The Hunt and Hound – part 4

The Hunt

I

I am standing on a pebble beach. Ahead is a lake in darkness and just before me a bonfire. Around the fire are dancing, disembodied stag skulls. A gentle circling of the fire; their faces looking blankly towards me. I have seen this before, almost exactly a year ago – a single stag skull floating in my vision, persistent and getting in my way. That was the first time he came to me and I knew who it was soon after. He has been with me ever since. He is here now, on the other side of the fire, a stag skull upon his face and dark shadow wrapped around him. I walk around the fire, amongst those floating, dancing skulls and stand beside him. I don’t remember the words he said or if he said any, but the skulls now have bodies and are young men wearing skulls like their god, dancing around that fire beside the lake. The Shining Son of the Mist directs me to something beyond the flames; a stone slab, and on it lies the body of a bitch. Her belly is cut open and I know to place both of my hands inside her. I withdraw them, I am covered in the blood and I know I am not the first to do this tonight; one more to join her litter.

II

I am kneeling before a woman, and all of a sudden she is a Goddess. We are in a small darkened temple space. The air is thick with incense, only a few candles to light it. I am not entirely myself, I still have some of the God inside me. My upper body wasn’t mine, for a time it was his and he used it. There were words coming out of my mouth but they weren’t entirely mine. I can recall a mist, a land behind this one and a place beneath the dirt. The Goddess is talking. She makes clear we are wrong, we are doing this wrong. The dead are always around us, they only consent to this one night. Twelve people speak of their beloved dead and make their mark in clay.

III

We are standing on a shingle beach in a natural beautiful embayment on the South coast of England. This cove is still hammered by waves and howling winds, drizzle drives at us from across the sea. Myself and the woman who was a Goddess remember those twelve names, remember those twelve stories as we cast those clay marks out into the waves; from the seas we came and to the seas we return.

IV

The wind is still blowing, the waves are still hammering and the drizzle still soaking. Another darkened temple space, much larger and 30 people sitting in the shadows. Someone is about to go to the lands of the dead, down the world tree and through the gates of fire and ice. For now though she has nothing to carry her. The drumming starts and the chant begins, everyone is reticent. I am not myself and the woman is definitely not there anymore. I am hammering the world tree at the floor, the woman is beating the life into her drum and the chant goes on. Then there is a moment, something takes hold of everyone and I find myself and the woman surfing along on a tidal wave of howling chants, hammering drumbeats, clapping and banging like the thunderstorm of the apocalypse. The noise is deafening and deadening, my body shakes; it isn’t entirely my own and I guide the woman to the land of the dead. She speaks in their voices; the ancestors and the Gods. Another Goddesses is telling us the same thing; we are doing this wrong, the dead are around all of the time, not just this one night.

lulworth
Lulworth Cove

The Hound

I

I am sitting crossed legged on the floor, The Hound is in front of me and drumming is all around me. My skin is smeared in a flying ointment and I can feel it pushing me faster, harder and deeper. My heartbeats are hoof-beats and I am pulling them out of myself and giving them to The Hound; drawing life from the cooling earth beneath me and from the clouded night sky above me, weaving them around its skull, knitting muscles from life and. I am giving this Hound a body, bringing it into being as a creature to run with the Hunt. As the body is formed I talk to it; I name him, give him a purpose, and instruct him on who he is to be and what he is to do. All of this I seal into his memory with a sigil painted on his forehead.

 

The Hunted

I owe you all an apology, this is not going to end as I originally envisaged. The Hound has been enlivened; he has been offered food and drink and offered a hospitable place by my fire for the time being. Circumstance offers too much uncertainty – our landlord might be selling his house, I am thinking of leaving London, I don’t know where I will be living in twelve months. I don’t want to create a cairn and inter this newly born spirit Hound into it and then leave him.

I Sigilhad a view of climbing through the gap in the fence at the bottom of my garden and walking amongst the tombs. Visions of taking a trowel to the soil beneath one of the old ash trees and digging amongst its roots. I don’t sing (not without a few drinks in me first; I am a terrible Welshman), but I would tell the tree and the ungods amongst its boughs what I am doing, who I am digging for and to welcome their new neighbour. I
would pour beer into that hole – offering it to the ungods of Fraxinus – and pour some out for the Hound. He would be laid down in that new grave and food placed in with him. I would whisper again his name and his meaning. I would cover him over and build the stones above him, tucking him in to be comfortable. More beer, more words and incense would waft over those stones. I would take the top-most stone and keep it with me, a thing to keep the Hound and I connected. When appropriate, and when needed more offerings of beer and meat would be laid at the cairn and words whispered to the Hound. Words to be carried off to Gwyn. Words, and requests and favours to be asked.

Now, the Hound will sit in my shrine. He will be fed, he will be honoured and he will still be set to carry my words and hymns to Gwyn. I don’t know how this will resolve itself and I am sorry I didn’t resolve it as I had promised.

* * *

I owe a thanks to Rhyd Wildermuth for blatantly ripping off his blogging style with the short I, II III style paragraphs. It was almost entirely unintentional, but once I noticed I could  see why he does it, it works really well. By then it was too late, and that is the story I am sticking too.

The Hunt and The Hound – part 3

The Hunt

Last week I went to the British Museum to see an exhibition entitled ‘Celts: Art and Identity’. The primary reason was to see a single artefact that was on display or the first time ever in Britain; the Gundestrup Cauldron. It is a silver cauldron created around 2300 years ago somewhere in the east of Europe but discovered in a bog in Denmark. It is comprised of numerous silver panels, each depicting characters – human and non-human – engaged in different activities. One panel has what is probably the most iconic image from the ‘Celtic’ Iron Age world; that of the sitting antlered man/god. This is an artefact I have seen reproduced and utilised in books, websites and articles for over two decades, so the chance to see it up close was too good to pass up (coupled with the fact I get in for free to the exhibition due to institutional ‘arrangements’ between the BM and my institution of work).

Another panel on that silvered vessel that has piqued my interest is the one depicting two lines of men; the first, lower group of identical figures with shield and spear preparing to be immersed in a vessel by a giant, only to ride away again on horseback with unique armaments. The two groups of men are separated by a vine or stem showing seed pods or flowers (I have seen the similarity to Henbane – Hyoscymus niger mentioned online, it’s a tempting possibility). This panel has been interpreted as depicting the end of the life of these men as the initiated pack of the Koryos, and their rejoicing of their tribe as warriors and men.

Panel on the Gundestrup Cauldron (Wikimedia Commons)

The immersion event is watched over by a dog or wolf, there are quite a few canines on the cauldron all told. The hound was central to the Koryos; it was sacrificed during their initiation, it formed the core of their being in the Koryos and if we take this panel on a 2000 year old silver cauldron to be in some way representative, the hound was there at their rebirth into manhood and a place in the tribe.

Throughout the Indo-European world, dogs were seen as guardians and keepers of the Underworld, psychopomps. Wolves to the Romans were the epitome of the wilderness and were considered a bad omen if they entered the city. They were the embodiment of the warrior; benign to its own kind, it’s tribe but fierce and protective to others. Personal and tribal names bear the remains of these associations: Cunobelinus, Vidigabius, Vithhund, CuChulainn or even the Lykians of Greece. We have many examples of warriors from the IE cultures donning animal skins – particularly wolves or other martial animals and wearing them into battle. These were the equivalent of the berserks; wild and (likely) drug induced ecstatic warriors who fought with fury and little personal regard.

What is notable is that these skin donning furies are the likely origin of our werewolf folklore and what is interesting is that this folklore runs parallel to witchcraft during the medieval period; when the witch hunts were on, so were the werewolf hunts. Again we have this parallel with the outsiders; the Other in the forests beyond civilisation. Perhaps though the werewolf wasn’t derived from the Koryos but from the other wolf outside the walls; the vargs. Vargs were the loner outsiders, men who were sent beyond the walls as punishment for their social crimes. Whereas the wolf-pack was the coordinated model of the Koryos, the lone wolf, the dangerous monster was the model for the solitary varg. We still use the lone-wolf as imagery for some of our outsider criminals.

The Hunted

Let’s talk about drugs. Almost all our drugs, or at least their ancestral form, come from plants, here though I want to talk more specifically about entheogenic plants. The use of plants and fungi (everyone forgets the fungi), have a long and well documented history amongst almost all human cultures for religious and magical purposes. A year ago, a God tried to get my attention and succeeded, and in the intervening time I have come to know him as a God of many things, one of which is ecstasy. As I work in a botanic institution I have access to (probably) the world’s best botanical and mycological library and its resources, so I set out to do some homework. The classic enthogenic plant family is the Solanaceae; the nightshade family which provides us with a dizzying array of food plants (and is the third most important agricultural plant family after the grasses – Poaceae – and the pea/bean family – Fabaceae). In addition to food staples, this family also has some of the most interesting poisonous and toxic plants like Mandragora, Hyoscymus and Atropa. These plants contain a suite of biologically active alkaloid tropane compounds, all of which function by interfering with various parts of the nervous system. As topical salves – the well-known ‘Flying Ointments’ offer a safer means of experimenting and seeing what these plants offer. That said, there are still significant risks to the healthy let alone those with heart or kidney problems. Personally, they aren’t a group of entheogens I think are sensible to experiment with given the safer alternatives.

So, moving on to a different set of plants which also offer something to the budding entheonaut. Thujone is another compound which offers great opportunities for trance work. Thujone is best known as the active ingredient in absinthe, with wormwood being the contributing plant in the absinthe production process. It used to be thought that absinthe induced hallucinations and psychosis and so it was outlawed in many countries, however it seems that this is largely now considered a fabrication as there are no biological actions by thujone of parts of the brain which could be thought of as being hallucination inducing. In addition, from studies and research, there was never that much thujone in the original absinthes anyway. Practically speaking, thujone is found is some pretty common plants; wormwood (Artemisia absinthum), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), oregano (Oreganum vulgare) and even mint (Mentha spicata), but the highest levels of thujone are found in common kitchen sage (Salvia officinalis). In Sage essential oil, just over 40% is thujone, for Wormwood and Mugwort, 40% or thereabouts. 30mg/kg of body-weight (3g for a 100kg person) will probably induce muscle spasms, 45mg of thujone per kg of body-weight (4.5g for a 100kg person) stands a good chance of killing them if taken orally, and 60mg/kg will definitely kill. I have been trying out incenses with mugwort over the past 6 months, and have also made use of mugwort salves to aid in trancework. Luckily I work with people open to this and they are happy to join in with the experiment. The results are fantastic; thujone in the form of mugwort salves and incense heighten trance work. Rather than create the experience, it acts more to aid and facilitate the experience, the best way to explain it is to say it acts like the turbo boost on a car engine; giving that extra shove, that extra kick rather than being the engine itself. This is borne out by the way thujone works on the nervous system; it makes nerve transmission easier and interferes with the natural nerve-innervation regulation processes. Bearing in mind the quantities given above, it should be fairly straightforward to experiment with mugwort teas (1 teaspoon in a mug to begin with – use honey or sugar, the tea tastes rank) or essential oils turned into salves or diluted with carrier oils.

Fungi! I am one of the curators of the world’s largest scientific mycological collection in London. Whilst I despise eating mushrooms, I am entranced by them in all other forms. Not only are they seriously, seriously weird when you try to compare them to plants or animals (fungi are evolutionarily closer to animals than plants) and function in ways that can blow your mind (for example, fungi have somewhere in the region of about 27,000 sexes). Add to all of that, they produce some of the most important drugs humans have had access to (antibiotics, transplant anti-rejection drugs and cheese) whilst also seeing to our recreational needs too. Two culturally important compounds are found in fungi that are worthy of note;

There are over a hundred species of closely related fungi that produce the chemical psilocin and psilocybin. The most well-known and best course being those species within the genus Psilocybe. Different species from this genus occur all over the, but the biggest source of ethnographic use comes from Mesoamerica. In Eurasia, the entheogenic use of fungi tends to be centred around a different chemical and its parent fungus entirely. Psilocybin is particularly nifty; for one thing you would need to eat over 10 kilos of the dried fungus to get a toxic dose of psilocybin, so poisoning is very unlikely and rare. It also isn’t dependency forming, in fact it is being investigated as a means of weaning drug dependant people off whatever it is they are struggling with. That said, it is a hallucinogen and for the purpose of trancework, spiritwork and communication with the Gods this raises questions over whether what we perceive are the Gods or a psilocybin driven hallucination. The same applies of course to the chemical constituents of Amanita muscaria; the Fly agaric; the epitome of toadstools, the mushroom we learn to identify before we can even say ‘taxonomy’. The chemical of note; muscimol, and its derivative compounds are dissociative hallucinogens, it has higher toxicity and the amount of muscimol and ibotenic acid in any given mushroom cap can vary quite dramatically. Some advice worth bearing in mind would be that a starter dose would be about 5g of the dried cap (a dried cap about 6cm in diameter weighs about 5-6g), however to ensure safety, use 4 caps and take a quarter from each to average out the dosage rather than all from 1 cap. This is because the ‘appropriate’ levels of hallucinogens can be present in as little as 1g of some caps. The history and use of Amanita muscaria is huge; it is a fascinating story in and of itself before you even get into the biochemistry and pharmacological effects.

What I have put own here is for information purpose only. Use it merely as a starting point for your own exploration. And for the love of Gods DON’T try ANY of these if pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have pre-existing heart, kidney or nervous system conditions.

As witches, we meet our gods in other places, in altered spaces and strange times. We dance with them, we clap our hands at them and we stamp out feet beside them. We bang out drums, we whoop our voices and we thrash and dance and jump and sway with them. Our relationship with drugs is totally fucked up; we are sold caffeine on every street and yet cannabis is pushed to the street corner or back alley. We are sold all manner of body and mind altering stimulants to keep us productive, to keep is calm, to keep us happy and yet have to turn to the criminal dealers for different types of drugs that do the same thing. I am not suggesting we legalise heroin or cocaine; there is a whole tangled web of exploitation and suffering stretched across the globe within which people find themselves willingly or unwillingly trapped. It is not a simple thing to simply legalise them all. I am however suggesting we begin to mend our damaged relationship with plants and take them with us to the sabbat on the hill, or on the heath or in the cave. Once again make them part of our rituals and let them carry us away to dance with our gods and thunder through the night-time at the heels of the Hunt.

chadcave
Mushroom headed figures from North African cave art

The Hound

We have reached the final stages of preparation; we have a hound, we have a cairn and we have a place to raise it.  The final part of this work before next month’s interment and libation is to empower and enliven the skull. The skull I have has been sat on my altar for the past 2 months; fed, sprinkled with spring water and had prayers and compliments offered to it. I see there are two broad options here; first is to encourage and house a canine spirit from the worlds to take up residence and be part of this arrangement, the second is to create the hound spirit form afresh. This latter method is more in keeping with what I am familiar and comfortable with. My intention I to spend an evening or two using mugwort salves and incenses I have and work with ecstatic states to raise and form the energy into a hound. It isn’t such an easy thing to plan out meticulously as these things have a habit of being ad-libbed if Gods get involved. Suffice to say that in my case I won’t be working with a spirit out there, but will be ‘creating’ one for the purpose. This then to be charged with the Hunt and my intent; once done this spirit form will need regular feeding and care like any other ‘wild’ spirit with whom you have entered into an arrangement. I realise this isn’t very helpful in terms of step by step instructions, but it I at this stage that our own idiosyncrasies and the quirks of our respective Crafts come out.

Next month…in only 3 weeks , I will resolve this series with the account of my practice and will also include the hymns for the Hound I used. Of everything that has been written and set out, it is the Hymns I would like to see repeated and used in other people’s work as the link that forges these practices together.

The Hunt and The Hound – part 2

The Hunt

 

Three things govern the primitive’s conception of the dead person; He continues to live. He is powerful. He is at once well-disposed and malicious – Karl Meuli Gesammelte Schriften

 

The Hunt wasn’t always a Hunt, it used to be a Host; a carnival, a Mardi Gras, a parade of the dead wearing the flesh of the living. The Hunt came later with time and memory loss. Originally our youngsters would go out and live in the wilds and there they were talk to the dead, to the ungods of the landscape and to the gods themselves.  During winter – possibly at the same time as their own initiation rites were taking place – they would put on masks, paint their bodies and return to the people from whom they had been sent to live apart from and for that time they would be the dead of the tribe.

Ancestor cults the world over either view the dead as beings to be feared or as beings  with whom to remain in contact; they are often ambivalent about the living and as such, proper treatment and worship can keep them well-disposed to us. The prevalent attitude amongst  the vast swathe of Indo-European cultures leans more towards the dead as having an interest in the living, as being concerned with them and their wellbeing as they are their own descendants and family.

This is the important thing; the dead bring fertility and abundance, whether as the ancestors, whether as chthonic beings or whether as spirits who live in the wild beyond human civilization. This transcends human cultures, occurs across the globe and in widely divergent peoples. Maybe the lines between these Outsider groups have blurred and merged in some cases, but the matter remains that the spirits beyond bring the fertility of the Land to us the people.

Traces remain in mid to late-winter practice and folklore; in Slavic countries, the festivities of Koliada and its variants have bands of people in dress and masks roaming towns singing and asking for hospitality. To do so is to bring blessings and good fortune. They represent the dead and Veles (the god of the underworld) who has sent them abroad at this time of year.  Gwyn ap Nudd ‘in whom God has set the spirit of the demons of Annwn, lest this world be destroyed’; is a God who is associated with the hunt and this this raises questions about these demons. Peeling aside the Christian glosses, their identity has been suggested as being part of the andedion; agrarian spirits mentioned in the Irish Lebor Gabála as the andée; husbandmen to the Tuatha De Danan. In the British Wild Hunts, we aren’t really given an identity for the entourage with Gwyn or Arawn, but it would be in keeping with continental and comparable sources for them to be the very andedion who strike the medieval writers of the Mabinogion with fear and suspicion. A quick jump across Eurasia to India and we have Rudra’s Maruts; a storm-riding host of warriors that have striking similarities and fit within the mythic framework of the Koryos as Wild Hunt. Most pertinently, they are seen as rain bringers. Over and over we can find elements of surviving myth linking the Wild Hunt, its predecessors, cousins and descendants as having elements of growth, abundance and blessings.

Barrow

The Hunted 

We can’t expect to reinstate the Koryos as it was to our ancestors, however we can try to breathe some life into a cultic arrangement which many of us already dance the edges of.

The Koryos as an institution was about outsiders; people who spent time away from society. Who immersed themselves in the things beyond; in the gods, the ungods and the ancestors. Their practices involved ecstatic trances, shapeshifting and masking. Their gods were the wild, ambivalent ones who lived in the dark, who trod the forests, who hunted and killed and who ruled the dead in the underworld. To many of us, this is exactly what we are doing now. We don’t work in contingents of our kin and we might not work in contingents of our closest friends, but we work with the dead, with the gods and we work outside in the forests, the hills and the wilder places where something refuses to let go despite our species efforts. We are already walking the same footsteps of our ancestors, albeit in different directions and along different paths.

Our gods arise from the landscape and all that lives within it; they are an integral part of it. Destroy the landscape and we cripple and destroy our gods. If we see others inflict damage, pollute and desecrate our gods – why shouldn’t we turn to those skills and practices to stop them?

The Hunt is as much a part of our landscape and our ancestors as it is us. We already run as part of the Hunt when we step beyond the edges of civilisation and go work our magic with the dead or dance with our gods. Regardless of where we run with the Hunt or what quarry we chase down, the important thing is that we join it, ride with it and fully embrace our place as outsiders and join the ultimate expression of being an outsider amongst our gods.

The Hound  

I laid out last month the intention of this working; to create a spirit house within a cairn to act as an altar, a cultic focus and a place of power at which we can call out to the Wild Hunt and to its Leader.

A Hound to pass between us and the Hunt.

Next month will be the final elements of the working, laying out the processes by which we empower the Hound and lay out the first offerings and calls to the Hunt. The final month will be December – the perfect month to perform this working as it is the traditional time for the Hunt to be abroad. I will describe and lay out how I empowered my Hound, raised its cairn and made the first offerings. With a framework in place, the aim is to set you off to do likewise in the appropriate fashion for your landscape, ancestors and Huntsman.

This month however, we shall turn to the cairn. It seems fitting that in the past few days here autumn has found us, the Indian summer of unusual warmth and sunshine has finally  lost its strength and we have turned to cooler winds, russet golden trees and the first real hints that a darker and harsher season is advancing.

Part of the preparation for this working is going to be to find a suitable location for the cairn to be raised. As our intention here is to create something focussed on the beyond, the Outside, those from outside civilisation and beneath the Living, the site for the cairn should be outside of cities or towns and in the wilds. That said, there are suitable liminal spaces inside towns and cities if we live there.  I live in a fairly central part of London, but I also happen  to live alongside one of the old Victorian graveyards. Nunhead cemetery was opened in 1840 as one of the seven great graveyards created to ease the burden on burials of the time. It is around 52 acres (21 hectares) in size, and whilst a small number of burials are still performed there, by and large it has been turned over to a nature reserve. As such it is almost entirely mature woodland and has a thriving diversity of plant and animal life. It happens to be my favoured foraging spot; blackberries, sloes, damsons and feral grapes. The woodland areas have dirt tracks running throughout and it serves as a community space with a lot of people using it for walking themselves and their dogs. We also have some community events such as film screenings in the old bombed out chapel.

The cemetery is a wild place in the middle of civilisation. It is a place of the dead and of the living. I live right on its boundary; the end of my garden is a couple of feet from the closest burials. This is my perfect liminal space between the wild and the civil, between the living and the dead. If I am to create a space for the Hunt, to inter a Hound, this is the perfect place for me.

Nunhead Cemetery

In creating a cairn for the Hound we will need to find stones from which to raise the cairn over the spirit house. On one hand, if the location allows it might be possible to simply lie the hound upon the soil and pile the stones above it to create the cairn, alternatively – and what I am going to do – it might be better to bury the Hound in a shallow hole (with suitable libations) and then raise a cairn above that. This second method will not only be less conspicuous, but will also offer a small amount of protection for the cairn should it discovered.

That is all that need be done for now; gather your hound, find a place for his cairn and begin any spirit work with that place in preparation.

Bibliography

Kershaw, K. 2000. The One-eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-)Germanic Männerbunde. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph No. 36. Washington DC

Meuli, K. 1975. Gesammelte Schriften. Thomas Geltzer Ed. Basel: Schwabe.

Parker, W. 2007. The Four Branches of the Mabinogi. Bardic Press.

The Hunt and the Hound: part 1

The Hunt

It is simple: Mankind has broken the covenant with nature – Peter Grey, APOCALYPTIC WITCHCRAFT

Our proper place in the order of things has been forgotten. Our responsibilities to the land have been ignored. The gods have been silenced. The divine marriage of the people and the land has been cast aside and the horse, the symbol of this union, has been fashioned into a money making grotesque and turned into dog food.

We used to be reminded of this balance; the balance between the people in their ‘civilisation’ and the landscape just beyond its boundaries. We used to send our young men out into that wilderness; the mountains, plains and woodlands as a divine exchange. We used to send them out to fight for us, to raid for us and to learn the rituals and mythologies of our culture. We used to send these youngsters out there into the wild and there they would die.  They would be dead things; without name or home, without weapon or family. They would die and yet come back to the settlements of the living as the dead and bring with them fertility and the blessings of the ancestors. The blessing of fertility for the land, the people and their herds was for the dead to give and they gave it to the dead outsiders to return to their tribes and families. With time we stopped sending our men out to die and return, we stopped handing them over to the dead and soon the very idea of doing so became a story and so passed into legend. The dead still returned; led by their Shining White King who led them roaring across the skies. Instead of revelling in their return and the gifts they brought, we feared this Furious Host, called them devils and hid away. The covenant was broken and another bond was severed.

The Koryos was a ubiquitous institution, in one form or another, across the Proto-Indo-European and (PIE) Indo-European (IE) cultures. Young men were sent out from their settlements to live wild in the spaces beyond the walls. There they learnt to fight and hunt, and were immersed in the mythic and religious culture of their people. They raided other settlements, rustled cattle and acted in some ways as a mobile fighting force for their people.  Their exploits reached surviving myths from India to Ireland.

What we can say about them is that they were initiated into these war bands in winter, particularly Midwinter. From archaeological evidence found in Russia, and from mythic sources, we can also surmise fairly safely that the sacrifice of hounds and other canines formed part of those initiation rituals. In fact in some fashion, the men of the Koryos were strongly associated with wolves and hounds; if not in a totemic manner then possibly as part of shape-shifting warfare practices.

What concerns us here is the original practice of the ritual return of the Koryos to the settlements and places of the living; masked, draped in skins or with painted bodies. They would not only embody the dead but literally and in actuality, to those people, become the dead.

The Koryos is an extinct institution now and yet if we consider its functions and roles there is another group of people who in many ways still exist in a similar place; outsiders working beyond civilisation, keeping alive the religious and magical traditions which tie together the people, the gods and the land. If we are going to try to resurrect the Koryos, and once again sing praise-hymns to Koryonos – the God of the Koryos, then it is within the dirt of Witchcraft that it will best take root.

This passage from Kershaw nicely encapsulates the matter;

“…in general, in ancient cults [it is] from the cult itself that the god derives his being. In our case, we will be looking for associations with war, death, the wolf and the dog, with ecstatic states, with initiations and the winter solstice, and, where these do not coincide, with the changing year. We will expect him to share the ambiguity of the Koryos itself and to appear sometimes good, sometimes evil, and always at least potentially dangerous.”

A Witchcraft derived Koryos brought into contemporary times would function very differently, but in some key ways still maintain the connection to one of the many gods who served as the Koryonos.  We could call him and his Hosts to return in winter as before but rather than bring their blessing of fertility and fruitfulness, offer libation and sacrifice and ask them to set the hunt out upon the landscape. Evoke the spirit of the Hunt and direct it towards those who drive a greater wedge between people, landscape and the Gods.  When our ancestors forgot the divine purpose of the Wild Hunt, they began to fear it. It is time that fear was stoked again.

‘Quiet Wolves’ Copyright Rafal Wechterowicz

The Hunted

In our desire to harm none we have become harmless – Peter Grey, REWILDING WITCHCRAFT

If meat and beer is to be poured out again in honour of Koryonos and his Hosts, if we are to use our resource and skill to begin working against those who would sever us further from our land and the gods, if we are to place ourselves back into that outsider role – even if only for a shirt time – who or what is it we should seek to place in the path of the Hunt?

I am from and live in Britain. My political world is focused on it and so the examples and reasoning I will be presenting over the coming months will focus on this island. I make no apologies for that. I consider this ‘my’ land; my flesh, bone and blood are formed from its soil and from its water. My ancestors farmed a small corner of this island for hundreds, and very probably, thousands of years. It is to this little island that my emotional, spiritual and physical attachments are strongest; hence it is the actions of people on this island which attract my ire more than any other.

I see the greatest harm to the land and to the people being perpetrated by a constellation of politicians, corporations and some sections of the media. But the darkest star in that constellation lies with the current crop of politicians in government.

We have a Conservative government who appear determined to dismantle our National Health Service and continue their programme of privatising services which are currently nationalised. They are systematically cutting welfare services whilst working with the right wing press to vilify and demonize the most vulnerable and weakest in our society. They paint a picture of people on out of work benefits as lazy, workshy and feckless even though they account for only 2% of the welfare budget. The list of their actions AGAINST the people of this country goes on and on. They have lived up their label as ‘the nasty party’.

The greatest outpouring of loathing for our government is rightly aimed at the minister responsible for the Department of Work and Pensions. This man has overseen massive changes to how people are supported when out of work, sick or disabled. People are forced into for private companies in order to receive their welfare money, even if they are already volunteering for charities or organisations whilst otherwise looking for work. Recently it emerged over 2000 people who had been declared ‘fit to work’ and had their sickness benefits stopped, had died within two weeks of their support being removed. This stems from contracting out assessments of the sick and disabled to private companies who have no health expertise and who have targets for getting as many people off sickness benefits and onto standard job seekers benefits. This government is systematically pulling the rug out from under the weakest, the poorest and the most disadvantaged in the name of austerity.

There is a surfeit of political names which could be carved into lead and offered up for the Hunt to set its hounds upon.

The Hound

Because of their strong association with death, dogs also were connected with war-bands and warriors in Greek, Latin, Celtic, Germanic, and Indo-Iranian traditions. – Brown & Anthony 2012

I want to lay this magical working out like a recipe, not a blueprint. Something with clear ideas and aims but not limiting those of you who choose to join this Hunt to my ways of working. I hope you take the recipe and make it your own, place your own fingerprints on it and to forge your own links to the Hunt.

With that in mind, I want to spend the next three months laying out my intent for this working and the steps to take towards the goal. I will be publishing a bit at a time and allowing a month to pass between each stage to allow the necessary materials and locations to be found and established.  The final fourth piece will be in December in the descent into the darkest part of the year, this is when we will draw everything together and perform the cairn raising and make the initial libations.

So, onwards.

The intent here is to create a spirit house in the form of a canine skull, be that wolf, coyote, fox or dog or even the traditional substitute for an actual skull; a glass or clay bottle. With this suitably consecrated and occupied skull prepared, it will be taken out beyond civilisation and buried at a suitable place where we will raise a small cairn of stones over it. This cairn and the hound it houses will then become an altar, a shrine and the focal point for libations and offerings to the One Who Leads the Hunt.

The intention here is to create a space beyond the walls of civilisation; a place to slip our societal skin and don that of another animal altogether, a place to pour out our offerings, to shake in ecstasy and to call out to the Koryonos. The spirit house at its core will be our guide and our guardian, its baying to call the Hunt and to set it on its furious flight.

Let us not be under any illusions here, this is a place to spin out malefic magic; calling the Hunt out from the Otherworld and send it into the Land. If we as magical workers, spirit talkers and witches want to change the world – we have to consider using the weapons in our arsenal to effect that change alongside the more mundane actions. Magic is a powerful tool that we have at our disposal and I propose that this Hound and its resting place cairn are to be totems for doing so.

The first stage on this journey is simple; to gather and prepare a canine skull (or appropriate substitute) to be formed into a spirit vessel. Perform whatever cleaning or purification that you deem fit but beyond that nothing need be done to it yet.

Hound

The Hound 

Next month:

The Hunt: the God of the Hunt and the andedion.

The Hunted: the morality and ethics of this malefica

The Hound: raising the cairn


Bibliography

Grey, P. 2013. Apocalyptic Witchcraft. Scarlet Imprint.

Grey, P. 2014. Rewilding Witchcraft. Scarlet Imprint

Kershaw, K. 2000. The One-eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-)Germanic Männerbunde. Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph No. 36. Washington DC

Brown, D.R. and Anthony, D.W. 2012. Midwinter dog sacrifices and warrior initiations in the Late Bronze Age site of Krasnosamarskoe, Russia.