Movies and books for this magic type are listed below.
Book Two - The Way through Fire
Luna that so bright doth sheen,
Persephone in Hell."
Garland of Laurell
- John Skelton
Chapter One: Making Magic
the most inaccessible regions of the seen and the never seen, who has only to imagine
in order to pierce through walls and cause all the planetary Baghdads of his dreams
to rise from the dust?"
- Salvador Dali
On this path lies the crux of witchcraft. For thousands of years people have been persecuted for being on this path. Unlike beauty and physical perfection or heroism, this path is not one that most people would choose. Although some envy the ease and facility of the "god-given" gifts, talent is a burden as much as intelligence, looks or popularity. Even our language is rife with anger toward this kind of magic. Witch originally meant a wisewoman or wiseman. Wicca means wisdom. Wizard also means wiseman. Even the words for knowing have been subjected to this white-washing. Cunning just means "to know". Guile means "responsible". Guilty means taking responsibility or to have chosen. Wild means merely self-willed or proud. Wish means to strive after. Crafty means skilled or competent. Shifty meant to arrange, scoundrel meant a clever person or a poet, shill meant to separate, and witty meant wise. Weird meant simply to become and wily meant a person who was competent or a person good at divination.
Most of these words are Anglo-Saxon and became problem words when the Normans conquered Britain. Celtic words for witches seemed to have vanished long before the Anglo-Saxon invasion, leaving only words like "druid". Yet the Celts left a huge body of folklore relating to witchcraft or the Craft as some people call it. For the Celts, witchcraft was not the witchcraft of Satanic ritual, it was religion. Only in the 9th Century when Christianity underwent a housecleaning, getting rid of modified Celto-Christian churches, did many of these customs and rituals become part of the Devil.
The path of talent begins with a child who is possessed. Talent is considered to be a gift of the gods and not considered to be in the same class as looks, brains, or strength. Since the dawn of humans, people with talent were considered to be outsiders or set apart. These people became healers, artists, shamans, channelers, prophets, poets, and priests. Many times they had some kind of related problems with borderline personality disorders or insanity or physical handicaps. It is widely said that this caste was the only cast into which people were not born, but chosen for, or reborn into. There is such a wide variety of people who are marked by the brand of talent from Einstein to Jim Morrison of the Doors, from Greek sybils to faith healers, from historians and poets to Mozart and Thomas Edison and Louis Pasteur that it is confusing. This caste encompasses a wide range of mystics, scientists, doctors and artists all of whom share one thing in common: they were marked by their talent, they lived for their work, and often suffered misunderstanding from their fellows.
Magically, the difference between fire/emotions and air/thoughts is not that air magic is for those who are smart and fire magic for those who are inspired, but rather that fire people create and make and channel and translate ideas into reality, whereas air people solve crimes, debate philosophy, organize data into patterns, and summon up magical services rather than channel magic. If a wizard is a person on the path of air, his familiar is a person on the path of fire. Wizards use magic, witches make magic. Beauty is magic, or the setting of humanity's play and must struggle to "let it be". Justice uses magic to right wrongs or seek out wrongdoers and is the director of the actors. The heroes are the actors and must obey the laws of script and director upon the stage that is set for them, and everyone watches them as they seek magic and sometimes die for magic. But talent is the writer of humanity's play. Talent is the maker, the creator, the word across the void. Talent, like beauty, cannot act. Talent, like justice is not changed by the play. Talent is outside the play and yet can create and destroy the play itself.
Talent has two big struggles. Learning to discipline the fires that rage through the self and learning to build a bridge to the rest of the world. Unlike beauty, talent's path does not go into the magical world and then rise up triumphant into the real world as beauty's assets turn her from a lover into a political power. Talent's path is counter-clockwise and shows her weakest in the real world and growing more powerful as she takes the plunge into the magical world. Talent must walk a path where her struggle to deal with the fires of inspiration is in front of people in the normal world, a path that can cause extreme alienation from and scorn for everyday people. Unlike beauty, talent's way to connect to others is not through compassion. Talent must connect to others through creation and even that can become a distancing factor if the world is not ready for the visions talent tries to present.
The Witch Spiral
Urge toProject Emotions Urge to Protect Emotions
1 Inspiration Apathy
2 Intention Suspense
3 Will Reservation
4 Discipline Sloth
5 Struggle Resignation
6 Truce Destruction
7 Contempt Confidence
8 Suppression Expression
9 Censorship Revolution
10 Defamation Freedom
Although talent's path is fire and emotions, these are not the emotions of connection, but the emotions of creative inspiration and a connection, not to people, but to the magical world. Beauty connects to the magical world through physical perfection and is weak and strong there. Talent connects to the magical world through an emotional or psychic tie and is dependent upon that tie for the ability to create. Many artists and some scientists have talked about intuition and that they don't fully understand their own gifts. Some people just do "what they feel", for others the process is much more involved and sometimes explainable, sometimes even more mysterious. Every talent on the planet knows that even given 90 percent sweat, there is still that 10 percent inspiration. There is a reason why this caste represents the "back". Beauty's right hand is that of magic; the hero faces it, looking for it, justice is often a trickster, relying on that left "sleight of hand" and is more often a criminal than not. But talent's back is to the magical world as if magic were the blazing sun behind and she could only see the light by the shadow that she casts.
There is an intense struggle going on here that every practitioner of magic and every religious person is aware of. As science advances out of mysticism, the battle here is for understanding versus intuiting and people on this path fall to vicious infighting about who has real knowledge and whose knowledge is untenable. Some people recognize that today's magic is tomorrow's knowledge but there is little tolerance on this path for the ways others might get their own knowledge.
As the spiral swings down the projection of emotions becomes more and more contemptuous and intolerant until finally the path is rife with a desire to defame others to protect your own brand of knowledge. The reverse of this Tarot path shows a growing resignation as you near the center of fire where heat and pain have killed off any real ability to feel or create. Truly, the talent is his own worst enemy as seen so clearly by the flaming careers of Mozart, Morrison, Plath and Newton. If you follow this path, the rule of discipline is not just useful, it is life-saving. As more and more is understood about the creative process of making magic, we may know better how to save the souls of these talents before they burn themselves alive.
Chapter Two: Initiation into Talent - The Pitfall of Psychic Success
which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments."
- Jim Morrison
A person engaged in making magic falls into the pitfall of identifying with that magic, of transferring the self into the created world. Often times, if that world becomes popular, the creator can wake up one day and find visions and distortions of that world all around her to the point where she feels that she is trapped in a world of her making but not of her owning. The other common scenario is that the creator's vision is distorted to the point where the creator can recognize that he is the author of the creation, but be repelled and sickened by the way in which the vision has been warped. The best example of this was nuclear energy being used for destruction.
This caste is looked upon by the other castes as the people who solve the problems and come up with the gizmos or jingles or fads or toys for the rest of them to use. The warrior caste has always employed members of this caste to make weapons for them or build bridges or design engines of war and oppression. The farming caste has always had members on hand to design a new plow or a more beautiful car or to recount the history of their exploits against the people they have enslaved. The serfs have always been interested in new houses, new clothes, stuff to watch while they weren't working and pretty new baubles to decorate their children.
Although Harry Potter has no good examples of students of fire magic, this figure abounds in Science Fiction stories like Star Trek. Data and Spock were both members of this caste as well as Deana Troi and Dr. Crusher, although, like most actresses, their characters were played more as love objects. Dr. Polaski is much more true to type for this caste. In the Back to the Future series, Doc Brown is the "mad scientist inventor" so loved by Science Fiction fans. In The Lord of Rings the dwarves were members of the caste as were the Noldorin elves, of which Fëanor was the most famous member. And another member of this caste is--you guessed it--Sauron. The battle between the Noldor and Morgoth and Sauron is the most famous fire magic battle in Fantasy.
If you know the story of Fëanor, you will know that this elf, as talented as he was, dragged the entire race of Noldor into exile over his creation of the Simarils. He was passionate, intensely jealous, defensive and proud of his ability beyond all reason. Other, older characters of myth have not been so clearly enmeshed in the pit of fire magic, but they have gone to great sacrifices for wisdom. Odin lost an eye, Hephastus was lame, Bran lost his head as did Medusa.
I mentioned the Fairy Tale Toads and Diamonds in the section about water magic, but the tale applies here even more strongly. Here, the products of the voice and hands are either black with the ash of destruction and plague or gems beyond the value of gems. In the story of Toads and Diamonds, one girl is said to be obedient and polite and the other was a proud slut. The origin of the word "slut" was not a prostitute as it is today, but a cruel woman. Slut" and "slattern" are all part of the same word group that is rooted in the Anglo-Saxon slidhan "to injure, wound" and slidhen "evil, hard, cruel, savage, backbiting". The "bad" girl in the tale is not a whore, but has a hardness of spirit, a slight on her soul.
Tolkien tells us that Morgoth was a Lucifer figure who fell from grace because his song was conceived in the arrogance of his own mind and he, too, suffered from a slight on his soul. The result was all the evil of Middle Earth.
This slight or soul injury can lead a person engaged in fire magic to compensate, but it can also lead to a wound aggravated by envy and a hardness caused by scarring from childhood taunting. The worker of fire magic may feel slighted by all of humanity, feeling misunderstood for her creation and desiring fame from it and blaming humanity for its blindness in not appreciating her. She may feel that the short cut to getting her work out there is fame itself and not understand that fame is a penalty for creation rather than a reward. Often a little fame does more harm to a creator than no fame, insuring an identification with the creation. The fame that it inspired throws the fire worker into a pit of craving attention and fearing to reach beyond what has proven successful.
The problems involved with creative success and psychic success are a sloth of the soul in that the wound is soothed and the person begins to chase pain killers rather than see that the wound is part of what lets through the fire and light of the other world. Unlike beauty, talent must break the original vessel of the soul and build a pyre upon that destruction to show forth the light of fire. This unwillingness to destroy the false self results in a very warped view of the self, the magic, the creation and the world itself.
The following questions may help you to
understand this psychic sloth.
A = usually B = sometimes C = mostly not
_____ 1. Do I deserve to be famous or well known?
_____ 2. Do I think that life would be easier if I was well known?
_____ 3. Do I watch people who are considered to be famous?
_____ 4. Would I have trouble overcoming bad luck in myself?
_____ 5. Would I have trouble overcoming bad luck in another?
_____ 6. Do I look for a mate who can further my career?
_____ 7. I am freaked out by people who are talented but refuse opportunities?
_____ 8. Do I have dreams about how I should be treated?
_____ 9. Do I despise or belittle people who do not share my visions?
_____ 10. Is it important to be ruthless with what luck you have?
Add up your points. A = 2, B = 1, C = 0.
0-5 You don't have a problem with a psychic sloth.
6-15 Sometimes you have a problem with thinking you deserve more. You might want to think about the situations in which your expectations outweigh your efforts.
16-20 Psychic sloth is a trap for you. You need to be careful.
A = usually B = sometimes C = mostly not
_____ 1. Do I find most people skilled in some reason or other?
_____ 2. Do I think that life can be made more gracious and inspiring?
_____ 3. Do I want to inspire everyone I meet?
_____ 4. Do I find it easy to overcome envy in myself?
_____ 5. Do I find it easy overcome psychic flaws in another?
_____ 6. Do I look for someone to inspire?
_____ 7. Do I see some people growing more admirable as they age?
_____ 8. Do I find each person unique in the way that they are skilled?
_____ 9. Do I find that I can't define inspiration?
_____ 10. Is it important to create the life you live in?
Add up your points. A = 2, B = 1, C = 0.
0-5 The path of talent will be a challenge, but worthwhile.
6-15 You will meet challenges and you will find many things easy, on this path.
16-20 Although this journey will be easy for you, the end result is always worthwhile.
Chapter Three: The Threshold of Change - Hearing the Call of Fame
it will not last the night;
but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends - it gives a lovely light!"
- Edna St. Vincent Millay
When I was nine years old, I began to read Fantasy books. I had always been interested in Fairy Tales and had wanted to be a fairy princess more than anything in the world. In third grade I realized that although I wanted to be a princess, the kids around me decided that I was a witch. Whenever I did anything odd, they threw rocks at me, screaming that I was a witch. The only way the other girls would let me play with them was when I agreed to be the wicked witch and chase them, the princesses, around the playground.
I never really thought about what it was to be a witch. Witches were ugly old women who imprisoned princesses and tormented princes. But I read two books that showed women of magic who were powerful and good. The first was The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald and the other was The Lord of Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The women of magical powers were the Old Princess Irene who was over 200 years old and lived in a garrett on pigeon's eggs and spun fiber as fine as spider's webs and the naiad, Goldberry, who was ageless and the daughter of a river. I decided that no matter what my classmates said of me, that I was going to be like these two women and others like them that I met in books. When I was undergoing extreme stress, the vision that I had of the old princess, Irene, sustained me.
If you, like me, were very young when you knew that you were cursed and gifted in some way, then, no matter what caste you were born into, you are a member of the caste of fire and may do well to travel the path of fire magic. Most of the models that are upheld for us are failed models, or people who "burned their candle at both ends". They created a while and then burned up in drugs or alcohol, went insane or suicided. Most of the people I knew on the fire path were unstable and not a few of them suicided or wasted their lives with self destructive habits. Almost everyone on this path has felt the need to suicide at some time or other.
Part of hearing the call of fire is in the Tarot card the marks the initiate's threshold. For the prince and princess, the threshold, or initiation, card is Fortune, an opportunity, a challenge, an invitation. For the priestess and the magus of fire and air magic the threshold card is Death in the form of actual death or change. The doorway between the magical world and the real world is like a gate that swings one way. For the princess, or beauty, the gate swings wide in invitation, welcoming her or him to lose themselves forever in the land of the sidhe. The threshold guardians stand in polite attendance like the enchanted mice who were the footmen for Cinderella's carriage. For the prince, or hero, the gate is closed and he must rush past the guardians who will roar at him and push the gate open with all his strength. He is worthy of entrance if he can push his way past the gate.
But the magus and priestess are going the other way. For the magus, or trickster, using air magic, he waits until the gate opens for a death and then he slips out as the dead soul passes in, crying for him to avenge them if their death was foul. He is an escapee from the magical world, free to wreak havoc in the ordinary world. For the priestess, the gate lies open, the attendants gone. But she cannot pass unless she leaves herself behind and passes into the ordinary world as a kind of double of herself or a shade of herself. Only her creation is visible, whether that creation involves an image of a self or not is moot.
The hero must fight his way back into the real world. The princess bride or stolen lover must beg or buy their way back into the real world. The magus will eventually be caught, condemned and banished back to the magical world. However, the priestess has limited time before her body, left behind in the magical world, begins to decay. If she tarries too long in the real world, she returns to a body withered and diseased.
This magical flight back across the threshold is in the back of the mind of every novice of magic. It is signified by the great goddesses Maat, who weighed the souls of the dead, and Tiamat, who cried for the final judgement. The hero hones his weapons to pass the test and be judged worthy. The bride stocks up things to sell to be valued enough. The magus learns the art of the spy or criminal to effect justice and be judged. Yet the priestess merely feels the clock ticking, or the candle burning at both ends, for she is on borrowed time.
Here is the Matthews breakdown of two Celtic threads of inspiration. This is from "The Nine Gifts of the Cauldron" of Vocation which, according to the Matthews "is analogous to the gifts of the nine hazels of the Well of Segais--the source of all poetic inspiration".
gives and is replenished,
promotes and is enlarged,
nourishes and is given life,
ennobles and is exalted,
requests and is filled with answers,
sings and is filled with song,
preserves and is made strong,
arranges and receives arrangements,
maintains and is maintained.
Another text, The Colloquy of Two Sages runs thus and refers to the gods of Dana who were the three sons of the goddess Brigid who was inspirational to poets, smiths and healers:
Poetry, son of reflection,
Reflection, son of meditation,
Meditation, son of lore,
Lore, son of research,
Research, son of great knowledge,
Great knowledge, son of intelligence,
Intelligence, son of understanding,
Understanding, son of wisdom,
Wisdom, son of the three gods of Dana.
The Matthews put the two together thus:
Reflection: maintains and is maintained
Meditation: preserves and is made strong
Lore: promotes and is enlarged
Research: requests and is filled with answers
Great Knowledge: gives and is replenished
Intelligence: arranges and receives arrangements
Understanding: nourishes and is given life
Wisdom: ennobles and is exalted.
The Witch Spiral
Again, we can play the correspondence game and match up points on the spiral.
Projection Protection of Brigid's Gifts of Vocation
1 Inspiration/Apathy - Poetry: sings and is filled with song
2 Intention/Suspense - Reflection: maintains and is maintained
3 Will/Reservation - Meditation: preserves and is made strong
4 Discipline/Sloth - Lore: promotes and is enlarged
5 Struggle/ Resignation - Research: requests and is filled with answers
6 Truce/Destruction - Great Knowledge: gives and is replenished
7 Contempt/Confidence - Intelligence: arranges and receives arrangements
8 Suppression/Expression - Understanding: nourishes and is given life
9 Censorship Revolution - Wisdom: ennobles and is exalted
10 Defamation/ Freedom
In the following chapters I will show you what these points on the spiral mean but, for now, the entry point to the real world is at point two where talent lays down her true self to venture out to create a new world.
There are several exercises that you can do to help you meet the challenge of venturing on this path.
1. Acknowledging the Gates of Death
People in the West do not understand suicide. Only
in the Japanese ritual of seppuku is it made clear that the purpose of suicide is
to focus the soul on the eternity of the moment. One of the best descriptions of this
ritual is in the book, Shogun, by James Clavell. On this path it is very helpful
to undergo an initiation ritual that involves death of the self. This will help you to
understand that the way through the door is not actual death, but the leaving behind of
the body given for the taking up of the spirit created. A ritual of this nature should be
solitary and involve a fasting period and some kind of change that indicates that the
death of the old self has occurred: a name change, a costume, some kind of hair cut or
other ritual mourning sign.
2. Preparing to Bind the Will
The next step
involves a total humility of the spirit. It is awful. You must be able to face it with
complete willingness, politeness and obedience. If you cannot rise above psychic sloth
and prepare your spirit for the discipline it needs to survey the fire, then back off now
and do not attempt this path until a later time. Practice anything you can to understand
humility. Usually taking a menial job is good, but working as an apprentice is better,
especially if you can make arrangements for lodging and food and no wages from a hard
3. Listening to the Ashes
You do not know who your teacher will
be. Part of humility it realizing that your teacher or guide may very well be a stone or
an idiot. Part of the pride of the slut in Toads and Diamonds is that she sneered at her
teacher and thus could not learn.
4. Preparing the Pyre
Without stuff to burn, a fire will die. You must understand that it is your soul that will burn. To give up your soul to the burning, you will have to have a soul that constantly renews itself or you will burn up. Part of a good burning is preparing the pyre. You need a base from which to work. Either it will be a room or a place (good) or in your mind (better). Envision a place in your mind that is a place for constant destruction and resurrection of your own soul. It must be personal and it is better not to share it.
Chapter Four: Lighting the Fire
There was once upon a time a widow who had two daughters. The eldest was so much like her in the face and humour that whoever looked upon the daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable and so proud that there was no living with them. The youngest, who was the very picture of her father for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was withal one of the most beautiful girls ever seen.
As people naturally love their own likeness, this mother even doted on her eldest daughter, and at the same time had a horrible aversion for the youngestshe made her eat in the kitchen and work continually. Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a-half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it.
One day, as she was at this fountain, there came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink. 'Oh! ay, with all my heart, Goody,' said this pretty little girl' and rinsing immediately the pitcher, she took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while, so that she might drink the easier. 'You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift.' For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country-woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of the girl would go. 'I will give you for gift,' continued the Fairy, 'that, at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel.'
When this pretty girl came home her mother scolded at her for staying so long at the fountain. 'I beg your pardon, mamma,' said the poor girl, 'for not making more haste.' And in speaking these words there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls and two diamonds.
'What is it I see there?' said her mother, quite astonished. 'I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl's mouth! How happens this, child?" The was the first time she ever called her child.
The poor creature told her frankly all the mater, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds. 'In good faith,' cried the mother, 'I must send my child thither. come hither, Fanny; look what comes out of thy sister's mouth when she speaks. Wouldst not thou be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given to thee? Thou hast nothing else to do by go and draw water out of the fountain and when a certain poor woman asks you to let her drink, to give it her very civilly.'
It would be a very fine sight indeed,' said this ill-bred minx, 'to see me go draw water.' 'You shall go, hussey!' said the mother; 'and this minute.' So away she went, but grumbling all the way, taking with her the best silver tankard in the house.
She was no sooner at the fountain than she saw coming out of the wood a lady most gloriously dressed, who came up to her, and asked to drink. This was, you must know, the very fairy who appeared to her sister, but had not taken the air and dress of a princess, to see how far this girl's rudeness would go. 'Am I come hither,' said the proud, saucy slut, 'to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you have a fancy.' 'You are not over and above mannerly,' answered the Fairy, without putting herself in a passion. 'Well, then, since you have so little breeding and are so disobliging, I give you for gift that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad.'
So soon as her mother saw her coming she cried out: 'Well, daughter?' 'Well, mother?' answered the pert hussey, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads. 'Oh! mercy,' cried the mother' 'what is it I see? Oh! it is that wretch her sister who has occasioned all this' but she shall pay for it'; and immediately she ran to beat her. The poor child fled away from her, and went to hide herself in the forest, not far from thence.
Once upon a time there was a widow who had two daughters; one of them was pretty and clever, and the other ugly and lazy. But as the ugly one was her own daughter, she liked her far the best of the two, and the pretty one had to do all the work of the house, and was in fact the regular maid of all work. Every day she had to sit by a well on the high road, and spin till her fingers were so sore that they often bled. One day some of the drops of blood fell on her spindle, so she dipped it into the well meaning to wash it, but, as luck would have it, it dropped from her hand and fell right in.
She ran weeping to her stepmother, and told her what had happened, but she scolded her harshly, and was so merciless in her anger that she said:'Well, since you've dropped the spindle down, you must just go after it yourself, and don't let me see your face again until you bring it with you.'
Then the poor girl return to the well and not knowing what she was about, in the despair and misery of her heart she sprang into the well and sank to the bottom. For a time she lost all consciousness, and when she came to herself again she was lying in a lovely meadow, with the sun shining brightly overhead, and a thousand flowers at her feet.
She rose up and wandered through this enchanted place, till she came to a baker's oven full of bread and the bread called out to her as she passed: 'Oh! take me out, take me out, or I shall be burnt to a cinder. I am quite done enough.' So she stepped up quickly to the one and took out all the loaves one after the other.
Then she want on a little farther and came to a tree laden with beautiful rosy-cheeked apples, and as she passed by it called out: 'Oh! shake me, shake me, my apples are quite ripe.' She did as she was asked, and shook the tree till the apples fell like rain and none were left hanging.
When she had gathered them all up into a heap she went on her way again, and came at length to a little house, at the door of which sat an old woman. The old dame had such large teeth that the girl felt frightened and wanted to run away, but the old woman called after her: 'What are you afraid of, dear child? Stay with me and be my little maid, and if you do your work well I will reward you handsomely' but you must be very careful how you make my bedyou must shake it well till the feathers fly; then people in the world below say it snows, for I am Mother Holle.' She spoke so kindly that the girl took heart and agreed readily to enter her service.
She did her best to please the old woman, and shook her bed with such a will that the feathers flew about like snow-flakes; so she lead a very easy life, was never scolded, and lived on the fat of the land. But after she had been some time with Mother Holle she grew sad and depressed, and at first she hardly knew herself what was the matter. At last she discovered that she was homesick, so she went to Mother Holle and said: 'I know I am a thousand times better off here than I ever was in my life before, but notwithstanding, I have a great longing to go home, in spite of all your kindness to me. I can remain with you no longer, but must return to my own people.'
'Your desire to go home pleases me,' said Mother Holle, 'and because you have served me so faithfully, I will show you the way back into the world myself.'
So she took her by the hand and led her to an open door, and as the girl passed through it there fell a heavy shower of gold all over her, till she was covered with it from top to toe. 'That's a reward for being such a good little maid,' said Mother Holle, and she gave her the spindle too that had fallen into the well. Then she shut the door, and the girl found herself back in the world again, not far from her own house; and when she came to the courtyard the old hen, who sat on top of the wall, called out: 'Click, clock, clack, Our golden maid's come back.'
Then she went in to her stepmother, and as she had returned covered with gold she was welcomed home. She proceeded to tell all that had happened to her, and when the mother heard how she had come by her riches, she was most anxious to secure the same luck for her own, idle, ugly daughter; so she told her to sit at the well and spin. In order to make her spindle bloody, she stuck her hand into a hedge of thorns and pricked her finger. Then she threw the spindle into the well, and jumped in herself after it.
Like her sister she came to the beautiful meadow, and followed the same path. when she reached the baker's oven the bread called out as before: 'Oh, take me out, take me out, or I shall be burnt to a cinder. I am quite done enough.' But the good-for-nothing girl answered: 'A pretty joke, indeed; just as I should dirty my hands for you!' And on she went.
Soon she came to the apple tree, which cried: 'Oh! shake me, shake me, my apples are all quite ripe.' 'I'll see myself farther,' she replied. 'One of them might fall on my head.' And so she pursued her way. when she came to Mother Holle's house she wasn't the least afraid, for she had been warned about her big teeth, and she readily agreed to become her maid.
The first day she worked very hard, and did all her mistress told her, for she thought of the gold she would give her; but on the second day she began to be lazy, and on the third she wouldn't even get up in the morning. She didn't make Mother Holle's bed as she ought to have done, and never shook it enough to make the feathers fly.
So her mistress soon grew weary of her, and dismissed her, much to the lazy creature's delight. 'For now,' she thought, 'the shower of golden rain will come.' Mother Holle led her to the same door as she had done her sister, but when she passed through it, instead of the gold rain a kettle full of pitch came showering over her.
So the lazy girl came home all covered with pitch, and when the old hen on the top of the wall saw her, it called out: 'Click, clock, clack, Our dirty slut's come back.'
But the pitch remained sticking to her, and never as long as she lived could it be got off.
The purpose of the retelling of these two Fairy Stories is that they are vital to the understanding of a difficult concept that I am about to present to you in more detail. If you walk the path of fire, people will condemn you for undergoing this trial, but it will save you. There are ways to make it through this trial, keeping a journal, having a friend to talk to, setting boundaries on where you will undergo the trial. Since there are no places set up other than monasteries for this kind of trial, as an individual on the spiritual path, you may have to do this yourself. If you are very lucky, you may find a mentor who has the discipline to do it for you.
You must find Mother Holle. This may mean going to work for someone, but you have to make sure that they will make your work, beyond anything that you would want. The more they can make you work, the more menial your work, the better. Often, young people find that college is enough of a challenge if they keep their grades high and their load heavy and also do some sort of work on the side. The object of this is to discipline the body to endure the fire of the soul. If you cannot do this, you will probably fall into drug abuse or madness or another form of bodily destruction to mimic the spiritual path where you left your body behind in the magical world.
Think of the things that monks must do. Pray in all hours on little sleep. Meditate on a mantra such as "om" until their brains about explode with the tedium. Wait on the sick. Do menial cleaning tasks or work as laborers. Fast, wear itchy clothes, go celibate. The reason for this is not false humility--the reason for it is to discipline the body for the fire of god. People creating things have to have incredible discipline in order to meet deadlines and deal with staying up all hours when they are inspired. This exercise is to save your health, not to humble your spirit. If you spirit is not humble before you attempt it, forget it.
Take some time, (and a notebook) and seriously answer these questions.
1. What is the worst demand of your body? Hunger? Sleep? Sex? Conversation?
2. What is the worst demand of your personality? Attention? Envy? Boredom?
3. How can you best design a task that will destroy these demands?
4. How long can you keep it up? How many years will it take to curb these demands?
5. What are you willing to do for the sake of the fires of inspiration?
6. What can you do to make Mother Holle happen in your life?
7. Can you find menial work in the field that interests you?
8. What drives you crazy? What distracts you?
9. Can you listen to a stone? Are you arrogant about what is said to you?
10. Practice listening. Listen to everyone and then write down what they have taught you.
11. Can you face giving up connection to the world?
12. If you had to give that up, would you still do what you are doing?
13. If everyone stood against you, could you still listen to them?
14. What can you do to prepare for the fires of the path?
Chapter Five: The Protection of Invisibility
'All right,' said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
'Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; 'but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life!'"
Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
In the movie The Doors, there is a scene where the band is trying to encourage Jim Morrison to face the audience. His shyness was so great that he could not. He took on a persona in order to deal with his very confrontational profession. He had started as a poet and ended up as a Rock and Roll star. Most people traveling the path of fire have to take up a persona or learn to become invisible to survive being misindentified with their creation. Of course the problem with this is that other people will then identify you with your persona. David Bowie, a master of persona, made it a point to change his persona every once and a while. This both thrilled and angered his audiences but it gave him a chance to reject the world he had just created and explore another.
The original masters of persona were clowns. The clown still represents the entire field of theater and drama. The circus is still one of the great institutions of fire left that is not religious. The kind of schooling that clowns undergo is mind boggling. They essentially give up everything for the privilege of clowning. The theater is not without its rituals, but the circus has an entire world surrounding it that supports and values the lifestyle of the fire path.
The university is a mixed situation with the major focus usually on team sports. Some academic departments still will adhere to the fire path, but most of them are turning more and more toward the business of schooling, not the discipline of schooling. Very seldom do you see any of the professions still carrying on an apprentice program that is compete with costume to both set you apart and disguise you except for the medical profession. Their whites, green smocks and aprons are still a badge of invisibility that binds them to their profession rather than to their status or their physical form. The medical profession also carries with it the long years of discipline, but that is breaking down under the pressure of business again.
One of the places where invisibility is a serious issue is on a personal level. If you have chosen to walk the path of fire, or if it has chosen you, the deeper you get into fire magic, the more awkward your personal relationships will become. Many people on this path already have odd personal problems, so the etiquette is completely different on this path. In any profession and in any situation there is a standard of behavior and a jargon that identifies the situation and helps members within the group relate to each other. Here are some fire tips.
The first real heartbreak on the path of fire magic is the topsy-turvy world of love. If you are a woman on this path you are going to meet with real problems as society's expectations of your gender run headlong into your own creative fires. Often for many people of the fire path, a poor love life is necessary for inspiration. It doesn't have to be, but you must adhere to the etiquette and be prepared to explain it to others. I will give you a little list to help you.
1. People will think that the invisibility screen is playing coy. This will anger and make you feel dirty and betrayed. There is a kind of love magic that involves the tease where the girl plays this running away game to incite the male to a chase, or vice versa. Be prepared to meet people who will see your invisibility or your persona as a challenge to a chase.
2. People will be intensely jealous of the time it takes to create. They will not be able to handle your being alone for large chunks of time or your going out to practice your profession. Doctors often marry nurses and artists scientists for this reason. Even though you have to put up with the madness of other people practicing fire magic, this is often the only relationship that works. If you feel torn and guilty for creating, it will make you miserable.
3. You can't meet the in-laws. Forget it. Unless they are a fire path family, which is very, very rare. There was a reason in ancient times for clans to be dedicated to professions. No matter how "normal" you are, the in-laws are going to see right through that and recognize that you are not good family material. Face it. You aren't under their rules.
4. You may have very weird sexual problems. Even the most normal of people on this path are often plagued with sexual oddities (not that other people aren't too!). But for people on the fire path, especially if they are steeped in fire magic, sex is part of the created self. Sex, and love, will take on the nature of the created story world. This might be fun for some people initially, but they might see it as a game and tire of the "facade".
5. You may not have a lovely bone in
your body, or want one. Be prepared for people who consider it a challenge to "fix
you up" or make you normal. Women often love this job if they want power over a man
in a subtle way. Even my mother, who is steeped in fire magic, won't be seen with my
father in most of his clothes. It never occurs to him that a sweater doesn't fit and he
excels in the geek look. You may not want someone constantly nagging you to be
Face it, family is complicated. It takes an incredible amount of time. Unless you have a support net, as soon as you have kids you have all kinds of people getting involved. Most families are set up under the farming class guidelines where money is married and passed on as a legacy. If you intend to use fire magic to raise fire path children, beware. The entire fabric of society will be against you. Believe me. I did it, but I'm from a fire magic clan. My parents are intensely proud of how weird my child is. This goes for art families, gay families, free love families, religious families--you name it. If it isn't Beaver Cleever, you're in for a time consuming battle.
The reality is that children take an incredible amount of time.
Maybe you have an army of nannies and nurses and governesses and tutors and private
schools, but all the goddesses and gods of this caste were virgins (not with children).
When you have children, they may even be weirder than you can deal with or they may be
normal. Both extremes are going to pour water all over any fire you want to tend.
Friends, too. If you have professional friends, stick to your profession. If you have personality disorders, if you have to be invisible or take on a persona, your friends are going to have a rough time. You'll have to be as creative about friendships as you are about everything else and that, too, takes time.
Remember. Warning. ALERT!!!! Your time is limited. Everything you do on this path takes time that you may not have. The great composer Ravel, on his death bed could not stop weeping. When asked, he said that he was playing all the compositions that he did not have time to creater. If you get stuck or distracted, you're going down. You'll arrive back in the magical world with the body of putrid rot that you won't want to own, let alone inhabit. All these things take time. Sometimes they are worth it. Sometimes they are essential. Sometimes they are part of the magic themselves. Learn the difference. Learn it now.
Etiquette for Fire Magic People
At points in our lives, we lived in chosen communities of fire people. Here are some pointers.
1. If you have a social occasion, anyone can cancel at the last minute. You cannot ask why. The main problems are time and energy. The first value is creation, not society.
2. If you meet and haven't seen each other for a year and a person just starts up a conversation where you last left off on some point of esoteria, do NOT ask where they have been or anything about their past. If they want, they will tell you.
3. Polite means considerate, not proper. Polite means never forcing a conversation. Polite means never asking about health. Polite means never forcing eye contact. Polite means never commenting on appearance. Polite means dealing with the interface, no matter how bad it is. Polite means dealing with the handicap and not doing the pity and can I help you? thing. Polite means never saying "how are you" but waiting patiently for a spew of information, maybe about something very strange. Polite means whatever costume is there, is there, not for comment.
4. Never ask about the spouse or kids.
5. Always expect to adjust thermostats, noise, lighting or anything else in the environment that is jarring.
6. Never sit next to a fire person. Never stand in front of them. Stand at a distance and look off in another direction. Sit at an angle, not beside not in front. Face your body at an angle away.
7. Never ask, what? Never repeat yourself unless asked. If the person mutters, too bad.
8. Taboo conversations are: childhood, jobs (not work), appearance, friends, anything personal. Watch mystical conversations with science people or vice versa unless you're prepared to fight about it.
9. Acceptable conversations are: anything esoteric, anything involved, anything abstract, professional conversations among professionals, meaning of life conversations. Prepared to be interesting as all hell and prepared to be torn to bits.
10. Never raise your voice or show emotion unless it is called for. Most people steeped in fire magic are more than a little unhinged and take most stuff personally. They are often extremely adept at reading you and will over interpret more than you can imagine.
11. If you get yelled at, it's not personal, but immediately apologize profusely. Be prepared to apologize quite a bit, for you will always be offending someone.
12. There are no battle except over knowledge. I repeat: THERE ARE NO BATTLES EXCEPT OVER KNOWLEDGE. No personal battles, period. They are far too stressful and take up valuable time.
13. Try not to waste anyone's time. The clock is running.
Chapter Six: Ways to Resist Substance Abuse
by virtue or by vice, by friend or by fiend, by prayer or by wine."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Drugs and alcohol have always played a part in religious rituals, magical quests, and spirit journeys. They played a similar part to fasting, sleep deprivation, meditation, dancing, chanting and other mind altering states. Many people in the last century rationalized the use of drugs for the purpose of awakening the spirit. Most religious teachers do not recommend the use of drugs for this purpose for the initiate because of the dangers of not being able to control the state. Most primitive and not so primitive rites have a guide who carefully watches the initiate to make sure the the "trip" is not a nightmare. Nevertheless, many people on the path by themselves swear by the use of drugs. Sometimes the state resists access through any other way except drugs and you find yourself getting into a very bad loop where the more of the drug you take, the less it works as your mind and body habituates to the drug and the state slips away.
In my personal experience and in my wide reading it would appear that only the discipline of years of hard work can help a student bring the state at will.
Writers, musicians, artists and other creative souls are besieged by the question of finding inspiration. Beginning students always ask, "where do you get your ideas?" Unfortunately, the real answer is that if you have to get ideas, you've no business trying the force the issue. Since so much of the arts is dedicated to finding a vehicle for marketing, the quest for ideas is often the veiled quest for money. While this purpose is not bad in and of itself, usually this quest is tied to earth magic and clashes badly with fire magic which deals with inspiration and channeling the spirit world through some creative medium. This the reason why so many artists are not good at marketing and vice versa creating often unbearable clashes between people of different goals and different values.
Channeling the spirit world or trying to forge new territory into a realm that has been--until now--not well understood, is always work that requires an enormous energy from the individual. Groups can sometimes forge new territory together, and again, drugs can help create a bond like that of a shared experience or a shared past can create a bond. And, again, in the controlled environment of ritual this bond can be immediate and fruitful, but a bunch of guys just getting together to try to bond through drugs or any of the other mind altering states can just be a bunch of guys all trying to overcome each other's problems. This is painfully true often with people who walk the path of fire because they often have so many problems already with interaction and relationships to groups.
Music has a particular ability to alter the mind state. So does darkness. Much of fire magic involves interacting with the dark, one of the reasons it has such a bad reputation. A wonderful image of fire magic is in the story, Vassalisa, where Vassalisa returns home from the witch Baba Yaga with the fire that her stepmother sent her for. She runs through the woods at night with a stick. Upon that stick is stuck a flaming skull. The skull burns up her stepmother and sisters when it looks at them after she gets back home.
So much of the imagery of fire magic is dark due to the long era of Christianity. Christianity is an advanced form of an earth and water based religion. The long years that Christians have persecuted every image of fire and air magic that they could, makes fire magic among the most dark and most painful magics to access alone in the dark on some wild trip with drugs. Of course the survival of such a trip, reinforces the use of the drug and the cycle begins.
Yet the real problem that people have with drugs on this path is when the drugs become part of the persona, the invisible cloak, or become part of the way that the personality copes with the real world. The spiral of beauty arcs up into the real world where the initiate goes from being a lover into being a queen or an empress. But the spiral of talent is the fall back into the underworld beginning at the gate of struggle. Often the same repetitive cycle occurs if talent cannot face going back into the other world, often accompanied by the dark king or kidnapped, by the dark king like Persephone. The horror of the realm of the dead are aggravated by ravages of the body left behind and the initiate may turn to spirit numbing drugs to just make it through the day. Yet the drug use usually begins as part of the veil to keep the spirit safe from the real world.
The cycle of addiction is often started by struggle and resignation while in the midst of trying to make something work of doing actual practice or work, or some tedious part of the creative cycle. The initiate gets into loop of apathy and a suspended spirit, giving excuses like "I'm still doing research" or "I'm trying to get ideas" or other postponing excuses while the clock is ticking. The awareness of time can aggravated this problem making the initiate run even more quickly for the mind numbing bottle. Often the path becomes protective, and the spirit is destroyed and suppressed and the self defames the self in an orgy of envy and self hatred.
The path through this trap is more than temperance. It is more than self-will. It involves the burning up of the parts of the soul that hang onto the real world. Material comforts play such a big part in this trap that all religious orders are full of warnings about greed, gluttony, lust and other real world sins. If the initiate to fire has been inspired by any of the products of the real world they will often return there with a burned out soul, looking for inspiration, but settling for comfortable forgetfulness.
Testing ties to material traps.
1. Have I ever used something sacred to me to pay my rent? Did I feel used?
2. Have I ever caved into using my talent for the gain of others out of guilt?
3. Have I ever caved into using my talent for the gain of myself because others loved my work? Did I feel used?
4. Have I ever turned to some comfort food or drug to try to escape myself?
5. Did I find that what had helped me escape from the real world worked to escape myself?
6. Have I ever envied other people so much that I mimicked their behavior even though I
7. Have I ever gone against my spiritual intuition for the sake of compromising on my work?
8. Have I ever tried to fill myself when I felt empty?
9. Have I ever coveted another's work because my own was not going well?
10. Have I ever rationalized my behavior? Did I find that drugs/alcohol helped me do this?
If you answered yes to any of these questions (yes any) you have fallen into the temptation of self abuse and need to work on a cleansing fire. Cleansing means that you are purging the ashes from your spirit, cleaning the hearth of bones and bits and pieces of unburned material. Cleansing means more than "turning a new leaf" it means turning from the real world back to the practices and disciplines that attracted you to the fires of the spiritual world in the beginning. You may also find that the ravages to your body may require twice as much discipline as you ever had before and you may want to seek help in dealing with the shock and side effects of trying to purge and burn yourself back to an inspirational state. Letting go of another material abuse--that of body image--can help. There are few things that can destroy fire energy faster than grief about a body image.
The next round of questions involves realizing pressure from outside yourself that may be contributing to the feeling of needing a heavier veil or wanting to run away.
1. Have I ever felt the need to do work that was marketable?
2. Have I ever felt pressured by a mentor to go into a field that was lucrative?
3. Have I ever been encouraged to do work that did not appeal to me?
4. Have I ever felt guilted into doing uninspirational work for the good of mankind?
5. Have I ever worked for bread in a field that was close but burned out my desire to do my own work?
6. Have I ever come out of work into the real world and felt a shock?
7. Have I ever been irrationally angry at having to earn my own way and waste my time?
8. Have I ever felt bad about doing my own work because it didn't benefit anyone?
9. Have I ever worked under the burden of supporting another financially?
10. Have I ever been censured for not being a team player?
You have to realize that in Western cultures the farming castes have risen up and just about made the culture fit their own values. They also drag along slave values, but rarely, if ever, do they do anything but disparage warrior and priest values. Warrior values are criminalized, but priest values are openly ridiculed in public if grudgingly acknowledged in private. Often people on the fire path who have "sold out" or been financially successful with their work are among the worst to criticize doing work for spiritual value rather than material value.
The point of work in the farming and slave castes is for material gain and comfort. Work in the warrior caste is openly despised as being "beneath" them. But work for the priest caste, whether you are a scientist, an artist, a poet, a doctor or a priest is a calling, The work is done because of itself, because the spirit is accessed through these doorways. This is almost incomprehensible to the other castes.
As a consequence, you will find that everyone is against you. The magic you do is "black magic", the work you do is "non lucrative and frivolous" and your values are "anti-family" and "anti-productive". Think of it this way. The other castes need fire to light their hearths and cook their food. They fear the flaming skull, which is the epitome of fire magic, and they fear the forest fire, the lighting strike--any fire that is destructive and a threat to their crops, their goods, or their homes. If your values, as they should be, have nothing to do with crops, goods, or homes, and you need the fire as the earth needs the fire, to burn out dead wood, then you're going to have trouble. Big trouble.
If you turn to drink, you're caving into their values. But find other ways to deepen the veil. Go off by yourself. Find a way to deal with your financial burdens to get them off of your shoulders. Do menial work to help with your discipline. Work with your hands if your spiritual work is with your eyes and brain. Work with the arts if your spiritual work is musical. If your work is manual, try doing office work or something mental to pay your way. And just pay your way. Everyone, especially if you're good at what you do, will pressure you to get successful at it. As soon as you cave into pressures for advancement, responsibility and money get into your life, your spiritual life with fizzle and inspiration will go up in a cloud of smoke. A bigger trap is having your spiritual work sell well and you feeling stuck in a rut to keep churning out the same crap over and over just for the dollars. If you're feeding a habit, you'll only be further away from any pursuit of truth, let alone becoming a guiding light.
Chapter Seven: Becoming the High Priestess
The seasons change and so do I
The light that strikes the tallest trees
Will light a way for I
Will light a way
Up toward the sky
It's a blue sky
To lose along the way
The spark that set the flame
To flicker and to fade
On this the longest day"
- U2, Indian Summer Sky
Unlike water magic, which must flow, unobstructed, through the initiate in order to work effectively, fire magic must be held. It can, like the fires of the Vestal Virgins be a sacred fire on a hearth in a temple, or merely a fire on a hearth in home. It can like Baba Yaga's fire, be held within the confines of a skull to light a way through the woods and burn out the souls of wrongdoers. It can be a bonfire, lit as a beacon on a high hill. Yet, for fire magic to be magic, it must be set on a clean hearth, tended, fed and kept from spreading or going out.
This is dark magic, or magic from the night. Fire magic is also represented by the moon, the planets and the stars, all of which are celebrated at night. Many say that Stonehenge was a monument to the great passage of the sun and a place of ritual for the gods and goddesses of the earth and the harvest. Before that--long before--it was a place for the priests and priestesses of fire to watch the planets, the stars and the moon.
The gods and goddesses became mixed up, the new ones taking on attributes of the old. At one time, water magic, fertility magic was of the sea and lakes and springs and rivers and fields under the sparkling rain. As the goddess grew, she took on all the attributes of the goddess of the moon, the wild animals and the fire. This goddess was as late as Artemis and Persephone to the Greeks, Diana to the Romans, Brigid to the Celts. Yet her cults were far, far older than modern man himself. They have found evidence of the hearths of fire "worship" in Neanderthal caves as far away as East Asia that are as old as c. 400,000 BCE
A priestess is not a representative of the goddess on earth. She is a channeler of forces and a communicator of messages from the spirit world around. Fire has always been an aid in helping the mind to see what cannot readily be seen.
In times of old, stories and histories and knowledge and spells were not written down. They were memorized as chants or songs. Song, for humans, is a way to remember things as well as being attuned to the spirit. Some people suggest that song accesses the right brain, non-verbal, visual centers. Song and chants are used to bring about a trance-like state of high awareness. Even today, when people camp out they sings songs around the campfire. Although this is a far cry from a priestess in a cave chanting out messages from the other world to the flames of a fire, the magic is still there. Every feels the attraction of sitting in the dark with a fire, singing.
As a the High Priestess of the Moon and Stars, this is your magic. You are Vassalisa running through the woods with a skull of fire. You are Brigid standing with your 18 priestess in a spiral around the sacred fires of Ireland, chanting to the rising moon. You are Artemis waiting for the rising of the Bears, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor or the Wolves, Canis Major and Canis Minor. Yours is the great star, Sirius, around which Stonehenge was originally built.
The holiday of fire is at Candlemas, around the first of February. This day was originally dedicated to Brigid. But fires were lit at all the major holidays. At the beginning of the year, in any of the ancient Western religions, all the fires in the land were rekindled from the sacred fire. All over Europe, the ancient holidays of the Celts are still celebrated with fire. Although when people wanted something, they went to their nearest holy spring and gave a gift to the goddess of the waters in exchange for her mercy, fire was never a gift giving celebration. Fire is an ecstatic celebration and was used more often for cleansing. Animals were blessed and cleansed by leading them through two fires.
Part of fire is the fuel for the fire. One of the most sacred images to Celtic poets is "the green and burning tree" signifying both the tree between the world of the living and dying, but also the burning branch. Wood was classified as to how well it burned and the most popular were the holly and the "yule" or apple and other members of the rose family, pear, cherry, hawthorn, and the witch's tree, Rowan. The word for Rowan in Gaelic is "luis" which means "burning" both referring to the color of the berries and the leaves in fall as well as the wood. Rowan thickets are found in ancient oracular places as well as near stone circles. The original stake to kill a vampire was of Rowan. Rowan berries were the "apples of immortality" and the tree was said to ward off lightning. Poets wands were of hazel and ash and the oracle/priestess's wands were of rowan.
The priestess of fire is also a priestess of flowers, or a maid of flowers like Persephone who became the Queen of Hades. Her trees were the three trees of the Rose, Rowan at Candlemas, Hawthorn at Beltaine, and Apple at the equinox.
Although it is impractical to light fires, you can celebrate fire magic with candles. Scented oil burners are also a good way to celebrate fire. Candles should be lit at dark, and celebrations should be held during phases of the moon. If you share a house, it might be impossible to sing, but put on a pair of headphones and listen to music that stirs your soul. If you can, try to get a room in your house or apartment complex from which you can see the rising of the moon. Incense and oil are also part of the rituals of the fire priestess. If you cannot light candles, light some incense and watch the smoke.
For most of the world, television has taken the place of the fire. People use to watch the fire and listen to the stories or the songs. The ritual is the same. If you have felt strangely while sitting in the dark by yourself watching television that was moving, you have felt the power of fire magic.
Through fire magic, the human world is created. The master of fire magic is the writer of the human drama. Understanding fire magic is to learn the difference between the created world and the world around. All of human endeavor, all rules, all customs, all culture, all clothing, food, shelter, things--anything manmade, has been created through fire magic. Celebrating fire magic involves learning the power of the fire of creation.
To do this, is is necessary to destroy something. If you have a fireplace, it is easy to burn something, which is best. Often you can burn a little in a candle flame if you are careful. The task is to burn selectively, not to let the fire get out of control. If you live in the country, you might be able to have a bonfire. Be aware of local fire conditions.
Pick something that has soured for you. Whether it is a note from a past love, a piece of writing that didn't work, a drawing, a picture of someone, a doll--it must be something that will burn and not burn your house down. If you are blessed with a wood stove or a fireplace, save all the work that didn't work and burn it as a ritual. You will be surprised at how cleansing this is.
This is the purpose of fire magic. You must celebrate the world around through the passages of the moon and sun, the seasons and their creatures, but through the destruction and creation of something of the created world. As soon as you pick a flower or cut down a tree or trim a branch, it is in your hand and represents the created world, or the world that a human has effected. Be aware that music or singing will give this ritual a reality that almost nothing else will, especially if everything else is silent. You, the stars, the moon, the dark, the fire and the singing is the magic.
Chapter Eight: Black Magic and Destruction
the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind.
If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
- Albert Einstein
There is a real human problem that comes with pyromania. Arson is a crime that is very attractive to some people. Fire is often used as revenge, but also because the power to destroy is very attractive. Usually fire workers confine their destructive urges to self-destruction or the destruction of relationships with people close to them, but there is a real danger to spread destruction as far as it will go if you feel suppressed or sickened by what is going on in the world. Often, I have listened to people say that all the humans should be killed off in a plague or that they should leave the planet for the animals. Some people look at humanity as a plague. These attitudes are very common for people on the fire path.
Another image of the person strong in fire magic is that of the Tarot card "Strength" or Crowley's depiction "Lust" representing the Whore of Babylon, a figure in the Biblical story of the Apocalypse or the Book of Revelations. Other figures of this nature show up in other Gottdämmerung stories: the giantess Hel, the queen of the Titans, Tiamat and fire gods that accompany them such as Loki and Shiva. The end of the world is often rife with fire, ice, and plague.
Part of the fear of fire magic is in this position of destructive power. The maker of fire magic can tame the wild beasts of destruction or set them loose. The lion, another image of the destructive powers of fire represents the end of the agricultural year in many cultures. The star, Regulus, in Leo disappears in July to show again at the equinox. This passage through the sun of any of the signs of the zodiac has been used for time keeping. In 4,000 B.C. this passage of Leo was at the summer solstice and coincided with the "death" of the sun as the days began to grow shorter. At this time, most of the images of the sun were female and the moon was male. The passage of stars through the sun's fire was a strong image that gave fire magic it's popularity. It is only appropriate that the image of the destruction of humanity should be this lion goddess or Regulus.
Fire magic was also dominated by the image of the raven, a harbinger of war, the wolf and the snake who also play large roles in the Norse apocalypse. For the Norse, the end of the year was heralded by the first sighting of Antares, in Scorpio, and the setting of Sirius, in Canis Major. Hel who was represented by Regulus between them right at the arrival of winter.
Over and over again, a the person who creates the world, feels the need to wipe it clean with destruction and start it again. This is often the case in any venture of creativity. At some time in the creative process, you will feel the urge to destroy your created world so that you might start anew. Some people never publish for this reason. In metal smithing, anything that has served its purpose can be cast into the fire to be made into something else.
Often a creation might be used as a weapon. Over and over again the story of Medusa is enacted. The head of creativity is cut off by a champion to be used to vanquish enemies. In this case, the creator may feel betrayed to the point where she (or he) feels that humanity itself is perverse and should be purged. Unless you understand that you are the one who can bring hope to humanity, then you shall continue to be responsible for the destruction that has been unleashed. Many of the people who worked on nuclear power turned into champions for the harnessing of its power and the "banning of the bomb". The smith is not the one who begins the war, but the smith is the one who had made the weapons.
Weapons are not only the tools of war, but the tools of sickness. In ancient times, witches were as responsible for sickness as they were for healing sickness. This included soul sicknesses as well as body sicknesses. Over and over again, if a person became sick it was because they were cursed by the "evil eye". All a witch had to do was the Medusa trick--her very presence would freeze the soul and cause it to sicken and often die.
Very little do people understand the nature of creative power. They sometimes have celebrated that the hand that brings forth life also takes it away, but they feared the passage of the spirits though a witch and never trusted her to not pass along bad spirits as well as good. Something lucky was often turned into something unlucky with very little thought. Since much of the creative process cannot be done as a cooperative venture, then the process is unseen, hidden in the folds of that cloak of invisibility. What is unseen can be good or bad--how is one to know?
The fact of the matter is that for fire magic, there is no good or bad. There is making and cleansing and they are often part of the same process. The blackened face of the maker of fire magic is hardly ever seen as beyond the drama of good and evil. For some, everyone must be drawn up in the battle of good and evil, so if the maker is reluctant to take sides in the drama of the false world, then he is cast down, she is despised and made evil. The bringer of light becomes the king of evil. Prometheus is tied to the rock for bringing fire to humanity, Eve is banished for giving of the tree of knowledge and eating of the apples of immortality that grow on the world tree circled by the wyrm of the world.
Another of the ways that the destruction can get out of hand is through the maker herself. Fire is a dangerous tool. When a hearth is dirty the fire doesn't burn properly. When the hearth is ill prepared, or fed improperly, the fire spreads into the world, wiping out everything in its path. Sometimes there is the urge to pile on all the fuel available all at once just to see how large the pyre can get. Sometimes there is a soul weariness that settles upon the tender of the hearth who forgets to clear the ashes or poke at the fire. Sometimes the fuel runs short. At other times the tender turns away, distracted and the fire jumps and spreads outside its bounds. Not always are fires caused by someone stealing the flame.
None of the paths of fire are easy, but the path of fire requires the most self-discipline. The wizards of water and earth magic have to prepare themselves, but after that, is is a matter of continuing to follow the heart's path and not to grow abusive. The path of fire requires more and more discipline the further it is walked. For as the created world grows, its destructive power grows until it becomes a possible weapon of Armageddon. It is your responsibility to manage the flame so that it does not get out of control, just as it is your part to tend to the flame so that it does not die.
Chapter Nine: Hope
"Use all thine energy to rule thy thought:
burn up thy thought as the Phoenix"
- Aleister Crowley
The Babylonian goddess, Gula, a healer with her dog
and her pot, was also a goddess of fate. Her symbol was the rose and her sign was that
of Aquarius. Although goddesses of fate and goddesses with dogs and goddesses with water
are all over the pantheon of gods, the wielder of fire's last point on the spiral is that
of Hope or freedom and noble wisdom. The Tarot card for this point is the Star, which is
Gula, pouring out the waters of healing onto the desert of destruction. In August, Sirius
could be seen for the first time at dawn, rising just as Aquarius set. In February,
Sirius could be seen at sunset, rising just as Aquarius set into fires of the sun.
After the fires have burned across the land, one can look up into the smoldering dark and still see the dance of the stars. Hope is renewed. Now becomes the time of healing. The noblest task is now set, that of bring hope in the night, water to the desert, healing to the burned out spirit.
It is the gift of fire magic to bring hope where there is none. Just as, for the created world, you are the Last Judgment, the Destroyer, and the Judge of the Dead, you are the Maker and can thus resurrect or remake the metal from the fires of the Cauldron of Inspiration.
In any time, the wielder of fire magic can act as a beacon of hope. Too many times, the maker of fire acts as a mirror of the self-destructive nature of the false world, showing mankind its own flaws and faults and follies. Too often, artists depict sickness, as doctors, surrounded by illness, see everyone as ill. It is more important to bring the healing ray of hope into the dark night of which you are queen.
Movies and Books
Ancient Story Motifs:
Brigit and Dagda, creator myths
Prometheus other fire stealing myths
Clash of the Titans, Ragnarok, and other doomsday myths
Dr. Who - Christmas Carol and the Black Spot
Many biographies of famous creators: The Doors, Amadeus, Beautiful Mind
Marvel Comics - X-Men Phoenix series
The Fifth Element
Jeanne d'Arc and many Nun stories
The Andromeda Strain
Books, Stories and Movies that have classic Fire Magic characters, Stories in which
there are two or more who represent multiple sides of this magic:
Fifth Element - the Diva and Lelu
Star Trek - Tam Elron, the First ST movie
Marvel's X-Men Series - Jane Grey/Phoenix
The Matrix Oracle as opposed to the Trickster Architect
Many familiars show up in movies, usually as sidekicks, Fawkes the Phoenix in Harry Potter
The Witch, Familiar, Weapon, or other uncontrollable talent, very rarely has their own story, but is part of another story. They can show up as angelic or draconic or both such as the Phoenix. Often they are misunderstood and seen as self-destructive.