Thursday, June 13, 2019

Coal as a Spirit Ally

Someone recently asked me for some details about how I work with coal magically.  Here's a short answer.

Image result for coal


Coal is an extremely powerful spirit ally, especially if you, like me, live in coal country, and one I recommend getting to know. Coal is formed from the compaction of ancient forests. Where I live in Pittsburgh, there is a seam of coal about 100 feet thick, which was compressed from more than 1000 feet of dropped leaves, twigs, trees, and other biological material in the Carboniferous (Pennsylvania) era. As you might imagine, the word “coal” is very old, originally meaning “glowing ember” and only later taking on its more specific meaning as combustible rock.

Image result for coal

Burning coal is bad for our planet. That is about human greed and waste, and not a flaw in coal itself. I assure you, coal would prefer not to be used in that way. As a mineral, coal is an excellent grounding material, connecting us to the deep earth, but also to the deep past. As a spirit ally, the Coal totem is best understood as a sort of Ancestral ur-tree, the combined wisdom of millennia of trees. When worked with in talismans, it is very similar to jet (which is unsurprisingly since jet is a precursor of coal).

Image result for coal

When they appear anthropomorphically, coal spirits sometimes take the form of tommyknockers, a sort of mining spirit that most usually appears as a small grizzled old man dressed in green. They are closely associated with the spirits of fallen miners, especially those who died in mine collapses. They are excellent allies in all sorts of work to protect the environment, or to agitate for workers rights. Want to disrupt a strip mine, oil pipeline, coke cracking facility or fracking field? Ask the tommyknockers for their help. Feed them cream, buttered bread, and honey to propitiate them, or whiskey, blood, and spicy gingerbread cookies to rile them up.

Image result for carved coal

Coal is well paired with quartz crystal to make a sort of spiritual antennae. Attach a piece of anthracite (hard, black) coal to end end of a cord and a quartz crystal of similar weight to the other. Use the coal end as an anchor into the depths of the earth, and the quartz end as a receiver for the wisdom of the stars. Magically, coal can be used similarly to jet, although it partakes slightly more of fire, and less of water. Amber, pearl, and coal make an excellent combination for seership among the three worlds. Amber represents the crystallized power of the sun and the heavens, pearl that of the sea, and coal that of the land.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Magical Key of Helios, Which Opens Every Door

I recently came across a stash of these ornate keys. To my eye, the bow (head) is a stylized gryphon. As many of you know, locks and keys form a very important part of my magic, because my late father collected antique padlocks. (Google "Mike Mastros collection padlocks" to see some). As soon as I saw these, Helios and his Gryphons began teaching me how to enchant them to open all doors.
Gryphons are half-lion and half-eagle, and combine the magical powers of both. As kings of both land and sky, they are beings of great majesty and power. They are often said the guard vast treasures, and to preside over the mining of gold. In my own work, I have found them especially useful for revealing secrets, recovering lost treasures (both literal and metaphoric), and healing trauma that involves conflicting or confused memories.

Flavius Philostratus, a second century Greco-Roman teacher, had this to say about them: “For these animals do exist in India and are held in veneration as being sacred to the Sun ; and the Indian artists, when they represent the Sun, yoke four of them abreast to draw the images ; and in size and strength they resemble lions, but having this advantage over them that they have wings, they will attack them, and they get the better of elephants and of dragons.”

Helios, the Greek god of the Sun, was worshipped as the Great God in the Dodecanese, particularly at his cult center on Rhodes, where his great statue, called The Colossus, was one of the seven wonders of the world.The conjuration, which is based on the ancient Greek Magical Papyrus called “The Eighth Book of Moses”, calls on Helios to open the four quarters of the cosmos, and to cause any locks to crumble into pieces. It is effective at opening roads to almost any kind of goal, but is especially good for opening doors to healing, wealth, and fame.

You can pre-purchase an enchanted key here, or continue reading for instructions to make your own. I expect these to sell out quickly.

If you have completed the initiation of the Eighth Book of Moses (PGM XIII 1-313), I encourage you to enchant your own key, using the ritual that follows. If you have not, but have another Helios or solar initiation which graced you with a personal name for the Sun, that will also work. If you do not have this, but want to try it anyway, go ahead! Say whatever name for Sol bubbles to your lips at the moment of invocation. In what follows “NAME” is your personal solar name. Feel free to modify what follows however you like, and please report back your results!

Awakening a Key for Helios

You will need:
  • A fancy gold-colored key
  • Solar incense (recipe below), charcoal, and a place to burn it
  • A short squat beeswax candle. You’re going to have to balance it, lit, on your head for about 25 minutes.
  • An idol or ikon in the shape of the Colossus of Rhodes, large enough to pass a key through his legs
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Clean fresh living water (that is, water from a natural source, such as rain or spring water)
  • Headphones, and a way to play this recording.
  • A vagina. Don’t have one? Imagine that you do.  Don't want to imagine that?  Write your own ritual.

Solar Incense Recipe
  • Frankincense resin, 5 parts
  • Amber resin, 2 parts
  • Dried orange peel, 1 part
  • Cinnamon chips, 2 parts
  • Local honey, 1 part
The ritual should be timed to peak as near to the solstice as possible. Here in Pittsburgh, that’s a few minutes before noon. I recommend starting around 11:15. Arrange the space in advance.

What to do:

  1. Clean and arrange a working space sacred to Helios. Ideally, this work should be done outside, in direct sunlight. Put the image on a plate
  2. Make a substantial offering to your choice of solar charities. I recommend Solar Cookers International, which provides solar cookers and education in developing communities still reliant on dirty, inefficient, dangerous methods to cook their food.
  3. Wash your hands, face, and genitals. Wear a white skirt or robe (you’re going to have to reach up there later).
  4. Cover your hair. (This is an unusual request in Greek magic, but Helios specifically requested it.)
  5. Begin by entering magical space, time, and consciousness according to your usual method.
  6. Recite the Orphic Hymn to Helios (next page).
  7. Light the candle, saying “I conjure you, fire, daimon of holy love, the invisible and manifold, the one and everywhere, to reside in this candle at this time, shining and not dying out, by the command of NAME.”
  8. Yell aloud: Helios Axabyxrōm AAA ĒĒĒ ŌŌŌ I I I AAA OOO Tsavaot YHVH-IAŌ Zagreus the god Arat Adonai Basim IAŌ.
  10. Pour honey over the idol, and then olive oil.
  11. Light the incense, and say: “I am she of the two cherubim, at the middle of the cosmos, between heaven and earth, light and darkness, night and day, rivers and sea. Appear to me, archangel of G-d, set in authority under the Holy ONE. I call in the name of NAME.”
  12. Yell aloud: Helios Axabyxrōm AAA ĒĒĒ ŌŌŌ I I I AAA OOO Tsavaot YHVH-IAŌ Zagreus the god Arat Adonai Basim IAŌ.
  13. Clap three times, and then whistle a long shrill note.
  14. Begin playing the recording.
  15. Take the key(s) in your hands and say the following, passing them through the fire and the smoke, then quenching them in the water. “I call on you alone, the only one in the cosmos who gives orders to both gods and men, who changes yourself into holy things, and brings existence out of the nonexistent and nonexistence from existent things, holy Thoth, tongue of Ra. I conjure you, spirit coming into air: By the power of the eternal god enter, inspire, empower, and awaken, this key and let it partake of your essence, for I am she who acts with the power of Thoth, the tongue of Ra, the holy god.”
  16. Pass the key through the legs of Helios of Rhodes, front to back, tapping it gently on his penis three times.
  17. Uncover you head.
  18. Stand with your legs spread, balancing the candle on your head. Hold the key(s) between your hands as if you are praying.
  19. Assume the god-form of Helios of Rhodes
  20. Feel the heat of the sun on your head. Feel the candle there, another shining sun. Feel the sunlight descend through your head, and infuse into you. Begin pushing it into the key(s).
  21. Chant to Helios as seems right to you. I recommend beginning with Helios Axabyxrōm AAA ĒĒĒ ŌŌŌ I I I AAA OOO Tsavaot YHVH-IAŌ Zagreus the god Arat Adonai Basim IAŌ and then chanting your sacred SUN NAME, and then slipping into glossolalia trance. Continue for at least 10 minutes in this way, pushing solar energy into the key(s) the whole time.
  22. Eventually, you should feel it begin to overflow the key, and pool into your belly and genitals. If you require healing, at this time, you can divert some of the solar energy into the relevant part of your body, making a spontaneous chant that makes word play with Heal and Helios.
  23. Before the recording ends, carefully remove the candle from your head, and put it in front of the idol. If you’re not sexually aroused and hot for Helios by now, you have not properly assumed the godform. Repeat steps 18-22.
  24. Pass the key through your legs from back to front, tapping your own genitals at least three times on the way. Pass from your right hand behind into your left in front.
  25. Say aloud: “Open, open four quarters of the cosmos, for the lord of the inhabited world comes forth. Archangels, decans, angels: Rejoice! For the Aion of Aion herself, the only and transcendent, invisible, goes through this place. Open, I say to you, Door! Hear my words, Bar! Fall into pieces, Lock! By the name AIA Ainrychat, cast upon the Earth, for the Lord who Contains All Things, the Storm-Sender, Controller of the Abyss, Master of Fire says OPEN! Open, for Achebykrome commands you!”
  26. Say Helios Axabyxrōm AAA ĒĒĒ ŌŌŌ I I I AAA OOO Tsavaot YHVH-IAŌ Zagreus the god Arat Adonai Basim IAŌ 8 times.
  27. Sit in silence, communing with Helios, asking him how to use your key, and listening to his council. Ask him for a name for the key. “The god will talk with you as with a fellow god.”
  28. Return to normal space, time, and consciousness.
  29. Drink some water. You’re very thirsty, but you might not realize it until you start drinking.

If you would prefer, you can purchase a pre-enchanted key (which comes with a name), you can do so here, for $111 plus shipping.

The Orphic Hymn to Helios

Hear me, blessed one, eternal all-seeing eye
Gold gleaming light, Titan Most High.
You are self-made and tireless, of beautiful form,
On the right side, you give birth to the morn,
While with your left hand you pour out the night,
Compounding the hours, endless alchemy of light.
Your four fleet-footed horses gambol and play,
High spirited coursers leading light of new day.
Whizzing blissful and swiftly, fiery charioteer,
Whirl like a bullroarer on your endless road round the year!
Draw forth cosmic harmony, good guide of the good;
Scorch the wrongdoers, who are acting in falsehood.
You give the signal, and good deeds are done,
You measure the seasons with revolutions you run.
Multiformed and evergreen, eternally undefiled,
Lightbringer, life-giver, cosmocrat all-fruitful Paian.
You are immortal Zeus, and undying Father Time,
Truth-doing, all-shining, round-running cosmic eye.
You measure seasons, making sense, giving signs
When the sun sets, and when you rise up and shine.
Flow-loving cosmic king beaming righteous light,
Truth-guarding all-protector, radiant knight,
Whip-whistling horse rider, life-loving charioteer:
Attend to my prayer, and to your mystic, draw near.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Pagan Ethics

Following in the footsteps of my teachers, friends, and elders like Ian Corrigan and John Becket, I thought I'd talk a little bit about Pagan Ethics, as I see and practice them.  This is a post about what I believe is right, and why I believe it is right.  I'd very much like to hear yours.  If you would like to discuss this topic with me and my circle, there is a gathering to do so Sunday June 3rd at Witch House from 2-6pm.

  • On Nature
    • I believe Nature is complex, ever-changing, and inescapable. All truth is contained in Nature. Everything that we learn, we learn by observing and interacting with Nature, the Great Teacher.
    • I believe we humans are part of Nature. Everything that is is part of Nature. There is nothing that is not Nature. It is literally impossible for things to happen that are "unnatural".
    • I believe there is only one family tree on Earth; all living creatures are kin.
  • On Human Lives and Bodies
    • I believe that every human life has inherent dignity and worth.
    • I believe that our bodies are inviolable. It is grievously wrong to violate another person's bodily sovereignty.
    • I believe love is a precious thing, to be sought after, delighted in, and celebrated in all its multi-mysterious forms.
    • It is best for the strong to care for the weak, as best as we are able. 
  • On the Spirits
    • I believe that humans share our world with a large variety of sentient beings, both embodied and otherwise.
    • I believe that we owe the same duties of compassion, community and care to unembodied sentient people as we do to those with bodies.
    • I believe that worship is owed to no being, but can be freely given, and accepted, in love and communion.
  • On Community
    • I believe it is best to always strive to act with compassion towards all beings, to the best of our ability, and in accord with reason.
    • I believe people are fallible. We have all made mistakes. We all will make more. When you know you have done wrong, you should strive to set right what you broke.
    • I believe humans are meant to live in community with own another, sharing our loves, lives, property, and efforts with one another, working towards a common good.
  • On Economics
    • I believe the notion that one human being can compel the labor of another is absurd and grievously wrong.  And yet, we live in a world where few of us can avoid it.  We must use our best judgements about how and when and where it is best to buy and sell labor in an honest and ethical manner.
    • I believe that the very notion that a human being can own land is absurd and grievously wrong.  And yet, we live in a world where few of us can avoid it.  We must use our best judgements about how and when and where it is best to buy, sell, safeguard, and steward land in an honest and ethical manner.
    • I believe that a person cannot be fully spiritually free while they are materially in debt. Debt, capitalization of debt, and the culture of debt are among the great moral dilemmas of our time.  And yet, we live in a world where few of us can avoid it.  We must use our best judgements about how and when and where it is best to borrow and lend in an honest and ethical manner.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Chains of Silence

In the course of my work, I often run across the same kinds of curses, bindings, and soul-injury across several people.  Today, I'd like to tell you about one I call the "chains of silence" which I most often see in older (55+) women.  (however, that demographic is over-represented in my clientele)   To me, this affliction appears as a chains, sometimes barbed wire, wound around the person's throat.  It is sometimes accompanied by thyroid problems (about 40% of the time, IME) or other throat or neck issues.  I am reasonably confident that it is related to being silenced as a child, most often, being silenced after a trauma.  I will first describe how I diagnose and treat it in someone else, and then how you might treat it at home, if you suspect you may have this issue.  I have never done this work on myself, but I would imagine it is harder on yourself than someone else (as most curse breaking is).

How to Diagnose:
Enter into the Other Place in your usual fashion, and contact an ally you work with for diagnosis Asklepios is excellent for this work, although I usually work with Merlin instead, who has given me a sort of tricorder/dowsing-rod when we do this work.  You might ask for a similar diagnostic tool.  It is extremely important to work with a trusted long-term ally for this, and to do a lot of grounding first, to be sure that you're not projecting your own issues onto other people.
tree grown around a chain

Examine the soul-body.  (While not relevant to this particular affliction, be sure to check the feet and ankles.  I often find bindings there.)  To me, this affliction presents as chains or barbed wire wound around the neck, but I do not know if it will appear that way to you or not.  Examine the area.  Most often, the chains have grown into the flesh in a very unwholesome way, like they would into a tree.  Sometimes, they can be almost completely covered in skin.

Image result for art our lady of sorrows
Examine the chains to see if they are attached at any other points.  Sometimes, there is some involvement in/near the heart chakra as well.  If there is, you may need a more complicated healing than what follows.  Once you have examined the area, call Our Lady of Sorrows.  This is not a spirit I usually work with, but she taught me this technique, and so I work it with her.  If you are strongly opposed to working with her, I imagine you could work out a similar technique with another goddess who weeps over her child, perhaps Demeter of Eleusis.  The crying is important.  When she has come, ask her to tell you about the chains, what caused them, and how they can be removed.  As I said above, in my experience, these chains are a small curse laid on little girls, most often by their mother, when they are not permitted to speak about something bad (sometimes sexual abuse) that has happened to them.  

How to Ameliorate:

Explain to the patient that you will be working on unbinding their throat, and unsilencing their voice, and that they may feel pressure on their neck while you work.  Make sure they know to tell you if it becomes too much, and they want to stop.  Tell them that the most common feeling they will have is a "lump in the throat" such as accompanies grief and they may experience unpleasant memories.  Advise them that the best thing they can do is to try to observe in a detached manner.  It is very tempting to reach out and try to grab at these memories. "Oh no!  My grief!  I need that!"  Advise them to avoid that as much as possible.  However, make sure they know that they can stop you at any time, and that if they ever feel like they want you to stop, even if they can't talk, they should gesture or tap you.  Many people will not feel anything.

When everyone is ready, return to the Other Place and ask Mary to cry on the chains.  This will transform them into rose vines (with thorns).  These can very slowly and carefully be unwound.  Try not to tear the surrounding area, but some tearing is inevitable if they are really overgrown.   You might not be able to unwind all of it in one session.  When you and/or the patient have had enough, use a magical knife to cut the vines.  Take the part that you have removed to a disposal location, such as a naga pool or volcano or abyss.  DO NOT leave it lying around, because it can slither like a snake and re-attach (or attach to you).  

Return to the patient, and call Hygeia (or another healing deity who carries a cup).  Have her wash the wounds from her healing cup, and then apply solar energy (mine is in salve form) to promote healing.  Often times, the patient's power animal will appear and lick the wounds clean.  Bandage the wound with clean white dressings.  Sometimes, Theotokos offers her veil for this purpose.

If necessary, repeat the procedure at a later date, but allow time for healing in between.  (I would say at least a month).  Tell the client that they might expect dreams related to this, but to report if they are nightmares, or if they develop any throat-related illnesses.

How to Cure in Yourself:
If you have experience with the sort of work outlined above, I think you could use a very similar procedure on yourself.  You may wish to call all the allies at the beginning, and instruct them all before beginning.  However if you do not feel you are up to that (which I wouldn't have been as recently as 5 years ago), then I think you can probably do this:

Begin by journaling about the silencing that you think caused the affliction.  Get out as much of it as you can, and then burn the paper.  Prepare a salt bath, as salty as you can get it (if you do not have a bath, you can just wash your neck with salt water).  Light and candle, and get in the bath.  While bathing, recite a prayer to Our Lady of Sorrows (googling "Our Lady of Sorrows novena"  produced several nice results, all of which are too Christian for me, but maybe you like them).  Repeat this for nine days, ideally while the moon wanes.  Close with the hymn to Hygeia, which is below.  I would imagine you would probably need to repeat the process three times (ie, do the novena for nine days each of three waning moons).  If you do this work yourself, please report back to me on how it goes.

Orphic Hymn to Hygeia
Ever-blossoming Queen of All,
Many-blessed All-Mother, Hygeia, I call.
You banish all injury, affliction, and illness
And cause every home to blossom in bliss.
Every craft lusts after your ordering hands,
Reaching out, ever gentle, you plumb the dry lands,
Saving those souls that Hades would destroy,
And filling up every house with the fullness of joy.
You’re hated by Hades, who plunders the souls of the living.
Eternally thriving, your prayers are life-giving,
Without your your holy magic, your guiding spells,
Humans lives drift, bobbing like corks on the swells,
In the absence of you, Plouton’s gifts lose their sweetness,
And human old age brings only hardship and weakness.
For you alone hold such power over peasant and king.
Multi-mysterious Goddess, your praises we sing,
Defend us from sickness and all leaden pain,
Let us bask in your light and rejoice in your reign.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Threshold Protections (Witch House excerpt)

I'm sorry I havn't been posting much. The Orphic Hymns Grimoire is in its final stage of editing, and that has basically consumed my whole life. But, I thought I'd give you a sneak peak of my next book, which is a beginners' book on enchanting your house. This is from Chapter Three:

Protections for the Threshold: 

An Excerpt from Witch House: Enchantment Room by Room

The Eye Against EvilBelief in the “evil eye”, a type of curse thrown (often unintentionally) by malevolent or jealous gazes, exists all over the world, but is particularly common in the Eastern Mediterranean and Near East. Doubtless you are familiar with the blue glass eye charms used as wards against the evil eye all across the Mediterranean. These talismans are especially popular in Greece and Turkey, where they are called “nazar”. The nazar is a glass disk (or sometimes a sphere or bead) mostly cobalt blue, with concentric circles of white, light blue, and dark blue (like an eye).

In Greece, belief in the evil eye is very old; the classic blue eye design appears frequently on ancient pottery. In addition to the use of glass talismans to ward off the evil eye, a form of exorcism called “ξεμάτιασμα” can be performed to “cure” the affliction. While the Orthodox Church has a prayer for this use, it is more common for each family to have it’s own prayer, a closely guarded secret handed down from grandfather to granddaughter, and from grandmother to grandson. I cannot teach you my family’s prayer, but here are two I’ve written to inspire you to write your own, and start your own family tradition:

Holy Virgin, Queen of Heaven,
Mother of God, Mother of All,
take us under your sky-blue cloak,
and protect us from all evil.
Avert, avert, avert!


Thea Euryphaessa, Queen of Heaven, 
Holy Wide Shining One,
Mother of the Dawn, and the Moon,
and the ever unconquered Sun,
Yours is the eternal Aithre; yours the clear blue sky,
Yours is the vision of prophecy, yours the all-seeing eye.
Shine your light upon this home,
And send all evil away to roam!
Avert, avert, avert!

I like to hang a large nazar talisman where it can glitter in the sun. Because my front door is shaded by the porch roof, mine hangs instead in my front window.

The Amulet of the Open Hand

The blue eyes of the nazar are often found at the center of another type of amulet, one shaped like an open hand, made symmetric with outward curving pinkie finger and thumb. These amulets are called “hamsa” in Hebrew and khamsa in Arabic; both words mean “five” and refer also to the hand. Although they certainly predate Islam and Christianity, and likely also predate Judaism, they are also sometimes referred to by more religious people as the “Hand of Miriam” (Moses’s sister), “Hand of Mary” (Jesus’s mother) or “Hand of Fatima” (Mohammed’s wife). To me, these names strongly indicate that the talisman is associated with the Great Goddess, who is sister and mother and lover of us all. This is bolstered by the fact that similar open-hand designs occur on ancient ritual objects sacred to Ishtar, Inanna, and Tanit, respectively Babylonian, Sumerian, and Carthaginian names for Her.

In ancient Carthage, as well as in Jewish, Arab, and Berber houses around the world, a handprint is often painted on a door; usually in white on red doors or red on a white door. Instead of painting onto the door, however, most times the hand is hung as a metal ornament upon the door, either inside or out. Such amulets are nearly ubiquitous in Middle Eastern stores, with inexpensive versions made in steel and pot metal, and fancier version in sterling silver or cobalt glass. Small bells are often attached to the ends of the fingers. Unlike the handprints, which usually occur fingers up, metal hamsa are usually hung with the fingers pointing down.