Thursday, April 30, 2009

Pathways Issue 1 now available

“Pathways” is now a reality. Issue 1 has been released and is available free for download. If you would like the paperback version, then you can purchase it for R72.50. It is a 7x10” format with a glossy UV varnish cover.

I would like to thank all of the wonderful people who contributed to this issue and made this a reality.

To get your free download or purchase the paperback, go to

The paperback will also be available on the Lulu Storefront in the near future. Unfortunately I encountered a problem with size and formatting when attempting to upload.

Following is a list of the content that can be found inside:

Cover photo by Nathalie Rose (photographer and model)

Five Points by Lee ‘Red Oak’ Johnson

Runeskandt by Michelle Du Plessis

Being Pagan by Christa Martin

Nemotona, She of the Sacred Grove by Helen Schuck

Pagan Child (poetry) by Carina Venter

Fantasy Photography by Michelle Du Plessis

She Watches (artwork) by Christa Heysen

There Really is a Monster Under the Bed by Dan Graham

Alban Arthuan: The Midwinter Fires by Damon Leff

The Stang and Roebuck by Lee ‘Red Oak’ Johnson

Island Healing (poetry) by Carina Venter

Pagan Freedom Day, 2009 by Christa Martin

Your Horoscope by Anastacia Sampson

Die Eeerste Fabel by Michelle Du Plessis

Witchcraft: A Study in Bias, Prejudice and Discrimination in South Africa by Damon Leff

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Review - The Book of Self Creation by Jacobus Swart

Review: The Book of Self Creation
Author: Jacobus Swart
Publisher: The Sangreal Sodality Press
ISBN: 978-0-620-42884-2

When we pick up a book that relates to the topic of Kabbalah, what do we expect to find? I am sure that most people would answer, “The Tree of Life”, and this would be true in a majority of cases. But the question is, how important is the Tree of Life glyph to Kabbalah? Is the Tree of Life the bee-all-and-end-all of Kabbalah? The answer is no, the Tree glyph is relatively new and there is a great deal more than just the Tree. When considering Practical Kabbalah and the roots that it arose from, we begin to venture into a world that is shamanic and pagan in nature. Yes, you read correctly, Judaism was once very much Pagan.

In his book, The Book of Self Creation, Jacobus Swart discusses many of these topics. He begins by outlining the history of the Jewish people and their Rabbinical beliefs. He then takes a brief look at the sephirah on the Tree of Life, and then goes full throttle into the actual nature of Practical Kabbalah, outlining a hoard of discussions, exercises and practices that can be worked through the gain a better understanding of the Mysticism that is held in Kabbalah and how we function in the Cosmos. It allows you to develop your psychic energy and to bring you into alignment with the bodies that make up your being as well as Divinity.

If you think you know Kabbalah, you have to get this book. I think you will find that what you knew was only a pin prick on a gigantic iceberg. What is also extremely refreshing is the manner in which Jacobus writes. Instead of a continuous droning of information that leaves you wondering what you read half an hour into the book, he brings this information to life in a conversational manner as thought you were sitting with him. Having met Jacobus and listened to him talk, I can tell you that he is captivating and fun. To give you an example (purely to demonstrate how wonderfully down to earth this man is), when describing exorcism, he says the following:

“In other words, what needed to be “exorcised” were their own thoughts and feelings, and the only way in which the exorcist ascertained whether the “exorcism” was effective, was when it was accompanied by some sort of cathartic action in which the “obsessed/possessed” individuals forcefully rid themselves of the obsession/possession with an evacuation of physical waste from their bodies—a nice way of saying that the catharsis involves patients crapping themselves, or vomiting all over the show.”

Now if you don’t get a chuckle out of that, right in the midst of finding yourself engrossed in powerful information, then you need to go and see a doctor.

The book can be ordered at Red Path Publications (South African customers) or at his own Lulu Storefront – The Sangreal Sodality Press.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Etymology of the word Witch

I am taking various sources for this examination, whether they are correct or not, we will consider in a discussion, and then you can make up your own mind. What I would like to do is first take what can be found on the Online Etymological Dictionary ( ). This site has been compiled from various sources of which a full list can be found here , however it does include Weekley's "An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English," Klein's "A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language," "Oxford English Dictionary" (second edition), "Barnhart Dictionary of Etymology," Holthauzen's "Etymologisches Wörterbuch der Englischen Sprache," and Ayto's "20th Century Words.".

Then I am going to examine and compare certain Old English words referred to using two main sources that are considered to be scholarly. The first source is the online “Angelseaxisce Ealdriht Asatru and Heathen Pages” which can now be found at (I still have the original pages) and The Troth which used to be online but has subsequently been removed to form the book Our Troth.

From the Online Etymological Dictionary:

O.E. wicce "female magician, sorceress," in later use esp. "a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their cooperation to perform supernatural acts," fem. of O.E. wicca "sorcerer, wizard, man who practices witchcraft or magic," from verb wiccian "to practice witchcraft" (cf. Low Ger. wikken, wicken "to use witchcraft," wikker, wicker "soothsayer"). OED says of uncertain origin. Klein suggests connection with O.E. wigle "divination," and wig, wih "idol." Watkins says the nouns represent a P.Gmc. *wikkjaz "necromancer" (one who wakes the dead), from PIE *weg-yo-, from *weg- "to be strong, be lively." That wicce once had a more specific sense than the later general one of "female magician, sorceress" perhaps is suggested by the presence of other words in O.E. describing more specific kinds of magical craft. In the Laws of Ælfred (c.890), witchcraft was specifically singled out as a woman's craft, whose practitioners were not to be suffered to live among the W. Saxons:

"Ða fæmnan þe gewuniað onfon gealdorcræftigan & scinlæcan & wiccan, ne læt þu ða libban."

The other two words combined with it here are gealdricge, a woman who practices "incantations," and scinlæce "female wizard, woman magician," from a root meaning "phantom, evil spirit." Another word that appears in the Anglo-Saxon laws is lyblæca "wizard, sorcerer," but with suggestions of skill in the use of drugs, since the root of the word is lybb "drug, poison, charm." Lybbestre was a fem. word meaning "sorceress," and lybcorn was the name of a certain medicinal seed (perhaps wild saffron). Weekly notes possible connection to Gothic weihs "holy" and Ger. weihan "consecrate," and writes, "the priests of a suppressed religion naturally become magicians to its successors or opponents." In Anglo-Saxon glossaries, wicca renders L. augur (c.1100), and wicce stands for "pythoness, divinatricem." In the "Three Kings of Cologne" (c.1400) wicca translates Magi:

"Þe paynyms ... cleped þe iij kyngis Magos, þat is to seye wicchis."

The glossary translates L. necromantia ("demonum invocatio") with galdre, wiccecræft. The Anglo-Saxon poem called "Men's Crafts" has wiccræft, which appears to be the same word, and by its context means "skill with horses." In a c.1250 translation of "Exodus," witches is used of the Egyptian midwives who save the newborn sons of the Hebrews: "Ðe wicches hidden hem for-ðan, Biforen pharaun nolden he ben." Witch in ref. to a man survived in dialect into 20c., but the fem. form was so dominant by 1601 that men-witches or he-witch began to be used. Extended sense of "young woman or girl of bewitching aspect or manners" is first recorded 1740. Witch doctor is from 1718; applied to African magicians from 1836.

"At this day it is indifferent to say in the English tongue, 'she is a witch,' or 'she is a wise woman.' " [Reginald Scot, "The Discoverie of Witchcraft," 1584]

Firstly we should look at the Old English word wicce and wicca. In OE a double C, i.e. “cc” is pronounced “ch”, therefore the actual pronunciation of these OE words are “wich” and “wicha” which derived into the Modern English “witch”. The word wicce indicated a female magician and wicca a male magician, however, because there were various terms in the Teutonic languages to describe the tasks of different magic users, we need to find out what kind of magicians the wicce or wicca were. This is not an easy task however as there is no earlier references to the wicce and wicca as there may be with spæ, seidhr or galdre. It doesn‘t however refer to “wise one“ as this was witega in the OE language, the cognate of vitki from the Old Norse (however now more commonly translated as “magician”). The closest we can get and to which scholars have found, the word wicce “…either derive(s) from an Indo-European *wik- meaning "to bend," or another Indo-European root, *weg- related to words for "lively, watchful." “ To bend in terms of magic is to bend the Will in accordance with one’s surroundings, be it Nature or your own circumstances or that of another. Therefore, the wicce was someone who used magic to alter that which is around them, but was also aware (lively,watchful). To be aware is to be awake, and in the spiritual world, this can refer to someone who traverses the Worlds, i.e. a similar reference can be made to the Tungus word shaman.

However, does this mean that a wicce is a “female magician, sorceress”? In broad terms, yes it does, but does it mean, “a woman supposed to have dealings with the devil or evil spirits and to be able by their cooperation to perform supernatural acts”? This is, as noted, from later sources, when certain practices were already being abolished. It smacks of the more recently discovered poorly researched work of Margaret A. Murray.

Let’s move on to the associated words mentioned. Firstly gealdricge, which is said to mean “a woman who practices "incantations"”.

From various Gealdres and Bedes, the word gealdor refers to spell, glamour, charm, used in the form of singing, such as the line in the Acer-Bot metrical charm:

“þæt ic mote þis gealdor mid gife drihtnes”

“That by grace of God I might this glamour”

(although this is possibly translated by the Christians to refer to God, as most of these charms were. The word drihten means lord and was often used in reference to Odin).

Also from the metrical charm to deal with Water-Elf Disease:

“…ofgeot mid fealaþ, do hæligwæter to, sing þis gealdor ofer þriwa”

“…mix with ale, add holy water to it, then sing this charm three times”

And finally from the Nine Worts Galdor or Nine Herbs Charm:

“…ond singe þon men in þone muð and in þa earan buta and on ða wunde þæt ilce gealdor, ær he þa sealfe on do.”

“…and sing it in the mouth and both ears of the man and the same spell on the wound, before he applies the salve.”

Therefore we can correctly deduce that a gealdricge is in fact a woman who practices "incantations”, i.e. sings her charms or spells.

We then start to move a little left field with the mention of “scinlæce "female wizard, woman magician," from a root meaning "phantom, evil spirit."”

A scinnlæce is in fact a shape shifter. In Teutonic terms this is a person who travels with, or as, their Fetch, Filje or Fecce. The Fecce is part of the Soul. The Anglo-Saxons believed that the Soul was broken down into eleven parts, the Fecce is thought to be “…one's guardian spirit and is said to appear as an animal resembling one's disposition or as a member of the opposite sex” of which it is further mentioned “…the fetch…usually controls the allocation of one's mægen in accordance with one's wyrd. The fetch also records one's actions in one's wyrd. Fetch’s are said to flee the wicked in the Eddas.”

The OE word scinn translates to phantom, but not to evil-spirit. The phantom referred to here is what we may call the Shadow Skin, and so it the shadow of the person, the animal spirit or fetch that the wicce goes forth in to travel to distant places or to the Inner Worlds. In Kabbalistic terms this could in fact refer to the Tzelem ha-Nefesh or the “shadow body of the Lower Self” or possibly the Nefesh Behamit or the “lower bestial”.

We then move on to the mention of “lyblæca "wizard, sorcerer," but with suggestions of skill in the use of drugs, since the root of the word is lybb "drug, poison, charm."”. As we see throughout there is no proper definition between the skills, all forms being noted as witch, wizard, magician or sorcerer, but as has been noted, there was a specific job or skill for each magic worker. A lyblæca was actually a herbalist, nothing more to it. They used herbs to perform their magic, either directly on the body of the person or indirectly through Sympathetic Magic – “Also perhaps held to be seperate from witchcraft was the use of herbs or lybbcraeft.”

Further from the Etymological Dictionary - “The glossary translates L. necromantia ("demonum invocatio") with galdre, wiccecræft.”

Maybe I am misunderstanding the meaning here, but I am not quite sure how necromancy is associated with the galdrecræft. Galdre, or Galdor has been noted as a Man‘s Craft in that it belonged to the God Odin, who taught it to the Goddess Freya in exchange for her teaching the Craft of Seidhr to him, which is noted to be a Woman‘s Craft. Galdre is mostly the use of runes in magic, wheras Seidhr and Spæ are the act of moving to the Inner Worlds to read a person‘s Wyrd or to commune with the Gods and the Dead. In the case of Speaking with the Dead, it is in line with Ancestral Worship, which in broad terms could be refered to as Necromancy, however, if we are speaking in terms of Necromancy being the act of raising the dead to divine events, then it is nothing of the like.

“The Anglo-Saxon poem called "Men's Crafts" has wiccræft, which appears to be the same word, and by its context means "skill with horses." “

Now this is interesting (just to note, I could not find the poem referred to in order to do any cross-referencing). Firstly wiccræft, which is more commonly spelt wiccecræft would in fact originally have referred to the Craft of the Wicce, being female, but here we find the “ce” dropped, and I can’t find any reference to the word or prefix wic in the Teutonic languages to explain this. However, to have a “skill with horses” was the realm of the old horse-whisperers, the Toad-Bone Men, which in later years became greatly connected with the Masons. Andrew Chumbley speaks of this subject quite extensively in his essay The Leaper Between in section III.II. The bone as a horse-controlling charm.

And in conclusion, we find another interesting reference. After so many derivative manners in which the word witch has come to be used by the Christian Church, we find something positive in the Bible – “In a c.1250 translation of "Exodus," witches is used of the Egyptian midwives who save the newborn sons of the Hebrews: "Ðe wicches hidden hem for-ðan, Biforen pharaun nolden he ben." – but of course considering the general manner in which some Christian folk view the Judaic people, it is no surprise that they would consider even this reference to be of an evil nature.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Nefesh and things that go bump in the night

In Kabbalistic terms the “Soul” consists of many aspects, the three main aspects beings the Nefesh or Instinctual/Lower Self, the Ru’ach or Awake/Middle Self and the Neshamah or Divine/Higher Self. The Nefesh is that which is intimately enmeshed with the physical body and during the period the fetus is in the womb, the Ru’ach enters the body. Ru’ach is therefore the consciousness, the You, the aspect that lives in the NOW, and so does not retain memory, but is rational, whereas the Nefesh retains all memory and has access to all knowledge, but is not rational in the same terms.

Although there is no direct connection between the Ru’ach and the Nefesh, you as the Ru’ach can gain control over the Nefesh by befriending it, after all it is the part of you that really should become your own best friend. By becoming friends with your Nefesh, which in many respects can be viewed as a separate part of yourself (but bear in mind still part of the You), you can gain control over memory (and there is a huge storehouse to go through) and how you as a person interact with every day life through the five senses. This very important relationship can also lead to healing of your physical self:

“It is said that you, the “Awake Self” or Ru’ach, have no direct part in the Nefesh, no direct connection with it, yet you are able to control it if you manage to establish a good relationship with it. If not, its control over you could result in all sorts of psychological problems like schizophrenia, manic depressiveness, or what is now termed “bi-polar disorders.” It has been indicated that the majority of humans over the age of three years, have a poor relationship with their “Instinctual Selves.” This appears to be true when you study people, and discover that very few of them are friendly with, or even like, their own “Vital Selves.” “
~excerpt from The Book of Creation by Jacobus Swart

Now, for many years I have formulated my own impression and ideology of how parts of the Being interact with each other during life and what happens to them upon death. My ideology goes something like this. There are three main parts, the Body, Ego and Soul. The Body is created, the Soul enters the Body and the Ego glues the two together during life. Upon death, the Body breaks down, the Soul moves on and the Ego remains behind for some time as an energetic parcel. There is a bit of a discussion on this in my own book, The Reality of Things:

“The Phantasm I speak of is often seen as the “ghost”. The “Body” of a person can be broken down into three essential parts, the Shell (physical body), the Ego, and the Soul. It is the Ego that acts as the glue and keeps the Shell and Soul together. Upon death the Shell ceases to operate and the energy that makes up the physical body starts to disperse. The Soul moves on over the Bridge and the Ego is left as an energetic form. It is this energetic form of the person which contains the person’s memories and the physical appearance that people usually see or experience as a ghost. If you were to hold a coin in your hand for a while it would take on the temperature of your body. When you release the coin onto a cold surface the temperature of the coin does not change immediately, it takes time to become cold and attune to the temperature of the cold surface. The energy of the heat it contained is released slowly. The same happens here. When the body dies, the Ego moves out as an energetic form and over time it will disintegrate. However, in some cases, the intent of people, and the more people the better, can keep the energetic form fed, very much like the Servitor or Egregore. Therefore, the form of the person that was, remains in this existence for as long as people think of that person and interact with them, but remember that it is only a signature of the person that was.”

If we then relate all of this back to the Kabbalistic outlook, then the Ru’ach is the Soul, the Nefesh the Ego, and the Body is of course still the Body. The Ru’ach/Soul is the aspect that is in the NOW, and the Nefesh/Ego experiences through the five senses. Therefore, when the body dies, the Nefesh continues for some time, and can be kept alive by people who feed it more and more energy. The Nefesh holds all the memory of the person, the ego of the person, and so a “ghost” will retain all of the aspects of the person as they were in life.