Friday, June 21, 2013

Spirit of Place: Old Square, Birmingham

Today I have cracked a historical problem that has been exercising me for literally years, & would have been perfectly simple if only I'd known what I was looking for. My own connection with the part of Birmingham that is the subject of this post is with its 1960s incarnation, when I knew it as the Minories: this is what misled me, & I suspect that I'd just got the name wrong. It was one of those underpasses-cum-shops that were rife in the old Birmingham. Because it was in the centre of the road, that is, rather than put in a traffic island, where the island would be was open & there were underpasses for people to walk through while the traffic rumbled overhead. Like the bizarre Manzoni gardens there were benches for people to sit on, although by the time I knew it it was already disreputable & the majority of the shops were permanently shut. The first picture is a presumably early picture of that incarnation of Old Square.
I always assumed there must have been a religious house nearby because of the churchy road names, but only today I discovered the mediaeval Augustinian Priory was on that site:
The Priory or Hospital of St Thomas of Canterbury was a house of Augustinian canons in medieval Birmingham. The institution is referred to in sources as either a priory or a hospital, but the two roles were often overlapping or interchangeable during the medieval period, as all monastic institutions were supposed to care for the poor, sick and itinerant. The priory was situated north of Bull Street - then called Chapel Street after the priory's chapel of St Mary - in an extensive tract of its own land that extended as far as the Prior's rabbit warren or conygre, now marked by Congreve Street near Chamberlain Square. The date of the priory's foundation is unknown, but numerous later records suggest that it was established by a member of the de Birmingham family.
The first record of the priory occurs in 1286, when gifts of property from three local land-owners were licensed to be held in mortmain; and a pardon issued in 1310 for the failure to similarly license thirty-three other donations of land suggests that the priory was thriving at this time. In 1344, however, its management was severely criticised by a visitation, and it was extensively reformed by the Bishop of Lichfield. This seems to have been effective and resulted in a further series of endowments, including the extablishment of a chantry in its chapel.
The priory was dissolved in 1536 with the banning of smaller institutions at the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The chapel survived ten years beyond the priory's dissolution to support its chantry, until it too was dissolved in 1546-1547. The priory's estate was sold and redeveloped as Old Square.
Large numbers of human bones were found during the development of the priory's land for housing in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including some found to the south of Bull Street which may suggest either that a second graveyard existed south of Bull Street, or that the original line of Bull Street may itself have lain further to the south. This has been taken by some historians to indicate that the chapel may have been the original church of Birmingham and preceded the establishment of St Martin in the Bull Ring, though other historians doubt this.
Source (this entry & the next one both seem to me to be respectably sourced).
It is only today I discovered that St Martin's had any serious competition as the ancient parish church of Birmingham. The second picture shows the remaining foundations of the priory exposed during nineteenth century building.
From the point of view of a post on spirit of place, this situation in Birmingham City Centre is quite interesting:
The Minories, Upper Priory and Lower Priory [were] the original entrance roads to the hospital. The land is believed to have once been the highest point in Birmingham city centre leading to the construction of the priory. In 1536, the Priory was dissolved and the structures on site were demolished in 1547. (Source, from where further information in this post that doesn't obviously issue from my fevered imagination will come)
Without wishing to make a rude remark about Christians always seizing the high ground in all sorts of ways, it is difficult to over-emphasize the advantage that being on high ground had in pre-modern times. Modern building has disguised that that is high ground, & once again I didn't know that it was the highest. As a scene of centuries of inhabitation & human life, Old Square must definitely be a power point in the city centre. I would argue that it is one of those places that attract people to it, a natural 'terminus'. After the priory was dissolved the buildings remained ruins until they actually became a Square. To continue to crib from wikipedia:
The square dates from 1713 when it was recorded as having 16 uniform two-storied houses with five-bayed fronts having angle pilasters, pedimented doorways, and dormer windows. It was created as the centrepiece to John Pemberton's Priory Estate. It was designed by William Westley who produced a print of the square's layout in 1732. From old conveyances, it is recorded that 20s. per yard frontage was paid for the site of some of the houses in the square and up to 40s. in Bull Street; the back plots, including the Friends' burial ground (once gardens to the front houses) being valued at 1s. to 2s. per yard. One of the corner houses, originally called "the Angle House", was popular in that it was sold in 1791 for £420, increasing to £970 in 1805. In 1843 the price increased £1,330 and in 1853, £2,515.
The centre of the square itself was closed off with iron railings with several pedestrian paths. Over time it became neglected and in 1832 it was the scene of a public demonstration. The stones there were used as missiles by the crowd during the parliamentary elections of that year.
The trees and railings were removed during 1836 and 1837 as a result of many accidents occurring there due to the roadways being narrow and dangerous. Following this, the Birmingham Street Commissioners widened the roads.
The next picture shows the square in 1732, still unrecognisable from today. However in 1882 that part of Birmingham began to look as it does today, with the creation of Corporation Street. In the 19th century the square was a tram terminus, strangely echoed in the way Corporation Street is now closed to enable the Midland Metro to be brought right into the heart of the city. Once again the high point at the centre of the city becomes a terminus to which people are brought.
The kind of human experiences embodied in the old square are strangely indicated by the memorial to Tony Hancock, the Birmingham comedian who killed himself. What desperation & relief must the old hospital have seen, & how strong human emotions must have imprinted themselves on an already strong place! The final picture is of art from the square's 1960s incarnation.

In the centre of Old Square is a memorial dedicated to Tony Hancock, who was born in the Hall Green area of the city. The memorial, by Bruce Williams, was unveiled by Sir Harry Secombe on 13 May 1996. The memorial was originally intended to be placed on New Street but a temporary site on the Corporation Street edge of the square was found (at the time, it stood opposite a Blood Donor clinic, in a nod to Hancock's well-known sketch). The statue was relocated to the centre of Old Square after it was unveiled. An earlier public sculpture in Old Square is a mural named Old Square sculpted by Kenneth Budd in 1967. The mural was commissioned by the Public Works Department of Birmingham City Council and was paid for from the Capital Account. It was unveiled on 21 April 1967 by Alderman C.V. Simpson, chairman of the Public Works Department. The mural depicts the history of Old Square from the priory onwards.


A lot for witches to do

One of the heartening things about writing this blog is which posts get the most hits: the one on the Circle, for example: it is always pleasing to see my fellow witches are hungry to develop their own witchcraft. It's also good to see that the posts on Laurence Soper (you didn't think I'd forgotten about him, did you? - in fact I've done it in such a way that the mere thought of him puts the squeeze on further) have an incredible number of hits. I would like to think that those type of posts act as a call to action, so that anyone of whatever religion who chances upon them will work magic, pray or whatever, to the creation of a world where abuse doesn't happen and the perpetrator gets away with it.
The past few days must have been a busy few days for the world's people of good will: Jeremy Forrest has been imprisoned. The headline in the Metro is 'A School Predator without Remorse,' & the picture they've printed certainly makes him look without remorse, & he mouthed 'I love you' across the court to his victim, which to my mind places him in the same psychopathic category as Laurence Soper. I'm writing this on a bus & don't have tarot cards with me to draw a card on what he's about.
There is *so much* for us to do. There doesn't have to be a reason for it, nor does it have to be because we humans are essentially flawed as the Christians think. The witch's way is not to over-analyse but to turn it into an opportunity.
Another opportunity is to work on real healing for his victim: as far as I know she has not been named, but she seems genuinely to feel that he was protecting her from her own impulses to harm herself. Since this is a public forum I have something to say to her:
He does not have your best interests at heart. You are in a long line of people who, for whatever reason, stay in abusive relationships. He was your teacher, a teacher who cares for his pupils does not seduce them. By weaving this illusion that he was caring for you he has made you believe his lies: the reality is he has seen a way in when you were vulnerable & used you. There are other people out there who will care for you in ways that do not use you: there will be lovers who care for you supremely as a person & will respect you above all else. There will be friends, relatives, & health professionals (yes, them too) who will care for you as a person & will help you not to harm yourself without having that caring turn into a sexual relationship.
Witches: there may be a good work to be done in making Jeremy Forrest realise the error of his ways & learn to respect people as people.
This brings me nicely to the other subject in today's paper which has got me fuming even more. The Care Quality Commission is responsible for ensuring the fitness for purpose of every health provider in the country, & now the shit has hit the fan:
Baby Deaths Cover-Up: Ex-CQC Boss Named
Sky News - 8 hrs ago

The former boss of the Care Quality Commission is among those allegedly involved in a cover-up of the health regulator's failure to investigate a spate of baby deaths.
Ex-CQC chief executive Cynthia Bower was present during a discussion about deleting an internal review which criticised the CQC's inspections of University Hospitals of Morcambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, where a number of mothers and babies had died.
Ms Bower has insisted she "gave no instruction to delete" the report and "would have countermanded" such an instruction.
But she admitted that as the watchdog's boss at the time: "The buck stops with me."
Ms Bower's then deputy Jill Finney and media manager Anna Jefferson were also present when the issue of deleting the report was discussed, a CQC spokesman said after the regulator backtracked on a decision to hide the names of those involved.
Louise Dineley, the author of the review, told independent investigators that Ms Finney had ordered the deletion, and Ms Bower and Ms Jefferson had "verbally agreed".
Ms Finney said allegations that she was involved in a cover-up were untrue. She said she had provided a copy of the internal review to the independent Grant Thornton review team "at the outset".
Her current employer, internet firm Nominet, has sacked her as chief commercial officer because of "increasing public scrutiny" over her former role.
Ms Jefferson, who is still employed by the CQC, said she was "devastated" to be implicated in the scandal. "I would never have conspired to cover up anything," she said.
Their names had initially been redacted from the report, published on Wednesday, following legal advice to the CQC.
However, the regulator's current head, David Behan, said a decision was then made to identify them "in the public interest".
There had been mounting pressure for those involved to be identified and he said it was wrong to have withheld the names.
He told Sky News: "A decision which reviewed the involvement of the organisation ... should have been made in an open and transparent way.
"We failed some people who had trust in our judgement. I think it's absolutely essential that we begin to restore public and political confidence in the CQC."
The independent report suggested that CQC bosses were so concerned about protecting the watchdog's reputation that they ordered the internal review to be deleted because it showed their original inspection was flawed.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was "very pleased" the individuals had now been named.
He said: "It's a sign that the NHS is changing.
"There has been a history of cover-ups for many years but there has to be accountability within the NHS for people's actions when something goes wrong.
"It's to the credit of the new management of the CQC that they got an independent report and did not run away from this problem."
Concerns were first raised about the trust in 2008, but in 2010 the CQC gave the trust, which serves 365,000 people in south Cumbria and north Lancashire, a clean bill of health.
Joshua Titcombe died in 2008 aged just nine days old in Furness General Hospital after staff failed to spot and treat an infection.
His father has previously described news of the cover-up as "shocking".
Ms Bower has resigned from her current post as non-executive trustee of the Skills For Health body after being implicated in the scandal.
Cynthia Bower, Jill Finney & Anna Jefferson, I am calling you out by name. Know that you are on the altar, among paedophiles, rapists & queer bashers, where - in proportion to what you have actually done - the Goddess will give you no mercy.
Cynthia Bower, I note that you are 57: if you think you can just 'do the honourable thing' & retire quietly on you plush pension, you've got another thing coming: you may find it is not performing as well as you think. I am keeping an eye on you & will know what work you get now, even if it is non-executive director or consultancy. You need have no fear if you genuinely did not OK the suppression of that report.
It makes me so mad, these people who have *hugely* paid responsible roles, renege on their duty & either live it up on the money they've accumulated or then appear in some other important role in a few years, that they'll also bollocks up, regardless of the impact on vulnerable people.
Another good & useful work would be to cast a spell on the CQC (don't worry, they're going on the hound's altar as an institution as well as those three as individuals) exposing any remaining corruption or cover-ups.
I wonder how many boards of hospitals & care homes are having emergency meetings to decide what to do if the laundering does happen?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rea Valley (3): King's Norton to Northfield

Yesterday's moot took the form of a wander round the green men of Birmingham. I could feel the city spirit drawing us in, culminating in us seeing a man in the trunk of a tree in the cathedral churchyard. I was going to post today on the subject of psychic vampirism, revisiting the subject of several recent posts really, & our trip into the hedge inspired me to travel further into the hedge today & make this a What I Did On My Day Off post.
I'm shocked to discover that I haven't done any of the Rea Valley walk since February. Since I lost the route in Cannon Hill Park, today I started off in King's Norton & followed the Rea Valley out of the city through King's Norton Park. That area of the city is one that I don't really know at all, although I like the feel of it. When I came out of the other end of the park I had a drink at a pub called The Camp: clearly a blokey, unpretentious pub for locals that has darts tournaments & things like that. I sat outside & drew a tarot card for the spirit of that place. I got the High Priestess - no surprise really for the way many of the older routes into the city intersect there. The Hebrew letter for the High Priestess means camel & the camel's hump of moisture in reserve for a long journey reflects the kind of knowledge that the High Priestess has. That end of the city is one of the older settlements in Birmingham, & thus has absorbed the vibrations of centuries of human life: it is secure in its in-depth knowledge of all that human living & can reveal its spirit to us in dribs & drabs.
I then went on into the King's Norton nature reserve, where I'd never been before. What struck me there was the grass, & I do mean proper grass left to grown to a reasonable height with all the biodiversity that will also grow when you don't mow the lawn. It is easy for us city-dwellers to forget what grass looks like when it isn't continually trimmed & manicured.
At the other end of the nature reserve you can leave the Rea Valley route in Northfield, as I did because I was getting hungry. This was interesting to me as it showed me a side of Northfield that I'd only heard about before, but never seen. I've repeatedly cattily commented that it's never a good sign when a part of Britain's second city calls itself a village, but when you walk up Church Hill in Northfield towards Northfield centre you pass the old village pound, & St Laurence's, the old village church. Northfield doesn't call itself a village but it was interesting to see the relics of when it was genuinely a village.
Northfield has a strange spirit of place in my humble opinion. What more hits you is how the village thing is counterbalanced by how thoroughly chavvy it is, as seen in this quote from the chav towns website:
If you've ever wanted to see the arse drippings of society, come to crack soaked northfield. Marvel at the site of toothless tattoed chav mums, dressed in black f**kin leggings, hooped earings the size of the london eye, pushing baby Ronaldo in his stroller, the one with the blue and white striped seat that looks like a cheap plastic bag from pound stretcher. Cry into your lap, as you watch her beat him black and blue for throwing an 'eppy. Drop your Jaw in awe, of the thousands of chavs, pouring into the grosvenor shopping centre. Having just collected their dole, they are now off to get a £5 bag of smack to take up to the top level of the car park and get f**ked, before catching the 18 bus to weoley castle, where upon alighting they will enter 'Booze Buster' , rob the place blind, then do a rape on the way home.
I have been forced to attach two different pictures of Northfield to this post to illustrate this dichotomy: the first is of Northfield Manor, another house which formerly belonged to the Cadbury family & until recently was owned & used as accommodation by the University of Birmingham. The other picture is a view of the Grosvenor Shopping Centre in Northfield.
Oh, alright, if you insist I'll try to be more constructive about why this disjointed spirit might be. Northfield is, as it were, somewhere & nowhere. It is a major suburb of Birmingham with its own shopping centre & amenities. On the other hand the main Bristol Road runs straight through it, making it one of those places people go through on their way to somewhere else, in this case Birmingham, which centuries ago surpassed Northfield in size & importance. This contributes to a certain transitoriness in the spirit of place. I feel this would both attract transitory-spirited people & exacerbate any tendency to the short-term in people there. The caricature above of chaotic living will reproduce itself in the populace of a place, just in the nature of the chaotic lifestyle.
There are other examples of transitoriness in the spirit of place: in recent years a bypass has been built to relieve Northfield's chronic traffic congestion, resulting in an even greater feeling of being bypassed by everyone else. A major industry collapsed, in the shape of the Rover factory further out of the city at Longbridge. A long-established industrial centre like that would attract workers who already lived nearby so its collapse would have a major impact on the locals. A less well-known industry associated with Northfield was the mental health industry. In the 19th century the overflow from the City Asylum (at All Saints round the back of the prison in Winson Green) was accommodated at Rubery, about as far out of the city southwards as you can get, & then other hospitals were built in Northfield: the John Connoly Hospital (the last gasp in the 1960s), & Hollymoor Hospital. Hollymoor was actually used for various purposes including a military hospital, & was the centre for the 'Northfield Experiment': a trial of the doomed mental health treatment of insulin coma therapy. The same situation arose as for the Rover employees, & the closure of all three of those hospitals resulted in the same disjointment.
I may seem to be over-egging the cake, by over-emphasising the importance of having a main road running through Northfield & the impact of closures of local industry, both of which are things which have happened & will continue to happen in all sorts of places, but don't forget I'm talking about the spirit of place. My thesis is that places where life goes on in settled patterns for centuries will have a much calmer spirit of place, whereas disjointment & chaos lead to the proliferation of those qualities. The presence of drugs, which may or may not be related to other disjointment, will encourage this chaotic spirit. The example that springs to mind, & which I was reading about this morning (there is literally no subject which can't be dragged into witchcraft, however tenuously) was the influx of heroin from Afghanistan into post-Soviet Russia, culminating in the proliferation of the deadly krokodil amongst those who can't afford heroin. No doubt this is a subject to which I shall return in future posts...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Taking our witchcraft extremely seriously

'Yet like Cain's daughter thou shalt never be,
Nor like the race who have become at last
Wicked & infamous from suffering, [...]
Who are all thieves & knaves; like unto them ye shall not be...'
Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, Chapter 1.
Perhaps first I'd better comment that I've removed the words about Jews & what we would now call Roma from the above passage: I don't want them in as they would give the wrong impression, & I don't want to pretend they were never there, so I'll settle on removing them & commenting that I've done so. This is really nothing to do with the subject of this post.
Instead the subject is how while witches definitely have more fun, we also know when to take things extremely seriously. In case anyone is new to this blog, I am a homosexual, & I think sometimes the queeny, bitchy tone in which I write can make it difficult for people unacquainted with my milieu to know when I am being serious. This, darlings, is the point: the whole point of camp is that one can say the most outrageous things & leave your hearers unsure whether you're serious. The point of camp is being very serious & very silly at the same time.
I have been reminded twice recently of the importance of taking things seriously. I had a run-in with someone at work who was doing something which, for privacy reasons, is forbidden to the service users. It was very galling, having put much effort in the previous week into reinforcing with a service user how respect alone is sufficient reason to stop doing something when someone tells you they don't like it, to have some dickhead pissing away my work with that person & our integrity as a professional team.
This may seem an over-reaction, & the connection with witchcraft may not be immediately apparent, so here it is spelled out. The whole point of thaumaturgy is to make things the way you will them to be. Read that sentence again & let the full importance of all its implications echo down the centuries through generations of sorcerers. If I am to make things the way I will them to be, I *must* make sure that everything in my world is in alignment with my goal. A magical person must live with total integrity: everything in your life must be in accordance & the instant they are not you are pissing your will down the drain & the magic won't work.
Of course this is also one of the scary things about the pursuit of magic, since this almost monastic pursuit of only one thing means the excision of so much junk from our lives. I say almost monastic, because monastic paths in world religions lead the person away from the 'marketplace' to the pursuit of the one thing; magical paths always, despite the tradition of 'magical retirements' lead the person to the pursuit of this one thing in the midst of the market place. I don't like terms such as left-hand or right-hand, but this definitely places us in a different paths from the majority.
Despite the emphasis I like to put on witches having more fun, the pursuit of magic will also lead us into the way of initiation. 'Ceremonial' magic aside, this requires the confronting of our own demons, & will require us to do the one thing that we do not want to do. This is formalised in the initiations of, say, Gardnerian witchcraft, where you will be challenged before you enter the circle, but is fucking terrifying when it happens in your own life & is both unsolicited by you & the very last thing you want to do.
This was the occasion of the second reminder I've had recently. Yesterday I travelled to Southampton to meet someone I've only ever met online before, & who I knew to be a powerful witch, & whom I am pleased to call my Goddess mother. She read the tarot for me, & it totally confirmed something that I've known for some time: my magical future is contingent on my losing my relationship with my mother. I knew this, I feared it, I didn't really want it, I hoped I could make it up with her. However I knew that psychically she is still smothering me. I must lose any delusion I have of 'if only' with her, & move on to become myself. Yes she will die, but I myself have to cut the psychic chains in which she holds me, this is the only way ahead, there is literally no alternative. This is the real-world parallel of being challenged on the edge of the circle: if I don't go ahead I will remain for ever on the edge of the circle. There's no comfort in this, I have to do it, people will shake their heads & tut, this is about as 'left hand' as you can get, & I have to do it for me only, because the alternative is be smothered by her forever.
You can tell a real witch's reading: if I'd been paying for that reading I'd've wanted my money back. Don't worry, there's another way this reading was characteristic of a real witch: I'm looking forward to the shag that was also in there!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Age & the witch

I recently came across this piece written by Jonathan Swift, which he wrote at the age of 32:
When I come to be old. 1699.
Not to marry a young Woman.
Not to keep young Company unless they reely desire it.
Not to be peevish or morose, or suspicious.
Not to scorn present Ways, or Wits, or Fashions, or Men, or War, &c.
Not to be fond of Children, or let them come near me hardly.
Not to tell the same story over and over to the same People.
Not to be covetous.
Not to neglect decency, or cleenlyness, for fear of falling into Nastyness.
Not to be over severe with young People, but give Allowances for their youthfull follyes and weaknesses.
Not to be influenced by, or give ear to knavish tatling servants, or others.
Not to be too free of advise, nor trouble any but those that desire it.
To desire some good Friends to inform me wch of these Resolutions I break, or neglect, and wherein; and reform accordingly.
Not to talk much, nor of my self.
Not to boast of my former beauty, or strength, or favor with Ladyes, &c.
Not to hearken to Flatteryes, nor conceive I can be beloved by a young woman, et eos qui hereditatem captant, odisse ac vitare.
Not to be positive or opiniative.
Not to sett up for observing all these Rules; for fear I should observe none.
One thing is clear: the more maladaptive ways of ageing have not changed in the past 300 years. These things aren't limited to those of great age, of course, but younger people are frequently annoyed by those of great age on the basis that they're miserable, stubborn, bigoted, etc, & attribute this to the fact that they're old. Yes, old people are annoying when they are these things, but young people are annoying when they are shallow, impatient, impulsive & reckless.
Perhaps it is for both extremes of age not to fall into the 'vices' proper to those ages. Nor is it cool (I've checked that word out, & have discovered that it is a 1950s beatnik word & I am therefore safe in using it without dating myself to the slang of my youth) at either extreme of age to attempt to be the other extreme. It is to be expected as a young person to think you have the answers to all life's questions; but young people who aspire to be very mature before they have it in them make a fool of themselves as do the old people who (usually try to) dress & act in the latest fashions of youth.
My personal example of gracious ageing is the lovely Honor Blackman, whom my mother always used to call 'mutton dressed as lamb,' which I don't think a fair description. I feel that her book with a title along the lines of 'How to Look & Feel Half Your Age For the Rest of your Life,' is mistitled, since what she does do very well is to play to her strengths. She has very good teeth, which she shows much more than she did in older photos, dresses well for her own body shape, & keeps fit (I would advise most people to steer clear of the diet she advocates in the book, to me it is clearly a slimming diet & doesn't include nearly enough protein & calcium).
Anyone who does these things: play to your strengths, do something about your weaknesses, act your age & dress timelessly in a style which suits your self & your natural body shape, can't go far wrong at any age! I feel ageing is probably something of concern to witches: the practice of witchcraft conversely both keeps you young & ages you because of the exposure to so much of the world's debris. For witches who've aged well, Lois Bourne & Fred Lamond spring to mind. *Ahem* Janet Farrar & Laurie Cabot spring to mind as examples of not such good ageing - facial tattoos spell rebellion or prison in cultures where they're not routine.
For myself I'm older know than I've ever been in my life & after a few stressful periods life is better than it's ever been. The crucial question here, since witches are very keen on making things how we will them to be, is what I have done to end up where I am now. I think it is this: I am being me & not trying to be anyone or anything else. I know who I am & am unapologetic about it. I notice that Swift's list of resolutions is mainly things not to do, which is not really the witch's way. Knowing it, willing it, & doing it is our way so here is my list:
As I age:
I will act my age & not try to be any other.
I will be myself without accepting the perceived limitations of whatever age I am.
I will seek out whatever company I damn well please, if it's mutually enriching & pleasant.
I will maintain an interest in a sex life, since to lose interest in this is to cut yourself off from a major mystery of life, & source of life & pleasure.
I will seek out partners suitable to my stage of life - my 'type' seems to be getting older as I am, & young men are frankly never any good in bed.
I will not become embittered: it's too late for me to resist stubbornness but at least there's one I can do.
I will continue to do new things, acquire new interests to complement the old ones & actively avoid getting stuck in a rut.
I will not eat at 12 noon or 5pm unless it happens to suit me (weird, I know, but those are the only two times my mother will eat).
I will continue to develop my trust that the universe will forever look after me, give me pleasure & challenge me. This journey will not end until my life does.
I will attempt to maintain my health as best I can & will not accept diminishments of ability or potential without a fight.
I will start smoking again at the age of 80, or if I go blind or get a terminal illness. My addiction is alive & strong & I don't want to die without once more embracing Our Lady Nicotine. Starting again in old age would hopefully mean I cheat her of the long-term effects of smoking, if I don't start because of having a terminal disease.
I will continue to seek as my highest goal, going through life without fear, including the fear of death. I am a priest of a death Goddess & accept that she will take my life when it suits her. I may have warning or not. If my life becomes too much for me to bear, through pain or disease, I may renege of this though.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Commentary on the Charge of the Goddess 43: Appendix: Passage from Crowley's Law of Liberty

‘...mere Marian or Melusine; she is Nuit Herself, specially concentrated and incarnated in a human form to give you infinite love, to bid you taste even on earth the Elixir of Immortality. “But ecstasy be mine and joy on earth; ever To Me! To Me!”
‘Again she speaks: “Love is the law, love under will.” Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever toward it without allowing aught to stop you or turn you aside, even as a star sweeps upon its incalculable and infinite course of glory, and all is Love. The Law of your being becomes Light, Life, Love and Liberty.All is peace, all is harmony and beauty, all is joy.
‘For hear, how gracious is the Goddess: “I give unimaginable joys on earth; certainty, not faith, while in life, upon death; peace unutterable, rest, ecstasy; nor do I demand aught in sacrifice.”
‘Is not this better than the death-in-life of the slaves of the Slave-Gods, as they go oppressed by consciousness of “sin,” wearily seeking or simulating wearisome and tedious “virtues”?
‘With such, we who have accepted the Law of Thelema have nothing to do. We have heard the voice of the Star-Goddess: “I love you! I yearn to you! Pale or purple, veiled or voluptuous, I who am all pleasure and purple, and drunkenness of the innermost sense, desire you. Put on the wings, and arouse the coiled splendour within you; come unto me!”...’ (

Crowley, 2007, p. 49.)

Commentary on the Charge of the Goddess 42: Comparison of the Sources of the Three Versions

BAM Charge
(418 words)
Verse Charge
(189 words)
Final Charge
(498 words)
Direct quotation

From Aradia
109 words (26.08%)
106 words (21.29%)
From Crowley: Law of Liberty
198 words (47.37%)
From Crowley: Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente
52 words (12.44%)
From Crowley: Khabs Am Pekht
13 words (3.11%)
From Golden Dawn Neophyte ritual
18 words (3.61%)
From Magnetic Magic
18 words (3.61%)
From BAM, with no known source
51 words (10.25%)
Total direct quotation
372 words (89%)
193 words (38.76%)
Editing of quotation in BAM

From Crowley: Law of Liberty
7 words (3.7%)
114 words (22.89%)
From Crowley: Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente

39 words (7.83%)
From Crowley: Khabs am Pekht
12 words (2.4%)
From Aradia
57 words (30.15%)
Total reuse of quotations in BAM
64 words (33.86%)
165 words (33.13%)
Edited BAM material with no known source
15 words (7.94%)
Material original to this version
46 words (11%)
110 words (58.2%)
139 words (27.91%)

          It is clear from the comparisons above that it is too simplistic to say that the Charge is a ritual item put together by Gardner and Valiente with various quotations from Crowley and Aradia.
          Obviously the BAM version of the Charge is the one most heavily dependent on quotation from these two sources, with a relatively small amount added (which, since evidence is absent for any sources of this material, I would tentatively ascribe to Gardner) to make the quotations take their literary form of a Wiccan Charge.
          The subsequent versions of the Charge reused this quoted material, usually in a heavily edited form, while at each rewriting adding further new material (again in the absence of evidence for the sources of this material, I would tentatively ascribe its origin to Gardner/Valiente), and, in the case of the final version, more quotation from other sources than Crowley.
          Valiente succeeded in her aim of ridding the verse version of the Charge of references from Crowley, with one echo from the quotations from him found in the BAM Charge. It is true that other people have said that we should love each other, or that love should be our guiding principle, but I believe that the particular connection of the words ‘law’ and ‘love’ in the same sentence would suggest Crowley to most people, and certainly to occultists such as Gardner and Valiente. The verse version includes further allusions to the quotations in BAM from Aradia but the greatest proportion of material in this version is new material, which resonates strongly of Valiente’s other poetic work. The somewhat Masonic tone of this material is interesting, with mentions of five-fold kisses and fellowship.
          In the final version, much of the Crowley material excised from the verse version was reintroduced, but in an edited form. This Charge is much less dependent on direct quotation, however retains the long passage from Aradia, a little Crowley, and some new quotations from occult writers. A relatively large proportion of the material, however, is once again entirely new unprovenanced material, a welcome indication of the inspiration and creativity of the Mother of Wicca.

Commentary on the Charge of the Goddess 41: Textual Analysis of the Final Version

In the final version of the Charge, Valiente drew more on the BAM Charge than she had for her verse version, including reusing the quotations from Crowley, mostly in edited form. New quotations from other sources were introduced, which have been identified in the sources above. So once again this Charge includes three levels of influence from other texts: direct quotation (once again decided on using the same rules as in Appendix A), both new to this version and quotations already used in the BAM Charge; edited quoted material from BAM; and further material new to this version.
Passages directly quoting Aradia, and also in BAM
Whenever ye have need of anything, once in the month, and better it be when the moon is full. Then ye shall assemble in some secret place and adore the spirit of Me who am Queen of all Witcheries. There ye shall assemble, ye who are fain to learn all sorcery, yet who have not won its deepest secrets To these will I teach things that are yet unknown. And ye shall be free from slavery, and as a sign that ye be really free, ye shall be naked in your rites, and ye shall dance, sing, feast, make music, and love, all in my praise. (106 words)

Passages directly quoting Crowley: Law of Liberty and also in BAM
Nor do I demand aught in sacrifice; (7 words)

Passages not in BAM, directly quoting from HOGD Neophyte ritual
From me all things proceed; and unto me, all things must return; (12 words)
Passages not in BAM, using direct quotation from Magnetic Magic
That if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee; Thou wilt never find it without thee. (18 words)

Passages based on direct quotation in BAM from Crowley: Liber Cordis Cincti Serpenti
And thou who thinkest to seek me; Know that they seeking and yearning shall avail thee not; For behold; I have been with thee from the beginning, and I am that which is attained at the end of desire. (39 words)

Passages based on direct quotation in BAM from Crowley: Khabs am Pekht
For mine is the secret which opens upon the door of youth (12 words)
Passages based on direct quotation in BAM from Crowley: Law of Liberty
Keep pure your highest Ideals; Strive ever towards it; Let naught stop you or turn you aside; For mine is ecstasy of the Spirit, and mine is also joy on earth; which is the Holy Grail of Immortality; For my Law is Love; I am the Gracious Goddess; Upon Earth I give the knowledge of the Spirit Eternal; and beyond death I give peace and freedom;  arise and come unto me; thine innermost divine self shall be enfolded in the raptures of the infinite; for behold; all acts of Love and Pleasure are my rituals; and therefore let there be Beauty and Strength; Power and compassion; Honour and Humility; Mirth and Reverence within you. (114 words)

Passages also in BAM, with no apparent known source
Listen to the words of the Great mother, who was of old also called among men, Artimis; Astarte; Dione; Melisine, Aphrodite, Aphrodite, Cerridwen; Diana Arianrod; Bride; and by many other names; At mine Altars the youths of Lacedaemon in Sparta made due sacrifice; Hear ye the words of the Star Goddess, (51 words)

Passages not in BAM, with no apparent known source
unto all beings; and mine is the cup of the Wine of Life; and the Cauldron of Cerridwen;  who gives the gift of Joy unto the heart of Man; and reunion with those who have gone before;  for behold; I am the Mother of all things; and my love is poured out upon earth; She in the dust of whose feet are the hosts of Heaven; whose body encircleth the Universe; I who am the beauty of the green earth; and the White Moon amongst the Stars; and the mystery of the Waters; and the desire of the heart of man; l call unto thy soul; For l am the Soul of nature who giveth life to the Universe; Let my worship be within the heart that rejoiceth; Beloved of the Gods and men; unless thou know the mystery (139 words)

The version of the Charge in BAM is obviously very influential on this one, so first to analyse the proportion of passages influenced by, or identical to, passages in BAM, with the passages which are new in this version, either quotations or with no other apparent source.
Total words
498 words
Passages identical to, or influenced by, passages in BAM
329 words (66.06%)
Passages with no apparent origin in BAM
169 words (33.94%)

To compare the sources of material reused from BAM:
Total words
329 words
As a proportion of the whole (498 words)
Passages quoting Aradia
106 words (32.22%)
Passages quoting Crowley: Law of Liberty
7 words (2.13%)
Passages based on quotation in BAM from Crowley: Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente
39 words (11.85%)
Passages based on direct quotation in BAM from Crowley: Khabs am Pekht
12 words (3.65%)
Passages based on direct quotation in BAM from Crowley: Law of Liberty
114 words (34.65%)
Passages also in BAM, with no known source
51 words (15.5%)

To compare the sources of material new to this Charge:
Total words
169 words
As a proportion of the whole (498 words)
Directly quoting Golden Dawn Neophyte ritual
12 words (7.1%)
Directly quoting Magnetic Magic
18 words (10.65%)
No known source
139 words (82.25%)
To compare the sources of direct quotations in this Charge:
Total words
143 words
As a proportion of the whole (498 words)
Passages quoting Aradia
106 words (74.13%)
Passages quoting Crowley: Law of Liberty
7 words (4.9%)
Passages quoting Golden Dawn Neophyte ritual
12 words (8.39%)
Passages quoting Magnetic Magic
18 words (12.59%)