The Vine

Friday, October 07, 2016

This Halloween's Haunted House Will Be In a Car

It is Hallowmonth and death is on my mind. How will you die, and when? My closest friends know that I am very afraid of death by motor vehicle, (not just for myself, but whenever my loved ones are out and about by car I am worried sick for them) and after 3 close calls today, as a pedestrian, and after witnessing multiple wrecks on I35 returning from Utopia, I am bewildered at why nobody is as afraid of car death as I am. Everyone thinks I am crazy, and that I need to see a psychiatrist (which I am totally okay with) but nobody seems to think it is crazy to accept a 1 in 113 chance that as a citizen of the USA, you are going to die in a car wreck. This might seem like good enough odds, but it dwarfs all other non-disease or old age causes of death, (most of which are lifestyle deaths of choice which I must accept and respect) and car death is about 3 times more likely than getting killed by guns, and death by terrorists? snakes? spiders?...are not even statistically graphable, so I will say in my defense, I am not crazy, I am just good at math.

At Hooping Happy Hour today, I insinuated myself into a conversation among some apparently well-to-do millenial architects. They were talking about how humans fear machines, and other forms of technology that have liberated us from grueling forms of labor...washing clothes vs washing machines was our example. 

I asked them if they had seen any of the performances at The VORTEX, and they had, but they had not seen R.U.R. which I had seen produced there by Summer Youth Theater. This 1921 script by Carel Capek introduced the concept of "the robot" to the world even before science fiction was imagined. Anyway, in the play it is no sooner than robots are created that humans see their creation as a threat. So i extended the analogy, it would seem that we as humans have this godlike ability to create, but like god we create in our own image. If we fear our own creations, (as we do in R.U.R. and so many other future fictions) we are really fearing and distrusting our own selves, reflected to ourselves in our progeny the robot/machine. 

Back to the washing machine, which the other fellow in the conversation posited as the straw man for our the time it was invented people were afraid that every technological invention was going to rob them of their livelihoods. Which it did, so sorry to you Ayn Rand apologists. 

What I suggested to these folks, and they all seemed to take the question in to heart, WHAT IF the early science fiction writers had it right all along? And the Luddites? Maybe they feared the wrong thing but the fear was justified. They had no way of knowing that these machines would not only rob them of their livelihoods but also would collectively make the planet Earth uninhabitable for humans, mammals of all kinds. They just knew that these robots, and technologies beyond our moral capacities to govern had the potential to bring ruin. And a few of us would have to realize this and would have to think our way out of the seduction of comfort and complacency and chart our way back into the sweet/harsh reality of ReGreening planet Earth. 

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015



(DEMETER and PERSEPHONE enter from stage left, circle clockwise to down stage front, mime planting of seeds, harvesting of crops, and hand out little cakes and flowers to the audience.)

NARRATOR:   In the beginning, and for a seemingly endless time, Demeter and her daughter Persephone presided over the planting of seeds, harvesting of crops, and distribution of grain to the people. While Demeter devoted herself almost exclusively to food crops, Persephone loved the flowers and wild herbs of the forests and hills above the fields, and often set out to study and gather them and spread their seeds.

(PERSEPHONE leaves DEMETER, who meanders into the audience distributing cakes, and mimes walking through and looking at plants, sometimes picking a few.)

NARRATOR    On one such day, she was out looking for crocus flowers, and spied a likely place for them to grow near the headwaters of a creek that flowed to the river that wound through the fields.

(NARRATOR trails red ribbons from down stage left to down stage right, and "plants" 13 flowers across the creek from PERSEPHONE.)

NARRATOR:   When Persephone reached the little creek she saw a little patch of crocuses on the other side, and as she started to step into the water she noticed that it flowed almost as red as blood. She hesitated...

(PERSEPHONE looks downstream and upstream, dips a finger into the creek, sniffs, and then wipes it on her thigh.)

NARRATOR:   ...but not noticing anything else out of place, she crossed the stream in three steps.

(PERSEPHONE crosses and gathers the crocuses)

NARRATOR:   After she had gathered thirteen crocus flowers, Persephone decided to follow the strange little red creek to its source to see what secrets it had to show.

(NARRATOR: pulls creek around to upstage center. PERSEPHONE follows. Arrives at SHEET WITH A CAVE PAINTED ON IT HELD BY TWO DEAD PEOPLE.)

NARRATOR:   The little creek disappeared into rocks near a small cave opening. Persephone peered in. The cave seemed to open up and descend into the Earth.

PERSEPHONE crawls under sheet, and SHEET drops. PERSEPHONE mimes NARRATOR's rap, making figure 8's to down stage.)

NARRATOR:   Persephone squeezed through the cave entrance and followed the corridor which spiraled down, down, down. Persephone began to hear a soft moaning noise deeper down.

(DEAD make soft moaning noises from audience.)

NARRATOR:   Presently Persephone noticed that the corridor she was walking down was joined by other smaller passages, and that the moaning noises were coming from these.

(NARRATOR beckons DEAD, who begin to spiral counterclockwise towards PERSEPHONE.)

NARRATOR:   Spirits of the Dead were walking down these passages, and streaming into the main corridor, forming a long line.

(DEAD form a moaning queue, from down stage left to upstage right.)

NARRATOR:   Persephone had never seen a dead person, and hadn't until now seen Spirits of the Dead, since she had only fed live people with her mother. She was not afraid, though, never having had anything to fear, and she easily pushed her way past the low moving Spirits of the Dead.


NARRATOR:   At the end of the corridor of the Spirits of the Dead was a door. Persephone went through the door without hesitation.



(HADES, wearing a gruesome death's head mask, sits behind a desk, pen in hand over a very large book. Stacks of folders and unfiled papers piled high. DEAD mill around aimlessly.)


HADES:            (Bored, bureaucratic, loud, gruff) What was your name?

PERSEPHONE: Was? M'lord, my name IS Persephone! Who are you?

HADES:            (Writing in book) No, no, you're dead now, your name WAS Persephone. I'm Hades, Lord of the Dead, pleased t'meecha. Now, what was your mother's name?

PERSEPHONE: No, no, I'm not dead, my name IS Persephone and my mother's name IS Demeter!

DEMETER:          (who is still offstage handing out goodies to the audience, looks up as if hearing her name) Persephone? Has anyone seen Persephone? She covers her grain basket with black cloth, and begins to wander in the audience weeping and calling for her daughter.

PERSEPHONE: What is this place?

HADES:            (Looking up for the first time) Demeter? Why, I haven't seen her on Mount Olympus in eons! You're her daughter, then? Well, what are you doing here in the Land of the Dead?

PERSEPHONE: (Getting angry) Look, I'm not dead! I just followed the cave down here! And my mother is too busy serving her people to be off on Mt. Olympus having affairs with Gods and causing wars and tragedies!

HADES:            (Sighing, weary) Don't get there myself very much, with all the work to be done around here. You and your mother must be doing well, though, feeding the mortals, making their populations grow, because they have really been stacking up down here!

PERSEPHONE: So they're dead? Forever? What do you do with them?

HADES:            (Frustrated) I don't have much time to do anything with them, but check them in. Most of them don't even know that they're dead yet. The paperwork just keeps stacking up (knocks over the pile of folders.) And them just moaning all the time! It can be HELL I tell you!

PERSEPHONE: (Picking up the mess) Well, someone could comfort them, and explain what has happened to them, and initiate them into the Land of the Dead, and train them to take over some of your duties. (Plops pile back on desk)

HADES:            (Softening) Well, SOMEONE could, if SOMEONE was here to do it...

PERSEPHONE: And, do they have to stay here forever? Couldn't we possibly - hmm - reconstitute their souls and send them back up to the Land of the Living?

HADES:            (Warming) My Lady, if you think...WE could somehow - uh - recycle them, I'd have no complaint, because storage is getting to be a problem, as you can see.

(DEAD press close, moaning. PERSEPHONE calms them down.)

HADES:            (Standing, then kneeling before PERSEPHONE) My Lady, if you can do any of these things, I would be happy to call you my Queen of the Dead!

PERSEPHONE: This is something that must be done. It is just as important as feeding the living. But to be your Queen? Hades, you are an admirable God, but you have such an awful scary face!

HADES:            It's not my real face, it's just my dress requirement for the job! (Taking off his mask, showing his true face) (Pleading) Persephone, please stay with me

PERSEPHONE: (Sufficiently wooed) My Lord, you are dark, but I have seen beauty in the shadows before!

(PERSEPHONE and HADES kiss. HADES puts a crown on her head. PERSEPHONE gives him three of the crocus flowers.)

NARRATOR:         Persephone stayed in the Land of the Dead with Hades, initiating the Spirits of the Dead, appointing them to tasks in the Underworld, and counseling them on their way to reincarnation.

(PERSEPHONE mimes NARRATOR'S rap, with DEAD, conferring with them seating one at HADES desk, and shooing the rest back into the audience.)

NARRATOR:         Until one dark day, Persephone recognized one of the Spirits of the Dead as one of Demeter's Priestesses of the Granaries.

(PERSEPHONE hugs and kisses the DEAD PRIESTESS, who then kneels before her.

PRIESTESS:        Persephone! Where have you been? Demeter grieves your absence! She wanders the Earth looking for you, and she no longer makes the grain to grow! Nothing new grows, all falls and the people hunger. The priestesses of the granaries have given away all the food from the temples, and I am the first to starve to death. But it is only a matter of time before all the people of Earth starve! You must go back to her, Persephone, only you can make her joyful and productive again!

(PERSEPHONE hugs n kisses the DEAD PRIESTESS and runs to HADES.)

PERSEPHONE: My Lord, I must go to rejoin my mother! What was I thinking? I never told her where i was or what I was doing, or that I had gotten married! Now her sorrow is causing starvation and death in the Land of the Living. Lord, I must go!

HADES:            Lady, go if you must, but share one last meal with me and return as soon as you can!

(HADES pulls out a pomegranate and slices it for PERSEPHONE and himself. PERSEPHONE takes a bite, then kisses HADES and leaves. HADES smiles to himself, pulls back on his mask, and goes back to some paperwork. SHEET WITH A CAVE PAINTED ON IT covers HADES, and PERSEPHONE bursts through it.


NARRATOR:         Persephone found herself in a bitter, barren landscape, the first and most terrible winter.

(DEMETER sits with her head in her hands, weeping. PERSEPHONE runs to her and hands her 9 crocus flowers, keeping one for herself.)

PERSEPHONE: Mother, Demeter, I'm back! It's alright! Mother

DEMETER:          Persephone, is that you? You're alive, oh, boo hoo hoo!
(now angry) Where have you been, young lady???!!!

PERSEPHONE: (breathless, excited) I've been in the Land of the Dead, and I met a wonderful God, and I took him as my consort, Mother, and he made me his Queen of the Underworld, and I've been comforting the Dead, and, and, and...

DEMETER:          The Land of the Dead? You've been with Hades?! Oh, no, Persephone, tell me, you didn't eat anything with him down there, did you?

PERSEPHONE: Well, I did share a pomegranate with Him before I left. Mmmm...

DEMETER:          No! You ate with him? Do you know what that means? Now you will have to go back, oh, no! (Weeping again)

PERSEPHONE: (stern, defiant) Look, Mother, I would go back to Him anyway. I love Him, I tell you! And I'm needed down there. The Spirits of the Dead...

DEMETER:          The Dead, the Dead! Who cares! What about the living? While you've been gone, I was too sick with worry and sorrow to feed them. We all decided you must have been raped and kidnapped!

PERSEPHONE: Oh, great, Mom, I'm never going to be able to put a stop to that rumor. But I must return! I have found my place there, I am a real Goddess, now. Here I am always in your shadow, but there I have my own work with the Dead. We can't just keep feeding the living without attending to the Dead! And I will be serving you while I am there. Do you know what I have been doing there?

(DEMETER crosses her arms and cocks her head.)

PERSEPHONE:       I initiate the Dead, and slowly I recondition their souls, so that they can return to the Land of the Living. Then you can work them back into the flow of Life!

DEMETER:          Hmm...Sort of like compost!

PERSEPHONE: Exactly! How about if I stay here nine months of the year to help you raise crops and feed the people. And while I'm gone, nothing will grow, but you can take a rest. The Living can get by, if we work together.

DEMETER:          Well, I will be terribly lonely while you are gone, but it would be nice to take a rest. Growing food for the whole world is a lot of work, in case you were too busy picking flowers to notice!

PERSEPHONE: (Rolls eyes, big sigh) Mother...

DEMETER:          But if you say you can send me the life essence of the Dead to work with...that would make my work a lot easier.

PERSEPHONE: Yes! And now, we have work to do, don't we, Mother!

DEMETER:          We do! lets get to it! (Uncovers basket) Land of the Living, are you hungry?

(Audience cheers)


DEMETER:          crops to sow
PERSEPHONE: herbs to grow
DEMETER:          fields to hoe
PERSEPHONE: trees to know

(repeat until the audience has taken up the chant. hand out goodies, seeds, and Eostar eggs. begin egg hunt.)

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


This ritual is for the ideal circumstance where both parties are available and willing to consciously end their relationship.

I used the symbolism of bridge and creek. The location is ideally on a bridge over a creek, although it could be done at a fountain or into the Sea directly. It could also be mediated by a Priest or Priestess if appropriate. Each partner will go their separate ways, whichever direction is their direction home, immediately after the ritual without looking back.

Ritual items: two small stuffed animals, one representing each partner
bottle of the couple’s favorite wine (or grape, apple or other juice)
two sets of three small circles of paper with the words “I Forgive”, “I Apologize,” and “I Thank” written on them

Ideally this ritual is performed nearest the Dark Moon during the waning Moon as convenient. Do not break up during a Mercury retrograde or you might find the breakup is not permanent and you both end up in an on-again off-again boomerang.

Meet at the agreed upon time and have a very short discussion of anything that needs to be said before you part, for you will not be speaking with each other afterwards for quite some time if at all, in all likelihood. Make sure that you agree on how much time or under what circumstances that would be acceptable for either partner to re-initiate contact or re-initiate the relationship, if this has not already been made clear.

Stand in the middle of the bridge, over the water. Cast a circle and call directions for the best ritual. Call Aphrodite and Poseidon, or if preferred, any other chosen deities, one for each partner. If one or both parties are uncomfortable with this sort of ritual framework, simply proceed as follows.

Part I Accounting

Partner A begins, holding their circle of paper that says “I Forgive.” They say anything that they wish to forgive the other partner for, and then they drop the circle of paper into the creek below.
Partner B then holds their own circle of paper of Forgiveness, and forgives in the same way, tossing the circle of paper into the creek.
Partner B then takes their turn with their “I Apologize” circle of paper, and tells Partner A what they need to apologize for. The circle of paper is then dropped into the creek. Partner A then takes their turn with the Apology, dropping the circle of Apology into the creek when they are done.
Partner A now begins with the “I Thank” circle, and thanks Partner B for whatever they want to acknowledge in thanks.
Partner B then takes their turn with the Thanking, and then drops the Thanking circle of paper into the creek.

Part II Toasting and Sacrifice

Either partner opens the bottle of wine. They then toast each other for the good times, each taking a sip or gulp of the wine. Then they both hold the bottle of wine, and pour it into the creek. A good thing to say together here is: “Love released is not love lost. It returns to the Sea, It returns to the Sea, It returns to the Sea, It returns to the Sea…” until the bottle is empty.

Part III Releasing

Either partner picks up the stuffed animal that represents their soon-to-be-ex. They hand it to the other partner saying, “[Full birth given name of partner], I release you from the bonds of my love and my desire. The other partner likewise says “[Full birth given name of partner], I release you from the bonds of my love and my desire.”

At this point the ritual is complete. Dismiss deities, directions, and the circle according to tradition and then part ways, without looking back.


Many healing blessings and comforts to whoever has the courage to complete this ritual.

Take your stuffed animal, which is you, home with you, and treat it as you would be treated in a loving relationship. Comfort it when you are feeling down, encourage it when you are feeling good, ask it to take you to the park when you are feeling lethargic, etc. This might seem strange, but it is a very effective method of sympathetic magic, and it also can re-direct your caretaking tendencies back to yourself if you are more comfortable taking care of other people than yourself, or loving other people more than yourself.

C Princess Poysen Ivieee

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Formulation of Elemental Oils and Incenses According to Natural Magick Theory

I am pleased to announce two new lines from Natural Magick Shop: Elemental Magick oils and Elemental Magick ritual incenses.

These most basic of formulations have taken fifteen years to develop. For both my Planetary and Elemental potions, I wanted very special, very rational, extensively researched formulae. I wanted them to be – if not at first perfect in subjective Fragrance (though NOT out of reach of my capabilities) – as Alchemically perfect in Magick of Number, Planet, Phase of Moon, Time of Day, Color, and Cardinal Direction.

Magick of Number

For the Cardinal (tangible) Elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, I deduced that each would be ruled by the number Four, for the four Directions with which they are associated, East, South, West and North. Each of these has four ingredients.

For the Intangible Element, called Spirit or sometimes Akasha, the ruling number is deduced to be Five, the top peak of the Pentagram, and the number which guides the unfurling of the Spiral, which is one of the magickal symbols for Spirit, the Elusive Element of Time. Spirit oil and incense are therefore compounded of five ingredients.

Since Center or Spirit partakes of, and is the source of each of the tangible Elements, these formulations would include one of the four ingredients of each, plus one rare ingredient which only could be ruled by Spirit.

Magick of Planet

This set of correspondence is not as easy as number. While the four Elements are easy to unfold into Planetary correspondences, the reverse operation is less natural. I do my best, hoping it benefits us all.

Air Element breathes the nature of two Planets: Mercury and Jupiter. Air incense and oil is made on Wednesday.
Fire Element burns with the nature of Sun and Mars. Fire incense and oil is made on Sunday.
Water Element reflects the nature of Moon and Venus. Water incense and oil is made on Monday.
Earth Element resides only in the nature of Saturn. Earth incense and oil is made on Saturday.
Spirit infuses all of the Planets, but Mercury carries its message best of all. Spirit incense and oil is made on Wednesday.

Phase of Moon, Time of Day

Many Magickal and Alchemical scholars have provided time-tested process for Lunar harmony in our spell work and magick. Here I have again taken the uncomfortable task of folding the Lunar correspondences back into the Elements.

Air Element blows through the Crescent Moon, since the New Moon rises at dawn, Air incense and oil is formulated in the morning.

Fire Element charges the Second Quarter of the Moon, since the waxing half Moon is seen rising at noon. Fire incense and oil is therefore concocted at midday.

Water Element flows down from the Full Moon, and since the Full Moon rises at sunset, Water incense and oil is potioned at the end of the day.

Earth Element weighs in on the Third quarter, which rises at midnight. Earth incense and oil is compounded around midnight.

Spirit envelopes all phases of the Moon, and is integrated on the Dark Moon/ New Moon.

Magick of Color

This correspondence has plenty of tradition, so all that was to be done for my potions was apply it.

Air Element is corresponded to Yellow or Clear/White, easy to achieve in the Air oil with just my pale yellow base oils of Almond/Jojoba and the light, colorless essential oils affined to Air. For the Air incense, Benzoin base makes for a relatively colorless powder.

Fire Element is colored Orange and Red, and Dragon’s Blood resin gives both my Fire oil and Fire incense a burning red/orange color.

Water Element is naturally associated with the color Blue. Water oil is given blue by Blue Chamomile essential oil, and Water incense approaches a blue/green with Blue Tansy essential oil.

Earth partakes of the colors Brown, Black, and Green. Earth oil is deeply brown/black with Mushroom essential oil. Earth incense is the color of good garden soil with, among other things, Wood Aloes.

Spirit is alternatively imagined to be: White, Black, Grey, or Purple. Spirit oil is given an approach to Purple with Alkanet infused oil and Blue Tansy. Spirit incense is Grey with the mixture of all the elements plus the rare and esteemed clear colored Ood wood powder, also known as Lignum Aloes.

Cardinal Direction

This is one of the really easy correspondences often overlooked by even professional potioneers. As I create each oil or incense, I face the Cardinal Direction indicated. While I employ an energetic shield between myself and my potion, (to prevent my energies from contaminating YOUR potion) that same shield serves to catch and concentrate the Elemental energies flowing from the cardinal direction. As I face East, the winds blow towards me, but are blocked with my shield and directed into the Air incense or oil being created. And so I face South for the Fire formulation, West for the Water workings, North for the Earth aggregations. For Spirit, I will necessarily change directions as each Element is integrated into the incense or oil.

As you might imagine, the exacting circumstances indicated by my process limit the production of some of these formulae to a few times a year. They are consequently more expensive than my main line of ritually crafted potions, which don’t slouch a bit. It is my hope that my Alchemical Oils and Incenses will satisfy the requirements of the most diligent Hermetic practitioner, or the wild desires of the studied eclectic NeoPagan. With one set each of the Elemental and Planetary kits, any magician of any tradition could produce a spell or ritual for any required end.

With These Potions
Your Desires and Notions
An It Harm None
May Thy Will Be Done

Elemental oils are sold separately in my usual ½ ounce bottles for $7 each. Elemental sets are sold in sets of four (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) ½ ounce bottle size for $26, and sets of four ¼ ounce vial size for $13. They are also sold in sets of five (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Spirit) ½ ounce bottles for $33 and five ¼ ounce vial size for $17. Elemental incenses are in ½ounce corked vials for $6 each, or sets of four for $22, or sets of five for $26.

c Princess Poysen Ivieee 2008

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Planetary Magick

Planetary Magick is the next system to layer onto one's practice, after mastery and understanding of Solar, Lunar and Elemental Magick. If you have a yearning for an ancient link to magickal practice, it is more likely to be found through the seven "fixed stars" or planets than by any particular witchcraft tradition or magickal system, most of which date to the 1950's or Medieval times. This essay describes the theory that Natural Magick Shop uses for our Planetary formulas.

In ancient times, the movements of the "planets" were easy to observe as different from the stars. Most of the stars rotated in unison, over the course of the night, but seven heavenly bodies could be counted in different rhythms. Fastest moving among them is the Moon, whose orbit has a periodicity of about 29 days. Faint, but still observable much of the year also, Mercury travels its path every 59 days (or 88 days, it used to be believed). Venus at 243 days, the Sun itself at 365 days, Mars at 687 days, Jupiter at 12 years and elder Saturn takes 29 years to complete its circuit, from an Earthling’s perspective.

From Sumerian times, these unique heavenly bodies were seen as representations of the gods, if not gods themselves. And through the ages, the names of these planets have changed, but the roles of the gods they have been named for have changed very little. For example, in ancient Sumer, Enki was the name for the planet we now call Mercury, and they are both gods of information and communication. The Babylonians called the planet Mars by the name Nergal, who was also god of war. Our beloved planet Venus was Aphrodite in Greece, Astarte in Phoenicia, Ishtar in Babylon, and Inanna in ancient Sumer, love goddesses all of them. Solaris or Helios is the Sun god, Iuppiter or Jupiter is a god of kingship and growth, Selene or Luna is goddess of the Moon

The association or correspondences of these gods with the planets is discernible from their colors, movements, or time signatures. Saturn, with its lengthy period, was associated with elder or death gods, gods of the underworld or harvest, master of time, architect of destiny. Mercury, with its speedy cycle and quick changes of direction were related to the messenger god.

Some astrologers and magicians have added Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto to the classic seven planets. These planets are not discernible to the eye without telescopes, and therefore they are not as familiar to humanity, and they have fewer Earthly correspondences. Neptune is viewed as a higher frequency of Venus, Uranus likewise is an octave over Mercury, and Pluto is the dark reflection of the Sun. Their distance from our planet makes magickal correspondence much more tentative and not especially useful to most practitioners.

Most important for the modern practitioner is that, since the times of the most ancient western civilizations, these planets or deities have determined one of the most basic conventions of social organization: the seven day week. Each day is said to be “ruled” by one of the seven planets, and further, each hour of the day and each hour of the night are ruled by the same succession of planetary deities. We have lost a bit in the translation of the names of the week to the Germanic roots. The Norse gods are not associated with the planets themselves, though their diety functions are still correspondent to the ancient rulers. The Latin names of the planets and the days still correspond exactly.
Sol = Sun = Sunday,
Luna = Moon = Monday (Moon-day),
Mars = Mars = Tuesday (Norse Tiu, a war-god),
Mercurius = Mercury = Wednesday (Wodin or Odin, a scholar/magician god),
Iuppiter = Jupiter = Thursday (Thor, god of thunder),
Venus = Venus = Friday (named for Norse goddess of love Freya) and
Saturnus = Saturn = Saturday.

Note that our familiar workweek begins on Monday, ruled by the quickest planet, and ends on Saturn’s slow day, the day of rest. More recent calendars have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, or alternatively had Sunday begin the week. Over time, and even in our current datebooks, which of these three days is the start of the week has rarely enjoyed consensus. If you consider the matter you could derive logical arguments for all three cases.

Our reckoning of the day as beginning at 12 am (the middle of the night) is a new convention. For millennia, the day began with sunrise, and the night began with sunset, and the planetary hours commenced their count at sunrise. The order of the hours follows the periodicities of the planets: slower, elder Saturn begins the week (or used to do) and the quickest planet, the Moon is the last, repeating eternally in the pattern:
Saturn Jupiter Mars Sun Venus Mercury Moon

But this is not the order of the days of the week! Which is of course:
Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday

The explanation is that in Babylonian times, the day was divided into twenty four hours (Sumerians used a twelve hour day) with twelve hours of day and twelve hours of night. If you begin at sunrise on Saturday with the first hour being ruled by Saturn, 24 hours later you will end up at dawn the next day with the hour of the Sun. That being the planet governing at the time of sunrise, that planet governs and names the new day, Sunday. Beginning with Sun ruling that first hour of the day it rules, if you tick off another 24 planetary hours in that order: Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, etc., you will arrive at Moon at dawn of the next day, Monday. After another 24 hours you will arrive at dawn at the next day, Tuesday. Repeat this pattern and you will derive the order of the days of the week.

It is easy to think of time and days of the week proceeding this way, a function of the relationship of the number seven with the number twelve, and indeed, this relationship is expressed elsewhere, most notably in music in the relation of the chromatic to the diatonic scales. Mystics, alchemists, and early philosophers were always seeking to understand, and emulate in law, architecture, art, and social convention, the music of the spheres, a way to harmonize human activities with the movements planets of our solar system and then hopefully, further into the heavens. (You might note that the next tier of magickal practice after the seven-planet realm is the astrological zodiac, which is a system of twelve.)

One problem is that nature does not always fit the philosopher’s ideal mathematics. We have here the inconvenience of unequal day length caused by the seasons. With the advent of uniform timepieces, the convention has moved toward the fixed hour. But in ancient systems, the length of the hour changed according to the length of the day. Around the equinoxes, September 22 or so and March 22 or so, the hours of the night and day are equal, and this is where convention set the fixed hour. Somewhere along the way, the rigid application of fixed hours made it expedient to even change the time of the beginning of the day to the darkest hour of night!

In Natural Magick, we follow Nature and ancient customs. Wednesday morning begins at Dawn on Wednesday, and it lasts all day and all night until the Sun rises upon the next day. If that Wednesday is near the Winter Solstice, the hours of the day are shorter, and the hours of the night are longer. We go through the exercise of calculating the relative length of the hours through the seasons in order to precisely time magickal operations, especially those that are related to the planets. A bit of algebra and interpolation is applied to our magick. This brings us closer to the magick of the Spheres and the practices of ancient magickal systems. Not to mention, it reminds us that we did once pass Algebra in high school!

With this we introduce the Natural Magick line of Planetary oils. Each of these oils is made on the day ruled by the planet and in the hour of that day that is ruled by the planet. Five of the seven planets are made during the day in the waxing Moon. Moon is made at night under the crescent Moon in the hour of the Moon. Saturn is made on the first Saturday after the Full Moon, in the Saturn hour of the night, to fully capture the elder and dark aspect.

Each oil is potentiated with a mineral which corresponds to the power of the planet concerned:

Saturn - Hematite
Sun - Citrine
Moon - Moonstone
Mars - Garnet
Mercury - Fluorite
Jupiter - Amethyst
Venus – Peridot

Each bottle of oil has a 4mm bead of the same stone as a focus.

As each oil is made, I use the following binding spell:

This is the Day that you were made
This is the Hour that you were born
This is the moment of your creation
To magick of ___________, you are now sworn.

Each of the planets and the gods that govern them has resonance with different parts of our Selves. In a sense, by honoring each of the planets in a ritual way, we are dissembling, re-assimilating, and reclaiming each part of our Selves, the whole and separate parts of which issue forth from the Music of the Spheres.

c. Princess Poysen Ivieee 2007

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Witchcamp Tejas Approaches As You Sleep

Howdy friends, just wanted to let you know, there is an incredible opportunity to study the Craft, Reclaiming-style, coming up soon, during the balmy wildflower Spring of Texas. March 24th - 31st is Witch Camp, and early registration ends Feb 1st.

The Dwarves and the Dreamer

We take the story of Snow White on a most un-Disneylike journey to visit with The Dreamer, who brings all things into the world by Dreaming.

Witch Camp is seven days of magick, morning to midnight, cloistered in a wild Hill Country retreat. Dorm space is available, but I recommend camping. Food is included.

Yours truly will be facilitating one of the paths woven through this story. Birch and I will present Mysteries of the Faery Star, an occult exploration of the powers of the Septagram. It is an intermediate to advanced path, and prior experience such as the Elements of Magic is highly recommended.

Registration is limited and early signup gets you a discount.

I have been a Witch Camp camper for a number of years, and I consider it to be the most important training I have ever had. This is my first time to teach at Witch Camp. Although I am an experienced teacher, this is relatively new and challenging material. Birch and I are very excited to have the opportunity to bring our Faery Star material to the larger community for the first time.


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Global Warming Shifts Gardening Schedule

Here in Austin, Redbuds had a fall bloom, which I had never seen. But really, ask the gardeners about global warming. I found an old planting guide for Travis County, rev. 1990. Compare it to our updated guide:

1990 - Feb 15-June 1
2000 - Jan 10-Feb 28

Broccoli transplants
1990 - Feb 15-Mar 15
2000 - Jan 15-Feb 28

1990 - Feb 15-May 15
2000 - Jan 10-Feb 10

Leaf Lettuce
1990 - Jan 15-Apr 1
2000 - Jan 1-Apr 1

1990 - Jan 15-Mar 1
2000 - Oct 1-Mar 31

So most of the early spring planting has to be done about two weeks to a month earlier now than it did ten years ago, and you must finish planting about a month earlier, before the heat sets in.

Summer plantings, like okra and sweet potatoes stay about the same.

Then, for the fall plantings, we are starting two weeks to a month LATER, because the summer heat lasts longer.

That is the extension service recommendations, but the gardeners themselves are being much more experimental with earlier planting. I would have to say that we are now Zone 9 where we were Zone 8. I am ordering seeds for plants that are hardy up to Zone 10, because it just might work given the new climate.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006


To begin this story, it will be necessary to tell you something about a person not many people will know about, unless they come from Italy.

La Befana. La Befana is said by some to be a faery, by others a witch, nowadays she might be properly titled a goddess. La Befana. She appears for the week of the Annunciation, the days after the New Year. On these days she visits children all around Italy, bringing gifts and sweet treats. Kids petition her by tying little notes to the trees in the town square. All the children await the arrival of La Befana, the old, old lady in the tattered peasant clothing and the benevolent smile.

One can’t but notice the similarity, in function if not in form, to a more familiar character, popularly know as Santa Claus. Around the same time of year they appear, giving gifts to children, and kids write letters to both of them.

It should not be such a surprise that the two of them have met.

This is the story of that historic meeting, between a man named Nicholas, and the mysterious La Befana.

Back in those days, what we refer to as the Renaissance, Nicholas was not a Saint, not an elf, not even close to the wizard who can bend time and space that we know now. He was a normal human being, though maybe a bit better cut than the average. You might call him one of the early philanthropist benefactors. A wealthy man from a respectable merchant family, Nicholas took a great interest in the welfare of children. That might not seem so strange to us in these days of charities and foundations, but back in Nicholas’ time, it was pretty much accepted that if you were poor, your children were poor, and that was the luck of life. Nicholas, for whatever gift of grace or soft-heartedness, cared for children who were not members of his own family, and he helped many otherwise bereft children and their families escape lives of misery and poverty. It is easy to understand how he would come to admire the legendary La Befana, then, and eventually he sought her audience.

It was easier said than done. As an adult, your chances of seeing La Befana were next to nil. Even most children who believed in La Befana with the most fervent faith could expect to never catch a glimpse of the famous faery witch, no matter how many of her sweets and treats you had eaten. For years, Nicholas would travel around, following the trail of cookies, oranges, dolls, and toy horses during her season of benevolence. Eventually he thought of enlisting himself in her service, and so one year he took a great sack of gifts, and began handing them out along the way of his search. Of course, being visible, human, and obvious as a sore thumb, he caused a great commotion, and in one village he was absolutely mobbed by children, until his sack was empty, and in exhaustion Nicholas started on his way home.

On the road home, a sudden wind pitched up a fierce little dust devil right in front of Nicholas, and he squinted his eyes and breathed through his sleeve as he waited for it to pass. The flurry abated, the sun caught his eyes, and when he recovered from his momentary blindness, there she was. La Befana, stepping off her broom!

Nicholas fell to his knees. Here was the woman he had seeking these last three years, and immediately, in spite of her apparent age, he fell utterly, completely in love with her. “My Lady!” he managed to stammer.

“You’re operating in my turf!” she hissed at him, and as he looked into her eyes, flashing with threat and anger, for a split second Nicholas saw her as another person, regal, barely middle aged, and dressed splendidly in a way from antiquity. Then the vision passed and she reappeared as a bent old peasant woman in rags. At that moment Nicholas knew there was much more to La Befana than the legends told.

“My Lady,” he managed to repeat, “I just saw you as a younger…”

“Well that matters for nothing, and what is at hand is that you are usurping my territory. Italy is mine, and treating the children at this time of year is my duty. Did I seem to you to fail in my obligation, that you must so ungraciously mock my station?”

“Oh, Lady, do not think…I never meant…You see I meant to…” sputtered Nicholas.

“Take your time,” said La Befana, crossing her arms in front of her. “I have plenty of it. A whole ten hours to complete Florence, Venice, Tuscany, Naples, and the villages in between. Should be no trouble,” she said, and again, through the flash in her eye, Nicholas caught a glimpse of the younger noblewoman. Clearly, in some way she was enjoying herself, and he relaxed a bit.

“Oh dear, forgive me, My La…La Befana, if I may. I have been seeking you for many years. If you would, I would become your student, your disciple, your…well, never mind. I, like yourself, am dedicated to the welfare of the children. Whether poor or well born, the children are no better nor worse one from the other, and all possess the creative divine potential of the best of the human race, and it is this potential I seek to nourish. I by the grace of God command a respectful family fortune, and I thought that working together we…”

“We could exhaust your fortune in short work; such is the need of poor children in this country and beyond. What we need to do is….wait a minute! I just realized I said ‘we’!”

“Please feel free to do so, La Befana,” whispered Nicholas. “I will be your servant, if you will be my Lady.”

“I see,” said La Befana, and turned her back to him, to consider the matter.

After a moment she turned back to him. “What we are really trafficking in here, the real gift being given to these children, is Hope. Do you understand? I give these small gifts, but really what I give them is something to hope for. This makes the most profound change in what a child can or can not do, and gradually this can change the country, the people as a whole. This has been my work these last few centuries…”

“Last few centuries?” asked Nicholas. “But what of the story that the Three Wise Men invited you to join them in their search for the Christ Child? You were too busy cleaning house to go along on the adventure, but according to the tale, you thought differently of it and tried to find them, and that is why you travel giving gifts to the children.”

“Oh, ha!” laughed La Befana. “That is a great story, one of my favorites really, but I am not as old as Our Savior. I was only made…I only received my duty as a human in the feudal days of the Middle Ages. But what I was getting around to, a challenge I would give you as my student, and as my suitor if I read your intention would be this: I alone will continue to bring gifts and hope to the children of Italy, as my charge commands me to do, and you, as my consort, will do the same in the same time – for all the rest of the children of the world!”

Nicholas gaped. “My Lady. Do not mistake my admiration, devotion nor love. But I am a mortal man, human. You are…well, you must be something else. To do what you ask, I would have to be a saint, or a god!”

“Yes, you would,” said La Befana, thoughtfully.

“Is such a thing possible?” said Nicholas. “Surely as Christians we can not speak of such things.”

“I am a Christian. Roman Catholic.” said La Befana, perhaps a bit defensively. “Among other things.”

Nicholas crossed himself reflexively “Lady, you are a goddess, that is clear. You are a witch, or so they say. You are a faery, friend of La Bensozia, everyone knows that. But you said you were once human. How does one become a god, having been mortal once?

La Befana approached him, and assumed her tall, noble form. Without warning she grasped his shoulders and leaned to look into his eyes. Nicholas has no choice but to surrender to her gaze, which seemed to probe his soul from the inside out. After what seemed a very long time, she released him and turned back as the stooped old woman.

“Very well. Nicholas, you are a rare human. So I will tell you this.”

“There are two ways to become a god. You must be born of a god or goddess, like so many sons and daughters of Zeus, or you must be made a god by another god or goddess.”

“So then, you yourself can make me what I must be, to meet your challenge and merit your troth!” exulted Nicholas.

“Nicholas, I am afraid not. My charge as a minor deity is fairly limited. I can do this thing for the children, and my powers are limited to Italy.”

“Well, who made you goddess, and why?”

“Aradia, daughter of Diana of the moon. She admired my work, back in my mortal days. I, like many of the feudal gentry, had mastered the arts of witchcraft. Unlike them, I made my gifts and wealth available to the peasantry. My husband would have hung me himself if he knew I was aiding his serfs. So I used my arts of illusion to make myself as one of them. This is my disguise I use to this day.”

“Aradia was a bit of a rebel, even by her mother’s standards. She would suffer no hypocrisy or sadism, and my husband and most of his lot stank of both. She made me a goddess, and charged me with bringing material comfort and hope to her people, ALL of her people.”

“And, may I ask, My Lady, your husband…”

Aradia was no fluffy bunny. She poisoned him. There is no more to his story. Ahem.”

Now Nicholas was the silent one. He sat down on the side of the road. After a spell, he continued.

“If not you, La Befana, who then will make me the immortal you require me to be?”

“Yes, there is our situation,” she agreed. “Since the classical times with Zeus filling up the world with gods of every minor description, the Immortal Ones are extremely reluctant to make any more gods on this earth. My advice, my best suggestion, should you take this challenge, is to go north, to the snowbound lands of the gods of the Asatru. There is one very lovely goddess who might be the softess touch of the Immortals. Yes, you must seek Freya.”

In his mind, Nicholas saw the snow, the pine trees laden with white brilliance, and the lady that La Befana spoke of, trailing waves of reddish blond hair, riding a sleigh drawn by cats, beautiful beyond compare, seductive, laughing. “I see,” he said. “I will be off directly. But let me be clear to you, La Befana, it is your hand I seek, not hers. You alone are my partner; you and I will bring hope to the children of the world.”

La Befana smiled, closed her eyes, and in a gust of wind, was gone.

Nicholas spent the rest of the winter, spring and summer tending to his estates, hiring and training managers, and by the fall he began on his pilgrimage to meet Freya.

As Nicholas traveled north, the weather became perceptibly colder. As he climbed into Switzerland he was treated to his first sight of snowy landscape. The brilliance of the falling snow, the softness of the draped trees, it all seemed so serene to him, and he began to feel like he was coming home instead of going out on a harrowing quest.

At each hamlet he simply asked for directions to go see Freya. Now, people pointed north, and fewer and fewer looked at him oddly. As he approached what is now called Germany, the snowy landscape drew him forward. He found himself loving snow, the brilliant blue sky, the powdery quiet of the air.

But with just a few more paces the sky disagreed with Nicholas serene mood. Clouds assembled, darkened and loomed threateningly, and a thunderbolt of lightning struck out towards Nicholas. He ran for the shelter of a large fir tree and another bolt cleaved it in half. Darting for a boulder, another flash annihilated it before Nicholas got close. A huge swelling in the thundercloud boiled down towards Nicholas and he was forced to his knees to pray for mercy. “Oh God, save me from this storm,” he shouted, and the winds howled in rage as response. Thinking more to his recent experience with La Befana, he shouted, “May the gods preserve me! I seek audience with Freya, and I come with a pure heart!”

The downward-moving ball of thundercloud moved towards his voice, and when it touched the ground with a deafening boom of thunderclap, Nicholas found himself kneeling before a huge personage dressed in skins, with a massive double-headed hammer, and two horns rearing from a pointed helmet. His long moustache was braided into his longer red beard, and his breath smelled like strong ale. “Who are you, who seeks Her so brashly?”

“Sir,” said Nicholas, standing up from his knees. “I have no reason to hide my search. I seek Freya on a mission from La Befana.”

“Who?” said the warrior, tilting his head doubtfully.

“Oh, uh. La Befana, herself a servant of Aradia, which would make me, uh, her…”

“Aradia,” said the giant, stroking his beard.

Yes, you’ve got it. Aradia, daughter of Diana?” said Nicholas hopefully.

“Diana, aww, of course, why didn’t ya just say so? Har!” said the man, clapping Nicholas on the shoulder. Of course, ya know me, Thor, right?”

“Oh, couldn’t mistake Thor for anybody else,” said Nicholas rubbing his shoulder. “But if you please, Thor, time is of the essence here. I’ve been traveling for nearly two months now, and I must take care of this errand with Freya on behalf of La…oh, Diana. Sir.”

“No doubt, yes, you should be off. Look, you should find her somewhere between here and Valhalla,” said Thor, gesturing with his huge hammer. “On further north, follow the signposts is what I do.”

“Thanks Thor, and, if there’s anything you can do about the weather, uh, it’s really dark under this cloud.”

“Ya, no problem, how about this?” Thor lifted a powerful fist, opened his hand, and the clouds twirled down into his palm, leaving a clear blue sky. “Safe travel for the Son of Diana!”

“It is most appreciated Thor, may you have a peaceful time with your rounds! Ho ho! Off I go!” And off marched Nicholas into a bright snowy, northbound road.

“Hallooo, friend,” said Nicholas to a small, dark man at a fork in the road. He had been walking for several hours and though the bright day, blessed by Thor, was long, there was still a short nighttime this far north. As he approached, he had a difficult time focusing on the shadowy man, who was leaning up against the signpost.

“Hi there, sir, what does this signpost say is the road to Valhalla?” asked Nicholas.

“We-e-e-ll,” said the shadow man, turning to look at the signpost he had been leaning on. Then, with some drama, he feigned tripping over a small stone, and fell into the signpost, causing it to go spinning around. When the signpost stopped spinning, he stood up slowly, and stepped back. “Well, there you go,” he said. “That is the road to Valhalla.”

Nicholas followed the arrow of the sign toward the road it pointed to. He frowned. “No, that couldn’t be right. That is the road I just got here on.” Nicholas pointed. “See, there are my boot prints approaching this junction in the road.”

“Oh, yes, well let me fix this sign, then,” said the little man. He grabbed the signpost and swiveled it around so that the Valhalla arrow pointed toward on of the other two roads. “There you have it unmistakable, Valhalla is that way. Good day.” And he started off himself on the other road.

Nicholas looked at the man walking down the road. He looked back to the road he had just come from. Then, sighing, he pushed off down the path now indicated by the sign. “At least,” he said to himself, “I won’t have to meet that shifty little man down this road.”

Nicholas trudged on through the short northern night, still marveling at the snow which seemed to glow from within. Luminescent clouds danced in eerie, erratic patterns which hypnotized the traveler. He had never seen the Northern Lights before, and in his walking dream, they came from reflections cast by Freya’s jewelry.

As morning dawned just a few hours later, Nicholas saw another fork in the road ahead. As he approached the signpost, blinking in the morning sun, he was startled by a shadow.

“What? What are you doing here? You went down the other road!” protested Nicholas, for the shadow resolved into the same dark little man he had met before.

“You really should pay better attention, when you’re out traveling at night,” said the man, pointing at the sign. “You’ll get nowhere like this.” He snickered and lit up a long reed pipe.

Sure enough, Nicholas looked at the signpost and it was identical to the first. “You cruel prankster,” he growled. “I will not be thwarted by your tricks, for I am on a true mission to seek the Lady Freya!”

“Lady Freya!” he shouted towards the last of the glimmering Aurora Borealis. “FREYA! LADY FREY-YAAA!”

Suddenly, Nicholas heard the ringing of bells, and a sleigh flashed into the crossroads. Drawn by two giant cats, ornamented with gilt gold, sparkling with pearl-embroidered reigns, the lady in his vision stood up in the sleigh. Her red-gold hair trailed behind the carriage, glinting as brightly as her copious jewelry. She stepped from the carriage and embraced the dark little man.

“Loki! So good to see you!” she cheered, her voice musical and ringing. “You have led our pilgrim to me, how can I thank you for your true service?”

“Oh, the ways are many, Lady,” said Loki, leering.

“And you must be Nicholas, how good to meet you! Do sit down and tell me your story!”

Nicholas turned around, and a plump pair of sofas had appeared, with a little table between them bearing three steaming mugs of hot mulled mead. Gratefully, he sat down and drank, trying not to notice Loki sitting next to him on the sofa.

Nicholas told Freya his whole story, while she smiled and nodded companionably. Her beautiful blue eyes glinted with brimming tears, as Nicholas described his love for La Befana, and his desire to bring hope to children around the world. When he was finished telling his tale, he fell silent, and a profound peace settled around them.

Freya stood up, and beckoned Nicholas toward her. He stepped forward, and she caught him up in a tender embrace. Leaning down to his face, for she was very tall indeed, she closed her eyes and kissed him gently and sweetly. A course of electricity warmer and more intoxicating than the mead spread through him, and each cell in his body vibrated, tickled, itched and seemed to ring like millions of bells. That is the only way he could describe it, being kissed in this special way by the goddess Freya.

When she stepped back from him, she steadied him with her hands. “It is done, Nicholas. So it shall be. How do you feel?”

Nicholas patted down his body, which seemed no different on the outside. But everything inside was changed. He felt golden, like he was made of pure light. “I feel divine,” he said.

Freya leaned back and laughed. “You ARE divine now, Nicholas, welcome to the company of the Immortal Ones!”

“But wait!” she exclaimed. “Your drab travelers clothing do not suit your divinity. We need something as fine as the god you have become!” She clapped her hands softly and rapidly, and hundreds of mice came racing towards them from the forest. They climbed all over Nicholas, weaving and spinning as they went, and when they retreated, he was covered with red velvet, green wool, shiny black leather, fur trim, and his moustache has been combed, waxed to impossible lengths and gently perfumed.

“Ho Ho!” he laughed, and now his voiced boomed deeper than it ever had before. “This is fine treatment!”

“It is just as fine as your calling to bring hope to the children of the world. I have brought you this much closer to your goal. But the other powers you will need, to make your errand possible, are beyond my ability to give, Nicholas.” She shook her head, but no sadness marred her expression.

“You need not just immortality and the ordinary gifts of the Divine Ones, but the ability to command time and space. For that we seek a higher power.”

“What, Lady, or should I ask Whom, is this higher power?”

“To learn the arts of Time, you must go to see Odin, who learned them by sacrificing himself on none other than the World Tree. Here, you will need transport.” She whistled and sang several ringing notes, and a fine snow sleigh appeared, drawn by the finest reindeer you could imagine. “Loki would be happy to show you the way.”

Nicholas looked over to Loki, who had been sprawled out on the sofa stroking his goatee through the whole proceedings. He grinned at Nicholas.

“Um, Lady, if you will, I would love it if YOU would accompany me on the journey. Our visit has been so short, it would be a shame to part company before the mission is complete,” said Nicholas. “That is, if I am capable of completing it.”

“Well, I don’t see why not!” Freya laughed. “A merry visit it will be! Away we go!”

The little sofas disappeared, folding up into cushion in the carriages. Loki hopped into the back of Nicholas’ sleigh, to his distaste, but before he could complain, they were airborne, flying over the sparkling snow covered forest.

The short Northern night had fallen by the time they landed. The forest they found themselves in was darker, more ancient. “Odin?” Freya called softly. It occurred to Nicholas that she was a bit shy of the elder god.

The forest seemed to part, and draw them forward. The forest then opened, but it seemed even darker. Stars illuminated the trees and the travelers, shining more brightly than on any other place on earth.

And he was before them. Against the backdrop of a tree bigger than any he had ever seen, its upper branches seeming to be tipped with the stars, Odin hung upside down in mid-air. He held a huge book in front of him, deep in study he was, though one eye was closed, and the other, blind and milky white, stared into the book.

“Welcome, Freya, Loki, my friend. Who is the newly-divine traveler you bring to me?” he said, righting himself and closing the large leather book. His seeing eye opened and peered at Nicholas, making the young god squirm.

“I am Nicholas,” he said, and bowed.

“Tell me Nicholas, have you studied much of the great Mysteries?”

“What I know of the Mysteries, Odin, all I know is what I have studied from the Good Book, the Bible, but I know not if it is the same as yours.”

“The Bible?” mused Odin. It is the book of the Jews and Christians, followers of YWHW. Interesting to find any of your tribes at these latitudes.”

“Yes, Odin, I am Christian, or at least once I was. Now that I am evidently one with the Immortals, I don’t know if, um, I’m qualified anymore.”

“Interesting. You bring up a very profound question, a Divine riddle. Just for my amusement, no challenge or anything, what how would you answer this Divine Riddle? Nicholas, tell me, what IS the religion of the gods? In three words or less.”

Odin rotated back around to upside down, and he closed his seeing eye and the blind one wandered between the worlds. Nicholas knew very well that he was indeed being tested, and he could feel the gaze of the blind eye peering through his brain. What IS the religion of the gods?

Three words. Three gods stood around him, except, of course the one who was hanging upside down. Odin took out his great book again. Freya clasped and unclasped her hands. Loki coughed gently and lit his pipe.

Nicholas looked to Freya. Words bubbled up in his head. First: Beauty. Then: Love. Then the one he spoke aloud.

“Creation,” said Nicholas. Odin smiled cryptically with one side of his mouth, turned some pages and scribbled a note in the book.

Nicholas looked at Odin, hanging there before him, and again the words welled into his mind. Knowlege? No, but close. Wisdom? Too proud. Then, the word came.

“Seeking,” he said, pleased with himself. Odin’s blind eye blinked, and the other side of his mouth smiled. He checked off something else in his book.

Nicholas looked over to the shifting image of Loki. This one would be harder, he knew. Chaos, thought Nicholas, no. Pranks, he thought, and grinned to himself. How much of creation might be explained by the pranks of the gods? Odin sighed and shifted. What is it? Nicholas wracked his brain. Illusion? Deception? Mishap?

Nicholas stared at Loki, who shrugged and blew out a long puff of smoke. The shapes shifted, merged, becoming one picture then another. Nicholas could now smell the fine tobacco, and he understood.

“Change!” he crowed. “It’s so simple! That is what we do!”

Odin wrote a symbol in the book and slapped it closed. Righting himself again, he laughed jovially and said, “As good a description as any, Nicholas. Now, tell me, what is it that YOU do, as a divine Immortal? Specifically. And why my help is needed."

They all sat down on the little sofas again, and steaming mead appeared again. Between Nicholas and Freya, with a few tangential interjections from Loki, the story was told.

“I will grant you this power, Nicholas, for your calling is true and good. You will be able to bend the laws of time and space to deliver your gifts, and the Hope that they bring, in one night. But you will not be able to do this from your southern latitudes of Italy. In order for you to access the vortices of time space, you will need to relocate to the North Pole. The magnetic field of the Earth herself will allow you access to timelessness, that and Loki’s excellent chaos magick. You will be able to do this on one night, when the sun never sets and times stands still, the Winter Solstice or thereabouts.”

“And I will send you teams of elves and dwarves!” sang Freya. “The finest jewelers, craftspeople, toymakers, cobblers, they will love to serve your mission.”

Nicholas’ heart stopped. “The North Pole?” he stuttered. “I have come to love the snow, and eternal winter would suit me well. But…what if She will not come with me there? Italy will always be her home…”

“Nicholas. Why are you doing this? For the love of a woman, or to bring Hope? What is your will? And would she have you anyway, if romantic love was your only end?” frowned Odin.

Nicholas held a vision of La Befana in his mind. She morphed back and forth from her matron to her crone forms. No, thought Nicholas. He is right. If I were not willing to do this without her, she would never be willing to do it with me.

“Then let me go to the North Pole. The Winter Solstice is all but upon us,” said Nicholas. “So be it. Without her, I will be a lonely Father Christmas, but I will be myself in no other guise.”

And so it all unfolded. Nicholas built a great manufactory at the North Pole, and the dwarves and elves emigrated, all but a few, to aid him with their great skill and labor. And just a few days after the Winter Solstice, Nicholas was ready. The great sleigh was laden with gifts, and the reindeer stamped their hooves in anticipation of the adventure. He could almost see the magnetic fields of the North Pole spinning in a brilliant vortex, just outside the range of his color vision. Loki danced around madly and threw sparks and screamed words in a language Odin himself would not have remembered. And at the last second, he threw himself into the sleigh, and hid himself under the great sack of gifts.

“What are you doing, you coward?” hollered Nicholas. “This better work, you sneaky little prankster, you fraud, you, you, you, WHOA-OH-WO!”

For the sleigh had jerked into the sky, spinning the reindeer after it. They were rotating madly in the vortex. “What do I do? Loki, what do I do????”

“Reins,” came the muffled monosyllable, from beneath the packages. “Reins!”

Nicholas caught the reins in his hands and pulled the slack out of the lines. The reindeer then all queued up and leaned into a forward motion. The vortex of Time still spun around them, but now Nicholas was in control.

“HO HO HO!” his laugh bellowed out! “Merry Christmas!!!” And he shook the reins, just to hear the jingles.

The evening flew by like he never could have imagined. To us modern people it would be like watching a film in fast forward. But to Nicholas it seemed like a miracle, which of course it was. He left presents all around the world, and no-one knew where they came from, for of course this was the first night of Santa Claus’ ride on Christmas.

When they were done, Nicholas asked Loki, who was now confident enough of his art to ride shotgun, “How much time do we have left?”

“Time, that’s a funny question, Nick. We really have no time at all. We have to be back at the pole or, hmm.” Loki frowned.

“Look. One more stop, it won’t take long.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “You’re the captain, Nick.”

Nicholas pulled the reins and the sleigh spun downward. He landed on the roof of a little cottage in a sprawling countryside filled with grass. He hopped down to the ground. Loki put his fingers in his ears.

La Befana stepped out of her cottage and smiled.

“Here I am in your turf again, Befana.” And he kissed her, because of course she knew that he would not return to her unless he had fulfilled the quest she set for him. “Now, my only question is, will you join me in my realm?”

And so that is the story of how La Befana adopted another form, as Mrs. Claus. She agreed to live with him forever after at the North Pole, and she took up the management of the work of the elves and dwarves in the great factory, since she was already on such good terms with the Little People.

But on the Eve of the Annunciation, she returns to her beloved Italy as La Befana, and to this day she still gives gifts and treats to the good children, and of course the occasional lump of coal to the naughty ones, who she loves just as well. In the view of La Befana and Santa Claus, there is always Hope, and that is their eternal gift to all children.

Princess Poysen Ivieee Dec. 2006

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