Sunday, June 14, 2015

Urban Grimoire: an ancient Egyptian incantation for reversing situations

I have recently made the reacquaintance of The Chatto Book of Dissent, which has this wonderful passage, headed Admonitions of a Prophet, unfortunately with no further source information than that it is from ancient Egypt. It would make a good incantation for changing or reversing situations. And magic really is the same the world over: it is prophetic but is couched in the past tense, so that what is being spoken of here has already taken place. 
Behold. A thing has been done, which has never happened before. It has now come to this, that the King has been taken away by Poor Men.
Behold. The land is full of confederates. The Wretched now rob the Mighty of their goods.
Behold. Ladies lie on cushions and magistrates in the storehouse. He that had no wall on which to sleep now sleeps upon a bed.
Behold. The rich man sleeps thirsty. He that once begged him for dregs now possesses strong beer.
Behold. They that possessed clothes are now in rags. He that wove not for himself now possesses fine linen.
Behold. He that had no shade has shade now. They that had shade are now in the full blast of the storm.
Behold. He that had no knowledge of harp-playing now possesses a harp. He to whom never a man sang, now praises the goddess of music.
Behold. She that had no box now possesses a coffer. She that looked at her face in the water now possesses a mirror…
Michael Rosen and David Widgery (editors): The Chatto Book of Dissent. Chatto and Windus, London, 1991, p. 8.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What I expect from the universe

Hedges need work
I was somewhat mystified the other day, when overhearing a conversation in a shop about how a man upset an observant Moslem by telling him he didn't believe in any god at all, to wonder how I would answer the question, 'Do you believe in God?' Not conventionally, is how I usually answer. But in reality my answer should be something more along the lines of, I don't believe, I know! While I don't buy the usual approach which is called fundamentalism among witches, which is a very literal understanding of the foundation myth of Wicca, I am really very fundamentalist about other things. The reason for this is that I know for the magic to happen, what is happening in my mind has to be identical with reality as I understand it. For example, I know for a fact that the ancient gods and goddesses were and are powers in the world. They are amongst other powers, which would include myself. I probably don't understand them in a terribly traditional way, but as powers which become entities in measure to how we acknowledge them. I wouldn't want to imply that the divinities are only humans' creations, but that the powers they represent are everywhere in the world and take a form or egregore which is frequently culture-specific. They are amongst all sorts of other powers, some of which are visible, some of which are known to our culture. I don't call myself a pagan, mainly because the pagan community irritates me intensely and I wouldn't want to be associated with many of the sort of people who call themselves pagan, but I suppose I am really. Divinity is initiated or recognised whenever anyone acknowledges one of these powers in the universe. 
Not only do we acknowledge them, but we come into relationship, or covenant with these powers, and this is where I tend to become very fundamentalist. I will not negotiate on the things I am about to say, because if I begin to cast any doubt on them at all, I break the covenant with the powers. The help that one needs will always appear when one needs it. That is a major one. For example, in the past seven months of being between homes, it is remarkable how often the exact amount of money I needed to pay a bill has appeared out of nowhere. The most recent case is that the returned deposit from the flat I was renting has been exactly enough to pay the electrician for needed work on the flat I have bought.
This is the sign that the witch is in right relationship with her hedge. I'm established in a very witchy hedge, of both personal (I used to go cruising around here years ago) and historical significance: it is round the corner in Gooch Street that the city of Birmingham started when the tribe of Beorma set up camp on the banks of the river Rea. Another sign for me is that the homeless people are getting to know me. I asked a witch friend recently why homeless people always greet me, and she said that it was because they recognise something in me, which she defined as a detachment from worldly things. I wouldn't phrase it that way, myself, but surely if you are reduced to being literally dependent on the street, that is about as close to the kind of relationship with the hedge I am talking about. There is one homeless man who has started saying 'God bless you', when he walks past me, and another wishes me a good day. They recognise there is a witch among them, my relationship to the hedge, and know that they are greeting a priest and witch (even if they wouldn't use those terms.
'Come on, universe, look after your witch,' has been my 'prayer' over the past seven months, and the universe has come up with the goods. Of course obligations come with the privilege of demanding that the universe looks after you, and true to form I'm a shit magnet still. But ones power grows as it is used, and sure enough, my boss curse has come to fruition. The boss I cursed is on his last legs in the business (he did something that was really very short-sighted for an executive and has ended up with egg on his face). My manager is on her way out: my observation is the work sphere is that things usually get worse before they get better. My prediction there is that my manager has obviously been explaining her ineffectual posturing to her superiors as indicating that her staff are unmanageable. What will happen next is a new manager will come in who will see the real situation. But that is on its way.
And how do I know? It is inconceivable that it could be any other way. This isn't a Christmas present list, this is the interaction of the powers of the universe. And we just have to… expect.