Tuesday, December 10, 2013

That Shrewd and Knavish Sprite


The Dreamer, Monique Munoz
Lately, I've been doing some work with a secret magical order devoted to Hermes. (I have literally been waiting my entire life to say that sentence!) We've been talking about the various faces of Hermes, and I've decided to do a little bit of work with Puck as an avatar of the Mercurial current. Among my very first conjurations was an evocation Puck, when I was 14 or 15. It's based on a spell from the animated show Gargoyles (don't you judge me! I was a kid!) It requires a large mirror, a silver bell, a gold ring, some candles, a tree, the full moon, and a handful of white feathers.

Here's the spell as written in my first "Book of Shadows", dated 1993.

Around the edges of a large mirror, inscribe the magical characters.[gee, it would be cool if I'd written down WHAT magical characters, huh?  Stupid 14 year old me!] Lean the mirror against a tree at night, under a full moon.

Light a white candle and a black one in front of the mirror.

Say: "Cum ascerat argentum, et aurum involare." [With a gold ring, strike a silver bell.] Tap the bell with the ring three times.

Blow a handful of feathers across the mirror, and say "postea Puck ad speculum Titania penetrare." [and then Puck will penetrate the mirror of Titania.]

On the show, Puck actually steps through the mirror, as if it were a portal. I didn't get that, but I did get a
noticeable image, although fleeting. It was my first dark mirror conjuration (although I didn't know that name yet). Puck appeared as a late teen or early twenties young man, with very pale blond hair.  He wore a neon green Tshirt with a monkey on it, and a long black leather coat. He had small faun horns curled behind his ears. He seemed utterly delighted to have been summoned, although I lost my focus and it shimmered out almost right away.

I'm going to do it again at the full moon, which is next Sunday. I'm using the same mirror, which I inherited from my parents. (Taking pictures of mirrors is surprisingly tricky.) In case you can't tell from the picture, it's about 18 inches across and just over three feet high (not including the frame, which is about 6 inches wide) In order to do that, I need to reconstruct some "magical characters". Let's get to work:

At his root, Puck is a British faerie spirit. While, originally, the name "puck" was for a class of spirits, Shakespeare's characterization of one Puck in Midsummer Night's Dream as
"that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call'd Robin Goodfellow: are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn;
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck:
Are not you he?"

has cemented his identity as a particular, clever faerie, both devious and helpful, mischievous and lucky. This reputation is underlined in "The Mad Merry Pranks of Robyn Goodfellow":
From Oberon in fairyland,
the king of ghosts and shadows there,
Mad Robbin I, at his command,
am sent to view the night sports here:
What revell rout
Is kept about,
In every corner where I goe,
I will o'er see,
And merry be,
And make good sport with ho, ho, ho!