depth and mutilation

The statue of the Madonna of Cirkewwa - By Pstraudo (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons - cropped and digitally altered

Yesterday I was chatting by text with my sister about astrology, and I mentioned that I  felt I had, for the first time, really accepted the water and the Capricorn in myself. I had only recently felt like I was getting a handle on Neptune in Pisces, its anti-glamour, archaic, timeless, liquid connectivity (a bit like a network of Cronenbergesque  imaginative flesh spectres, an ancient world of them, doing the transdimensional work our conscious minds try to substitute for). I can’t say too much about it, but now here I am, profoundly comfortable with the eerie and shadowed and uncanny.

This morning I had a dream in which I had lost my fingers, or at least quite a number of them, though the stumps were already perfectly healed. I wasn’t overly concerned in the dream, though I was a little anxious to not lose any more of them. On waking I immediately thought of the myth of Sedna*, the Inuit marine goddess who had her fingers severed, and went to the bottom of the sea, where her fingers became all the watery creatures the Inuit depended upon. I had little doubt that was the meaning for me. And here was the water again.

Earlier in the year me and my sister had been talking about water consciousness, in the sense that Richard Gardner spoke of it. One of the great dynamic forces driving the evolution of consciousness; magical, miraculous, otherworldly, connecting and enchanting. Richard thought it was only this consciousness that would save us from the scourges of our outwardly focussed world, and prevent what he predicted as a fiery  version of the mythical flood. This was long before anyone had heard of global warming.

Sedna as an astrological object is very slow moving. Pluto moves like a ping pong ball by comparison. Its orbital period is about 11,400 years¹, which is beyond the life span of civilizations, whereas the time it takes Uranus to circle the sky is about one human lifetime, by comparison. It’s difficult to cast such a transpersonal object in standard psychological terms, but that doesn’t of course mean that it doesn’t have a powerful meaning that we can run up against, just as we do with fixed stars. But unlike the fixed stars, Sedna does orbit the Sun. So however distant and alien, it is a sister to the Earth.

I think Sedna relates to water consciousness,  a dynamic and archaic consciousness that predates our species. Sedna’s story does in fact include all kinds of water element failings, at least in the form most usually referenced by astrologers. Narcissism, infantilism, gullibility, irrationality, self-victimization. Anyone with strong water will recognise some of these pitfalls. But she ends up at the bottom of the ocean, the most monstrous part of the unconscious (if you like), giving rise to all the life of the sea from her severed fingers. I maintain that Sedna is not a personal force, but then I have always maintained that neither is the imagination. It may be that feeling and imagination are far more than individually psychological. In fact this makes a great deal of sense to me, though it goes against our rationalistic, materialistic assessments of reality.

Sedna may relate to the depth of water, the element and its ancient history. She can only be understood by a dive into our own water world (not a pretty journey, for that part of us seeks the Sun usually), and the acceptance of its dank, cold, inhuman uncanniness. And also, its miraculous world of monsters and tragedy and preternaturally animated creatures.

When the shaman is combing Sedna’s hair he is maybe not just tending her, but creating an entire world in which she can live, while we live free of her more terrible pains and deprivations. While we come to accept both this world, and the ghastly power that we all float in like jelly, amniotic fluid, formaldehyde, filmy nebulae. He is like the storytellers who gave form and dignity to all our monsters. Making Frankenstein beautiful, at the bottom of the sea.

A world we share with everything that lives, whether imaginary or otherwise. Where deep greens and blues are barely stirred by sunlight’s descendants, and fields of leather and mucous sway, chill and peaceful as watery space.

¹ this is the time it takes to make one orbit of the Sun. I don’t know exactly how long it takes to go round the whole zodiac as seen from Earth, but it would be a bit longer.

* there are a number of different forms of the myth, though astrologers only seem to know one. The link provided gives a wider range, while this link from Historica Canada gives a variant with more background.


a morning of the magicians

I am starting to think there are three kinds of people, or rather three types of consciousness, and I’m really liking this idea. Of course you could see more than three, but I’m finding this scheme useful.

It fits quite a bit with Richard Gardner’s ideas about fire and water consciousness, two dynamic elements in the evolution of awareness.

What I am seeing is that there are people who are solar (or going through a solar phase), and people who are lunar. The lunar has a wildness and an expanse of feeling and imagination to it, and it is both more inclined to go with the flow and also get stuck in attachment to the biographical past. In has both vision and personal phobias. One of its shadows is a kind of unenlightened consensual consciousness. Xenophobia is an essentially lunar phenomenon, but so are the wonders of trance, imagination and enchantment. There is something miraculous about lunar consciousness, but it can settle into the ignorance of emotional prejudice if it is never disturbed or awakened properly.

Solar consciousness is brilliant, and has the idea of individuality and freedom, progress and “civilization”. It dries out and warms our awareness, and gives us standards, criteria to judge by, the spark that goes into changing how we do things. But it can develop its own dogma, not the emotional dogma of lunar herd mentality, but the dogma of inculcated righteousness, or a black and white moral universe, a day irreconcilably opposed to a night.

These two, solar and lunar, are associated with fire and water consciousness in Richard’s scheme, and in the world of mass patterns and mass assumptions, they are conventionally associated with men and women respectively.

I was very lunar in my younger days, and I am just starting to really enjoy that quality again. I had to also go through a solar phase. But Sun and Moon are not all there is in the world.

A third consciousness also arises. A consciousness that spans both, travels between both, and yet belongs to itself as well, once you recognize it. This consciousness I will call Mercurial, and it is the alchemical, magickal consciousness. Here is lightness that does not shrink from darkness, morning that rejoices in night, dry crispness that lingers at the lake’s edge, women and men who are woman and man enough to not be man or woman at all. Here is the court beyond the king and queen, and a smile that floats in the delicately scented air of twilight.

Good morning.

Mercurius, Groningen, by ZanderZ (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

dream life

Sticking to one world, and trying to change it from the same world, is an ever decreasing return of change. Not knowing that there are other worlds leads many to not make any real sense of their lives. It keeps the spell unbroken.

But we don’t have just one world, one kind of person. We have very different people, different natures and visions, but the dominant “spell” keeps that hidden, even feared.

Many people get marginalized, get used to “just not possible”, and quite a few go mad. Really, wastefully insane.

Not only do people suffer, but the world we collectively create is unbalanced and damages our environment and our fellow beings. If we have a role in the greater cosmos, then we fail that too. It’s a lose-lose situation, but it has got defined as a condition of “success”.

What I now remember more clearly than for a long time, is that there really are different worlds, not just different kinds of people trying to fit into one world. The dreamer, the poet, the lover, the troubadour, the maker of magic, they are sung to by a different song, and they see a different world with different “laws”, different ways, different dimensions. And these are not the only worlds.

I love people who dream, and dream inordinately, extravagantly, and drench the world in luminous expectations and possibilities, who know that in the heart anything is possible, and that that is the real necessity. I love these people and the pleasurable, exuberant courage and clarity they bring. And I love the geeks too, for knowing that what interests them is of immense importance, irrespective of  what the world might or might not think.

We seem to now have inherited a world where meaning is taboo and conformity is king (even in hipster clothing), corporate is the new Reich, and professionalism the trojan horse for a vandalizing of the soul. Education has gone from imperfect and lopsided idealism to a utilitarian preparation for labour. We don’t talk about caring for the disabled, we talk about getting them working (without asking about the nature of “work” in a word of drones and barons). We seek to regulate and discredit fortune tellers, but not arms dealers. We’re more scared of real life nakedness than we are of the melting ice caps. We charge someone for possession of human cat nip, but we reward bankers for possession (and loss) of ill gained fortunes. Money and goods have become our moral good. Success has become a matter of profit, fame, and playing by skewed rules.

Our human world has been driven by a fire which should lead to individuality, creativity and consciousness, but it has fallen under bad magic, an anti-magic of conformist use, exploitation, bullying, domination and callousness. It has become the madness that tries to lock up all that is not like it, and calls that madness, and itself the only sanity.

But the consciousness of  dreamers, and poets, and lovers is a magic broad, deep, fresh and wet. A fountain, a well, a lake, an ocean, a rain storm. It can wash away conformity, wash away credibility, wash away what you’ve been told.

There used to be this saying “the revolution will not be televised”. But revolution is not really nature’s way, and not the dreamers way either. Mutation, yes, just a little at a time at a tiny scale. Breakthroughs that are the result of long, invisible growth, yes. Change, yes. But overwhelmingly I’d say the flood gates open by an unfoldment, by inner truth, by peace, and thereby the sudden dispelling of illusions, to let people see with their own eyes, how much is not necessary, and how much is not to be feared, and how much there is to love.

People need to be aware that there are miraculous realities that they live amongst and as a part of. That is as important as food and air. That is the reality of life.

It takes courage to walk out on bad magic and choose to live by intuition, creativity and love, but every little counts. Every person, every dream, every space of peace, every moment of magic, every vision of a greater reality.

We think we’re small, and we are, but our world is immense. Like the tarot card associated with the element of water, “the hanged man”, reality is upside down to the world of false appearances. The real news is good.

Tune in, turn on, walk out. Then make the world you want in every pleasurable and peaceful way you can.

the twelfth tarot trump “The Hanged Man”, from the Jean Dodal tarot – associated with inner truth, and the element of water. Image in public domain.

beach combing for natural alchemy

I continue with my personal work of reclaiming lost voices that are meaningful to me, both for the joy it gives me, and also in the hope that these odd ball voices from an earlier era will not be lost.

It’s not always easy to explain to people nowadays what kind of a Witch and Pagan I am, like I can’t always give people the kind of definition they are looking for (plus it’s not the point), as our world has become so intellectually oriented, and full of classifications that need boxes, reference lists and qualifications. This isn’t all bad, but it didn’t used to be so; we were a broad and largely self qualified “church” of seekers once, and what we lacked in exactitude and hard headedness, we made up for in openness to inspiration and wonder. As intellect has shone brighter, the shades of the prison house have closed over imagination inevitably, and I would like to see that turn back, albeit with some wisdom and common sense gained.

As I indicated in my last post, I have found great value in the work of two mid 20th century authors in particular recently: Richard Gardner and Tammo de Jongh. The major thrust of their work related to understanding the elements of earth, water, fire and air, in a very direct and experiential fashion. For them this was a transmutational work, based in Nature, which could transform both individual lives and the world we live in.

Richard and Tammo taught that the elements could be seen as the source of different types of consciousness, ways of seeing and living. None of their books were “successful” pieces of writing in the conventional sense, they didn’t want them to be, because that would simply satisfy the “airy” part of our natures. Rather like Gurdjieff’s adage that to make knowledge your own you had to approach it simultaneously with intellect, feeling and instinct, Richard wanted his books to help goad and engage people into using more of themselves to apprehend the teaching he had pieced together and tried to distill into its  most basic and simple forms, so that people could live more fully. Both Richard and Tammo’s writings could be (or appear to be) enthralling, enchanting, embarrassing, inspiring, driven, endearing, brave, original, insightful or just plain nuts. I think their insight and vision couldn’t come out any other way, and the insights were very real.

One of the main contributions that I feel Tammo bequeathed us was a system which he called “Natural Psychology”*, in which the elements were understood in pairs (with one or the other preponderant, so there were thus two ways of combining each pair of elements). This gave twelve possible combinations: air and water, water and air, earth and fire, fire and earth, water and earth, earth and water etc. Each combination had associated natural phenomena such as mist and dew, volcanoes, lakes and seas, geysers and lightning, ice, hot air, sunlight, fertile soil etc, as well as colours, psychological qualities, and one of 12 archetypal figures such as “The Enchantress”, “The Joker”, “The Child”, “The Warrior” and so on. Richard further developed scripts for each archetype which a group could use to try and “tune in” to each, and so experience its energy. I took part in a 6 week workshop which Richard Gardner and Magenta Wise held in the mid eighties, using these scripts, and they work in ways which are surprising and have a “life of their own”.

The forms and names of these archetypes are not set in stone, but the essences of them, based in natural energies, are a creative and powerful way of experiencing the elements and their effects upon consciousness. Many Pagans work with the elements, but working with these nuanced pairs of elements seems more accessible to many people, and the archetypes give them anthropomorphic references to relate to. So we learn about the nature of the element of water for instance from experiencing water with fire, water with air, and water with earth, in a way which again is more  nuanced, and with more of ourselves involved in the process.

Richard was very concerned with the place of fire and water in our lives, the two elements which he considered to be dynamic, while earth and air he considered to be more moved by either of the dynamic elements. While fire was responsible for our drive, our “push”, our capacity for action and skill and individuality as usually understood, Richard considered water consciousness to be nothing short of miraculous, and something that we were desperately in need of. Water consciousness was the world of magic and poetry, romance, feeling and soul. He linked it (not so surprisingly) to the Moon, while fire consciousness was linked to the Sun (though he said there were two sorts of fire energy: the yellow connected with the Sun, and the red connected to the fire within the Earth). But Richard wanted people to be better able to utilize all the elements, and so truly become magicians. His ideal was characterized by the union of fire and water though, leading to “superconsciousness”, which he believed was especially realized through the magical lovemaking of compatible individuals. He associated this with The Fool card of the tarot, which he also considered to be a representation of androgenous divinity.

Richard would also come out with things which were just very simple and profound, like his statement that the biggest block to our evolution of consciousness is our tendency to judge, or that good will was one of the greatest accelerators of this process, one capable of completely transforming our unconscious need to shed blood, into peaceful and blissful ways of transforming energy. When he  said that, I understood he was saying something real. I think in a sense he was also a very eccentric kind of esoteric Christian, though I doubt that any Church would welcome his open minded valuation of sex, psychedelics and unconventionality, and I don’t think he felt the need of any label.

Tammo saw the elements and their relationships as underlying our way of life, form of society, politics, relationship with the natural world, art, culture, sexuality, relationship and spirituality. He was an artist and an early “Green”, an idiosyncratic visionary, and someone who devoted decades to seeing stuff in terms of the elements and Nature, and trying to do something with it. He even set up a tiny “Green Monastery” in Kentish Town for the last part of his life, with two other monks, devoted to their work promoting an enchanted ecology, “natural femininity”, water consciousness, and a comprehensively different way of life which they aimed for.

These men’s visions were not exactly my own in their details, we all have to find our own vision, but they found so much of such use and potency, and they did have such vision, and devoted so much work to it. I do indeed see through their vision, and it is like glimpsing a vast landscape, one that is still there, realer and brighter and more alive than “ordinary reality”, even after you have blinked and opened your eyes again. Even after you have got the bus to work.

Their work still returns to me, and still has the capacity to change my life. Water consciousness, a miraculous life, a life I can live freely in. It’s real. 

That their work could have such healing, freeing and transforming potential is I think because they experienced a real liberation at some point, and didn’t sell it back into a merely credible teaching for the society receiving it. In a world so hung up on the perfect menu, they chose to throw real food.

Almost 40 years later, the water way can still get you wet.

photo of the title page of “The Magic Circle” by Tammo de Jongh, published 1974

* Natural Psychology was developed since 1956, with a number of other individuals including Kenneth Carter and Dr Barry Slater during the 60s and 70s