Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Mother of Darkness, Mother of Light

Another year has past, another season gone. The witches gathered on the funeral hill, waiting at the feast, for the first winter’s day, the first winter’s sun arising in the east; for death has come for the summer time and to take the leaves of spring; Hecate, Nemesis, Dark Mother take us in.

The light has gone, the dark begins, but we still fire the darkness; I did fire the darkness. Once again we had a marvellous festival of the dead, we the living, all my sisters and all my brothers, together for another sabbat, Samhain-Halloween, the most important of them all, a celebration of the past, of the past united in the present and flowing on to the future.

I did something different this year, away from London, deep in the Surrey country. Sisters and friends joined me for a ritual, a celebration and a party, made all the more complete with a traditional bonfire. We give renewed power to the sun, to ourselves, through the winter days ahead.

I paid particular reverence to Hecate, the goddess of witches and of magic; of crossroads and new beginnings, new beginnings in new life; goddess of moonlight, of thresholds and of gates, looking in three directions at once. Although her main festival follows later in November, All Hallows is also of great significance to her, the night of the dark moon, the night of the wild hunt.

A wild journey, a wild hunt, a supper by the crossroads, a dedication by the Trivia, that’s what makes it all so exciting, these sacred nights, that sacred night past, rich in meaning, rich in significance. Bliss was it in that darkness to be alive but to be young, and a witch, was very heaven. Let’s fly! :-)

Belladonna and aconite
Give to me the gift of flight
Take me up, airborne in the night
In a dream, across the sky
A hundred-million miles high
Take me ever onwards in the night
Dark sisters join my night flight
See how far you can climb
Holt’s with us on this bright night
Ride with him ‘cross the sky
As a screaming horde
We cut the scape
The Devil’s Apple exacerbates
To the sabbat on a demon steed I ride
Across the astral plane we race
The universe my fingers trace
And I am lost forever in my mind


  1. Outside the wind is howling. Winter will be here all too soon.

  2. loved these halloween inspired lines
    happy & scary halloween girl
    Always following
    The Dolls Factory

  3. Of course Monday night was going to be a big event in your calendar, Ana—and if your golden tresses escaped being singed, then the Goddess of Light and Darkness must surely have been pleased with your oblations.

    Before the Chinese Army bulldozed them, Tibetan Buddhist temples were full of huge demonic figures, with the idea that their frightening appearances portrayed the agents of transformation which confront us and assist us to the next stage of spiritual evolution in our lives: “the awe-inspiring deities, the forces of dissolution and transformation, which appear destructive and frightening to those who cling to the things of this world and to their own limited existence, but which prove the be the forces of liberation to those who accept them and use of them in the right spirit . . . They are the removers of obstacles, the liberators from bondage, the symbols of the ultimate mystery of self-transcendence in the ecstasy of breaking through the darkness of ignorance . . . . The universal law is beneficient to those who accept it, terrible to those who oppose it. Therefore the forces of light . . . appear in fearful forms to the enemies of light and truth . . . “ (pages 24 – 25)

    Your Wiccan practices and tutelaries can be understood in this sense, quite apart from the fact that you’ve adopted your country’s aboriginal religion.

    Hecate sounds very similar to Goddess Kali, divine spirit of destruction and renewal, who is also closely linked to the cycle of the seasons . . . and the atmosphere of your post also reminds me of Tantric ritual, with its vigils in graveyards—even sitting on bones and skulls, even corpses—and so on.

    The Bhagavad Gita, as you probably know, begins on the eve of a great battle, when the warrior Arjuna is suddenly overcome at the prospect of having to slaughter his beloved friends and family in the opposing army. The dialogue that ensures with Lord Krishna ultimately results in Lord Krishna urging Arjuna to fight and kill:

    “Time I am,
    acting to destroy worlds,
    advancing forward
    To completely annihilate
    The worlds here,
    Ever turning forward.
    Even without you,
    They shall all cease to be—
    . . . .
    Therefore you must rise up,
    Aspire to glory;
    Conquering your enemies,
    Enjoy prosperous kingship!
    By me these very men
    Have already been slain—
    Merely be the instrument,
    O Masterful Archer.

    Book 11 Verses 32 - 33

    In the grand scheme of the universe and its ceaseless evolution, there is a role for everyone and everything. The cruelest tyrant and the most brutal conqueror are, in some mysterious way, Scourges of GOD who fulfill necessary functions in the divine economy of the universe, as does Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita.

    Whether on a cosmic scale, on a grand earthly scale like Operation Barbarossa, or on the intimate personal level of our romantic relationships, however, those who practice cruelty must be very careful.

    Although it is possible to fight and kill while motivated by sattva, it is rare. To achieve true liberation, a person should generally practice love and generosity and kindness, which are the most readily identifiable attributes of sattva.

    Acting towards other human beings, or any living being, in an aggressive, selfish, cruel way creates heavy karma.

    The lines from one of your favourite hymns suggest why with disarming frankness:

    This is a tale of a succubus
    A tale of love, pain and lust
    A cheated heart and the broken trust
    And death, and death!

    . . . Where there's a boy to give his heart
    There's a woman to tear it apart
    Where there's giving, there's taking
    There's faking, and there's breaking
    Where there's trust deceit's right there
    The dream becomes the nightmare!

    . . . To despair she'll take him
    . . . .
    Young man, hang your head and cry
    It's time to suffer, it’s time to die
    Abandon you the dreams of youth
    Abandon love, hope and truth!

    Despite the many qualities they share, passion is an intoxicatingly faulty proxy for love--only love liberates us . . . Chris

  4. But you don't really believe it, do you? Do you?

  5. Ana, I love this, short but so free and passionate! Just like the picture, golden light flows all over!
    Also checked out Inkubus Sukkubus's song. Love it!

  6. Hi Ana! These are magical words of the free spirits :)

  7. Calvin, that's true, much harder where you are than here.

  8. TDF, thank you. That's always appreciated. :-)

  9. Chris, oh, Chris, how well you express yourself; how well you see these things, these deeper truths.

    Everything for me has a place, the cycles of love and the cycles of death, creation and destruction. Passion is danger, I know that, but it is part of who and what I am. I feel these things deeply too. Here I am; I can do no other. If it means dancing with demons, as well as angels, then so be it. I suppose I'm looking for forms of liberation too, but in my present state of existence much more in corporeal than in spiritual terms. I'm not ready for quietism and stasis. Does this make sense to you? Perhaps not.

  10. Mark, a question for a question - what is life without magic? :-)

  11. Yunyi, I pass to you a little of that light. :-)

  12. SB, coming from you, an individual who understands the magic of words, that is truly appreciated. :-)

  13. Yes, you make sense, Ana. I also understand your desire to transcend your powerful intellect and achieve an authenticity of being that exists beyond the frontiers of thought.

    Many people with far less powerful intellects than yours find that their
    consciousness is dominated by the inner voice of dualistic mind.

    You have an intellect of exceptional power and apply your processing power to an unusually rich bed of sensory data: your studies and reading, your well-chosen travels, conversations with professors, friends and colleagues.

    The inner voice of the dualistic mind is the one that, when we think to ourselves, I hate myself, or How could I be so stupid, is the voice we hear. Because of course the issue is, if I hate myself, who is hating whom? Are there two of me in my consciousness? The answer is yes, and the audible one is a usurper.

    The dictum of Heraclitus “Hthos anthropo daimon” (A man’s character is his fate) suggests that every human being attracts characteristic sorrows, challenges, and other experiences the way a magnet attracts iron filings. Our characters, which the Greeks understood to be an integrated unity of body and spirit, uniquely attract the “iron filings” of our life adventures in a pattern that is personal for each of us. Our decisions and actions in confrontation with these characteristic experiences, which are unique to each of us in the historical drama of our individual life, reveal our inner being. The word “adventure”, which is much later than Heraclitus, of course, originally means events that come to us, and the word "adventure" conveys the seem understanding contained in Heraclitus' dictum--wisdom once available in our culture which has now slipped below our consciousness.

    In short, Western antiquity knew that there is a strange relationship between ourselves and the world: our inner character, and the actions that are its consequences, alter the world and determine what happens to us next, almost like a video game.

    The inner voice we hear in our consciousness, the usurper, doesn’t want to acknowledge this organic relationship between our inner self and the outer world (as we perceive it)—because the self that is seamlessly interwoven (Tantra by the way means “weave”) with the outer world is a deeper, more original self than the usurper whose voice we hear in our thoughts.

    Intellects as developed as yours are almost always associated with a hyper-trophied inner voice as well—it’s an almost unavoidable collateral effect of developing such a powerful intellect. From the perspective of the usurper, the deep wisdom that the way to be successful, fulfilled and happy in life is to “act without acting” is a pure absurdity.

    And yet both the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 4:16 – 24) and the Tao Te Ching (Verse 48 and elsewhere) advise us to practice the principle of non-action.

    How does this seemingly passive and absurd process work? Can it truly be characterized as “quietism and stasis”?

    Ana, I've tried to be as succinct as possible in responding to your Comment, but because of the limitations imposed on the length of Comments I'm going to have to post this as one Comment and complete my reply to you in a second Comment . . . Best, Chris

  14. (First Comment continued . . . )

    The principle of non-action as recommended in the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching is very different from quietism or statis because the true meaning of yoga and Tai Chi is that a soft, relaxed body and mind allows the energy of the universe, prana or chi, to flow through the practitioner and mingle with her personal prana or chi like a great cosmic tide mingling with and empowering the trickle of a little brook. The proper practice of yoga and Tai Chi is actually a daily exercise in calibrating oneself with the energy of the universe, and for the energy to flow through us, our minds must be trusting and relaxed and our bodies must be soft and relaxed.

    Just as the Bhagavad Gita portrays Arjuna moments before he engages in mortal combat with the opposing army, a life of “acting without acting” may involve intense and vigorous activity, but always in a relaxed, soft, trusting way which understands that each of us is a drop in a great ocean of loving, creative energy.

    It is only the voice of the usurper which rejects this relationship between our inner selves and the outer world (which are in truth all related), and insists on hard, arrogant, seemingly decisive action as the principle for being effective and making a difference in the world. All that we actually achieve by such a course is to become entangled in attachment and heavy karma.

    The other effect, which I remember well, is that in search of relief from the steel cage of our intellect and the inescapable hectoring of our inner voice with its cruel, gloating, proud and harshly critical commentary of others and ourself—we immerse ourselves in the relief of passion.

    This course is perfectly understandable, and even a good thing as an antidote to the hyper-trophy of the usurper and the confinement of our intellect—which in the context of the mystery and love and wonder of the universe is ultimately so tiny and shabby—but it is a strategy that only further entangles us in karma.

    This has been a crash course in the Dharma, Ana, what little I understand of it--but you are intellectually and spiritually powerful enough to take as much as possible from what my brief summary has made available to you. Peace, Chris

  15. Anthony, pagan by inclination. :-)

  16. Chris, heaps and heaps of thanks for this wonderfully lucid dissertation on things of which I am only half aware.

    I think I understand what you are saying, what the sacred works you have cited are saying, but I don’t see myself as a ‘recipient’, if that’s the word, an instance of a greater truth. I have to enter into an active relationship with my universe, a critical one; I have to interpret, to consider what is relevant and what is not.

    I am earth-bound, a daughter of Pan, given to the same delights, material and sensual delights. Still, there is a lot in what you say here, so much that I will have to think about, to sift in my own unique and egotistical manner. I think, perhaps, that you may consider me to be on a lower plain of consciousness, trapped by all sorts of ephemera. :-)

  17. Yes, but the song title is Pagan Born.

  18. Cerridwen abides. Poetry began in the matriarchal age, and derives its magic from the moon, not from the sun. No poet can hope to understand the nature of poetry unless he has had a vision of the Naked King crucified to the lopped oak, and watched the dancers, red-eyed from the acrid smoke of the sacrificial fires, stamping out the measure of the dance, their bodies bent uncouthly forward, with a monotonous chant of "Kill! kill! kill!" and "Blood! blood! blood!"

    (Robert Graves. The White Goddess. Faber & Faber, 1948, 1952, 1961).

    I know you have had that vision, dear Ana. You are liberated, you are the beauty, the truth of being beyond time and beyond the merely physical. I am still 'crucified to the lopped oak' For how much longer? 'I wish to be released.'.

  19. Not long ago, Ana, you reassured me that I wasn’t superficial, even though you had responded more deeply than I did at your age to Milton’s Satan, and now I can reassure you, I hope, regarding the possibility of being on a lower plane of consciousness or trapped in ephemera.

    The Bhagavad Gita (chapter 18 especially) teaches that all humans and divine beings are a mix of sattva, rajas, and tamas, however probably 90% of the difference between you and me, and our current planes of consciousness and the penumbra of ephemera around us, can be accounted for by the fact that as one gets older, one’s blood cools.

    I doubt that you are capable of a purely, dumbly corporeal act—I’m sure that everything you do has not only emotional and psychological valence but occurs within, or catalyses, broader intellectual, cultural and even metaphysical contexts as well. And it’s worth getting these broader contexts soundly founded as soon as possible, ideally much earlier than did I.

    And it’s these broader contexts that my little Dharma treatise addressed. Kant and our friend Schopenhauer, to cite Western sources, correctly teach that our perception of reality is a mental model developed by the interpretation our brain / mind develops from, and assigns to, the stream of data arriving through our senses of sight, sound, touch, taste, etc.

    Westerners yoke (the root meaning of “yoga”) a highly intellectual consciousness to a largely liberated physical self and seek balance in the full play of the two, either in concert or semi-independently. The conscious director of this approach is the voice, the persona, the ego we are all so aware of and identify with, which I have referred to as the usurper. So Western yoga simply needs to be evaluated objectively in relation to other yogas, based purely on the efficacy of its results. Many of the things you so rightly criticize in your posts about the world today originate in flaws in Western yoga.

    In contrast to Western psychology and its yoga, our deeper self, which is pure consciousness, is linked to Being through all other living beings (a relationship symbolised both by conversations or correspondence such as this one, and by sexuality—all activities which were once referred to, even early in my lifetime, as intercourse) and to the external world. It is at the level of our deeper self (not the usurper we hear commenting and criticizing) that this strange organic relationship between our true inner self and what we perceive to be external reality—the events and “adventures” of our lives—flourishes and evolves.

    Understandably, you are concerned about passivity and resignation—or at least the usurper in you is alarmed, because when you “act without acting” the usurper’s function vanishes. But by thinking about your posts and comments for the last several days and now writing a response, I am “acting without acting”. Our consciousnesses intersected a few months ago, and as a result certain issues have arisen, and in response to your thoughts and emotions I am responding as honestly and compassionately as I can, but I am not trying to persuade you, nor will my attitude towards you change in the slightest as a result of how you respond: I have a role to play, which you have presented to me as an messenger of Being, and you have a role to play, which I have presented to you as an messenger of Being, but in this shared "adventure" I’m not responsible for outcomes and neither are you, we are both being carried along on the energy of Being, even thinking and writing as hard as we are doing (and frankly I don’t know how you do it--this blogging is incredibly exhausting—and you’ve been doing it daily for a couple of years!).

    To be continued . . .

  20. (Continuing from the previous Comment)

    The 2004 Nobel Prize winner in Physics Frank Wilczek wrote in 1987 “Science begins and ends in the physical world of sensation, but in seeking to understand this world and predict its behaviour, science imagines other worlds, ruled by logic but inaccessible to perception. Only small glimpses of such worlds shimmer at the corners of reality . . . “

    You declared yourself an earth-bound daughter of Pan, and in Wilczek’s 2008 book the Lightness of Being he explains Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD) and describes how matter is not the fundamental building block of reality, nor is matter fundamentally different in nature to light—at the most profound level mass and light are united as energy. So matter and flesh you may be, as are we all, but you are not truly bound by matter.

    Your most recent Wiccan post points to the interrelationship between darkness to light, death and life, but the latest science-which is consistent with the Dharma—shows how we are all liberated from the constraints of earth and the flesh in totally unexpected ways.

    The Wiccan worldview conveys ancient wisdom about the cycle of the seasons and teaches the transitions from life to death to life, but its truths are elemental truths, and remember that light is not on the Periodic Table—it is not an element, and so there are deeper truths than elemental truths. And the most profound truth proclaims the unity of matter and light in energy, the energy of indestructible life.

    We evoke and celebrate this energy in our own lives through love.

    You probably are already familiar with TED talks; if not, you are in for a treat, and this one is relevant to the interrelationship between passion and love. The last five minutes of this one were, to me, the most interesting:


  21. Rehan, you shall be. Desire here is enough.

  22. Chris, I have no secret, other than that I’m filled with the most amazing energy. What you see here is just a fraction of what I’m capable of, and I do not say this out of conceit or vanity. I’m so glad you are part of a shared adventure. I write because I love to write about all of the things that interest and fascinate me. It’s also a pleasure to communicate with like-minded people; people like you. At the risk of sounding frivolous the whole thing is fun; and once it stops being fun I stop.

    No, I’m not familiar with those talks. I'm going to have a look at your link a little bit later. Once again my thanks.

    Oh, on the theme of life and death, on the great duality and paradox of existence, I'm off later this week to have a look at a civilization constructed around that abiding mystery - I'm off to look for the Egypt Osiris, Amun and Thoth.

  23. I'm just curious, Have you actually tried Belladonna? I have grown it (have a fascination with powerful plants)but have never tried it.

  24. Kevin, if by 'tried' you mean taken, then no. I would not be here to talk about it if I had! The Inquisition believed that witches were enabled to fly by means of a magic cream made, in part, from belladonna.

  25. People have tried it and lived to tell some pretty crazy stories...


    When I was younger I tried a tea made from jimsonweed weed, which has the same tropane alkaloids as Belladonna--though I hear belladonna has much higher concentrations.

    That elixir pretty much left me in a stupor for three days ;)

    I'm hopeful that I'm a little wiser these days ;)

  26. Of that I have not the least doubt. :-)

  27. Have a read of the new biography on GK Chesterton by Ian Ker, Ana.

  28. Nobby, I had it on my Amazon list but the reviews I read in the press were not encouraging.