Cosmic Witchcraft - Book Faerie

Welcome to my online cupboard , feel free to look around. This blog will be a collection of my past, present, and future imagining...

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Reflections on 2019

My Christmas Tree (my photo taken a couple of years ago on an icy winter day)

Its all about timing. 2019 was a year that was filled with adventure for me. I married my love on the Autumn Equinox at at the moment when light and dark were in perfect balance. I moved to another continent in the middle of an ice storm and I emerged from the aircraft into the warmth of sunshine. Together we set up our home in a mountainous medieval village, which I had wished for many years before, but I hadn't known at the time I was casting a powerful spell. On the Summer solstice we brought home our two rescue cats Pixie and Merry, one a black tiger and the other a calico who quickly chose to be a familiar to each of us. Its always the decision of the cat. At winter Solstice I began writing a book on witchcraft that will be published in both English and Italian later this year.

The beginning of this decade was a rocky one having lost my Mother the previous year. I had many health issues that at one point were life threatening, and lost some very good people. But this was a good year for us and a grand way to end this decade on a personal note.

But here I am standing on the cusp of the new decade, with good health, blessed with a beautiful and loving family in an amazing country that has quickly become home.  And so I pledge to myself to release all things from the past that might have caused any negative attachments to prepare for and welcome new changes, new lessons, and new adventures. To welcome new opportunities to grow emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

The 2010s have not only been very difficult at times for me, but have been a very turbulent decade on a mass scale around our world. For many people I know and love 2019 was a shit year better almost to forget.

It is my sincere wish that this new decade will bring hope, peace, and much love and health for us all.

Happy Roaring 20's with much love Susan xo

Monday, 16 December 2019

Strange As A Whisper I Am There Looking Glass

"Die Liebe ist stark wie der Tod , so hart wie die Hölle. Der Tod scheidet die Seele vom Leibe , die Liebe aber scheidet, alle Dinge von der Seele" ~ Meister Eckhart

Translated into English the quote above reads: 

"Love is as strong as death, as hard as Hell. Death separates the soul from the body, but love separates all things from the soul.”

The following blog post deals with my experiments using a psychomanteum in the hope of healing the broken heart I endured after my Mother's death in August 2009. It was an extremely difficult time for me not only emotionally, but physically and psychically as well. Much of what will be shared below comes from a private diary I kept at the time of the psychomanteum sessions. I called these sessions my Summer experiment of 2010, and I will let the reader judge for themselves the true nature of what transpired.

Before going further I will give a brief description and history of the psychomanteum for those who are not familiar with it. The psychomanteum is based on the ancient Greek oracles of the dead. People who wished to consult with the souls of the dead would enter a very dark place, and then gaze into a reflective surface, such as a pool of still water which facilitated a hypnotic or trance-like state. The reflective surface then became a conduit into another realm for those participants who were able to achieve an altered state of consciousness. This evocation of visions, and spirits was considered to be beneficial and enlightening.

In modern times the psychomanteum was reinvented by Dr Raymond A. Moody, author of the best-selling book Life After Life. Experiments with the process of the psychomanteum led him to the conclusion that it would be a good therapeutic tool, especially for those who were dealing with an intense or prolonged grief. You can learn more by clicking the link, which will open in another window. 

For those interested in psychomanteum experiments I highly recommend reading his book first. It is fairly easy to build a makeshift psychomanteum within a quiet, darkened room, with mirrors, and a candle. It was Moody's book that gave me the inspiration to try out the psychomanteum for myself and I took into advisement his caution that this was not something to be undertaken lightly.

They still stand and in their silent rooms still wander, the souls of the dead, who keep their watch on the living. ~ Jim Morrison

My father had passed away 10 years prior in 1999, and with Mom's death, which followed a very brief and horrific illness I felt like a great big orphan. I tried to go into the psychomanteum experiment with no expectations, but of course the hope was to see a vision of my Mother, to tell her how much I loved and missed her and perhaps with that, begin healing my own deep sorrow.

At the very least, even if nothing at all happened, I figured it was something to focus on beyond the sadness and the other stresses I was going through at that time. 

It was early June 2010 when I began the first sessions. Special mirrors were purchased that I felt personally drawn to for the project.

At first I used a very dark and quiet room, and a comfy chair. This later progressed to a totally dark space with virtually no sound, pretty much a closet with comfy pillows where I sat cross legged in the lotus position gazing into the mirror with a very minimal light. The mirrors were positioned at a slight angle so that I could not really see my own reflection very well. This is apparently helpful to the process. I gave up on the candle fairly early on as I actually found the flickering flame distracting. The psychomanteum experience can be tailored around one's own ability to achieve an altered state in my opinion so there is no hard and fast rules beyond the very basic set-up.

I kept a diary with detailed entries for each session including the start time and duration of each, even what I did or did not eat earlier in the day. I see myself as a self experimenting quasi scientist with each of my summer experiments and this was true with the psychomanteum.

The first few sessions produced nothing really noteworthy beyond an eerie sensation of being watched. That feeling never went away, but as I became more comfortable with it, I was able to achieve a much deeper state of relaxation. It was then that odd things began to occur.

From my notes at the time, each session would begin with a very strong sense of someone, a presence if you will that was with me. The first and really only visions I had began as balls of light that I would see seemingly exit the mirror and dance about around me. With each session the number increased and they began to appear in various colours, sometimes very vibrant in rich blues, and reds. "Like jewels dancing in the night sky, little suns, ufos." This is a quote from my entry of July 10th 2010. And within a few days of that entry I began hearing disembodied voices or having auditory hallucinations if you prefer.

The "voices" I heard were both male and female and something else.... "very melodic almost soothing like the wind chimes in a gentle breeze." At first I could not recognize the language they were speaking, but it sounded to me to be German. This was the birth language of my Mother, and one which she spoke frequently at home, but it was not her voice that I heard, and was I assumed a different dialect from the one she spoke. I could not make out any clear sentences at all, which was frustrating. The voices seemed faraway and speaking very fast. And when I made attempts to really consciously listen to the words the trance state would be broken and I would be left sitting in a dark closet feeling even more frustrated that I had no idea what had happened or what was being said.

Illumination from the Liber Scivias showing Hildegard receiving a vision and dictating to her scribe and secretary

I really have no good speculation on why the experiment produced such results. The experience was not at all what I had expected, which at worst I figured would result in nothing more than feeling silly at even attempting it, or at best a true appritional experience of my Mom and similar to that described by some of Dr Moody's patients. Whoever or whatever the German voices really were I can say that they felt very familiar and comforting to me at the time, even if I could not truly make out what they were saying. This is noted in my psychomanteum diary.

The "voices" led me into some interesting research on German or Rhineland mysticism, which was a late medieval Christian mystical movement that was especially prominent within the Dominican order in Germany. It originated with Hildegard of Bingen who some believe was an early UFO experient if you put a modern space-age spin on her experiences and it includes Meister Eckhart who I have quoted above. In a bit of synchronicity shortly after my experiments a friend began working on her Master's thesis on Hildegard and in turn shared much of her own research with me. This was an illuminating and thought provocative period for me that took me into areas of study I may have otherwise never considered, and for that I am indebted and grateful to both my friend and the psychomanteum experience.

I continued on with the psychomanteum sessions until September 16th 2010, which marked my last entry in the diary. Over the course of three months I had experienced the strong feeling of being watched, of an unseen presence, beautiful balls of light, disembodied sounds including voices, and occasional knocks or bangs similar if not identical to poltergeist raps. Coincidentally the last day of my experiment coincides exactly with the death of Hildegard 830 years prior on September 17th 1179.

In my notes for that day I wrote, "I need to take a break from this, but I will revisit it soon again."  

I never did. 

"Love is the strongest force, more stronger than even Death."   ~ Said Myself.

I did not see an apparition of my Mother in the psychomanteum. When my Mom was dying in the weeks leading up to her passing she would tell me that I would always see her in my dreams. And I have.

The intense grief including anger that I felt at the loss of my Mom has long since ebbed away. Life if you let it will get in the way of grief, and while the pain diminishes, the missing never goes away. And that in my mind is how it should be, although it has taken 6 full years before I found myself in a place mentally and emotionally where I could openly share my experiment.

I cannot truly say that the psychomanteum helped me with the grieving process, but I did ultimately achieve a highly personal and interesting experience from my sessions. It does not matter in my opinion if they were merely simple hallucinations or something far more mysterious and profound, it was the end result that I found to be beneficial and worthwhile to me.


Please note: The photo of myself posted above is fairly recent and that was not one of the mirrors used in the original experiment. 

For further reading on psychomanteum research you may be interested in a series of experiments conducted in Alberta Canada in 2014. A new window will open up if you click on the link provided. 

More on the history of the Oracle of the Dead through this link which also opens up in a new window. 

Further suggested reading based on my personal experiences:

Spiritual Encounters with Unusual Light Phenomena: Lightforms By Mark Fox  (c) 2008
Published by: University of Wales Press

Apparitions: An Archetypal Approach to Death, Dreams and Ghosts by Aniela Jaffe  (c) 1983

Life After Life by Raymond Moody (c) 1975

Thursday, 22 November 2018

My Life Is An 80's Horror Movie

Vintage Ouija Board and Hans Holzer's Haunted Houses First Edition

There must be something spooky in the cold November air tonight! I have been having this vision over the last couple months of finding a Ouija board at the local thrift store, and on the third visit there it was sitting exactly on the very shelf that I pictured it would be. Even the box looked exactly as I had in my mind's eye. I'm only half kidding when I say I had a little shiver along my back and arms when I saw it.

This is a vintage board from the Canadian Games Company, and in perfect condition, for the mere price of only $2.99 and perhaps my eternal soul ... kidding, but, yeah I realise every 80's horror movie begins out something like this.

The instructions come with some hilarious and very dated questions. Here's a sample :

  1. Is there a single man present?
  2. Is he in love?
  3. Spell his sweetheart's name.
  4. Does he love her? ( this might be a fun one for the cosmic pixies to answer)
  5. How many years before they get married? 
  6. Does he kiss other girls? ( This might have bearing on the previous question) 
  7. How old Is Miss So-and-So?
  8. What street does she live on?
  9. What number? (This is getting stalker-ish) 
  10. Which gentleman would she prefer to walk her home? 
  11. Does she flirt?

Ouija thinks it might be a good dating tool I guess. Like I said, very dated questions, and it warns if you get an incorrect answer to remember that Ouija has its humorous side.

Along with the board I had a bonus find that was not part of my visions, but very welcome, and completely suiting the theme of my other purchase.

I found a first edition hardcover Hans Holzer's Haunted Houses, with some super atmospheric vintage pics of infamous ghost houses. This even more than the Ouija made my day. I love Holzer's stuff and there has never been another ghost hunter like him since.

Definitely a good day thrifty shopping for the girl who loves all things spooky! I will let you know what mischief I get up to with the board.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Cernunnos Monte Bibele

The Horned God

God of Nature, Life, Fertility

A series of photographs I took of wild mountain goats during a recent excursion to Monte Bibele, ancient holy site of the Central European Celts.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Saint Catherine of Bologna; Mystic, Artist, Incorruptible

Saint Catherine of Bologna, Catherina de 'Vigri, was an Italian Poor Clare nun, writer, teacher, mystic, and artist.

Caterina was born in Bologna, on September 8, 1413, she was the daughter of the Ferrarese nobleman Giovanni de'Vigri, professor of law at the University of Bologna. Despite being born into wealth and privilege she preferred to follow a very spiritual path and followed a monastic life of seclusion.

An image of Santa Catherine in life

She was described as being well loved during her life, and with a lively personality. She became interested in art, music, song, dance, painting and literature. There is a viola, some paintings and various writings created by her, including  her book The Seven Spiritual Arms, The Twelve Gardens, the Rosarium, and The Sermons, which has been preserved. 

Artwork by Caterina of Bologna 

Caterina died on 9 March 1463 and was buried, without posessions, in the bare earth. Surprisingly her body after death did not decompose. 

Testimony from 1463:

"When the grave was ready and when they lowered the body, which was not enclosed in a coffin, it emanated a scent of indescribable sweetness, filling the air all around. The two sisters, who had descended into the grave, moved with compassion on His beautiful and radiant face, covered it with a cloth and placed a rough table a few inches above the body, so that the clods of earth would not touch it. Yet they stared at him awkwardly that the face and body were still covered when the pit was filled with earth. The sisters often came to visit the cemetery, cried, prayed and read at the grave, and always noticed the sweet smell that surrounded it. Since there were no flowers, no herbs next to the grave, but only dry land."

And after her exhumation:

 "When we found the body and cleaned our faces, we noticed that it had been crushed and disfigured by the weight of the wooden table that had been placed on it. In addition, by digging, three of the sisters had damaged it with a spade. We placed it in a coffin, and we were about to rebuff her, but a strange impulse prompted us to place it temporarily under the portal. And it was then that the crushed nose and the entire face gradually regained their natural form. The deceased became white, beautiful, intact, as if she were still alive, her nails were not blackened and she smelled delicious. All the sisters were deeply agitated; the scent spread in the church and in the convent, impregnating the hands that had touched it, and there seemed to be no explanation. After she became quite pale, she began to change color, becoming redder, while her body began to emit a pleasantly perfumed sweat. Passing from the pallor to a color of incandescent amber, She exuded an aromatic liquid that at times seemed like limpid water, and sometimes a mixture of water and blood."

From  the circular window of her altar you can see Saint Catherine (my photo) 

Immediately after her death she was hailed as a saint, and on 22 May 1712 she was canonized by Pope Clement XI.

The incorrupt body of Santa Caterina de 'Vigri is preserved in Bologna in a chapel of the Sanctuary of the Corpus Domini monastery in Bologna founded almost 600 years ago.

On a sunny Wednesday morning this April I visited the monastery located on a quiet street in a very non descript neighbourhood of Bologna. The church is very plain from the outside, but beautifully humble and uplifting in the interior. I had been hoping to spend time with the Saint, and although it was not a day the public were normally allowed to be with her, the kind nuns allowed me to spend time alone with Caterina.

My photo.  My reflection in the glass with Saint Catherine.

She is perfectly preserved with the exception of her blackened skin from centuries of candle smoke, and there is a smell of flowers that surrounds her. She sits upon a gold chair with her bible in her hands.

Words cannot truly express the emotion and feelings I had in her presence. I am not Catholic. But I felt joy, and a sense of peace with her. I have visited several chapels and Cathedrals in Italy and I can truly say none has moved me so much as the Sanctuary of the Corpus Domini and Saint Catherine.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Witches, Feminism, and a 15th century Bolognese Countess

From high atop the Sasso Marconi mountainside one can view the Palazzo Sanuti-Bevilacqua a 15th century villa, and home to a most remarkable medieval woman, and early Italian feminist. 

While I was hiking through this stunning and atmospheric area I was amazed to learn about Nicolosa Sanuti.

Nicolosa Sanuti was the daughter of Antonio Castellani, a notary, and Margherita Franchini. After her marriage to the Count Nicolò Sanuti, she became the owner of a vast lands in the province of Bologna. Along the bank of Reno River, the Sanuti family built the villa that was their residence and still bears their name, Palazzo Sanuti. From the beautiful fountains located inside the property the adjacent hamlet took its name, Fontana. 

Madonna and child

Inner courtyard including a photograph below from the turn of the last century depicting the fountain from which the hamlet took its name.

The Palazzo Sanuti Bevilacqua Degli Ariosti is currently in use as a private residence and office, but the influence of the original Countess is still very much felt and remembered. 

The historic plaque above recalls Nicolosa's fight against draconian laws which dictated what women could and could not wear in public.  In 1453 Roman Catholic Cardinal Basilios Bessarion of Bologna enacted his own particularly restrictive sumptuary laws, especially with regard to women.

In response, Nicolosa Sanuti wrote to the cardinal (in perfect Latin) arguing against his politics, in which she underlined the injustice of having to oblige women to adopt different and more modest customs than those of all the other Europeans. She also pointed out that fashion was viewed as symbol of femininity, and that women were already prevented from wearing the clothes of magistrates, militia and priests. She accused him of not wanting to take into account the greatness of women who all descend from Sappho, Artemisia, and Cornelia.

Not only was her letter one of the precious few in that time period to be written and conceived by a woman, but she was the only one who contested the theoretical assumptions underlying the sumptuary laws.

The reaction from the government of Bologna was negative. Cardinal Bessarion left her letter unanswered. And the canon Matteo Bosso publicly questioned the identity of the author considering a woman incapable of writing with such eloquence, and in Latin.

Countess Sanuti was a contemporary of Ginevra Sforza the wife and counselor of Giovanni II Bentivoglio, Lord of Bologna, and Gentile Budrioli, wife of the notary Alessandro Cimieri and student at the University of Bologna, who was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1498.

All three of these women were unpopular with the Church and State, the Countess for challenging the sumptuary laws, Ginevra for having the ear and influence over her powerful husband, and Gentile for her skills as a healer and astrologer. While the first two women had powerful stations within society, Gentile did not and she may have paid a price for the sins of her feminist counterparts with her brutal execution in the main square of Bologna.

Nicolosa Sanuti died in 1505 in Bologna.

During the same year and due to several conspiracies the Pope ordered the Bentivoglios including Ginevra to leave the city, their properties in Bologna were looted and the Palazzo Bentivoglio was razed. Ginevra was excommunicated by the Church and she died on the 16th of May 1507. Her body was buried in a common grave.

The Palazzo Sanuti-Bevilacqua is located in an area where I have been studying local folklore. La Rupe of Sasso Marconi is geologically significant and has a rich history. In 1283 it was chosen as a site to build a shrine and sanctuary to the Venerated Virgin of Sasso. Over the years the rock mountain had been excavated, and there are a series of tunnels still visible, where in centuries past poor people lived like cavemen. On the night of June 23rd 1892 the side of the cliff facing the river crashed down and crushed the houses below it. 14 people died that night and many others were injured.

Following the tragic event stories of black magic, witchcraft, and strange mystery lights have plagued the area. Before hiking through the area I had not heard of the feminist Countess Sanuti before. And after researching more about her and her contemporaries Ginevra and Gentile, I now wonder if the accusations of witchery in the area and black magic somehow link back to the courageous Nicolosa Sanuti?

All of the photographs above with the exception of those from the historical archive were taken by me in March 2018.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Ostara 2018 - Happy Spring

This year I am blessed to welcome in the Spring in Central Europe, which will arrive today, March 20th, at 5:15pm.

The wee crocuses from my photo above survived a farewell snow storm that occurred yesterday in the mountains where I am staying. The photograph below I took on March 19th. An eerie, wintry silence; frozen, and beautiful, descended on the land, and just as quickly gave way to Spring. By this morning all the snow had melted, some of which I have gathered in a pot the night before for my Ostara altar. 

As Winter went out like a lion the Spring is now being greeted with the birds singing, green grass and flowers, and a wonderful energy of renewal and rebirth in the air. 

Some photographs I took of my altar and fire:

I have burned some of the remnants of my Winter altar including pine needles and cedar. 

A mysterious local pixie who has become a travel companion and symbol of good luck.   

For Eostre

by Galina Krasskova

"We hail the Goddess of spring,
of vibrancy, of stirring bounty,
of the waking earth,
that readies itself for the seed.
We hail the Goddess of sunshine,
and cycles, and changes,
and all good and terrifying things.
We pray for fertility in our works,
of minds, and hearts, and hands.
We pray for blessings,
and the gift of hope’s manifestation.
We hail the Goddess of spring,
as Her bounty covers the land.
Eostre, be Thou praised."

 Wishing everyone in the Northern hemisphere a magical spring equinox, and everyone in the south an enchanted autumn equinox.

It has been a tough winter for many of my friends, and family I am wishing us all a hopeful and joyful Spring.