Monthly Archives: June 2016

Producing a Lexicon of Queer Witchcraft

This post was originally written several years ago, while I was still in the Sunrise Temple.  For some reason I can’t recall – possibly because it didn’t tie in neatly with the Ceremonial Experiment – I decided to post it exclusively to my Tumblr.  I repost it here, now, because I was looking to link to it as I was drafting my response to the Ruth Barrett issue and was irate that I couldn’t find it.  It was, probably, my most popular Tumblr post, and I think that the discussion is still relevant, and I am still struggling to think clearly in the wake of post-festival and post-tragedy collapse.  The below post has been slightly edited for spelling and grammar.

This is a thing that has been on my mind for a while, and I’m going to float it here before I begin drafting a larger post for the main blog.

I know for a fact that I am not the only genderqueer witch who doesn’t fit comfortably under the trans umbrella.  I strongly suspect that many like me share my struggle to find language to describe their experiences.  The one word I know that comes close to describing the way in which my spirituality and gender identity intermix–Two-spirit–is not mine to use.  Being a Classicist, though, I have access to two whole lexicons from which to less problematically adopt words:  Attic Greek and Classical Latin.

Let me, therefore, propose a word for those of us whose spiritual genders embrace a combination of masculinity and femininity: digenes, from διγενής.  Literally, it renders as “two kind”, but is more commonly taken to mean “of dual or ambiguous nature”.  For those who wish to explicitly embrace a broader spectrum, the neologism polygenes (πολυγενής) can be coined: many-natured.  If you don’t like genes, phusis can be used: diphues (διφυής) or polyphues (πολυφυής): literally two- or many- natured.  Digenes is historically testified to describe Dionysus (citation pending), and diphues to describe Eros in the Orphic Hymn.

So: the proposal:

digenes, diphues, polygenes, and polyphues

Attic/Koine Greek borrow-words and neologisms to describe the experience of genderqueer spirituality for those of us whose traditions do not come equipped with such words.

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Looking for the Labyrinth

This weekend, I attended my first Gnostic Catholic Mass with the local chapter of the OTO.  Because my timing is sometimes awesome, there was a group in from Omaha to see three of their number baptized, which really elevated the initiatory current of the rite.  I could get into a detailed analysis, but that’s not why I’m here today.

The ritual was beautiful and powerful.  I definitely enjoyed the power-up.  I’m glad I went.  There were good people there.  I will almost certainly go again.

But it’s not home.

I spent half the ritual itching to go home and do witchcraft.  To light candles and beat a drum and chong out my altar room with incense and oil smoke.  To pour libations and swill wine with the gods.  To leap the hedge and descend the World Tree and seek once more the realms beneath the Earth.  I want to walk the winding paths of the labyrinth.

Instead, though, I struggle to meditate.  My dreams elude me.

I stand before my altars and stare, futile, even as I stare at the blank page.  Should I draw or write?  What project needs my attention first?  How do I even?  How do?  What do?

I want to burn the world.  I have to tools.  And yet my hands shake.  The circle trembles.  My heart hammers in my chest.  Where do I begin to begin again?  I am paralyzed by indecision.

I cannot find my voice.  I cannot find my way back to the labyrinth.

 

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Elemental Postures

Feral bearing the masks of the Elemental Keepers, performing the elemental Postures.

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Death and Violence

I spent the last two months lost in the woods.  Tragically, while true, this is not a literal statement.  I lost the entirety of April and May to preparing for and putting on the Heartland Pagan Festival.  In those months, I did not engage with social media except to shout into the void.  Since I have come back from festival, and started checking in, I have found a number of clusterfucks waiting for me, and I have struggled with how to engage with them.

And then the last week happened.  Yesterday morning, I struggled to write something relevant about Ruth Barrett, her heinous anthology, her history, and Cherry Hill Seminary’s inadequate response.  This morning I struggle to address the violence in Orlando, and the routine, inadequate, responses to it. There are things I want to say.  There are things that might be useful to say.  I’m not sure how much overlap there is between those things.

I am not the only one who predicted this attack (or, rather, something like it) in the hours after last year’s supreme court ruling by which marriage equality was made national law.  I must admit that that I, at least, expected it to come much, much sooner.  Instead there was the long litany of murdered transwomen, mostly women of color, which grew steadily day by day.

Watching people blame “radical Islam” for the Orlando attack, when I have spent my entire life listening to mainstream Christians advocate similar violence, is sickening.  I remember the mainstream gay bashing of the 1990s.  I remember when, in the 1990s and 2000s, ultimately 4/5ths of US states decided that the federal ban on same-sex marriage was insufficient and passed state laws and constitutional amendments to the same effect.  And I know my history.  This shit isn’t new, and it’s not Islam.  Or, not just Islam. Nor was Orlando the only attack this week, just the most successful.  There was also the Target bathroom bombing in Evanston, IL, and the shooter arrested on the way to the Los Angeles Pride Parade.  And probably a half-dozen more I haven’t heard about yet.

Meanwhile, I watch the slow rise of pro-gun and anti-queer paganism, and wonder how much longer it will be before I’m staring down a barrel at festival. There was more casual homophobia among Pagans in the 1990s, but I don’t remember people fighting this hard to kick us out.  I do remember Heathenry rejecting the Pagan identity as a whole precisely because the larger movement was, among other things, more accepting of queers than they wanted to be. (Which is why I was so surprised and suspicious when people I knew started getting involved with the Norse gods.)  That Cherry Hill Seminary would continue to employ Ruth Barrett after her repeated attacks on the transgender community, culminating in her TERF anthology project, tells me that her views are actually becoming more mainstream in the pagan community as a whole, despite being pushed to the margins of the festival circuit.

Paganism is not immune to the over culture: as queer rights progress, those who oppose us will continue to become more violent. And telling us to “embrace our own second amendment rights” in self-defense is basically telling us to violently secede, because there is no place in society for us.

Don’t look to me for a conclusion, here.  Now is not the time to ask me about solutions, either.  I am angry and afraid, and the only paths that I can see from here are defensive separatism or answering violence with violence, neither of which, statistically, pan out well for us in the end.

The one thing I am absolutely certain of is that assimilation is worse than death, and I will not no more conform to the heterosexist dualism of my fellow Pagans than to the white supremacist cishet patriarchy and materialist nihilism of mainstream American culture.  I will not give up the magic.  I will not give up the ecstasies.  I will not conform to the prescribed roles for my sex, gender, or class.

I am a witch.  The war is on, but I will not submit to a fair fight.

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HPF 2016: Spirit Conjuration Workshop Notes

For the amusement and convenience of my readers and in the hopes of getting feedback from the more experienced conjurers in the community, I present my notes for the spirit conjuration workshop.  I would greatly appreciate feedback from anyone who attended, or who has an interest in the subject, in order to make a better workshop next year.

I)       Introduction

A)     Allow me to Introduce Myself ….

i)       20 years and counting of magical practice and experiments

(a)   Started with energy work and failed attempts at astral projection at 16 yrs

(b)   ~’00-06 swapping tricks and going on adventures with KU WPA

(c)   Independent experiments with shamanic visionary work since 2008

(d)   Intense exploration of ceremonial and chaos magicks 2011-2015

¨       Ceremonial Experiment

¨       Project Null

B)     Conjuration

i)       When I was but a wee faun of a mage …

(a)   1990s taboo against spirit conjuration

(b)   Jeremy and summoning elementals

ii)     Historical perspective

(a)   Extremely ancient tradition, dating to earliest preserved spells

(b)   Extensively attested across the whole of the Western magical tradition

¨       Archaeology

¨       PGM

¨       Picatrix

¨       Renaissance Grimoires (to say nothing of theater)

¨       Lodge traditions – GD, A .: A .: (Argentium Astrum), Thelema, &c.

¨       ATR &c. – Hoodoo, vodoun, voodoo, conjure, &c.

¨       Basically everywhere but mainstream modern neo-Pagan witchcraft

iii)   Sources for conjuration experiments

(a)   Christopher Penczak’s Temple of High Witchcraft

(b)   Electional astrology via Christopher Warnock’s Spiritus Mundi

(c)   PGM Stele of Jeu via Jack Faust

(d)   Rufus Opus’ Seven Spheres in Seven Days marathon

(e)   Peter Carol’s Liber Null

(f)    RO’s Seven Spheres

(g)   Wild assortment of personal accounts by other sorcerers gleaned across the internet and over beers

II)    Theory, Part One

A)     Theories of magic (Phil Hine, Condensed Chaos 1995)

i)       Cybernetic model – fractal reality, programmable magic: coded wards and servetors

ii)     Psychological model – 19th + 20th C,Jungian/archetypal understanding of the cosmos, “it’s all in your head”

iii)   Energetic model – also introduced to the West in the 19th C, “subtle energies”

iv)    Spirit model – oldest, probably best, and most relevant to our discussion

v)      All four must be at least partly true, because all four work

B)     Conjuring, obviously, works on the spirit theory

i)       magic is achieved through petitioning spirits to act on our behalf

(a)   ancestors & other dead

(b)   elementals/fairies/devas

(c)   planetary powers – spirits, archangels, gods, whatever

(d)   gods and demons

ii)     the magician makes contact with the spirit, persuades them by some means, and the spirit makes the magic happen

III) Ethics

A)     Concerning Free Will

i)       do spirits have it?

(a)   actually don’t according to many theories of the spirited world

ii)     does conjuration infringe upon it?

(a)   lots of authoritarian language in spirit conjuration

(b)   lots of it reads as theater

iii)   survey sez spirits do what the fuck they want, regardless of “contract”

(a)   why doesn’t anyone ever extend this line of reasoning to include the gods?

(b)   Quarter calls traditionally “bid” spirits rather than “asked” them

(c)   “calling” isn’t asking either

B)     Indirect Action and Unintended Consequences

i)       how responsible are we for the means that spirits employ in our name?

IV)  Mechanics

A)     Ritual Arc

i)      Preliminary Work

(a)   Clean the workspace

(b)   Physical construction of the altar

(c)   Mood lighting

(d)   Bathing

(e)   Banishing

(f)    Fumigation

ii)    Opening

(a)   Dedication of sacred space

¨       Blessing the altar

¨       Incense

¨       Circle casting

¨       Offerings to relevant familiar spirits

(b)   Invocation of authority

¨       Supreme deity/deities

¨       Identification with great mages of myth and history

à         Moses and Osiris in the PGM

à         Potentially Medea, Merlin, or Aradia for modern witches

à         Affiliation with established order or egregore

¨       Offerings to that authority

iii) Body

(a)   Evocation of the spirit by speaking its name and attributes

¨       This is the place for hardcore flattery

¨       Listing off multiple names and attributes of spirit to be called helps to specify

¨       Traditional hymns and/or devotional poetry go here

(b)   Depending on the ritual tradition, there may be cajoling, bribery, or threatening

¨       Hermetic tradition ~ “Don’t I remind you of Dad?”

¨       Grimoire tradition ~ “Dad made me the boss of you!”

¨       Egyptian style ~ “If you don’t do as I say, I’ll get a bigger god to clobber you!”

¨       Folk magic ~ “If you do something nice for you, you’ll do something nice for me!”

¨       First round of offerings go here – fumigation and/or libations

(c)   Asking something of the spirit

¨       “say ‘hi”,”

¨       “empower this talisman”

¨       Planetary spirits are great for initiations and general power-ups

¨       Second round of offerings to the conjured spirit may be appropriate, particularly libations or food offerings

¨       If I am asking for communion or initiation, this is where I will share a drink with the spirit

iv)  Closing

(a)   Thanking and/or Dismissal of the spirit

¨       May be personal or formal

¨       More offerings are not uncalled for, particularly libations

(b)   Thanking the authority

¨       More offerings, depending on the authority

(c)   Dismiss elements/quarters/whatever

(d)   Dismiss circle

(e)   Banish as necessary

V)     Theory, Part Two

A)     Style

i)       varies from one tradition to another

B)     Substance

i)       A conjurer (“exorcist”) must believe in their own authority

ii)     Psychodrama of ritual

C)     Planning

i)       What is your purpose?

(a)   Empower this talisman/sigil

(b)   Perform this action –

(c)   Shower me with the blessings of your domain (relevant for planetary spirts and their ilk)

ii)     Who or what are you conjuring?

iii)   What school of thought are you employing?

iv)    Have your script ready

VI)  The Triangle of Conjuration

A)     A reality map – Trimethian archetype

i)       Characters of the seven planets on the outer ring

ii)     Archangels of the four earthly quarters in the second ring

iii)   Sacred geometry make up the center

iv)    Crystal placed in the central geometry in which the spirit appears

v)      Represents the material and spiritual realms through which the spirits must descend to the “exorcist”

B)     Traditional tool helpful with some kinds of conjuration

C)     Adds to the psychodrama

VII)           Personal Experiences

A)     Relationships With Spirits

i)       Formal first contact is best

ii)     Research and experience alike indicate that personal is best

(a)   Some relationships may remain extremely formal

(b)   Depends on the magician as much as the spirit or rite

B)     Conjurations

i)       Natal genius and demon

ii)     Cannabis

iii)   Planetary spirits/archangels

VIII)   Sources for Research

A)     Books

i)       Rufus Opus’ Seven Spheres (Scarlet Imprint 2015)

ii)     Gordon White’s The Chaos Protocols (Llewellyn 2016)

iii)   Corpus Hermeticum (public domain)

iv)    Lesser Key of Solomon the King (Crowley’s Goetia, Weiser 1990)

B)     Blogs

i)       Rufus Opus @ Head for Red

ii)     Polyphanes @ Digital Ambler

triangle-of-art-with-characters_thumb.jpg

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HPF 2016: Workshop After-Action Report

I hosted four workshops at this year’s festival.  That’s quite an escalation from last year’s two, and next year I will probably do five.  I’ll probably go at it all a little differently, though.

The nature of my first three workshops required that they be in a particular order, and on the same day.  I taught a basic energy work and circle casting class, followed by a class on conjuring spirits, and culminating in an actual conjuration of the spirits of the Sphere of Venus at their appointed hour on their appointed day.  Nescessarily, then, all three were Friday.  That was kinda tiring.  Also frantic.

The 101 course was sparsely attended – just two people – but they were very enthusiastic.  It was intimate and effective, and I will definitely teach it again next year.

The conjuration workshop drew about eight people, twice as many as last year and more than all my other workshops combined.  There was a good mix of experience levels, and people had a fun variety of their own stories to share.  Almost all of them went on to participate in the actual conjuration that night, along with a handful who hadn’t made the workshop.  Definitely a success.

The final workshop was a discussion on being queer and pagan.  Relatively few people showed to that one, which had the misfortune of being placed at the same time as workshops by both Sede and Lupa, two of our guest speakers.  In particular, I was interested to see if there was an interest in hosting meet-and-greets to help queers attending the festival to find each other and create a sub-community, and I think there is definitely enough interest in that.  Hopefully some younger and more radical queers will attend next year, and we will have a more lively discussion.

All in all, I think the workshops went well, and putting them on was a very rewarding experience for me.  I will definitely try to spread them out more, next year, if I can, but I will probably do them all again.  I may even do two queer and pagan workshops: a meet-and-greet at the beginning and an after-action discussion group to air any problems that people had.

 

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HPF 2016: Promethean Vow

At the apex of the Fire ritual, Prometheus demanded that each of us make a vow to act, to pursue an ambition which he would help us achieve.  The ritual was written in such a way that all of the fascilitators could participate, and make vows of our own.

I vowed that my novel, The Mark of the Wolf, would be in print in time for the next festival.

My first step, taken less than 24 hours home from the festival, was to reproduce that goal in miniature by self-publishing one of my other, smaller, stories on Amazon.

Bad Trip Cover

My first published novelette, Bad Trip, is set in 1968, and follows a group of four friends as they explore a haunted house somewhere near Athol, MA.  It’s not the first “haunted” house they’ve explored on their celebratory road trip, but it proves to be full of more than bad vibes and cheap thrills.  As the four friends make their way the Whitley manor, room by room, they find first mystery, then horror, and finally doom.

The story offers, I hope, an intriguing introduction to my fictional world of occult horror, with a hat-tip to Lovecraft country on the way down.  It’s $3 for 8000 words, which is more fun for less money than a trip to the cinema.

 

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HPF 2016: Elemental Rites

We had a beautiful and elaborate ritual arc planned.  We were going to have a ritual each day of the festival: opening with Earth, progressing through Air and Water, and culminating in Fire.  There were to be four elemental altars, each to be staffed by one of my Keepers for the two hours before the ritual they would officiate.  My ritual crew was to gather at the altars and process throughout the camp each night, calling people to ritual.

Then we had a week of torrential rains.  Capped off by a tornado on opening day.

The elemental altars were never fully erected.  My Keeper of Earth, an experienced hiker, felt that the path to hers was unsafe.  The Water alter never even made it down to the lake.  Having lost a day and a great deal of energy to the chaos of Thursday’s tornado, the oracular stations never took place.  Thursday night’s ritual, as I described yesterday, just didn’t happen.  I have since issued a public apology for all of this, but more than that … we were all looking forward to it.  It was a loss for us as well as for the community.

After a great deal of discussion and soul-searching, we decided that the thing to do was to have the opening Earth ritual Friday night and conclude with Fire as we had originally planned.  We would figure out what to do with the Air and Water rituals after we’d made it past the first goal post.

The Earth ritual was focused on cleansing ourselves of what had come before — written originally as our “mundane” lives, but expanded to include the fear and terror of the day before — and revolved around two points; “we are of the earth, we are upon the earth, and in the end, we are below the earth”; and “be here now”.  Having led the participants through a rudimentary banishing, and ecstatic chanting led by Shauna Aura Knight, we conjured the genus locus of the Gaea Retreat Center, as aspected by Lupa, to cement the deal.  We passed out hand-sewn pouches in which to collect sacred objects found or gifted throughout the festival, and concluded the ritual with a group hug, belatedly welcoming everyone to the festival.

At the end of the ritual, our Keeper of Air announced that we would be combining the Air and Water rituals for Saturday night.

The Air ritual was designed to help us discern and articulate our desires.  Our key phrases in that ritual were “breathe and think” and “breathe together, live together”, with Shauna once again leading the chants.  To the end of naming our desires, the Keeper of Air conjured the nine Muses, aspected by myself in a nine-faced mask — an experience that I will speak more on, later.  For this ritual’s tokens, we passed out cones of incense.

We concluded the Air ritual as written, and Shauna held the space by leading the participants in a chant while my crew and I switched gears, turning ritual leadership over from the Keeper of Air to the Keeper of Water.

The Water ritual brought us together to face our fears, the things that hold us back.    We brought everyone to the center of the circle as they chanted, and made them reach into a pool of water to get their seashell tokens.  Then the Keeper of Water conjured Typhoeus, father of monsters, performed by Shauna Aura Knight to claim our fears as his children.  Then everyone was brought back into the center of the circle to comfort one another.  It was written to be heavy, and it was Shauna’s chance to deploy a number of her ecstatic techniques that could not be woven into the other rituals gracefully.  The ritual thesis, dropped in the final line, was, “In the end, we must all face our fears.  But we need not face them alone.”

The final ritual was Fire.  Having sequestered ourselves, consulted the Muses, and faced our fears, it was time to act.  The Keeper of Fire spoke of rekindling the divine spark within ourselves, dimmed by oppression and defeat.  She conjured Prometheus to aid us, and he demanded an oath to pursue our ambitions before he would give us his aid.  Again, Shauna added her ecstatic chants to raise and maintain energy, and to focus it into the candles we gave as tokens — candles which serve as contracts with Prometheus, cementing the vow to act in return for his aid.

All in all, I think that the rituals went off beautifully.  There were a handful of flubbed lines and missed beats, but literally nothing that someone who didn’t write the script would notice.  My Keepers were amazing, each stepping up past their own previously conceived limits.  Lupa’s incarnation of the spirit of Camp Gaea was masterful and powerful.  Shauna’s chant techniques reinforced our script and filled gaps in the rituals that we had not known how to fix.  And Nels and Judy’s drumming helped tie everyhing together across all four rituals.  Oh, and the costumes.  I can’t wait to get the pictures back so I can show them off to you.  Especially the nine muses.  People poo-poo theatrical rituals, but it fucking works.

The feedback we have received so far has been overwhelmingly positive.  I think that I can safely say that we are succeeding in serving our community.

 

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HPF 2016: Riders on the Storm

It would be impossible, even irresponsible, to talk about this year’s festival without mentioning the Sword of Damocles that overhung the whole weekend.  So, as you might expect, I’ll bring it up first.

We almost got eaten by a tornado.

Last year, it rained every single day, breaking for no more than an hour or two at a time.  Going into this year, I and everyone I know spent the last month with our eyes on the long range forecasts.  Prognostication was mixed: there was always talk of some rain, but mostly intermittent.  The closer the event came, though, the more it looked like a repeat of last year — with an added bonus of summer lightning, just to spice things up.  At least it was supposed to be warm.

Aradia and I had intended to hit camp by noon Monday to help with set-up.  The rain had other ideas: coming down in a torrent that prevented us from loading the trailer, and flooded the back yard so thoroughly that it ran up and over the foundation and flooded our back room.  I live in a family property, so that made for family drama in addition to landlord drama.  Weeping and gnashing of teeth aside, Aradia and I didn’t make camp until midnight, at which point we took advantage of a lull in the rain to set up our encampment.

Tuesday was more threat than storm, and although we had to stop several times to let the winds and rain past, we were able to get a great deal of work done, as well as move our temporary encampment to somewhere large enough to support our incoming crew.

IMAG0889.jpg

Tuesday night, however, we were hit by and incredible windstorm.  Aradia and I were camped far enough behind the treeline to be spared anything but the fear (shit was loud, y’all), but when we came out in the morning, three pavilions had been flipped: safety, first aid, and the entirety of the Vice President’s encampment.  First Aid had not yet unpacked their supplies, so little was ruined.  Madame Veep was not so fortunate: all her gear and food was soaked.  She was gone before I woke up, and I can’t blame her: I’d have packed my shit and gone home, too.  This last, however, proved to be a particular problem for my encampment: Aradia was elected to take the position of Vice President after this year’s festival, and was made acting Vice President upon her predecessor’s abrupt departure.

Wednesday was less threat and more rain, with forecasts for the coming week looking ever more dire.  We worked through it.  Our honored guests came and were safely ensconced in their respective housing — Lupa, who preferred to camp, with Chirotus and Pasiphae, my Keepers of Water and Earth, and Shauna Aura Knight in her cabin — and I waited, nervous, for my Iris, my Keeper of Fire, to roll in from St. Louis with her crew.

Thursday things went to hell in a hand basket.

The day started off reasonably enough: breakfast in camp, setting up the Sacred Experience Committee booth and Centering Dome, attempting to coordinate our official photographer situation (a blog post unto itself), and hoping our Keeper of Air would make it on site in time for the opening ritual, scheduled for 5 o’clock.  Various emergencies demanded my attention as head of the SEC, and I helped out with other people’s work wherever I could.  Wind and rain were intermittent, but the sky was ominous.

My ritual crew was getting into costume and I was already starting to shut down the SEC booth when the first micro-burst hit.  Aradia was literally hanging onto the rails of our carport pavilion while I doubled the number of stakes in the feet and tightened up the ratchet straps at the corners.

Then the tornado siren came.

Evacuation protocol came through over the radio, and I helped usher people down the hill and into the designated storm shelter in the basement of the main hall.  The space doubles as a tool shed, and was … less than ideal.  And in no way comfortable.  But we gathered together, doing our best to comfort one another and simultaneously remain rock-steady for the benefit of the attendees.  Finally, the all-clear was given, and we tried to collect ourselves and make it back up to the ridge to perform the ritual.

Then the second call came over the radio: another cell headed straight for camp.

Now, having grown up in the area, it’s been my observation that my fellow locals have one of two responses to intense storms: excessive fear, or inadequate fear.  I suffer from the latter.  We had just made it to the top of the hill.  Half of us — half my crew, half our support, half the fucking festival — had already sprinted back to their encampments to make sure everything was intact.  Left to my own devices, I might have done the same.  But I had been anointed with the silver wristband of blame: leadership requires that one lead, and be responsible, and follow the rules.

I led everyone back down the hill.  Everyone who would be led, at least.  There were only half as many people in the storm shelter the second time around, and all twice as rattled as the first.

Again, I suffer from a distinct lack of storm-fear.  Not particularly afraid of enclosed spaces, at least not basement-sized.  But the fear in the room … the rise and crash of ritual prep and two rounds of storms … that shit fucked with me.  It fucked with all of us.  Doubly so Pasiphae, whose husband had been one of the sprinters before the second call came over the radio, and who never made it back to the shelter.

By the time the second all-clear came, none of us were in any shape for an opening ritual.  We were rattled and exhausted.  Pasiphae still needed to find her husband.  One of the honored guests was MIA.  The community at large seemed about the same.  So instead of an opening ritual, we had the community dinner, served in the Pavilion about an hour late.

Aradia and I were left in the pavilion while the rest of the staff ran around, trying to get people into and out of the festival as needed, and setting up a shelter in the Main Hall for everyone whose camp couldn’t be set up or had been washed out in the storm.   Most people were chilling out pretty well by seven or eight o’clock: the rain was still coming down hard, but they had been given warm food, a dry place to drink and dance under the Pavilion, and all overt signs of the drama had past.

We, however, were tense.  The forecast, because too many of us still had cellular signal, was grim.  I began to seriously wonder if we had been … interfered with.  Then Aradia asked me, “Do you have the Orphic hymn to Jupiter memorized?”

“Uh…. almost.”

We started going back and forth.  We were sure we remembered most of it.  My notes were on the far side of the rain.  We went to Chirotus.  He didn’t remember it, but he went off to find signal to see if he could look it up.

Aradia and I started without him.  I wound myself up with the opening and closing passages of the Stele of Jeu.  Aradia meditated.  We began to chant.  Chirotus appeared just  as we reached the lines we had forgotten.  We repeated the hymn three times.  I begged the spirits of Jupiter to intercede on our behalf, that whomever we had offended be appeased.  I begged that the skies clear, the rains abate, and the festival be allowed to procede.  I poured out a quarter of a bottle of really fucking good whiskey, the last of a batch that I had been hoarding for a year.

I wish I’d had the foresight to take a screenshot of the forecast.  The rain didn’t stop right way, but it slacked hard.  It rained off and on through the night and into the morning, but ritual and fire were undisturbed.  Saturday was clear and hot, and when the sun set the stars were sharper than I’d seen out there in years.  Sunday and Monday were more of the same.  The rains only came back yesterday and today, and only a little.

I spent all of Friday telling people not to beg the sun to come out: the world was still spinning, the galaxy continued to turn, and we were not a ball of ice flying aimlessly through space in search of a new gravitational anchor.  The sun was doing its goddamn job.  Some minds were seriously blown.

Appease the clouds, I told them.  Make offerings to the gods of sky and storm.  And we did.  Everyone I spoke to turned their attention to placating the storms.  And the skies stayed clear.

 

 

 

 

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