Friday, March 28, 2014

Classic Grimoire Series

The Troy Classic Grimoire project, in which Troy Books are in the process of producing as a collector's series, will consist of thirteen of the famous classic grimoires. These are to be produced in affordable case bound editions, with high attention to aesthetics, created particularly with the practitioner-collector in mind.

Instructing the practitioner in such matters as the arts of the circle, the conjuration of spirits, angels and demons, the performing of divinations, the crafting of magical tools, charms, amulets and talismans, and the magical properties of plants, the grimoire has had a profound influence on the practices of magic in the modern period.
Encompassing high ceremonial arts, as well as lower spell casting and remedy making, these time-honored texts have an important place within the folk magical traditions. ‘Cunning folk’, who long had access to a range of these texts, made use of grimoires, often using them to craft their own ‘black books’ by copying by hand parts of their content deemed to be of use.

Each classic grimoire in our series will be case bound in dark ‘aubergine’ gold foil-blocked buckram, with ‘mulberry’ endpapers, and black head and tail bands and ribbon marker.
The first Grimoire in the series is: The Long Hidden Friend and written by John George Hohman.

The Long Hidden Friend first appeared in 1820 in German as Der Lange Verborgene Freund, appearing later in English as Pow-Wows; or, Long Lost Friend. It is as a result of this book that the Dutch Pennsylvania tradition of folk-magic known as “Pow-Wow” became so named.

It is a fascinating collection of traditional European folk-magical formulas for a wide range of spells, simple rituals, charms, talismans, bindings, prayers, benedictions, magical folk-healing, recipes and remedies for humans and animals as well as various non-magical ‘tips’ for matters or rural and domestic life.

In editing this edition for Troy Books, Gemma Gary, author and illustrator of Traditional Witchcraft: A Book of Cornish Ways, The Black Toad and The Charmer's Psalter, has arranged the formerly scattered and unstructured content into some order, organizing the practices into the categories of Curative Arts, Animal Arts, Arts against Evildoers, Protective Arts and Propitious Arts; this final chapter detailing a diverse collection of magical and non magical practices for general success, good fortune, safety and well-being in a number of areas including divination, games and gambling, hunting and legal matters.  This edition is illustrated by Gemma’s line drawings, inspired by Dutch Pennsylvanian folk art, charms and traditional hex signs.

Pagination: 80 pages, line drawings and figures by Gemma Gary
Introduction by Gemma Gary
Curative Arts
Animal Arts
Arts against Evildoers
Protective Arts
Propitious Arts

This edition is presented as a Aubergine case binding in Pinched Crown Quarto format 248 x 171mm with gold foil blocking to the front and spine, Mulberry endpapers, and black head and tail bands and ribbon marker.

ISBN: 978-1-909602-02-1

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crossroad Conjure Craft Part Two

The crossroads, a place of power where Conjure Craft begins...

The most common form of a crossroad is the intersection of two, preferably dirt, roads forming an equal armed cross.  In Appalachian folklore The Man at the Crossroads, also known also as the Black Rider, orchestrates power at this location.  Medieval witches were known to 'Meet with the Devil' at crossroads by venturing to these unattended places in order to sell their soul for power.  The Dark Rider is not the devil, that's another religion's boogeyman.  Traveling to the crossroads is a form of self-initiation showing one's commitment to 'the work' in order to create a 'link'; selling one's soul is neither necessary nor part of this practice.

The Dark Rider
If you're interested in learning the art of conjure it's advised that you travel to the nearest crossroads where the Dark Rider rules the realm of communication between mortals and the Higher Powers, it's here that you can ask His aid.

Dark Rider Offerings
He appreciates a gift or two and has a fondness for rum, candy, palm oil, cigars, sweet black coffee, and/or sweet potatoes, and while you're at it, bring some humility with you, His power is much greater than yours will ever be, so lower your self-importance accordingly.

Crossroads' Keys
Keys have been used to symbolize the unknown, secrets and the sacred for centuries.  Hekate carries keys to the Gates to the Underworld. They clink gently as they hang from her hip.  She fondles them with a familiarity we could all imitate when it comes to entering mysterious places.  Keys unlock the qualities of the upper realms which consist of the practitioner's mind, body and spirit. Unlocking the potential of the crossroads is possible wherever you carry a skeleton key, that is, once you perform the rest of the rite. 

What to Bring

Bring two skeleton keys, as similar in design as possible that you have cleansed of mundane connections; a small bottle or jar or rum, a cigar and matches. Travel to the crossroads on a Monday, Thursday or Saturday night around midnight.

Upon arrival, pour some rum in the center of the crossroads, light the cigar and place it respectively on the ground.  Begin to sing or hum a tune that you know well or compose one on the spot as creatively is always appreciated. Understandably, this may take some time.  You know what they say about conjure craft; it's a 'practice'. 

"Listen', my teacher says, 'and with time you'll become aware of the sound of hooves on the night air pierced by the bay of a hound; with time it'll change, you'll hear 'em right on the road comin' up behind ya.  Wait.  Breathe.  Don't be tempted to turn around, it's rude and inadvisable. Now, when their approach ceases you'll feel His presence right behind ya, along with the snort and whinny of His mount.  The still night air will ring in your ears makin' ya deaf to all but your heartbeat.  Don't be surprised if the hair on the back of ya neck prickles an' ya stomach's then ya'll know the times' upon ya." 

I can tell you this...take a long deep breath, then with clarity and strength of purpose ask Him to grant you a little Mojo for your talisman; ask that 'it' be imbued into the object you've brought with you to house that purpose. 

It's best to continue to stand quite still; seconds, even minutes, pass so very slowly at this point.  You've gotta 'sense' the Dark Rider's answer in your heart because He won't speak directly to you.  He weighs your request quite carefully and likes to sum up the situation in order to understand what it is you really desire; that hidden, unspoken intention down deep in the subconscious where it shields things so calculatedly.

Where does your desire come from?  Perhaps your ego?  Hmmmm, maybe.  What do you really want to accomplish? And is what you want good over all, or only good for you? Do you think that this 'self-initiation' protects you from the greater powers that affect your life?  It won't and He'll read you like a dime store novel, so fess up and be honest about this little exploration for power before you venture out on the road at night.

The Dark Rider's wise; He's a teacher who smiles and chuckles; He knows that you'll be taught a thing or two whether you like it or not.  That being said, most times the answer to this particular request of Him is 'yes.'  Be prepared for your hand to sweat as He permeates your talisman with a bit of His Mojo. Its okay to hold the keys in a death grip, that's all the better really, it'll mix a little of 'you' into them.  After you return home it's up to you; doing the work that is.  Strengthen your craft and build on what's been bestowed.  Conjure Craft is about 'doing,' not about asking for something and expecting it will be done for you.  That won't happen.  Be prepared to kneel in muck sometimes, get your hands dirty in a heady and visceral way.  There's no 'figuratively speaking' with this arte. 

Okay, now it's time to snuff out what's left of that cigar and skedaddle home.

On the next new moon finish what you started, or what The Dark Rider has started for you; it's waiting for you and remains to be done.

On that day, take a little olive oil; coat your keys with it letting your fingers feel their every detail.  Using a length of red yarn, measure from your left wrist to your heart while extending your left arm completely;  cut the yarn to length; carefully wind the it around the middle of the keys binding them together so that they're held together 'as one'.

Within this time-honored practice it's customary to wind some of your own hair in with the yarn, anointing them with a bodily fluid such as spittle, which is a powerful ingredient, also deepens the connection to you and them, making you partners.  Carry the key bundle on your person for one full cycle of the moon; let the magic build as the moon builds.  Personally, I like the idea of having them with me in this fashion for three turns of the lunar cycle; three is a magical number that I work with often with fruitful results.  Sleep with them; have them beside you when you eat your meals; handle them as often as possible, but always out of sight of questioning eyes.  When the time is right, and you'll 'know', revisit the crossroads on a full moon.

Bring with you:  a good sharp blade, your key bundle, some rum and a shovel or trowel. 

Do this after midnight, say around 3 am.  Upon reaching the center of the crossroad dig a hole where the roads intersect. Dig it down as deep as you can. Using the blade you've brought, cut the keys free of one another, save a short length of yarn, (enough to wind around one key about three times). Have one key and a bit of yarn in your left hand and drop the other key with the remaining yarn that once bound them together, with your right, into the hole.  Still using your right hand, fill in the hole using a tool and stamping on the surface to flatten and smooth it over as best you can. 

Now, take the small length of yarn that you've saved, and wind it 'round the center of the key you've retained, firmly tying it off.  This is your personal 'key to the crossroads', you will always be connected to this place because its twin rests secretly at its center.  Finally, close your eyes and thank the Dark Rider for His aid.  When you perform magic wear your key.

Your journey to the crossroads has been a moment of truth and the 'solo initiation of your intent' as a practitioner.  You'll return to the crossroads in the future as part of your practice.  The seed has been planted; but remember, the success of your conjure is up to you.

Another type of crossroads, often overlooked, is formed by a bridge crossing swift running water and this, like the crossroads, is a catalyst of otherworldly connection.  Through prayer, while facing the water, let the water carry to you what you desire, with your back to the flow, release that which no longer serves. 

Speaking to your ancestors while standing on a bridge can create a potent connection to them and their ability to send you aid in the form of dreams.

When need arises, you can create a crossroads in your home by simply casting a circle of power or compass 'round.  Using sea salt, mark the center with an X.  The X can be creatively changed using dots resembling a #5 gambling die pattern instead.

This quincunx symbol is used quite often in magical work. A cast circle symbolizes the microcosm; the space outside the circle, the macrocosm, where these two realms overlap ignites a magical current where change can take place in the physical realm.  Place your talisman in the center while you work.

Disposal of Tricks
Practitioners of the old ways tend to end up with bits of ash, candle stubs, charred paper, honey jar contents and other magical remnants from time to time from various spells and petitions.  Considered unwise and extremely unlucky to throw these bits and bobs into the trash, the crossroads become a perfect magical waste bin where the energies are separated by the four directions, and returned and to the elements of their creation.  When doing healing magic, the illness that you remove can be disposed of at the crossroads in order to keep it from returning to the client. 

The crossroads is a place where the frequency of travel, either on foot or in vehicles, is said to 'keep the mojo movin'.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Crossroads Part One

The Crossroads create a place considered "betwixt and between" where 'two realms touch'; a 'liminal arena' known for strong magic, where pacts are made and myth and legend dance.

Hekate, goddess of witchcraft and the dark arts, frequents such places contributing to the strength of the forces found there.  Crossroads are an important ingredient in the practice of magic which asks one to delve into the center where a vortex exists not governed by man or time.  Such a place is frequented by the newly, beloved and the not so dearly departed so care should be given to one's intention. Crossroads are the unclaimed, waste and forgotten areas where none tarry long for fear of what might happen there. 

 Because Hekate has always been associated with such landscapes, it is little wonder that sensing her presence there is often acutely felt.

In medieval England there were stories surrounding the late night activities of ghosts at such places, and it was thought, given the severity of spectral retribution on the living, condemned criminals should therefore be hung and displayed at this infamous spot.  This visual not only worked as a silent symbol of 'fair warning' to outsiders, it was believed to protect the town from the criminal's spirit out for ghostly retribution.

Consequently, suicide victims were not granted access to internment within the village graveyard even those which lay beyond the town's boarders.  Ghosts might place blame on those who survived them, whether they be family or town official, and moral responsibility was not a virtue of those who spat in God's eye by taking their own life.  Revenge by the dead was a threat, and anyone might fall prey to a grisly specter out to even the score.

What is important to understand is that there are in fact two types of crossroads one might come across. The first is more common where one road is bisected by the other; the second, and harder to find, consists of the intersection of three roads, or paths, also known as a 'fork in the road.' In the form of actual roads each one must have a different name.  This has been purported to be by far the most powerful type due to its rarity and is often referred to as the “corpse cross” or “the' way.” Funeral processions would take this track to confuse the corpse's ghost preventing it from following anyone back to town after burial.

The well-known Goddess of the Crossroads is of course Hekate, known by many names and often referred to the “Queen of Ghosts.” She stands, listening to sounds well beyond what the human ear might perceive, for She is quite intent on leaving no soul behind.

Since the time of the Ancient Greeks, Hekate has held dominion over this realm; and to this day, by those of us who continue the practice of Hekate Veneration, define the Crossroads as the Threshold to the Underworld. 

Offerings are customarily left there, on the bare ground, and timing is important; the approach of midnight is thought to represent the overlap of the past, present and future. Wearing a skeleton key, consecrated and dedicated to the Dark Queen, aids one in conversation with the dead and the other unseen forces that reside there, affording some protection.

Once the offering is left, it is crucial to walk away without looking back, Hekate is there whether you see Her or not, surrounded by Her night shrouded specters.  To behold Her face has consequences said to be dire for the living and breaks the code of nature, for whatever is given cannot be reclaimed, don't let your soul be amid the benefaction. Within this realm there is a collapsing inward of time, and with it, obligations to the dead beyond one's comfort. 

I am of the tradition of placing small candles directly into the cakes left as an offering, enabling Hekate's Entourage to partake of it's essence. The early Greeks were the forerunners of this tradition I'm told.  History tells us that regarding the Goddess Artemis, who, Hekate shares an association, was honored in this way in her temple in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  This flickering candles represented the glow of the moon, one of her many symbols.

Having left many an offering at the crossroads, I suppose to those who understand, it is common practice, to others driving or walking late at night, it is a sight which might instill both awe and perhaps a bit of trepidation as perhaps, it should.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Troy Books Fine Editions

Special Announcement:

Troy Books has made Gemma Gary's first book; Traditional Witchcraft A Cornish Book of Ways, with a new introduction, available in three limited editions to collectors.

"Traditional Witchcraft - A Cornish Book of Ways is a 21st century version of traditional Cornish witchcraft, of the kind recorded by Hunt, Bottrell and others. This is no neo-pagan or modern wiccan manual, but rather a deep drawing up into modern times of some of the ancient practices of lore and magic practiced by the white witches, charmers, conjurers and pellars of the Cornish villages. Their presence was still current when the 18th and 19th century antiquarians and collectors recorded them, and, although the 20th century largely put paid to their activities, nevertheless their lore never completely disappeared, and it continues to provide inspiration for practitioners today. Gemma draws on this knowledge, not only from published material, but also from the experiences and workings of ‘wise women’ and country witches living today.
Topics include the Cunning Path, the Dead and the Underworld (Fairy Faith), the Bucca, Places of Power in the villages and landscape, the Tools used by Cunning Folk (working versions of what can be seen, for example, in the Museum of Witchcraft), Village cunning, substances and charms, and Rites of the Year’s Round. This book gathers much material together, some of which has not been seen in print before, and thus provides a sourcebook of magical workings in Cornwall today, which will be an invaluable reference."
Cheryl Straffon - Meyn Mamvro

"First published in 2008, this is a revised and expanded second edition of the author's well received book on modern Cornish traditional witchcraft. As Gemma Gary says in her new preface, there is no 'set in stone' organized witch tradition in Cornwall and folk magic practices have always been unique to their individual practitioners. However in this excellent book she has managed to expertly draw together a workable new tradition from historical sources and the surviving rites, charms and folk customs of Cornwall and the West Country. It provides a valuable resource and guide for beginners interested in practising Trad Craft. However this reviewer is sure that experienced practitioners will also learn from its contents.
Very highly recommended."  Mike Howard – The Cauldron

A special edition, bound in green cloth with copper foil blocking to the front and spine, black end papers and red head and tail bands. Lithographic printing on 120gsm cream paper stock with sewn binding. Limited to 250 signed and hand numbered examples.

A fine edition, hand bound in scarlet hand finished goat leather with gold foil blocking to the front and spine, marbled end papers, red head and tail bands and green marker ribbon. Lithographic printing on 120gsm cream paper stock with sewn binding. Limited to 25 signed and hand numbered examples. This edition will be issued with a lined marbled slipcase.

A Special Fine Edition, hand bound in dark green fine hand polished and finished goat leather, with hand tooled raised labyrinth to the front, modeled on one of the two stone labyrinths found in The Rocky Valley, North Cornwall, gold foil blocking to the spine, marbled end papers, red head and tail bands, red marker ribbon, gilded edges and serpent motifs hand painted by the author. Lithographic printing on 120gsm cream paper stock with sewn binding. Limited to 5 signed and hand numbered examples. This edition will be issued with a lined marbled slipcase

The Leathers
The leather used in the hand binding of our fine and special fine editions are bought via 'Fair Trade' and are from free range animals. Only Sumac and other organic materials are used within the tanning process. The goatskin used for the fine edition of this book is tanned and finished by drumming and hand finishing. The special fine edition goatskins are hand polished and finished. The natural character of each skin is maintained, no pigment finishes are added and no grain correction is made.

Please Note: Troy Books anticipates the Special Edition will ship in approximately 4 weeks and the Fine and Special Fine Edition in 6 - 8 weeks.