Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seven Occult Flicks

Happy Halloween! I thought I'd dive into pop culture for some Halloween reviews. I celebrate both secular Halloween and our Pagan Samhain, usually on separate days.

I love horror flicks - or at least some kinds. These days far too many films in the bin are torture-fests, or chem-zombies. Sorry, zombies without black magic just doesn't excite me. I'm always on the lookout for films with a bit of the feel of 'real' occultism, or even with fantasy magic that pushes the right buttons. I don't mean Pagan flicks (I'll do a list of those soon, maybe) but good old Evil Occultism, preferably with some good-guy occultism to oppose it, though that's hard to find. I suspect I'm not the only one with these little peccadillos, so here are seven flicks that did the job for me. Understand that my tolerance for cheese is high. Several of these are small movies, with marginal production values. I wouldn't refer to each of these as a 'good' movie, by standards of er... taste; they are all movies that entertained me. They all had something sorcerous that got them on this list. In no particular order:

• Outcast (2010) A flick that will engage the Traditional Witchcraft crowd, or folks who like their sorcery earthy, bloody and hard. A tale of the Fae living on the edges of human society - an urban fantasy that hasn't been washed and brushed-up.

• All My Friends are Funeral Singers (2010) - a tarot reader is aided by her allies among the Dead, until a mystery arises that points toward pacts made by her equally witchy mother. A marvelously atmospheric set-piece, with marvelous music by Califone.

• The Skeleton Key (2005) Hoodoo and the blues in the Louisianna bayou - and they get it fairly right. Home-duty nurse finds her way into the conjure room of the old gothic mansion. Suggests that sorcery-vinyl didn’t start with heavy metal.

• Lo (2009) One of the few attempts to show a goetic evocation, and one of the most successful. Our protagonist's girfriend has been carried off by demons, and he evokes the demon Lo in an effort to get her back. The excellent script shows the demon and the evocator writhing in one another's grasp. Excellent script, very funny, watch for demon vaudeville...

• Crowley (2008) So, this really has surprisingly little ritual magic in it, but it *is* about Uncle Al, in its way. Of course Crowley is functionally the demon of the movie, come back into the body of a hapless professor of English. The depiction of Crowley is funny at times, bombastic and totally Hollywood. If you like AC it’s kind of like watching a train-wreck, but hang in there for a surprising Wilsonian ending...

• The Devil’s Rock (2011) Nazi occultism on the brink of the Normandy invasion. Two commandos stumble upon the remnant of an experiment gone bad. Excellent grimoire prop, ritual magic chamber, constrained demon and even a bit of attempted ritual magic.

Magus (2008) I almost didn't list this, because the magic in it bears minimal resemblance to any real occultism, with plenty of rays of power shining from hands, etc. But it does have a nice bit about a young woman who finds her personal power, and it also has both Julie Strain as a washed-up sorceress and her younger sister Lizzy as an amazonian bodyguard.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Court of Brigid Grimoire

The core of Pagan magic and religion is contact with the spirits, from the mightiest Gods and Goddesses to the most common local herb-wight. Western magical arts have preserved ancient, reliable methods by which spirits can be contacted and their aid gained for both spiritual growth and practical success. Because these arts have been preserved in the rites of ceremonial magic and the grimoires they have often been ignored by modern Pagan magicians. Now Ian Corrigan has taken the outline and structure of classical spirit-arte and applied it within a polytheistic, nature-based worldview. These methods were presented in The Book of Summoning, and have been being applied experimentally for the past several years. The first public result is the work of the Court of Brigid.

The Grimoire of the Court of Brigid is a suite of rituals that allow the magician to gain the aid of one of the most beloved of the Celtic deities – Brigid the High One, Goddess of Fire and Water, Lady of Skills and Inspiration, Keeper of the Good Hearth. With Her blessing the magician then calls and treats with a variety of spirits of her court. By making alliances with those spirits the magician is able to do a variety of more casual magical works, or spells.

The method of this grimoire combines traditional hierarchical evocation with a reverent and benign approach to the spirits. They are convoked in friendship and alliance, with proper offerings for each. There is no element of coercion or threat, and no discussion of ‘angels’ or ‘demons’. The spirits serve the Goddess and, by her blessing, they serve us. In this way the magic of the Court is placed firmly within the rites of Pagan religion.

The Court of Brigid grimoire is focused firmly on practical work, providing full instructions and conjurings for each of the works. It provides a full system of ritual work, from the creation of the proper sacrifice ground to the Three Rites by which the alliances are made, to spells and boon-rites for specific goals. Also included is the full text of the group rite that was the basis of the work. The names, powers and sigils of twenty-eight spirits are presented. These spirits showed themselves to our seers at one of two rites performed over the past year.

The work of the Court of Brigid is unique in current occult publishing – a system of formal evocation based firmly in a polytheistic (not to mention Celtic) context. Let the Fire of Offering be lit, and the spirits come to our call!

The Druidic Sorcery Set

This is a collectors set, with only nine examples commercially available, never to be repeated in this form.

The set includes a dust-jacketed hardback edition of the grimoire; uniquely typeset, signed, sigilized and numbered by the author. Each set includes three 5.5” laser-carved wooden talismans, numbered in sequence with the books. These are the keys to works of inspiration, prosperity and healing under the power of the Goddess and her spirits, as explained in the grimoire. In addition the set includes a small carved wheel of Fionn’s Window and a roomy cloth bag in which to keep the disks, making a remarkable Pagan and occult collectable with practical utility for magical work.
Close-up of one of the talismans

Standard Edition cover
The Court of Brigid Druidic Sorcery Set is available for $81, plus $10 for shipping in the US. International orders should inquire about payment and shipping cost. Interested parties should email me privately at Tredara at Sets will ship in mid-November.

Standard Hardback – all the content without the decorative and collectibles pages - $27
Popular paperback to follow.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Coolest Thing I've Seen This Week - The Magical Druid

The Magical Druid
Supplies for Paganism and Pagan Magic

Ok, I didn't just see this this week, but still, I haven't seen anything to beat it...
So the coolest thing this refers to is actually the excellent, high-tech laser engraving device that my friends and colleagues Mike Dangler and Seamus Dillard bought. Just have a look at this:

That’s high-detail line-art translated into wood by computer engraving. It isn’t just wood-burned, though, it’s a nice, tactile 16th-inch deep cut in the wood. It makes a product that feels both natural for its wooden material, and as precise as if it had been cast from resin. They can do it on wood, horn, some kinds of stone, leather, various plastic and who knows what else.

Don't let "Druid" put you off. The lads'
expertise runs from Asatru to Chaos magic
and their willingness to work to you
spec is limitless.

  One of the best opportunities here for magicians is that Magical Druid can handily do custom work. I’m confident they would even work out planetary hours of production (within the limits of their day-jobs…).
A 12" granite Triangle of Manifestation
made to my system's specs.
Cool, eh?

They’ve been using a bit of my artwork, so this is not a disinterested plug, but still, how cool is this:
Yes, it's a jigsaw puzzle, suitable for little hands
and hearts.


From unique Rune and ogham sets to handy portable triangles of manifestation, this is a valuable source for unique magical aids. Look for a special offer from me, supported by them, very, very soon…

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Audience with the Dagda

Earth Warriors Festival 2012
On the last weekend of September L and I travelled to SW Ohio for the Earth Warriors festival, an event in its fifth year, held at a 4-H campground. We were present as guest presenters doing an informational workshop and ritual focused on the Dagda, a Gaelic god of wisdom, fertility and strength. All in all it was an excellent weekend.

This was our first Earth Warriors, but we expected to know lots of people. We expected a number of Druid friends, as well as some Starwood buddies. The ADF Warriors’ Guild has been involved from the first, running a version of our usual Warrior Games. In fact L and I, being experienced refs at such things, were drafted to help manage them and so spent Friday afternoon helping with archery, rock-chucking, stick-wrestling etc. It was fun, and a good way to get to know some of the folks we hadn’t previously met.

The event was well-organized, with a diligent support staff. Things happened on-time and as predicted, barring a couple of no-shows on the presenter list. The food was managed by a crew of pirates who produced it well and plentifully. I do enjoy events where the food just appears on a plate – my tolerance for camp-cooking hasn’t gotten greater as I’ve gotten older. All in all the logistics at EWF were exemplary. I’d recommend the event to anyone in the area.

They scheduled our program in the ‘vesper circle’ that 4H camps usually have – a nice firepit surrounded by a small amphitheater of benches. This might have been difficult for a standing-in-a-circle-holding-hands sort of ritual, but it fit nicely in ADF’s format. We brought a kit focused on the rite at hand (rather than the two-tub full kit) and as a result forgot this and that. Always nice to be at a Pagan event where things like a few worked-iron nails and extra incense are readily available.

Trying to fit all the background for a rite like this into one workshop slot is basically undoable. Since there were lots of non-ADF people there I felt I had to begin with a little basic Celtic cosmology, tying that into the ritual forms early (i.e. why we won’t be calling elements at the Quarters). The center of the talk was a pretty quick review of the stories and idea surrounding the Dagda, followed by an introduction to the ritual for the next day. The talk was well-attended and seemed well-received.

The rite itself was somewhat less attended, perhaps no surprise for a ritual opportunity on a lovely Saturday afternoon with other choices to hand. Still we had some twenty present. The rite is based in the same outline I used for the Audience with Brigid that is now the first of the three-rite suite. It combines a reasonably detailed material shrine with a focused inner vision-idol, a detailed verbal invocation combined with nine specific offerings to the god. Once again I composed a short Irish charm to be sung as each offering was given. The trope of the company singing the charm as each offering is carried around the fire and offered to the idol is strong moment in the rite.

If there’s one thing I regret about festival rites it is doing them broad daylight. There’s just no doubt about it – fire rites look better in the dark. I know that it’s bad Indo-Europeanism – rites associated with goodness and blessing are done in daylight. Too bad – fire rites look cooler after dark. One big advantage to after-dark rites is that trance induction is easier. These Audience rites depend on inducing at least a moderate level of trance, and I think that many of our participants got there, despite the lovely shining sun.

The offerings went smoothly, and the omen was quite proper:

Fearn – support – alder – strength and protection (warriors if you like)

Eamhancholl – twinned hazels – illness and healing (third function, for healing)

Eabad – salmon – woodbine – wisdom and poetic power (first function)

So a nice transfunctional omen that indicated, to me, that the Dagda was present and ready to bless us.

For the Blessing I used my three-flames-around-a-cauldron trope. Into the cauldron, along with water, were placed an equal number of black, red and white glass tokens. These, it was explained, would represent the blessing of one of the three Indo-European functions as expressed by In Dagda – the black for bounty and fertility, the red for strength and courage, and the white for wisdom and inspiration. Once the cauldron was blessed it was borne around the Grove. Each participant was sprinkled, and reached into the cauldron to randomly draw a token, getting one of the flavors of blessing. Interestingly there were only a few black blessings drawn, and a few more than that of red, and maybe double-digits of the white blessing – a definite weight for the Ruadh Rofhessa, and the wisdom-power of this complex figure. Two people told me later that they received the kind of blessing they specifically asked for. Otherwise I haven’t gotten feedback, though the general ‘buzz’ following the rite seemed good.

I probably should have done an informational post on the Dagda here. He is one of the most important of the Gaelic divine persons, one who is easy to stereotype and difficult to fully comprehend. I have been invoking him for many years, including some significant trance and invocvatory events back when L and I were doing early experiments together. I still can’t say I have grown close to him in the way I have with Brigid or the MacLir. I hope that by this working, which will surely be repeated over the next seasons, I can bring his power more brightly into both my own shrine and into our community.

An Invocation of the Dagda

a: Trance Eidolon

• Now let the Gate be as a window to our vision... opening to reveal the Otherworld... and let us behold the ancient and mighty one, In Dagda Mor, the Great Good God.... he is seated in beauty and bounty, in a nimbus of nineteen colors... fire and gold and green, shining and arrayed around him... flowing and changing, emerging from a white-gold brightness at their center... at that Center the Red God is seated... clothed in the colors of fire and earth... leather and iron, white tunic and nine-hued cloak of plaid... with his mighty arms and legs bare... a huge torc of gold rests around his neck, with silver bands on his wrists, reflecting the flickering flames... and at the center is the face of the god...

• See the eyes of the Lord of Wisdom... gaze into them, whether or not they see you yet... see his features, his flowing red hair and mustaches, the tips gold as flame... He sits cross-legged on a richly carpeted seat... before him burns a good fire, on a square fire-platform... above the fire a great iron cauldron is suspended, and it bubbles, giving off a scent of perfect delight... in his right hand he bears his great striking staff, and in his left hand his beautiful harp rests upon his knee, that fills the air around him with a wonderous music...

You approach the god... and he towers above you on his seat... let your vision rest in him... as we make our invocation...

b: Invocation & Offerings
• Dagda most honored, to you we make sacrifice, to Eochaid the All Father, Son of Elatha, Chieftain of Danu. All-skilled King of the Tuatha De Danann, Hoster of the Hall of Heroes,Keeper of the Feasting Cauldron, Wizard Harper, Lord of Secrets, Hear us, Red God, as we offer!
• Stallion of Fathering, Mighty Clan Chieftain, Great Cauldron-Feaster, Red-Bearded Giant who mates with the Mare. Abide with us Eochaid as offering we give:
(oil offering made)
• Guardian Warrior, Club-wielder, champion, Nine-slayer, Sun-eyed, Slay and Unslay with the stroke of your Club. Abide with us Dearg, due offering we give.
(oil offering made)
• Wise Druid, Fire-keeper, Harper of Seasons and Master of Secrets, Oh Lord of the Sacrifice, Great Ruadh Ro-fhessa, abide with us here as due offering we give.
(oil offering made)
• Dagda most honored, to you we make sacrifice,
that you be the warmth beneath the Cauldron,
that you be the Fire of Sacrifice,
that you be the giver of bountiful Blessings.
• Flame in the belly that sustains life,
Flame in the heart that illumines life,
Flame in the eye that comprehends life
Be in us, and let us be in you
• O Father of Clans, Red Stallion of Hosting
O Sun-Eyed Champion, Slayer and Healer
O Lord of Wisdom, Fire of Sacrifice
O Dagda most honored, to you we make offering.
As each of the Nine Gifts are given, the whole company responds by singing the charm:
Dagda Mór, bheith linn
Dagda Mor, Dia linn
Dagda Mor-Great good God,
• Porridge I give, because you feed every honorable guest.
• Pork I give, because you give the Champion’s Portion.
• Ale I give; because you strengthen the spirit in the corn.
• Silver I give, because you bestow wealth,
• Iron I give; because you bring sharp magic
• Oak I give; because you bring strong law
• Flame I give, because you keep the Sacred Fire
• Herbs of vision I give, because you keep the Gates of the Otherworld
• Mead I give, because you keep the Draught of Inspiration.
c: Final Sacrifice
I call with the voice of the Cauldron of Wonder, I call with the voice of the Hearth of Welcoming. Oh Dagda Mor, be welcome at our fire. Receive these gifts, and with them our love, our honor, our aspiration.
Dagda Mor, Great Good God accept our sacrifice!