Monthly Archives: May 2016

HPF 2016: Skidding In Home

A week ago yesterday, at almost exactly midnight (and about twelve hours after we had intended), Aradia and I disappeared into the woods for the thirty-first Heartland Pagan Festival.  Last night, just an hour short of a full week away, we pulled back into our driveway.

Last year, I found myself spearheading the ritual crew for the thirtieth anniversary extravaganza.  It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, but it was an amazing experience.  Then some cruel bastards decided that I should be in charge: first they put me in the chair of my committee; then, when someone stepped down, I let them put me on the Board of Directors.

A year as ritual crew lead did not prepare me in any way, shape, or form for the amount of work I found waiting for me as Chair of the Sacred Experience Committee.  The decision to put on four workshops (three of which were interconnected and had to happen the same day) didn’t help.  And it turns out that coordinating with guest speakers to participate in the main rituals is hard.  And where the FUCK did all the Heartland drummers go?  (Seriously, you used to trip over at least two drum circles on the way to any given port-o-john; now I struggle to recruit three drummers for ritual.)  Oh, and that whole near-miss-with-the-tornado thing?  Yeah…. that happened.

I’m still processing.  There was a lot of really good stuff that happened.  There was some really shitting stuff that happened.  There was just a whole lot of STUFF that happened. And the weather.  Did I mention the tornado?  I’ll be processing all week.

And if you’re in St.Louis this coming weekend, you should come process it with me, possibly over beers or coffee, because I’ll be wearing my PR hat and schilling for the festival at St. Louis Pagan Picnic.  And, speaking of Public Relations, if you were there at the festival with me, please fill out our post-festival survey!  The survey is anonymous, and you will have the chance to enter for a free pass to next year’s festival!

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Elemental Masks Project: Feral as Keeper of Air

In the fourth and final installment in Feral’s time with the elemental masks, here she appears as the Keeper of Air.  Feral is the second model to help me explore the personalities of these masks and the elemental powers they represent.

Feral did very fine work, and was a great deal of fun to work with.  But I hope, as the project continues, to recruit more witches and occultists to model for me — people who will be more naturally inclined to the energies that I am asking them to embody.

Prints, and the entire project to date, can be found at my portfolio.  For the Feral as the four Keepers, click here.  For the project in toto, click here.  If you appreciate my work, either my art or my witchcraft, please consider purchasing prints.  And if you are at all interested in working with me, as a mage or a model, please shoot me an email using the link to your left.  (Of course, with fest so close — by the time this post goes live, I will, in fact, already be in the woods — right now I can only pay in mead … but I can pay in a great deal of mead.)

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Elemental Masks Project: Feral as Keeper of Water

Continuing my explorations of elemental power through the masks I made for last year’s Heartland Pagan Festival, behold the Keeper of Water, portrayed by Feral.

In the long term, these images may find themselves in an oracle deck and/or a photo book.

Individual prints, and a look at the entire project to date, can be found at my portfolio.  For the Feral as the four Keepers, click here.  For the project in toto, click here.  If you appreciate my work, either my art or my witchcraft, please consider purchasing prints.

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HPF 2016 Preview: Come to My Workshops

In addition to my official work as Chair of the Sacred Experience Committee (that is to say, the main ritual arc and other public rituals), I’ll be presenting four workshops and rituals at this year’s festival.

Three of the four will be Friday, each (in theory) building on the last.

Firstly, at ten in the morning, I will be presenting a workshop on energy work, circle casting, and basic ritual construction.   With a little bit of wit and talent, someone will hopefully come in knowing only a little bit of theory and walk out prepared to cast their first serious spell or conjuration.

Second, in the early afternoon, I will be presenting a workshop on conjuring spirits.  It’s a little bit of theory, and a little bit of pointers on practice based in my own practice.  The target audience for this workshop are those of moderate to extensive magical experience but little or no background in conjuring spirits.  That magician will leaving my workshop with the tools necessary to begin their own experiments in conjuration.

Third, beginning at Sunset, I will take advantage of the First Hour of Night on the Day of Venus, and lead interested attendees in a conjuration of the spirits of Venus for her blessing and grace.

The fourth and final workshop, on Sunday afternoon, will be a group discussion on the experience of being Queer and Pagan.  I want to create a space to have a conversation about our magical and spiritual experiences, particularly those unique to our community, and to discuss possible solutions to the challenges we experience in the face of the overwhelming heterosexism of the neo-Pagan community.  The workshop is by and for queer people, and while I am not opposed to allies showing up, this will not be a place for them to talk.

Last year I only hosted one workshop, my first on spirit conjuration.  It was very well recieved and I am very excited to be doing more this year.  I hope to see some of you there.

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Elemental Masks Project: Feral as the Keeper of Earth

 

Continuing my experiment of using photography to explore the personalities of my four elemental masks, we have Feral, again, this time as the Keeper of Earth.

Prints, and the entire project to date, can be found at my portfolio.  For the Feral as the four Keepers, click here.  For the project in toto, click here.  If you appreciate my work, either my art or my witchcraft, please consider purchasing prints.  Times are tough.

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Chaos Protocols

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been crying into my beer a little lately over the swiftly growing number of people I know or follow who have recently joined the ranks of published authors.  In particular, I’m weeping over the prodigious and prestigious one-two punch delivered by Gordon White of Rune Soup.  The second of two books he has published this year is The Chaos Protocols, via Llewellyn.

The Chaos Protocols, simply put, is the magic book I wish I’d had ten years ago.  Of course, ten years ago it couldn’t have been written: half the calamities and fewer than a third of the innovations (technological, cultural, and magical) that produced the world today had not yet happened.

Where Star.Ships is theoretical, meandering, and academic, The Chaos Protocols is pragmatic, to the point, and actionable.  Amusingly, it is the latter that has footnotes on almost every page.  The book begins with a brutal crash-course in economics and ends with a miniature grimoire.  In between, it provides magical theory, economic reality, and practical techniques by turn.

Economic highlights include a sober discussion of the probable medium-terms effects of crony capitalism; advocating for the return to multi-family and multi-generational housing; a realistic assessment of the value of formal education and property ownership; and a discussion of the meaning of value and the value of meaning.

Magical highlights include Gordon’s own variation on the Stele of Jeu; the print publication of his masterwork on sigils; necromancy and ancestor worship; a discussion of divination mechanics and strategies;  and magical strategies ranging from personal syncretisms to the Greek Magical Papyri to street-corner Hoodoo.

The most important parts of the book, though, can be summed up in three quotations:

One does not meet the devil at the crossroads to build a life that looks like everyone else’s.

and

Even if this is the apocalypse, that is no call to avoid making things interesting.

and, finally,

Become invincible and have adventures.  The rest is detail.

Let’s have at it, shall we?

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Elemental Masks Project: Feral as the Keeper of Fire

From my latest photo shoot exploring the personalities of my elemental masks, Chicago native Feral in the role of Keeper of Fire.

Although not, herself, a practitioner of occult arts — an unexpected and unaccountable bit of good luck with two of my previous models, first Felicity embodying Baphomet and the Sun God/dess, and then Kajira for the Conjuring and the first round of Keepers — she was very professional and a delight to work with, taking to the role with surprising ease.

Prints and the rest of the series are available at my portfolio.  For the rest of Feral, click here.  For the Elemental Masks series in toto, click here.  If you like my work — either or both my art or my witchcraft — please consider buying a print or two.  Times are a little tough right now.

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HPF 2016 Elemental Excursions: A Preview From the Sacred Experience Committee

It’s the final stretch, y’all: one week from today, Aradia and I will be disappearing into the woods to begin setting up the site for this year’s Heartland Pagan Festival.  The thirty-first of its kind, it will be my second year as a member of the ritual crew and my first year as a ready-to-take-the-blame committee head.  I’m stoked.  I’m scared.

elemental excursions art

We have a lot of fun and excitement planned for you all.  We’ve got great pagan speakers and musicians from across the country, and a local legend for our Saturday night concert.  Three days of workshops and rituals led by both our honored guests and members of our own communities.  Public rituals on all four nights, as well as the traditional night-hike Vision Quest on Saturday.

I don’t want to give too much away, or overstep myself by blurring the line between my HSA work and this, my personal blog, but I’m really excited about the four rituals.  For most of my time as an attendee, there were three main rituals: opening ritual Thursday, main ritual Saturday night, and closing ritual Monday (moved to Sunday a few years ago). Then, for a while, there were only two rituals: Thursday and Saturday.  Last year we re-introduced the Sunday night closing ritual.  This year we’re upping the ante by taking the elemental theme and escalating to four rituals.

First, Thursday’s Earth Ritual will banish the outside world and welcome everyone to the festival by introducing us to the spirit of the land.

Then Friday’s Air Ritual will clear our minds to find our truths, and help us name our ambitions in order to pursue them.

For Saturday’s Water Ritual, we will dredge up our individual fears so that we may confront and conquer them as a community.

Finally, with all obstacles out of the way, Sunday’s Fire Ritual will stoke our divine spark to roaring flame and impel us back into the world charged for action.

I really hope to see some of you there.

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Star.Ships Calling

As a yet-unpublished writer, the last eighteen months have been rough on me: the list of people I know and admire who have published before I have has grown immensely.  Rufus Opus, Lance Tuck, Luna Teague.  Most recently, now, Gordon White has blown onto the scene with not one but two books in the last fewmonths: the first with the most prestigious occult publisher of our age, and the second with the largest.  My hat off to you, sir, you fucking grand over-achiever.  Holy shit.

On the off chance that you don’t already know who Gordon White is, stop what you’re doing and check him out now.  Gordon runs the twin pulpits of his blog and podcast, Rune Soup, whence he pontificates on a wide variety of subjects, mostly culture and  the paranormal.  He speaks from a Chaos Magick and animist perspective, which is refreshingly off-center, and he is very, very clever.  Some day I hope to be cool enough to win an interview on the podcast.

for book page

The first and (arguably) more ambitious of his two books is more theoretical.  Star.Ships gathers up a wide swath of archaeological loose ends from the late paleolithic and demonstrates how they may lead to the earliest portions of history.  Gordon weaves his argument from the recently discovered paleolithic monuments of Gobekli Tepe to the infamous heads of Easter Island to the submerged ruins off the coast of India.  He draws on cutting-edge linguistics and genetics research to illustrate how the now-widely disseminated 1990s theories of human migration desperately miss the mark, and turns into the analysis of geologists and engineers regarding a variety of ancient “mysteries”.   In doing so, he attempts to fill in the “missing links” of western esoteric tradition, and argues that great swaths of human history have been influenced by a handful of stellar powers.  He also, almost incidentally, condemns the current state of scholarship in general and the field of Egyptology in particular.

I am, by training, a Classicist.  This is to say, on the one hand, that I know little or nothing of the paleolithic sites Gordon points to to illustrate a number of his arguments — particularly Gobekli Tepe, to which he points so often — and I look forward to spending a fair bit of my spare time over the next year looking up everything in the bibliography.  On the other hand, however, it also means that I know better than most how much a shambles academic knowledge is regarding the moments just before “history” (that is to say, the things we wrote down) begins.  I mean … there are Classicists who still believe there was a Dorian invasion, but no city of Troy, and that Pythagorus invented the math he clearly stole from Egyptian engineers.  It was a professional hairdresser who demonstrated how the women’s hairstyles of Roman statuary were physically possible and not sculptors’ flights of fancy; it was the engineers of a century ago who provided the first viable theories of how the Egyptian pyramids might have been constructed; and I have personally seen at least three drunk construction workers on YouTube demonstrating how single individuals might have erected the megaliths across the British Isles.  Finally, having given up my dreams of pursuing a Doctorate entirely because of my own experiences navigating the politics of the academy, I am entirely sympathetic to his condemnations of that institution.

This late to the game, however, there is almost no point in writing a full review of the book.  To that end, I have only three more things to say on the subject:

  1. Unlike so many, Gordon White does an excellent job of distinguishing between his data and his conclusions.  If you are uncomfortable with his conclusions, he cites his less mainstream sources very clearly and has an extensive bibliography at the end.
  2. The most important thing Gordon has to say in Star.Ships is not actually his core thesis, but the mantra he repeats as he makes each of his points: it is the task of science to accumulate data; it is the task of the magician to provide meaning.
  3. Go buy the damn book.  Gordon White’s Star.Ships from Scarlet Imprint

</fanboi squee>

 

 

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Beltane Epiphany

beltane-1

Aradia and I celebrated Beltane this year with a brief but much-needed retreat to Camp Gaea at the beginning of last week.  Our ritual was small and private: the ritual burning of the leftovers of our magical practice since Samhain — sigil sketches, expired maeteria, and the like — and the detritus of the job I was let go from at the beginning of the year.  There was a great deal more of the latter than the former — despite the planetary witchcraft experiment, which has yielded largely negative results, the majority of our magical energy over the last year has gone toward the coming festival — and I believe that I got a great deal more out of our ritual than she.

That night and in the morning, I was struck by an epiphany of sorts.   It came to me in the form of one of the first lines I wrote for the Earth Ritual, with which we  will open HPF 2016: “We are of the Earth, upon earth, and, in the end, below the Earth.”

Two nights later, when I performed the Stele of Jeu for the Dark Moon — my first return to that ritual in many months — the power came, as usual, but to little effect.  Previously, when I have performed the Headless Rite, the power has rushed out into my Kingdom, opening fissures in the landscape of my life even as it filled others.  This time, however, it merely rippled out over a smooth plane, affecting nothing except perhaps to burnish the already polished surface.

For three solid years in the Sunrise Temple, and more haphazardly since coming back to Kansas City, I devoted myself to courting the spirits of the Upper Worlds — spirits of the stars and planets, of the Heavens Above.  When I tried to bring my practice back to the home-place of Witchcraft, I tried to do it incrementally.  My first forays back into witchcraft merely changed the means by which I sought those starry powers, re-callibrating my rites into things that would make sense to witches who, eclectic though they may be, had never dabbled in the Legemeton or the Golden Dawn.  I didn’t want to just abandon all that I had learned.  I wanted to, somehow, bring back the wisdom and the power I had learned among the stars.

This, I believe now, was precisely backwards.  Someday, I will write my book on planetary witchcraft.  But first I must make myself, again a witch, rather than the sorcerer I have become.

What I need to do now is resume my former devotion to the gods and powers . This will, of course, almost certainly prove to be a false dichotomy in the end. But I must follow the path where I see it.

 

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