Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Mother goose and the key of Solomon the king.

The nights are noticeably drawing in now, a welcome cry amidst the familiar beat of wings as Dame Holda returns once more to our magical isle, her flock in pursuit pulled along in her magnetic wake.
As the wildness returns our friends and masters of the air prepare to likewise make the long voyage, back to the welcome warmth of the African continent, fly well my friends and see you once more at the change of tides.
The fruit of the may now hangs heavy with waxen red haws, the sloe and the elder both black with fruit where only yesterday it seemed they were heralds of white and blossoming summer, Blackberries, Chestnuts, mushrooms and the return of the biannual Jack o the hedge, the wild harvest springs forth to tell all that autumn is arriving.
This is our time, the season of the witch if you like, as early dusk comes to shelter us from the outside world and our chthonic activity can go unnoticed , when the fires of the midnight rite bring warmth to our bodies as well as our hearts, venturing out to those places we love rarely to be disturbed by others, too cold or dark for the normal folks.
Tales told and woven, seated before the open hearth fires, plans discussed, deals made and sealed, the Dame brings with her the beginnings of all these things, excitement is rising within the craft community as the time to get things done draws near.

It has been a disjointed summer for this one, work has dominated the past five months, great in the financial department, yet distracting from the real passions of life and living, reading, learning and exploring the nature of the worlds, life and love all continue, yet at a slower pace than the Cunning Man would like.
In this time of plans and reflection I have got to thinking of the similarities of my own activities to those of others, in order to try and understand the esoteric nature of things I have found it better to do this , rather than just randomly dismiss that with which I seem to have no love for.
The key of Solomon has been and interesting peruse of recent times, the foundation,( or one of the foundations) to the nature of qabalist magic and ritual, much of which I find does not fit in with my nature, I do not like the idea of one who demands service of anything, many might disagree but there is much in common with Gardnarian Wicca a fact that proponents of both might find quite disturbing, there is also common ground within this text with traditional craft.
This begs the question of origins, Wicca aside as this is only a reconstructed faith of modern time and as such can be ignored within the context of this piece, but does Traditional craft have its beginnings in the key of Solomon, perhaps it does, or maybe all esoteric work has to have some common ground.
Preparations prior to ritual, the tools of the practitioner and such like, the symbology of shapes and numbers are common to both, the main difference being that one seeks servitude while the other seeks to become more one with the divine.
There are no real Ancient texts on Witchcraft, yet we know that there were witches in the time of Solomon, perhaps Solomon was the Gardner of his time, perhaps he has taken knowledge from the craft practitioners of his day and transformed it to suit himself and the ruling elite, who knows.

So before we openly dismiss an others practices we must at the least attempt to understand them, there is usually some common ground, and common ground is better than hostile ground.
There are too many claiming to "know" and many of those stopped looking a long time ago, to Know all is to be divinity, it may be our goal but it is not attainable in any sense of our time here.
Wisdom is to be a student and to want to know.
And we do not all have to be naked and spank each other to start learning, unless that is your thing of course.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Peering into the mists of truth.

As the pea soup fog of the Cornish summer persisted about the house of the Cunning man, visibility down to about ten yards and the company of my Beloved, my dear brother and sister and the dog Bear called for a trip among the ancestors high upon Bodmin moor.
A precarious drive along the short distance to the hill tops and out into the invisible world of swirling mists and wild ancient spirits, rendering us instantly wet the wind only serving to wash away the dirt and detritus of the everyday world.
Dogs running out of the grey, seemingly wild with the pack only a few steps behind, dodging between the shadows of the stallion ponies and their harems, the stones in circles appeared to walk toward us, not us to them, greeting us with a warm welcome as they have many generations previously
The Moorland here I know well, but at this time all was alien to even me, my usually sharp sense of direction threatened to throw us all into the untamed wilderness , caution was uppermost, even for this seasoned hill walker but instinct and trust soon guided us to the stacked rocks that have throughout their being seen so much of the human story on the high moors of Stowe's hill.
The wildness of nature is rising once more , standing on the top of the stack upon an precarious stone outcrop, the mist so thick I couldn't see ten steps ahead, the wind and moisture almost pushing me off the top, voices from the past scream into my soul, ripping away the negative association with modern society .I am alive, I am part of the cosmos and I am whole, complete once more, the missing parts of this wayward spirit forced back to the confines of my body, connected to the web in perfect union, these are the moments we all live for.

Just as well to make the most of our visit, on return August Fog soon turned to august rain, in the comfort of this house we regained our dry states and embarked on a little bit of feasting, happily accompanied by my brothers latest tipple, Pimms!
The clouds persist outside my window, although lifted in my heart by an unexpected invite, unable to fulfill said invitation due to family and work commitments, the suggestion was greatly received and there was much pain in having to decline, hopefully other times will come.

Within all faiths and religion there would seem to be a need for reassurance, a mentor or Friend to guide and give encouragement along the way, to pick you up when you are down and to put you in your place when you are out of bounds, this role is of course filled by Maids and Magisters, high priests and priestesses, the solitary Witch often needs guidance too, and that will rarely, if ever come from one who shouts from the rooftops.
How do we find such people when there are those of us who have little to do with anything or anyone beyond the sphere of our own existence?

The answer is, with caution.
There are many with truths and wisdom out there, together with those who would seem to have neither, beware the false wisdom of others, if a question posed is returned with absolute answer then maybe the answer is wrong, more often the wiser teacher will return the question with yet another question.
Beware those who place themselves in positions of authority, there are some who make claims to heritage and authenticity who have no such claim to make, not always easily spotted they are often quick to criticise and will try to undermine those who may have bonafide lineage, they may be charlatans and bullies and as such should be given no quarter, the genuine will never mind that you have researched them a little, after all it is a small token of commitment to any path of enlightenment, the truly wise will care not for a title or the right to stamp authority over an individual, the world is large and time is short in each lifetime, there is much to do and even more to learn in the blink of time it takes to go from birth to death and back again, too short to pursue falsehoods and lies at any rate.
Those who I have met in recent times have been kind , courteous understanding and encouraging, there was a time in this ones life that he feared he would never find such, when standing at the door to the pool of religion it is difficult not to ignore all the shouting in the shallow end, it is worth learning to block it out and proceed to deeper water, there is wisdom and kindness to be found there.
If any are interested in the deeper end, there are links to some good sites at the bottom of this page. So pop on your spiritual water wings and esoteric rubber ring and dive into the pool, you will find much of interest there.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Fare thee well Mr Barleycorn by the light of Hecate's black flame.

Another marked turn in the wheel of the year, The corn king has been felled, the loaf has been baked and the offerings have been made to our lady of the crossed roads.
My celebrations were marked beneath a crystal canopy below the white ribbon that is the milky way, a silver sickle poised to strike somewhere within the dark, its presence felt but unseen by this one, as shooting stars scorched the night sky and all of nature cried out in celebration and clarity, a welcome break from the rain that has continued to fall since the children finished school for the summer.
The ultimate sacrifice, our local farmer friend was finally laid to rest yesterday, appropriately at the dark moon, our small village church was packed to the roof and speakers were placed outside the building to allow those who could not squeeze in to hear the beautiful tributes to a man who has left an abyss where he once stood. A life perhaps shorter than many would have liked yet rich and full none the less, R's family were visibly moved and the relief in their hearts was obvious, finally after a month of bureaucracy and pain now finally being able to grieve with sincerity and allow their own worlds together with the community to move on, May your spirit find it's peace my friend.

Lammas, Lughnasgh or the feast of Hecate, call it what you will has been a time of great interest and consideration within the mind of this Cunning man. As those who ponder my ramblings will know, I do not use the calender for any more than as a guide to the timings of any rites and workings, it is the privilege of working alone that one does not have to arrange suitable times when all in a group may gather, due in part to the necessity of the above, together with instinct I chose the last night of the waning moon for my feast, the side effects of which were sent with love to the Friends and family of the deceased, to bring them strength in the day to come, there was much from the mill to send, an energy of hope and love from the black flame.
The Blackthorn rod was with me, intended for its general purpose, however it's use seemed inappropriate for this time, a warning was sent, a link conceived and guidance led me to protecting the recipient of this mans ignorance and cruelty instead of inflicting further upon the oppressor, this act seemed a somewhat better use of my time on this holy night.
There is an interesting point I have to make concerning those who do work to the calendar dates. The night of the 1st of august and indeed through to the 3rd were wild, little sleep for me due to the general mood and activity of them all, I found myself often out on these nights as well, the magick raised through the celebration of the calendar year is fantastic, drinking deeply from this pool of chthonic radiance, it fills my heart to bursting to know that you are all out there, communing, dancing and chanting, I feel your rhythms, hear your voice and share in the love of all worlds, the parasitical hedge pig that takes sustenance from the unwary sow.
My nights are usually much quieter, often when timings cross I will pick up on the workings of another or others (usually through thick Cornish mists), but nothing like the nights marked down within the pages of a diary, One night I was besieged by a chant of what sounded like Three blind mice, so loud and with such intent I can still here the echo of it now, perhaps another was working close by, I have yet to discover this mystery.
If I were once more to work within a group it would have to be akin to a lifeboat or fire station, with one to send out a call to arms "TONIGHT is the night", even then it could be almost impossible for all to agree, after all there are many truths, we all need different things from the year and align ourselves to different aspects, perhaps there is no absolute all encompassing truth .
So with ritual timing there can really be no right or wrong, due to the nature of the modern worlds and the plethora of commitments there in, a calendar is indeed a good and valid way to plan a year of ritual and gathering, the fact that the rites are observed out weighs the idea that the timing may not be perfect, we are not all tied to the land anymore, most do not have my privilege of working out side, so celebrate when you can.

There were three men come from the West
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three made a solemn vow:
"John Barleycorn must die."

They plowed, they sowed, they harrowed him in,
Threw clods upon his head,
'Til these three men were satisfied
John Barleycorn was dead.

They let him lie for a very long time,
'Til the rains from heaven did fall,
When little Sir John raised up his head
And so amazed them all.

They let him stand 'til Mid-Summer's Day
When he looked both pale and wan;
Then little Sir John grew a long, long beard
And so became a man.

They hired men with their scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee;
They rolled him and tied him around the waist,
And served him barbarously.

They hired men with their sharp pitchforks
To pierce him to the heart,
But the loader did serve him worse than that,
For he bound him to the cart.

They wheeled him 'round and around the field
'Til they came unto a barn,
And there they took a solemn oath
On poor John Barleycorn.

They hired men with their crab-tree sticks
To split him skin from bone,
But the miller did serve him worse than that,
For he ground him between two stones.

There's little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl,
And there's brandy in the glass,
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
Proved the strongest man at last.

The huntsman cannot hunt the fox
Nor loudly blow his horn
And the tinker cannot mend his pots
Without John Barleycorn.

So, to those of you who are reading this, please feel free to comment, this year has been one of great communication for me and I wish for it to continue, shared thoughts and wisdom, discussion and all, only serve to increase knowledge and wisdom, please feel free to email as not all would wish to publicly nail their colours to the mast.
email. thecunningman@googlemail.com

May the fires of truth burn brightly for all, whatever colours they burn for you.