Ravemore's Notes

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

Month: June, 2013

Two Wolves…

This post is a tangent from a previous post “What is Darkness?” I think that from time to time I will expand that contemplation a little further by discussing how different concepts, or elements, are shaped by my beliefs… or perhaps how my beliefs are shaped by them. Occasionally I stumble across something that makes me pause a moment to consider its effect on My Darkness, or vice versa. Introspection is a tool for personal growth, and it seems an appropriate application to use in conjunction with composing these posts. A concept like “Darkness” is something worthy of unlimited dissection and microscopic examination.

My Left Hand Path adheres to certain inherent patterns of belief as it relates to Darkness and Evil. Others do too… and others don’t. I really do not care much what other belief systems and individuals adhere to. I am more concerned with myself. Something you will discover about Left Hand Path philosophy is that for the most part we are very individualistic in nature, and this translates directly into how we practice our Religion and Craft. As I have mentioned before, I have embraced My Darkness, and for me this term is indeed one synonymous with Evil. Hatred and Anger are both effective tools in attaining power… and useful. Good actions and emotions can be equally effective in furthering The Darkness within ourselves though… few initiates reach a level where they recognize this truth. (By the way… that is one piece of advice I recommend scribbling down in your little black book.)

On to the more germane part of this post… There is an old Cherokee story about two wolves. How old? I really cannot say for sure. It has some relevant concepts applicable to this post though… mainly because I use it in a way I’m sure was not intended by the author to underline a few of my points. I don’t know who the author is, so I am unable to give credit where credit is due. It goes something like this:

An old Grandfather said to his grandson, who came to him with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice, “Let me tell you a story.

I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do.

But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times.” He continued, “It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him, and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way.

But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing.

Sometimes, it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”

The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”

This story is a very vanilla way of looking at hate, anger, good, and balance. Cute and simplistic… Faint aromas of Christianity and new age fluffiness sprinkled all over the top… It makes me want to puke. I strongly doubt it has any true roots in ancient Native American culture or myth, and it overlooks the pure power and unlimited potential that Hate and Anger can bring to the table. As a practitioner of a Left Hand Path we should not choose to feed one wolf over the other…. thereby seeking to amputate ourselves from primordial predispositions that have enabled us to survive and thrive in this brutal and unforgiving world. We should feed them both… and beat them into submission with a big stick. Turn them into Canis Domesticus and make them serve us. There is some wisdom to the parable though. Hate and Anger can both wear one down and act like the poison alluded to… but this is only if we feed that wolf and give it no room to grow, no ability to become action… if we fail to shape and use our Hate and Anger it can curdle and spoil like old milk.

Darkness has a use for most tools, and all emotions and feelings are valued utensils.

 

“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”

― Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

 

 

Passion and Attachments

“Human beings that have no passion, have no drive. If they have no passion, they have no goals. A life without passion is a life without love, a life without substance. A Sith should live life, with burning passion to experience all there is. A life without attachments is a wasted one.”

~Khaos

Alp-luachra

Muirne sat in the tavern shadows, resting from a long day on the road. Smoke tendrils were thick and created a haze around the fire in a nearby stone hearth and the tallow candles on the half dozen or so wooden tables spread throughout the common area. The smell of roasted pork and potatoes permeated the room. She had been looking intently at the skinny and nearly emaciated man seated at a nearby table. He was working on his fourth platter of food, stuffing his face as fast as he could. He had the look of a desperate and haunted man. The inn keeper was also watching him, and was muttering to his portly wife while casting furtive glances towards the ravenous man.

Murine got up from her comfortable spot and glided over to where the man was eating. He barely glanced at her when she sat down next to him. She smiled and leaned in towards his ear and whispered “You are being consumed by greed… but not your own. Do you wish to be free from this curse?” He dropped his fork, nodded, and a tear dribbled down his cheek, to his chin, and then dripped onto his worn shirt. He whispered back, “I cannot live like this any longer.” With this Murine motioned the inn keeper over and ordered a quarter slab of salted beef. He raised an eyebrow, but quickly scooped up the handful of long cross coins she laid on the table and hurried off to do her bidding.

After the dried and salty meat was placed on the table she instructed the skinny man to eat it. He did so… tearing into it like a starving dog. After a few minutes he reached for his mead tankard, but Murine deftly moved it out of his reach and commanded him to eat more. He ate the salted meat until his tongue began to swell and he begged her for drink. She cast his mead to the floor, stood up, and commanded him to follow her outside. He obeyed her without question and followed as instructed. She led him down the dirt road running in front of the inn, but veered off near a stream that passed under a small stone bridge. After they were out of sight from the road she turned to the man and said “Lay on your back near the water and look to the sky. Open your mouth wide, keep it open, and do not close it until the time is right… and you will know when that time comes. Under no circumstances are you to drink of the water from the stream.”

The skinny man nodded and did as he was told, the sound of the running water nearly driving him mad with desire to slake his thirst. After a few minutes of laying on the ground in the feeble light of a half moon, his eyes widened and filled with a look of horror. Two thin, gangly, arms shot out of his open mouth and a creature began to pull itself free from between his crooked teeth. Its flesh was pale, like a dead bloated fish. The man’s lips were stretched further, and the corners of his mouth split with a slight pop as his jaws were distended. His eyes bulged and his skin began to turn blue from lack of air as his mouth gave birth to a spindly little humanoid with large round black eyes containing no whites. The creature wailed, cursing vehemently as it struggled to pull itself free from the man’s mouth. Finally, with great effort it dragged itself out and leapt for the water, drinking it fast like an animal deprived of water for days. The skinny man scrambled to his feet and ran to where Murine leaned against a tree, yelling “What the Hells!?” She merely shrugged and said, “It is called Alp-luachra, of the Sidhe, a fairy creature and a follower of the Unseelie Court. It consumes your sustenance as you eat it, depriving you of nourishment until you either take your own life… or die of starvation” The man then ran toward the road, casting fearful glances behind him, and was never seen in those parts again. He grew old in another county… and told this story often to any willing to listen. (22)

In The Chime Hours

“The Gods of the Deep return at times to join with their kin in convocation, to relive the old rites, on the desolate, wind-wracked beaches, deep within dank caverns, at the midnight crossroads, upon the damp disturbed earth; old, forgotten places. It’s a reclaiming of souls that have walked this familiar path before, a chaining to Oaths that were made millennia ago; unfinished business.”

Sarah-Jayne Farrer, Di Inferi – The Gods Below: Of Contact, Dream and Memory

In the Chime Hours

Gods… her writing is so delicious it makes me want to do carnal things to myself.

 

 

Witch Bottles

Old and simple forms of Craftwork, these constructions are used for a variety of purposes, such as hexes, curses, counter-magical devices, and many others. Witch Bottles have been dug up and dated back to the 16th century. You are only limited by your imagination when it comes to a Witch Bottle. Their use spans many different traditions and geographic areas, so regardless of what your Left Hand Path inclinations are… it should be fairly easy to find inspiration.

Older Witch Bottles tended to be made from glazed stoneware. The best type of modern glass to use in my opinion is a champagne bottle because the glass is thick, dark colored, and they are designed to withstand pressure. Most Witch Bottles contain large amounts of organic material and over time the contents can decompose or ferment, resulting in a build-up of gases that can break the glass and destroy the spell or containment. A current favorite among many witches are the small cobalt blue bottles. They can easily be incorporated into interior decor and thus hide protective charms and spells in plain sight within the home without raising suspicions. Personally, I tend to cling to the old methods of burying them, or concealing them outdoors… particularly with spirit traps. The last thing I want in my home is an angry spirit trapped in a little glass bottle. When broken, the containments do fail.

Counter-magical Witch Bottles are used to absorb and contain incoming curses and hexes from other hostile practitioners. They are often hidden on one’s own property, under door thresholds, or buried at the furthest edge of the property. Any hidden location close to the person seeking protection will suffice though. The most common components are urine from the casting witch, iron or steel nails, bent stick pins, shards of glass, and other sharp objects. The sharp objects catch or impale the curse, and the urine binds and nullifies it. A short chant or prayer is whispered over the burial spot.

Witch Bottles containing curses are equally prevalent. We can be amazingly malevolent beings, and there is never a shortage of hatred, jealousy, and rage among the Third Children. Sometimes it seems our thirst for vengeance can be unquenchable. I have already outlined one example of a curse-bearing Witch Bottle HERE… and it tends to be one of my favorites.

Another interesting type of Witch Bottle called a “Break-up Bottle” can be used to ruin relationships and separate lovers, usually for the sole benefit of the casting witch. The usual construction components consist of the names of the two lovers written on a piece of paper which is then then ripped apart into two separate pieces, the hair of a dog, and the hair of a cat. The bottle is then filled with a red wine and corked. Before it is buried on property where one, or both, of the lovers live it is shaken vigorously and a short chant or prayer muttered over the spot.

The polar opposite of the Break-up Bottle is the “Honey Bottle.” This one usually contains 3 parts water to 1 part honey and a variety of herbs suited for the purpose. The names of the witch and the object of the spell are written onto one piece of paper and incorporated into the mixture. It can be used to facilitate feelings of love, attraction, or good will. It should also be buried on the property of the object of your affection… or obsession, with a suitable chant or prayer.

Witch Bottles remain active as long as the item is hidden and unbroken. The occasional Spell cast to empower it further never hurts either…

The Importance of Initiation

I have heard exhortations from both sides of the fence… some touting the necessity for initiation into The Craft, and others relegating it to either a footnote, or totally eliminating any significance and value it may hold. My personal philosophy places great importance on Initiation for a variety of reasons. It fulfills essential functions within a Left Hand Path, and arguably any religious or mystery system. With that being said though, I do not prescribe the notion that initiations must follow any type of genealogical line, or that a practitioner is for some reason “illegitimate” because another has not performed certain rites or rituals to welcome them into The Craft. That is utter garbage. The individual has as much capacity and right as any group or coven to properly carry out an initiation… possibly to even greater effect.

The purpose of Initiation is to experience a ritualistic death of the old life, and a spiritual re-birth onto a path few are brave or competent enough to tread. It shows a high level of resolve on the part of the initiate, and lays the soul bare for shaping and the mind open and receptive for the acceptance of sacred truth. It begins a fundamental process of change that is found in most religious gnostic traditions. A change within self… Care should be exercised though, particularly when performed by a single individual, because an Initiation carries great symbolic importance. It should not be cheap, easy, or hastily constructed and executed. It should create an atmosphere of awe, power, and profound introspection. It must prepare the individual for a lifelong quest to reach, grasp, understand, and use The Light we all seek. Initiation does not have to be long and drawn out… but it can be. It does not have to be full of props and actors… but it can be. It just has to be effective. To further this end, it should contain snippets of a tradition’s core tenants and lore… little tastes of the flavors and aromas the tradition offers the initiate if there is dedication, a willingness to perform hard work, and a deep thirst for knowledge.

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