Sunday, May 10, 2020

Feri Witchcraft, Permaculture and Bringing Back the Fae

Our particular tradition of Witchcraft is called Feri and yes it does indeed relate to the Fae. It's name gives you a clue as to our nature. The Fae, those beings of nature both aloof and dangerous that call the wild spaces their home. We believe ourselves to be kin to these beings and revere the Earth that we all call home. It is why you will find many of us opposed to climate endangering policies and why we can often be found out in the wild spaces or even away from cities as much as possible. We are also human beings in a flesh and blood body that requires, healthy food, clean water, a safe home, clean air and the ability to have solidarity and freedom in our lives. Much of that is threatened by the "powers that be", the new versions of Robber Barons who now threaten all life on Earth for the glittering gold and power that they desire above all else. At the international World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland each year all of the world leaders and richest elites come together to discuss the economic pulses of the world. They refer to themselves as "The Masters of the Universe". The last conference hosted both President Trump and Greta Thunburg. Trump was given a standing ovation and there were a few lukewarm claps for Greta. Greta doesn't line their pockets with gold like Trump does and so that is the God they worship.  They, the few, make choices that impact, we the many, in every aspect of our lives. One aspect in particular has been our food and this has been on my mind due to the pandemic and the breakdown of the supply chain. We in the United States went from "the best economy on the planet in history" to great depression levels in a matter of weeks. All smoke and mirrors and the curtain was pulled aside and we could see the great inequalities laid bare. 

I had been thinking about our food supply long before this pandemic and indeed Ed and I have made it a personal goal to wean ourselves off of corporate food in an effort to become more self reliant. This led us to the permaculture movements started by Bill Mollison. The concept of permaculture or "permanent agriculture" is to create a system whereby you work with nature and in harmony with all living organisms. Yes, even the pests and ones that would devastate your crops. The cornerstone idea is that of a food forest where you mimic a natural forest but with food for yourself and the creatures around you. After a time it begins to take care of itself. It isn't like traditional farming which requires back breaking labor, pesticides, fertilizers and a market. The system begins to renew itself and stacks redundancies upon itself and can create micro-climates, heal the soil, restore the water table and much more. After a time you begin to heal the land and yourself. After a time the Fae return. Then your magic takes on potency because you are completely in tune with your land and yourself.

As Feries our magic is directly connected to the land we inhabit. If we have no connection or do not get out into the wild spaces there are no Fae for us to interact with. The magic withers or worse we lose connection to the current and we become merely posturing impotent witches LARPing what we wish to be. We get deceived by the glamor of our egos and exist merely to consume popular culture's idea of what we should be (insert whatever witch movie de jour) or try to become the fame Feris Ed and I have so often railed against. The Fae do not inhabit the concrete jungle, other spirits do of course, but not the Fae. They desire the land untouched by human hand or at the very least cohabitate with a gentle stewart of said land. They empower us. We are allies to them. All else ceases to be Feri and becomes something else when there is no connection to the land.

In our experiment to heal the land and become more self sufficient Ed and I have applied permaculture principles to our current suburban home and yard. Even before the current plague descended upon us we started to grow some of our own food in pots and raised beds. This created a host of problems. Initially it was the slugs and snails which decimated our fragile little seedlings and plants. How could we possibly win? We tried poison (bad I know, but we all make mistakes), slug tape, beer traps and salt. Nothing worked until we decided to introduce predators to snails and slugs and in our particular area that happened to be frogs and toads. So we created a frog and toad habitat by putting in a pond and creating toad houses. Then we sent our boys frog hunting during frog breeding season. They were only happy to comply. After two years we established a breeding population and controlled our slugs and snails. This is one example of many including composting to create soil because dirt and soil are not the same thing. Dirt is dead. Soil is living. Soil is the gut biome of the forest and plants need it to thrive. Your food starts with soil and travels the chain before reaching your fork. Whole organic food you grow yourself has Vita in it, that is actual life force. The energy of the sun itself. This is the energy of the land and sun pulsing into your body when you lovingly harvest ripe food. It is not the same as petro-chemical food you buy in the store. That food has no Vita. It is a pale reflection. So, as we healed the land we began to increase the insect population, butterfly population and now have two resident humming birds and one extremely grumpy squirrel. With this has come more humidity and more mist. More materia magica for the Fae to travel in. Oddly enough, though not wild, I would say the spirit of the land has begun to heal in our tiny little yard and it has increased our magic. We have begun to harvest herbs for spell work and healing teas that we grew ourselves. More power to our magic. More connection. More attunement to the seasons, the stars and the phases of the moon.

The connection to the land in which you live is essentially Feri. The more you get tuned in the more you will be in the cycles of this magic and it will be especially important when you are in the wild and dangerous places where few dare to go. The Fae will recognize you and you them. You will be able to call upon the spirits of the land and they will answer the call. But not if you just posture. Or buy your herbs from who knows where. My dittany of crete flourishes from the rich soil compost I give to it in my garden where I speak to it and where I listen. I know its nature and moods. When I burn it in offering it calls to those whom I wish to speak.

To bring back the Fae and awaken them from their torpor requires time and patience and a dedication to the land. It is no easy path and it is not glamorous but it's rewards far outweigh any imagining. I truly do believe that we are the few stewards of the land and that if we can create an alliance with the land than we can flourish in harmony. I believe the principles of permaculture are in alignment with this and I believe that we can start where ever we are and in whatever circumstance we might find ourselves in.

If this path interests you then go into nature, honor it, help in anyway you can. Learn about the native plants in your area. Chances are that your area (if you are in North America) was once inhabited by Native peoples who knew their plants. Find books written about this. Learn. If you are lucky enough to have land then transform it. If you are not then guerilla plant.  Plant food for humans and bees. Be radical. Identify all of the edible plants in your neighborhood. As an exercise with our boys we went for a neighborhood "salad" which included plantain, clover, cleavers and California poppy flowers that we collected from yards and the greenbelt. We have also inoculated areas with mushrooms. And as for mushrooms, this ally is deeply intwined with the Fae and not just the psychedelic friends which I have written about HERE but the mycelium of the mushroom (all species) is the bed rock for health for all forest plants. Without it you have dead dirt. It is also the super highway of communication and fertility for the land. There is a reason the Fae are directly linked to the mushroom. You can see the echoes of this in even the cute little fairies sitting on a toadstool. Yes, you probably know the shamanic uses wherein the shaman or witch uses the mushroom in ritual, but I am not even speaking to that I am speaking of the network beneath your very feet. A super mycelium plant spirit highway. So bring it back. Bring it all back. Gaia. Mother. Wild space. Mushrooms. Plants. Humidity. Recharged water. Clean air.  A space for bees and birds and snails humans. We can all live in harmony and that is a goal worth fighting for.

Maya Grey
House Grey
Northern California

Monday, January 20, 2020

The End of Pantheacon

Ed always used to say after every Pantheacon that he would rather spend the weekend in a cabin on the lake. Well that is what we did this last weekend, although not exactly Pantheacon weekend, and we had an amazing time. Close to nature. Breathing in the crisp mountain air and so completely far away from a hotel ballroom. Our spirituality lies in nature and nowhere else.

So, Pantheacon is shuttering its doors after 26 years and I can't say that I am surprised. Times have changed. Paganism has grown and the heros and BNPs (Big Name Pagans) of yesteryear seem to have faded, their relevance seeming to dim with the younger generations struggles and issues. The whole TERF vs. Inclusive Trans fight comes to mind. On one had you have lesbians and feminists saying, hey we fought for a safe space for women, those with penises need not apply and the other side saying hey our Trans brothers and sisters are fighting for their very lives and should be given their due and a safe space too. Battle lines have been drawn. Communication seems to be at a standstill and the various segments of Pagandom seem to be at war with one another. A microcosm of the static of the planet, Kali Yuga, if you ask me. Everywhere there is fighting. Add to this tone deaf con administrators and you have a dying event.

I only attended one Pantheacon and found it not to my taste. I had been attending the Esoteric Book Conference in Seattle each year and the two could not be more different. The former having lectures and book signings from some of the most brilliant occult minds of our day in an environment that felt genteel, intense and dangerous. Like sipping absinthe in Paris with artists and counter-culturalists. A place where the mind was stimulated. The other felt like a county fair or a hybrid of an SCA event and psychic fair with lookey loos, carnival barkers and ware hawkers. The amount of people and scale were overwhelming too. I tried to find workshops and events that I wanted to attend but there were very few that interested me. However, one that did catch my eye was a Norse Seidr event where the trained shamans went into a Seidr trance and then prophesied for the participants.  That sounded pretty cool and so I went. I cannot though describe to you how un-magical and un-inspiring a hotel ballroom is, even with the lights turned low and the battery powered candles in full flickage. I know that set and setting are as important to magic as the prowess and talent of the magic maker. This went beyond a suspension of disbelief. So too did the "trance possession" ritual and prophesying. I think there is more power in a Southern Christian Pentecostal Snake church than there was here. It felt contrived and fake and forced. I suppose to someone new to all this Pagan stuff it would be intense, but I had been trained in possession myself and I knew when I was watching the real stuff versus simple ritual theatre. When it came time for my priest to speak to the dead he spoke to my grandmother whom he told me loved me very much. Clearly something I could deduce on my own Boveda at home. Sadly these priests believed there was real power here and took their work very seriously. I suppose they should but they seemed so lost to me. I knew from my explorations of Seidr that bloodletting is an important aspect to these rituals and though I did not expect such in a hotel ballroom, it was not mentioned either. Another candy coating of a tradition. I left disappointed and mad at myself for expecting more.

Overall I found the event to be clickish and too broad in spectrum, too big and found myself wanting to hide. I have been to other large Pagan events and festivals and found the same energy there as well. Magic and ritual are intimate and require the interaction with the Spirits. Something nearly impossible in such a setting and with so many strangers. I know that many have found value in such an event, whether to learn, to get laid, to boost the ego or to just be in a place with so many like minded folks. I am not saying there is no value but I feel as though in this information age the Pagan boom has well, boomed. Some rituals and experiences cannot be replicated in a ballroom with strangers. The commercial point was not lost on me as well. Everyone had something they wanted to sell, whether actual pagany wares, their books, or entrance to classes or traditions. Everyone was looking to score.

For me this was the furthest place from magical tutelage possible. I prefer the quiet wild spaces far from prying eyes. The altar shared by my consort and husband. The sanctuaries I have created for specific purposes. I also prefer students who truly desire to learn and who work hard and who are not afraid to change. Were that you here at my table breaking bread with me. We would talk of magic and of things happening both micro and macro. We would suss out your talents and focus on those so that you grew in power. All witches have gifts but not all witches have ALL gifts. There are places I know that we could go to where certain Spirits can be conjured for specific purposes (not in ballrooms mind you!). To me these are my learning halls. These are the places I desire. I think perhaps there are few like me but maybe that is good. Maybe people need the large festivals and classes and rows of merchants all dazzling and sparkling with novelty. There is a place for all. I just wonder what is next now that the largest Pagan event is ending. Shall we all go back to honoring the 4 Powers of the Sphinx? Or will bigger events prevail? What ever new events blossom you will not find me there. I would rather be wandering shadowed and moonlit paths and learning from teachers older than any now walking on Earth.

Maya Grey
House Grey

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Why your collective curses won't work

Have you ever been scrolling on Facebook and noticed that there are various memes or perhaps even personal posts people you know post about doing curse magic or blocking magic to say Donald Trump or various oil corporations or even to say help people like the Dakota Pipeline protesters? Yeah I have seen them too. Political curses are common in these times and I get why, people are angry and scared. We are standing in the middle of the 6th major extinction (human caused) and now have the beginnings of runaway climate change. It seems like every large, wealthy democratic nation has flipped on its head and is supporting only the uber wealthy and their planetary exploitations and the Fundamentalists of Christianity, Judaism and Islam are fighting for dominance in their respective regions with their boots on the necks of progressivism, science and humanism all for their sheer fucked up boners for the apocalypse. They have taught us that it will be like an exploding bang. Trumpets will sound and the 4 horsemen will descent and then I don't know Jesus will kill the Jews and then be like, hey Billy Graham you are so rich I approve of this, up you go? Anyways, like some dark anti-orgasim big religious bang, the apocalypse will happen and all the people that the Christians have been oppressing and who they hate will really get it and the righteous will get to live like the covers of the "Watchtower" pamphlets or is it more like Islam where they get harems of 72 virgins and get to eat dates? Or Mormons with their planets and women who just breed, breed, breed? I personally think, and you can take this how you want since I am a tiny voice on the internet, but I think the apocalypse is already here and it is like a Tsunami, slow and unstoppable. Have you ever seen a Tsunami? Look them up on Youtube. You can literally walk away IF you know what is happening. I recently read an article in the New Yorker about science fiction author William Gibson of "Neuromancer" fame. In it he described trying to write his new dystopian book but had to keep re-writing it because Donald Trump kept doing more fucked up things than what he was writing. Yeah Trump is that bad. He also said of the apocalypse or what he calls the jackpot:

"The jackpot is (sic) a "multicausual" - "more a climate than an event." The world eases into it gradually, as all the bad things we worry about - rising oceans, crop failures, drug-resistant diseases, resource wars, and so on - happen, here and there, to varying degrees, over the better part of the twenty first century, adding up to "androgenic, systemic, mulitplex, seriously bad shit", that eventually kills eighty percent of the human race". 

Times be scary people. The apocalypse really is here. Explains all the zombie movies in mass media and our anxiety ridden subconscious no?

Most witches and pagans are people who are fringe anyway and are in no way shape or form beloved of mainstream society either liberal or conservative, albeit the liberals are more accepting. Pagans believe the Earth is our Mother and tend to gravitate towards groups that protect the Earth and are conservation minded. So it is no surprise that these folks would use what they have in their arsenal (magic) to combat these issues. They certainly do not have the monetary resources, the political sway and big business connections or even fan base such as a large celebrity has to apply pressure to issues they care about. No. All they have is their beliefs and knowledge and application of magic.

I have often read about the Gardnerian cone of power directed at the Nazis during the blitz as the reason the tide of fascism was turned back and Britain won the day. Yay the witches saved the day! Except I don't buy it, if it even happened at all. Gardner was a bit of a propagandist anyway and even if they did do a ritual on the beach to stop the invasion this does not take into account the entire fighting force of Britain and the civilians who fought too. It was their Alamo moment and they prevailed. In other words forces bigger than just a coven of witches were at play here.

So that begs the question what happens when you do a curse towards someone who you consider to be an enemy but who is a larger than life figure such as Donald Trump?

Well if you know anything of how magic works and is directed then we have a check list of questions to answer.

1. Are you a powerful witch/sorcerer? Do you get results? Have you cursed others successfully before?

2. How close are you to the target? Do you know them? Do you have something personal of their? Hair for example?

3. Have you created a relationship with spirits who are known to curse? Like will they even listen to you?

4. Are you skilled in timing?

5. Do you know what to do to protect yourself once you begin a cursing operation?

Ok, let's say you are a billy bad ass and can answer yes to all of these. And I mean really answer them, not just say it to people on the internet to bolster your ego. I very much doubt that you will effect Trump in a negative way (good job getting some of his hair tho) nor have any effect on him at all.


Well have you ever talked to a Santero or a person who is involved in an African magical tradition? If you yourself are schooled and skilled in such magical arts this will not be of any news to you but if not then listen up. When bigger than life people come around, and this can often be seen in their charts as well, they surround themselves with minions, fans, and sycophants (although I will add that with Trump these often can be seen going to jail). These are not just their loyal followers but rings of protection for them spiritually as well even if they themselves do not understand such occult secrets. In other words you are going to have to get through ALL of these people in order to get to your Target. Trump has spirits working for him too, all of us do and his are ones that have motives of chaos and death. These too you go up against. When your energy goes out it will "hit" one of his fans, or followers and they will "take the hit". I have had this happen to me when in the past I was locked with an enemy and energy was flying. My beloved cat took the "hit" and died, protecting me. The other thing to consider and really the main thing to consider are all the followers who are PRAYING for their leader. You literally have tens of millions of Evangelical people praying for Donald Trump every single day. That too is power and protection. It really is this you will need to get through. How will you do it? How? Please tell me because I would like to know. Can you imagine what would happen if YOU had tens of millions of people praying for you? We all "send energy" when one of our own has hard times or is ill and we can feel that and we are few. You can also see what happens when such figures lose the prayers and trust of their followers. They fall and they fall hard.

 It gets even more amalgamous if you choose to say curse something more abstract like "the oil and gas industry". Like pissing into the rain you only shower yourself with sickness. These are huge egrigoric energy forms that are jockeying for power. You are not a demi-god or if you are then why are you reading my crappy article. Your rage and hurt only grows and if you do not know how to cleanse yourself from a curse, so then you attract more of the same to yourself. No, not like stupid new age karma concepts or the 3 fold law, no, you just get more of the same energy. You have to know how to work, store and handle such energy whatever its vibration. If not it's like picking up plutonium with your bare hands. Is plutonium evil? No. It just is what it is, but you are the dummy for not learning safety precautions and protocols with such powerful stuff.  See you in the next life. 

So what do you do? What about your magic?

You use your magic in the environment you are in. You work on self. You learn survival skills for the 21st century. You open your eyes. You adapt. You use your magic on local officials, crazy fundamentalists at your local Planned Parenthood or where ever and you build your power. Witchcraft is a left hand path, a path of SELF. If you have an activist heart then you use it in the community in which you live. You cannot and will not change the larger tides that are upon us but you learn to see that slow moving Tsunami and you get to higher ground while everyone around you watches reality TV and takes their Xanax. You make pacts and relationships with local spirits to protect you and yours. You manuver in the times in which you live successfully like some of our Mighty Ancestors did. Both Crowley and A.O. Spare lived in London during the Blitz and survived and continued their magic and work with the spirits.

I wish you the best of luck in these "interesting times".

Maya Grey
House Grey

Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Oak King Now Reigns

I happen to be a pagan who is also a witch and I grew up in an American Christian culture even though I was raised not to be Christian by my Native American father and hippy New Age mother, I still grew to love the Christmas season very much. A secular household we celebrated the season as a time for family that centered on children. As I chose to follow a pagan path in life I learned about the struggle between the Oak and Holly king as the Wheel of the Year turned. Essentially half of the year is ruled by the Holly King and the other half by the Oak king. Each of these Spirits struggle to reign supreme and each are crowned on the summer and winter solstice. The Holly King defeats the Oak King and is crowned on the summer solstice and reigns as the year winds down into the season of death and is then defeated on the winter solstice and the Oak King builds his power in this cycle.

Living here in California where we have native oak trees (both live and valley) and a native species of holly called Toyon (Which is what Hollywood is named for) we can see the cycles of the seasons with their respective Kings played out in the very plants to which they rule. The holly flourishes as the year darkens and the oak flourishes as the year warms. This is very much the same energy and seasonality that is played out in Northern Europe. And it makes sense that the masculine energy would play out in a fight to the death or dominion seasonally as do all male animals during mating season. This energy links to the old Celtic sacrifice rituals too where archeologists have discovered a culture of human sacrifice preserved in the peat bogs of Europe. These sacrifices were not slaves or spoils of war as has been seen in Aztec culture for example, no in many of the cases these were males of great importance to the community, such as princes. A sacrifice to the Lady usually on Samhain or the New Year. A gift of the best. It has also been suggested that the reason that it was mostly male sacrifices was because women bled and died each year for the tribe in childbirth. A sacrifice of a different nature as it were. Indeed the king or important male being "married" or belonging to the Lady or Land is also seen in the Arthurian mythos as the king was also the land and if the king was sick or wicked so too was the land.

I have been told by some that the Oak and Holly King do not fight one another but instead are lovers and fuck at each respective time of the year. This makes me want to laugh because it seems to be a modern overlay from the 1970's or a bit later. A redefining of the mythos that makes no sense with how animals from birds to beavers pro-create and challenge one another and how the mythos of the Oak and Holly King as divine masculine energies are echoed in ancient myths reminiscent of our human experience harking back to the Neolithic.  Nice try revisionists but I would ask pagans and witches to really look at what is happening seasonally and to the very plant allies connected to this mythos. The plants themselves will show you WHY these myths are the way they are.  There are REASONS for certain myths and rituals and I often find it disingenuous that modern pagans try to turn these ancient mysteries into something that supports their particular worldview or experience.  Just because something does not line up with your experience does not make what you are going through invalid. Breathe, relax, learn. See what the spirits are showing you. 

So now the Oak King has won his time of the year and soon as we warm we will see the tiny buds of various species of the Quercus begin to bud out to new leaves and grow in strength as the year lengthens to the summer solstice once again.

With that I wish you a great coming year filled with prosperity and love.

Maya Grey
House Grey

Thursday, October 31, 2019

I Joined The Satanic Temple

And then I quit.

What can I say, I am initiated into a Luciferian tradition and I am really pissed off at what is going on in my society to marginalized people, women, the LBGTQ community, the environment and more, and I liked much of what I saw. The Temple has been causing quite a stir and also getting results. They are on the front lines of much of these fights and are doing their best to stop the Christian Theocracy that is trying to send us back into the dark ages. I felt good to be doing something to help these efforts.  I got even more excited after I watched the documentary "Hail Satan?" I thought it was most excellent and interesting and found the leader of this group to be eloquent, thoughtful and humane. I guess the film garnered much interest, so much so that the Temple issued a statement.

Not a platform for activism? Wait what? Also it is a religion that does not believe in Spirits? Whaaa?

Again dear readers we find ourselves witnessing the fight between the dying Age of Pisces (Christians) and the Age of Aquarius (Insert Atheists of any ilk or Non-Spirit believing Religions). These are atheistic intellectual Satanists. They use our laws to their advantage much like the Christians do, indeed using some of the same laws against the very Christian Theocrats they are challenging. And good for them, but as a witch and someone who has had direct Spirit contact I cannot be a part of a group that views my beliefs as bunk. In a way I would not be surprised if every active member of the Satanic Temple were previously a Christian. They have personal bones to pick. 

Those of us who traffic in Spirits and who walk into the Wild Woods are not the same as those who do not. These flag wielding, statue placing, handsomely black wearing Satanists are still men of clay even if their political leanings are almost identical to ours. They still are not one of us. We have to be careful of these various Temples of Aquarius that are now beginning to rise. We are not welcome there either, but then this is a path of solitude, of the Point. 

Even when I stray from the path I am reminded of The Work. The Left Hand path, which is the True work of Self. It really is not out in the world. The Satanic Temple is not a Left Hand path, it really has more in common with a do-gooder Right Hand Path! So I wish them good luck as they fight the good fight and I am off down the road. 

Happy Samhain

Maya Grey
House Grey

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Witchcraft in a time of Fundamentalist Rage

As of this writing we have seen all over the world the rise of vicious fundamentalism. Before 2016, I and many other people in America who held progressive values thought that things were finally changing. We were becoming more accepting and open. We had legalized gay marriage, were working on more human rights for women and children and were starting to tackle the large problems such as climate change and income inequality. Perhaps these man made issues could finally be rectified and then the unthinkable. The pendulum swung so far to the right it knocked us off our feet. For years I have had this existential dread and have felt very depressed by what I have seen around me. But if we actually step back we can see in a way that this is a reaction of the last status quo power structure to the changing of the wheel. Pisces is no longer dominant as Aquarius takes hold and as once Pagans hid in the shadows so too shall Christians have to hide, in many ways they already are. But sometimes the change of power can be a bloody one. If you are unfamiliar with the wheel of the Aeons you can read about it here.

As we enter into this new era of Science as King we must remember that we too as witches, are not welcome here either. Instead of an inquisition and confession by torture we may find ourselves in a psychologists office staring at a cup of pills being forced to pharmaceutically neutralize the "spirits and demons" from our heads. Essentially trading a stone and iron prison for a medical one. We still have to be careful as even though many of our country men are not religious many more still are. Our best defense in these times, when we stand between the raging fearful fundamentalist and the power over intellectually superior atheist, is our ability to blend in, to hide in plain sight. The fight of the Christian fundamentalist, who is anti-information and learning VS the scientific atheist who is pro information and learning is already well underway. Just look at the fight of "fake news".

This is one of the reasons I do not agree with "the public witch" because making one's self a target takes away from the actual work of witchcraft. It is easy to be a public witch these days, only a click away from an Instagram post or FB post or YouTube video and then forever on the internet. Part of the reason I went underground was the birth of my child and I could see even in 2012 the rise of fundamentalism. I watch them as I watch many others and the signs were clear. Best to be quiet and focus on family and the Work.

Some of my brethren who have activist tendencies have asked me...But Maya how will students find you or how will you help others? Ahhh yes...this ties into the ..."If we don't write about our tradition or have some nexus for students to find us the information will die out!" What people who espouse this fear do not understand is that it is The Spirits who guide us. The information will never die out because it is always there with the Spirits. Have faith. Also I do write this non-promoted blog. If someone needs to find me they will find this blog. If students need me they can email or ping me. I do not seek students. That takes away from the Work. Besides, my mundane job pays me more than any student or group of students ever could and so my commitment to students will never be monetary.

But I digress. Fundamentalism. You will never change them. You will never convince them. They are your enemy and you are most definitely theirs. They are all around you. They may even be in your own family.  So it is important to be able to identify who they are and what they believe. Be aware that the thread that binds them all is militantism and the call to be soldiers in the name of their faith. Here is a brief list:

The Standard Evangelical: They believe in Christ as savior and have usually had a re-baptisim from other Christian sects, otherwise making them consider themselves "born-again". They are ultra Protestants and abhore the ritual trappings of any ritual. Even the Eucharist has been made bland from wine to grape juice and from embossed Host to wheat thin crackers. They believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation. There are many different churches that espouse these beliefs such as The Church of Christ.

The Prosperity Gospel Evangelical: Think of the TV preachers and mega churches here. This is church as "brand" and money is not "the root of all evil" but instead a sign that you are favored by God. The richer you are the more favored. Combine this with toxic capitalism and you get some of the mess we are currently in. It is also the reason that leaders in this movement can commit sexual crimes and still be beloved, unless of course they go broke. There are many offshoots of these fundamentalists.

Christian Zionists: These are the people who are pro Israel and who do not care what kinds of war crimes happen to the Palestinian people. They believe that the Jews will usher in the return of Christ and that this actually started with their return to the Holy Land in 1948. Once Jesus comes he will kill all the Jews because they are not Christian in the Rapture/Apocalypse and they will ascend to paradise. This group also is responsible for a lot of the crazy conspiracy theories around Hillary Clinton and the misinformation about abortion and women's health. Planned Parenthood aborting full term babies and selling body parts on the black market? Yep that is from these nutters.

Christian Fascists: I am putting this here because these are groups such as the KKK, various Neo-Nazi sects and white power groups. They focus on white supremacy but also are very Christian and usually partner with one evangelical sect or another. They are definitely militant and have and will kill those that they deem as lesser.

Conservative Elite Fundamentalists: I am putting this here because there is a large group of these types of fundamentalists operating in our government from city to federal. These people believe that there is a hierarchy of chosen and they are the top dogs. They span both parties but are concentrated in the GOP. Wealth and power are the name of the game and Jesus is a warrior figure to them. Since they are chosen they can do what ever they want. They believe in a slave and servant class, women as breeders and believe themselves to be aristocrats. They have come more out of the shadows as they have consolidated power around President Trump and you can easily pick them out in speeches because they say things like "Christianity is under attack from the Left", as was said by current Attorney General Bill Barr. They do not believe in Democracy or separation of church and state. They pay lip service to the Constitution and are actively working to make all judges in this country beholden to them. They consider themselves to be overlords and even if you are white and Christian you are considered to be a foot soldier for their objectives.

Clearly there are more groups, even Pagan fundamentalists (think the racist Odinists and Asartru) but compared to the wealth and power of these groups they are a mere blip.

As witches and pagans we do not have the social status or monetary might that these groups wield nor are we the focus of their ire. They are focusing on secular atheists (the new priests of the Age of Aquarius), Catholics, Muslims and various other types of Liberal groups. However, make no mistake that these people in any of these groups were raised since birth to believe that we are evil and should be converted or killed and the foot soldiers of these groups will happily answer those calls. This is why I believe it is best to be hidden. If you are a white pagan this is easier. If not you not only have your skin color to worry about but your beliefs as well. Beliefs can be kept quiet, color can not. You will have to be clever, know how to navigate these dark times and practice defensive magic. Because these groups do not practice magic they do not have the defenses to such practices. This benefits you greatly.  Here is what I do to protect myself and my family.

I ward my home on a regular basis. This includes evil eye and gossip charms as well as protection against enemies and thieves.

I ward my child so that he is safe as he goes to school and is out in the world without me. I have also counseled him not to tell others about our faith and why not to.

I ward myself and wear protective charms (hidden) as well as practice mindfulness and power exercises.

I make friends with the most evangelical Christian people at work and in my community. Yes you read that right. I befriend them, not to the point of hanging out, but I make a point to make them feel as if I was almost one of them. To quote a hobbit..."the closer we are to danger, the farther we are from harm."

I keep silent about my work and who I truly am.

I don't needle fundamentalist family members (even tho I want to sometimes).

I watch the news and the tides of fundamentalism in my country and what is happening and were. They are vocal about what they are doing. Privilege gives you that ability. While they rail in their churches that they are under attack they are not underground at all. That gives you all the info you need about their bullshit. 

Well I hope this helps you navigate a little better in these difficult times. Stay safe, do Your Work and Blessings to you and yours.

Maya Grey
House Grey

P.S. this doesn't list all of the groups mentioned because many claim that they are "peaceful" but here is the SPLC's hate map. See what hate groups are near you. SPCL Hate Map.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Thoughts about Women and the Occult

I originally wrote this blog in 2014 but many of these issues still hold true for me today. I have met very few women who were as interested in sorcery as I am, although I am sure they are out there, and seeing as how these are occult topics that makes it all the harder to find like minded sisters. These are things intentionally hidden from view and rightly so. Added to that sorcery is a solitary path and so perhaps I long for something that does not exist.  Interestingly I woke up to the news that the large pagan event Pantheacon will be shutting down. I am not surprised by this and found my own experience of the event to be wholly lacking. It seems though, on a larger scale that the occult may be going back into the shadows where it is the most powerful. Anyways....women and the occult....

Occultsecret; disclosed or communicated only to the initiated. Hidden from view.
Woman: the female human being (distinguished from man).

I just finished reading an academic essay titled, "Managing an Experimental Household: The Dees of Mortlake and the Practice of Natural Philosophy." By Deborah E. Harkness. For those interested in Renaissance magic and ceremonial forms including angelic magic, yes the Dees in the article are "The Dees", that is John and Jane of the 16th century.  For those unfamiliar with John Dee please feel free to learn more on his Wikipedia page, but in a nut shell John Dee was the court astrologer and magician for Elizabeth I and brought the Enochian system of magic to fruition with his oracle Edward Kelly. My goodness that was a terribly short bio. Dee I consider to be one of those "mighty dead" figures in our magical ancestry and because of his amazing note taking skills we can reproduce his rituals to the most minute detail. In fact my friend Lon Milo Duquette has an excellent Enochian magic workshop based on Dee's work that I would recommend to anyone but particularly those unfamiliar with this system. His "cut out of card stock paper" rings and magical seals are hilariously awesome and inventive.  However, while I could go on about the phenomenal menfolk involved in the occult, Crowley, Agrippa, Dee, Chumbley, Gardner, V. Anderson, and Sanders to name a few and their contributions; I want to focus on  women and particularly the experience of women in the occult and the difficulty many women have coming into occult practice. You see the focus of "Managing an Experimental Household" was not about John Dee, it was about his wife Jane and her experience living with an occultist and her female perspective and difficulties therein, and while she herself was not a magician she was touched by this unseen and powerful world.  Many more women today than those in Jane's day have come in contact with alternative religions and the occult and many more have made the choice not to fully engage with the "hard" sciences of the occult. It is my hope that by looking at some of the major road marks on the magical map of women's experiences a clearer picture will emerge and we can separate the "feel good" idea of "magic" in a community context and that of actual magic(k) and serious occult practice.

Sigillum dei aemeth from John Dee's Enochian Spirit workings.
However, let me say this before I go on. This is not some feminist rant piece or some political piece to prove a point. Or maybe it is! I really do try to avoid such trappings but I have things to say people!  I want to try to look at actual magical practice as experienced and utilized by women as opposed to men. You see more than ever before all the avenues of magic are open to women. Where once we could only be wise women, fortune tellers or tea leaf readers or perhaps only the sexual vehicle for manifestation of a man's magic (either in his children or Spirit contact) we now can partake of the entire feast of the occult ourselves. We can orchestrate and experiment and take up the sword if we so choose. Those forbidden books were expressly more forbidden to women in years past but  now are easily obtained and utilized. In fact I feel that we are in a new Spring of Grimoric writing  of such depth and interest, a Renaissance if you will, that it will be the characterization of our magical generation.  Nowadays a woman can pick up a copy of the Goetia or the Grimorium Verum or the Greek Magical Papyrus and practice as diligently as a man and on her own terms.  It is interesting as well if you read any of these old spell books they really do seem as if they were written by men for men.  They are chock full of spells to get women into bed, to make women hot and lustful and to gain mistresses oh and also to make sure your wife does not find out about your mistresses. So far I have not seen one spell to "get that man in to bed", but maybe we don't need magic for that.  Magic of course was not just a man's sphere although I would argue that higher ceremonial forms and the ownership of forbidden books was almost exclusively held by men. Let us not forget the iconic image of the witch and all the accusations of magic directed at women especially if she aroused a man's passion. Wait a minute..first you want to get us into bed and then you get angry when you finally do get us into that bed...geez....make...up...your...mind! Jesting aside, the philosophical sphere of magic or what we might label "high magic" was mostly utilized by men and the sphere of "low or natural magic" was often thought of as more women's work since it involved things like herbs and potions as well as simpler types of divination and this had been the norm in the occult for hundreds of years. Change is slow but it does come.

It seems to me that the feminist movement in the 60's and 70's brought along with it a desire for women to look to a female deity and engage in spiritual practice that was conducive and compassionate to them and their needs, because traditional Christianity certainly was not. Women wanted to make love to whom they wished both in or out of marriage. They wanted birth control and abortions and control of their own bodies. They wanted equal pay for equal work and they wanted to work outside the home. Many did not want to have children. While all of this seems mundane and normal now, at the time it was culture shattering, almost unthinkable. My husband and I were talking about the 1960's and how the boss could get away with smoking cigars and drinking whiskey in his office and slapping his secretaries on the ass as he walked by and that was that. While a woman could not directly challenge the boss at this time trouble was a-brewing for the status quo. The activism of these decades combined with a desire for a Goddess centric spirituality, Margaret Murry's use of bad anthropology, the infusion of the New Age movement with it's feel good message and Eastern influences,  Ray Buckland's bringing of Wicca  to the US and later Starhawk's pivotal book "The Spiral Dance"  all created a huge Wiccan religious movement that was community based, activist based, feminist in nature and focused mainly on the Goddess and healing rituals. And certainly healing was needed.  It was here women could get together and let it all out. They could sing, dance, fuck, love, laugh and challenge the restrictions that bound them. Magic became a "feel good" act and one of healing and helping. "To harm none" was the motto of the day and books like Scott Cunningham's "Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner", and "Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs" graced every shelf. Many women were not interested in magical experimentation for the most part, they were swept up in the tides of change and experience. To them the magic was in what they were doing and the community they were building and it was important work.

An early pentagram with planetary associations.
 The people seemed to have had enough of violence and things that were dark and uncomfortable. Was not the Vietnam war just over but still fresh in their minds? Many Wiccans of the period also believed that  thousands or millions of people burned at the stake as witches. They also felt that the Christian God was responsible for all the evils of the world and they wanted to distance themselves from the religious abuse they had experienced. They spoke up about rape and wife beatings and child abuse and no protections in the courts.  But along with the protests and anger about women and children and men who were gay or who were peaceful at heart came another issue.  The issue was small and unnoticeable at first but it was the white washing and cleaning up of the old magics to make them palatable for a larger and can we say Christian audience as well.  It happened in small ways such as Scott Cunningham's description of mugwort as a substitute for Graveyard dirt in magical spells.  No explanation was given why this substitution was made but others came as well and magic and the occult in the sphere of women began to dumb down. Gardner himself was guilty of this as well making witchcraft seem "normal" in his book "Witchcraft Today". If you look at some of his older work and notes through other sources you would not think it "normal" at all. At the same time commercialization worked its way in and found new markets. New Age shops sprung up, workshops and Gurus Du Jour could be found almost anywhere. No longer did you have to study magical philosophy for years and years or overcome magical ordeals or walk the knife edge between being "red in tooth and claw" and having compassion. Nor did you have to be initiated into a magical order. All you had to do was "feel good" and be kind and if you decided you were a witch or magician well who was to say any different? It was all about feeling good and making others feel good as well.

The "Satanic Panic" of the 1980's furthered to create a fear of "black or dark" magic and while available and not illegal to use, those old grimoires were still off limits to many women or seen as evil things to be avoided or even simply not known about. What was once a Western Magical tradition was turning into a religion for the masses which needed to have bylaws and standards and codes of ethics. The magic was being bogged down in the minutia of the bureaucracy of religion and eventually ceased to be magic at all. There arose a new class of Priests or Priestesses who ministered to the masses. This Goddess movement ceased to be occult because it was available to all and in full view of all the masses. This distinction is what separates the priestess from the witch. That is the one who ministers to the masses and the one who walks alone beyond the hedge. They are two very different creatures with very different goals.
Baphomet..the "Devil" has many layers and gifts and things to teach you.

While I am fine with community rituals and women's spirituality and power movements I want to be very clear that I do not consider them to be magic or occult. That is not to say they are not powerful for people in need of healing or community, hell even Jesus performed miracles but occult magic and power is a different Beast.  I am lucky as a woman of this day and age because now I can engage in both worlds if I choose to. I can have the feel good rituals and healing or I can sit down and do some hard core occult study and ritual operations.  The roads are opened further to me than they have been to my ancestresses and I make it a point to learn and do what I can. Yes I balance being a mother and a wife but I also have those old "evil" books to ponder over and the realm of the Spirits to engage with. That is my ultimate passion. I am a student of the occult in many forms from Traditional Witchcraft to African traditions to Ceremonial forms and much more. I want to be more than I am and I know that the ultimate Work is the work of self and the relationship I have to the Spirits.
Yes lets do coffee and evil books!

It is my hope that more women will pick up those forbidden books and get to work. That they will push themselves beyond the Medieval bodices and maypoles and belly dance skirts and full moon rituals (psss I like all that stuff too) and actually study about magic and its workings. That they will push past their comfort zones and ask questions. Yes even ask hard questions to other women. That they will begin to open up and talk. That they will leave behind the lure of the "cult of the guru priestess" and become more. No really, there are enough guru priestesses and not as many bad ass witches. The occult world is hidden of course, that is its nature and our roads therein twist and turn but that is part of the journey of this Work. I believe we women have much to contribute to the occult in terms of our art, writing, and experiences; all we have to do is begin and not be afraid. In a way we are of this "stuff" anyway, we are lunar and hidden, even down to our genitalia. This is natural to us, more so than to men.

 I still see so many women who are afraid of things "Satanic" or "evil" or who refuse to read or grind through some of these more complicated books or systems. I would say to them that it is possible if you are interested and that you can balance the mundane and the magical. Unlike the guru priestess there is no box for you to fit into or live up to.  I would love to sit down with women and discuss how astrological magic relates and differs between Agrippa, Lily and Dee. I would love to talk about sex magic in terms of a woman's experience, or really get into the guts of Lilith and her cult and even make or copy her spirit plates as were done in Babylonian times. Can you imagine a grimoire book club with coffee and confections?  Discussions on the relationship of spirits in grimoires to African magical traditions in Brazil? The sexual spirit husband of the 19th century mystic and feminist Ida Craddock and how women can use sex to work with spirits? How right now there is a huge resurgence in African American folk magic called hoodoo and how that is affecting other magical movements. Perhaps I have ventured into the more strange than strange but a serious occultist woman is definitely hard to find and I am more than up for some awesome conversations with my magical sisters out there.

I think it is time for women to take up their mantles of power and to do the work of not just caring for others but to really work in power. If you are one of those interested in these difficult topics and not afraid to open dangerous books then I salute you! You are one of the few.

Maya Grey
House Grey