When Divination Hands It To You

Every month this year, I have striven to do a tarot reading at the start of it, to peer ahead about three months and see what’s what, and what I might need to plan for or worry about. I did skip one on accident, but otherwise I have managed to keep consistent. The format of the reading is adapted from a divination I did at the start of the year, which was about what each month would hold. The cards representing each month were set aside, and three more cards pulled from a shuffled deck to elaborate and highlight things I might need to focus on.

Usually I keep these notes to myself, but this month’s reading (covering October, November, and December, rounding out the end of the year and reminding me that next month I will only be reading two months ahead) was unusually intense, energetically speaking. Cards elaborating on both October and November highlighted something I have been reading about increasingly in the past few years. The phenomenon is termed variously by Pagans as “The Otherworld Bleeding Through” or “Tower Time”, and is a combination of the general dramatic collapse of the American Empire and everything it “stands for” (those nebulous American/Traditional/Christian/Family Values), and an increase in the presence of Otherworldly beings of all stripes in the lives of us mere mortals.

Last year I was especially aware of the shift between a “solid” seeming “physical” world and a more “porous” one. I was not the only one; someone in a Discord server I am in also said they felt the world has become more “porous”. It began, for me, with a dog.

A couple of nights ago I had a rough nightmare involving a spirit I could not observe directly (the attempts shook fear into my soul the way only an immersive nightmare can) invading my home and needing to be forced out over a threshold of salt. I have details in my dream journal, but everything about the creature from its size to its nature to its obsession with the milk and eggs my dream self possessed (evidently), screamed, as I woke, “fairy”. I’m concerned it’s one of those rare warning dreams I sometimes receive; the last of those I had involved a figure in Egyptian cosmology that must routinely be fought against. It turned out that someone was going around in the community at that time asking about how to worship that specific entity, seemingly not understanding the fierce resistance they were met with on all sides.

Then, today, I did a reading (so that I do not forget for this month), and I found eight out of twelve cards screaming at me about spirits. October in particular stood out for having one card from each suit present. It became, to me, this grand something or other involving the Four Jacks to which Penczak introduced me. But one of the cards present also reminded me of the time I meditated on it, and found its environment forbidding, dangerous, even. I see it as a reminder that the spirit world is dangerous, that the fae are dangerous, and, as per the dream, I have no business getting in over my head with them.

November also showed something interesting: in one half, suggesting a short rest, but only that, from some problem I am facing in order to gain perspective. In the other half, I was reminded of a series of posts on this blog, about Gwyn ap Nudd (depicted in the Sacred Circle arcana card “The Underworld”, which is #14). He balances the world, and since humans have stepped out of line, he will balance it again. More details on the blog I linked. Nature is reasserting itself, spirits and Otherworldly beings are reasserting themselves, and there’s very little we can do about it. But, y’know, a good break to gain perspective never hurt anyone.

So I have been energetically drained by the experience, with the chief takeaway that the traditionally haunted time of year is about to be extra haunted. Mind the old rules, lock your doors.

“I call upon you as woman speaking to woman!”

This is something I noticed and reflected on last night.

The only surviving story of Andraste is in the account of Boudica. The quote above comes from Dio Cassius’s version (although I think there is one other floating about). The Romans had stolen Boudica’s portion of her husband’s inheritance to her and beat her and r*ped her daughters when she protested, and this is what motivated her to rebel against Rome.

After divining with a wild hare, Boudica is reported to have said:

I thank thee, Andraste,​ and call upon thee as woman speaking to woman; for I rule over no burden-bearing Egyptians as did Nitocris, nor over trafficking Assyrians as did Semiramis (for we have by now gained thus much learning from the Romans!), much less over the Romans themselves as did Messalina once and afterwards Agrippina and now Nero (who, though in name a man, is in fact a woman, as is proved by his singing, lyre-playing and beautification of his person); nay, those over whom I rule are Britons, men that know not how to till the soil or ply a trade, but are thoroughly versed in the art of war and hold all things in common, even children and wives, so that the latter possess the same valour as the men. As the queen, then, of such men and of such women, I supplicate and pray thee for victory, preservation of life, and liberty against men insolent, unjust, insatiable, impious, — if, indeed, we ought to term those people men who bathe in warm water, eat artificial dainties, drink unmixed wine, anoint themselves with myrrh, sleep on soft couches with boys for bedfellows, — boys past their prime at that, — and are slaves to a lyre-player and a poor one too. Wherefore may this Mistress Domitia-Nero reign no longer over me or over you men; let the wench sing and lord it over Romans, for they surely deserve to be the slaves of such a woman after having submitted to her so long. But for us, Mistress, be thou alone ever our leader.

Text of Roman History, Cassius Dio. https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/62*.html, emphasis mine

Typically in summaries of the events, quotations stop at “I supplicate and pray thee for victory, preservation of life, and liberty” as though the second half of Boudica’s speech did not exist. In fact, most of the derision of Rome as a nation of women is omitted. I have checked, and there is one book, Women and the Colonial Gaze, which seems to comment on the fact that Boudica is masculinized by Cassius, portions of which certainly show in her speech.

But, that isn’t the important part to me today.

The important part is, “I call upon thee as woman speaking to woman”, which in the context of her story, suggests something to me. It suggests that Andraste may have specifically been a goddess who protected and got vengeance for women, or was connected in another way to women’s affairs, such that Boudica felt safe calling on Her in this capacity. Of course, as with 99% of what I know about Andraste, this is UPG (unverified personal gnosis), and not even properly contemplated UPG at that.

But it is significant or at least interesting that this is the only surviving account of Andraste’s existence and worship.

American. Fucking. Gods.

Like all of the rest of the internet, I thought the first season of the show American Gods, based on Neil Gaiman’s novel, was fantastic! It even ended when Easter took the spring and that shit was fire! It was awesome!

Only recently did I go back and watch seasons 2 and (half of) 3 as of this writing. And… I’m less than impressed. I was star struck by the first season, and listening to the audiobook along the way, I was eager to meet characters in the show whose chapters I just listened to. I was having a good time.

I was not having a great time for season 2, but it was passable. Season 3 is falling apart before my very eyes and no amount of fisheye effects and oversaturated or undersaturated color palettes (depending on if we’re “Backstage” or not, basically in the otherworld or in the real world) can save a mess of a plot.

I’m not qualified to talk about the representation issues caused by white guys deciding Anansi “sends the wrong message” (or, for that matter, whether Anansi’s portrayal was accurate) and then moving on to a storyline about the Orishas that, as far as I’ve gotten as of this writing, is primarily about holding out hope that tomorrow will be better. Which is fine for Annie, but like the man himself said, “Angry gets shit done.”

But there’s something else here, too, and it’s baked into the premise, into the source material. OK there’s a couple somethings.

The Goddesses

There’s something strange I noticed about the goddesses Gaiman chose to write about (and then subsequently made it into the show). The two most prominent (in the show at least) are fertility/sex goddesses Easter and Bilquis, who are respectively the Girl Next Door and the Vamp. I give credit to the TV series for fleshing out Bilquis’s character where Gaiman originally did not, but a first impression like that is hard to shake.

There’s the scene where Bast has dream sex with Shadow and heals his wounds. There’s New Goddess Media offering Lucy Ricardo’s breasts for Shadow’s viewing pleasure.

And unless I’m missing anyone, that’s… it.

I mean if you’ve been following along and doing your own research you’ve probably worked out that goddesses in myth are many and varied, multifaceted beings. Aphrodite, stereotypical love goddess, has a warlike aspect and is thought to be connected to Ishtar and Inanna. (And her Roman counterpart Venus began as a harvest goddess and evolved into the Mother of Rome itself.)

(Noted mortal female character Laura Moon is fridged and then unfridged primarily to propel and assist with Shadow’s plot, although she gets development in the series, because adaptations can actually be great like that.)

The Theology

The basic premise, if you’ve been living under a rock, is that gods come into being because humans believe they exist, and are fed by prayers and sacrifices of time, energy, and even blood. Human sacrifice gives gods the most power, which is probably an excuse to have crazy death scenes of all sorts of varieties.

Now, I have no idea how the gods came into being, but I don’t necessarily believe my belief in them has caused them to be or sustained them in quite such cut and dried terms.

I’m not trying to say we shouldn’t strive for reciprocity with the gods, because I believe that we should. Prayers and offerings may be primarily for the benefit of the human practicing them; I know that my routine of prayer gives structure to my days and I can’t do without it.

But I also wonder how easily this whole thing could fall apart if humans just never happened to think up the concept of divinity. Sure, trees may have been the first to fill “the god-shaped hole in man’s head”, but what if they weren’t? What if that hole never existed? That’s really the load-bearing idea here, and while humans as we know them are religious creatures, I think based on the way I think about the gods, I would’ve executed this premise differently.

Additionally, I want to take a minute to bring up the antropocentrism of the premise. Gods exist because humans specifically believe that they do. Easter takes the spring to spite the New Gods and the humans, without thought for her other charges. I follow Beckett’s thinking in that gods are gods of other things besides humans. There are more forest and river deities than I can name, as well as gods with sacred animals (whom they probably also have to look after). I happen to hold that Andred is the goddess of hares and rabbits as well as victory in battle, and they are among Her other charges that She is worried about.

Conclusion

So yeah, that’s where I’m at with American Gods right now. I don’t know if I’ll finish season three or just go back to season one and wash the bitter taste from my mouth. Maybe finish the audiobook finally and call it a day with this franchise.

Ancestors

It’s very difficult being a pagan and an abuse victim, especially when ancestor veneration/worship comes up in the books you’re reading. The assumption is always the same: that you’re working from a decent enough background and just changed religions from your parents or other extended family. (One person I know of doesn’t make this assumption, but that isn’t enough.)

I just finished reading a passage in a book that discussed ancestors, including “difficult” ones, where the author concluded that because her father stayed in contact with his obviously abusive biological father, then she has no right to cut him out of her practice. Her justifications amounted to the aforementioned “my dad kept talking to him until he died”, as well as “he had his good moments/qualities as well” and “no ancestor is perfect.”

I have heard every single fucking one of these as an abuse victim, about my still-living parents.

“You can’t cut them off! They’re family!”

I will talk to or not talk to whomever I see fit. I don’t have to put up with gaslighting, emotional manipulation, the threat of violence, or actual violence because of blood ties. Besides, the author expressly stated that death did not change personality, so why would she trust this ancestor of hers given all she knows?

Besides all that, even if someone does choose to stand by their jackass family members, that’s more a sign of Stockholm Syndrome than anything else. You may see a dedicated family member but I see someone who is so abused and so blinded they can’t find the way out.

“They have their good qualities too!”/”You just have to look past the bad stuff.”

No. No I fucking don’t. All the times my father took me fishing do not erase his neglect and drunkenness. In fact, his neglect and drunkenness almost completely erase all the fishing trips to me, because the first thing I think of when I think of my father is “oh, the man who doesn’t really love me”. People who say this have no true understanding of abuse and trauma.

“Nobody’s perfect.”/”You just expect your parents to be perfect!”

I don’t fucking care about perfection. I care about making an effort. As YouTuber Aliakai said, “Respect is not an inward feeling but an outward expression.” If you aren’t making the outward expression, I have no obligation to feel anything toward you.

Perfection may or may not be possible, but if you aren’t striving to be a good parent, you cannot be angry with your family members for deciding you aren’t worth their time and effort. And if you think people owe their jackass family members something because “family!” and “blood ties!” and “Blood is thicker than water!”* you are a horrible person.

*The true phrase is “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”, and means the exact opposite of the way it’s been used in modern times.

Panera Bread

The franchise which owns Panera Bread (the chain of restaurants) is being sued by an employee over discrimination she faced after feeling pressured to reveal to her (Christian) supervisor that she was Pagan. The filing is here.

I no longer have a television, but when I lived with my parents and they did nothing but watch news in the morning and old movies the rest of the time, I sometimes caught ads for Panera Bread restaurants. They struck me, and looking back still strike me, as something for People Who Are Not Me. This is a phenomenon I’ve become attuned to lately thanks to the existence of WandaVision as a television show, but with regards to Panera Bread, I distinctly remember ads that focused on white middle class women, possibly career oriented, going out for their girl’s lunch or whatever, laughing because they had no problems.

Plus they marketed themselves as having the cleanest, freshest possible food, and knowing that a ton of plastic now exists in the food chain, I’m going to press X to doubt on that one. But the gimmick did get them to stand out from Olive Garden, despite OG having the superior breadsticks.

Basically, the target audience for Panera Bread was and is neoliberal “vegetarian/vegan” types who have money to throw around on food products that make them feel superior to the rest of us.

The exact opposite of people who turn to paganism, witchcraft, and The Old Ways. (Also the exact opposite of people who feel the need to riot, but I’ll leave that conversation for others, if they would like.) Witchcraft historically has been the recourse of the dispossessed (I’m sure I’m paraphrasing something from someone here). It still is. There was a trend back when President Fake Tan was in office to hex him every full moon. I never joined in, but many pagan critics were concerned that advertising the practice would allow Christian “prayer warrior” types to counteract their magic. After all, one of the sides of the pyramid is “to keep silent”. But I understand why others felt the need to do such a thing, since he was hell bent on running this country into the ground and I’m sure we’re all sleeping a lot easier now that he can no longer do so (except the aforementioned prayer warrior types who want their Gilead).

All of this is to say that I’m not exceptionally surprised that this happened at a Panera Bread, to such an egregious degree that it is now being filed for judicial proceedings. I don’t know if the company will settle, but I hope they don’t. Part of me is actually secretly very eager to watch this play out in court, in front of cameras, being billed as a “witch trial” by some media outlet or another. I think that would be a helluva thing.

But I won’t get my hopes up.

Disloyal – A Review

At one point, [Cohen] reached out to Putin’s press spokesman Dmitri Peskov, but couldn’t get through. It turns out that’s because he meant to email PR_peskova@prpress.gov[.ru] but actually emailed .gof instead, and .gof of course sends you right to the server of the new HBO series Game of Flounder, where powerful flounder families fight for control of the seven sandbars… Another, even more ridiculous case of Cohen bungling contact with Russians involved Dmitry Klokov, a former press secretary to Russia’s energy minister. Klokov’s ex-wife had contacted Ivanka, offering his assistance his assistance to the Trump campaign. So, that is someone with ties to the Russian government offering help to elect Trump. Ivanka forwarded that email to Cohen, who googled Dmitry Klokov and concluded that the person they must be talking about was a former Olympic weightlifter by that name.

John Oliver, “Mueller Report: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”, Apr 22, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMBj_tU7HRU (emphasis mine)

I had to bring this up, because it appears that in the entirety of the memoir Disloyal, by Michael Cohen himself, this error had yet to be even addressed. He devoted a lot of page space to Trump’s efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow and ultimately give a penthouse to Vladimir Putin as a way of greasing some wheels (and revealing that Trump admired Putin for being the de facto Tsar of Russia, which is not at all surprising in the aftermath of Jan 6, 2021). I am willing to chalk up “.gof” as a typo he had never noticed, but mixing up a pencil pushing press secretary for an Olympic weightlifter is a bit more far fetched and if you ask me, a lot fucking funnier. (John Oliver notes that Cohen appeared to be mixed up even during his interviews with Mueller for the report, but Cohen’s problems in the book concern his belief that Mueller misrepresented his statements in a footnote.)

Speaking of…

I was going to be truthful, but I also had good reason to be economical with the truth. Because here is the thing: I care for Donald Trump, even to this day, and I had and still have a lot of affection for him.

Cohen, Michael. Disloyal: A Memoir. 2020. pp. 333-4

While this is not the book he had wanted to write in the wake of Fire and Fury (and in conversation with it), and arguably had to change in the wake of his prison sentence and falling out with “the Boss” as he calls Trump, I don’t necessarily believe Cohen did a complete 180 and decided to tell all the dirty details (in fact it’s probably impossible, even for a four-hundred-page book, counting appendices).

(As an aside, if you are like me and do not give a single flying fuck about reality TV, it is on page 358 that you will learn Michael Sorrentino, “The Situation”, was in prison alongside Cohen. According to his wikipedia page, he was convicted of tax evasion. Like Cohen, oddly enough, although Cohen, and this is important, claims to have not done a single thing wrong and been railroaded by Southern District attorneys for the sake of a notch in their belts. Despite spending the entire book laying out the things he had done for Trump and claiming again and again that he was by no means an angel and that his actions were reprehensible, I as the reader was expected to believe this was the one thing that was not his doing. He claims he didn’t lie to his bank, that the “fraud” on his taxi medallions was because of someone else, that the IRS made a miscalculation. It is never his fault.)

Much of the book is about Cohen’s work for Trump as a “fixer” (his word) and what he describes as a slow descent into madness conforming to the Trump worldview. I have grown up with narcissists, those being my parents, and so I have a sense of this process, and I believe not even Cohen himself knows the true extent it had on his psyche. Of course, he was an adult throughout the entire proceedings, so he had that stable foundation (more or less, he did also grow up around and idolize mobsters, even though he was expected to be a good Jewish boy and go to law school). It is easy for people to fall into traps like this: just consider any cult or MLM in existence. Humans are not rational creatures.

But, his being an adult makes him culpable. Just as it made the Manson Family’s members culpable in their attempts to start a race war. He is responsible for his own actions.

He says repeatedly that he is not denying anything he’s written about in the book, from violently screaming at a man that he was fired (on Trump’s behalf) to shady underhanded dealings of all kinds to silence less-than-flattering stories about The Donald in the press (including the National Enquirer, though I don’t know a single soul who takes that seriously). However, this entire thing falls apart near the end. As stated above, he claims innocence of what he was indicted of (and ultimately pled to). I am unsure how true or untrue this is, given as he already mentioned (also above) that a previous version of this very book, then in conceptual stages, involved him being “economical with the truth”. He portrays his entire runaround with conviction, prison (which I noticed was not initially on the table, he’d been told), release, reimprisonment, parole, appeal, and so forth as a witch hunt directed at him personally.

I’ll be honest. It’s a post Jan. 6, 2021, world. We all know the lengths to which Trump supporters are willing to go based on what they believe he said (and, I suspect, The Donald knows this). Trump probably said a few nasty things on Twitter about Cohen, and these people in positions of power took it as license to give Cohen the runaround described. Cohen blames Trump personally because something something “mobster” tactics, but I’m not willing to ascribe to Trump any kind of 4D chess moves like this. I’d much more readily believe that tweets or vague references in speeches got filtered through so many parties that this kind of thing was inevitable. He doesn’t need to say “target this man”, because so many people think he’s the Second Coming of Christ that his words will get interpreted that way regardless.

Is it functionally the same? Well, yes, they both have the same end result. And because the book exists and I read it, and I found it exceptionally engaging learning the “inside secrets”, which despite not shocking me, were fascinating reading… We can all see any attempts to “silence” Mr. Cohen didn’t work.

Read the book. Come to your own conclusions. Here it is on Amazon.

Rabbit Rabbit 1-1-21

This one is important.

This is a celebration of the fact that I can write -21 on things instead of -20.

This is a celebration of the fact that the year from hell is finally over.

Sure, Republicans in Congress will make asses of themselves trying to overturn the election for their Glorious Overlord (according to insiders because they want to appeal to Trump’s base, although beats me as to why). But most of the country appears to have accepted the results (except our die-hard red-hat friends, who are planning to march on Washington or who have secluded further into disconnection from reality). The more I think about this the more I think those people are best left behind to fade into obscurity.

And yes, that includes a good 3/4 of my hometown. And I’m OK with that. I never fit in here, anyway.

I won’t kid myself. I’m not expecting for all things to immediately become fixed on Jan. 20th or any other date for that matter. Just as I don’t expect that same thing when it comes to the apocalypse (don’t deny it; “remake the world anew” and all that).

But there are two things I do feel: relief and hope.

See, hope is the last thing to go when things get bad. It’s like breathing, very hard to give up.

Santa Claus

So I stumbled into a huge collection of articles about “The Santa Lie” (i.e. parents telling their children that Santa Claus literally exists and is capable of a host of magical feats, and the realization or learning of the truth of the matter having a host of consequences such as eroding trust in their parents and possibly threatening their religious beliefs). Listen, there are a host of controversies about Christmas, especially this year (every jackass on Twitter is commenting about how “communist regulations” are “canceling family” or whatever). This is “tame” by comparison.

But I really think it’s a matter of worldview. I hold a view of the world that accommodates magical, spiritual beings. I wouldn’t be running this blog if I didn’t. In my brain, Santa can be literally real, but not a physical entity. (As to the point on how some kids who learn Santa isn’t real begin doubting God or gods, well, it’s the same sort of thing. I don’t take the gods to be physically real in the same sense as this laptop, for example.)

John Beckett talks a lot about materialism as a worldview and why he disagrees with it, and I think this is an instance of that. People tend to believe that because Santa Claus is not a physical reality with a literal workshop at the North Pole and elves (helpful or otherwise), then he simply flat out doesn’t exist. They believe this about God, as if there must be physical and indisputable proof of a divine entity for that entity to be taken as “real”. (I’m using the words “physical” and “real” a lot in this post, so apologies if they stop seeming like proper words by the end.) However, as anyone who has had a mystical experience and touched the numinous can tell you, this isn’t necessarily the case. Andred is real because I have experienced Her, many times. She has yet to make a physical appearance in the mortal plane, but is that really a necessary thing?

We know there’s no workshop at the North Pole these days. We’ve taken satellite photos, explored up there, there are probably scientific expeditions going on considering the looming threat of global warming and glacial melt.

To pull another example, we have yet to find any evidence of alien life, despite all the UFO sightings and allegations of cover up and secret bases and so on and so forth. A diligent researcher can probably explain almost all sightings, given enough time and resources. But that is different from spiritual beings (including gods), who have been defined for ages as belonging to an otherworld or otherwise separate place distinct from the human world (but anchored in it somehow). They are distinct and separate from humanity, even if they can or could once “walk amongst us”.

Aliens are not gods, despite what Ancient Aliens may have its viewers believe. (I could go on a huge tear about how that show tries to shove spirituality into a materialistic framework if I could be assed to watch it again.) Physically separate, yes, but in a different way. Aliens are always assumed to be physical entities, that we can touch and interact with.

And some people think Santa Claus or Jesus or Ra or Andred must be physical entities that people can touch and talk to face-to-face, or the people who claim to believe in them (at least the gods on this list) must be hallucinating, delusional, or lying. I would not (intentionally) lie about my experiences of Andred, when it was She who taught me Her name in the first place. So I’m of the opinion that there is a third option.

Perhaps, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He lives in the Otherworld, where time moves differently than it does here, and in general none of the usual rules apply. Do not forget your offerings on Christmas Eve.

(Although in my reading a point was brought up to nix the Naughty/Nice list dichotomy and instead teach kids that Santa loves us all regardless of behavior, and leave the coal at the door.)

Yuletide Vandalism and Misrule

The Gavlebocken, or Gavle Goat, has been erected in Gavle, Sweden, since 1966, and in its life, its incarnations have been destroyed or damaged 37 times. Some consider it fitting that the Goat has been burned down (the most common method of destruction, given as the thing is made of straw) each year, as a sort of ritual sacrifice of the Goat to the old gods. Those in this school of thought would consider it fascinating that the Goat survived 2019, and a superstitious sort might attribute the year 2020 to that fact.

People are being discouraged from publicly visiting the Goat because of the pandemic, so it is likely to survive 2020, as well, although some enterprising sort might burn the thing down out of spite, or through some form of divine inspiration.

That isn’t the only form of Yule-related vandalism, although these days vandalism and general mayhem are relegated to New Year’s Eve and Halloween, parties at the former and things like toilet-papering houses at the former (Oct. 30 is called Mischief Night for a reason). There is also a living tradition of the theft of little baby Jesuses from Nativity scenes on public and private property. (There is a related custom of lifting garden gnomes and taking them on trips, but that is not strictly Yule-related.)

This year I have been feeling the undercurrent of older, wilder Yuletide customs and beliefs and the thinning of the veil between the spirit world and the physical world, more so than in past years. Christmas is lights and trees and carols, yes, but also ancient spirits and spiritual phenomena (such as the Wild Hunt, which some customs hold as most active around this time of year). I’ve been hearing the call of the spirits this year, and I think there’s something to the odd bits of Yuletide vandalism. I’m not the only one to feel the subtler energies this time of year that Victorians and Christians and other sorts tried to bury.

The term “misrule” originally applied to a complete social reversal, as occurred at Saturnalia when slaves were served by their masters, men dressed as women and vice versa. The custom, as customs are wont to do, evolved over time to arguably include wassailing, the practice of going door to door, singing and performing in exchange for gifts, food, and drink. The thing is, some people are rowdy drunks. Threats of vandalism began to enter the picture (although I wonder whether or not they were always there, under the surface), especially with the rise of the middle class and nouveaux riche, and the practice “fell out of favor” (this is how it is commonly described). It was replaced with the more benign caroling, going door to door singing Christmas carols just to do so.

But this doesn’t stop people from getting rowdy. Some of those instincts get shunted off to other holidays, as mentioned. However, some of them get funneled into acts like burning down the Gavle Goat, or stealing your neighbor’s or the town’s baby Jesus for a lark.

Perhaps it all speaks to something older “than us or God” (to quote a favorite “not quite Christmas-y” song). Perhaps the energies of the season, the energies of the Otherworld, are moving through arsonists to enact ancient rites. I wouldn’t know, of course, but there might be something to it. Something has been moving about in the physical for quite some time as many writers have attested, and this year it hit me personally quite hard.

What else was I gonna think about in 2020?

Saying Hello

Mastering Witchcraft includes a ritual that amounts to summoning Vassago for purposes of “particularly complex” divination. There were token warnings about Vassago’s power, but I didn’t remember those until rereading the passage for this post. I do, however, remember (before rereading) that this was petty and thinking, “Doesn’t somebody just summon this guy just to say hello?”

I wasn’t the only one who thought this way. This post I found then, and after some work found again, describes the author’s own experience with the conjuration in Huson’s book. It reads like an episode of A Haunting, crazy demons terrorizing family members and all. I think we can safely assume his continuation with grimoiric methods is borne of the ignorance of the young who don’t know any better, but gradually, as we all do, he did learn better.

Grimoire rituals treat demons like the enemy, because they are rooted in a Christian framework.

If we aren’t Christian, why do we need to follow those rituals? And if they work in terms of manifesting but not in terms of results, then isn’t it time for a change of approach?

He thought so. And I did, too.

Now, I won’t say I’m the kind of lunatic to randomly strike up polite dinner conversation with a confirmed demon, but I’m definitely on that spectrum. I struck up a conversation with Jack Frost, possibly part-time Old Man Winter, and it’s worked out quite well for me so far. I also attempted to talk to Jesse James in the past. That was… less fortunate for me, and I’m grateful for the spirits who were with me at the time. But, on the whole, unless I am deliberately claimed (as if by a God), then I prefer to open with a ‘hello’.

Better than coercion, and I wonder how many others think about that.