The Dark Night of the Soul

The Dark Night of the Soul

Fra.: Apfelmann

“The Dark Night of the Soul” is the name given to that experience of spiritual desolation that all students of the Occult pass through at one time or another. It is sometimes characterized by feelings that your occult studies or practices are not taken you anywhere, that the initial success that one is sometimes granted after a few months of occult working, has suddenly dried up. There comes a desire to give up on everything, to abandon exercises and meditation, as nothing seems to be working. St.John of the Cross. a christian mystic, said of this experience, that it; “…puts the sensory spiritual appetites to sleep, deadens them, and deprives them of the ability to find pleasure in anything. It binds the imagination, and impedes it from doing any good discursive work. It makes the memory cease, the intellect become dark and unable to understand anything, and hence it causes the will to become arid and constrained, and all the faculties empty and useless. And over this hangs a dense and burdensome cloud, which afflicts the soul, and keeps it withdrawn from the good.”

Though the beginner may view the onset of such an experience with alarm (I know I did), the “Dark Night” is not something bad or destructive. In one sense it may be seen as a trial, a test by which the Gods examine our resolve to continue with occult work, and if you are not completely whole-hearted about your magical studies, it is during this period (at its beginning) that you will give up. The Dark Night of the Soul should be welcomed, once recognized for what it is (I have always received an innate “warning” just before the onset of such a period), as a person might welcome an operation that will secure health and well-being. St.John of the Cross embraced the soul`s Dark Night as a Divine Appointment, calling it a period of “sheer grace” and adding;

“O guiding Night,

O Night more lovely than Dawn,

O Night that has united the lover with his beloved

Transforming the Lover in her Beloved.”

When entering the Dark Night one is overcome by a sense of spiritual dryness and depression. The notion, in some quarters, that all such experiences should be avoided, for a peaceful existence, shows up the superficiality of so much of contemporary living. The Dark Night is a way of bringing the Soul to stillness, so that deep psychic transformation may take place. All distractions must be set aside, and it is no good attempting to fight or channel the bursts of raw energy that from time to time may course through your being. This inner compulsion to set everything aside results in the outer depression, when nothing seems to excite. The only thing to do is obey your inner voice and become still, waiting for the inner transformation, (which the “Dark Night” heralds), to take place. You may not be aware for a very long time of the results of that inner change, but when the desire to work comes again and the depression lifts, the Dark Night has (for a moment) passed. No one can help during this time, and in many cases there is hardly anyone to turn for advice. One must disregard the well-meaning advice of family and friends to “snap out of it” this is no ordinary depression, but a deep spiritual experience which only those who have passed through themselves (in other words to a magical retreat) but for many, as the routines of everyday life prohibits this, all you can do is cultivate an inner solitude, a stillness and silence of heart, and wait, (like a chrysalis waits for the inner changes that will result in a butterfly) for the Transformation to work itself out. There are many such “Dark Nights” that the occult seeker must pass through during the mysterious process of mitigation. They are all trials but experience teaches one to cope more efficiently. With fractalic greetings and laughter * Fra.: Apfelmann *

What is your Witch Potential?

What is your Witch Potential?

 

Reincarnation is a basic tenet of Witchcraft. Those of us fortunate enough to belong to the Craft believe that successive lives are enjoyed under the same zodiac sign. But unlike other ideologies Witchcraft imposes no demands for increasing excellence  – only that each life be lived to its fullest capabilities.

Most of us, despite centuries of indoctrination by the mechanized society, still have ties to the earth…some innate Witchcraft potential that can be developed.

Read the following questions and see how you react to them:

 

1. Have you always been intrigued by the occult?

 

2. Do you prefer night to day?

 

3. Does a storm stir in you an inexplicable sense of excitement?

 

4. Are you a sensualist?

 

5. Have you always felt different from most of those around you, set apart?

 

6. Do you instinctively respond to animals?

 

7. Are you comfortable alone?

 

8. Are you relatively indifferent to material possessions?

 

9. Have you had fleeting glimpses of former lives?

 

Should you find you can answer most of these questions in the affirmativeyour with potential is probably high and should be encouraged.

There is no church to join, no tribute to pay and no hierarchy to employ.

You, and you alone, must concentrate on the development of your own other-consciousness. Go to nature and observe. Attune your inner-mechanism to the quiet pace of the seasons and the procession of the constellations across the sky. Go alone, or with that person closest to you. Watch the moon rise, walk in the forests. Feel the earth, drink the water, breathe the air…then light the sacred candles and begin the life you were meant to live.

 

(* The Witches’ Almanac Spring 1995 – Spring 1996 pg. 94)

Lighten Up – How to Become A Witch in Nine Easy Lessons

In the 1980’s it was fashionable to be interested in the New Age. This is now   a dreadful faux pas within the alternative scene, and in order to be accepted   in the 1990’s metaphysical social set, one must have an interest in   Witchcraft or Paganism. Of course, you don’t have to actually belong to a   coven in order to be thought of as a Witch, you can bluff your way into being   accepted as a fully fledged Witch simply by knowing a few terms and dressing   accordingly. This brings us to…

Rule # 1: Image is Everything. After all, what’s the good of being a Witch if   nobody knows you are one? You must therefore wear black at all times. If   possible, stay out of the sun until you become really pale, as this makes the   effect even better. For women (and adventurous males) dark eyeliner and black   nail polish can enhance this look. Also wear crystals and cheap occult   paraphernalia at all times, and make sure that these are as gaudy and bizarre   as possible, as this can only help your image. Wearing a pentacle around your   neck is an absolutely necessary accessory – the bigger the better! Capes and   cloaks are optional around town – it depends on how much of a visual impact   you want to make, but either of these are also crucial apparel at any ritual   or gathering that you may attend.

Rule # 2: Name Dropping is Good. Every serious student of The Craft (and I’m   talking here about the term for Witchcraft, not macrame) knows the name   Gerald Gardner. This man revitalised Witchcraft in the mid 1900’s with his   book about the true history of The Old Religion (some have called this book   pure fiction, but only those picky few who like books to be based on facts).   Real Witches however, never let historical accuracy get in the way of their   spiritual path, so in conversations with other witches, quote his name as   often as possible (in tones of awe) and you will always be rewarded with   smiles of acceptance.

Rule # 3: Past Life Name Dropping is Even Better. Tell everyone about the   past life memories that have been surfacing since you began studying the   Black Arts. It is especially useful to remember a past lifetime as a Witch   who was killed during the Inquisition, or at least recall a lifetime as a   famous occultist. My past lives have included Aleister Crowley, Cagliostro,   Mandrake the Magician, and most of the cast of “Bewitched”.

Rule # 4: Behave Strangely. Never forget why it was that you wanted to become   a Witch – yes, so that you have an excuse for strange behaviour. Previously   labelled eccentric behaviour patterns can now be accepted by others if they   have a reason to explain it, even if that reason for howling at full moons   while naked is simply, “He/she is a Witch, that’s normal for them evidently.”   So, don’t let your friends down, behave strangely, you can get away with it   now.

Rule # 5: Watch Occult Movies. Make sure that you watch the movie “Warlock”   lots of times to perfect those soft landings after over-indulging with the   flying ointments (read as mead and weed).

Rule # 6: Ready Yourself for Sex, Money and Power. Wasn’t this the other   reason you were drawn to Witchcraft? In the past, adepts of the occult were   known to possess charismatic, lusty and powerful personas – when people find   out that you are a Witch, they may automatically assume (and therefore   empower you) with these same qualities. This may sound pretty good, but   unfortunately in today’s world, another group of people have become even more   established within the realms of kinky sex sessions and unlimited power –   yes, the politicians! Beware of this elitist group of power-brokers… they   don’t want any competition to their manipulative monopoly over the gullible   public – hence the laws against Witchcraft and divination that have remained   unchanged for centuries. So, if calling yourself a High Priest doesn’t lead   you to unlimited sex, money and power – or if it does, but you then find   yourself as the target of political and legal harassment – you may have to   put aside your cloak and broomstick and pick up a pin-stripe suit and a   back-bench in Parliament. If you can’t beat them, try bribery, then if that   doesn’t work… join them!

Rule # 7: Atmosphere is Essential. Your home must reflect your Witchy nature.   Incense must burn continuously. It’s important that visitors see clouds of   incense smoke billowing from a spluttering censer in the corner of your dim,   dank and dusty home, so dismantle the smoke detectors and start collecting   strange little bottles of exotic looking ingredients (use your imagination   and label them with names like powdered bat’s eyes, or dried dragon’s   gonads). And if you don’t like housework, you can explain that the layer of   dust that covers your floors and furniture helps to neutralise the highly   charged psychic energy that results from your magical spells, thereby   protecting your home and possessions from electromagnetic disintegration.

Rule # 8: Be Patronising to Christians. In social discussions don’t forget to   make plenty of derogatory remarks about fundamentalist Christians, but   remember to save your most biting comments for other Witches that you don’t   get along with.

Rule # 9: Brag About Your Psychic Powers. Any self-respecting Witch will tell   you that after their initiation to Witchcraft, their psychic powers awakened   and their tarot cards (which they always carry with them) are now much easier   to read (they now get something right once in a while). They will also tell   you that they can now sense energy fields (in other words, they don’t bump   into things as often as they used to). Follow this example and brag about the   rapid development of your psychic abilities since your initiation. If asked   about your initiation ceremony, simply state that you were sworn to secrecy   about it, then quickly change the subject by mentioning your newly awakened   ability to detect Ley-lines, but try to remember that a Ley-line is not a   queue for the after-ritual orgy!

Now you know how to pass yourself off as a real Witch, so place that   broomstick in a conspicuous corner (one that is not clouded by too much   incense smoke); pull on those black clothes; give everyone that you meet a   sinister look – and your social status will improve overnight. If you do all   of this successfully, you may even find yourself with enough adoring acolytes   so that you can start your own coven! Good luck and Blessed Be!

Woods: The Many Types & Their Uses

The ancient Celtic tree alphabet was used by the followers of the Old Religion to construct a language of the trees that could be used in conjunction with the occult symbolism of each of the trees.  When translated from the ancient tongue we find the following trees referenced often: Elm, Birch, Hazel, Oak, Aspen, Alder, Ivy, Yew, Rowan, Ash, Pine, Willow, Elder, and Spindle.  These trees, along with others, will be covered. From early times, there have been the sacred groves and the sacred tree.

Individual trees of particular species have been revered, the kind varying with the divine force represented.  Oak and Cedar are obvious examples of father emblems as Willow and Hazel are mother emblems.  The androgynous Pine and the world bearing Ash also have their place in our folklore.  The symbolism of the woods are very important in the construction of any magical tool.  A complete description of the various woods and their uses is impossible in a limited space but we will cover as much as possible.

 

OAK ) The oak tree is the tree of Zeus, Jupiter, Hercules, The Dagda (The Chief of the Elder Irish gods), Thor and all other Thunder Gods.  The royalty of the Oak needs no enlarging upon.  The Oak is the tree of endurance and triumph, and like the Ash, is said to count the lightings’ flash.  The Oak is a male wood which is ideal for the construction of any tool that needs the male influence such as Athames, certain wands and staffs.  The midsummer fire is always Oak and the need fire is always kindled in an Oak log.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Endurance, triumph, strength, power, dominion, prosperity, sacrifice, guardian, liberator.

BIRCH ) With the exception of the mysterious elder, the Birch is the earliest of the forest trees.  The Birch is used extensively in cleansing rituals.  Throughout Europe, Birch twigs are used to expel evil spirits.  Birch rods are also used in rustic rituals to drive out the spirits of the old year.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Controlled by the Lunar influences.  Birth, healing, Lunar workings, and protection.

HAZEL ) The Hazel is a tree of wisdom.  In England, all the knowledge of the arts and sciences were bound to the eating of Hazel nuts.  Until the seventeenth century, a forked Hazelstick was used to divine the guilt of persons in cases of murder and theft.  We have retained the practice of divining for water and buried treasure.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Wisdom, intelligence, inspiration, wrath.

ALDER ) The Alder is the tree of fire.  In the battle of the trees, the Alder fought in the very front line.  It is described as the very “battle witch” of all woods, the tree that is hottest in the fight.  from the alder, you can make three different dyes, red from its bark, green from its flowers, and brown from its twigs; this symbolizes the elements of fire, water and earth.  The Alder wood is the wood of the witches.  Whistles may be made of this wood to summon and control the four winds.  It is also the ideal wood for making the magical pipes and flutes.  To prepare the wood for use, beat the bark away with a willow stick while projecting your wishes into it.  The Alder is a token of resurrection.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Controlling the four winds, banishing and controlling elementals, resurrection.  Making magical dyes.

IVY / VINE ) The Ivy was sacred to Osiris as well as to Dionysus.  Vine and Ivy come next to each other at the turn of the year, and are jointly dicated to resurrection. Presumably, this is because they are the only two trees that grow spirally.  The Vine also symbolizes resurrection because its strength is preserved in the wine.
OCCULT ASPECTS: (VINE) Faerie work, Joy, Exhilaration, Wrath, Rebirth.

 

(IVY) Fidelity, Constancy, Love, Intoxication.

YEW ) The Yew is known as the death tree in all European countries.  Sacred to Hecate in Greece and Italy.  Yew wood makes excellent bows, as the Romans learned from the Greeks. This strengthened the belief that Yew was connected with death.  Its use in England is recalled in Macbeth where Hecate’s cauldron contained:”… Slips of Yew, slivered in the moon eclipse.”The Silver Fir of birth and the Yew of death are sisters. They stand next to each other in the circle of the year and their foliage is almost identical.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Destructive workings concerning death.  Not recommended for magical tools “…for I am the tomb to every hope.

ROWAN ) The Rowan is seen as the tree of life.  It is also known as Mountain Ash, Quickbeam, The Witch or Witch Wand. In the British Isles, Rowa is used as a protection against lightning and magical charms of all sorts.  In ancient Ireland, the Druids of opposing forces would kindle a fire of rowan and say an incantation over it to summon spirits to take part in the battle.  The Rowan is alsoused for many healing purposes.  The “Quickbeam” is the tree of quickening. Another use was in metal divining.  In Ireland, a Rowan stake was hammered through a corpse to immobilize the spirit.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Divination, healing, astral work, protection.

ASH ) The Ash is sacred to Poseidon and Woden.  The Ash is considered to be the father of trees.  The Ash is the tree of sea power, or of the power resident in water.  Special guardian spirits reside in the Ash; This makes it excellent for absorbing sickness. The spirally carved druidical wand was made of Ash for this purpose.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Seapower, karmic laws, magical potency, healing, protection from drowning.

PINE ) External symbol of life and immortality.  It is one of the few trees that are androgynous.  It was also worshiped by the ancients as a symbol of fire because of its resemblance to a spiral of flame.  It is regarded as a very soothing tree to be near.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Strength, life and immortality, rejuvenation

 

WILLOW ) The Willow was sacred to Hecate, Circe, Hera, and Persephone, all death aspects of the Triple Moon Goddess, and was often used by the Witches in Greece.  The moon owns it. Female symbol.  It is the tree that loves water most and is sacred to the Moon Goddess who is the giver of dew and moisture, generally.  The Willow is the tree of enchantment. Can be made into a tool to make wishes come true.
OCCULT PURPOSES: Moon magic, psychic energy, healing, inspiration, fertility

 

ELDER ) A waterside tree, the Elder has white flowers that bloom to their peak in midsummer (as is also true for the Rowan) thus making the Elder another aspect of the White Goddess.  The Elder is also said to be the crucifixion tree. The inner bark and the flowers have long been famous for their therapeutic qualities.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Witchcraft, banishment, magical art, waters of life.

HAWTHORN ) The Whitethorn or Hawthorn or May Witch takes its name from the May.  It is a generally unlucky tree and its name, translated from the Irish Brehon Laws, had the meaning “harm”.  The Goddess, under the name Cardea, cast spells with the Hawthorn. In many cultures, the month of the Hawthorn (May) is a month of bad luck for marriages.  The Hawthorn blossom, for many men, has the strong scent of female sexuality and was used by the Turks as an erotic symbol.  The monks of Glastonbury perpetuated it and sanctified it with an approving tale that the staff of Joseph and the Crown of thorns were made of Hawthorn.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Purification, enforced chastity, male potency, cleansing.

 

HOLLY ) Holly means “holy”. The identification of the pacific Christ with the Holly is poetically inept a it is the Oak king, not the Holly king that is crucified on a T shaped cross. The Holly has many uses form making a dye from its berries to being used as an aphrodisiac.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Holiness, consecration, material gain, physical revenge, beauty

 

WHITE POPULAR ) The tree of the Autumn Equinox and of old age, is the shifting leaved White Popular, or Aspen, The shield makers tree.  Heracles bound his head in triumph with popular after killing the giant Cacus (the evil one).  The Black popular was a funeral tree sacred to the Mother Earth. Plato makes a reference to the use of  Black popular and Silver Fir as an aid in divination.  The Silver Fir standing for hope assured and the Black Popular for loss of hope.  In ancient Ireland, the coffin makers measuring rod was made of Aspen, apparently to remind the dead that this was not the end.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Hope, rebirth, divinations.This concludes trees referenced to be in use in Europe. However, I thought there may be interest in a few local trees.

 

ALMOND ) Almond has a very sweet natural being.  Aids in self protection.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Fruitfulness, virginity

 

APPLE ) It is an old English custom to drink to the health of the Apple tree with a good glass of cider all in hopes of encouraging the tree to produce a good crop next year.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Fertility

 

COCONUT ) The Coconut is feminine and very fertile.  The shell represents the womb, and the milk, fertility.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Protection from negative psychic forces.

 

FIG ) The Fig is androgynous. The fruit representing the feminine and the triple lobed leaves suggest the masculine force.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Balance

 

MISTLETOE ) The mistletoe was sacred to the Druids and to the Norse. It was considered to be the great healer and has both male and female qualities.   It was so well regarded by the Norse (because it was sacred to Freya) that they refused to fight in the vicinity of Mistletoe.  The custom of hanging Mistletoe in the house to promote peace comes from this. Generally regarded today as a symbol of love and purity.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Love, fertility, sexual potency.

 

PALM ) Is regarded as particularly powerful because of its incredible durability and because it is self renewing, never changing its leaves.  Aids in rejuvenation.
OCCULT ASPECTS:  Resurrection, and the cycle and matrix of life

 

PEACH ) The Peach is an emblem of marriage.
OCCULT ASPECTS: Abundance, fruitfulness, happinessThis concludes this short treatise on the various woods, their types and uses.  This information was passed to me through various sources, and no claim is made as to its accuracy.

A Code Of Ethics for Teachers of the Wicca

A Code Of Ethics for Teachers of the Wicca

All initiations, previous experience and group affiliations to be made known to your students.

Before beginning training tell your student you don’t know everything about the subject, but are willing to refer them on to another person if you don’t have the personal expertise.

Tell your student of your personal beliefs, teaching what you know but also emphasising Paganism is about personal spirituality and that they must find their own truth.

Students should be of legal age (i.e. 18) or have parental permission. This does not exclude passing on basic information of religious beliefs to minors.

All theoretical information should be supported by ritual demonstration.

All lessons must be preprepared by reading up on the area to be teached about, decide how you’re going to present this information for the easiest understanding of the individual student and make notes to be given to the student.

There is to be a nominal fee for teaching to cover ritual supplies and fluctuates depending on the student. It is at the discretion of the teacher if they choose to loan books or give supplies from their personal collection.

All teachers must continue their own education also. It is impossible to know everything.

Do not proselytise. All students must seek out their teacher.

You do not take on more than 4 students at a time per mentor.

Students can be taught on an individual basis or in a teaching circle.

Students should be told if the training would not lead to initiation.

You respect the confidentiality of your own students first and foremost but also respect the confidentiality of group members, other Pagans and clients for whom you perform the Occult arts.

The only time that confidentiality is broken is if you feel that the person is a danger either to themselves or to others in a physical or mental way.

A teacher must never have a sexual relationship with their student. It destroys the power balance and has led to much disrepute in the communities both inside and outside the Pagan paths. If relations occur between the teacher and student, a new teacher must be found for that student.

Teaching is to be given on a mentor basis, the teacher adapting for each student.

A student can be rejected and all psychic links can be broken if they use the magickal arts outside the restraints of the magickal law of “harm none”.

A list of the code of teaching ethics is given to the student to show your position on various issues. This is to be kept and training can be broken by either parties, but a reason should be given out of courtesy.

Note: Many teachers ask the students to draw up a corresponding Students code of ethics to show commitment.

A good teacher:

  • Teaches spiritual as well as magickal aspects of Paganism
  • Encourages healing magick
  • Has a well-balanced life. If they can’t have a balanced life they can hardly teach a balanced method of magick.
  • Is willing to teach differently for each student.
  • Encourages practice as well as theoretical teachings
  • Welcomes questions and is willing to admit when they don’t know
  • Networks with other Pagans and groups, being able to refer you on when they are not proficient in the area of Paganism you are seeking to explore.

The Elements

The Elements
Philippus Aureolus Paracelus, a Swiss physician, chemist, and philosopher (1490 – 1541) is credited with the Doctrine of the Four Elements, from which early nineteenth-century occult practitioners drew the belief that an element (earth, air, fire and water) is not only physical but also contain a spiritual essence. Granted, ancient cultures around the world long before Paracelsus’ time believed in this same principle: however, the condemnation of the Christian church did its best to eradicate this belief for over a thousand years. Pliny (Rome, first century A.D.) Pythogoras (Greek, 582 – 500 B.C.), Aristotle (382 – 322 B.C.) and Manilius (there is debate whether he lived to the first or ninth century A.D.) were all saying basically the same thing. To have Paracelsus renew the idea and pass it around didn’t make him especially popular, therefore in the occult world he gets give gold stars.
Paracelsus defied physicians of his time by insisting that diseases were caused by agents that were external to the body and that they could be cured by using chemistry. Many of his remedies were based on the belief that “like cures like.” He could be called the father of homeopathy, which has become popular in alternative medical circles (which include practitioners of Witchcraft). Homeopathy stems from the idea that one should treat the underlying problem, rather than just try to cure the symptom by using natural ingredients, such as herbs. He was pooh-poohed by his peers because he included magick in his scholarly writings. Witches also believe that we need to treat the problem rather than concerning solely on the symptoms, but what does this have to do with the primary elements?

 

Almost everything in the Craft, from the tools we use to the herbs we employ to the sigils we design, zodiac associations and planetary alignments we follow; fire into the ancient and medieval elemental category of the primary elements. Manilius put it this way:
 
“And first the heaven, earth and liquid plain, the moon’s bright globe and stars titanian (bright white). A spirit fed within, spread through the whole and with the huge heap mixed infused a soul; hence man and beast and bird derive their strain and monsters floating in the marbled main; these seeds have fiery, vigor, and a birth, of heavenly race, but clogg’d with heavy earth.”
 
So, about 2,000 years ago, the Roman Manilius was trying to tell people that everything–animals, humans, stars, seas and earth–consisted of living energy. I realize that philosophy might not interest you, but then I’m sure there are those among you who will be delighted to discover that even though these old geezers are long gone, their ideas of magick, science and philosophy continue on, right into the lap of modern Witchcraft.
 
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word element has a mysterious origin and is first found in Greek texts meaning “complex whole” or “a single unit made up of many parts.” From the ancient up to medieval times there were only four elements (earth, air, fire and water) and if you were occult-oriented the fifth was Spirit. Cornelius Agrippa called spirit the “quintessence.”
 
Today, although scientists list more than 100 chemical elements (with some being manmade), magickal people continue to rely on the five basic building blocks of medieval occultism—earth, air, fire, water and Spirit—using some of the additional elements of the modern age to support the original five, depending on the spell or ritual. For example, silver (an element/metal) is used in various spells, and is a symbol of the divine Goddess, feminine mysteries, and is associated with moon magick, dreaming and psychism. Gold, another element, stands for the God, male mysteries, success prosperity, general well-being and all magicks associated with the sun.