali, the white Himalayan wild goat, which they call “the cattle of the fairies.” Interestingly, the Scots refer to deer by the same title. On deer's milk I was suckled, goes a fairy song from the Highlands.

If it should seem strange that a lifelong vegetarian should have an argali head mounted above his fireplace, let me hasten to add that it's an antique from the 1920s. Crowning the head, the magnificent horns spiral out horizontally on either side, like the ram-horns worn by gods in Egyptian art. (The Egyptian wild goat, a relative of the Himalayan species, went extinct in pre-Dynastic times but—Kemet being Kemet—the Egyptians portrayed their gods with its horns to the very end of pharaonic civilization.) That's my deckable Goat.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Although I've never seen it, I've heard for years about National Lampoon's Satanist Catechism for Children: "This is the Goat. We
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember seeing a YouTube video of baby goats on sheet metal. They were adorable.
You’re invited to a Samhain ritual

You’re invited to a Samhain ritual. It will be held via teleseminar (group phone-call). Simply dial your phone, and you’re in. No other equipment needed. Attendance is free.


Dial-in number and other details for this one-hour ceremony are in my upcoming newsletter. Subscribe for free: 


Samhain is a major holiday for many Pagans. The holiday has various aspects. Here are a few: 

* It is similar to the Mexican Day of the Dead, in that it is a time to honor and visit with ancestors.

* It is a harvest festival.

* Many Pagans celebrate the New Year at this time, instead of on January 1.


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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

You slip between the folds
of time and memory
Soft black velvet enveloping
the soul of Desire.

You stare back with
cold star-lit eyes
twinkling like diamonds
in the black tapestry of night.

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"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet" - King Minos

I love the Internet. There's so much information so readily available. It's such a contrast to my early days of researching the Minoans, back in the 1970s and 80s, when I had to scratch and scrabble for a sentence here, a paragraph there, in books about other ancient cultures. But that ease of access to the online world comes with a price.

Anyone can put up a website and say anything they want to in it. That's good; freedom of speech and expression is something I'm all for. The problem comes when websites repeat outdated and inaccurate information, either because the writer doesn't know any better or because they have a theory they want to prove. Of course, this sort of thing happens in books as well, but it's more common online, simply because it's easier to put up a website than to publish a book.

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How Did the Standing Stone Get to the Top of the Hill?

At Beltane, we raise the Bull Stone.

How, you ask, did we manage to get a ton of local limestone from the wall of the coulee (ravine), across the bed of the coulee itself, and all the way up the hill to where it now lies?

Not difficult.

The Witch sat at the top of the slope and Sang the Stone up.

Really. She Sang, and the Stone just—as it were—floated up the hill. Call it levitation.

I, Steven of Prodea, tell you this, and I know it to be true because I was there, and saw it happen myself.

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