Books

May 25, 2017

She was…

May 25, 2017

Truth can hurt…

May 25, 2017

A good weekend read

May 24, 2017

Art & Magic

May 24, 2017

The ritual space is the mindset, the cave of the heart and the way consciousness views all phenomena. Once we reset our way of viewing these things, the whole landscape shifts. Either nothing is sacred or it all is. This is the shift in perspective the Goddess wants to bring now to humanity, to reprogram our warped perspectives that have been instilled for aeons and separate mind from body, spirit from matter. The Goddess offers us an embodied spirituality, one where we can own and celebrate all our sensations as part of Her Divine palette, and begin to live own our bliss. It is our natural birthright and the ecstasy that flesh is heir to is our way of experiencing the Divine play of Goddesses and Gods. It is our way to touch the hem of paradise.

How these marvels got to be designated as shameful, sinful, and profane is a crime against nature and the ecstatic state of being. We have been trapped in a dense materiality by these precepts and robbed of our ability to touch the skies and live in a world of magic and unbridled potential. It’s time to reclaim our sovereignty and our right to divine resonance if we are to have a future in this Eden called earth. When I co-wrote and illustrated, with over 600 drawings, the Sexual Secrets, The Alchemy of Ecstasy in the late 1970s, it was with the intention of sharing an enlightened and liberated view of the field of eroticism and sexuality. I wanted to share my discovery and revelation of a well-established spiritual path, which was inclusive of all this rather than exclusive. It was such an amazing and freeing revelation for me, so I wanted to pass it on. My own inner intuitions now had context and community. I felt confirmed and connected and wanted others to know there was a path for them out of the imposed tunnels of guilt and shame. A shining path.

Penny Slinger
Interview with Zora Burden for The Wild Hunt

malign female demons

May 23, 2017

The Descent of Inanna

The suppression and control of female sexuality is not a new phenomena. Some of our the earliest extant writings, texts from Mesopotamia going back to the third millennium BCE, such as Inanna and the Huluppu Tree and The Descent of Inanna, offer evidence that woman’s body was subject to extreme ambivalence, non-procreative sex in particular being regarded with suspicion and fear.

It is at this time we first discover the lilitu, malign female demons who controlled the ‘stormy (disease-bearing) winds’ and who flew like birds. They were defined by negative sexual characteristics: they are unmarried and thus not under the dominion of a male; they are seducers, actively seeking men to satisfy them; and they are child-killers. Not only do they solicit and engage in ‘unnatural’ sex, that is, non-procreative sex, the lilitu steal and kill children, emasculate men, and cause miscarriage and death in mothers. They are, whilst seemingly exiled to the wilderness, to outside, able to transgress and penetrate human habitations and domesticity. We see them leaning out of windows and doorways, the standard iconographic motif of the prostitute, and slipping into houses uninvited. They are the thieves and whores that prey on civilised and law-abiding people, and they are at the very heart of the city.

This same iconography is used for the goddess herself: Inanna-Ishtar. She stands at the window looking for a man in order to seduce him, love him and kill him. Inanna displayed herself provocatively in windows and doors, she initiates sexual contact and was called sahiratu, the one who roams about. In hymns she is described going from house to house and street to street, a phrasing later used to describe demons and repeated in the Song of Songs, which despite being attributed to Solomon is a cut and paste of these earlier hymns to the goddess.

The lilitu are the inspiration for Lilith, dislodged from the Huluppu tree and flown into Jewish consciousness as the archetype of insubordinate and dangerous female sexuality. In Jewish myth, Lilith was the first wife of Adam, who refused to lie beneath him and wanted to take the mother superior rather than the missionary position. This is the genealogy of the witch, whose family tree profoundly roots her in the conflicted dna of our earliest civilisations.

The disconnect from the shamanic consciousness of our ancestors was accomplished by building walled cities, stepped pyramids imitating the emergence of a hierarchical order and patrilineal organisation; the sacred mountain and cave now made of burned brick, the priestess who gives the king his right to rule now a state function rather than a wild woman, a shaman. The stories and myths of Mesopotamia are already ancient when they are pressed into clay tablets, and we can intuit layers of earlier shamanic material in them.

It is worth plunging into the myth of the descent of Inanna-Ishtar. A description of the initiation of goddess and priestess, a mystery play, and a coming of age drama of reaching sexual maturity. It can also be read as a shamanic descent and ordeal, in which Inanna is forced at each of the seven gates of the underworld to surrender one of the seven tokens of her earthly power with which she has prepared herself, as she is brought, bent low and naked, to the throne room of her sister Ereshkigal. Ereshkigal is the goddess of the underworld, the Great Below. She is, in one sense, the chthonic mind, pre-conscious and unillumined darkness, absolute hunger and appetite. A devourer. Inanna, from her domain in the Great Above, has heard her sister Ereshkigal – ostensibly grieving for her husband – though the description is clearly playing on her suffering menstrual pains, or being in the pangs of labour, or in heat. All these explanations I believe are plausible and intended.

At the seven concentric gates of the underworld, Inanna is compelled to give up all her worldly attributes of power and femininity. She is stripped for the final confrontation with her sister. Witchcraft and shamanic initiations are always an ordeal. The text reads:

Naked and bowed low, Inanna entered the throne room.
Ereshkigal rose from her throne.
Inanna started toward the throne.
The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her.
They passed judgement against her.

Then Ereshkigal fastened on Inanna the eye of death.
Then spoke against her the word of wrath.
She uttered against her the cry of guilt.

She struck her.

Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.

Inanna is hung up to season like meat in a butchers. The image of Inanna hung from a hook brings to mind suspension rituals, but in close analysis we become aware that this act of initiation is an inversion. When meat is hung it is from the hind legs, the feet, so that the blood can be drained from the throat. So here we have a chthonic sacrifice, and simultaneously an image of menstruation. One could also conjecture a connection to the head down position of a baby in the birth canal). A possible earlier version of the myth would have Inanna consumed (as sacrifice) by her sister and then birthed by her. This cannot be dismissed as primitive physiological (mis)understanding, similar acts of the ‘Mothers’ and female Seizers are detailed in the Tantras. See The Kiss of the Yogini by David Gordon White – a controversial work but one we highly recommend studying – for many interesting parallels and insights in this regard.

Inanna is rescued from the underworld by the intercession of another shaman, Enki, who sends two golems (a galatur and akurgarra) fashioned from spit and fingernail dirt. These comfort Ereshkigal in her pain, by repeating her cries, in the manner of professional mourners. We could even see them as dildos, as arousal and sex can be harnessed by women to alleviate menstrual cramps. It is worth reading The Wise Wound by Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove for more insights. That work, and Redgrove’s Black Goddess and the Sixth Sense, should be on any witchcraft reading list.

To return to our narrative: soothed, Ereshkigal grants the galatur and kurgarra a wish and they ask for the corpse of Inanna which they bring back to life with the food and water of life. She returns to the earth with a retinue of demons who drag off her husband Tammuz in her stead. What, besides a life for a life and life for death, has been exchanged? In being stripped of all that identified her as a woman, a priestess and a queen, in this absolute self-effacement before her sister, Inanna gains self-knowledge. She has confronted the dark, unknown recesses of the world that lies outside her domain (life, light, love) and in this process of acknowledging the other, this sacrifice of herself, has won carnal knowledge from the darkness of Ereshkigal. Sexuality becomes not a blind force that controls you, but a power that can be exercised knowingly. In psychological terms we would call this integration: the goddess who descends is not the goddess who returns. Ereshkigal has gifted Inanna the raw power of her sexuality. As the story ends: All praise to Ereshkigal!

The self-conscious use of sexuality is traditionally the domain of the prostitute, and Inanna was the goddess of sex and of prostitutes, whose repertory of techniques included how to void or avoid pregnancy, the arts of evoking and invoking pleasure, and the arts of disguise, transformation and illusion. These are gained through uninhibited knowledge of the self. Though we do not wish to glamorise the life of the ancient or modern prostitute, she remains a symbol of independent female sexuality in a human history of carnal repression. Confidence, strength, awareness: these are rarely gifts we are born with, but are wrested from the dark mirror to the underworld.

Witchcraft, like the ordeal of Inanna, is a matter of carnal knowledge, it is a question of gnosis in and through the body. We use the mythic structure of the descent in our own work, returning to the Great Below every year in our rites at Samhain. Without the descent to the underworld, there can be no flight to the sabbat. Incubation, the dark, the cave, the deep dreaming mind, are where we discover and bring back power to transform both our world and our selves. Sexuality and creativity are inexorably linked, but to access these most potent and primordial depths we need to strip our civilised selves naked and emptied of words.

As we have seen, the demonic feminine of Lilith migrates into Judaism, as too does a guilty and demonised Eve. Inanna-Ishtar becomes Astarte who, with her consort Baal, is denounced in the Old Testament before St John gives a final twist to the tale, and with the trappings of the Roman Empire, names her after the old enemy, Babylon. Revelation, like that other hymn to the love goddess, the Song of Songs, carried the old religion into a new post pagan age. It has been misread and misinterpreted ever since, but remains one of the core myths upon which our modern world revolves.

Alkistis Dimech and Peter Grey
2010 Presentation: Raw Power: Witchcraft, Babalon and Female Sexuality

23rd May

Hot day yesterday full of sun. Shopping and chores. Rain forecast for today, but clear weather and lots of sunshine for the rest of the week.

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“Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law…”

Aleister Crowley’s famous (infamous) mantra. Risqué, even shocking in its time, today it is the prevalent belief system of the “ME” generation. Look at the way large corporations behave. They frequently display the moral and ethical codes of goose-stepping storm troopers. Banks and the financial crisis, you’ll recall, is a case in point: it was the tax payer rather than the banking industry that absorbed all the pain. Quite remarkable. Then we have scandals, such as Libor rigging, VW illegally cheating emissions tests, Enron, WorldCom, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, and Bernie Madoff. I could go on and on, but won’t. I’m sure you get where I’m coming from here. Market forces rule. Do what thou wilt

Drug addled Crowley claimed his law of Thelema was dictated to him by an entity named Aiwass. If true, Aiwass was very well read and borrowed indiscriminately from all the works he’d read. For example: “Fait ce que vouldras,” François Rabelais describing the rule of his Abbey of Thélème in Gargantua and Pantagruel.

Aiwass the spirit-plagiarist…

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Thinking of you. Seeing you undressing slowly in the half-light, and exposing what normally lies hidden beneath skirt and panties. Seeing you finally naked in front of me – this starts the all too familiar ache inside my own flesh, the need to seek release with you…

The Ineffectual Prince

May 21, 2017

Once upon a time,
there was a prince.
He was not a wealthy prince,
nor a famous prince.
Not a particularly handsome prince,
nor a heroic prince.
One day, he did espy a princess
of singular beauty,
and wit,
and charm.
Being of little fortune, fame, looks and bravery,
the prince was unable to approach the princess.
Fearing rejection,
in the way a greater man might fear an ogre.
So, day and night,
believing himself to be more capable with words,
he sat in his tower,
composing a poem
of singular beauty,
and wit,
and charm.
He illuminated the manuscript,
in the rarest of inks,
working into the night,
until his head grew heavy,
and his eyes grew dry.
Finally, the manuscript was complete,
and, proud of his work,
he showed it to friends,
who, complimentary of his work,
told him to show it to the princess.
“But,” he said to them, “I’m not ready.”
“And,” he said to himself, “how do I know you’re only being complimentary because you’re friends?”
And so,
fearing rejection in the same way a brave knight might fear a dragon.
he locked the manuscript in a chest,
which he placed beneath the throne,
on which he grew old, listening to sad songs.

Chris Dabnor