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I’ve been saying this for a while, but perhaps not “here”.

In my estimation, in witchcraft, what makes someone part of one tradition or another isn’t necessarily that they have been passed certain lore, have become a guardian and receiver of it; I have ascertained in my studies that many of the threads of Traditional Witchcraft share the same Mysteries (with bioregional twists). None of our secrets are so unique.

What makes someone part of one tradition or another is with whom they throw in their lot—with whom they are clan, with whom they make covenants and vows. And this includes witches and spirits both living and dead.

The Craft as I know it is a familiar endeavor. In our traditions, we get up in each other’s business. We hold one another dear and support each other in tangible ways, not just sentiments. We can get messy, and we work it out when we do. We *love* each other. We are kin.

And it is as it should be—I wouldn’t want to be a part of a tradition that was individualistic and whose initiates numbered many who were distant and cold and not interested in true familial bonds and responsibility. In fact, that’s a big part of why I supported the split of Old Faery from public Feri.

Where the lore piece comes in, for me, is that our corpus of lore is the collection of stories we share with one another. All families have stories. Ours are about our clan and our relationships with the spirits we adore and are devoted to, and our relatives living and dead. That’s why they are private, intimate, and sometimes secret. They’re our “family recipes” for witching, for doing the work of a witch. Witchcraft is bound in Story, and the Cosmos is relational. To witch is to participate in the sharing and telling and furthering of Story—to participate in the weaving of reality, the Game of Fate.

And when someone new comes along, and we recognize that spark of kinship, we adopt them in. It’s a process that takes time and effort; the building of trust and intimacy, just as you would when joining any family.

It reminds me, in a lot of significant ways, of when I was dating Rj Spencer, and we had a talk about how different the white families of the men he’s dated were to the black family he grew up in and all the other POC families he was intimately familiar with. For him, there were some very obvious and significant differences in closeness that he witnessed and observed.

Suffice to say, I don’t wanna be in a WASP-y trad. I choose co-reliance, cooperation, interconnection, interdependence, and true family. Love is a verb, y’all.

Andraste-Hekate in saffron robes,
Wanderer in the shades and tombs,
You Queen within the Deeper Well
Pray, lead your faithful into Hell.

Your torches are bright
In the dread of midnight.
Follow down the darker light
And feed upon the Milk of Might.

Keeper of the key to the crystal cave,
Your mouth is opened as the grave
and with cunning you have swallowed the day:
As our kind sheds mortal skin to join the Fae.

Your torches are bright
In the dread of midnight.
Follow down the darker light
And feed upon the Milk of Might.

Mortal man into immortal Elf,
A throng over-watched by a Skull on a shelf.
The tomb door swings freely, as free as true speech,
A pale hand is extended and longs for your reach.

Your torches are bright
In the dread of midnight.
Follow down the darker light
And feed upon the Milk of Might.

The Mouth of the Dead is open in hunger,
Your hospitality refuses none of our number.
Though your Cauldron boils not the food of a coward,
The Wise with feasts and gifts are showered.

Your torches are bright
In the dread of midnight.
Follow down the darker light
And feed upon the Milk of Might.

You are weaving all Fate within your dark halls
Of onyx and jet with jewels set in the walls.
The smooth polished surface is like a great mirror,
And in these reflections your children dance nearer.

Your torches are bright
In the dread of midnight.
Follow down the darker light
And feed upon the Milk of Might.

A Mountain, a Tower, a great burning Pyre,
An altar of bones holds the dark Stone of Fire.
To the Child of Promise, Midnight’s Black Graal,
Over the Ocean of Dreaming set sail!

Your torches are bright
In the dread of midnight.
Follow down the darker light
And feed upon the Milk of Might.

Milk-white sails on a silvered ship,
Unnumbered nights on a misty trip;
The truly wise go forth and back,
Fleet-footed passage on twisted track.

Your torches are bright
In the dread of midnight.
Follow down the darker light
And feed upon the Milk of Might.

Welcome the children of the Sabbat Mountain
Into the Cauldron, the Tomb, the black Fountain.
Welcome them Mother wherever they roam,
Into your bosom you gather us Home.

The body of flesh is an expression of the Free Soul. They are the same reality, they are the same, full stop. That the Free Soul can express itself as apparently extended and “apart” from the flesh is a great mystery of the witching ways. In historical and folkloric records one can often find the witch “flying” away from the flesh and clothed in the (second) skin of the Fetch-beast, their Free Soul “lifted” and filled with the vitality of the Breath Soul.

But the destructive teaching of the “split” of spirit and matter leads us to false notions of the body being distinct from the Free Soul. The immortal self of dreams, which springs forth from and falls back into the Unseen character of reality’s interior, is expressed as the body.

Let me reiterate: the Free Soul is materialized in the flesh. Indeed, within the cosmology of witchcraft, there is no such thing as immaterial. Spirit itself is material, material is spirit. They are the same, there is no “split”. It is human convention that has led us down this confused and overly-cerebral path away from the Wholeness of all things.

Such a conception is birthed, ultimately, in Neo-Platonism, and gave rise to capitalism later on. For when you separate the spirit from the material, you make the world a commodity to be used and consumed with little forethought; you have stripped the sacred out of the physical, especially the Body, which is the Holy Temple of the Mysteries, the prima materia of magic.

This leads me to further thoughts about the Compass Round, the Circle of Arte in sorcery and traditional witchcraft. This device of witchery is not only something that you perform and make upon the face of the Land, it is also a device that is at work within the Body: for the body of the sorcerer and the body of the Land are One, and they are both infused and interpenetrated with the Cunning Fire.

I have been focusing a lot of my attention on my Compass which I carry within my Self. It is a powerful tool with which to engage the living realities of Land, Sky, and Sea, Fire itself burning deep within the heart of the Compass, turning the heart Black.

Wassail!

Imprecation to Ana

Ride me bone-white grandmother,
clothed in night’s mid-most hour,
wint’ry queen with your icy breath
who comes to reap us at our death.
Your long nails scratch upon my skin,
your song seduces me to let you in.
The scythe you wield dances over me
as nine blue suns come to set me free.
A shrieking wail erupts from my depths
to answer your presence in moment-darkest.
All cower and bow before your mighty grace
as braver kind dare to look upon your face.
It is in the eyes, the way they shine
with wintercold light and frosty rime.
Your chilly words can shake our souls
when you come to collect the faery tolls.
Heed, and peace, you ancient Hag,
Teach us, feed us, from your sealskin bag.
What is hidden please reveal,
and join our table at the silent meal.

Fire & Breath

Princely One among the Dead,
whose heron footfalls softly tread
their winding way to my night-bed.
Conjoined, we make gold from lead.

You share your Fire, I share my Breath.

Fallen into the deep waters churning
my soul erupts with sweetest yearning:
quake my bones with shadow-gifts,
when on the night-wind my Spirit lifts.

You share your Fire, I share my Breath.

Rake me over the burning coals,
twist the threads of my three souls.
I am no witch without want of you,
So set me afire and forge me true.

You share your Fire, I share my Breath.

Sky Iron fallen into the depths of the earth,
beaten and shaped on the stone of my hearth.
My body is the same as the Land itself,
Re-member this knowing, my Princely Elf.

You share your Fire, I share my Breath.

Midnight illumined as dawning day,
the Murky Sun lights the Faery Way:
Between Stars above and Stars beneath,
Hand-in-Hand we fare Hill and Heath.

Knotting Red Threads

Sharing one’s tradition of Old Craft with another, entering into the kind of dynamic and deep relationship of apprenticeship, requires a radical intimacy that has been typified by the familiar phrase “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.” Another way one might evoke this state is calling upon “perfect vulnerability”. This is essential when knotting the Red Thread.

This is the authentic “perfection”, not an “ideal”. We do ourselves great service when we remember that “perfection” contains flaws. I understand that Flaw is part of the Wholeness of the world, woven into the patterns of being and phenomenon. Flaw is the component that actually makes the world “perfect”, in a Mysterious way.

This kind of radical intimacy is woven of Love in the sense that bell hooks uses it, not merely affection, or what hooks calls “cathexis”. It requires that we know and accept—both our beauty marks and our warts—those with whom we enter into such a relationship, co-creating a fierce closeness and sharing whose power is both healing and rending. We entrust our well-being to one another. It shatters all pretense and in-authenticity, it nurtures and tends to ancient wounds. It does not coddle, and yet it embraces frailties and vulnerability itself. This Love and Trust requires of us a lot of courage—in reaching toward wholeness together, in being whole-hearted.

It is both beautiful and terrifying, a relationship we don’t see much of in our culture. And it is one of the most powerful kinds of relating I’ve ever encountered.

Such apprenticeship is the hammer forging the blade Truth. Oh how the hammer kisses the blade! The bellows of the forge which is the Breath of Life, feeding the Fire of witchery; the Fire itself the countless hands of a legion of spirits tempering the metal, keenly giving it permission to be shaped; the plunge into cold water, reifying the Deep Well, passion’s spring.
We must come naked and laid bare, our hearts held before us in offering for the Pyre that burns at the heart of the Eternal Sabbat. We have poured every last drop of Blood into the Cauldron and we have made of our living flesh the Altar of Witchcraft. With only our hearts left, torn out, we give. Into the Pyre to burn Pitch Black. We must be completely accessible, destroyers of emotional distance, warriors of perfect vulnerability and compassion.

Oh yes, we suffer for Wisdom. Here are the Forbidden Mysteries guarded well by the Great Hag, She who eats the bones of the Dead, who flays our skin that we may dance as shining skeletons in the revels of the dark inverted mountain, the Faery Hill. All masks removed we hold our knives in our teeth and link our hands. Our dance makes of us a wild writhing scaffold that holds up the Myrk-Sun, a serpentine lattice of bone criss-crossing the unending Void, silver-white threads of the great web woven by Fate! Our spells are smoke from the Shadow Star, words and deeds cut by Truth, the place where Love and Wisdom meet. So Mote It Be.

Every thread is precious

They say the Great Noble Spirits are sleeping, or have forgotten us.
But I tell you that a Faery comes to me nightly thus:
To share his Fire as we make love within the Starry Well,
To share my Story and unite the realms of Heaven, Here, and Hell.
My Aurifex who works the breath and waters of my soul,
and in our communion deepens the wealth of being whole.

No, do not forsake the Deep Ones hidden within the twilit Dream,
for whom we yearn and burn to vivify their shining stream.
The heart is set aflame in virid raw desire
when he approaches bearing his cunning Black-Sun fire.
Then together we give praise unto the Holy Night;
we worship with our lips and hands and loins in sacred rite.
He teaches me the ways of praise and devotion to the Mystery,
and knots the threads that bind the Winds and sets me wandering free.

A Child, a Bride, a Hag attend unto the Moon.
Roses bloom and burn as jasmine’s scent the Eve attunes.
Our flesh, one Flesh, as it weirdly writhes and gushes forth:
the Door Without a Key is opened by the Horn’d One’s torch.
We consecrate ourselves with the Moon Dove’s silver’d tears
and we call upon our Darksome Mother to embrace our lusts and fears.

Most Holy Harlot of the Sabbath, by the Knife and by the Cup:
Come dance the Winds around the compass as we feast and run amok.
Make our black hearts beat like a drum pounding in your frenzied Flight,
as we join the Dance on ochre’d feet to make wild our delight!

Swear now the wicked vow to unveil the Goblin Masquerade,
As lunar Scythe—your Crescent Crown—licks our fingers with its blade.
Altogether make the Covenant to fill the Cauldron to the brim—
as every drop of Red that bleeds from us is a spell upon the Wind.
Nine herbs, nine woods, nine kisses given forth into the fire
to boil up a potent brew, a nectar dripping honey-tongued Desire.
Our eyes are opened in the Sight, filled now they with Green Mist,
as quickly turn the seasons by the spirits with whom we tryst.
And Beware! Beware the Fire flashing from our Knives in fuck and fight:
Its sharpest edge cuts foe and friend alike, just as Dawn is born from Night.

And if we be so Lucky then to win the Old Toad’s boon,
as we keep our eyes well-steadied on the waters of the Moon—
look not away from there the prize, the treasure-hoard of yore,
and take the leap in waking sleep to live forevermore.

And in these acts we re-member that we are the fevered hands of Fate:
Hand-to-hand we’ve claimed the fire-brand in allegiance with our Fetch-mate.
The Old Ones have shaken us so that now we come awake,
and as Legion and strange Brotherhood we take a stand before it’s too late.

Keep the Silence as we work, masked and cowled and veiled,
but for the rest of us is clad in sky within the Wild Weald.
And we know that at the crossroads were meet the Ghostly Tracks,
the Other-Selves shall lead the Front as they emerge from hollowed backs.
Back-to-back we dance the ring against the coursing Sun,
That to There, the Furthest Shore, with our Faeries we do run.
And beyond the strand across the seas stands reaching up to Heaven
a Broken Mountain wherein burns the Sun to Midnight given.
So shines the altar-pyre darkly in the deep of this black cave,
the Sun’s been swallowed by the Wolf whose jaws do form the Grave.
And like the lance that pricks the thigh to awaken our delight,
dare to climb the latticed bones to steal a spark of Might.

Behold! The Secret Queen! The Daughter who shall lead us on our way!
Our Nightly Flights shall win the fight as we battle back the day!
To and fro, between the lintel posts we keep on going,
and know that stealthily we win a new Fate from this doing.

Every thread is precious, every thread we knot and bind,
Into the burning blackness of the labyrinth we wind,
Tethering our cords to one another deed-by-deed,
working for the Land as it calls us to Truest Need.

Together, in relationship, we are weaving the great Story:
And that every thread is precious, every song shall find its glory.
Silver Lightning flashes downward, a kindled kiss out of Dark,
Great Eyes are Watching from the Outer Spaces whose glances leave a Mark.
And as you stare into the blackness, and it reflects your Star-Self True,
know that the Story we are weaving is at the same time weaving you.