Saturday, May 6, 2017

American Witchcraft: Great River

This post is part of an ongoing series on working with the spirits of the American Land.  Read more about the American Gods Project here.   Before going on, I shall summarize the teaching of several others:

A Teaching of Arch Bard Neil Gaiman: The new gods and the old gods are not actually enemies.  They're ALL American Gods.

A Teaching of Arch Bard Stan Lee, and Arch Bard Jack Kirby, Blessed be his Name:  Captain America and Thor are on the same team.

and finally, this post is my result from today's Magical Battle for America, and AMERICAN REFLECTIONS: a nostalgic journey in the American acoustic soundscape

A few days ago, I spoke to you the Word of the Ohio River, as best as I was able.  I want to talk, today, a little more about how to work with a river, magically.  What follows is a ritual, and also a formula; you should adapt it to your own Great River.  Rivers are one of my favorite kinds of spirits.  They are strong and powerful, often appearing as dragons.  But they are also among the easiest spirits to contact.  In truth, it's hard to be out of contact with you local river, even if you wanted to be.  You are 90% water, and a significant portion of that water came from you own local Great River.  (unless you live very close to the sea, or in the desert, or in the tundra.  But for most people in the United States, Great River is one of the Great Powers of your local spirit court.  And, of the Great Powers, they are one of the easiest to first identify and communicate with (aka "attain knowledge and conversation of").

Rivers are HUGE laylines running through the world; there's no mystery how the power of water moves through the land!   If you live in the United States, in less than a minute, you'll know the name of your own Great River.

If you want, go read the Wikipedia article about your river, so you know a little more about your river's history and geology, but you don't need it. It's a river. You know what rivers are, and for this ritual, you don't really need to know anything more than that.  Better than reading about it is to go sit by it for a spell.  But, for this, you don't really need to do that either.  It's a river.  You know what rivers are, and for this ritual, you don't really need to know anything more than that. 

Now, once you know who your Great River is, what do you do next? We're going to brew a potion, which you will pour it out to the river. As the potion crosses through the land getting to the river, and as it travels down the river, every piece of the watershed will be effected, and every watershed downstream. Such is the power of Grandfather(1) River.  Why?

Water is the universal solvent; both magically and mundanely, the river collects tiny bits of land as it moves; it is transformed by everything it touches. A river is the distilled essence of its entire  watershed.  To learn your watershed, ask yourself this deceptively simple question:  When a drop of rain hits the ground at your feet, where does it go? As you begin to answer that question, you'll come to understand how the spirits of water move and live and flow where you are, you'll learn to work with them. When you pour out offerings on the ground, it is this watershed that you are feeding. When you travel in water-form, it is along these paths that you can most easily swim. 

However, for this ritual, you don't need to understand your whole watershed, you only need to know the name of your Great River.  

Step Two: Brewing the Potion

Boil the following ingredients in a large pot.  Cast iron is best, but if you do not have a cast iron cauldron, that's ok, any pot will do.

1 gallon thunder-water  Here are five recipes for thunder-water.  You may choose any one of these, or combine them as you see fit, or make up your own.
  • water collected as rain during a thunder storm
  • water in which you have soaked 13 acorns
  • a strong decoction (tea) made of rain water or spring water and the leaves or roots of Tripterygium wilfordii aka 雷公藤 aka Thunder God Vine
  • any water in which you have dissolved 1 Tbsp of Mastros & Zealot's "Thunderwater Elixer" (coming soon!)
$17.76 composed as:
  • 1 Hamilton $10
  • 1 Lincoln $5
  • 1 Sacagawea $1 coin
  • 4  Washington quarters (choose from among the many kinds of quarters available)
  • 1 Kennedy half-dollar
  • 1 FDR dime
  • 1 Jefferson nickel 
  • 10 Lincoln pennies (because we can use all the Lincoln we can get)
  • 1 Wheat penny
Spit in the pot, while thinking about all the reasons you're angry at America.

Bring the water to a boil and then stir the pot with a hammer, 13 times clockwise, while loving America.

The water can be stored until you are ready to do the next part.

Step Three: Pouring Out the Potion

Go outside with a pitcher or pot of this water and a shot of whatever liquor (or other drink) you think your river will like.  Pour out a tiny splash of water onto the ground, and imagine the course it will travel to get to the river.  When you have felt how you are connected to the river, begin to speak out loud:

"Great Mother/Father River, I hallow your name, __________________.
I pour out this drink for you, that you might spread it across all the Land.
(splash a bit of potion onto the ground with each line
I pour out my love for America
I pour out my anger with America
I pour out the Amber Waves of Grain
and the power of Abraham Lincoln, Blessed be his Name.
I pour out Thomas Jefferson and Franklin Delano Rosevelt,
I pour out George Washington times four!
I pour out Kennedy and Sacagawea, and five hundred more Abraham Lincolns!
I pour out Alexander Hamilton,
and I pour out the power of Thunder and Water and River and Rain!

Thank you mighty, _______________, Great River.  Hallowed be your name."

and finally, Pour out the offering.

You may do as you choose with the $17.76, but I recommend donating it to the charity of your choice.

(1) Or Grandmother River.  Different Great Rivers have different genders.  Some have no gender.  As you come to know your river, you'll come to know better what names and titles to use.  If in doubt, keep it gender neutral with "Great River".

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