Friday, September 8, 2017

MAGICK CORD OF SACRED GEOMETRY A New Magickal Tool of Center, Circle, Shapes and Spirit



I present a unique new magickal tool that I invented. It came from a class I teach on the spiritual, magickal and practical aspects of Spirit and Center. This tool is a Cord with which you can draw your choice of three sizes of Circle onto the ground or a floor, find magnet North of your Circle, and inscribe a triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, heptagon, octagon, or nonagon.

In the course of putting together the class, I decided to focus on what is often suggested as a magickal symbol of Spirit (as in, the fifth ineffable Element at the Center of Air, Fire, Water and Earth), the cord, and cord magick. All of the references to cord magick that I could find had to do with the kind of spell form where you tie knots in a string or cord while saying a chant according to your intention. This is a well-known form of spell magick and it has many applications.
           
However, it was not really what I was looking for in the context. We were doing an Elements of Magick series, and the cord spell magick seemed a bit more materially oriented than the Cord Magick I was seeking to reflect Center and Spirit.

When you can find no reference to the Magick that you are seeking it is time to become the Mage. I did have one very good guide, although more mathematical than magickal in nature. My main reference for this work is A Beginner’s Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science by Michael S. Schneider

FINDING THE CENTER OF A SPACE

I began my search in an empty room. I knew that one magickal use of the Cord (other than low magick spells) was as a Compass, to designate a center and draw a Circle. First, I had to know where the Center of the room was. To find this spot, you take your cord (I used a ball of hemp twine) and tape ends of it into the diagonal corners of the room to make an x. The point where the lines cross is the Center of the room.


A PERFECT CIRCLE

Put a thumbtack or pushpin in the Center. Now tie a loop knot in one of the ends of the cord. We will call this end the Origin of the Cord. From the center go to the nearest wall. That is the radius of the biggest Circle that will fit in an empty room. If you are working outdoors, you can use a nail to mark the Center and make the Circle as large as will fit the space, or as small as will fit your purpose.

Next, I wanted a Circle with a magick number for its diameter. 7? 9? 13? As it turned out, since my room was 11 by 12 ft, a 9 foot diameter Circle fit best. So I used a good contractors’ measuring tape and measured out 4 ½ feet of the cord, and made another loop knot at the end.

This IS the magick tool of Center and Spirit. A Circle with a dot in the center is a symbol of a number of sacred concepts: the Monad, considered to be the first spiritual being according to the Pythagoreans; the Greek alchemical symbol for the Sun (also the Center with Planets describing Circles around); the Chinese symbol of Light; the modern representation of the most basic of elements, Hydrogen (one proton in the Center, one electron describing a Sphere around it); the Center and the Circumference of one’s Self, on up to the epicenter (Origin) of the Big Bang with the outer Circle demarking the theoretical edge of the Universe.

When I look at basic physical geometrical shapes like the Monad, and use my Cord and Center to create it, I get the feeling that this is The Really Real, not just “our limited capacity to perceive the world around us.”

Try it. Make your Circle just big enough to fit you sitting cross-legged (lotus position) on the floor. For me, a 3 foot diameter (1 ½ foot radius) Circle is just big enough. If you have to do anything in the Circle, like have an altar, books, spell working or ritual materials, a 7 foot diameter (3 ½ foot radius) will be more accommodating. For a few people, an altar and ritual gear, a 9 foot diameter Circle in a room will be a close fit. A 13 foot diameter Circle, if there is room indoors, or outdoors if desirable, can all be drawn physically, tangibly, and ritually, using just the cord with loops at either end, pivoting from the Center.

A SQUARE WITHIN THE CIRCLE

The next question I pondered was how to designate the Four Directions. Yes, I know generally, from my magnetic compass where magnetic North is, and the other directions extrapolated from that. But now that I have this Cord, can I use it to measure out the sides of a Square, such that each corner is in the cardinal direction of my Circle?

If you know the radius (R) the Circle, the side (S) of a square perfectly inscribed within the circle will be:   R × √2 = S.

The square root of 2 (√2 ) is an irrational number (which, like pi, has an infinite number of digits) approximately equal to (≈) 1.4142.

So, if you have used the Magick Cord to draw a 7 foot circumference Circle (R = 3.5ft), the side of square inscribed within this Circle will be
3.5ft × 1.4142 ≈ 4.95ft.

I used my contractor’s measuring tape to mark my Cord at 4.95ft, as accurately as possible. While we might have to round to a reasonable number of decimals of an irrational number for this work, the imperative to work as accurately as possible will henceforth be the necessary standard.

First I moved the Origin of the Cord to the Northernmost point of the Circle (as determined by the magnetic North compass) and then stretch the Cord out towards the East edge of the Circle. Holding the cord taut, where the 4.95ft mark intersects the Circle will be the East point of the Square and the Circle. By whatever means practical or desirable, mark this point.

Proceeding in the same way, you can “walk” the Cord around and mark each of the four corners/directions of the Square in your Circle. You can draw the sides of the Square onto the ground or floor as you go, or you can improvise a straightedge using a board to draw a better straight line. Alternatively, you may just draw two lines, from North to South and East to West, to create a Compass Cross. It is much easier to accomplish with a partner.

IF I CAN MAKE A SQUARE THEN…

Looking at my Square inside my Circle, my mind quickly leapt forward:  I can make a Pentagon! (and a Pentagram!) inside my Circle using the same kind of math, and while I’m at it, all of the other polygons.

The design of my Magick Cord evolved quickly from there. I use large stainless steel links to make the Origin of the Cord and three Terminus points to mark the three different Radii for the three sizes of Circles I might want to draw with it. These links are just large enough to hold a nail for the Center/Origin and a wax pencil or nail for the Terminus.

The Cord itself is sturdy stainless steel cord (so it does not stretch) used to string small iridescent beads, the different polygons are marked out using larger, different colored beads.

The grey catseye beads are used to mark the corners of a Triangle (since 3 is the magick number of the planet Saturn and black or grey is the magick color of Saturn).

Correspondingly, the blue beads (magick color of Jupiter) denote the corners of the Square, red beads (magick color of Mars) execute the corners of the Pentagon, gold beads (magick color of Sun) generate the Hexagon (these are actually on either side of the Terminus of the Radius, since a Radius walked around a Circle will make a hexagon, e.g. R=S), green beads will lay out a heptagon, orange beads will describe an octagon and the white beads will produce the nonagon.

Realistically speaking, the octagon and the nonagon are less likely to be used for practical purposes, but by including them, the Powers of the Seven Planets are included in the Magick Cord.

Since there are three sizes of Circles included in the Magick Cord, there are three of each color bead markers for the three different sizes of polygons to be inscribed in each Circle. Therefore, the first blue bead from the Origin will be used to create the Square in the 7 foot diameter Circle, the second blue bead for the 9 foot diameter Circle’s Square, and the third blue bead, the farthest from the Origin, will demark the corners of the Square of the 13 foot Circle.

It is my hope that each of these Magickal Cords of Sacred Geometry will be put to practical purpose. They are constructed of sturdy stainless steel wire to last a lifetime or more of regular, indoor/outdoor use. But really, each of these tools contains, just resident in their possession and being, three magickal Circles, three sets of seven Polygons of Sacred Geometry, the Magnetic North of the Four Directions, the Powers of the Planets, Spirit and Center, and the magick numbers 1 through 13. 



By Cedar Stevens
June 2017





Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mountain Laurel Magic and Lore













A high school boyfriend of mine was in trouble with the law. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and got implicated in a break-and-entry robbery committed by a group of teenaged boys who were able to frame my friend with the crime. (Or so he told me.) When it came time for him to testify, to try and save himself from juvie or probation, he showed me the bean, a dark red bean with a shiny hard coat. His mother had consulted with her “witch” advisor and had given it to him to hold in his mouth when he testified. Because of the power of this seed, his word would be judged to be true and honest.

This was my first introduction to actual witchcraft, and to the Mountain Laurel, Sophora secundiflora, because they do not grow on the Gulf Coast plains of Texas, or in Louisiana, where my boyfriend’s mother grew up, consulting with the conjure women, I guess now, as need arose. When I was re-introduced to the species later as a student in college, I immediately recognized the bright red bean, hard, shiny, and fascinating. How could they not be magical?

According to Marshall Johnston, my native plant botany professor, the tree which produced this bewitching seed was the Mountain Laurel, also known as the Mescal Bean. He told us that before the European invasion, the Apache Indian medicine men would make a hallucinatory vision brew from these seeds. I inferred that that lead to the naming of the tree for Sophia, the goddess of truth, wisdom, and justice. Unfortunately, or probably fortunately, we had lost the recipe by which the toxic alkaloids were brewed out of the seeds leaving just the less toxic visionary alkaloids. Supposedly that was why they were called Mescal Beans, because the liquor Mescal was used to leach the compounds. I have doubts that this is the case, because alcohol distillation was unknown to the Indians. They drank alcoholic beverages brewed from the agaves, true, but nothing produced by distillation which could produce the mindbending 180 proof liquor we call Mescal.

Whatever the story of the lost recipe, the early botanist explorer who named this tree must have easily identified it as being sacred to the Gnostic goddess Sophia, perhaps because of the magical properties of a plant, I always look at the names it has been given. The early botanists, even more than today’s, were extremely well versed in Greek and Latin language since these were the scientific languages. They knew the mythology, and this mythology becomes a language itself in how scientists name their species. I believe that they knew as well as the Indians that this tree, the Mountain Laurel, is distinguished by its powers for truth wisdom and insight.

Knowing this, I took to wearing one of these seeds in my ear as decoration. (Choosing larger specimens that would not get stuck in my ear of course!) I called them my “earbeans” and pretended(?) that I could hear the voice of the Mountain Laurel by wearing them so.

When I started making handcrafted jewelry and being a bead freak in general, it was not too much of a leap that I started making these bright red, very durable seeds into beaded jewelry. It takes a high speed drill or dremel to drill them, and that takes some time, but then you have a lovely red necklace.

I wear these beautiful red beads for legal situations, personal protection, speaking truth to power, and women's protection.

I matronize only a few trees in Austin that have the most perfect red beans, and I gather and drill the beans on Wednesdays in the waxing moon. I use dark glass seed beads with blue or peacock iridescence as contrasting spacer beads. The short necklaces are about 14-15 inches long, choker length and have 28 beans for each day of the lunar cycle. The long necklaces fit over any head, are about 27-30 inches long and have about 53 beans. These seeds are said to be TOXIC and you should not let anyone or your dog chew on them. In fact all parts of the plant are toxic, and even the flowers, sweet and pungent smelling like grape koolaid, can cause headaches and befuddlement if kept as a vase flower in an enclosed room. (Although I have definitely given myself a headache smelling the flowers, there is reason to question the "deadly toxic" reputation as there seem to be no actual accounts of poisoning from Mountain Laurel seeds.)

Mountain Laurels are long-lived, slow-growing, evergreen and quite lovely in the landscape. In the wild they are usually overlooked understory trees and usually do not produce as many fragrant flowers or as many jewelry-grade beans as their urban counterparts. In the city and suburb, they are often focal landscaping shrubs, well-watered and tended. They become Spirit Keepers of the landscape, and they produce many flowers, and many seeds in these favored situations. Look under the trees in your neighborhood. Some have dark burgundy seeds and some are nearly orange. Some are well-shaped and some are mottled and homely. Notice how each individual tree has a different size, color, and quality of bean. I find that the fresh-out-of-the-pod beans are usually mottled, where the beans that have been on the soil surface have a more uniform and rich tone. 

If you find any that are quite a bit bigger than the rest, those are the seeds that have absorbed moisture and are likely to sprout soon. Don't drill these, plant them! Mountain Laurel seeds are said to be notoriously "difficult" to sprout. You will find a lot of pain-in-the-ass techniques to increase the likelihood of getting them to germinate. Don't even bother with that. Really, this plant is very wise, so it "banks" a lot of its seeds. A few will sprout this year, a few next year, and I bet some seeds wait over 50 years to sprout under the right circumstances. This is most likely an evolutionary tactic to survive climatic changes and drought cycles. If you want to sprout Mountain Laurel seeds, just throw about three in each of about a dozen one gallon pots, water them and then forget about them. Plant the ones that come up, and let the others wait till the apocalypse is over!

Cedar Stevens
May 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

THE NATURAL MAGICK TRADITION OF MAGICK, WORSHIP AND OBSERVANCE




Natural Magick is now being offered by Cedar Stevens as a pathwork tradition within the modern NeoPagan, WitchCraft and Western Tradition.  The focus of Natural Magick is on Earth, Animal, Elementary, Plant, and Planetary magick, religion and spiritual practice.

Natural Magick System Statement of Principles
*Natural Magick is a system of magick within the modern NeoPagan and Western Tradition.
*Natural Magick is a tradition that honors and observes Nature.
*Human Nature is a subset of Nature and therefore Natural Magick is guided by love, respect and devotion of Nature towards the unfolding of Human individualism, will, and ritual magick.
*Natural Magick respects and advocates for the unfolding of the destiny and fortune of All Living Species.
*Natural Magick acknowledges Science as the Consensus Reality and the most current expression of the Western Tradition.

The Natural Magick Tradition of ritual magick is a direct descendant of the Reclaiming Tradition, and we are whole hearted participants and students of Reclaiming. Beyond that, we research, pioneer, test and adapt our modern tradition to serve the needs of the laity, Priest/esshood and Magick.

The Natural Magick tradition specifically teaches the arts of Botany, Native Botany, Native Gardening, Wildcrafting, Herbalism, Herb Gardening, and the use of Herbs, Essential Oils, and the natural produce of the international botanical market to create Magick Potions of High Quality for all manners of positive Human intentions. This art form we call “Potioneering,” and Natural Magick potions are produced under a rigorous System.

Natural Magick Shop turned ten years old on Thanksgiving Day of 2016. Over this decade, and the decade prior, I have been developing the Natural Magick process of potioneering, as well as training in Priestess skills. Gardening, Wildcrafting, Priest/ess skills, and a broad bandwidth of history and lore have woven together into Natural Magick, becoming what I believe can now be considered a distinct Magickal Tradition with a wealth of instruction, support and challenge for the Student and Seeker.

The intention of the Natural Magick courses will be to 1) train the Initiate in the Arts and Crafts of Natural Magick and Priest/esshood and 2) support Natural Magick Shop (the business) with a Fair Trade of Labor and Funding.

Simply put, classes will be taught in exchange for some labor plus some money on a sliding scale.

I have developed and am further developing material for two tracks within the Natural Magick Tradition. All Initiates will be trained in the Priest/ess Path, which will be a traditional year-and-a-day regimen of instruction in Sabbat, Esbat, lore and basic-imtermediate magickal technique. Initiates may also choose to join a Potions Path that can be taken alongside the priest/ess Path. The Potions Path will be a hands-on Gardening, Botany, Native Plants and Wildcrafting course of instruction leading up to training in making Magick Potions.

For now, this course of Natural Magick instruction is available for Austin area participants. In time, I hope to make it available far and wide via podcast and traveling magicians!

Cedar Stevens
Jan. 16, 2017