Day 242: Summoning the Gods

Before beginning today’s practice, complete all the circle-casting steps we’ve learned this far.  Set up the altar and the tools, light the quarter candles, consecrate the elements and yourself, cast the three layers of the circle, and draw the invoking pentagrams for each element as you call the elements to the circle.  Once that has been completed, follow Roderick’s instructions for calling down the deity:

Stand at your altar in the center of your magic circle and face the south.  Allow your arms to hang at your sides naturally.  Open your hands so that the fingers all point down.  Open the thumbs away from the fingers so that they create a 90-degree angle.  Bring your hands together now at your pelvic level so that the tips of your thumbs meet and the tips of your index fingers meet.  This should form a triangle with the point down.  The palms of your hands should be facing your pelvis.

Take several slow, deep breaths.  Imagine sacred energies from the earth climbing your legs and filling your body.  When you sense this energy, separate your hands and slowly bring them up in an arc along the sides of your body so that they meet above your head to form a second triangle–thumbs and tips of index fingers touching.  This time, the point of the triangle is up, and the palms of your hands are facing away from you.  Now imagine a white-hot energy penetrating the crown of your head, filling you with divine energy.  Imagine this energy mingling with the energies of the earth.

Tilt the top of the triangle away from you and point it down, bringing the triangle back to the place where you began, in front of your pelvis.  Imagine the energies of earth and sky meeting within you.  Now say:

You who have been from beginning to end,
Our rites and mysteries now attend.
Most ancient of Maidens, Mothers, and Crones,
Lord of the Hoof, of antlers and bones,
Where fire meets earth, and wind meets sea,
Hearken our call; so mote it be!

For all intents and purposes, you’ve now cast a magic circle!  Congratulations!  At this point, for a full working, you’d need to perform the working  and conclude with the cakes and wine before closing down the circle.  That is not necessary at this point–just take a few moments to rest and feel the energies present in the circle.  However, since you have constructed a magic circle, you can’t just walk away when you’re done:  you have to properly dismiss the energies.  To do so, you thank the gods for attending, and then bid them farewell, then banish the elements (going from east to north, draw the banishing pentagrams and bid farewell to the elements), then close the three layers of the circle.  Walk widdershins around the perimeter while imagining the energies subsiding.  Roderick recommends saying “Earth will crumble my circle, Water will cause it to fall, Fire will burn what’s left in the urn, and the winds will scatter them all” as you do this.  When you arrive back in the east, it’s customary to declare the circle open, and many do so by saying something like “The circle is open, but unbroken.  Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again!”

Triangle of ManifestationIf you are just calling down generic God and Goddess energy, I think this method of inviting deity into your circle is quite lovely, although it does really resemble the grounding and centering I’ve been practicing with Hartwood Grove before ritual (minus the gestures).  I like that it allows you to consciously tap into the energies that are outside you, then bring them into you.  It echos the whole ‘as without, so within’ theology, and really does serve as a very light ‘drawing down the gods’.  It’s really effective!

I also very much enjoy the use of a magical gesture here,  and this is one that is very useful for a solitary drawing down.  The downward triangle is a feminine symbol, and we’ve used one made of the hands and placed before the pelvis before as part of a Maiden Pass.  At that time, I also noted that a similar gesture has also been used as a water gesture, and–as you’ll see, that upper triangle has been used as a fire gesture.  It is a more masculine gesture.  Magically, the combination of an upward-pointing triangle and a downwards-pointing triangle form a hexagram, which represents perfect unity and the magical axiom of “as above, so below.”  Again, then, this fluid pose combining the two states is very appropriate for drawing down the diving masculine and feminine energies.

However, this is obviously not the only way to call deity, nor would I even say it is the best way.  Deity calls sould be as specific as you can make them.  If you really want to call Brigid and Cernunnos, for example, you should call them by name and invite them with specific prose, movements, and offerings that would appeal to them.  Sometimes you might just want to call a god or a goddess–not both.  Whatever you do, though, you should obviously put some good, constructive thought into what you’re doing to invite the gods you want to work with into your circle.

Advertisement

Day 50: The Sage, Invocation Prayer

Yup, I’m still persnickety about that line. Where this says “By the absence of sun, by hoof and horn” I said “By the dark moon and buckled horn.” Except I really do like ‘gnarled’ better, so I said that instead of buckled.”

Exercise:

Stand facing the north. Light a violet or black candle and set it on a table before you. Ignite self-lighting charcoal, then sprinkle loose incense (white sage) on the hot coals. Practice the magical pass of the sage, and hold your arms in this position while you say:

By Arawyn and Anubis,
By Beli and Balor,
By Osiris and Oghma,
And the countless names of power,
By the absence of sun, by hoof and horn,
Come ye Sage,
Thy Holy Rites reborn!

When you are finished, sit where you are, close your eyes, and sense the sage’s presence.

The Sage’s presence is one I wouldn’t mind keeping around for awhile.  It is Readiness.  After the invocation, it sort of felt a bit like my seventh chakra spiraled open.  I stood up taller.  I felt more…confident, yes…but that confidence was ready for action.  It wasn’t compelled to act, though it could have–it was more along the lines of ready for anything that might come.

Day 45: The Provider, Invocation Prayer

Exercise:

Use your compass to find the south  Face that direction.  Light a red candle and set it on a table before you.  Light a self-lighting charcoal and then sprinkle a blend of frankincense and benzoin onto the hot charcoal.

Practice the provider’s magical pass and hold your arms in this position while you say:

By the Oak King and Odin,
By Herne and Helios,
By Thoth and Thor,
And the countless names of power,
By the noonday sun, by hoof and horn,
Come ye father god,
Thy Holy Rites reborn!

When you are finished with this invocational prayer, sit where you are, close your eyes, and sense the provider god’s presence. When you are finished, extinguish the candle.

I really don’t know what I was expecting out of this invocation–perhaps the sense of “get up and go” that has accompanied some of my other provider work.  But this…this was odd.  The sensation wasn’t overly powerful…in fact, I really had to focus–I mean hard!–to get a sense of the provider through the incense, candle, and pass before I could say the invocation without it just being words.  In fact, I had the (slightly awkward) script memorized by the time I could say it and mean it.

And then afterwards?  I got a fair little whallop to my brow chakra.  All of a sudden, that area became heady, and I sort of ‘saw’ light, and felt my body become enveloped in a spinning sensation.  I don’t know why this seemed to be focused on the brow chakra and not the throat chakra, but that is what happened.  It felt incredible, but it dissipated quickly and left no lingering sense of purpose–either for the experience or just in general.  It doesn’t seem particularly ‘fatherly’ to me.

Day 40: The Inseminator, Invocation Prayer

Man, I don’t want to sound like I’m always hating on Roderick’s poetry…but what the heck is up with the “morning sun, by hoof and horn” line? The three invocations for the goddess coupled a goddess symbol with a god symbol in this line…now we’ve got god/god? Seriously?

Even though I vowed to use Roderick’s invocations verbatim, I just can’t do this line. So I’m copying the appropriate line from the goddess ones here. Where this says “By the morning sun, by hoof and horn,” I will recite “By the crescent moon and horn.”

Exercise:

Stand facing the east. Light a yellow candle and set it on a table before you. Ignite self-lighting charcoal, then sprinkle loose incense (cinnamon bark and pine) on the hot coals. Practice the magical pass of the inseminator, and hold your arms in this position while you say:

By Pan and Prometheus,
By Dionysus and Dianus,
By Loki and Llugh,
And the countless names of power,
By the morning sun, by hoof and horn,
Come ye Fertile God,
Thy Holy Rites reborn!

When you are finished, sit where you are, close your eyes, and sense the inseminator god’s presence.

There was no candle or incense for me today, for I attempted this exercise while at work.  And I think it served as quite the testament that you can bring a little magic into any place and using any tools.  I took a moment to try and center and bring my attention to myself and the inseminator, then I performed the pass and felt again that sensation of mirth and joy.  When I said the invocation, I waited only for the space of a heartbeat and a new sensation entered me.

It was almost like…hunting.  I wanted to search for sensation.  I wanted to turn on music and dance.  I wanted to feel heat.  I wanted to experience the adrenaline rush of fear.

Did the external environment feel any different?  No…but this predation feeling was not something that was brought out from within me, and when I dismissed the inseminator, it faded away.

Day 32: The Crone, Invocation

On a poetic note, I approve of Roderick’s coupling of the internal “nn” of Inanna and Rhiannon much better than him stretching for the initial alliterative as with the Mother’s Cerridwen and Ceres. It’s also the first time I’ve ever heard of the phrase “buckled horn.” I literally cannot find it mentioned anywhere else on google but in this passage. Something in me likes the phrase as a the god’s equivalent to the dark moon symbol…but it is so close to meaning ‘broken,’ I just can’t bring myself to believe it appropriate. Weathered maybe? Seasoned? Gnarled?

Exercise:

Stand facing the west. Light an indigo candle and set it on a table before you. Ignite self-lighting charcoal, then sprinkle loose incense (mugwort and star anise) on the hot coals. Practice the magical pass of the crone, and hold your arms in this position while you say:

By Hecate and Hel,
By Sophia and Sekhmet,
By Inanna and Rhiannon,
And the countless names of power,
By the dark moon and buckled horn,
Come ye Crone Goddess,
Thy Holy Rites reborn!

When you are finished, sit where you are, close your eyes, and sense the crone goddess’ presence.

I think I have learned something very important from the combination of the gesture and the invocation. It really does help align the immanent and transcendent aspects of the deities. I first evoke the aspect within me, then I invoke the aspect around me. It’s a very elegant subtlety. Though none of these invocations have been particularly powerful or resonant with me (indeed, they feel like dead words), they still bring something and I am more attuned to it because I have already found that energy within myself. I think I understand why Roderick has organized these aspects like this now.

The crone invocation was confidence, pure and simple. Queenly confidence, within and without. Bliss.

Day 27: The Mother, Invocation

When we did this exercise for the Maiden, I made my feelings on the invocation plain. They remain the same for the mother, but I did my best to set that aside and continue to follow Roderick’s directive. But oh, was it hard. I say “Cerridwen” with a hard C and “Ceres” with a soft C. So cacophonous…seriously, alliteration on paper does not always translate into practice. At least the meter is marginally better in this one.

Exercise:

Stand facing the southwest. Light a green candle and set it on a table before you. Ignite self-lighting charcoal, then sprinkle loose incense (meadowsweet and oakbark) on the hot coals. Practice the magical pass of the mother, and hold your arms in this position while you say:

By Demeter and Dana,
By Aradia and Astarte,
By Cerridwen and Ceres,
And the countless names of power,
By the full moon and branched horn,
Come ye Mother Goddess,
Thy Holy Rites reborn!

When you are finished, sit where you are, close your eyes, and sense the mother goddess’ presence.

As with the maiden invocation, this did not feel powerful, but I did note subtle changes in the atmosphere when I completed the invocation. The space outside of me felt warmer–not physically, but emotionally. It was kinder and more loving.

Day 22: The Maiden, Invocation

In a way, I’ve just been waiting for Roderick to get to an Invocation–something that usually is relegated to a formal circle (at least in my practice). It seems that with most newbie books, authors tend to rush straight to this point. And that can get interesting. I think it was Ellen Canon Reed who noted with horror that some circles could begin with “Let’s call Kwan Yin! She’s so cool.” and “Oh yeah, and we should totally call Cernunnos alongside her!” (Not really a direct quote, but the gist.)

I think to some extent, Roderick has done just that. Yes, we’ve had 22 generally very instructive days leading up to this point, but invoking gods and goddess without first creating a space worthy of them just seems…wrong. And, as you will note, Roderick doesn’t ask you to release the Maiden once you’ve invoked her. That’s just bad manners, not to mention magically iffy. What if she lingers and interferes where you don’t want her to? Though I can understand why Roderick’s sort of ‘streamlined’ the process at this stage, there are a lot of things I am dissatisfied with in the following exercise:

Exercise:

Stand facing the northeast. Light an orange candle and set it on a table before you. Ignite self-lighting charcoal, then sprinkle loose incense (myrrh) on the hot coals. Practice the magical pass of the maiden, and hold your arms in this position while you say:

By Persephone and Pandora,
By Ariadne and Athena,
By Brigid and Branwen,
And the countless names of power,
By the crescent moon and horn,
Come ye Maiden Goddess,
Thy Holy Rites reborn!

When you are finished, sit where you are, close your eyes, and sense the maiden goddess’ presence.

I’m not saying this to be mean…but just because you’re a pagan doesn’t mean you’re a poet. Sometimes, I think some in this religion might think the two go hand in hand. But if you pick up practically any book in the metaphysical section, and your bound to find a metric shit-ton of gag inducing verse. Is this in itself bad? No. If you’ve put the energy and care into creating a piece of ritual language, it will have more power for you than anything you could have ever found in a book. It doesn’t matter how aesthetically pleasing the language is at all. This is practically Craft Fact.

On the flipside, just because it’s published in a book doesn’t mean that’s the only way it has to be. My only personal ‘requirement’ for invocations, for instance, is that they are an enticing invitation. “Would this make *me* want to R.S.V.P.?” is what I ask myself in composition. Roderick’s particular invocation does not. It really boils down to “By you and you and you and you, come here, I’m re-enacting your ritual!”

Charming.

I could write a small paper on why I don’t think this is a good form for an invocation and offer suggestions on what I think is better…but I have decided to ignore this for the time being. Similarly, I’ve also decided to ignore the niggling itch to write my own darn invocation. The reason for this is that this invocation is riffed upon on days 27, 32, 40, 45, and 50. I think that maintaining the similarities across these six aspects of deity is important. I want to be able to give them each equal ground and come to them all ‘fresh,’ as Roderick expects his audience to be. To write six different invocations, I would have to take a fair bit of time to study and reflect on all six now. That would color my view later.

I am, however, going to create sacred space in which to carry out these invocations. That is only right.

So how did this particular invocation go?

Well, I wasn’t expecting it to be powerful…and it wasn’t.  I did the pass and felt my maiden energy and then I said the invocation.  I tried to make the words meaningful, but they felt awkward and stilted.  Still, I think I felt the mood of the atmosphere lift–it became happier and more lively.  And that was in tune with the maiden energy I felt in me.