Baba-loca-lips – A Priestess, a Prostitute, and a Persistent Priapism

Baba-loca-lips - A Priestess, a Prostitute, and a Persistent Priapism

To the Goose, and the outcast dead of Cross Bones Graveyard, and to John Crow, the caretaker.931
To all the girls I ever loved before, and to Chris de Burgh.
To the Lady in Red, and to the Lady in Scarlet.

We both read the Bible day and night,
But thou readest black and I read white

— William Blake

It is I who am the wife; it is I who am the virgin.
It is I who am pregnant; it is I who am the midwife.
It is I who am the one that comforts pains of travail.
It is my husband who bore me; and it is I who am his mother.
And it is he who is my father and my lord.
It is he who is my force;
What he desires, he says with reason.
I am in the process of becoming; yet I have borne a man as lord.932

On the Origin of the World (late third century)

On Halloween 2006, I forwent my usual ritual of dressing up in rubber shorts and a gasmask codpiece and attended a belated wake for the medieval dead of Cross Bones. It was a fluffy affair, full of dyed-in-the-woolly armpit pagans, but it was certainly necromantic enough for an old romantic like me, and the dead were as lively as ever.

But this story begins with a comic book two weeks before. Alan Moore’s stunning Promethea series was blowing my mind with every installment, and then I came to The Wine of Her Fornications. The issue in this issue, and the paradox central to Uncle Al’s cosmology, is that the Virgin Mary and the Whore of Babylon are one and the same. Whilst this had always appealed to my sense of aesthetics, I couldn’t get my head around the concept, but neither was it something I could forget, because in Thelema this secret is tightly bound up with the apocalypse.

Who can say when a story begins? This one winds back at least two more years, to a night promoting streetwear at a Japanese nightclub. I was inspired that night, ranting tirelessly about hemp and graffiti and London, and the B-boys were interested, but I was more interested in women. I was very horny indeed, but there were very few ladies out. This was the curse of working for an uber-trendy drum n’ bass brand in a country without much of a scene; it was so cutting-edge that the clubbers were nearly all boys in puffer jackets with vinyl fixations.

So the horn rose, ascended into my throat, and splashed out all over the club in ecstatic praise of the goddess hemp, the fabric, the fuel, the ecologistics, the medicine, the buzz, and a whole lot more. I left in the morning, alone of course, and boarded a train bound for Kyoto and my deeply lonely abode, a large, dilapidated, two-storey house. It had no furniture, three naked light bulbs, and no decoration at all. The rent was very cheap, however, because the house was awaiting renovation, as were my housemate and I, both of us getting over our respective wives. He took me in when she threw me out for the sixth time, and we spent the time drinking heavily, making misogynistic jokes, and playing computer games in the room with the communal light bulb. Those were the days! A cold winter of discontent with a poisonous caterpillar plague in the garden, the slow throb of loneliness disturbed only by drunken bicycle injuries and suicide notes from the ex.

Figuring that I was unlikely to attract any women in this pitiful state, I had started practicing Taoist seed retention, and three weeks in, my nuts were about to explode. The train was not leaving for another half an hour, and I was literally squirming in my seat. Something had to give, and that something was my attitude towards prostitution. This was one of the few sexual taboos I had left intact, and I would sit quietly contemptuous when my expat friends reminisced about their sordid trips to Bangkok. No one was going to bust me at six in the morning, so I jumped off the train and hit the smutty streets of Minami-Hankyu.

Getting laid in the red light district is not as easy as one might imagine. Although prostitution is perfectly legal in Japan, most establishments are closed to foreigners, and it took me half an hour of polite Japanese refusals from scantily clad women before I found a welcome with Ai-chan, who was friendly and had nice teeth. Unfortunately another ugly foreigner found her shortly after I did, and was not cultured enough to wait quietly in the waiting room. He poked his bald head into our tacky love-nest and asked if he could watch in appalling Japanese. Ai-chan shouted “NO!” in English, and pulled the covers over us, an harlot genuinely abashed. She asked me if he was a friend of mine. I shouted “NO!” in English, and sank into the bed in horror, painfully aware of why most knocking shops are closed to foreign barbarians.

Ai-chan quickly regained her composure, asked him to wait, and fleeced me blind. She also left me hooked on hookers, and there begins a whorey story, because the brothel door is difficult to shut once opened. It lasted about six months, until I witnessed the deeply unreverend Nemu running at full speed through the streets of Kuala Lumpur in a frenzied and ultimately futile search for an open brothel. I was unsatisfied by two other prostitutes that night, but the ladies of the night melted away as the sun came up, and the Reverend Neverend give up his quest frustrated.

Back in England a winter later, I had regained my composure, though not, of course, the mojo of a Western man in Japan. The whore was on my mind again, and this time I decided to approach her with a little more ceremony. A friend and I were conducting a healing ayahuasca session with a third friend, who had just had an operation for cervical cancer, and it seemed appropriate to invite BABALON, the Thelemic goddess of the cosmic uterus. Her tarot card Lust went on the altar, a naked temptress straddling the beast with seven heads, reins tight in her hand and head thrown back in exquisite abandon. In the ceremony I was too busy concentrating on playing the music to think about her, or even look at the card. The beast was reined for the session, we held it together, and two years on, news from her cervix is good.

The following day I awoke with a burning desire to know a particular whore in a Biblical sense. I began chasing women through the pages of The New Testament, The Golden Bough and The Greek Myths with the one track mind of a depraved divorcee chasing hookers through the streets of Southeast Asia. It soon became clear that there was something about Mary, the name shared by all the significant women in The New Testament, but five days later I had a party to get to, so I toweled down my sweaty palms and went to the Cross Bones bash.

The party was held in SE One club, on the site of a Roman temple to Isis, and featured bawdy medieval drinking songs and sordid verse from the lips of London sex-workers. I had to bully Seth into coming; though he is usually up for a spot of necromancy, his plan was to curl up at home under a duvet, listening to Goth music and weeping over his ex-girlfriend.

My girlfriend refused to come, asking why I was so into dead people. (I told her they usually had fewer hang-ups than the living.) Seth had a great time, despite himself. I regretted his company only once, during the group tantric exercise, squeezing our neighbour’s hands in time with our perineal muscles and pelvic floors. He was my first tarot teacher and a dedicated Thelemite, so we had occasion to nod knowingly at each other whenever the poetry wound round to the Whore of Babylon, or when the divine harlots sung choruses of the “a-poca-poca-poca-lypse”. Widdershins around the altar, where I had left my Lust card, and incantations to the goddess and to he of hoof and horn. A masked priestess gave each of us a word on a leaf-shaped card. Mine was ‘Strength’, the name for Lust in traditional tarot decks. This was the card that had set the ball rolling in the first place, the energy of the lion that sets all balls rolling.

John was curb-crawling the shadier streets of the astral in his acid-fueled pimpmobile when he first met his muse, the Goose, a seventeenth century prostitute with an ear for verse. The Revelation of my mate John (otherwise known as The Book of the Goose) begins as she sets the scene:

For tonight in Hell they are tolling the bell
For the Whore that lay at the Tabard.
And well we know how the carrion crow
Doth feast in our Cross Bones graveyard.933

“Cross Bones” struck him as a fitting poetic name for an outcast’s graveyard, but later John discovered that it really was the name of an unconsecrated burial ground, where bodies unwelcome in Southwark Cathedral cemetery were interred. Outcasts included the Winchester Geese, prostitutes licensed by the Bishop of Winchester since 1161. They rested in peace until the mid 1990s, when London Underground began developing the derelict site, and digging up skeletons. John received his first message in November 1996, since which time he and his chaotic confederates have made a Discordian shrine of this urban wasteland, conducting monthly rituals to honour the dead.

The hookers and their John led a procession of pagans, ayahuasqueros and other Halloween fiends from the club to Cross Bones, singing songs of gin and syphilis. We remembered the dead by reading their names, which had been given out on ribbons. I had one for a baby girl, and another for a man from the workhouse who shared a name with the founder of my school. I met some lovely randoms, and ended up fried at a dirty tekno party in Stoke Newington, in my reverend’s robe and my gasmask at last. A nearly divine London harlot gave me a kiss, then turned and left me pining, remembering the SM temptress I once married, whose face glowed scarlet with anger, the lion’s mistress who had turned me out and inside-out, who fleeced me of everything worth anything, and left me empty.

On the bus home I did some automatic writing, producing a page of filth (see Appendix Automatic 1). It was the wrong bus so I had to walk for miles. I ended up in A & E, on E, pondering the A (it is indeed an A, not a Y, but best not ask too many whys of hoes; it always adds up the way the lady says). I wasn’t sick, just a little dizzy from the MDMAganism, but it was freezing outside and I needed somewhere to catch the flood of words. BABALON’s limitless lovejuice was drowning me in pungent poetry (see Appendix Automatic 2).

As Noah’s flood subsided, the dry island of consciousness rose out of the waters of chaos, and everything that had been remembered stepped off the Ark. Noah’s family multiplied, and “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.”934 They voiced the same idea with the same tongue, to build a tower to the heavens:

And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven935

The first project of the first New World Order was a noble goal, but soon the structure became more beloved than the builders. The Talmud relates how even pregnant women were forced to build, and the sick were cursed for their uselessness. As the Tower of Babel grew, it took ever more effort to raise masonry to the top. Builders wept for a falling brick, but not for a falling man.936

What was the Tower of Babel? There was a seventy-meter ziggurat in Babylon called Etemanaki, the End Platform of Heaven and Earth, but bricks were not all that were baked in Babylon. Babylonians also baked clay tablets pressed with one of the earliest alphabetic scripts, setting treaties and tax agreements beyond argument, fixing regulations and codifying correct conduct. The ziggurat is dust today, but Hammurabi’s law code survives, four millennia after it was made, carved into an ancient obelisk in the Louvre.937 Its shadow falls over the entire planet.

Marked tablets formed the foundation of our law codes, built up ever since by kings and presidents. When one truth is inflicted on all, the structure become more important than the builders; Milgram’s nightmare begins, and people start dropping from the scaffolding. “The Truth” is lethal, but whilst the letter of the law is fixed, interpretation is a different matter. Tongues become confused, and the project is derailed. Man is saved from his fixations as “Truth” is fractured into a multitude of languages.

The Bible relates the word Babel to the Hebrew balal (to confuse). It is derived from the Akkadian bab ili (the gate of god),938 and this ba-ba-baby talk is also the root of the English “babble.” In a world of confused babblers at the gates of infinity, names are changed to protect the intransient, and meaning streams into seventy currents of consciousness. Matthew turns on a new tap with a redefinition in the first chapter of The New Testament:

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.939

The prophet referred to is Isaiah, translated in the KJV as follows:

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin [sic] shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.940

But what about this virgin? Mark and John never mention a virgin. The Greek word in Matthew is parthenos, which does indeed mean “virgin,” but the Hebrew in Isaiah is almah, which simply means “young woman.” This is not an ambiguous Hebrew word; it is a mistranslation. Wherever almah is found in The Old Testament, the KJV renders it “virgin” (or “maid,” meaning virgin), but it makes for some silly scripture. In Proverbs, for example, the Hebrew clearly refers to a little bump and grind, but in the KJV:

There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid [sic].941

There is nothing wonderful about the way of a man with a virgin; it makes no sense. Another time it makes a nonsense of The Song of Solomon:

There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins [sic] without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one.942

What are all these virgins doing in a harem? If they are virgins, how can there only be one who is not defiled? This wouldn’t fool a rabbi. In translated Jewish Bibles, these virgins are all young women, because to a Jew, altering the word of God is high blasphemy. To anyone with a sense of aesthetics, it is a crime against poetry, surely.

Whilst virginity is exalted in Christianity, there is none of this in The Old Testament. When Jephthah, a hero born of a whore, has to sacrifice his only child to fulfill a promise to the Lord, his dutiful daughter insists that he honour his word, and she does not complain about her death. She asks only “let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity.”943 Presumably there were plenty of shepherd boys willing to take the sting out of her sentence. Virginity is a curse in Judaism, not a virtue. Sex is a duty, every day for men of independent means, once a week for scholars and ass-drivers.944 Two weeks without nookie was already reasonable grounds for divorce,945 and you can leave the hole in the sheet for the Puritans. In Jewish law, lovers must be completely naked, so nothing can come between them.946

The Israelites were neither prudish nor moralistic about sex. Judah went a-whoring, and he fathered a great tribe.947 In The Talmud, Eleazar ben Dordia “did not leave out any harlot in the world without coming to her.”948 At the end of his life, after a revelation which began when the classiest whore in the world farted during coitus, God calls him “Rabbi,” and tells him he is “destined for the life of the world to come”! So why the mistranslation? Did an honest mistake change the nature of the religion? What about later clerics, who reconstructed the hymens of various Old Testament young women to fit in with the evangelist’s fetish? Once is a mistake, as my dad likes to say, twice is stupid, but three times is on purpose. True for a night’s whoring, certainly, and for translating scripture as well. This virgin is here to stay. Did Matthew have a thing for virgins, or was there a particular virgin on his mind?

Virgin mothers were worshiped all over the pagan world, from the Amazon to Babylon. Was it Isis or Ishtar or Astarte remembered in Matthew, or was this almah Al-Mah, the Persian virgin goddess of the moon? One of the earliest virgin mothers was from Sumer, one of the oldest settled civilisations, where some of the oldest surviving text was laid down. Her name was Inanna, and her habits are not what one might expect from a maid. Ancient poems relate how she went scantily clad into town wearing “the pearls of a prostitute”, to play drinking games and “snatch a man from the tavern.”949 “She praised herself, full of delight at her. . . remarkable genitals,”950 but she was always a virgin, regardless of what she got up to. Like the moon, and like a woman, she always returns to her pristine state, ready to bear again.

Inanna was goddess of many things, including shepherds,951 carpenters,952 love, sex, and temple lovers.953 Her priestesses kept a sacred institution, a ritual dramatisation of the value of sexual love, and even respectable married laywomen would make love to strangers who approached in the darkness and left a coin. This is called “sacred prostitution” in modern terminology, but the term is deceptive, because of what prostitution means to us. Back in the day, these women were devout temple attendants performing a vital service for the community, a role that is still necessary today, but performed with less ceremony in scummy hotels and backstreets. The sacred harlot, the Har of Babylon, is remembered as the Whore of Babylon. She was one of many virgin mothers who bore solar heroes on the winter solstice as Virgo popped over the horizon, saviours destined to be murdered. Whilst the mythology survives in part, his mother’s nature has been forgotten. But is The New Testament betrayed by a smudge of scarlet lipstick?

In The Second Book of Kings, Ashtoreth is the abomination of the Zidonians, This is Astarte, who was called Asat in Egypt (whom we know as Isis), mother of the saviour Horus. Like early Christian images of the virgin and child, Egyptian representations depicted Horus suckling at his mother’s breast, though Mary’s breast was covered up as Christianity became increasingly prudish.

Asat was protectress of the dying god Azar (Osiris), and she was addressed as Meri in Egyptian, meaning beloved.954 In The New Testament all the Marys, with the exception of the virgin, are helpers or protectresses. Mary Magdalene accompanies Jesus to his death and to his tomb,955 where she watches over him, and is the first to meet him after his resurrection.956 The Mary in Romans “bestowed much labour on us,”957 and another from Acts hides St. Peter when he is on the run.958

Another Mary is a helpful soul who spends much of her time weeping over her brother Lazarus, who had been dead for four days. Lazarus is the only character besides Christ resurrected in The Bible. In Egyptian mythology, Asat wept over her brother Azar until he was resurrected. Azar’s name Latinised becomes Azarus, and with an honorary “El” (like El Shaddai), the name becomes a familiar El Azarus, or Lazarus. Mary, sister of Lazarus, spends a year’s wages on ointment to anoint Jesus’ feet,959 an extremely significant act which makes Jesus the Messiah (literally, “anointed one”). Two verses later, the Messiah is betrayed as Azar was betrayed, setting the scene for his execution and resurrection.960 Asat’s sister Nephytys also took part in Azar’s resurrection. She was also titled Meri, and hence both sisters together were called by the plural Merti.961 This is very close to Marta (Martha in English), the name of Lazarus’ other sister.962

There is something else about Mary, something both exalted and shameful. The anointer is named in Matthew, Mark, and John, but in Luke she is unnamed, and she is not connected to Lazarus. It is also in Luke that she does more than just anoint his feet. She showers him with kisses, and gives his feet some serious attention.963 We learn “what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner”,964 and the people pass judgement upon her, but “her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much.”965

Luke brings the holy harlot back into the story in this pivotal role as Messiah maker, at a time when she was falling out of favour in the Roman world. The geographer Strabo wrote in 23 A.D. that sacred prostitution continued at the Temple of Aphrodite in Corinth, but he called it “wholly shameful.”966 Whether he actually visited is unknown, but it shows that the idea was still in currency, and frowned upon in his time. Perhaps this is why the other canonical Gospels, which give the anointer the honourable name Mary, do not allude to her harlotry. Mary Magdalene is one of those who “ministered unto him of their substance.”967 She had her demons, but she was no slapper. All the other Marys are spotless, but the unnamed Messiah maker in Luke was “a sinner.”

It was no simple task merging the exalted feminine of the old pagan world with the paternalistic mores of the Hebrews and the Roman Empire, and the explosive success of early Christianity is a testament to the ingenuity of its authors.968 Inevitably, however, and tragically, Christianity was institutionalised and sanitised as it grew. Any ambiguity about the anointer was ironed out by Pope Gregory in 591, who ruled that the sinner’s sin was sexual, and that Mary Magdalene, Mary sister of Lazarus, and the unnamed sinner, were one and the same hussy.969 The beloved nurturer was dragged from the foot of the cross of the King to the grimy streets of King’s Cross. The work of her priestesses became the shame of prostitution, and there begins a tale of misogyny and the repression of female sexuality, which continues to impoverish both women and men of Christendom today. Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ lover in The Gospel of Philip, but such scandalous stories were purged from the Biblical canon. The only woman worthy of devotion was the Virgin, who most certainly does not put out, not for love nor money.

Within a few centuries, aging celibate church fathers were decrying the perils of sex. St. Ambrose exalted virginity in lengthy prose, and St. Jerome went as far as to write that even martyrdom could barely cleanse a woman of the stain of marriage. St. Augustine argued how both impotency and unwanted erections reveal that sex turns the body against the will. (St. Augustine, who was a genuinely compassionate and forward thinking man, lamented that we have more control over our farts than our willies, evidenced by the fact that many can produce melodies at will from their bottoms.970) Christianity quickly become a dreadfully frigid faith most unlike its Jewish and pagan roots.

Goddesses worth their salt, however, are not in the habit of being dominated by stuffy old clerics, at least not for long; the holy whore went underground. Asat’s sacred geese were sacrificed well into the Common Era, all the way from North Africa to South Londinium. Goosey-goosey gander waddled across the continents and the millennia, upstairs, downstairs and in the master’s chamber, and all the way to Medieval England, where the Old English term for prostitute was “goose.”971 The Winchester Geese lived in the Liberty of the Clink and were buried in Cross Bones graveyard, where they rested in disgrace until London Underground disturbed their sleep.

Asat may have been forgotten, but her rites continue to this day at Easter. The name “Easter” derives from Astarte, and the festival was a heathen fertility rite. It is mentioned only once in The Bible: the evil King Herod attends Easter as Peter languishes in his dungeon awaiting execution.972 Hot cross buns were offered to pagan gods 1500 years before Christ. The Easter pig is eaten for the boar that killed Ishtar’s lover Tammuz, whose rites are called “abominations” in Ezekiel,973 and he is still mourned today with forty days of lent. There are no bunnies in The Bible. The Easter bunny hopping about delighting Christian children is a celebration of the defining characteristic of a rabbit, which is sex, and the eggs he distributes are, of course, fertility symbols.

It is obvious when you think about it, but thinking is exactly what church fathers sought to prevent, with threats of excommunication, such as the papal decree of 431:

If any one refuses to confess that the Emmanuel is in truth God, and that the holy Virgin is Mother of God, for she gave birth after a fleshly manner to the Word of God made flesh; let him be anathema.974

Like Inanna, Mary is always a virgin, and is remembered as such in the Greek Orthodox liturgy, where every mention of her name is prefixed with the words “always virgin.” Unlike Inanna, however, her virginity was protected by a new magick, which suppressed thought with fear. Mary’s virginity was far too questionable to be questioned. Catholic dogmas concerning Mary multiplied, and soon Catholics were also terrified into accepting that the immaculate conception was a unique event, and that Mary was a virgin until death, at which point her entire body, including her immaculate hymen, ascended into heaven.975 The Pope was still issuing threats in 1950:

If anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith.976

The pagan origins of Christianity have always upset purists. Jehovah’s Witnesses valiantly attempted to chase the heathen from their midst, ditching crosses, candles, Easter and Christmas, retaining little more than a Godfearing frown. For the Witnesses, the party comes at the end of time. They give eschatology a bad name, as far as I am concerned; I like to think that my group is the complete opposite of theirs. Wherever Christians gather there is the danger of Christian fascism, and sadly Daime is no exception, but for the most part we love pagan wisdom, and we shout “Viva!” for all the beings of the Celestial Court to close our ceremonies. Whereas the Witnesses dream of a past age of purity, our party is a post-modern mash-up in a free house, where all are welcome, and we sing so loud that the gods start to boogie. . .

The virgin mother has been with us for at least 6,000 years; by now we should be grown up enough to learn the truth about where her baby comes from. The Virgin Mary is the goddess of the new moon, but the cycle continues. The goddess of the full moon is the divine temptress, the nurturer for whom all nature swells into readiness, whether lemons or lingams. Mary Magdalene carries a clue in her name, the root of which is gadol, meaning both “large” and “grow” in Hebrew. She accepts all comers into her double-D cup of compassion. The goddess of the full moon accepts us because she knows us and the depravity of our desires. She knows we are all the same with our trousers down. She has seen it all before, she forgives and keeps giving. It is time for us to reciprocate, to love her as she was loved in ancient times.

Greeks and Indians sculpted sexy women for their temples. Inca effigies have enormous knockers. Women are sexy! They are nurturing, and comforting, and divine, but Christendom got stuck with a virgin fixation. The sacred harlot became a demon, as do all deities under the force of repression. Her fleshy desires became a disgrace, but her rites continue in alleyways, valued in rocks of crack. The goddess has been defiled and her divine name made vulgar. In India she was Kunti, who summoned gods with a secret mantra and bore their children. In Rome she was Cunina, protectress of babies. Derivatives of the sacred C-word were titles for goddesses, priestesses and wise-women, including, perhaps, our own “Queen,” but the word is our dirtiest, so offensive that well-raised American girls cry if you say it with enough malice. Our hang-ups about the word, the organ, and the woman surrounding it are abstractions built upon a confused mess of neuroses. Why does a healthy appetite make a slut of a woman and a stud of a man? Dogs aren’t offended by cunts, nor by the word “cunt.” What exactly are we scared of?

The feminine shifts between absolutes, indistinct in the moonlight, moving in and out of balance, swelling up and shrinking down, and always returning to the source. The mother is confusing and contradictory, one thing and then the other, and this constant wave is the wellspring of life. The Law of the Lord is laid down with a word, and the wave collapses into one particle, going one way. Its potential is fixed, later to be falsified. The masculine limits, but the cosmic cervix is limitless. Code gestates quietly until it tumbles fully formed and perfect into the world as a symphony, a cosmology, or a baby. But with the mystery of infinity comes the terror of the black hole. She drives men to poetry and to murder, and all for nothing. The feminine is a great gaping 0, pungent, potent, and dripping with blood.

The Hebrews never discovered zero, and neither did the Greeks. It was imported from India in the thirteenth century, but even then few understood it. It is more irrational than the irrational numbers the Greeks discovered, more invisible than negative numbers. It is an affront to Aristotle, neither one thing nor the other, neither negative nor positive, so how can it be anything? And yet it is not the same as nothing. “Zero children” is not the same as “an empty playground.” Zero is the assertion of nilness. It is empty potential, and that is something quite different.

Our master is a sun god, an “I” drawn across the sky, following his will(y) on his missions, penetrating territories, parching seas, illuminating and casting into darkness as he dies at the end of the day. The world fractures along the edge of sense defined. Stuck here in the rational mind, it is only the constant confusion of words and definitions that allows for reinterpretation and regeneration. Creative writing redefines the boundaries. Matthew’s ingenious slight of hand brought the virgin mother into the narrative, and some influential patriarchs thought it best to keep mum. YHVH, for all his dynamism, is not an easy father to get along with, Elohim is too dimensionless to deal with, and Jesus on the cross has his own concerns to worry about. The goddess, however, is ready to receive you without judgement.

Pagans exalted all three phases of the moon and of womanhood. Persephone, Diana and Brigit of the new moon are perfectly pure and full of potential, virgins associated with birth and the birthing bed. Selene, Luna and Ceres are full moon goddesses, nurturers, protectors, and lovers, with soft curves to cradle our confused heads. Her rite is marriage and her sacred place the nuptial bed. After a period of plump fecundity the moon shrinks into the crone, whose names are Kali, Hecate and Nephytys, a wise old woman with a pickled face and a head full of craft. She sees through your charm and has a herb for every illness, if you have the humility to ask. The crone presides over death and the deathbed; she guides the dead to the underworld, and converses with the spirits of their world.

The waning moon suffered a similar fate to the full moon. Her honorifics “crone,” “hag,” and “witch” became insults. Her craft was pushed underground. She was denied in the ninth century, and drowned and hanged from the fourteenth century. The fire of persecution began to roar in the sixteenth century, with the Spanish Inquisition adding fuel on one side and Luther fanning the flames on the other.977 It burned well into the eighteenth century, as the Age of Reason was constructed, and even today the hag continues to suffer. Old women crumbling alone in nursing homes are no less victims of this ugly prejudice than was Helen Duncan, the medium described in “São Miguel in Stockwell’.

The Biblical Marys appear in order of the phases of the moon. The Virgin Mary is present at the beginning and leaves after a few chapters. Mary the nurturer appears in various guises, pushing the story in the middle, and the crone arrives at the end as Mary, mother of James, attending Jesus’ death, following the body to the grave,978 979 sitting over the sepulchre,980 and bringing spices to anoint the corpse.981 Along with Mary Magdalene, she is the first to learn of the resurrection.982

Matthew was not the first Gospel written, but it is the first read. It appears to be a close copy of Mark with added pagan bits, such as the star of Bethlehem and the virgin birth. It is the most mystical of the canonical Gospels, the only one that mentions dreams, but there were Christian scriptures far more mysterious. All sorts were mixing in the Hellenistic crucible, including Egyptians, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Africans, and Oriental kings wandering through, following stars, carrying strange spices. Different traditions explored the story in various directions for 200 years, leaving as many as fifty contradictory Gospels reflecting a broad spectrum of belief. The Gospel of Thomas appears to be older than the canonical Gospels, and it is laden with mystical code and paradox, where the end is the beginning, where giving money to the poor harms the spirit (which makes sense in the welfare state). In The Gospel of Judas, written within decades of the canonical gospels, Jesus tells his most beloved disciple “you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothed me.”983

For many Gnostics, the Virgin Birth was the mystery of the feminine Holy Spirit giving birth to the cosmos, without anything fertilising it. The Gospel of Philip lampoons the orthodox position:

Some said, “Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit.” They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman?984

As Christianity became more mainstream, the lunatic fringe became a sensible side parting. The messy mop of Christianity was trimmed to make it as neat as possible, and as easy to control. Gnostic sects were stamped out, texts were declared heretical, and those that were not hidden were torched. Irineus of Lyons, a converted pagan with a political agenda, and the man who developed the idea of original sin, selected which Gospels entered The Bible. He censored most stories alluding to a nonmaterial level of reality. He cut The Acts of John, where Jesus’ steps leave no footprints,985 and The Apocalypse of Peter, where Peter goes into a trance and sees “a new light greater than the light of day.”986 In the official canon, doubting Thomas touches the resurrected Jesus, keeping the story in the material world, whereas in most Gnostic stories his hand passes through. The least mystical of all Gospels is Luke, which takes place entirely in the physical world, and it is here that the anointing woman is unnamed and sinful.

For most Gnostics, the resurrection was not fleshy but spiritual; the spirit of Jesus returns in dreams, trance, and intuition. The creed, however, made resurrection “in the flesh” a dogma to be affirmed weekly, questioned on pain of eternal damnation. This nasty piece of Roman politics was incorporated into the church liturgy, despite having no basis whatsoever in The Bible, nor in paganism. The Gospel of Philip encourages Christians to follow the Holy Spirit rather than such articles of faith. The mistrust of words in this banned gospel is almost Taoist, as is the monistic philosophy expounded.

As with censorship in the Churche of Scyense (see Chapter 3), the censorship of Gnosticism was a political exercise, and many of the same issues arose, including the existence of invisible powers and questions of authority. It is almost impossible to control a group of enthusiasts who take instructions not from appointed authorities, but directly from invisible entities in dreams or visions. In The Gospel of Mary, Jesus appears to his favourite disciple in a vision and tells her to “not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it.”987 This is not conducive to the ambitions of an empire. Tertullian insisted that a Church meeting was only valid with a bishop (poimen in Greek, meaning “shepherd”), and the bishop of Antioch explained how separation from one’s bishop meant separation “not only from the church, but from God himself.”988

For Gnostics, it was not the “dry canal”989 of a bishop that validated a church but the Holy Spirit, which was invisible but instantly recognisable. Adam was the psyche, or thinker, and Eve was the pneuma, or spirit, the connection to the invisible world. Some churches left the ceremony in the hands of the Holy Spirit, choosing the prayer leader by lot,990 or waiting in silence until someone was moved to speak, as do modern Quakers. The Holy Spirit, personified as the lovely Sophia, makes Adam’s snake rise and opens his eyes. Her ecstasies bring intimate knowledge, or gnosis, to the Gnostic, and she gave out far too much authority. Trance, miraculous healing and communication with spirits were everyday events in the Hellenistic world, and in one church, the initiation ceremony concluded with the words “Behold, Grace has come upon you; open your mouth, and prophesy.”991

In the early years of Christianity, the feminine was in the ascendant. Many churches ditched the Jewish custom of segregating the sexes during prayer, and in some churches women were uttering prophecies and even leading ceremonies. Church fathers, however, banned the worship of Mary,*992 and Tertullian preferred “the devil’s gateway” in her traditional role:

Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on your sex lives on in this age; the guilt, necessarily, lives on too.993

Tertullian filled his free moments fantasising about and gloating over the eternal torment awaiting scholars, poets, playwrights, philosophers and dancers among others,994 but whilst his spiteful imagination was rich, his theology was poor. He knew he was on shaky ground when he wrote that the resurrection of the flesh “must be believed, because it is absurd.”995 By the end of his life he had disavowed most of his early anti-Gnostic polemic, but his immature convictions became a central part of Church doctrine. The Holy Spirit was bound and gagged, the passage of the moon was arrested at the first stage, leaving us with a third of a goddess and an irrational fear of the irrational, a culture where feminine wisdom was removed from the discussion. Christians, with nothing better to believe in, fell into line behind their shepherds as a flock of docile sheep, and occasionally a gang of battering rams. But the lusty lion eats sheep for breakfast.

Gnostics questioned authority all the way from bishops up to YHVH Himself. He was Yao, the demiurge, a limited and ignorant being, master of a world where a perfectly innocent man is tortured and executed.996 He punishes Adam in envy997 and floods the world out of spite.998 He demands you “serve him in fear and slavery all the days of your life.” These ideas were quite common once; they are heretical today because of the political acumen of early church fathers.

There is a middle way between angry rejection of YHVH and capitulation to Him. This Lord is a part of us, and a condition of our world, to be accepted and observed. Whilst conditions can be overcome, He and His bishops have dominated us for millennia, and recently His Gospel of one true truth has been taken over by scientists and lawmakers who, like He, are convinced they know it all. YHVH censors BABALON’s narrative and filters out rays of infinity, but time is on her side. She flows on, a babbling brook, whilst he scribbles along, a bloody long book. YHVH thrust his way from A to Y, rubbing his way around the world, but all this friction is coming to a sticky end. BABALON keeps coming, a multiple, perpetual orgasm, pagan love juice streaming sweet scents of infinity, whereas His sense is finite. She swells, bears, shrivels, and reverts to her immaculate state. BABALON is mother of all and mistress of forms. Poetry tumbles from her void, lubricated with the intoxicating potion of liquid intelligence. She is the ever-changing moon, and He is an oldskool hardcore tune, remixed until the end of time.

The world begins with Mama. First comes Ma, Mama, Mum, Ima (Hebrew), Mae (Portuguese), and Mary, Mama’s mammaries, massive and milky and mine, for meeeeee! Baby-talk begins as cries and voiced exhalations, usually maaas, uums, aaams, maaams and mums. Nana and Inanna are mindlessly uttered, the names of the Yoruba and Sumerian mother goddesses. Maa can mean “measure” in Sanskrit, marking out the matrix and making the world. Mmmm describes pleasure. It is the sweet sound of sex, as the cosmic cervix draws us in, and makes everyone moan. “Tell me about your mother,” says the shrink, but he already knows. Mmmm may also be all the noise a dying man can make. Mother Mary is with us at the birth bed, the nuptial bed, and the deathbed, with a different face at each.

Outside of these sacred beds, however, some sense is required of us. Ma is where a baby finds her voice, but ba is the first word, an easy plosive phoneme somewhere between the immensity of ma and the point of pah, between utterance and eloquence. Ma-ma-ma comes endlessly and mindlessly from a baby’s mouth. Once we get to pah and fah, father, papa, pater (Latin) and pitara (Sanskrit), we know who we’re talking about, but thoughts begin with a bah. The Bible begins “in the beginning” with “Bereshit,” not the first but the second Hebrew letter, and it is forbidden to inquire into the breath of aleph before the beth.999 Now we’re talkin’, but listen to the sense we’re making. We’re babies talking boobies and baba. Baba is slang for “poo” in Japanese, whilst ba is the root of aunty, and Baa-san means granny. In Gujarati mother is ba, and in Greek it is buha; it is feminine, but over in Yoruba lands, baba is father, and in Hebrew father is abba. Ab is a masculine root in Hebrew, and macho man Abraham was the root of the tribe, beginning with the breath of aleph followed by beth. Ba crosses the border, as yet undecided what it wants to mean. This is where BABALON babbles and bubbles, forming sense and nonsense at the edge of the cosmic cervix, before “who’s yer dada?” becomes a question. Phonemes frame coded chaos, and the world is cut into shape. Mama/Papa is the first division, and some of the first words learned, soon followed by other dualities: on/off, hot/cold, up/down, and so on. Now spend the rest of your life trying to get over that one. . .

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,”1000 but when the divine word is uttered, the aeon crumbles. It is the beginning and the end, the Alpha, the Omega, and the mega-Om, the opening of the cosmic joke and its rib-splitting punch line. The word which contains all words is the set that contains all sets. (Georg Cantor, a pioneer of number theory, began the first of many extended stays in the nuthouse after postulating and trying to get his head around the infinite set.) All other words are limited, bound at both ends. BABALON will be bound, and you can bend her any way you wish, but whatever kinky position you have in mind, she ends up on top. Entering her mysteries at the point of ecstasy, sense fails as blinding blackness descends. The magician penetrates the unconscious void, his wand firm amidst the undulations. From here he can direct his will where he will, and shape magick worlds with magick words.

The goddess’ cycle generates a stable world, but this world doesn’t go anywhere. YHVH breaks through the wave, devastating intervention causing permanent transformation. His name changed over the rises and falls of empires, but His story has been roughly the same, ever since stories have been pressed into clay, ever since Gilgamesh spurned the goddess of love to trek to the end of the earth in a futile quest for immortality. YHVH’s earthly representatives wrote the law on a monolith raised over Babylon. His lawyers started the oldest argument and are still holding freedom hostage. He is Yaldabaoth, “child of chaos,” order arising from the noise of the void. He is the phallus, erect with desire, and He makes the goddess writhe when He respects her infinity over His limits. But when He offers her the rank shabbiness of Mr. Loverman, He degrades her, and sickness follows.

In the beginning was the Word, which split into a confusion of tongues and perspectives to interpret our beautiful universe. Under the homogenising force of Christianity, most of the world was united, but for this to happen the moon had to be fixed and the tides held back. The Western psyche has finally grown up enough to enjoy Sophia’s many tongues in his ear, and just in the nick of time. Nukes, gung-ho bioengineering, rampant materialism and fundamentalist fools threaten our survival, but meanwhile new technologies force us into a global system, a net that stretches rather than a tower that falls. It grows by forming links rather than by pressing down on old foundations. It brings us together whilst maintaining our space. We are a few clicks, not bricks, away from New Jerusalem, and a few ticks away from complete annihilation. Sit back and enjoy the grand-finale. The goddess is returning, and she’s still a virgin, but this time she’s in fishnets.

It is time to remember her, succulent and delicious, and to give her the love she deserves. The virgin planet is long since fucked, rubbed raw by the jealous god manhandling her and intellectual rapists forcing themselves upon her, siring bastards. She can’t help us anymore; she is not present at the resurrection. It is time to get a curvier goddess with “remarkable genitals” back on top where she belongs. She is eying you across the cosmic dance floor, waiting for you to come over to her side. Her pheromones permeate the air with significance and the magick of the everyday. Feel her rhythms, and your step gets funkier. Caress her curves and your clumsy desires are transformed. Her dark eyes bewitch, and she invites your embrace. Kiss her and the void is at the tip of your tongue, for she is aching with fertility. She lives for loving touches in the right places, but only a serious pervert goes looking for the G-spot with an endoscope.

The divine harlot teases us to give up our currency of exchange, the meaning we make of the world. She lures us across the abyss into wordless silence. She strips us of our material attachments and draws us up into the universal current, one small step for a man, one giant leap for a tin-canned mind. The beast that sends a respectable reverend running wild through the streets of Kuala Lumpur can be yoked and redirected towards the infinite. Hold tight the reins, for the clear light outshines the red light. The whore and the virgin are one, a mirror reflecting what you offer, an empty page dreaming of stories, a quiet space aching for song. Touched by the wand, she erupts in a fountain of words, ever-changing, redefining and recreating. Approach as you will, and receive what you deserve. Let her fleece you of everything you own, let her take you into her chamber on her terms, and she will open your eyes to the universe: Yin-yang, thank-you Ma’am! Offer her arguments and rationalisations, however, and she might tear out your balls.

However illogical and wrong it is, for her it is right, even if the neighbours are complaining, even if the last bus is leaving, even if the world is ending. . . The goddess is a mega-babe, but occasionally something dreadful comes tearing out of the void. We are due for a tremendous whack of PMT. There will be hot flushes, violent mood-swings, broken crockery and rivers of blood as the womb is cleared to make way for the birth of the New Aeon. A small-minded man deserts his beloved at a time like this, but a wise man keeps his head down, sweeping up what she smashes up, strong but silent at the eye of the storm, bringing her cups of tea as they pass through this difficult period together.

“Strength” was not the only card Uncle Al renamed. He also changed the final card from “The World” to “The Universe,” expanding horizons for the New Aeon. As the sun prepares to change its ways to save our souls and cool off Mother Earth, the awakened are breaking through the scales of this dimension into the astral, and into galactic consciousness. Kepler’s intuition about the harmonies in the solar system has been proved true with modern measurements.1001 The sizes, speeds and positions of the planets are governed by mathematical constants and laws, and related to our musical scale. The math is too complex to go into here, but the reason that the moon is exactly the right size to obscure the sun during an eclipse is because of the exquisite order governing the sizes and positions of the heavenly bodies. . .

The solar system is swimming in harmonic relationships, but macro-organisation stretches even beyond it into the apparent chaos of the galaxy. Magnetic fields have recently been discovered acting across galaxies, coherent domains over distances hitherto unimagined by physicists.1002 Sirius, the star of BABALON, is the brightest star in the sky, and almost the same size as our sun, but not quite. The ratio is an intriguing 1:1.053, a harmonic constant precise to three decimal places, putting the stars into resonance. The same ratio is said to be coded into the sizes of the pyramids, and other astronomical harmonics are coded into Stone Henge and Mayan monuments.1003

Oh my goodness gracious goddess, things are getting Sirius! Here at the end, the reverend reveals himself, with whores and heresies from East Asia to Outer Space, my goodness graceless godless me! Listen carefully, you sons of virgins and sons of whores, you daughters of purity and sin, listen to the ba-ba-bits and bobs broadcast on Radio BABALON. There is sense amongst the nonsense, order amidst the chaos, and meaning in the madness. All this crazy maths is a bit far-fetched for my pulpit, to be honest, but call it what you like, Starseed transmissions or amphibious extraterrestrials, there is something about Sirius that attracts the attention of the skyward bound. I could go on about Sirius at length, others have, at great length, but Nemu’s End has an impending and very final deadline, and I don’t have time to sift the chod from the chaff. I prefer to dream. And you are invited.

Perhaps Uncle Al’s greatest service to humanity was to get together with Auntie Frieda and redesign the tarot deck. Tarot is all about revelation. A deck of cards is a random number generator par excellence. The cut pulls code from the chaos of the shuffle, throwing out a story of numbers and elements, princes and players to reveal the themes beneath the surface. Each of the twenty-two tarot trumps represents one of the twenty-two chapters of Revelation, and trumps are named after the trumpets the angels blow in this intriguing book.

There is one final trump Uncle Al renamed, the second last, the penultimate step on “The Fool”’s journey towards “The Universe” and understanding of the whole. It was called “The Final Judgment” in traditional decks, but he called it “The Aeon,” because. . .

. . . shhhhhhhhhh. . .

Perhaps we should keep quiet about that.

Footnotes

931-938 — Not supplied by author.
939 — Matthew 1: 20-23
940 — Isaiah 7:14 (KJV)
941 — Proverbs 30:19 (Jewish Publication Society Bible)
942 — Song of Solomon 6:8-9
943 — Judges 11
944 — Tractate Ketubot 62b
945 — Ketubot 5:6
946 — ibid 48a
947 — Genesis 38:15
948 — Tractate Abodah Zarah 17
949 — A Hymn to Inanna as Ninegala — The Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature, lines 109-115
950 — Hymn to Inanna, Segment A
951 — ibid, Segment I
952 — ibid, Segment D
953 — ibid, Segment I.
954 — An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary: With an Index of English Words, King List, and Geographical List
with Indexes, List of Hieroglyphic Characters, Coptic and Semitic Alphabets etc.
by Ernest Alfred Wallis; Budge (New York, 1978) p. 310
955 — Matthew 27:61
956 — John 20:14
957 — Romans 16:6
958 — Acts 12:12
959 — John 11:2, 12:3
960 — Mark 14:10
961 — The Egyptian Book of the Dead – The Chapter of Breathing the Air and of Having Power over Water in
Khert-Neter.
962 — John 11:1
963 — Luke 7:45
964 — ibid 7:37-47
965 — ibid 7:47
966 — Geography by Strabo 8.6.20
967 — Luke 8:2
968 — The Wisdom of the Egyptians by Brian Brown, [1923] p. 283
969 — The Making of the Magdalen: Preaching and Popular Devotion in the Later Middle Ages by Katherine
Ludwig; Jansen (Princeton, 2000) pp. 34-38
970 — Saint Augustine by Garry Wills (Guernsey, 1999) pp. 130-139
971 — Shakespeare’s Sexual Language by Gordon Williams (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006) p.143
972 — Acts 12:4
973 — Ezekiel 8:14
974 — Third Epistle of Cyril to Nestorius
975 — Church Dogmatics by Karl Barth, Geoffrey William Bromiley, Thomas Forsyth; Torrance (Continuum
International Publishing Group, 1961) p. 141
976 — Munificentissimus Deus by Pope Pius XII (November 1950) article 45
977 — Witchcraft Persecutions in Bavaria: Popular Magic, Religious Zealotry and Reason of State in Early
Modern Europe
bu Wolfgang Behringer, J. C. Grayson, David Lederer (J. C. Grayson, David Lederer
trans.) (Cambridge, 1997) p. 66
978 — Matthew 27:56
979 — Mark 15:40, 47
980 — Matthew 27:61
981 — Mark 16:1
982 — Matthew 28:5
983 — The Gospel of Judas, Published by the National Geographic Society, 2006 &
The Gospel according to Bart by David V. Borett in The Fortean Times 221, April 2007
984 — The Gospel of Philip (Wesley W. Isenberg trans)
985 — Acts of John, verse 93
986 — The Apocalypse of Peter (James Brashler and Roger A. Bullard trans.)
987 — The Gospel of Mary 4: 38
988 — Pagels p. 105
989 — The Apocalypse of Peter (Brashler, J & Bullard. R. A. trans.)
990 — Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, (Penguin 1986) p. 60
991 — Libros Quinque Adversus Haereses by Irineus 1.13.5
992 — Hislop pp. 19-20
993 — On the Apparel of Women – Tertullian, Book I. (Rev. S. Thelwall trans.)
994 — De Spectaculis – Tertullian
995 — Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, (Penguin 1986) p. 53
996 — The Apocalypse of Adam (George W. MacRae trans.)
997 — The Testimony of Truth
998. Hypostasis of the Archons
999 — Genesis Rabbah 1:10
1000 — John 1:1
1001 — Kepler by Max Casper (C. Doris Hellman trans.) (London, 1959) pp. 264-290
1002 — Precocious Galaxy’s Magnetic Field is Bizarrely StrongNew Scientist webstite 1st October, 2008
1003 — The Sirius Mystery by Robert Temple, 3rd edition

©2010 by The Reverend Nemu
Edited by Sheta Kaey

The Reverend Nemu first started thinking about the apocalypse whilst baiting the Jehovah’s Witnesses who appeared at his door. Since then he has written a fat book on the removal of the veil, studying it from various perspectives, including as a neurological process which can occur for an individual at any time, and a collective cultural cataclysm which happens occasionally in history.

Nemu’s End: The History, Psychology and Poetry of the Apocalypse is presented on his Web site, and our current unfolding apocalypse is the subject of his blog.

He really is a reverend, albeit an irreverent one, and is available for weddings, christenings and funerals.

The Na’vi and the Fremen: What Science Fiction Teaches Us about Tribalism and the Mystic

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under culture, featured, mysticism, popular culture, shamanism

The Na'vi and the Fremen: What Science Fiction Teaches Us about Tribalism and the Mystic

To begin, I must offer an unqualified spoiler alert. During the course of this article, I’ll be examining the complex and fascinating intersection between tribalism and mysticism, employing for reference points James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar, and the 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s science fiction classic Dune. If you’ve missed either of these movies, please remedy this deficiency immediately, for cultural literacy’s sake if nothing else. I’ll endeavor to make this article accessible for everyone, including those who have missed one or both movies, so by the same token, don’t blame me when I ruin the movie for you. You have been warned. Additionally, I should make clear from the outset my intention isn’t to judge whether these movies are “good” — or even entertaining — in any traditional sense. I shall leave proper film criticism to those more educated in the nuances of the medium, or at least those with a somewhat more interesting point of view than my own. I’m much more interested in teasing out the lessons we might derive from science fiction about our own role as scholars and practitioners of the occult.

Regarding the inspiration for this article, I must thank the editor for her recent post regarding the movie Avatar. I had the pleasure of watching James Cameron’s beautifully rendered epic with several friends the weekend before Yule. If you haven’t seen this movie — Yes, the computer animation and the special effects are nothing short of amazing. Yes, the overall story arc proves exceptionally clichéd in places. I’ll stop short of calling it colonialist fetish porn, although other reviewers have leveled exactly this charge. (More of this anon.) Still, Avatar raises some meaningful questions about what being mystical means in relation with the rest of society.

In broad outline, the story arc of Avatar closely resembles that of the science fiction classic Dune. In Avatar, soldier-turned-mercenary Jake Sully finds himself on Pandora, an alien world largely inimical to human life; there the forces of human civilization are busily mining unobtanium, a rare mineral which is fantastically valuable back on Earth. Compare this premise with that of Frank Herbert’s Dune, wherein the young noble Paul Atreides moves to the desert planet Arrakis; Arrakis is a desolate and hostile world notable for being the only source of the spice melange, a mind-altering substance critical for interstellar travel and thus the continuance of civilization. Pandora is populated by the Na’vi, a supposedly primitive people who we learn are actually very much in touch with the rhythms of their world. Upon Dune, we have the Fremen, a deeply spiritual people whose survival skills are nearly as strong as their tenacious belief in prophecy and fate. Jake Sully finds himself among the Na’vi, and he learns not only the skills necessary to thrive within Pandora’s lush biosphere, but also an appreciation for the interconnected web of life upon Pandora. Paul Atreides, cast into the unforgiving wilderness during a coup by a rival noble house, becomes part of Fremen culture and learns the ways of desert survival. Both figures are eventually accepted by their respective adopted cultures. (Interestingly, in each case the protagonist must ride some dangerous beast in order to be recognized fully as an adult!) When human mercenaries arrive to drive off the Na’vi, Jake Sully successfully unites the various tribes of the Na’vi in a heroic campaign against the technologically superior humans. Paul Atreides, taking up the heavy mantle of messiah-figure, becomes leader of the scattered communities of Fremen in order to lay low the rival houses which conspired to bring down his family.

The patterns here mirror each other to no small degree. For our purposes, though, I should like to focus our attention upon the two spiritual cultures at work here — the Na’vi and the Fremen. Looking through critical eyes, we may find a surprisingly jarring contrast. While both peoples are undoubtedly spiritual, and — crucially here — connected with the rhythms of their respective worlds, the real-world analogues are very, very different. In the sky-hued and iridescent countenance of the Na’vi, we see reflected the shamans of Africa, South America, the Pacific Rim. In the wind-scoured and burning gaze of the Fremen, we observe nothing so much as the Islamic militant. By the artist’s design, we find ourselves inspired by the serene pantheism of the Na’vi. Conversely, we most often shudder when confronted with the naked, apocalyptic fanaticism of the Fremen. Whether these portrayals are even-handed or accurate, we will leave for another day. What matters here is this: Both the Na’vi and the Fremen are spiritual cultures which exist largely outside of the broader universes they inhabit.

This quality of apartness echoes the notes sounded by two authors here on Rending the Veil. In the Yule issue, Patrick Dunn observes that in the practice of magic there exists an element of separation, which “amounts to a cutting off not just of society but of the physical world.” (More on the second author — the insightful Ian Vincent — momentarily.) Dunn characterizes this process as “a turning inward” into the world of ideas. This inward focus is crucially important both for the Na’vi and for the Fremen, because both cultures are really defined by their inherent inwardness. When confronted with outsiders, both cultures act with some mixture of caution and hostility, attenuated for the specific encounter. When confronted by the beliefs and practices of outsiders, both the Na’vi and the Fremen instinctively close ranks and look inward, towards their own respective teachings.

In an article appearing in the March 1992 issue of Atlantic Monthly, noted political theorist Benjamin Barber described a cultural conflict he termed “Jihad versus McWorld” — in short, the conflict between the forces of tribalism and the forces of universalism. Jihad — speaking strictly in the context of Barber’s article — is the tendency to identify narrowly with one’s cultural, ethnic, or religious community. Jihad, in its extreme manifestation, is parochial tribalism taken to an extreme, coupled with suspicion or even outright hostility towards other cultural identities, whether tribal or universal. Jihad seeks to cut off the broader world, sequestering itself to prevent contamination by the external world. McWorld, on the other hand, is the homogenizing impulse which suggests all people are essentially equal, together with an essential disdain for the unique aspects of local and tribal identities. The universalizing paradigm of McWorld — at its worst — suggests all people are consumers within a world driven by culturally neutral economic forces.

Neither paradigm possesses an exclusive claim upon the moral high ground. While Benjamin Barber’s characterization of Jihad speaks of parochialism and even xenophobia, the impulse towards tribalism also preserves myths, traditions, and cultural artifacts, elements which resonate with older elements of our cultural and biological makeup. Left unchecked, McWorld reduces everyone to consumer trends and dollar signs. Still, the notion we all share an essentially universal identity as people grounds — morally and politically — the notion of universal human rights. We should also take note these two tendencies — the one narrowing our identity, the other broadening it — exist inside every single individual and across every single culture. Because these tendencies — considered philosophically — prove more ambiguous morally than Barber’s political focus, I will employ the terms “tribalism” and “universalism” throughout the rest of this article.

The respective worldviews of the Na’vi and the Fremen are strongly tribal in tone. Both cultures demonstrate elements of siege mentality, more or less justifiably, given the deleterious outcomes of each people’s interactions with the broader universe around them. The Na’vi find their very survival threatened by the arrival of humans, especially when the corporate authorities leading the occupation decides a Na’vi community must move to make way for the company’s mining operations. The Na’vi, however, perceive a broader threat to their way of life. Their fear finds expression in their ambiguous response to the school opened by Dr. Grace Augustine. According to the movie’s backstory, the Na’vi close the school because of its association with the occupation force; still, the tribe demonstrates an obvious and mutually held respect for Dr. Augustine.

Coupled with this tribalism we find a strong spiritual element. The Na’vi demonstrate a profound appreciation for the interconnected web of life around them, which translates into an essentially pantheistic worldview. The Fremen, on the other hand, embrace both fatalistic reverence for the wilderness and zealous devotion to prophecy. The broader universe crafted by Frank Herbert does include other religious expressions, notably the influential sisterhood of witches called the Bene Gesserit; still, the Bene Gesserit are only one player within a much larger complex of institutions. However important they may be for the story of Paul Atreides, the Bene Gesserit sisterhood cannot shape the worldview of the Galactic Empire to the degree the spiritual voices of the Fremen single-handedly define the culture of Arrakis. Indeed, tribalism and religion generally support one another. Spiritual traditions become an identity around which a tribe can find both root and shelter, and the resulting tribe then protects and perpetuates the dogma of the religion.

It’s not surprising that the universal tendency cannot so easily sustain this level of religious fervor. (Quite ironically, Western forms of mysticism — properly understood — exhibit an ineffable quality which precludes, and indeed transcends, the particular; sadly, this impulse seldom permits any real alliance between the broader universal impulse and the community of believers. Oh, and allow me to belatedly wish everyone here “Happy Holidays!” — See what I mean? ) Spiritual pursuits — including mysticism and magic — most often prove intensely idiosyncratic and deeply personal, and what is idiosyncratic and personal forever remains the enemy of homogenous community. The beings and phenomena of the astral realms — however the believer conceives them — become so many impersonal forces of nature of psychology, when cast beneath the relentlessly materialistic gaze of universalism. Tribalism, on the other hand, celebrates the personal myths and traditions which resonate with our primal selves most profoundly. Whether right or wrong, the tribal believer encounters Deity and the spirit world in ways more intuitive — more relevant — than the universal impulse allows.

The charge has been leveled that the story of Avatar amounts to cultural chauvinism, since the story shows an outsider who “out-natives” the natives, surpassing the wildest expectations of the tribal culture, in order to bring the disparate tribes together against their common foe. The damaging subtext, according to this deconstruction, belittles native culture by suggesting the natives could not themselves engage in such daring and heroic efforts in their own defense. We might well make the same inquiry of Dune, an endeavor further complicated by the fact the Fremen are notably guided by the prophecies of Dr. Kynes, another outsider who identifies with — and becomes part of — the religious conversation of the Fremen.

Before we can consider this train of thought, we must return briefly to “Jihad versus McWorld”. Barber himself suggests — in no uncertain terms — that McWorld is heavily favored within the broader culture wars. McWorld has the distinct advantage of looking past every possible division between diverse peoples as something essentially superficial. People are people are people, and when people who would otherwise belong to distinct cultural groups share this belief, then the universal tendency can bring to bear the full weight of the community during its battles with tribalism. A movement which embraces tribal thinking, on the other hand, devalues not only the broad, universal impulse which would homogenize the world, but also the surrounding tribal movements which fail to correspond with that movement’s identity or worldview. McWorld doesn’t need to divide and conquer; Jihad conveniently divides itself.

Herein we observe what I believe is the real reason why basically tribal peoples unite under someone like Jake Sully or Paul Atreides in the stories of science fiction. Their allegiance has little to do with the outsider’s physical or mental prowess, though both individuals are certainly remarkable and talented individuals. Neither the Na’vi nor the Fremen can be considered guilty of any misplaced reverence for the technological superiority of the outside cultures. No, the real strength of both Jake Sully and Paul Atreides lies in their cultural background. Both Jake Sully and Paul Atreides come from cultures which celebrate coming together for some common cause, and both are charismatic enough to communicate the benefits of intertribal cooperation to otherwise disparate tribes. The universal impulse which they champion isn’t superior morally to the tribal mindset. Jake Sully goes to war with the culturally arrogant and environmentally reckless corporate outfit he abandons, yet here we observe nothing so much as moral self-correction emerging from within the homogenizing force of McWorld. While Avatar shows clearly defined lines of good and evil, with Jake Sully representing the “good” aspects of universalism, and the corporation representing the “worse” elements, Dune adopts a more nuanced approach. Paul Atreides is clearly the embodiment of universal impulse among the Fremen, yet Paul frequently works from motives of vengeance and wrath, and his overall character remains morally ambiguous at best.

The defining element here isn’t the “advanced” culture’s psychological or moral superiority — Jake Sully and Paul Atreides are both uniquely talented individuals, yet this fact alone does not enable them to rally the disparate tribes and communities under one banner. No, the real conflict here is between the universal impulse and the tribal impulse, and here both Jake Sully and Paul Atreides claim their decisive advantage, since they emerge from universal cultures. (Of course, pragmatic advantage does not equate with moral worth, yet this is another discussion for another day.) In both science fiction stories, tribal peoples must adopt a more life-affirming version of the universalizing impulse which empowers their enemies, and Jake and Paul give them the tools to effect precisely this change.

What’s the takeaway for us as witches and magicians? Generally speaking, we are not the Na’vi, and we are not the Fremen. In the battle for the collective soul of our world, we are born into the universal impulse which suffuses the whole of Western culture. Every time we endorse universal human rights — every single time we look past someone’s skin color or sexual orientation — we affirm the universal impulse. Every single time we suggest in matters of religion there are many roads ascending the same mountain, we affirm the universal impulse. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are life-affirming elements within universalism; any time we can tease those out, we add something important towards the health and sanity of our world. Our culture celebrates the universal impulse. We perceive in Jake Sully and in Paul Atreides noble protagonists who speak towards the most life-affirming incarnations of this mindset.

The practice of magic constitutes the crafting of paradigms. The doctrines of chaos magic make this aspect explicit, yet most introspective forms of contemporary magic embrace this notion to one degree or another. Even if the paradigm in question is nothing more than simple acceptance of some spirit world, the magician embraces a worldview apart from the cultural default of scientific materialism. And herein we see the “otherness” of the magician. Earlier within this article, I referenced Patrick Dunn’s treatment of the magician as something apart from the rest of the world. This impulse is tribal in tone. Equally tribal in aspect is the turning inward of the magician. I ran with the notion of inwardness as something defining about tribal societies, yet what this treatment misses (and what I believe Dunn catches) is this: The turning inward practiced by the magician is personal introspection; the magician remains ever the tribe of one. Choices about magical paradigm are made by the individual magician.

This idiosyncratic practice, this personal interpretation of our shared world, runs counter to the overall thrust of the universal impulse. And herein we discover the fundamental tension for those who practice magic within the Western tradition. We are children of the universal impulse which defines our shared culture, and yet we rail against (or subtly subvert) the homogenizing aspects of this same force. We are, to borrow an expression from Ian Vincent’s article in the Samhain issue of Rending the Veil, the “Tribe of the Strange.” We are those who step out of line, who dance with the unique beats of our own hearts. And it’s damnably difficult to step outside what the mainstream considers normal, without feeling a profound tension with this homogenizing force.

Friedrich Nietzsche, with his characteristic wryness, once proposed this tension conspires to prevent the emergence of genuinely great souls across humanity. The common people, bound together by simple and mutually held conceptual ground, are able to communicate with one another easily, facilitating their collective survival efforts. The great mind, upon the other hand, not only thinks “outside the box” of common thought, but also along unique lines distinct from other great minds. Unable to communicate either with the common people or with one another, they struggle in isolation to survive and reproduce. Now we might take issue with the notion that greatness contains some genetic component — Again witness the universal impulse at work! — and in fairness to Nietzsche, I think there’s some tongue in cheek which a surface reading of his work too frequently misses. Still, our own endeavor to preserve our individual uniqueness becomes doubly difficult, since nearly the whole of Western civilization remains indelibly universal in character. We are not the Na’vi, and we are not the Fremen. Simply phrased, we are not an inherently tribal people.

Nevertheless, the line separating the universal impulse and the tribal impulse, much like Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s famous line between good and evil, passes through every human heart. We might favor one mindset or another — we might be born into one world or another — yet the opposing viewpoint remains within us, always there in potential. This latent potential is what gives Jake Sully the capacity to understand, however imperfectly, the pantheistic and animistic worldview of the Na’vi. Likewise, the nascent tribal impulse within Paul Atreides makes possible his tempestuous and fateful connection with the devout Fremen.

As the inheritors of Western culture, we are universal within our thinking. People are people are people, and there are many roads ascending the same mountain. This universal tendency is what inspires virtual homes like Rending the Veil, wherein we find many authors and readers, with many distinct viewpoints, coming together with the common cause of learning from one another. As witches and magicians, as members of the Tribe of the Strange, though, we are tribal within our thinking. We nurture and develop paradigms which oppose or subvert the homogenizing and materialistic tendencies of universalism. And while we may find meaningful spiritual traditions and covens which share broad elements of our individual magical paradigms, our paradigms remain forever individual and unique, for the paths of the mystic and the magician remain forever inward ones. The challenge here becomes one of balance and integration. Taken to their respective extremes, tribalism devalues everyone and everything outside the narrow definition of the tribe, while universalism devalues everything which renders the individual unique and special. How can we champion the life-affirming elements contained in these two impulses, without falling prey to those perilous extremes?

The complete answer — should there be such — rests outside the scope of my article. I can only propose what might be the path towards an answer, since the real solution occurs within genuine introspection and open-minded dialogue. We are the Tribe of the Strange, and we must learn how to embrace both our strangeness and our latent tribal impulse. By our strangeness, I mean those unique paradigms and practices which make us witches and magicians. Our strangeness transcends any particular affiliation; by the very nature of our craft, our personal introspection transcends even spiritual tradition or coven. Still, this strangeness makes all the more urgent our collective efforts to communicate with one another as one singular tribe. We might not — cannot, really — agree upon every issue, and we must be okay with such differences. We must develop a common dialogue, however, should we wish to resist as one tribe the homogenizing elements of universalism which would deny our spiritual birthright. And we develop this common dialogue via the universal impulse which we inherit from our broader culture, just like Jake Sully, and just like Paul Atreides. Science fiction teaches us how to tease out the life-affirming aspects within our cultural makeup, without falling prey to xenophobia or to homogenization. Let’s continue the dialogue of our strange little tribe, here and elsewhere, embracing both our own unique greatness and mutual respect for one another.

Blessed Be!

©2010 by Grey Glamer.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Book Review – The Northern Path

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under books, heathenism, reviews

Book Review - The Northern Path

Douglas “Dag” Rossman
Seven Paws Press (June 30, 2005)
ISBN: 978-0964911390
252 pages
Reviewer: Soli
StarStarStarStarStar
 

At first glance, Norse mythology can be a daunting dragon. Rough living, the world coming into being from a cow licking an ice man and humans starting as trees, enough names with Thor as a root you would need a spreadsheet to keep track of them, and then the world ends and no one can stop it and even the Gods die. Not only can it be depressing, but finding a good starting place isn’t always easy. I regularly see people new to Heathenry inquiring about good books to start with in order to become familiar with the lore. Douglas “Dag” Rossman has provided one which I think should be in the top five list of Things to Read First In Asatru with his book, The Northern Path: Norse Myths and Legends Retold…And What They Reveal.

The first section of the book is Rossman’s retelling of several tales from the Eddas along with his take on Beowulf and the Nibelungenlied. His tales focus heavily on those involving Old One Eye, including a take on the tale of Odhreorir very much in line with my fellowship’s view of the relationship between Odhinn and Gunnlod. “Beowulf” and the Ring cycle have both been greatly compressed, and are a much less intimidating introduction to both tales. Finally, Dag shares stories of Thor, the theft of Idunna’s apples, how Skadhi came to marry Njord, Loki’s binding, and Ragnarok. Each of the stories in the book show Dag’s own style, and not all follow what would be considered the canon of the lore. I don’t think this is a drawback; since there was certainly no written canon a thousand years ago, it is easy to think of different skalds varying stories based on region and their experiences.

Part two of the book covers Germanic cosmology and gives insight into the mindset of the people. Among the topics covered are the relevance of mythology, how he himself came to be a skald, an introduction to the Aesir, Vanir, elves, the enemies of the gods, the significance of Ragnarok, and how the lore has survived into modern times. I was very interested to read about his own experiences of creating an initiatory experience using the lore for young men attending Sons of Norway campouts. The idea of teen boys learning about their ancestry by participating in mock adventures and having to fare out alone at night combined with the mythology would make the Gods come alive for these young men. Truly, I am surprised that Rossman did not identify outright as Heathen, though he does mention people worshiping the Gods in modern times and his own implementation of an old Germanic mindset in his life.

One line that stuck out for me when I was reading was this section where he describes his idea that the battle between Thor and Jormundgand as allegory for order and chaos in the universe.

“In the scenario just described, it seems clear that Thor acts as a representative of Order, and the Midgard Serpent a representation of Chaos. Their first two encounters are standoffs, a reflection of the dynamic balance that exists between Order and Chaos, and which I believe lies at the heart of the orlog. So long as this balance is maintained, the Nine Worlds will continue to exist. Should Thor finally prevail over the Serpent of Chaos, nothing could ever change, stagnation would set in, and all possibilities for future creativity would cease. Should Thor be slain, Order would totally disintegrate, and the Nine Worlds with it. Alas, the Eddas tell us of yet a third possibility, a final confrontation between the two adversaries at Ragnarok (the Doom of the Gods) in which both will be slain …and the Nine Worlds consumed by fire and flood.” (p. 194-195)

I don’t agree with the honoring of giants who are depicted as outright enemies of the Gods, mind, but I thought this to be one of the simplest and clearest explanations as to why they might exist.

This is an excellent book for any Heathen library. Not only is it perfect to hand to someone to introduce them to the mythology and worldview without overwhelming them with names and unfamiliar terms, for those who are well versed in the lore it’s a very entertaining spin on the mythology. One can easily imagine a skald coming around the community a thousand years ago, with tales both familiar and new, all having his own special spin and perspective threaded throughout. Rossman’s work is truly inspired.

Five stars out of five.

Review ©2010 by Soli.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #19

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #19

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

Akashic Record

(Yoga, Theosophy) A term invented and popularized by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. The idea is that the Akasha is a thought substance which can be imprinted by experience, making it possible to retrieve otherwise inaccessible information from the past, such as a person’s past life. This is remarkably close idea to the concept of Jung’s Universal Unconscious and may in fact be a reference to the same phenomena.

Aponia

(Gnostic) Literally, “Unreason.” The act of misusing thought.

Child

(Alchemy) A naked child symbolizes the perfect intelligence, the innocent soul. In alchemy and in magical tomes, the child represents the Union of Opposites. A crowned child or child clothed in purple robes signifies Salt or the Philosopher’s Stone.

Descriptive Meaning

(Philosophy) A statements or declaration whose meaning is shown in terms of reporting or describing actual or possible facts have descriptive meaning. Compare to Emotive Meaning.

Egg

(Alchemy) The egg represents the hermetically sealed vessel of creation. In alchemy, corked retorts, coffins, and sepulchers represent the same principles.

Gold

(Alchemy) The most perfect of all the metals, gold in ages past represented the perfection of all matter on any level, including that of the mind, spirit, and soul. The Sun is often used to hint to gold.

Maggid

(Qabalah) Hebrew Master or teacher. Synonymous with the Holy Guardian Angel, Higher Self, etc.

Mercury

(Alchemy, Roman mythology) The smallest of the inner planets and the one nearest the sun. The Roman god of pranks, thievery and commerce, which says something of how Romans conducted their business affairs. Called Hermes by the Greeks, Mercury is the messenger for the other gods, as well as being the god of science and travel, and patron saint of athletes. He is typically represented as a young man wearing a winged helmet and sandals and holding a caduceus. Mercury is also a heavy, metallic silver poisonous element that is liquid at room temperature. Often used in scientific instruments. Also called also quicksilver, alchemists acquired it by roasting cinnabar (mercury sulfide). The mercury would sweat out of the rocks and drip down where it could be collected. When mixed with other metals, liquid mercury has a tendency to bond with them and develop amalgams. These properties seemed to make mercury the master of duality in solid and liquid states; earth and heaven; life and death, and the Above and Below.

Philosophy of Science

(Philosophy) The branch of philosophy which scrutinizes the nature and results of scientific inquiry. Central questions include: Do scientist describe reality or just appearances? Can we have good reason to believe in the existence of unobservable entities (e.g. quarks)? What happens when one scientific theory replaces an older theory?

Ruach ha Kodesh

(Qabalah) Hebrew The child of the Supernals, she is the unmanifested essence that lingers like a curtain beneath her parents. Marked on the Tree of Life by the illusive, non-Sephirah Daath, or Knowledge. It is a portal through which the Absolute may enter to intervene directly with existence. Mystic Christians think of Daath as The Holy Spirit.

©2009 by Gerald del Campo.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

Ritual and Myth

October 22, 2009 by  
Filed under egregores, magick, ritual

Ritual and Myth

A while back, I went to see a movie after my piano lesson, mostly on a whim. Feeling virtuous for forgoing the nachos (how can something so nasty be so tempting?), I settled into my seat and after silently judging the previews (“yup,” “cool,” “no way,” “Western civilization has officially collapsed.”), I watched my film.

In it, the two heroes fought, first with each other. Eventually, one of the characters, tamed partially by the love of a woman, joined up with the other hero and together they managed to thwart a mighty foe. One hero offers peace to the foe, and the other objects. The foe rejects the peace offer, and is destroyed.

I’ve seen this movie before. In fact, it’s a pretty old movie — it first played in a Sumerian scribe’s head about a thousand years before the common era, and the earliest written version we have is from the 7th century BCE. In that version, the first hero was Gilgamesh, the second was Enkidu, and the monster they defeat is named Humbaba. I’ve seen this movie dozens of times since, or parts of it. This film is the first time, however, that Enkidu was a Vulcan.

Every movie borrows some plot from some ancient story (although, to be fair, some use more modern myths as well). And you don’t need a degree in literature to recognize it. With or without a literature degree, audiences are rarely surprised by plots. After all, who really thinks that the hero will die before achieving his or her goal? Even the surprises of movies famous for them — The Sixth Sense, The Crying Game — has little to do with the plot. The goals and outcome would remain the same whether the surprise were there or not, although the surprise does complicate them. The simplest plot outline — a hero tries to regain faith in himself after failure; an enemy soldier finds himself struggling with his duty — would remain intact with or without the twist. And everyone watching expects the action to play out in these predictable ways.

We expect our stories to have these mythological structures because we know that all stories are built of the same stuff. The building blocks of stories — I’ll call them “mythemes” — are the fundamental particles of character, personality, motivation, setting, and action. They’re not forces of nature; we learn them as we learn to speak. They’re the parts of our first stories, and more importantly, the parts of our culture’s stories. Each mytheme comes prepackaged with expectations, so that if the author invokes the mytheme of “sea,” we know that we will deal with isolation, travel, and exile. If the author invokes the mytheme of “mountain,” we expect revelation and hardship and struggle for attainment. When the author places a trickster in the story, we know that seemingly random actions will lead to life-changing results. When the author paints a character as a knight, we know that the he or she will fight with his or her superior, feel guilty for neglecting family. In other words, we know what’s coming because we know all these stories in their fragmentary parts already.

The magical bit comes in when we realize that what we call our lives is a movie that we play in our own minds. When we do magic, we are not flinging about energy to push stuff around. We’re redefining the universe in which we find ourselves. Magic is a much more radical practice than most magicians realize: every time we do magic, we destroy the entire universe and remake it in our own image. Of course, no one notices — except that our lives change, and we seem perhaps more fortunate than others.

Whether magician or not, we define events in our lives as mythemes in our personal stories. An argument at work is a rebellion against the king. A missed bus is a disaster on par with Ulysses’ lost ships. Sometimes, this tendency to tell stories about the events in our lives can get us in trouble. Your secretary not collating the report properly can become Brutus stabbing you in the back, if you let yourself imagine that it is. On the other hand, even those who do not know magic benefit from arranging their lives into stories. We can make sense of events by seeing how their mythemes fit together. This story-making can save us cognitive effort. Similarly, although sometimes it is useful to resist story-making, it can also be useful to engage in it more consciously — and this is one definition of magic.

Our magical goals are the mythemes of ancient stories. Love, money, happiness, even self-actualization, are all the goals of particular heroes whose archetypes we can wear like a coat. If we wish to go home but cannot, we are Odysseus. If we wish to shift and react to events with cleverness and skill, we are Taliesin. Imagine, for a moment, that you are heading to work in the morning. How different is the experience of stop and go traffic on the Dan Ryan (or whatever other route you take) if it’s a desert you must cross out of duty, a slow stream carrying you into a mysterious forest, or a mountain you must climb to achieve wisdom? You can manage your mood — and, magically, the result of your work day — merely by telling yourself a different story.

One way of seeing magical ritual is as a deliberate rearrangement of mythemes in order to revise the stories of our lives. In this view of ritual, when we pick up the athame to make a circle, we are Gilgamesh and Romulus and every other warrior who ever defended a wall in battle. Similarly, to pick up a wand is to become, for a moment, the mytheme of Ruler — it’s the scepter of the king, the thunderbolt of Zeus, and the magical rod of Enki all at once. We don’t necessarily think consciously that we become these archetypes, but they’re so ingrained in the way we arrange our experiences in story, that we cannot help invoking these archetypes. And, in fact, we live our lives as archetypes. It’s worthwhile (do I really need to put this in an “exercise” box?) to take a few moments to think and maybe write about which archetypes — what characters — you play in your life. You needn’t worry about giving them the “correct” names, of course; you could even rely on names from contemporary fiction. Are you always Spock at work, logical and rational in a society that reacts precipitously, or are you Scotty, fixing the impossible to fix? If you hate Star Trek, you might prefer to ask yourself if you’re Harry or Hermione, Ulysses or Telemachus, Mr. Darcy or Edward Casaubon, Jane or Mr. Rochester?

I’m not arguing that all magic is just psychology, and the only real effect we have on the world is in our own mind. I think we do affect, first and foremost, the mind — but I think matter is a side-effect of mind. By changing the stories we tell ourselves, we change the world we live in not just in our perceptions (although that’s easiest to notice first), but in the world of matter as well.

The Obligatory How To Bit

First, it’s important to have a conscious, rather than the usual unconscious, vocabulary of mythemes. The best way to achieve this vocabulary is by reading the myths, but of course this raises the questions of what myths. It is important to choose myths whose mythemes resonate in our psyches. For most Americans, no matter their background, these are the myths of Greece, Rome, and Iceland. These are the myths that inform most of our culture. Of course, if you feel like an alien in Western culture and frequently find yourself confused at movies everyone else seems to enjoy, perhaps you have a different vocabulary of mythemes. I find anime confusing, for example, because I don’t know the mythemes. (Why is his nose bleeding? What does that have to do with having a crush on someone?) And I didn’t get Xiu Xiu until one of my Chinese friends explained it to me. You can best start with making your unconscious perceptions of patterns more conscious, but it is also possible to become bilingual in myth. The more fluent we are in myth, the more we can understand not just the stories we tell ourselves, but how those stories fit together.

Mythemes aren’t building blocks that fit together any old way; like words, they have a grammar. They fit together in some ways and not in others. You’re more likely to find a sage on a mountain or in a desert than on the ocean, because the grammar of myth fits some mythemes together than others. The grammar of mythemes already encode the likely conflicts in our desires. For example, if we wish to become wealthy, we need to look at some of the mythemes of wealth. Croesus had great wealth, but his overwhelming pride and failure to attend to wisdom led to the fall of his nation. Midas had great wealth, but nearly died because of it, by turning everything he touched to gold. Clearly, if we wish to be rich, we must be aware that our ambivalence will spring from fear of our own pride and greed. We might be led to think of wealth differently then: rather than an acquisition of items of value — real estate in Croesus’ case and gold in Midas’ — we can begin to see wealth as the wisdom to use resources. Hunting around for a story that we can use, we fall finally on Philemon and Baucis — two poor but pious people who, when visited by Zeus disguised as a stranger, offered him the last of their food and were rewarded for it. Now we have a ritual structure: an offer of generosity as an act of faith.

It helps to study not just the myth, but also theories of myth. Joseph Campbell and Robert Graves aren’t exactly regarded highly by contemporary anthropology, but they go a long way to defining an abstract grammar of myth that is invaluable in the study of magic. Campbell, for example, reduces all myths to one ur-story, which simplifies the process of learning the grammar of myth. Instead of memorizing a lot of Greek names, we can start with a framework and use it to hang the names on later. Similarly, Graves’ work is often an unsung and uncited influence on much contemporary Wiccan theology. A reader needn’t accept their theories in the academic sense to find them useful for magic.

Second, it helps to have a system. A system will take the story and translate it into action. For example, if our myth calls for a journey most of us can’t take off a week and travel on a pilgrimage to Greece. But walking about in a circle — circumambulation — is an accepted symbol in Western magical systems for a journey. Fortunately, several convenient pre-made systems of mythemes already exist. If we must represent a figure of authority, and we use either Wicca or Ceremonial Magic, we can grab our wand, no matter what particular device was used in the original myth. Similarly, perhaps Perseus uses a sword to kill the Gorgon, but we can use our athame as a mythemic equivalent in a ritual to confront our own paralyzing fears.

Incidentally, I’ve had good luck using a system as simple as a tarot deck (and in a pinch, a deck of playing cards). Similarly, some magicians do all their magic using systems like the runes, so that drawing the rune tiwaz invokes the whole of the myth of Tyr, with all the attendant strength, victory, and sacrifice, depending on intent. A magical system needn’t be complex, and in fact, one could take one’s favorite myths and reduce them to symbols to create a own magical alphabet of mythemes.

Third, a ritual requires a structure — one that is not, incidentally, noticeably different from Aristotle’s structure of a story. A ritual has a beginning, a middle, and an end. In the beginning, the magician separates himself or herself from the world. Most western magicians do this by drawing a circle around oneself, but even actions such as fasting, changing into robes or special clothing (or going nude), and ritual baths serve to separate the magician from the world. Once separate, the magician is free to refine the story. The ritual’s middle consists of ritual actions, symbolic reproductions of the story the magician wishes to tell. Inspiration, especially verbal, can be taken from the myths themselves, and symbolic action can be quite abstract. No one needs to slay a serpent to reenact the myth of Apollo’s winning of Delphi. Finally, a ritual ends by reintegrating the magician back into the story of the world, usually by reversing the actions that led to the opening, and often by a quotidian act like the eating of food or drink.

Even outside of rituals, having labels for the habitual patterns in which we find ourselves can help us break out of those patterns, which is of course one of the aims of magic. If you find yourself a lonely, antisocial writer, realize that the “lonely” part of writer is part of the writer mytheme, and not necessarily part of the reality you can live. Similarly, if you are a “struggling artist,” an awareness of the stories of our culture helps you to see that “struggling” need not go with “artist,” but usually does because that’s the story we tell.

The stories we tell as a culture, or myths, may therefore master us or be mastered by us. The magician masters myth, chooses the mythemes of his or her life consciously, and lives deliberately. Many other people simply follow the script written for them, for good or ill. Magic can teach us to revise that script, and have a more meaningful life — and perhaps become contemporary Taliesins and Apolloniuses ourselves, founders and characters in a unique life story.

©2009 by Patrick Dunn.
Minor edits by Sheta Kaey.

Patrick Dunn, author of Postmodern Magic: The Art of Magic in the Information Age and Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magician’s Exploration of Linguistics is a poet, linguist, and writer living near Chicago. He maintains a blog at http://pomomagic.wordpress.com/.

Wolverine: The War God’s Poster Boy

Wolverine: The War God's Poster Boy

War is hell — neither pretty nor kind, and it is bringing lamentation and suffering to so many in the world right now. People have hated war ever since there was war to be hated. It shouldn’t be terribly surprising then, that Mars — the Roman God of War — was not well liked around Mt. Olympus. He was much maligned by his father Jupiter, his sister Minerva, and all others who preferred peace and order to wanton savagery.

But if Mars is so easy to hate, then why is our media saturated with iconic characters that are clearly born under the influence his planet? Let’s see: Off the top of my head, we’ve got ninjas, samurai, marines, Navy SEALs, Jedi, medieval warriors, Roman gladiators, cowboys, hitmen, gangsters, secret agents, martial artists, renegade cops, and (wait for it. . !) super heroes.

Like it or not (and some of us love it), the red planet of Mars’ namesake is present in all of our birth charts. However, the negative attributes ascribed to the Greco-Roman war god are usually found in individuals who have an afflicted Mars. Mars being a malefic force, a stressed placement in a chart can lead to a very unstable person — someone who throws a punch when diplomacy is called for, or who screams at loved ones against his own heart’s wishes.

A healthy Mars, however, will usually lead to the qualities we revere in our action heroes — men of will, vision, courage. Our Clint Eastwoods, John Waynes, Bruce Lees; our Schwarzeneggers, Stallones, Bruce Willises (Willii?), our Steve McQueens, Jackie Chans, and various James Bonds — these are the guys who put a presentable face on wrathful action.

Turning our attention to the higher echelons of geekdom, there is only one comic book character I can think of who so singularly personifies the Mars archetype. Love him or hate him, Wolverine is about as Mars as you can get as one of the good guys.

Anti-Hero

When we think of the word “hero,” Wolverine’s gruff visage is hardly the first conjured up. The heroes of myth are usually Mars archetypes who have received Jupiter’s blessing and been given a task from a Saturnine figure.

Perseus, for example, who decapitated Medusa and destroyed the sea monster called Kraken. He wouldn’t have performed these deeds if he had not been given marching orders from Zeus (his father) and Athena, who charged him with an epic task. And while they’re the ones who ordered him around, they’re also the ones that gave him the gifts he needed to succeed. His heroism was bestowed on him by providence.

A modern parallel might be a character like Captain America. The U.S. government granted Jupitarian blessings on skinny, meek Steve Rogers, but they only did it so they could make him into a weapon. Spider-Man is another example: He was granted amazing powers by a freak accident, but was tasked to responsible use of those powers by the dying wish of his Uncle Ben, the man who raised him.

Wolverine was born a mutant; he was born with his healing factor, his heightened senses, and his bone claws. There was no divine hand to guide him along a quest — he was simply thrown out into the world with the innate ability to destroy.

Wolverine was bestowed with his adamantium skeleton by the clandestine Weapon X program, but there’s not much Jupitarian about having metal surgically bonded to your skeleton. No, this transformation seems much more like Pluto’s work, especially if we consider that the Lord of the Underworld is often known as Lord Pluton, God of Hidden Riches. Adamantium is, after all, a very rare and sought after metal.

As for Saturn, the cornerstone of discipline and self-control, well, it’s plain to see that Wolverine has serious issues with authority.

For these reasons, Wolverine is what we call an “anti-hero.” While there’s less glory and bluster in his story, and while he doesn’t always behave in a manner that society would condone, there is a primal element that we can all relate to. He is human because he is animalistic, and is possessed of a brutality that many of us hideaway deep within ourselves.

We relate to his pain, too. Though our own personal torments are not usually quite on par with his, his suffering and frustration are familiar.

His image has been somewhat softened since his early days, but as much as he as labeled as a “super hero,” his anti-hero nature remains at the core of his character. Which is fine — most of the people he eviscerates have it coming.

Exalted

Logan has a ton of Aries signatures; if we were to assemble a fictional chart for him, it’d probably be where his Sun, Mercury, and Mars all reside. He acts like an Aries, he talks like an Aries, and he sure as hell fights like one.

Aries is Cardinal Fire, represented by the ram in the West and by the dragon in the East. It is the first emergence of divinity, sustained by self-belief and through conflict with others — creating “sparks” with which it can add fuel to its fire.

Like the ram, Aries often seeks out esteem through dominance of others — think of that Aries jerk you know who just savors the experience of butting heads with you. And like dragon, Aries is a paragon of willpower (as evidenced, of course, by its exaltation in the Sun). Though the dragon is a mythical beast, I think we can safely imagine that there’s not much stopping one from doing what it wants. And being possessed of bestial super powers, soaring through the air and affecting the weather, the dragon (like Aries) probably had little regard for the affairs of the other animals down on Earth’s surface.

Wolverine is relatively self-centered. Always standing slightly apart from the rest of the X-Men, always hogging cover space, always taking off at the drop of the hat to explore a lead in the search for his lost past — he’s basically commandeered the entire franchise.

It’s not that he doesn’t care about others. It’s just that he’s the center of his own universe.

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, as well as the eternal child. In a sense, Wolverine is “first” among the X-Men, being far older than almost any living mutant, but kept relatively young by his mutant healing factor. Despite his age and inflated attitude, his short stature ensures that he’ll always have the nickname of “runt,” another obvious indicator of his eternal childhood. Also like a child, and like a certain other “first man,” Wolverine has a habit of assigning nicknames — “bub” and “darlin'” are his basic means for designations of male and female.

In addition, Wolverine has a tendency to group himself with younger people. Even in a group of young people like the X-Men, he seeks out the youngest as his sidekicks. First there was Kitty Pryde, then Jubilee, and most recently, a young mutant named Armor seems to be soaking up his shadow.

What’s more, straddling the line between totally childish and completely badass, Wolverine is world-famous for his berserker rage, a homicidal frenzy that overtakes him whenever the battle turns serious. While it’s cool to see our angst-ridden anti-hero flip out and kill things, it should also be noted, in correlation with the notion of Aries-as-child, that his berserker rage is a glorified temper tantrum. This is why I, for one, have never really bought Wolverine as a ninja/samurai/master of Japanese martial arts. Because, seriously, when do you ever see him fight in a manner possessed of any discipline? And while one of Aries’ innate qualities is betterment by way of self-mastery, it seems pretty clear that Logan missed a memo somewhere and skipped over all his training to get to the bloodlust.

A final evidence of Aries lies in Wolverine’s most used mutant ability: his healing factor. Unlike Leo, whose fire is sustained by social approval, or Sagittarius, whose fire is simply fueled by excitement and vision, Aries’ runs on self-belief. This can translate into a stubborn “never say die” sort of attitude, so it is appropriate that Logan’s mutation keeps him alive through ordeals that would kill a normal man.

Fallen

While Aries’ signature is certainly the largest zodiacal signature on Wolverine, the Mars war god’s other half, Scorpio, also seems to have a marked presence. Though I believe Logan’s Sun would have its exaltation in Aries, I’d also believe his second luminary, the Moon, to be fallen in Scorpio.

The Moon is the mysterious foundation of our souls — a bundle of intrinsic needs and desires that we are often unconscious of. And while a good understanding of one’s emotional base is healthy, the Moon often contains mysteries that we have unconsciously locked away from ourselves, truths that we cannot deal with. Dredging up painful psychological complexes can be most unsettling, and the Moon — being the foundational structure of the psyche — should not be unsettled.

At first glance, watery Scorpio, notorious for its connection to stories of intrigue, should be right at home in the mysterious structure of the Moon. The problem is that in all those detective or spy stories, the Scorpionic character is the one who works toward unraveling the mystery — in short, Scorpio doesn’t like any mystery that it isn’t at the center of. And so, a Scorpio Moon relentlessly tries to solve itself, which is equal to a drilling of, and eventual negation of, this all-important emotional base.

This circumstance is pretty easy to apply to Wolverine. If the Moon is a mysterious foundation, it can also be a person’s past. A different man might be content to let sleeping dogs lie, and get on with enjoying his new family with the X-Men and finding gratification in super heroics. Not Wolverine. No matter how excruciating the truth is, Wolverine cannot help but delve into his past at every possible opportunity. And this is a past that is most painful to relive, and was probably buried for a good reason. Though he’s lived for ten lifetimes, he’s seen nearly all his loved ones cut down at the start of their lives.

Battle Without Honor or Humanity

Considering his mass appeal, rich characterization, and constant involvement, it seems odd that Wolverine doesn’t get a lot of glory. There’s not too many major villains that he’s toppled — sure, he’ll get a good cut in on Magneto every now and then, but that’s usually only after he’s been nailed by Cyclops, punched by Rogue, and has been mind-raped by Professor Xavier. And even then, he only really tags the super villains when he sneaks up on them. Most of the time, Wolverine’s the guy who’s ripping through henchmen while others rumble with the big fish.

Again, this is an echo of the Greek God, Ares. Ares was bested by Athena, defeated twice by Hephaestus, and was injured by mortals on two separate occasions. There aren’t very many stories about the war god winning important battles. Those big victories usually rely more on clever thinking (Hermes,) a brilliant strategy (Athena,) or raw power (Zeus.) Battle frenzy has its place, but that place is usually reserved for chewing through the ranks of foot soldiers. That’s what Ares was good at, and that’s what Wolverine’s good at.

A Venusian Menagerie

He’s no Remy LeBeau, but Wolverine does all right with the ladies. He usually ends up with long-standing relationships that are ultimately doomed, but which carry explosive emotional weight for him until they disintegrate.

Many of the gods, following Zeus’ example, would just have sex with whomever they pleased with little regard for the consequences. But Ares, despite his gruff function, would have relatively consistent and consensual consorts. The most notable, of course, being with Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty.

Venus is represented in the tarot as The Empress, and Wolverine tends to attract women in that sort of role. His late lover, Silverfox, ended up being the leader of a terrorist organization known as HYDRA. He was betrothed to Mariko Yashida for years, before the yakuza princess was tricked into an untimely death. He had a relationship with another beautiful crime lordess in Madripoor, Tigerlily. His best-known romance, of course, is his unconditional (yet unconsummated) love for Jean Grey …who was in many ways the “Empress” de facto of the X-Men.

©2009 Nick Civitello
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Beyond the Veil – Lilith and Eve

Beyond the Veil - Lilith and Eve

Beyond the Veil

As told by one Misha McFatter:

In the beginning Sophia created Lilith and Eve in her image, and set them in an Edenic world of bliss where, in the passion of their love play, new ways of being were brought into existence, incarnating as various animals, plants, rocks, storms, rivers, stars, moods, ideas, flavors, and every conceivable thing. Lilith and Eve were not just the pinnacle of creation, they were active participants in the creative/generative process.

This continued for Seven Ages of Seven Ages of the world. The created world and the creative process were nearing perfection, making the abode of manifestation, of animals, matter, spirits, thoughts a worthy counterpart and Adorer of Sophia, mother of wisdom.

At the end of what was to be the penultimate session of love play between Lilith and Eve, a generative orgasmic celebration of duality that started with the vernal equinox and ended two weeks past the summer solstice, the mother of all Storms was born, casting forth lightning of both creation and destruction, of blissful culmination and agonizing annihilation, of rains cold and warm, of unstoppable passions and glacial detachments.

And winds never before seen in the Garden of Eden, which was the world up to that time.

Lilith and Eve held tightly to each other as the fingers of the wind tried to pull them apart, and finally, exhausted by more than three months of lovemaking and four weeks of Storm, the two primal lovers were pulled apart, and thrown to different sub-angles of the Garden.

Eve landed in woodland that was only partially thrashed by storm. The great wind of galaxies only lightly shook the trees, though a heavy rain fell. All the small fury woodland creatures peeked out of their burrows when they heard Eve crash to the ground, and recognizing the image of god that had called them into being, raced to her side, checking her for injuries. The bears acted as transport stretchers for Eve and, with the rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks covering her naked body up to her chin, took her deep into the heart of the wood to the bower of bliss whereupon no storm could ever touch.

It was August 1st, and Eve would sleep well past Labor Day in the first week of September, when the Storm finally spent itself and a cooler, late summer breeze caressed the Garden.

Lilith was tossed about on the Winds of Dispassion and Feeling for a week longer, taken high into the sky where the Storm slapped hands of rain and fingers of lighting on the moon, to finally be dropped down in the most remote and mineral sub-angle of the Garden of Eden.

The Storm, done with her, deposited her in a rocky place of caves and hot springs, where deep below molten rock churned like her and her lover’s passions. Lilith found herself on her knees, naked and Storm tossed, hair wet and matted, wishing that she and Eve had gotten around to bringing tobacco and cigarettes into existence, because after all that she really needed a smoke.

Cold rains beat on her naked and spent form and on the land around her, making steam rise from the mud pots and mineral pools. Realizing a cave opened before her with a dull red glow, she crawled in on all fours,. Before she knew it, she was crawling up to her chin into warm, welcoming, comforting mud. The bottom gave out and she thrashed tiredly in the warm ooze, dirtying all but her face, and finally finding a slanted ledge to lie against.

It was August 7th, and Lilith slept that way for a week.

She awoke lonely and horny on the morning of August 15th. As the first emanation of Sophia, she had a semi-conscious comprehension of the map of generation, and comprehended that the last round of over-the-top lovemaking was the penultimate union, and knew that the next time she and Eve embraced would be the final culmination of the universe of manifestation, and in the terminal orgasm of their lovemaking the universe and the goddess would be united, for eternity, in an orgasmic state beyond all possible manifest orgasms.

The prospect daunted her. After the rites of spring and the spawned Storm of all passions, what could be done?

Lilith wished that there was some new way she could be joy and the ultimate final rapture to her lover Eve, some as yet unknown way to create the ultimate in sensation and orgasm, other than the use of tongues and fingers and their organs of creation joined in the lightning flash of climax. Perhaps if she had a way in which her gateway of being could enter into Eve’s gateway of being, instead of the doors of generation opening to each other. . . a way that her door would open within Eve’s door.

Up until this point, Penetration did not exist in the act of lovemaking and creation.

Laying there in the mud, hot and horny, Lilith tried to imagine her gateway of being as something completely different, not something that new things passed thru, but something, like a person, that passed through gateways.

At the thought of this she felt her organ of generation burn with desire, and her breasts and nipples felt swollen. The warm caressing mud also felt reminiscent of Eve’s body wrapped around her; she cautiously moved her left hand down toward her heat, and when she touched the center of her creative fire, lighting raced through her body and she began to writhe and trash in the mud.

For the first time since she and Eve came into being, Lilith made love to herself, the image of the door that is not a door burning like an exploding sun in her mind. After seven days of bigger and bigger orgasms, the eidolon of the Enterer blazing firmly in her soul, it finally happened: orgasm and image became one. She saw the long sinuous shape of the enterer with its hooded head, and in the final moment combined of longing and loathing, she screamed in her passion “IALDABOATH!”, shuddered, and passed out.

She lay thus in the warm, welcoming mud for two weeks before awareness returned, but only awoke because she felt a stirring behind her gate of generation. Too tired still to move her arms to check what was going on down there, she felt her thighs spread apart on their own, and her pelvic region convulsed in undulating waves. Then she felt something biting, yes, biting like teeth, on the inner side of her veil of being. Biting, biting, tearing, through, pushing o my goddess what is happening and then she remembered her week long trashing in the mud, and as it finally brought through and pushed out of her, she was panting “oh no! . . oh no! Not Ialdaboath… oh no!”

And she felt something slide out from her and rise out of the mud between her legs, its hooded head shaggy with mud, eyes like hot coals staring into her tired orbs.

“Thank you mother, for giving me life. Now I go to do what you cannot. . .” and with that the Enterer slid out of the pool of mud, and then out of the cave and into the last of the Storm of Passion. The rains washed the mud and blood from his glistening, sinuous body.

It was August 28th. On August 31st, the Storm blew away, and since this year it fell on a Friday, Labor Day was just a few short days away. The Enterer could smell where Eve was, and knew it was several days slither before he reached there. From the taste of her on the winds, he knew she was still asleep, but about to awaken.

The Enterer had but one purpose in life: to be the instigator of the ultimate orgasm that finalized the creation. For he was the bud-will of his mother Lilith’s intention. Nothing else mattered. He must cause Eve to have the best Orgasm ever, and nothing must get in his way.

So he slithered as fast he could, and arrived near the bower of peace just as Eve was waking up. Climbing into a tree, he watched Eve stand, and was totally taken by her Beauty. He must have her, he must make love to her, for he was an incarnation of Lilith’s lust for Eve and his will was the act of creation.

But from his mother’s own horror at him, he knew that Eve would never love him, never want him. Being born of his mother’s creative power, he had some few small creative acts left in him, so he willed himself to something like Lilith: The blue-blue eyes, the long dark hair, the heart shaped face, the full and able breasts, the curves of hips and legs. He could make himself over into all of that, but where his gateway of passion and creation should be, a smaller version of his true self hung, attached to his body, and seemingly with a will of its own.

Ialdaboath combed his long dark hair, looking something like his mother, and ambled around some shrubs, and stood before Eve with arms open.

Now Eve had taken a blow to the head when she fell in the forest, and after a Season and some of having her brains fucked out she was also a bit loopy, so when she saw the Enterer she said:

“Who are you?”

The Enterer was taken by surprise, having hoped he would be mistaken for his mother. He sputtered and said,

“Oh, I’m just A dame,” which the patriarchs were later to misreport as “Adam.” He continued “I’m Lily, Lilith’s twin Sister. That little Storm of yours blew her right back to the realm of Sophia, so I was sent to find you.”

“Hi Lily,” said Eve. “You look almost exactly like Lilith, except what is that where your gate of being should be?”

Ialdaboath was a bit stumped, but then the geis of his being took over his mouth with the following lie: “This is the key of creation. Sophia gave it to me in place of the gate of being. With it, I was to find you and stand in for Lilith for the final act of creation, the last series of orgasms that culminate in the ultimate climax that unites the created world with the Goddess.”

Eve, still a little loopy, but not totally dumb, asked, “What happened to Lilith?”

The Enterer told one more little lie. “She was blown about longer and harder by that Storm you two made, and was hurt beyond her own ability to heal. She sleeps with her mother now.”

Eve stepped a little closer, and looked into the Enterer’s blue eyes that were flecked with chips of red. Breathing the scent of Lily and reaching down to touch the serpentine key, she said, “Oh Lily, be Lilith to me, let us complete the creation in one final rush of passion and join with the Goddess for Eternity.” And as she grasped the key, it stiffened into its active form, and Lily suddenly knew how it was to be used. He lay down upon the turf as Ialdaboath and tore through a veil of generation for the second time, but this time from outside. Initially, it hurt for Eve, it hurt bad, but once that was passed the sensation was unlike anything Eve had ever known, and the orgasms that slowly came were more like earthquakes than lightning in a bottle.

And Ialdaboath, who knew he was the instrument of the final orgasm, was surprised to find that he, too, was about to know Orgasm, and for being created via half the mode of being, he had within him a partial fragmented version of the creative power, which rocked forth from him as a liquid light, entering into Eve.

It was different than Eve had ever known. Instead of something coming into existence in the world from lovemaking, now there was something inside her. As the Enterer slowly pulled out she felt that diminution, with a little bit left. Hot and sweaty, they both soon fell asleep.

The next day when Eve woke up, she felt the liquid light dripping out of her. Its draining departure made her want more. She saw that Lily was asleep, and that the serpentine key was in its solid and active form again. Wet with her own desire, she slowly rolled Lily onto her back and slid down upon the key of creation, slowly moving on it, and Ialdaboath awoke with surprise to find himself inside of Eve again, with her slowly working out the liquid light.

This continued on day after day, with Ialdaboath and Eve making love, falling asleep, waking up to make love, wandering around Eden eating fruit, and laughing.

The liquid light of Ialdaboath had another property besides creating a desire for more of itself. It caused memory to fade. Eve began to call her lover Lilith, and completely forgot about waking up to find Lily with the key of creation; it had always been this way.

On September 10th, Lilith came to herself, still in the mud, which had solidified a bit, becoming more plastic. Slowly working her way out of the once more liquid earth, she crawled out of the mud, crawled out of the cave, and stood looking at the world after the Storm of passion. She dried out a bit, recovering, and felt under her covering of clay that her gateway of being had been torn and sundered, but would heal. Dreading what her son might be up to, she followed the baked serpentine track through the mineral land, and as she traveled the sun baked the mud on her body into a fired clay. Her matted muddy hair became like fossilized kraken tentacles, her beautiful body obscured by earth and rock.

After several days, she came to the end of the trail of the Enterer, baked into the land by the sun, and knew from the direction he was going that the final destination was the Bower of Bliss.

Frightened, angry and desperate, she began to walk as fast as possible through fields and woods, a look of terror on her face, and all before her fled in dread.

On September 21st, the day of the Autumnal Equinox, she burst into the Bower of Bliss to find the Enterer and Eve fucking madly, the Eidolon of the Slitherer as firm and thick as a tree limb, battering its way into Eve’s Gateway of Creation.

Lilith screamed in rage, throwing back her head and shouting, “Ialdaboath, what the hell are you doing with, doing to, my girlfriend?!?!”

Ialdaboath, startled and afraid of his mother’s rage, let loose the liquid light sooner than he wanted to and fell out of Eve, hiding behind her.

“Uh, hi Mom. I’m just doing what you could never do.”

Eve looked to the Enterer and said: “Who is that Monster, Lilith? And why does she call you Ialdaboath?”

Lilith looked shocked and disgusted, as she saw Eve’s gateway of creation torn open, and the latest liquid light of Ialdaboath dripping out of her.

“Eve, it’s me, Lilith.”

Eve said “No, Lilith is behind me. You are some kind of Mountain or Rock Monster with my lover’s face.”

Lilith screamed with rage, leaped forward and moved Eve aside, grabbing Ialdaboath by the short hairs and yelling, “You little brat! You bastard abortion! Who did you tell my girl friend you were? Sophia?”

Ialdaboath sputtered, “Mom… I just told her I was ‘A dame’ and then I told her my name was Lily, your twin sister.”

Eve blinked in more confusion, “Lilith, why do you call that thing your mother? Sophia is our mother.”

The Real Lilith, tired of the confusion, grabbed both her lover and her son by the hair and angrily dragged them to the river that flowed out of Eden, threw them in, and plunged in afterward.

As the two recent lovers spluttered Lilith washed the clays from her body and hair, and the river milked up with silt. Her long black hair clean for the first time in a month, she plucked her girlfriend and her son from the raging waters and brought them to the shore, gasping like frightened fish.

Between the terror of being caught by his mother, and the plunge into the cold raging waters of the river of Eden, Ialdaboath’s image of his mother had faltered. While his face still appeared an echo of hers, now the peach fuzz of a beard graced his cheeks and chin, the breasts had flattened into hard, firm pectorals, and the curves of hip and leg were gone. While he reflected an image of god, it was all angles and hardness, centered around that which remained of his original serpentine form. And the blues of his eyes were replaced by red.

Eve looked at her first lover, with whom she had brought most of the manifest universe into being, and then at the second lover, whom she had thought was Lilith, who had taught her a new and deeper way to bring about the orgasm of creation. She found herself confused and torn, in love with them both.

And then, after nearly three weeks of being entered with the liquid light raining inside her she realized something had changed. While her lover’s latest shower was even now still dripping out of her, she realized that something had come into being within her.

As Lilith and her son argued back and forth about what he had done to Eve and why she had called him into existence, Eve announced, “There is a new life within me. A creation from inside, a new manifestation of the image of God in the universe. Lilith, from me, with the aid of your Son, I shall be the Mother of an entire race of sleeping gods. Sleeping gods who will experience the creation from the lowest level up, and after much striving will be finally worthy to join with God in Eternal Union.”

Lilith slapped Eve across her left check, living an image of her hand. “You cum drunk whore! You’ve gotten yourself knocked up, just six months short of our culmination of the manifest universe. We’ve gotta get that out of you now. This shithead over here tore me up on the way out.”

“No Lilith! The child is mine. Mine and your son’s. I’m going to keep it! And we will have more! The Key of Creation is the best thing ever! You need to try it!”

Lilith was completely disgusted. “Fuck no, you little bitch! This bastard tore me up on the way out. There’s no way I’m letting him back inside of me, no matter how good you think it is. You need to come to your senses, get that out of yourself, and come back to me.”

Eve, for the first time ever, began to cry and sob, looking back and forth between Lilith and Ialdaboath. “Don’t say that! Don’t make me choose! I love you both.”

“It’s him or me, bitch.”

Eve screamed: “Then it’s going to be him, for he can fill me with new life again and again; all you can do is make flowers bloom in the night sky!”

Lilith stood, shaking with anger, and yelled at Eve as she ran away into the woods “Fine, be that way. Know then that Childbirth will be painful and tear you apart, as the image of God is too immense to pass thru the gateway of being. And once that little beast pops out, you’ll be embarrassed on how it came to pass, and will hide your beautiful body, the image of all that is perfect, under the skins of your animal friends, which you will kill to assuage your guilt!”

Lilith looked at her cowering son and said, “Thanks a lot, Junior. You’ve just fucked everything up.”

Then, in a moment of remorse for what she had said, Lilith cupped her hands and broadcast her voice into the woods and said, “Eve, I’m sorry! If you can ever forgive me, come back to me.”

And this is why the world is the way it is.

And this is why the autumn is called the fall, since Eve fell away from her true path when she conceived on the Autumnal Equinox.

And this is why all men are snakes, as each one carries the image of Ialdaboath on his body.

And this is why some guy will try to steal your girlfriend.

Beyond the Veil is a regularly appearing column featuring fiction, including occult, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. If you’d like to contribute a story, please contact admin@rendingtheveil.com and we’ll be happy to review your submission.

©2009 J. Michael Glosson
Edited by Sheta Kaey

The Fairy Godmother

December 30, 2008 by  
Filed under culture, popular culture

The Fairy Godmother

A recurring fixture in the folklore of northern Europe is the fairy godmother. This mysterious woman appears by magic to attend the birth or Christening of an infant, often a child who is seemingly of no special importance. She may be alone, or accompanied by other women. She comes uninvited either to bless or curse the child, displays various magical abilities, and then just as mysteriously departs, perhaps to reappear at some distant future date, or perhaps never to be seen again. This quaint figure of children’s fairy tales has more importance in the history of Western magic than most people realize. Let us take a look at some of her folk characteristics, and then consider her true identity and significance in the context of the Western esoteric tradition.

The first thing that must be observed about fairy godmothers is that they are not nearly so common in ancient folklore as might be supposed, given their modern popularity. They appear in two of the most beloved fairy stories — Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella — both of which were turned into animated films by the Disney Studios. This cinematic treatment helped spread the fable of the fairy godmother far and wide in the 20th century.

Sleeping Beauty

In Sleeping Beauty, the fairy godmother first appears in the version by Charles Perrault (1628 – 1703), published in 1697 in France in his hugely popular Contes de ma Mère l’Oye (Tales of Mother Goose). In the portion of the tale that concerns us, seven fairies are invited to the Christening of a newborn princess by her loving parents, in the hope that they will confer magical gifts upon the child and act as her godmothers. To honor them, the king orders seven plates of gold to be made for them to use at the Christening feast. However, an eighth fairy who is older and unattractive decides to come to the Christening, and when she sees that no gold plate has been made for her, she feels that her dignity has been slighted.

Six of the fairy godmothers bless the infant girl with various life gifts. The crone is the seventh to approach the child, and she curses the baby with the curse that when she touches a spindle, she will prick her finger and immediately fall dead. One of the fairies had observed the crone and has hung back to go last, and although she cannot undo the curse of the evil fairy, she renders it less severe, proclaiming that the girl will not drop dead but will fall asleep for one hundred years, whereupon she will be awakened by the kiss of a prince.

Perrault’s version was based on an older story by the Italian Giambattista Basile (?1566 – 1632), published posthumously by his sister in 1634 under the title Sol, Luna e Talia (Sun, Moon and Talia), in which there is no fairy godmother. In this earlier tale, the name of the baby princess is Talia. At her birth, astrologers cast her horoscope, and predict that she will come to harm from a tiny splinter of flax. Her father, the king, takes every precaution to keep her away from flax, but one day the girl sees an old woman spinning flax on a spindle, and out of curiosity decides to try it. A splinter of flax gets embedded beneath her fingernail, and she falls down in what appears to be death. The king cannot bring himself to bury his beautiful and beloved child, so he lays her safely to rest on one of his country estates.

After some time has passed, another king who is hunting in the forest comes upon the girl and is so enamored with her apparently lifeless form that he has sex with her, then goes away. Still deep asleep, the girl gives birth to twins, a boy and a girl who are named Sun and Moon. One day, when the boy is unable to find the breast of his unconscious mother to suckle, his pangs of hunger cause him to suckle her finger, and he draws out the splinter of flax. She immediately awakes.

The earliest version of the story, Perceforest, published in France in 1528, has goddesses in place of fairy godmothers. In this version, three goddesses visit a female child named Zellandine at her birth celebration. They are obviously intended to bring to mind the three Fates of Greek mythology, although their names are different. The first, Lucinda, confers the gift of health on the infant, but the second goddess, Themis, curses the child because the goddess took the absence of a knife beside her plate at the feast as a personal slight. Her curse is that Zellandine will one day impale her finger on the point of a distaff, and sleep until it is removed. The third goddess, Venus, cannot undo the curse placed on the head of the baby but mitigates it by prophesying that one day the distaff will be removed and the curse lifted.

In the popular version of Sleeping Beauty recorded by the Brothers Grimm, titled Briar Rose and published in 1812, the fairy godmothers number thirteen, twelve who give gifts to the infant princess, and one who curses the child out of spite. The gift of the final good fairy softens the curse of the twelfth. Much was made of this number of fairy godmothers, but since they were only eight in number in Perrault’s older version of the story, the importance of the number thirteen may be exaggerated.

Cinderella

The story of Cinderella goes back as far as the ancient Greek historian Strabo (64BC – c. 24AD), who wrote in his Geographica about an Egyptian girl named Rhodopis who was forced to wash clothes in a stream while the other servants attended a celebration sponsored by the Pharaoh, Amasis. While she was working, an eagle snatched away her rose-gilded sandal and carried it to Memphis, then dropped it at the feet of Amasis. The Pharaoh was enraptured by the fineness and smallness of the sandal, and asked all the women of Egypt to try it on, so that he could locate its owner. When Rhodopis was able to put on the sandal, Amasis married her and made her his queen.

Nothing here about a fairy godmother. This magical figure does not appear in the Cinderella story until the 1697 version of Charles Perrault. In his tale, a widower takes in marriage a proud and cruel woman with two grown daughters. His meek and modest daughter by his first marriage is forced by her step-mother to do all the housework, which she performs without complaint. It is her habit to sit amid the cinders, hence her name Cinderella (Cendrillon, in French). One day the prince of the land decides to host a ball for the purpose of choosing a wife. The stepsisters go, but Cinderella has no dress that is suitable for so grand an occasion.

As she weeps in sorrow, her fairy godmother appears, and tells the girl that she will be attending the ball after all. The fairy turns a pumpkin into a coach, mice into its team of horses, a rat into the coachman and lizards into footmen. She creates for Cinderella a gown and a pair of glass slippers, but warns the girl to be home before midnight, since that is when the spell will be broken. Everything goes well and Cinderella is the belle of the ball, but the next night when a second ball is held, she becomes careless of time and departs in haste just before midnight, leaving behind her one of her glass slippers. The prince searches the kingdom, seeking the girl whose foot fits the slipper. When Cinderella tries on the shoe, he knows he has found her, and this is confirmed when she brings forth the other glass slipper, which has not vanished away along with the coach and her gown.

In the version of Cinderella (Aschenputtel in German) published in 1812 by the Brothers Grimm, there is no fairy godmother. Instead, Cinderella is helped by the ghost of her dead mother, represented by a pair of birds that perch in a tree growing above her mother’s grave. Thus the supernatural element is still present, but it is ancestral spirit in nature rather than fairy.

Role of the Fairy Godmother

These examples should be sufficient to give some notion of the stereotypical role of the fairy godmother in fairy tales, particularly the literary tales written by French writers in the 17th and 18th centuries, such as Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy (1650-1705). These were not true folk tales, but imitations of folk tales, or composed stories based in part on genuine folk tales. In these stories the fairy godmother makes more frequent appearances than she does in true folk tales.

It is the usual role of a human godmother to give a Christening gift, and to watch over the spiritual education of the child. The fairy godmother takes on the same obligations as a mortal godmother, though the reason these obligations are assumed is not always clear. Sometimes it is done as a fair exchange, as when the seven fairies were invited to the feast by the king, and given golden plates as gifts; other times, it seems motivated by some unseen occult requirement. The child is destined from birth by the Fates to receive the gift of its fairy godmother, who is merely an instrument of destiny. Indeed, the Fates of Greek mythology are probably the prototypes of the fairy godmothers of later children’s fiction, as suggested by their thinly veiled appearance in the 1528 French version of Sleeping Beauty, described above.

In mythology, the gifts of the gods can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on the circumstances under which they are received, and the uses to which they are put. Fairy tales simplify this dichotomy by making the gifts of good fairies always good, and the gifts of evil fairies always evil. In life, what seems good may prove to be a curse, and what seems a burden may in the end be revealed as a blessing. Even in fairy tales, good may come of evil, and the curse of the evil fairy godmother results in great happiness in the end, when all problems have been resolved.

An important factor to consider about the role of a godmother is her accepted obligation to watch over the spiritual development and well-being of the child. In Christianity this often takes the symbolic form of the gift of a new Bible to the baby. Spirituality is broader than any particular religion, and if we consider the obligation of the godmother in these terms, she is charged with the general spiritual health of the child. In fairy tales this is symbolized by the various physical and moral virtues that are given to the child as gifts, such as beauty and wisdom.

Nature of the Fairy Godmother

The fairy godmother is a spirit, not a being of flesh and blood. This is seldom made clear in the fairy tales, where she is given a physical body and is made to dine at the Christening feast. In ancient folklore and mythology, spiritual beings often received physical bodies. For example, the angels in the Old Testament were described as being like men in every respect. They eat, drink, sleep, and have material bodies. Similarly, the witch’s familiar was usually described in physical terms, and malicious spirits such as incubi and vampires were credited with physical forms.

The archetype of the evil fairy godmother is Grandmother Lilith, a female demon of the ancient Sumerians and Babylonians who made her way into Hebrew folklore via the Babylonian Captivity of the 6th century BC, during which the Jews were taken as slaves from the Kingdom of Judah to Babylonia. During their stay in Babylonia, they picked up much of the mythology of the Babylonians, including the myth of Lilith, who was fabled to be a horrible old crone with unkempt long gray hair and long, dirty fingernails, yellowed teeth and glaring red eyes, who visited the cribs of newborn infants. Sometimes Lilith merely played with the infant, but at other times, seemingly on a capricious inclination, she would kill the baby by stealing away its breath.

Lilith is not often regarded as a fairy. She is more likely to be classed among the demons of hell, but this is an arbitrary classification, since she is Sumerian in origin and predates the Christian concept of hell, with its orderly demonic hierarchies.

Fairies are indigenous to Celtic lands, although similar nature spirits exist around the world. Perhaps more than any other spirit, they are apt to be regarded as physical by those who believe in them. They live in a kind of parallel universe that has portals into our reality under certain hills recognized as fairy mounds. The doorways to these fairy realms materialize from nowhere to allow the fairies to enter or leave, and just as swiftly vanish, leaving no trace. This transition from the fairy realm to the human realm happens most often at twilight, in the gloaming when the world is caught in a timeless moment between day and night. They are also more frequent at the equinoxes, when the seasons are in balance.

Transitional periods of the day or year facilitate the transition between fairy reality and human reality. A portal of any kind is a transition between one place and another. In the gloaming, fairies become visible to the eyes of those psychic enough to see them, but at other times of the day they are more difficult to see, unless they wish to be seen. The birth of an infant is a kind of life transition, from the spiritual reality into the physical reality, so it is natural that fairies would appear at this time.

It is a mystery as to why fairies should wish to associate with humanity, yet this has always been the case throughout their history. They are known to appear to men, woman and children, and to abduct them into their fairy realm, where they may keep them forever, or may release them after a prolonged time has passed. The fairy practice of kidnapping children, and leaving a fairy child in their place, is frequently mentioned in the literature about these strange and somewhat frightening spirits.

As usual, these events are described as completely material in the accounts of them that have come down to us, but it is more probable that they are spiritual events. A man is not physical taken to fairyland, he falls into a trance or coma, and is taken there on an astral level of reality. There are records of those who, when they lay down and went to sleep on fairy mounds, fell into a coma, or even died. I say that it is “probable” that these are merely spiritual events, not certain, because accounts exist of those who simply disappeared for days or years, and who when they suddenly reappeared, told tales of having lived among the fairies in their world.

The parallels with alien abductions are obvious. But whether these parallels suggest that aliens are fairies, or that fairies are aliens, or that both are something else that has yet to be accurately described, I leave to your conjecture. It seems fairly certain that there is a some underlying connection between fairy abductions and alien abductions.

Can the fairy godmother of folklore be an alien being who confers upon a newborn child certain superhuman abilities? Is this the root of this persistent motif? Children abducted by aliens are sometimes said to be altered or enhanced in various ways — to possess psychic abilities that they did not have before the abduction. There is also the belief that aliens are breeding a race of hybrid children, half-human and half-alien, who possess more than human abilities. Again, this has parallels in the ancient belief that spirits could interbreed with human women and engender offspring. Jesus is one such being, according to this view — half human and half something else.

Tutelary Spirits

A tutelary spirit is a spirit that teaches, guides, and protects a human being. The idea that certain spirits watch over and protect human beings with whom they are in some way linked is universal. This belief has taken many forms, as different human cultures try to come to terms with it. Often it is looked upon as protection by dead ancestors of their descendants. Whole religions exist based on this belief, that the dead watch over their children and children’s children. It is a reasonable explanation as to why a spiritual being would bother to protect a living person, or even take an interest in that individual.

Sometimes, spirits associated with certain places develop links with the people who live there, and come to watch over and guide them. For example, a nature spirit dwelling in a spring might form an attachment to a man who owned the land occupied by the spring; or a house spirit might become fond of a person living in the same house. A fairy associated with a certain thorn bush in a farmer’s field could form some sort of personal interaction with the farmer — although in the case of fairies, that interaction is just as likely to be harmful as helpful. But fairies are capable of affection, and even love, for human beings. Their affection is capricious, and easily turns into jealousy or malice.

The ancient Greeks believed that certain special men, who were by their nature semi-divine, had daemons — tutelary spirits — joined to their lives. The most famous man who was guided by such a daemon was the philosopher Socrates, whose daemon was well known to his contemporaries. Socrates made no secret of the fact that his tutelary spirit often intervened in his life when he was about to make a mistake, to warn him not to do it. The day Socrates drank the hemlock that killed him, he told his friends that he knew it was the right thing to do, because his spirit had not warned him against drinking it.

Some men were even believed to be favored by the gods. Often they were men who were hybrids, half mortal and half divine by nature. The god who was one parent of such a man would continue to watch over him throughout life. These demigods were the heroes of ancient Greek mythology, such as Hercules and Achilles. The belief that one of their parents was divine was just a way of trying to explain why they were favored by spirits in their lives. Some Greek writers held the view that Socrates was semi-divine, as was Aristotle, and Alexander the Great, just because of the great works they accomplished during their lifetimes, which seemed to their biographers to be beyond unaided human abilities. A man capable of miraculous works must have superhuman aid — such was the common opinion among the Greeks.

A more plebian notion arose among the Greeks that every man received at birth both a good daemon and an evil daemon. These two tutelary spirits were at constant war with each other, which canceled out most of their effects on the life of the person to whom they were attached. The good daemon whispered sound and helpful advice, while the evil daemon suggested actions that were worthless or harmful. This idea carried over into Christianity in the form of the good angel that is supposed to sit on the right shoulder of every person, and the evil angel that sits on the left shoulder.

The good daemon and evil daemon take the forms in the fairy tales of the good fairy godmother and the evil fairy godmother, whose efforts to some extent cancel each other out. The good daemon cannot simply banish the evil daemon, but it can to some degree moderate the mischief the evil daemon is able to cause.

Familiar Spirits

Most people recognize the term “familiar” in connection with witches, who were supposed by the demonologists of the Inquisition during the Renaissance to have demons that served their needs and desires. However, the concept of a familiar spirit is much broader than that. A familiar is any spirit that is attached to a human being.

Familiars perform various functions. They teach, guide, protect and also serve. Some were considered to be low spirits, in the nature of servants, while others are looked upon as more sophisticated and powerful. The Church regarded all familiars as subservient demons, who pretended to serve the witch while really working to corrupt the witch’s soul. This is a narrow and simplistic view, dictated by the religious dogma of those who held it. However, familiars do appear to be of varying degrees of power and sophistication. Some are simple beings that fulfill well defined and limited functions. Others are complex and act more as partners in the lives of those human beings to whom they are linked.

Shamans would sometimes take to wife familiar spirits who were, in many respects, their superiors on both power and wisdom. They would also have mortal wives upon whom they engendered children. It would not be unreasonable to assume that the spirit wife of a shaman would confer various benefits and gifts on the head of the newborn child of the shaman by his mortal wife.

Some spirits are associated with entire bloodlines. The best known is the water spirit Melusina, one of the dames blances (white ladies) who watched over the descendants of Raymond of Poitou. The white ladies were considered to be fairies. Raymond married Melusina and had children by her. Even after Melusina abandoned him because he broke his vow to her that he should never look upon her on a Saturday, she continued to watch over their descendants, and would appear wailing with sorrow when some great catastrophe was about to befall the bloodline.

Conclusion

So what exactly is a fairy godmother? She is a spiritual being who either blesses or curses the life of a newborn child. Because she is a spirit with the power of working magic, her blessing or curse has practical consequences. The curse of one spirit may be countered, at least in part, by the blessing of another spirit. These spirits are linked with the lives of the infants they visit, but the exact nature of that connection remains unclear. It may be based on a blood relationship. The infants may be spirit-human hybrids, or descendants of such hybrids; or it may be that the fairy godmother is a dead ancestor of the infant, and is not really a fairy at all.

Most people will dismiss the whole notion of fairy godmothers as absurd. However, it is undeniable that some human beings appear to be born with gifts and abilities that are so far above those of humanity in general that they are looked upon as supernatural. The myth of the fairy godmother is one attempt to explain where such extraordinary gifts come from. It is somewhat simplistic, as are most mythic explanations, but like most myths, it has a seed of truth at its heart that is worth considering.

Donald Tyson is the author of Sexual Alchemy: Magical Intercourse with Spirits, Familiar Spirits, and Soul Flight: Astral Projection and the Magical Universe, among other works. You can visit his website here.

©2008 Donald Tyson
Edited by Sheta Kaey

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