My Fair Lady?

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

Sarah: Ow! It bit me!
Hoggle: What’d you expect fairies to do?
Sarah: I thought they did nice things, like… like granting wishes.
Hoggle: Shows what *you* know, don’t it?

From the wonderful movie “Labyrinth”. If you read The Magical Buffet and have not ever seen this film, rent it, right now…after reading this article.



It’s true. Fairies are traditionally considered beautiful, playful, little friends, but as most folklore shows, fairies have a habit of being beautiful, spiteful, malevolent creatures. The tales of the Fair Lady embody this tradition quite nicely.

The Fair Lady, also called Szepasszony, is a creature prevalent in Hungarian folklore. She generally takes the form of an attractive woman, sometimes nude, often with long hair and a white dress. In the tradition of Sirens, Fair Ladies lure victims with their song. If a mortal man hears these songs, he may undertake dangerous actions that he would not have done otherwise. It is said that Fair Ladies dance in storms, kidnap children, and have been known to dance men to their deaths.

The Fair Lady is often spotted under the eaves of a house. This is a dangerous location of the home in many myths. She generally has a common household object enchanted. The phrase “step into the platter of the Fair Lady” is used to describe the phenomenon of having the Fair Lady’s spell fall onto you from this item. Beware; sometimes water dripping from the eaves of a home can create a puddle that is considered a platter for the Fair Lady. Stepping into the puddle will put you under her spell. Some people take this a step further and take care to avoid circles in the grass where the grass is shorter within the circle than the surrounding area. They believe the Fair Lady dancing causes the circle. In addition, unlike a demon, which is generally most potent at night, the Fair Lady is at her most powerful peak at noontime. People are warned to avoid sitting beneath eaves at noon.

Tradition indicates that wearing mistletoe around your neck can act as a repellent to the Fair Lady. It’s also said that prayer, crossing oneself, the sound of church bells, and carrying the Bible do the trick. This feels like the invention of conversion to Christianity to me, but hey, faith can’t hurt!

Magical Buffet Mythology: The Zorya

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

The fate of the universe rests in the hands of three young women. Eat your hearts out Charlie’s Angels! We’re talking about the Zorya. These celestial Slavic beauties fill many important roles, but the most important one is the task that keeps the universe from being destroyed. The Zorya are generally three, but sometimes two, goddess who act primarily in the role of guardians. They keep watch over a hound chained to the constellation Little Bear. If the dog ever breaks loose, the universe comes to an end. No pressure.


Let’s do a Zorya role call, shall we? First, there is Zorya Utrennyaya, the Morning Star. Generally that’s all that is known, but according to the random folks at Wikipedia, “She opens the heavenly gates for the chariot of the sun in the morning. She is depicted as a fully armed and courageous warrior. She is the patron goddess of horses, and is associated with the planet Venus. She is invoked to protect against death in battle.”

Next up is Zvezda Vechernaya, the Evening Star. Again, our unverifialbe source at Wikipedia says, “She closes the gates of heaven each night as the sun returns home.”

Finally there is Zorya, or Zorya Polunochnaya, the sometimes unmentioned Midnight Star. Our Wiki pal tells us, “Each night, the sun dies in the Midnight Zorya’s arms and is then restored to life. She is a goddess of death, rebirth, magic, mysticism, and wisdom.”

I know that some legends prefer there to be only two Zorya, whonot only keep the hound of universe ending chained up, but also flank the sun. Personally, I can’t help but like three of them. The classic archetype of the maiden, mother, and crone. Of course, I would never tell one of these ladies that I consider her a crone!

As I’ve made abundantly clear, the primary source for most of my information is a touch on the questionable side. So why use it? Because if I opted not to this article would have been one paragraph, because I liked what I read, but most importantly, it’s because it’s what I want the three women who protect the universe to be like.

Ten Questions with Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

1. What brought about the creation of The Grey School of Wizardry, of which you are the Headmaster?
Perceiving the need for providing a basic and universal magickal education for the “Harry Potter” generation, many of whom will presumably come looking for the real thing after being turned on by the HP books and movies. Actually, I’d been talking about this issue in workshops and articles for many years, as I was concerned that virtually all magickal training programs and groups refused to admit anyone under 18, and I was watching generations of our own kids growing up reliant entirely on what their own families could provide in magickal home schooling, and a very few books which seemed to me to be woefully inadequate. In 1989, I created a kids’ magazine supplement to Green Egg (called H.A.M.—“How About Magick?”) just to address this issue.

And over the years I’ve been making notes as to what information I wish I’d had when I started out on this path—say, at age 11 (the age Harry Potter is when the books begin…). And the idea that came to me was a kind of “Boy Scout Handbook” (or “Junior Woodchuck Guide,” for all the Carl Barks Donald Duck fans…) of Wizardry. New Page books agreed to publish such a book if I put it together, so in 2002 I convened the Grey Council, bringing together a number of the mages and sages, elders and teachers, of the worldwide magickal community to serve and a body of contributors and an advisory council, and with them all looking over my shoulder and offering counsel and input, I compiled the Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard (2004), and its sequel, Companion for the Apprentice Wizard (2006).
The book was designed in the form of a textbook for a real-life version of a Wizard school like the fictional “Hogwarts.” And inevitably, this required the creation of such an institution in reality, which I began doing as the book was being completed. The Grey School of Wizardry (www.GreySchool.com) opened its virtual doors on Aug. 1, 2004. As of this date (Nov. 1, 2007), the Grey School offers over 270 classes, in 16 Departments (with Majors and Minors), at 7 “year-levels.” We have over 30 teachers, and nearly 1,000 students!

2. Do you have any thoughts about the public outing of Albus Dumbledore’s, another wizard school headmaster, homosexuality?
Well, in a series of books written for teenagers, in which sexuality and sexual relationships of adults are never mentioned, and don’t come into the story at all, I think that proclaiming anything involving the sexual activities or inclinations of any of the adult characters is entirely inappropriate. In the first place, we’re not talking about flesh-and-blood people here (as we might do if we were discussing the private lives of the actors in the movies). We’re talking about fictional creations on paper, who have no existence at all outside of the pages of the books. And pre-teen readers really don’t need to be told about the private (and imaginary) sex lives of these fictional characters, as it is entirely inappropriate for kids to be exposed to the sexuality of their school teachers—whatever it may involve. I don’t discuss my own personal sexuality with the students in the Grey School, and I believe that’s as it should be. I shudder to think what comes next: Severus Snape outed as a BD/SM dungeon master and leatherman? Minerva McGonagal as a dyke dominatrix? Sirius Black into wild orgies? Such matters are outside of the scope and context of these stories, and should stay there, in my opinion. Whatever anyone may imagine in their own private little fantasies, I feel that such “revelations” (or speculations) are inappropriate in stories intended for kids.

3. Is there any chance of me getting on the Grey Council?
Well, lessee: Are you old enough to have some grey in your hair? Are you a widely-recognized Elder and teacher in the worldwide magickal community? Have you founded groups, written books, and/or done other things of significant service to the community at large? Are you well-enough known to the other members of the Council to garner a nomination, sponsorship, and approval? People are invited to join the Grey Council by members thereof. Prospective nominees are discussed at some length before they are extended an invitation, and any opposition among extant Council members constitutes a veto until/unless it can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Although fairly exclusive, the Council is open-ended, and new members are invited to join from time-to-time, as the Council comes to feel they should be. Let’s get to know you…

4. Let me list these, and I’m sure I’ll miss some. At some point you have been or still are all of these things: artist, clergy, teacher, publisher, headmaster, author, public speaker, and unicorn breeder. What haven’t you done yet that you would like to try?
Astronaut; hang glider; hot-air balloonist…
And you can add to the above list: editor, publisher, husband, father, SCUBA diver, adventurer, homesteader…and of course, Wizard.

5. To me, and I’m sure many others, you are a living legend. I imagine you day and night in your full wizardly glory. Do you do normal stuff? Do you ever go, well today I need to do the laundry, hit the grocery store, and pick up the house?
Well, sure! I go to the Post Office and grocery store nearly every day. I spend hours at my console answering e-mail. About once a month I stop by my favorite comic book store and pick up my subs. We go to all the fantasy/adventure/sci-fi movies as soon as they come out (often we dress in costume for movies involving pirates or wizards). We record and watch a few favorite TV shows (Heroes, Pushing Daisies, Smallville, Stargate, Eureka, CSI…). We put on DVDs of our favorite movies, from our huge collection. I read—a lot! And every few months we completely redecorate our home for the seasonal parties we throw for our friends. We attend parties our friends throw. Folks come to visit, and we put them up in our guest rooms, and take them around to our favorite places. We manage the day-to-day work of running our family business, Mythic Images (www.MythicImages.com): taking orders, shipping, billing, creating new designs, etc.

And last night—Hallowe’en—we took our 15-month-old granddaughter trick-or-treating for her first time! She dressed as an adorable little Witchlet, MG was the “Fairy Grandmother,” and I just wore my normal Wizard regalia—which everyone seemed to think was a costume.

6. I’ve started asking people this question and I’m keenly interested in your thoughts. What challenges do you see facing the Pagan community? How can the community resolve those issues?
I think our biggest challenges revolve around our exponential growth in numbers, as we are now a worldwide phenomenon, and said to be the fastest-growing religious movement in the English-speaking world (and also beginning an explosive growth in many other countries). And yet, inexplicably, we still remain almost entirely invisible to the mainstream world. But at some point they will inevitably notice us. How will the magickal and the mundane worlds adjust to each other? Especially the churches who have actively persecuted us for centuries as they attempted to wipe us from the face of the Earth? As far as I know, they have not repented or apologized to this day, and we cannot assume their benign acceptance as we claim our place at the table of world religions.

For such a large religious movement—and such a high level of general education and intelligence—our economic status compared to other religions is dismally low. Why is this? We own very little property, and have very few temples or other religious buildings. One cannot help but look at other religions and wonder: where are our Pagan churches, schools, hospitals, orphanages, monasteries, retreat centers, seminaries, food banks, halfway houses? We do have a large number of bookstores and occult shops—which is good—but little else to show for ourselves in comparison with other religions. I strongly believe we must seriously support our religion the way others do—with tithes, bequests, and charitable donations. Until we achieve parity in this regard, we will remain marginal.

Nor do we provide much in the way of services to our surrounding communities, such as public weekly worship services, soup kitchens, day care centers, etc. A few Pagan groups are beginning to do some of those things, which I applaud, but we’re way, way behind most other groups—such as the Moonies, Scientologists, or Krishna Consciousness—that originated around the same time (the ‘60s).

Another thing, of course, has been the embarrassing competitive jockeyings for pre-eminence among far too many of the supposed leaders of our community—who should know better. Thankfully, I believe that the worst of that is over, having achieved epic and disastrous proportions in the notorious “Witch Wars” of the final decades of the 20th century. The single greatest antidote to those internecine power struggles has certainly been the amazing proliferation of gatherings and festivals.

And finally, I would address our raising up of the next generation—to which I am devoting the current phase of my own life and work.

7. What book are you currently reading?
At the moment, having just finished writing my latest book, A Wizard’s Bestiary, I’m taking a little break from research and re-reading Time Enough for Love, by Robert A. Heinlein. Wonderful!

8. Thanks to a big celebrity push, everyone these days seems to be talking about our relationship with the environment. You were thinking about this well before the first celeb drove their hybrid to the Oscars. Would you share with my readers the Gaea Thesis?
Simply stated it is this: The entire biosphere of Earth is one single vast living organism. It is all descended from a single original cell, fertilized 544 million years ago in the “Cambrian Explosion,” and all shares the same DNA. Just as we as human individuals begin our existence as a single fertilized cell, or zygote, yet retain our identity as single organisms even when the proliferation of cells in our bodies becomes trillions—so has the entity we humans call Gaea, Hertha, Pachamama, or Mother Earth, retained her identity as a single organism whose trillions of component “cells” are her myriads of plants and animals; including ourselves. And as every living organism is by nature sentient, so is the living Earth: Anima Mundi, the Soul of Nature, the Great Mother Goddess revered by all Pagans.

I received this revelation on Sept. 6, 1970, and it has profoundly shaped every aspect of my life and work ever since. You can read my original thesis, “TheaGenesis: the Birth of the Goddess” on the Church of All Worlds website at: www.caw.org/articles/theagenesis.html. While I still intend to write an entire book on this topic, the best realization of this Vision that I have produced to date is my sculpture figurine of The Millennial Gaia: www.mythicimages.com/product_page.php?product_id=1

9. I understand that you create sculptures of goddesses, many of which I see on the Mythic Images website. I’ve been trying to find a unique Kali statue, any chance we’ll be seeing one from you?
No. I’ve focused on creating images that are not available elsewhere—just because I wanted to have them myself! Beautiful Egyptian, Chinese, and Hindu votive figurines are widely available. I could not possibly duplicate these—and certainly not at a competitive price! Nor would I want to, as I have plenty to do that no one else is doing already. Just go online and look for a figure of Kali—our major competitor, Sacred Source, would certainly be a good place to start.

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question?
Sure. What is your own Mission? What are you here for? I feel this is the most important question that every one of us needs to ask ourselves…

I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to finding out.

Brief bio:
Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (1942- ) is a modern-day Wizard, and a leader in the worldwide magickal community. Oberon is a true “Renaissance Man:” a shaman, psychologist, metaphysician, naturalist, theologian, artist, sculptor, teacher, author, and Priest of Gaia (Mother Earth). He has earned college degrees in sociology, anthropology, psychology, education and theology.

Inspired by Robert A. Heinlein’s 1961 visionary science-fiction novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, Oberon co-founded the Church of All Worlds in 1962. (www.CAW.org) An initiate in several different Magickal traditions, he has created and participated in many interfaith groups and projects, including the Council of Themis, the Council of Earth Religions, the Universal Federation of Pagans, the Pagan Leaders Summit, and the Grey Council.

Oberon has played a major role in the unity of the magickal community and in reclaiming the spiritual heritage of pre-Christian Europe. In his award-winning magazine, Green Egg (1968-) (www.GreenEggzine.org), he was the first to adopt the words “Pagan” and “Neo-Pagan” to describe the newly emerging Nature religions of the 1960s. In 1970, he first developed and published the thealogy of “deep ecology” which has become known as “The Gaia Thesis”—the premise that all life on Earth is a single vast living Being, known as Mother Earth, or “Gaia” to the ancient Greeks.

Oberon met and fell in love with Morning Glory, his soulmate and wife of 34 years, at the Gnostic Aquarian Festival in 1973, where he was a keynote speaker. From 1977 to 1985 they lived in a 5,600-acre intentional community in the mountains of northern Califia, creating a rural homestead and magickal retreat center. In February of 1979, they created and led a ritual with other Pagan leaders to celebrate the solar eclipse at a full-scale restoration of Stonehenge in Washington State, a transformative event attended by over 3,000 people.

Oberon and Morning Glory’s research into arcane lore and ancient legends resulted in the “Living Unicorn” project, begun in 1980 and culminating with the leasing of several of their authentic Unicorns to the Ringling Bros./Barnum & Bailey Circus. The Zells also traveled around North America exhibiting their Unicorns at Renaissance Faires.

Continuing to explore fables and mysteries, in 1985 Oberon organized a video diving expedition to Australia and New Guinea to solve the mystery of the Mermaid. Other legendary journeys have taken Oberon to Peru, Hawaii, Alaska, and ancient oracles and archaeological sites throughout Europe and the Aegean. In 1999, he visited England for the final total solar eclipse of the Millennium, which he celebrated with local Pagans at an ancient stone circle in Cornwall.

For over 40 years, Oberon has written and published many articles on history, Gaian thealogy, magick, shamanism, mythology, anomalies, archaeology, cosmology, and related topics. His Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard (New Page Books, 2004) is an essential basic reference work that will continue to serve as a resource throughout the reader’s lifetime. This book was followed by Companion for the Apprentice Wizard (New Page, 2006) and Creating Circles & Ceremonies (with Morning Glory; New Page, 2007). His latest book is A Wizard’s Bestiary (with Ash DeKirk; New Page, 2007)

As a follow-up to the Grimoire, Oberon founded the online Grey School of Wizardry: www.GreySchool.com. The Grey School provides authentic classes and lessons on myth, magick and mystery, as presented by dozens of highly-qualified teachers, and Oberon, as Headmaster, has been called “the real Albus Dumbledore to aspiring Harry Potters!” (Lee Prosser, Fate Magazine)
Oberon’s favorite art project is his ongoing sculpture series of Gods, Goddesses, and mythological creatures, presented as “The Mythic Images Collection.” www.MythicImages.com His masterwork is “The Millennial Gaia”—a visionary representation of Mother Earth.

Websites:
Grey School of Wizardry www.GreySchool.com
Church of All Worlds www.CAW.org
Mythic Images www.MythicImages.com
Green Egg magazine www.GreenEggzine.com
Oberon Zell www.OberonZell.com

Profile: Bnei Baruch

Bnei Baruch is a group of Kabbalists in Israel, sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah with the entire world. Study materials in over 20 languages are based on authentic Kabbalah texts that were passed down from generation to generation.

History and Origin
In 1991, following the passing of his teacher, Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The Rabash) Rav Michael Laitman, Professor of Ontology and the Theory of Knowledge, PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, and MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics, established a Kabbalah study group called “Bnei Baruch.” He called it Bnei Baruch ( “Sons of Baruch”) to commemorate the memory of his mentor, whose side he never left in the final twelve years of his life, from 1979 to 1991. Rav Laitman had been Ashlag’s prime student and personal assistant, and is recognized as the successor to Rabash’s teaching method.

The Rabash was the firstborn son and successor of Rabbi Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag, the greatest Kabbalist of the 20th century. Rabbi Ashlag authored the most authoritative and comprehensive commentary on The Book of Zohar, titled The Sulam Commentary (The Ladder Commentary). He was the first to reveal the complete method for spiritual ascent, and thus was known as Baal HaSulam (“Owner of the Ladder”).

Today, Bnei Baruch bases its entire study method on the path paved by these two great spiritual leaders.

The Study Method
The unique study method developed by Baal HaSulam and his son, the Rabash, is taught and applied on a daily basis by Bnei Baruch. This method relies on authentic Kabbalah sources such as The Book of Zohar, by Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, The Tree of Life, by the Holy Ari, and The Study of the Ten Sefirot, by Baal HaSulam.

While the study relies on authentic Kabbalah sources, it is carried out in simple language and uses a scientific, contemporary approach. Developing this approach has made Bnei Baruch an internationally respected organization, both in Israel and in the world at large.

The unique combination of an academic study method and personal experiences broadens the students’ perspective and awards them a new perception of the reality they live in. Those on the spiritual path are thus given the necessary tools to research themselves and their surrounding reality.

The Message
Bnei Baruch is a diverse movement of many thousands of students worldwide. Students can choose their own paths and the personal intensity of their studies, according to their unique conditions and abilities. The essence of the message disseminated by Bnei Baruch is universal: “unity of the people, unity of nations and love of man.”

For millennia, Kabbalists have been teaching that love of man should be the foundation of all human relations. This love prevailed in the days of Abraham, Moses, and the group of Kabbalists that they established. If we make room for these seasoned, yet contemporary values, we will discover that we possess the power to put differences aside and unite.

The wisdom of Kabbalah, hidden for millennia, has been waiting for the time when we would be sufficiently developed and ready to implement its message. Now, it is emerging as a solution that can unite diverse factions everywhere, better enabling us, as individuals and as a society, to meet today’s challenges.

Bnei Baruch’s Activities
Bnei Baruch was established on the premise that “only by expansion of the wisdom of Kabbalah to the public can we be awarded complete redemption” (Baal HaSulam).

Therefore, Bnei Baruch offers a variety of ways for people to explore and discover the purpose of their lives, providing careful guidance for the beginners and the advanced student alike.

Kabbalah Today
Kabbalah Today is a free monthly newspaper produced and disseminated by Bnei Baruch. It is apolitical, non-commercial, and written in a clear, contemporary style. Its purpose is to expose the vast body of knowledge hidden in the wisdom of Kabbalah at no cost and in a clear, engaging format and style for readers everywhere.

Kabbalah Today is distributed for free in every major U.S. city, as well as in Toronto, Canada, London, England, and Sydney, Australia. It is printed in English, Hebrew, and Russian, and is also available on the Internet, at www.kabtoday.com.

Additionally, a hard copy of the paper is sent to subscribers at delivery cost only.

Internet Website
Bnei Baruch’s homepage, www.kabbalah.info, presents the authentic wisdom of Kabbalah using essays, books, and original texts. The site also contains a unique, extensive library for readers to thoroughly explore the wisdom of Kabbalah. In addition, there is a media archive, www.kabbalahmedia.info, containing more than 5,000 media items, downloadable books, and a vast reservoir of texts, video and audio files in many languages. All of this material is available for free download.

Kabbalah Television
Bnei Baruch established a production company, ARI Films (www.arifilms.tv) specializing in the production of educational TV programs throughout the world, and in many languages.

In Israel, Bnei Baruch broadcasts are aired live through cable and satellite on Channel 98 Sunday through Friday. All broadcasts on these channels are free of charge. The programs are adapted specifically for beginners, and do not require prior knowledge of the material. This convenient learning process is complemented by programs featuring Rav Laitman’s meetings with publicly known figures in Israel and throughout the world.

Additionally, ARI Films produces educational series and documentaries on DVDs, as well as other visual teaching aids.

Kabbalah Books
Rav Laitman writes his books in a clear, contemporary style based on the key concepts of Baal HaSulam. These books serve as a vital link between today’s readers and the original texts. All of Rav Laitman’s books are available for sale, as well as for free download. Rav Laitman has thus far written thirty books, translated into ten languages.

Kabbalah Lessons
As Kabbalists have been doing for centuries, Rav Laitman gives a daily lesson at the Bnei Baruch center in Israel between 3:15-6:00 a.m. Israel time. The lessons are simultaneously translated into six languages: English, Russian, Spanish, German, Italian, and Turkish. In the near future, broadcasts will also be translated into French, Greek, Polish, and Portuguese. As with everything else, the live broadcast is provided gratis to thousands of students worldwide.

Funding
Bnei Baruch is a non-profit organization for teaching and sharing the wisdom of Kabbalah. To maintain its independence and purity of intentions, Bnei Baruch is not supported, funded, or otherwise tied to any government or political organization. Since the bulk of its activity is provided free of charge, the prime source of funding for the group’s activities is donations, tithing—contributed by students on a voluntary basis—and Rav Laitman’s books, which are sold at cost.

www.kabbalah.info

Hex Signs

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (www.sirwilliamwesley.com)

We have all heard different things referred to as a “dying art form”. What is worse is an art form that isn’t dying, yet no one is sure what it means because no one cared until it was too late. That was the impression I was left with after visiting the Berks County area in Pennsylvania to learn about hex signs.

Hex signs, at their most basic, can be defined as geometric folk art associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch. Driving around the Berks area you will see these giant disks decorating barns. Sure, they are colorful and decorative, but what does it mean?

You see, there are several schools of thought in regards to the hex sign. They’re all very interesting, and if you want to learn more I would suggest “Hex Signs” by Don Yoder and Thomas E. Graves, or better yet, to visit the area. Now that we’ve established that there is a lot of potential information and speculation attached to these symbols, you can forgive me for hitting the high points.

One approach is to view the hex signs as Dutch folk art, which regardless of what else these signs may be, they are most definitely art. Hex signs appear on important documents and are incorporated into furniture dating back to the 1800s. Scholars say there were/are eight basic designs that are the root of all hex signs: rosette, four-point star, five-point star, six-point star, eight-point star, twelve-point star, swirling swastika, and wheel-of-fortune (or barn wheel). These were put on barns as decoration and to establish an ethnic identity.

Other folklore associates the hex sign with an occult element. They argue that the term hex comes from the German word for witch, hexe. Some interviews have revealed that hex signs on barns may have a talismanic purpose, such as being there to promote fertility, protect livestock, provide good luck, etc. With hex signs, being giant disc with radiating designs also provides a possible link to the sun disc symbolism, central to the worship of the sun. There are hexologists who have dedicated years towards trying to discover the underlying meaning of these symbols, and there are modern artists that create their own hex signs based on these principles.

In addition, as some argue with the evidence of swastikas on ancient structures, hex signs are basic designs. Symbols that a farmer could handle and that they were just born out of the inevitable desire for easy embellishment of the family barn.

Unfortunately, the family farm is a dwindling enterprise. With the sale or abandonment of barns, so goes the hex sign. At this point the owners of most barns that display hex signs will tell you that they are there because their father had them on his barn and his father did too, etc. or that they are there to remain true to the architectural design of the era. The fact is, no one concerned themselves with hex signs until there was no one left to definitively explain if they hold a deeper meaning.

In my opinion, it’s personal belief that gives a symbol its power. For example, a cross probably is not a very potent symbol to a Muslim, but obviously for a Christian it symbolizes the very basis of their faith. For some, a hex sign is an impressive folk art legacy, if you chose they could symbolize more.

An Abbreviated Introduction to Chaos Magic

By Lupa

Chaos! Mayhem! Disorder!

Well, not quite.

Chaos, in this case, isn’t about being 100% destructive, or worshipping Tiamat, or being a Discordian. Rather, it hails back to the original Greek definition for the term–the pure potential that predated the ordered world that we know today. In my mind, Chaos is like a round ball of Play-doh sitting in its cup. Take it out, make something with it–that’s order. Smash whatever you’re made–that’s disorder. Roll the Play-doh back into a ball and pop it back into the cup–back to Chaos.

The roots of Chaos magic are several; Peter J. Carroll, the creator of Chaos magic, was inspired by everything from shamanism to the works of Austin Osman Spare, one of Aleister Crowley’s contemporaries. Rather than being a tradition in and of itself, it is a system that boils magic down to its bare-bones components, free of cultural trappings, to create a practical methodology. There are no set gods or spirits, and Chaos magic may work within any model of how magic works, from energetic to psychological and then some. Additionally, there are no central religious beliefs; for many, though not all, Chaos magicians, belief is a tool to be used as needed.

And that brings me to one of the hallmarks of Chaos magic: paradigmal piracy. This is the practice of taking effective, practical aspects of various paradigms (religions, magical systems, etc.) and using them to work effective magic. Unlike eclectic paganism, this is not done for primarily spiritual purposes, nor is it generally a permanent adoption. Joshua Wetzel references two types of piracy–buffet style, in which a magician takes a little of each of several paradigms, and immersion, where s/he may spend a certain amount of time working with a paradigm full-time to learn what s/he finds useful.

One goal of piracy may be to gain new methods of achieving gnosis. Gnosis, in Chaos magic terms, is different than what it is understood to be in ceremonial traditions. In Chaos, gnosis is an altered state of mind in which the mind is focused on a single point, object or other thing. There are several ways to achieve gnosis. Inhibitory methods include sensory deprivation, quiet meditation, and the “death posture”, a particular way of holding the body that induces trance. Excitatory methods range from dancing to the point of exhaustion, to taking entheogens, and even sex. Once gnosis is achieved, the magician may then move on to whatever magic s/he intended to work.

While a Chaos magician may work with just about any sort of magic, there are two in particular that are associated with Chaos magic, sigils and servitors. The sigil was derived from Spare’s work. Seeking an easier way to work magic than long, drawn-out ceremonies, Spare devised a method of creating a picture of one’s desire by writing out what the magician wanted out of a particular magical act. Certain letter would be removed from the sentence, and the remaining letters rearranged and overlapped or connected to create an abstract picture. The resulting sigil would then be charged.

Servitors are thought forms (or spirits, if you will) that are created by the magician to perform certain magical tasks. They may be created in a similar manner as sigils, with the purpose and name of the servitor turned into one or more sigils. Some magicians create physical representations of their servitors. While servitors are generally created to carry out single tasks and are then destroyed afterward, some magicians do create permanent servitors for multiple uses.

More generally speaking, some Chaos magicians use Carroll’s Eight Colors of Magick. Carroll uses different correspondences than Isaac Bonewits did in “Real Magic”, and assigns one color/type to each point of the eight-pointed chaostar. The correspondences are as follows:

Black: Death
Blue: Wealth
Green: Love
Yellow: Ego
Purple or Silver: Sex
Orange: Thinking
Red: War
Octarine: “Pure” Magic

Octarine is the name Terry Pratchett gave to the (humorous) theory regarding the eighth color of the spectrum.

As to the connection with Chaos theory in physics, Carroll dedicated the first chunk of “Liber Kaos” to the scientific exploration of how magic works. While a thorough understanding of physics isn’t necessary to be a Chaos magician, a basic grasp of Chaos theory is useful.

Additionally, Chaos magic is sometimes confused with Discordianism, a parody religion founded in the late 1950s with the publication of the Principia Discordia. While a number of Chaos magicians may draw on Discordianism, they are not one and the same.

This is an incredibly basic introduction to Chaos magic; my recommendation would be to do further research at the following websites, as well as the recommended reading list below.

http://www.chaosmatrix.org
http://www.spiralnature.com
http://www.irreality.net

Sources/Recommended Reading

Carroll, Peter J. (1987). Liber Null & Psychonaut. Boston: Weiser.
Cunningham, David, Taylor Ellwood and Amanda Wagner (2003). Creating Magical Entities. Ohio: Egregore Publishing.
Ellwood, Taylor (2004). Pop Culture Magick. Stafford: Immanion Press/Megalithica Books.
— (1992). Liber Kaos. Boston: Weiser.
Hawkins, Jaq D. (2001). Understanding Chaos Magic. Capall Bann.
— (2003). Chaos Monkey. Capall Bann.
Hine, Phil (1995). Condensed Chaos. Tempe: New Falcon.
— (1999). Prime Chaos. Tempe: New Falcon.
Wetzel, Joshua (2006). The Paradigmal Pirate. Stafford: Immanion Press/Megalithica Books.

Konton Magazine – Available through cafepress.com; no new issues have appeared for some time, but back issues are readily available for new Chaos International – Difficult to get in the United States, sporadically published in London, but worth it if you can get it

About Lupa
Lupa is a therioshaman (http://therioshamanism.com) living in Portland, OR with hir mate and fellow author, Taylor Ellwood, Sun Ce and Ember the cats, and too many books. S/he is the author of several books on pagan, occult and Otherkin related topics, to include Fang and Fur, Blood and Bone: A Primal Guide to Animal Magic, A Field Guide to Otherkin, and Kink Magic: Sex Magic Beyond Vanilla (cowritten with Taylor). S/he may be found online at http://www.thegreenwolf.com.