My recent trip to London included many points of historical interest, especially the day I spent strolling through the British Museum. I had one object in mind, however, as I was searching through the Enlightenment Gallery, the magical shew-stone of John Dee. This piece of polished obsidian likely came to England after the exploits in Mexico of the conquistador Hernan Cortez.
Dr. John Dee (likely an inspiration for Shakespeare’s Prospero) was known across Europe both as the astrologer for Mary I and Elizabeth I, but also for his spirit work with the notorious Edward Kelley. Together they used their magical expertise to contact the Enochian spirits, whose language and alphabet Kelley scried and Dee transcribed. The Enochian language is said to contain great power and its full meaning remains mysterious even today. Still over the centuries many great magicians used Enochian magic in their work: Crowley, Mathers, and even Anton LaVey.
To look into this same mirror with my own eyes, to see my own reflection looking back through it, was a profound moment in my own life as a student and historian of magic–also as a disciple of John Dee!
Timothy Wyllie’s life is proof that in order to become a great wizard, you have to alter your mind in drastic ways–usually to the point that you no longer even identify with the profane world at all. Having recently spent some more time learning about his life, he strikes me as the spiritual son of Dr. John Dee as well as Dr. Alexander Shulgin. A bit more about his mystical life comes from this eulogy by Erica Robinson of Inner Traditions:
Last Sunday, the coven I belong to, who you may remember from A Vision of Satan, A Night of Magic, hosted a fantastic Lunar Eclipse party for friends and the public. It was a blustery, cold and cloudy day and we were afraid the moon would be hidden all night. However as the time came to perform our Eclipse ritual, the sky quickly opened up to reveal the moon shining brightly on a perfectly clear night. It is very difficult to write a ritual for the general public, most of whom are non-magical thinkers but I think we did well.
We presented a nondenominational symbolic Drawing Down of the Moon, whose persona our lovely coven member Diana was gracious enough to take on. This included a dance of the planets who aligned into a Lunar Eclipse formation. The attendees blessed themselves with eclipse water, and cast their intentions into the cauldron to be burned. We had an attendance of about 40 people.
In the middle of the ritual, we looked up to see the shadow of the Earth cast sharply onto the now crescent Moon. At that moment, I had a sense I was standing on the top of the whole world, and the great scope of local cosmic space was revealed to me. The Moon before me, the Sun behind me, and the whole sphere of the Earth below me. We were all aligned.
The rest of the night was spent partying, watching the eclipse unfold with telescopes and cameras, and getting real fucked up in the smoking tent. After the group dwindled down, and the eclipse was still in motion, a smaller group of us performed the ritual binding of Donald Trump, with great effect.
If you’re feeling nosy, you can enjoy these timelapses of the ritual and a birds eye view of the party, which was in my own back yard. These are 360 videos that are best viewed in the YouTube app.
If you are a witch, like me, of a non-Wiccan, non-Pagan persuasion, this newly released book may be present the path for you. Orapello and Maguire have put together their own tradition of witchcraft that makes sense for modern times. This book serves as a reminder that we are people of the land, and we are each tied to the land where we live. There may be little need for gods from an ancient bygone country which we have never seen or heard. Instead we should favor indigenous plants and animals, local customs, the spirits and ancestors of our own land, and the seasons not only of our own region, but seasons that make sense to modern living (that is, a non-agrarian society that has little fear of food scarcity or timing rituals around harvest or famine). This is especially poignant as Americans with a shorter breadth of history and folklore native to our home country.
As the title would suggest, the tools of this craft are traditional as well, but adaptable to our own needs. The authors lay out a sixfold path of traditional witchcraft which includes: History and lore, magick, divination, herbalism, necromancy and hedgewitchery. Their system flips the established yet contrived order of the elemental corners upside down, in favor of one that makes more locative sense to the user’s common sense. There is no shortage of animism or ancestors here, along with their two primary deities who are the masculine and feminine deifications of Nature itself.
I myself will be adopting many of their ideas into my regular magical work. This kind of magic ties the blood of Man to the soil of the Earth in a deep and meaningful way. What’s more is it raises our awareness of the world immediately around us and our relationship with it. Rather than adopting a witchcraft tradition which is a confused occultic hodgepodge amalgamation of other peoples’ ideas (or worse, a confused “New Age” practice that has no coherency or basis in reality whatsoever), Besom Stang & Sword inspire the reader to make their own path, and more importantly, forge a living tradition that is woven into their own world.