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‘The fates made him perfect … the god with ox’s horns, crowned with wreaths of snakes – that’s why the Maenads twist in their hair wild snakes they capture.’ The Bacchae, 129-135, Euripides, c 400BCE
Dionysos, dancing his many-formed pattern of rebirth, challenge and liberation, is one of the most intriguing and intoxicating gods of the ancient world. In my new book ‘Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy – A Study of the God Dionysos in Mysticism & Lore’ I explore the numerous facets of his personality and worship, revealing the hidden faces of the thrice-born god and the extent of his influence in the mysteries of the ancient world – and even in modern mysticism.
Dionysos: Exciter to Frenzy is due for publication with Avalonia Books in 2013.
Her Sacred Fires : A Journey to Hekate
This month has been extremely exciting. Myself and at least 40 other contributors from all around the world have been working towards our essays, prose and artwork for the new anthology ‘Hekate: Her Sacred Fires’, which is edited by Sorita d’Este of Avalonia Books and is a very personal study of an extraordinary Goddess. The spectrum of material covered in this anthology is as diverse as the forms of Hekate herself, emphasising her role as Light Bearer, Key Bearer, Initiatrix, World Soul, Mistress of Crossroads and the Serpent Mysteries. From the re-establishment of the ancient worship of the great mother goddess as Hekate in Thrace to meteorites and pilgrimages, Hekate’s presence around the world is vividly described and illustrated by her torchbearers.
The book is available now for pre-order at http://www.sacredfires.co.uk/ .
I was also given the opportunity to take part in the radio interview with Karagan, an Alexandrian Priest who runs the radioshow ‘Witchtalk’. With close to 20,000 listeners, Witchtalk aims to help people understand and have contact with paganism and witchcraft. The 3 hour interview was the first of its kind, and Karagan interviewed Sorita d’Este: of Avalonia Books; Maggin: a Hekate devotee and artist who has contributed to several books on Hekate; Mark Allan Smith: a contributor to Hekate: Her Sacred Fires and who has just released his new book about Hekate called ‘Queen of Hell‘; and myself, author of ‘Craft of the Wise’, and contributor of the essay ‘Swaying with the Serpent’.
‘Swaying with the Serpent’, is a study of the serpent-girdled Hekate: an aspect of the Goddess which embraces both Hekate’s chthonic aspects and her role as Mistress of Life. We find Hekate portrayed in ritual-trance prophesies as a ‘solar’ or ‘fire’ deity – the origin of the vital life force, which is often portrayed as a spiraling serpent-like energy. This type of symbolism is in many ways more in keeping with her original character, and Hekate’s roots can be found in such deities as Hekate of Lagina in south-west Turkey who was accompanied by serpents and worshipped as a deity of fertility and dance; the Syrian Goddess Atargatis who was originally revered as a serpent-girdled tutelary deity; and the chthonic aspects of the fertility Goddess Mater Magna of Anatolia. My essay also touches on the possible mysteries behind the cista mystica, Hekate’s role in trance prophesy, her association with Dionysos Sabazios and Bacchic frenzy, her role as feminine equivalent to the solar Gods Apollo and Helios, and her fitting role as the Wilful Goddess: ‘the one by whose will prayers are fulfilled and success granted’. The essay also looks at the serpent aspects of Hekate’s tool the Strophalos and its association with sacred sounds, and Hekate’s importance in the Eleusinian mysteries.
The idea for the book was conceived when Sorita d’Este had a vision of a thousand torches being lit for Hekate all over the world, and so it was fitting that on the 27th May 2010 I joined thousands of other Hekate dedicants from all around the world in ‘The Rite of Her Sacred Fires’, a ritual which was written by Sorita and which petitioned Hekate to allow the practitioner to explore Hekate’s mysteries. My ritual working partner Pete Ralls and myself were asked by Sorita to put together a contributor video a week before the ritual date, to show how the ritual might be adjusted to suit two people. This ritual can be found at the HerSacredFires YouTube channel.
We decorated the altar and set to undertaking the ritual. No circle was cast; we find when working with individual rites such as this that a circle is not necessary. Our group practices initiatory witchcraft, which does not claim to be an old tradition – in fact, it is a very modern one, which finds its influences in British Traditional Wicca, Esoteric Magical Traditions, and the earlier historical Pagan beliefs and practices of such cultures as Egypt, Mesopotamia and Greece and Europe (whose practices form the basis of many magical techniques and pagan rites today). Initiatory Witchcraft is largely based upon intuitive messages and subsequent historical research and reconstruction, blending experiential and intuitive work with due reference to historical practices. We base our rituals upon certain themes, magic and mysteries of ancient pagan mystery cults; most of these themes are normally received intuitively and then reconstructed with serious historical research into that particular mystery tradition or practice. However Initiatory Witchcraft does often use elements of Traditional Wicca as a structure for its practice of the mysteries, either magical or theurgic (we are happy to use what actually works, and change or discard that which does not !) You can find out more about initiatory witchcraft and read or contribute associated articles at http://www.initiatorywitchcraft.co.uk/
The Rite of Her Sacred Fires was a true reflection of Hekate’s nature, and its role in bringing together thousands of pagans and occultists from all around the world was, I believe, unrivalled. If you would like to perform the Rite of Her Sacred Fires, you still can – the PDF can be found in several different languages, including Hellenic, at the Sacred Fires website. I hope that everyone will enjoy the book as much as I have enjoyed being involved in its inception. I for one cannot wait to see what all the other essays, prose and artwork have to offer! I am privileged to have met several of the contributors, and can vouch for the sheer dedication that so many of Hekate’s devotees have to Hekate. No doubt this book will be an inspiring expression of their dedication.
Hekate is alive: she is mistress of life, the source of the world soul, and keeper of blazing torches. She is empowering, enlivening, guiding, clever, liminal, and demanding. She is counterpart to Dionysos, god of ecstasy, and she is mistress of trance prophesy; she is the arbitrator who stands on the threshold between the material and the astral, and guides her devotees through the heights of the heavens and the depths of the underworld. Sway with Hekate, Mistress of Fire; Dance in her Flames!!
Vikki Bramshaw – May 2010
My essay ‘Swaying with the Serpent: A Study of the Serpent Girdled Hekate’ will feature in the new book, ‘Hekate Her Sacred Fires’ edited by Sorita d’Este (see http://www.facebook.com/hekatefires for more info). This book brings together the visions of around 50 devotees, mystics, priests and priestesses who share their experiences, often for the first time, in this volume through essays, prose and artwork.
To coincide with the release of ‘Hekate Her Sacred Fires’ we are inviting you to join us in a worldwide day of celebrating and honouring the Goddess Hekate on the Full Moon, Thursday 27th May 2010 and to participate with hundreds, maybe even thousands of others around the world in THE RITE OF HER SACRED FIRES.
All you need to join in the ceremony is yourself, an undisturbed space and a candle (or another devotional fire, such as a lamp or hearth fire, for example). The ceremony will be provided as a printable PDF, as well as in other multimedia formats from the 20th of May. It takes approx 5-6 minutes to complete and can be incorporated into a longer ceremony, or performed by itself. YOU CAN PARTICIPATE FROM WHEREVER IN THE WORLD YOU ARE – by yourself or with friends.
There are already groups and individuals who have committed to joining in from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia, Chile, Mexico, Brasil, Argentina, U.S.A., Canada, Finland, Sweden, The Netherlands, France, England, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey and many more …
The ceremony will be made available in both English and Spanish. If you would like to translate it into another language, you will have the option to get in touch and help with that from the 20th onwards.
For more information about the ritual and to receive updates, please visit : http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=100148826697703
The anthology HEKATE: HER SACRED FIRES containing essays, prose and artwork about the Goddess Hekate will be available for pre-order from Avalonia books from the end of May 2010. Myself and more than 45 other individuals from all around the world have all been working on this project for the last few months, and it has proved to be a huge success! There is a Facebook page dedicated to the project, through which you can find out more and also interact with other Hekate devotees – including a number of the contributors. Hail the Torchbearer, Mistress of Flames …
All we’d like to say is that it is a wonderful book – one of the best Wiccan primers we have seen in a long time. Of course, we would have to say that, as Gavin is mentioned at the beginning of the book as the head of a line, and Janet and Stewart’s books are mentioned throughout!
It’s gone to Gavin’s head and he is now seriously considering whether he should get everyone together and get them to crown him ‘King of the Witches!’ (pause) Yes, thats a joke! But he is proud to tell people that Vikki is decended from that small coven in a terraced house in Portsmouth, where he and his ex-wife initiated Maureen many years ago.
Just to finish by saying we hope Vikki and everyone have a good night, and this is the first of many book launches for Vikki.
Janet Farrar And Gavin Bone