Night Hunting

ONCE UPON A TIME, I wrote more fiction than anything else. Film noir and surreal horror combined in a genre I thought of as “gothic noir” although publishers describe it as urban fantasy. The anti-hero of my fantasy novels was a man known as Noctiviganti – a homeless fugitive in our world, but a secret police commander in the otherworld. Destined since birth to inaugurate the revolution that would destroy all he served, Noctiviganti remained blindly loyal to the tyrannical fairy queen out of sheer fanaticism. (The series was written before I was aware of the strong connections between fairy queens and popular resistance, as chronicled in “Pagan Anarchism.”)

The series was both a pulp adventure story and an extended meditation on the consequences of misguided loyalty to authority. The first three novels in the story were published, but four of them remain unpublished and will probably never be published because I no longer own the rights to them. (Thanks, Capitalism!) I still think they were good novels, but as often happens to authors my thinking has moved on. If I was writing the series over again now, it would be very different.

Revolutions made by “great men” do not improve peoples’ lives. We don’t need some prophesied hero to ride in and save us, and no dark, brooding loner is going to wander in from the wasteland to kill the bandits and save the town. What we need is to stand together, to take care of ourselves and each other, and to fight back through mass resistance rather than grand solitary gestures.

In the Noctiviganti novels, war magic is called “night hunting.” A night hunter is a person or spirit who comes into your dreams with ill intent. In my novels, this is always described as an intentional act. In real life, it’s not so simple. Some night hunters might be the deliberate product of a magical sending (if literal witchcraft is part of your belief system) but many of them are manifestations of underlying emotional forces that are not triggered consciously but unconsciously. The visceral hatred and bile of millions of closet fascists and bigots has just been unleashed into our collective dreamspace, and is perfectly capable of inspiring nightmares of evil spirits and night hunters. In my worldview, those spirits are real whether they are sent intentionally or not – but if you want to think of them as psychological metaphors and archetypes, I won’t lose any sleep over it.

In the spirit of resistance and solidarity, I offer this Night Hunting ritual. The ritual is designed to incorporate both defense and offense. Psychic defense against night hunters and war magic, followed by counterattack against the new regime and its fascist supporters.

The ritual is divided into five parts, designed to be performed over five separate nights. You can perform one part each night for five nights running, or one part per week for five weeks, or however you want to do it. You can even do all five parts in one night if you have enough time and energy for it.

The ideal is to perform the ritual over and over again, so that you’re constantly renewing and reinforcing your own wards as well as striking at the forces of repression. (This ritual is not intended as a substitute for direct action in the waking world, but as a tool to help people maintain resiliency for that daily struggle.)

Many rituals can only be performed by people with a lot of space, privacy and resources. Many pagans don’t have those things, so I prefer to design workings that can be performed with no resources at all other than a spot to sit or lie down in. Throughout the ritual, you should interpret every physical action as a visualization. You won’t actually be offering food or wine or incense (unless you choose to). Instead you’ll be offering the mental energy of your own imagination.

To perform the ritual, just read the instructions then close your eyes. Visualize whatever is described – or your own personal variation on it – with as much vividness and clarity as you can manage. Don’t rush the visualizations. Each of the five parts of this ritual should last a half-hour to a full hour, leaving time for the images to shift and mutate and for the spirits to interact with you.

When you complete a visualization, open your eyes again and read the charm attached to that section of the ritual. Close your eyes again and visualize the things described in the poem. You can perform the entire ritual this way without anyone in your house even realizing what you’re doing. All they need to know is not to interrupt you while you’re “resting” or “meditating.” Better yet, you can do the whole working while everyone else is sleeping.

I hope this ritual proves useful, either as something you might actually try or as the inspiration to create your own.

First Night


SIGIL: The Black Rose.

VISUALIZATION: You sit at a great table overflowing with offerings – wine and bread and delicious foods of any kind you can imagine.  Our Lady of Anarchy, robed in black and weeping blood, holds out a black rose for you to take. She blesses your struggle and gives you strength and courage. A great host of spirits crowds behind Her, the powers of the natural world. They have come to you to join in the feast. Break bread with the spirits and eat together.


Oh you spirits of light

Winged in flight, will you hear me?

Raise your hands and command

That no evil thought come near me.


Oh you spirits of night

Dripping water in the darkness

I must ask you to stand

Sword in hand, clothed in harness.


Oh you ghosts and you gods

Those I love, those that love me

Please abide at my side

And deny the heart that hates me.


There are those who wish me ill

Those who seek to harm in secret

If they wish to work such woe

Let them know their hate and keep it.


In the dead heart of the night

When they whisper words of treason

What they send shall turn and rend them

And deprive them of their reason.


Let it hang around their necks

As a weight too great to carry.

Till they cut the cord they’ve woven

Let them never yet be merry.

VISUALIZATION: The host of spirit allies rises from the table to defend you in solidarity, knowing that you will defend them as well. Together you turn back the power of any ill-wishing on those who sent it.

Second Night


SIGIL: The Squatters’ Symbol

VISUALIZATION: The lightning bolt Squatters’ Symbol glowing in front of you, blessing and warding your space while reminding you that all living beings need and deserve a safe place to live regardless of social concepts such as private property. All around you in the darkness, people who share your space huddle together against a storm. Lightning flashes and thunder rolls outside, yet nothing can enter your protected circle.


I ward the east with flame and water,

Sealing off this door.

I raise this pillar to the skies.

No ghost with evil in its eyes

Can enter anymore.


I ward the south with mirth and music,

Locking up this gate.

I raise this pillar to the south.

No revenant with grinning mouth

Can come here bearing hate.


I ward the west with smoke and spittle,

Blocking off the path.

I raise this pillar to ensure

No demon through the western door

Shall enter in its wrath.


I ward the north with blood and fire,

Closing up the walls.

I raise this pillar to the night.

No fearsome or unwholesome wight

Gains entrance to these halls.


I ward the four directions, praising

Death’s dissolving grace.

I praise the pillars of the land,

The mighty dead who rise and stand

On guard around this place.

VISUALIZATION: Drawing the sigil at each of the quarters, as spirits rise to stand on guard and ward your space.

Third Night


SIGIL: The Black Cross

VISUALIZATION: Kneeling on the floor in prison, handcuffed or chained. The power of your gods flows through you and you begin to grow, shattering whatever binds you and then bursting through the walls as you utterly destroy the prison.


Oh I am the wings with which I fly

And I am the wind, and I am the sky.

And I am the sun of the city of light,

And I am the star, and I am the night.

And I am the snake in her mountain home,

And I am the mother’s mournful moan.


No harm can nightmare do to me:

Power of powers I have on thee.


And I am the dawn, and I am the flame,

And I am the word and the song and the name,

And I am the red of the leaping spark,

And I am the blaze that flashed in the dark –

That lit the dark and made the sun,

And stars like candles, one by one.


No harm can nightmare do to me:

Power of powers I have on thee.


Oh I am the smith and the hammer too

And the note of the anvil so clear and true.

And I am the singer, and I am the song

That praised the right, that shamed the wrong.

And I am the healer whose caring hand

Can crack the ice and wake the land.

And I am my eyes, so bright and true,

And you’re in me, and I’m in you.


No harm can nightmare do to me:

Power of powers I have on thee.

VISUALIZATION: Larger than life and totally free, you identify your spirit with the power of your gods. Soaring through the heavens, you are bound by nothing.


Fourth Night


SIGIL: The Black Army Flag

VISUALIZATION: The Revolutionary Dead in arms before you, ready to wage spiritual warfare against the forces of oppression. An army of those who fell in every uprising in history, determined to complete the work they began.


Shadows of the vale of horrors

Where all journeys end,

Drink this cup of blood and fire,

Know me as your friend.


Drink this clotted wine and gather.

There is one who stands,

Blocking all the paths before me.

Bind his upraised hands.


Seal his lips with locks of iron

Fill his limbs with lead.

Cross his eyes with letter Xs

Fill his dreams with dread.


Douse the stars that fill his heavens,

Break his brittle pride.

Leave him powerless and hopeless

Till he steps aside.

VISUALIZATION: Offering a drink from your own hands to the army of the dead, you direct them against your chosen target. Be clear about your intentions while visualizing your target. For instance, you don’t want to visualize a particular person “stepping aside” without imagining the closest allies and subordinates of that person doing so at the same time. Otherwise, the cure could be worse than the disease!


Fifth Night


SIGIL: The Black Cat or Sabocat

VISUALIZATION: A screeching black wildcat standing before you and your friends and comrades. The cat seems to be starving, yet is fierce and terrifying. You feed the cat from your hands together and it grows larger and larger. The more you feed it the bigger it gets, until it bounds off suddenly to hunt its prey.


Feral cat, so fierce with fury,

Screeching with enraged defiance,

Lightning cat like living fire,

From the pyre of their violence.


Yellow-eyed, with claws unsheathed,

Wild with grief, though kicked and beaten,

You are growing great with power,

From our own hands you have eaten.


Those who kicked you, those who beat you,

Parasites in halls of power,

Cower terrified before you

When you go forth to devour.


Hunter cat, the time is on us!

Howl your haunting cry forever.

Till the lords of earth are broken,

Let us hunt their dreams together!


VISUALIZATION: Bounding through the streets of the city or between the trees of a dark forest, hunting the lords of the earth and their lackeys in the form of a giant black cat.

Image Credits:

Christopher Scott Thompson

cst-authorChristopher Scott Thompson became a pagan at age 12, inspired by books of mythology and the experience of homesteading in rural Maine. A devotee of the Celtic goddesses Brighid and Macha, Thompson has been active in the pagan and polytheist communities as an author, activist and founding member of Clann Bhride (The Children of Brighid). Thompson was active in Occupy Minnesota and is currently a member of the Workers’ Solidarity Alliance, an anarcho-syndicalist organization. He is also the founder of the Cateran Society, an organization that studies the historical martial art of the Highland broadsword. Thompson lives with his family in Portland, Maine.

Christopher Scott Thompson is the author of Pagan Anarchism, available from Gods&Radicals.

One thought on “Night Hunting

  1. I wrote a book about an anti-hero who destroyed all he served too! In my book he was a warrior and fire magician trying to bring down a capitalist system that had enslaved the humans and elemental beings from within. However it meant making a pact with fire elementals that would bring about his own destruction and the near destruction of the world… In the end it wasn’t good enough to publish. I think it contained the lesson that revolutionary anger and fiery force alone can only bring destruction and we need to work on building something better too…


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