What level of Witch…?

December 9, 2017

 

witch ride

I have never written about being female and being queer and being brown in a white-majority country and being Dalit and having an abusive childhood and my physical illnesses and struggling with depression: put all those together and I’m the super-intersectional minority of one.

My Anglophone fantasy-reading taught me that in the Middle Ages, they used to bury witches at crossroads. If you need two roads to intersect to keep down one basic witch, I wonder what level of witch that makes me.

Mimi Mondal
Missive from a Woman in a Room in a City in a Country in a World Not Her Own

naked witches

December 9, 2017

Mine are the lusts of hoofs and horns,
Of the he-goat and the loon
And the naked witches that demons deflower
On the dark side of the moon.

No common sin may fire my eyes,
Glutted with excesses fell —
My lust is stained with the dung that stirs
On the stinking streets of Hell.

Robert E Howard
Letter to Tevis Clyde Smith September 1930

I am definitely now exploring what science can do to create a new biological body for a ghost or a spirit. I am certainly asking whether or not newly created humanoid entities have souls. I do have my own pantheon of ghosts, elves, werewolves, vampires, mummies, witches and the like. I have loved creating this. And I’ve had wonderful fun exhuming these horror clichés and doing my take on them. I think there are certain concepts that unite my work, and the main one, of course is that the monster, particularly the vampire, is a metaphor for us, a metaphor for the outsider and the predator in each of us. Good horror fiction as I see it is always about us, about the human condition. It is always allegorical and metaphorical. I love writing these books. They are about my reality, my moral and social obsessions.

Ann Rice
Interview 14th February

Camomile Tea

September 24, 2017

Outside the sky is light with stars;
There’s a hollow roaring from the sea.

And, alas! for the little almond flowers,
The wind is shaking the almond tree.

How little I thought, a year ago,
In the horrible cottage upon the Lee
That he and I should be sitting so
And sipping a cup of camomile tea.

Light as feathers the witches fly,
The horn of the moon is plain to see;
By a firefly under a jonquil flower
A goblin toasts a bumble-bee.

We might be fifty, we might be five,
So snug, so compact, so wise are we!
Under the kitchen-table leg
My knee is pressing against his knee.

Our shutters are shut, the fire is low,
The tap is dripping peacefully;
The saucepan shadows on the wall
Are black and round and plain to see.

Katherine Mansfield

talent for witchcraft

September 3, 2017

You weren’t born with a talent for witchcraft: it didn’t come easily; you worked hard at it because you wanted it. You forced the world to give it to you, no matter the price, and the price is and always will be high… People say you don’t find witchcraft; witchcraft finds you. But you’ve found it, even if at the time you didn’t know what it was you were finding, and you grabbed it by its scrawny neck and made it work for you.

Terry Pratchett
I Shall Wear Midnight

witches

August 11, 2017

At the end of his first week the weather turned cool, and we made a hot dinner. I dipped bread in egg, pushing it under to make it soggy. Freya took the eggshells and smashed them in her fists.

– “So witches can’t use them,”  she said, and winked at me.

Eleanor Wasserberg
Foxlowe

• Cut an onion in half and set both halves on the windowsill in the kitchen. Empower to suck up negativity. Change when onion sprouts.
• Hang a pair of open scissors over the front door to cut off negativity from entering the house ( make sure the scissors are safely hung!)
• Put garlic under the bed to warn off nightmares.
• Scent your pillow with lavender to bring sweet dreams ( i do this daily and it works! it also makes me fall asleep faster.)
• Place holy water by the left side ( as you face it ) of the front door.
• Make a prayer monument built of small, round, white stones in one corner of your property. A small pile will do. Leave milk and honey for the spirits of the property and entreat their protection.
• Place a small bag of angelica, rosemary, and mint under the four eaves of the attic ( or on the four corners of your property.)
• To stave off a coming storm, stick a knife in the ground, blade pointing in the direction of the oncoming nasty weather to split the wind. Scream” I am the presence!” at the top of your lungs ,directed at the oncoming storm.
• Hang a cluster of acorns on the front door to protect the residence and those who live there.
• Place a full glass of water by your bed every night to collect any negativity in the room.          ( don’t drink it)

Source here

The Sabbat

May 17, 2017

Babalon’s image hangs over the Middle Ages as the Whore of Revelation, her voluptuous sensuality and ostentatious wealth and beauty raised as the epitome of carnality and sin. Europe, ravaged by the Black Death, lusted after images of Apocalypse – seeking salvation from famines, war and a plague which killed 50% of the population in four grim years. The stage was set for the appearance of Woman, Dragon, Beast and Anti-Christ. The end of the world was nigh as popular pamphlets and preachers alike proclaimed. Between 1458 and 1650 Revelation was reprinted in 750 editions. The imagery of Revelation saturated the culture. This macabre flowering of apocalyptic Christianity opened the way for intensified sexual oppression – though at the heart of the rose is also the solution to it: the survival of the goddess in a newer and more potent modern form.

Medieval history of is a litany of the reduction and constriction of women’s powers and prospects in the world. The freedoms women had exercised in sphere’s such as medicine and childbirth were revoked. Midwives and their plant philtres became suspect; the male alchemist appropriated the function of maternity while the wombs of real women effectively became the property of their feudal lords.

But the war was wider than this. Let me give you one example: in France, the state decriminalised rape against women, so long as they were peasants or of the working class. Such a blatantly divisive manœuvre on the part of the French municipal authorities would have catastrophic effects for both sexes. Women would bear the scars and the social stigma of what was an officially sponsored violation – designed to appease working class men’s sexual frustration. Men would suffer in the breakdown of class solidarity, as victims of a strategy of divide and rule which turned them into disenfranchised workers and controlled male sexuality through the female.

It is worth quoting Sylvia Federici here, in whose work Caliban and the Witch, much of this shocking story is told:

The legalization of rape created a climate of intense misogyny that degraded all women regardless of class. It also desensitized the population to the perpetration of violence against women, preparing the ground for the witch-hunt which began in this same period. It was at the end of the 14th century that the first witch-trials took place, and for the first time the Inquisition recorded the existence of an all-female heresy and sect of devil-worshippers.

The demonisation and control of women under the feudal, proto-Capitalist system signified the intent of the ruling classes to domesticate all people: It was woman, as herself, and as mother, sister, wife, lover, comrade in arms, who had to be undone in order to break the strength of the community.

This process of domestication has continued, with no real men and women, but rather a passive mass of dead-eyed consumers. It is sex and difference which can ignite us, just as rape was used to divide us.

The French historian Jules Michelet, looking at this period of history with 19th century sensibilities, saw in the figure of the witch a symbol of the French people. The rising of a Romantic nationalistic sentiment amongst the bourgeoisie cast the figure of the witch as both pre-Christian and anti-Christian icon. Michelet, inspired by Jacob Grimm and his book Deutsche Mythologie, recast the witch as a healer, a wise-woman and defender of the people – as the repository of native knowledge and all-but-lost traditions. He also, specifically and fictitiously, identified her with Revolution. In The Sorceress, he writes:

Under such a system of blind and indiscriminate repression, to venture little and to venture much and far, is all one, and the risk the same. The very danger incurred increased the Sorceresses’ reckless, and led them to do and dare everything.

Michelet also explicitly unites woman’s body with Revolution, and the hoped-for return to the natural, cyclical rhythm which she embodies:

…that the marvellous monster of universal life was swallowed up inside her; that from now on life, death, everything was held within her entrails, and at the price of such painful labour, she had conceived Nature.

An image strangely reminiscent of Ereshkigal moaning with lust or labour in the underworld. Both inversion and revolution are inherent in witchcraft. What in the microcosmic sense can be found in the body of woman, manifests in the panorama of lived and shared experience as the sabbats and black masses. Michelet once again recognised this:

At the Witches Sabbath woman fulfils every office. She is priest, and altar, and consecrated host…In the last resort, is she not the very God of the Sacrifice as well?

Woman’s centrality is not to the exclusion of ALL, rather she unites ALL. As cave, cauldron, chalice, womb and cunt she holds ALL, and ALL issue from her. What distinguishes the sabbat, or indeed the black mass, from the Christian mass or our own age’s consumerism, is its inclusivity: a sense of revelry, licentiousness, feasting, flirting, dancing and abandon. It is a communion of revolt under the aegis of a priestess. Deflecting the male gaze and logic in describing this feminine experience, Catherine Clément writes in The Newly-Born Woman:

The reverse spectacle, the celebration, in which everyone participates, in which no-one is voyeur, is the Sabbat.

Importantly, it is carried out under the cloak of darkness. Being nocturnal it is free of all the impositions of diurnal life – in particular, the social obligations that govern a woman’s life. At the sabbat she wears forbidden personas, indulges aspects of her sexual nature such as the mænadic and ecstatic consort of beasts and demons. In fact, the sabbat is a descendant of secret rites called orgia, from which our word orgy is derived, practiced in the ancient Mystery cults – oftentimes exclusively by women. They are associated particularly with Dionysos, Cybele and other pre-Olympian chthonic gods. The orgia, like the sabbat, seek to dissolve the barriers between the celebrant and the divinity, who is said to arrive or come in the heightened ecstatic state of the devotee.

The orgy is a quite peculiarly feminine experience, because of woman’s erotic and sexual nature. Her libido, which is cosmic, has the potential to plunge the individual and society into a violently ecstatic liberation of consciousness.

The body cannot be subordinated to reason.

Our flesh is alive and constantly changing.

One of the futures I foresee through this increasingly hegemonic and reductionist age is the manifestation of fearless and unreasonable women who will turn on everyone around them, who will lead the way in creating communities of liberated individuals. Above all, I call for a revolutionary art that undermines this unsustainable and futile exchange economy. Beauty for beauty’s sake, beauty for all! Sex and creation are inextricably bound. Remember, the sabbat is also an imaginal realm, attained through the erotic stimulation of the senses, as well as other means. Here is woman’s peculiar and natural proclivity to generate outpourings of fantasy and phantasm, of motion and emotion. This is a holy state. And it is achieved with sexual energy. Hélène Cixous, in The Laugh of the Medusa, writes:

You can’t talk about a female sexuality, uniform, homogenous, classifiable into codes, any more than you can talk about one unconscious resembling another. Women’s imaginary is inexhaustible, like music, painting, writing; their stream of phantasms is incredible.

What we can see is that witchcraft is continually re-imagined and re-invigorated by the blood of each generation. By new voices. By strong sexually independent women. And there is an urgent need for witchcraft. Christianity has been replaced with a Corporatism that tells us freedom is the right to work as slaves; that being a woman means a constant treadmill of consumerism and self-loathing; that the rape of the planet is business as usual.

The witch walks miraculously out of the flames.

The body continues to speak.

The priestess will not be silenced, the oracle is never closed.

Witchcraft is never fixed.

Every witchcraft revolution is a sexual revolution.

Though we can return in our researches to the depths of the Sumerian underworld, or the matriarchies of Margaret Murray, or the Old Europe of Maria Gimbutas, witchcraft is always about the naked body of the witch. Our visions, our rites, our rituals in our time. Our desire to reconnect with the raw power of witchcraft, the carnal lust, which in woman is insatiable.

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

I have the idea that we grandmothers are meant to play the part of protective witches; we must watch over younger women, children, community, and also, why not?, this mistreated planet, the victim of such unrelenting desecration. I would like to fly on a broomstick and dance in the moonlight with other pagan witches in the forest, invoking earth forces and howling demons; I want to become a wise old crone, to learn ancient spells and healers’ secrets. It is no small thing, this design of mine. Witches, like saints, are solitary stars that shine with a light of their own; they depend on nothing and no one, which is why they have no fear and can plunge blindly into the abyss with the assurance that instead of crashing to earth, they will fly back out. They can change into birds and see the world from above, or worms to see it from within, they can inhabit other dimensions and travel to other galaxies, they are navigators on an infinite ocean of consciousness and cognition.

Isabel Allende
Paula

Diary 23rd April

As Mel Gibson would probably say: “Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”

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Question: ‘What is a magical diary?’

Answer: ‘Put simply, you keep a magical diary by setting your intentions down on paper, where they begin to take on power, weight, and material force, no longer vacuous desires volleying in the cavern of your mind. It’s as simple or as complex as that.

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To tread the Mystic Way you must learn to annihilate selfhood and to turn your attention from the multiplicity of the phenomenal world, with its classifying and image-making, its logical reasoning and discursive thinking, so as to attain that ‘simple seeing’ of which the mystics speak; for not until your eye has become single can your whole body be filled with light.

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It is only when all outward appearances are gone that there is left that one principle of life which exists independently of all external phenomena. It is the fire which burns in the eternal light, when the fuel is expended and the flame extinguished; for that fire is neither in the flame nor in the fuel, nor yet inside either of the two, but above, beneath, and everywhere…

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Remembering your lip
The ruby red I kiss;
Having not that to sip
My lips instead press this –