Tag Archives: Orion Foxwood

The Spiritual Life

First of all, I want my readers to know that I am going to be taking a short sabbatical for the next couple of weeks and will be returning to my regularly scheduled blog on 8 July. I have the opportunity to go to Japan and I am seizing the day with hopes, amongst other things, of returning with some interesting blog material and, if I am feeling really daring, I may actually try to post some pictures.

As preparation for my journey, I have been reading on Shinto but I have also been taking a good look at Orion Foxwood’s The Tree of Enchantment: Ancient Wisdom and Magical Practices of the Faery Tradition. I am about halfway through the book at this writing and have stopped for some time to begin incorporating some of the exercises into my daily practice. I am already seeing results from this change – something I may discuss more at a later date.

One of my favorite quotes from the book so far is:

The distinctive qualities of Faery Seership are grounded in an understanding that being spiritual is about seeking your place and role in the spirit world.

Orion Foxwood. Tree of Enchantment: Ancient Wisdom and Magic Practices of the Faery Tradition (Kindle Locations 474-475). Kindle Edition.

I have been struggling for some time to actually articulate this thought in my own life. For many moons, I had thought of spirituality as something “out there” that I had to seek and which slipped through my fingers like an ephemeral mist that I just could not quite get a handle on. I thought that if I could just attach myself to the right Power I would begin to feel that sense of connection that the shaman and mages and mystics talked about. While I have always been sensitive to the spirit world, what I often call the Other World in these musings, it had never occurred to me that spirituality actually began with spirits. I thought of the beings that appeared to me either as nuisances (or worse, in some cases) or sources of information and/or power.

I was making the classic mistake of a human being raised in the Western Judeo-Christian paradigm or even in the scientist/materialist paradigms. In both ways of thinking, a human being is a separate entity, either a spirit striving to overcome its body and rise to heaven or a meat puppet whose consciousness arises simply as a byproduct of neuro-chemical processes. While I had experienced moments of connection with something Other, I had continued to think in terms of being a separate entity trying to tune in or establish a relationship with this Other World.

Reading Foxwood, I have finally found a model of the human soul complex that makes sense to me and is helping, slowly but surely, to erase that sense of separateness which has limited my spiritual quest for so long. In the Faery tradition as Mr. Foxwood interprets it, we have a spirit that is a part of the Creator (however that looks to the person) and a soul complex that he calls walkers. Those parts of our soul actually live in the three realms of the tradition and it is through attuning ourselves to the walkers and using those walkers as vehicles of transport and communication in the three worlds that we come into communion with the multitudinous beings in those states of being.

It is through this communication and the building of relationships in the three realms that we come into closer attunement with the Sacred Land on which we live and begin to understand our place in this realms. This approach to spirituality is probably not going to work well for everyone but it seems to be working quite well for me and I urge anyone interested in earth based spiritual practice to take a hard look at The Tree of Enchantment and, as a prelude, Mr. Foxwood’s other book The Faery Teachings. I can honestly say that I have learned more about establishing an earth based spiritual practice from these two books than I have from a host of other tomes I have read in the past.

I’ll stop here and pick up on the other side on 08 July. May everyone have a joyous Summer Solstice and, for my readers in the US and Canada, enjoy your respective independence celebrations. Take care all and “see” you soon.


Centaur Sightings

My 06 May blog covered a Beyond the Edge (BTE) Radio appearance by the leaders of Crypto 4 Corners, J C Johnson and Chief Leonard Dan, and the extraordinary variety of reports that this team investigates in their area. To quote myself:

Listening to the podcast, Crypto Four Corners has investigated reports of the Furry Ones (Sasquatch), skinwalkers, giant rabbit-like ‘rodents’, mini T-Rex, ‘Night Stalkers’ (gargoyle like creatures), little people, centaurs, gryphons, winged hominids and dogman/manwolf. I know, from other reports that I have seen elsewhere on the Internet that J C Johnson has also reported a sighting of a dire wolf or something similar while on a San Juan river expedition.

I noted in that blog that I disagreed with Mr. Johnson’s belief that all this high strangeness did not result from a window or portal in his research area. Given the amount of Fortean phenomena reported in that area and the long tribal history of magical/shamanic practice, I posited that it was almost inevitable that some weak spots might develop in the Veil in that area, particularly since there is also a long history of rogue magic users (skinwalkers and ‘witches’) as well. The gods alone know what those folks might have called through and how well they practice the magical hygiene of opening and then closing the Ways.

One of the phenomenon that seemed to pop up a good bit during the course of the BTE interview was the investigation of centaur sightings in the 4 Corners area. In all the cases reported, witnesses stated that they had seen the classic centaur, half man and half horse. In one case, the witness reported having to stop his car while several of these beings crossed the highway in front of him or her. These types of reports leave even true believers scratching their heads, especially when the witnesses report actually being able to hear the hooves clop as the centaurs go by.

Oddly enough, I found a possible solution for these sightings in a work on Faery lore. Orion Foxwood is an author who has, so far, written two excellent books on the Faery Seership tradition and one book on Southern Conjure. He comes from a line of Appalachian folk who have the Sight and has trained in Alexandrian Wicca, traditional witchcraft as well as his family tradition of conjure. He also studied extensively with noted Faery Seer, R J Stewart. In Mr. Foxwood’s book, The Faery Teachings, he makes the following observation on p. 73:

. . . It is important to note that the Fay may not appear in human form at all. They may appear as an animal, a human or any mix thereof. They can take an entirely foreign shape, even of a species of being that seems right out of a science fiction movie. They can also be seen as balls or streams of light or shadow . . .

Now, most people, when they think of Faery at all, think of the Celtic lands but really we may define the Faery as those spirits who live ‘within’ a specific land. There is a strong interface between the Fay and ancestors (who quite literally live ‘in’ the land when they die) and all these beings live in what Foxwood terms the Sea World, the world that lies ‘beneath’ or ‘within’ our physical world (The Stone World, in Foxwood’s parlance). In the Faery tradition, it is recognized that there are places on the face of the planet where the Veil between our world and the Sea World is quite thin and it is, therefore, easier to interact with the Faery beings in those places.

It is also well known in Faery lore that those thin places in the Veil can be sites of extraordinary activity. There are multitudinous stories of persons accidentally or intentionally crossing over into the Land of Faery and of those, like Thomas the Rhymer, who are pulled into that Other World by Faery beings for initiatic purposes. The lore also indicates that the cross over can occur in the other direction. The most famous instances of this happening are the stories of the Faery Rade, witnesses swearing that they saw ‘the Shining Ones” riding forth from their mounds and hills and trooping across the landscape. Most people, encountering such a rade, would simply put their faces to the ground and wait for the Faery to pass, afraid that, if they looked, they might be swept up and taken off to the Land of the Fay. Witnesses to these events described the ringing of the bells on the horses’ harness and the clopping of hooves. To them, at least, the manifestation was quite real.

Now, we have been discussing this in light of the Celtic Faery folklore with which I am most familiar but I should note that, though I am no expert, I do know that the indigenous people of the United States have their own stories of ‘little people’ and I can certainly recognize the Faery in some of the spirits with which Native shaman work. I think it quite likely that sightings of centaurs and other mythological creatures could be sightings of what I would call Faery.

I can not say with any certainty whether these sightings are physical manifestations or not. It certainly seems to be the case that Faery can manage physical manifestation since there are records of people being struck by them; however, the Faery are also highly skilled at the magic called glamour in which they make something appear to be something else. It is entirely possible that these witnesses are experiencing exactly what the Faery want them to experience – clopping hooves and all – and that the ‘reality’ may be something completely different.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Those of a certain age, when they think of the state of Georgia, may hear an old Charlie Daniels Band tune playing in their head. For those of you not familiar with the song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” is a classic Southern Rock tune that tells the story of the devil getting into a fiddling contest with a young man named Johnny. Johnny cleans the devil’s clock and wins a golden fiddle from Old Nick but it is made clear that he does this at risk of his immortal soul.

The devil seems to pop up a lot in Southern lore. There were persistent rumors that the blues man, Robert Johnson, sold his soul to the devil in order to become one of the best blues guitar players of his time. Like the Scottish pipers and fiddlers who were said to have gained their skill from the faery, any musician who showed a sudden, marked increase in talent could be the subject of whispers that he or she had gone down to the crossroads and made a deal with that ole devil. The question that we have to ask ourselves though is, who is this devil that everyone seemed to be making a deal with?

No, Virginia, we are not talking about a whole herd of Satanists selling themselves to the Christian Adversary. While Satan and his minions certainly do exist, I would maintain that they are, for the most part, creatures who the people of the Abrahamic religions have given great power through their fear and loathing (and sometimes secret desire to just give in and sin a little bit). I am the first to say that there are predators in the Otherworld and that there may even be beings who are the unbalanced versions of the angelic host but I do not see a demon under every rock and I certainly do not feel that Satan, the Prince of this alleged group of fallen angels, spends a lot of time hanging around crossroads trying to collect souls one at a time.

Rather, I suspect that the “devil” that is encountered at the crossroads is an altogether different sort of being. In the Afro-Carribean religions such as Vodou, crossroads are the specific haunts of the lwa known as Papa Legba, the opener of the way between the world of men and the world of the lwa. The Greeks had Hekate, the Lady of the Three Fold Way, as their crossroads deity and so popular was she that her statues adorned many crossroads in Greece and offerings were laid at her feet to ensure safe travel. We can even see traces of the crossroads idea in the Norse Odhinn to whom crossroads were sacred (although, I would not ask the Old One for safe travel, crossroads were the site of hangings and the hanged were sacred to Him).

So, crossroads deities seem to have a strong tie in with the idea of opening the way. Sometimes, the way is a physical one and the appeal is for safe travel in this world. At other times, those who walk the inner planes will work with a Way Opener in order to facilitate and ease their own travels.

There is another way in which the Opener of the Way can assist someone. In those circumstances where an individual feels blocked or obstructed in some way, they can ask the assistance of one of the Way Openers to help clear that obstruction or even to help them learn a skill that will assist them in walking their road through life. This is where deals with the “devil” come in.

Orion Foxwood recently published a book on conjure called The Candle and the Crossroads and one of the very interesting chapters in that book deals with just this phenomenon. Mr. Foxwood refers to the being with which one deals at the crossroads as the Dark Rider and this is what he has to say about that being:

. . .I was told that he was not evil but rather very old and powerful and that he came from either Africa or Europe. I think he came from both places.

There is a lot of information in the name the Dark Rider. First, he is dark, or at least made out of the power of the night. This suggests that he is an in-between spirit who can only be encountered when light and night dance under the shadow of true moon. Second, he is a rider, or in movement, which indicates that his power and spirit nature is change . . .

Foxwood also states, “But I warn you that though he does not require you to sell your immortal soul to him, he does require integrity and a promise from you in exchange for the road openings he provides . . . “. I think it goes without saying that this is a being that one would not want to trifle with and that, if you give your word, you had better be very sure you can keep it. If approached with respect (and Foxwood presents a fairly simple rite for doing this) the Dark Rider can and will open the way for the petitioner in practically any aspect of life.

As I mentioned before, it is not unknown for someone who wishes to learn an instrument, for example, to petition the Dark Rider for “lessons”. There are even stories of this “man” appearing to the fledgling musician, taking the instrument, tuning it and handing it back after playing a little riff. After that meeting, the musician was quickly able to learn his chosen instrument.

Since all things are supposed to come from God in the Abrahamic religions, it is no wonder that this powerful spirit has been demonized and turned into yet another version of the “devil”. While I do not encourage people to go out and seek the Dark Rider unless and until they have had some good training in conjure, my own work with crossroads spirits tells me that, while this fellow could scare the bejabbers out of you, he is not innately evil or seeking to “get over” on you.

If you are at all interested in conjure, I recommend Foxwood’s work as a good way to get grounded into and started with that practice.

Black Dogs and Fairies

I happened across this delightful little tidbit on Beachcombing’s Bizarre History blog, a wonderful site for anyone with an eye toward the odd in history. In this article, Beachcombing seems genuinely puzzled by the lack of “fairies” in English counties with a surfeit of phantom black dog sightings and vice versa. While I acknowledge that Beachcombing is quite the master of folklore, he seems to approach his studies from an academic viewpoint and so fails to regard the beings he is studying as real, with their own personalities, despite having read Trubshaw’s excellent book on Phantom Black Dog’s (PBD’s).

So, some discussion . . . first of all, Beachcombing has lumped PBD’s in with Alien Big Cats (ABC’s) which I view as a critical error. The PBD has a long and colorful history throughout the British Isles and extending into the Americas. The PBD is definitely a creature of the Otherside and many of the stories about it indicate that it is a spectral entity often associated with death.

ABC’s, on the other hand, appear to be flesh and blood creatures to most witnesses and, when mis-identification has been ruled out, many of the creatures, in the British Isles at least, may be explained by the English ban on keeping wild cats which resulted in the release of a number of big cats into wilderness areas. While ABC’s have certainly been associated with Otherside phenomenon such as UFO’s and it is absolutely possible that a small percentage may be creatures of that realm, ABC’s share almost no features in common with the PBD and certainly do not qualify as “cousins”.

On to the idea that PBD’s and faery do not inhabit the same areas. Honestly, this is simply bunk, folklore or not, since the Fae go where they please and inhabit whatever places take their fancy. They are an ancient and powerful people and, while it is true that faery beings tend to like less populated areas, if you look hard enough with the right sort of eye you can find them even in the heart of enormous cities. They are very low key there and harder to locate but they are there. So, if the horrible humans with their factory stench and steel do not scare them off, I doubt that the presence of a PBD in the area would effect their choice of accommodations in the least.

By the same token, I doubt seriously that the PBD has anything at all against the Faery. In fact, I suspect that the PBD might be a variety of Cu Sidhe, faery dog, since it is well known that the King of Anwwn (hope I spelled that right – the faery king of the underworld/land of the dead) was often accompanied by enormous hounds. Now, in the Mabinogian, those hounds are described as white with red ears but we know that Faerie is nothing if not a realm of shape changers. We also know, from the folklore, that certain types of faery, such as the Beansidhe (banshee) are intimately connected with death, and there is a strong strain of folklore that associates the Faery with the dead and, in fact, even confuses the two. The ancestors were often viewed as living under the hills with the Faery once they had passed over.

Again, from the tradition, the Faery seem to group themselves into realms and have a more or less feudal society. This means, of course, that certain Faery will “hold” certain areas. It may simply be that there is a dearth of faery lore in certain areas seemingly inhabited by PBD’s because that is the PBD’s demesne. PBD’s seem to be solitary creatures so they may not suffer a lot of other faery in their “turf” or, because the PBD seems to enjoy the more barren stretches of land, it may simply be that there is a lower population of faery folk in those areas. Exceptions, of course, would be places like Cornwall and Devon which seem to be real bastions for the Faery (who are suffering from habitat erosion like many other wild things). PBD’s would naturally be a part of such supernatural fauna and while they seem scary, with their association with death, they most often seem to simply be harbingers. In my mind, that simply seems to say that the PBD witness needs to look hard at his or her lifestyle choices and see what changes might be made (as well as getting a quick and very thorough physical to rule out any immediate threats to life).

The peoples of the Celtic lands, up until the beginning of the 20th century, had a very good idea how to associate with their “neighbors” and, while there were tales of the Unseelie who hated and sought to injure or kill humans, there were also stories of humans and Faery who worked together for the benefit of both. For those interested in such work, I strongly encourage the reading of the work of RJ Stewart and Orion Foxwood on working with Faery. If you find yourself really interested, there are opportunities to work with these two mages directly as well.

Once you have spent some time in Faerie, you realize that, while it can be a dangerous place, and some of its denizens can appear with fierce and frightening visages, the Faery are not out to get us. On the contrary, many of these beings would be happy to work in harmony with humans if we would only allow it. I am not encouraging anyone to go out and seek a PBD (some Faery are best left alone) but, despite the focus of this blog on the Intruders, I do like to point out at times that much of what we find frightening about the Otherside is simply due to our perception and not necessarily the bad intentions of the denizens of those realms.

Thanks and Opening to the Spirit World

The packing and shuffling of my life continues as I prepare for the Great Trek north but I did want to stop for a moment and make a small post so that everyone would know that I am still alive.

First of all, during the course of the moving madness, I gathered my 20th follower for the blog. Now, I know that there are blogs out there that have a heck of a lot more than 20 followers but I do not do any sort of promotion or market to increase readership so I think that 20 is a good number for a few months of blogging. I am also rapidly approaching 2000 views of the blog – again, not a huge number if measured against traffic at other sites but evidence to me that some people are interested in this topic and willing to search it out. I offer my heart felt thanks to all of you who follow the blog and all who have visited. I am truly honored that you take the time out of your busy schedules to spend a little of that time reading and thinking about what I have written.

To the topic at hand . . .

I recently finished reading Orion Foxwood’s excellent book The Candle and the Crossroads. For those of you interested in the magical arts, this book is, in my opinion, a must read before venturing into any of the branches of Southern magic (conjure, hoodoo, etc).

Many of the books that I have looked at on this subject are what I call recipe books – they give extensive lists of spells and supplies needed for same but operate on the assumption that the person reading already knows how to power the magic. Mr. Foxwood does not make this assumption but, instead, begins with the basic elements that a person would need to know to practice in this area of magical tradition. His explanations of his subject matter are clear and, at times, almost poetic and the quotes from teachers and practitioners at the beginning of each chapter are sure to bring a smile to those who have worked in the magical realms before. While I am not particularly attracted to conjure practice, I did find Mr. Foxwood’s words on working with ones own spirit, for instance, to be quite thought provoking.

Time is short, though, so I thought I would offer a quote from the book as a way of giving the reader an idea what it is about:

P. 195 in the Kindle edition
(Blogger’s note: Foxwood is describing a rocking method of light trance induction used by some of his elders in this section) I have come to realize that this was a trance, but I think it is that and so much more! My experience is that it is an actual opening between the human spirit and the spirit world. It is a change of perception, a change in spiritual presence, and an encounter with spirit beings that are alive, powerful, and often just beyond the reach of our everyday senses.

This door can be drawn closer to our consciousness by techniques designed to reach for it. We may use prayer, chanting, psychotropic drugs and alcohol (which are more dangerous), simple rites, and conjurations. This chapter is about taking what we have been working with in the previous chapters and adding some simple and powerful powerful ways to work with threshold power . . . these are thresholds into the human and human-focused levels of spirit. The next levels of threshold work are with nonhuman beings connected to principle forces (the roads of spirit and good fortune) and the power of conjure itself.

I have spoken, on a number of occassions, on this blog about the concept of magicians opening doors to the other realms. If you are at all interested in the how of these sorts of workings, then taking a look at this book will give you a better grasp of the concepts,even if you are not interested in working with magic yourself.