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?

Image

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

Ritual of the Heptagram: Feedback

Four weeks ago today, I was made aware of the following ritual by Sorita d’Este when she posted it on her Facebook profile and was asking what people thought of that type of ritual and wondered if people would mind trying it out and giving some feedback. For me, this was a type of ritual I had not previously had all that much experience with, however I am always interested in trying new things and this seemed a simple enough start into something different.

I decided that I would carry it out, each day for a week and also to attempt to do it during a corresponding planetary hour on that day. Here are my thoughts and findings.

I started the week on the Sunday, feeling this as a positive and enfigorating day to attempt the ritual. The planetary hour fell in the mid-evening so I got myself settled, lit a candle and some incense and proceeded. Honestly, there was nothing ‘major’ to report but then I was hardly expecting pyrotechnics! My initial unfamiliarity and stumbling a smidge over the vowel intonations also didn’t help but I percevered and perhaps the most notable part of the ritual came towards the end:

“Cross your arms over your chest and say:

There is no part of me that is not of the Gods”

At this point I experienced a warm sensation flooding through my body from my heart-centre. This left me feeling very happy, positive and revived.

During the working week, I allotted to carry out the ritual before work, the corresponding planetary hours falling nicely mostly before the start of my shift. Again I lit a candle and some incense to start and settled myself down before proceeding.

Monday, despite still tripping over the vowels, I was a little more confident in the ritual and the energy felt tingly and ‘clear’, with a sense of mental clarity and focus. I felt ‘energised’ in a similar fashion to how I get during Full Moons. Also that night I conducted a Tarot reading for myself which was very clear and easy for me to interpret – something which is not usually possible when I’m trying to read for myself.

For some reason, I was wary of Tuesday. Mars and Fire energy are intrinsic in my base personality but I have had trouble accessing it adequately without being on the verge of ‘loosing control’ (i.e. being agitated and confrontational when trying to attain confidence and inner strength). However, I clear the doubts from my mind and proceeded anyway. There was definitely a more intense, warming energy and I felt resolute and stronger at the close and I felt like I was ready/needed to achieve something. Also, contrary to my initial concerns, I found it helped me reign in unnecessary confrontational impulses, allowing me a different focus and more ‘tactical’ thinking.

Wednesday helped clear away those mid-week blues. The ritual had a lighter, more airy feeling and I again felt a sense of mental clarity. Beyond that though, nothing major to report.

Thursday was perhaps the biggest ‘non-event’. I felt a little ‘off’ whilst conducting the ritual and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary and no real sense of energy of which to speak of. Given the surrounding circumstances though (re life/work etc) it’s possible I was somewhat preoccupied.

On Friday the energy was warm and vibrant, light and calming. I also had a ‘fresh’ feeling as I had to do the ritual earlier in the morning than on other days due to a work commitment. Cliché as it sounds, I came away from it with a notion of that ‘Friday Feeling’.

Saturday is where it gets slightly interesting, in as much as it never happened. I tried multiple times on the original Saturday, one Saturn Hours on other days and on the following Saturdays to attempt to finish the weekly scope of the ritual and each time something came up or prevented/distracted me.

This was very interesting and peculiar at the same time. However, tonight whilst doing some simple working and worship at my Hekate shrine it dawned on me it was Saturday and so, centring myself I turned East and began.

I was alone in the house and so didn’t hold back with the words of the ritual, the vowel intonations etc and I was surprised at how commanding I sounded and how powerful the words were. There was a ‘head rush’ of energy midway through and at the close I felt giddy and ‘buzzing’. I sat down and stared at the incense smoke obscuring my Hekate Skull effigy and then reached for the Major Arcana of my Rider-Waite deck to draw a card in keeping with the chapter of The Temple of Hekate.

I selected The Hermit. Of all the cards to pick I get the one that – through use of my Mythic Tarot – I link with the figure of Saturn (as Kronos)! The meaning given in ToH accessed the part of me that has been wondering what comes next for me spiritually.

“I call Hekate, bearer of light; shine your torches like a beacon so that I may use it as a point of focus as I contemplate your mysteries.”

I’m quite intrigued…I wonder what will come next…

 

Hekate’s Key Spread

Tonight I decided to finally get around to testing out a new spread for use with Tarot and other oracular decks which was shared with me with someone on one of the Facebook Hekate pages (and for the life of me I cannot currently find her name to give her credit) but this spread was of her own devising and I decided to use it in conjunction with my Mythic Oracle deck to seek insight into my current career/professional endeavours.

The Hekate's Key Spread

 Tuesday, November 22, 2011 1:05am                  Waning Moon in Libra

1.  The Bow (also called the Handle) – Your goal or journey

Pandora – Hope

This card sums up a number of current and past influences and energies that have been swimming about since I first started looking at my career and trying to focus on professional advancement.

It’s like at the time (now getting on for almost 2 years) I opened Pandora’s Box and unleashed all manner of nasties which have obscured my view and got in my way.

Many time I have been angered and frustrated by things not working out in my favour, but this card signals that that is because I am either not ready or their is a better way/something better.

It gives renewed hope in the face of confusion, frustration and despair. I cannot predict the way things are meant to occur. There’s plenty of new opportunities about but it is becoming clear that I cannot find them in the old ways/place. It might be time to seek out new paths, feelings, ideas and in turn take new risks.

2. The Neck (also called shank or stem) – The path to your goal:

Here it seems I have a new burst of energy with which to address matters and continue on the path to my goals. It’s going to take illumination and clarity to see the opportunities and make the right decisions and yet I cannot be too bogged down with the serious stuff – I have to play and life a little to succeed.

I need to gain perspective of what I truly want. Reflection and possibility. By celebrating life I can access a highly abundant and fruitfulness period.

This is all quite positive sounding which helps me to feel more confident. If I go back over what I want, where I’ve come from and what’s been going wrong with a clear and fresh perspective, I can pick out the best course of action to keep me on track.

3. Collar (also called throat): Qualities & Strengths

Eos – New Beginnings

This card signals for me to listen to my inner voice as well s be guided by the Universe. It’s full of promise of fresh starts, new plans and ideas – frontiers of inspiration!

Unexpected meetings, gifts or invitations may occur. It is the dawn of something new and good – be true and determined.

By being open to the world around me I will see/hear/feel the signs that will direct me. I don’t often give myself a lot of credit and am often told I sell myself short. This card is showing me that a new beginning is ahead and that I already have the qualities and strengths I need at my disposal.

4. The Blade: Skills, knowledge or guidance

Hera – Duty

I see this as a cautionary card. This highlights the nagging doubts within myself as to whether I’m actually on the right path; do I really want what I’ve set out to obtain?

Duty in this card is about duty to the self and one’s personal honour code (ie not for the sake of personal or financial status). It’s addressing the need to be honest with myself and upholding my own values and duty, without the need to satisfy others or conform.

The desire to advance professionally brings into conflict the desire to want to do it partly for personal development against the outcome that a better job and advancement would bring about (one would hope) recognition, responsibility and more money.

It beggars the question, am I really reaching for the right thing?

5. Teeth: When the Key turns, will the Door open?

Odysseus – the Journey

This is a highly positive and energetic card! It’s giving me the signs that I can do what I set out to achieve – but there are challenges.

Temptations, distractions, battles…no hero worth his/her salt would get very far if they balked at the first sign of trouble. That said, I do feel like I’ve been ‘fighting’ and on my journey for quite a while, I’m becoming weary and am uncertain if I’m expending my energies on the right things.

That said, this card is showing that if I retain my heroic nature and stay true to the journey and my heart’s desires that I will succeed.

6. Pin: Final Outcome

Chiron – Healing

This was an interesting last choice and it took me a little thinking before I could see the significance.

My journey to advance professionally has already helped me in some aspects of my emotional healing and personal development, leading to make me a stronger person – and this card hints at healing within the self.

It’s also a card that addresses life balance. Succeeding in my goals would give me a sense of greater self worth, the certain knowledge that I’ve achieved that which I set out to do and the balance would come into my life through my independence and ability to cope with more, day to day.

However, there’s also an aspect of decision in this; I have to make the decision to be that person and in doing so I can more readily inherit and access the inner gifts and wisdom of myself which can only go to help me further on my next journey to obtain the next goal.

All being said, I’m quite intrigued by the outcome of the spread. I know it was originally designed for use with Tarot, but I connect most readily with my Mythic Oracle deck and use it the most often for clear answers. However I will use it with a full Tarot at a later date to see it’s further effectiveness.

This reading has left me feeling quite positive about what I’m doing, where I’m heading and the outcomes. However, I still have to address that nagging doubt and be open and mindful for the signposts the Universe will be putting out there for me. It’s obvious I have to think a little outside the box, push some more boundaries, take a chance or two and stick to my guns without compromising on my personal values.

Stay tuned!

If anyone reading this has any additional info or insight they’d like to share do feel free to comment.

Full Moon Musings

This month’s Full Moon was as usual marked by the Covenant of Hekate’s Rite of the Full Moon. At first, I was a little unsure regarding my creative votive offering but over the course of the day leading up to the rite I started doodling and had a preliminary sketch for what I had dubbed “Hekate’s Key”.

I’m not sure if it’s merely a creative/artistic offering, a meditative aid, spiritual tool or future tattoo design! The Key contains lots of symbols from snakes, crescent moons, howling dogs and Hekate’s Wheel so I’m interested to see what it develops into.

During the Rite, I also consecrated the phylactery I made at the New Moon, which I have been wearing since. I also drew a card from the Rider-Waite Tarot in relation to Tara Sanchez’s chapter on using the major arcana in relation to Hekate’s many facets.

Rite of the Full Moon - Hail Hekate!

This time I drew The Sun which was very positive and gave me the clarification that Hekate is still strongly guiding me along and I will leave this card out on my shrine to meditate upon until the next full moon. I also drew a card from the Mythic Oracle for a general insight into the month ahead and selected Aphrodite-Beauty which linked nicely to my recent attempts this last week at improving my lifestyle to try and finally – successfully – loose weight using Neuro-Linguistic Programming. It serves as a reminder to ensure I’m doing it for the right reasons, correctly and – most importantly – for myself.

One thing of note, was that during the rite the myrrh resin that I usually burn didn’t want to know. It didn’t smoulder or smoke and the smell wasn’t very prominent.  Curiously, at least one other person I know experienced a similar occurrence.

I placed my offerings of an apple, pomegranate and garlic on the shrine and poured a libation of mead before closing up the rite.

In other news, I have been musing over a couple of Oracles I have received regarding my spiritual practice/advancement, working on a Hekate ritual to carry out at Samhain, looking at taking up yoga and still having my Flaming Thyrsos tattoo designed.

Deipnon & Noumenia

Last night marked the transitional phase between the end of the lunar month Boedromion and the beginning of Pyanepsion. At this time Hekate is honoured with a small feast; usually a meal of eggs, onions, garlic as well as traditionally household sweepings, ash and other ritual detritus from househould shrines which were burnt at crossroads in Ancient Greece, in little clay censers.

My phylactery, made as instructed in "The Temple of Hekate" by Tara Sanchez

Myself, I marked the occasion simply by spending some time with Hekate at her shrine. I offered incense and recited a prayer and then listened to Jade Sol Luna’s “Tales of the Witch Moon”. I usually try to keep it simple if the deipnon falls in the middle of the week as work gets in the way due to the odd hours I work; I make up for this on the occasions when I’m either off during a deipnon or it falls on Friday or the weekend.

During my time listening to Jade’s latest chants, I also made a start on creating the phylactery, an exercise laid out in Tara Sanchez’s book “The Temple of Hekate”, which I reviewed in a previous post. The phylactery, which is a simple braided thread/cord, is used to create a connection with the Goddess Hekate and to aid in protection. I bought some simple thread in white, black and red (the red was slightly “fancier” as it was made up of two types of thread itself) and proceeded to braid them together, as the exercise says that from the period between new and full moon, the phylactery should be worn about the person in order to imbue it with your own personal energies, before consecration at the full moon.

I’ve never braided before in my life – had to get a “how to” guide off the Internet – and it was painstakingly slow progress and it still didn’t turn out quite right. Perhaps some practice is in order, and if this phylactery fails to last between now and the full moon, I still have cord aplenty to make a new one, but I think it’s growing on me and the inconsistency of the braided just makes it more personable to me. I also made one for a friend which I will send to him to “scent” and then instruct him in the simple consecration ritual. I feel he could use some Hekatean energies in his life right now and although he has no connection with Hekate, she helps those in need – sometimes even when they haven’t out right asked for it.

Dionysos~Ecstacy from the Gods & Titans oracle deck by Stacey Demarco; illustrated by Jimmy Manton

For Noumenia, I ensured all my shrines were clean and tidy, placed fresh flowers to all the Gods on the main altar area. Various incenses were lit and I read aloud a number of prayers and hymns, always giving special thanks to either those Gods who have helped me in the last month and especially those who are more prominent in my life such as Hekate and Dionysos. Simple libations and food offerings are also made as well as the recreation of a fresh Kathiskos in honour of Zeus Ktesios.

Usually at Noumenia, I also will pick a card from my tarot deck as a focus and guide for the month ahead. I have thought lately on changing this slightly by each month drawing a card from a different tarot/oracle deck (as I do have quite a few). By doing this I can open myself up to not only the meaning of the card itself but the richness and variation of the different symbolism and imagery of the various decks in my (slowly expanding) collection. Some decks have a leaning towards Greek myth and imagery, others more traditional and still others which are original and somewhat radical in their appearance.

This Noumenia I decided to draw from the Gods & Titans deck (as the sister deck Goddesses & Sirens has just been released, it seemed fitting) and was very pleased to draw out Dionysos – Ecstacy! It helped reinforce my connection with Him which of late had felt tenuous and distant.

Prometheus Inbound

Ever since my investigation of the meaning and use behind the Flaming Thyrsos, the nods towards the Titan Prometheus have been growing. Not merely content with popping up in the divinations surrounding the symbol, I began to wonder if perhaps He was trying to get my attention for something else.

So, I went back to the cards – the Mythic Oracle to be precise, as this is both my favourite deck and one I feel very connected too (after all, I had the image of the Dionysos card tattooed on me). I tried out a 5-card spread that would shed light on a question/situation.

Once the cards were selected, I turned over the first card which was to represent the overall theme/situation. I laughed out loud when Prometheus was staring me right in the face! Interestingly, He was paired with 2 fellow Titans – Rhea and Kronos – along with Iris and Poseidon; giving a reading that pointed towards a balance and harmony, as well as natural cycles.

To follow this up, I wrote down 5 questions regarding Prometheus’ interest in me/desire to get my attention and a similar theme presented itself, including Themis/Natural Order. The overall gist though was that Prometheus wanted attention from me.

That afternoon, whilst musing on how best to act on this revelation I found myself staring at a shelf that housed a generic Greek male statuette. Before I knew it I was sitting at the table with an assortment of paints and brushes and set to work on transforming the “plain” figure. A matter of hours later and I sat with an image of Prometheus looking back at me.

I painted his hair black, with a greying beard; draped in a deep blue robe standing on a rock. I also added an incision to his abdomen as a distinguishing feature, to represent where the eagle would devour his liver each day. Later that day I also remembered I had been giving a rather chunky, silver chain by a friend. When I picked it up, I instantly thought of the shackles that held Prometheus to Mt. Caucasus. Experimenting, I couldn’t decide whether to have Him bound in the chain or to have them lying before him, symbolising his release at the hands of Herakles.

And so I have a sacred icon of Prometheus to make central on some sort of shrine. I think I will keep it relatively simple and just offer libations and incense as well as the fire of the candle, for we wouldn’t have the gift of fire if not for his actions and subsequent sacrifice on our behalf.

My personal customised Prometheus statuette, chain and card from the Mythic Oracle depicting the fire-stealing Titan.

My exploration into his original worship and looking for those who actively worship him today hasn’t turned up much. That said it leaves me relatively free to follow my instincts in relation to a Hellenic framework and what I do know about Prometheus.

Further musing has also made me realise that the nature of the deities closest to me are outsiders in some way or another.  Both Hekate and Dionysos are liminal; they move between realms, exist within and without. They deal with the things most of the other Gods don’t seem particularly comfortable with; they’re personable, passionate, requiring us to look at ourselves and gain greater understanding of that which is hidden and within as well as our darker aspects.

Prometheus is the rebel. Another outsider, he threw his lot in with us: mortal man – his own (by some accounts) creation. Everything he does, he does for us, a beneficent father. He gave us the food from the Gods’ mouths, laying the foundations for all future sacrifice and he gave us fire, which in its own right – even by our modern understanding – is a gift of the Gods itself. With it we were taught how to cook food, keep warm, protect ourselves, smelt metals and work other material; the fires of invention, of passion, of will.

It is also reflecting my own innate qualities. I am a fire sign (Aries) and my birth chart mentioned that alignments and such at the time of my birth created a triple amplification of my fire qualities, making me in affect a Promethean Child. Also, though I’m not alone in this, fire is my favourite element. It is mesmerising, cleansing, transformative amongst other things and should be venerated as well as respected for we all know the capabilities of this element if mistreated or misused.

I cannot say whether this new relationship will be a long-standing one, as I have experienced the fleeting natures of certain deities in the past; all of which I am grateful to for their gifts and blessings. However, I am interested to see where this new route of worship takes me. I already know that the Flaming Thyrsos is my tool to connect further with both Hekate and Dionysos and it is wreathed in Prometheus’ gift to mankind.

 “Trickster, rebel, theif of fire, master of information and friend of mankind.”

~’Prometheus’ by Carol Dougherty

What is the Flaming Thyrsos?

Welcome to the Flaming Thyrsos, my new blog. To begin, I thought I’d explain a little on the background and origins of the symbol and what I hope to achieve with this blog…

Since about mid-March, I have been envisioning the symbol of a flaming/burning thyrsos. For those who don’t know, the thyrsos is the pinecone-tipped, ivy-wreathed, fennel-stalked staff carried by Dionysos and his followers, the Maenads and Satyrs.

Dionysos has always been one of the big players diety-wise in my personal beliefs but I will admit to have let our relationship slide a little recently with my involvement with Hekate. Though in no way intentional I have found my thoughts and ritual focus becoming more Hekatean and as a result, a part of me began to worry and fret about my ongoing relationship with Dionysos.

So at first, the image of a thyrsos afire was a little disconcerting but in retrospect I realised that the fire was not consuming and was more focused around the pinecone tip, like a torch. The image continued to float around in my mind, day and night and I spent much time mulling it over and attempting to decipher the full meaning behind it.

When my thoughts started to go round in circles, I decided to glean some answers through divination. After some thought, I decided to pick a single card from four of my various Tarot/Oracle decks with the intention of each one gleaning some detail into the meaning behind what I was perceiving to be a powerful, spiritual symbol.

Firstly, I drew from the Mythic Tarot selecting the Hanged Man. From this I felt transition, sacrifice, spiritual transformation, what lies within, expansion of consciousness. Interestingly, the card depicted the Titan, Prometheus who gave fire to mankind in a stalk of fennel – the shaft of the thyrsos! I also felt that this was symbolic of the fire of the thyrsos itself.

Next I used the Mythic Oracle and drew the card of Rhea – Protection. This card gave the messages of what is right for ourselves, natural instinct/intuition, following inner rules, love/protection of what is truly sacred in our lives, duty to the self. Interestingly, the next card in sequence of this deck was also depicted by Prometheus – Sacrifice. Rhea is also an Earth goddess who in Phrygia became identified with Kybele, who is said to have purified Dionysos, and to have taught Him the mysteries. Interestingly, the Thracians conceived the chief divinity of the Samothracian and Lemnian mysteries as Rhea-Hekate.

The next card I drew, I took from the Olympos deck. Now generally I don’t have much luck with this deck as I find it quite complicated to interpret. Sure enough the card I drew – the Four Winds – was an outsider of sorts. An “indicator” card, it stands for movement, transition, adaptability, the onset of an active phase and mental activity. On reflection though this card did begin to link into the ongoing theme of my interpretation and also added the element of Air to the mix. Oh and the card previous in this deck? Prometheus again!

Beginning to see the meaning of the symbol developing, I drew the last card from one of my new decks: the Shaman’s Oracle. This is a beautiful deck, rich in ancient symbology. I hadn’t used it before, so was sure to give it a good shuffle and when it felt “right”, drew the card. The Spirit of Initiation card was all about open doors between realities, spirit guides, awareness, strength, enlightenment, inner wisdom, the path of transcendence, transformation. From both the meaning and symbology of the card it also brought the Elements of both Water and Aether.

I suddenly realised I had complete Elemental balance in these cards – pointing to the same balance in the flaming thyrsos itself! The components of the thyrsos also largely reflected this balance; ivy, pine, fennel and the fire. From this, my instant reaction was that this symbol was a spiritual tool of sorts.

For the next few days, I felt more attuned to what the Flaming Thyrsos meant to me but I realised I still wasn’t sure as to how to utilise this new tool. And so the nature of my musings shifted from what the Thyrsos meant, to what it was for.

And so I found myself looking for help with that answer and asked for a reading from a wonderful man named Sannion, who carries out Dionysian Oracles once a month. I have asked his aid on a few occasions in the past and always been blown away by the potent meaning in the simplest of responses from Dionysos through him. This time was no exception.

And so I asked the question: “What is there to be learned from the image of the Flaming Thyrsos I have been envisioning?” What Dionysos said in response through Sannion was mind-blowing and spine-tingling stuff. I have debated about posting the oracle here in full but I’m not 100% sure if that’s right. I have shared the Oracle with a few close people but let it just be said that I am now fully aware of the use of my new spiritual tool, I just need to start using it to bring about a balance in myself and in my devotion to both Dionysos and Hekate – and also the Promethean energies which have been increasing during my exploration of meaning behind the symbol.

Which brings me to this writing project; I have attempted blogging in the past but either set myself too many initial limitations, berated myself for not being active, or thought certain things not worth writing about.

The Flaming Thyrsos is my renewed attempt to reflect, find balance and explore my spirituality whilst sharing my insights, experiences and thoughts with those people who wish to know more. It will encompass all my relationships with various deities, the celebration of festivals and other acts of worship, poetry and other acts of creative devotion and whatever else I can think of or get up to.

Thank you for joining me on this journey!
Yours in the Gods,

~Kenn