Poison Path Cartomancy
I was planning to do a one-year anniversary post since my first encounter with the generous public on Patheos [where this essay appeared in my bi-monthly column]. Thank you, people, for following and sharing my thoughts. It makes my work worth the while.
The weather, however, prevented me from reviewing past posts, and creating links to what the people in the success business would call ‘relevant writing’ as a reminder. I’m not the sentimental kind, emotional kind, intellectual kind, or motivational kind. So there goes my chance to work against forgetfulness: ‘Remember me’, the Romantic poets were fond of saying in their epitaphs on their graves, but I care little for time divisions. More like zero concern.
This affords me a lot of space, to be honest, to focus on what happens now, without effort and manipulation. Whether folks remember what I said a year ago, or since, is of absolutely no importance. How liberating. But let me say thanks again, for in my own dedication to what I write here, I appreciate your dedication in reading the words. I acknowledge this beautiful symmetry.
Let’s get back to the weather.
Today at noon the mists of the Norwegian Avalon were as thick as last night. I know this, as I was out on the mountain at midnight to make a nice invocation at the crossroads. Let it be said that if folks here are interested in a fast track to a spiritual experience, all they need to do is find a mountain, some rain, and warm clothes. You go to the top at midnight, after the rain has stopped, find a fork in the path, formulate a real question, and wait. If you didn’t think teleportation existed, you will know that it does.
The catch to having a good experience is detachment. If you can place yourself in the void, no demons will eat you up. You won’t get too excited about angels or fairies either, for that is not the point. The point is to learn something. If you cling to your emotional, intellectual, motivational, or all-round good intentions field, I can’t guarantee that some devil won’t take you. So, detach. Spirits are not interested in your past stories, your concerns with the future that doesn’t exit and all the other types of modern neurosis that populate our planet. Spirits are concerned with your soul, which is a whole different planet than your self-image.
Back to the mists. I asked the two meteorological noses, mine and my dog’s, to decide on what to do today — write or walk — given that right now we’re in the Norwegian boons, high up in the mountains, with unpredictable weather, unstable internet, and not a single soul in sight.
The dog woof’ed. ‘Did you say poison or pen?,’ I asked Frigg, the she-dog goddess. ‘Woof-awooo’, she said. ‘Ah,’ I said, ‘you mean Aconitum, the famous Woolfsbane that we can find in the wild here? Well, off we go then. Let’s find it. And dig some of it up.’
We didn’t have to go too far. I must say that I was impressed though. I don’t think I’ve seen so much of this beautiful plant in Norway before as I have today — and I’ve spent 5 weeks in the summer here on top of a mountain every single year since 2000. Today I could bathe in Aconitum, if I didn’t know any better. Such magical abundance that it made me ask why — I have a habit of ritually uprooting Aconitum, but it’s rare that I get excited about it.
Sometimes people ask me: ‘What do you use Aconitum for?,’ as it’s difficult to find uses for it unless you fancy yourself as Medea or Cleopatra — and yes, it’s unlikely that the latter queen died of snake poison, but rather, as the scholars speculate, by an Aconitum-based cocktail. So if you’re not intent on asphyxiating anyone, then what? The poison path walkers guard their recipes very tightly, so I won’t disclose here what I’m not even sure I have a good grasp of myself.
But I can tell you this, to honor the gift of abundance: I use Aconitum to kill off dishonesty; the dishonesty of others. I like to think of myself as a person who is trained in clear vision, both academically and otherwise, but there are times when I consciously go against my clear vision for reasons of compromise. However, when I find that I reach a point beyond diplomatic encounters — a point that often has to do with rejecting hidden agendas that are not clearly articulated, or are transmitted only by way of insinuation — then I engage in a ritual where I let Aconitum dictate the terms. They are deadly, so less concern for me with the ones who fail to be clear on what they want, and why.
Aconitum is very efficient as a sympathetic magical tool here, as it manifests through paralysis and choking. Imagine some dishonest people want something from you but they don’t tell you what it is. Ay, the trouble you may have to go through to placate their intent by building a fortress, banishing, or even giving yourself up for consumption — as in some shamanic practices! Time consuming. How about such intents getting asphyxiated? Sounds good to me, as it saves me magical time.
As much of my magic draws on devising rituals that are inspired by divination with cards, or dream-yoga, I asked my cards:
What is the procedure this time?
The cards voiced the spirit of Aconitum: ‘The procedure is the same as the last time: You impale and step on the Demon, bury it at the cemetery, and consolidate the magic by saying the prayer of the poison path’. Here is my own liturgical concoction: Ars Veneficium, Mater magicae, Ave Verum, Fraudis in Pace (Art of Poisoning, Mother of Magic, Hail Truth, Fraud Rest in Peace).
The point of asking the cards about the job that a deadly plant performs by default is to think in terms of this deadly function beyond its function. The cards suggested that much here. After the job is done, what you can do is perform a litany.
It’s not always obvious that when crosses must be erected over graves, walls mark boundaries, and fences keep away the unwanted, we also think of the significance of integrating the poison path with our habitual being in the void, where we go unscathed and unharmed by default. By being in the void I mean to say being capable of detachment so much so that you can live life without personal involvement or focus on personhood.
Whatever job needs to be done, at the end of the day, prayers must be said for us all, for only in such approach can we claim to have a glimpse into the nature of all things.
More of this?
New courses in Cards and Magic are in preparation.
Originally published at www.patheos.com on July 27, 2016.