Working Articles

MeredithMcDonald's picture
As we all know, ADF is committed to public ritual. That commitment impels us to consider how we may best serve the community. As Chief of the Seers Guild, I presented a workshop on Divination in public ritual at Desert Magic Festival. This practice takes place in many different forms, most obviously in oracular practices such as Oracular Seidh. Though there are many schools of thought on the purpose of divination as a part of public ritual, I think it best suits the purposes of this forum to stick to ADF style ritual. I'll begin with the purpose of the Omen in the ADF liturgy. It seems that we began with a purpose that was connected to the kindred's reception of the offerings we've given. However, after over twenty years of public worship, this purpose has evolved and grown. It was my original feeling that the power inherent in asking the gods how we've done in the process of sacrificing to them was far more powerful than simply asking them for an omen. The suspense and trust involved in asking for that approval is palpable in the moment of the return flow. And it has quantifiable results when the omen is unfavorable. I have heard more than one transformative tale from members who worked up the courage to offer something in response to the omen and these stories make this a more than viable method of public omen-taking. That being said, I've grown to have a new regard for a different purpose (and focus) for the omen in ADF Public Ritual. The purpose that seems to be gaining popularity as we hit our young adult years is simply to ascertain the nature of the blessings we are about to receive from the kindred. With this purpose, the omen is taken and often used to charge the blessing cup before it is sent around to the people. (This is a practice I picked up from Ian Corrigan after a unity rite at Summerland Gathering. He placed three fire sources around the blessing cup and put the three omens into a sentence while lighting the flames, using three matches. Ever since seeing the magic behind that use of the omen I have leaned more heavily towards using the omen more as a message from the three kindred to the people.) Having discussed two of the purposes for taking the omen in ADF ritual, I'd like to mention a few ways to call for these omens. A common example of a reading to check the reception of the offerings is similar to the 'past, present, future' reading that many folks use for personal divination. In this reading, I ask 'What Brought us?' and pull a 'few'. (A few is another name for a single symbol, particularly a single Ogham.) The second question is 'How is our Offering received?' and the third is 'What blessing or Challenge do the kindred offer us?' This reading really does cover several bases. We learn what the most important aspect of our gathering is; how our offerings have been used and taken; and we are given the specifics on the blessing to come. If this last symbol is negative, we know that they offer a challenge and drinking the cup means that we accept the challenge. Possibly the most common method of taking the omen to learn the specific nature of the Kindreds' blessing is to pull a symbol from each of the three. We ask what the Ancestors, Nature Spirits and Shining Ones offer us in return for our sacrifices and worship. This reading has the added benefit of being enhanced by the three realms and the three representations of the gates aligned with it. For example, the symbol drawn for the Ancestors will correlate with the well and the past; the Nature Spirits, the tree and the present; and the Shining Ones are the fire and the future. As mentioned above, this reading also makes the 'charging' of the blessing cup a little more magical. Having discussed the purpose and the method of taking the omen, let's focus on the appropriate tools. It is my sincere feeling that Seers in Our Own Druidry should rely upon well known oracles or 'symbol sets' when taking the omen at the beginning of the return flow. (This happens after the final prayer of sacrifice. The flow turns from us offering to them to them offering back. Thus, continuing our relationship through the principle of *ghosti, exemplified by the phrase – 'A Gift calls for a Gift!') Though I do work with oracular modes of divination, including channeling, I believe that this work best fits as a magical working and is not the best mode of taking the main omen. My reason for feeling this way has to do with the responsibility of the Seer to be accountable to the people. If s/he uses a symbol set, they are offering everyone the opportunity to share fully in the power of the omen. In ritual a seer can only say so much, but if the people know what symbols have been drawn they will be able to seek out deeper understanding of their own, thus strengthening the lasting power of the ritual they have attended. This keeps the seer humble as well, and, being a seer myself, I find this extremely valuable. I am not able to take responsibility for my personal prowess as a diviner if I am simply pulling symbols from a bag. I also feel that channeling is such a questionable practice to so many of the folk who may gather in our groves and halls, that we are placing a barrier between them and acceptance of the omen thus, between them and the kindred. This is why I recommend that all ADF seers use a symbol set for taking the main omen. If they'd like to incorporate less quantifiable modes of divination into the magical workings of the rite, however, I am all for that. (And have employed it myself to great success.) DISCLAIMER: It should, however, be understood that channeling for public ritual should only be undertaken by people with vast experience with trance work that has included methods for 'going away' and 'coming back'. And should be considered along the lines of swimming alone in the ocean – never channel without a reliable and fully trained 'ground' who can bring you back out of trance. Now, as for which symbol sets you should use for ADF public ritual, there are plenty of choices. I tend to lean towards the ones that we have some idea may have been used for divination by the ancients. Of course we have no real evidence that they used Ogham or Runes in exactly the same way we do today, but we do know that they cast lots, which is basically what we do when we pull a rune from a bag. This method is called sortilege and it applies to any symbol set – including the Greek Alphabet, Tarot and Animal Oracle decks. As I've already made quite clear, sortilege is the method I most recommend for taking the omen in an ADF rite. I know many people feel strongly that you must learn one of the older divination sets for rituals in the Celtic, Greek or Norse hearth cultures; however, I feel that tarot is fine for use in a public ritual. I would only say this about tarot: The concepts found in 20-24 symbols are usually stronger and more easily grasped by the gathered folk than the concepts included in a deck of 78 cards. Not to mention the fact that the ogham are tied to trees, which is lovely for us druids, and the runes are a very powerful magical system to boot. There's just more bang for the buck, I feel. There is also a great power in sacrificing your time and energy to learning a new divination set simply for use in public ritual. So, can you use the tarot for ADF Public Ritual? Of course you can! (We'd rather see you up there taking omens than not.) However, does the Seer's Guild encourage you to learn older symbol sets? Of course we do! (NOTE: I do consider animal oracle decks to be the only substitute we have to animal omenry and prefer that method to classic tarot, personally.) Now for a few tips to reading for Public Ritual: As with any ritual, presentation has a great deal to do with the impact you will make on the people gathered. This being the case, think about what you can do to make the moment before you take the omen somehow different or more magical. Is there a piece of jewelry or clothing that you put on as part of the process of drawing the symbols? Is there a prayer you could say or chant you could sing that would help the folk to send energy towards you as you choose lots? Some people have had some success with reciting Odin's speech about sacrificing for the runes in Havamol (in the Poetic Edda). This gives the people a sense that you know what you are doing when you step forward to take the omen. (Even if you think you don't!) And, please don't just pull your cards out of a tattered old box. Wrap them in silk. Place your runes in a beautiful bag. These things will help people to travel with you as you seek guidance from the three kindred. Be sure to speak clearly and be as concise as possible. Practice taking the omen at home by speaking out loud. (This makes a big difference in your comfort level when you do end up in front of people.) And, finally, for presentation, don't be afraid to use humor. The omen is a serious part of ritual, but that doesn't mean that you can't relax and use humor to help communicate the blessings of the spirits! For a few final ideas on making your work as a seer deepen; try taking omens before and after ritual as well. This gives you an opportunity to consider the things that float around the performance of the ritual itself. Be sure to write these down in the same place that you keep your omens for ritual. Speaking of which, the best, most productive, most reliable way to excel as a seer is to commit to keeping a journal of all the omens you've taken AND go back regularly to read them. Be sure to write down any results that seem to tie to past omens as well. This is how you build the language you use as a seer to understand the gods. This way, in future, you'll know what certain things mean. If, every time you pull the Needfire rune you run out of milk, then, eventually you will know to check your milk supply when that rune shows up. (Sure, other people pull it in times of great stress, but, maybe for you it only means – make sure your fridge is stocked.) This may or may not be the sort of thing you'd share in public ritual, but it does help to build a working relationship with your divination tool. Well, this article is longer than I expected and I've only grazed upon the things that characterize reading for ADF Public Ritual. So, it must be time for a shameless plug. If you are interested in learning more or discussing the ideas in this article further, please join the Seers Guild. It is open to any ADF member and our list can be found in the members section of the ADF website under Forums.
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none's picture
The following articles have to do with the practical work of Our Druidry:Establishing ADF's Initiatory CurrentConcerning the Taking of OmensDivination for Public RitualWorking Magic with the Two PowersConcerning Druidic Sigils and the Talismanic ArtThe New and Deluxe Sassafras Bilé
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KirkThomas's picture
The Archdruids meditate before the ritual For several years the ADF Clergy Council has worked to create the ADF Initiate Program, a course of training into the ways of magic, seership and trance for ADF, and with it a current of spiritual initiation. This program would train students in the magico-religious aspects of the clergy program without the expectation that graduates would have to join the clergy (though they could go on and complete clergy training should they so desire). The culmination of this training would be an actual ritual of initiation. Such an initiation would require some sort of spiritual current that the student could tap into – a current that would unify all ADF Initiates and help provide some of the 'juice' they would need for their work. So how could ADF, relatively young and new, start such a current? As a part of the work of growing our spiritual current the clergy of ADF have been exploring an otherworldly locale and inner Nemeton where we have been forming relationships with beings we call the 'Ancient Wise', those of the Sacred Dead who were poets, magicians and priests, and who would be willing to join with us to help us all walk the elder ways. This has been done through the good offices of the two deities who we honor in every sacrifice, the Warders of the Ways, the Earth Mother and the Keeper of Gates. The Clergy Council debated long and hard, but finally decided that our four Archdruids, Rev. Isaac Bonewits (ADF's founder), Rev. Ian Corrigan, Rev. John 'Fox' Adelmann and our current Archdruid, Rev. Robert 'Skip' Ellison, should be the conduit through whom this current would be focused. The Archdruids would be the first to be 'initiated' or, more precisely, empowered; they would then be responsible for performing the first initiations in the system. It seemed unfortunate (if not embarrassing) that there were no women in this mix, due to the vagaries of chance and history, and so it was decided that the rite to start this current flowing should be run by women of ADF, to bring gender balance to such an important and magical occasion. The four Archdruids would spend the time before the rite in trance, off by themselves, so that they could visit the otherworldly locale and invite the Elder Wise to aid us in starting this current. At the appropriate time in the rite the nine women leading it would bring the men into the light of the fire and together, with the aid of the Earth Mother and the Gatekeeper, everyone attending would help in building the energy needed to start the 'juice' flowing. This was also an ADF Unity Rite, so we would be joining all of ADF into this work. This working arrived at the event as nothing more than an idea, and it was the skill and effort of many of us that made it happen. In the days before the ritual there was much activity in the camp. The Archdruids designed their private work to deepen their connections with the Patrons. The women were busy designing the main ritual and assigning the parts. And the rest of us were waiting in growing anticipation for what we could already sense would be a momentous occasion. One Archdruid, Rev. John (Fox) Adelmann, had told us that he would not be able to attend. The others thought about how to have him represented in the rite, but nothing really acceptable could be found. And then at the last minute he appeared! He had realized just how important this rite would be and that he must be present, and so he dropped everything and drove all day from Ann Arbor, Michigan, to get there in time. And at last that time came. I had been asked to lead the folk to the crossroads and there lead them in a grounding and centering while we waited for the messenger to arrive to let us know that it would be time to process to the ADF Nemeton there at Brushwood. After the grounding, and while waiting for that messenger to summon us, I could feel a palpable energy coming from the Nemeton. I was suddenly rocked with emotion as though suddenly hit with a wave of seawater. Apparently the Gatekeeper was already there. I brought myself under control just as Morrigan, the young daughter of Raven and Carrion Mann, arrived to lead us to the rite. I knelt to her and gave her the box of silver that the folk had offered for sacrifice, and we all followed her to the Nemeton while singing 'We Approach the Sacred Grove'. As we came to the bridge guarding the sacred precinct we could see the Archdruids off to the left, seated and deep in trance, while the women were on the mound around the fire, all singing a descant to our chant. Rev. Sue Parker was their leader, and the other eight women were Rev. Barbara Wright, Rev. Caryn MacLuan, Rev. Carrion Mann, Rev. Jessie Olson, Diana Paar, Leesa Kern, Selene Tawny and Karen Clark. They stood in a circle serene and poised – a truly arresting sight – as they sang. Finally we had all assembled around the Nemeton and the rite began. The women performed a full ADF rite using the Core Order of Ritual, and made the central offerings to the Earth Mother, the Gatekeeper and the Ancient Wise, making serious and joyful sacrifice to all the Powers present. The women of ADF call to the Spirits The Omen was awesome. Three seers drew from three sets of runes. Leesa Kern, Rev. Carrion Mann and Diana Paar drew their runes: Leesa said, "The Gatekeeper gives us Raiðo, the Journey – the Journey begun." Carrion said, "The Elder Wise also give us Raiðo." Diana said, "The Earth Mother gives us Hagalaz. The Journey is not easy. And there are many obstacles to overcome." Ouch. But this was appropriate for what we are trying to do. Journey modified by Hail – the way is there and ahead of us but there will also be bumps on the road – probably a very true description of the future for this current. And then it was time to bring in the Archdruids for the Unity portion of the rite (tied into the Blessings section) and to establish the current. But this would not be as easy as it sounds. A young, female child led in each Archdruid, and then the women challenged them in turn. Only after receiving a satisfactory answer would they receive the charge and be allowed in. Rev. Skip Ellison is challenged as he enters the Nemeton Rev. Robert Ellison was first, led in by his granddaughter Rhiannon. Rev. Sue Parker gave him his challenge, "Before you set foot upon this path, what will you do to empower, to strengthen and to guide the initiatory path of ADF?" Rev. Ellison responded, "I will do as I have done always in the past - anything that is needed." The women consulted each other and decided that this was simply not good enough. "More," they said, "We want more." Rev. Ellison continued, "I will give myself, my time, to bring forth the current, to bring the words of the ancient Mother and Father to the initiates, to let them journey to the place that I have been and to see what I have seen." This the women accepted. And then Rev. Olson charged him with, "I charge you to make your words and deeds as one and fulfill this oath." Next the Rev. Ian Corrigan, led in by young Morrigan, was challenged by Selene Tawney, "What will you do to empower, to strengthen and to guide the initiatory path of ADF?" To which he responded, "I will do as I have always done. I will bring my wit, my words, and my strength and my skill, my heart and my hands to the service of our Druidry. I bring with me the spirit of wisdom from the Mound to the extent that I can bear it and I mount the horse for this ride for our Druidry." Rev. Caryn MacLuan gave him the charge, "I charge you to make your words and deeds as one and fulfill this oath." Rev. Isaac Bonewits is challenged as he enters the Nemeton Rev. Isaac Bonewits was next, led in by Artos' daughter, Rowen. He was challenged by Rev. Barbara Wright, "Isaac Bonewits, what will you do to empower, to strengthen and to guide this initiatory path?" And he responded, "I will do as I have done. I will make the necessary sacrifices of my life, of my wealth, of my heart, of my soul. I will open the floodgates to let the teachings pass through me. I will open my heart to the love of the Earth Mother that Her love may flow through to all who will walk these paths." This, too, was acceptable to the women and Karen Clark spoke the charge, "I charge you to fulfill this oath." And finally, Rev. Parker challenged the last Archdruid, Rev. John (Fox) Adelmann (led in by Rhiannon), "What will you do to empower, to guide and to strengthen the initiatory path of ADF?" Fox responded, "I bring with me the unseen connection from the Otherworlds to this World and this place. I will bring my heart and my faith and my commitment to do this work in this Order, to follow the commands to put things aside to heed the call as I did this day. I will be there." Rev. Olson then spoke the charge to him. The Archdruids formed a circle around the fire, holding hands. The women formed another circle around the Archdruids, also holding hands. We, the folk, held hands and formed a larger circle around them all. Rev. Caryn MacLuan led us in slowly ramping up the powers of heaven and earth within us so that we could send them to the women who would send them to the Archdruids - conduits to conduits to conduits. And when the powers filled us, we began to intone, sending these powers on their way. The effect of this built up stronger and stronger and became so powerful that the cosmos itself seemed to vibrate. The women of ADF call the Current initiated Rev. Parker announced, "Let it be known that in this place and in this time the ADF Initiatory Path has been born! So be it!" And our response was so great it reverberated through the trees. Rev. Ian Corrigan pours out the Waters of Blessing for the Groves and Solitaries of ADF With such power raised, the Archdruids then called for the Blessings and performed the Unity Rite. As usual, they read out the names of the Groves of ADF while pouring the hallowed water on to the ground, connecting the blessing with the roots of all the groves and solitaries in ADF, binding them to us for the work to come. Now that the Initiatory Current has been born and is flowing through ADF, the time will soon come to begin further initiations. We have one student who has already completed the work with another one not far behind. Many more are in various stages of the program and soon we will have ADF Initiates in place to further and continue this work. Let the work grow strong! Let the Elder Wise grant us wisdom! And let ADF prosper from what was done that day. May the blessings of the Earth Mother, the Keeper of Gates and the Elder Wise be on us all.
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ChrisSetlock's picture
This year at Imbolc we consecrated our new Bilé. As the maker of it, I thought I might offer some explanation of the symbols and inscriptions that went into it. Our previous Bilé was made by Earrach, our Senior Druid. It began to split while being used as a Maypole this past Beltain. It served us well for nine years. The Bilé is the center of our Hallows. It represents the axis mundi, the point where the worlds intersect. It combines elements of the three realms: land, sea, and sky. It can be viewed as the Yggdrasil, the World Tree, a visible representation of our cosmology. During our rites, when we open the gateway between this world and the otherworld, the Bilé stands at the gate. Our Bilé is nine feet tall. From the floor to the lip of the fire-cauldron, it reaches through the nine worlds. It is constructed primarily of two sections of inch-and-a-half-thick oak, pole stock. It is constructed in sections to make it easier to transport. The bottom section can be left out to reduce the Bilé to six feet tall; useful if we need to set up in a lowceilinged room. The Irminsul is a rectangular pillar, with four triskel-carved branches radiating from it. The shape of the Irminsul is roughly based on a drawing by Stone Creed Grove's Senior Druid, Ian Corrigan. I felt this shape was better suited to our use of the fire atop the Bilé, as opposed to the traditional Norse Irminsul, which sweeps dramatically upwards. The fire pot is copper with brass handles. The base is a tetrahedron eighteen inches on a side. It is made from laminated pine. There are weights hidden inside to make the tall Bilé stable on the relatively small base. The symbols and inscriptions are a little trickier to explain. Sassafras is a culturally mixed grove, unusual for ADF. In turn, we honor Irish, Welsh, Norse, Anglo-Saxon, even Greek and Slavic deities. We are truly Pan-Indo-European, and I wanted the Bilé to reflect that. I tried to incorporate those symbols and ideas that have struck me as fundamental to the work of Sassafras Grove. The base is carved on the three visible sides, with images of the Norns, the three sisters who sit at the base of Yggdrasil, spinning and weaving the web of Wyrd. Urdr is the elder, she is robed in black, and pulls the silver thread of our lives from the tangled skein of the past. Verdandi is a woman of childbearing years, robed in red. The eternal moment, at once always now, always fleeting, she squats, birthing the moment, measuring the span of our years. Skuld is the faceless maiden, robed in white. She is the yearning promise, the hope of tomorrow, forever over the next rise, around the next corner. She kneels, cutting the thread with bronze shears. The lowest pole section is carved with images of the divinities we honor as a Grove. Emerging from the base is the Salmon of Knowledge, symbolic of Taliesin, our bardic patron. The shining brow, thrice-born Taliesin bestows the gift of Awen, inspiration, so that our speech might be pleasing before the Gods. Hu Gaddarn, the reaper, with his sickle, and a bag of plenty, inviting us to share in the work, the labor of life. You reap what you sow. An Dagda, the Good God, with his ponderous belly, wearing the torc, and limned hair. He holds his club in one hand. It can kill a hundred with a stroke, or restore the life to the dead. At his feet is his cauldron, his male-womb. From it he pulls a mute warrior, for those who have been to the otherworld can never put it into words. The warrior's spear points defiantly toward the belly of a raven, one of three, the Morrigan, the three sisters of death and ending. Not evil, not cruel by design, but inevitable, and merciless. The enemy is not death, but the fear that robs us of life. Girding the carvings is the cross of Brigid. The woven rushes, symbol of hearth and home. Goddess of the forge, poetess, and healer. Suil lin a'Bride. At the top of the carvings is Lugh Lamfadha. The long handed, many-skilled child of the sun. He wears the torc and kilt, standing proud, bearing his spear of light, an tsleg boi ac Lugh. He proffers the sun wheel, the wheel of the year. The middle section is carved with Anglo-Saxon runes. The inscription is a prayer of supplication to the Earth Mother, it was written down in a book of Anglo- Saxon charms and spells, from the eleventh century. It is probably much older. I couldn't find it in old English, so it is spelled in modern English. Two symbols are carved above the middle joint. One is the symbol of Awen: /|\. The other is the Druid's sigil, symbol of Ár nDraíocht Féin, our own Druidry. The Irminsul, and the fire cauldron top the Bilé, symbolic of the solar radiance, the fires above. The four branches point to the four corners of the world. The edges of the pillar are carved in Ogham: "Behold the Sacred Fire, Sacred Fire burn within us." I must admit the copper cauldron came from Marshall's houswares department, $4.99 + tax ;). That's about it. May the Gods be pleased, and bestow their blessings.
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Ian Corrigan's picture
An important and ancient portion of the magical art is the making of signs of power, and their use in consecrating objects of power. From the first carvings in the ancient tombs of the stone age, through the symbols graven in gold and bronze, to the sciblings of monks and the knots and spirals of craftsfolk, graphic symbolism has always contained meaning beyond words alone. The simple truth is that we inherit nearly nothing from the ancient Druids about how they used signs and symbols. We do not know whether the swirls and angles of old carvings held magical meanings, much less what those meanings were. If they shaped talismans of wood or metal, we do not know how those looked or what symbols they bore. Even the ogham letters are obscure, their use in magical writing partially revealed in tales, but still far from clear. In the effort to create modern Druidic magic, the creation of sigils, emblems and signs of power seems inevitable. In all our efforts we are forced to apply various modern magical methods to the bits and snippets we inherit from pre-Christian Europe. These notes are an effort in that direction, an attempt to create .sigils. - that is, abstract linear figures that convey magical ideas and powers - that are meaningful in Our Druidry. The Meanings of Celtic Patterns It would be lovely if the swirls and knots of celtic artwork contained hidden meanings, keys to the Celtic Pagan worldview. Unfortunately, history tells us otherwise. Knotwork is just as likely to come into Celtic lands with the church, from Syrian teachers, and from the Vikings as from any more primordial source. And while the vegetal and fractal forms of Celtic art are highly suggestive of Otherworld presences, we know nothing of their meaning, except what we can imagine from gazing on those antiquities. All that said, it.s possible to make a simple distinction that may be useful in designing Druidic signs and sigils. The flowing, organic patterns of La Tene art might be associated with the Underworld Power, the Waters that flow beneath all being. In complement, the Heaven Power, the World Order that draws pattern out of potential, might be represented by knots and key patterns. Starting from that simple basis, we might be able to design meaningful patterns to decorate and enliven our magical tools and power objects. The Sigils These sigils were designed for a magical working intended to allow a small group of participants to create powerful magical talismans. The working used the basic ADF ritual format, adding elements of practical magic. These signs do have roots in the iconography of IndoEuropean Paganism, but have been rendered in an "occult" style that is meant to titillate the imagination and inspire the mind. They are offered to the reader in hope that they may be of some use in future Magic work. The Sigil of the Cosmos This sign uses motifs from folk art depictions of the 'tree of life' to express core IndoEuropean Pagan concepts. The Wheel is the sign of the Sky Powers, the turning, eternal order of the heavens. It is the sign of many sky gods, of the Thunderers, and of the Sun, Moon and Stars. The Hall of Lugh is the pattern of the Great Hall of the Gods, the symbol of the quartering of the world, of the establishment of the Middle World. The Spiral is the sign of the Underworld Powers, the flowing, unshaped potential of all being. It is the sign of the goddesses of waters, of the whirlpool, of the Deeps. Together, these signs affirm the Order of the Worlds, a protection from ill and an affirmation of blessing.                   The Gate Sigil The sign of the Open Gate. It combines the trilithon symbol of the ancient houses of the Gods, Dead and Sidhe, with the magical sign of the triskelion. Its power grows from the union of Fire and Water, at its base.       The Triskelion The symbol of all the Sacred Triads - Land, Sea and Sky; Underworld, Midrealm and Heavens; Gods, Dead and Sidhe. It is especially the sign of Manannan Mac Lir, the God of Magic, the Lord of Journeys, Keeper of the Gates.       The Sign of the Dead The Mighty Ancestors, who watch and ward their descendants, and whisper their wisdom in our blood. The Sign of the Spirits The Noble Spirits, who grant us the sharing of the land, and keep the non-human world. The Sign of the Deities The Shining God/desses, who sustain us and inspire our souls, who bring all blessing to the worlds.             The Eye and the Hand These signs are the power of humankind to work magic. The Eye is the power of seeing, of vision, of wisdom. The hand is the Power of Shaping, of making the world into the pattern of the will.               The Runes The magical alphabet of the Pagan Norse expresses concepts key to both Germanic and Celtic magic.               The Ogham The Celtic "Tree Alphabet" is a secret cypher of the Celtic bards and Druids, meant to make magical inscriptions on monuments. (Chart from McManus. A Guide To Ogham)       The Making of Talismans A talisman is an object charged with the intention or force that it represents. A talisman is conceived through the Power of Vision, made by the Power of Shaping, and is consecrated by the Power of Speech. The Primary Charge: is the main symbol, in the most prominent place on the piece. It should express the core idea of the talisman. The Secondary Charges: are other symbols, representing the Powers that aid and support the work of the talisman. The Statement of Intent: is devised in poetic and shadowy terms, and inscribed on the piece. The Making of Sigils Any magical intention can be expressed in an artistic and arcane sign by this simple means. First, devise a simple sentence to express your intent, i.e. .This is my will, to open a Gate Between the Worlds.. Second, remove all duplicate letters, i.e. thismywlopenagbrd Third, use these letters to create symbols, combining shapes and using artistic license. The intent is to completely bury the intention in powerful, evocative symbols.
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Ian Corrigan's picture
(Note: This article is an excerpt, copied with permission, from the author's book Sacred Fire, Holy Well.)One of the core skills of the sorcerer's art is divination - the use of magic to discover that which is unknown. We divine to determine what is unseen in the present and past, and what the pattern of Dan may hold for our future. In the work of sorcery we also often divine to determine whether the spirits are pleased with our work, whether our offerings have been accepted, whether our work is headed for a good outcome, and what kind of power is being offered by the spirits.In this work we will not attempt to teach the sort of divination that allows us to do complex 'readings' of the patterns of Dan. While the simple techniques given here can be used for that sort of 'telling', there are many books from which you can better gain those skills. Here we will address methods of taking the sorts of simpler omens that are required for the work.SortilegeSortilege is the taking of omens by the drawing of lots. One takes a bag or bowl of symbols on identical pieces of wood or stone, or on a deck of cards, and randomly draws a few symbols The meaning of those symbols provides the omen or answer to an inquiry.In order to divine by sortilege you will need to draw the letters of the alphabet or symbol system which you are using on identical lots. There is a traditional account that suggests that the lots should be prepared fresh each time you wish to take an omen. There is value in that approach but practicality suggests the creation of a permanent, personal set of divination lots. Our work will focus on two traditional alphabets - the Ogham and the Runes.The OghamThe Ogham alphabet originated in Ireland in the first few centuries of the common era. It was used primarily as a simple way of carving inscriptions on grave and memorial stones and border markers. In later Irish lore the Ogham becomes a kind of bardic and poetic code, which modern Celtic Pagans have taken up as a set of symbols for divination and spell-work. The Ogham is commonly thought of as the 'alphabet of trees'. The most famous of the Ogham lists gives ancient tree-names for each of the letters. The Irish Ogham lists go on to list Oghams of birds, ships, cities and many other kinds.It would be a mistake to assume that the Irish bards meant these lists to be 'correspondences' in the sense of the lists used by some kinds of modern magicians. While there is certainly some degree of associative connection between the various Ogham lists it would be an error to put them in the same class with 'planetary correspondences'. Nevertheless, they offer a net of symbols that can be useful in the sorcerer's art, both for divination and other work.Ogham lots might best be made of bits of square dowel. We can imagine a perfect set made with each dowel cut from the proper sort of wood. This is a worthwhile long-term project, but to get started you will probably need to use commercial dowel. A square dowel allows you to use one corner as the center-line of the Ogham letter. That leaves two sides on which you might write the Irish and English names of the tree-letter.Here we offer the Tree Ogham with simple divinatory meanings to enable you to begin taking simple omens immediately. The focus of this work does not allow us to spend as much time on the meaning and use of the Oghams as it deserves. Students are encouraged to take the Ogham into mind and heart - memorize the symbols and contemplate their meanings. The Ogham is one of the most systematic views we have of the early Celtic mind - it is a link to the Celtic core of the magic we seek.(For more information on the Ogham, see also The Druids' Alphabet by ADF Archdruid Skip Ellison.)The RunesThe Runes are the magical alphabet of the Norse peoples, a Germanic folks with close blood and cultural ties to the Celts. Both on the European continent and in the British Isles Norse clans mingled with Celts, to the enrichment of both peoples. The Runes are not a Celtic system, but their meanings and context so closely match those of Celtic cultures that they can properly be a part of the Celtic sorcerer's tools.Rune lots can be made of wooden disks, or of disks of a tree-branch, carefully cut to even thickness and size. Each disk is then graven with one Rune. The most traditional means is o actually carve the Rune into the wood, then to stain it red. Tradition suggests the use of blood for that staining, but a small drop of your own blood in red paint would surely be sufficient.Again, there are many resources for learning the Runes. If they call to you, there are many references available. Here we will offer only a simple chart of names and divinatory meanings.Whether making Ogham or runic lots, the wood should be cut to size, then purified with the Fire and Water Consecration charm, along with any ink, paint or tool that you mean to use. The process of inscribing the symbols will place a layer of bua onto them, so do not cleanse and purify them after they have been carved. Your omen tool should be kept on your shrine and treated as an important hallow.Seeking an Omen by SortilegeThe very simplest method of drawing on omen by sortilege is to draw a single lot. The symbol is then interpreted in light of the nature of the work at hand. The most reliably attested traditional method of sortilege involves drawing three lots. Depending on the apparent answer in the first three symbols, two more qualifying or clarifying questions may be asked.In a public rite of worship the omen-question is always the same: 'What blessings do the spirits offer us in return for our offerings.' In works of sorcery you will need a larger variety of queries. When you are entering a place and seeking the welcome of the spirits, you might ask 'Is my magic welcome here?' If you are making a preliminary offering you might ask 'Will you be willing to join me in this work?' When you are working a specific rite, you will complete all the preparations and offerings, and then ask 'What will be the result if I proceed with this working?'Neither Ogham nor Runes are likely to produce a simple yes or no answer. If the symbols plainly agree with the nature of the work at hand, the omen can be considered good, the answer a 'yes'. If it is plainly opposed to the work then the omen may be considered bad, or the answer a 'no'.If you receive a bad omen you may choose to ask additional questions. A series of yes/no or qualitative questions may reveal how you can gain the goal you seek. If you receive a bad omen at a key point in a spell or working you will have the choice to attempt to improve the omen through additional sacrifices or other efforts, to shut down the rite and await a more auspicious day, or to go forward with the working despite the omens.AuguryOne of the most authentically Celtic means of seeking omens is through augury. The word augury is often used synonymously with divination, but it has a more specific meaning. Augury is divination by the observation of natural things. The flight of birds, the play of fire and smoke, the movement of beasts and humans are interpreted by a combination of personal intuition and by bodies of traditional lore. The details of the traditions of Gaelic augury have been lost to time and to the encroachments of modern culture. Yet some bits have been rescued by folklorists, preserved from the last century in the highlands of Scotland.The rural Scottish folk referred to one kind of augury as the frith. In the frith seership the seer makes his charm, and then uses the door of a house as a sort of 'frame' through which he gazes in order to see what omens may be seen. The things of the world pass by, and they serve as the signs and symbols for the diviner's interpretation.Such symbols are traditional divided into lucky - rathadach, in Gaelic - and unlucky - rosadach - signs. The lore lists that have been preserved are from a strictly rural culture. Some omens called rathadach are: a bird on the wing; a dog; a horse; a duck; sheep (for a journey); a man (especially brown-haired); a person coming toward you; a best rising; a rooster. Some rosadach signs include: a person going away; a person lieing down (sickness); a beast lying down (death); a red-haired person; hens without a rooster; a crow; a raven; a cat; a pig going away. It is said:A white horse for landA grey horse for seaA bay horse for a graveA brown horse for sorrowOther traditions of augury use a variety of 'frames' for augury-vision. A Window, a fork in a branch, hands held before the face, a tube made with the fingers of the hand; and especially the hole in a hag-stone or holy-stone can serve as the window through which omens are sought. The hag stone has the special virtue of aiding the seer to scry the peoples of the Otherworld.Another way of framing the search for natural omens is by Quartering the Sky. Using the Wand and a proper charm the bowl of the sky is divided by the four Airts, the directions understood with the meanings of the Four Provinces of Eire: The East for Bounty, the South for Song, the West for Wisdom, and the North for Battle. Omens can then be sought in each direction, according to the nature of the work at hand. This is also a good beginning to augury by the smoke and flame of the Fire.Obviously, the countryside omens remembered in lore will have limited use for modern work. As we rebuild the work of Celtic sorcery we must depend upon our own Imbas, our own intuition and inspiration, to rightly interpret what we see. We should be careful and temperate in our interpretations, especially as we begin to develop the skill. It can be useful to experiment by using augury first to take omens for simple rites of blessing and worship, before moving on to more complex workings.Charms for Seeking an OmenSortilegeWhen you wish to take an omen concerning your magic, or the aid of the spirits, or the fate of a person or venture, come to your shrine or Fire.Take a clean white cloth and lay it before you, then hold your bag of lots in your hands. Make your link with the Two Powers, and extend your awareness into the Water and the Light.Make a small offering into the Fire, and say:Dan of the Gift, Dan of the Song, Dan of Destiny My gift I give to you. Give me the gift, let me hear the song Of the Turning of the Worlds (name and nature of the beings one is asking) I have offered to you, as I seek (restate intention of the work) Now let the true sight be in me, the true speech be mine, Answer me now, O spirits, (State question)Shake the bag of lots and let it fall into your lap or onto the cloth. Close your eyes and clear your mind as you reach into the bag and draw three lots.Place the three lots in a row before you on the cloth. Carefully identify each symbol, and contemplate the meanings of the signs. Open your heart and listen to your own inspiration or the voices of the spirits to help you understand the traditional meaning in relation to your question.If the omen seems good then you should record or clearly remember the omen and pick up the lots. You may then proceed to the next phase of your work.If the omen seems ill or uncertain, or if you wish to clarify some point in the first draw, you may frame a second question and draw a second triad of symbols. Some sorcerers choose to replace the first three lots in the bag before drawing the second three, others leave the first three before them.If there is a need you may go so far as to frame a third question and draw a third triad. A nine-symbol reading of this sort should provide sufficient detail to reach a conclusion even in complex questions. Omens taken early in training, especially during active magical working, may well be kept to one or three symbols. New students might experiment with the full nine-fold reading in the Welcoming charm, or in divining for yourself or your folk.The FrithTo seek an augury in the manner of the Frith, you will need a frame of some kind for your vision. If you are divining for a household you might set your Hallows in the center of their house. The easternmost door will then serve as the frame of seeing.If you are working outdoors you will set you Hallows where you deem proper, being certain to know where the Airts lie. Outdoor work requires that you have an augoryframe, such as a holey-stone, through which to gaze.Hold your seeing frame in one hand, and make a small offering into the Fire, saying:Dan of the Gift, Dan of the Song, Dan of Destiny My gift I give to you. Give me the gift, let me hear the song Of the Turning of the Worlds Vision before me, vision behind me Vision over me, vision beneath me Vision within me, vision without me The Power of Magic leading me to true seeing, without falsehood, To all that I wish to see.Walk three times around your Fire, desil, and go to the east of your space. Gaze through your frame, find your center and allow your connection to the deeps and the heights to open. Be patient, and calm.When omens appear it is best to speak them aloud, along with whatever meaning or interpretation seems proper. If the omens are good then you proceed to further work. If it is ill or uncertain, it is, perhaps, less easy to ask additional questions through augury. You must rely on your own wisdom, perhaos seeking clarification through sortilege.Quartering the SkyIf you wish to work by Quartering the Sky, you should prepare in the same way as for the frith, but have your Slat rather than a vision-frame.Face east, and raise your wand overhead. With the wand, draw a cross that divines the sky into the Four Airts, as you say:Dan of the Gift, Dan of the Song, Dan of Destiny My gift I give to you. Give me the gift, let me hear the song Of the Turning of the Worlds By the Four Airts I quarter the sky East wind blow bountiful, South wind blow song West wind blow wisdom, North wind blow strong The Power of Magic leading me to true seeing, without falsehood, To all that I wish to see.Make three circuits of the Fire, deisil, carefully observing in each direction.Stand in the center and face the quarter that is most relevant to your question. Turn slowly to each quarter and make note of the omens. Speak your judgement aloud.(For more of this material please see Ian Corrigan's newly-revised book Sacred Fire, Holy Well.)
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(Note: This is a transcription of a workshop given at Wellspring in 2005)IntroductionI've presented these workshops in a systematic way in a workshop format for the general public. These are exercises that I've been working on in my personal practice and teaching kind of on a piecemeal basis in the grove for years and in the course of putting together my forthcoming new edition of Sacred Fire, Holy Well, I've tried to assemble them into an orderly file.So we're going to try to work our way through some of those. We don't have to view a lot of these exercises in a deep trance fashion, although I want to take a few minutes, once I've talked for a bit, and we'll find a comfortable physical position for ourselves and get ready for the work.What we will be doing is working with the ADF notion of the Two Powers, which I'll talk about in a minute, in a pretty straight-forward Neo-Pagan, post-Yoga, post-"energy flows in the body" conception sort of way. I have to give a big disclaimer, from a scholastic viewpoint, because we're nowhere in terms of knowing whether the ancient ones in Europe did work of this kind at all.I can handle the assertion that the ancient ones in India or China were doing this kind of work at the time that we're usually looking at: what we think of as Classical Indo-European Pagan Days. But I cannot demonstrate that people in Europe, even in the Greco-Roman world (much less the Celtic or Germanic world) were doing this kind of energy work.So this is very much modeled on a post-Golden Dawn, Chakras and energy flows kind of sense, although I have tried to set it in a symbol system that makes some sense to Celtoids. We'll talk our way through that a little bit and then we'll meditate our way through it a little bit.Let me continue my lengthy round of disclaimers by saying that I don't mean to present the energy pattern models that I'm going to be presenting as objective or authoritative. I'll talk about my sources for them. We actually have something like a source for one of them. From there we'll go straight to the actual meditation and moving the energies and the blocking.BackgroundWhen we began doing ADF liturgy, back in the day, Isaac prescribed the Tree Meditation as a way to ground and center in preparation for ritual. Grounding and centering in preparation for ritual was kind of invented by the Western Magical Movement in the early 20th century and perfected, I think, by Neo-Paganism. The ceremonial magicians didn't teach themselves to ground and center and make a network of energy within the body before beginning their work. That was not part of the Golden Dawn system, not something that Crowley would have taught and not something that Gerald Gardener taught.When I began learning Witchcraft in the 1970s, the phrase "ground and center" didn't exist in the vocabulary. It was invented in the early 1980s right around the time of the Festival Movement start. All of that said, we're straight on the origins. And everyone who knows me around ADF knows that I'm a big proponent of this sort of thing, so I just wanted to make it clear that that's where we're coming from. This is a modern invention grown out of our generation's experiences with Yoga and Thai-Chi and Eastern energy movement systems, primarily.So Isaac recommended the Tree Meditation as a means of grounding and centering. A vision first published by Starhawk, I'm almost certain, in Spiral Dance, although it'd been around awhile before that. And when you do the Tree Meditation, the notion, which is literally in its simplest form to envision yourself as a tree (with roots that connect to the Waters and you raise your arms above your head, do the actor's exercise of being a tree), that is probably where it all started.The notion of a dual flow of energy in the tree of waters rising up through the roots and the light of the sky shining on your leaves just becomes self-apparent. We began to have a discussion that some people found it odd to turn into trees and then move around - a serious cognitive dissonance when asked to powerfully envision themselves rooted and standing strong and then be asked to move around. That's a special technique in magic; we're not even going to get to moving around today; we're going to stay seated.But that kind of led us - especially me - over the next couple of years to kind of abstract out from the very literal image of turning into a tree this notion of the Two Powers that we draw into our body through the breath and through visualized contact with earth and sky. So now it has become very firmly abstract in the way that it's being taught now. Many people liked it better. Many people said they missed the literalism, truth to tell. Both can be applied, certainly. But we're going to be trees with hands and thumbs in this exercise, so we're going to stick with the abstracted Two Powers approach.IncubationI'm not speaking with a general audience, so I don't have to explain the Two Powers in great detail. The Underworld Power and the Heavens Power - that's what we're going to be working with. From a practical magic viewpoint, I see the Underworld Power and Heaven Power related very much to a formula you can call "Incubation".Celtic poets' Incubation of Inspiration, in which a Celtic poet goes into a darkened cave or cottage, closes the door, lies on a prepared bed, and - in one version of the tradition - puts a medium-heavy rock on his or her chest to lie in meditation. I can't help but imagine the heavy rock mandating breath control - to have a rock heavy enough to mandate "willed" breath. It's about the only trace of pranayama I've been able to find in the West (in Irish stuff).In that darkness, which is like the darkness under the Earth, a nutrient soup, where everything that has passed away is all dissolved. And from that nutrient soup, everything that will come to pass is rooted and draws its components and nourishment. In that dark, the poet finds all the elements of his poem, and maybe a skilled poet was actually assembling it consciously during those hours, composing it in his mind, but the notion was that the business was completed when, after the set period, the door of the chamber would be opened and a ray of light would enter the chamber and, as it were, crystallize the poem. Allow the poet to step out in that ray of light and speak his more-or-less oracular poetry.But that notion of the waiting dark from which we draw components and the energizing light that enables us to turn components into specific events is, to me, an available practical magic formula in the Two Powers. I'm working on ritualizing that with the two simple tools of the log and cauldron, incidentally, but we.re not going to do any of that to-day.Three CauldronsToday we're going to do the energies in the body, and in order to approach energies in the body, I'm blatantly working off the notion of Chakras and we'll be working with three centers in the body: the Head, the Heart and the Loins, which comes from the Cauldron of Poetry material.There's a trace in Irish lore of the notion of a set of energy centers in the body. And it's found, at least, in a specific piece of poetry called The Cauldron of Poetry. It proposes three cauldrons in the human self/body/spirit - let's just say "self" - that determines the level of poetic inspiration, understanding, and wisdom - and really, physical strength and health and life - in the human person.Those three cauldrons are: in the loins, in the belly, the Cauldron of Warming, it.s best translated. In the heart, the Cauldron of (let's use the translation) Vocation - some say Movement (but "calling" and "responding to calling" is in the connotation of the Irish word, and so is "movement"). So we can say Vocation or Movement for the cauldron in the heart. And in the head, the Cauldron of Wisdom (or Inspiration - the word translates either way).The lore says (or, this specific poem, the medieval Irish poem), that these cauldrons are either inverted (that is, they can hold no substance), half upright (so they can hold some substance), or fully upright (so they can be filled). And the lore says that in all of us, the Cauldron of Warming is born upright. The Cauldron of Warming, if you will, is the biggest of the three cauldrons - I can't help but see them that way, like stacked Tupperware. The Cauldron of Warming is the furnace of the body's self-content. It provides our physical life. It strengthens our body and gives us vigor. And everyone is born with that cauldron fully upright and able to be fully filled.The Cauldron of Vocation is born in some people half-upright and in some people inverted, the lore says. But everyone, as they gain a little wisdom in life, that cauldron becomes at least half upright if you don't grow up to be a fool, the poem says. And the way the poem puts it, it's by the experiences of life that these things are turned. It's by the experience of the joys and sorrows of life.And this was advice to warriors and farmers from the poet; maybe we can imagine that among the poets there were more deliberate methods of turning the cauldron. I've decided to imagine that here for the next hour. And the Cauldron of Vocation is ability to perceive beauty and sorrow - what you might call human cognition above an animal subsistence, clod farmer sort of mind set.The Cauldron of Inspiration is born inverted in a fall. Only the great events of life turn it. The joy and sorrow that arises from Love, the joy and sorrow that arises from Religious Experience (as it puts it in the poem), the joy and sorrow that arises from Battle (which is also mentioned) - are things that can turn the Cauldron of Inspiration to be able to receive the juice (the Imbas which I think is the combined misty mead that you get where fire and water meet).So we'll be working with those three centers in the self, and we'll begin by just visualizing them all upright (by way of encouragement). And of course, the notion is that when all three cauldrons are fully upright, then you have a person filled with the Imbas able to speak in that oracular, poetic, tongue-that-cannot-lie sort of sense that you hear about in the tale. What we might call a modern Celtic Magician - as if that traditional construct had anything to do with what we call Magic in modern terms.Pre-MeditationTake a minute and make your body happy. (If it takes more than a minute, do something else.) Of course, we want - if you can get it - your back straight, your feet planted square on the ground - or of course if you can sit cross-legged, that's a very good thing (I always like doing this cross-legged).I always run into a certain set of people who feel embarrassed about envisioning roots growing out the base of their spine when they sit cross-legged (we'll ask Dr. Freud about that). And that visualization isn't really necessary. We'll try something different than any tree'ish thing at all for our primary work.Now I do want to say that we need to go into somewhere between a light and medium trance for this work. You can continue to work eyes-open or eyes-closed at any time. In the medium term, I think we should learn to do this kind of thing with eyes open because it's hard to move the tools on your altar around with your eyes closed. We can learn to do this eyes open, and it's fun to do the visualization eyes open, because that's chance for special effects.The MeditationBut for now let your eyes just close for a moment and take a few deep breaths... breathe from your belly... breathe in deeply... expanding your belly and filling the top of your lungs... breathe out... sigh that first breath out a little... so that your shoulders drop and your legs relax... you let yourself settle firmly into your feet - your chair supports you - the ground supports you... your arms can relax where they are, your hands in place, settling at ease as you breathe deeply... if you have a rhythm of breath that you're used to using, pick it up... and just for a moment let sound, and the brush of air, and your thoughts pass over you like clouds...It is said by the wise that the waters under the earth carry in them the memory of every power... that all that has been has dissolved in that water and all that will be will rise from it... breath deep... and just let your mind envision -- not very far beneath our feet -- the seeping flow... of the earth's energy, that courses, and is pressed... and seeps... and finds its way in every crack... that flows in deep rivers - and stands in dark pools... and often enough... that rises to the surface of the world... through cracks and shafts... to reach the mortal places... Imagine now... envision for yourself... that well shaft... that seeping spring... that broad flow connecting you to the waters beneath... running from your legs... from the base of your feet if you like... from the base of your spine... into the earth... into the energy of the land...And it is by our breath that we move and draw that water, so breathe deep... and with your out breath, feel the energy of the earth rise toward your feet, in to your legs... breathe deep... and imagine the cauldron in your loins filling with the waters of the earth... As that cauldron fills... be aware of your flesh... your body's strength... the warmth of blood... the hardness of bone... energized and strengthened by the flow of the earth's power in the Cauldron of Warming... breathe deep and relax your body... let go of the tensions that you've made by the drawing...And breathe again...and draw the water upward by that pressure - by that drawing-and see the cauldron in your heart filling with the power of the earth... the cool, magnetic, blue, shining waters of the earth fill the Cauldron of Movement... and as they fill that cauldron, you become aware of your mind and your life... of all that connects you with the great web of human living... that gives you your work and worth... breathe deep and relax your body... let your legs and knees relax... your arms relax...And breathe again...And draw the power of the earth up into the cauldron behind your eyes... See the energy of the earth rise and fill that cauldron... filling the Cauldron of Wisdom with the power of the Earth... and as that cauldron fills... what thoughts might find you?... what energies fill you?... what inspiration be yours?It is never enough to keep these powers for ourselves... breathe deep and let them flow and overflow those cauldrons... flowing throughout the body, filling you entirely... flowing out through you and into earth again to make that circuit... rising through you and flowing from you into the whole world...The power of the heavens is a quicker thing than the power of the earth... See above you where you sit... high above you... past this grey air and mist... above blue air... high in the sky above you... a star that shines for you alone... the hearth of your soul's fire... See it distant... draw a little nearer - so that you see its flaming power... and by your breath, open yourself to its light...Perhaps you see a ray of light - a single beam... that shines down through grey air and mist... to strike the cauldron in your head... to light the waters of the earth... with the golden, electric, shining power of the sky... to illumine your illumination... and shine down through your body... to fill the cauldron of your heart... to illumine the corners of your understanding of your life and work... to shine down into your loins... to fill the Warming Cauldron with the warmth of heavens' fire... and feel that energy rise in your flesh... even as it rises in your mind and heart...Breathe deep... and let the water and the light... mingle in you... flowing through you entirely...Turn your palms up... keep your arms relaxed (you can rest your arms)... breathe deep... and let the light and the water flow down your arms... let the waters fountain over your fingers... to reconnect with earth below... See a dancing flame of the sky's power... kindle in the center of that water... and dance upon the center of your hand... breathe deep... And let your hands flow and shine... with the power of earth and sky... It is by the power of the hand... that magic is worked... and of the eye... and of the mouth.Hold that vision and open your eyes...Let yourself see... with your vision's eye... that water and that fire in your hand... You may feel a tingling in your palms... a warming... Bring your hands together and cup them... Fill that cup... with the fire and water...(eyes open or closed as you will)... And let the flame rise high from it... by your breath and will...So that we have... the raw material of the world... and the fire of shaping... in our hand... As every smith knows, it is a hot fire that makes the work... breathe deep... and bring in the light... let your hands... become brighter... and warmer with the flame... and the water flows with it... but now that water meets that flame... and turns to mist... spread your hands a little... and envision if you will a sphere of the fires light and the water's mist surrounding your hands right where they are... breathe deep... and let the fire be hot... and the waters strong... bring your hands to your heart... breathe deep... and let that fire and mist surround your body in a perfect sphere... as spherical as a light shining from the center... carrying with it the waters of the earth... to generate a plasma, if you like... a sphere of mist and fire that surrounds you... and in the center of which, you are centered between earth and sky... with the powers manifested and ready to workThis vision may be called the Caher Draoi (cai-er dree) - the Druids' Fortress... Because from this place, you can relax the hand and hold the vision for as long as you like... because from this place, all sorts of magic can be worked...For now, breathe deep... and remember your connection with the earth and with the sky... Allow the flame... to recede... to become less hot... to settle into balance... in the Cauldron of Inspiration... the Cauldron of Movement... and the Cauldron of Warming... the flame dancing happily... above the waters in your flesh... Freely release ... energy you do not need... It flows naturally back to its source... Hold fast to that basic vision and we'll let it recede from us... as we return...Eyes open here to think about the work before we do a little more.You might find it useful to press your hands together to close the circuit that you opened... by flowing energy into them... And as you balance in yourself... for this time... at rest.Two Powers VariationsAll right, so that's the fully detailed Two Powers, as we call them. That position, that location of the Caher Draoi is different in its way from an Inner Grove or Staging Place that you go to, because it's fully right here in the material world. The notion is to bring the energies into the material world in this model, rather than move ourselves closer to the interior world.Having done the big thing first, there are some detail exercises that may be too boring for me to run through, but let me talk about some good exercises to do with the two powers for training. These are the kind of exercises straightforwardly that people who work in other energy-based systems have always done (four elements stuff, etc.).In fact, it owes a debt to Franz Bardon, and since I'm annotating my debt to greater occultism in this workshop, I'll mention that Franz Bardon had a wonderful book called Initiation into Hermetics, which basically taught everyone in Western occultism how to move energy. He was a German occultist of the middle twentieth century.Q: Have you ever swapped the heat and the cold, such as swapping cold earth power/hot sky power for hot earth power/cold sky power?A: It's certainly doable, such as volcanos, hot springs, swapping them during the dark/light halves of the year.Q: Is being part of the Caher Draoi like aura work?The concept of the aura is built-in in the human sensorium. We live in a 360-degree bubble of sensation, so you can't help but symbolize that in various ways.In a private ceremony, that caher draoi ought to encompass your ritual space - so that the fire in your centers is symbolized by the fire in the center of your personal ritual space, with the well and the tree tying it all together.That all makes so much more sense when you're doing solitary magical ritual, and it's so much easier to do because you only have one brain and one set of overlapping circles. We won't get in this hour workshop to merging our Caher Draoi into one big bubble, but you can try that at home any time. And it's supposed to be what happens when the group mind is created, if you will.But as to basic exercises, for instance, a good simple training thing to do would be to fill yourself entirely with the underworld power, and meditate on the impressions it gives you. Or fill yourself entirely with the sky power, and meditate on the impressions it gives you. That's another workshop - I have two long meditations on that, actually. And you should be careful with that, too, as doing a One Power meditation can have unexpected results.Yes, my notes say: always begin and end with balance meditation. Observe the results, is exactly what the notes say. When you start fiddling with this stuff, something will happen. There's just no question about it. If your goal in life is only to live a balanced, happy, thriving life, then you don't need to approach sorcery very much. Or practical magic. Any adventure carries risk, and magic is definitely the adventure end of spirituality.You have to accumulate each of the two powers individually. My notion is that once you have that plasma, you're in green lantern land. You can, by visioning skills, shape/combine that (it has to be tri-essence rather than quintessence); you can shape that stuff by vision and will, in whatever way is true and real for you and isn't too wacky (unless you like wacky things...).(By quintessence I mean "five" essence, or the result of 4 put together, and by tri-essence I mean "three" essence, or the result of 2 put together.)Q: What if the Water and Light are the Two Powers...?Well, then the result is their combined... the stuff you pour out of the cauldron after you've alchemized it for a few months... or their offspring... In this case, we're talking about aiming for results in the world, so we want to get an output from the two powers. So for instance if you need to protect yourself, you could harden it up into mirror or harden it up into a brick, if that's not too impermeable for you.Dord DraoíDord Draoí - The Druid's Fortress, the Inner Sanctum, the Invisible Chat Bowl.You've probably heard me use the phrase Dord Draoí and I'm going to keep using it because I like it. Draoí just means magic. In this context we'll just use its medieval sense of just plain magic. But Dord Fiann was the "Fiann buzz" (it's usually translated), "the warrior's buzz," the humming, roaring (we don't know what it was) sound the Fiann liked to make in context with their war magic.Q: Is "buzz" the actual translation in academic literature?A: Yes.So, Dord Draoi, literally, the "druid's buzz," or the "magic's buzz." It really describes energy work. The "druid's intonation" we get out of Dord Draoí. It actually provides a vague hint in Celtic lore of the notion of intoning for power. If Fianns did it, its certainly possible that druids did it before them. We'll believe they did for the next half an hour.If it doesn't come naturally: I'd only tell you never to think of it as singing. It's neither entertainment nor melody. It's just about making a noise to move the energy in your body. And it makes the body vibrate - it creates a physical component to the extent that it is an anchor.You can, for instance, get into the habit of imposing a set of symbols into that Dord Draoí for yourself, just by way of preparation. It can become totally identical to an Inner Grove. Here we get into Upanishad land, from my previous discussion, where you can find yourself placing the fire of your Dord Draoí chapel in your physical heart - envisioning it there - and the well perhaps in your physical loins, and the tree growing up through it all with whatever that mysterious thing is in your head.VisualizationsThere's a number of useful visualizations. One visualization I really like for protection work is a combined visualization of the Cloak of Brigh and the Spear of Lugh. If you work with those two powers, you can create for yourself - you can surround your entire Brigh - I like to think of the Cloak of Brigh as starry, because I think she borrows it from Danu, who I think is the Ocean of Space, (lurking Thelema probably).In the traditional lore of protection and healing things, there is the Brat Brigh. We can envision that starry cloak of Brigh falling across our shoulders, if you like to be literal, or surrounding the Caher with a starry protection through which nothing could pass if it weren't let. And the fire of the sky can be shaped into the Spear of Lugh, which as I see it faces in all directions, or it's just set over your head. I use that as my most common, ordinary protection spell, which for me usually involves airline beers as a physical component.We have a traveling charm we use over the car whenever we take a long drive, and the Cloak and Spear are my main vision for that bit of protection. But that sort of thing is where you can go, starting from the Caher Draoi (in Irish it's caher, but when you hear them say it, it's 'caer' - the first time I heard a guy saying it in Ireland, I thought they were speaking Welsh, but it has an H in it in Ireland).HealingThere are several ways to use the two powers for healing. In using the two powers for healing, first you learn to charge objects with the two powers. Charging an object is really just a visualization. I think of it sometimes as creating a spirit body for the object. It may be presumptuous of me, but I'm far from sure that things have spirit bodies unless intelligent beings make them. Maybe there are beings besides us that are making them, but I'm far from sure that they evolve without intelligent help.So sometimes I think of charging as creating the inner world counterpart - especially in objects that humans have made. So, for instance, if you're making a wand or a cauldron or a talisman, or something that is human artifice that is made from things that may once have had an animus at some point, but one wonders how it gets one if it's been chopped up and reshaped by the human power of shaping. That is in some way what we mean when we charging an object with the powers - so it appears in the inner world. When you open your innerworld sight, its there because you've created it on the inner as well as on the material plane.So in using the two powers for healing, for instance, the underworld power I think is used to dissolve and cleanse. It can also be used to enhance and refresh well-being. Don't ask me yet for a system of analyzing people as to whether they're deficient in fire or water - in a long-term use of this - that has to grow (so let me know what you find out). But use the water especially to cleanse and purify ill. But as always something has to come in to replace it. And the sky power can burn away ill, and you can apply the sky power in that sort of way.You can obviously use physical fire and water as conveyances for your power of fire and water. My opinion about ritualistic vs mental-only magic, is that mental-only magic is convenient (because you don't have to have a toolbox) and useful for advanced practitioners. But I think even advanced practitioners are likely to get a better result by grounding the work in a material symbol.As always I think the business is bringing the spirit through into the common world. That's what we're doing - we're bringing spirit from the un-manifest into the manifest world, so using a manifest symbol at the bottom end of the spout is, like, waving a sick person with material water while you flow the underworld power through them, and catching that water in a basin and carrying it out to some large receiving, dissolving body of water is a fine ritual approach and is made juicy by the use of the two powers hypotheses. Folklore attempts to trick the mind into doing it by the traditional folklore tricks of having to go out into he graveyard at midnight, but we're trying to do it in a more conscious way.And especially in healing, let me say that when you have done as much work as you think you're going to do to drive the illness out, or when you feel you've succeeded in driving the illness out, the sky power is especially important for restoring the natural pattern of the target.If you will, without the sky power we'd all dissolve into puddles of our component elements. So it's the sky power that enables ourselves to remember what to be as we slough them off every seven years. You know how the body is this meat machine that sloughs off its outer parts and grows new parts that look just like it, only older.It's the power of the sky - and if we could only have all the power of the sky we had when we were one... They're only a bag of cells after that - see they've lost their sky power and return to their component elements. So the target needs to be filled with that sky power in order to restore the basic pattern of health in the target in a healing situation.SeershipYou can apply this kind of two powers work to the work of seership. That Caher Draoi gives you a mountain top and a place where you can put your ear to the rock wall to see and hear what might be going on. They say that Math ap Mathonwy could see and hear the voices of his people on the wind. In each of us, this process of the fire and water mixing and making us and our minds and thoughts is happening on all the time. It's just kind of diffuse and unmanaged in folks that aren't consciously managing it.Maybe it's us - maybe geniuses are doing this unconsciously anyway. What that means is that our thoughts are always kind of drifting away from our aura on that mist that we produce by the union of fire and water. They're always kind of in the air in thin streams that braid and mix through the world and help to create that strange web of telepathic things among humans that if you could cash in on it you could get rich (it never really seems to happen).Maybe by sensitizing our aura of mist at the edge of that Caher Draoi where the water and fire join and automatically produces that mist that interfaces out with everything else, we can listen for streams of those voices. In the same way all beings are rooted in the underworld power. And the vibrations of our thoughts and deeds resound, if you will, down in those waters and also flow in streams.It's really the underworld power that makes that connection possible, even though I gave an airy metaphor for it. But it's really that drifting, braiding, chaotic nature of the underworld power that makes thoughts flow like that. If it were all ordered then it would all just be crystaline and motionless.It's the looseness of water that makes the mist work in that way. You can envision that in an underworld setting as well. You can descend through your wellhead into the pools of water underneath and see if you can 'taste' the thoughts of others flowing in the underworld waters, or feel the vibration of distant deeds. It's an axis of possible seership models.And I didn't really write about using it for attack and defense. There are some schools of modern magic that enjoy magical combat just as a skill-sharpening occupation. I don't think we'll take it up this year. Next year's warrior games could include zapping, wand-waving...ConclusionI didn't do as much practicum as I thought I might. Questions or comments?I would say that the exercise described is about maintenance and recapitulating cosmos in the self. Accumulating power for practical magic, I think you want to hold that power in the head until you are done. Rather than complete the circuit, you actually want to make a little fjord of power in you for as long as you can find for it.Q: What about the microcosm-macrocosm relationship?We agreed yesterday that Microcosm/Macrocosm was a perfectly Indo-European notion. Reflection and correspondence in Microcosm/Macrocosm are inescapable. Just because it's in hermetics, doesn't mean we have to reject that one!Q: Why not use the Sun as the sky power?I tell you that when I do ritual under the sun, I make the sun the source of the sky power. But the sun is not always present visible. Sometimes we're on the opposite side of the planet from it, at night. A conceptual and abstract point in the center of your inner sky is always available, does not vary based on your rotation on the planet.At night, I've used the moon. When I'm under clear moonlight, I've used the moonlight. I'll always tie it to a local, physical event when the local, physical event is clearly true and real for the participants. When I'm forced by a gray sky or nighttime or just the lack of an obvious material symbol to do something else, that's what I usually choose to use: the star.Q: But aren't planets visible at night showing a reflection from the sun?Feel free to use the sun as the primary. It's the heart of our solar system - there's no problem with it really. In some ways I'm trying to reach deeper. In some ways I'm trying to create an image of going past.You've heard me use the phrase "our common sun and moon" When I'm doing the rising toward the inner light, in a little more detail than I did today, I sometimes use. "Rise above the hall of our building, high above the blue air and cloud, even above our common sun and moon, shines the center of your inner sky." I'm going for that sense of mystical distance. There's absolutely nothing wrong with using the sun at all times, if that's your preference. Works perfectly well in the solar system we live in.Thank you very much!(For more of this material please see Ian Corrigan's druidry books on lulu.com)
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