Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Reclaiming Samhain as My Own.

I've been preoccupied. Obviously.

Rather than try to address months of secular amusements & obligations which have kept me from dutifully journaling, I shall cut to the chase. After all, here my fingers return to the keys on "the big day." No coincidences. 

Samhain has been a messy item for me for years. Along the way, I have come to the conclusion that I don't like what other people do with it. Whether too kitschy, cute, Love & Light, or creepy pants I'm-so-Gothy-cool-worship-me, or unstoppably careening into nauseating psycho-drama hyperbole, I just cannot fucking do it. 

No. Just no. 
Leave me & my Spirits out, whether I bother to honour them on this day or not.

Oddly, something salvaged my Samhain sensibilities this season: Doreen Valiente. In my ongoing excavations to uncover myself (& everything else that matters), I have come 'round to this woman countless times. I come 'round & 'round, again & again (I might suggest that she would say that is apropos for her). I cannot shake her. 

Even when I really, really don't want to identify with all the Wicca & Witches & sometimes the entire pagan/Pagan/Neo-pagan/Neo-neo-pagan/occult/esoteric... etc., etc. communities, I cannot turn from her. Kind of like the Moon, I reckon.

In the more recent portion of my absence, I have been reading Heselton's Doreen Valiente: Witch. I didn't realize just how much I missed her until I took up the book. I also didn't quite realize how much I relate to her personally until now. It seems she had the same habit of becoming hopelessly & enthusiastically attracted to an esoteric group or system, studying & engaging with it vigorously & then finding herself quickly seeing the shortcomings -- particularly the factual ones. Heselton does not state it outright, but I sense that she found herself regularly disappointed by the reality of the people behind the metaphysical practices. Not surprising with her talent & intellect.

Of course, the text inevitably arrives at Robert Cochrane who, as characterized by my dear Chas Clifton, was the "bad boy" of Witchcraft. There's no question why Doreen joined his short-lived parade, I would have followed him too, right up onto the tors & down into the caves. And though Cochrane was not immune to folly -- also being completely full of shit -- he was insightful enough that he indeed had his finger on the real deal. Ecstasis. 

But you see, people don't want to go there. 

The text includes Doreen's elegy for Robert. I had read it plenty before, but it moved me deeply this time 'round.

Elegy For A Dead Witch
(Written by Doreen originally for Robert Cochrane)

To think that you are gone, over the crest of the hills,
As the Moon passed from her fullness, riding the sky,
And the White Mare took you with her.
To think that we will wait another life
To drink the wine from the horns and leap the fire.
Farewell from this world, but not from the Circle.
That place that is between the worlds
Shall hold return in due time. Nothing is lost.
The half of a fruit from the tree of Avalon
Shall be our reminder, among the fallen leaves
This life treads underfoot. Let the rain weep.
Waken in sunlight from the Realms of Sleep.

© Copyright The Doreen Valiente Foundation

This leads me to this one day & one conclusion: from now on I say, screw the fearful & self conscious (yes, I suffer from both). I'll go it alone.

Samhain. I see it now.

And I'll dedicate it all to you both -- perhaps the two persons I never met, yet strangely miss the most. 

(Edit: images are from my own Samhain ceremony, dedicated to D.V. & R.C.)


Bryan Perrin said...

So Glad your reclaiming!
Who takes the pictures?

theopengyre said...

Times and tides have conspired to occlude our channel of late but I was happy to see this post pop up in my mail box and know you are OK, and more so to hear the ring of clarity there. As you know I too find myself 'in but not of' in a number of ways. Wonderful photos - facets of a jewel in Nyx's veil.

Perhaps the more we are fiercely just ourselves the more we are actually 'fitted' among the myriad things...

Dorothy said...

I'm so glad I decided to check with you here today. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the season, and I believe a happy birthday is in order, as well. :) It must be the time of year because I've been thinking a lot about being a teenager, first researching alternative/esoteric spirituality, Wicca/Witchcraft in particular, and trying to email a coven for initiation (funny story there I may have already told you, haha) and I feel like I'm starting to come full circle in a way and am now finally in a position to time-travel a bit and help that lonely young girl out, and it is so -so- healing. As a result I've started on a personal project spurred by pondering the unique experiential spiritual need void that the early 20th century Witchcraft movements seem to have been trying to fill. I like that you hone in on the issues of self-consciousness and authenticity that simmer at the very heart of these practices for many. And not to be "that Thelemite" haha, but I can't help but quote a bit of Crowley another mystically-inclined Thelemite friend pointed me toward that's been haunting me lately. It's from his essay "Eleusis":

"Better be a flagellant, or one who dances as David danced before the Lord, than a bishop who is universally respected, even by the boys he used to baste when he was headmaster of a great English public school!

That is, if religion is your aim: if you are spiritually minded: if you interpret every phenomenon that is presented to your sensorium as a particular dealing of God with your soul.

But if you come back from the celebration of the Eucharist and say, “Mr. Hogwash was very dull to-day,” you will never get to heaven, where the good poets live, and nobody else; nor to hell, whose inhabitants are exclusively bad poets."

And this bit...

"The truth of the matter appears to be that as reason is incompetent to solve the problems of philosophy and religion, à fortiori science is incompetent. All that science can do is to present reason with new facts. To such good purpose has it done this, that no modern scientist can hope to do more than know a little about one bud on his pet twig of the particular branch he has chosen to study, as it hangs temptingly from one bough of the Tree of Knowledge.

One of the most brilliant of the younger school of chemists remarks in the course of a stirring discourse upon malt analysis: “Of extremely complex organic bodies the constitution of some 250,000 is known with certainty, and the number grows daily. No one chemist pretends to an intimate acquaintance with more than a few of these ...” Why not leave it alone, and try to be God?

But even had we Maudsley’s committee of geniuses, should we be in any real sense the better? Not while the reason is, as at present, the best guide known to men, not until humanity has developed a mental power of an entirely different kind. For to the philosopher it soon becomes apparent that reason is a weapon inadequate to the task. Hume saw it, and became a sceptic in the widest sense of the term. Mansel saw it, and counsels us to try Faith, as if it was not the very fact that Faith was futile that bade us appeal to reason. Huxley saw it, and, no remedy presenting itself but a vague faith in the possibilities of human evolution, called himself an agnostic: Kant saw it for a moment, but it soon hid itself behind his terminology; Spencer saw it, and tried to gloss it over by smooth talk, and to bury it beneath the ponderous tomes of his unwiedly erudition.

I see it, too, and the way out to Life.

But the labyrinth, if you please, before the clue: the Minotaur before the maiden!"

Oh, can can I borrow some Doreen Valiente from you at some point? Pretty please? :) I didn't see The Rebirth of Witchcraft or Witchcraft for Tomorrow in the Agora library database, but perhaps they are just not uploaded yet... ?

Moma Fauna said...

Bryan Dear,

(So annoying that Blogger doesn't have a reply to comment option anymore...tch.)

You know, I think of you every Samhain b/c I believe you understand it in a way that makes sense to me more than most people. We have exchanged thoughts many times over the years & my talks with you & yours always come to the creamy surface. Thus, as I wrote this, I expected that I might receive a comment like this from you. ;)

As to the *who* of the photos... that is a very interesting question, "who." My dance teacher requires me to send her recordings of my homework assignments -- not a task for the shy or faint of heart, believe me! Somewhere along the way while I was trimming shorts to upload for her, I realized that I could take stills from the video. Perhaps then we call it a collaboration between myself & my Macbook?

Before I move on to the next message, I have a confession: I have yet to open the email you sent a while back. I tend not to open the important ones until I have time to address them thoughtfully... where have my windows of thoughtfulness gone?

Moma Fauna said...


"Perhaps the more we are fiercely just ourselves the more we are actually 'fitted' among the myriad things..."

Ah, like facets in a jewel in the Queen of Night's shroud... so shiny(!) & so small. I Love you.

(I miss you too & I have so much to tell of weddings & ceremonies & such, date please?)

Moma Fauna said...

Dear Dorothy!

I too am glad you visited -- I have been thinking very hard & frequently about you since we returned from OR. Perhaps in part b/c you did not get my (apparently telepathic) message about the things I left in the Agora for you to take after the Greater Feast of Dame Ida Craddock (still lamenting that one). Thank your the birthday wishes, it is so squirrely having so many things in a single day. (Perhaps part of my ongoing confusions.)

THIS(!): That is, if religion is your aim: if you are spiritually minded: if you interpret every phenomenon that is presented to your sensorium as a particular dealing of God with your soul.

But if you come back from the celebration of the Eucharist and say, “Mr. Hogwash was very dull to-day,” you will never get to heaven, where the good poets live, and nobody else; nor to hell, whose inhabitants are exclusively bad poets."

And that second bit, curse the man for his uncomfortable insights! A younger self of mine would balk & rear up & reel. Nowadays, I find that when the time comes to be *in-that-space* his suggestion to "leave it alone" is best. The minute I begin to think, the moment is ruined.

Both these comments really come down to this self-consciousness & *authenticity* thing you mentioned. I dare say you & I share the problem of being a highly rational-minded (trained, even!) critters & as human folk, we are (naturally?) self-conscious. This may be the "labyrinth" or part of it anyway -- that which must be overcome before one can open to the spiritual experience.

For fear of going on too long here, I will say that the Dance is the tool that has best served me in breaking through the think-think mode. For many explicit reasons, in fact... but another time. Dinner?

Oh, one more thing: "I see it, too, and the way out to Life." The. Way. Out. TO. Life. not "of," like so many philosophies. TO Life! Embace it & drink deeply. Yes, (shakes head) I do delight in that man's work.

On Valiente: I have tried my best to slowly obtain her books for the library. I believe we have both "Witchcraft for Tomorrow" & "The Rebirth of Witchcraft." The database is waaaaay, larger but I haven't gotten to upload the new system (we had to re-enter the whole bloody thing). If they aren't there, I believe I have all of her works (including the rare, post-humous printings) in my own personal collection (it's just a question of which house they are in) excepting the autobiography collaboration with Bellham-Payne (The Rebirth) but, like I said, I'm relatively certain that one is in the Agora. And yes, you may borrow the Heselton book. I also have his two-volume biography of Gerald Gardner if you are interested.

Dorothy said...


Oh yes, I would love to borrow all of those! I'm about to start in on Witchcraft Today, and you know how getting through reading with little ones can'll be a bit before I can actually borrow them, but, yes, definitely, to all of them.

Let's get together for dinner soon. Shoot me an email and let me know when a good time for you would be. The month of November is pretty clear for me so far. The pictures of you dancing are lovely. I can understand what the Dance means to you, I think. I feel like for rationally-minded animals, like us, so much of the journey/process is reasoning our way towards that door that will open onto the Mysteries for us where we can finally leave reason behind, and do it -willingly-. There's a lot of putting the cart before the horse that we all do, with good intent mostly, I think, but that's why they say the Mysteries remain the Mysteries, I suppose, even if all the scripts are laid bare, all the symbols are explained and objects in the sacred box revealed. We still have to do every single bit of the work ourselves to know and understand. Which makes it all authentic really... but ... let's save it for dinner! :)

Dorothy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Moma Fauna said...

"We still have to do every single bit of the work ourselves to know and understand. Which makes it all authentic..." Amen sister. I will send you a message and make a date soon. :)

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