The first iteration of our Chaos Craft Wheel of the Year ends with Lammas, the festival of the cutting of the corn. In my landscape this is around the time of the first grain harvest. Red fruits appear (in my garden that means cherries, raspberries and red currants). When I was a kid in Hertfordshire this was also the time of burning the fields. The sky would darken with the smoke of smouldering stubble and we would occasionally gather at the edges of the fields and race the flames as they ate their way across the blackened earth.
Lammas is the time for cutting, for breaking, for reaping and engaging with the necessary destructive elements of ourselves, our cultures and the cosmos. We prune back the summer growth, and burn what is no longer needed.
For our Red Magick meeting to begin we acknowledged our groups’ inspiration from The Craft, passing around a chalice of red wine as our introduction. This wine had first been consecrated as the living witch-blood, an evocative idea that turns up in the Cultus Sabbati material and in that awesome grimoire Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson. We each hand the cup round the circle, drinking with the words ‘my blood’ and offering to the next participant with the words ‘your blood’. Bound symbolically by this blood pact we enter an evening of Red rites.
Curses are tricky beasts and worth considering before we rush in wands blazing. Who do we curse and why? Of course even to swear at someone is a curse. In that situation, by the visceral power of taboo words, we may attempt to harm, to upset. In more explicitly magickal contexts we may try all kinds of operations; against individuals, against organisations, against ideas. When we consider curses we need to think deeply about what we’re doing.
In a Chaos Magick group on Facebook I recently responded to someone who was asking if members thought it was cool to curse someone who’d pissed them off:
“When considering curses, of which of course there are many types, (and indeed any act of magick) I’d suggest that you contemplate what the ritual/approach will do to you. “Battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, and if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” like Nietzsche says. Consider how you can act to increase compassion, transformation and healing in the situation rather than the violence and distrust that has motivated your thoughts. This more subtle approach might help you not get trapped in a me vs them dichotomy and is likely to leave you more empowered rather than less. You’ll also undoubtedly win ;)”
So the curses we laid on our night of Red Magick were against not people but aimed at the transformation of certain situations. This is delicate magick. The injunction not to ‘Battle with Monsters” from Nietzsche doesn’t mean not to do anything where there is a problem we should address. Rather it points to the idea that if you demonise your opponent you run the risk of becoming like them or of losing your own humanity.
There are certainly situations that demand our opposition, but we as magicians must be intelligent in this, and use our Skilful Means when faced with these difficulties. Lots can be learnt from writers such as Sun Tzu and Miyamoto Musashi. (The quote of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, “Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across.” has great relevance in terms of proposed military intervention in Syria but that, as they say, is another story.)
Of course a curse against the project of fracking in the British Isles, for example, isn’t a curse necessarily against any particular person. It’s against a method for extracting energy from the earth that is supported by a series of very short-sighted values and intentions. Naturally this type of Work must also combine with supporting the various other levels of opposition to these projects. In that moment we summoned the dragon to rise up, through the land and the people, to oppose fracking. Of course the earthquake the next day could have been ‘just coincidence’, and the announcement by prospecting firm Cuadrilla, that they might be on unsafe ground legally to continue their work (pun intended), might simply be ‘one of those things’. We certainly did not ’cause’ these events, however our magick was part of the network of Wyrd (of actions by many people at many levels) that, for the moment, has resulted in this company withdrawing its application for more drilling.
A naive view is to imagine that Cuadrilla is ‘the enemy’ and that the enemy is bad, not ‘of us’, something we must destroy. Whereas in fact by acknowledging our connection (if nothing else as energy consumers) to what we oppose, we find our own power.
After an evening of several Red rituals where else can you go with the playlist but to a little Petro Voodoo? Asking for the presence of the Loa, dancing and chanting we enter the space of war, of violence, of conflict and again look for the transformative potential of these most difficult experiences.
Here in our underground temple we deploy a technique from the Feri Tradition of Craft. We bow before our enemies, for they remind us of what we hold dear. We acknowledge that they remind us that there are many views of the reality. We bow before them as they inspire us towards greater compassion and creativity. We bow before them and remind ourselves that we are fighting for them and their children, and in doing so became stronger in the Work that we do.
Back from the underground, our final act of Red Magick isn’t a curse but is still about breaking stuff, this time obstacles. Ganesha’s favourite colour is red and, while he’s (mostly) a jolly god that likes sweets, he’s also a fierce ally. Making our 108 salutations to this gigantic, powerful deity we transform the Red of War into the living Red of healthy, circulating blood; our witch-blood, my blood, your blood. As we say in the Chaos Craft; “from the heights of the heavens, to the depths of the earth, we are one heart -connected. Blessed Be”.
I like the quote referencing Nietzsche, and the reference to Sun Tzu. The latter insists, that a leader must have “moral authority” before going to war. That basically means that the leader has the unflinching support of the people. Somebody may think of sending that condition, along with the wise Nietzsche quote, to a gentlemen with rapidly whitening hair, currently vising St Petersburg.
I don’t really care for bringing politics into belief paths, whatever the issues. But the bloody hash they are making of the job on this issue, makes me think they are doing a Metaprogramming working, based on an old episode of ‘The Navy Lark’. You are probably too young to remember the dull voice on the phone saying, ‘Ellow. Vis is intelligence speekin.’
Thanks for your comment David, as the USA et al rush in to bash the hell out of another oil-rich nation I can only gawp at the inanity of our war leaders. Alas for the days when our Kings led the way into battle!. JV
‘We bow before our enemies, for they remind us of what we hold dear.’ – and it is a good idea to honour your enemies, because they are worthy of your concern, your opposition to them. If they were a pathetic bunch of fools, it would not increase your worthiness to be so concerned with them that you make them into an enemy.
Great post J!
After he told me all about his experiences in WW2, I remember at about age 10 naively asking my father why the allies didn’t simply exterminate all the Germans and Japanese after WW2, considering all they had done. He replied with something like, well you just cannot do that sort of thing. Well actually you can, ancient history seems full of genocide, read the ghastly bloody bible.
Nevertheless I later realised that enemies can constitute a valuable resource if you can change their behaviour once you have defeated them. In many ways this seems the hallmark of what we call civilisation, as opposed to tribal barbarism.
If people seem more valuable dead than alive then you probably haven’t used enough imagination, although perhaps isolated exceptions exist…..
I think red magic should concentrate on that, overwhelm and then persuade.
[…] is ripe for the lancet. In combative terms – for indeed one important aspect of Red Magic is how we deal with adversaries as well as adversity – we bide our time so that when make our move there is a swift and comprehensive […]