More Thoughts on European Magic

Since my first attempt at defining what magic was, my framework had changed. My first definition was that magic can be used to exploit the reality people find themselves in. A magician finds the crack in reality and changes it to their advantage.

Then my working definition of magic became defined by Kurt Seligmann in “The Mirror of Magic.” He wrote, “Magic operation is the application of the practical use of wisdom…acquired in contemplation of the inner self and of nature. Magic endeavors to explain every phenomenon in life, in nature, in the invisible… unity of the universe with its endless entirety.”

Pondering what magic is made me realize that there was a shift in perception after the Enlightenment. Reason and materialism became embedded in every day thought. Later the Protestant Reformation flattened and homogenized life. Richard Kieckhefer in “Magic in the Middle Ages” said that the shift in thinking of magic from being natural or demonic to separate from religion started in the 16th Century.

Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn in her essay, “Pastlessness” observed that the two modern movements that arose from the Industrial Revolution were Marxism and Positivism. Both was based on the theory that history evolves from a theological belief system to scientific empiricism and finally to economic materialism. The basis of belief of these two movements was human mastery and control of the Universe. Because of this, Lasch-Quinn wrote “everything is stripped of soul of inner and mysterious life.”

A product of the Victorian Age, Sir James Frazier defined magic as separate from religion. Since then, this metaphysical outline has bedeviled the study of European magic. Ronald Hutton in his essay, “Framework for the Study of European Magic,” relates the struggles to redefine magic and religion.

For me, I decided to give up the idea of human mastery of the world. Also, I let go of the theory of a rational universe. I am no longer sure if magic endeavors to explain every phenomenon in life as Seligmann says. Science does that, since it assumes the uniformity of the universe. In this, I am reminded of the science fiction writer, Arthur C. Clark’s Three Laws. His Third Law is “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” In modern times, magic and science seems to be equated in some people’s minds. Moreover, secularism has pushed the notion that the mysteries of magic is only a cloak for ignorance.

In order for magic to exist for me, I need the vision of an enchanted world. The Romans and other ancient people lived in a heterogenous Cosmos. Their spiritual ecology consisted of the interaction between Gods, Nature, Ancestors, Others (Lars), Humans, Plants, and Animals. Adopting this framework, I see that the Cosmos is full of mysteries as the various worlds intersect each other.

Magic enchants the Cosmos and gives meaning and purpose to life. I realized this when I was seeking to understand how I saw a “living pterosaur.” For me, this event was magic beyond the rational world. This entity should not exist but it does in all of its glory. For me, magic is more than manipulating reality, it is a metaphysical framework. Magic is the response to the wonder of the world. Magic is the way to change a person’s consciousness according to their will. Through magic, a person can intentionally change their lives.

In my practice of magic, I will consciously work within this spiritual ecology. If I want to change something, it means negotiation with various Divine entities. This could be “a gift for a gift” instead of me willing a change without their consent.

Works Used:
Davis, Owen, ed. “The Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft & Magic.” Oxford University Press: Oxford. 2017.
Greer, John Michael, “The Occult Book.” Sterling: NY. 2017.
—, “The New Encyclopedia of the Occult.” Llewellyn: Woodbury (MN). 2003.
Hennessy, Kathryn, ed., “A History of Magic, Witchcraft and the Occult.” Dorling Kindersley: New York. 2020.
Hutton, Ronald, “The Witch.” Yale University Press: New Haven. 2017.
—, “A Framework for the Study of European Magic.” Grey School of Wizardry Class Materials. Dell.Urgano, Ombra, “The Development of European Magic.”
Kieckhefer, Richard, “Magic in the Middle Ages.” Cambridge University Press: Cambridge (UK). 2014.
Lasch-Quinn, Elisabeth, “Pastlessness.” The Hedgehog Review, Vol 24, Number 2, Summer 2022, pages 66-76.
Moro, Pamela, “Witchcraft, Sorcery, and Magic.” International Library of Anthropology. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/9781118924396.wbiea1915.
Seligmann, Kurt, “The Mirror of Magic.” Inner Tradition: Rochester (VT). 1948.

Experience Mystery: “Live Pterosaur”

Throughout my life, I have been sensitive to the Unseen. I do have conversations with various trees, rocks, and squirrels. For that reason, my family regarded me as crazy as a loon. Therefore, I rarely discuss my otherworldly experiences. However, my encounters with a “Live Pterosaur” (Note 1.) were with other family members. Perhaps I drew the creatures out in the open or perhaps the land spoke to me, and sent them. (Note 2.)

One incident happened in a blueberry field. During the summer, my family, who lived in Northern Maine, would go blueberry picking. We gathered the berries to make jellies for the coming winter. The time was high summer, prime blueberry season. The place was a secluded area surrounded by mountains of pine forests. (Blueberry bushes grow best in burned-out rocky areas.)

This particular day was warm, sunny, with an endless blue sky. Bending over the low bushes, we were busily plucking the berries and putting them into our pots. As a huge dark shadow came over us in the field, we looked up. This strange shadow had huge wings, a long-pointed head, and a long tail. The “bird” had no feathers that we could tell. At first, my family was curious as to what the creature was. Suddenly, everyone shook with such terror, that we raced to our parked truck. Piling in, spilling blueberries everywhere, my family tore out of there as fast as an old truck on a dirt road could go.

Finally, arriving home, we all sat silently, in the winter kitchen, just trembling. No one moved or said a word until late evening. Like dumbstruck specters, we rose quietly and drifted upstairs to bed. It was years, before anyone would mention the experience. In fact, everyone decided to have amnesia since it was that weird and frightening.

My second experience with a “Live Pterosaur,” was again at high summer in Northern Maine one night during a full moon. Our land was at the nexus of the Dead and Kennebec Rivers, on the point where the two rivers met. We had been on that land for at least three centuries. (Note 3.)

My grandmother was chasing a bat in the winter kitchen. She woke me up when she started beating the walls with her broom. I joined her as we followed the bat into the summer kitchen. Hearing cries and repeated thumping, we froze. That was no bat outside the window.

There in the window was a “Live Pterosaur,” banging on the outside frame. Still frozen with fear, we could hear the plaintive squeals from the “baby.” Finally, in a panic, we ran into the bathroom, and hunkered down in our old-fashioned tub.

While huddled in the bathroom, we could hear the piteous squeaking. We felt that it was a frightened child crying for its mother. Later in the night, we heard deep throated croaking much like a bull frog. Eventually, silence. Towards dawn, we crept out of the bathroom and went to bed.

Early next morning, I went outside and saw the clothesline poles knocked down, and the ropes torn in pieces. The family garden, nearby, was totally wrecked. All over the ground, deep divots of dirt had been dug up. I had a feeling of eeriness about the scene.

Since then, I realized I was in possession of a mystery. I felt that I witnessed a mother saving her baby, and then having a tender moment. In the presence of something sacred, my only response was silence. Were the Pterosaurs real? Were they from another world just passing though? Were they a part of the land? To me, they were a holy mystery.

Notes:
Note 1. “Living Pterosaur” is put into scare quotes because the creature is not supposed to exist.
Note 2. The local Abenaki have myths of Wooly Mammoths roaming the region.
Note 3. After the 1987 Flood, the Central Maine Power Company took eminent domain.

To See or Not to See: Pterosaurs

In pondering my encounters with “Living Pterosaurs” (Note 1), I discovered that some people see them while others in the same area do not. Why is that? Is viewing reality a subjective thing? Is it a matter of “if you are not looking for it, you do not see it?”

Jonathan David Whitcomb, who is considered the expert on “Living Pterosaurs” claims that people have been trained not to see. He explains in “The Girl Who Saw a Flying Dinosaur,” “refuse to believe in something and you will not be able to see it. In other words, if a thing is never looked for, it might never be found.”

People in modern western societies are inheritors of two main streams of thought. The Industrial Revolution spawned Marxism and Positivism. Steeped in economic materialism, Marxism stated that this would end the mastery of humans over their environment. Meanwhile Positivism applied the scientific method to studying society. Both movements lack a transcendental basis of truth. Moreover, they stripped the world of its inner and divine mysteries.

The noted occult writer, John Michael Greer offers his perspective in “Monsters.” He says that industrial society deliberately made no room for monsters. The reason for this was that monsters reveal the reality of the impossible. (Note 2.) Greer continues, “These entities have and still have, a reality that goes beyond the limits of human imagination and human psychology. For most people nowadays, such ideas would be terrifying.” By embracing rational materialism, the experience of mystery and otherness is rejected.

People’s actual experiences of “winged unknown beings” run counter to the world of scientific thought. (Note 3.) In reviewing people’s experiences, Lon Strickler in “Winged Cryptids” noted that people first felt fear. Furthermore, their experiences with these entities had pushed them to the edge of their capacity as humans. One witness told Strickler, “Accepting this was not easy as it negated all that I previously thought I knew.” Strickler, who maintains the “Phantoms & Monsters” blog, believed that these beings come from two worlds colliding in interdimensional reality. As evidence, he cites how people often complain of jet lag after their encounters.

The collection of experiences that Strickler details describes the same phenomena that Polytheists experience when encountering the Gods. The winged entities are attracted to certain persons or appear at certain times and places. Moreover, they look deeply into people’s souls. One witness reported, “And I’ll never forget the eyes. They were piercing and felt as if they looked right into my soul. It was an extremely very deep feeling.”

Cryptozoologists Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman wrote in “Creatures of the Outer Edge,” “Elusiveness and ambiguity seem implicit in the manifestations. They refuse to be understood.” The authors continue, “Borderland phenomena do not recognize boundaries. If we insist upon containing them, defining their territory, we are only fooling ourselves.” (This could be said of Atheists who insist that the Gods are other than what They are.) What Clark and Coleman are describing are liminal places.

Whitcomb reports in “Live Pterosaurs in America” about a woman in George who saw a “Living Pterosaur.” She said, “The world is now totally different. I feel blessed that God has allowed me to see this creature that should not be here.” For her, the world is now filled with wonder.

My experiences with “Living Pterosaurs” left me filled with awe and fear. I did feel in the presence of something otherworldly. Even though, I was young, I still ponder my experience. It remains a mystery for me to keep.

Notes:
Note 1. “Living Pterosaur” is put into scare quotes because the creature is not supposed to exist.

Note 2. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, said, “When you eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

Note 3. Doyle also noted “Our ideas must be as broad of Nature if they are to interpret Nature.”

Babylonian Month: September/October

The Babylonian calendar is divided into two halves – the vernal and autumn equinoxes. They usher in the periods of disharmony between the Sun and the Moon. From March to September, Utu, the Sun, is triumphant, and from September to March, Nanna-Suen is more visible. At the spring equinox, the Akiti Se-kintu (the Festival of the Harvest) is held. At the autumn equinox, it is the Akiti-Su-numun (the Festival of the Seeding). In the month of September/October (Note 1.), the focus is on the Autumn Equinox and the coming darkness.

Nanna-Suen
At the Akiti-Sunumun, the emblems of Nanna-Suen are cleaned. Hailed as “Father Nanna, when You sail (across the sky) like a ship on flood waters,” the Moon God loads his Boat with gifts of trees, plants, and animals. He sails from city to city bringing the people fertility. For this reason, The Boat of Nanna-Suen also receives offerings. The Great Offerings to Nanna-Suen are made at the New Moon (the first of the month), the Quarter Moon (seventh), and Full Moon (the fifteen). Modern Sumer Reconstructionists will bake cupcakes for the Great Offerings. (Note 2.)

Kinunu (Brazier Festival)
From the eighth to the eighteenth days of the month, the Kinunu (Brazier Festival) is held. For this festival, people wear their new clothes. Using fresh olive oil, they light their braziers to keep burning throughout the Kinunu. The First Fire of the coming cold and early darkness is honored.

Duku (Festival of the Sacred Mound)
At the end of the month, the Duku (Sacred Mound) festival is held. After feasting with family and friends, homage is made to the Ancestors. Lamentations are read and milk is offered to Endukuga (Lord of the Sacred Mound) and Nindukuga (Lady of the Sacred Mound). They are the Great Ancestors of the Elder Gods, who lived at the Duku. (This was the place of Heaven and Earth before the two parts were separated by Enlil.)

Inanna
At this time, the Descent of Inanna is re-enacted to ensure that the land is fertile. Her Descent into the Underworld is the hinge between the dry and rainy seasons. Inanna dies but is rescued. Since someone has to replace Her in the Underworld, Dumuzi, Her Shephard Consort, goes down for six months. His sister, Geshtinanna, Goddess of Autumn Wines, takes his place the other six months.

Note 1: In Sumer, this month is called “Duku”, and in Babylon, “Tairitu.”
Note 2: The Great Offering was originally cattle, beer, milk, honey, and grain. Today, cupcakes made with grain, honey, and milk are offered.

Prayers for Jupiter of the Romans

Since Jupiter is important, I have dedicated prayers to various aspects of Him. Each prayer helps to me focus on that aspect of Jupiter, and become closer to Him.

Salve Iuppiter Tonas!
The Thunderer who speaks to us
In the Storm
May we understand

Salve Iuppiter Fulgur!
Salve Iuppiter Fulgurator!
Jupiter of the Lightening bolt
Tells us Your Will
May we understand

Salve Iuppiter Elicius!
Reliever of drought
We thank You for the welcome rain

Salve Iuppiter Capitolinus!
Jupiter of the Capitol
Jupiter who helps us to govern
May we listen

Salve Iuppiter Feretrius!
The Hard Striker
Maker of Treaties who Blesses our Weapons

Salvete Iuno Regina, Iuppiter Optimus Maximus, Minerva Augusta!
O Capitoline Triad
Who shows us to govern
May we heed Your Advice
May our leaders listen

Salve Iuppiter Stator!
The Stayer of the Rout
Who commands us to stay and fight

Salve Iuppiter Invictus!
Unconquered Jupiter
Always victorious
May we follow You

Salve Iuppiter Depular!
The Repeller of Enemies
We thank You

Salve Iuppiter Pistor!
Who told us to give up
What we hold most precious
To win against our besiegers

Salve Iuppiter Conservator!
Jupiter the Savior
Sheltering those in need
We give You Thanks

Salve Iuppiter Caelestis!
Heavenly Jupiter
Who looks kindly down upon us

Salve Iuppiter Custos!
Jupiter the Custodian
Who protects his people
We give You Thanks

(From Galina Krasskova’s Prayer Cards: “Jupiter” by Lykeia)