September Full Moon – 2017

Today, 6 September 2017, is the day of the Full Moon.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are moving rapidly towards the Autumn Equinox, and in a Mediterranean climate specifically it is the time of the pressing of the grapes to create new wine.  We are at the time when the Greeks would have celebrated the Mysteries of Eleusis which we have only been handed down titillating tidbits since initiates were bound by secrecy.

Relief of Demeter from the Archaeological Museum of Eleusis

 

However, we know enough to safely say that these Mysteries celebrated the fact that life is everlasting and that those participating got a taste of their own immortality. The rituals also included prayers for the rains – so vital for the Earth to conceive new life and for a new agricultural cycle to start.

Zodiacally, the sun is in Virgo and the¬†moon¬†will be in Pisces, and¬†these two signs are known as the “axis of healing” – for more about the astrological aspect of this¬†full¬†moon, you may be interested in this video by Acquafortis Astrology:¬†https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY0PxTm9f10

On this full moon, take some time to get in touch with your inner healer and ask for guidance in using healing energies – which can be our words, our thoughts, our intentions, our touch, our inner force…

Mama Quilla (Inca Moon goddess) by Lisa Hunt
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Imbolc – committing to a path of learning

Imbolc – committing to a path of learning

Something is in the air.

We have had an untypically cold and rainy winter, but these past days we got the occasional hours of bright sunshine, and the pulse of the Earth and the air seemed to quicken a bit, as if nature were waking up from a slumber. Not that plant life largely dies out in winter – quite the contrary, it is our greenest time of the year. And yet the promise of the coming spring still brings this sense of waking up, of things gaining momentum, of life beginning to dance.

In colder climes, the herald of the spring is said to be the snowdrop.  Down here in the Mediterranean, I find this messenger is the almond tree that bursts into the most exquisite blossom at this time of the year.

In the churches, although it has declined in popularity and importance, the feast of Candlemas is celebrated with the giving out of blessed candles – a remembrance that the light is returning. These candles were sometimes used to bless each room in the house. The feast itself, set on 40 days after Christmas, represents the day in which Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was ritually purified after having given birth, and could present her son in the Temple of Solomon.

Other interesting feasts congregate at this time of the year – the feast of St Bridget, which incorporated so much of the cult of Brighid the goddess; the wild rituals of the Lupercalia in Rome which morphed into St Valentine’s Day; the New Year of the Trees of the Jewish calendar known as Tu b’Av; the celebrations of many a Black Madonna including the one on Montevergine near Naples.

All points to this Quickening that can be palpably felt.

And a friend of mine reminded me of another aspect of this time of the year, which is that traditionally one would take up the path on Imbolc and commit to studying it for a year and a day. This can be adapted to taking up a path of learning for this period.

In the previous days, I had been intensively researching herbalism and plant medicine, and even thought of studying some chemistry and biology to help me with these studies.  I asked a chemist friend what would be a good place to start and he gave me some good pointers. At one point, I mentioned the hexagon-based diagrams that often accompany descriptions of chemicals, and I was told that those were hardly basic chemistry, given that they had confused many a chemist in the past.

And then he mentioned that they were figured out by a chemist in a dream.  This sounded somewhat too esoteric for a hardline materialist scientific tradition, and thought that my friend had been amicably pulling my leg.  Not so.

Not only did Friedrich August Kekulé, a German organic chemist, claim to have understood the structure of benzene in a dream. In the dream, the structure of benzene presented itself as the Ouroboros, a serpent biting its tail which has been a symbol in alchemy for millennia.


So there I was looking for Science, and found Magic staring me back in the face.

For this year and a day, I will seek to understand and assimilate more of the wisdom of the plant world, both in its scientific and its spiritual and magical aspects – which as Kekul√©’s dream confirmed for me, are not at all mutually exclusive.

Happy (belated) Anniversary, Cagliostro

Yesterday, 26 August, was the 221st anniversary of the death of Alessandro, the Count of Cagliostro.  Magician, alchemist, doctor, charlatan, adventurer, initiate … in his 52 years of life, Cagliostro’s life has left us more legends than facts, so that much can be said about his life, but little with certainty.

Cagliostro certainly had his trickster aspects, but his medicinal cures have been studied and have been found to be effective at best, or harmless at worst.  His testimony in front of the Roman Inquisition is very evocative and hints at the fact that this man was indeed a carrier of much wisdom and insight.

Canon 20D digital capture
Giuseppe Balsamo, known as Alessandro, Count of Cagliostro (2 June 1743 – 26 August 1795)
On a website I have found a reference to Cagliostro’s “seven magical sentences”.  No source is given, and I cannot vouch for their authenticity, but they seem to have been written in the same spirit as other sayings of Cagliostro, including his well documented apology to the Inquisition.

Whether authentic or not, they are certainly worthy of being read and pondered upon.  Here is my translation of these sentences from Italian:

 

Cagliostro’s seven magical sentences:

1.  That which appears to me as external, is in reality the essence of my Heart.

2.  I am enveloped in peace whenever the voice in my head is silent.

3.  I have never lived before this Moment, and I will never live after this Moment.

4.  The Fire that burns in my breast is that which will burn the World.

5.  What I wait for is so good, that I cherish all suffering.

6.   I thank all that is good and I thank all that is bad, until the ice of the mind is melted by the Fire of the Heart.

7.  I am One with You and You are One with me.

The original Italian text can be found at: http://risvegliati.altervista.org/frasi-magiche-cagliostro/

 

 

An alchemical thought to ponder

A quote by the alchemist Eirenaeus Philalethes, from The Metamorphosis of Metals:

“All metallic seed is the seed of gold, for gold is the intention of nature in regard to all metals … all metals are potentially gold.”

What is it in your life that you want to transmute to its best state? What is it that you know deep down is destined to become alchemical and transformative medicine to you?

Persistence and Determination

I have started re-reading “the¬†Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic” by Israel Regardie, and towards the beginning there is this¬†quote which I am posting as a reminder to myself more than anything else, although it may be of help to others:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

(Nerdy bonus: The book itself does not give a source for this quote, but a quick Google search showed it to be a pearl of wisdom offered by Calvin Coolidge, who was President of the United States between 1923 and 1929.)

Of flowers, candles and guns – the case for prayer and magic

In the wake of the Orlando shootings, many of us have resorted to prayer, and perhaps to magic, in an attempt to bring healing to the victims, their families and communities, and to ourselves in general, particularly our LGBTQI sisters and brothers, as such events always leave a dent in our collective psyche.

At times like this, however, we are also forced to question whether prayer and magic are in any way effective, or whether they are just an easy way of putting our conscience to rest.  Some have indeed advocated that prayer is not the answer, but part of the problem, whilst placing emphasis on important mundane steps that need to be taken.  Others have seen the #prayfororlando hashtag as downright disrespectful to the victims.

Such steps as:

  • donating money;
  • campaigning for policy change and human rights;¬†and
  • promoting the values of tolerance, acceptance and empathy in our communities

are certainly essential, and no prayer or magical act can be complete without its material expression.

While the critique is certainly insightful, it is my belief that starting from the subtlest of levels:

with each time we remember the names of the victims;
with each intention we make for the healing of these wounds;
with each blessing we ask for and give to the victims, their families, their communities and ourselves;
with each prayer said and magical ritual performed;
with each candle lit and flower offered …

the world does in a signficant way become a better place.  The balance is tipped that little bit further in favour of the currents that promote love and solidarity.

And, at this time, it is perhaps valuable to revisit this video from the Paris shootings where a wonderful father teaches his son how flowers and candles can fight against guns РI have no idea whether this father calls this magic, but what he has taught his son (and us) is essentially one of the most valuable lessons in magic ever.

#prayfororlando