Hey, Hookah!

Parts of Speech: Singular, Absolute, Adjective, Feminine.
Root: קָדֵשׁ (Q-D-Š)
In English: Kedeshah
Transliteration: qəḏēšāh
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?


[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.

Q&A With TRLT: Part 3, Sorcery

The Road Less Traveled gave me quite a compliment in recognizing the efforts I make to be evenhanded about my opinions. I am not God, not even a Bad God, therefore I can only speak to my human beliefs and my personal preferences. I’ve learned that, unfortunately, there are those who do not respect the convictions of others – surprisingly, even among Pagans. And I do make a real effort. Perhaps it is my legal background but I learned early on that it’s better to think things through before committing them to writing. If something is worth saying, it’s worth saying well, no?

Thanks for the very real kudos.

Let me begin by saying that not all folks who consider themselves Witches adhere to ritual structures as found in Wicca – or any structures at all. As I pointed out in “Part I,” not all Witches are Wiccans. And as I pointed out in “Wannabethans,” there are plenty of Witches who unknowingly use Wiccan practices. However, there are plenty of Witches who fly by the seat of their broomsticks. No circle, no quarters, no nothin’. They are still Witches. Further, there are some Witches who do not “practice Magic” at all. They consider themselves spiritualists, philosophers, herbalists, healers, and folks who observe the cycles of the earth. Sometimes these people are sensitives, mystics, and prophets – but that’s not a “requirement.”

Like I said in my reply to your second set of questions:

My view [of nonWiccan Witches] is that there are potentially as many ways of practicing as there are practitioners. . . . I actually kinda hate it that the only amalgamated definition we have for non-Wiccan Witchcraft is a definition based in what it is not: non-Wiccan. From a Lacanian perspective, this is disempowering – “lack.” If you have another term, I’d love to hear it! I’d be a big fan of coming up with a new, holistic, empowering term. Sadly, Traditional Witchcraft and British Witchcraft connote Gardnerian Wicca.

So, given all that, I would say seiðr is not a European folk magic in that it is a sort of sorcery. . . .

But what is the difference between Sorcery and Witchcraft, you ask? So much that there is an ongoing discussion that ranges from A to Z and back again. There are volumes of books, article, and blogs dedicated to the subject(s). So, I know you will understand that I am just hitting the high-points here. The nuances are so varied that I can’t possibly include them all in one post, but will make some attempt to point them out in later posts if there’s an interest. Deal?

Before I throw my hat in the ring, here are a few outside sources for you. I wouldn’t want you to just take my word for it!

  • I disagree with about half of this WitchVox article – the connotations of half of it at least – but feel it’s worth looking at anyway.
  • Then there’s this forum repost of Silver Ravenwolf’s perception of High/Low Magic.
  • In this thread, SingingBear argues that, “The real names should be Ceremonial and Earth Magic not High and Low Magic.” I think that’s a better delineation; it avoids the misunderstanding that there is a value judgment involved. But, like I mentioned earlier – I don’t remember where, Sorcerers can be, admittedly, imperious. I tend to like that about us.
  • This post addresses the possible confusion between “Low Magic” and “Dark Magic” or “Black Magic,” a subject I may end up covering in a post sooner rather than later.

To me it seems to be a bit like this:

I’ll repeat some of what I said in “High Magic Versus Low Magic, What’s the Difference?” (Bear in mind that “High” and “Low” are not value judgments. You might say it has a little to do with “astrological” and “terrestrial,” respectively.) Low Magic is a pretty broad set of practices and philosophies which do not require specific ceremony and ritual. Low Magic does not require intensive study or understanding of ancient traditions. Low magic is what you might call “every day magic.” It’s “practical magic.” You do this kind of magic to practical, terrestrial ends. Low Magic frequently requires nothing more than the individual’s will and maybe a handful of materials. More importantly, Low Magic typically seeks to create “spells” that offer tangible/terrestrial/material benefit to the personal/earthly self. This includes protection spells, money drawing spells, spells to encourage good luck, and love spells. This is where Witchcraft typically corresponds.

High Magic, on the other hand, includes a set of very exacting practices which require specific tools, including  – often exotic – ingredients and astrological timing; language use, not always English – hell, not always terrestrial languages; and even “real estate.” Consider the requirements of the Abramelin Operation – no kidding Crowley bought a house in, no shite, Loch Ness, Scotland.[1] High Magic is far more formal and utterly saturated with ancient and esoteric traditions: the Hermetic Arts, Alchemy, Sacred Geometry, Kabbalah, and Angelic Evocation.[2] These require a great deal of ritual and ceremony. Often, operations take a very long time: days, months, up to a year, and longer. John Dee, adviser to Queen Elizabeth – and the original 007, and his sidekick, Edward Kelley took many years to complete the “Angelic Reception” of what is now referred to as Enochian. If you don’t know about these characters and are interested in Sorcery, I advise you start here. Though Dee’s is one of the most complex systems, it is worth the time and effort spent in studying his process.

Quite possibly the greatest difference is purpose. The goal of High Magic in the Western tradition is to have knowledge and communication with the Magician/Sorcerer’s personal agathodemon or Holy Guardian Angel (HGA), the embodiment of one’s truest divine nature. High Magic also differentiates itself from Low Magic in that High Magic is generally has a more intangible goal. It is geared toward nothing more than self-enrichment and enlightenment. “Being closer to ‘God’.” It is intended to have the goal of communication with “higher” entities (Divinities, Spirits, Angels, etc.) in order to bring one’s self into accord with Divine Will.[3] But, of course, it’s even more complicated than that – I assure you.

Further, Sorcery or High Magic is not a religion. It is a set off praxes and can (like Hoodoo, I suppose) be practiced alongside a religion. There are Judeo-Christian Sorceries, Islamic Sorceries, Chinese Traditional Religious Sorceries, etc. It is from these arts that concepts such as casting a circle, invoking deities, and evoking spirits is adopted liberally by “New Age” practice.

This leads me back around to another aspect of Low Magic. Low Magic, aside from “Craft-Work,” also encompasses the highly ritualized communication with “lower” entities. Yes, I am talking about demons. But I am not talking about worshiping demons, I am talking about wrangling them into a cooperative state and putting them to work. Look up the legend of King Solomon. (Here’s one source.)

I don’t want to get into Goetia or demonic evocation too much in this post since I could go on for pages and pages. But, in a nutshell, my idea of a demon is a “disorganized” entity – not necessarily evil but certainly capable of deception and unwarranted destruction that could, to a human perception, be interpreted as evil. For those of you who have no experience with demonic evocation, the best metaphor I can use is this: imagine a demon as a feral three year old on a party-party-sugar high. Left to its own devices, it will be destructive and loud and bothersome. Calm it down and give it something constructive to do and you’ll have better luck. Further, for those of you who still have Christian remnants of “demons” hiding under your metaphorical beds, imagine this: If we believe in an omnipresent deity, and I do, then there is nowhere where God is not. So, guess what? If there is a hell, however you define it, God is there too. If we believe in an omnipotent deity, and I do, then there is nothing beyond God’s use. If there are demons, however you define them, they can be put to divine use.

Yes, it’s more complicated than that.

Because I would be remiss in this discussion if I were not to include a word or two from Lon Milo DuQuette, here is a page from Low Magick: It’s All In Your Head … You Just Have No Idea How Big Your Head Is (Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide, 2010. 10-11)[4]:

So what is the source of this power? For me, it seems that some of the power comes from the intercessory “spirit” or “entity,” some from the Sorcerer, some from the ritual itself. But given that all of those parties derive power from “The Almighty Creator,” that’s from where all of the power ultimately comes. But, alas, I am not divine and can only relay my perception. I believe in an all-God because that’s how I’ve experienced my life and how I’ve learned to articulate those experiences. I can imagine that there are others with entirely different perceptions and ways of formulating those perceptions.

Finally, you asked if, as Maman Lee stated would happen to a hoodoo, can power be divinely revoked from a Sorcerer or Magician?

I’m going with, “Yes.”

For three reasons.

If I believe that God is all-powerful, and I do, then it stands to reckon that God has the authority to revoke any and all talents given to a human.

Also, there are ways of granting a Magus or Witch precisely what s/he asks for but doing it in such a way that it utterly destroys his/her life. Whereas the “Witch’s Duh” is a shortfall in the spellwork itself, I believe that there are other kinds of divine retribution. Be careful what you want – it might want you back, sort of thing. Getting what we want instead of getting what’s “good” for us is often the best cosmic punishment.

Further, if the architect of the ritual believes that s/he has trespassed, s/he will place her/himself in a psychological state where no Magic is possible. i.e. We can “psych ourselves out.” In this case, I still see it as God revoking power from the practitioner. In my opinion, this is a case where The Creator has “built in” a default auto-destruct mechanism. This idea deserves a post of its own. Someday.

There is so much more to it all. I can’t hope to cover everything there is to cover in this meager blog, but I hope that I have pointed you in a direction to pursue your own truth.

Well, that was a fun foray into comparative practices!

Blessings, Quarks, and 93,

The Bad Witch

[1] He also bought an “Abbey” in Sicily – from which Benito Mussolini’s government eventually chucked him in 1923. I mean when Mussolini kicks you out of Sicily, you’re not doing a low-prep “spell” for personal gain.

[2] This is just to speak to Western systems. There are Middle Eastern (aside from Jewish) and Far Eastern systems of which I know very, very little.

[3] Yes, of course, there are secondary and tertiary benefits to this aspiration.

[4] I used to set my clock by DuQuette. I don’t anymore. But this section – this I still like.