Ok, bear with me. What I’m going to write is going to seem really very out of place for this blog. As stated in the past, the primary focus of this blog, as it’s very title would seem to imply, is magical practice. This includes mysticism, theurgy, and thaumaturgy.
One of my tabs is about Physical Manifestation, and this is an entry pertaining to that work. I want to open the topic at hand with an excerpt from a Welsh text about a Christian Saint, Collen. In case you are unfamiliar, this was the “hero” responsible for severing the physical ties between the Otherworld and a particular sacred hillock (according to some sources, it is Glastonbury Tor, the possible site of Avalon itself).
In this narrative, Collen hears someone saying that Gwyn Ap Nudd is the King of Annwn. He declares that the Fae are devils, and that everyone who disagrees should shut up forever. The good King of Annwn sends a messenger, who demands that Collen come to Annwn. This goes on for three days.
And the third day behold the same messenger came, ordering Collen to go and speak with the king on the top of the hill at noon. “And if thou dost not go, Collen, thou wilt be the worst for it.”
Then Collen, being afraid, arose, and prepared some holy water, and put it in a flask at his side, and went to the top of the hill. And when he came there, he saw the fairest castle he had ever beheld, and around it the best appointed troops, and numbers of minstrels, and every kind of music of voice and string, and steeds with youths upon them the comeliest in the world, and maidens of elegant aspect, sprightly, light of foot, of graceful apparel, and in the bloom of youth and every magnificence becoming the court of a puissant sovereign. And he beheld a courteous man on the top of the castle, who bade him enter, saying that the king was waiting for him to come to meat.
And Collen went into the castle, and when he came there, the king was sitting in a golden chair. And he welcomed Collen honourably and desired him to eat, assuring him that, besides what he saw, he should have the most luxurious of every dainty and delicacy that the mind could desire, and should be supplied with every drink and liquor that his heart could wish; and that there should be in readiness for him every luxury of courtesy and service, of banquet and of honourable entertainment, of rank and of presents: and every respect and welcome due to a man of his wisdom.
“I will not eat the leaves of the trees,” said Collen.
“Didst thou ever see men of better equipment than those in red and blue?” asked the king.
“Their equipment is good enough,” said Collen, “for such equipment as it is.”
“What kind of equipment is that?” said the king.
Then said Collen, “The red on the one part signifies burning, and the blue on the other signifies coldness.”
And with that Collen drew out his flask, and threw the holy water on their heads, whereupon they vanished from his sight, so that there was neither castle, nor troops, nor men, nor maidens, nor music, nor song, nor steeds, nor youths, nor banquet, nor the appearance of any thing whatever, but the green hillocks.”
(From “Buchedd Collen” Source)
So, TL;DR: confronted with exceptional hospitality and the magic of the Otherworld, tangible to the senses, he was not persuaded that the beings he saw were something other than devils. Rather, he consecrated the hill and dispelled the magic that he saw as falsehood and blasphemy.
If Gwyn Ap Nudd had yelled, or threatened, or tried to make Collen physically suffer, or given him a disease, or even struck him with a spell of grievous misfortune, Collen’s faith in Christianity wouldn’t have been in danger. He would have simply said to himself, as he was dying, “Yes, the old gods are terrible and they hurt people. That is why we need Jesus. Soon, our armies will purge their presence from the Earth. And now, I go to my reward.”
Instead, Gwyn extended his hospitality, showing Collen the beauty and majesty of the old ways. And kindness is ever so much more dangerous, in these types of conflicts, isn’t it? If the gods are truly waging war at all, it is a war for the human heart. You don’t make someone fall in love with you by hurting them. You don’t befriend someone by punching them in the face.
It is a story which speaks to the power which humans have to consecrate the ground, and thereby to change its very metaphysical essence, inviting certain powers in, banishing others. The consecration, in this story, changed the rules, sending a god and his Otherwordly courtiers packing.
Now, maybe it’s not a literally true story. Maybe its just a legend that new Christians experiencing anxiety about abandoning the religion of the ancestors needed to hear — that their new faith could protect them from the wrath of the old gods. Nonetheless, it speaks volumes about the Christian understanding of the power and purpose of their holy water, and what consecration with holy water had the power to do to the old Pagan religious sites.
Do we live on hollowed ground? Is that a problem?
Particularly, I think of where I live. Here, in California, there was a great deal of effort put into Christianizing Native Americans. A network of 21 missions were set up by Catholic priests, each a day’s ride on horseback from one another. From these outposts, Christians waged spiritual warfare on the local faith through baptism, slavery, and “education.”
Given the Christian habit of trying to dispel competing spiritual energies by sprinkling holy water, it would surprise me not at all to discover that parts of our land have been consecrated under the auspices of this particularly toxic flavor of Christianity. Perhaps, on some subtle level, this place is still at war. Perhaps there are reservoirs of magical energy which are being capped, like a volcano, by wards put in place by those priests.
Consecration sets the rules for a space. The Christian rules aren’t going to work for us, in a number of ways. Firstly, they are hostile to our gods. It’s not even that they don’t believe our gods exist. To them, our gods do exist, and they are evil. They are conflated with demonic influences which bring harm of various types, like illness and bad luck. More worryingly, they are hostile to our dead. After all, we know where people who don’t accept Jesus go when they die.
Protestant sects, by and large, aren’t bothering us any. They see the eucharist as symbolic, and often fill their baptismal font with ordinary tap water, if they have a baptismal font at all, and don’t opt for a natural body of water instead. For them, faith, not ritual tech, is the business end of their religion. In short, they are leaving the work of creating that bridge between Heaven and Earth, and the working of miracles to God. If you aren’t buying into their shtick, it can’t hurt you any.
Catholics and Episcopalians, on the other hand, if they know what they are doing, are magically potent. Unfortunately, many of them also believe that our magic and our gods are dangerous and evil influences.
Certainly, if you talk to spirit workers that live in the area, there are a lot of restless dead that can’t seem to find their way back home. Christian consecration means Christian rules, and we all know what those rules say about the dead who have not received Christ. Given that only 25% of people in Silicon Valley are Christian, and fewer than that number are actively engaged in their faith, the problem is going to get worse.
This issue might also connect to something which I have observed about California as compared to Massachusetts. It is harder to call down deities here, and when they arrive, they are far less palpable. The problem is less in places that I show up and khernips weekly, and it is even less in my home, where I have several different kind of consecrations I trade out on a regular. But I have definitely been to devotionals where I couldn’t feel the gods at all.
And of course, when I mentioned it, I was told that I had too many shields — a canned answer which a lot of people around here get, apparently. But if I can get a psychometric read off of the people, the furniture, the land and the walls, why would I be too shielded to feel something big and obvious like a deity? And why would this stubborn shielding which I am unaware of putting up and can’t take down, which selectively eliminates only deities (who I went to a devotional to see, on purpose, and who I am actively trying to scan the room for), only be present in certain places in California? And I mean, my blog. The whole thing. Do I seem like someone who has trouble perceiving deities?
It’s not just me. And furthermore, it’s not the devotionals, either. Why would the exact same ritual techniques that work in Boston not work in San Fransisco?
I suspect the difference is that Massachusetts was settled by Puritan lay-folk and California was settled by Catholics led by priests, and that those priests were hell bent on destroying the traditional faith of the people they were colonizing. There are probably consecrations in place here that make the prospect of drawing the gods near more difficult than it needs to be, as a result of that effort.
What to do, then?
Khernips helps a lot, but it’s still not completely zeroing out the space. I’ve tried souping up my khernips with special extra blessings of the water and salt, and that helps even more, but it doesn’t quite cut deep enough. It’s like a room where something pungent has gotten into the carpet fibers. Vacuuming is not enough. The land needs a deeper cleaning before it can truly be hallowed again.
The reason it occurs TO ME is that the local spiritual energies seem to be giving me a lot of pushback on certain goals of mine. If I’m trying to bring about change in conformity with will, and the energies I am wielding are non-Christian, then I’m probably dealing with resistance which could be removed.
I want to do the exact reverse of what Saint Collen did. I want to bring back THAT kind of magic. But in order to do that, I’m going to have to understand the mechanics of how it was done.
I’m going to go make a careful study of some Catholic ritual, and come back to this problem with some Psychic Ka-Boom.