Reconsidering the Kabbalistic Cross

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Taking a page from Augoeides, I got it in my head that maybe we could apply dramatic ritual to other things. One of the more obvious things is both the Kabbalistic Cross and the use of the steps and signs within the religious use of the circle. For the nominal use, the signs and words are “ateh malkuth ve’geburah ve’gedulah leolam amen” ([For] Thou Art the Kingdom, the Power, the Glory, unto ever and ever, augmn). The normal form of this is to face the East (Orient), forehead, genitals, right shoulder, left shoulder, and then clasp the hands. Now we’ll channel the ghost of Manly P Hall.

It’s not really terribly complicated and it’s been well covered in just about any Rosicrucian or Golden Dawn book. But what are we consecrating? Or what do we get out of it?

The obvious consecration is ourselves, right? But one of the fundamental problems I think religions eventually have to tackle is that if we ourselves are fundamentally holy as a result of our membership with the Monad, then why? One of the views here is what we ourselves might be divine, but then only our souls are divine. The rest of ourselves – the physical part – is the part that deals with the messy business of living here in this particular place and time. Our bodies are really just space suits for our souls.

The solomonic folks go with the ritual bath. Which is decent and entirely practical for the purpose of transitioning into the ritual mentality. The immersion in water as in baptism fulfills the dramatic ritual requirements of death and rebirth or establishing a clean cut between the outer world and the inner world. Similarly in Masonry, the chamber of reflection serves the same purpose with the theme of death presented. There is the outside world, the fraternity and the areas and functions associated with it, then there is the portion which is the transition, and then there is the inner world. The inner world is well organized and clean and a reflection of the ideal forms which make up the mundane life such as the Zodiac marking the relationship of the earth to the heavens. Similarly a particular grip given in the third degree represents the two pillars on the Tree. The outside world is left behind and through dramatic ritual, we literally are installing common signs, symbols, and grips into our inner psyche which then become the working tools of philosophy.

To return to the original idea, the real problem with the KC is that, as far as the ritual chamber is concerned, theres only one operator and the rituals have been changed to accommodate that idea. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the clear historical nod is towards having two operators representing polarity. With one operator acting as the solar force, we end up with a purely theurgic operation. The Sun can only rise and set. With the operator acting in the Solar realm, the operator should be expressing and imposing their will onto the philosophical elements.

Unpopular side idea: Theurgic operations in Wicca are largely impossible due to the priest being relegated to little more than housekeeping – the equally unpopular counterpoint is I believe women can wholly operate in a solar fashion and men in a lunar fashion when employing emotional versus intelligent reasoning.

Within the realm of solar operation, to observe the philosophical elements as something we need to organize means that we also need a way to consecrate them. Rather than let them inspire us as they are (emotional and lunar reasoning), we are seeking to make them work as engines for our particular purpose. To that end, the KC actually works very well.

Four philosophical elements, four quarters to touch, four stations on a circle (or corners in a lodge), and if you’re bent on the solomonic kit, the knife signifying air (or compass). The compass, however, represents alchemical operations in additions to intellectual operations. Having bored everyone to death this far, heres the recipe minus the philosophy:

For the new consecration of the space, gather together the elements in uniform containers. If you’re using flowerpots, make sure they’re all the same and the bottom is plugged so the water doesn’t drain out. For the air pot, just leave it empty. Place these in the usual positions. Then rather than using the KC on yourself, touch the east philosophical element and say ateh, touch the western one and say malkuth, touch the southern position and say ve-Geburah, and then the north and say ve-Gedulah. Yes we’re really using the KC as the LBRP but folks familiar with the Enochian watchtowers will realize what we’ve actually accomplished here. If the Watchtowers are either a funnel down or a pyramid thrusting up, both points met in the solar realm. The LBRP making an orbit but the KC used this way should route forces up or down.

On Charity

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I’ve been remiss in posting, but this is because my offline philosophical wanderings have been mostly with members of my Lodge. We’re stepping up fundraising activities and yes, I realize it’s the dark time of the year, but it’s also that nice portion of summer where the nights are cool and people are out and something as mundane as selling a hotdog at a car-show raises a good chunk of change. Merely because the Craft is in the dark time of the year doesn’t mean rest on our collective laurels – it means go do work. There are no breaks.

But here’s the rub: It’s actually really hard to get donations. In fact not only is it really hard, but this isn’t even supposed to be hard. I’m asking for donations from supermarkets to sell hotdogs at the local towns community car show to raise money for kids with cancer. You would think people would literally be handing me $10 to fund the thing.

Instead – and I won’t name corporations on the blog – the solicitation has to include no less than:

  1. Letter head. If it’s not on letterhead, they don’t want to see it.
  2. Addressed to the store. I can’t just print a form letter, it has to be addressed.
  3. I have to have a Tax ID number.
  4. I have to put my actual name on the form.
  5. I have to specifically enumerate what the donation will be used for. “Masonic charities” isn’t sufficient, nor are the local charities and homeless shelters we support. I have to write down that I’m going to use the gift card ($25 is standard) to buy rolls (100ct) to make sandwiches to sell to buy more food to feed the homeless and give free healthcare to children.

OK this is all hokey legal crap – why rant about it here?

Charity is charity. I’ve never responded to an email saying “You didn’t put my name in the right place or address me as Fr Phergoph”. If I did that, I’d come off as a complete tool. I even am OK when people use my real name in private correspondence. If I don’t feel comfortable discussing something (“love spells” in particular violate someone else’s Will) I will explain why and that’s usually the end of it. I’ve never been haughty to the effect of “you didn’t address me properly” or “you didn’t throw grips and signs” and then tell someone to piss off.

I am literally being told by a corporation that – because I didn’t put the TIN in the right place or put down the store number in the address – I can’t have food. Not free money, not an ipad, not a TV or a new set of shoes, it’s food. It’s not even food for me. I make a really good sandwich, you want my food. My food is frequently stolen from the office fridge, that’s how good it is.

Lets roll this back one order further – lets assume I didn’t have a decent job and a wife who worked. Lets assume I’m a guy off the street and I’m not well off and not wearing a suit with a well groomed beard and a masonic jewel – lets assume I don’t have that tax ID number because I’m more concerned with feeding my kids than I am filing proper paperwork with Uncle Sam.

The supermarket is going to tell me to piss off.

We now live in an age where people cannot honestly beg for food in (supposedly) the leader of the free world. Sure I could make an effort to hang out at homeless shelters and buy random people sandwiches (we actually do make food for the homeless in my Lodge) but holy crap you would think supermarkets would be absolutely begging to get the writeoffs. Nope.

Tomorrow I’m going to scrap the draft talking about masonic charities and re-write it to be a sandwich recipe because apparently everyone has to line-item helping the unfortunate in today’s America.

For the Redditors

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Recently the blog was linked to in /r/occult and /r/enochian, but the pastebin used had the links abbreviated which resulted in a bunch of mail.

You’re looking for this document: https://phergoph.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/invocations-by-prayer.doc

I haven’t actually logged into reddit in two years. I was pleased to see /r/occult getting some activity, and it’s always nice to see folks curious about Enochian magic.

Take care.

EDIT: I’m a member of the “three year club” with only a single page of comment replies. I find this amusing.

On the Building of Solomon’s Temple

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Addendum: The post is left completely as-was but I finally received confirmation that the trowel has always been a triangle gouge trowel.

One of the interesting pieces of the Masonic lore is how the temple is constructed. Here again we look at the floor play during the initiation (which I’m not sharing on the blog) and the position of the officers. Specifically a reference is made to the fact that the construction of the temple did not involve the sound of iron tools. This is actually fascinating unto itself since iron has long since had connotations for banishing and warding spaces since antiquity. It is the metal of Mars. It can be made to be magnetic but forged and heated, it loses that property. Furthermore the godform – not being named – appears in Masonic lore but specifically as a means to an end.

I know what the Masonic brothers are going to say – “But the trowel is made of metal!” – the modern incarnation of the thing is yes. However what we call a trowel today is actually what we now call a float for the trowel in antiquity. My gut feeling is that the trowel was replaced with the modern gouge trowel because it looked too similar to the tracing board – I’ve asked around for confirmation but this remains as speculation so don’t take this as masonic canon. It’s also entirely possible that the trowel is supposed to look like a square and compass with the middle filled in to represent religious dogma being the filler of the temple to build a frame to hold mysticism.

The square and compass have a particular station in masonry – they are in fact made of metal. However the square and compass would never have made a noise because their use is to measure things in the world of forms – the world of ideas as they are applied to the physical world. Additionally the square and compass are made from silver (lunar) and gold (solar). AND ITS NOT HARD TO SEE WHAT CROWLEY (and by proxy Gardner) WOULD READ INTO IT JUST SAYIN’.

What I do want to talk about is that nothing in the masonic hall makes a sound of iron, including the gavel. This is significant because the entire mythos revolves around the construction of the temple. It would seem then that build a temple without iron tools wouldn’t work too well. There would be no crucibles with which to melt precious metals, nor would there be any hammers to set precious stones, nor could stones be hewn. Yes there is an allegory for the social functions of masonry whereby rough stones are ground against smooth ones until they mate perfectly. But all that aside, what the ritual is really hinting at is that the temple construction is entirely nonphysical. We’re not literally building a temple in the masonic hall (but it would be cool), we’re building a temple of our brethren while we build the temple within us.

The exterior expression of this idea is that the masonic officers stand in certain positions on the floor. Conspicuously, not all those positions are occupied by a person and then one represents death. Examined from above, each officer in the lodge represents a degree, or entrance into the temple. When filled out with the auxiliary positions, the figure becomes a square or sort of a C shape. When simply represented by degree officers, the figure becomes a triangle. Also the lodge in masonry is absolutely a solar lodge. The measure is the measure of the day (sunrise, noon, sunset), and the measure of the moon through the month (waning, waxing, full light or dark).

Now into wild, wild speculation territory, since we know about the role of the sun and the moon and the officer, what if all the officers in masonry represent the planets? The line of thinking here is largely from the Gnostic Mass and my experience may be colored by visiting our local grand lodge and keeping an eye on whats present (and whats not). The experience for the candidate is alchemical, while the lodge mythos is terrestrial, but the presentation of the mythos is really operating on the celestial plane. I tried googling for this and the problem with joining a really popular occult order is everyone wants to tell me about 9/11 and the Grey Aliens and shockingly there’s not a lot of good information here even from the normal wanderings of Manly P Hall. If there is, please do point me to it. Also my blue lodge has enough esoteric masons to count on one hand unless I am not aware of them yet.

For the following, I am well aware of the phrase “the sun, the moon, and the worshipful master” but since I already declared wild speculation meanderings… If we have the sun (the WM) and the moon (Sr Warden – sitting opposite), Jr Decon (mercury), Chaplin (Venus), Treasurer (Jupiter), Secretary (Saturn), Tiler (Mars)… It turns out this is already apparently mapped to a thing and I’m late to the party: http://dcsymbols.com/officers/officers.htm

However my map is slightly different. YMMV. The celestial portions of the thing are actually quite interesting because I hadn’t seen the ratios represented until now. Also if you have a chance to take a tour of a grand lodge, pay special attention to the ratios the rooms are built with…

On the LVX and NOX Signs

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This is one of these posts illustrating why it’s good to walk well worn paths sometimes. Specifically as it related to the LVX and NOX signs, the warding of the space, etc. I’ve been sort of having problems blogging about stuff without trying to figure out if I’m giving anything away, but one of the mantras is “everything has already been published”, and “the only secrets are the secrets that keep themselves“. To this end, it is important to understand that while everything is hidden in plain sight, until it’s understood in a mystical, gestalt fashion, it’s largely useless. There’s been so many books published on the topic of Masonry and everything else that we’ve given rise to a strange breed of armchair occultist who merely exists to collect manuscripts. Per usual, everything here is my personal experience. To say that there was One True Answer to any particular mystery is simply starting a cult. (Crowley hat on: This entire post is a LIE!)

The LVX signs, and the NOX signs, have always been one of the things hidden “in plain sight”. I think most of the Golden Dawn books cover the LVX signs early on. It was sort of a given I think in my understanding that the Golden Dawn had come up with it, but in reality it’s Masonic. Furthermore the Golden Dawn was beaten to the punch – the LVX signs quite clearly appear in the temple garment of the mormons. Except, the temple garment of the Mormons isn’t called the LVX signs – it’s called the square and compass. (Quick eyes might notice an additional sign in the wikipedia article…) If the LVX signs are therefor masonic, than the LVX signs are supposed to be the square, the compass, and then the square and compass combined in various configurations for the consideration of the candidate.

Therefor the LVX signs themselves are accomplishing (ignoring the LDS’s weird, cut rate masonry from here on out) to provide a counterpoint to the Masonic system. In Masonry, the candidate participates in the play inasmuch as they are the central topic of the play. The lesson in Masonry by presenting the ritual in this format is that the candidate is supposed to use good moral judgement on the events of the world and how they effect the candidate personally and morally. It requires quite a bit of introspection, represented by death. In the Golden Dawn, the script gets flipped – By making the operator perform the signs, rather than represent the architecture of the universe in an external fashion, the signs themselves are internalized and only represented by the will of the Person operating the system. The Oriental mysticism here is quite strong: If we are all God than we are affirming the order of the universe through purification. We are redeeming it through action. If we are not God, in the Golden Dawn system, we are then saved by grace – a very Christian concept where we receive the grace of God by preparing ourselves as willing vessels.

How do we accomplish such things? Both systems lead ultimately to the same goal – in Masonry (which is strongly Greek and Hermetic), the God which lives outside of the measurable fabric of the universe peeks in between the measurable portions and we’re presented with an eye in the triangle. How can someone measure a soul or a thought? In the Golden Dawn and more Oriental systems, things are a bit more straightforward with the idea that the Monad experiences itself through us. Really at the end of the day these are not different, opposed concepts – each system looks at the coin from a slightly different perspective. We exist in the here and now in our bodies simply because it is the present design of the universe and therefor in our most basest spiritual forms, we relate to the world in a measurable way.

The sign for Malkuth then is a square and compass (or LVX) inside of a circle. It is the expression of the measurable world, and for folks who live down here, the Monad is either something which exists outside of measurable dimensions or it’s something which is provided gestalt by grace in a mystical experience. The LVX signs exist to purify the individual and pave the the way to receive the Solar light. (Something about St John and Grips and Signs goes here – special attention should be paid to the circle in the Third Degree). Note to self: Explore more Eastern Star symbolism – using the Masonic tools it’s quite simple to form a pentagram.

OK so we’re in the Sun, now what? We know we’re in the sun because we believe that humans are the stewards of Earth, and we have a nonattachment to Earthly things. That last one is a doozy – can we ever really have solar consciousness when we have to do things like eat food? The story of the bread and fishes from the Bible is Christ literally conquering basic biological desires by being able to eat only when he wants but making food literally out of nothing. It’s a great “look how awesome My Pet Manifestation of the Divine is!”

If LVX is purification than NOX is the approach to the Monad (or the Crown or the Cross or whatever floats your boat). The fundamental dualism still exists in the Sun where an individual understands that they are “of the world but not in it“. Similarly the individual still believes that they are somehow seperate from the Monad by being the Sun. Somehow the spiritual reality exists but until ancient cultures discovered the planets, it did not occur to them that there was anything more than the Sun and the Moon. Furthermore in Masonry we’re taught there’s four components to the ritual – the sun, the moon, the right worshipful master and the eye which hangs behind him. Since any mason can aspire to become the Worshipful Master, the Worshipful Master therefor is the position which stands between the lodge and shadows the lodge from the Brightness of God. Note that the Sun and the Moon are regulated by the Worshipful Master – this should be obvious once the floor play is witnessed in respect to where people stand during the recitation of the degrees.

Similarly in more antique forms of Masonry there’s a line in the catechism that goes something like “you were like a nocturnal creature, if you were shown the true light of masonry it would be as darkness because it would blind your eyes”. (This is apparently missing from modern forms, I ran across it in the private Masonic Library in the book the Symbolism of the Three Degrees of Freemasonry – 1924 ed). Just as certain placements of ritual kit in the lodge room create the shadow of the square and compass, in the LVX portion of our experience we can only understand the Monad through the things it is not. A shadow of a person is not a person. A common gauge is not made of atomic components called “inches”. Even the things which make up a shadow may not be cast by the thing we assume it is just as a child will use their sense of wonder to provide the details of a puppet show. Again, shades of Greek thought here with the allegory of the cave.

(Thanks to KD for the next part’s citations…) Crowley himself I don’t believe understands NOX fully. It makes an appearance in the footnotes of Book 4, but having witnessed the Gnostic Mass, I believe the biggest clue is in the motion of the signs around the altars. Wild speculation hat on: if we put the square and compass in Malkuth, and we put the inverted pantacle starting in yesod (the most primitive of the astral spheres), then NOX very comfortably fits into the place of the hexagram on the tree.

The Pantacle in Yesod

The Pantacle in Yesod

The Hexagram in Sol

The Hexagram in Sol

NOX signs, with a solar and crowned altar

NOX signs, with a solar and crowned altar

Similarly if you have a chance to witness the floor play of the Gnostic Mass, there’s a lot to be seen. For NOX folks, the tomb is the death of the absorption into the Godhead, while the Priestess is the temptation to live under the governance of the Sun – into the physical manifest. For LVX folks, it’s simply an allegory of the old Catholic mysteries where the Solar Priest unites with the Lunar Priestess.

Working With EXARP, and Other Enochian Experiments

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The baseline idea in a bunch of conversations I’ve been having recently is that Enochian isn’t particularly dangerous into and of itself, but rather that it’s the same shopworn path people have fallen into with the folly of magick. Folks want something, they don’t know how to get it, they want it with incredible desperation, and therefor magick. Right? It works. It works really well. They have an incredible, absolutely amazing well of intent and emotion to draw from and the merest flicker from the lens of ritual focuses that into a beam. Like the sun on a bright day, the effects aren’t immediately noticeable, but the sheer amount of power they have behind that focused star causes change in the world.

For some folks, that’s great. They accomplish what they want. The next “spell” or “ritual” they do goes kaput because they didn’t build up the tantric wellspring of desperation or inspiration and they quit or they decide it’s bunk or they believe whatever they want to believe and move along. That’s fine. I sort of get annoyed at the magickal community sometimes for rejecting the idea that not doing magick everyday is somehow an indication of a lack of commitment. There is, at some level, a subset of magicians working on the idea that thaumaturgic goals are all that magick is for and are perfectly adequate to their ends. They do magick to get comfortable, they get comfortable, and until they’re uncomfortable, they’re happy and fine. Unpopular opinion hat on: That’s absolutely a valid application of magick. That model requires unhappiness and desperation and there simply is no magickal power in something which isn’t a fight for a goal or with someone.

Those people also tend to be very comfortable in systems like Thelema, where Crowley says folks should do their own Will. I think that interpretation of Crowley is very narrow, but if its someone’s Will to sit about and get that nice office job and enjoy their family and what they provide I cannot say that this is wrong. If a person believes their true Will is to lay about and eat tacos all day (and I love tacos), and they are happy and have accomplished that, then they are perfectly correct.

I personally don’t enjoy that perspective. I also think there’s a subset of people who want to practice magick because they desire to help the world at large, which is much more complicated task, and because they want to make themselves better. I recently had a moment about a year ago where I looked around and thought, “I’m pretty darn comfortable”. My schedule tends to be erratic and I find myself with little free time between the job, and the gym, and then to further drain that resource I find that my children have progressively more homework and I desire to philosophize with them and discuss the world in their terms and share my own perspectives as an adult. But, finally the Light came on me one day and I realized a few things.

If you’re comfortable, you have an obligation to help. The Enochian forces in their original, not Golden Dawn format inspired labor, and they inspired travel, and they inspired self improvement in a variety of seven liberal arts and sciences. Even in the pagan context, because I still get down with the sublunar forces of nature, the AesiR and the VaniR told myths about how to care for the world, and poetry, and family matters, and charity. Sure it’s great to hear the story about how Thor smashed all the ice giants or how Dee sunk the Spanish Armada, but these are means to ends. Thor didn’t just go hunt ice giants for the hell of it and I’m sure Dee had interesting, lost to time soul searching about what the sinking meant to the world. If he expressed more than passing doubt it has been lost.

I’m thinking at this point in my life, “I am ahead”. I have a comfortable sum in the bank, I have a nice family life, and I have a career (as much as anyone does in corporate America because mergers and acquisitions rarely have any account for which team is let go). However comfortable natures breed complacency, and I thought perhaps I was falling into that trap of the well running dry. Therefor I joined the Freemasons. I knew my grandfather was a mason and he was big into community service, and I was fortunate enough to find some memorabilia from him which wasn’t just war spoils and located his lodge. They still operate today and thankfully I was allowed to join them. At the same time I started contributing code to public projects and have my (professional, real life) name stamped on those projects. I picked them based on their use – the particular database I contributed to runs on low end hardware and is favored in developing countries trying to get their infrastructure off the ground. However, the code feels abstract, and furthermore I had a professional interest in developing that, so I didn’t find it fulfilling enough. It was also easy.

The Masons, on the other hand, emphasized community service and they do so in very “hands on”, earthy ways. We made sandwiches for the local women’s shelter. We made sandwiches again for the homeless shelter. We clean up local parks. We have scheduled a visit to the local Masonic community for the elderly. Ah ha, another trick. We can gain magickal power through selfless community service.

There’s probably a section of readers here going, “Oh but that’s what Christ did, it should have been obvious”. Well that’s the point, that’s how Christ helped his community. It’s how Solomon and Moses helped his community. It’s how Mohamed helped his community. It’s how Dee helped his community. (I believe Dee was humble enough as expressed in his writing that he really did believe he was helping the everyman). The community service banks magickal power based on the gratitude of the people receiving your work.

Lets say your wallet is empty. Can you contribute to the wellbeing of the community if you cannot buy things? Sure. Everyone at the homeless shelter needs help painting the place, or the park could use your help picking up litter. I would tacitly venture that working as a team would be better since you cultivate the gratitude of the people. I ensured I would be meeting the folks who picked up the sandwiches and the lodge worked as a unit to clean up the park, to which the giant bags of trash inspired awe in us all.

But how does this work? Why is this better than, say, being a professional magician who helps people by selling talismans or whatever? For one, I believe selling spells diminishes the operator. I believe that people believe because they’re purchasing a spell or talisman from someone, that they are purchasing a bit of that magicians power. I believe in many cases this sets up a vampiric relationship between people as money usually does. We believe, in the west, that we pay money for something and therefor we are entitled to whatever it is we purchased. This means that if the person believes that the exchange of money is paramount to an entitled amount of power, the magician probably is setting themselves up to be drained. The counter-argument I expect from the magickal community would be that the magician doesn’t get their power from some personal wellspring (this is untrue) but from the virtues of planets or minerals or the composition of materials. While true that these items do possess power into and of themselves, the spell or ritual we operate in doesn’t somehow make us into rocks and trees and so many bones. We draw power into our personal batteries from objects or community service or the pious observation of the heavens and distribute it through rituals much like a car generates electricity from the motion of it’s engine to charge it’s batteries, and draws upon that to exert the effort of starting the car or run the headlights. While it might be community service of a sort to leave your headlights on in a dark country road for the benefit of people, you would probably return to see your car unable to manifest enough of it’s own power. There are folks who can do it, but this is very complicated, and in danger of overdrawing the battery. How do they cut the circuit? When they cut the circuit does the item lose its power? These are complicated questions for later.

Why then is community service in my opinion better? Instead of establishing a relationship of entitlement to the magicians energy battery, it inspires other people to contribute their own energy to an operation. Imagine, if you would, a busker with a guitar. (Read: Me, in college). That person is not selling their energy to the community, they are freely giving their services to the community. People may or may not pay that busker for what they’re offering, but the person with the guitar plays regardless of everyone throwing in their silver or nothing at all. Furthermore that person might then inspire some passerby to pick up a guitar to improve themselves through learning the liberal art of music, or even better, inspire someone else to participate in the same way and bring a drum. Then, through the action of the person playing the drum, the music is enhanced, and therefor the music is better. Perhaps it even gets more tips. “But isn’t this some sort of reverse vampirism?” (the tinfoil hat community asks). Yes, but this is hermeticism, where we understand everything is a two way street and then make moral judgements.

This also means I understand that I’m basically humble-bragging his whole post. I realize I am talking about community service to improve my magickal well of gratitude energy. Therefor there is a third position of action: Selflessness. The daath scenario here is to be neither impressed with community service nor perform it – death, much like the magickal position proposed therein – is merely illusory. If someone prays “I am” as they die, they merely change state. We all know we’re here as individuals, right? If they pray ARARITA as they die, they gain the Kingdom.

Someone asked me about the evocation of EXARP and why it worked for me but didn’t work for them. The best questions are questions which force us to examine failure. The obvious abdication of responsibility is to claim that my rituals are fit for me. That is true. However this isn’t a binary problem – either you’re me or you’re not me and therefor you either wholly subscribe to my life or you differ in my opinions. You should disagree – I prefer you “beat your own path through the jungle”. If I help through the broadcast of this blog I have accomplished a selfless service – I do not make money off this writing and do it merely to organize my thoughts. I believe we share the ideas – I believe we are all sparks of the same divine One Thing and I hope it helps us understand ourselves. Therefor I also believe that the reason why the evocation helped my mother in law and my wife and I in particular was because it was a good mix of desperation, the finest of the magickal wells of power for me, and service, because I gain nothing from helping my mother in law who I believes would love me as a parent does (because she doesn’t know I’m a magician, of course).

Really though I believe that the magical “cutting of the cord” is to tell people exactly whats in the mix. You won’t find whats in coke, or pepsi, or KFC spices simply because to do so would empower you to make your own. Similarly magickal secrecy breeds dependance, and therefor breeds vampirism. Here’s what I want you to do: If you believe you are called to the enochian system, I believe that placing the seal of camara under your foot will produce an effect. Therefor, you should print out the seal – or draw it – and place it under your foot in the day and hour of Sol. You can pray if you’d like.

The only catch?

I want you to reply to this post, or email me, with what the results were. Don’t be afraid to switch feet, or skip the prayer at all. Just be inspired that you have conducted the experiment.

The Hermetic Hour Notes: The Long Lost Friend and Urglaawe

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Alright I am pretty much never doing this again because The Hermetic Hour runs from 11pm my time to midnight, and I chugged an entire pot of coffee before the program to be awake enough to do the program and I think it showed. Also I wish I had touched base better beforehand. Poke and I had exchanged emails a bit but I probably could have put better notes together on the topic.

So, if you want, you can listen to the episode here.

Q&A based on the giant pile of mail:

Why was the show a pileup/can you explain the demarcations?

The Pennsylvania Dutch break down into two camps: Modern Pagans (Urglaawe) and Christians. Within the Christian camp, there’s braucherei (good magic), hexerai (more pagan-ish magic), and regular old Christians. The Pagan camp is the newest camp. The only difference is the pagan camp seems to tolerate all magic while the Christian camp seems to constantly trying to decide what’s Christian, Tolerable, and Forbidden. Again, not going to claim any sort of personal, family tradition insight here.

I invited Rob on because I wanted the other side of that coin. I cannot speak authoritatively on Urglaawe. I absolutely cannot discuss with any authority or even insight to the Uglaawe individual practice. The group practice strikes me as Wicca or Asatru but I remain an outsider looking in. The individual practice is what interests me at this point in time. To quote Rob (who is in turn quoting Amy): “Looking at paganism and trying to find your path is like looking at a tree, Urglawee for me, is looking at the roots, finding where all those leaves came from, the base, the down and dirty part that gives nutrients to the entire thing.” The original, individual practice paved the way to the modern pagan revival, which is a different and unique product from the churchgoers in Kutztown.

Quite simply it’s not ceremonial magic because ceremonial magic is “I believe this how this works therefor I should conduct this experiment or ritual in this way” and folk magic is “Mín þéodisc geléafa” (whatever my community believes). This is not an excuse for scientific ignorance. This is totally why most “energy drinks” are bright, fluorescent and offensive colors – and it works!

Do you practice Urglaawe?

No and I only recently went to one of their events. I am interested in the Pennsylvania Dutch from a hereditary perspective but beyond my grandfather being what I previously thought was a Psalmist and a Mason, we never inherited the folk beliefs. We did have what I eventually figured out might have been a himmelsbrief, but it could have easily come with the farmhouse (or simply been purchased as kitsch from well before). I suspect my grandfather did have a relationship with the PA Dutch community but we did not grow up self identifying as such. In fact, the only time we heard the language was when they ran out of cursewords in English. I would love to engage it as an individual practice however.

Is Urglaawe really the original tradition?

Yes and no. The word has precedent, but I’m under no illusions that this is what the Dutch were practicing when they came to America in a community context. If you’re OK with what amounts to Wicca viewed through an amazingly well researched Pennsylvania Dutch lens, Urglaawe is cool. If you’re looking for authentic, it’s not. Talking to people after the program and after the open ritual it became clear that Urglaawe to the Pennsylvania Dutch what the Shrine Masons (or the OTO) are to Islam. The authenticity lays in the Christianity portion of it. The PA Dutch are Christians with folk beliefs and like all the other Christians, they argue over what to include in their church. Yes, there are many, many authentic elements due to the quality of the research. No, you would not fit in with the Dutch community to the best of my knowledge with a bunch of germanic runes. What this means is the individual practice would actually have authenticity to it as a personal magical system. The original group worship would have been going to Christian Church like everyone else. The modern group worship for Urglaawe is very much like any other modern theodish pagan open. (Bear in mind the disclaimer at the top).

Whats the Long Lost Friend?

I have a very hard time putting the Long Lost Friend into authentic, PA Dutch hands. I totally believe that Hohman did publish something which documented some folks beliefs and practices, and I believe he was interested in helping people. I do not believe it is a standard. However, it’s not magic unto itself. It’s not even really kabalah. It doesn’t have any philosophy in it. It does belong in the same genre as the Havamal. Good portions of it are absolutely truthful. If you’ve seen The Revenant, notice the scene at the beginning where the trapper pours shot into his mouth. This isn’t because he likes the taste of lead (it’s sweet!), it’s because getting the shot wet was a known way of not only lubricating the bore but also produced a wad from the fouling and powder. I shot a stupid amount of flintlock in my 20s (and still hunt with one during primitive season) and the practice does improve accuracy. The recipe in the Long Lost Friend actually does work – blood coagulates and forms a thick patch when it hits black powder. Similarly, drinking a birds blood really does clean up the lungs too – because it dehydrates you. However, Donkeys and Doves seem weirdly specific (until you consider most Dutch folk had these animals as a common livestock or barn accessory). But that’s science, not magic, but it might have seemed like magic to most people.

To that end, when Poke put me on about the kabalah I couldn’t comfortably answer the question either. It’s not a grimoire – it’s not supposed to be self referential and it’s not espousing a system. There’s no philosophy in it – no-one wonders why it works in the texts except for some strange references to American Indian beliefs and Egyptians. It’s supposed to reference what works. If there’s magic in it, it’s because the Psalms themselves are in the groove from years of use to those ends, it’s because the Psalms are one of the most popular books included in pocket editions of the Bible (remember, printed materials were expensive as heck back then), and it works on the simple raw inspiration of belief when all the other stuff in the book seemed to work too. Yes, it’s magic. No, it’s not kabalah or ceremonial magic and it wouldn’t be fair to make that comparison. It’s the internal magic which sometimes happens when someone absolutely, beyond all shadows of a doubt needs or believes in something and therefor pulls off the seemingly impossible. I’ve written before that strong emotion (love, hate, desperation) makes for amazing ad hoc magic and this book belongs on that shelf.

Pencil Phone In Dutch?

Pennsylphonin Deutsch is the common name of the dialect the community speaks. In reality it’s got more in common with Anglo-Saxon than it does German or English. And, because it’s an oral language, it was only recently committed to paper and most native speakers can’t read Buffington-Barba. One can, if they know how Buffington-Barba sought to represent the sounds in their Germanish way, passably dictate newspaper articles to someone who only speaks Deutsch. There’s new efforts to redo the orthography into something English speakers could read in order to preserve the sounds of the language. However, this is how Urglawee becomes “orgluva”. Also to that end, Deutsch in Pennsylvania has a lot of the same features as something like Switzerland where the individual valleys had their own expressions and versions of the language. Two valleys adjacent could speak to one another, but most of the time, the lingua franca was German. The reason why I believe the Long Lost Friend might actually be authentic is because the German the book is written in places correctly in Pennsylvania. Conspicuously missing is the original language which would have been used as the Holy Language, so it’s also obviously written by an outsider.

What about barn stars?

Barn stars, himmelsbriefs, maypoles (nidhing poles) are all examples of devotional magic like the book of Kells or Soyga. The pole itself isn’t important, it’s the devotion required to make one and the desire for the action being more valuable than the life of a horse is what makes it work. Similarly a barn star itself is a pantacle, and the prayers (psalms) said over it while working it were more important that the colors, shapes, and icons on it. Why does it say otherwise in books? Because no-one asked how it was made or why it was made, they only asked about the obvious stuff like “why is it a pineapple”? Devotional magic is quite simply “make something with enough intent and effort to make it magical”. Churches in Europe had all the resources in the world, so their efforts are complex. Farmers simply didn’t have the tools or the resources or the time. Their work is no less magical. They just accomplished it within the context of farmers instead of masons. No-one would dare say that the mantras of a monk are somehow less holy or effective than prayers said in a Cathedral. My guess is the Long Lost Friend if it were to be used as a devotional book would have been repeated the entire week, Sunday to Sunday, or until the effect was achieved. The people who had the chops to make that effort became the braucherei.

What I expected to talk about…

Pennsylvania was much more open about magic than Salem. Importantly Pennsylvania had a strong quaker community and they had more mystical experiences as a result, and Penn himself was Masonic. I write this as such since Grand Lodge of England was formed a year after PA was formed, and there’s no telling if whatever lodge Penn came from would have joined UGLE. However while Salem was steeped in intolerance, Pennsylvania was more lax (or progressive). Folks could and did write down folk beliefs and due to the historical societies in Pennsylvania we have the letters which aunts and uncles and grandparents and such wrote to their children on scraps of clothing and packages and such for protection and warding in the new world. Literally my biggest gripe with “hidden pagan religions” is that:

  1. Salem did not have some weird monopoly on witches. Folk beliefs were practiced openly in Pennsylvania and other colonies. PA even had several witch trials, which were dismissed for lack of evidence. There are barn stars up in rural PA literally as old as the colonies and repainted as such because the Amish, Mennonites, and similar sects refuse to modernize. (You have not lived until you’ve almost killed some poor amish folk at dusk because they refused to put reflectors on their goddamn buggy they’re driving down the road but kudos to them for rejecting modernity). Yes they’re “Christians” but barn stars, maypoles, snake handling, augury, and all manner of sign reading are not in the Bible.
  2. Folks absolutely did write down what charms they believed work to share them with their colonial family members. The New World was a rough, confusing place. The old world was at least well ordered, but still rough. PA Historical Societies preserved all those charms. More on this in a minute…

The historical societies we enjoy in PA are one of the better ones. Salem did not have one. History dies not because of neglect but because of ignorance. PA enjoyed an exceedingly high quality of education from the Quakers. Salem was rougher. Modern day Salem has the pagan revival through good marketing, but the historical society is less than 100 years old. Most of the original village is simply gone. What original buildings remain are either in private hands like the House of Seven Gables, or the Historical Society purchased them. When the historical society purchased them, they moved them to township property to make way for roads and highways and such. The original building is present, but the graveyards are almost a quarter of the size. The headstones are moved around. The Hawthorne headstone itself was vandalized to the point where it now sits in a stone frame and is likely not in the original location. Most of the headstones were simple to begin with and hardly readable since the famous figures had untold thousands of tourist hands make rubbings of them. The weather hadn’t been kind either and several storms literally turned up the graveyards.

Judge of the Salem Witch Trials

Judge of the Salem Witch Trials

As such, the actual site of the hanging today is under a Walgreen’s parking lot. The address is 59 Boston Street, Salem, MA. You can visit it today but there’s literally nothing to indicate what happened there your opinion of Walgreens nonwithstanding. Gallows Hill park has a gnarly tree on top of a hill but this wasn’t the site of the hangings. The tree has been struck by lightning several times. It’s creepy, but it’s not the site, although modern day pagans still work there.

The Rebecca Nurse Homestead did survive and I suggest a visit if you’re looking for a Witchy Farm experience. Also neat is the Salem Pioneer Village. Salem realized it had a problem and to drum up interest in the history they built a historically accurate village. It was supposed to be removed after the festival but the locals loved it so much they petitioned the township to save it from being destroyed.

Links and Addendum

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd49IxdjHTk – Great overview by Rob

Distelfink Sippschaft

http://www.braucherei.org/ – This is good reading to talk about the individual practice. The group practice still looks a lot like Asatru or Wicca.

Blanzeheilkunscht – Dutch Herbalism. I normally reach for Northern Plant Lore for my plant lore needs but I would love to stick a toe into this. One of the big problems with old world/new world plant lore is that stuff that grows in Europe doesn’t grow here.

Urglaawe – the practice of Urglaawe! It’s a blog. There’s also a facebook group. Actually pretty much putting “Urglaawe” into the facebook search will surrender the entirety of the community.

Pow Wow – history and excerpts.

And, for anyone who wants to know about the beer recipe in the Long Lost Friend, it’s actually George Washingtons beer recipe.

Was Mohamed Visited By A War God?

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Happy Holidays! I took a break from the internet for December and celebrated Yule, Baalsamin, Christmas, New Years, did some traveling, and made a lot of beer!

This came up in a chat – and it’s wrong. Lets explore why. This intersects a couple of my interests including Islam, the Bundy Ranch, and esoteric morality. I will also apologize in advance: I am not a muslim nor a scholar on the koran. I have had some really neat discussions with converts to Islam.

So right off the bat we’ll deal with the broadest dismissal of this idea: Lumping all people of one religion into the “bad apples” basket is wrong. Not all Occultists don’t kill babies, not all Christians bomb abortion clinics, not all Jews run banks, etc. Not all people of the Islamic faith are interested in starting World War 3 or are party to terrorism. Yeah, I think folks could go a long way towards condemning people on the fringe who actually do these things, but they’re on the fringe. Actually what Islam really needs is something like the Jefferson Bible, where only the words from the divine are actually expressed in the Koran, which contains a lot of Mohameds pontificating about life in general and actually not a whole lot of divine inspiration. It’s a lot like the Bible actually in that respect where the New Testament is actually the meat of the thing.

But lets take a walk into the actual revelations that Mohamed received. We know a few things off the bat: Mohamed is doing something like the Abramelin Operation, and doing a lot of sitting out in nature. He’s probably eating the local cactus, and he is visited by an angel. Can we apply hermetic concepts to that and tease out how this was supposed to work? Sure! The Holy Books are a treasure trove of Hermetic ideas, and the koran is no exception. Actually the Hermetic Tradition owes a lot to Arab magic.

The koran is not presented in chronological order – in fact one of the frustrating things about it is that Mohamed (or subsequent apostles) rearranged the haditha (speeches) into what they felt was order of importance and truthieness rather than chronological order. While it makes the koran easier to read than, lets say, the Bible where there’s multiple accounts or references to events of Christ, it means that the dealings with the Divine messengers tend to occur whereever that particular person discusses them. The first revelation is documented in Chapter 53, Verses 4-10. (Later commentary in Sura 96:1) Crowley people should take note that the chapter is named The Star. Avoid the wikipedia koran, it’s written for people with no grasp of language. Interlinear notes:

I swear by the star when it goes down.  Your companion does not err, nor does he go astray; Nor does he speak out of desire. It is naught but revelation that is revealed, He was taught by one Mighty in Power, The Lord of Strength; so he attained completion*, And he is in the highest part of the horizon. Then he drew near, then he bowed, So he was the measure of two bows or closer still** And He revealed unto His slave that which He revealed.

*The Lord of Strength has enabled the angel to manifest

**About 10ft or so I believe is correct. Russia preserved the old units of measurement for the curious up until recently. It was extremely common to take units of measurement from items intimate to the measurer. Note that this refers to a bow as in archery – the are completely different words in the original dialect.

A couple of points here – yes I mixed translations to cherry-pick ideas. But also notice that aspects of Allah are used here to indicate the magical function required to accomplish a task. Allah as The Lord of Strength has literally knit the angel together.  The star is the sun. Mighty in Power indicates Allah means serious business. Note that Allah is never directly named, but rather always assumes titles. One (or more) of those titles is to be hidden, which is shades of Enochian. And finally, as in any proper invocation, the person perceiving the Angel is held captive to it. Also of note: The sura records the angel as appearing with the “ringing of a bell”.

We could hit low hanging fruit here ans mention that only one of the names is really used negatively (Al Qahhar – the subduer) but it occurs exactly once in the Koran. Point being, nowhere in the Koran where Mohamed is having a divine experience and interacting directly with the supernatural is Allah portrayed as vengeful or spiteful or generally dickish. There’s plenty of that later where early Muslims say that God will punish, but that tends to be along the lines of people acting outside the moral guidance of the koran rather than quotes directly from a messenger.

But that’s an important point also – when Allah punishes people, it’s typically written in the Donald Trump speaking voice of: “They will be the losers” as in, someone has forfeit paradise by knowing and willingly committing indecency rather than this idea manifest in later “Enlightenment” period Stoic commentary where sins are sins despite intentions.

To expand on that idea, Gabriel is sometimes called Namus in the koran. It’s a Greek loanword, which is why I usually argue Mohamed was anything but illiterate, and means Virtue. If we reword the passage to read the Angel’s name as Virtue, then what Mohamed is doing is purifying himself to become virtuous in the eyes of the One Thing. Since Mohamed has had the strength to be Virtuous, he has successfully evoked the Angel by our terminology in the occult.  Spoiler alert: One of Mohamed wives (Khadija) was fluent in Greek and Hebrew, according to Aisha.

“O Muhammad! thou art the apostle of God and I am Gabriel.” – again, this idea that Mohamed was virtuous before meeting the Angel.

If Mohamed is virtuous in the eyes of the One Thing before meeting the Angel, what then is Mohamed doing to be virtuous? If Allah is warlike, then we should assume he’s a great warrior. Except he’s not. He’s a merchant. (Ever seen a merchant who can’t read or write? Me neither.) He’s not even particularly religious, because he doesn’t have parents, because he’s an orphan. In fact Mohamed himself isn’t really a clear historical figure – similar to some of the Christian disciples – because the title merely means Praiseworthy. But again, the gist of the idea isn’t that he is a messenger, but that he is Virtuous. We could examine the Suras here, but this is where we enter grain-of-salt territory that there would be a strong effort to whitewash him.

What we do know from general historical commentary was that Mohamed was probably ethnocentric, since everyone in the nomad group would have been related by blood. We also know he would have been pagan like modern Asatru or Wicca, where a tribe had a patron God. We know that the Gods were not antagonistic towards one another since the original Kabaa housed 360 separate idols. Most of the pre-islamic era gods were of trees, groves, and wells. What we are pretty sure of is that Mohamed was at least some sort of Christian, having met Bahira during a trading caravan to Syria. The meeting with Bahira was a result of Mohamed disregarding the social norms of his family (and their Pagan gods) and coming invited to a Feast. After that is a bunch of political ends, but the gist of the stories are that Mohamed is actually a pretty good deal maker and everyone seems generally happy with his negotiations. Importantly, this means he’s treating people fairly and upholding his end of the deal. He’s not flawless, and in fact a few of those deals fall through and lead to fighting, but he’s doing his best as he understands the world. More importantly there’s more shades of Enochina here where Gabriel refutes small portions of the text as being delivered by demons. The sad part here is really a broad view that most of Mohamed’s morality seems to come from economic ends rather than moral decisionmaking. He’s navigating the political spectrum based on a love of commerce rather than mystical devotion. However, nowhere is it supposed that Allah favors the economically successful. Mohamed implements a sort of social security for the elderly, and espouses charity, and (maybe since widowers had cash) allows women more rights. In contrast to previous societies, this is really progressive stuff, and seems to have a sharp contrast to modern (Saudi family) Islam. Food for thought.

Is Allah a war god? Not really. Allah seems to be a god of progressiveness as a product of mysticism and economy rather than war. I won’t say that the wartime stuff doesn’t play a role in the Koran – it does factor significantly into Mohamed’s later years – but that’s after he’s attacked. The bulk of the divine inspiration in the Koran is Mohamed riding around on Sleipnir (or on mountaintops) and having conversations with spirits and then commenting on those channelings with his family or friends.

(Also relevant if you’re wiccan and have been following the wikipedia links – Mohamed had a “mark of prophecy” between his shoulderblades. It’s a skin tag the size of a “pigeon egg”.)

The King of the Woods is a Pretty Fun Guy

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I try to write eulogies for every deer I take. The last few have been pretty somber, this deer is going to be different.

First off: Why hunt? I find the animals beautiful, and I love deep ecology. When I’m not hunting I’m usually off in the woods foraging, or tending to my fruit trees, or building food plots. We’re planting a bunch of pepper seeds this year because those seemed popular among the animals and when we go to the supermarket, it seems like a real waste to just send them down the drain.

“OK phergoph, couldn’t you just leave the animals alone?”

I’ve never found that to be a very wholistic view. We spent a billion, million years in the presence of the Gods of Nature, being formed into their will, to eat meat. Animals eat one another. And frankly, the fruititarians are the only ones who have half a moral leg to stand on since every other species of plant dies after it produces offspring. Quite simply living and dying is part of nature and it is against nature to live forever. Certainly I wouldn’t to. I believe a head of lettuce would be just as rotten next spring as a deer taken by a bobcat. But if we are going to experience nature and interact with it, let our experiences be pure joy. Find beauty in it. Revel in it’s glory and be glad of the moment of participation given unto you. Take the time to care for the animal, make it’s passing as gentle as possible, and make a real good meal out of it to provide for everyone. As the experience provides spiritual sustenance, let the animal provide material sustenance to me and my family. Its a simple prayer, really. I’ve even talked to other hunters about their own practices, even if they enjoy the woods but not the meat, it can go on to provide for others too. I know this animal is going to satisfy my family’s food needs, but donations fill other peoples food needs too. Don’t let this go to waste.

He is beautiful.

He is beautiful.

Bucks are fun. No bones about it, they are the archetype of male essence. While the does tend to herd up, and care for the young, the bucks are out there in the woods thrashing about in the trees, sparring, jumping, and playing. They remind me a lot of my own son, who is a constant, bright sun of swirling energy. Ah to be young again.

Today was a typical hunting day. The gear comes out and gets locked up in the truck. I have taken the time to make sure I can shoot well and produced five rounds very specific to the task at hand. I have invested that time to make sure I do my part well in nature. I set my alarm clock for very early, and bathed, and prayed. Rather then pray to the enochian spirits or angels, I pray to Skadi. I pray to Ullr. I want to experience the glory of nature. I want to invest the effort. I want to feed my family.

I get into the truck and drive out to the woods. While I could hunt the back yard, that always feels like cheapening the experience to me. The Holy Places are the places where people are not. Sometimes I hike a mile into the woods over the rocks and trees, but this time I went to the farm of my ancestors who taught me these things. I try to say a word to my grandfather, if he’s still listening, for providence. We didn’t always see eye to eye on a lot of things, but he was always a good friend in the woods.

The woods are happy today. It’s warm. While the dark time of the year is here it feels more like spring, and it’s hard to imagine Yule being right around the corner. I pull the truck down the long, unkempt path to the old farm. Frost is on the ground, but doing courtesy to the sun, recedes except for the most shadowy areas. As I walk down the path I am shadowed by a fox. He too is out hunting. We are one and the same. We are connected in this moment. We understand one another completely. He hopes I kicked up rabbits, I hope he goes into the pines where the deer lounge.

The knob in the woods provides a good lookout, the pines thankfully have provided me with a quiet bed with which to move across. I actually don’t like to clear shooting lanes, I like to hike. I like to experience it. There is groundfog ahead from the creek, I move through it to where I like to hide. Weirdly, a groundhog has given me an extra six inches of height today with his efforts to clear the shale out of the soil and make himself a home for his family. I see where he’s eaten at the small trees and brush to feed himself and his kin.

At the top of the next hill I catch a flash of white. I know the next hill is about 125 yards away, more pines, and oak. The deer knows I’m here, but he doesn’t startle. Instead he seems more intent on rubbing up along the low pine saplings. I know what’s on his mind. A quick glassing shows that he’s a pretty mature deer. Strong tines, good neck, wonderful coat. He’s bred before and he knows what brings in the ladies. The white flash came when he was rubbing his scent on the brush. I guess he’s about three years old, which in deer terms is firmly middle aged. How wonderful that these animals grow so quickly.

He frolics in the shade, stopping to catch some of the sun which is burning off the fog in the lowland. His coat is red, luxurious, and his antlers are glorious. Truly a crown for a king! I move slightly to get next to a tree to rest my arm on for a stable position. He sees me and moves around the hill.

I’ve blown it! Ullr, Skadi, whats this? A moment of doubt. Are my prayers insufficient? Do we really need this deer? Is there someone else who needs it more than us? My thoughts hang in the air for a good 20 minutes while I slowly lose hope and fill with doubt. But, then I see a movement from the left side of the hill. Joy! The deer is not gone, he merely moved a bit. He is curious. I do my best to look like an inviting doe. I don’t think he buys it.

But I hold still. He runs back up the hill, kicking and pushing over plants and eating the berries which grow on the ivy there. I can’t eat the berries, the fallopia japonica is too tough and woody. But the deer can eat the berries, and doesn’t mind them so much, and this is how nature provides us with nutrition. The deer eat them and grow strong, and the vines provides for the deer to make more deer. Actually the deer looks like he quite likes them and stops to browse on quite a few. After his wonderful meal he beds down for a bit (a bit like Thanksgiving, actually, at my house) and then stands up. Once again he’s scenting everything, and like a flash takes off and crosses the ravine.

He emerges on the closer hill, this hill is about 100 yards away, and I believe he’s scented a doe. His nose is to the ground, and he’s very obviously looking for some love. There are no does here, but there may have been earlier. I know the paths well and don’t worry too much when I can’t see him. Eventually, however, the search for a doe to breed consumes him and he wanders into a small clearing of brush at the midpoint of the hill.

It is then I took the shot. A single, loud report from the rifle. A bit of sadness since I have spent such wonderful, rare time with this animal, but knowing that my children really love the steak puts good faith in my heart that this is the right thing to do in the eyes of the One Thing. He jumps, he stumbles once, and passes.

I say a prayer of thanks, and let my breath out.

I let my wife pick the cuts this time, she always says I get too much hot sausage. The deer already has a place on my wall which my son can look at and ask, “Dad, tell me about that time you went hunting.” The cycle continues and warms my heart.

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