Thursday, August 9, 2012

Spirit Sorcery

CoB Thaumaturgy Working; Development notes
I’m in the process, with L, of devising the form and ritual script for the Court of Brigid practical magic working. I’ll post these notes and reflections on the effort in hopes that they might be interesting to others who are developing new occult work. This will also serve as pre-pre-briefing for those few readers who might actually attend the working.

Once again, I’m in deep water. Sez my love to me, “What can we do next” meaning what’s the next step in all this spirit-arte stuff. More specifically “What can we do as a festival rite,” she asks. Well, the next step after convocation rites and gaining allies is to begin to use them in practical work. “Well, let’s do that!” OK…

So I’m designing a rite intended to let a medium-sized group of people (say 20 – 40) participate in the summoning and charging of a small group of spirits, for a set of disparate personal goals. No Prob! Yeah right…

Now, my personal practical work with the spirits has turned out mainly to be non-ritual in nature. While I make the pact-offerings at my shrine in (fairly) regular observances, when I need a service I’ve been addressing my allies internally and informally, usually using a mental voice, occasionally aloud. That doesn’t translate to interesting and engaging festival ritual, So I needed… a gimmick! A hook!

Unsurprisingly, I settled on a kind of talismanic work, sort of. How about a devotional shrine for Brigid? OK, but that doesn’t get us to practical work or spellbinding, and my own talismanic work over the years has often been more about ‘energies’ than about the spirits. This remains experimental. So the physical object that we’ll be using isn’t so much a ‘vehicle for the force it represents’ as they say, but rather a shrine to the spirits that the rite will ask to accomplish the work.

OK, so we must determine what sort of goals we will offer. Working under Brigid makes that fairly simple. We’ll allow people to choose between healing, prosperity and inspiration. To do that we’ll devise three different versions of the shrine-talisman, each with the proper sigils, words and spirits. Staring with those broad basic intentions we’ll provide time for each participant to customize their goal and devise a specific request (that time starts right now, if you happen to be one of the folks who will work the rite…). Each personal shrine-talisman (made of printed card, see illos) will be decorated and sigilized by the participants in a preliminary workshop, along with a candle that will serve as the ‘on button’ for the work. Each will also get some sort of scroll or booklet tht includes elements of the festival rite along with the home-game portion of the spell.

Fortunately, I like type and graphics. The triptych porta-shrine cards are laid out, and the scoring and cutting has all been tested. Next step (in no particular order) – what spirits will we actually call upon?

In the two main workings of the convocation rite we garnered two waves of spirit names and details. The fact is that L and I have worked personally only with the first of those waves (having been running like loons since the second working in late June…), and so we decided to limit our choices to those wights for this working. Also, the first wave was done at last year’s Summerland, and many of those folks are likely to sit in on this one, we suspect. So we chose the spirits from that group of sixteen.

Blank shrine-card, before applying
sigils, ogham, etc.
Each intention will be presided over by one of the Three Powers – the Harp, the Hammer or the Cup. These figures are placed in the system as the most senior of the Court, rather in the place that an ‘archangel’ might hold. Along with those we decided to choose two additional spirits from the list of courtiers. How to do that…

We began by choosing a short list of spirits proper to the three intentions. Several of the wights’ descriptions just didn’t seem to relate to any of them, and we ended with a set of 11 spirits, with one that crossed over – four names for each intent. From there we took to divination. After some dithering we opted to use ogham lots, one each, to seek a yes or no answer, allowing for qualitative variance as well. What that really means is rather a lot of ‘yes’ or at least ‘not no’ answers, with a few real ‘no’ possibilities. That was fine with me, since all these spirits had in fact taken the oath to work with us in the first working. A ‘no’ would require a clear indicator.

Well, we got ‘em. We asked first (after a simple conjuring of spirits who had already sworn to come when called) whether each of our choices were willing to serve in the desired intents. Mainly we got yesses, but several negative answers as well. In each case we ended up with at least two spirits who were willing to work. We then did a confirmation draw, determining which sets of two spirits were most proper. Again, we were told no on some sets, but arrived at six spirits willing to participate in the work.

The pairs chosen for each intent are:


Mendahlyn, who helps households reach financial stability, and Ceimh who ‘brings vitality to forge and hearth’. Mendahlyn is of the Court of the Cup, and Ceimh of the Court of the Hammer.


Slainte Beir – the ‘Heal-Fetch’, who bears Brigid’s Healing Cup, and Sirona, who crosses over between the Harp and the Cup, but is quite proper for healing. The Heal-Fetch is of the Court of the Cup, and Sirona crosses between the Cup and Harp.


Gredda, who gives the gift of craft, especially in precious metals and Micel, who also crosses over, and is both a messenger and bearer of spells as well as a smith. Gredda is of the Hammer’s Court while Micel crosses between the Harp and the Hammer.

To indulge in a little analysis:

The first two pairs are plainly suited to their intent. The third is interesting, in that two smithcraft spirits have stepped up to offer inspiration. Of course, this is all beneath the Goddess of Skills, and it is Her inspiration that guides the goldsmith’s hammer as surely as the poet’s tongue. Those who might want to seek poetic or artistic inspiration in this working should take note. Incidentally, I actively asked whether I could remedy that by choosing another spirit out of the yesses. I was given a plain no, and so we have the set we have.

Each of the pairs is mixed between the Courts – that is between Brigid’s three categories of poetry, healing (and hearth) and smithcraft. There are only two spirits of the first sixteen who cross between the Courts, and they are both involved. It is interesting that ‘poetic inspiration’ doesn’t appear as part of the prosperity charm… I’ll refrain from any conclusion on that.

As I/we approach this, we must bear in mind that all these spirit contacts are very new, and that we know only their business card’s worth of data about them. We’ll give a call and engage a commission and see how things go. I’ve been pleased with the results of group effort so far. By this festival rite I hope to get more Druids working on/with this system, and produce additional feedback to deepen connection with those spirits who can really aid us.

So having determined which spirits would work with us, I arranged the three triptych designs, and did some test-prints. Is the cart and horse in the right order if I then sat down to write the ritual itself? Too bad…

This isn’t a grand work of theurgy, and I intend it to be not-high-church. We may work it in a hall, where the wind won’t knock over our little card shrines. In any case I think we’ll work it with ‘table-top’ Hallows – a Fire, Well and Tree that we can carry in a small box and set up easily. Offerings will be small, in token of greater to come.

We’ll use a very simple Grove-Opening, probably the shortest and most direct folks will have seen me do. We’ve been working with simple, folkloric, rhymed and metered charms at home. I think demonstrating how our big ol’ ADF Order of Ritual can be digested into simple charms will have some value in itself. In any case we’ll get from beginning to the main incantations in minutes. The short invocations then follow a standard hierarchic order – the Goddess, her Three Powers, then the Courtiers.

Here we begin to encounter the ‘traffic problems’ that my design causes. The rite is built on the usual conjure-then-charge approach. The six Courtiers will be called, given their due offering per the arrangement, and promised greater offerings to come when they fulfill the charges of the participants.

What we’ll have is a number of participants, divided into fairly random numbers who are working different intentions. Each of them will be personally concerned with only two of the six Courtiers. Each of them needs the opportunity to ‘give the charge’ to the spirit. No way we’re going around the room to have this happen one-at-a-time.

My plan is to reach the key moment, when the participants are abiding in the vision of the Goddess and the spirits, prepared to speak to their specific spirits. Then we’ll sing. L and I will hold the recitation of one of our simple songs, and everyone can either sing along and/or recite their intent/charge aloud, under cover of the voices. We’ll see…

Each participant who actually does an intent (I’m unsure whether we should allow observer/participants) will take home their shrine-talisman, a candle and some little booklet or scroll with a follow-up rite. I’ll go home with a nice experiment in practical magic with these spirits. Unfortunately we won’t have feedback nearly as quickly as in the primary convocation rites, but hopefully we’ll get some.



Robin said...

Sounds like a very complex working what with the multiple intents, spirits and all. The good thing is you can learn from it and adjust how you do the rite from the experience. My experience with goetia is somewhat limited .. I saw and participated in more planetary evocations. Just like we discussed before my concern would be anthing that would approach a goetic fall out. I suppose I would tend to think more about some type of spiritual cleansing after the ritual that may certainly be needed (and even repeated by participants easily). said...

Beautiful work. Thanks for updating!

Skylark said...

I'm really excited about this. I'm curious: if we've worked with any of those six spirits since last year, are you going to want us to work with them again, or specifically not, or it doesn't matter either way?

IanC said...

Robin: I don't think this falls very far into the 'goetia' range. It is surely possible that many of the spirits involved are mortal dead, but they serve a fairly Ouranian sort of Goddess. In any case I'm confident in the good will of these entities.

Skylark: We've chosen that specific list for this working through a combination of reason and divination. We *will* have blank talismans for folks who simply must customize the work, but we won't have arranged other offerings, etc. In general, for the sake of a controlled experiment, I'd prefer working with the six who have agreed to the work.

Robin said...

It does have more of an Enochian feel in which case I agree

druidkirk said...

Slainte Beir – the ‘Heal-Fetch’,

How would you pronounce this, Ian? SLAN-cha BEER, perhaps? It would be good to know....

IanC said...

Kirk: Slawn-chuh Veer, I think. How might we say it in Welsh? I've never done a Fionn sigil for a Welsh term... no Y or W... prolly must stick to gaeilge.