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Venom and Starlight: Between the Worlds / Sacred Space 2023

This weekend, I attended the Between the Worlds / Sacred Space joint conference in Hunt Valley, Maryland. It was a lovely conference, geared toward intermediate to advanced practitioners, with a multitude of rituals and workshops of interest. I was also delighted to find many food options that I could enjoy with my dietary restrictions, which is not always the case at large events. However, as wonderful as the entire conference was, I am writing here to focus on the magically significant experiences I had while at the conference, rather than provide a general summary or review. Without further ado, here are the most transformative workshops and rituals which I engaged in, and the experiences they imparted upon me.


Fifth Elemental Workshop with Ivo Dominguez Jr. and Aeptha


This workshop was offered to introduce practitioners to working with the elementals of quintessence. The idea of quintessence, or alkahest, a metaphysical root-element from which all other spiritual substance springs, has been a prominent part of my work for a while now. Especially when coupled with the ideas of the all-permeating thought-pulse of existence, and the chaos current which underpins causality. I will be speaking in more depth on these concepts in the next book I have planned.


I attended this workshop as working with spirit entities, such as my Eidolons, is the very core of my practice, and quintessence is of great interest to me. This workshop was an intersection of these interests. It also didn't hurt that Ivo was one of the presenters, as he provided me a blurb for my first book and has been very kind to me in my first days as an author.


The workshop began with an engaging lecture on these elementals, which were said to appear in flowing serpentine forms, followed by a meditation. During the meditative vision-state I was approached by two cobras whose scales were wrought of brass, who wrapped around my biceps and crossed behind the back of my neck and shoulders so that the cobra wrapped around my left arm ended up with it's head on the right of my head, and the equal and opposite was true for the other cobra. The two cobras' tongues flicked my brow, then each extended their fangs and lightly pierced my forehead, injecting a pure white liquid light that permeated my entire circulatory system, causing it to glow like branching mycelium. The feeling was ascendant and pure, they called this light Eitr-Bani, meaning something akin to poison/corruption's bane in Old Norse, which I perceived as being a type of spiritual anti-venom, and at the same time referred to me as Eitr-Bani as well, perhaps a kenning of some sort. The first serpent gave their name, which was An Ka Shah Dharma. Aside: While I was already aware of the meaning of the word bani, I learned the term eitr from a fascinating lecture on serpents and dragons in Norse thought by Ann Gróa Sheffield. This weekend was fairly snake-themed for me.



Gala and Auction


While attempting to be of use helping set up at the gala I spent most of the time there working on setup with one particular person, with whom I had pleasant conversation, this will be relevant later.


Upon beginning to setup I noticed a staff up for auction and my eyes locked upon it (Queue 'Some Enchanted Evening' from South Pacific) I knew it was a tool I was meant to work with. I've been without a scepter of Artifice (a concept I cover in 'Seal, Sigil & Call') for several years, and I knew this was meant to fill that opening.


After much bidding, I did indeed procure the staff, at just under my maximum budgetary limit. Upon holding it I felt as if a lightning bolt were in my hands, and I saw the image of the two brass-clad cobras from the fifth elemental workshop coiling in a helical pattern down my arm and around the staff.


Later I learned that the person I had been setting up alongside earlier had sewn the staff cozy for this staff, and the wood and crystals were procured by a friend of mine's coven's High Priestess. The wood was from a black walnut in the High Priestess' yard, and she brought the crystals from Greece (to which my Sicilian family owes a chunk of their genetics -shoutout to 23&Me) and Ireland (where I studied Yeats' work and which I have always adored visiting).


The Staff itself was made by WizardsTower, and through discussing it with them I realized I had been waiting for this meeting. Several years ago, during an unseasonable thunder snow on Samhain, an oak branch had fallen from the grove behind the house where I had grown up, which has since been sold. I had let this oak stave season for several years and, about a year ago, decided to store it in my largest snake's enclosure to receive his serpent wisdom. I knew I should commission them to carve it, as they would treat it with the respect it deserved.



Solar Mystery Ritual with Lighthaven


In the solar mystery ritual I attended, I saw many things I cannot readily translate into human language. Most of the visualization of stars I was asked to engage in immediately became three dimensional stars akin to elongated Merkaba. During a portion of this ritual, in which I was holding my new staff, I saw my entire body and the staff as comprised of purple light in which innumerable constellations of white and gold stars blazed. The two serpents now appeared as comprised of golden light as well, and I received the second serpent's name, An Ka Shah Tharna. At a certain point, we were directed to pass through sets of pillars. In doing so, I became a being of effulgent white light with six wings upon my back, the staff sprouted six wings at its top, and the crystals within it became blazing blue stars, above the staff's crown formed another bright blue star of larger proportions. I came through the pillars into the Sanctum sanctorum, and realized it was not as it seemed. I passed through several thresholds to reach this place, but it was a distraction rather than a destination. At the back of the chamber were closed curtains of heavy fabric. I waved my staff and the curtains blew back as if parted by a powerful wind. Beyond the curtain was a balcony overlooking a paradisiacal horizon of natural splendor and harmony between all consciousness.


At this point I stood in meditation on the balcony, overlooking the halcyon paradise, having regained my earlier form robed in purple light interspersed with golden constellations, the super-material chakras above my head blossoming like fractal lotuses. I wore a crown of many thin crystal points in blue and purple, hovering above my brow, as I breathed it blossomed and moved behind my head, becoming a flat halo of glowing crystal. Small wings of opaline light sprung from my temples. The staff became a white lightning bolt, the serpents in a helical dance around it. I was told to refer to the staff as Kerykeion. At this point began to hear a ululation all around me, and perceived a circle of beings assembled about me robed in the same purple skies as I, all were kin, some were other fractal selves from throughout time. We vibrated in eternal purpose and dedication to the furtherance of justice and harmony. I sensed I had inherited something that had always been intrinsically mine, but hidden behind an insubstantial veil. I now marveled at how thin and flimsy an illusion it was, and how it had ever obscured anything from my sight in the first place.


Gradually, as if we were two travelers passing on a well-known road, I saw one of my fellow celebrants in my vision, a friend and fellow author who had been sitting across the circle to my left before I had closed my eyes. He looked surprised to see me. "Why didn't you say you were a god?" He asked in a surprised and joyous tone. I thought for a moment, in which innumerable spirit-synapses fired a vast and branching array of ways to articulate this inarticulable feeling. "I suppose I thought it was a bit arrogant to phrase it that way", I replied. "Aren't we all gods?" I added, after a pause.


A belief in the inherent interconnectedness of all things with one another and with the divine thought-pulse of creation is a central pillar of my paradigm. As such, I recognize all consciousness as possessing divine investiture.


Many more things were seen that I cannot impart with the language I possess, before we were called from the ritual vision.



Closing Ritual


My final profound experience at the conference itself occurred at the closing ritual, where I mostly held energy, but during the invocation of the gods I was given vision. I would have expected to speak with Thoth, as I honor and hold Hermes Trismegistus as a friend and frequent co-conspirator. However, I was given a vision of Pallas Athena, who stood in a Grecian temple next to large Amphoras of wine and oil. She looked out at a Mediterranean landscape and then turned her gaze to me. Her eyes were sharp and knowing, but kind. A bronze spear was in her hand. She walked up to me and gave me a short kiss, one upon the forehead and one upon the lips, it felt familial. She then pierced just above my bottom rib with her spear (fitting for Easter, I suppose). I felt no pain, and rather than blood a dark substance left my body, it looked like ink floating in water. It solidified in the air into a black bead, which fell onto the ground and disintegrated in a bright magnesium sparkle. The wound healed itself with a light emanating from within my body, and the goddess smiled. She said something to me I was not meant to bring into the materially conscious realms, and cannot articulate with language meant to convey concepts of this dimension.



The Journey Home


On the ride home I turned to the internet to look up the names given to me by the serpents. Fear not, I was not driving distracted, my wife was the driver. An Ka Shah Dharma approximately means 'Shah Dharma of Knowledge' in Hindi, according to internet sources. Therefore, An Ka Shah Tharna Means 'Shah Tharna (ðarna) of Knowledge'. Tharna is a word in Old Norse meaning horizon/yonder/over there. I do not speak these languages, and had never head the word Tharna. Although, I had previously been familiar with Dharma and the concept of a Persian Shah.


About halfway home, I came to a rest stop. For the entire time I had been with the Staff since the end of the Solar Mystery ritual, it had retained its starry form when gazed upon with my second sight. However, upon leaving the car, as soon as I stepped more than an arms reach from it, its energy leapt to my arm. From elbow to fingertips my arm was now overlaid by this celestial substance, and the twin serpents coiled around it helically. This staff has not only become my scepter of artifice, it has also transformed my scepter of art and interwoven it with these Elementals of Quintessence, which has always been the elemental Alkahest that thrice great Hermes has bade me explore.



What I've Gleaned (TL;DR)


I had a very serpentine themed weekend. I have always enjoyed snakes, I have several as companion animals and recently one of them has started to come out of his enclosure onto my shoulders without prompting, which has been nice. They are beautiful animals, and have been dealt an ill hand by western religious mythos. In ancient times, snakes were considered to be emblematic of wisdom, and feature prominently in emblems of healing and medicine.


I have a feeling I will be processing this weekend's workings for some time. I have already felt led to offer direct channeling sessions, an idea which I had been mulling over for some time as I did not wish to offer this until the time was right. The time is now right. I also feel that I have only begun to see the very surface ripples of causality from this weekend's rituals. I believe I have gained much of which I am not yet aware.


Finally, I have engaged in group ritual of a magical nature for the first time in over a decade, and I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. As a solitary magician, I am unused to such things. However, I have been reminded of the benefit of being exposed to new ideas and energies in person as a salubrious supplement to digesting ideas by reading alone.


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