We took our daughter out to her Wiccaning (or baby blessing) per my wife’s wishes. I’m largely as apathetic towards wiccaning as I am towards baptism. The kid didn’t ask for it. She’s too little to know. As a baby blessing it’s fine, but as initiation into a tradition – she doesn’t know how to walk yet let alone do magic. In fact, I’ve been a bit short on magic myself recently if only because she’s teething and wakes up twice a night for orajel. Nothing like going to meditate and falling over asleep.
My wife’s old coven left a sour taste because it was strongly HAIL THE GODDESS and the god. Magic is all about practice, so all the philosophy books in the world won’t matter if the product is largely goddess worship. That being said my exposure to wicca was just that and I didn’t particularly think modern wicca was being practiced in any balanced form. I figured feminists had hijacked it and that was great for them and I’d live and let live. That being said, the new coven shes hooked up with is Gardenarian and while the priestess has drank the kool-aid and believes Gardner took his OTO teachings and backported the NFC into them and then initiated Crowley, the priest doesn’t seem to buy it 100%. The priest has even done his CM readings and knew about the Archangels as archetypes of the elements.
I’m of the opinion Gardner took his exposure to native Malaysian paganism and brought it home with him when he moved back to England. Given his four or so marriages to local women, his conversion to Islam (or at least the shahadah), and enough familiarity with the local culture to join the militia, it’s extremely likely in my mind that he took the local faith as his own. I’ve written piles about it previously on this blog, and my supposition is that Gardner became fast friends with Crolwey due to the Middle Eastern imagery in the OTO which he would have treated as Islamic Paganism (gain of salt level: mountain). New Forest Coven I suspect is an inside joke I haven’t tracked down yet.
Now, since they have a sense of history, even if their conclusion is a reach, I can hang with these guys. Even if they don’t think enough about theology to want to reach out to the Jewish mystical texts, gimoires, apocrypha, greek papyri, and practice evocation/invocation, if they have the brass tacks and they’re tolerant enough to know an Angel by any other name, then we can hang. I started out fairly softball with the whole thing and the high point of the night was the reincarnation/akashaic record question. They responded, “Well what’s the difference?” They don’t read this journal, they probably wouldn’t have read the question before. That’s good, that means people are thinking outside the box. They’re light on book reading, Levi goes on a bit of a tear about this and it would have been fitting in the context of the discussion, but they’re thinking and we’re clearly on the same page of reasoning. Levi argues that each person leaves behind two corpses, one is physical, the other is the thinking and reasoning body. Paraphrased – “The soul returns to the godhead and the source of all true knowledge.”
Now the Witches Reed (or whatever the Wicca Doxology is called) came up and while we were talking about spirits by any names they put the question to me “Who is Azarak and who is Zomelak?” I said they sounded Babylonian but didn’t know off the top of my head. I went and picked my buddy’s brain who’s seriously into the Necronomicon and he didn’t know either but agreed it sounded familiar. Finally I put it into google and it’s just an explosion of fluffy bunny crap and no actual research. I decided to hit the books.
Remembering how badly Arabic languages get mangled in previous magical experiments, I was fairly sure that -ak was the phonetic -och. The shorthand version of this is that it’s a designator of a place. This gives us Zomel and Azar. If the last one looks familiar to you, it’s because Poke Runyon debates it in his Book of Solomon’s Magic. Azar is (depending on what day of the week it is) Azaz(el), or Ishtar. Later he argues that Ishtar is actually Astarte (Asteroth, Asteroch… per the master mandala). It’s not too huge a reach if we want Gardner to have the same problems everyone else in magic has – oftentimes the books are written illegibly and dictated at best, or assumed as to the barbarous names at worst.
Now if we really want to go down the rabbit hole, Estakr had recently been written about since the Zoroastrian texts were starting to be translated around 1880. If I can make assumptions about the didactic marks, Asar-och or Asar-ak isn’t too much of a reach, especially with a soft-k looking a lot like an R (Astarr). Anyway, this gives us two fairly convincing cases that Gardner either cribbed it from notes on the Goetia, or he was interested in anthropology and happened upon mention of the city in Zoroastrianism.
Zomelak is a pain to ferret out the root word. Keeping with the present-day-Iran theme, there’s about 100 things in Iran named Somel. It’s a food, it’s a providence, it’s a river, it’s a township, it’s a family name for a group of nomads, it’s a town, it’s a drink. That didn’t really turn up anything except that it’s a really common word. After a whole bunch of beating my head against the wall I finally just typed it into google and found out that Saman (Som-eh) is a Sri Lanken tribal God. This would have been right under Gardners nose.
Saman is the “smiling morning sun”. Ishtar is the personification of Venus (or Persephone), who descends to the underworld to ressurect her lover and nurture him. This wouldn’t have been lost on either Crowley or Gardner. But while making that leap and considering how much I can mangle language before people call me on it, I ran into Shamesh. Can we hammer Shamesh into Zomelak? The crossed associations are oftentimes formed by war and the decay of civilization, but I think it’s too much of a reach to try to get Shamesh to Zamez (Zomel). I think Zomel-as-Saman not only works better, but I also think it encompasses Gardner’s desire to worship the deities he found in his upbringing.
Comments? Flames? Have at it.