Thrice at the Third Hour

(C) Geoffrey Stewart 2022

Three times at the Third Hour,
The bells ring out for Esbat,
Singing out their clarion call,
In the darkness of the Night,
Between the New Moon & Noumenia.

Three times at the Third Hour,
The Holy Powers are called,
Offerings are poured & incense lit,
Blessings cast & Protections invoked,
Before the start of a Holy Season.

Three times at the Third Hour,
Powers & Fears & Attachments recalled,
Cleansed & Blessed & Reclaimed,
Beginning again once more,
The Witch reawakens.

Notes Upon the Journey May 30th 2022

5/30/2022 Monday day of The Sun
12:39 am Hour of the Moon
New Moon & Noumeniatide

Friends,

In the last few weeks since my last Notes on the Journey post, I’ve managed to post a couple of brief pieces here, and with the aid of some input from some folks in a couple of Discord servers make a few key updates to the Online Resources page. 

Truth be told though; I’ve been hesitating to update here until I had some time to process and untangle some of the events of the last couple of weeks and the synchronicities and cledons that happened beforehand.  There has also been some wrestling with the question of how much detail to go into as some of the goings on are not entirely my story to tell.  At the same time, I know I need to write about it, to write it out, to vent things into the limnal space that is the internet to release some of the hold they have upon me.

There are also a few different influences at work that have sort of interwoven to bring about some new wrinkles in my practices and Craft.  As a result, our narrative tonight will take a few detours as life sometimes does, especially when different areas and interests unexpectedly Venn Diagram one at the Crossroads.

Last year after my Bear had his stroke and was unceremoniously discharged from the hospital as quickly as they could get away with, given his lack of insurance, I had reached out to a friend of mine who I knew was having trouble making ends meet and offered him some money to watch my husbear while I returned to work.  I had used up my ETO and Jon was nowhere near ready to be left on his own.  My almost Sister-on-Law was coming down in a week or so and we were trying to figure out so many things during a time of chaos and fear.  He showed up the first night, running late but he showed, and I paid him in advance because his own bills were hitting my friend hard.

The next day he never showed. 

I became increasingly worried about him and started reaching out to some of our mutuals whom, like my friend, I was not in close touch with for a while. As it developed that day and over the next few, he had picked up a meth addiction I was not aware of at the time.  He had a number of incidents where his addiction became increasingly debilitating and obvious to those of us who know him.  Stories not matching up, a mutual who tried to help him with a place to stay and within 24 hours had kicked him out, online drama… all against the background of my own very full days trying to keep my job and take care of my recovering stroke patient partner.

Over the next couple of weeks I tried to be there for him as a friend even after I had determined he was not going to be getting money from me again.  We talked, and when he lost the vehicle he was living out of when not in some cheap motel or another, he finally admitted he was powerless before his addiction.  He entered a several months long rehab program, and I visited him a number of times and we went out to a couple of dinners, and I helped take him shopping for some things on a couple of his free days where he could check out of the residential rehab for a few hours once a week.  I also tried to be an encouraging voice and as good a friend as I could.

This may be surprising, considering he took money from me and left me and my beloved very much in the lurch, but as the son and grandson of alcoholics I have had to educate myself quite thoroughly about addiction and recovery.  If I believe someone wants to change, I will help them as best I can.  These days I do so with increasingly healthy and strict boundaries that I wish I had learned years earlier.

A week or so before my last journey post, I had helped my  friend move their meager possessions from the rehab facility they were in for Meth addiction and into a mutual friend’s apartment.  The condition of living there for a few months while he got his life in order before making a move out of state, was that he not use….

Now, In the weeks before my last journey update I have been deep diving on Twitter and lurking, making comments, following every Witchy/Occult account I find interesting, and tweeting.  This has led to new blogs and websites and Youtube channels, all helping me reconnect with my Witchy and creative self.  Different threads and conversations have had me going back to books from my personal library and notebooks from over the years making different points and comments in conversation with some of my new friends.

One of my new inspirations was to start crafting my own version of a 3 Kings essential oil, equal parts Frankincense, Myrrh, and Copal essential oils.  This version of 3 Kings incense was for years my go to, until my husbear’s allergy to resin incense led me to curtail their use.

His allergy to said holy and purifying incense being the source of some hilarity on my part.  Well, I think I’m hilarious anyway, he has his doubts.

One of the references I ran into repeatedly over the last couple of months was to the Lesser Banishing Ritual of The Pentegram, I even dug out my own notes on the rite in a conversation about the song Lilly by Kate Bush.

So, the day after my last Notes On the Journey post when I got the call from my friend telling me “I screwed up.”, and the somewhat desperate contact from some of his roommates, asking for help in getting him out of the apartment I was strangely primed to deal with pretty extreme situations.

I sent my friend who had relapsed links to resources for a number of shelters, partly hoping that he would find something even though it was after 5pm and on a Saturday no less.  I spoke with the roommates, who were partly at a loss because the main host was out of town.  Probably a blessing given his temper.  I told them that I would make my way over to the apartment when I had finished some things with my partner.  We had gone out and done some shopping and picked up some meds from the pharmacy and were stopping for a late lunch/early dinner date at Fresh Kitchen.  We had just pulled into the parking spot at the restaurant when I got the calls and texts.

My Bear and I talked about our friends and the situation briefly, and them simply talked about many other things and enjoyed our meal and our time together.  I messaged a few other friends for potential resources, and we came home.   I was also in communication with my lapsed addict friend, and his soon to be former roommates, and the out of town roommate/primary host.

I got Jon settled and spent some time gathering myself together for what looked to be a difficult evening.  I showered, shaved, and dressed myself.  I made some offerings to the Holy Dead, the Holy Spirits, and the Gods.  I grounded, I centered, I breathed up through my Chakras and slathered myself in 3 Kings Oil.  Then for the first time in something like 20 years I performed the LBRP.

Then, I went over to the apartment.  I spent the next several hours getting my still very high on meth friend to start drinking a bunch of water, to flush the meth he still had on his host’s nightstand down the toilet, take a shower, made bargains with his soon to be former roommates to keep his stuff safe, and with the accompaniment and moral support of one of the roommates got him to a Hospital and into a Detox unit for the next few days.  All the while in and out of texts and phone-calls with assorted mutuals and the roommates as I stayed close to my methed out friend and tried to bring him back to himself enough to get it together and get some immediate help.

Within a week he had gotten a bus up North and out of state, his plans expedited by the fact that all the shelters here are full and that no one in town was willing to take him in at after everything involved in his relapse.

I have his things and will be packing them in a couple or three boxes and sending them up to him.  I continue to communicate with him, and wish him the best.  At the same time I have to keep my own mental and emotional health and safety and that of my husbear, in mind and really cannot do more for him at this time.

Since that night any time I am leaving the house for an extended period where I am going to be dealing with the general public, I’ve done the LBRP.  I’ve re-read up on it and refined my technique.  I am also continuing to use my 3 Kings Oil.

So, yeah, been processing that night and dealing with other things in life and work lately.

Bliss, and Blessed Be,

Pax / Geoffrey

PS- a few useful links about the LBRP or Lesser Banishing Ritual of The Pentegram Here, Here, & Here.

People of The Library: The Rebirth of Witchcraft by Doreen Valiente

First published in 1989, The Rebirth of Witchcraft is an intriguing blend of autobiography, history, lore, and what we might now term unverifiable personal gnosis from ‘the mother of modern paganism’.  Focusing on early to mid-20th century Witchcraft revival including snippets of her own role in it, this book sheds some light on several key moments and personalities as well as providing anyone interested the history of Witchcraft plenty of avenues of further reading and research.  This book also, naturally enough, primarily deals with the topic of Witchcraft from the view of Witchcraft as a Pagan or Neo-Pagan religion.  This may be a turn off for some readers.  Honestly though it is like sitting down to a cup of coffee or tea with a respected elder and having a deep and delightful conversation and free of some of the mythologizing and spicy details that feature in autobiographies from other prominent Witches of the revival.

My well marked copy of the book in question…

In the first two chapters Valiente sets the stage for us by reviewing legal and social changes, esoteric currents, and various publications that helped set the stage for the emergence of Wicca and other forms of Witchcraft and Paganism in the 1950’s and 60’s.  From there she weaves together stories of her interactions with Gerald Gardner and her co-founding and liturgical writing within The Gardnerian Tradition, with encounters and practice with Robert Cochrane, reminisces of her friendship with journalist and occult researcher Leslie Roberts, explores the topic of the life and claims of Alex Sanders, an approving exploration of Feminist streams of Witchcraft, an examination of the Pickingil material, and ends with a look at the then current state of events within Witchcraft and a note of hopefulness for the future.

There are places where one gets the feeling of a rather private persons sharing details that they feel they must share for the record of history and a culture or perhaps more accurately a subculture she helped create.  In other places it feels as if she is dealing with topics, issues, and episodes from her either her past or that were current at the time of writing that she felt needed to be addressed by her to either close the book on them or give them her stamp of approval.  In places it also weaves together it’s narrative with cautionary notes related to dealing with the larger community outside of the Craft as well as the want to be cult leaders and cranks within the Occult scene in any era.

One wonders if the advance of age or perhaps a health scare or personal loss may have prompted her writing of this.  The Occult boom of the 80’s and 90’s, the second or third occult boom of the 20th century with outbreaks every 20 years or so as each new generation of seekers discovers it, was in mid upswing at the time she wrote this and with the proliferation of the Internet and online forums and means of communication one can imagine she might have felt the need to address the theories and suppositions that are rife in any online community.

Overall a delightful blend of autobiography and history and a number of juicy bits prose and Witchlore that one might incorporate into ones path and practice. It is a book I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone studying Witchcraft!

Craft Notes: A couple of tidbits of Magickal Theory and some personal History

Friends,

Shortly after the official beginning of my journey into Witchcraft I was blessed to be living in a city with a thriving and eclectic used bookstore.  This is how I ended up reading both Sybil Leek’s Diary of a Witch, and Patricia Crowther’s Lid Off The Cauldron fairly early in my path despite both being likely out of print in the 1990’s.  Both authors drag Aleister Crowley into their narratives, the first in a reputed encounter in her early childhood, the second posthumously kicking and screaming and tossing crockery about the house after a séance.  This was right around the time I realized I really would need to read Crowley to get an idea of just what all the fuss was about.

Now even before I formally began my journey, I was a magpie for all sorts of folklore and information about the occult and things woo-woo and even Fortean.  I spent hours as a kid pouring over an old Time Life series called (I think) Mysteries of the Unexplained (black hard covers with bright red question marks all over them) in my school library.  I read every snippet and story and explainer book I could get my underage hands on, and a number of ghost stories and stories of witchcraft and magick and fantasy and science fiction.  I had heard of Crowley previously, but something about the two previously mentioned books invocation of his reputation and memory finally set me towards reading him for myself.

I knew beforehand I would probably need to read up on Ceremonial Magick first, so under the advice of a friend who had studied CM, I read a couple collections of Essays by Israel Regardie, and Psychic Self-Defense and The Mystical Quabala by Dion Fortune.  As I had also told my friend, I was curious as to the theories of how magick actually worked and wanted a better understanding in addition to prepping for reading Crowley.

By the time I finally read Crowley I had also gotten a good handle on some of the theories and ideas of Magic (or Magick, or however it is now fashionable to spell it…) AND I had developed what I call the GUI theory of Magick.

In reading those early 20th century occultists, and the writings of Witches and occultists of the mid to late 20th Century, I developed the idea of that I call the GUI theory of Magick.

Essentially the idea is that if part of what the rites and spells we engage in does is to access that part of our minds that is somehow connected to both the collective unconscious of humanity and to the divine or universes conscious, then we are basically using the words and spells and symbolisms as a graphic user interface to communicate with both the deepest parts of our selves and with the wider universe around us.

Now I am sure this is not an original observation, merely my own, but I have not seen anyone really compary the theories of how Magick works to the GUI which seems odd given my age and the times I was coming of age in.  On the other hand I have dropped in and out of the cultural streams of Paganism and Occultism several times over the last 30 years or so, so perhaps I’ve just not read the right work?

Any suggested sites, blogs, and books along these lines are welcome in the comments!

Now the other aspect of magickal theory I need to touch on today, is the idea that certain rites and words and prayers can over time and with repeated and/or widespread application become etched into the group mind of the collective unconscious and perhaps even the fabric of the Universe to become singularly effective or useful applications.  Rather like a quick app or a simple “If this, then that” program.  Casting a Circle or Laying the Compass would be two examples of this idea, as would something like The Lesser Banishing Ritual of The Pentagram.

For now, I will leave you with these two ideas, which will I will be referencing in some of my narratives in the near future.

Bliss & Blessed Be,

Pax / Geoffrey

Notes Upon the Journey May 13th 2022

5/12/2022 Thursday day of Jupiter
11:45 pm Hour of The Sun
Waxing Gibbous Moon

Friends,

Happy Friday the 13th!!

As I start to write this it is a short time before a Friday the 13th.  Since early in my Withcraft journey I’ve felt Friday the 13th’s to be a special day, even a lucky or auspicious one.  13 Moons in a year, and all that… but also it’s been my bone deep conviction that Witches can make our own luck!  That and being aware of folklore regarding inauspicious days and unlucky things is very different from being powerless in the face of such things.

I am enjoying the first of two full days off, in a row, where I am not already ridiculously overbooked with appointments and tasks.  Not that the Husbear and I won’t be doing some running around tomorrow, but it’s stuff we need to get done and rather free-form.

My Journey lately has been turning mostly inward, shying away from listening to news and current events.  I was on a Twitter deep dive for a time and am enjoying that platform as a venue in which to interact with the written word.  But I had to pull away from it shortly after the war in Ukrain started.  I fell into Minecraft and music playlists and a period of struggling to get things done.  A lot of overnight shifts and a lot of unexpected extra hours at work, and a lot of just needing to back away from the world for a time.

I debated doing something special for Walpurgisnacht, or as I have jokingly started thinking of it, Halloween 2: Electric Bugaloo (as tainted as that reference has become by certain bad actors it’s still useful on occasion).

Walpurgisnacht and Beltaine sit opposite the Wheel of The Year from Halloween, and while traditionally associated with Life and Fertility in popular folklore, this too is a time when the veils between the worlds are thin, why else is there so much lore about the Fair Folk associated with it?  I was especially excited at the prospect of it being the Astrological New Moon on 4/30.  Part of me wanted to pull out the Full Kit and do something special for the Sabbat, but an unexpected resignation at work and my own duties as a manager there meant my time was not my own and once again my schedule became a thing of chaos…

Yet I managed to light some incense in offering that night.  A few days later Coffee was poured for the Spirits & The Dead.  I’ve also dabbled in some sigil-craft, nothing operative, more a few sigils designating places for future operations.

I haven’t done nearly as much writing or journaling as I had been hoping to do… but that’s part of why I am here tonight.  I’ve been developing my thoughts on the power and importance of language and word choice in ones Craft, and also on what it means to take up the mantle of Witchcraft in an era where so many people are tying together words and symbols for so many different purposes, some of them quite malicious and evil… witness the works of the Alt-Right over the last 20 decades.

My thoughts have wandered to the pendulum swings of history and culture over the last 40 years or so that I have witnessed…

It feels as if my nation is at some very difficult cross-roads right now, and I feel small and powerless in the face of sweeping forces of change that are inimical, dangerous, and potentially deadly to myself and those I love.

Then, once more, I take a breath, and connect my spirit with Earth and Sky, breath up through my Centers, and do whatever needs must be done that day to get by and get through.

This is no longer enough for me, I must start taking better charge of myself and my time and work hard once more towards the kind of life I wish to live.

So Mote It Be.

Bliss and Blessed Be,

Pax / Geoffrey