Living by the Two of Swords

In recent times I have felt as though I am held in some perpetual limbo, both physically and spiritually. All the things I have tried to do have lead to moments of not knowing which way to turn for the best and the stresses that have accompanied such decision making have on occasions dragged out for months, because I had convinced myself of not knowing which way to turn.

All divinations done for myself in any of these situations has always garnered the Two of Swords (or a card of a similar meaning) presenting me with the base knowledge that deep down I know what I have to do. But even so, I eventually move forward and before long come crashing back down at the foot of that blindfolded lady with her crossed swords; or more accurately thanks to the below image – to the Lady Hekate and Her burning brands.

I am stuck. Lost in the void between courses. Adrift in my own darkness. Numb save for anger and frustration. There is no up, no down; no forward, no back. Confusion reigns supreme. Though I’ve been here before numerous times in the last ten years of my life, this is by far the darkest and most bleak of times and I see no way out and mostly, don’t even want a way out. For the alternatives are a mixture of equally bleak or pointless because of the delusion of living in this world, being nothing but a slave to this modern age for no thanks or respite save death.

Upright or reversed, the Two of Swords seems a prevalent force in my life and no matter how truthfully I try to make decisions and live by my choices, I am broken to pieces and ground down time and time again left to silently scream into the abyss.

So how many more times must this Fool be strapped to the Wheel of Fortune only to be ground back into the dirt? Why can’t people understand why I’m so reluctant to bother getting out of the mire, when I’ll just as readily end up back in it?

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The Two of Swords from Pistis Sophia: The Goddess Tarot (Copyright Nic Phillips & Kim Huggens 2012)

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New Moon Ritual

2013-07-10 23.23.33This Noumenia I carried out the newly written Covenant of Hekate New Moon Ritual. My previous night’s Deipnon had been an ad hoc affair, not least because I resigned from my job without currently having something else to move on to. A huge test of my faith as well as a big banishment – not planned, but necessary!

So with a huge sense of relief and the stress of eight years of undervalued corporate slogging firmly off my shoulders, I set about arranging my ritual space and planning for the New Moon Ritual. It is a very proactive and involved kind of ritual, written by a very talented bunch of individuals all bringing together their own experiences and thoughts to make a cohesive and rewarding ritual structure.

After completely stripping down my altar area, cleansing it with three different types of sacred well/spring water, scattering with rose petals and then anointing with Hekate oil, I placed fresh cloths in black and white and placed centrally my magnificent statue created by Georgi Mischev of Threskeia. Around the central image of Hekate I coiled a whole shed snake skin, placing a braided red, white and black cord in a circle and putting an iron key at the feet of the statue. I also used a new red candle for my ritual, which I had decorated with the CoH symbol (something I’ve wanted to do for ages!). There were two small black beeswax candles either side of the Hekate statue, a small statuette of Hermes to the left and one of Hestia to the right. Other items included were of course my red cord (used in all Covenant rituals), bread and wine offerings, a small bowl of anointing oil, a vase of roses, “jewelled” candle holders I picked up from a charity shop and my newly mounted Hekate coin pendant to be consecrated.

With the candles and incense (I used myrrh resin) lit, it was time to proceed with the ritual itself. After the initial grounding and centring and a preliminary offering of wine to Hekate, Hermes and Hestia it was time to go on the Pathworking part of the ritual. A member of the ritual team who had kindly recorded themselves reading through this and I had downloaded it as I find it easier to follow a guided meditation or pathworking without having to worry about talking myself through it.

I really liked this part, though I think personally I may move it to the end of the ritual rather than the beginning just because I feel that flows better for me. The imagery was very profound and the adventure was enjoyable and rewarding. Despite there being quite a lot of disturbances in my home and the street outside (noisy passers-by, cars, inconsiderate/noisy housemates) that hindered my journey, for the most part I had a beneficial experience and received my “token” symbol from Hermes on behalf of Hekate.

ivyleafI don’t mind sharing here with you that it was an ivy leaf. Something I am still musing on the possible meaning and connection of this. For me personally it is not the first time Hekate has visited me or shown me what I identify as Dionysian symbols but I have yet to distinguish if these are markers meaning I shouldn’t forget my sometimes floundering relationship with Him or if She is trying to tell me that I can get everything He can give from Her…or something else.

So after the pathworking, the ritual itself took place. I liked the flow, symbolism and power of the whole thing and found the energies built, especially with the beautifully written words used to praise and evoke the Gods. I also like the use of a bowl of chilled water, used to reflect the passing from Dark to New moon; it was refreshing and energising!

The interesting part of the ritual was the creation of three intents for the lunar month ahead, revolving around Hekate’s three realms of power: Heaven, Earth and Sea. I spent a long time thinking on this, feeling uncertain on what to create/say for these intents. In the end, I decided that the Heaven/Sky intent would be linked to something relating to the mind, intellect, reason, sciences, travel etc. For Earth it would be more to do with stability, order, material issues, fertility and the like. And for the Sea/Water aspect I would choose something pertaining to emotions, intuition, wisdom, clarity or healing.

Having spent quite a while thinking on what to choose, I ran out of time in making these intents anything “special” to look at ritually speaking; no fancy sigils, not a stone/shell/feather imbued with intent etc…instead I created little folds of paper, each marked on the front with the corresponding elemental symbol and then inside I wrote down my corresponding intent. Despite this, I still found this part of the ritual very rewarding. One of the ritual team had mentioned that “nature abhors a vacuum; so if you do any banishment during the dark moon, make sure to draw a corresponding number of things to you during this ritual of the new moon crescent” so I felt strongly of what my Earthly intent should be, given that both my partner and I are no currently unemployed. So I am interested to see how this all plays out during the current lunar cycle.

After the closing of the ritual, I decided to do something I have not really considered or done before. I took the bread, wine, 3 roses and my statements of intent to the end of the road, which is a 4-way crossroads. There, there is a small field on the corner, enclosed by trees near to a small river. In the dark, I walked to a hawthorn tree in the middle of the field, placed the offerings of bread and roses at the foot and poured the wine over them. Then I took the Earth intent, folded it up and pushed it into the earth by the tree’s roots. For the Sky/Air intent, I set fire to it and let the ashes flutter away on the night air and for the Water Intent I folded it into a small bundle and tossed it into the river to be carried away.

This aspect of the ritual was totally instantaneous and not previously planned, but felt right and good at that time.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the contributors who helped write this ritual and I look forward to doing it again at future New Moons as well as seeing how it develops and evolves into my own personal practice.

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Hekate Symposium 2013

I have had the most splendid weekend in Glastonbury joining together with other’s for the second Hekate Symposium. Having thoroughly enjoyed all the goings-on of 2012, I was eagerly anticipating this year’s and was not disappointed in the slightest!

Changing down to a single-day event, Saturday got off to an early start with helping to set up for attendees and stall holders as well as some time to mingle, catching up with old friends, as well as to get to know people who were until that point acquaintances on Facebook. I also quite enjoyed the change of venue, enjoying the larger space and the stage element for the speakers and Hekate Shrine.

Once everyone was settled it was time to begin and the day’s events kicked off with a Blessing Ceremony conducted by “Guest of Honour” (at least in my book!) author, artist and priest Georgi Mischev of the Bulgarian group Threskeia.

Whilst Sorita d’Este reading translation of the various parts, Georgi conducted a powerful and meaningful Blessing that no language barrier could get in the way of. The sheer transformation between him as a very friendly and warm soul in person, to the devoted and commanding presence he exuded in his capacity as priest was breath-taking!

And so with Hekate’s gaze and blessing now firmly upon us, David Rankine – Master of Ceremony – introduced the first speaker of the event to the stage. Up first was Sophia Kirke and her talk “Circe, lover and sorceress”. Delving into Circe’s origins, Sophia lead us in a captivating recount of elements of the tale of Odysseus. There were many parallels drawn with the dark/light, kill/cure aspect surrounding the topic of pharmaka and the fabled Mole flower, with links to sympathetic magic. To finish, we were all lead on a short transformational path-working which I personally found reflected some of the changes I have gone through recently in myself.

After a short break we returned to the much anticipated “Hekate: Genesis” performance led by Emily Carding and So Potent Arts. This Hekatean-Shakespearean mash-up was fascinating and captivating. The high quality of the performance and the sheer originality of the piece lead to raucous applause – and rightly so!

This lead nicely into the lunch break which enabled some more socialising, some time browse the stalls and dash onto the high street to make purchases. Once we were all back in our seats, eagerly awaiting the next talk, Hazel lead us in her talk “Oceanic Hecate: An exploration of Hecate’s water depths”.

I found this fascinating and it echoed some of the watery themes that had already cropped up in Sophia’s talk on Circe. Having dealt with a lot of emotional changes in the last twelve months, I was interested to see how Hekate’s lesser known/explored ocean aspect reflected in areas of my life. There was a lot of talk around “going with the flow”, “never fear, fight or suppress emotions” as well as the liminality of the beach and deep, emotional healing – all things I could relate to.

Next up was “The Goddess Hekate and the Wheel of the Year” by Amelia Ounsted. Looking at Hekate from both a historical point of view as well as a Wiccan one (that did not attribute the stereotype of the Crone to her). I liked the “intellectual puzzle” description of Amelia’s process and journey through exploring Hekate and the Wheel; her encounters with different aspects of the Goddess, such as “child” and “sexy” Hekate and how it deepened her understanding of Soteira as “the life force that infuses, changes and resides within us.”

Following another break, we settled down to listen to Georgi Mischev speak on “The Four Faced Hekate”. The basis for his second book, he discussed polycephalic deities amidst the peoples of Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa. The connections between ritual masks and multi-faced, single deities such as Hermes, Dionysos, Janus and of course, Hekate. He also explained the development of the Sun-God from a monda (singular) into a tetrad (four) and the face that Hekate is “one goddess with a multiplied image”. There was so much fascinating information coming from Georgi that I couldn’t quite scribble fast enough AND listen at the same time, so I for one am very much looking forward to his book on the subject!

After a few questions directed towards Georgi’s talk, Sorita d’Este took to the stage to begin her talk “Hekate, Illuminating the Mysteries, Shattering Illusions”. Swapping her planned academic talk for a personal exploration of her work with Hekate, she lead us on the tale of her somewhat complex route. This sense of personal insight and sharing was a very fitting way to sum up the end of the day’s main talks as I had felt a great sense of unity and community in all those present – much more so than the previous year.

With a last look around the stalls, the hall was vacated to allow for the evening’s preparations and last minute tweaking/planning for the Closing Ceremony. Reconvening for 8pm, Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule and Friends performed Oryelle’s “Liber Qoph vel Hekate”, a lunar adoration written as counterpoint to Crowley’s solar adoration “Liber Resh vel Helios”. With Emily Carding, Aria Amarosa and Su Real dancing/performing, Orryelle led us with violin and voice, accompanied by Andrea Kundry on gong and gamelan. It was a very energetic lead up to the evening’s ritual closing ritual; intense and original and something that I very much enjoyed it.

And so, we came to the end of the day with the Closing Ceremony, presided over by Sorita with myself, my friend Robert, Georgi, Sophia, Hazel, Lezley, Andrea and Amelia taking part as the ritual team. The ritual itself again amplified and brought home the huge sense of community from the day’s events. After blessing, purification and greeting the Elements we all chanted together which really brought us together further and the energies in the room – already palpable by that point – continued to swell. After being lead in a call and response piece by Lezley and some more chanting, soon enough it was time for Hekate to be called upon to use Amelia to communicate an oracle to all present. This was a truly superb experience – being only my third of a trance-oracle priestess. Four of the attending priestess in turn invoked Hekate and with the fourth invocation it was like a bolt of lightning descended in the room – and into Amelia.

Her oracle was so powerful that it shook the very walls! It was a true blessing and very special. Afterwards, Hekate-Amelia was asked to bless food and wine and tiny oracle scrolls for the attendees. Then, in turn, everyone came to share in the food and drink and to take their scroll. With the ritual wrapped up, there was some time for unwinding, socialising, drinking and of course tidying away. A long but highly positive and eventful day indeed!

The following day, anyone still in Glastonbury who wished to attend were invited to private land owned by Sorita’s partner Lokabandhu Lokabee, right up by the Tor, for a picnic and ritual. The glorious sunshine (Thracian sun – bottled and brought by the generous Georgi Mischev!) welcomed those of us in attendance as we met at the White Springs and then climbed up the hill towards the Tor and the field. We sat and talked, laughed, shared, explored and then carried out a simple impromptu ritual. Lighting a fire, we burnt the offerings that had been placed on the shrine the previous day whilst being led in a powerful chant by Orreyelle! Hekate obviously couldn’t wait for Her grapes and rose as the flames leapt out to great me, singing the hairs up my arm, lol!

Once we had finished, we gathered our belongings and prepared to head down again. I left some flowers at the three-way crossroads that was just outside the entrance to the field. We then all went into the White Springs, which is where in 2012 the Symposium was lucky enough to hold the Rite of Her Sacred Fires inside. I enjoyed being back in there…I like the primal and cooling nature. Again the watery/oceanic aspect of Hekate was present and the cooling water lapped at my feet.

Overall it was a beautiful and meaningful weekend! I was so glad to be back in Glastonbury, as well as surrounded with my fellow brothers and sisters of Hekate. HUGE thanks to everyone involved for their effort, hard work, devotion and friendship and Super-Special thanks to Sorita and Georgi! I look forward to 2014 – the Third Annual Hekate Symposium should be something very special indeed, I’m sure!!

I returned home to Coventry with many fond memories, new friendships forged and some beautiful purchases and gifts.

Emily Carding - So Potent Arts Georgi & Me Georgi & Sorita Georgi Mischev - Four-Faced Hekate Talk Georgi Mischev - Opening Blessing Liber Qoph Vel Hekate Performance

Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule Post-Symposium Picnic So Potent Arts Performance Symposium Hekate Shrine

Hekate Statue by Georgi Mischev

IO HEKATE!!!

IO HEKATE!!

http://theurgia.co.uk/

http://threskeia.webs.com/

http://sorita.co.uk/

http://hekatecovenant.com/

Catching Up!

So it was mid-March since I last posted a blog entry, so I guess I should do a quick round up of everything that’s been going on…

The end of March marked not only my 30th birthday, but also the birthday of my boyfriend and our six month anniversary. To mark this, we went away to London for the weekend. For me it was my first, proper visit to the capital and we had great fun (despite the weather) taking in the sights. One of my highlights (not including the sexy barmen in Soho bars) was standing next to a statue of Dionysos in the British Museum and seeing a gorgeous jug depicting Hekate.

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April brought about my 30th Birthday Party! It was a riot and I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was so happy to be surrounded by good friends and loved ones. I partied into the small hours, playing silly games, drinking and eating and taking plenty of pictures so that I have lots of fond memories. Huge thanks to my friend Rob too for his awesome catering skills – everyone commented on the buffet! At the end of April the boyfriend and I went to a Summerween Party, in fancy dress, where I got my satyr on!

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And so now we are well on our way into May (where does the time go!?) The weather is turning for the better, the days are getting longer. Beltane saw me get crafty and create my own, mini-Maypole decoration which turned out really well. My boyfriend has now moved in and we are all lovey-dovey and sickeningly happy, lol. I have just finished editing and published the latest issue of Askei Kataskei (available for free pdf download) and fast approaching is the fourth annual Rite of Her Sacred Fires!

And tonight marks Hekate’s Deipnon, which I shall be quietly celebrating this evening after I finish work. But I would like to share the following, beautiful image from Mandragora Magika of our Saffron-Robed Lady of Hounds. Hail Hekate!

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Hekate Symposium 2013!

If there’s one thing guaranteed to get me all excited, gentle reader-folk, then it is when something as awesome as The Hekate Symposium returns for a second (and hopefully ongoing annual) time!

The first, which took place in Glastonbury during the weekend of May 5th & 6th was a superb success; the first of its kind it brought together devotees, priests and priestesses of the Goddess Hekate from near and far for a thrilling weekend “filled with lectures, rituals, meditations, invocations and celebration, in which all participants will be encouraged to learn more about the three-formed Goddess of the Crossroads; experience her as the initiatrix and protectress; and participate in transformative rituals, meditations and trance workings through which participants can explore her mysteries.

And now, due to both popular demand and the hard work of the organisers – which include Sorita d’Este – this year’s is set to be even more unique, exciting and intense, taking place just after the fourth annual Rite of Her Sacred Fires – a wondrous ritual that kicked off a huge surge in all things Hekatean over the last few years.

On Saturday June 1st, many people will once again gather for this years one-day event which promises a diverse and interesting selection of speakers and workshops as well as a no doubt fabulous evening ritual (which if it’s anything like the previous year, will be something very personal and memorable for all involved!)

The “sneak-peak” teaser that is given on the event’s website speaks for itself…”Elemental Blessing and Consecration, Hekate and the Sorceress Circe, Hekate and Oceanic Magics, the Four-Faced Goddess, Thracian Religion and Magic … There will also be a Sacred Ritual Theatre production, and evening ritual for all attendees.” With a full program still to be released and I’m sure tons more to be confirmed.

If you are a devotee of, or in anyway drawn to/intruiged by Hekate, then I would definitely recommend finding out about the Symposium and the Covenant of Hekate that facilitates it. It promises to be a unique and worthwhile event that cannot be adequately described or duplicated. I myself am excitedly looking forward to it – especially the fact that author and priest Georgi Mischev will be jetting in from Bulgaria to give a talk on the Four-Faced Goddess Hekate and Thracian Religion. If you haven’t heard of/read his book “Thracian Magic”, I heartily recommend it!!

With stalls selling books, magical & devotional items, artwork etc as well as being located slap-bang in the middle of the stunning hamlet of Glastonbury, this is shaping up to be AWESOME!!!

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Askei Kataskei

ImageSo one of the main things that has taken up my time since mid-last year has been the role of editor for the official Covenant of Hekate ezine, Askei Kataskei.

The third issue has recently been released and so I thought it would be nice to “showcase” it here on my blog to give it a bit more of a wider scope for anyone who has yet to come across either the ezine or the Covenant of Hekate. I so very much enjoy editing the publication and putting it out their for the community; it’s a creative-devotional act for Hekate as well as my way of actively giving something back to the wider Hekatean community.

Issue #3 contains – as do the previous two back issues – a superb array of articles, poetry, images, photography and lots more. I was extremely fortunate to be able to interview author, priest and artist Shay Skepevski about the release of his debut book Lunatik Witchcraft.

There is also the amazing articles “Of Sex, Drugs and Pigs”, exploring the priestess/witch Kirke and “Oceanic Hecate” all about the somewhat lesser discussed aspect of Hekate and the ocean.

With 44-pages of all things Hekate from contributors the world over, Askei Kataskei is going from strength to strength thanks to the dedication and creativity of the contributors. We are always looking for interesting things to showcase, reviews, essays, articles and more and I hope that this little blog entry will bring some more reader’s and potential contributors to future issues of the ezine!

For more information on the ezine and the CoH, please check out the below links:

Askei Kataskei (Facebook)

Askei Kataskei (lulu)

Covenant of Hekate