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Hail, oh, Builder of Storms

You take your throne as winter comes,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Secrets rest as the Dead rise up,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We the Lost who few can see,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We hear your call of winter winds,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
A fire lit that once was cold,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
On winter winds you find your own,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The year grows nigh as time does stop,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The time has come for cold Misrule,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Gates of Life and Gates of Death,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Flutter open to part the Veil,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Speak to me, oh cold Cold One,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Whom once rode forth all teeth and eyes,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Your time has come, the dice are cast,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Coils of ice and coils of snow,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Serpent form among the trees,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The moving sway of Serpent hips,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Ice Queen sits as Hallow's Eve,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Finds its way to All Hallow's,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Regent sits high in the North,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And know her time has come again,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Hail to you Keeper of the Lost,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Hail to you who brings the tears,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pale Blue Flame of Winter's Night,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We know your face and Serpent's Tongue,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The cold Black Altar in the Hall of Stone,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Cutter there before the Black Gates,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Her Black Knife raised to cut the threads,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And Death's wings spread beside the Gates,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
To guide the Living and the Dead,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
For now the Veil is open wide,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Gates are open and swing both ways,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Mighty Dead we praise tonight,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Blessed Dead we call your names,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pulsing call of Bloodline blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pulsing call of Loreline blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The pulsing call of Fateline blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Blood does call, it calls to Blood,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Bones do wake and speak once more,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Memory sleeps in sleeping Bones,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And Blood awakens the sleeping Bones,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And quickens now what once was dead,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
On altar top and in the Halls,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We call you now to come to us,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
To breathe again the breath we breathe,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And speak this night and speak again,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And as the Darkness now recedes,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
The Darkling Twin awaits the Bright,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Misrule reigns and all is Öð,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Öð and odd, and Wyrd and weird,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And may the Hunt now pass us by,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Or may we ride the frightful ride,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
By Winter's Night and crossroad light,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And ghost roads stretch into the night,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And troll roads strange and faerie roads,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
That lead out there between the worlds,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Guide our way with lantern bright,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
We are the Lost, you children tonight,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Toss your dice for us just right,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
And may the year we now head to,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
Find the dreams the Dreamer dreamed,
Hail, oh, Builder of Storms,
This year manifest this next.

~Hail, oh, Builder of Storms, a Hallow poem by Bethany "Lorekeeper" Davis, November 1, 2015


The Twins,
Sometimes enemies fighting,
Sometimes lovers making love,
Sometimes friendly rivals,
Sometimes partners in crime.

The Bright Twin and the Darkling Twin,
Catalyst and Nexus,
Sometimes both male,
Sometimes both female,
Sometimes one of each,
Sometimes lines blurring.

Sometime one under the other's foot, Sometimes vice versa,
And so the Dancers dance,
And the Pipers play.

~Pipers by Bethany "Lorekeeper" Davis

On Veils and Webs and Hedges...

Much folklore, tradition, and mythology talk of a boundary, an edge, a division between worlds. Why this is common should be fairly evident. If there is an Otherworld, Underworld, any type of world beyond ours, if there was no separation, there would be no other world, the two would be one. For the two to be distinct, or function as distinct, something must divide them.

There are different words in different languages and cultures, different meanings, different methods to cross this boundary. But the boundary is constant, because it has to be. If there's another world, there is a boundary making these worlds distinct.

One common word used in English is the Veil. This is the term I most commonly use. As do many others.

The term brings to mind for some the veils of nuns or brides, the veils of mourners, the veils of Islamic women. For others, it brings to mind the veils of belly dancers, or harems, or erotic chambers. For others still, it brings to mind the curtain between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies in the temple in Jerusalem, and of the verse in the New Testament of that veil torn in two from top to bottom.

These imaginings of the Veil are useful, of course they are. But how accurate are they? Why do we use the term, and do our images match the reality the term is trying to describe.

Lets start with the meaning of Veil, and it's origins.

veil (n.)
c.1200, "nun's head covering," from Anglo-French and Old North French veil (12c., Modern French voile) "a head-covering," also "a sail, a curtain," from Latin vela, plural of velum "sail, curtain, covering," from PIE root *weg- (1) "to weave a web." Vela was mistaken in Vulgar Latin for a feminine singular noun. To take the veil "become a nun" is attested from early 14c.

The beginning of this description of course is some of the uses we described above, a head covering, a curtain. But note first the Latin vela, velum. Despite it's use as singular, vela is plural, and that is the word we get veil from, not the singular. Of interest, though, is that the Latin velum also becomes the English velum, which is the soft palate, the roof of the mouth. A veil is thin and covers, but it isn't necessarily cloth or fragile.

Of more interest is the fact that Velum comes the reconstructed *weg- meaning "to weave a web". It is the image of a spider's web across a surface or over an opening. Have you ever walked into a room or cave or cavern or between trees and walked right into a spider web at face level? That is a veil.

Web comes from the same word and so does weave. These two retained that meaning well. Most of the words coming from this root mean something along the lines of entwined, interlaced, woven.

But, as words do change meaning over time, do these meanings hold relevance to our Veil, the way we use it in the context of this discussion?

Consider for a moment, the idea of the endless Web of Fate I have described elsewhere. Each being, human or not, has a knot of Threads at their core, that tie them to everything else. These Threads interconnect with other Threads of those we encounter and interact with, and to our ancestors by blood, lore, or past lives. These form a multidimensional Web, woven by the one who weaves. I describe the web like this:

"Picture a spider web, a huge orb web, threads of web radiating out in all directions on a plane from a central point. Picture those threads connected to other threads between them, forming circles, spirals, curves around that centre. Picture the log thread stretching from the central point out to infinity in all directions, an infinite web. Picture the way the light shines through and across those threads, sometimes making them shine like glass, sometimes hiding them from view. Sometimes you see one thread, or three, or ten, sometimes just the part of the web near you. Lift your head, change the angle. You see the whole web sprawling out to eternity in the direction you are looking."

What if this Web I describe is the boundary between worlds? What if it is our woven interconnectedness throughout Time and Space that separates us from that which is outside our Time and Space? If this is the case, the Web that binds us together holds us in what we think is reality. This would make crossing over that boundary very difficult, because we ourselves become the sentilils and guards, the Guardians of the Gate if you will. All our experiences and pasts and futures and interactions in this world tie us deeper into the Web and more to what we think is reality. People tend to see what they expect to see.

But, then, crossing that boundary also would mean being disentangled from it. Not necessarily cut free (after the one who cuts cuts our Thread, we cross the Gates of Life and Death; completely cut free of the Web is freedom from this world and our bodies, for the Threads are what knits flesh and spirit, spirit and flesh) but loosed. So, to cross over, the knots that hold us to what we know and expect of reality must be loosened and the Threads allowed to bend. The Threads of Fate but be bent, Fate must be bent.

Consider for a moment the word "warp". In most common usages in Modern English, it is to "to bend, twist, distort". This word is believed to come from the reconstructed Proto-Indoeuropian *werp- meaning "to turn or bend". In weaving, it is used in contrast to "woof", the woof being the set threads in the loom, the warp twisting and turning through the woof, bending it, to create a fabric. "Woof" comes from *webh- meaning "to weave", which is the source of both our English weave, web, and wave.

If the Web of Fate is the boundary between worlds, and the All as a loom, and we see it as the woof in that loom, the threads that aren't connected to the woof that twist and turn between them and bend them become the warp. The warp bends the woof, the weave, the Web. Without a warp in a loom, there is no fabric. Cut the ends and the woof is a pile of strings. But with the warp wove through the woof, a fabric forms. The warp hold the woof in place, and of course gives it colour and pattern. The woof is the foundation, but the warp defines its form.

Some Celtic sources describe the worlds as the Endless Knot, two separate lines interwoven but never connecting. The is of course the two worlds, the world we know, and the Otherworld. The two are seen as being tied together in certain places, and the Veil being thinnest there. Places meaning points on the earth, spatial places, and points in time, temporal places. At certain locations, the Veil is very thin because the worlds are so close. At certain times, liminal times, the worlds draw close, and the Veil thins. This idea of two interwoven worlds fits well the idea of the fabric of the Veil being the interweaving of the woof, our world, and the Threads that connect us, and the warp, the Otherworld and the Threads that connect those that live beyond the Veil, beyond the Gloom out in the endless Gleam.

Then, expanding the metaphor, and the reality it describes, crossing over is a matter of being tied to that other Web, that is the warp, which would mean that those who cross over are tied to both webs, that the Threads at their core run both out into the Woof Web of Fate and the Warp Web of Fate. They span the worlds, are the Gates, and guardians thereof, they are of both worlds, so not fully of either.

It's by no accident that one of the folk etymologies for "witch" is that it came from a word meaning "to bend or turn". Especially when we consider that the English "weird", from the Germanic "wyrd", urdr, ultimately meaning Fate, and is the name of one of the three Norns in Norse myth, comes from *wert-, from *wer-, the origin of *werp- we discussed above, "to bend or turn". The warp of the loom, the wyrd, the fate, the Norns who decide the fate of all beings, the Spinner who spins the Thread, the Weaver who weaves it into the Webs, and the Cutter who cuts to on the Black Altar. The Grimr.

Moving on from weaving and webs and veils, let's consider another common term for the boundary between worlds, the Hedge.

The image here is English style hedgerows of the type that separate fields or surround a residence. These form a living, wild boundary between two fields, or between what is inside and what is outside. For metaphoric purposes, we can use the image of a hedge around a residence, separating the inside and the outside.

Taking this idea back, and looking at the residence with a hedge around as an extension of the hill fort with a baracade or the castle or city with a wall, the inside becomes "us" and the outside "them", the hedge as protection from the Other beyond it. Inside, we cultivate and control, we build and grow crops, we live life in relative safety. Outside, there's uncertainty, danger, the settled, civilized farming settlement with the dangerous dark wood beyond, the image of the shift from nomadic to settled life.

The hedge is a wild and dangerous place, but intentionally so. There's a reason two of the most common hedge trees are the whitethorn (hawthorn) and blackthorn (sloethorn). While pretty trees, and both producing fruit (the haws and sloes) that provide food for those within and without alike, and to birds and rodents and other animals, the thorns are the important part. These are thicket forming trees with long, dangerous thorns. The blackthorn's thorns will cause nasty infections, and both are long and very sharp. You can't cross the hedge without a lot of pain and threat to your body. Among the thorns creatures live and other plants, including other trees, grow intermixed. The result is a very dense wild boundary almost impossible to cross.

The hedge, though, being a wild space, also becomes a space where many herbs and other plants grow, giving rise to one of the two major modern usages of the term "hedgewitch". The second meaning relates more to the hedge metaphor I'm going toward than the mundane hedgerows.

Often stiles are built where passage is needed. Stairs up one side and down the other, these triangular constructions allow passage over the hedge, the only safe passage. And these often can be gated at the top, and also mean limited known ingress and egress points.

Our hedge is like that, a wild space that both keeps us in, we that live in the Dreaming, the reserve if you will, and keeps the Other out, the deadly things that roam the Gleam, dangerous things our hedge protects us from. The hedge itself is dangerous to both, but limited and defined, a wild place that keeps the inward inward and outward outward.

The thin spots we talked about above function similar to stiles, but it should be remembered that what allows one to go outside the hedge also allows one to come inside the hedge. The stiles both allow passage out into the Gleam through the Gloom and become a dangerous gateway for things to possibly come into the Dreaming.

Just like with the mundane hedgerow, there are things in this hedge that can provide healing and nourishment, and things that are poisonous or deadly. Those who enter the hedge can gain much for it, but also must be cautious. And those that cross completely through or over the hedge instead of riding it must be very careful, because there's a reason we live inside the hedge. The risk can definitely be worth it, though.

~Lorekeeper, Muninn’s Kiss

The Cauldron of Annwfn

The following is Preiddeu Annwyn, the Raid of Annwyn, the Raid of the Otherworld, part XXX (30) of the Book of Taliesin, as related by William F. Skene in 1868 in his The Four Ancient Books of Wales. In it is related the Caer Sidi, Caer Pedrycan, Caer Vedwyd, Caer Rigor, Caer Wydyr, Caer Golud, Caer Vandwy, and Caer Ochren, familiar to readers of the White Goddess by Robert Graves, and the Cauldron of Annwyn, referenced by Robert Cochrane when we asked Taliesin’s question, what two words are not spoken from the Cauldron.

Note that it is nine maidens whose breath it was warmed by. Those who know Norse myth might get a parallel. Those who know Greek myth might get another. Not the question, “what is its intention”. Those that know Arthurian legend, specifically of the Graal, might get a parallel. Also note the Cauldron is lined with Pearl. Some might get where I’m leading there.

~Lorekeeper, Muninn’s Kiss

I WILL praise the sovereign, supreme king of the land,
Who hath extended his dominion over the shore of the world.
Complete was the prison of Gweir in Caer Sidi,
Through the spite of Pwyll and Pryderi.
No one before him went into it.
The heavy blue chain held the faithful youth,
And before the spoils of Annwvn woefully he sings,
And till doom shall continue a bard of prayer.
Thrice enough to fill Prydwen, we went into it;
Except seven, none returned from Caer Sidi

Am I not a candidate for fame, if a song is heard?
In Caer Pedryvan, four its revolutions;
In the first word from the cauldron when spoken,
From the breath of nine maidens it was gently warmed.
Is it not the cauldron of the chief of Annwvn? What is its intention?
A ridge about its edge and pearls.
It will not boil the food of a coward, that has not been sworn,
A sword bright gleaming to him was raised,
And in the hand of Lleminawg it was left.
And before the door of the gate of Uffern [hell] the lamp was burning.
And when we went with Arthur; a splendid labour,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Vedwyd.

Am I not a candidate for fame with the listened song
In Caer Pedryvan, in the isle of the strong door?
The twilight and pitchy darkness were mixed together.
Bright wine their liquor before their retinue.
Thrice enough to fill Prydwen we went on the sea,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Rigor.

I shall not deserve much from the ruler of literature,
Beyond Caer Wydyr they saw not the prowess of Arthur.
Three score Canhwr stood on the wall,
Difficult was a conversation with its sentinel.
Thrice enough to fill Prydwen there went with Arthur,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Golud.

I shall not deserve much from those with long shields.
They know not what day, who the causer,
What hour in the serene day Cwy was born.
Who caused that he should not go to the dales of Devwy.
They know not the brindled ox, thick his head-band.
Seven score knobs in his collar.
And when we went with Arthur of anxious memory,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Vandwy.

I shall not deserve much from those of loose bias,
They know not what day the chief was caused.
What hour in the serene day the owner was born.
What animal they keep, silver its head.
When we went with Arthur of anxious contention,
Except seven, none returned from Caer Ochren.

Monks congregate like dogs in a kennel,
From contact with their superiors they acquire knowledge,
Is one the course of the wind, is one the water of the sea?
Is one the spark of the fire, of unrestrainable tumult?
Monks congregate like wolves,
From contact with their superiors they acquire knowledge.
They know not when the deep night and dawn divide.
Nor what is the course of the wind, or who agitates it,
In what place it dies away, on what land it roars.
The grave of the saint is vanishing from the altar-tomb.
I will pray to the Lord, the great supreme,
That I be not wretched. Christ be my portion.

In the Gleam Beyond the Gloom

Through the darkness I part the Veil,
And walk the hidden paths,
In the brightness beyond the pale,
I see what none have seen.
There's danger here in the world beyond,
In the gleam beyond the gloom.

And all my days it waits for me,
The calling in my blood,
And through the years I walk the paths,
That very few have seen,
The Veil grows thin as years go by,
In the gleam beyond the gloom.

Through the darkness I return again,
From those fair hidden paths,
And as I walk I learn to talk,
Like I once knew I could,
For few have been beyond the veil,
In the gleam beyond the gloom.

~In the Gleam Beyond the Gloom by Bethany "Lorekeeper" Davis, March 5, 2015

My attempt at translating it into Latin:

Velum parte post umbram,
Et ambulate per semitae occultae,
In splendóribus supra pallidus,
Non video quid viderim.
Non est hic mundus extra periculum,
In splendóribus post umbram.

Et omnibus diebus meis memet maneat
Vocatio in sanguine meo,
Et per annos ambulate semitae,
Valde pauci, quas vidi,
Velum crescit tenuis quod eunt anni,
In splendóribus post umbram.

Per tenebras revertentur
Ex his latet semitas occultae,
Et ego ambulo illis loquela,
Scientes semel ego potui,
Pauci abierunt trans velum,
In splendóribus post umbram.

And a translation of that Latin from an academic translation site:

And the hanging for the part after the shadow,
And walk by the ways of the hidden God,
In the brightness of beyond the pale,
I do not see what I saw,
He is not here the world is out of danger,
In the brightness after the shadow.

The call waits for me,
In my blood, and all my days,
And I will walk you through the years, the highways,
Very few men, that I have seen,
As the years go by the thin veil of the increases,
In the brightness after the shadow.

From these things it is hidden by the darkness,
They shall come again the paths of the hidden God,
And I, I walk the angels have speech,
Yet knowing that once I was able to,
They went to the other side of the veil of the few,
In the brightness after the shadow.
So, I'm going to a conference in the Castro last weekend of February spilling into March. I'd like to meet a few of my Bay Area friends while I'm there. I have most of it set, have the registration paid and a plane ticket, just need to figure out a place to stay when I get my next paycheck. I'll be flying in on Wednesday the 25th if I recall, and out on Monday the 2nd. Not sure how much time I'll have so can't visit everyone, but please let me know if you'll be around and I'll see what I can arrange. :-)

~Lorekeeper (Muninn's Kiss)
As more and more of a generation crosses the Veil, those of us left, both those of the generation that brought us to were where are and those of us that inherit their legacy and lore, contemplate mortality in ways that weren’t as literal not long ago. I could talk of many of the elders in our traditions and stream who have passed over the years and especially in recent years, but I’ll take the liberty of talking of one in particular.

On the Dark of the Moon this last Friday, Tony Spurlock, Brian DRGN, King of the Picts in Exile (no longer), and the founder and High Mojomuck of The First Church of The Doors, passed from the land of the living, leaving those of us remaining to mourn our loss and celebrate his gain. As has been noted, the King of Dead, long Live the King.

The timing saddens me, as I was possibly going to be in San Francisco later this month and was hoping to finally meet him in person, but it’s too late now. May he dance under starless skies. I would not be where I am or who I am if it was not for him, great soul. I will miss him greatly, and I know many others will. The Mighty and Blessed Dead embrace him, as he joins the Dragons who went before.

I have known DRGN only a short time, all said. Many who grieve have known him longer. I met him online five years ago, in 2009, on the 1734 list he had just joined, which I had been a member of for some time. At the time, I asked if he would be willing to teach me Anderson craft. He declined, not out of unwillingness, but because he felt he could not well teach it remotely. Over the years since, we shared much conversation, and I think I can honestly say that even though he wasn’t teaching me, per se, I learned more of my craft from him than any other, and wouldn’t be who I am or what I am today without him. And, though he felt in exile at times from the tradition, I think I can say the tradition would not be what it is today without him. And I’m talking the Heart of the tradition, that which will sustain and survive any tribulations the tradition may suffer, that which is true Feri by whatever name, that which is Anderson Craft.

It was with a heavy heart that I heard of his passing, and I do truly mourn, as do many. I truly wish I had met him in the flesh, and hope to meet him in spirit. I will always cherish the lore and insights and knowledge and understanding and wisdom he shared with me, and friendship and connection we shared.

Hold your head high, DRGN, King of the Pictish Witches! Dance, dance for joy, dance for sorrow, dance for all that was and is and will ever be.

"Forget the night.
Live with us in forests of azure.
Out here on the perimeter there are no stars
Out here we is stoned - immaculate.”

"For seven years, I dwelt
In the loose palace of exile
Playing strange games with the girls of the island
Now, I have come again
To the land of the fair, and the strong, and the wise
Brothers and sisters of the pale forest
Children of night
Who among you will run with the hunt?
Now night arrives with her purple legion
Retire now to your tents and to your dreams
Tomorrow we enter the town of my birth
I want to be ready.”

~Muninn’s Kiss/Lorekeeper

The Starstrone Sky

I stand beneath the starstrone sky,
In the darkness of the night,
A lonely hill, grey in the dark,
A darkness you can feel.

The stars the spin, they move around,
Before my wondering eyes,
Stars not fixed but thought to be,
Stars like dancing fire flies.

And spin they do, but all return,
To their course across the sky,
These pin pricks move yet stay quite still,
In the darkness of the night.

No wonder all the ancient times,
Spirits and gods they were,
Always present, always watching,
But never holding still.

Ancient secrets painted plain,
Above for all to see,
Yet few do see and less do know,
The secrets painted there.

The singing song, the lonely dance,
Of the stars in darkest night,
The tales they know, the things they’ve seen,
And no one knows it all.

Here I stand, they dance around,
I see the sacred plan,
The whirling castle, the Well of Stars,
And all that is drawn to them.

I stand beneath the starstrone sky,
In the darkness of the night,
A lonely hill, grey in the dark,
A darkness you can feel.

~Bethany "Lorekeeper" Davis, September 25, 2014

Forming a New Working Group

What follows is a brief outline of an approach to forming a new working group. I have deliberately attempted to make it general and not path, stream, or tradition specific. These are mostly off the top of my head, so their usefulness for others might or might not be significant. I’ve tried to include all the things I see as necessary and essential, and encourage the reader to think about these and determine what is useful and what isn’t. Adapt it, re-work it, expand it, prune it. I put it out for anyone to work with, as is. Your mileage may vary and use it at your own risk. I may later expand this into a more substantial work, I’m not certain. I’ve given an attempt at defining a few terms at the end.

  1. The Virtue, the essence, the stream should be present first. This is the guiding force on where the group goes and is essential for focus and success. Those seeking to form a group need to establish this first. The Virtue includes the lore, ethics, methods, spirits, and members, both living and dead, depending on the age of the group, and more than these things. Without those elements, the Virtue is demonstrably absent, though the details will vary for each group.

  2. The Call, the sending out of the draw to bring those needed to the group, should be performed early, after the Virtue is present but before trying to get started. The specifics of this will be specific to the stream and Virtue, and involve the spirits and the lore, and all the founding members of the new group.

  3. A vetting process, a way to weed out those that are called from those that are curious, those that meld well with the Virtue from those that do not, is necessary before taking in members. Those starting the group should determine how they want to approach this. This of course requires the Sight, decrement, and observation. This should point toward an approach, as each of those seeking to form the group, presuming there isn’t just one, will have different skills.

  4. Clear goals for the group, what is the intent, and how to approach it, is necessary before inviting those called into the group, as these should be clearly described and enumerated to those coming in. This does not mean those who are still in the vetting process, which could be quick or over time depending on the skills and needs of the group, don’t necessarily need this knowledge. It should be clear to those starting the group, however, before that vetting process begins, so should be outlined prior, even if there is no one yet to share it with. These should flow out of the Virtue, and relate to how the Call is conducted.

  5. The ethics of the group, stemming from the Virtue and consistent with the goals, should be clear and known to all members, possibly even those in the vetting process. Their willingness to conform to these ethics should be part of that process, and should also connect with the way the Call is conducted.

  6. Commitment and dedication are necessary. The bringing of new people into the group should include some type of agreement both on the group’s responsibility to the new member and the new member’s responsibility to the group. This may take different forms, depending on the makeup of the group, the Virtue involved, and the cultural context the group exists within. This should be outlined and refined before it is needed, based on the vetting process, ethics, goals, Call, and Virtue.

  7. Evolving methods are important. The group should have an initial basis for working, built on the Virtue, Call, goals, and ethics. This should be flexible and adaptable enough to begin to grow and evolve with the group needs, not set in stone. To begin with, this is a framework, a skeleton, a place to start working from.

  8. The Initiation or Ordeal should be outlines. This will vary greatly depending on stream and region, and should be based on spirit guidance and the lore. It should not be something easy for the new member, should provide a clear transition into the group, include opportunity for the spirits to contribute, and be impactful, something not easily forgotten. This doesn’t have to be the same for each new member, but there should be clear connections with different types of initiations and ordeals to each other, the lore, and the Virtue.

  9. The Pact or Oath should be defined. This may or may not include an actual oath, depending on the stream, tradition, background, and ethics of those forming the group, and is different from the commitment and dedication, as this isn’t a pact or oath with the group, but with the spirits tied to the Virtue and participating in the Call. This is the agreement between the spirits and the new member of the group. This is important because you are not looking for, in the forming of a group, a clergy and a laity. You want each member to have their own connection to the spirits, and thereby to the stream and Virtue. This doesn’t need to be defined as an exact agreement or oath, the form should be defined, the purpose should be defined, but the specifics typically are better the new member’s own words unless the stream already has predefined words, as this makes it the new member’s own. The Pact or Oath can be part of the Initiation or Ordeal, or immediately following it, or as part of a ceremony or ritual later. I favor the idea of during.

These last two parts aren’t just for new members, part of the receiving of Virtue involves Ordeal and Pact as well, and the new members are being connected to the existing Virtue through the act.

A few definitions that might or might not help:

  • Call - The sending out of a beacon, basically, to draw those that resonate with the group to the group, or to the founding member or members. It both draws those that need to come to come, and establishes the group in the place it is performed. The details and methods will vary based on tradition.

  • Initiation - The beginning of things, the rite or experience that brings a new member into the group, and, more importantly, introduces them to the spirits and the lore. Often the same as an Ordeal, but can be separate.

  • Oath - A sworn agreement with the spirits or with the spirits as witness, with major consequences on breaking them. Different from a Pact in that the one swearing is bound by the Oath, not the other party, whereas a Pact is mutually. An Oath says, this is my commitment, a Pact says, if you will do thus, I will do thus. In some cases, both will be present, in others one or the other.

  • Ordeal - An experience that has to be passed through, suffered, or survived in order to join the group. Often the same as an Initiation, but can be separate.

  • Pact - An agreement between a person and the spirits, for mutual benefit, usually with both conditions for ending the Pact (if possible) and with the results of breaking the agreement.

  • Virtue - the essence and sum total of the group, stream, or tradition, including the lore and spirits, the Thread of Fate making up said stream, those that came before, are present, and will be part of it. This is the life force or egregore of the group, but more than these.

~Muninn's Kiss

An Abstract on Abstraction

The focus on the abstract and the symbolic in many modern traditions is a bit odd in my opinion. Not that the abstract and symbolic don't have a place or value, of course. As a born mystic, these things have always intrigued and interested me. It's the amount of focus and the importance placed that I think is a harmful thing for really growing and practicing.

As a specific example, my main objection to the Classic elements in folk magic is the lack of practical application to the real work. I can't hold elemental Fire or Water or Earth or Air in my hands, I can't mix them and make something out of them. But I can take the soil of the land and mix it with water from creek or pond or river or lake, to make mud, and form it into a figure of someone or something or a tablet or a disc for an amulet, and can sit it out for the wind and sun to dry.

You won't hear a farmer use a blessing like, "may you have water and air and earth." That is too abstract to be meaningful. You would hear something closer to, "may you have rain or irrigation water to water the crops, may you have fresh air to breathe and wind to blow away harmful insects, may your land be fertile and rich and produce." Or something more along those more practical lines.

This holds true in many areas. What good does a symbol do if it isn't applicable in a material or at least methodical way? The Work is about doing the work, not about symbols that can be meditated on but have no pragmatic purpose.

The toad bone was not obtained by some because it symbolized all the things it can be seen to symbolize. These symbols aren't of no importance, nor are they not real, but they aren't the point. The toad bone was obtained for very specific purposes, to control animals, to have power over people, and others. Read Andrew Chumbley's The Leaper Between, and you will see the application is the major focus, not the symbolism, though that exists as well.

I come from simple people, even if I work in an industry far from that, and move at times in higher society. My ancestors on both sides were mostly farms, and when not farmers, still working class people. Salt of the earth, honest folk. This is why my grandpa lost everything twice, as to him, a handshake was a deal. This is why my father always felt more comfortable out with his drilling team in the forest pulling up rock core samples than in the office with those who were more concerned with politics than the work. My father tastes dirt to know what it is made of. My grandpa on my mother’s side worked the ground most of his life, as his father did, and his, all the way back to Germany and Prussia. I come from simple, working class, people, not academics or philosophers, not politicians or old money. And when you live that life, or come from that seed, or do that work, you do what needs to be done, rather than worrying what it means.

Both my father and my mother’s father were water witchers, and could find whatever they were looking for beneath the ground with their skill. It didn’t mater what the meaning of anything was, it mattered that it worked and they could find what they needed. My father used that skill with the drilling team, and they always hit the vein they were trying for when he told them where to drill. There was no symbolism, no hidden meaning, just a skill others couldn’t use that was accurate and got the job done.

Except among philosophers and theologians, symbols and meanings are secondary to what you can use the thing for. The Classical elements are great for discussion and even as symbols in ritual, but, as Bearwalker would say, you can you grow corn in them? The abstraction from the physical things that we interact with when we get our hands dirty to the philosophers’ symbols and metaphors is often a distraction from the work, work that only truly gets done when we get our hands dirty and do the work.

~Muninn’s Kiss


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Muninn's Kiss

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