inevitably, satan, centre stage.

once upon a time in a magic land far away there were wise wizards and witches of bright honour and shining virtue who practiced circle magic to procure and maintain the harmony of our lands. their circle had four quarters with a tower or tel at each of the four directions and a priesthood in every tower or tel. and there was in the middle a meadhall where the priesthood (christhood, in q celtic) of the centre (saint, or santa) kept a charitable table for rich and poor. they so  won the trust and gratitude love and high esteem of the people round about that they were given widespread political power. they bestowed schools and universities to raise the people to their own level, and they organised food production and distribution, commerce, trade, the arts and the just and fair management of resources. they recruited their new members from the elite of all nations, and were proud of their ideal of equality for all.

but gods though they were, they were, like us, gods mediating their divinity through the limiting, still somewhat distortive mind and imagination of the mortal human being and they sometimes quarrelled and snitched at each other though they were always ashamed, and they were always sorry after.

but one day a quarrel broke out that was bitterer than any before and it flared up out of control and sparks flew and efforts to pacify it only inflamed it the more. and why did not santa, standing where the diameters cross, why did he not immediately ring the bell for dheoch-acha and they sit down to peace talks? because he was one of the shameful miscreants. that’s why. water wouldn’t douse him, air wouldn’t scatter him, earth wouldn’t smite him, fire couldn’t burn him, nothing could quieten the towering majesty of his wrath.

and who was he quarrelling with? the southern priesthood, the southerner, sasana, satan sa’an sun god. set. seti. radiant god of light and warmth and magic and love.

and the santa cross/christ/priest conquered sasana, sowson, sorcerer, susanna, hassan, set, seti, satan, sun god ra ra ra drove satan out and barred his way with swords. and cursed satan, and called satan evil, and attributed to satan motives of pure evil..

which would have been all right except that he who occupied the centre, the crossed, christ, priest place, had the power to enlist the resources of the whole world, all the armies of all the bods, gods, guards, bards or pathers (aka cathars), and he constrained them to fulfill his vow to destroy satan and drive satanic evil out of the land. because nothing would restrain the wrath of the santa god.

and so spear-heading the driving out of the moorses, moses, well, black people, dull, dubh, du, diw, dieu, jew people, the santa christ replaced the meadhall meadow in the middle with the watery west, such that the world path is now a western one. after that there was no true christ, because the world was now divided against itself. then the west subsumed the north claiming much norse wisdom as ‘western’ philosophy, and claimed the old world cross-doing religion as a western one. now it seeks to westernise the east.

and for the love of humanity, look what is happening: dang me if it ain’t still anathematising, driving out, purging and ravaging satan, in his southern lands, appropriating whole populations in its superstitious rage and stealing its resources in the process.

o ye tower queens and kings, maybe it was a ‘just war’ but i couldn’t put those two words together in that sequence without bunging it in quotes and observing that they don’t go. maybe that noble saint was brought to book and legally punished for his war crimes. and maybe he was provoked by the fiery temperament of the priests of the fire. maybe it was just plain racism. because satan, sudan, sedan, saudi, was a sun-baked land, and its priesthood and its literate elite, its merchants, its brides, its warriors and its knightly suitors were sometimes dark-skinned, dusky, golden, tan, brown, or black as egypt’s knight. moors.  black. moors. didn’t ‘sambo’ once mean ‘summerboy’? wasn’t he our beloved page? did not desdemona love othello? did not blackamoor swoon with love for amaryllis?

you see, on the northern hemisphere of the world map,

  • north, norns, norse, horse, nains etc (but not normans) were in the north towards the pole, where all diminished to nort, naught, nought, not, night
  • in the east were the isis, aisir, asia, erinnya and their priesthoods
  • and in the watery washt west wet woda woden odin houdin voudun cu wet sail co water all the way to aotaroa (water rower) were voudun, woden, speaking at last thank godbodpathcath english so that we can understand him, uasail!
  • and of course satan was the equatorial zone viewed from the north.

from the south, the equatorial zone is northern, so there is no slur on equatorial people who live south of the equator, but them northern southerners – let’s not propogate curses against whole peoples we do not know.

so that might have been all right but they were going at it hammer and tongs and it was only natural that someone would get hurt.

and when the tumult and the shouting died, the captains and the kings departed and lawkes a-mighty there’s roma on the throne hurling execrations at satan and requiring us all to do the same on pain of death….

let’s stop. let’s stop cursing and slandering entities we have never met just because an enraged king was racist long ago.

let no curse or slur from pulpit or pew on book or electronic media ever have power to harm the innocent, the beautiful peoples of our planet.

awen awen awen.

i invite with love and affectionan the northern hemisphere’s sat kindly benign spirits of satan to dance with our southern hemisphere northern spirits of fire, warmth, light and magic,

croning: an article and a ritual

Croning: coming of age in the 21st century. by vyvyan ogma wyverne
Old age is not a slow death unless your body is sick. We’re so accustomed to negative images of ‘crones’ in folk-lore and fantasy, where post-child-bearing, independent females are portrayed as a crooked, arthritic, ugly old scolds, that some people are surprised at the idea of a ‘croning’. Why would anyone want to be called a ‘crone’? Shouldn’t we seek positive images and archetypes and leave the old negative ones behind? We need ideals, but do we find them in archetypes generated in the past? Is that how we should honour our ancestors?

The archetypes preserved in folklore are interactive – do we need their power in our lives? They represent real people who lived in or before the middle ages, or during the renaissance or thereabouts. Our genetic inheritance comes from a population which not only included them, but fore-grounded them in story and song. The genes that determine our natures were hammered on the forges of their zeitgeist, just as we now find ourselves fine-tuning them in our 21st century interpersonal dramas. The crone of the middle ages incubated the spirituality of the crone of today, just as we are now shaping the nature of crones to come. It helps Gaia if we maintain the continuity of such evolutions – it’s a way of helping to repair the web of race memory, making subtle psychic connections between our times, allowing healing as in the repairing of damaged nerves.

Our ancestors had their own rightful place in the nasty past and are now fading from memory, while we live in the enlightened here and now, consciously working towards an ideal future. Shouldn’t we be imagining new role-models based on current experience? In the late 20th century, feminist scholars deeply explored the range of stereotypes generated by our culture, in the mass media, pop culture and in the popular imagination – many of these made use of carl jung’s work on archetypes and the collective unconscious. They found themselves awed at the power of the archetype as the shapers of society, of society’s response to individuals and their expectations of people who fall under their spell.

Some archetypes are distorted, like caricatures. They seem to exert a distortive power over the personality they misrepresent and over social situations involving them. Persistent images of independent old women have come down to us from a time when few people enjoyed long lives, and those who did were skinny, bent and rickety, with voices as croaky as that of the pet raven on their shoulder. Their faces are sometimes depicted as resembling death’s heads, the skull all but visible beneath the skin – and indeed, they seem close to death. It is this image of the crone that people fear.

The focus is not always on her decrepitude. In many folk tales the crone presents the symbolic gifts at rites of passage, and there’s usually nothing said of her other than that she is an old woman with high standing in the palace – at a time when a palace might be anything from a small populous city with a king and queen in residence to a lonely roadside cottage in the woods with a skeleton staff of one. This one is the dominant image in folk memory, and she still fascinates us. We continually create her anew, complete with rickets, toothlessness, croaky voice, distaff in hand and pet raven, but active pagans are more likely to up-grade her in the light of many generations of further evolution to a healthy, motivated, energised elder, rich in experience, a veteran of a lifetime of good living and ready for decades more of useful, dedicated work and enthusiastic participation in life.

Actors justly fear ‘type-casting’. It exerts metaphysical, magical power that can lock them into expected patterns of limited and inappropriate character-acting, stifling their creativity and limiting their opportunities for advance. So powerful are stereo-types, often unrecognised though held in the popular imagination by most people, that the second wave feminists of the 1970s called upon the image-makers of our culture, the educators, mass media, and the general population, to revise our fixed notions about old women, to take a reality check, to close the sizable gap between what old women, for example, really are and what most people think we are, how we are represented in the media and how this affects us. This radical rethink resulted in broad changes to our culture which now offers enhanced life experience for all older people.

As the mass media is now aware, if the general populace regards old women as typically sick, requiring full-time nursing care, headed for Alzheimer’s and kept alive by up to 20 different kinds of designer drugs, they can magically swing it that way. Advertising exploits this power for profit. We can wield it for the good of all. If we foreground the increasing sanity surrounding aging in current medical research, and focus on the many fit healthy role-models we see all around us, we can adjust our image towards the reality and thus connect more effectively with the beauty and blessing of old age, the value of the contribution of the aged to our culture and the special gifts and talents and sweet rewards that come with the wisdom of years. Then we can begin to shift them towards our own consciously crafted ideals. Thus we get magical control of our own evolution. Learning to use this awesome evolutionary force, this ‘force that through the green fuse drives the flower’ consciously, we avoid being distorted into creating dysfunctional social situations that plague life today.

We can learn from the archetypes, recognising their flaws in us and filtering them out, selectively inheriting their goodness, tweaking their spiritual ‘software’ creatively, participating in the crafting of the archetypes themselves. They aid us in discovering, cultivating and co-creating our own identities. The extent to which we resemble the archetype in question determines how much our spirit resonates with hers – or his in the case of a male. We can consciously avoid resembling an undesirable norm, the wicked witch who explodes in a jealous rage for example, while adopting features of the desired types, such as the chivalrous youth who marries the princess.

Through the evolving crone archetype women maintain continuum between ourselves and the old women of the past, receiving from them the power of their enchantment, and giving to them the blessing of their descendants. But be warned: when we conjure the crone from within our own beings, we might find ourselves with a friendly raven on our shoulder after all!

crow and crone

crone with crow

The Ritual
In preparation: crown (wrapped) and gifts are placed on central altar or other convenient surface in full view of all.

Rituallist: I proclaim the Rite of the The Spiral of Life
for the croning of vyvyan ogma wyverne,
companion of the order of bards, ovates and druids
in the cooringal groveof.
I give vyvyan greetings.
Saturn has twice returned to where it
was at the time of your birth.
You have turned fifty eight.
You have been a maiden,
and you have been a matron,
and now you are ready to become a crone.

Birch Spirit as Birth Guardian: As a spirit unborn you called together
father and mother, bodies and souls,
ancestors, past lives, dreamings, pathways:
you grew brand new from a single cell.
On a sunny day in spring,
you entered through the womb of life
into the arms of family love,
you entered the universe of human experience,
of perception and understanding,
you entered the succession of seasons,
of the circles and spirals of time and event
and you became a human child,
growing stronger every day.

East: As a bird in the wood,
around and around you flew,
you wove wakes in the shining air,
in the radiant peace of the east.
From the family to the greater community
you learned the established practices of our culture,
you took up the symbols of holiness and power,
you drank the nectar, spoke the ancient vows,
submitted to the curses of life, blessed the blessings
and learned to love the law,
and so became a maiden, fit for life.

North: As a flame in the fire
you went to work with a will
embraced the fuel, did the magical work of transformation
in the joyful peace of the North.
In the great crescendo of life
of culture and community, of work and of play,
as part of the vital fabric of earthly reality
there you matured, suffered, triumphed,
learned much, taught much, erred and sinned
and yet still loved goodness and just laws.

West: As a fish in the flood, questing,
you navigate instinctively.
you dream the mystic visions of the waters
in the deep inner peace of the west.
Now let the harvest be abundant,
as it ripens from the seeds and flowers
of your childhood and youth.
Since quiet questing, patient industry
and the simple prayer
of a steady mind with a good conscience
are the rich rewards of a life lived truthfully
and humbly in search of health and wisdom.

South: As a clod of clay, flesh of the earth,
you will come to know and cherish
the solid logic in the forms and forces of reality
in the still, silent peace of the South.
Now as your material body ages,
you will have learnt the hard lessons,
won the difficult harvests, stored the gains
and gathered the bountiful rewards
of living upon the material planet
as a material being. You will age,
you will approach death itself as we all must.
Yet you will not fear this death in its time,
knowing that it is the doorway to new lives.

Yew Spirit – the Death Guardian: From the earth came your body,
from the unknown came your soul,
and finally they will return,
replete with each other’s imprint,
your soul to the unknown, your body to the earth,
the memory of you to the mythos
of the ancestors, or to oblivion
in a world that keeps on turning
through the cycle of the seasons
and the spinning spirals of the day.

Rituallist: As a maiden you learned to be useful.
As a matron you worked in the world.
As the crone you will share your wisdom
bringing understanding to the world
and foresight to the young.
(picks up crown)
This croning is the crowning of your life.
Perhaps the words are related –
older women once wore crowns
though they were not queens.
(placing crown on w’s head)
Yet, within the circle of this crown
you are queen of your own dominions,
as every woman is when she is croned.
You are queen of your own soul
queen of your own mind
queen of your own experience.
autonomous, empowered and free.

wyverne: I am grateful to the guardians of birth
who helped me into this world.
I remember with affection and something more
the children with whom I played
and the teachers who gave me my lessons
while I was a growing girl.
I am grateful to them all.
I am also grateful
to the friends of my adolescence
and those who prepared me for adult life.
My family, friends and teachers
both human and other,
animals and angels
and the beings of all worlds.
And my co-workers, comrades-at-arms
my fellow humans, I am grateful
to have been so blessed and so sustained
through hard times and good
in so many ways by so many.
Gaia, you have been good to me
Given me more than you’re able to give others.
I go forward with a right good will
in trust and affection with you
to bring help to the hurt,
provisions to the needy
healing to the sick
wisdom to the bewildered
and comfort to the weary
in the best way I can till I can do no more.

To you who have spoken the ritual words for me,
and to you have listened, I am especially grateful,
because you are here to revive that consciousness
of magic, and the ritual response that sanctifies
the stages of my life as they ought to be sanctified,
without which life is less.

For this reason I ask each of you to accept this gift.
(goes round circle then returns to centre)

I came into this circle today a matron
a maturing woman with a lot of memories
and I’ll leave it a crone, autonomous and free.

All: (return to places ready to resume ceremony)