Defining the magical practitioner in antiquity.
Jake Stratton-Kent on goetia.
If language is power, what’s in a name?
A compiled list of resources on pre-Hellenistic magick up until the late 1700s.
Wiccecraeft: Shamanic Magic from the Dark Ages, by Sinead Spearing
Green Magic, 978-0-956188625, 184 pp. (incl. appendix), 2011
Over years of discussion with family members and other initiates, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the biggest problems faced by members of non-Abrahamic faiths is not opposition (both from within their own movements and from without), but the language we use to express ourselves. That is apparent twice within the title of this book. “Wiccecraeft” is bound to both confuse people (did the author mean Wicca craft or witchcraft?) and turn people away (if it is about Wicca, then witches won’t look at it, and if it is about witchcraft, then Wiccans might spurn it). Looked at another way, however, it is obviously intended to make people stop and think about the subject.
The second sticking point is the “shamanic magic” referenced in the subtitle. Purists will insist that shamans only exist with the extreme northern reaches of the inhabited work. There are other words to describe indigenous religious practitioners from other regions. “Shaman,” however, has been used within the academic community in such a non-specific way for decades, so its use is probably guaranteed for the foreseeable future.
The introduction serves to clear up any misunderstandings concerning the use of the word shaman, although the perceived differences between Wicca and witchcraft are not really addressed. Spearing makes it clear that she is aware of the fact that our perception of the world is very different from that experienced by our ancestors. While we may acknowledge this on some levels, it does not make it easy to shift to a more primitive perception. Continue reading
Tarot-inspired poetry can be a vehicle for ritual, reflection, joy, and for release. Creating it adds a new layer to the act of divination, requiring introspection and expression. Metaphor and mythology feed the imagination in tarot readings and when tarot is used for poetry.
A poet’s strongest tool, arguably, is metaphor, which helps interpret the significance of tarot cards. The sea on the Rider-Waite-Smith two of pentacles represents a bumpy, busy emotional or subconscious experience informs a card reader, and it is just this work that a poet does, with or without cards. Do not be afraid to consider those undertones in your cards, as poetry often draws from our depths, and the subtlest message of each card is easily fodder for poetry.
Poetry – and creative writing in general – provides opportunity for a personal journey. The results of creative, conscious efforts have no room for judgement. To explore your words is the means and the reward. Poetry is a unique language that condenses the larger universe and plays with anything the imagination offers. Poetry is allowed to roam and wander, or it may creep and crawl and gather details other forms of language will not. The poet is often a navigator, but in this style of writing, one should always let mood, inspiration, spirit or whatever you wish to call it, lead you. Continue reading
The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism: Origins, Magic, and Secret Societies, by Patrick Lepetitt
Inner Traditions, 9781620551752, 544 pp. (incl. bibliography and notes), 2014
The Esoteric Secrets of Surrealism symbolizes a reuniting of art, science, and mysticism: the head, body, and heart, all working together.
As an artistic movement surrealism seeks to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality” as a revolutionary act. From the outset, the surrealists declared war on rationality, which had allowed for the atrocities of two world wars to take place, causing French novelist Albert Camus to proclaim that “surrealism’s essential enemy is rationalism.” Devoted anarchists, the surrealists felt that “so long as revolutionaries confine themselves to certain specific aspects of social life without attacking the spiritual structure of society directly,” then they were doomed to failure. This caused poet Tristan Tzara to claim that “the love of ghosts, witchcraft, occultism, magic, vice, dream, madness, passions, true or invented folklore, mythology (or even mystification), social or other kinds of utopias, real or imagined journeys, bric-a-brac, marvels, the adventures and mores of primitive peoples and generally everything that did not fit into the rigid frameworks in which beauty had been placed to identify itself with the mind.”
The surrealists were interested in occult and metaphysical currents from the very beginning — as seen with the Vodou-ispired works of Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, or the explicitly Pagan paintings of Leonora Carrington — although often not in so many words, as they “ventured onto the terrain of mediumship stripped of its spiritualist clutter.” In the process the surrealists would become a kind of secret society and take a similar role to that of the Freemasons or Rosicrucians in the Enlightenment, illuminating and updating the age old mysteries with emerging schools of thought like psychoanalysis, quantum physics, and relativity. Continue reading