Ostara Ritual

A bit belatedly, we celebrated Ostara last night.  However, the timing worked out excellently as it was also a penumbral eclipse of the moon in Libra. So with the equinox, the eclipse, and the Libra vibes, this Sabbat was about the balance SO HARD.

Three points of the triangle, three realms, three witches.
Tonight all are perfectly converge on this point that is our covenstead.
Two seasons balance on the equinox to create a third: the time in between.
The sun, the earth, the moon, alight to create eclipse’s shadow.
The triangle’s edge and the world beyond cleave to create this sacred space.
Two points intersect to make a third, two points merge to make new whole. Three times two to create one.

1. Midnight – north- earth/crystal – order:
Midnight! Still point of the spinning earth fixed upon your pole star.
The seasons circle by your design. Here is the fulcrum upon which the seasons balance!
O, come and be our Compass.

2. Sunset – west – water – chaos:
Sunset! Primordial waters of the sunset, flood into us from the ancient abyss.
The eye of the hurricane, you are the center of this sabbath of transformation.
O, come and be our Cauldron.

3. Sunrise – east – light – energy:
Sunrise! Gilded aurora of the dawn sun.
As you will, the celestial bodies clash, merge, and reconcile again.
This is the season of your increase as day overtakes the night.
O, come and be our, Blade.

4. Below – earth – matter:
Below! The earth’s warm depths into which all things descend and emerge.
Welcome us into the arms of our ancestors.
O, come and be our Altar.

5. Above – aether – void:
Above! the etheric void, the magic of the unknowable oblivion.
Seasonless expanse, lend us your perspective.
O, come and be our Veil.

6. Moonrise – around/center – air – consciousness:
Moonrise! Our circle’s edge, embracing all that is lit by your orb.
Border of the betwixt and between, the equinox is your delight.
O, come and be our spindle.

7. Within – center – the coven:
Within! We converge upon this crossroad.
We are the equinox and the eclipse when the sun, the moon, the earth, day and night, light and shadow, align.
O, come and be our Key.

“Two points intersect to make a third, two points merge to make new whole.”
The opening prose was adapted from a ritual I wrote last year for another working group. That call used 8 points,so that ritual was about twos and mathematical squaring, 2 x 2 x 2, etc.
The Uncoven witches, on the other hand, have been playing around with a three point “triangle” rather than a circle. You can hear more about using 8-point calls and triangles to set up the circle in our Yule Ritual podcast! Anyway, to fit the theme of threes into a holiday all about balance which tends to be symbolized by two equal halves, I tried my best to use the number three to symbolize the blending of twos into a third overlapping space or twos merging into one.

“Three times two to create one.”
So with the previous ritual, the 8 points worked out perfectly from an arithmetic perspective: 2 cubed (2 x 2 x 2) equals 8. I hate numbers and suck at math, but even I knew that all 2s all night was not going to make any fucking sense for a triangle casting between three witches. Long story short, I divided up the directions and elements into two sets of three plus a bonus one at the end for a total of seven. My thinking was:

1st set of 3 – the lateral directions or triangle:

2nd set of 3 – the vertical axis:

Bonus point or the symbolic “sum” of the triangle and axis:

Midnight, Sunset, Sunrise
These guys are pretty analogous to the traditional 4 compass directions (north, west, south, east).

Sunset is effectively the same as traditional west since that is literally where the sun sets and both use the element of water.

Same for Sunrise in the east. Depending on your transition east can be the element of air or fire. I usually do fire in the south because I think of high noon, or south pointing to the equator and heat and I use air for east by process of elimination. For this invocation, I decided fire went best with Sunrise and the dawn goddess domains of beginning, light, and energy.

Midnight is north since that is the direction that the sun does not travel across (int he northern hemisphere). The element is similar to the traditional northern earth, but I made it a bit more specific with metal/crystal with Midnight/north earth being crystalline or inorganic and Below being organic, literal earth or soil.
As with my other rituals, I work counter-clockwise hence the north, west, east order.I chose names that were commonplace directions rather than compass points. A lot of people don’t know where due north without a compass, but most people know the general direction of the sun’s path around their home.


Below, Above, Moonrise
This set represents the vertical axis. If the triangle is a flat, 2 dimensional shape on the floor, this second set adds the third dimension of height and depth.

I’m still working on the order for these ones. I feel like they should correspond somehow with the first three somehow. Midnight and Below are both earthy– Midnight is metal/crystal, Below is organic earth or soil. On the other hand, I see Midnight and Above/Void as being crone energy as both directions are kind of witchy and mysterious. On the other hand, the order could be stacked by how it appears on the axis; right now it is not. Going in order would yield Below, Moonrise, Above bottom to top or Above, Moonrise, Below. Although as a grounding an centering, I do like bringing up energy from the ground, pulling down energy from above, and mixing it in the middle which would be the order that I used. So, yeah. Not quite hammered out yet.

I’m also not set on the names. I shoved “Moonrise” in there because I knew we’d be doing the ritual when the actual moonrise was happening and that it would look rad. Plus, why let the sun have all the fun when we usually work at night? However, this leaves Above and Below the odd ones out as they are directions, not times. So perhaps they will get more poetic astronomical titles like Nadir and Zenith if that doesn’t feel too pretentious.


“Within” came from my 8-point grounding, but I think for the purposes of this 7-point call, it will probably also due for a name change. In the 7-point system this seventh point represents the sum of the other six and signifies the witches together and the magic space and a self-contained entity. Another kind to fuss with in future rituals.


“Welcome us into the arms of our ancestors. “
A small tweak, but one that I like, this line was changed from “the arms of the Underworld” to “ancestors.”

exquinox 2016

our ritual sky was the moonrise in the east, a thunderless lightning storm in the west and Orion above


Inventing a Goddess – Archetypes

There are several tangled backstories to this tale.  Many are threads that go back a score or more years (score sounds much more elegant than 20, which just makes me feel old!).  A few are knotted and loop  back around.  So I will begin at the title and work back from there: Inventing a Goddess.


Now that I had 6 forces, six colors, and three guides, I figured that aligning each force with an archetype or personification would help give each more of a personality and help me flesh them out a bit.  Three of the forces I identify with goddesses or divine guides from my journey work, so they already had a headstart on having a persona, name, look, and feel.  The other three would have to be built up from scratch, so I figured a concise title or role would be a solid place to start.

 Triple Goddess and Archetypes
The maiden, mother, crone associations are familiar to most witches. The trick was coming up with 3 more archetypes that were as well-rounded and powerful! I scoured every list of archetypes I could find: Jung, tarot, ancient pantheons, Carol Pearson, folk tales, and more. Just like with narrowing down the six forces, I tried to whittle the choices down by what archetypes were independent concepts and which were more like aspects of an umbrella one.  To keep myself on the right track, I also brainstormed themes and attested goddesses that fit the type.







the Crone the Witch the Priestess the Scholar the Huntress the Lady
wise woman destroyer healer teacher protector sovereign
sage whore weaver scribe explorer the Empress
grandmother trickster sister judge hunter the Lover
widow outlaw guide leader smith child
 the Hermit rebel oracle architect heroine consort
sorceress farmer
themes themes themes themes themes themes
limitlessness destruction moon wisdom passion Nature
 sorrow transformation magic the mind  art the body
 abyss independance intuition  logic creativity fertility
death lust  spirituality  fate action mistress of the animals
primordial creation the Tower  the soul Justice Strength love
underworld  the Devil compassion Wheel of Fortune Chariot  the World
goddesses goddesses goddesses goddesses goddesses goddesses
Hecate Kali Isis Athena Brigid Demeter
Nyx Eris Selene Fortuna Hestia Artemis
Persephone Circe Frigga Janus Neith Feronia
Nun Baba Yaga Freyja Ma’at  Sekmhet Hathor
Nephtys Morrigan Kwan Yin Thoth Durga Rhiannon
Hel  Morgan le Fay Nimue Merlin  Ishtar Green Tara
 Sedna Lilith the Madonna Sophia  Pele Eve


the Unknowable – the Crone

The jist that this list seemed to summarize was that the Unknowable was a force of wisdom, age, and a certain amount of isolation or mourning (Hermit, widow).   “Crone” invoked all those feeling so I kept it.  Although “crone” tends to invoke a aged woman, my desire is that the crone archetype is not specific to an age or some kind of post-menopausal, reproductive cycle milestone.  The crone is marginalized, even feared, because of her connection to the otherworld and her separateness from the mundane realm.  Otherness is unsettling, frightening, and even grotesque.  Lamentably, these qualities are often conferred on age or infirmity, but the Crone is a state of gnosis and liminal status, not a diagnosis of the body.


Chaos – the Witch

Chaos is a force of destruction like Kali and a trickster like Loki: a force of flux and upheaving the status quo.  Outlaw, rebel, whore, and stranger all describe a transgressive nature that is explicitly negative from the normative point of view.  I felt that “witch” best summarized this role with the twist that just as “witch” is pejorative to outsiders, it is not necessarily negative or destructive to those who claim the title.  Chaos can be a force of destruction, but also one of positive change.  The matter of perspective regarding whether change is good, bad, or merely uncomfortable is a key element to the force and the archetype of the witch.

I often summarize witchcraft as “the art of bending fate or wyrd to one’s Will.”  By analogy, the witch manipulates the strictures of fate just as Chaos challenges the conventions of the Ordered universe.

“Whore” was a close second choice.  The Babalonian current is one that is relevant to this archetype, not to mention I like the inversion of the “maiden” archetype which I’ll get to below.  In the end, I felt that “whore,” like rebel, destroyer, etc, just didn’t have the reclaimed dual meaning that “witch” does.  Here’s to hoping that one day it does!


Consciousness – the Priestess

I knew before I started that I wanted to drop the term “maiden.”  The politics of female virginity are just too loaded and problematic.  Even with the modern pagan spin  “maiden” meaning simply a  “free” or unmarried woman, the word is still tied to women’s sexual autonomy and participation in or abstinence from (symbolic or physical) male relationships.

The current of Consciousness is very lunar, intuitive, feminine, and spiritual.  Consciousness refers not only to personal consciousness or the soul, but the sentience of and connectedness to the consciousness that is the fabric or web of the cosmos.  The force of Consciousness is the conduit by which the individual recognizes her own divinity and subsequently the divinity in all things.  I was immediately drawn to the Tarot trump of the High Priestess to represent this idea.  The priestess is an intercessor or guide connecting the mysteries of the microcosm and macrocosm and presides over acts of devotion and illumination.


Order – the Teacher

As mentioned in other posts, I have had a hard time defining the white goddesses Consciousness and Order.  They just seem to overlap a lot in my mind.

I felt deeply that Consciousness was lunar with all the associations of intuition, feminine cycles, the subconsciousness, and tidal ebb and flow.  I also knew that Athena and Ma’at as strategists and arbiters of justice were Order-ly goddesses.  By leapfrogging across pantheons with these goddesses in mind, I pieced together a picture of a lunar, gentle, spiritually inspiring, feminine Consciousness. The other side of the coin, Order shaped up to be a scholarly, no-nonsense force of objectivity, words, learning, and truth.

The archetype of Order was strongly defined by the deities I associated with it, gods of wisdom.  Across mythologies, the domain of intelligence is paired with writing (Thoth), justice and truth (Ma’at), political strategy and infrastructure (Athena), and more.  I decided that “teacher” described not only the academic and intellectual side of Order, but also the role of a teacher as a mentor or leader and also as a judge, evaluating a student’s proficiency.


Energy – the Huntress

For Energy. I had a tough time choosing between the terms “warrior,”smith,” and “huntress.”  Energy is all about action, movement, and passion.  “Warrior” invokes those aspects of strength, protection, and force.  However, the other side of passion is inspiration, creativity, and art.  The smith, a crafts-person, relates more directly to these concepts.   I came upon Huntress later as a riff on Warrior.  A bit more versatile, a huntress can provide for her tribe and act as the protectress of the wild like the traditional Mother, but can smite just as surely as a warrior. All three terms have a wealth of lore in other traditions, but for now I like injecting the gynocentric Maiden-Mother-Crone trinity with an unabashedly aggressive title.


Matter – the Lady

I strongly relate the force of Matter to the Empress tarot card.  The Empress is the terrestrial feminine archetype in contrast to the celestial, lunar Priestess.  The Empress is fertile in all the meanings of the word.  She revels in a bountiful harvest, she tends to tame and wild animals alike, she is a loving mother or caretaker of others.  She luxirates in her senses, relishing the physical world of taste, touch, sound, companionship, and intoxication.

This one was tough for me.  Unlike the use of “priestess” for Consciousness, the tarot card “empress” is more of a title than a role or archetype, even though the card is deeply evocative.

Matter is the creatrix and custodian of all life.  In that sense, “mother” describes not on the reproductive act of generation, but also the role of nurturer, biological or otherwise.   I aspire to assemble a cast of archetypes that are not too tied to a literal reproductive cycle, role, or age.  However, like virginity, motherhood is deeply tied to a lot of problematic gender issues in our culture.  Being a mother– especially a “good” one, however that is defined– is still inexorably tied to how womanly a woman is, how exemplary or despicable she is morally, and maps one’s entire landscape in terms of things in which a mother should or should not participate.  I find those connotations restrictive as an archetype, but at present I am still struggling to find a suitable alternative.  Some possibilities are:

Nature.  After all, Mother Nature is the most old school mama of them all.  However, nature is more of a force or “thing” unlike the other titles which are more conventional human jobs or roles.

The Lover.  It is suitably Tarot-derived and emphases not only maternal or nurturing love, but also that of the friend, companion, or paramour.  On the other hand, I always feel a little ridiculous using the term unless it is preceded by the word “chocolate” or “pizza”!

The Lady.  It has a pleasingly old fashioned, pagan elegance to it and invokes the beneficent ruler aspect of the Empress without being too specific to an liniaged royalty.  As a honorific, “lady” conjures up unabashedly girly-girl femininity and grace, but at the same time confers authority and rank.  The tarot’s Empress and Mother Nature both prefer to do their business using more honey than vinegar, but both can pack one hell of a wallop when they need to,  so the duality of ladylike charm and sovereign authority of “Lady” fits well.

The Sovereign.  The Queen.  The Dame.  Variations on Lady, these titles play on the roles of queenship, authority, and divine ownership of the land.  All effectively summarize the intended meaning, but I’m still looking for the one that has that “ring” to it.



further reading:
Grimoire of the Vokaor
Owlsiprit, Katara Zunmir’s site

related post:
Inventing a Goddess – Creation
Inventing a Goddess – How Many?
Inventing a Goddess – Combining Paradigms
Inventing a Goddess- Colors



the Boat of the Sun


I go down my well using my coven cord.
I drop down and land in a red wasteland.

The dusty sand is red the sky is yellow and hazy with heat.
The landscape is scarred by fissures in the dry soil.
Within them, they well with magma or blood
but around the edges of these jagged wounds,
the soil is fecund with fresh moss and shoots.
It is the Egyptian Underworld where the boat of the sun passes each night.

As I realize this, I call to Anubis.
He appears, but rather than embracing me, states that I must journey alone.
I step into the barque, feeling uneasy and unprepared.

Nephthys appears and although she does not get into the boat she floats alongside,
parting the shimmering drafts of heat before us so we drift on a cool current.

The journey is brief.
Rather than ascend back into the mortal world, I disembark at a tiny temple.
It is a open-air courtyard of bone-white marble.
It is Nephthys’ House.

Relieved, I think, well, that wasn’t so hard…

Anubis rolls his eyes and says smiling,
“You’ve traveled this path many times before.”

Anubis and Nepthhys  anoint me.
Nephthys gathers my soul parts in jars making sure each is whole and and properly housed.
They give me a draught of oily black liquid.
At first think it is embalming fluid and struggle to sit up, shaking violently as it goes down.
Then I wonder if it is the water of the Nile.

Nephthys replies, “Yes.  And more.  it is the waters of Nun.”

It is time to return.
I climb up a pillar carved and painted like a stylized lotus.

I open my eyes.

This journey took place as part of a ritual on the Vernal Equinox/ lunar tetrad eclipse.
The conversation preceding the journey was a discussion of primordial, pre-creation gods and forces including, not surprisingly, Nun.

I was reclining in the Jivaro South American Lower World posture.  Another journey using this pose took place in the Greek underworld.

related posts:
Below, Under, and Above.

further reading:
The Power of Ecstatic Trance: Practices for Healing, Spiritual Growth, and Accessing the Universal Mind. Nicholas E. Brink, Ph.D.
Ecstatic Body Postures: An Alternate Reality Workbook. Belinda Gore.

Inventing a Goddess – Table of Correspondences: Colors

There are several tangled backstories to this tale.  Many are threads that go back a score or more years (score sounds much more elegant than 20, which just makes me feel old!).  A few are knotted and loop  back around.  So I will begin at the title and work back from there: Inventing a Goddess.


Up to this point, I had six forces and three divines guides with their three colors.  The six forces ended up not splitting into 3 even pairs as well as I had hoped.  Each pair was really more of a primary and secondary dyad.  What I was going for however, was six equal forces, not three forces with three subordinate counterparts.  So my next step in evolving my pantheon was coming up with three new personifications and colors in addition to Black, White, and Red.

The Black, White, and Red divine guides can spontaneously and independently from my invented cosmology through journey work.  They kind of found me.  Looking for or creating three news ones is pretty much the exact opposite approach.  Since I was at a loss for how exactly to get started, I worked with what I know best: painting!

the Six Colors

The starting three (red, black, white) were preassigned by virtue of the appearance of my three divine guides.  Those are just the colors they showed up wearing.  However, these colors have an exhaustive amount of witch  lore and symbolism associated with them that makes them significant,! so that probably wasn’t much of a coincidence…

The most ancient Paleolithic art used such a black, white and red palette.  Some examples of other systems that include black, white and red as a foundation are the Native American Medicine Wheel, the ancient Egyptian Red and Black lands, and the Greek bodily humors.

Light (white), dark (black), and vivid color (red) are the most basic, mutually distinguishable colors to the eye.  All languages distinguish between black/dark and white/light.  If a language has a third color term it is always red.  Whether or not a language names additional colors or how they divide up the visible spectrum varies, but these are the basic building blocks. (This is an extreme oversimplification of linguistic research, but is sufficient for this exercise.¹)

The literalness of the ancient pigments was really appealing  so I generated the additional three, by straight up mixing the first three.

paint swatch

Presto!  Six colors!  Now the hard part, assigning the new colors to Chaos, Matter, and Order.

Assigning the Colors

So from my previous love affair with listmaking, Chaos, Matter, and Order each had one color preassigned.  The trick was now to figure out what the secondary force or ingredient was to generate the color.

Black Goddess

White Goddess

Red Goddess

unknowable chaos order consciousness energy matter
unknowable +  ?  | order  +  ? energy +  ?







White was the most complicated for me to unwind.  One, I hate white.  I have always disparaged it as unimaginative “default” color like white apartment walls, white t-shirts, blank paper.  My knee-jerk response is always that white is a lazy, inspired, BORING choice.  That’s kind of unfair, but it is what it is.  Secondly, I was really having a hard time seeing the white goddess as two distinct entities.  Brainstorming analogous goddesses really helped with this issue.  With that in mind, I abstracted Consciousness as being a mix of  the logical mind of Order expanded across the void of the Unknowable, becoming the intuitive soul.  So after all that, Order ended up as white and Consciousness was Order’s white and the Unknowable’s black mixed as gray.  Gray is a bit dreary, however, so I upgraded to silver, a perfect lunar shade.

For Chaos, I imagined it like the Big Bang, which evoked Energy (explosion) in the void of creation (Unknowable).  Therefore, I assigned Chaos dark red (black plus red) or maroon.

Matter was created by Order building it out of the raw materials of Energy so Energy’s red and Order’s white make pink.  Although earth and matter are usually either brown for soil or green for vegetation,  pink is the color of many shades of skin, flesh, or meat so there is a visceral symbolism with pink that evokes the organic life.  I liked the pink concept since it evokes the Homeric “rosy-fingered dawn.”  Life in all its forms is a kind of perpetual dawn and that hopeful exuberance ended up shaping the personality of Matter in other ways as well.   By analogy, Matter can alternately be represented by gold or copper just as Consciousness is both matte gray or metallic silver.

Black Goddess

White Goddess

Red Goddess

unknowable chaos order consciousness energy matter
 |  unknowable energy  | order unknowable |   energy order








Evauating the Results

I was originally unsatisfied with my logic since at first it seemed that I was altering the genealogy in my creation story.  If Chaos is Energy + the Unknowable and Consciousness is Order + the Unknowable did that mean that they were “younger” than their ingredients?  In my story, Chaos precedes Energy, but in my color chart it is “made” of red Energy.  Consciousness is similarly created by mixing Order’s white even though in my story Consciousness is the progenitor of Order rather than the other way around.

However, the mystery I unraveled is that birth isn’t quite as simple as mixing paint where two ingredients go in, blend, and cannot be extracted again.  I was being too literal!  Chaos and Consciousness naturally contain black, they were born out of the Unknowable. and yet heir respective red and white parts were already in them too. When those parts were separated and distilled to create Energy and Consciousness, the more distinct base colors of red and white were revealed in their clarity.  Just like reality, the easy to observe and measure forces of Order-ly physics and the Energetic qualities of heat and brightness are only the surface of our reality.  Underneath that are the murkier hues of what we do not yet have the means to perceive or understand.  

Pretty amazing what thoughts you have when mixing three colors around!


further reading:
Grimoire of the Vokaor
Owlsiprit, Katara Zunmir’s site

related post:
Inventing a Goddess – Creation
Inventing a Goddess – How Many?
Inventing a Goddess – Combining Paradigms
Inventing a Goddess – Archetypes



Wyrd and Wood


I stand at the World Tree and am drawn upwards.
I am going to ask Amaroth about tarot
and about herself.
Her hall is a white tower or mill
All sharp, clean lines and smooth surfaces.
The tower soars into the stars
and descends back down as a well.
It glows with white-blue light.
At first I assume it is moonlight,
but is is really starlight.

I ask, do I choose the World or the Wheel of Fortune?
In my deck, the Wheel is called Wyrd.

Amaroth answers,
Wyrd is the wood that fashions the temple of the gods.
The Tree is an axis going up and down.
The branches of the the World Tree is the web of Wryd,
extending in all directions.

Moreover, The weave of Fate’s tapestry is also the fabric of the tree.
It is what the Tree is made of.
What everything is made of.
Witching one’s Wyrd– shaping or directing it–
is like playing a lyre
or mixing paints
or a moth fashioned into itself inside its chrysalis.
They are the same ingredients but
rewoven into something miraculous.

When she is done, I blurt out that I have to go back right away and write everything down or I will definitely forget!

She smiles and gives her leave saying,
As you should. As is my delight.
To write is to remember and to remember may be to know.

I drop back down through the realms to the base of the Tree.

I open my eyes.


Amaroth is a divine guide of my invention.  She is the personification of Order and is a goddess of knowledge, writing, fate, and balance.  One of her symbols is the North Star which is probably the source of my image of the mill and of starlight.  As a patroness of writing and study it is not surprising that she would be amused at me rushing off to take notes!

Inventing a Goddess – Combining Paradigms


There are several tangled backstories to this tale.  Many are threads that go back a score or more years (score sounds much more elegant than 20, which just makes me feel old!).  A few are knotted and loop  back around.  So I will begin at the title and work back from there: Inventing a Goddess.

Rather that starting completely from scratch, I decided to mix in some personal figures I had already started working on.

When I was in middle school, I came up with the epithet Red Raven.  I never ended up using it as a magical name or for any other purpose, but always loved the sound and the image.  Last year, I began encountering a spirit guide during my hedge-crossing and started referring to her as the Red Raven.  Not an ancestor, or human spirit, or a specific goddess from an established pantheon, she seemed to an abstraction of  the huntress/warrior/fire goddess archetype.  Over time, I had journeys that introduced a black-haired and black clad goddess and then a white-robed, blonde goddess.   I was really digging the red, black, and white theme since I had been incorporating that trio elsewhere.  The imagery overall was perfectly my aesthetic, unencumbered by historical lore or modern practice.  Incorporating these unusual figures into my invented cosmology was a perfect fit for exploring these entities!  Overlaying the three guides was pretty seamless, but it took a little tinkering.

Step 1: Retrofit the 6 forces into 3 pairs.  
Since I had three divine guides and six forces, the forces would need to be paired two to a guide. I ultimately made Unknown/Chaos, Consciousness/Order, and Energy/Matter pairs.  I went back and forth between  my creation story and my brainstorming.  In some cases, the creation story was edited to add a familial relationship based on these pairings.

I had already paired Consciousness/Order in my mind since they were both very cerebral in nature.  Consciousness is thought (awareness) and Order is thinking (logic).    Chaos and Energy could have had a link, but good old E=mc² settled Energy and Matter as being a pair instead.  As a nod to my rejected musing that Energy and Chaos felt somewhat linked, I embellished my Creation story to personify Energy as being be bit rebellious and behaving less like its “mother” Order and more like its “mother” Chaos.  In the end, the Unknown and Chaos were left as the third pair and were ultimately a better fit.

The pairs thus became:   Unknown and Chaos, Consciousness and Order, and Energy and Matter.

Step 2: Layering the two paradigms
I made a list of what I already had observed or learned in my journeys about the Black, White, and Red goddesses.  I also included the trinities of realm, goddess aspect, and moon phase for comparison.  Lo and behold, many of the symbols lined right up with the ones I had brainstormed for each force!  I knew I was on the right track.  Assigning a pair to each of the colors was as easy as placing it under the corresponding keywords.




underworld upperworld middleworld
crone maiden mother
waning moon full moon waxing moon
sickle weaving energy
night intuition fire
crow white hare creativity
destruction owl warrior
snake reindeer red raven

Unknown + Chaos

Consciousness + Order

Energy +Matter

The table below shows the correspondences in another way by using  previous brainstorming for the elemental forces and marking the duplicate Black, White, and Red symbols from above in bold.  The italicized items at the bottom were original to the Black, White, and Red list so I assigned them as seemed appropriate.







night primal ocean moon Logic/Wisdom sun earth
death destruction Sky/Heaven justice fire nature
underworld war  the soul  time male female
crone evolution  intuition  physics warrior the five senses
silence creation  empathy  structure passion animals
oblivion trickster  spirituality   north star creativity fertility
transcendence temptation  divination owl art/craft ancestors
mystery sickle  rabbit (lunar) bear spear, arrow love
black crossroad upperworld  ritual red horns, fur
crow west maiden smith stag
cave snake dawn
weaving    middleworld
5 Black 3 Black   5 White 2 White  5 Red 2 Red

As you can see, the overlap breaks down as my pairings predicted with the black symbols corresponding to the Unknown and Chaos, white to Consciousness and Order, and red to Energy and Matter. In retrospect, I guess I could’ve skipped trying to pair up the elemental forces beforehand and relied upon step 2 to make the groupings for me.  Nevertheless, I think creating a trinity from my six elemental forces based on that paradigm’s internal logic produced some valuable insight and added to my Creation narrative.  In this case, the results of blending the two systems was astoundingly tidy, but it’s always good to ensure one is not merely shoehorning one system into the mold of another.

Step 3. Evaluating the results.
Although divvying up my elemental forces between my three divine guides ended up being an almost perfect fit, a curious anomaly emerged.  For all three colors, one force was much more strongly aligned than the second force assigned to the same color.  The Black goddess was more like the Unknown than Chaos, the White goddess was more similar to Consciousness than Order, and the Red goddess had more in common with Energy than Matter.

I had naively assumed that each guide would represent a equal blend of her two associated forces like a coin with two similar, but unique faces.  Having my goddesses be mostly one over the other kind of made the secondary force seem, well, secondary rather than a total of 6 unique forces.  

Was my cosmology all wrong?  Are six forces redundant when three will do? Math is hard!

The idea of demoting Chaos, Order, and Matter to lesser or secondary forces felt just as cruddy as when Pluto got downgraded to a dwarf planet.  I just couldn’t do it.

But being attached to my forces is a good thing!  It meant that they were already growing personalities rather being a collection of astrophysics jargon and psychology buzzwords.

Prodding that sentiment a bit, it felt most natural to view the the goddess as a personification of her primary force, giving a face to the name: the Black goddess guide represented the Unknowable, White symbolized Consciousness, and Red embodied Energy.

So what I really needed was three more guides!

further reading:
Grimoire of the Vokaor
Owlsiprit, Katara Zunmir’s site

related post:
Inventing a Goddess – Creation
Inventing a Goddess – How Many?
Inventing a Goddess- Colors
Inventing a Goddess – Archetypes



Beyond the Veil – but where is that exactly?

Since I’ve been regularly posting a selection of my journey notes, it seemed important to address what I think they are, where they might come from, and more generally my advice for evaluating such experiences either as a hedgecrosser or a reader. So let’s dive right in, shall we?

The possibilities of what the source and meaning of a visionary experience in order of most skeptical to most credulous include:

1. The narrative is a creation of the author’s imagination. In other words, fiction or, at worst, delusion.

2. The narrative represents knowledge or insight the author already possessed, but could not recall or access during normal consciousness.

3. The narrative reveals knowledge that is accessed from a personal or collective unconscious that is perceived extrasensorily.

4. The narrative is a real interaction between the author and entities/deities who are completely independent and exist outside of the author’s mind.


1. The journey experience is a creation of the author’s imagination. In other words, fiction or fantasy.

This definitely an option, albeit the least fun of all four. Nevertheless, I urge everyone to interpret their own experiences and especially the experiences published by others (including my own!) with this possibility in mind.

Works of fiction labelled as such are perfectly benign and can be immensely inspirational. Just because something is “made up” certainly doesn’t negate its artistic or spiritual value and there is nothing fraudulent or dishonest about a work of fiction represented as such. Reading is amazing. We should all do it 10 times as much as we already do. Writing is also pretty awesome. Don’t sell your ideas short just because they came from little old you and not some fancy spirit guide.

However, what I’m really talking about here are visions published under the premise that the narrative is not a conscious work of literary prose or poetry, but as an actual account of a spiritual experience. That includes this blog.

Specific to me, I am presenting my hedgeriding as originating from outside my ordinary consciousness. I didn’t experience them as a hypothetical conversation or a waking daydream. Or at least I don’t think I did. However, let’s go back to my disclaimer.

It is totally possible that every single one of my trance experiences was a figment of my imagination and conveys no deeper meaning.  While it’s kind of a downer to entertain this notion, I think being aware of that possibility is useful for my own analysis. More importantly, I emphatically encourage everyone to take my or any one else’s writing with this grain of salt.

Another variation on this theme is that the journey experiences are simply ordinary dreams.  However, most hedgeriders do not report being an a sleep-state and usually differentiate between the experiences of dreaming, lucid dreaming, journeying, and simple daydreaming.

So if the shaman is asserting that she is neither asleep and dreaming or awake and consciously day-dreaming is she…. hallucinating?
Some accounts of spiritwalking certainly sound like psychotic symptoms of a mental disturbance or drug-induced trips.  They could just be the symptom of neurons randomly misfiring in an abnormal or damaged way, medically speaking.

So, if all the magical tales of “crossing the veil” are all made up, what then?
Is everyone just a deliberate fraud or inadvertent crazy person?

If you’re the hedge-rider, my advice is this: cover you bases and be up front about your writing. Do not represent it as anything other than your personal experience and be okay with readers taking it or leaving it.
If you’re worried about the crazy person possibility:
do you feel like these experiences are occurring within a controlled space and are affecting you positively or at least not negatively?
Yes, yes, and yes?
Well, you’re not a scam artist or nuts.

If you’re the reader, rock that healthy skepticism.  Liars and nutjobs aren’t worth getting your witchy britches in a twist over.  Just file them as “not useful” and move on.

But what is the POINT of these experiences, then?
Well, if you were honest about your trance work affecting you positively, there’s your answer. If you’re learning something, gaining discipline, obtaining catharsis, enhancing your spiritual practice, honing your writing skills, good for you! And I don’t mean that facetiously. Really, good for you.

Same goes for readers. If you feel inspired or informed or just spent an enjoyable 10 minutes reading, I don’t really think it matters if what you were reading was “made up” or straight up divine prophecy.  It’s ok to be perturbed with an author that is verifiable disingenuous about the origin of their ideas, but you can still enjoy their writing in its own context too.

Maybe that doesn’t feel very magic or profound, but give your imagination some credit! Little chicken scratches of letters that form words and sounds and ideas in our brains, that add up to a language that you and anyone else that speaks it understands, describe events that took place long ago, will take place in the future, or will never take place at all,  abstract concepts and emotions that have no tangible, physical manifestation, and make you feel real emotions while you’re just sitting there reading or writing them? That’s pretty fucking magic to me.


2. The narrative represents knowledge or insight the author already possessed, but could not recall or access during normal consciousness.

Regardless of where you fall on the skeptic scale, this is something that is part of most visions, in my opinion, whether that is the entirety of their origin or not. That’s just how our brains work: we absorb way more data that we can consciously process but it is still in there.  That is one explanation of how an oracle can report very specific facts or names that she is certain she “didn’t know.”

I personally experience this most often with names. Many of the words in my journeys seem unfamiliar or foreign to me. After some research, I am amazed to find that they translate perfectly from a language I don’t know or refer to a spirit or deity I have no memory of ever studying. For example, while in a trance state, I once described a Norse god, headless, in a well, with a name with an “m” sound, and associated with Odin in response to a friend inquiring about her seiδr practice. A quick Wikipedia search turned up Mimir and all the details checked out to my astonishment since I was completely certain I had never heard of that myth.

Later, I realized that I had been scrolling through lists of pagan rituals days before and a rite to Mimír was among them.  So I had in fact encountered the name, despite not remembering doing so nor even consciously processing the name in the quick seconds my eyes skimmed over it. Because I read faster in my head than I can speak the words aloud, I — any everyone else– definitely store away more info than I am consciously processing at the time or can deliberately recall at will.  This is how my brain can cut and paste words from languages in which I am not fluent nor have any memorized vocabulary, but have seen somewhere before among the zillions of pages I have read in my lifetime.  For others with different backgrounds or strengths, this unremembered knowledge could take the form of colors, images, numbers, dates, sounds, faces, flavors, smells, or any other sensory input.  You were there, your senses were all on, it’s just that your conscious brain was just tuning them out so you could focus on what you were actually doing.

The other aspect to this explanation is that sometimes symbols and advice can emerge from within the oracle’s mind that she doesn’t want to admit or acknowledge consciously. She may perhaps lack confidence in her own intuition and is more likely to take the same advice seriously if it seems to be coming from another person or source.  We all have hang ups about what we think we “supposed” to do or want or what we think we “deserve.” This is obviously something that we all experience in our conscious lives as well. We’ve all heaved a sigh and admitted, “I know. I just needed to hear it from someone else.” In the same way, some visions are a stage for subconscious thoughts that are suppressed by our conscious minds to surface or to present themselves in symbols that the conscious mind is more apt to understand or accept.

As with the downer of a skeptical explanation for seemingly supernatural events in section 1, this completely non-clairvoyant source of hidden knowledge isn’t quite as exciting as the alternative. So again, what’s the point?

If visions are merely mash-ups of personal experience that we don’t remember knowing, is there any deeper meaning?
Personally, I think taking a little trip to the World Tree and doing some real-life Limitless or Lucy shit is magic as fuck.  If having access to everything you’ve ever seen, read, heard, tasted, or touched whether you were aware of it at the time or not is NOT completely amazing to you, you have a really high bar for magic.

Is this Madlib-ed data less meaningful because I already “knew” it?
Well, if it reads like an actual nonsensical Madlib, probably not. However, all of my instances of this phenomena have made sense and were very useful bits of information. Again, the important question to ask is, “is this beneficial or positively affecting my life?” The result is the same regardless of whether a divine voice supplied the name or whether my brain cut and paste it from my unconscious.

3. The narrative reveals knowledge that is accessed from a collective unconscious that is perceived extrasensorily.

In practical terms, this explanation is similar to the one above.  In both cases, an independently sentient magical force or experience can be ruled out, but there is more wiggle room for explaining how a person could obtain meaningful information to which he or she would not otherwise have obvious access.

The theory is that the collective unconscious is a kind group mind or a reservoir of human or cosmic knowledge that we can access via extrasensory perceptions; in this case, those produced by a trance state.  It might be called telepathy, clairvoyance, astral projection, akashic records, cultural memory, etc but the basic jist that the mind is capable of accessing wisdom, advice, or divinatory information from sum of human consciousness or from the universe itself, just as one might google a topic on the internet.

Of the explanations so far, this is the least skeptical, employing a mechanism that is not observable or verifiable scientifically unlike option 2 which describes documented neurological or psychological processes or option 1 which assumes the visions are purposely or mistakenly invented. However, while relying on the belief in intuitive of telepathic senses, it offers the skeptic space to withhold a belief in divine forces or spirits.

What this concept boils down to is a belief in magical gnosis that is still consistent with an agnostic or atheistic cosmology. So not as woo-woo as believing in talking totem animals, toga-ed goddesses, and helmed gods if you’re not into that sort of thing, but more woo-woo than good old neuroscience.


4. The narrative is a real interaction between the author and entities/deities that are completely independent and exist outside of the author’s mind.

This explanation is certainly the most romantic and is, in fact, the most literal. This view takes the visionary experience at face value: if a totem animal, spirit guide, shade, deity, etc is interacting with you, it really is that entity (or an equally “real” entity in a disguise). If you appear to be in Asgard, Hades, or the Feywild, you really are.

Just as I emphatically exhort acknowledging the option that visions are entirely imagined, it is also cautious to be prepared for them to be entirely real.
It is deflating, perhaps even heartbreaking, to consider that one’s beloved guides and otherworld patrons are little more than figments of the imagination. Sucky, but not particularly dangerous. On the flipside, it could be irresponsible and potentially blasphemous to cavalierly traipse across otherworld poking things with sticks and have that thing turn out to be potently divine.

That said, I think it’s important to reiterate my opening injunction to take everything with a grain of salt. If if you are interacting with really real spirits or forces, that doesn’t mean everything they say is true or even helpful nor that interacting with them is good for you. Being respectful is not tantamount to unquestioning belief even if you’re a hard polytheist. Promise.

Treating things with due respect and humility regardless of whether you expect them to help you, harm you, or ignore you is a pretty good policy for life in general.


But, really. Which one is it?

Go with whatever explanation sounds reasonable to you. If you’re a feisty chaote, why not try believing each one in turn and seen what happens? Or sleep on it indefinitely and don’t bother deciding right now.  Or ever. Whichever sounds good, my advice is the same on all counts:

Ask, “Is this beneficial to anyone? Is it negative or harmful to discount this?”
If YES, cool. Take it but with a grain of salt, respectfully.
If NO, cool. Ignore it, respectfully.
Super bonus witch points: if you answered “yes” try asking yourself, “Does it matter to me what the source was?”


So what do I believe?

My hedgrcrossing experience definitely feels distinct from daydreaming, dreaming during sleep, or path-working. The Beyond the Veil notes I post are visions that occur in a trance state where I can mostly control what I think, say, or do but the events around me are not directed by me unlike a daydream or lucid dream where I can imagine or alter the scene as it goes. Unlike a dream, I am aware that I am in a trance state and not experiencing the mundane world with my body.

I believe my own visions to be a mostly of my subconscious/unconscious and some kind of network of universal knowledge which is  like a web of information that is the fabric of the universe. For the most part, I look to the former to explain surprising or inexplicable details and that usually is, in fact, the source. However, the more I practice journeying, the more often I receive advice that definitely doesn’t sound like something I would say. I also encounter symbols or phrases that not as likely to be things I have encountered before, even fleetingly.  That’s both exciting and a little scary.

As far as option 5, are the spirits and deities I encounter real? I’m still in a squishy place about that.
I tend to view deities as aspects of an infinitely complex and dizzingly abstract cosmic force. I think of specific gods’ shapes as being more like shorthand that my mind uses to make sense of the vastness of that divinity.  So yeah, divinity as a force is sentient and surely exists with or without me contemplating it.  However, I shy away from a polytheistic pantheon of anthropomorphic gods that are solidly distinct from one another.    To complicate things, I do believe that certain kinds of thought-forms can take on an independent consciousness and act and endure beyond the bounds of their inception. So sometimes a symbol or archetype can become a “real” spiritual entity, at least in the sense that it can operate independently.

In general, I regard figures I label as “divine” as independent entities although their appearance, mannerism, and human personality traits are more like archetypal symbols they adopt or that mind assigns.  “Spirits of place” or animistic wights of particular plants, stones, bones, etc are also independent entities. In contrast, some guides I presume to be more like a fetch or animus: aspects of my own psyche. A few are thought forms I create, but now exist autonomously it seems.

However, this delineations are loose as I constantly challenge myself to consider all the options listed here. I would be sad to think some of my guides are inventions of subconscious, but I try keep in mind that their value is the same regardless. On the flip-side, I’m sometimes freaked out to think that other things might not just be symbols! I always try to contemplate each experience as potentially being mere coincidence, symbolic, or a “real” interaction with the otherworld and interpret the significance based on each being a possibility.