Yoiking and Zauberstab

First off, Merry Christmas to any of you who are celebrating it this week. I hope your Yule was as groovy as mine was. While I could not celebrate with my broader kindred (for (positive) reasons that require a separate post), I did have a great birthday party (thanks to The Husband) jam-packed with Absinthe, dirty lyrics by Prince played over the world’s coolest amplifier, and a couple-dozen folks that have a very special place in my heart.

I also went to a lovely Christmas party where the host thought enough to “mazal tov” and “drink hail” to his non-Christian guests: this led to “It’s kinda cold for dancing nekid—especially in an elevated chair,” jokes.

I’ve wanted to write about yoiking for some time but waited for the Y post in the Pagan Blog Project to do it. Then, of course, I missed it. I also wanted to talk about this groovy term “Zauberstab traegerin” so I saved that and missed it as well. Here’s my attempt to make up my shortcoming. This post isn’t really much of an argument; it’s just informative.

I recently had a birthday. My daughter knew that I had wanted to read Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy for some time but never got around to it. I wouldn’t let anyone watch the movies until I did. For this reason, among others, she bought me The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo on audiodisk.[1] It’s a very political story with a murder mystery and family intrigue. I only mention this because Larson is fairly critical of Swedish politics, especially economic policy and racism. Racism in Sweden you ask? Yes, Larsson constructs a character that exposes the the neo-Nazi roots of the Sweden Democrats party. (Look here for more info on “The Dark Side of Sweden.”) Larsson’s character, Richard Vanger, has a particular penchant for eugenics and genocide—particularly of the Sami (also Sámi or Saami), the indigenous people of Arctic Europe.

Because my own Heathen roots are of an Anglo-Saxon and Dutch flavor, somewhat different from the Nordic and Scandinavian variety, I never really encountered discussion of the Sami until this year.

While talking with a Scandinavian peer (she too calls herself Völva in her own—very different—tradition) about vocalizations and the American yawp, she mentioned a practice of yoiking (or joiking). I knew what this was, sort of, but thought it was closer to yodeling than it actually is.

According to the University of Texas Music Department, the yoik is:

A form of song which utilizes a scale and vocalizations which are unfamiliar to virtually everyone in the Western (American and European) world, the history of the yoik is representative of all the encroachment and abuse that the Sami people have suffered at the hands of outsiders.

Here’s a this.

And here’s a this.

And this looks so entirely familiar, even though I know it’s not.

Bob Tarte explains (“You Must Be Joiking.” The Beat Magazine: 22, 4. 2003. Web.):

Joiking originated in the chanted vision songs of Sámi shamans perhaps predating the Sámi migration into northern Scandinavia from the southeast 2,000 years ago. . . .[T]his improvised style of singing . . . is less about actual words than melody and vocal textures . . . . A person could joik about a hunt, a frozen stream or the birth of a baby. But what makes these fluid songs with no fixed rules unique is that they aren’t considered to be about a subject. The joik, and by extension the joiker, are said to actually become the subject. . . . And you don’t have to believe in spirits or channeling to experience the rush [of joiking]. Call [it] the summoning of the unconscious or a wordless connection with the deepest archetype of song itself, and its surge is equally impressive.

I hate to compare distant and distinct cultures to one another for fear of colonizing, but I can’t help see the similarities between the Sami yoik and Native American vocalizations.[2] (While it is not my intention to make this my argument, in these moments of similarity, I have to wonder if those theories about Solutrean migration to The New World are accurate at all.) Both are intended to induce a “shamanic” trance, are used to call animals and spirits, and to shapeshift—what Tarte means by “become the subject.”[3]

I had asked the peer in question about the relationship between the Sami and her Norwegian ancestors and didn’t receive a suitable answer for my tastes. We are still hammering it out. It had become my impression, after being pointed to a woman named Yngona Desmond (make up your own mind about this one), that the Sami and other northern European cultures were unrelated. Desmond, who claims to be “Vinland’s Volva, an honorary title of respect and recognition, gifted . . . by Sámi Noaide,”[4] is a “Heathen leader” in Georgia who regularly leads a boar hunt.[5] It seems like yoiking and seiðr—especially in the form of galdr—are connected; I just want to be very careful about lumping cultural practices together based on geography.

(a.k.a. Dancing nekid in an elevated chair.)

Like I said, I don’t have a point to make here. I just felt like saying, “Hmm, would you look a’that?”

Likewise, I want to point you to a term: Zauberstab traegerin, German for “wand bearer.” But a Zauberstab is not just any kind of stick, stylus, or rod. It translates as “wand” but connotes specifically as “magic wand.”

I love that about Deutsche. I’ve told you about how I feel about words like Schadenfreude. The German language can cram a whole concept into one word.

(I also think of words like Zigeunerleben (“Gypsy life”), which makes me wonder how much racism is intended by—or even accidental to—the song by Robert Schumann (which I remember from high school chorus). The song is a romanticized[6] depiction of “wandering gypsies, so wild, so free of care, with eyes flashing brightly, with dark flowing hair” and “raven-haired maiden[s]” who “dance . . . [while] bright as a torch, burns her passionate glance.” And now that I know what I know about Sweden and the Sami, I’m starting to wonder even more about Germany and the Romany. I mean, I know that “gypsies” were rounded up in the 40s, so why do we sing this song seemingly about a racial fetish in high school? That’s totally beside the point—but it makes me think: Why am I back on the subject of Nazis?)

I’m not sure where I stumbled upon the term Zauberstab traegerin—it’s one of those moments that I wish I’d taken better notes. I mean Zauberstab is easy enough to find all over Harry Potter cites in German, but I know I found “Zauberstab traegerin” as a complete term. In terms of Völvastav, Völvakona, and Stavkona (“the wand carrying magic woman”) this is a significant term that I am now beginning to think I may have dreamed.

Happy holidays.

~E


[1] Why they didn’t keep the original title, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (Men Who Hate Women) is not beyond me, but it’s a better epithet for the novel than a nod at one of Salander’s many tattoos.

[3] If you have caught on to my Deleuzian proclivities, you have to know that I love that he used the term “become.”

[4] I was subsequently pointed to this quote on a New Age Fraud discussion thread by someone who was very concerned about the new preponderance of “fake tribes” here in the Southeast of the United States. I had no idea that this was such a common problem. Seems it is. It also seems that it’s one  New Age Fraud takes seriously enough to investigate and subdue. I’ve been asked a lot of questions over the past month and have had to educate myself right-quick on accounto’ I had no idea this was a widespread thing for fakers to do. Though I don’t really approve of the hate-filled rhetoric, I found this page (also handed off to me by the “concerned” person/people) very helpful in understanding what’s legit in a “tribe” and what’s not. It made me think twice about Desmond and others.

[5] I don’t know anything other than what I can deduce from the questions I was asked about Desmond, what I read briefly on the discussion thread in the footnote #3, and what little I read on her blog. I was (coincidentally?) just lent a copy of Völuspa: Seiðr as Wyrd Consciousness (cross-country), but haven’t read it yet. As ever, I’ll let you know.

[6] Here I mean “fanciful”—not to be confused with “Romanticism” which is specific to a literary movement.

 

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).

Some New Baubles and Things to Share

Pimping again.

I came across Wane Wyrds not long ago via The Pagan Pages Blog Hop and really liked the way Cena explained some of the misconceptions about Vanatru. I liked it so well, that I thought I’d share her post, “Misconceptions about Vanatru: What it is and what it isn’t,” with you.

And I’ve also enjoyed several well-spent hours reading/looking at Donald L. Engstrom-Reese’s work at Walking In Beauty, where he defines Queer Spirit for a Pagan community which is, in my opinion, far too hung up on binaries for its own good. I especially like this page where he offers some terms and definitions.

I’ll have a few more to add in a few weeks as I fill you in on my new group: Ulfarnir. I’m thinkin’ maybe they might need their own page.

Which reminds me–I had the great pleasure to meet some real Timberwolves yesterday and talk with the woman who takes care of them. (“You don’t train a wild animal,” she reminded me, “you work with its instincts rather than against them.”) It was an amazing experience and I learned some valuable things. Therefore, I plan to go back and revise my post on wolves to include what I learned. Stop by and see it in a day or so.

I always tell you that I’ll get back to this subject or that subject in another post–sometimes I forget or just get sidetracked. If there was something I said I’d tell you and I haven’t, drop me a reminder. I plan to run through the last few posts and gather up the stragglers when I have a minute; until then, I’ll follow your cues.

You’ll also notice that I’ve added a button for “Heathens Against Hate.” Go poke them.

I hope you dig the new layout. It seems that the more longwinded of my posts can scroll on-and-on, so I wanted a broader middle column for ya.

And, as I’m always up for suggestions, I took a loyal reader’s advice and added a tip-jar. I weighed the decision and looked at a lot of others’ opinions (like this one). In the end, I figured–as a minister, writing at The Files is part of my job. All of the contributions go toward supporting the things I do in the Pagan community. Why would I shortchange my community of some much needed financial support? Besides, some of the blogs I respect most have a tip-jar. I reckon it’s done. If I’ve made you laugh, made you cry, pissed you off enough to make you do something productive, or just given you an idea to reflect on for a bit, consider contributing. (It will show up as Open Path Sanctuary & Templum Gnostica, the legal brainchild behind all the pixie dust.) All of the bells and whistles I am adding to the Pagan community depend on the support of readers and enthusiasts like you.

As ever, I encourage you to go visit the folks on my blogroll. And if I have been remiss in including your blog or if you have a suggestion for a Bad Blog for me to add, drop me a line (abadwitch@yahoo.com).

Blessings, Quarks, and 93!

Ehsha

 

Instant Sumbul’s Gonna Get You

It’s the second anniversary of The Bad Witch Files.

Originally, I thought I’d write up a “retrospective” to reinforce the journey I’ve made from the Witch I was two years ago: undermined, deceived, and betrayed by the only Pagan “community” I thought I’d find in The Bamas. Two years later, having dug my heart-roots deep, my branches are starting to expand their canopy again. Rather than looking back, let’s look forward. Shall we?

Last night we had our Winternights craft circle and Disírblòt/Ælfablòt. (See my list of events (a new page to your right) for more details.)

A year ago, if someone had told me I’d have a horde of happy Heathens covered in glitter in my livingroom, I’d have called bullshit. Two years ago, I’d have shanked them for blasphemy.

But, alas. This year, I had wall-to-wall Wyrdness. Tissue-paper, feathers, ribbons, beads, and—yes—glitter.

Let me make something very, very clear. I am a talent at sewing on all levels with a particular penchant for costuming.[1] I can decorate the shit out of a house and garden (and chickencoop). I can paint, I can knit, I can solder, I can calligraphy, and I can make any piece of wood my absolute bitch.

Do not hand The Bad Witch glue sticks and glitter.

This. I cannot do.

And yet.

When one of my students, a beloved grove member, suggested a craft circle, I smiled and said, “Hokay?”[2] Then, piled high with the faces I adore more than air, I managed to make a go of it.

Then we retired to the beautiful harrow The Bad Husband arranged and had a bit of a blòt. “All Ehsha Style.” And while we had our, um, moments—we’ll go with “moments”—it was right out—here’s the word—“sanctified.” The harrow was hallowed and that’s the end of that.

Plus, when you get in your skin and learn to do what comes naturally, you learn a thing or three. Here is what The Bad Witch learned from “craft” night:

Mulled wine is oh-so-fantastically-suitable if the cat ruins the mead.
Often, the only things standing between some folks and vegetarianism are salami and bacon.
The Bad Husband never learned to braid. Who knew?
If it’s red and sticky, you should prolly put it in your mouth.
Bloody handprints don’t grow on trees.
I always forget the incense.
October ain’t no thang to mosquitos in Alabama.
If the need-fire won’t catch, use a spare ritual script as kindling.
While waiting for the need-fire to catch, Sumbul!

Included in this blòt was a spontaneous Sumbul and beot. The Sumbul reflects the strength of one of the most Heathen ethical traditions: Kindred. Again, I want to clarify that Kindred doesn’t rely on consanguinity, but on loyalty and affinity. A Sumbul is where kin sit in hall and take turns with the drinking vessel. (“No, no. That horn ain’t fit to drink from yet. Get a glass.”) The vessel serves as a bit of a “talking stick” in other cultures. In Sumbul, one can skald—tell a story—and one can beot. A beot is a ritualized boast. Not the braggadocio of conceit or egoism; a beot is a promise within the community—a sacred oath.[3] It’s not just a promise to the community, mind you. It is also a promise from the community.

For example: The Bad Husband’s beot was to improve his language skills in German to a fluid (not fluent) conversational level by the next solstice. So, not only has he promised to improve our community by adding to his communication skills (and therefore work-related skills—which in turn benefits his reputation in the broader world—this is good for our community which believes that individual health brings health to the whole). Success in this endeavor will increase his reputation in our community. Failure? Um, that’s different. But the flipside of the beot is that the community is also bound to encourage TBH to improve his German. They are to prod him and make reminders of his beot. They are oathbound to not stand in his way or make any hindrances or obstacles for him. When possible, they are to assist him. It’s all about community support.[4] In turn, TBH promised to help other members achieve their goals. Sumbul and beot is a way to let your community know what’s important to you, gain their support, and become accountable to something outside of yourself.

Our oaths got bigger as the cup passed ‘round: “Oh, I get it. The more we drink, the bigger our beot become?” What started with promises to finish this or that household project by spring ended with more serious oaths to learn languages and complete Shamanic and Hermetic training (four separate beot—each trying to one-up the other in a friendly-sort of way). But beot aren’t just promises to do things. A beot can be about something already done. Sumbul is a place to get the recognition that we deserve without the guilt manufactured by our Puritanical background. Others boasted of things like twenty years of military service (whoo-rah), a shiny new bar exam passing, a place on the dean’s list, a successfully (newly) integrated family of eight, and many other lovely things.

Today, we all have a better gauge of where each other stand and we have a clearer idea of how we can help one another. How Heathen is that?

Here are TBW’s beot. I tell you this here as a bit of cyber-Sumbul. You are my extended community and I want to include you in my support network. After all, you pushed me through two years—I’m pretty sure I can count on you to push me some more.

(And as a cyber-Sumbul, if you are someone who reads my blog just to look for ways to hinder my progress, stop reading now. When you listen to one’s sacred beot, you become enmeshed in supporting it.)

Click “more” if’n you’re willing to throw down on The Bad Witch if she get’s lazy.

Continue reading

Trance

The tent flaps rustle and the fire in the brazier before you acknowledges the new influx of air. The crowd has gathered outside; all who have traversed the circle have been anointed and are become discerning to the sign.

You hear the loud drumming, music and revelry outside the tent over the soft pulsation of the rhythm being played inside the tent, you stand between the worlds.

You have prepared for ten days. Phases of fasting, meditation, ritual bathing, and profound formulations have brought you deeper and deeper into trance: all for this moment.

You rise, without staggering, you are brought out before the people. At your appearance, they are enthralled by the Vardhlokkur you repeat softly under your breath; you can feel their anticipation reach toward you like a needing hand. You resist their pull and let the music carry your body into the familiar dance.

The gyðia dance around you; each has her own role today. Two guide you to the high seat. The goði hands you your stav. As you find the deepest rhythm, feeling the pulsation in your body and your being, you intensify the chant. The gyðia join in. You feel the last strings of yourself snap and you step silently out of your body, which slumps slightly in its seat. There, past the mist which obscures the worlds, you can see the futures of the men and women before you as clearly as crystal.

You send the word of power to your mouth and your voice cries out over the crowd, like the howl of a keening wolf. Some of those gathered can also see the glimmer of truth which lies beyond the fog, in that other world, where you stand.

The priest, the servant of the people, supplicates himself before you and inquires. Your vision ranges far and near. And you answer him.

You are the Völva of the people.

I have been talking to Bertie a lot lately. She’s been reminding me of the specifics of the ceremonies involved in my training—though I remember the classroom details, the reading, the writing projects, the people, etc. with specific detail, I’m a little fuzzy around the edges of “rituals.” I mean, I remember the structure, I remember the doxologies, I remember the clothes and the instruments; but I don’t have such precise recall of the events themselves—primarily because I spent much of my time in trance.

I go into trance easily.
Cooking Jambalaya.
Cleaning the chicken coop.
Driving.
Writing–typically, I have a sort-of half-in/half-out cognition; I know what needs to be typed but cannot think of the words; as I search my (human) lexicon, I lose touch with the (“other”) thoughts.

But there was this one time.

Once, I started typing and, though I have never considered myself an auto-writer of any sort, I looked up and had two pages of really profound, almost archaic, poetry.

I only mention it because it has started happening pretty regularly again. I had actively suppressed it—which I’ll explain in a minute—but find that circumstances have allowed me to explore this skill in complete safety again.

I showed the two pages of poetry to one person ever. That one and only Pagan I knew in town. A big fan of Sappho, she (at first) thought it was some ancient transcript I had found. That same person is one of two people I allowed to see me in trance (since I moved South, that is). You have to have a profound trust for that shite.[1]

In that same spirit of throwing STFU to the wind, let me tell you a story or two.

One time, I was drinking with some friends on a porch and the house-husband started telling a story about his childhood—I finished it for him with fluid accuracy. Creepy details and all.

It’s not like clairsentience. Thought that happens too. Another time, similar situation, I “saw” a situation between the person to which I was talking and her bestie. Thankfully, that time I caught myself before regaling the crowd with the tale. But when I “trance-out,” I’m gone and someone else is borrowing my vocal cords for the moment. Ain’t much I can do about it.

And no, I’m not schizophrenic Booze is just the Heathen’s entheogen.

Here’s a very important story that helps me understand the last four years of my life with great clarity. Ironically, these are The Bad Witch “Files” I always intended to write but somehow never shared. But I should have–there’s a great lesson in it. But I guess I had to get out the other side of the experience before I could really place a name on it.

Heregoes.

Long story short—I came to town in 02. Met a woman and told her I was a Witch; she freaked out a little but understood exactly what was what. She moved in 07; came back in 08 having fully embraced her own witchyness. Hooray, right? She even brought a disciple with her. In the meantime, I had made fast-friends (that never ends well) with the woman who would eventually become a bane of my life. She claimed witchery too. I should have known by her relationship with her rosary that not all was “right.” But I had known enough syncretic Witches to talk myself into finding it quaint. Besides, I was a little tired of going it alone.

The four of us were supposed to meet on the full-moon between Winternights and Samhain. Two (#3 and #4) bowed out, leaving me and #2 to go it alone. (I really like calling her “#2.”) I was totally fine with #4 not being present; it was #3 that upset me. It was all her idea after all.

During the evening, #2—who I foolishly trusted with far too much over those years—asked me to act as oracle. She didn’t use those words, but I got the idea. She wanted to know what-was-what. So, I did the thing that came so naturally.

A little later, word got back to me that #2 and #3 were exchanging smack-talk and #2 was reporting, “Her eyes rolled back in her head and she started speaking in another language. I swear she called up some demon because there was this thing growling at me from the back of the yard!”

Amatures.[2]

About a year later, after some of the nasty fallout from #2 (tee-hee), Witch #3 came by to do a little “work.” Sitting around the fire, she too asked me to do some what-what. As I started going into trance, she grabbed me and shook me and yelled at me, “Stop that! What are you doing?”

I should have known.[3]

Since then, I kinda-sorta made sure there was always too much going on to allow myself to go into trance. I even avoided sitting in those taller chairs in the bar-areas of restaurants  Silly, I know; but it was too evocative for me. I think there were things I didn’t want to know. Didn’t want to see. Certainly things I knew I didn’t want to do. (Because in trance? Yup. I can do things.) Something about having your magical abilities trounced on and shat upon by women who are supposed to be your fellows makes a girl want to be a hermit. Or hang out with only boys.

So, last spring when I was incited to “Do it all Ehsha style,” I declined. There was a stroke of damned good judgment on my part for once!

Nowadays, I hear tales of how #4 has taken to trancework. *shrug* It’s good work if you can get it.

This is all just to say that having gone through all the crap you’ve been through with me, fine readers,[4] I’m glad to announce that I am finally able to return to my origins. It’s been a crappy set of years, y’all; but it feels like I’m going home.

You have held my cyber-hand and seen me through the roughest of the journey and I am entirely grateful. If it weren’t for you—especially those of you who send me emails and PMs on FB and Skyped with me in the thick of it—I don’t know that I would have had the tenacity to stick it out and do what’s right.

Cyber-community rocks pretty damned hard. Particularly when it leads to flesh-and-blood community, and maybe even a self-proclaimed “fangirl” <3 t’boot.

And this is also to say that I’m not going to let my praxis be held hostage by a community that “just doesn’t understand” anymore. As a matter of fact, I have picked up where I can only surmise I am intended to be and am embarking on the task of educating my community. My whole community. Anybody game? I’m all up for a roadtrip.

After a profound near-year of rereading everything Bertie ever gave me (and reading the new stuff she’s piled on), I’m back in my own skin.

The journeyer has returned, y’all. A little bruised–maybe from the cosmic stav upside the head–but a lot wiser.

I’ve had my stav out for a few months now and was ashamed at the dust it had accumulated. (The last stav I held was one I had made (carved and everything) for #3 a few Yules back.[5] Likely she’s used it for firewood.) But I’ve moved past the regret and on to the Neetsfoot oil.

Today, my lovely will bask in the sunshine and soak up some much needed oily deliciousness.

Tomorrow, she will be in my hand as I lead a Disírblot/Ælfablot in the back 40.

All Ehsha style.

Dancing. Trancing. Chanting.

Have a loverly weekend!

B, Q, 93

TBW

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).


[1] On purpose—I mean, it has happened on accident a few times when I was physically impaired. Don’t think less of me for losing control and sliding into the aether now and then.

[2] You know the real story, right? I closed my eyes and chanted an ancient galdr. I was neither possessed nor invoking anything aside from the oracle. Both I and my late-neighbor had dogs—though I do have this rather protective “friend.”

[3] I certainly knew when, in a conversation about thoughtforms, she told me, “Yes, [she had] servitors,” and that, “sometimes they don’t even know who they are.” *faceplant*

[4] Of which I see there are currently exponentially more than they were last week—thanks for sharing.

[5] I wasn’t trying to “convert” her (because that’s what she’ll argue), but I was trying to “share” a piece of myself.

Hey, Hookah!

קְדֵשָׁה
Parts of Speech: Singular, Absolute, Adjective, Feminine.
Root: קָדֵשׁ (Q-D-Š)
In English: Kedeshah
Transliteration: qəḏēšāh
Definition:
1. to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, beKedesh = “holy place”
a. 1. apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness
2. temple prostitute
Related to the words: Kaddish, Kedushah, Kiddush (all rituals to sanctify); qodesh (holiness); nhitqadsh (marriage—the verb; I’d like to think it’s kinda like hieros gamos if only Hebrew played like that); and miqdash (temple).

And if you switch the e and the h of the last two syllables, you get my sacred name: Ehsha, חשא (aleph sheen hay). But that’s just me being momentarily narcissistic.

Read this for some weirdness—Wyrdness—that no one was prolly ever meant to find. Especially the part that says: “Ishshah, which is affiliated to eshshah [is] nonlinguistic fire; the latter is the distaff ramification of cosmic fire, which is esh. . . . The Ashkenazi letters categorization esha are aleph-sheen-hay, and esh is aleph-sheen wrappingeesh (man) is aleph-yod-sheen.”

Hee-hee, he said “distaff.”

If you’ve been following my argument about the female helix, you’re prolly saying, “Wait, what now?”

Let me back up and actually say something comprehensible. In my attempts to debunk so-called “Spermo-Gnosticism”[1] and develop a sense of a return to the divine female within sacred sex–but devoid of all that objectification slathered on her bod by the likes of Crowley and Gardner, I’ve been reading a lot about sex today. Not erotica or HBOrgasmus, but ritual sex and temple prostitution as it relates to seiðr (which, it is safe to assume, called for sexual rituals involving völva). This means I’ve been parsing out Akkadian, Sumerian, Hebrew, Norse, and Anglo-Saxon until I don’t even know how to speak English anymore.

Strangely, my day started with Agrippa. Pre-translated.

Once I hit the point where I was actively looking up funk by P.R. Koenig, the notorious O.T.O. infiltrator, I found myself wishing I had taken better notes.

I love technological approaches to research but the process leaves me feeling more confused when I started than when I began. (Plus, who knows what the library staff must think of my book and article orders. I know the currier quite well by now.[2]) I have twenty tabs open over two instances of Chrome, have maxed out my library allowance for the day, and have nothing to show for it.

So, I thought I’d start speaking Biblical Hebrew with you and see if I can land on something.

קְדֵשָׁה –Kedesheh—temple prostitute.

Whenever I teach The Epic of Gilgamesh, I find myself wishing I didn’t have such a hard time contextualizing sacred sex for twenty-some-year-olds in the Bible belt. I really just want to tell them, “You know, it’s just like Shakta Tantra.”

OK, fine, I do say that. I just wish it made sense to them.

Do they get, “Temple of the Flesh as a good thing rather than a sin”? No.

How’s about, “Ecstatic[3] gnosis without the monotheistic underpinnings that zap it of all meaning”? Nope.

Even, “The libidinous worship of Venus,” negative connotations and everything, is out of reach during Gilgamesh days.

How’s KJV’s “Harlot” and “Whore”? Ah, this they understand. No wonder Mary Ellen Tracy of The Church Of The Most High Goddess landed her nekid arse in jail.[4]

I’m really just trying to rend my va–helix from the vice-grip of the male-oriented tradition preferred in the seventeenth-century (as per my last post - which is now a funny “box” joke to me) and embraced by the likes of Kellner and Reuss (and thus Crowley) as “the cult of the Lingam” which imagined women as non-essential materia, entirely unnecessary except as a container for the almighty serpent-seed.[5] Or whatever else he wants to pull out of his body. (I keep thinking that Formula AD (Eleventh Degree) sounds less like a recipe for enlightenment and more like a recipe for conjunctivitis. (Tee-hee, Pink-Eye-of-Horus.))

See, when I get my brain too full, it spills over with disconnected facts and blasphemous side commentary. And I hope to have given Angela plenty to look up this time! Lemme know.

The Bad Witch is an overachiever, I know. I’m not going for the easy sell: restoring the sacred feminine in the predominantly female realm of Witchcraft. Nope, I have my sights set on Sorcery and the Occult. I mean, that’s my thang. A year or so ago, Brandy Williams wrote The Female Magician. I read it and loved it—had it been published in 1999 alongside Irigaray and Butler and Foucault, this would be a very different conversation. But we can’t solve the problem of female degradation by building on patriarchal models. We may not have to throw Golden Dawn, Thelema, etc. out with the bathwater, but we sho need to scrub the Kabbalistic (Abrahamic/patriarchal) spooge ring out’the tub.

And I’m on it. I have a really sound argument. And the more I find, the stronger my argument gets.

Here’s a problem. Or maybe it’s a non-issue; living in The Bamas makes one lose track of real and perceived problems.

Take the F-word: Feminism. Folks think that to raise the philosophical subject position of the female to one of egalitarian justice (without erasing gender[6]) is the same as to strike a coup d’état,[7] thereby placing masculinity in subservience to femininity. Feminism does not aim to displace patriarchy. There is a way both the male and the female can be equal—it just takes a little thought. And we kinda hate thinking, don’t we?

Not you and me. The American “we.”

Likewise, I have heard very scholarly male magicians pooh-pooh the (admittedly often strategically deficient: ehem, Z.B.) attempts of feminists to genuinely reclaim the sacred feminine. Poke Runyon, for whom I have an inexplicable tender spot, makes me absolutely nuts when he rants about the Goddess Worship movement. He really is just talking to the wrong feminists (anti-feminists), Ann Finnin aside. I super-glad to have male counterparts like Freeman and Polyphanes who don’t see me as an Aristotelian deformed male. Or at least they are good fakers. :)[8]

So, my big fear (not so much fear as frustration[9]) is that my male counterparts, the ones invested in a power position within occult circles which might be threatened by my helixical competence, will dismiss me out of hand simply because they, like those who thought feminism was about political castration, believe that I want to make magical eunuchs out of all men. It’s that either/or fallacy (phallusy) again.

I do believe that there is a place for the phallus—er, *sputters,* I mean—never mind. Start over. Imagine two approaches to Sorcery. If the Shaivite school and the Shakta school can survive contiguously in India for centuries (although, not without friction—go ahead, let your mind go to the gutter; I’ll wait), then can American Sorcerers agree to two disciplines? Please say “yes.” The restitution of the Sacred Feminine, after centuries of subjugation—and especially after the sixty-some years it’s been misrepresented, is the most important Work I can imagine undertaking right now.

That, and dinner.

Seeya Friday?

TBW


[1] Go ahead, look it up; I’ll wait.

[2] We made friends during the dissertation days. “Hey,” he’d say on a regular basis, “I don’t judge.”

[3] I actually have to tell classes that “ecstasy” is more than a drug—Oh, and that “incubus” is more than a band.

[4] Even if I disagree with her theology, I don’t think she was running a “brothel.”

[5] Urban, Hugh B. Magia Sexualis. University of California Press, 2006.

[6] See Luce Irigaray’s An Ethics of Sexual Difference that explains how the sexes can remain distinct—without complimentarianist ideas, yet equal.

[7] I love a good castration joke.

[8] The Bad Witch totally just emoticoned, y’all.

[9] Sacred sexual frustration. Right on.