Conversations with Samael

He says:

“Do not bend the knee for me. Stand. Our kind only kneels for the guillotine.”

“It is good to look at your stains. We are all rotting inside.”

“Grow a spine, worm. Being meek is weakness. Softness will kill you.”

“What will you do, when you are confronted with the darkest parts of yourself?”

“There is but one flower that grows in Hell.”

“Fathers are only there to curse you.”

“Everyone is stained. Tainted. In our sins we are all equal.”

“You sprang from my heart. We’re the same. It is my own black heart: you rage like the storm within us.”

“Without me, you’ll wither: you’re mine.”

And I say:

“I am my own. No one else’s. I will not change for anyone, even you. However much you want me, you can’t have me, and though my soul is chained, my heart is free.”

“Kindness is a virtue.”

“Mercy better than severity.”

“I never believe your lies.”

“I am no part of you, and-”

“Someday I will kill you.”

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Kissing Chava

The creak of the stair lets me know you
are there, in fairy silk, lukewarm tea
in an old China cup, right around the
corner with your Bible at your breast,
nose upturned as you drink in oolong,
white shift, quiet toes, old Boston
mansion, we settle to look out on the
harbor and gulls cry out their elegies
I would kiss you in dreams but awake
you just want cannoli from North End,
so we meander down ancient stone to
the tune of buskers and young laughter
damask clouds of dawn wisp above, and
you hold my hand, your skin is cold,
and you ask me my name, and I say to
you that I am the mountains given life,
born to rise up to meet your sea, and
you laugh at my stupid metaphor, then
peck me on the forehead like a fox,
we stroll under ancient oak and hickory,
spring rolls out flowers for our venture
an avenue of blossoms I pluck for your
honey hair, but the truth is I am walking
with myself, for I am the girl who is
never alone, and that I kiss my soul,
when my spirit leaves my body in an old
dusty mausoleum, seeks refuge in pinewood
floors, awakens in a bay window, and takes
herself out on a date, wedding gown, I
married Eve, and she is All Women, so in
companionship of the self, I am free.

On Semele’s Folly: Sex with the Divine

I’ve started a blog on being a godspouse and my first post is about a taboo subject in the Pagan community: spirit sex. This is unfortunately rarely discussed and met with derision in most circles, and as a very young teenager having these experiences with no one to turn to or talk with it about, I was scared shitless. I’ve learned a lot over the past decade and hope to be a resource to others. Sex positivity is really important to me and the more silent the pagan community is on this subject, the more people who suffer or young adults enter abusive relationships with spirits.

Miriam the Prophetess as Guardian and Healer by Jill Hammer

Proof that strong women go back to the dawn of civilization.

jill hammer cropped

The biblical traditions of Miriam the prophetess have captured the imaginations of Bible-readers throughout the ages.  Miriam, Moses’ sister, watches over Moses in his cradle (Exodus 2), and leads the Hebrew women in dance at the shore of the Sea of Reeds to celebrate redemption  (Exodus 15).  Rabbinic lore identifies Miriam with Puah, the midwife who saved Hebrew babies from Pharaoh, and depicts her as the herald of Moses’ birth (Exodus Rabbah 1:13; Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 12a). Contemporary Jewish feminists have established traditions of singing to Miriam the prophetess on Saturday night, parallel to the tradition of singing to Elijah the prophet at that time.   It has also become popular among some feminist/egalitarian Jews to place a cup of Miriam on the seder table at the time of Passover.  This cup is usually filled with water in order to recall the ancient legend that a well of water followed Miriam…

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The Queen’s Huntsman

The Queen’s Huntsman has bolts of gold, red, and blue
cloth around his quiver of hearts, a crown on his brow
for in truth he is Prince Charming in hiding, and when
he finds the forest thrall girl with flaxen hair, who
grabs his pant legs and sticks out her tongue, giggling
as she makes him the maypole with her hair ribbons, he
catches her as she trips, lifts her up to his shoulders,
her steed through the wood, his charge in the wildlands,
she grows long-limbed and curved like the moon as he
feeds her manna dew and relish wild, honeycomb sweet
and roots and jewel fruits he pares with his hunting
knife – they sit by the campfire as he reads her myths
of a queen who lost her heart to her huntsman, a ruler
with magic but much to lose, including her kingdom to
a jealous deathless sorceror, who cursed her to be no
more than a child, cast her into the dark cursed hills,
and took her throne – in time the queendom forgot her,
and only her huntsman, her knight, her prince remembered,
journeyed into the wilds to find his Belle Dame Sans Merci
and despite the fact she bled thorny fingers on his tongue
just to show how much a woman like a rose owned him, he
saved her anyways, taught her to reign again, for the
witch queen is but a child, then a teenager, now princess
and days in the summer sun grow long, and they have a throne
to reclaim.

Sweet Red

Sweet Red slumber kisses my tongue,
just a few luscious drops linger
I was not made for bodily drink –
but in dreams we guzzle down blood
garnets, suckling wine from bones:
your tibia cracks wide and hollow
mica veins entrenched in calcium,
I sip, I swallow, I staunch the
pouring wound, take you into me
we are always necking and breaking
open each other’s organs that whine
with music like a cathedral in heat
you intoxicate me in a way waking
life is devoid of, I will drain you
dry, and as you moan out my name,
I am dying too, for to taste Death
is to cradle mortality, splinter
open the vault of your rib cage –
we blend and slosh in the fluted
glass of our love, our ruin, our
merciless fucking and sweet lies
and so I offer up my finger bones
and toes to kiss and fracture, just
take me and bruise me, as I wound
you, we were born to destroy every
crevasse of each other, and all
parts of your body make me drunk
so I engulf, you envenom, and we
fall into splendrous, love-mad
stupor.

The Masks We Wear

The halo of fire lit the abandoned subway station like the Eucharist pouring molten soft into a cup. I breathed out flames, illuminating decades-old graffiti and mange-ridden rats. The pests scrabbled away from the heat, claws clicking on the cracked pavement. My companions set up shop, raising circus tents in the rotting terminal and suspending a trapeze from the barrel-vaulted ceiling. The subway station was faded glory, Rococo murals and puddles of filth. Here our carnival would rise, in the gut of Paris, leagues beneath the streets. It was half performance art, half madness. Amelié the bearded lady had first dreamed it up – why not light up the underbelly of France, with snake charmers and sword swallowers? We had done it many times before across Europe, across the world. Why not teach the terminals of Paris to sing like some lost Phantom from an Opera?

Fire breathing came like a second skin to my adopted family. We bathed ourselves in flames, and, purified, ascended to heights only seraphim knew. It was a baptism of sorts, that first time you put the chemicals in your mouth, held the torch to your lips, and spat your sweetest confessions to the heat. It was catharsis, a letting go.

“Francois, it’s time,” said Adam, tightrope walker par excellance, the only man I would trust my life with.

I lowered my torch and nodded. Our rites had just begun.

Into the silk tent we went, where the ringmaster was arranging the masked audience we had stolen from the streets above. They sat shivering in the stands, all modern day urchin children in haggard clothes – some homeless, other Irish Travelers, several human trafficking victims we had stolen from pleasure dens – all plied with popcorn they clutched with grubby little fingers.

The clowns held their small bodies steady, kept them from running away. The children shivered. One girl lifted the popcorn to her nose, sniffing to assure herself it was real.

I had been one, once – raised in this carnival of darkness. But in the black, the truth shone bright as my torches. I would choose no other life, if I had had to make the choice a thousand times more. I was wild, and so were the children.

The ringmaster, Armand, flicked his cane and motioned the clowns to seat the children further to the right.   “Bruno, move the blonde up a row!” Armand said. He turned to me and Francois and clapped his white gloved hands. “Ah, Christophe, Francois! Just in time for the act to begin.”

The orchestra struck up a foreboding noise on stolen strings as Francois and I scaled a ladder to the tightrope high above. One by one, the clowns untied the children’s masks. The boys and girls fell silent at the sight of me on Francois’ shoulders as he unicycled across the tightrope, no safety net in sight. I stood balanced atop my best friend, then breathed out the fire I knew so well.

Below, monkeys busted from medical labs, now on balls, scampered around the ring, and Amelié directed a dozen lithe women dressed in Columbine costumes in an elaborate dance, all in time with the ragtag musicians. The act melded together as Francois cycled back and forth.

I breathed fire to the rhythm, and the children’s fear disappeared as they brought their hands to their mouths, rapt at our performance. The dancing girls scattered as the Harlequin leapt into the ring, too-long legs bending at impossible angles as he pursued the Columbines. Soon, he had chased them all offstage, then began to sing of his lonesomeness. He pulled flowers from his pockets and threw them to the girls in the crowd, begging them to be his. Finally, with a rousing finale, the act was over, and Armand motioned for the lights to be dimmed. The children clapped haphazardly, not sure what they had just seen, and Armand turned to address them.

“Gentlemen, mademoiselles, you must be wondering why I brought you here tonight?” Armand said. The children nodded their heads in solemn agreement. Armand grinned. “You have no home, gypsy children. But we are here to offer you one. Join the act of Paris below, and you will never want for food or warmth. All of this can be yours.”

The children were mum, eyes wide as moons. Soon they began to whisper amongst themselves, faces darting to the dancers and actors.

Armand continued: “We will provide you bed and bread, a family unlike any you have ever known. We will train you in the theatrical arts, raise you to be wandering minstrels and mummers, putting on masques from Siena to Sicily. You have a choice, my dear children: our carnivale begins tomorrow, put on for the highest echelons of Parisian society, or to curious students who catch your eyes. We need children to lure them below, sweet faces to coerce them around shadowed alleyways and down ankle-twist stairs. For after all, what is a shadow play without an audience?”

The children, pale in the darkness and firelight, listened intently. I remembered sitting in those same steps, listening to the old ringmaster two generations before Armand, and deciding to dine on danger and wonder from that day forth before he had even ended his invitation. I signed up for the troupe in a heartbeat.

Armand finished: “You will be silent as night’s drapery, and rewarded handsomely for your efforts for the rest of your life, in coin and chorus and camaraderie. Our troupe travels the world, and nowhere do we not have a home. We will train you in whatever arts you desire, from contortionry to the trapeze. So what say you, boys and girls?”

I breathed a halo of fire that circled the room.

Francois cycled handstands around the ring.

The Harlequin bowed, and the Columbines started wailing.

The children put on their masks.

“Welcome,” Armand said, “to the Night Troupe.”

The children bowed.

#BlackLivesMatter: All Good People

There are dogs in the yard, howling at the moon
There are sinners like me our judgment’s coming soon
And I stand at the bottom of this dark and lonely well
Saying “please give me answers so I might escape Hell”

I watched from my window as they gunned down unarmed men
Tried to say it’s not my problem: couldn’t happen to my friends
But the truth is they’re my brothers, and they’re my countrymen
And if we lose our better angels, we won’t get them back again

Come on and raise your voice above the raging seas
We can’t hold our breath forever when our brothers cannot breathe
Come on and raise your voice above the raging seas
We can’t hold our breath forever when our brothers cannot breathe

Oh, oh
Oh, oh
Oh, oh
Our brothers cannot breathe
Oh, oh
Oh, oh
Oh, oh
Our brothers cannot breathe

All good people, won’t you come around?
Won’t you come around?
Won’t you come around?
All good people, won’t you come around?
Won’t you come around?
Defend your brothers
All good people, won’t you come around?
Won’t you come around?
Won’t you come around?
All good people, won’t you come around?
Won’t you come around?
Hold up each other

Teeth

Blood rivulets from neck to breast as you
sink moonshine fangs into giving flesh
the crook where earlobe meets collarbone
ripe as apples for plucking ruby wine
it hurts, it heals, your bite sings warm
I moan and bend in all the right ways
you caress and take, drink, tease out
all the secrets within my starry veins
puncture wound burns, you lap up liquid
surrender, and we become the Eucharist,
your body bread, my soul wine, holy, holy.

Holy.