Friday, April 8, 2016

The Dance of Venus

Aphrodite. Eros. Erato. Himeros. Pothos. Peitho.

"I must be under your spell,
I'm under your spell,
I must be under your spell tonight
In case you can't tell-
I am not feeling very well,
'cause I am under your spell.
Yes I am under it. I'm under it."
-Timber Timbre

Eros may find pleasure in pricking me with his arrow of unrequited infatuation, but I don't mind too much.  The power of closure and letting go is a powerful kind of magic, but the power to rebuild is even more powerful.  Though jilted, the heart still craves, and love, like lust, is meant to be consumed whole.  When I'm not knee-deep in shutting Eros' rage out of my home, I'm busy communing with his softer side.  Love, lust, desire, passion, these forces are entities of their own and a fascination of occultists. Sometimes I am the withered old hag, bitterly working to wither and diminish passions and heal heart-wounds.  Other times I am just a bacchanalian stripped bare and totally afire as I dominate the sacred circle with the curves of my hips; conjuring the spirit with the sound of my voice as it sings; "devour me, devour me, if you really think that you can stomach me..."

I think when most people picture erotic magic, they think of crazy ceremonial chanting, rhythmic riding and a well timed climax that ends in a dagger plunging into a chalice.  This isn't' what I'd call erotic magic in its usual form.  It's often done alone, not always for or with anyone else.  The ardent spirits are red and furious, dancing with passion and flame.  They are like scorching cinnamon on the tongue and clotted cream down the throat.  This magic isn't all ceremony and solemn entrances; it can be, and maybe SHOULD be, wild and untamed and done organically in the moment.  Some love charms need strict planning and ritual, most love or lust charms require only the practitioner, others just might need a willing participant. 

Beltane is coming; a day famous for it's Great Rites and sensual dancing.  These days, it's associated with marriage and coupling and fertility rites.  As the day approaches, I find myself contacted by friends and family to deliver on the same charms each year around this time: fertility charm for a cousin, marriage philter for a friend, erotic syrups, lubes, candy and oils for other friends.  I love  observing other people's love lives, almost like I live vicariously though that energy, just by comforting their misery and listening to their dreams. It's just so much fun to watch the dance of love.  Everyone has their own dance and language of love.  I personally adore the dance of tension! It's the hunt I find fascinating.  Some people are into the flirt, others are in it for the climax.  I like the falling sensation, but not the impact.  That's where Eros fails to catch me.

The Dance...

Erato's dance is sensual and slow, a gentle glide, something to be savored, to be desired.  Eros' dance is sticky, wet and hungry, pushing flesh and whispering wretched, hot things over and over, always undulating, forever passionate.  His restraint is tooth and nail, a struggle but not a fight.  Venus; her skin glittering; always taught and plump, practically vibrating with the promise of raw love and lust, her dance with Mars is that of a primal animal fury.  He is mindless and bestial, she is plush and accommodating, both absorbing the fire of the other, to be consumed by it until that union explodes into creation. 

Ataraxia. Aponia.

Some classical magic, like ancient Greek love magic separated the kind of magic used to elicit communal and loving relationships from the kind used to ensnare (an unwilling) lover for carnal delights. This is distinguished as eros verses philia,  or, erotic verses affectionate. When I speak of erotic magic I speak of the kind that brings pleasure freely, without force.  Witches have always loved love spells.  It's in the very dark heart, they say, of wicked, wanton women, and the history of using charms to influence love and lust date back to our earliest and most profound occult resources; everywhere from The Greek Magical Papyri, to Le Petit Albert, the Grimorium Verum to The Picatrix- love spells, spells to insight a lover to be faithful, to insight a girl to dance sensually, to guarantee marriage or to simply devour another sexually. The church has spent its entirety trying to quell sexuality, to demonize the female form and hide the natural inevitability of union.  To them, sex is sin, the first sin, and those of us who eat of the apple of wisdom are sinners and harlots and whores.  To the witch; the ultimate ecstasy is in the freedom of mind, body and soul- the mind to gain, the body to feel, the soul to fly.  According to the  infamous Malleus Malificarum, witches are bred from the seed of wantonness and carnality.  I'd like to think there's nothing wrong with that.  We animals are at our base nature, only instinct.
"All witchcraft comes from carnal lust, which is in women insatiable. See Proverbs XXX: There are three things satisfied, yea, a fourth thing which says not, it is enough; that is the mouth of the womb.  Wherefore the sake of fulfilling their lusts they consort even with devils."
This isn't a bad thing.  Sin is in the morality of the individual, and the seat of sin may be in sexuality to the monotheists of old and new, but for the crooked lot, there is no sin there.  On the contrary; sexuality and sensuality, carnality and passion are at the dark heart of witchery, sorcery and truly all mysticism because the esoterisist knows what the puritan does not; that the union of body, mind and spirit is a sacred thing, nothing to be ashamed of.  Witchcraft is not a cult of shame, we don't deal in that nonsensical repressed puritanism.  The current of love upon which this universe flows, the passionate ebb of creation/destruction is the source of all things, of true Will.  The act of living in that energy, in absorbing and giving back the passion the universe gives us, is the deepest source of real power.  Sexual union; the blessings bestowed by the holy harlots of Ishtar, the succubi of Lilith, the courtesans of Venus, the dancers of Babalon- this is pure and good and sinless. It is fire.  If sin is witchery and witchery is to be alive with passion, then I proudly consider myself the worst kind of evil.  

What is involved in erotic magic?
"Often dismissed by the vulgar as a crude or base form of folk magic the love-charm is a complex weaving of powers requiring great care, skill and discernment."- D.A Shulke
First, the arousal of each sense;  appealing to taste and sight, to the auditory and olfactory, and especially to touch.  The best lust spells appeal to each sense in order to strengthen the vinculum, the bond, of sympathy between the conjurer and the intended.   Creating a clean space to work in is first and foremost, and this space needs to be one that can properly evoke the eye.  Objects symbolic of lust like flowers which are the sexual organs of plants; and ornate shells, like that of the nautilus or scallop which are representative of the divine womb according to classical Greek symbolism, would be appropriate.  Objects of copper and gold or turquoise, jewelry and bottles of perfume and gleaming objects are common in everything from the love spells of Erzulie Freda, to the love charms of Venus.  Smells should be pleasant and arousing, mild and easy on the nose.  Textures should match the charm; for rites of divine union, objects rich in colors like red and purple and gold; for rites of pleasure and lust, soft fabrics in cotton and silk, smooth and elongated objects in rounded shapes.
Some charms traditionally required volts (personal objects like teeth, hair, vaginal fluid or semen) of all parties involved or pictures/simulacrums of the persons.  In American Southern hoodoo, spells for fidelity or lust can call for the socks of one's lover, or their hair comb, used underwear, shoes or glasses.  Some folk charms require the use of alcohol and other intoxicants (damiana, datura, cannabis, henbane) to either figuratively or literally ensnare a lover. 

Lust charms that are done privately by the individual may require mirrors and bedroom aids to perform.  Every charm has its own needs and materia requirements.  Here are some common ones from the curio;
  • Erogenous stimulant- hemp oil, rose syrup, kava kava extract and a touch of mentha- to be licked from external erogenous zones before or during ritual.
  • For the Tongue- A kiss, when done right is magic enough and can be powerful enough to seal a spell as old fairy-tales will attest, and a kiss given specifically to confound or ensnare the receiver is an old motif in magic mythos. This recipe is not original, but given to me by Witch Candice who's viridarium amoris is filled with erotic mysteries I only briefly got to see; For to be placed upon the tongue and exchanged in a kiss:
    • Hempseed oil
    • Clover Honey
    • Cinnamon stick
    • Strawberry juice (fresh)
    • Anise
    • Blood or vaginal fluid from the host.
    • collected and made all on the day and hour of Venus or Mars, in a clay pot, over the sigil of the Ardent Spirits, with a very lengthy set of invocations and imprecations.  Once coating the tongue the witch is to kiss carefully that which she wishes to devour.
  • Lover's Spit- sweet red or sweet mead mulled with anise, blue lotus, cinnamon stick, rose petal, clove and hibiscus, strained and served chilled over ice to induce a mood of romance and calm.
  • Sigil Chalk- *for the drawing of symbols, sigils, vévés and seals relating to affectionate magic specifically*
    • Cascarilla (preferably of a pure white hen)
    • Finely powdered red rosebud (from a garden, not a lone bush, this powder must have connection and nurturing)
    • Rose water
    • Powdered hibiscus
    • Bone from the pelvis of a male rabbit (finely powdered)
    • White flour
  • Drink to share between loved ones- this one is shared when I give private readings relating to the nature of the heart. I am particularly fond of this one because all of the listed herbs grow freely where I was born in California: *brewed into a slightly fermented tea, this is necessary as each of these herbs meet their potential at differing temperatures*
    • Sunflower petals
    • Kava kava (an introduced species increasingly more common to the Southwest thanks to the Polynesian community)
    • Damiana
    • Passion Flower
    • Vanilla bean
    • California orange blossom honey
    Erato's Smoke blend
  • Smoke- damiana leaf, passion flower, marshmallow root, stevia, sativa and catnip.
  • Suffumigation- blonde amber, bee propolis, balm of Gilead, pink rose bud (powdered), honey, cedar bark and a touch of orange osmanthus absolute.
  • Bath- large grain sea salt (or Himalayan pink salt), raw cane sugar, orris powder, Epsom salts, rose water, a drop of orange blossom oil, powdered hibiscus, sweet almond oil and a pinch of blonde sandalwood.
Walking the green path, I am inclined to use materials native to my environment and the love magic of my region.  Some local Northwest plants associated with love and lust in indigenous medicine and other local lore include; corydalis, trillium bulb, bunchberry, dogwood, red paintbrush, elderberry, vanilla leaf and cedar.  From the land I harvest a particular few which are particularly powerful in the charms I may be asked to make; pink camellia, sweet viola, poplar cotton, wild rose, acorn, water lily, madrona flower, dandelion, cornflower and red clover.

Erotic magic can employ the use of everything from restraints (like knotted silk binding for rites of sacrifice or giving) to gold chains (a presentation for the gods).  It can involve powders, oils, unguents and ointments, philtron (love filters), inks or cosmetics meant to be used in glamour like specially prepared kohl and herb-laced talc.  Some spells require beds, others require sacred groves or grottoes. Some love charms can be as simple as the art of strewing- laying flowers and seeds in order to attract a future lover.  Other charms can be as complex as forging an impossible stone with alchemical arts, tempering the stone in congealed sacrificial blood, and reciting ancient orations to the demon-faces of Venus in order to get a lover.  The best charms in my opinion are the organic ones that grow from the natural chemistry of passion; either passion between people or the passion one has for the self.  No one ever said erotic magic has to involve a partner.  These kinds of charms are important, the ones for the self, forging unions with the spirits through the power of sexuality is not only common, it's natural.

Food can and does play a significant role- after all, the saying goes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  The way to my heart, however, is through a bubbling glass pipe.  Aphrodisiacs are in no way a certain thing- there is no science to really support the notion that certain foods, smells and objects will inherently arouse every man or woman to sexual desire.  Aphrodisiacs operate largely it seems on a placebo effect; the power you think the object has, then has that power.  In addition to this, ones personal preference has a lot to do with how aphrodisiacs work.  If you're pleased by the smell of pumpkin  pie and associate its consumption with pleasurable times, you are far more likely to count pumpkin spice as an aphrodisiac. 
"Since ancient times, people have searched for things that can do what otherwise only the goddess of Love herself was capable of doing; beget love where none exists, kindle carnal desires where there is only weariness, provide physical enjoyment instead of  boredom,and initiate erotic adventure where there is otherwise only a lack of fantasy."- Christian Ratsch
Aphrodisiacs in their various and diverse virtues can be eaten, rubbed into the skin, devoured from the body of a lover, licked off one's fingers, boiled in oils, snorted in powders, smoked in pipes or inserted the good old fashion way- the trick is being knowledgeable enough to know when and where to use love plants.  Try to keep it all external if you're not familiar with a plant: many herbs of love will love you to death.  

Drugs have powerful use in this art; liquors made from or infused with aphrodisiacs, natural aphrodisiacs like cannabis and blue lotus- all of them have ties to love magic.  Speaking of cannabis, which is known as the 'first aphrodisiac' or 'plant of joy'; hemp lube is a worthy investment for these matters, slow working but lightweight. 

Hempseed I sow, hempseed I sow; who will come after me and mow?

In addition to cannabis; opium poppy and fermented grape have a long and magical history of being associated with sex.  The wild Dionysian orgies and the festivals of carnality associated with wine and divinity of Greece and Rome are some of my favorite tales; Maenads and Satyrs engaged in a mad dance of sex and death and mindless union with the divine.  That kind of erotic magic doesn't happen much anymore.

Famous aphrodisiacs include damiana and damiana related products which are popular in Mexican and Central American love medicine, the same being true of dangerous datura which is used in a wide range of Southwest American mysticism, medicine and magic to draw sex and love, often smoked in conjunction with damiana and cannabis.  Damiana is pleasant to smoke and to drink in a tea or as a liquor- I enjoy this frequently.  Scallops and oysters appear to be nearly universal symbols for sexuality- particularly that of the vulva, much like roses and their smell, texture and appearance are similarly associated.  Scents of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and poppy are supposed to arouse the passions of a male lover, while oysters, clams, damiana liquor and honey are supposed to aid in the arousal of the feminine.

In any and all cases; the apple is the paramount symbol of love, sexuality and eliciting passionate desire.  This is attested to even in classical Greek an Roman love magic in the writings of Plato and Lucian.  The apple was applied mostly in the sense of being symbolic of marital arrangements and expressing ones innocent sexuality.  Arabic Venusian charms held fig as one of the more holy aphrodisiacs and offerings to Venus.  The other divine fruit is the pomegranate; used traditionally in Tibetan medicine in an aphrodisiac-laden juice said to help awaken repressed sexual desire as well as in Egyptian medicine for the same purpose.  Many cultures thought of apples and pomegranates as the fruit of feminine sensuality.  
"Its ritual: either to an apple or pomegranate you recite the incantation three times.  You give (the fruit) to the woman and have her suck the juices.  That woman will come to you; you can make love to her."
-Neo-Assyrian ritual text, 9th century B.C.E: Ancient Greek Love Magic by Christopher A. Faraone

What does lust magic sound like?  
It sounds like anything from deep, methodical breaths to purring moans.  It can be as soothing as ice water down a hot spine, it can be hot, starved whispers against flesh.  It's a rhythmic, pumping music with a building crescendo, delicious tonic resolution.  Lust is always panting and moving, love is always moaning and singing.  Some of the spells might be spoken, some can only be transmitted through the act itself.  For those spoken, the charm should be spoken as if to a lover, because spirits of love adore sweet sounds and romantic words; Aphrodite loves compliments and placation, Oshun adores sweet laughter or wanting cries, Venus delights in singing and lyres, Red Spirits like building rhythm and beats that sound like the heart racing.  Rituals may need music, it's in the blood to be moved by sound, and in the heart to race to the beat. 

What does it taste like? How does it smell?  
Like cinnamon and nutmeg.  Like oysters sliding down the throat, or honey and heavy whipping cream on the tongue.  It can taste like salt from the skin, or things darker than that.  It tastes like savory meats and sweet deserts, soft on the tongue, heavy in the stomach.   It can be as delectable as dried flower petals, as hot as a roasted chili pepper, it can leave you licking your tongue and craving more.  When the lust is reciprocal, it can taste like chocolate mousse and cherry cordial; thick and meant to be quickly eaten.  When love is fading it can taste like sourness, like it could use a little whiskey and brown sugar.
Seafood is associated with Aphrodite, sex and fertility.  So tasty.
It can smell like ripe red roses and freshly bloomed hawthorn, or like raw spices and musk.  It can smell like the sweat of a straining man, the breath of a begging woman.  Personally, I keep a stash of suffumigations, and so my charms tend to smell like orris oil, cookies, honey amber and damiana tequila.  My love magic tastes like cinnamon sugar and strawberry preserve.

What should I see?  
Blazing eyes, warm skin, red and pink where it's touched.  You may see stunning darkness.  You could see the hungry, hard swallow behind the skin of the throat, a vibration in needy hands. Lips bruised by kissing.  Teeth about to strike, fingertips about to touch. And all of it should make you want to see more.  You might see raw need in your own eyes reflecting back at you, or, even better, need in the eyes of those watching you.  You could see the haze of delirious pleasure in your periphery, or an ecstatic dancing light.  It's described in many ways by many witches, but it's usually described as a slice of pure life.  You may see the spirits dancing on the edges of your vision, you may summon something even stranger; a demon of sorts.  Like the Malificarum says; witches will summon succubi, incubi, demons of all kinds to satisfy one's lust. This is simply part of the ancient witch motif- summoning lovers from beyond the veil.  This is still true today, so be careful who you invite into your circle.

What should I feel?  
Depends on the charm.  Some spells aren't meant for both people to exchange something intimate; in fact many erotic spells have nothing to do with intimacy and everything to do with passion.  If the charm is simply intended to bring good luck and fertility to an upcoming marriage that does not involve you; you should harness feelings of unity, kindness, compassion and patience.  The fertility rite should be about embodying the sacred act of nature, not giving one's personal desire to the equation and so one should feel filled with the spirit of creation, greening and thriving and throbbing with life.  If the charm is to bring desire back into a failing or dulling love life; harness every feeling of mutual adoration, respect and fond memory.  You should be able to feel the connection and be able to strengthen it by unifying in a rite, equal in position where power is not a struggle, but something given. For charms to simply raise the energy that sexuality offers, you should feel fierce and animalistic, holy and powerful.  You should feel the strength in every muscle, the pliancy in all soft flesh, the burn of motivation and ambition to gain power.  If you're worshiping your partner as the embodiment of the divine, you should devour them completely and give yourself over to being consumed.  If you are being worshiped, you should relish that power and take it.

What do I do with this power? 
You wield it, like a sharp weapon.  Or you store it to age like a good wine.  You place it into anything you want to see grow and become alive.  You pour all that ache into artwork, into beautification of the self or land, you use it to strengthen your power of speech and charisma.  You feed that energy to the spirits or gods who came to the feast.  You swallow it down and use it to make yourself more alluring and powerful than you were before.  You give it to a lover or a desired other.  Or you ground it, giving it back to nature...

"...And in the end
the love you take,
is equal to the love
you make..."
-The Beatles

  • Ancient Greek love Magic by Christopher A. Faraone
  • Plants of Love by Christian Ratsch
  • The Picatrix
  • The Greek Magical Papyri
  • The Grimorium Verum
  • Malleus Malificarum
  • Le Petit Albert
  • Viridarium Umbris by D. Shulke
  • The Red Goddess by Peter Grey
  • Pharmako Poeia by Dale Pendell

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Wrath of Eros

The Kind That Stings...

"The body smitten is, but yet the mind
is wounded with the darts of cupid blind.
All parts do sympathize in the wound, but know
the blood appears in that which had the blow."
- Lucretius; On the Nature of Things

Love, is a powerful kind of magic.  Lust is too. When it comes to matters of the heart, the witch is the historic expert on how to seduce through all kinds of means.  But not all love magic is about getting love, or fulfilling carnal desires.  A lot charms are oriented towards an equally important purpose: closure.  The pain of loss is so great sometimes that your entire soul can ache with the pain of it.  It will resonate down to your soul, turn your stomach and make every memory choke the beat of your heart. 

The sad, painful, pitiful truth is that infatuation can be the most infectious and dangerous kind of magic.  Its effects are long lasting and touches everyone stuck in its sticky web.  You don't even have to be a practitioner to cast love spells or even erotic spells (the most common form of love spell); it's done with a long, lingering gaze, it's done in a moment of intellectual connection, it can even happen from the pure chemistry of two (or more) souls who pass each other.  It doesn't have to have enchanting words or lengthy evocations.  It can be as simple as a scent on the air, a gaze across a room, a gentle brush of skin.  Love magic is everywhere and infectious, debilitating and empowering all in waves.  This is why there are so many charms to draw love, beauty and sex- this base and animalistic desire for connection which can leave you warm to glowing or burned to ash. 

Today, I speak on when Eros' fiery embrace leaves you tasting nothing but ashes.

The Arrow's Poison...

It has many names when cupid's arrow stings you; 'heartsickness', 'lovelorn', 'cupid-struck', 'evil eye'.  This can cause loss of spirit, soul-fractures, susto (the term used where I'm from), or severe depression from which there may be no cure.  As I've come to understand it, cupid-sickness is what happens when you're struck with infatuation but the object of your desire does not reciprocate or cannot be yours.  It feels like a stab to the gut with a dagger of ice.  It feels like sleeplessness and worry.  Unrequited desire is an affliction, a curse given to many people and there's not always a cure for it, or even a treatment.  Only time can heal some of these aches.  Treating heartache is a black art I know too well.  I find myself working a lot with the kinds of folk-charms related to grief because charms of the heart are so commonly requested; withering desire, repressing lovesickness and healing wounds to the pride, ego and heart.

I deal in detachment. I conjure closure and exorcise expectations.  I suck out the poison of cupid's arrow and dance in sorrowful placation to the spirits, asking them to lift these bitter curses.  I am prone to this sickness, it's a chronic disease for me.  Not because I'm fickle of heart or a wandering  eye- but because I become infatuated rarely, precisely and deeply.  When I fixate, I fixate hard and only a clear-cut rejection will stop my awkward pining. The arrow occupied me for a long while.  Being naturally inclined to deep infatuation, I found myself deeply and inexplicably fixated on someone. But of course, cupid isn't on my side, and this subject of enduring infatuation isn't interested in anything I can offer.  It stings like a bitch, because this person had such a huge impact on me and they have no idea.  Hell, they don't even care.  And that isn't my fault: I'm intelligent, funny, sexy and open-minded.  So I accept this situation and seek to turn it into something good.  I have to do something with all this inspiration, and the best I can do is help other people have better success in their infatuations than I ever get.

I enjoy heart-sickness to a certain degree.  To a point, love sickness and unrequited desire have an excellent impact; they are exciting.  It's exciting to fall; it's the falling I like most... I live for the hunt. It's the being invisible I don't like.  To be jilted teaches us to feel and feel deeply, we learn how to deal with the inevitability of rejection and how to mend our self-esteem around is.  Though the wound left from being rejected by the one you want can sting, the strength you can pull from surviving that ache can be worth it.  Rejection makes you humble, it grounds you and reminds you of that simple truth; you can't always get what you want.  For people with low self-esteem, the crush of heartache can destroy your entire world and kill your spirit, sending you into restless days and nights, fitful and awake, analyzing everything that went wrong, questioning everything in yourself until all you have left is the void.  Rather than accept suffering as an old friend and making peace with this companion, they wrap misery around themselves for company. They shut themselves away from passion, desire, love, wanting.  If you do this, you will damage your spirit and cloud your judgment.  Magic doesn't flow easy in a well of self-loathing, your Will needs to be strong to do the work we do.

I've chosen to harness the power of my heartache into something creative and beautiful.  I channel it to bring love and affection to others, to compensate for my own feeling of social isolation.  I sink myself into accepting the rejection, acknowledging the pain as a power, as an entity and then take that weapon and wield it like a fucking boss.  So I churn out charm after charm; blessing bottles, blending 'aphrodisiac' spices, powders, communing with the plants of love and dabble in the love fortunes of my friends and family.   I just can't let the affection I feel go to waste.  I have such an uncontrollable urge to make others smile, to make them feel special and appreciated and wanted.  This urge is so fierce and sincere it keeps me up at night; wondering what I can do, what I didn't do.  I love making bitter people sweet, making cold people warm.  I just want so badly to make things beautiful around me. I don't need to be anyone's sun, or moon.  I don't want or need to be the one and only.  What I most desire is to be meaningful.  My language of love is in having a special impact on someone, I don't need anything else to be happy- not fidelity or marriage or commitment.  I have few needs.  I need to make people smile. 

On Soul Mates...

"I forget all my dreams 
I forget everyone's name I meet 

I forget about time and space 

But I can't stop thinking about your face 

I can't stop thinking about your face"

-Clouds, by Borns

It hurts badly enough to not get someone you want, imagine finding your soul-mate and knowing you cant have them, that they aren't ever going to be enough- even though your souls compliment each other.  It's a scary kind of painful, to know who your other true part is and to not have them, but it's common enough and not always a bad thing.  Your soul mate isn't necessarily one person, and they aren't necessarily the height of love you can ever exceed to.  They are simply part of who you are on an inherent level, on a spiritual level, and to have them is a great addition, and to lose them is to know a little part of you isn't in unity with your whole.  And that's okay.  Few of us are truly whole.  What love there is, is meant to be taken and lost.  It's meant to be spent and used and fed and filled and burned until the bitter end.  And so, while the loss of a kindred spirit or soul mate is a wound that goes deep in this lifetime, knowing that you felt anything so beautiful and powerful at all can be enough.

I'm not sure if I believe anyone actually has a soulmate.  Many of them sure, but one?  I can't imagine that out of the seven billion souls and those not yet born, only one could be resonant on that level with another.  No, soulmates are out there.  Be open.  You will have lots of soul-mates and kindred spirits and spiritual equals in your life, depending.  Some people never get even a single chance at love, some people throw away more love than the rest of us get a chance at. There is no guarantee for this spinning fortune, so I feel we need to take what we can get, be opportunistic in love and be open to all the many kinds of bonds we humans can share. 


Closure spells are a lot like banishment magic; isolate that object, bind it, dismantle it and scatter it.  When you do a 'house cleansing';You isolate the area, surround that area with the appropriate limitations, do the proper rites of appeasement, placation and general deescalation, then when it has been subdued, you break, contain or otherwise scatter the energy.  Spells to wither the love between two people can be easily adapted into withering the strength of emotions you feel for someone who does not return your infatuation.  Charms to banish spirits from your home can be adapted to banish unhealthy presences and addictions too.  The trick is to accept the pain, bind the source and put all that energy to rest.  Little charms for grief and sorrow are helpful for daily treatment for heartache.

  • Hyacinth flower bath oil, soap and sachets along with dried cyclamen flower are excellent in the treatment of grief, especially over love loss and heartache.  The smell of fresh hyacinth will help you deal with a break-up, and bread baked with dried pink cyclamen will help one forget their desires.
  • Magnolia oat cakes with egg and honey fried in sweet almond oil makes an excellent offering to the red spirits and to Aphrodite who is quite fond of oat and honey to ask for their help in soothing wounded pride and to bring sweetness to the home.
  • Oak galls can be used in heartache magic, as they are a parasitic growth on a an oak tree, symbolizing infection and need for purification, and is used in spells of containment and entrapment of spirits.  One spell calls for a strand of hair from one's desires to be placed in the burrow hole of an oak gall, which is then sealed in black wax and bathed in the tears of grief.  When the tears have dried and all that remains is the sheen of salt upon the gall, on the dark moon cast this gall into a cauldron fire built of dragon's blood and storax.
  • Fresh flowers are best used in spells to develop or encourage lust and love, but dried flowers are best to symbolize the need for love or lust to die, and a bed of dying flowers of love can help speed along the decay of one's heartache.  Good flowers for this are; hyacinth, snowdrop, yellow carnation, sweetpea, marigold and cyclamen- all of which are associated with rejection and goodbyes.
  • Sympathetic containment charms are tried and true for this art.  Poppets, dollies and effigies or simulacrums of your subject are a good place to direct all of your energy; be careful to keep it about compassion and not about revenge or ego.  Keep all intention on parting ways with affection and amicable wishes, not with wishful desire for the self or you will only weave a spell that keeps your heart tangled instead of freed. 
The idea is to admit failure and move on. this is difficult for most people, myself included.  I like getting what I want and when I don't I will pine and pine and try and try until I've made a mess of everything. In my experience, the best way to bring about closure before even touching charms and rituals, is to develop a deep sense of compassion.  Compassion for the person who you want and can't have, and compassion for yourself who is wounded. Compassion isn't weakness; it is the ability to accept that there will be flaws and let-downs and yet life remains worth respecting.  It's the ability to accept the humanity, the struggle in others.  Your heart might hurt, but soothing comes easier by willingness and time, not by force and revenge.

Banishing someone from your thoughts is a whole lot more difficult than banishing their impact on you spiritually, especially if you're the over-analytical, scenario-dwelling type, or the obsessive type.  It's all well and good to bake some bread and listen to Sisters of Mercy albums while you burn your lost love's name over a black candle; it's entirely another to practice Right Thought and active self-editing.  You've got to be able to become outwardly focused, which is why doing work for others when you're feeling lonely and heart broken is a good start; it encourages new feelings of love, strengthens self esteem and solidifies social bonds.  You also need to be able to meditate or trance in a manner that helps you organize and explore your pain rather than escape from it.  There is no escapism here, only acceptance. 

When you stop being afraid of red magic like this, you start to see the power it truly has, and the illusion of power we give concepts like lust, love, desire and infatuation.  We humans sadly put so much unrealistic expectation on love and what people are capable of; we smother love with our traditions, we strangle lust with our sexual repression, we suffocate ourselves and all the good feelings we are capable of feeling- all because we have been taught to feel shame for wanting.  We've been taught that love has to conform to a mold, that to be happy you must achieve impossible standards with other upright apes.  I know better.  I know that love is fickle, lust can be innocuous and sweet, desire can be weightless and a happy relationship happens when nobody is being held back.  You have to keep your heart totally open, or you'll shut out every opportunity to feel.

And to feel any passion, even the prick of cupid's awful humor, makes us feel alive.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Natura Perfecta

It is said that your perfect nature can be found in the stars; that understanding one's celestial self and the spirits that dwell within their ruling planets and stars would have a true knowledge of themselves, and thus be enlightened among the lowly.   I never really took much stock in astrology and the star mysticism so popular among esoteric circles.  I guess I always sort of didn't see how the stars could have anything to do with us.  To be truthful, I still don't.  I don't buy astrology as a predictive source, but I certainly find it fun and sometimes eerie in its ability to match up so well with some people.  Despite being rather unsold on the subject, I admit I am one of those people who's natal chart and birthday are freakishly, disturbingly well matched to their personality.  I love the stars, because I love astrophysics and interstellar sciences, so despite a lifetime of occultism, I never paid much attention to natal charts or the personal influences of cosmic entities.  Since I've been spending more time with people who do study astrology, particularly my new friend Dev, it got me curious about what it all says about me.

My signs, which I take very little interest in as I never did have a lot of confidence or faith in astrology, are as such that I cant help but smile at the coincidental perfection.  Libra is my sun sign, in Venus, and thus aligned with the fickle and mercurial element of air as well as the earth. My moon sign is fiery Sagittarius, my rising is Scorpio and my chart is dominated by: Venus (earth), Mercury (air) and Sol (fire). Only Scorpio adds the element of water to my chart, I'm otherwise quite the desert reptile (Death Valley Californian that I am)- something paralleled in the rulership of Libra in the old grimoires.  If every astrology resource I've recently looked into is correct, the cosmos has truly shaped me in a way that can me mapped and read in my chart. If you had my chart and had never once met me, you would absolutely know me by the time you had finished- you'd pick me out clean and quick from the bunch in a blind contest.  I don't have any idea why that coincidence strikes me as so odd, but I choose to look at this as purely symbolic, not predictive. And certainly not literal.  

My passion for classical witchery gives me a little experience in old grimoiric astrology, and in books that detail the planets back when they were thought to be stars of deep godly power and influence.  And so, the planet I found most passion in during my occult studies, and the planet I leaned towards most in sciences just so happens to be the 'star' under which I was born.

The tarot of Venus is The Lovers, and the smoke of lovers is; damiana, marshmallow root, passion flower, stevia, and catnip.
Venus; her name means 'glittering' and she rules the planet of love, sex, wealth and beauty.  Herbs of Venus include elderberry, ivy, fig, lemon balm, iris and lily.

According to The Picatrix, one of the foremost referenced medieval grimoires from the late 10th century; 

of the metals, Venus has rulership of ruby, "part of silver and glass and blue stones an coral and malachite and has part of quartz and lodestone."

Deydez. Heyluz. Cahyluz. Diruez. Ableymez. Teyluz. Arzuz. Deyhartyz. Deydez.

The glittering star of occultists, witches, mystics, lovers, harlots, and all manner of the holy folk is given some very specific attributes throughout the ages.  Her face is that of a beautiful naked woman holding a comb and a mirror, accompanied by cupid and always with an apple of wisdom- the apple that Lucifer used to free Eve from her slavery.  I like that image; that of a naked beautiful young woman, my cunning book is illustrated primarily with figures like Venus (as well as dancing skeletan men), simply because I personify most things; plants, stones, ideas- in the feminine while other things are personified in the masculine.  Never knew why, just seemed aesthetically pleasing.

According to The Picatrix, Venus: Her virtues; 

"Venus is the source of the power of flavor.  And she rules grammar and the art of measuring sound and song.  Among languages she has Arabic; among the internal organs, the right nostril, and among internal organs, those that meet in sexual intercourse and project sperm, and the stomach and those from which come the virtue and flavor in eating and drinking; among religions, Islam; among clothing, all painted clothing; and of professions, all professions of painting and shaping, selling things that smell good, playing instruments that are good to listen to, singing, dancing and making stringed instruments; among flavors, all sweet things that taste food; and of places, place of vice, places in which men seek healing, and in which men dance, and places of cheerfulness where there is singing and speech, and places of lads and beautiful woman, and also places of eating and drinking; and of precious stones, pearls, and of rocks lapis lazuli and almatcach; and of plants, all plants with a good odor like saffron and arhenda, roses and all flowers with a good odor and smell and are pleasant to look at; among medicines balsam and grains of julep, and those that emit a strong smell such as nutmeg and amber;  among animals, females, camels that are beautiful and all beautiful animals with symmetrical bodies such as gazelles, sheep, hares, partridges, calandras and the like.  Among small animals, she has those that are colorful and beautiful; among colors, sky blue and gold tending a little to green."
On the nature of Venus' spheres of delight,from Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy;
"To Venus, pleasant fountains, green meadows, flourishing gardens, garnished beds, stews, the sea, the seashore, baths, dancing places, and all places belonging to women."
Venus is the star that shines most favorably upon specific operations. 
"Seek from Venus all things that pertain to her such as petitions of women, boys, and girls, daughters and generally everything pertaining to the love of women and carnal copulation with them, art, vocal and instrumental music, telling jokes, and all those who give themselves over to worldly pleasures, those who engage in vices, male and female servants, brides and grooms, mothers, friends, sisters, and all those similar to them, and in these petitions you may also help yourself with Mars."
And Venus is of a unique nature;
"Venus is cold and moist and a fortune.  She signifies cleanliness, splendor, preciousness, word games, delight in music, joy, adornments, laughter, pictures, beauty, loveliness, playing music by the voice or stringed instruments; delighting in marriage desiring spices and things that have good odors; sending dreams; provoking games of chess and dice; desiring to lie with women and to fall in love with them and receiving promises from them; desiring to appear beautiful, loving liberty, magnanimity of heart and joy.  She abhors anger, brawling, vengeance, and lawsuits; she desires to serve the desires and wills of friends concerning the worlds opinion; tends towards false promises; is inclined to cupidity; desires to drink much; incessantly desires much copulation, and of shameful kinds, and to do it in inappropriate places, as woman are accustomed to do with one another; delighting in animals and children and in making them good; making things equal; delighting in merchants and living with them and being loved by their women; and that they may be delighted by men.  When she is well received, she plays a part in the making of crowns, building stables and working in stone, having sweet speech, disdaining the world and having no fear of it; sustaining people so that neither anger, strife or discord can be felt by them; it designates a weak heart and a weak will in lawsuits and combat, and signifies desire for all beautiful combinations of things which may be in conformity with the will; making colors and laboring diligently in skills involving them; selling merchandise, spices, and prayers; those who observe the religious law; and those who adhere to sciences and philosophers of the forbidden kinds."
I like Venus; spiritually she's my favorite planet.  In Venus I can feel my incessant desire to be surrounded by beauty and all things lush and desirable, to beautiful forms and faces and delicious food, to laughter and excess, peace, sex, music, passion, vice- all of it.  These things are at the forefront of my ambitions when I muster ambitions.  I adore non-confrontation and humor and lust and aesthetics, things that please the eye and tongue and skin, everything warm and good feeling in this world- that's where I get my power.  


The Llewellyn Book of Astrology says that Libras are;

Never go anywhere alone
Likes pastels and beautiful objects

Key phrase: I Balance

Key word: I Bring Harmony

"Libra personality traits: Tactful, cooperative, romantic, fickle, lazy, extravagant, gracious gullible, dependent, charming sympathetic, partnership oriented, people person, self indulgent, social, idealistic, easily influenced, fair, indecisive"

Going down that list, I'd say that it's only about half right.  I am cooperative and fickle, and lazy, but never extravagant or dependent- way too much pride.  I am absolutely oriented towards partnerships but I am not a lover of people. While I am asocial and self indulgent,  am naturally fair, which is mistaken for indecisiveness: it's not, I see both sides to everything, which makes me scrupulous in handing down my judgments. Sue me. 

According The Picatrix;

"Libra rules, among the organs of the body, the hips and buttocks, sexual organs, and the upper belly; among colors, green, violet and tawny; among tastes, sweet; among places, deserts, sand, hunting grounds, and high and lofty places from which many things can be seen; among trees those that are tall and straight; among animals, men; among birds those with large heads."
On the face and countenance of Libra in it's phases, from Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy;
"In the first face of Libra ascendith the form of an angry man, in whose hand is a pipe, and the form of a man reading in a book; the operation of this is in justifying and helping the miserable and weak against the powerful and wicked; in the second face ascend two men furious and wrathful, and a man in a comely garment, sitting in a  chair; and the signification of these is to show indignation against the evil, and quietness and security of life with plenty of good things: in the third face ascendith a violent man holding a bow, and before him, a naked man, and also another man holding bread in one hand, and a cup of wine in the other; the signification of these is to show wicked lusts, singing, spirits and gluttony."
my Io
September 1987, the year of the rabbit according to Chinese mysticism.  The rabbits qualities are being approachable, compassionate and gentle, and their faults are hesitancy and lust.  I have a such a special affinity for rabbits and hares. 

We of the 28th day are ruled by the number 1, an by the Sun (quite like my natal chart would suggest) Our card is the Magician.  Apparently we are- and I know for sure I am; the opinionated, romantic, distracted type who prefer the charming and seductive things and procrastinate to our sugary heart's content.  An eternal character flaw of mine, damn well know. Speaking of character flaws, this book suggests that people of my date are quite taken with our perceived physical appearance and will even do harmful things to obtain beauty.  And we will have a fondness for drinking, eating and smoking that will threaten that oh so very sought after beauty.  Yikes does that strike home...  They say Libras make loyal lovers, but need their freedom; they make distant mothers but encouraging friends; they are people-pleasers but self-doubters.  What they seek is to keep the balance, always searching for the middle road.

September is the month of the Harvest Moon and the Autumnal Equinox- both are liminal times of transformation in both the seasonal sense; as the Harvest Moon represents the height of the Autumnal arrival and Autumn is a transitional time for the land, a balancing time, and in the sense that the equinox, a time of balance (right as Virgo turns to Libra) marks a time of balance in light and dark- turning towards the dark during this time of year.  Balance, Libra, love, Venus, heartbreak.. damn, cosmos.

The Day of Heartbreakers, Gary Goldschneider

"Those born on September 28 are highly capable of wining and keeping the affections of those whom they desire.  this does not necessarily mean that they are physically more beautiful than others, but rather that they have a kind of seductive charm which can melt a cold heart and send ones blood rushing."
Some of it is bullshit.  That I've left a Countess-circa-AHS:Hotel-esque trail in my wake says a whole lot more about my dysfunction than it does about my charm. I can't imagine I ever melted a heart, or made blood rise.  But I will say; I am loyal. And fixated. And persistent.
"Loyal to the extreme, they will rarely if ever forsake a friend in need."
But then...
"Nonetheless, when they sin it is usually with full awareness of what they are doing,"
heh.. Well I mean... Some things are just plain eerie. 

And that is, sadly or happily- exactly who I am... and that coincidence is hilarious. I could have been described as pragmatic and daring, outgoing and cutthroat... and that wouldn't have been in any way accurate by anyone's opinion.  There's nothing Pisces about me, and certainly nothing even remotely Gemini, except maybe the indecisiveness.  No, I'm quintessentially Venusian, Libran, in every way.  According to the stars, to the themes of the cosmos and the dance of human interpretations; my highly opinionated, Epicurean, agnostic, animistic, academic, pansexual, free-love, art worshiping, whiskey drinking, mind altered life of indulgent self-serving and ecstatic creativity are simply part of my predestined nature.  Thanks, cosmic dance.  Thanks.


  • Llewellyn's Complete Book of Astrology: The Easy Way to Learn Astrology By Kris Brandt Risk
  • The Secret Language of Birthdays: Personology Profiles for Each Day of the Year By Gary Goldschneider
  • The Picatrix Translated By John Michael Greer & Christopher Warnock

Monday, February 15, 2016

Lost in the Ivy a Bit

Spring couldn't get here any faster; I'm desperate for some fresh and raw materials.  I have a million new brews to ferment, incense to roll, herbs to macerate, essences to distill... And I'm going to need a lot of wild materia for what I plan to achieve by Winterside.  The poplar buds are just waiting, I can feel it.  I need to dig my fingers into cold soil and rip up rhizomes, I need to muck through the estuaries and weave between reeds.  I need... to be outside.  But damn if Seattle isn't cold as hell this time of year for a native Californian like myself, so I patiently wait for the warm spring sun to finally bring the buds out and warm the sap wells. Heather beer, rhubarb ale, salmon berry/huckleberry mead, dandelion root coffee, oleum viridii, Balm of Gilead, hellebore root powder... so many plans, and all of them require the green to sweep over the land and wake up those cold, frost laden spirits.  This year I'm hosting some wildcrafting expeditions and some crossing rites during the Rites of Spring... it makes me anxious but I've never been so connected- so tuned in, and it's made me open to apprentices.  I'm teaching some friends how to make mead, weave reed baskets, wildcraft edible Northwest berries and roots and how to blend teas.

Libations of whiskey, water and damiana tequila to the spirits. 
Time is breathing all around me and it makes me both nervous with anticipation and calm with confidence.  A lot of time has passed since I last posted about my studies and pursuits here and that's mostly because, like many life long practitioners I felt the need to take a sabbatical and go hermit over the mundane for a while.  I stopped focusing on practice while I undergo this emergence of sorts.  For the first time, in the entirety of my memory, I am not sad.  I can't really describe the sensation of not being crippled by depression and social anxiety.  Strange what a combination of growing up, looking inward and letting go will do to an isolated individual. It's a strange magic (ha), the magic of self transformation- it's deeper than any glamour.  What do you do when you're suddenly not escaping or hiding away from the world?

There are some spiritual moments in your life that come at such painful costs, you wonder if the reward could have very been worth the pain you feel. Sometimes, it takes a massive ego death in order to see yourself more clearly.  Everyone has their virtues and flaws, some of us a little deeply flawed than others.  I'm one of those neurotic types, escapist and depressed in combination but without the impulsiveness that gives hedonists their edge.  In essence, I'm all lazy indulgence without the sense to have fun with it.  I just sort of cocoon into fear and feed myself on a million hobbies at once- anything to kill the negative void.

Love magic, been happening a ton around me lately. As is always the case, it only works on others but never on me...heh
I'm not sure what happened, maybe it was all the encouragement finally getting to me.  Maybe I just finally felt beautiful for the first time in my entire life.  Maybe the spirits took pity... but I just got so bored with being bored and felt too lazy to even be lazy anymore so I did something I almost never do- I made a friend.  Then he found me more acquaintances.  Then I found my own friends, bolstered by the support of my new acquaintances. You have any idea how absolutely jarring that is? To go from isolated to accepted out of nowhere? For the first time in my adulthood, I feel... kind of normal. The kind of people around me right now are so overwhelmingly positive, even though the connections are mostly superficial.  People seem to actually like me, I don't stumble over my own awkward nature anymore (usually).  I can be my cheery, sunny self because for the first time ever, I'm not sad, so I'm not forcing it- it's just me.  What to do at this point is kind of a mystery to me!  I've been rejected and survived, if I can do that, there must be a whole bunch of other weird stuff for me to try in the world, and lots of people to make a messy, fun, free life with.

The ivy is such a remarkable plant to be so overlooked and passed over, it will struggle slowly for so long, only to put its reach over all that it grasps.  Seems insignificant, but it rules wherever it's free.

For all you who have stuck around, thank you.  I mean it, thank you for continuing to message me support and requests and interesting ideas.  I hope something changes you too.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Green Water of the Mountain

The thin rivers signal a drought  for those who rely on the glacial waters... all of us here in the shadow of the mountain.
 Some of what I gather is going to become spirit food, made by hand from the herbs I was compelled and directed to gather.  The flowers all have very specific and unique properties and are all under the guardianship of the great old mountain god, Takoma, who makes the waters that feed the valley meadows where I hunt at the base.  The mountain is home to deer gods and river goddesses, to bear spirit and eagle.  Powerful place, deserving of respect, I collect my herbs from the riverside and old-growth moss covered wetlands where the grandfather waters provide all the nourishment of those who forage in the shadow of the peaks.

no metal in this work, no iron near my altar.  these herbs don't care for cold metal.
Trillium is a perfect addition to unity and bonding workings, like this elixir I intend to make, trillium leaf and bulb will add loving balance, unity and cohesive feelings to the elixir. Trillium is well known and used by the coastal peoples of the Northwest; according to ethnobotany author Erna Gunther, used sometimes medicinally but also used in love charms by the people of Neah Bay and below. 

Lupine is a deceptively simple flower that seems weak and pretty at first gaze but reveals itself as something wise, otherworldly, fairy-- something else.  While little lore surrounds lupine, it is a flower of love's expression and the sacred roads of the land.  Ellen Dugan says in her green magic book, Garden Witch's Herbal; "in the language of flowers, lupines symbolize imagination and voraciousness. Magical uses include increasing your personal power and attraction." I wholeheartedly agree with this assessment after working with my own wild mountain lupine, it holds the essence of bewitchment in it.  

Bunchberry is a relative of dogwood and it's flower is added to a different libation for the animal spirits (along with snow-berry, holly berry and ivy berry, tasty good spirit food).  All of the mountain flower herbs are under the guardianship of Venus and water, and most under the virtue of moon; meaning that each has compatible spirits all being feminine in nature and loving in virtue.  Most of them were known to the local indigenous tribes as having healing, feminine qualities. Western Corydalis, a sister to the bleeding heart, who never grows too far downhill of hearty and fair corydalis- it is strong Venusian herb of desire (particularly in its glorious but hard-to-find blue form) and its root was harvested to make a marital talisman while the leaves will go into the elixir and the petals to powder.  Elderberry was introduced (as far as I know), but it is a glorious herb, loved by fairy and guarded by a powerful old witch, so in the pot it goes!  Elder gives me the impression of being more of an exorcist than anything else, capable of driving bad things away with its spirit.  The smell of the leaves alone certainly drives things away...

Not pictured is red paintbrush flower and vanilla leaf flower (a known spirit food of the Skagit), gathered for a totally separate work.  It too will be mashed, torn, shredded but blended with spring water from up slope to make a tonic.  It grows plentifully among the corydalis scouleri, bleeding hearts and avalanche lily on the banks of the three major rivers on the pass.

The cool, hearty flowers of the mountainside are delicately clipped from their stalks and hung to dry for the powdering in another moon or so.  The leaves are placed in the clay medicine pot while the waters of Takoma, the light of the dead and the spirit vessels stand in attention, readied for our working.  As the ice cool glacial water is poured over my hands, the green spirit will be violently ripped to the surface, a sacrifice of plant blood to make aqua viridis to feed the green spirits. Gnashed and torn, under the influence of prayer and will, their essence will permeate the waters that are mother to their blood and feed many medicine spirits for a couple days if stored right.  The resulting liquid when strained and fed some local rain water is a beautiful emerald green and is used as a wash for the medicine skull, a libation to the green spirits, and used with a bit of elder wine to feed the local nature spirits (or fairy, to some), so that everyone gets a share of the spring harvest.

a little goes a long way
Next will be the creation of an oleum viride from five different elderberry trees, including two black elder that were dazzling blush pink and chocolate in the sunlight.  Harvested with a song, at the hour of Venus on the day of the moon, to be made into both an oil and a salve.  Elder's healing properties in these inedible forms was only recently taught to me by an excellent horticulture student/herbwife at my work who knows a lot more about these things both medicinally and magically, than I do. I'm more used to working with the berry itself for preserves and jams and fillings, but I felt compelled to work more closely with the mother tree after discovering a grove of it growing in the forest at the base of the mountain. 

aged fragrant clover beeswax produced at a local apiary in a different region of the Cascades and a base of joboba/sweet almond.