News of the Past

October 2014
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Spirit-work and Self-care

By Nornoriel Lokason

I am a spirit-worker – my life is not my own, but lived in full-time service to the Powers… in my specific case, the Vanir. (I have other intensive relationships with entities outside this pantheon, but I would not define them as service-oriented.) I have been dismembered, killed, and reborn in my astral body, with corresponding energetic and psychological changes; I have had my life blown apart and re-assembled in the way the Powers think it ought to be, with nothing getting in the way of my Work.

It can be hard, as one whose entire life is bound up in “the spooky” (as some of us call it), to keep a work/life balance, because the Work is my life, and I cannot escape it (I tried). But I have experienced burnout before, which took the better part of three years to recover from, and even now, I periodically have to evaluate how I’m doing, and shift my load-balance as needed.

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Holy Islands and the Otherworld: Places Beyond Water

By Eldar Heide

In this article I attempt to demonstrate that there is a connection between holy islands and notions of an Otherworld beyond water. I believe that the essence of holy islands is their location on the other side of water. One has to cross water to get there and in this respect holy islands are parallel to the Otherworld, which often is placed beyond water, horizontally or vertically. The liminality of certain islands seems to be related to this; they resemble the Otherworld but are located in this world. Thus, they have an intermediate position and are ideal as points of contact with the Otherworld. I also suggest that some islands are “super-liminal,” those that are either reachable on foot and thus belong to the mainland in a way, although they are islands, and those that
are sometimes submerged or surface only occasionally. I support Holmberg’s [Harva’s] theory that the main source of the idea that there is an Otherworld underneath us is derived from the experience of seeing an inverted reflection of this world in calm water. To this explanation I add the specification that dry ground is included in the reflection image, which may explain why one (in most accounts) reaches the same dry kind of land no matter if one accesses the Otherworld through gaps in the ground or by jumping into water. I also discuss islands that seem to have their liminality mostly from being off-shore; that is, far away from society, and the relationship between this and Otherworld entrances in the midst of society. My article is an attempt to understand some of the logic behind the major interfaces between this world and the Otherworld, in particular that behind watery interfaces. This does not, however, imply a claim that the whole worldview was a coherent logical system. The evidence gathered for this discussion indicates that going across water – horizontally or vertically – was a more common
passage to the Scandinavian gods, especially Óðinn, than has hitherto been realized.

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(H/T Medievalists.net)

The Divinization of Caesar and Augustus, by Michael Koortbojian

Precedents, Consequences, Implications

Reviewed by W. Jeffrey Tatum

The invention of Divus Iulius entrained important issues of representation. Ought there to be a recognisable distinction between Caesar-The-Great-Man and Divus Iulius? And, if so, what should Divus Iulius look like? And what should be the chief significations of his divine aspect? These questions, and the further inquiries they provoke, lie at the centre of Michael Koortbojian’s fascinating and enjoyable book.

In his lifetime, Caesar was the recipient of divine honours, a practice (adapted from the protocols of Hellenistic monarchy) that was, by the second half of the first century BC, far from novel in Rome. But, Koortbojian insists, Caesar, however much he was likened to the gods, was not one of them until after his death. This claim is not uncontroversial. Still, that the distinction between being god-like and being a god was by no means a negligible one, at least for some Romans, is perhaps illustrated by Antonius’ hostility, after the assassination, toward Caesar’s spontaneous and unofficial worship in the forum and his apparent, if short-lived, resistance to Caesar’s deification. Even before Caesar’s status came into question, during the 70s, a society of hard-headed publicani were insistent that anyone who had once been mortal could not, in any real sense, become a god (or at least not a god who was immune from taxation), a claim that was prominent enough to be the object of a consular inquiry and a senatorial decree (SIG3 747=RDGE 23; cf. also Cic. Nat. D. 3.49; Paus. 1.34.1;Liv. 45.28; still very much worth consulting is T. Mommsen, Hermes 20 (1885), 268ff.). This issue, although not discussed by Koortbojian, and too often mentioned only in passing in discussions of republican religion, is pertinent to Koortbojian’s argument here. In any case, for Koortbojian the job of fashioning the image of Divus Iulius began in 42 BC, after the triumvirs’ establishment of the new god. Between that moment and the dedication of the temple to Divus Iulius in 29, robust experimentation intervened, as the Roman establishment endeavoured to settle on the god’s proper form and function.

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Evolutionary Astrology: What the Moon's Nodes Mean in Your Chart

By Deva Green

No discussion of evolutionary astrology can begin without first mentioning Pluto. In evolutionary astrology, the natal position of Pluto symbolizes the core evolutionary desires/intentions of past lifetimes, while Pluto’s polarity point reflects the current evolutionary intentions. Similarly, we can look to the Moon’s nodes to see how the evolutionary journey within any given lifetime will take place consciously on an emotional level as we make the transition from our evolutionary past to the future.

The South Node of the moon presents the past lifetime’s egocentric structure of the Soul. It reflects how the Soul has consciously integrated the evolutionary intentions of the past (again, this is similarly symbolized by Pluto’s natal position). The South Node of the Moon represents the Soul’s prior self-image.

Conversely, the North Node reflects the Soul’s evolving egocentric structure, and forming self-image for the present lifetime and beyond. It is how the Soul will consciously embrace the current life’s intentions (also symbolized by Pluto’s polarity point). The Soul will use the specific dynamics reflected in the North Node to facilitate its evolutionary transition as it breaks patterns of the past and embraces the lessons of the future.

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Liber Nigri Solis, by Victor Voronov (ed.)

Reviewed in Living Traditions

Liber Nigri Solis is a challenging and powerful guide to the sorcery and gnosis of the Black Sun. It has been compiled from the archives of the Arcanus Ordo Nigri Solis and the Ordo Hermenticus Sinister and is beautifully illustrated. It also features a comprehensive and insightful introduction by Dr. Eva Kingsepp of Stockholm University. The quality of this volume cannot be faulted, it is superbly presented and a joy to examine even before you begin to read it’s amazing contents.

Some years ago I came across some aspects of this work online and found discussions of an early edition of some of this work but its price was way out of my reach. When I found out about the high quality edition with new content from Theion Publishing I couldn’t wait to study it, it has been re-edited, re-presented and worked into a superbly workable form and is a true delight to read and study. I should say that study is the key word – this is not a work for dilettantes or armchair occultists, it is a true grimoire that demands to be taken seriously. It is a significant work which goes way beyond the theatrics and shenanigans of so many modern so-called practitioners of the Left Hand Path, in other words it is the real deal. It certainly offers a truly antinomian gnosis based firmly in a deep knowledge of the dark path. It is especially useful as it enables us “lone wolf” sorcerers to follow its procedures through personal rituals including self initiation as well as providing guidance to those within groups and orders.

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How to Recognize I Can’t in Your Magical Work

By Taylor Ellwood

Sometimes what I find most fascinating about magic is what limitations people build into it. In other words, a person will say to themselves, I can’t do this in magical work. They’ll have various reasons for that ” I can’t” which can range from moral/ethical reasons, spiritual “laws” or personal hang-ups that tell them they can’t do x because of y. I do believe in the value of limits, and I think limitation, as a principle can be very effective for magical work, but when I talk about limitation I’m not referring to the “I can’ts” which are ultimately subjective, but rather to natural principles that structure, organize, and scaffold how magic can work. And its important remember that such limitations can be worked with quite productively, provided we understand them. The “I can’ts” on the other hand are wholly subjective, developed for various reasons that tend to be more harmful than useful in most situations.

When I was young, I was often told what I couldn’t do. I’d tell a family members one of my ideas and be told it would never work and that I couldn’t do it. Fortunately I never believed them, and if anything when I heard such discouragement, it encouraged me to prove them wrong. It’s fair to say that up until my mid twenties most of what I did was inspired by a desire to prove people wrong, to prove that what I couldn’t supposedly do, actually could be done. Even to this day, I still find that when someone says that something can’t be done, it gets me curious to see if in fact they are correct, or if it can be done. 100% of the time I find it (whatever it is) can be done provided you have enough motivation and willingness to experiment and try various possible solutions. What this indicates to me is that many times the only limitation people deal with is the one they impose on themselves or accept from other people.

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Halloween? It’s More than Trick or Treat

By Ronald Hutton

All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, is the modern name in English for the great north European festival which signalled the end of the light and warm half of the year, and ushered in the cold and dark one, and so divided the season of autumn from that of winter in these northern lands. It was known in Irish as Samhain, summer’s end; in Welsh as Nos Galan Gaeaf, “winter’s eve”; in Anglo-Saxon as Blodmonath, “blood month”; and in Norse as the “winter nights”. As such it was one of the greatest religious festivals of the ancient northern pagan year, and the obvious question is what rites were celebrated then.

The answer to that is that we have virtually no idea, because northern European pagans were illiterate, and no record remains of their ceremonies. The Anglo-Saxon name for the feast comes down to an agricultural reality, the need to slaughter the surplus livestock at this time and salt down their meat, because they could not be fed through the winter. A Christian monk, Bede, commented that the animals were dedicated to the gods when they were killed, but he did not appear to know how (and they would still have been eaten by people).

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A Spirit Walker’s Guide to Shamanic Tools, by Evelyn C. Rysdyk

Reviewed by Susan Starr

Forming your own relationship with your helping spirits, teachers and power animals is essential in shamanic work. Shamanism is a highly individualistic practice in which your skill and effectiveness largely depends on your ability to communicate and work well with them. Anything you can do to make your connection stronger is welcome — especially by the spirits, and author Evelyn C. Rysdyk believes there’s no better way than by crafting your own “power tools.”

Rysdyk assumes you are already an experienced shamanic journeyer and you know your spirit community. If not, she points you to books and websites, including her own, where you can learn more. These tools are prepared and made while in sacred space, and you, the crafter, must journey to the spirit of each individual component and completed object to enliven it spiritually, to learn how the spirits want it to be used. If you don’t yet know how to journey, you won’t be getting your money’s worth from this book.

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(Un)Wilding Witchcraft

By Jason Mankey

Over the last several months I’ve noticed a lot of online articles about Witchcraft that make use of the word Wild. The most common iteration along those lines has been Rewilding Witchcraft a lovely turn of phrase that apparently resonates with a lot of folks. Historically witches are often viewed as outsiders, and few things are more wild than the outsider.

I’ve always had trouble with the idea of a wild Witchcraft because my Witchcraft is not wild. There’s a method to my madness in circle and I tend to think of it as measured and controlled. We cleanse the coven, say a prayer, cast a circle, light the temple, call the quarters, welcome everyone to ritual, invoke deity, have a working, celebrate cakes and ale, and then say goodbye to the energies raised and powers invoked. We’ve got a ritual outline we stick to and a Book of Shadows that does a pretty good job of spelling out all the “hows and whys” of our rituals.

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The Wakeful World, by Emma Restall Orr

Reviewed by Brian Taylor

[Snip] Restall Orr, a high profile British Druid, and founder of Honouring the Ancient Dead, manages a natural burial ground, and has previously written about aspects of Druidry. In a talk posted on her website she tells us that she finds animism exciting and dangerous becuase it offers an alternative to Western consumer capitalist culture’s objectification and exploitation of many human beings, other animals, forests, and so forth. In Wakeful World she wanted to hone a definition of animism that would stand its ground against other world views, and help us deconstruct self-sabotaging assumptions in the process.

As a confirmed pluralist I welcome this book. We need a range of perspectives. I like the way in which Restall Orr develops her thesis, step by step, throughout the book. The research behind her most recent offering has clearly been a labour of love, and there’s much of interest here, not least an extended consideration of the mindedness of nature.

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