Friday, December 30, 2016

Hekate's Cake



Hekate taught me a recipe that she likes as an offering.  It's a sort of garlic bread pudding, similar to skorthalia, but baked.  I cannot say how much of these instructions are particular to the current contents of my kitchen and what could be changed and have it still retain its integrity:



In the largest red bowl combine:
about half a loaf of very stale&dry white bread
whole milk to cover.
1 stick butter, melted.
garlic.  much garlic (about 2/3 of a cup)
1 handful dry dittany of crete, crushed
a glop of honey (about 1/3 cup)
let it sit for a while until the bread gets soggy
add two large white eggs
no salt, save what is in the butter

mix it all together, and then put in a cobalt glass loaf pan.
bake until it is golden.
Serve this to Me and eat of it yourself.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Ragnarokkr 2017


Mastros & Zealot: Witches for Hire are pleased to announce our first game of 2017, Ragnarokkr, opening on New Year's Day.


This is a story of Loki and Thor, abroad in the world of the Svartálfar, running the Midgard serpent's back, Asgard up in flames as seven nations attack, first Kemetica, then Bharata, then Shamballa after that, the Middle Kingdom, Turtle Island, the Inuit Nunaat, the call of Ragnarokk moves even the People of the Dream, for the Twilight of the Gods, you see, is just the Darkening of the Supreme.

This story begins then with Loki and Thor, abroad in the world of the Svartálfar, the first in pursuit of knowledge forbidden, the secord just searching for something worth hitting, but what they discover instead is a parallel world, where the dark elven banners had never unfurled, and so they come here with Odin, and join a new God called Christ, as Ragnarock is replaced by Christmas, and all the elves are put on ice.

This, then, is a story of a parallel earth, of the origins of Christmas long before the Virgin birth, of a dark and secret gnosis behind Santa Claus's girth, for those who see only the cost of things, but no longer feel its worth.

Imagine a world where Egypt never fell, where the Roman Empire never rose to prominence, where Monotheism never spread.  Imagine a world where psychic magician-priests rule.  That land is Nykia, and Nykia is at war.  As refugees flee, war begins to spill into our world.  Loki and Thor are the first (they think) to discover our world.  The Shifty Eyed Allfather, a curse be on his name, abandoned his Asgard and came here, a world where the gods have been made weak, and the people complacent, and he begins to build an empire.  Under his banner, the light-skinned peoples of the North prepare themselves for war.  

For six months, as the Light grows ever stronger, Mastros & Zealot are going to war.  Will you follow the One Eyed Invader, or will you flock with us to the banner of the Old Powers of Our Earth, making war on White Supremacy?

January First, the War Begins.


#Ragnarokkr2017                        #TheDarkeningoftheSupremacy                  #OldPowersRise


Friday, December 23, 2016

Krampus & Perchta

krampas title page copy.jpg


By request, a Strategic Sorcery style Global Ritual. Printable version here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_upeofrIpFJalRLSWg5WDJwZjg



Instructions
This ritual is best performed between Wednesday, December 21 and Sunday, December 25th.  The night of Friday the 23rd is ideal.  However, the ritual can performed whenever you want.  The rite can be adapted for your own use.  

Necessary Tools
  • A single-sided paper printout of this ritual (save it as a talisman)
  • 2 candles; dark green and “forest” scented is ideal.
  • Buttered bread with honey.  The shiniest, prettiest, darkest red apple you can find.  If you were poisoning Snow White, what kind of apple would you want?  Pick that one.
  • Red Wine, Dark Beer, Apple Cider, or WHOLE Milk (skim milk is worse than nothing)
  • A small pile of coins.  Gold Sacagawea dollars are especially nice for this.  You will NOT get your coins back.

Optional Tools
  • Mask
  • Antlers / Horns
  • Evergreen boughs
  • Staff or Stick (Birch is best.  Anything will do, except Holly.)
  • Ivy crown
  • A feast.  Roast a whole goat on a spit!
  • Friends / co-Workers
  • Breakable chains

Before Beginning
  • Spend some time collecting your thoughts, and reviewing 2016.  
  • Think of times you’ve been very generous.
  • Think of times you’ve been fully sincere.
  • Think of times you’ve been very peaceful.
  • Think of times you’ve been very brave.  
  • Think about things that have been holding you back; chains you’d like to be freed from.  Write them on the last page.




Opening

Begone Crass Commercial Ploy!
Begone Sanctimonious Spoiler!
Begone Santa!  Begone Christ!
Welcome to the Sylvan Knotty!
Goodbye to the Saccharine Nice!

Bang your stick three times. (or stamp your feet)

I bless this sacred glade, set apart in Time and Space.
The Forest Primeval weaves a fairy ring around me,
where Wood and Spirits embrace.
Now is EveryWhen.

Light the candles.


pan corner.jpg
Call

Perchta!  White Cloaked Lady of the Winter Wood!  
Goosefooted Goddess of Snow and Frost!  
Rewarder of Magnanimity!  Punisher of Greed!
Rewarder of Sincerity!  Punisher of Thieves!
Dark Winter Queen,
Come to me!  Be with me!  
Inspire me!  Bless me!

Krampus!  Ram-Horned Lord of the Winter Wood!  
Goat-legged God of Ivy and Birch!
Rewarder of Carelessness!  Punisher of Heed!
Rewarder of Bravery!  Punisher of Misdeed!
Light Winter King,
Come to me!  Be with me!  
Inspire me!  Bless me!

Wicked Wild Winter Wood, Whispering Winds and Wandering Ways,
Weave your Web of Wondrous Wyrd!
Goblins, Boggins, Hobs, and Sprites; woodland Puck, and spring heeled Jack,
Come and join our Saturnalian feast!
The reward for heroic slack!

Pour drink.  Pour honey over bread





Chant
Drum a steady beat with your stick.


Perchta, Krampus, Wild Wood,
Winter Queen and King.


Repeat the chant until you feel overtaken by you inner Wyld.  
You may find your tempo and volume increasing to a frenzied crescendo.
ExStasis
Offerings

Perchta, I am generous!  (cite an example of your generosity)
Perchta, I am sincere! (cite an example of your sincerity)
Bless me with wealth and health and all good things.  
Make me an instrument of inspiration!  

Krampus, I am at peace! (cite an example of your peaceable ways)
Krampus, I am brave! (cite and example of your bravery)  
Bless me with clarity and tranquility and all good things.  
Make me an instrument of inspiration!  

Bless these coins, so that they may spread your generosity, peace, and inspiration.

Wicked Wild Winter Wood!  
I free you from your chains!
Wicked Wild Winter Wood!
Free me from my chains!

Burn the last page of this pamphlet

Euoi!
Euoi!
Euoi!



Denouement

Laugh, sing, dance, and cavort until you no longer can.  This is not optional.

Before New Years, give the coins away to beggars, or leave them where someone in need will find them.  DO NOT put them in a Salvation Army kettle, or any other collection related to Jesus or Santa.  

Place the offerings out in the woods.  If you have no woods near you, choose the most wild place that you can find.  If, for whatever reason, you cannot make food offerings, make a monetary offering to a charity that protects the wilds.  Really, this is a good idea, even if you do make food offerings.




The Thirteen Nights of Krampusmas

Aubrey Beardsley - Le Morte d'Arthur_65.jpg

On the 13th night of Krampusmas  
the Old Claw ordered we...

13) Fight against the dark god,

12) Prepare ourselves for battle,

11) Dance with maenad ladies,

10) Liberate the slave elves,

9) Escape from the Pale Warden,

8) Give unto the needy,

7) Love the strangest stranger,

6) Join our hearts and voices-

5) STOP. BUYING. THINGS.

4) Seek the Mysteries,

3) Run through the forest,

2) Declaring all our loves,

  1. While cosplaying the Krampus Army.

chains.jpg

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Benevolence Meditation Instructions

I haven't been able to find the artist's name and info for this painting.
If you know it, please comment below; I would like to buy a print.


In a recent conversation with a friend, we spoke about different kinds of anger.  Those of you who know me know that I can have a bit of a temper.  Those of you who have known me for a long time know that I used to burn with a deep fury I could rarely shake.  This is one of the practices that helps me deal with that.  It's a variation on a Buddhist practice called "metta meditation".  Metta is a Buddhist concept usually translated as "compassion", but it can also mean "benevolence" "friendliness" or "loving-kindness", but I think "Grace" is also a really good translation.  It's very similar to the Hebrew word "chesed".

The Pali Canon (Buddhist scripture) says this about the benefits of Metta Meditation: "One sleeps easily, wakes easily, dreams no evil dreams. One is dear to human beings, dear to non-human beings. The devas[gods] protect one. Neither fire, poison, nor weapons can touch one. One's mind gains concentration quickly. One's complexion is bright. One dies unconfused and – if penetrating no higher – is headed for [will be reborn in] the Brahma worlds [the Good Place]."  I can't personally vouch for all of that, but I do think it's a very beneficial practice, especially for those of us who struggle with wrath.

The meditation below give step by step instructions for the meditation I do, which is not a traditional Buddhist practice, but is strongly informed by it.  In particular, I have reordered a few of the steps.  Some preliminary advice:  if you can't feel it, just imagine that you can.  This is a difficult practice, and one that takes a lot of practice to master.  HOWEVER, the "trick" to it is all in the intention.  If you can hold on to the idea that you WANT to be able to radiate benevolence to all creatures, you're already "doing it right".  From there, it's just practice to be ABLE to radiate more and more love.


  • Begin with a few minutes of calm quiet meditation.  If you don't have an existing meditation practice, this might help.
  • Express, out loud, that it is you intention to engage in this practice for the betterment of all sentient beings.  Here is a (shortened) traditional formula, or you can speak your own words: 
    • "May all beings be happy and secure, may they be happy-minded!
      Whatever living beings there are - feeble or strong, long, stout or medium,
      short, small or large, seen or unseen (ghosts, gods and hell-beings),
      those dwelling far or near, those who are born or those who await rebirth
      may all beings, without exception, be happy-minded!
      ...
      Let my thoughts of boundless lovingkindness pervade the whole world:
      above, below and all around, without obstruction, without any hatred, without any enmity.
      "
  • Think of a person you love unconditionally.  It's better to choose a living person, but a dead person is also ok.  If you have children, they're probably the ideal focus, but other family members, mentors, elders, or friends are all also good choices.  Our feelings for romantic partners are often complicated and conflicted; they're not always the best choice for this part of the exercise.  Focus on your feeling for them, and your desire for them to be happy, healthy, and blessed. Allow this emotion to arise as a physical feeling of radiant warmth in your heart.  When the feeling is strong and consistent, try to extend it until it suffuses your entire body.
  • Extend the feelings of unconditional love, acceptance, and benevolence you felt for your Beloved to yourself.  This is harder than it sounds!  If you feel the warm feeling you established in step one start to falter or cool, allow it to retract back to your heart, and return to thinking about your Beloved until it grows strong again, and then work on extending it.  When you can feel your entire body glowing with warmth and love, abide in the feeling for a few moments, and then move on to the next step.
  • Think of someone you're more or less neutral toward.  A colleague, perhaps, or a neighbor.  Someone you like well enough, and you wish well for, but you wouldn't usually describe your feelings for them as "love".  Try to extend the warm feeling you have built up, the feeling of love and benevolence, to them.  For me, I find it easiest to feel this by imagining they are in front of me, and imagining I am placing my hands on their head and the warm blessing love is flowing from my hands into them.  Again, if you have trouble, return to step one and rebuild the feeling, and then proceed.  When you feel the loving warmth pouring out of your hands (or you heart, or how else it feels to you), move on to the next step.
  • Think of a person in your life whom you really dislike, but don't actually want to murder.  Bless them in the same way as you did in the previous step.  Whenever you need to, return to your heart and rebuild your store of radiant, unconditional love.
  • Now, think of someone you genuinely despise.  Someone you fantasize about killing.  (cough, Donald Trump, cough)  Slowly, extend your field of warmth and love to that person.  It might help to remind yourself that love can help to heal the person of whatever the fuck makes him that way. As needed, return to your heart to restock.
  • This step is the hardest, but it's the key to the practice:  Return to your heart, fill your body, and let yourself glow slightly with radiant love.  Now, imagine that your heart is connected to the radiant, all-loving, all-compassionate Heart of the World.  You might access that feeling by thinking about an intercessory spirit like the Blessed Mother.  For me, I imagine a glowing, pulsing, geothermal love at the center of the Earth, the Womb of Being.  But, you don't need to think of it as a spirit at all, just look for the Love that animates Being.  Allow it's love to flow through you unobstructed, fueling the glow in your heart.
  • Now, extend your glow from every part of your body.  In all six directions, to every living creature, to everything and place.  Hold this feeling, of being a radiant, glowing channel of Love, for as long as you can.  When you are ready to come back to being yourself, say something like this out loud, and then allow the feeling to contact.  "May all living beings everywhere, on all planes of existence, known and unknown, be happy, be peaceful, be free from suffering." 
  • Sit for a while, coming back to yourself.  Drink a glass of water.  (you might not realize you are thirsty, but you are)
  • Repeat as needed.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Key of the Gate of Artemis



Artemis, no stranger to men, though
hardly what one would call loose,
as a child far younger than 9 or 10,
made these 6 demands of Zeus-

-To be always a virgin, unowned by any man

-To be known by many names, unlike the Appolonian

-To be practically clothed, with bow and arrows close at hand

-For 60 daughters of the Deep and 20 Nyads to command

-For no city to be named for her but to always hold high land

-and to quell the pain of childbirth and guide the midwife's hand.

Artemis is the spirit of women
who know they can still be anything.
Artemis is in every girl
to whom the sacred hunt still sings.
Artemis, like Apollo, brings light
and the sight of distant things,
Initiating little girls into
a space now reserved for kings.

-Simon Zealot

The Key of the Gate of Artemis, the Huntress, the Wild Grrl, opens what fear has locked down. Artemis is the girl old enough to know she can be anything; the woman young enough to know the same. Artemis the ancient Mistress of Wild Herb and Wild Mountain and Wild Beast teaches us to overcome fear. To release the power that fear has locked up. To open the gate of Sardis.

As Simon and I worked at the gate, we came to understand that they key to this gate would be a series of motions; a dance, a kata, a yoga. We moved, feeling it in our bodies (mostly in his body), and we came to know it's name, the Dance of Stag and Archer. And as we circled in on it, as Artemis revealed to us her ancient art that prepares the body for the hunt, Simon recognized it as the kin to his own art. The magic of the body can be lost but not destroyed; it can be only so tainted by culture and rhetoric. The movements of the body that unlock fear have to be the same in Lydia as they are in Tibet. And so, we present to you Artemis Elephaia's Dance of Stag and Bow, with antler hands and prancing feet, the Animal Play Qi Gong that is taught by Deer, shown to you below by a true Dr. Strange.

Read the poem aloud, and then work your way through the Frolick.  Try to follow the motions below as best you can, but it's ok if it's not very good.  The man you are watching is a master magician.  Even just watching the video has power, but following along, even if badly, taps you into a very deep and ancient magic.  That being said, do your best.  Breathing deeply and slowly, with the intention of unlocking your hips, releasing toxins from your kidneys, and releasing your fear.  Feel with your body for when the energy can flow through your body like a deer; graceful, spritely, frolicing. When your fear abates, you should feel shift in your body; a series of "pops"  of energy being released.  When this happens, you are ready to begin the hunt, you will know you have passed through the third gate.



Remember that Sardis is the last gate for which a public key is available.  Further keys are available only to players.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Review: Orthodox Incense



I got my first order of incense from OrthodoxIncense.com today, and so far I'm really impressed.  They supply incense to Eastern Orthodox people for home religious use (to offer at ikons), mostly Greek and Russian, it looks like.   Like all Orthodox Church incense, these all have a base of frankincense, with other plant materials mixed in.  They are small pellets, about the size of a pea, covered in white chalky clay (to keep them from sticking together).  You drop the pellets onto charcoal.  Each pellet burns for about 10 minutes, producing a moderate amount of smoke.  More pellets=more smoke, but you have to keep re-feeding it for long lasting smoke.  It's actually really nice for ritual, because you can change scents as you go.



They sell incense made in two different monasteries; one on the Holy Mountain of Mt. Athos, a center of Greek monastic tradition, and some made at Holy Cross Monastery in WV.  In both places, the monks take turns praying "“Lord Jesus Christ Son of God have mercy on me, a sinner” as they make the incense; this is called the "ceaseless prayer" and is a common feature of Eastern Orthodox monastic practice.   Be aware of this if you plan to use it for ritual; there are some works I feel this would not be appropriate for, and some (like working with Greek ancestors) where I expect it to be a bonus feature.  

Here's a video of how it's made at a different Greek monastery (in MA), showing a lot of the ritual.  The powder at the beginning is ground frankincense resin.  The oil he pours out in a cross differs depending on what kind is being made.  The powder at the end is the clay, to keep it from getting sticky..


I chose the "create your own sample pack" which is your choice of 7 incenses for $15, plus I got a bonus pack.  I got a heaping tablespoon of each kind.  That's about 50 pellets for each kind.  VERY good price!

I placed my order Friday night and got it today (Monday).  They're located in Lykens (near Harrisburg).  If you're not in PA, it might take 3 days to get an order.  Contrast this with many Pagan suppliers:  In today's mail, I also got something from a "big name" Witch Supplies place I won't name, but that order I placed in early August, and was guaranteed delivery by late September.  (it's Halloween).

Here are the individual kinds I got, with my commentary on each:

Catacombs (Holy Cross):  This is a surprisingly sweet and femme smell, given the name.  Rose, vanilla, musk, and cedar.  Good for Hekate the red-footed maiden, I would think.  It's nice, but I probably won't order this again.

Seraphim (Mt. Athos):  VERY nice.  Light, slightly spicy, with an almost creamy base.  I can't identify what's in this one.  Maybe cinnamon and honey over the frankincense?  Fire-y, but in a cozy hearth way, not a raging bonfire.

Lindisfarne (Holy Cross): Lindisfarne is a holy island off the northeastern coast of England, near Edinburgh with a very old monastery on it.  Why does an Orthodox company have an incense named after a Celtic holy island?  You're guess is as good as mine, but it's a really nice incense.  Sandalwood, with some rose and musk.  Good for fairy magic, I would think.  I will order more of this one.

Batiushka (Mt Athos):  "Batiushka" is Russian for "little father" and is a term of endearment for a priest. This is very clean smelling, and sort of foresty.  Cedar maybe?  or balsam?  Smells kind of Christmasy.  It's nice, but not my favorite.  This was my "bonus" pack, not one of the ones I picked.

Garden of Gethsemane (Holy Cross): This is a very nice, floral, slightly spicy smell.  Lots of roses and a bit of ginger.  Smells like Spring.  Would be good for Kore-Persephone work.

Old Church (Holy Cross):  This is, IMO, the winner out of the bunch. Deep, rich, herbal and resinous.  This smells like a witch's cottage deep in the woods.  I will FOR SURE be getting more of this one.  I think it might be my go-to temple incense from now on.

Cherubim (Holy Cross): Honestly, this is VERY similar to Seraphim, but slightly less spicy and more creamy.

Panagia (Holy Cross): This is frankincense base with a strong damascus rose overtop.  Very Venus.   Nice, but nothing special.  It's pretty much like every other frankincense/rose incense I've used.  Smells very "churchy" to me.

Now that I'm slightly dizzy from huffing frankincense for an hour, I'll wrap up.  OrthodoxIncense.com is highly recommended by me.


If you try some, let me know what you think!








Thursday, October 27, 2016

There is No Center

I have this teaching I want to communicate, but I'm not sure how to explain it. If you have time, please read this and ask questions to help me figure out how to make it clearer?

We are usually told that, in ancient days, people thought that the earth was at the center of the universe. And that later, it was discovered that was in error, and actually the earth goes around the sun.

Now, it is certainly true that the path the earth traces through space, if you fix the sun as the single unmoving center of the world is a simpler shape than the path the sun traces through space if you fix the earth and let everything else move around it. BUT...

The fact of the matter is that THERE IS NO CENTER. Everything that is rotates is complicated ways around everything else. But we're all still so wedded to Heliocentrism that it's hard for us to even see what a huge and blinding mistake it is.

The first understanding of the Divine is along a line. You can down, or you can go up. There is Earth, and the Things Above the Earth, and the Things Below the Earth. Up and Down are very different, though. Going down is easy, and going up is hard. The "center" is where I am.

Next, we understand that the earth is round; "down" isn't a direction relative to us, it's "toward the center of the earth". By understanding the earth as a sphere that we live on the outside of, we know that "the center of the world" isn't actually actually in "the world" we live in. Big jump, and a hard one. Remember when you were very little, and you thought people in Australia were upside down? Remember when you were so foolish as to think "north" meant "up"?

But then, we made the move to heliocentrism, the idea that the center of the world wasn't just really far away, it wasn't a thing we could always feel. In the day, we could spot the exact center of things, but by night, we could not. Not just that I'm not the "center of the universe". Not just that the difference between "down" and "up" are completely clear. You can feel where the Sun is, but you can also avoid feeling it. The mystic power that keeps the Earth in motion around the Sun is THE EXACT SAME POWER that pulls us to the heart of the Earth. When we talk about the power the Earth exerts on us, it is so obvious as to be undeniable. The Sun has far more gravity than the Earth, and the effects of the Sun's gravity are everywhere, they make possible every moment of your existence. And yet, it is so subtle that you forget about it until you stop to think. And yet, the Sun is reassuring "real"; it shines on every point on earth. You can see it in the sky, and feel its warmth kiss your skin. It will burn you if you remain too long in its glare, and staring directly at it will make you go blind.

But, the SUN IS NOT THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE. That's not because the Sun orbits around the Galactic Center (although it does). It's not because out galaxy is also slowly dancing through the void. It's because the very notion of a "center" is ABSURD. There is not such thing as a center. It's NOT TRUE that down is different than up, it just seems that way because you are small and Earth is big. You pull on her EXACTLY THE SAME AMOUNT that She pulls on you.

A plane doesn't have a center, a circle does. Only bounded things can have centers (There's a caveat here, PM me if you want to hear about it) It seems like the universe goes on and one and on forever when you look out into it, but it seems like each of us has a center; that you can only go so deep inside yourself before you reach some kind of singularity. But that's actually nonsense. Just like the happenstance of being smaller than a planet is what leads you into the error of thinking that "up" is different than "down". It's the absurd happenstance of having a body that makes you think that "out" is somehow different than "in".

When we think about Divinity, about Power, and Being, it's easy to think about there being two "kinds" of divinity....the "small" divinity we find inside of ourself, and the "big" divinity that lives.....outside of us...away in the heavens. Those only seem small because you are obsessed with idea of their being a center. But the whole idea of centers is ridiculous. In/Out, Up/Down....the demonization of the cthonic, the disempowerment of the cthonic, the idea that there's a difference between "the god above" and "the god within"....all of those are artifacts of the insistence, not that Man is not the center of the Universe (although that is true). They arise from the illusion that there could even be a center.

People were in some ways mistaken when they believed the Earth as the center of the universe. They are still mistaken when they make the Sun as the center of the universe. They are mistaken when they worship the Creator of All That is as the center of the Universe. They are mistaken when they look for the center of the universe by going inside of themselves. The whole notion of centricity is bullshit. The points of view that create elliptical paths are not truer than the ones that create spiraling ones. They are sometimes more useful for certain operations. They let us see a bigger picture. But no matter how big you make God, he is still too small. As long as you're looking for a center, you are no longer observing the way that things actually are, you are making a model of the world to help other people understand it. And that is good and noble work, because one of those people will eventually see further than you can, but only by standing on your shoulders. BUT, don't ever imagine that anything you can see from where you are is anything even near to everything that is. The world is so much weirder than any model you can possibly imagine right now. ALL of science is ALWAYS WRONG, because science is the literal actual process of falsifying things.

Technical jargon: Because Truth, necessary truth, is necessarily incorrigible, science cannot possibly help you say anything at all about Truth, it can ONLY tell you what's false. There are things in the world that will never be understood, but the only way to see them is to try and understand them as best as you can, and fail, painfully, shamefully, and absurdly, forever. You will never find the center. You will never escape from it's pull. There is no fucking center.

Explaining Magic to Family, Friends, and Co-Workers



This post is a response to Jason Miller's excellent one of the same title, which you should read here before continuing.

It's so rare for Jason and I to disagree, I read this several times to figure out where we diverged. And it's not really a disagreement; I don't think anything he said anything wrong. But there's a piece I think he left out. And I'm pretty sure he agrees with me on this, because I learned this schtick from him.




So you don't want to be thought of as evil (and there ARE legitimate reasons why you might want to present as evil; some in our world lack monsters, and without monsters, heroes have no one to fight but each other. But that's a hard fucking row to hoe, and not my calling).   HOW do you convince people you're not evil?  One way, I am sure, is to convince them that everyone does it. That you're not REALLY doing that thing they thought was so bad, you're doing some other thing entirely. That will 100% work, and I understand it as a tactic for dealing with strangers and people you don't care about. But there's another option, which is much harder, but (for me, at least) worth it. You can redeem the thing they thought was bad.

The only way to do that, the way I think Jason is actually doing it (and I think that because I watch him do it), is to be so overwhelmingly, radiantly, and obviously Good that anyone who knows you cannot doubt it.  Learn how to have Lightning in your eyes and simultaneously the cool, deep, reassurance of the Earth.  Learn to be the Storm and the Sun.

Hold yourself to far higher standards of Goodness than "everyone does it". Much, much higher standards than you would hold other people. Much, much higher than they hold themselves, higher than they would even dream to hold you to. Be the kind of Witch that, when Fundamentalists first meet you, they see the Light of the Angels shining in your eyes before you say a word. Be so Good that they question everything they believe about good and evil (which, while hard, isn't really as hard as it sounds; the whole notion of good vs evil is pretty self-evidently stupid; all you have to do is get them to look at it askance, and it falls right over). Clean yourself of the soot and filth of the world until the ineffable, but undeniable Divinity at the Core of Your Being (and also everyone else's being) shines forth as an aura of Radiant, Charismatic Bliss. Be the kind of person that no one who actually knows could possibly question the inherent goodness of. Be good not like a child, and not even like a saint. Be Good the way sunlight is good, the way clean water is Good, the way friendship and family are Good.

The thing of it is, you don't actually have to be that Good all the time.  Just often enough that they can't forget you have it in you.  Really, you probably only have to do it for a single moment, if you do it right.  But, it's even better if you can do it a lot.  Let them see that even the Witch is made out of the Divine Light.  Give them the opportunity to see the Dark and the Light together, instead of denying the Dark, and people eventually start to understand that Goodness isn't a thing they have to do, it's a thing they already are, it's the thing that they're made out of.  Don't tell them that Witches aren't really evil.  Just show them that a Witch can be Good.  And, really, what's even the point of even having friends and family if you don't Love them enough to know they're more than capable of understanding that simple and self evident fact? What kind of Work can you accomplish with a coworker you don't care about even that much?

Now, I'm not saying you have to Love everyone the way you Love your family. This is about how to explain magic to friends, family, and coworkers. This isn't about how to explain it to your neighbor, the asshole who is always knocking over your trash cans, and calling the cops when you park in a way he doesn't like.  I mean, it clearly seems absurd to say your should Love your neighbor like you love a brother, like you love yourself. Right?

Lunacy

Remembering Eternity by Autumn Morrison


When last we left our heroes, Simon and I were thinking the second gate, which involves oneiromancy, would a be a cult dedicated to a god of dreaming. But then there came a dream revelation. Mine was a dream of the Trojan War.  Simon dreamt of a Goat at war with a Great Red Dragon.

The Second Gate is the Gate of Dreaming, but where is key to such a gate?  When Ereshkigal taught me these gates, here is how it was phrased: "You’ve come to the gate, the first gate underground, the Serpent Gate, the gates of Irkalla,  the underworld gate, the first gate under the ground.  On the other side of the gate, further and further into the dark, deeper and deeper into the dark, you hear the river, bubbling, calling you forward.  When you’re past through the gate, the Serpent Gate, the Gate Underground, you find you left your body.  You don’t need it here, you can’t take it here.  It will wait for us, safe and secure, for us to return to the land of life.  

The corridor continues, deeper and deeper, further and further, into the World Below.  The path curves to the left, to the right, then left, left and right and left, right, right, left, turning and turning, the labyrinth under the world, the dry lands, the path of stones.  Here are the Old Powers, the ancient ones under the earth.  

A second door rises up before us, a cast portal, shimmering like the moon, wavering like mist. The Dream Gate, which you pass through every night, now you walk through while you are awake.  On the other side you still hear the river, bubbling like a stream, cool and quenching.  Passing through the gate, we leave all our illusions behind, seeing only true things, and knowing them to be true.  The path continues, turning and curving, winding and winding, sloping ever down, down, down, deeper and deeper, further and further, into the unknown dark."

How does the Dream Gate manifest in this game?  Both Simon and my dreams told us the same answer, once we were ready to listen.  The Cult of Philadelphia when the Church was planted there was the Imperial cult of Rome.  BUT, before the deification of Caesar as the father of the entire Roman People, each Roman worshipped the Father of their own Clan. Long before Catholics were breaking people of ancestor worship, the imperial cult was already stealing the protective gens from every people it encountered and subduing them to the will of the State. Opening the second gate provokes a dream to help you find the cult of your fathers (not mothers, specifically fathers; we think mothers will come later), and thereby restore an essential part of your own dignity as a human being that has long been missing.

In Rome, the "god of your fathers" was called your "genius", a tutelary spirit on the Meandering mortal path between the god you used to be and the god you are becoming. For example, the genius of Julius Cesar was Venus, the parent of the Aeneas, the ancestor of the Julii, the founder of Rome. But, every people and every person has a genius; the second gate is about finding yours. The oldest, most powerful, most aristocratic Roman families had geniuses that everyone in Rome worshiped because the progenitor of their line was the offspring of an actual god. Or, perhaps it is that those progenitors which received the most worship are the only ones who become gods. Either way, this, is the central conceit of ancestor worship as a magical, rather than religious practice: By worshipping your ancestors, you elevate them to divinity, and that elevates you into a Hero: someone who is born of a god. The gate of Philadelphia is the gate of brotherly love. One key to the second gate is ancestor worship. Do that. Here's a key to provoke the necessary dream, crafted by Andrieh Vitimus, which worked for me, when I opened this one. But, if you want one specially crafted just for you, based on YOUR father's father's gods, all you have to do is ask me before Halloween and I will make one just for you.

In plain language, here is the key that will unlock the second gate, the gate of the moon. (Fun fact: someone who can carry someone across the threshold of the first gate is called a magician. Someone who can carry someone through the second gate is called a priestess.)
1) Decide you want to have a revelatory dream to teach you the name of your genius, who will carry you across the second gate.
2) Awaken your connection to your ancestors. This time of year, that gate is open by itself right now, whether you open it or not.  Whether you like it or not.  The Gate of the Ancestors is open all week.  Unlocked.  Just walk through it.  They're shouting the answer at you right now.
3) Dream a dream of the cult of your ancestors. As soon as you commit to having such a dream, you will have it. Even if you don't usually have access to memories of your dreams. Even if you thought you were going to fail this gate.
4) Figure out the clues in your dream to acquire Knowledge of your Genius. This Knowledge is the gift of the third gate. When you know your genius' name, you'll have crossed through the second gate, and be a winner.
5) BONUS ROUND (Hero Mode): Have a conversation with your genius. Get it to teach you how to make a key that unlocks other people's higher geniuses. Hold the door of the second gate as wide open as you can, for as long as you can. Get as many people through as you can. Liberate an army of Djinn.

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A report from a scout, looking back over the open second gate to the first: Here, on the far side of the second gate, is the bower of blessedness, where is consummated the marriage of Sun and Moon. The bridal bower stands upon the hill of Philadelphia. From here, you can see a long way. In particular, the third gate comes sharply into focus. That is the gate of birth, of the body, of matter; the gate of place and time. As the first Gate was the Illuminating Sun, and the second was the Invisible (but Reflective) Moon. The third Gate is is the gate of Mankind, the gate of the Body. I cannot, at this moment, provide more hints about the third gate, but Simon can. Because, really, I can imagine no better Hero of the Gate of the Body than he. And so, it is with complete confidence that I assure you, by Wed, Nov 2nd, there will be a key to the third gate ready.  When I opened this gate, it was with the assistance of Ereshkigal, the Flint-Nailed Lady of Pain.  Her teaching to me was thus:

"A third door, sold iron, is solid and heavy. This is the Gate of Fear, and the only key that opens it is Love. On the other side of the gate, you might find a fear. Look on it unwavering, accepting, and loving, and that which you feared will become your good guide. As the gate swings open, remember to love. Your fear will arise, but simply abide, love your fear and make it your guide. You’ve mastered your fear, felt the fear but stayed true, you loved your fear and now it’s an ally. The Gate of Fear Turned to Love is behind you, continue to walk, walk the labyrinth path underground. Walking deeper and deeper, further and further, into Irkalla, into the depths of the dark."

NOTE:  I have no reason to believe that this gate is scary or painful for anyone except me.  I just did it wrong the first time.

And yet, while I cannot (yet) describe to you the key that unlocks the third gate, I do know what lies beyond it.  Once you have passed through the first three gates you will see the sign of Pluto, who is the cross of Man, holding aloft the Moon's crescent, surmounted by the ball of the Sun. Pluto, who reigns in the Underworld, is, these days, usually understood as a god of death, but before he was that, he was already the god of treasure. Pluto, who became king of the Underworld was not born there; he entered into the Underworld to remove its treasures, and married the Queen he found there. The treasures of Pluto are buried in the Underworld, but they did not originate there. They are of the world and in the world, and are the world.

The next four gates (once assembled) are called, in Latin: Prima Materia; the First Matter, the Primal Mother. In Greek, they are called Anima Mundi, the World Soul, the Living Map.  But we will tackle it in four pieces.

The first is the gate of fire, the torchbearer will lead us up the first step from the Underworld into the light. Next, we will cross the gate of air, where the will-o-whisp Wind will whistle our way.

Thence to the gate of earth, in Smyrna, where our guide will be the terrible slayer of Heroes, the Great Hunter, the Warrior Dragon, the Palm Tree King, Lord Saman-ana, the Bison-beast, the Mermaid, the Seven-headed Snake, the Six-headed Wild Ram.

Finally, in Ephesus, we will open the gates of the primeval waters, reuniting the water below with the water above. And in Ephesus, we find the Mystery that was the Greatest of the Seven Wonders of the World, of which Antipater said: "I have set eyes on the wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their brilliancy, and I said, "Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught so grand"

In Ephesus, we find the Pillar-Formed, 
Many Breasted Lady of Beasts. In Ephesus, the Cult that chased Paul out of town.  The Gate of the Ephesian Mystery might be locked, but with their dying breath, they tricked Paul into recording the passcode to their Mystery:

Μεγάλη ἡ Ἄρτεμις Ἐφεσίων!

This has been the final public revelation of Apokalypsis, but the Game is not yet over.  There are four more missives available to players.  All you have to do to ensure you are a player is play, and if you want to be on my team, just ask.