She was nervous and arrived a little late. She had never been to an exclusively pagan gathering like this before. Of course she had attended pagan conferences and pagan festivals, but this was a private soirée held in the home of a woman who was but a new acquaintance. She had been surprised to receive an invitation at all.
“Darling, lovely to see you. Thank you for coming. Let me take your cloak,” said the hostess with the mostess… most of which was bulging over a medieval wench style corset that creaked at the seams from holding in so much bosom. Her chenille skirts glistened and crinkled in the candlelight. This was the first thing she noticed; no electric lights, just candles everywhere throwing mobile shadows while warming and softening faces so everyone looked at least a little beautiful, even if they were not.
She was given a glass of champagne, one of her favourite drinks but she really wished it was water. She loved the way the bubbles fizzed up her nose and gave her hiccupy burps, but looking around at this conglomeration of esoteric elites she was suddenly sure that none of them had ever, ever giggled over champagne burps and a tickly nose. This was a crowd of people she wished to remain sober around.
“Here, let me introduce you to some people. This is Edmund, he’s a druid, lives near Glastonbury.”
Edmund smiled though his eyes contained a tad of suspicion and distance. He wore a white robe and manfully juggled stang, drink and canapé.
“What are you?” he asked rather gruffly.
Before she could answer, Busty Corset said, “Seshat is a witch, dear.”
“Oh, I won’t ask what kind, just not interested in the politics. Stick to the land, the land will tell you everything you need to know.”
“Erm, thank you?” said Seshat with a questioning lilt as she wasn’t sure if she had been insulted or awarded the benefit of another’s wisdom.
Busty Corset took her elbow and propelled her to the far corner of the dark and flickering room.
“You must meet Cynthia, she communes with angels.”
“Oh Lordie”, thought Seshat, very ungraciously.
“Hello,” said Cynthia with a sweet smile that immediately made Seshat feel bad for pre-judging her. “I’m Cynthia. I see you surrounded by angels of light. You are so lucky. Would you like me to speak with them?”
“Erm, thank you?” said Seshat, again unsure whether this was a desirable thing or not. “I … if you like.”
“There is one beautiful angel with his hand resting on your head. He loves you, especially that one outfit you wear that has a split up the …”
“I’m sure Seshat doesn’t want to hear about that, dear. Let her commune with her own angels for tonight, okay?”
Cynthia, who had taken on a slightly predatory look and was licking her lips, looked disappointed.
“There’s someone over here you must meet. Michael, darling, this is Seshat. She talks to spirits too.”
“Do you see them?” asked Michael whose eyes darted from place to place like he was trying to keep track of fireflies.
“See who? Now you mean? Or in general? I…”
“Do you see, hear or feel them, or all three?”
“I, kind of, well, I don’t really like to talk about it much.”
A candle at Michael’s right shoulder exploded a bit of wax over his velvet jacket.
“Get away, I tell you. I won’t speak to you.” Michael started batting the air around him.
Seshat smiled, baring perhaps a little too much tooth and excused herself. She headed for the drinks table. Maybe she was going to need more than champagne to get through this evening.
She started chatting to a Hedge Witch at the buffet table. The woman seemed sane and normal, and soon they were discussing when was the best time to plant certain herbs. Suddenly, Seshat felt something large attach itself to her leg. She looked down and saw a man clinging to her leg like a koala to a Eucalyptus tree. He was moving up and down in a manner that looked suspiciously like …
Seshat turned to the Witch. “Who’s that? What’s he doing to my leg?”
“Oh, that’s Fred. He’s a sex magician, that’s just how they say hello.”
“Oh,” said Seshat, looking down. “Hello.”
The sex magician looked up at her and gave her a wink. “Alright?”
“Yes, um, fine. Please don’t ladder my tights.”
“I know Tantra, special techniques for avoiding that.”
Two minutes later he detached himself, winked again and walked off.
“What a, um, friendly man,” said Seshat as she saw him walk across the room only to attach himself to another person’s leg.
“Yes, awfully nice. Good in bed apparently. Has lots of practice so you’d bloody hope so, hey?!”
The Hedge Witch sniggered and Seshat smiled feeling entirely out of her depth.
A man with a fulsome beard sidled up to her. “Hi, I’m Phillip, I’m a lycanthrope.”
“Of course you are…” said Seshat
“I hear you’re a witch.”
“Just a witch. Nothing special. Nothing in particular. Not hereditary. Not entirely solitary, but not in a coven…” Seshat stared into her drink with embarrassment, she was good at saying what she was not but stumbled to say what she actually was. She felt that everyone at the party carried some kind of credentials even if it was just the recognised acceptance of the group that they were ‘such-and-such’. They had the certificates, the initiations, the handshakes (or leg-humps), the badges, T-shirts and car bumper stickers (“My other vehicle’s a broom” or “Satanists do it with horns on”). Phillip looked at her kindly.
“You don’t feel too comfortable here, do you?”
“Is it that obvious?”
“I felt totally on the fringe when I first started coming to these parties. You get used to everyone. They’re just very honestly what they are, you know? No hiding it behind a facade of administrator, personnel manager or social worker. They can just be themselves here. WE can just be ourselves.”
Seshat looked around. Everyone was in conversation … all with visible conversation partners except Michael who stood conversing with the shadows thrown by the curtain. There was colour, vibrancy and outright kooky weirdness. “Maybe this is where I belong,” wondered Seshat to herself.
“Fancy a walk?” asked the Lycanthrope. “There’s a beautiful full moon outside and a nice woodland just at the back of the house.”
“Erm, thank you?” said Seshat… She paused. A lycanthrope by moonlight in a forest… She downed her refilled glass of champagne in one and promptly burped at Phillip.
He grinned. “Good bubbles, huh?”
She smiled at him, suddenly sure of herself. “Great bubbles.”
Yes, she probably did belong just where she was.
This is purely a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living, dead or other is entirely coincidental :-p
I was visiting a friend in a coastal town. Finally I had time to relax and just take in the sea air. My friend is a non-pagan with an open mind to all of my ways. Her partner calls me a Wiccan and I don’t object; it is a conceptual handle on what I am, as anything beyond that starts to sound a little too Middle Earth for him.
It was a bright but cold day when we headed to the sea. We found a café along the pebbly beach and settled in to be chilled by the wind and warmed by coffee. I offered to buy the second round and headed to the small wooden hut that served as kitchen and counter. A man stood there already waiting for his double latte with chocolate sprinkles. He eyed me suspiciously, a look that became rather sharper when he noticed my unicursal star broach. He nodded at the broach and said, “Love is the law… ” Suddenly I felt like a German spy from the Quiller Memorandum, “No, zes are not ze braend of zigarettes dat I normally smoke …” I replied “Love under will” and then stood awkwardly looking at him, feeling like we should now do some kind of black ghetto secret handshake ending with us bumping shoulders.
He grinned and I wondered if I should have just feigned ignorance and said my broach was a pretty star and that it went with a super-duper outfit I had at home.
He asked me if I was from the area, I said no and studiously avoided saying exactly where I was from. No need to worry about intrusive questions, he was more interested in telling me about himself, ending with, “Don’t you think I look like Crowley?” You and all the other overweight bald Thelemites, I thought. “Oh, yes,” I said. “Definitely a resemblance.” I made regretful noises about how I must return to my friend who was starting to look in need of coffee-defrosting. I saw him gearing up to ask to swap contact details. On his in-breath I jumped in firmly and said, “SO nice to meet you. LOVELY talking to you. MUST go.” And I trotted back to my friend, coffees in hand. I prised her chilled fingers off the old cup and slotted in a new cup which started to send heat up through her arm, enough for her to bend her elbow and swig a few gulps.
“Who was that?” she asked.
“Oh, just another Aleister wannabe.”
She looked at me confused. I gave a big ‘never-mind’ smile and toasted her with the coffee.
“Is that how much I owe you? I thought it was your round …”
I leant across and gave her a big kiss on the cheek.
“I must teach you the Secret Handshake of Middle Earth at some point …”
©StarofSeshat 2009 This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to persons living, dead or other is purely coincidental.
In the Beginning there was Nothing; and the Nothing had a Voice and spoke my Name.
My Ren (name) came into being and dwelt with Nothing, until Nothing spat and breathed upon the void and I was not alone.
The water moved and a serpent arose. Typhon, the chaos demon, swam and split the waters.
Then I knew fear, and fear was my Sekhem (immortal power).
The waters shifted and there arose the primeval hill: my Khu (immortal light of the mind) flew from the darkness and was a Light resting upon the hill.
I was before Atum, but Atum knew me.
I was before Atum, and I proceed through him.
I hold the darkness in my mortal Ba (heart) and Typhon protects my mortality so that my Khu may fly freely over the waters and rest at will in the hands of Atum; there, my immortal parts shall merge: my Ren, my Sekhem, my Khu, and I shall become the first Sunrise.
“Come hither little Wiccaling…” he said in enticing tones.
“Who? Me?” said the little Wiccan, batting her eyelashes as if beating back a sandstorm.
“Hmm,” replied the magician, tossing his lank locks deftly over his shoulder.
She felt her little knees tremble.
“Oh,” she sighed.
“I haven’t seen you ’round here before. Are you new to the path?”
Her eyes widened at his acknowledgement that she HAD a path.
“Why yes, how did you know?”
“I know many things. It’s a gift. Fancy a shag? I mean, a coffee?”
Her mouth dried up in expectation and she managed but a mute nod.
Two witches stood and watched.
“He scents his prey, watch him swoop for the kill.”
“Shouldn’t we warn her?”
“And rob her of a learning experience? We’re not Christians dear.”
“The magician shall be known by his chat-up line…”
“Fancy being my virgin sacrifice?”
“Ah, the hopeful magician!” laughed the witch.
“Wanna do it with me in circle?”
“Oh, crass, very crass.”
“I have a big wand, come watch me use it?”
“Eewww. You know where he could stick his wand!”
“I can initiate you into great knowledge.”
“Yes, most likely the inside knowledge of an STD clinic!”
“Okay, so how about: be my priestess?”
“Shades of Valiente. Stamp me with a shelf-life and trade me in for a younger model when I’ve expired. No thank you.”
“So how should a pagan man approach a witch without the fear of having his scrotum turned into a spell pouch?”
“He should tell me things I don’t know. He shouldn’t underestimate my own knowledge. Don’t show me a symbol that you swear is mysterious, when actually it’s known to everyman and his dog. Show me the dark, guide my hand through the shadows, let me touch the unknown.”
“And the chat-up line to launch such a magical mystery tour?”
“Who knows? But part-time pervs like Magister Eros over there don’t even know the alphabet let alone the words.”
“You are a mare. Be prepared for spinsterhood, sister. A man of words AND magic?”
“C’est vrai. He will be nothing less than a god to me.”
“So mote it be.”
“And so it shall be.”
© starofseshat 2008
In Arthur Versluis’ The Philosophy of Magic he writes:
“There is one aspect of invocation that must be reiterated: the difference between expulsion of the demonic and invocation of the daimonic… the invocation of devic or celestial influences implies the expulsion of the lower, bestial or demonic creatures which ordinarily inhabit the mind of man – the demons of desire and hatred… Each time we manifest desire or aversion, we are bringing to life, signing a pact with, one of the demons of ego.
The reason the true magus – in the vernacular – ‘consorts with demons’ is to expulse those inner forms of ego. Every instant, every day that one lives without having expulsed those demons is a day lived in a tacit pact with them…For these reasons, the popular image of the magician as one who ‘consorts with demons’ is at once ironic … and accurate…”
This passage struck a chord with me, not least because it was a topic I was discussing with a friend not too long ago. He said that anything in your life which controls you instead of you controlling it, is demonic and calls for some kind of exorcism. That in itself resonated as I feel that I am undergoing an exorcism of my past at the moment which is freeing me physically and mentally. I know a couple of people who have confided in me that they are scared of their own alcohol intake that it is potentially problematic and yet they do nothing to change the situation – this could be classed (according to the above definition) as a form of demonic possession. Compulsive eating is demonic as the sufferer of this condition is most definitely under the control of the disorder, not the other way around. The uniting thread seems to be compulsion, a forcing of our will away from the middle path, often away from what we know is good for us: a compulsion to self-harm through excessive food, excessive alcohol, dangerous relationships or >insert your chosen ‘sin’ here<. Although I know that some people may get their knickers in a twist about me suggesting even indirectly that their ‘weaknesses’ are demonic and they are in need of an exorcism, I hope that they can overcome the knee-jerk response (which may indeed be the inner demon recoiling at being uncovered!) and consider the concept. I find the idea of almost personalizing the compulsions within very interesting. We can often recognise the compulsion, the end-product as it were, but not know the origins which is why we throw ourselves into therapy or compulsive repetition of our errors – so easily one demon can become legion within us if we don’t deal with the original intruder; after all, once demon number one has settled into the comfort of an entrenched ego, why wouldn’t he send out a general invite to his mates?
Yes, I am being flippant, but the concept still holds and it is helping me compartmentalise a mess of feelings inside me. So once the demon is identified, the question is, what to do? I think that is a personal decision, and I would not give a generalised answer to that when someone may take it as law and run with the idea right over a cliff (metaphorically speaking … although isn’t that what Jesus did with the devil whose name was ‘Legion’?). I am still pondering the nature of my demons, and bizarrely the thought of them doesn’t scare me. Colin Wilson wrote a fantastically interesting novel called The Mind Parasites – creatures that have colonised the minds of all men [sic] and who control the fate of mankind by remaining hidden in the depths of the unconscious. After reading that book you never look at the dark, quiet corners of your own mind in the same way again! But where as these parasites frightened me, the concept of the demonic doesn’t. I am keen to know them, because once known, once I have their name, I will be able to oust them from my being and I find that a very positive thought; just as once I admitted that my illness was psychosomatic, rather than clasping a sweaty hand to my forehead and curling up in victim mode at the wasted years and torments of my own mind (!) I felt hugely rejuvenated and empowered. Real chronic physical ailments are sometimes manageable but never curable. By admitting the potential psychosomatic origins of my illness, I have unleashed a flood of energy and uncovered some dark corners with the light optimism: if it is in my mind, then I can conquer it and be well. If the compulsions are demonic, I can know them and expel them. Of this I have no doubt.
The other aspect to this concept is that ego and habit energy is the resting place and breeding ground for such demonic energies. So logically, a two-pronged attack both on ‘knowing your demons’ and on breaking down ego and habit energy would be the most successful. I feel that the last month when I was riding on an artificial high (as genuine as it felt at the time, it was un-real), I was actually surfacing the wave of my ego. It felt good, it felt great, if felt compulsively, addictively wonderful – like too much chocolate, too much coffee, too much sex. And ultimately it was ‘too much’ of everything, it took me away from the middle path and I lost myself in ‘feeling’. I brought a lot back from the journey – there are things I learned – but it showed me once again how deceptive the path of ego can be. We think we are being true to ourselves, when actually we are living a fantasy.
So there are a few essentials for me that come from the concept of the demonic: as Dion Fortune indicates in her book Psychic Self-Defence, the greatest protection is being very grounded in this life, being grounded enough to give a belly laugh at a good film. I am finding my Kundalini yoga supremely grounding; it is what broke the cycle of flying high-higher-highest and brought me gently back to earth. I am now incorporating a minimum of two meditation sessions a day, where I can tune back into myself and check how far I have strayed off the Beauty Path. And this new moon I shall be beginning some ritual work to face my demons. I have Sobek to my left and Anubis to my right, and I am more than ready to stare into the mouth of Apophis. May Osiris bless me and my path. It’s time to know the demons, and really know my Self.
© starofseshat 2008
“Thanks, I’ll take these please.”
I place the book and crystal pyramid on the glass counter, and turn my head as a young man enters the shop. He stares intently at me with an openness I usually only see in the mentally impaired. Normally people steal a glance, lock eyes momentarily with a non-committal expression before looking away. He greets the assistant and looks at my purchases.
“A crystal pyramid. Awesome”.
Oh, I get it. He’s The-Man-Who-Walks-Up-To-You-In-The-Pub. The stranger, perhaps seeing something too open in my expression, seizes the opportunity to connect.
“I just got back from a mad Summer Solstice festival, yeah, down in Breinton. Course, Covent Garden is the business. That’s where you can get all the proper pagan clothes. You see I’m a pagan and I HAVE to celebrate the solstice.”
“Yeah, Celtic gods, An’allthat.”
Ah, An’allthat, that’s a new Celtic god to me, but I bow before his enthusiastic knowledge.
His assumptions prickle, and I can’t help but say, “We did our ritual this morning.” My goodness, am I really thumbing my metaphorical nose at him? Who is the youngster here?
At which point he starts groping inside his shirt and pulls out an ankh, nodding and grinning at my chest.
“Oh, yes.” I wear an ankh as well.
“Yeah, mine’s got a garnet in. My birthstone. So, yeah. This festival, it was so …”
Don’t tell me, awesome.
“I hadn’t heard of a pagan festival nearby.”
“Oh, yeah, an’ then we’ve got The Big Chill coming up.”
I think the organisers of The Big Chill would be surprised to hear they are a pagan festival. Suddenly I wonder if the Summer Solstice festival he attended wasn’t actually a music festival. And my suspicions are confirmed as he reels off more known music events, that are about as pagan as the Pope.
“So,” say I. “Will you be going to the Ludlow Esoteric Fair?”
“No Ludlow Esoteric Fair.”
“Is that at the castle.”
I explain where it will be, and mention the main aims of the conference. I mention Madeleine Montalban and The Regency Group.
“Oh, yeah,” he interrupts. “I went to the Conservationist Group thing in London. Thousands of people there. Well cool.”
I pause mid-breath and feel very old. Is this the generation gap that is yawning before my feet giving me vertigo?
He looks at me blankly. I start shoving my purchases into my bag. This conversation is going nowhere fast. He flips out a phone, and dials MD for Major Distraction, as I wave and smile at the assistant. He studiously avoids my gaze and pretends not to see me leave.
I walk away and wonder when it became so “awesome” to be pagan and so easy. Buy the clothes, go to the festivals, wear an ankh (that archetypal symbol of all things … Celtic?) and proudly tell whoever will listen, “Cos I’m pagan, yeah.”
© starofseshat 2008