Saturn, Part II.

In the first part of this entry I made the attempt to put my experiences of day one to three into words. Following the day of publishing Saturn, Part I, I received quite a few pretty positive feedback messages. So I guess my intention is slowly unfolding itself in a beautiful way and I’m thankful for that. As I promised, here is the second part of my Saturn days.

I keep my original ritual setting as described in the first entry without changing anything. After the usual steps and meditation I use the mantra again to open the veil. During chanting I see a huge androgynous head that takes up all the space in vision. It is glowing in every imaginable shade of blue. Eyes closed it looks light and massive at the same time. At the moment of opening the veil my perspective changes. I find myself in the middle of the head which is opening up together with the veil. I try to make it open its eyes but it is not about this tonight. 

During the communion I receive an image of a pub like environment. The only sources of light are a few fireplaces. Apparently I am sitting at a table made of dark wood, my companion sitting at the other side. He looks like the prototype of a bit senile man in his last season of his life, the one who always keeps telling the same stories nobody ever believed but is given a mug of beer and told something along the lines ‘Sure, old man’ and left alone. In fact he knows pretty much everything and is only playing the role assigned to him. We’re having a drink. I ask him to restore my musculoskeletal system. He laughs out loud and replies that’s only possible if I set boundaries. This resonates with me as something I really need to do so I part respectfully and close the space. 

On day five my intention is to comprehend – not only to understand mentally – what I have to learn from Saturn. During the communion part of the ritual I receive probably the most intense and powerful image of the last few days. From a rather big distance I see a white being hovering in the air above a dark city. It almost merges with the night sky with its enormous wings in shades of black, grey and dark green. He looks intimidating to be honest. Suddenly a sentence comes up. “He always is worse from a distance.” Within the blink of an eye I am lying in the embrace of these wings which seemed so terrifying before but are soft and warm and make me feel secure and loved. There is peace, comfort and trust.

The second image of that night is me in the middle of the universe with all its unbelievable wonders looking down onto a dark nebula that it spiralling clockwise upwards into my direction. A second sentence comes up. “Nothing vanishes.” I understand that everything that ever was and will be is returning into this nebula. My whole physical body is filled with energy and concentrating itself at my head almost as intensely as a touch. 

That night brings me a dream as a gift. I am wandering through a place that vaguely resembles to the so-called Flak towers. Those were constructed by Nazi Germany in several cities of Germany and Austria. They were used partly as defence against air raids and partly as air-raid shelters for civilians. A few of them are in use for different purposes nowadays. The one I know from the inside is not for claustrophobic persons as its thick walls and rather narrow passages might trigger uncomfortable experiences. 

The place feels claustrophobic to me for sure. There are everywhere things showcased in glass cabinets and a lot of people staring at them. I catch a glimpse and realise those are all objects that have been used through the history of mankind, starting with very basic tools from the Bronze Age until technologically advanced devices we now use daily. Finding my way through the crowd I recognise old friends and lovers. One is only interested in photographs. I want to have a chat with a former lover as I still have some mixed feelings towards him. We manage to talk in a corner but the situation is more than only a bit awkward as he’s acting as cynical as usual and we can’t clear up anything. 

I find myself in a remote chamber somewhere that is used for cleaning supplies but empty now. I break down and cry ‘I don’t want to sleep on the floor again’. The intensity of my feelings makes me almost wake up but right on time a man appears in the chamber and introduces himself as the janitor, the ‘keeper of the house’. He consoles me and urges me to clean up the place together with him. 

Suddenly I see a busy street with a lot of cars heading into both directions. A little white kitten wants to cross it and I’m forced to watch the scenery without being able to intervene. Although it is dangerous it miraculously finds its way through the tires of the cars and makes it to the other side without being harmed. I wake up still crying. 

As chaotic as it might sound the dream unfolds itself pretty logically to me as a reflection of past experiences in my life. The key sceneries are twofold though. First, the ‘keeper’ or ‘master’ of the house cleaning up and second, the kitten that survives. Both represent essential parts of myself from different perspectives and tell me that I can’t change the past but I can clean it out. 

The least intense ritual day is the last one as the only images that appear are those from the first five days but no new ones. What struck me as fascinating during the whole working were the ups and downs in the clarity and intensity of the images. Some came pretty easily, others took their time. The most beautiful and reassuring one was the experience on day five, the comprehension that death is terrifying from a distance and loving when it finally comes. 

Saturn, Part I.

As I promised I’d like to provide an account of my six days of my working with Saturn here in this blog. Please bear in mind that this is a very intuitive, highly personal working and the paths of each one of us differ in many aspects.

First a few words about the structure of my ritual. I have put together a planetary ritual consisting of pieces of classical ceremonial magick and combined them with my more intuitive daily practice which I have written a blog post about last year. I don’t dress my altar up too elaborately, it is only decorated with basics. My main focus is on the inner vision in these workings because my intuition calling me was the starting point of all.

After a basic clearing of the space I call upon the planetary energy of Saturn on that Saturday night maybe an hour before midnight. After that I go into a deep meditation and try to take in whatever comes to me from The Lord of Time. And he’s eager to present himself in an image that could be confused with an elemental of earth regarding density and structure if it wasn’t for its very different energy. He appears as a being made of lava rock, black but in a certain way that seems to eat up the light around it. Having a vaguely humanoid form it is literally made of sharp spikes of pitch black lava rock. He seems to welcome my visit and we ‘talk’ in images relating to loss and death. It doesn’t hurt or irritate though, it just feels like a very ‘normal’ conversation. I tell him I have learnt my lesson with my disc protrusion (as he also presides over issues with bones) and ask him to take back the dead (as I am pretty sure that my problems relate to the deaths of certain family members and my feelings about them). He seems to be a bit amused about my petition. Thanking for his time I part in vision and close my ritual space.

That night I have a dream about me being in the hospital – a liminal space that I can be considered as one with a Saturnian quality pretty easily. Apparently I have the Coronavirus but I don’t feel sick at all. Waiting for something to happen suddenly I look at my palms and find a red sigil written into them. They are the same on both sides, a sequence of parallel short red lines forming almost a full circle but open towards the thumbs. I wake up and look immediately at my palms which I can’t quite believe are clear of anything.

Over the next day everything I do feels loaded with weight. Every move or thought requires energy that it usually wouldn’t. I feel like personified lead. The ritual in the evening has the same structure but gives me totally different images during the part where meditation and communion occur. I see an image of myself as a Queen in the tradition of Saturn clothed in a dress made of some heavy dark green and black fabric like brocade or velvet, styled elaborately around my rather tiny frame. I look at my face which seems to be paler as usual and wonder how my expression could have gotten that hard. But the thing that catches my attention most is the crown. It seems to be made out of the same material as the representation of Saturn was the night before, the same pitch black lava rock with spikes shaped into a crown with little skulls around it and huge spikes pointing to the sky. Six black ribbons made of velvet are hanging down from the crown mingling with my hair. I am sitting on a throne made of thousands of years old grey stone which has been carved directly out of some rock. Watching the Queen with my face – who I suppose might be the inner representation of my Saturnian qualities – I feel distance and connection at the same time. After some time I leave and close the ritual space.

The third night I ask for something specific, for the discipline and strength of being able to transform scars and injuries into something beautiful. During the meditation and communion I receive two images. One is myself sitting at a desk, my heart open and a liquid pouring out of it directly into a pen I’m holding tightly in my hand. I’m writing words with that pen and that liquid. The second image is a lake. I seem to be under the surface waiting for something to happen without any issues of breathing. Suddenly a huge rock is thrown into the water out of nowhere, it is unforgiving, hard, immovable and turns into a being of the same quality. However, the water around it starts to form tiny currents and a second being emerges which is a watery one. They seem to encircle each other. I’m drawn into the watery being and feel how the rock gets shaped after some time. I close the ritual space after this image and fall into bed.

Visiting Planets.

Why are you doing magick at all? How do we get into this field of research, experimenting our ways in a maze between Heaven and Earth and Kingdoms of the Invisible? What is the Great Work in itself? The wisest answer of all to these questions might be known from the inscription of the Temple of Apollo of Delphi: gnōthi seauton. Know thyself.

But what is ‘self’ in this case at all? Some say it’s a kind of a Higher Self like in terms of True Will which is discovered by the help of one’s Holy Guardian Angel, some say it is a perfected kind of Self like in Freud’s ‘Über-Ich’. For me, self here refers here to something different, something that can’t be found outside of our body or outside of our mundane lives and desires, outside of us stripped bare of our emotive drives. If I’m only ‘myself’ without the love and desire I feel then I’m definitely not myself. So I’d like to refer to this idea of self as our deeper self, the one we reach only if we are willing to pay attention, to listen and to peel off layers of conditioning, tradition, family history, etc. This is partly achieved by doing the work of psychological deconstruction but also by doing magick if you’re willing to dive deep through a portal that is the self on the surface but that’s it: a shiny surface reflecting whatever we project onto it. How would it otherwise make sense that we experience ourselves differently in relation to different people and also experience them individually? We project a lot onto this surface and it gets back to us.

The first ingredient to my journey visiting the planets was a simple meditation, my daily practice, where I expected nothing exceptional. And here is what happened. It’s dark, one red candle is lit before me. I relaxed every part of my body (as much as possible, still working on that disk protrusion…) and finished a few breathing exercises. The room takes on a bit of distance in front of my closed eyes, like I could see it from farer away than I actually am. I start a ritual chanting with syllables coming by themselves as they need to (still don’t like my voice when singing but got used to it a while ago). When I feel open enough I look for what I want to achieve, an agenda. And not for the first time it is this: I want to re-integrate those parts that belong to me and are intrinsically tied to my magick. With this in my mind I use the IAO and the IEAOU formulas and a mantra to open up the Veil of Paroketh in front of my inner eyes in vision. Standing on the edge of the universe I utter my creational words into the void and see myself in vision how I look like when I have all my parts assembled together again. Usually I perform a breathing exercise when the image is clear and saturated with emotion to pull the picture into my physical body but this time something different happens.

I see myself on a light path surrounded by darkness, a tiny figure standing before an immensely high built portal that glows in multiple shades of off-white and dark red with greyish streaks. I am not exactly running towards the portal as it does look rather discouraging. But I walk on setting one foot in front of the other as I know I need to reach it anyway no matter how long it takes because there simply is no other available option. As I get closer I can recognize more details. The doors are huge and seem to be made of wood and stone with elaborate carvings depicting beings and landscapes that get unrecognizable at the very moment my eyes try to communicate their shapes to my brain. They just seem to dissolve and the name I had for them a split of a second before vanishes altogether with them. Suddenly the colours seem to part into two more contrasting areas. The right door sheds its greyish streaks and appears to be glowing white now while the left one takes on an otherworldly intense red. It is only now that I realize that the white one is open a bit and revealing light from the other side of whatever there might be.

I am standing directly in front of this wondrous portal and I’m so mesmerized by its details that I don’t really think about the other side until there is a resonance in my mind: ‘What are you looking for?’ I look up all the way of the front side of the magnificent thing and more feel than see that it is not a thing at all but a being. Half glowing white and half intensely red it wants an answer from me as it urges on: ‘Power? Knowledge?’ It is either my vision that starts to blur or the being’s ever changing detailed images on its surface that I had mistaken for cravings before that move in front of my eyes now. My answer comes more intuitively than from a place of rational thinking, ‘Myself.’ That is all it needs. The portal being opens up a bit more and I am invited to cross the threshold. Inside it is pitch black, I can’t even see my hands before my eyes. The only exception seems to be a single candle somewhere in the centre of the space shedding light in concentric circles, tiny but powerful enough. I try to grope my way along the walls of this strange place my fingers scratching the joints between the huge blocks carved of stone. Slowly finding, actually more feeling my way through the half lit darkness I get used to it. Suddenly I realize some kind of bench and I sit down and feel understood and welcome.

It is the very next night when the moon is full that I perform a sequence of rituals to get into a better touch with my intuition. Within the next 24 hours I am called to start a cycle of workings with the planets. It is not a nagging voice nor anything very obvious, it is on a different scale of perception. Comparable to the feeling when you’ve been preparing yourself for a long journey gathering information about the countries you’d cross, the landscapes you would spend your nights in, the tales and mythological beings connected to the land, the tools that might come in handy on your journey. You look at the map for the last time and you feel prepared and blank at the very same moment. There’s simply nothing left to do but to start.

Saturn, Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Moon and Sun, each one starting on its day and going on for six consecutive days so I’ll be finished on the longest day of the year, celebrating Sun at its highest point in the sky. I haven’t planned much of this, the idea came from that intuitive part and seems to tie in nicely with the astronomical factors.

Please note: My Saturn working is already done and will be the topic for Monday’s entry. In this blog I basically publish huge parts of my diary records in the hope that some will be encouraged to work on their own rituals and inspired by my experiments. One last word: Whatever you know, whatever you have read, studied, ideally it provides a solid foundation for the visual terminology so you can get a grasp of the information or ideas that want to be conveyed to you. However, this terminology is like a foreign language which is prone to mistranslations and misunderstandings because sometimes although there are (visual) words for something the concept itself is non-existent in one of the languages. So brace yourself with a diary and a pen because there’s a high probability that you’ll only be able to make sense of huge parts of the images and information you get in some time and this understanding might change from time to time again as its layers are peeled off just like the layers of the self in order to finally ‘know’.

Puzzles.

There’s certain kind of beauty to a puzzle for my eyes at least. Sometimes I just stare down at those thousand pieces, all of them supposed to fit perfectly to one another. Complementing each other softly, smoothly, without any effort if being put together the right way. It’s comforting to anticipate and to know that each and every one has its correct place and in the end there’ll be a scenery unveiling itself in front of me. That is to say if done correctly.

There’s also a certain kind of beauty to a broken heart. It’s a puzzle in reverse. Something that was once a whole living organ now consisting of a myriad little pieces which complemented each other softly, smoothly, without any effort. Every part had its correct place and although the whole thing might not always have been perfect it still was beating. True, some parts were rough and others edgy. But it had lived.

In the beginning it seemed to be perfect. Belonging to a child it nurtured its smooth, soft surface by the sound of laughter and breeze and ice cream and the sound of birthday parties in the backyard and bright Christmas trees in winter. Occasionally there were some bruises but they healed fast. Even that one time when the dog was run over by a car and not knowing what death meant the child kept waiting for it to return. During this period of time the heart seemed so joyfully in anticipation of what was to come, regardless what it was, it greeted it with trust and warmth. But this didn’t last forever, as it seldom does. Soon heavier bruises left marks not healing completely. And then one day something really big happened. After that incident the outer wounds healed with time but there remained a shadow in the child’s heart eating away parts of it making it believe it was wrong instead of realising what wrongfulness had been done to it. It felt like acid burning a deep scar right through the heart. Didn’t break it though. Just left a very deep rift which kind of hurt each time the child was touched deeply as an adult. However, this abyss had its advantages as well. From its blackness came compassion, intuition, the urge to help. But it also made her withdraw into an inner sanctum whenever she experienced profound pain because in her childhood being alone meant being safe.

Love can be something that breaks the heart for a while. The more we love the more we get hurt, that’s pretty easy. The difficult part is the mending process. What if the heart gets broken once or twice? It hurts but you gather the pieces together and put them back into their place or at least what you consider for them to be their place. Sometimes they won’t fit that perfectly anymore because you want to be healed soon and tend to put together the pieces in a hurry – as one is expected to. But putting together the pieces in a hurry also means that each and every breaking leaves crevices, sometimes narrow and sometimes wide. Luckily enough sometimes we encounter a healing emotion in the outer world and then it flows down a crack like honey and fills it up so it almost disappears completely and the only thing that remains is a faint memory of it. But most of the time this healing drug is difficult to be found – and to be honest should be provided by our inner worlds – or it takes a lot of energy and time to discover it and pour it down all the rifts that have been gaping open for years. But it is possible.

The problem arises when a heart gets broken and mended too many times. You don’t know how many times you’ve put it together anymore and therefore it looks like a deserted rugged mountain with rough cliffs and deep trenches. Maybe you used something that vaguely reminded you of a comforting memory of your childhood to hastily glue some parts of the heart puzzle together. At some other parts you had to forcefully scratch away bits and pieces because no way were you going to be able to remember how they had fit originally and at some point you (and your therapist) had lost your patience and just taken out the sledgehammer to make the fucking parts fit somehow. Then you poured something into the crevices that looked and sounded like self-respect and self-care but in reality was dictated by Instagram.

And then something happens. First it seems too good to be real. Trust grows gradually, you see that it still hasn’t disappeared and you find that the fractures have filled up more than just a bit with layers of true affection, hope and laughter echoing the days of the child when the heart’s surface was still smooth and unscarred. And something even more wondrous emerges out of this magical alchemical process. Narrowing your inner eyes you’re able to recognize images in some of those cliffs that seemed just cold and rugged before. Actually they start making sense as does the whole landscape. The edgy rocks and deep abysses suddenly transform themselves into a photographic negative and you see the light parts as dark and the dark parts as light. The striking realization is that the whole time this very landscape you thought of as damaged and broken was indeed hauntingly beautiful and open.

It lasts for a while. Then again something happens and this time it seems too bad to be real. And again you stand there looking down at the pieces that have been torn apart. This time it’s really pretty bad. The impact must have been intense as the pieces are smaller than usual, they are also deformed and have the emotional sticky glue dripping from their edges. That bluish thing was once trust. And that golden one looking like the sun had descended and kissed it softly was once laughter. And you sit on the ground surrounded by a myriad of tiny pieces that apparently don’t fit together anymore because of you violating yourself with the sledgehammer previously in order to be able to function again, to be able to proudly say ‘I’m over it’ when you weren’t or ‘I can take it’ when you couldn’t. It’s a characteristic of these times to ensure we function. Even if we don’t.

And what now? Sitting there exhausted, tired to the bone, with a broken heart and no idea how to put it together again. Feeling the urge to take everything and bury it in the black ground, give it back to the mother, the underworld, the darkness. Maybe you’ll get a new unscarred one in return. This is not how it works though. You look around and see those beings who trust and depend on you and despite the dust, the aftermath of the explosion that hit you so hard it tore your core out, despite the mess of blood and tissue around you – such a heart is a pretty bloody thing – despite the bruises, the feeling of acid running through your throat and stomach making you want to just lay down on the floor you start with the first piece. During that painstakingly slow process your mind remembers that hauntingly beautiful landscape in negative colors. You wish you wouldn’t because it is useless to even try putting the pieces together in such a way that they depict this very landscape you felt safe within. It is not possible. This time the outcome will be a different landscape. More rough. More edgy. Even more compassionate and more intuitive. But this time the cracks won’t be filled up with glue and the sledgehammer won’t take another turn. Maybe some parts might crumble away naturally but that will be okay. No forcefully trying to hold on to things that don’t belong here anymore. And also no forcefully trying to make parts fit that don’t out of fear of losing them. I know there will be another breaking. Another impact. And I’ll repeat the whole process. But the difference will be that obsolete parts won’t be made to fit anymore.

Does this mean the heart will degenerate with time? No, as deep compassion and love from within itself will keep it big enough until its last beat.

A Christmas Carol.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who read too many books. She loved sitting somewhere cosy and sheltered, a book in her lap, weaving together the meaning of strange words and images of even stranger worlds. She visited places in her mind others haven’t even heard of insisting she’d have too many fantasies of how things were and that she’d never be able to deal with reality. She laughed about them together with that dark brown thing beside her with its black beady eyes. It was furry and sometimes grumpy but most of the time it laid there curled up at her feet, listening to the stories she read in her mind. It heard each and every word she read silently and felt each and every emotion she felt. Whenever she was scared it licked her hand and although its breath smelled like dead things she liked it because she knew it cared about her a lot. Sometimes it disappeared for a while and came back with bruises and she nursed it back to health. Sometimes she sang for it and it laid its head in her lap and listened to her songs with its eyes half closed. She wasn’t a good singer but it still loved that she cared about it. She never gave it a name because she didn’t think that it was her place to do so. Things have their own names, no one is allowed to rename them, she thought. And so they she grew older and older and they inhabited a space between the worlds.

As time went by, things changed. Losses, loves, things in the real world demanded her attention and she forgot about the thing and that other world for a while. She forgot about the songs she used to sing to it, about the books she read with her heart, about the images she had been painting with her mind. She grew up and thought for a while that the real world was enough. The thing had grown quiet as it didn’t want to bother her with its loneliness. It kept waiting for her each day closing its eyes with her image in its mind and opening them again with her laughter in its heart. It still didn’t have a name and couldn’t care less about it. Only this feeling of void bothered it a bit, that slightly aching part of it that it didn’t understand but seemed to be tied quite closely to her image.

Christmas had been a bit of a challenge for some time and she was sitting at home, close by a fireplace with a book on her lap. Something she hadn’t done in a while. Some vague image came into her mind about a child that was cuddled up in a brown mass of fur that kept her warm and murmured some things back as she read a story to it within her mind. Something seemed to be very familiar about this image in her heart as she fell asleep to the cracking sound of the fire.

The dream came with a warning or the warning within a dream, she never knew the distinction afterwards. Something told her to paint the image she had been carrying with her for a while now, some strange letters in familiar colors, a language not spoken on earth for some time. She woke up shortly with a warm feeling of reassurance in her heart and fell asleep again feeling watched over. The next thing she knew that she was being told about the waves of sounds that would descend on her in short time. She should lay down flatly on the floor and try to breathe as it would be something penetrating into each and every cell of her body. She agreed because she was curious.

The first thing she saw was a being in colors and of a shape that her brain didn’t recognize from the real world. It was simply not designed to process the look of it as her physical body didn’t have a blueprint for its parts but at least she got a vague idea of its essence as it appeared before her not being solid but changing in strange colors and shapes she didn’t know yet. Other beings appeared and some of them remotely resembled animals but then again not. What she recognized instantly though was the thing that had been waiting for her for so long. She immediately acknowledged it as her companion although she also got the feeling that it had grown more wild since she had left it. It seemed to be a bit confused first as it saw her but eventually it recognized her as well. However, for the first time she saw its fangs which were those of a predator. Still brown fur everywhere, still those beady eyes but also something fierce in them that made her wonder whether it would tear her apart. It stopped in front of her and sniffed at her fingers. Cautiously it licked over her hand and finally she was able to touch its head. The fur was a bit felted and it seemed to have scars that hadn’t been able to heal yet but she knew it still felt the connection as did she.

They didn’t have a lot of time as the wave was about to come. For the first time in all those years she saw the thing tremble to the core. Hastily she pressed her body to the ground as she had been told before and the thing curled up itself at her feet. She felt it shivering and gazed at its jaws open wide with those fangs in it. For a second she thought it might tear her apart right there but then she felt wind coming up and quickly covered her ears.

What was about to follow wouldn’t be written in any book. A wave of sound washed away over her penetrating every layer of her body separately, almost disrupting the cells she was made of. She felt a burning sensation and heard a cacophony of voices/noises that made her tremble and almost fall apart. It was not the thing that would finally tear her apart she thought. It was like nothing she had ever been able to even imagine. Words failed, the noises, the shapes and lights became one fabric that covered her being inside and outside. And at the very moment she thought that she’d just stop existing something told her to focus for a second and she did. The wave stopped. The noises stopped. The pain of being torn apart stopped. The only thing that remained was a single tune. She listened to this single tune for a while enchantedly. Then she fell back into the fabric of the cacophony she had been in before. The thing was still curled up at her feet, its fur comforting her. The difference now was that she knew she wouldn’t be torn apart and that it was always her decision how much of this she would take.

She woke up in a daze but with the reassurance in her heart that had been gifted to her and the memory of the thing’s fur and tongue on her hand. From that day on none of them ever felt lonely again and she knew what work had to be done in the upcoming year.

Reignite.

These specific last days before the winter solstice bear a strange mix of stress and melancholy for me. They make me remember former years when my family was still together – in a very awkward, unhealthy, dysfunctional way though – and how much things have changed since then, mostly for the better. It’s a time where I tend to re-examine decisions of past years and although I keep in mind that it is not fair to reevaluate a decision with an increased amount of information I still experience questioning myself. And then I go back to remind myself how useful some of those decisions actually have been, even if I’d choose to call them mistakes now. So I rather have a glass of wine and stop thinking to much.

However, stepping back a bit and taking some time for oneself is something that feels pretty natural to a lot of us this time of the year. It is the time when our ancestors gathered around the fires of their homes and told stories that needed to be passed on. There was no crops to be harvested, no houses to be built, just a few animals to be hunted. So they sat around the warmest place of their homes and told stories, maybe did some woodcraft and worked at the spinning wheels. I remember myself being a child enjoying listening to stories like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass or the Grimm’s Fairy Tales on vinyl while sitting there drawing castles under the sea and mermaids with pointy teeth. In hindsight I feel like I entered a different state of mind which would be probably called ‘mindfulness’ or ‘flow’ in terms of these days. I knew all the stories by heart, but as it was always a different picture I was working on somehow the words took on different shapes or colors. The end results had very specific moods and names I gave them. Those hours were magickal in their own ways.

I also remember loving those dark hours in winter afternoons when I had to turn on the lights in the house to do my homework or read anything. It felt like entering a different area of the world where the normal rules were a tiny bit different and as Christmas approached the rules were bent even more until the whole tension culminated into the presence of a supernatural being that could not be seen or heard but was somehow nevertheless responsible for joy and laughter and for a short time everybody seemed to be merry. Light was something that I never missed back then. If you take away the lens of a child and the world gets a bit less magickal and more practical there might be this longing for a seemingly perfect world of darkness but merriment which wasn’t quite real but it was still beautiful enough for me.

It is a dark time of the year, one that might call upon us to withdraw a bit from the madness outside. Maybe even to sit down and make something with our hands, whether it’s artistic or not doesn’t matter at all. This inner voice might come from something that is buried deep within our collective memory quietly reminding us to rest and to ‘recreate’. To ‘create things anew’ with/within our minds, words and hands, to paint, to write, to sew, to tell, things that are ‘recreational’ in the modern sense of the word. Isn’t this a bit magickal as well? Like we are re-creating the world around us with these actions during this darkness to ensure that nature will awaken again. This is magickal (re)creation. No need to conquer the world now, just to make sure that its gears are still turning until the light comes back again. It is not a time to reach out but to reach within, to open up instead of drawing boundaries.

What does this mean to magick though? For me personally, it’s about going a few layers deeper into meditation, taking a bit more time for it and not being too demanding with progress in general. It feels good to leave things resting for a while so they can decompose or recharge themselves. Sometimes it helps to bury stuff for a while and leave them in the cold ground until spring comes again, it’s a good method to cleanse. During this ‘sleep’ one might discover that certain things are not needed anymore, then you can leave them there. Speaking of which, it doesn’t make sense to me to cling to relationships that are outdated, no matter whether it’s about a partner, family member or friend. Some of these strings that attach us to others might very well be buried.

Looking at the soil I stand upon as something that might seem hard at the surface but indeed is an organic system on its own with a kind of energy that I’m inclined to call a mind is quite comforting. This mind feels like something forgiving. ‘Bury it here, within me, I’ll take care of it, you don’t need to worry about it anymore, dear.’ This is what I hear when I’m in the woods in winter. It is in this specific voice which whispers hoarsely, coming from way below my feet but at the same time also around me, sounding like the crunch snow makes sometimes if you are lucky enough to be the first person to walk upon it. It’s cool, understanding and comforting, it knows about the cycles that are necessary to keep us alive. Maybe I’ll whisper back: ‘Thank you for taking so much, so I don’t need to carry it.’

A few days ago I found a dead deer that had been hit by a car. It was raw and open and must have been around for at least a day I guess. Its organs were partly scattered around it. I said a prayer and called the gamekeeper to take care of the poor creature. It was an experience that touched me deeper than I was prepared for. We all know pretty well that sometimes things have to die first to make space for others and we’re so fucking enlightened that we keep preaching how life is a continuation of phases that change and how we should take the best out of everything that happens. We keep meditating and doing magick and teaching ourselves how to accept our egos’ and also our bodies’ deaths at some point and how to deal with the deaths of those we love. But the truth is, no matter how long our paths have been, how much we think we’ve come, how many things we’ve experienced, it will be totally different from what we expect.

I’ll weave this darkness with the image of the deer’s blood on the forest soil, accompanied by that hoarse whisper from below into an image which will turn itself into a story about a winter solstice that was always meant to be a celebration of life, a re-creation of the worlds within and in-between, a fire that always burns no matter what happens.

Rauhnächte.

It’s getting cold outside. Living in the Alpine foothills means snow in winter and usually not only a small amount. Last year’s temperatures were down to 0,40 F/-18°C for several weeks so despite of having the luxury of a cosy home I get an idea how incredibly flexible and resourceful our ancestors must have been defying these winters with only the resources they had been gathering during the year.

Growing up in a different part of Austria than I live now I vaguely remember the Krampus of my childhood as being a black demon like creature but not even close to those beings that you encounter here during the nights beginning with December 20 which is also called the night of St. Thomas. The nights from St. Thomas until January 5 or 6 (in some parts of Austria only until January 1) are called the ‘Rauhnächte’, Innernächte’ or ‘Unternächte’ the latter two literally meaning ‘inner nights’ or ‘under nights’. During these nights folks still fumigate their houses, stables and everything else belonging to a household in rural parts of the country. By the way, it used to be a job for the local priest or the farmer in charge of the household until in the 16th century. Apart from fumigation there are quite a few traditional customs here closely tied to these nights. For example, in many parts of the country it was custom until the 19th century to elect a new municipal judge or mayor on this very day or the Sunday before St. Thomas Day. In former Bohemia people used to stay awake during this night and either spend it in the local pub or at the spinning wheel. In parts of Germany unmarried women used to stand naked on a stool, whisper a certain spell or prayer to St. Thomas and then go to bed in order to dream about their future husband.

The idea of twelve nights with a specific meaning is rooted in the use of a calendar based on 12 months in accordance with the moon which accounts for 6 months with 29 days and 6 months with 30 days making a total of 354 days. With a solar year consisting of 365 days the difference to the lunar year is exactly 11 days and 12 nights. This difference outside of the lunar calendar has been defined as ‘time in-between’, ‘outside of time’ or ‘dead time’.

In the middle of these nights, around December 31 the Wild Hunt hits the road. During these nights the underworld is said to be open and ghostly figures as well as the deceased have the chance to roam the earth again. Demons are allowed to wander around or ride along with the Wild Hunt. This idea is corresponding with the ‘Perchtenläufe’ where mostly male youngsters put on gruesome masks of devilish creatures and try to scare young girls while hitting them with rods in a kind of a strange fertility ritual.

As the veils between the worlds appear to be thin this time of the year is also considered an auspicious one for oracles and divination. At the same time it is thought of as dangerous and fasting and prayer are said to be necessary to ward off evil forces. In some communities the house had to be tidied up, no white laundry hung outside or inside – as otherwise it would be stolen by the Hunt and used as a shroud for its owner – and no clothes line around the house at all as the Wild Hunt might get caught in them. Women and children were not supposed to be outside after dark and card games were forbidden.

The animals being part of the livestock of a farm were said to be able to speak the human language in these nights and tell about the future but if you were present and listened to them you were supposed to die soon. They were also allowed to complain to a being of the house, a kind of familiar spirit, if they had been wronged by their owner who would then have to face punishment for his actions.

During those years living in a big city I never felt the tides of the year that intensely as I do in this rural part of the land now. Things shift if you don’t have that amount of light outside but only stars and the moon. Additionally, time starts to behave in a different way during this time of the year and although its still more stressful than it could be I also feel a steady dark stream of magick flowing through the land, coming down from the mountains, whispering and murmuring through the nights. It feels like many things loose their relevance and those hidden come into focus. Mundane activities like baking cookies are still part of my tradition but even those get a slightly different taste within my heart. Besides of lighting candles and inviting the forces that are the catalysts of change for the better, I’ll also visit some trees in the woods and have a chat with them in order to get an idea of what the land needs next year. Just a little reminder, it is not about the big things but the small ones offered constantly during the year, as it is the case with kindness, support and service in general. Open your doors if and as much as you can, there’s a lot more to gain than to lose in doing this.

I’ve never been the kind of ‘let’s say grace for everything’ type but I can honestly say I’m blessed by sharing my life with certain beings and having the opportunity to follow my heart. Having said that I promise to myself to focus on the energy that disrupts false pretense, hate, selfishness, injustice and builds a fundament for a community supporting each other emotionally, logistically and above all magickally.