Ravemore's Notes

A little meandering… Pagan reflections on a left hand path.

Month: July, 2012

Familiar Spirits

It is the Goat Headed God Cernunnos, Lord of Witches, who gives knowledge of the Familiar Spirit. The ways a Familiar Spirit can manifest itself to a witch are many. Sometimes they appear unbidden when a practitioner is in need or distress, and sometimes they are sent by the Horned One in response to a prayer or plea. A Familiar Spirit can be a demon, angelic being, lares, or other lesser power. In most cases they are said to be able to manifest in corporeal form. Some are even said to be shape shifters and able to take on multiple physical forms. Some are animals like the proverbial cat, dog, or toad, the Familiar Spirit possessing their physical body. A stray animal that just shows up and exhibits an extraordinary bond with you could be a Familiar Spirit. However a Familiar Spirit appears to you, be aware it is a profound gift from the Horned One. You will know beyond any doubt when one enters your service. The connection will be electric. It’s with a smile when I think back upon all of the small children I have known who have had “invisible friends”, that special person or creature that only they are able to see and communicate with. The Horned God shows interest in all of the Great Goddess’s Third Children, even the small and young.

Familiar Spirits often serve as guardians, helpers, and reservoirs of power that can be drawn upon to strengthen spells and curses. They lend moral support, commune, and act as guides during astral travel. They watch and they listen. They will usually maintain their service until either the witch dies, or they are destroyed. Some have even been known to continue service along family lines for multiple generations. It is entirely proper for you to name your Familiar Spirit, and it does not matter if others know, for it is a rare event indeed for even a witch bound to their Familiar Spirit to know its “true name.”

If you are actively seeking the gift of a Familiar Spirit, it is recommended that a prayer be offered on Esbat, under the light of the full moon, beseeching The Goat Headed God for the boon of a Familiar Spirit.

  • In preparation it is recommended that you fast from the dawn prior to the Esbat to the dawn after.
  • No Circle is necessary for this working.
  • The location of this ritual should be outdoors and in an area that will be free from interruption and prying eyes.
  • If you have an animal you wish a Familiar Spirit to possess, have it nearby in a cage. If the Horned One grants you a Familiar Spirit, it may choose it as a host, or it may not.
  • Have a ritual cup and some dark ale at the ready.
  • When the moon is visible in the sky it is proper to proceed.
  • Kneel and face north.
  • Light a small fire, and have plenty of small pieces of wood available to feed it throughout the ritual.

Say:

I invoke thee Cernunnos, Lord of Witches, my Morning Star.
Ignite the Flame betwixt thy horns Great Goat God,
That the path may be illuminated and I shall be found from afar.
That a union can be forged between flesh and spirit.
Cernnunos, Dark Master, I pray thee, send forth a Familiar Spirit,
That we might be bound together in Craft and Blood.

Feed the fire and begin a soft chant: Great Goat God, send forth a Familiar Spirit.

Continue this chant, for hours if need be, keeping your small fire fed. Allow your senses to roam and the chant to carry your awareness to your surroundings. A Familiar Spirit can appear at any time, in actual physical form or in spirit. Avoid preconceptions and your desires to color what type of Familiar Spirit answers your call. Let the Spirit choose you. Watch and listen as you chant, and when a figure does appear you may cease chanting and commune in speech or thought. If the Familiar Spirit chooses to be bound to you it will answer, if not it will depart. If none appear, do not worry, as you may have been observed and still under consideration. The Familiar Spirit may appear to you at a later time. You can continue this ritual on each full moon thereafter until a Familiar Spirit answers your call.

Whether or not you have success, make an offering of dark ale, holding a cup of it up, and say:

Cernunnos, Lord of Witches, my Morning Star, I offer my thanks for lighting the way.

Drain half of the ale, and pour the rest out on the ground in front of you. The ritual is complete.

Myths

Myths are usually defined as traditional stories that are told to convey religious experience, to establish behavioral models, and to teach. Does it really matter if a definitive line cannot be traced from ancient texts? I say no, it does not matter one wit. It does not even matter if they are newly created stories. As long as they still convey powerful messages and fill our minds with awe and reverence, they have done their part and will continue to be valid representations of religion. Do not bow to the pundits who will criticize you for myths that do not follow the traditional story-lines. They are fools. Times change, and to be relevant the stories must sometimes also change to retain a connection with culture. So, with that being said, create your own myths, stick to the traditional ones, or change the old stories to fit your own needs… just continue to learn from them and keep the sacred messages close to your heart.

The Sidhe

In time mortal man multiplied, and they traveled the seas under the guidance of Manannán mac Lir. When the Sons of Mil arrived on the shores of Ireland they found the Tuatha De Danann in possession of the land and engaged them in battle. The Great Mother’s Second Children recognized they would thereafter be in decline, for their seers foresaw that mortal man would become legion, more numerous than the heather on the hills. They invoked the Great Goddess Danu seeking her advice and judgment, and she convened a conclave of the Gods at which all of the Tuatha De Danann attended.

Discussion and debate ensued for three days and three nights. There were two distinct and different schools of thought. Some argued that war was the answer and that to the victor should go the spoils, for through strength of arms the vitality and the protection of the world was certain. Others argued that mortal man should be forced into a peaceful coexistence, for through their combined strength, defense against the Fomori if they should return was assured.

The Great Goddess Danu merely watched and listened, and she duly noted that throughout the conclave Cernunnos had not uttered a single word. She then spoke and silence settled over the gathering. She asked Cernunnos for his thoughts. All eyes turned to the Goat Headed God, many suspicious, for his origins and race prior to ascension were well known. When he spoke, his guttural voice carried to all, and none interrupted.

“There will be mortal men proud enough to believe themselves Gods, and some brave enough to endure much and accomplish it, they are beautiful creations indeed. Free will is wisdom, for the balance will always strive to regain its natural state. The Tuatha De Danann have never truly had leeway to freely choose their own destinies, therefore they find it difficult to see this gift handed so easily to the Third Children of Danu and seek to either destroy them, or force them into servitude. This conclave has not been about the fate of the Tuatha De Danann, but that of mortal man. I say that the Second Children of Danu should now be given this choice, for whichever path they choose they are still one side of the same coin. The dominion of the Third Children is a certain future. Those that choose to war against and harm mortal man, so be it. Those that choose to aid them, so be it. Dominion to all touched by the sun and the moon should go to the Third Children, and the hollow hills and other places below the surface to the Tuatha De Danann.”

Many of the Tuatha De Danann looked away at his words for they sensed the unadulterated truth in what he said. Some were ashamed, some merely accepting. The Great Goddess Danu smiled, for she saw wisdom in the words of Cernunnos. The assembled Tuatha De Danann were then transformed by the Great Goddess Danu into the fairy folk, later known as the Sidhe.

Those who were more inclined to help man formed the Seelie Court, and those more inclined to harm the Unseelie Court, and they departed for the realms below. The Sons of Mil then took the lands of Ireland for their own, and their encounters with the Fair Folk are well documented, even up to today…

Creation

There was once a time when there was no time. There was only the void and the darkness. Eventually the void and darkness transformed, became self-aware, and named itself Danu. In that self-awareness she felt loneliness, so she stretched forth her hand, whispered words of power, and created the worlds… intent on filling the emptiness inside her heart. She brought the stars into existence, the mountains, and the seas, yet she still did not feel complete. So she continued in her contemplation and walked the worlds.

In the waters of a river she looked upon her reflection and saw the image of the sun over her shoulder. She saw that the light was beautiful, felt that its warmth was good… and she stretched forth her hand again and whispered words of power, giving birth to our Great Lord Lugh, forming him from the fires of the Sun, and their desire knew no bounds. Their coupling brought much into existence, plants, animals, insects, and the First Children of Danu, The Fomori.

The Fomori were giants, creatures of destruction and chaos. Lesser Powers. More than mortal, but less than true Gods. They ruled the land for ages, worshiping Danu as “Domnu”, and even now they are often called the “Children of Domnu.” Their rites were powerful, black, and terrible. Some places even now carry a taint, a leftover taste of their former glory. Her First Children brought her great satisfaction, but the world lacked a sense of balance, and much of her creation could not realize its potential. So she continued her contemplation and walked the worlds.

Our Great Sun God Lugh saw our Great Mother Danu deep in thought, and asked her what troubled her so. She replied that her worlds and creations were many and none could experience the other. In answer to Danu’s distress Lugh traveled to the Northern Lands and in a long valley near the sea planted a seed, blew his breath upon it, and whispered powerful magic. From that seed sprang a Great Oak Tree, its branches and limbs climbing into the heavens to connect all of the Great Mother’s worlds, and its roots delved deep into the earth and the hollow places below. Danu saw Lugh’s gift and knew happiness.

In time the Great Goddess again stretched forth her hand and whispered words of power and brought into being her Second Children, the Tuatha Dé Danann, or “Children of Danu.” They were fair and many. Lesser Powers. More than mortal, but less than true Gods… and they warred unceasingly with the Fomori. In time the Fomori were defeated and driven forth. They traveled the branches of the Great Tree to lands bound in shadow.  There they still lurk, plotting and scheming the conquest and destruction of the lands from which they were exiled. A tide of chaos held in check by the power of order. They are dangerous beings, full of hatred, and their memories are long.

The worlds now embodied law and chaos, good and evil, light and darkness. The Great Goddess Danu then prepared for the creation of her Third Children… mortal men and women. Beings given choice over which paths they would walk… law or chaos, light or darkness. Beings with the capacity to be kind and cruel, good and evil. Beings with a divine spark, a piece of the essence of the Gods… a soul.

Danu then empowered Morrígan of the Tuatha Dé Danann to cut the threads of fate that bound the souls of her Third Children , and gave her reign and providence over the underworld to where they would go after death to await rebirth.

She then empowered Brigid of the Tuatha Dé Danann to teach her Third Children healing, and the art of the spoken word, and gave her reign and providence over the hearth and home.

She then empowered Manannán mac Lir of the Tuatha Dé Danann to teach her Third Children to master the waters, and the value of wit and wile, and gave him reign and providence over the seas, mists, and the weather.

And to the dismay of these three new deities, the Great Mother Danu empowered a goat headed Fomori called Cernunnos to teach her Third Children of fire and sorcery, and tasked him with watching over the souls of the dead as they traveled the Low Road to the Underworld of Morrígan, and to incite the creatures of field and fen to reproduce when the appointed seasons came. He would later be known as the Goat God of the Witches to the faithful, and a Devil to those of other faiths.

The Great Mother Danu scooped up a handful of clay, shaping them into man and woman. Manannán mac Lir sprinkled water upon them, thereby aiding their shaping and tying them irrevocably to the element.  The heat and light of our Sun God Lugh set them in form. Brigid whispered words of power and touched her fingertip to their hearts and infused them with the desire to search, question, and reason. Morrígan waved her hands above them, chanting the dirge of death, ensuring they were to be mortal. With these tasks complete Lugh, Manannán mac Lir, Brigid, and Morrígan departed to prepare for the arrival of the Third Children. As they left The Great Mother Danu looked upon her incomplete creations in contemplation. From the depths of the dark wood Cernunnos crept and knelt next to the clay forms, the Great Mother watching intently what he would contribute. She had been aware of his presence from the beginning as he watched from the shadows. He whispered an incantation, dark and ancient, and a small fire ignited between his horns. He removed two small flames with his finger tips and dropped them into the clay where they disappeared into the material. He then departed into the woods, the hand of Danu caressing his shoulder with affection as he left. She smiled, for he had gifted her Third Children with souls… and the potential to become Gods and overcome fate. Danu then completed her task of creation and departed the garden from which her new children had begun to awaken.

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