Ravemore's Notes

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

Month: January, 2013

Faith

“I slept with faith and found a corpse in my arms on awakening; I drank and danced all night with doubt and found her a virgin in the morning.”

― Aleister Crowley, The Book of Lies

Lares

Ancestral spirits who protect the home and hearth, all cultures seem to have them in one form or another… but the word “Lares” just seems to roll off the tongue and feels good. The dead often self-bind themselves to our physical world, delaying their journey on the Low Road, and the living relatives that they leave behind are often the reason. Love, duty, honor… they are all strong concepts that carry over. As long as we give them reasons to tarry, and a sense of purpose, those spirits will remain with us to watch, protect, and comfort. Small devotional altars, or shrines, are recommended. Pictures or mementos of our ancestors, things that were important to them should be placed there. Offerings of incense, food, and other comforts should be made on a regular basis to let them know we think of them and appreciate their sacrifices and attention. If you have a hearth or fireplace, that location would be ideal, and failing that a kitchen, as they are areas intimately tied to the family structure, places where family members come together to prepare food, eat, and ward away the darkness and cold of the winter months.

Shrines are always very personal creations, and there is no right or wrong way to build one. No exact measurements. No specific items to be placed on them. I always love seeing pictures and reading about other people’s shrines. Look around for inspiration, particularly in those cultures that have been practicing this art for ages… there are many.

Manannán mac Lir – A Story

Seamus, a young man of only 16 years, sat at the crest of a long wind swept dune near the tree line on a very small island. There were more rocks than trees though, and the small thickets of vegetation were bent and gnarled from constant seaborne wind. He watched the rolling breakers hitting the shore, tears streaming down his face. His ship had wrecked on nearby rocky shoals, and he had been the only survivor to make it to land. He could still see the remains of its masts and rigging bobbing among the flotsam and jetsam littering the waves. He felt like retching. He remembered only a week before, his pappy telling him to make an offering to The Lord of the Waves… and he had heeded that advice. He remembered dropping his only silver shilling into the sea with a short prayer to Manannán mac Lir. A coin he had earned working the potato fields near Dublin, waiting for his chance for employment on the fishing boat. It seemed the gesture had been in vain though. It had been days since he had eaten and he felt his body weakening. He had found small reservoirs of stale water in the stumps of a few trees… but those were being used up rapidly.

Lost in his thoughts and despair, he did not notice the other man on the island until he was nearly upon him. He was tall, dressed in old style oiled leathers, and carried a large wool crane bag on his shoulder. Shoulder length hair was bound in a braid. Seamus was speechless. He saw no ship, and could not comprehend how this man came to be there. The man strode up to him and stood there, silently appraising him. Seamus stuttered out two simple questions: “Who are you, and where did you come from?” The man smiled gently and gestured for silence. He collected dead wood while Seamus watched, and when he had a decent sized pile, bent near it and whispered a few strange words. The pile burst into flames, and Seamus’s eyes widened in disbelief. The man then reached into his crane bag and withdrew a small pig. He dispatched the animal and was soon roasting the delicate flesh in the fire. Realization soon dawned upon poor Seamus. He was in the presence of a God.

He ate in silence while Manannán mac Lir watched him, eagerly consuming all that was given to him. Finally he asked, with eyes averted, “My Lord, why did you save me?”

Manannán mac Lir smiled softly and his voice was low, almost like the pounding of waves on rock. “You did not survive because I saved you Seamus, you survived because you can swim, and you put every ounce of effort and energy into surviving. The Gods sometimes help those who help themselves, but making an offering and uttering a prayer never hurts.” He grinned as he flipped a silver shilling onto the sand at Seamus’s feet. The boy stared at the coin dumbfounded, he felt dizzy and faint, light of body and mind. Moments later Manannán mac Lir held a great swan in his hands, and as he thrust it into the sky and released it he said softly “Fly Seamus… fly.”

As he watched the large swan take flight and head towards the mainland, the Great Goddess Danu approached from a nearby copse of trees, a small smile on her face. She bent down and picked up the silver shilling, brushing grains of sand from it as she stood. With a twinkle in her eye she said, “Lord Manannán, you should have been a potter.” With a sly grin he said, “Aye, I sprinkled water upon inert clay at the creation of your Third Children, Great Mother, aiding in their shaping… and even now I feel the need to do a little molding.” A small pig nestled against his leg, grunting for attention, and he bent over, picked it up, and placed it back into his crane bag.

Circumstance

“Do not be afraid of your difficulties. Do not wish you could be in other circumstances than you are. For when you have made the best of an adversity, it becomes the stepping stone to a splendid opportunity.”

― Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Twilight Sleep Invocation

Meditation has much value in witchcraft. It clears the mind, cleanses away distractions, and prepares one mentally for any arcane working, great or small. It also creates fertile ground for knowledge, insight, and self-development. It can also be a tool or technique for entering the altered state of awareness known as “Twilight Sleep”, where the practitioner is neither asleep nor awake, but in a condition that can easily be characterized as something between the two. This is one of the first steps in venturing into the astral realms.

With that being said though, bear in mind that meditation and other types of cleansing rites are not a prerequisite for rituals, spell casting, or other types of craft work. I cannot even begin to count the number of sources I have seen that direct it as necessity. It is merely a tool that can lead to greater success. If your will is strong and your intent is focused you will, more likely than not, achieve similar levels of success. Meditation and altered states of awareness just make the process easier.

I like to begin my meditations with an invocation, and the following is one I adapted for my own path from Janet and Stewart Farrar’s works. I have to say… it is one of my favorites.

 Great God Cernunnos, come forth again!

 Come at my call and show thyself to men.

 Goat God of Witches, upon the wild hill’s way,

 Lead thy flock from darkness to day.

 Forgotten are the ways of sleep and night –

 Men seek for them, whose eyes have not found the light.

 Open the door, the door that hath no key,

 The door of dreams, whereby men come to thee.

 Goat God of Witches , O answer unto me! (18)

Awards

Just a little note. I created an awards page as I’m trying to keep the main page clear of images and other media. If you are directed here due to a nomination, or would like to make a nomination, please take a peek at the awards page in the header above. Thanks!

Invisibility

A long time ago I jotted this down in a notebook, the author unknown due to my tendency at that time in my life to overlook little matters such as that.

Get a raven or a crow’s heart, split it open with your athame; make three cuts and place a black bean in each cut. Plant it, and when the beans sprout put one in in a pouch hung about your neck and say–

 By virtue of Blackbird’s heart,
And by strength of my great art,
I desire to be invisible… and forgettable.

So mote it be.

And so it will be as long as the bean is kept around your neck, and until the next full moon. Be aware though, this invisibility is not one in which light is refracted and you cannot be seen. It is one of glamour in which people will tend to “not notice you.” You will be less conspicuous and the memory of those who have seen you will be somewhat foggy and unclear.

Bonsai?

“Trimming, pruning, especially for regular maintenance, requires that he who tends it must make thought out decisions of which new growth should flourish and which should be cut away. Doing so in an effective, artful manner – and with health of the miniature plant in mind – requires foresight. Proper foresight, in turn, requires patience.” (17)

-Darth Draconis

Bonsai?

… Or not.

The Left Hand Path teaches us that we must cultivate our inner selves, strive for personal growth, and learn the lessons that the Goat God of the Witches whispers into our ears while we sleep and while we walk in the shadows. True power requires both foresight and patience, cutting off that which does not serve us and nurturing that which contributes to positive growth… personal habits, points of view, things, and people. This requires introspection and meditation, knowing who we are, where we want to be, and what stands in our way.

Ink – Rivers upon which Boats of Will and Intent Sail…

Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.

– Mark Twain

Many spells, talismans, and charms have a written component. This begs the question of what components are to be used in their construction. Often times the recipes or directions are very basic and do not elaborate greatly. As with all arcane rituals, and with life in general, what you put into your art can have a proportionate effect on what you get out of it. I have touched upon my views before that atmosphere and ceremonial practices have a tendency to more easily place the mind into altered states that are conducive to successfully working magic. Therefore, would it be prudent to buy a pad of lined paper and a blue ink click pen at Wal-Mart and put it to use? I do not think so. Ink can be mixed, feathers can be easily made into quill pens, and paper can be self-manufactured. It is work. It takes effort. To become good takes practice. The self-satisfaction can be enormous though. With that being said, the pad of lined paper and blue ink click pen will work if that is the method you choose to pursue. I’m the first to say “to each his, or her, own…”

I’m not a fan of making 300 different types of inks and papers for every conceivable rite or ritual. In my opinion it would be a foolish waste of time and resources. Other components, such as herbs, can be easily weaved into the magical working with greater ease and equal effect.

I have listed three types of ink and one paper recipe below, which should be sufficient for most, if not all, craftwork.

You can follow this link to a very interesting page instructing on Writing Quill Construction. Josh Berer also has an extremely professional WordPress Blog with a lot of information on Ink and Calligraphy. A very comprehensive work written in 1904 by David N. Carvalho on inks can be found here. Knowledge is power, and I challenge you to delve into some of these subjects in an effort to expand your own horizons.

 Dragon’s Blood Ink. 

  • 1 teaspoon Dragon’s Blood resin (powdered)
  • 10 teaspoons alcohol
  • 1 teaspoon Gum Arabic (powdered)
  • 3 drops Red food coloring

Steep the powdered resins in the alcohol until dissolved, and then add the red coloring for a deeper and brighter color. Filter and store in a dark bottle.

Black Ink

  • 2 tablespoon Lamp Black
  • 1 tablespoon Gum Arabic (powdered)
  • Small bowl of warm distilled water and an eyedropper

Grind the Lamp Black into a fine powder, mix in the Gum Arabic, and then drop by drop add distilled water until it is the consistency of useable ink. Store in a dark bottle.

Brown Walnut  Ink

  • Crushed shells of three dozen walnuts
  • 3 tablespoon Gum Arabic (powdered)
  • 3 rusty nails
  • 1 cup distilled water

Place walnut shells and rusty nails in pan and cover with distilled water. Add Gum Arabic and cook on low heat, with a lid on the pan, for 1-2 hours. Pour all contents into a glass bowl, cover top with plastic wrap, and soak for 5 days. Strain ink into a dark bottle.

Homemade Paper

1. First, make several frames: Bend an old wire coat hanger into a square or other desired shape, fastening the ends together with tape in the middle of one side (not in the corner). Pull a pair of pantyhose over the square or shape. Trim the ends of the pantyhose, and tie a knot on either side of the square or shape.

2. Tear newspaper into small pieces. Use of a paper shredder also works well. Other types of paper such as egg cartons, old greeting cards, old white printer paper, etc. can also be used. The key is to get the material into a very small shredded state.

3. Add the paper material and water in a pan. Ratio you should start with is approximately 1 cup of water per 1 cup of shredded paper. Boil and stir your paper mixture in a large pan until it becomes the consistency of oatmeal, adding water as required. For color and variety, you can add bits of dried leaves, flowers or grass, the papery outer skin of an onion, etc.

4. Let mixture cool. Add 2 tablespoons of white glue for every cup of paper material, and mix it evenly.

5. Wet the frame. Spoon the mixed paper material onto the frame, smoothing it out to the desired thickness. Hold the frame over your pan and allow the excess water and paper material to run off. When it stops running it can be hung up for drying.

6. Hang the frame in a well ventilated area until it is completely dry! Carefully peel the paper from the frame. You can then place it between 2 towels to press it with an iron on low heat, or let it sit overnight under heavy books to smooth it out. (16)

Moral Laws

“Heaven makes no moral laws, but gives us instincts towards rightness and virtue.” (15)

The Logomachy of Zos – Austin Osman Spare

Cron Annwn

The fogs and mists drift through the woods, flowing down from the hills like an opaque stream and collect in brushy hollows and low spots. Eddies and currents powered by light tendrils of wind move it randomly, almost hypnotically in random directions. The fog glows softly with light from a full moon you cannot see through low cloud cover. You can feel the silence… it is almost tangible. Nights like this are when we often see spirits of the dead who have self-bound to our world walking the night, or hear stories of frightening encounters with the Unseelie Court. We know not whether it is something inherent in a foggy night, or the result of our own projected fear and apprehension. We just know it is this way.

There are abundant stories, passed on orally from father to son and mother to daughter, of the White Hounds in the mists… Cron Annwyn. Few have seen them, but those that have claim they are spotless white of fur with red colored ears, standing nearly the height of a grown man. Their howling is loudest when they are at a distance, and as they draw nearer, it grows softer and softer as they approach their quarry. They roam the mists hunting the spirits of the dead, or those who have committed serious evil deeds, devouring them to sustain their own existence. It is more than probable that they are Sidhe, and it is said they dwell in the Underworld under the sway of Morrígan, The Crone, when they are not roaming the surface world.

The hunt does not differentiate between evil and good spirits, and this serves as another reminder on why we must not stray from The Low Road when it is our time to begin our own journey to the Cauldron. Also, the next time you find yourself in the fogs and the mists, when the sun has dipped below the horizon, listen for Cron Annwn… and if their howls seem to be receding, and you have evil in your heart… head indoors and cast your wards. (14)

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