While traditions often long to connect with something ancient and far older than our current neopaganism, there is something powerful about reaching through the flow of time, and bringing older magickal practices into a modern witchcraft context. The threshing floor was often a space of symbolism, magick, hard work, and gratitude for harvest. We could use more of this today.
Quote with image: This ancient threshing floor in the Canary Islands evokes a sacred space of community gathering.
I am a practicing Hekatean Witch, and much of my devotional work centers on Her. While in a course a while ago, there was an opportunity to connect with the older practices and reconfigure them to modern approaches. Personally I adore the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM) and bringing spells forward into our current context. Here I’ll walk you through the process I took to create the modern spell.
Figure out Your Intention
With any magick, the first step should be clarifying your intention. In a previous blog (link) I talk about making your intentions clear, specific, and possibly measurable in a way that you’ll be able to confirm there has been an outcome to the spellwork. I highly recommend having a clear intent prior to other work.
Once you have an idea on your intent, start looking for ancient sources that may have done similar things. In my example, I was creating a house blessing, and was specifically looking for things related to cleaning or blessing a home. I landed on threshing as it best fit with my intention of clearing away the old, and keeping the best. Remember, we aren’t using the spells as we find them, but sourcing them for information and bringing it into a modern context. Before we build further into updating a spell, we need to look at what threshing is, and why it was practiced.
What is Threshing?
Threshing is a process by which grains were beaten with a flail, or later, animals (usually oxen) to loosen the grain from the husks and straw. This was then followed by the process of winnowing, or tossing the threshed product into the air, and the heavier things (the good part of the grain) would fall back to the floor, while the lighter things (the chaff) would be carried off in the wind, or easily lifted up and removed from an indoor threshing floor. The expression of “separating the wheat from the chaff” comes from this.
What do we need to separate from to bring our best selves forward? Image from Pixabay.
Prior to the industrial revolution, humans completed this process with their hands and hand tools. There is some reference to this process being completed together by communities with festivals. I see this as another link to our modern day harvest festivals that we celebrate around Lughnassadh or Lammas. We also see the symbolism within witchcraft and other spiritual paths of the first of the harvest being offered up to the land, or the spirits, or a deity.
The Threshing Floor
Spiritually, the threshing floor is rich with symbolism in the Christian Bible as well, and is mentioned at least 25 times, such as this symbolic one:
“His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:12)
It is symbolic of the separation of good from evil, and the symbolic threshing of oneself – it is the alchemical process of transformation. Solve et coagula. To consider this in a context related to my witchcraft practice, I see this as a separation not of good from evil, but a separating of what is beneficial to keep, and what must be composted or transformed into soil to gain benefit. If we keep it all, the grain molds, and we harm ourselves. We place ourselves upon the threshing floor to have our grain/best separated from that which no longer serves us. The ritual scourge or flail holds even more significance when looked at through this lens.
After researching the threshing floor, I knew with certainty that my intent had become clear. To ask for blessings of protection and shelter, and to bring lasting abundance into my home. At this point I began researching where to build my spell from.
Searching for Spells, Getting Creative.
Where this was work with Hekate, I searched throughout numerous databases and books for ancient hymns or spells. The largest resources were the Chaldean Oracles and the Greek Magical Papyri. There is a lack of “complete” ancient hymns beyond what is in the Chaldean Oracles, and some spells within the PGM. Unfortunately lost to the wheel of time. So I would encourage you all to get creative and look at snippets as a part of your inspiration. You can also work with the voces magicae or barbarous words to call up power.
I found this specific hymn to build from, which I wanted to use for blessing my home. I see the threshing aspect as particularly important for both cleansing space and self.
Glass paste intaglio engraved with Hecate trimorph, holding two torches, two daggers and two whips. 1768-1805 British Museum
QUOTE(PGM 2745) But you, 0 Hekate, of many names, 0 Virgin, Kore, Goddess, come, I ask, 0 guard and shelter of the threshing floor, Perscphone, 0 triple-headed goddess, Who walk on fire, cow-eyed BOUORPHORBE~’~ PANPHORBA PHOIUlARA ARTIi)l’HI ERESCHIGAL / NEBOUTOSOUALETH
This was intended as part of a love spell, so you could write something as follows, still incorporating the words of power. Threshing floors were common in the ancient world as an important part of agriculture for threshing grain. So these could be associated strongly with your kitchen, garden, your hearth space and the love that these can create. I have created the hymn below, and welcome you to use it for devotional work at your own shrines to Hekate, be they in your hearth, your kitchen, or garden. If sharing, please share with a link back to my blog.
I mention offerings in this, and I suggest timing this ritual to the first harvests. Offer up a glass of red wine and fresh bread (poppyseed would be ideal, as poppies are sacred to Hekate). If you make your own, fantastic. If not, I would recommend finding local wineries and bakeries. You can also make offerings with a ritual scourge if this is a part of your Witchcraft practice.
There are often trends and rises in popularity for Witchcraft, with the latest tied to feminists reclaiming the word, astrological and political climate, popular TV and movie, and more. With this brings an incredible influx of new witches, asking questions that make many of us with 10+years of practice eyeroll and sometimes gatekeep!
“They aren’t real witches”…”Those aren’t signs”…”That’s not real magick”
This gatekeeping has got to stop. It doesn’t progress Witchcraft, and it certainly doesn’t serve ourselves or new/curious Witches. It creates an unwelcoming environment and those new witches are going to move along to something better. None of us know it all, and when we think we do it’s time to let that view go.
What does serve us Witches? Discernment.
One thing that often happens, in my opinion, is that the above type of responses come either from a place of experience and skepticism, or assholery. Now I won’t deal with the second. They aren’t worth the time. But if like me, you’ve said some of those things above from a place of experience, and perhaps discerning, then you’re still being a bit of a jerk but the reason for it is valid – and that means we can change our approach.
Discernment is such an important tool within witchcraft, and unfortunately few beginner books discuss it. The Temple of Witchcraft series by Christopher Penczak speak about it, but few other beginner books do. I’ll include some of my recommended resources that speak to discernment at the end.
Discernment is the act of critically reviewing the psychic/energetic information received to determine what is meant by it. Was that bird just the same crow that always flies by here? Does my toddler constantly giving me rocks mean anything more than they’re a toddler? Does constantly dropping tarot cards mean something beyond being a crap shuffler?
If discernment isn’t a part of your practice today, here are some simple ways to be more discerning in your practice:
Examine the frequency of the event. Something out of the ordinary is far more likely to have a spiritual significance to you than the everyday crow or squirrel in your tree. Not that they aren’t important, but as far as spiritual significance in terms of signs for you, they likely aren’t it.
Examine the cause of the event. Was the toddler picking up stuff just being a toddler again, picking up the usual rocks like toddlers are want to do? What emotions were you experiencing?
Examine what the experience is telling you. Is it always confirming what you already know – if the experiences are always good news or bad news only, you have cause to be skeptical.
Review what you were doing at the time. For example, walking by a farm and getting a spiritual message from cows far away in a field is pretty unlikely if you live down the road from that farm.
Another tip I’ll offer is that if you want to look for omens, signs, or messages from various daily encounters (a completely valid divination tool), then start your day by aligning yourself to that. When your day begins with a ritualistic practice such as a grounding, centering, brief meditation, and a card draw for the day, you are inviting the sacred to your life. By doing this you are working more closely with the energy and spirits of place, and you can then (alongside the critical thinking I mention above) discern more fully what is Real.
Another important point of discernment, which I’ll quote from the Grape Vine over at Patheos Pagan.
Does it tell me one of the following things that are very rarely/almost never true?
• You are the savior/the chosen one/the most important person in the world
• You are vile and horrible and not worth living
• Everyone is out to get you
• You’re not really a human being
If any of these occur I recommend seeking support from a trusted spiritual adviser, counselor, or therapist. You are human. You are worth living. No one is out to get you. You’re just as dull as the rest of us.
So in closing, experienced witches and new witches alike, discernment is important practice. Use it daily in your Witchcraft so that it becomes honed like a sharp knife, directing you toward the Truth. And experienced witches, use that sword of discerning Truth well, for the new witches don’t need to get stabbed with it to learn how to use the sword themselves.
Hear more from Jade by following her blog, and over on Facebook.
Known as Liber Resh, the Four Adorations of the Sun in Thelemic practice, written by Aleister Crowley, mark the liminal times of the solar day. At sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight, the suns liminal moments and directions are honoured. This year I adapted these to fit my understanding of Hekate as the World Soul, using her epithets to connect to the energy of the liminal times of day.
While I tried the Liber Resh as written, it wasn’t really resonate with me. Working with the Egyptian deities isn’t something I’ve done so there’s no connection or history for me there. This presented an opportunity for me as I wanted to continue practicing the Four Adorations as a part of my study and witchcraft practice. (Witch tip: working with an uncomfortable practice that isn’t actually causing harm can help you understand yourself, understand other practitioners, and connect to the gods in a new way).
In some Thelemic practice, the Four Adorations are performed daily. This doesn’t work for me personally, however I love aligning the solar energy. So I work with it at the 8 Sabbats of the Witches’ Wheel of the Year. The Four Adorations help us connect to the solar wheel, and the wheel of our life here on earth.
One of the most profound experiences of this practice was on the summer solstice, because I was staying up to drum down the sun, and was able to do all 4 adorations as timed with the liminal times of the solar day.
If you want to try working with a Hekatean Four Adorations, I share it with you here. Many thanks to Sara Neheti Croft for her fantastic epithets list, which I have drawn upon for years of magickal practice. I also mention particular grades used at each direction, which may be different than what others who practice Thelemic magick do – I am not a thelemic witch so I work with it as I need to. If you aren’t familiar with grades and their positions, you can always hold your arms up as though reaching toward the sun.
Sunrise/East/Fire: Hekate Erigenea, daughter of the morning
Noon/South/Air: Hekate Iokheaira, one who shoots arrows (the arrow energy reminded me of that of wands/Air, and the directness that air and words can provide)
Sunset/West/Water: Hekate Einalian, of the sea
Midnight/North/Earth: Hekate Khthonia (of the underworld/ of the earth)
*I work with this orientation of the elements most of the time. If you don’t, Witch, Do You.
At sunrise, face east (philosiphus grade/ Fire):
Hail unto thee, Hekate Erigenea in thy rising
Hail unto thee, daughter of the morning.
Hail to you who hast traveled the heavens to bring the dawn.
I welcome you into my soul, at the rising of the sun in the east.
(Sign of silence)
At noon, face south (practicus grade/air):
Hail unto thee Hekate Iokheaira, in thy midcourse
Hail unto thee who’s arrow blazes in the sky
Hail unto you who’s far shooting arrow directs the sun to my brow
I welcome you into my mind and my words, at the height of the sun in the south.
At sunset, face West (theoricus/ Water):
Hail unto thee, Hekate Einalian, at thy setting
Hail unto thee, queen of the sea
Hail unto you who’s horizon swallows the downgoing sun
I welcome you into my heart, at the ending of the day in the West.
At midnight, face north (zealator/earth):
Hail unto thee Hekate Khthonia, in thy hiding
Hail unto thee of the underworld in thy silence
Hail unto you who travels the depths of heavens in the darkness,
I welcome you into my home and my dreams, in the witching hour of the hidden northern sun.
Want to read more about Liber Resh and Thelemic Practice? Start here. And here for indepth conversations about ceremonial magick and qabala.
Welcome new followers! As I begin to set up my new website, I’m sharing a few of my older blogs and moving them here. This blog comes from Nov 2017, originally written for Hekate’s Day.
Liminal Space is Key in Modern Witchcraft
I’ve been reflecting on why it is that Hekate has drawn so many followers. What I have come to realize is that in today’s world, and in modern witchcraft, we are in fact yearning for liminal space. On today, a day when many modern witches celebrate Hekate as Goddess of the Crossroads, some might argue that we avoid those liminal spaces and think of them as negative experiences. But what I have discovered, and I hope you have as well, is that liminality, the space between, is where the magick happens.
Liminal space is where growth happens. It is where life, death, and rebirth happen. It is where cycles begin and end. And so, we need it. We need Hekate, and She is calling us all into these spaces within ourselves and our communities so that we can bring about growth, and decay when needed.
I remember once when I was a young budding pagan, and only recently had discovered Hekate’s presence in my life, that I was so keen and eager to get involved in the local pagan community. I pushed (okay, barged) my way in , created and was a part of some beautiful magick along the way, and like a bull in a china shop, broke things as well. Sure it worked for a number of years, but eventually, I broke my own hope for a community among other things. I have since found my witchcraft community with the Temple of Witchcraft, but the lesson of this beautiful disaster sticks with me – growth and decay cannot happen when we are just plodding forward. We need liminal space in which we can stop and reflect on where we are going.
Liminal space, as I learned from the above experience, wasn’t just an individual phenomena. Liminal space occurs within altered brain states (like when you can meditate, daydream, work ritual, etc), and I have to tell you it requires total disconnection from screens of any sort. I have found (as have a multitude of researchers) that having a phone in the room, and on, is enough to keep your brain’s focus elsewhere. It is a way to get a hit of dopamine and pull you out of that liminal space, and so I suggest leaving the screens elsewhere. If you’re a fan of music for ritual, I’d suggest any method of listening but your phone (iPod with the playlist, a CD, etc).
Liminal Space is Natural Law
The Hermetic Principle of Correspondence reflects this natural law – the part reflects the whole, and the whole reflects the part. We are a part of the cosmos itself, and so this liminal space is in fact a part of the natural law.
We as individuals pause, when we meditate, offer silent prayers, and experience personal growth in the crossroads of our lives. Communities (including families, towns, etc) experience liminal space, most often following breaks, deaths (and the subsequent death rites), and continued marking of rites of passage (for example, graduations, births, etc).
Our world experiences liminal space when we advance on a global level. Peace at the end of a war. A shift of consciousness toward healing the planet. Tragedies that affect the whole world.
Our cosmos experiences liminal space as well. Planets station. Eclipses have profound impacts. So, friends. If our world and cosmos experience liminal space, who are we to say “I’m too busy”. It is part of the natural order to honour this space. As above, so below. As within, so without. To honour this space and liminality, within ourselves and in others, we must go forward with forbearance, and patience. We must allow the growth. It can be messy, but, oh, dear Gods, is it ever beautiful. And it is sacred.
I therefore put forward to you a charge to find a space of liminality within your life. Build it into your day for growth and personal reflection. Build it in that you can find ways within your community to honour liminal space, find ways to connect to liminal times within the cosmos (solar festivals, solstices/equinoxes, etc). You can also use sacred days to connect to that liminality, using the correspondences of that time/space to deepen the connection.
Today is a holy day for Hekate of the Crossroads. Therefore all of my acts within liminal space are in devotion to her. My gratitude for the life I live and love are for Her. My acts of charity are offered up to honour Her. My fight for justice are offered up to honour Her. My love and pleasure are offered up to honour Her. My joy, fear, passions, and pain, are offered up to Her. My tears are offered up to honour Her. May I be blessed in the liminal space that she offers us, within the embrace of Her dark cloak of the starry heavens.
May you too find ways to Work within the liminal towards your true Will, for the Highest Good, Harming None. Blessed Be.