Saturday, December 10, 2011

Language Study

First, I'm going to say that learning the language of another culture is really the only way toward understanding that culture. Without the language, it is possible to learn what that culture thinks about various issues, but not why they think it. It's not elitism to say that learning the language of the culture for any culturally-based religious expression is important, even critical.


With that short opinion aside (and I will perhaps return to this subject at another time), Caera, one of the group of people with whom I practice religious rites, is going to be teaching Irish (Gaeilge) language classes. To be clear, this is her voice, not mine, so any references to "I" are references to her:


I will be teaching Irish Language Classes for Beginners, on Wednesday evenings in 2012, beginning Wednesday, January 4th. Classes will run from 7pm to 8pm. Cost is $40 for the month of January paid in full (at the first class), or $15 per drop-in. I will be providing materials for at least the first few classes; you will want to bring a notebook and a pen, and if you'd like you may bring a recording device if it is nonintrusive. This class will go over reading and pronunciation, but will have a focus on speaking Gaeilge as a living language.

There are no prerequisites. If you have never tried to learn any Gaelic language ever, you are welcome to take this class. If you have tried a bit on your own but not gotten very far, you are welcome to take this class. If you had some a long time ago but would like a refresher, you are welcome to take this class. If you have Scottish Gaelic (Gàidhlig), but no Irish (Gaeilge), and would like to fix that, you are welcome to take this class. If you can already converse fluently as Gaeilge, please email me at caerasinger@gmail.com and we can talk about setting up a conversation group (and you are probably well beyond this class).

Classes will be held at Edge of the Circle (bookstore), on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Their full address is 701 East Pike St, Seattle, WA 98122, and phone number for the shop is (206)726-1999. Classes will be held in their meeting room downstairs.

If you have any questions about the classes themselves, please feel free to contact the teacher at caerasinger@gmail.com -- Thank you.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Some Links

In lieu of actually providing content myself, it might be worthwhile to point out some interesting articles and items that other people have published.

Over on the Tairis site, Seren has given us an excellent four-part article detailing the virtues of Gaelic tradition and culture. Of course, the rest of her site is also well worth reading.

Here's a site which gives a short overview of Proto-Indo-European religion.

On the NEOHEMAS blog, there's an article discussing how to train for Irish-style stickfighting without a partner.

Speaking of Irish stickfighting, here's a place that makes sticks appropriate for fightin'.

Black Dogs have a number of features in common with werewolves in Europe. Here's some more about them.

Here's an implementation of a lunisolar calendar derived from Celtic antecedents.

In the story of Tam Lin, the titular character is part of the fairy procession. That procession has some relation to the Wild Hunt connected to werewolves of European conception.

Some people are trying to revive the Gaulish language.

There's an interesting article discussing a feminist perspective on werewolves in pop culture. This is a useful perspective on an aspect of the werewolf concept as it is affected, and as it affects, the modern world.

Here's a look at how information about folklore subjects (in this case, werewolves) can get switched around and create a mistaken idea. A short note in O'Donnell's Werewolves (aka Werwolves) got changed around, a definite location added, and with some judicious mixing in books and then on the internet we end up with a fallacious "clan" of werewolves on the Isle of Lewis.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Werewolf Spirits"

I don't normally deal with current events here, but I'm going to make an exception for two reasons. The first, and more important, is that I haven't put anything in this blog for far too long. I do hope to change that soon. The second, though, is because of the nature of the incident, as it is being reported by some reporters.


It seems that up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, there were a couple of roommates who decided to invite an internet friend over for some sexy times. One thing led to another and such, and to make a long story short the visiting guy ran to the police covered in blood and lacerations. Now, this would be just another stupid story of "kinky" sex getting out of hand, but it seems that one of the girls was allegedly interested in "The Occult". As evidence of this, the police have pointed out a book they called a "necromantic ritual book", though they did not supply the title, a folder of information titled "Intro to Sigilborne Spirits", and a tongue-in-cheek book titled The Werewolf’s Guide to Life: A Manual for the Newly Bitten, targeted at the Twilight crowd and similar. Yeah, there's a solid case there, alright (if by "solid" one means "entirely flimsy").


Anyway, it seems that this mildly sordid exercise in trying to make sex more interesting than, you know, sex already is has resulted in some odd speculation by reporters. I don't know where the reporter got her information, but she claims that, "According to various websites, Sigilborne spirits include female werewolf spirits who engage in sexual acts." I've written to her to find out which websites discuss this idea, but she hasn't yet gotten back to me. My suspicion is that it includes largely Christian websites dedicated to fighting against The Occult. I'll update that when she responds. Edit: She has written back, and apparently her "various websites" include only eBay, on which she found something like this entry. (That link probably won't be around in a month or so. It is an offering of a sigil purporting to be connected to a spirit named "Rakshana the Lycan Sorceress", who can allegedly provide a number of benefits related to sexuality. For reference, the matters I discuss here are not connected to such alleged "werewolf spirits".)


Anyway, my point is that this is a strange thing for a reporter to do. As another site mentioned, "My guess is that this reporter knows about as much about werewolf mythology and “sigilborne spirits” as she does about brain cancer. However, if she were writing about someone with brain cancer, she’d talk to a brain surgeon or oncologist, right? But when it comes to information about the occult — a complicated and varied subject poorly understood by the public — the Internet can provide you with all the information you need." There's a lot of information available that purports to be about The Occult. Most of it is nonsense, written by people who don't know anything about occult matters. It's because there isn't a widely known discipline of occult studies at colleges in the US, the fact that there are dozens, hundreds, of books on the subject written by people who may or may not know anything about it, and the fact that some people, who have not themselves studied it, have claimed that there is "nothing to" occult subjects makes it so that the public, including reporters, seem to think that they already know everything that they need to know about occult subjects. This is nonsense. In point of fact, most people don't even know what occult/esoteric matters exactly constitute.


Just had to rant about this.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Good News - Glen Lyon Safe

I don't often remark on temporal matters here in this blog, but this one seemed to be appropriate to mention. It seems that the Glen Lyon hydro scheme has been withdrawn. This is very good news, as Glen Lyon contains what may be one of the last native polytheist shrines in the British Isles continually in use from antiquity, Tigh nam Bodach.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The King and the Land



This discussion will mostly concern early Gaelic matters. However, the concepts are related to concepts from other societies in northern and western Europe, especially the Saxons and Norse, and even to other Indo-European societies such as the Greeks or Hindi. That said, there are differences between those societies and the Irish, but I would direct the reader to other sources and the reader's own research in order to more completely understand those other societies.

In the cosmological meditation I posted a while back, one of the images that was central was the flow of a fiery water which was representative of brí , the flow of energy of all kinds, whether in the physics sense or other senses (such as emotional energy, the creative impulse, wealth, or the like). This is a very important concept which can be seen as underlying many aspects of early Irish society. Importantly for ethical considerations, it underlies the assumptions behind the Breitheamh (“Brehon”) law. This was a legal system, similar to the English Common Law in some ways, but very different in others, that governed the daily activities of the Irish until well into the Christian era. It was finally overthrown by the English when they invaded and conquered Ireland, to be replaced by the English system of law.

Basically, the system of law set procedures and guidelines for describing the social responsibilities and ties, personal economic power, and theoretical community reputation of particular individuals and their relations. By describing social responsibilities, it therefore described a system of ethics and moral behavior.

The basic picture of society as prescribed (and described) by the Breitheamh law was one of hierarchical relationships based on social ties and property. The theory seems to have been that those who had more possessions and more people obligated to them had more interest in the success of the community, which is a reasonable assumption in an agrarian/transhumant, decentralized society since it was the community which guaranteed the security of wealth. Degrees of authority were, therefore, granted on the basis of what was owed to one, and so largely on what one could afford to, and did, lend.

We should not, on this basis, think of early Irish society as being similar to modern capitalist society, however, as the theory also included assumptions of responsibilities that those in authority had to the community, not just privileges granted to them on the basis of their social position. They were given a higher burden of community support than those below them in status, but then they also were granted social privileges unavailable to those who were of inferior state.

There are other complexities involved in the early Irish social structure, but this will serve for a basic overview. For more detail, I recommend Fergus Kelly's A Guide to Early Irish Law and Early Irish Farming , along with the two-part article by Neil McLeod, “Interpreting Early Irish Law: Status and Currency”, part one found in Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie vol. 41 (1986), pp. 46-65, and part two in ZCP vol. 42 (1987), pp. 41-115. These will not, largely, cover various exceptions, such as the status of religious functionaries like Draoithe or Christian monks, among others, but they give a nicely detailed look at the general structure of society (and, in the case of Kelly's Guide… , of the legal system).

After the social structure, the next aspect of Breitheamh law we will consider is the matter of Justice, and how society functions to maintain orderly life. There are few instances of punishment prescribed by the legal system, though there is much discussion of various criminal actions that can disrupt the calm functioning of the society. Murder, assault, and theft are all condemned by the system, just as they are in nearly every other society's social code of conduct. Punishment, though, is avoided in most cases in favor of various methods of redressing the social imbalance that occurs. For instance, if theft occurs, the object stolen, or its value, is returned to the victim. In addition, if the victim is of such a status that a theft would also indicate damage to his good name (“he is unable to take care of his own things, how can we trust him to take care of ours”), then that would also need to be redressed. This is done by means of the famous “honor price”, which is a value set on a person's good name and reputation. This value is largely determined by complex formulas laid out in the legal texts relating to how one fits into society's expectations and needs. This is defined by examining the property and clients of the person, or his or her relationship to someone who has property. “Property”, in the early Irish conception, would be what we would call Capital Goods and Real Property. That is, it was considered to be, for these purposes, land and those goods which have economic value related to the trade of the person in question. “Clients” are even more important in the early Irish system, though, as it is through patronage that one gains a following to back one up in petitions to the community as a whole.

This brings us to the metaphysical assumptions behind the Breitheamh law system. One of the most important is that wealth, fertility, authority, sovereignty, and so on comprise a real force flowing from the Otherworld. The Irish term that I use for this concept (and which I believe is the original use of the word) is brí , which is a word that means, roughly “strength, vigor, significance, meaning”. It is the root of briocht , which means “charm, spell, amulet”, and of the name of the goddess Bríd , or Brighid. It is, therefore, the undifferentiated matter, without form or substance, that underlays all existence that we perceive. It is the very material of the Otherworld itself. It is by transference of this material between the world we can perceive and the invisible Otherworld that the cosmos moves and functions. It manifests as intuition and creativity, iomas, energy, and as physical matter, depending on exactly how it is configured. The differences there are a discussion for another time, however.

Brí flows into this world along well-defined channels. We perceive these channels as bandéithe , “goddesses”, who are considered to be andéithe , “un-gods” or “chthonic gods”, and associate them with wells, rivers, and the land itself. On its own, this flow of brí is chaotic and wild, resulting in the wilderness and the meandering flow of rivers, among other things. However, some déithe (including both gods and goddesses) have learned, and subsequently taught us, their descendants, to form that flow into shapes and processes more conducive to cultural existence.

One of the most significant ways in which brí is made to serve society is through the institution of the (“king”) or Ríon (“queen”). This is a person chosen for his wide range of clients and wealth, and given, as a result, a position of some importance. He acts as a tribal chieftain, but also in the function of a particular sort of priest. He is required to marry the local bandia (“goddess”), and from this marriage the flow of brí passes through him to the community as a whole, passing to his clients, and to their clients, and to their neighbors. The measure of success of a Rí or Ríon is in the quality of life in the tuath (“territory”) under his control, including such aspects as weather, the harvest, trade, wealth, and so on. The mediation of brí from the Otherworld into this world is the measure of the societal value of a Rí, and the failure of that, made explicit by the failure of the kingship in various specific ways (including weather, the harvest, and so on), should result in the replacement of the Rí.

At various levels, this dynamic is indicative of the general Gaelic conception of the order of life. A poet mediates brí as iomas, the inspiration and intuition that underlies poetry. A warrior has a set of different ways of acting as a channel for martial energies (fearg “anger”, for instance, but also more esoteric concepts such as lon láith “blackbird ardor” or riastartha “contortions”). All of these are variations of the basic model of energy passing from the Otherworld, into a specially prepared person in this world, and so transforming into practical benefits for the community. (There is an additional step, involving returning this energy to the Otherworld, but we will leave that for the moment, noting only that it is the process of sacrificial giving that returns this energy, in a continuing cycle.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quick Note: Another Astral Projection Method

I'm still "recharging the batteries", as it were, but here's a link to an excerpt from Paul Devereux's Lucid Dreaming: Accessing Your Inner Virtual Realities discussing some methods of astral projection.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Quick Link

One of the biggest problems facing those who are learning to explore the world using "inner vision", "astral projection", or the like is the possibility of falling into a trap laid either by oneself or by mischievous or malevolent spirits. Some traditions respond to this possibility by advising a "no contact" policy with the spirit world, unless the contact corresponds exactly with particular dogmas laid down in the past. This is not, however, the way that I think spiritual exploration should be handled. It is to fall into the control of fear.

Fear is useful, but falling under its control is not. That does not alleviate the problem, though, of possible delusion. The mystic world is strewn with poor unfortunates who come to believe that they are special in a way that doesn't bear up to scrutiny. Patrick Dunn over at Postmodern Magic discusses the issue and provides a very useful series of questions that can help avoid the problems while allowing actual exploration.

Musing On Process

I haven't been posting here as regularly as I'd like. In part, this is because of temporary health issues (about which I'd previously summarized) that broke my stride, and I haven't been able to get back into it. However, more importantly, I think that I have entered one of the pendulum swings that I see in my process of doing things. I'll work hard, develop a strong body of work for a while, then have to take a break. Right now, I seem to have switched my main focus to a more entertainment-oriented, less demanding set of thoughts. In the past, this has been a period of letting an aspect of my thought lie fallow, as it were, to recover its fertility. I'll still try to post here on occasion, but for a few weeks, I expect that it will be lightly at best. Stick with me, though, as I am sure that I will be back in full swing soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Contra Fidem



People have a tendency to talk about their “beliefs”. When analyzed, what this means is that they are describing what they assume to be the inherent essence of things. Unfortunately, this is not the best way to describe the world. Essences are not, as near as we can tell, inherent to anything. As the philosophers say, existence precedes essence.

When an event happens, we experience it as a set of sense impressions. We can use those sense impressions to develop a model of the event that allows us to make predictions about similar events. For instance, we note that objects tend to be attracted to the ground. Over time, several models were proposed to explain this attraction, the most successful of which is the theory of gravity. We have had such success with gravity that some people accept that it is a true model of the events described by the theory. They begin to believe in gravity so strongly that they look for a mechanism of it. Now, there is no observation to date of anything that could serve as a mechanism of gravity, but the belief that there must be one is strong, so a lot of effort is spent on looking for it. Perhaps one day there will be found a way to observe a mechanism of gravity, or perhaps there is no “mechanism” in any observable sense. We don't know either way, and we can't know until such a mechanism might be observed.

Similarly, other observations become the subject of various beliefs. We might believe that because a particular book includes claims of divine authorship (or because someone has made such a claim based on spiritual insights they have experienced) that the book was then inspired by or even directly written by some divinity or another. We might believe that the only things that exist are the interactions of “particles” and “fields” through the exchange of a mysterious substance we call “energy”, even though we cannot observe these alleged “particles”, “fields”, or “energy” except indirectly. We might believe that fairy beings cavort in our gardens because we saw with our eyes what appeared to be a little man dancing in the moonlight by the foxglove one night. I could spend all day recounting various possible observations about which we can make beliefs and clothe those beliefs with an aura of factuality.

Beliefs are neat. They allow us to make predictions about future events, and so allow us to navigate our environment with more or less success through the application of our minds. We believe that things will tend to fall toward the ground if they are not supported above it, which allows us to keep from falling or dropping things by maneuvering our bodies in particular ways. If we're smart, we continue to modify our beliefs to reflect further observations. For instance, in the case of gravity, we might note that birds and flames do not tend to fall to the ground, which causes us to modify our sense of what gravity is, and to modify how it works in our belief-models. From that, we might figure out how to build a helicopter or hot air balloon, which then can be observed to allow us to further refine our beliefs about gravity. Similarly, we might do the same about spirits – we could either dismiss them because we can't repeat our observations about them on demand, or we could note that many people report observations of spiritual beings in various ways, correlate those observations with the ones we have had ourselves, and develop a model of those beings that might allow us to interact with spiritual beings.

Whatever model or system of models we are using, though, we need to remember that they are not the actual events themselves. Even though the models of materialism (the idea that the only things that exist are particles, fields, and energy, and that all things that can occur can be described as interactions of those three types of entity) have been relatively successful in certain ways, giving us computers and CD players and airplanes and rockets, they have been relatively unsuccessful in explaining what occurs in a haunting, remote viewing, telepathy, or artistic creation. To believe in those models in a naïve sense, then, would seem to be a mistake. At the very least, it would seem to be a case of clothing those models with an aura of factuality that can't be maintained through logical argument, but only through assertion.

Belief, then, is a failure to allow for future experiences in favor of experiences which have already occurred, combined with dismissing any experiences which don't match those beliefs. Not all experiences need to be firsthand ones. After all, I strongly doubt that any of my readers have been on the surface of the Moon. Yet, I would submit that most of us certainly believe the reported experiences of those who claim to have been there, and that it does exist as a real place to which we could, at least in theory, visit. That is not, of course, necessarily true, but it exists as a belief that we have based on a combination of the reports of others and our theories about the nature of the world around us. If we were to discover, though, that the Moon was an image projected in the sky by a machine in the center of the Earth, and that those who claimed to go there were lying (which latter is a claim made by some people, who are good at interpreting evidence to support their belief), then it would turn out that our long-held belief about the Moon being a real place that we could theoretically visit would have been wrong. This is, of course, unlikely in the extreme, but it is not impossible.

Applying this to polytheism, I note that a number of particular beliefs have shown up, which are held up as necessary to those who participate in our practices. For instance, some people say that we must believe that the gods are real, that they are not aspects of our own psyches. I don't know. I know that when I interact with entities that I call “gods” (or, more usually, “déithe 's andéithe”, in keeping with my Gaelic tendencies), I experience them in ways that are similar to the experiences that occur when I interact with other people. That is to say that their actions and reactions are only partly predictable by me in the same way that the reactions of people are only partly predictable by me. I interpret this as indicating that the déithe 's andéithe are independent of my psyche in some way. However, someone else might interpret the very same (or at least broadly similar) data as indicating that the entities are expressions of archetypal “forces” within his own mind. Me, I don't care either way, so long as the results of those beliefs are similar. If we both, the archetype-guy and I, participate in feasts at particular times of year, if we both engage in werewolf practices, give sacrificial offerings, and so on, it doesn't matter to me what he believes about the underlying “reality” of those practices and the events that inspire them. “Belief”, in fact, can prove to be an unnecessary wedge between us if it is used in that way.

Now, we might discuss our relative beliefs in the underlying mechanisms that we clothe with an aura of factuality, but so long as he doesn't deny me my right to choose an explanation that I feel is appropriate for whatever reason, and I don't deny him the same, then we can both participate in the same community. It is (at least in part) by denying to others the right to choose their own explanations for events that we fracture community. It is only by claiming for our beliefs an absolute authority which we deny to any other system of beliefs that we begin to oppress our neighbors and open the doors for persecution. For that matter, when we claim such an authority for our current beliefs, we deny to ourselves the ability to include future experiences in our explanations, staying stuck in a rut of what had happened up until the point we had formulated those beliefs.

So away with Belief! Let Belief be damned and cast aside in favor of our current best model. Let us no longer clothe beliefs with an aura of factuality that exceeds actual events. Let our cry go up, “CONTRA FIDEM!”

Monday, June 13, 2011

No Article This Week

Despite having previously written that I was feeling better and getting more sleep, it turns out that I was just feeling better. My sleep patterns are completely disrupted right now, and have been for the last week or more, which means that I am suffering from severe bouts of insomnia (right now, I've been awake for 19 hours - I work at night - and am very tired, but am also unable to sleep). As a result, I am not able to focus on the things I should be writing outside the blog, and the blog is not getting done either. I beg your forgiveness and patience, and I will try to figure out a way to fix this problem.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Feeling Better

I am feeling better, getting more sleep, and may have something substantive to post this week. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to get something together in time to have it go live earlier today.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Health

Due to health issues, if things don't get considerably better this week it is likely that I will not have an article available and ready to post next week. It's not anything serious, just some minor and passing respiratory problems (possibly due to pollen, though that would be a new thing for me - it's more likely that it has to do with a person who I am frequently around having just had flu-like symptoms) keeping me from sleeping for long enough to not feel tired and mind-fogged.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Spirit in its Most Concentrated Form



There is a tendency for those who get involved in the sorts of mystical practices of the sorts I am discussing to become disdainful of the body. This is a mistake, in my opinion, as the body is as much a part of who one is as is the mind or any other part with which one identifies. Indeed, it is in part through contemplation of the body moving through space that we can come to a more full understanding of the self.

One of the ways of interpreting the idea of the world as emanating from a central well, as my own cosmology (derived from ancient sources, as I have previously discussed) has it, is the “emanationist” school. In this concept, common to a number of occult philosophies, the world of experience is the product of spirit being progressively derived, as it were, from emanations radiating from the central source. While some interpret this as a “degeneration” of the pure spiritual influences, another way to consider it is as the diffuse spiritual forces being concentrated into a denser, more highly packed state. In this interpretation, matter is less malleable than thought because it has more inherent inertia. While I don't hold with this interpretation particularly (I will discuss matters of “reality” at another time – I should note here, though, that I don't particularly discount this interpretation either), it is an interesting one that both provides a title for this entry and gives an emphasis to physicality that is often missing in spiritual discussion.

When working with trance states and visionary experiences, it is easy to lose track of the body. When that happens, it is easier still to begin to favor the images in the head over physicality. In my experience, this tends, however, to cause a degradation of the visionary state. This is due to the loss of many sensory experiences that provide a sense of profundity and realism. It transforms visions from ecstatic, visceral experiences into something more akin to watching a movie – flat, alienated, and removed from reality.

To prevent this loss of focus, it is helpful to engage in regular physical activity. Sports are, of course, one way to approach this. The particular sporting types that are most associated with werewolves historically are the martial arts. I recommend regular martial arts practices, myself, though others may prefer some other physical activity. I've discussed martial arts previously as they come from Celtic and particularly Gaelic sources.

Through becoming more aware of one's body, one develops a stronger internal image of oneself. This is useful in meditation and in deep trance, by giving one a solid view of the self, which leads to a firmer foundation for remembering the insights and experiences of these otherwise primarily mental activities. One's dreams become more focused and concrete.

Of course, this is to simply talk about the mental and spiritual benefits of physical exercise. It is also good in itself, as a way to maintain the body in good condition. Keep in mind that we are not just our mental and spiritual selves, but also our physical bodies. We live in our bodies, and spend nearly all of our experience of this life in those bodies. Certainly we might, at times, experience existence at a distance from our physical forms, in trance states and out of body experiences, but it is also true that without our bodies to return to, we move over into the realm of the dead entirely. The characteristic of the werewolf is that he moves between this world and the world of the dead. As a result, the werewolf chooses to survive in this life for as long as it is possible to do so.

One of the notable aspects of the Gaelic Fianna warbands was their focus on being able to survive any hardship. By becoming capable of fending for themselves in the woods through hunting and other survival techniques, by learning techniques of fighting (long called in Europe the Art of Defence, or Fencing), and so on, the Fianna (an Irish reflection of the werewolf bands) aspired to live through difficulties, to be the perfect survivors.

Learning techniques of survival, camping, and the like are also important skills for the modern werewolf. Camping, living away from the support systems of civilized life, is a wonderful and enjoyable way of reminding oneself that one's body is there, and coming in tune with its rhythms. It will also serve as a reminder that the world of other things than humanity is real and has its own needs and wants.



Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Astral Projection and Trance



One thing that werewolves do that is separate from the more social rituals I've discussed previously is sometimes called “projecting the Double”. Claude Lecouteux, in his excellent Witches, Werewolves, and Fairies (originally titled Fées, Sorcières, et Loups-Garous au Moyen Age ), discusses this subject at length, giving many examples from northern European sagas. One of the most interesting passages is from Nennius's Historia Britonum :

There exist certain men of the Celtic race who have a marvelous power that they get from their ancestors. By a demonic force, they can, at will, take the form of a wolf with large sharp teeth and often, thus metamorphosed, they attack poor defenseless sheep. But when people armed with sticks and weapons come toward them, they flee nimbly and cover great distances. When they are of a mind to transform themselves, they leave their human body, ordering their friends not to change their position or touch them in any minor way whatsoever, for if that were to happen, they would never be able to return to their human appearance. If, while they are wolves, someone wounds them or hits them, the wound or mark on their [animal] body is found in exactly the same place on their [human] body. [Lecouteux, pp.110-111]

But there are many other examples, not all of which have to do with transformation into wolf form. Some transform into other animals, such as bears, mice, cats, and the like, and others travel in their human form, but are also in a state of ecstatic trance, leaving their human body behind. In nearly all of these cases, the person who is entering these ecstatic states is emphatic that their physical forms are not to be touched, and frequently they demand that no one is to say their name. Having been in ecstatic trance myself, I can say that these are important precautions, if only because it can be difficult to maintain the state without falling back into one's body and normal consciousness or losing the events like a fading dream!

So, it is important for a werewolf to learn how to do this. I can't teach this in a single article like this one. There aren't many books that cover the subject well, but if you can find one that works for you, or better still if you are lucky enough to have a teacher in person, or even better have a natural affinity for trancework, then you should use that. The subject matter you should be looking for is sometimes called “ astral projection” or “lucid dreaming”. If you would like my suggestion, I recommend Robert Bruce's excellent work on “astral projection”, Astral Dynamics . “Astral projection” is a way of describing the sort of deep trance that is called “projecting the Double”, and Bruce includes a detailed discussion of exactly how to do it. If, like me, you prefer a structured method of learning, he has another book, Mastering Astral Projection , co-written with Brian Mercer, which presents a 13-week course of exercises that will almost certainly lead to successful deep trance, or “astral projection”. He uses a model of the “energy body” which I don't entirely subscribe to, but which is very useful in developing his method. Now, some people might dispute my recommendation, but I can say that I have learned how to engage in deep trance using the method Bruce describes. If there is a different method you wish to pursue, by all means do what seems best to you. In addition, there are other methods, such as this one , available for those who don't wish to, or are unable to, spend money on learning to project the Double, though I can't vouch for its effectiveness.

While in these ecstatic states, it is very easy, I've found, to change the body of the projected Double into a form that is desired. My very first deep trance state found me diving into deep water, changing into a seal form (seals are one of the animals associated with the Wind-Wolf type of god, at least in Gaelic countries; in Mediterranean areas, the association with sea mammals tends to be with dolphins instead), and swimming to the bottom of the sea, where I found a coral castle that undulated slightly in the current. At that point, I got excited, and the rest of the experience remains hazy to this day (I seem to remember meeting someone, and I was given something, but the details are mostly lost to my memory). Let that be an object lesson: keep calm.

These experiences seem quite real, or at least realistic. Most people have had a dream which they couldn't tell from waking life, except that strange things happened (or, stranger still, that nothing notably strange happened, but later conversation confirmed that the events did not occur in waking life). That's what it's like when the Double is projected. There are other similarities with dreaming, too, such as the fact that the experiences can quickly fade from memory (and I've found that keeping a dream diary, a notebook beside the bed with a pen or pencil so that you can record key words and images from dreams immediately when you wake, is very helpful in developing the ability to recall these experiences). Perhaps they are dreams, but if so, they are of a special sort. Robert Bruce, who I mention above, discusses these phenomena in some detail.

Dreams. The metaphysics of projecting the Double are debatable. One could approach it as a literal separation of awareness, and perhaps a “ subtle body”, from the physical body, and this is certainly plausible. It fits the facts both historical and contemporary, which have indicated that sensitive people, or people who are distracted by other activities, can see the projected Double, though frequently briefly and in the corner of the eye. Another approach might see the process as one of deep meditation, in which nonlocal sense impressions are converted into a feeling of separated awareness. Those who don't accept that there is a literal nonphysical component of the self, but who are at least agnostic on the subject of “Remote Viewing” (for which there is surprisingly ample evidence available to those who don't dismiss the subject out of hand) could approach the idea of projecting the Double from this point of view. Finally, there are those who don't accept nonlocal sensory impressions, but who might view the whole exercise as meditation without reference to any of the claims of literal separation in these practices, and I hope that such people can at least suspend their distrust of unusual practices to get the demonstrable benefits of meditation. Unfortunately, there is no study to date of the benefits of this sort of meditation, as neurological studies tend to be concentrated on “mindfulness” meditation, which is a particular type of meditative practice common to Buddhism. Ecstatic meditation of this sort, unfortunately, is apparently of less interest to modern neuroscientists (though there is some discussion out there, mostly focusing on so-called “Tantra” and orgasmic ecstasy, which I would say is related to the sorts of “out of body” experiences of astral projectors, werewolves, witches' flight, and shamans – and remember that werewolves are seen as particularly associated with some types of erotic games and activities).

But this is all discussion. The reality is that these practices are experiential. Go do something.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hounds of God: The Werewolf Ritual According to Thiess



In his testimony to the Inquisition of Livonia in 1691 (or 1692), a man called Thiess described in some detail what it was that werewolves of his acquaintance did. He was able to do this as he was accounted among their number himself. This may be the reason that Thiess was so emphatic that the werewolves were not the Devil's dogs, but were the hounds of God. In the following, the translation I am working from is found in an appendix to Daniel Gershenson's Apollo the Wolf-God. It is not, therefore, directly quoted from Thiess, but rather the Inquisition explaining what was said, with their paraphrases and assumptions coloring the testimony. Nonetheless, it is fairly apparent, I think, what was meant, and it is mostly plainly spoken.

To begin with, the werewolf was initiated. Thiess said that this was the ritual: “He [that is, Thiess or another werewolf when he was initiating someone] need only drink one toast to someone, breathe into the mug three times and say: 'You will be like me.' Then, if the other fellow took the mug from him he would [become a werewolf]…”I plan to discuss the initiation of werewolves in the future, as there are other werewolf initiation rituals recorded, but this one has the virtue of extreme simplicity! One note that he made was that the initiation had to be voluntary, “Truly he could not initiate anyone unless he agreed and showed a desire for it, like all the people who had already approached him to ask if he would leave it to them, since he was old and destitute.” Clearly, being a werewolf was considered a desirable state by at least some of the peasants in Livonia.

He was asked if there were women and girls among the werewolves, and he replied: “There were indeed women among the werewolves, but girls were not taken in, but used as flying pucks or dragons, and so sent away to carry off the gift of divine favor for the milk and the butter.” That is to say, there were women who were werewolves, but young girls were instead treated as couriers of a sort for the substances over which the werewolves fought the sorcerers (as we shall see). This is, moreover, an interesting passage, with some fascinating implications. The young girls were “used as flying pucks [that is, elf-like spirits] or dragons”. This passage might imply that these rites occurred in the context of a public or semi-public festival setting, where people of all ages would participate in the games and festivities, though other interpretations are probably possible. Also, as with Lupercalia and Imbolc (which, according to Prof. Bernhardt-House in “Imbolc: A New Interpretation”, found in Cosmos 18, pp.57-76, or summarized on pp.8-9 of this document (pdf), may have an original meaning of “butter-wolf” or “milk-wolf” – certainly, this interpretation is supported by the etymology), we find yet another instance where werewolves are explicitly connected with dairy products. Of course, the most significant point of this passage is that there were women as well as men who were werewolves.

Another part of that question was whether there were any Germans among the werewolves, and Thiess said that no, there were not, because, “The Germans did not participate in their community, but had a different Hell-hole of their own.” That is to say, the werewolves were connected to the specific land on which they lived.

One of the first questions that the Inquisitors asked Thiess was, “What shape did they assume when they changed into wolves?” His answer is a little meandering:

They had a wolfskin that they put on, and he had been brought one by a farmer of Marienburg who had come from Riga, but had given it over to a farmer from Alla some years before. [This may be a prevarication, as Thiess implied in the details about initiation later on in his testimony, which I gave above.]… [W]hen a more special inquiry was made he changed his tale and asserted that they simply went off into the woods, took off their usual clothing, and became wolves at once. Then they ran around as wolves and tore any horses or livestock they met with to pieces. … [O]ften twenty or thirty of them would go around together and eat a whole lot; they would have their meal on the road and roast it.

When further questioned with, “How could they manage [roasting and eating the animals like human beings do] if they had wolves' heads and feet, as he had said they did, and could not hold a knife or prepare a spit or do the rest of the work needed?” Thiess replied, “They didn't need any knives for it, because they tore the meat with their teeth and stuck the pieces on whatever sticks they found with their feet, and when they ate it they were like people once again, except that they did not use bread; they took salt with them from the servants' quarters when they went out.” In this passage, Thiess is telling us that they did not exactly change their shapes in a physical, naïve sense. They carried salt with them. They roasted and ate food like people do, though they ate with their hands, tearing the meat away from the roasted carcass. There is a disconnect between what the Inquisitors are expecting to hear and what Thiess is trying to tell them. From this passage, it becomes apparent that “becoming a wolf” was a social and functional definition, not a descriptive one. It is possible, of course, that I am misinterpreting what is here (there is the matter of “they were like people once again” for instance, which I am taking as indicative of the confusion of communication in which the Inquisitors are hearing what they expect to hear while Thiess is saying things in the terminology in which he is used to conceptualizing these issues; another person might interpret that phrase literally and indicative of perfect communication between the illiterate peasant werewolf and the learned Inquisition), but I submit that, at the very least, my interpretation is plausible. Further, there is this exchange toward the end of the recorded testimony:

Question: How was it possible that one of them could carry off fatted porkers and great horned livestock, like a wolf, and in wolf's shape, from twenty, thirty miles or more away through bush and bracken, and in fact all the way from Estonia, and bring them there, as the witness asserted? All the more reason to conclude that it all was nothing but imagination, false trickery and delusion.
Answer: He stuck to his story. It really happened that way and Tirummen's man [a particularly strong werewolf who Thiess said was the leader of their activities] often spent a week at a time out of doors, and then the witness and his band would wait for him, as they had agreed, in the bushes, and if he brought a fatted porker or so would eat it with him. Meanwhile they would live on hares and other wild animals in the bush. Now the witness was no longer strong enough to run so far and catch or fetch anything, but he still could get as much fish as he wanted, and even when others came home emptyhanded he was exceptionally successful in his fishing.

So, he was fishing while he was a wolf.

At this point, the Inquisitors tried to get Thiess to admit to commerce with the Devil. “…[D]id the Devil eat with them?” To which Thiess replied that they did not, “But the sorcerers ate with the Devil in the Hell-hole cave; the werewolves were not allowed to join but rushed in from time to time, snatched something, and ran out again with it, as if running away.” And here we begin to hear about the particulars of the ritual. Earlier in his testimony, when Thiess was questioned about where and with what instrument another peasant, Skeistan, had broken his nose, he replied, “In a cave, with a broomstick to which a lot of horses' tails were tied.” Asked about how he had come to that cave, and where it was located, Thiess said, “The werewolves went there on foot in the shape of wolves. The location was at the end of the lake called Puer Esser, in the bog below Lemburg, about half a mile from Klingenberg, the estate of the substitute assizes judge; there were wonderful chambers there and appointed doorkeepers who repulsed any who wished again to carry off the sprouted grain that had been brought there by the sorcerers, and the unsprouted grain. The sprouted grain was kept in one special store and the unsprouted grain in another.” Going back to Thiess's answer to the question about the Devil eating with the werewolves, he continued, “If caught, the Devil's guards stationed there would beat them off furiously with a long iron whip which they called the switch and drive them out like dogs, because the Devil, in the Lettish language 'Ne eretz', could not bear them.”

As you might imagine, the Inquisitors were somewhat perplexed by this, as their assumption was that, as had been “proven” elsewhere (though this “proof” mainly consisted of assertions by figures of authority in the Church that it was so), werewolves were the Devil's own dogs. The transformation of man into beast, as they thought obvious, was a denigration of God's creation of man in His own image. They asked, “If the Devil could not bear them, why did they become werewolves and run to the Hell-hole cave?” Thiess replied to them, giving us a wonderful description of the first part of the ritual:

They did this so that they might be able to carry what the sorcerers had brought in by way of livestock, grain, and other growing things off out of the Hell-hole cave; for, last year, he came late along with the others and did not arrive at the Hell-hole cave in time, so that they could not carry off the sprouts and the grain brought there by the sorcerers while the gates were still open, and we had a bad year for grain. This year, though, he and the others had arrived in time and had done their duty; the witness himself had carried off as much barley, oats, and rye as he could, out of the Hell-hole cave, so that we should have plenty of all kinds of grain this year, though more oats than barley.

The Inquisitors asked him how often the werewolves would do this, and Thiess replied, “Ordinarily three times [per year] : Whitsunday eve [interestingly, Whitsunday is the Scottish Term Day corresponding most closely with the Irish Lá Bealtaine, being in Scotland fixed on 15 May], the eve of St. John's Day [that is, Midsummer, 24 June], and St. Lucy's eve [which was Midwinter in the old calendar, 13 December in the modern one]; as far as the first two were concerned, it was not always the same night, but when the grain was in its prime and at the time of sowing the sorcerers carried off the gift of blessing and brought it to the Hell-hole cave while the werewolves got ready to bring it out once again.” Thiess doesn't specify (it being outside of the parameters of his questioning), but I expect that the werewolves would also engage in other functions throughout the year, by parallel with the Benandanti of Friulia, who similarly would fight against evil forces several times a year for the harvest. I'll discuss the Benandanti at a later time.

The last part of the ritual is contained entirely in a single question and answer. Thiess was asked, “Where did they leave the grain and tree saplings and the other things they took from the Devil, and what did they do with them?” To which he replied, “They threw them up in the air, and the blessing rained down over the whole country out of the air again for both rich and poor.” The blessing of the werewolves is for everyone, regardless of their social position or wealth.

To summarize: the werewolves and the sorcerers would gather three times a year at a place they called “Hell-hole cave”. The sorcerers would have a feast and put grains, saplings, and other agricultural produce in the cave. The werewolves, possibly wearing wolfskins, would run in on occasion and steal some of the food and other items, then run out, while the sorcerers would try to stop them with sticks (Thiess, in fact, had his nose broken by one of the sorcerers, named Skeistan, some years earlier) wrapped in horsehair. Young girls, considered to be pucks or dragons, and possibly dressed to suit the role, would carry the stolen items to a place where, presumably, the werewolves would later collect them. After getting away, the werewolves would throw the items they'd stolen from the caves up in the air, which would rain those blessings down on the countryside. If you squint, as it were, you can see some of those elements showing up in modern holidays. What the “sorcerers” believed that they were doing, and what they thought of the werewolves coming in to steal food at their feasts, is something that we don't have a good understanding about from Thiess's testimony. It seems likely that they were having a ritual feast of some sort, so looking at those sorts of activities in the eastern Baltic area would be the most likely place to come to an understanding of that aspect of this ritual complex.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blogger's "Hiccup"

Apparently, while I was out, Blogger had a little technical problem which resulted in various posts being lost, then later recovered. I don't seem to have lost any posts, but the comments on my last one were deleted. I've restored them from my archive (I pretty much obsessively archive this blog), but people who are subscribed to that post may no longer be. You might have to go back and click the "subscribe to comments" button/link again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Gods and Goddesses of the Werewolves: The Wind-Wolf



Another short article. I have about six articles in process, but none of them are finished. I hope that I'll have at least one ready for next week.

There are a number of gods who fall into the general category we can call “Wind-Wolf”. I will deal with each of them individually later, but for now I am going to discuss the type. Most of this can be referenced in the excellent Apollo the Wolf-God by Daniel Gershenson. The rest can be found variously.

The Wind-Wolf, according to one view, seems to be a type which seems to be first found in Anatolia, as a god of plagues. Quickly adopted by the Trojans and the Greeks under variations of the name “Apollo” (there is a plague god in Anatolia named Nergal who has an epithet among the Akkadians Aplu Enlil “The Son of Enlil”, which the Hurrians and Hittites shortened to just Aplu ), He is soon seen as a god of healing, and so, associated with the miasma theory which says that bad air is the source of most disease, he is seen as the wind which blows the miasma away. This means that he must represent good air, which was thought to come from the underworld. Frequently, this wind was felt blowing out of caves in which wolves made their lairs. As a result (and keep in mind that this is speculation based on later associations and the rhythms of nature), wolves were seen as intermediaries between this world and the underworld, and became a holy animal of the healer-god. One of the epithets of Apollo is Lykeios “Lycean”, which derives from the word for “wolf”. Apollo Lykeios is associated with a particular posture, later used also by some images of Dionysos, in which the right arm is rested on top of the head. Another is Sminthos “mouse”, in which guise He was prayed to by the Trojans to bring plague to the Achaeans at the beginning of the Iliad . Mice are another animal frequently associated with the Wind-Wolf.

As we move to Northern Europe, a number of other attributes become associated with this type. He is seen as the god who brings the fertile rains of summer which grow the crops. Like Apollo, He is associated with poetry. He becomes associated with either a special posture, in which one eye is closed, one arm held behind the back, and standing on one leg, or else with the loss of an eye, or lameness in one leg, or missing one shoe. I don't know that there is a relation between the posture of Apollo Lykeios and these images, but I suspect that there is.

Contrary to the usual image of Apollo as cultured and refined, the Wind-Wolf is seen as filled with a frenzy that is associated with poetry and battle. In some cases, the name of the god gives His name to the frenzy or vice versa, such as *Wodanaz , whose name is associated with wod “madness, frenzy”. This would seem to be like the intoxicating gifts of Dionysos, and there is of course a connection between Dionysos and Apollo. One could say that they are, in some sense, two faces of the same coin.

As the wind that brings the fertile rain, the Wind-Wolf is also associated with lightning (but not thunder, which is the province of the Sky God). In Ireland, at the great fair of Lúnasa, the festival associated with Lugh, that god was said to be present when a lightning storm came over, and also in the late summer rains.

In some cases, the Wind-Wolf is thought to be the leader of the Wild Hunt, the procession of the dead as it passes through the sky or across the land. This is because, as we have seen, the wolf is the one who can pass between this world and the underworld. The wolf stands at the boundary of this world and the afterlife, communicating from one to the other. As a result, it is a canine who controls access to the land of the dead, like three-headed Kerberos . It is the werewolf, therefore, who has the spiritual authority to communicate with the shades of those who have departed this life, though the dead are under the rulership of another, the Lord of the Dead, who we will discuss another time.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Song Of Amergin and Transformation


Transformation is, among other things, taking on the form of something other than one's current form. Some people say that it is possible to do so in a physical way, though I have seen little evidence of that. I do know one woman who is able to so thoroughly take on the kinesics (body-language) of canines that she appears at a quick glance to be canine in form. However, another method of transformation is mental in nature (and may underlay that woman's remarkable ability). It involves completely identifying with another form by use of the imaginative faculty. Now, imagination is widely maligned in the modern world as being separate from anything “real”, but it was not always so. As late as the nineteenth century, important theories of art relied on the imagination as a basic element of the cosmos. For myself, I do think that it is an expression of the creative force, which the Irish knew as brí .

One of the most important Irish sources related to the identification with the other is the poem known as the Song of Amergin. In this song, the poet identifies himself with many aspects of the world, taking them into himself and becoming one with all things. Here is one translation (by R.A.S. Macalister. Others, and the original Irish, can be found here ):

I am Wind on Sea,
I am Ocean-wave,
I am Roar of Sea,
I am Bull of Seven Fights,
I am Vulture on Cliff,
I am Dewdrop,
I am Fairest of Flowers,
I am Boar for Boldness,
I am Salmon in Pool,
I am Lake on Plain,
I am a Mountain in a Man,
I am a Word of Skill,
I am the Point of a Weapon (that poureth forth combat),
I am God who fashioneth Fire for a Head.
Who smootheth the ruggedness of a mountain?
Who is He who announceth the ages of the Moon?
And who, the place where falleth the sunset?
Who calleth the cattle from the House of Tethys?
On whom do the cattle of Tethys smile?
Who is the troop, who the god who fashioneth edges
in a fortress of gangrene?
Enchantments about a spear? Enchantments of Wind.

There is a similar poem associated with Taliesin, in the Brythonic tradition. Here is the relevant section (in translation, of course, though the only translation I could find quickly was that of Robert Graves):

Primary bard to Elphin am I
And my country is the region of the Summer Stars.
Many have called me Merddin,
But at length every man will call me Taliesin!
I have been a herdsman, and traveled over the earth.
I have slept in a hundred islands, guest of a hundred kings.
I have dwelt in a hundred cities.
For a year and a day I was in fetters…
I have been a fierce bull and a yellow buck.
I have been a boat upon the sea.
I have been the foam of water.
I have been a drop in the air.
I have journeyed high as an eagle.
I have been a tree-stump in a shovel.
I have been an axe in the hand.
I have been a spotted snake on a hill.
I have been a wave breaking on the beach.
On a boundless sea I was set adrift…
Then for nine months I was little Gwion
In the womb of Ceridwen,
And at length was Taliesin.
I have been at the throne of the Distributor.
I have stood high upon the white hill.
I was fluent before being gifted with speech.
I have been teacher to all intelligences.
I have singly built the tower of Nimrod.
I am the Tetragrammaton.
I am a wonder whose origin is not known.
I shall be until the day of doom upon the Earth,
And it is not known whether my body is flesh or fish.


The same concept appears in poetry found in many other cultures worldwide, of course.


Identification with the Other is the theme of poems like these. Bringing all of the cosmos into oneself through the imaginative faculty is the goal of the poet. This is one of the meanings of shape-shifting. So, let's look at one way to do it.


A technique that is used by a number of occult or self-improvement methods is sometimes called “Assumption”, by which we can use the imaginative faculty to transform ourselves. Because the term “Assumption” is tied up in a particular metaphysics which I do not share, I will instead call it “Transformation”. It is a fairly simple practice of meditation which is best done by steps.


First, find a small object of uniform character and simple shape. A small, homogenous stone, a piece of copper, or the like are best. Sit with it in front of you, and close your eyes. Envision the object in detail (open your eyes to glance at it if you need to, but the goal is to be able to envision it completely with your eyes shut). In your vision, slowly make the object larger and larger, until it is the size of a door that you can walk through. Now, imagine that you and the object are merging together, becoming one thing. Feel the sensations of the object itself and what it (you!) is feeling. How does it feel to be a stone? What is your temperature? What is the kinesthetic sensation of being that piece of copper?


After a while of meditating on this simple object, move on to a plant. Choose a plant that is alive, and go through the same process of meditation. Envision the plant in detail, learn about its cellular structure and include that in your visualization, slowly enlarge it to a size large enough that you can fit within it, and merge yourself with the plant. After working with the plant, you can do the same meditation with an animal, then a particular human being, then a large system like a river or mountain, with its complex parts, ecosystems, and so on. In each case, do not meditate on an abstract representative of the object in question, but an actual example. Not “a stone”, but a particular stone you have actually picked up from the roadside. Not “a rosebush”, but the rosebush beside your front door. Not “a person”, but a specific person whose name you know and who you can observe – perhaps a friend who is working through this series of meditations with you.





Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Individual and Community



A short article this week.

In the story of Cath Maige Tuireadh, there are two (or three) incidents that, when compared, give some insight into the interrelation of community power and individual prowess. The first is the arrival of Lugh (and also his later preparations for battle), and the other is the assumption of the abilities of others by the Dagda.

In the latter case, the Dagda asks 1 the sorcerer Mathgen, the cupbearer (who is unnamed in that section, though nine are named in the arrival of Lugh), and the druid Figol mac Mámois what powers each wields. They tell him, and then he says, “The power which you boast, I will wield it all myself.” 2 At which point, he is acclaimed by everyone.

In contrast, when Lugh arrives at Tara 3 he is asked by the doorkeeper what art he possesses, since no one, by custom, is allowed to enter unless he has an art. Lugh responds that he is a builder, but the doorkeeper refuses him, saying that they already have one. Lugh goes through other arts he possesses: smith, champion, harper, warrior, poet/historian, sorcerer, physician, cupbearer, brazier. In each case, the doorkeeper refuses him on the grounds that each of those arts is already practiced by one or more people already inside. Finally, Lugh asks him if any one person there possesses all of the arts that he has named. The king tells the doorkeeper to let him in, though he has to prove himself in contests of wit, strength, and musicianship.

Later, Lugh asks a similar question to that the Dagda asked of each of his followers as they prepare for battle, but Lugh's action is different in response. Rather than deriving strength from them, he “stengthen[s] them and address[es] them in such a way that every man had the courage of a king or great lord” 4.

What we see, then, is the contrast of the leader who derives his strength from the people and the leader who buoys the people to their fullest potential. Of the two, it seems that the Gauls by the 1st century CE and the Irish in the medieval/early modern era (and apparently the Britons as well, but evidence there is less known to me) preferred the method of Lugh, but had a place for that of the Dagda. This is the difference between the charismatic leader and the leader who does the will of the people, between the leader who leads by example and the leader who administrates the desires of his constituency.

What does this mean for lycanthropes? Werewolves are closely associated with the type of deity that is expressed in Irish myth and legend by Lugh (and in the Germano-Scandinavian countries by Wotan/Woden/Óðinn), and they are associated with elite bands. Does this mean that we should therefore exhibit elitist attitudes? Perhaps, but remember that the elitism of Lugh exists for the purpose of raising others to their own potentials. This is also the purpose of the werewolf, to be the best possible person that they can be, and by being such to inspire others to their own best potentials. Part of this is to not act bigger than we are or to denigrate others who have not (yet!) been able to gain the benefits of our training or ability. We should instead use our skills to teach others, to help them with their goals, and to generally help them raise themselves up toward their destinies. I admit that I have not always been able to live up to this ideal myself, but it is something that I strive to achieve.


1 In §78-81.
2 “An cumang arbágaid-si, dogén-sou ule am áon[ur].”
3 In §53-70.
4 §120.