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Archive for January, 2013

The Horned Lord’s Altar

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I’ve recently redone my altar again (it was about time, the Yule setup was a little old) starting, as usual, with a theme: Cernunnos. I suppose I should have gone with a Candle or Brighid theme for Imbolc but eh, frak it, I’m focusing on what has meaning to me.  Thus with what ritual implements I have to hand (with proven standbys such as the ancestral skull and well, as well as the AWESOME Good Will find of a Pan-beating-a-tambourine-candleholder and all the antlers I own) I set about creating my altar.

Now I craft my altars very intuitively–I go for what looks good artistically, but more importantly what FEELS right. So I set to until I knew I was done and stepped back to observe my work, and I started noticing interesting themes.  Its all very Horned Lord (antlered skull to left, drum-beating Pan to right) but each side of the altar apparently has a slightly different theme–different aspects of the Horned Lord, if you will.

To the right our virile Pan, bounties of incense and entheogens strewn at his feet as he beats his tambourine and I beat mine, spirits in the goblet behind him, sacred smoke dancing through the air. All methods of alteration, intoxication, ecstasy….one might say the pinnacle of experience, of life.

To the left, however, lies a different face…skull of the ancestors enthroned in antlers, set about by curved blade and stone dagger, backed by a dish for offerings and the snakes…serpents of the underworld, sigil upon the dish, bone in a necklace of amber and jet upon the antlers. All death and sacrifice, the underworld and serpent mysteries.  

Up the center we have a labyrinth, the well, and a star-clad mirror…portals, doorways between.  Taken altogether it is truly one whole theme with different aspects honoring the Horned Lord of the Forest–virile, ecstatic, wild, dark, death, decay, sex, life, transformation, and so much more. 

I look forward to working with this altar. May this altar in His honor, with offerings of dark bread and venison and brandy and smoke crafted in his honor be looked upon with favor. I seek to travel, to learn, to challenge myself, to grow. Hail, Horned Lord, guide me by the light ‘twixt the horns…

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A Question

Dver over at a A Forest Door has the most gorgeous necklace for sale: a Baba Yaga Necklace, in fact.  (http://forestdoor.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/baba-yaga-necklace/) I’ve had a thing for Baba Yaga since I hit puberty–I don’t know why, other than that’s when I found out about her through reading stories. The name always snags my attention immediately and I get a gleeful little thrill–again, I don’t know WHY, and this is probably a very immature attitude considering the dire nature of most of her stories: Baba Yaga is NOT an entity to be taken lightly.  

With this in consideration I had decided to pass up purchasing this necklace that makes me drool, because if one thing is certain its that the necklace must be used…it is not some trinket to be set aside when one is bored being sensational.  Then Dver resposted about the necklace; after a month, it still has not sold.  Well now, that’s a different kettle of fish! says a voice in my head Maybe its just waiting for the right person…Maybe I’m that right person! and so the thoughts went.  Well, I’m not going to purchase such a serious tool just because I feel like it, so the best thing to do is ask.  

With that in mind I set out to ask my question as soon as I got home from work. I set milk to warm on the stove as I gathered what I would need. Charcoal, a loose incense I had intuitively crafted a while back, a plateful of the last of my spice cookies, my runes, a seat…by this point the milk had to be stirred, and I added honey and a few drops of blood, dabbing a drop on each eyelid and my lips, before adding the last drop to the charcoal as the incense smoked. Then I sat out in the snow during the last of the twilight to ask my question.

Dogs began baying as I added more incense, and the candle flame, steady up until this point, began popping and dancing. I took a minute or two to call and ask my question, then quietly prepared my runes as the sound of the dogs faded from the air.

I looked at the runes as they had fallen, trying to understand what they were telling me, but no matter how I contorted my mind the meaning still would not come. “I don’t understand!” I finally said with some frustration. “I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me.”

Almost immediately I ‘heard’ an old woman’s stern voice calling ((to paraphrase: “Hey! LISTEN dammit!”)) and I got the impression that she had been shouting to get my attention. Oops. ^_^;; 

The exact wording is lost on me, but it boiled down to this: No. You’re not ready for me yet; you haven’t earned the right. If you would like to earn this, there are 3 tasks you must complete first.

1) You must thoroughly clean your place and be rid of what you no longer use. ((YUCK. and I’ve already started this.))

2) You must rise with the sun each morning and make observances. ((Another yuck. I value my sleeping in and am not a morning person. I’ll work on this one.))

3…point 3 I couldn’t understand. I just couldn’t get out of my own way ((which is the biggest problem I’ve been having of late)) and I struggled to grasp meaning as my brain did mental somersaults. Finally I relaxed and let it all fade, and I found myself standing on the edge of a wood in the dark.  Dogs bayed behind me, coming for me as I began to run deeper into the woods.  I knew they would run faster than me so I didn’t bother to hide my trail as it would’ve taken too much time, and they were too close already. Finally they were almost upon me and I grabbed a branch from the snowy ground, whirling and getting my back against the trunk of a large tree. I couldn’t see them really, just dark shadowy dog-like shapes growling and lunging as I swiped at them with the branch. I realize now that they weren’t really trying to get me ((because they could have easily)) but likely just trying to drive me, as eventually I turned and ran again until a great hole opened beneath me and I fell.

I fell, tumbling, down down down the dirt tunnel slamming into the walls and being cut by roots.  Finally I sprawled onto the floor of a subterranean chamber, remarkably similar to one I had been to before (https://wanderingthelabyrinth.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/into-the-underworld/) but nicer. There were wooden platforms for flooring in some areas, and where there was bare stone it was remarkably level and dry.  There was a large square of red carpeting where I had fallen, and furniture. The fireplace was still there, though no large cauldron upon it, and sitting in a rocking chair next to it was the old woman. She looked the same as the entity I called Cerridwen before, but she didn’t feel the same.  Maybe these are just stock images my mind uses, I don’t know…but this was the same entity who had spoken to me before I found myself here.  ((I highly doubt this was Baba Yaga; she was FAR too nice. I don’t know who precisely responded, but whatever.))

She beckoned me closer, asked for me to show her my wrist…the same wrist that had been wounded the last time I was in a place very like this, speaking to an old woman very like this.  The same wrist that was now fully healed. I came forward and held it out to her. She gripped my wrist in one hand and with a long sharp nail of the other calmly began carving into the underside of my wrist.  First a line, then one to cross it, then the quarter lines…then lines between those too. ((What is that, like a 16-point star?))  Then with forefinger and thumb she slowly reached into the wound she had carved and pulled out long dripping red chords.  Swiftly she wrapped this once around my wrist and knotted it.

At this point I started wondering if perhaps I SHOULD have made that bracelet I intended to after the last encounter; I had never gotten around to it, and this was remarkably like what I had been thinking of. As soon as these thoughts stayed more than a few moments in my head, however, the old woman snapped “Why must you always think of making something? That’s not important right now!” ((o.O)) and she gripped my wrist in both hands and looked steadily at me.

Here’s where things might seem a little strange, so bear with me dear readers all.  At this point I kept getting the very strong urge to, irl, take my lighter and burn my wrist in the same spot. I saw myself doing it over and over again. My brain went “Are you CRAZY?!? There’s no way you should physically maim yourself for something that may very well be the result of an over-active imagination. It’s probably not real. Don’t do it.” and “Well with all the reading you’ve been doing there’s good indication that practitioners are sometimes required to do similar things, so…maybe?” And, well…I decided to take the leap of faith.  Out came the lighter, and I held my wrist over it. The problem is with all the inner turmoil I had on the matter my reflexes were working on a hair-trigger, so no sooner did I start to feel pain than my entire arm jerked away, and I forced it back to start again. This went on until a breeze blew the lighter out, and the old woman’s voice came back “That’s good enough…for now.” ((The point being, dear readers, that this was a test to see if I would commit that far. And may have to go further in the future. That’ll be interesting.))

I relaxed and was back next to the fire with the old woman. She took my hand, still firmly in her grasp, and thrust it into the flames of the fireplace.  I felt nothing, and my hand was fine. She clucked her tongue disapprovingly “If you were really here, it would hurt/burn” and released me.  I can’t really remember what happened next, but she spoke with me a bit more and directed me to the left of the fire, where I fell down another tunnel ((albeit in a more controlled manner)) into another near-replica of the same cave–only it was even better furnished this time, and had a counter for the kitchen area, and it was DARK…there were only glowing coals in the fireplace. Something shifted in the shadows back near where I had fallen the first time, and I reached out blindly with my right hand til I grasped a carving knife. A low, growling laugh came from the shadows and a great black he-wolf ((seriously, he was at least as big as me)) with eyes that were either blue or green or silver ((I don’t know if they shifted or my mind couldn’t decide which it liked best, but I got a distinct impression of each and the eyes were very important)) slowly prowled toward me. I can’t remember most of what he said, but he mocked me, asked if I always resort to violence when threatened ((which actually ISN’T normal for me, at least not irl))…I wish I could remember more of what he said, and how it ended, but suddenly I was climbing up through a hole under my seat and back into my body.

I looked once more at the runes, and realized that they pretty well described the ‘trip’ I had just experienced. ((though for whatever reason they read right to left)).  Now, I know that I didn’t actually cross the hedge and go journeying…when that happens one very much feels as if they are doing so in body, at least according to every source I trust to know…so I have no idea what I actually did, or how much value I can put in it.  I never felt any cold or pain, at least no more than I feel in dreams.  Besides, even the old woman told me I wasn’t really there.  So…I really don’t know what all that was, but I’m accepting it for now with a small pile of salt.  And I have no idea how all of that is supposed to be a “third task” o.O or who it was that actually contacted me, OR why she looked almost exactly like the old woman before but felt rather different, or what to make of the gradually-better-furnished cave.  Gah, I don’t know what to make of it all. >_<  Any thoughts? Advice from someone more experienced in this sort of thing than I?

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