This is really just an excuse to post an image of a fresco fragment from Stabiae, one of the towns that was destroyed by the erruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. I really adore Roman fresco painting, and seeing as the sun is currently in Capricorn - according to the Tropical Zodiac which classifies Capricorn as covering December 22nd to January 20th, whereas the Sidereal Zodiac puts Capricorn from January 15th to February 14th - I thought it was a good time to post an image of Capricorn. Personally, I don't think the northern hemisphere attributes of the Zodiac signs fit in the southern hemisphere. You can read my opinion on southern hemisphere astrology here. I have a certificate in Natal Astrology from The Astrology School of St Kilda and have been studying astrology, astronomy and their relation to the seasons and thence the sabbats since the 1980s. I wrote quite a few articles on such topics for the Australian magazine 'Pagan Times' in the early 2000s. A rather old article on my take on the southern hemsiphere sabbats can be seen here, but for more recent work on the topic see the post below on Australian Midsummer and the book it came from 'Practising the Witch's Craft' edited by Doug Ezzy (Allen & Unwin, 2003).
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Australian Litha: 22 December: The Night sky unveils Orion the Hunter and his dogs, including Sirius the brightest star in the sky, rising in the east. Summer is Australian society’s festive time, school holidays begin and workers take time off. Down south, many native plants are flowering and fruiting, pygmy possums, kookaburras and sacred kingfishers are attending to their young, and dolphins can be seen along the coast playing and hunting near the shore. In the north, it is the time of the early monsoon. The wet season begins after the summer solstice and is caused by seasonal change in the direction of the winds. After the sun moves south of the equator, Australia warms up while Asia cools down. Dry, chilly winds blow outward from Asia, gather warmth and moisture from the oceans, and subsequently bring summer rains to northern Australia. As the season progresses, heavy rains fall daily and plants grow quickly. Freshwater crocodiles hatch, blue-tongued lizards and bats give birth, and the dangerous box jellyfish was out of creeks into the open sea.
Meditation: In the south, the increasing heat summons the cold-blooded snake to bask in the sun and outdoor revellers must give him a wide berth, his fangs more immediately deadly than the sun’s harsh rays upon the skin. Up north, the Rainbow Serpent revitalises the land with the first monsoon rains, greening the flora and bringing fertility to the people. At the sun’s zenith, the twin snakes encircle the arms of the primordial Goddess, delivering creation and destruction. Revere the double serpent-power, giver of life, bringer of death.
Litha. We sit on the dusty earth, fanning out in concentric circles around the Priestess who stands alone in the centre. ‘Close your eyes,’ she instructs, ‘and look within’. Continuing in a slow, meditative voice, she says: ‘Focus your mind inside your body, at the base of your spine, the area directly connected with the Land. Two snakes are becoming restless there. The cool, white moon snake on the left side and the hot, red, sun snake on the right are stirring tonight. Allow them to uncoil and begin rising up your spine, rising, rising. Now they cross sides, the sun snake on the left, the moon snake on the right, rising, rising. They cross back again. Let them continue up, crossing, returning, crossing returning, making a double helix pattern, all the way up your spine to the back of your head. Rising over your crown they come down to rest at your third eye'. We stand, linking hands. Accompanied by a slow drum beat, we spiral deosil in a snake-dance toward the centre. The Priestess, whirling widdershins, leads the spiral back out again. In, then out, in, out. Visions arise, time slows down, and above us wheel the starry arms of the Milky Way.
[From 'The Sabbats' – Caroline Tully. In Practising the Witch’s Craft: Real Magic Under a Southern Sky. Ed. Doug Ezzy. Allen & Unwin, 2003. pp 181-2].
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
My article, Walk Like An Egyptian: Egypt as Authority in Aleister Crowley's Reception of The Book of the Law, has been accepted by The Pomegranate: International Journal of Pagan Studies and is currently in press and due out very soon. The reference is The Pomegranate 12.2 (2010) pp. 20-47. I will link to the journal issue as soon as it appears on the web and if you want to access the article you'll need either a subscription to the journal, to pay for access to the article, or academic library access or a friend with academic library access (which means it'll be free). Meanwhile I'll post the abstract here: This article investigates the story of Aleister Crowley's reception of The Book of the Law in Cairo, Egypt, in 1904, focusing on the question of why it occurred in Egypt. The article contends that Crowley created this foundation narrative, which involved specifically incorporating an Egyptian antiquity from a museum, the 'Stele of Revealing', in Egypt because he was working within a conceptual structure that privileged Egypt as a source of Hermetic authority. Crowley synthesized the romantic and scholarly constructions of Egypt, inherited from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as well as the uses that two prominent members of the order made of Egyptological collections within museums. The article concludes that these provided Crowley with both a conceptual structure within which to legitimise his reformation of Golden Dawn ritual and cosmology, and a model of how to do so.
Monday, December 13, 2010
I was initiated as a Witch on the 19th of January 1985 and I'm doing my PhD Confirmation on the 19th of January 2011. I'm studying Tree Cult in the prehistoric Aegean, Cyprus and Israel (see the post below this one for details). One of the reasons I became interested in academia was the publication of Professor Ronald Hutton's book 'Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft' -- that and Robert Turcan's 'Cults of the Roman Empire' about Mystery Religions in the Roman world, both of which I read on the cusp of 1999/2000. Another factor in my becoming an academic was the Natrel email list run by Chas Clifton, (now called Pagan Studies) which alerted me to the fact that there was a vibrant international scholarly discussion going on about various aspects of Paganism and that in order to be part of it I had to "learn academia". I've been on that email list since 1999 and many times it has been the only thing maintaining my interest in modern Paganism which, since the late 90s, has seemed increaingly infiltrated by the New Age and consequently lite-weight. Initially I went back to university in 2004 in order to learn more about ancient Pagan religions and to see whether what academic experts in various ancient religions told me was the same as, or different to, what modern Pagan leaders claimed. You know: "Wicca goes back to the Neolithic", "the world used to be matriarchal", "casting the circle is an authentic ancient Pagan practice", "our lineage is derived directly from [fill in ancient celebrity here]"... that kind of thing. It didn't take long to discover that contemporary Paganism differed enormously from ancient pagan religions, both conceptually and structurally, and that's when I began to realise that contemporary Pagan leaders' claims were, in many cases wrong, deluded, or were a case of deliberate lying. This is one of the reasons why I like Hutton's work so much, as a professional historian he has done the historical leg-work that many Pagan insiders were simply unable (because they were not historians themselves) or unwilling (because it suited them to maintain a self-aggrandising, comforting and/or useful "history") to do and highlighted many instances of questionable historical claims that we now need to categorise as myth rather than fact. I guess this is why in some quarters of the practitioner spectrum, Hutton has become an object of hatred. This has raised its head again recently in the wake of the publication of a challenge to Hutton's 'Triumph of the Moon' called 'Trials of the Moon' by Ben Whitmore. While many of the anti-Hutton camp have lunged upon Whitmore's book, seeing it as a deserving slap to Hutton, as seen on the comments to a post on The Wild Hunt blog and on the Talking About Ritual Magic blog, academic researchers into Paganism have only just started to pay attention to it, as seen on The Witching Hour and Letters from Hardscrabble Creek. It is on the latter blog, in the response to the post about Peg Aloi's review of Whitmore's book, that comments about Hutton are actually getting quite nasty. (I could reply less nastily, but still snidely, that whatever the strengths and weaknesses of Whitmore's book prove to be, it doesn't really matter because one of the tricks of publicity is to attack a big target and attacking Hutton means that Whitmore can ride on Hutton's more famous coattails). Regarding some of the comments on Chas' blog, I'm still baffled as to why anyone would react so strongly toward Hutton's research. Have they even read his books? I look forward to an academic review of Whitmore's book, which I hear is in the making for Pomegranate: International Journal of Pagan Studies, where hopefully the reviewer can enlighten us all on the strengths and weaknesses of his challenge to Hutton (because they are likely to be qualified in the subjects they are discussing, not simply because they are an "evil academic" with the demise of Paganism as their goal). Many within academic Pagan Studies are actually Pagan themselves, which makes the accusation that they are somehow deluded conformists to the "academic machine" unlikely. The looming stoush between the anti- and pro-academic history camps that seems to be [re]generating as expressed on the above blogs will, I hope, provide another injection of fascinating dialogue into the continuing conversation that is the research into ancient and modern Paganism.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
As some of you know, I am doing a PhD in Aegean Archaeology, specialising in sacred trees and gardens. I am wondering whether anyone would be interested in participating in a tree and baetyl cult experiment at some stage (in the next year, in Australia), possibly at Mt Franklin (not necessarily at the time of the Beltane celebration), or another rural (or even urban) site altogether, in order to assess the bodily and cognitive effects of tree and baetyl cult? I probably should not give too much away and prejudice the experiment, but as brief background, the idea is that these natural objects, the tree, the baetyl (rock), are numinous and that ritual interaction therewith caused a certain effect - communication with the Otherworld, divination, prophecy. While I'm primarily looking at Minoan tree cult (that's Minoan Crete, as well as Mycenaean Greece, with comparative material from Cyprus and Israel), you might be more familiar with the biblical examples of the Asherah, both a tree and a goddess, and the Beth El (Beth = house, El = God : baetyl) the stone that Jacob used as a pillow, subsequently had a communication with G*d through a dream while lying upon, and then set up as a massevoth (sacred stone). In Israel tree and pillar cult were enacted at bamot (high places) in the landscape. I need to enact tree cult with some other people, and record the effects. I'm just putting this idea out there. I have previously participated in (someone else's) experimentation with Minoan gestures known from cultic imagery and figurines along with 'sonic driving' by the shaking of a sistrum, and whether this caused or aided trance, and that was a very interesting experiment.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
According to Anton La Vey there are two types of magic: High Magic and Low Magic. High Magic refers to ‘ritual magic’ and Low Magic to the magic of ‘situation-manipulation’. In La Vey’s system ritual magic is performed in a similar way to that which many contemporary magical practitioners would be familiar with: there is a general circle format, an evocative setting, supernatural beings are asked to assist, symbolic tools are used, and the practitioner needs to be specific about and concentrate on their goal. The point is — unlike a lot of other types of modern magic — to actually achieve a result, not to just revel within a magic ritual, that being enough of a result for many people.
In addition, the High Magic system of La Vey has only three types of ritual: rituals for Compassion, for Lust and for Destruction. In each of these rituals the practitioner is required to be fully involved emotionally with the purpose of the ritual, for example in a recent Lust ritual I needed to become physically lustful — La Vey says that if you can’t achieve an orgasm over the person you are lustful toward within a ritual designed to attract that person, then you don’t deserve to have them! So what one is meant to do in these sorts of rituals is to evoke as best as possible the real-world scenario of the desired result and become immersed within that — essentially fantasy — world as if it is real.
If I want to attract someone sexually I need to be actually desirous of them, otherwise I need to analyse whether I should be doing, say, a Compassion ritual instead. It depends on what I want the person for. La Vey liked to pare back human needs into simple categories: desire, hunger, anger. He believed that humans are simply clever animals — which we are — and so when you take on his type of system you have to do a lot of analysis of yourself and of the situations you find yourself in and then try and work out what kind of ritual approach is the best one, or if ritual actually is the correct approach to a problem or situation. I need to stress that many La Veyean Satanists do not do a lot of structured ritual, certainly not a lot of group ritual, because effective ritual needs intense concentration and that’s not easy to achieve in a group, unless you are very close.
As for the ‘Low Magic’ which really is the type of magic I like best these days and, in my opinion, is actually more difficult than the more formal ritual magic which is just a case of following procedure. La Vey’s Low Magic also involves a three-fold category, the Witch or Warlock (yes, La Veyean male Witches are called Warlocks) need to assess themselves first because they are their own tool in this type of magic. You need to assess your effect on other people — because this is really about interacting with other people and getting them to conform to your will — so you need to be well-informed about your appearance, your sound, your smell, the subtle and not-so-subtle animal cues that people give to each other all day without thinking about it.
La Vey believed there are three general categories that people fit into: Sex, Sentiment and Wonder. Sex is pretty self-explanatory, sentiment means that you evoke pleasant memories in another thus making them open up to you and wonder can incorporate a range of reactions ranging from admiration to fear. Other people will view you and classify you (semi- or subconsciously) into one or a combination of these categories. La Vey believed that there are predictable responses different types of people have to the Sex, Sentiment and Wonder categories and you need to assess yourself in regards to those categories and assess your quarry and how their type is known to react to those qualities. You need to work out which category you fit into and then take it from there. It’s about appearing to become a ‘package deal’ and people thinking they have you all worked out, when they actually don’t.
Basically it is about acting. For example, I seem to come across as a mixture of sex and wonder, I don’t think I project any sentiment. Depending on whom I am dealing with and what I want from them I may have to modify my ‘normal’ projection to one that they will be responsive to. For example, an overconfident, macho he-man would be more receptive to a coy ingénue who appears to think everything he says or does is “really amazing”; a submissive male would be more likely to shiver with delight if I were to come across as very stern, dominating and no-nonsense—neither of those are the ‘real me’, it’s a case of me assessing a quarry and then putting on an act.
But is it magic? Well, Aleister Crowley defined magic(k) as the art and science of causing change in accordance with your will — he never specified a particular way to achieve that change, just that you do achieve it. So my opinion regarding La Vey’s Low Magic system is that while it is not a ritual procedure, it is definitely ‘magic’.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I swiped this photo from Facebook because I thought it was so unusual. What's going on here? Does anyone know the history of this photo? Is it a real event? Anyway, despite its rather destructive imagery, I rather like its composition...
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I'm surprised that Stephen J. Yeates' books on the Hwicce aren't having more fuss made about them from within the Wiccan/Pagan scene - at least not so as I could notice. I would have thought that they'd be a wonderful source of potential evidence for the historical authenticity of British Wicca beyond the 1950s when Gerald Gardner claimed to have met some witches. Especially seeing as since the publication of Ronald Hutton's book, The Triumph of the Moon, many of the historical claims of Wicca have been shaken and stirred - to quite an extent (although, see an interesting new critique by an Alexandrian witch of Hutton's book here). One would think that Stephen Yeates' books might redress Hutton's historical destabilising of Wicca somewhat. At the least, he has specifically used the word 'witches' in his title, suggesting that he's wanting to point the books in that direction. I've searched quite a bit for reviews of his books and have only come across the Cambridge Archaeological Journal review on the first book, a review of both of them on The Twisted Tree, and apparently there's a forthcoming review of the second book coming out in British Archaeology Nov/Dec 2010 issue (which I don't have yet). There might be others that aren't showing up in my search, so I'd be interested to hear of more. There are some quite good reviews of the books on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Apparently 'Hwicce' means, according some 'chest or trunk' and according to Yeates, 'vessel or cauldron'. Either way, it sounds like it means something to do with a container. Plus I've always been told that 'wicce' is the feminine form of the Anglo-Saxon word for 'witch' (and that 'wicca' was the masculine form). Why sure, the Hwicce might not have anything to do with Wiccans (as we know them today)... but then again they might - we all know how much part a sacred vessel plays in modern Witchcraft. Frankly, I need to read these books myself, which I am about to do. Then I'll post a review of them. The third book pictured here The Anglo-Saxon Landscape also covers the territory of the Hwicce, which is why it is included.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Ever since my article on the reception of The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley got accepted by The Pomegranate (in press), I've been haunted by My Past just "appearing". This has led me to re-visit that past, which is weird, as I usually cut the past off with a guillotine blade... I don't usually look back at it. There are simply heaps of people I used to hang out intensively with that I now don't. Anyway, I have followed it up and come across my very first magickal instructor, various past friends (some of whom are still friends) and weird ancient memories from when I lived in the country, particularly 1987 at Mount Franklin. Why is this so weird... Can't I have a past? I guess I have such intense experiences with people - whether lovers or close friends - we tend to "break up" quite dramatically, so to see or hear from them again is surprising, but it probably shouldn't be. Anyway, I've gone through some of my past photo albums, three pics from which are shown here: Me and pals at Mount Franklin; me, MJ and DGM somewhere in Central Victoria where we used to live; and me with herbalist-witch David O'Connor, he and I shared a flat for about a year. I suppose I've been such an antisocial hermit for the last decade... Hmm, maybe I should re-think that.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
When I first got a blog I'd just missed a blogging trend where people had posted photos of their piles of books onto their blogs. I really wanted to do it too, but I think I must not have had a digital camera at that stage or something. I was recently reminded of these pics of books, while looking through some year-old photos - they actually date to 2009. So I thought I'd post 'em up here. I love books, I now have some new bookshelves in my 'office' - yay! - but before that some of my books (as you can see in these photos) were stacked up in the most messy and crazy way... on the floor, on a desk... But now they are in bookshelves. All the other books in the domus are in bookshelves, starting with the blue bookshelf in the last pic that I got for only $20 from some student in the next street - bargain. Then all down the hall, into the lounge room, bookshelves everywhere. I'll leave those pics for another day (primarily because I haven't actually taken them yet). Can one actually have too many books? I don't think so. I do think I need a new house to put them in though. I'm thinking the 'white cube' look might be good, like an art gallery, with books lining all the walls. My ‘office’ is also somewhat re-arranged now too. The desk is under the fresco paintings calendar now, and in the corner are my bewdiful Officeworks bookshelves. (Despite the many bookshelves in this domus, we really could still do with more…).
Monday, November 1, 2010
Modern Druids are making a fuss about ancient human remains on display in museums in Britain. How it is any of their business one cannot begin to guess. I suppose they need to think of ways to stay in the media's ever-hungry headlights... and claiming to be 'new indigenes' - likening themselves to colonised peoples such as Australian Aboriginals or Native Americans who do have a legitimate claim to have their actual relatives owned by museums re-buried - seems to be working for them. It is difficult however, to see how Druid claims regarding museum objects such as, for example the Babylonian plaque, the 'Queen of the Night', are actually 'Druid'. The behavior of Honouring the Ancient Dead (HAD), the group spearheading this activity, is unnecessary, appears contrived, and smacks of self-publicity under the guise of a virtuous ‘cause’. Not all contemporary Pagans are pro-reburial of human remains in museums however, see Pagans for Archaeology ,
Thursday, October 28, 2010
“Hear me, Lord of the Stars.
For thee I have worshipped ever
Witch stains and sorrows and scars,
With joyful, joyful endeavour.
Hear me, O lilywhite goat
Crisp as the thicket of thorns
With a collar of gold for thy throat,
A scarlet bow for thy horns.”
“Our way is the way of the serpent in the underbrush,
Our knowledge is in the eyes of goats and of women.”
In the last decade or so Witchcraft’s membership has swelled considerably, making it one of the fastest growing spiritual paths in the Western world. Many of the new recruits are female and this has led the media and other outside observers to adopt a skewed image of just who Witches are. Witchcraft is frequently portrayed as a women’s religion: indeed, many people are surprised to learn that men can be Witches at all. Within the Craft itself there has also emerged a strong tendency to promote the Goddess over the God and to see the feminine as more worthy than the masculine. One of the reasons for this is to correct the imbalance incurred by thousands of years of women’s oppression by patriarchal society, and this is admirable. However, we need to take care that we don’t make men into second-class citizens in the Craft, or the Horned God into a scapegoat.
I asked prominent Pagan, Hawthorn, if he thought the Craft was too girly? “The relative lack of attention to the male aspect in some forms of modern Craft is unfortunate. When I got into the Craft there were a lot more men than women involved in the groups I was aware of, particularly in positions of responsibility. That situation has changed considerably since then. There are now many more active women facilitators and I think that is a good thing. However, the apparent perception that the Craft is women’s business is a worrying trend. The Craft has much to offer men and men have much to offer the Craft.”
One of the most attractive things about the Craft for women is undoubtedly the emphasis on a female deity, the Goddess. It is so empowering to discover God in our own image, a Goddess who actually understands us. Unlearning all the traditional taboos of femininity – submissiveness, silence, sin – and reclaiming menstruation and sexuality become spiritual journeys in themselves that Witchcraft actively encourages. It’s therefore no wonder that women feel like we’ve “come home.” Witchcraft can be a welcome respite from the “men’s world” so prevalent in contemporary society, and a haven for many women who, quite often, have been so turned off the idea of any sort of male Gods that they see no reason to include them in their practice.
Witchy woman, Briar, says that: “When I first came to realise my Path as a Witch, it was through discovering women’s spirituality and Goddess worship. I come from a particularly negative Christian church experience, which also involved an abusive marriage, and I didn’t want anything male in my sacred space... It’s only now, five years down the track, that I can even consider the thought of learning about and working with male Gods. I will always primarily work with Goddesses but I am in a place now where I am moving toward accepting God energy into my life.”
Many men also welcome the chance to see deity as female. Regional Pagan Alliance coordinator, Kim Robertson, explains that: “For the last year or so most of the magickal work I have done has been with Luna, the Moon Goddess in her raw and natural form, and also with Gaia, Mother Earth. Both of them are gentle. Luna is a wise teacher of those on the path to spiritual growth and is also a great deity to work with in ritual – she is like an older sister or young aunt. Gaia is more the one who is with me all the time, letting me know that I am loved as a person wherever I go, that I am the child of the Gods and will never be alone.” It can also be exhilarating for men to work in partnership with the Goddess’s priestesses – strong, assertive, intelligent women. Indeed, according to Hawthorn: “being surrounded by lots of powerful, self-confident women is a big turn-on for many Pagan men, myself included.”
Unlike many female Witches however, as much as Pagan men love and revere the Goddess, they are less likely to exclude her consort, the masculine aspect of deity known as the Horned God – and why would they? One of humanity’s most ancient deities, the Horned God of Witchcraft has a great deal to offer men, including a model of masculinity which rejects patriarchal “power-over.” In her ground-breaking book The Spiral Dance Starhawk describes the Horned God as “the power of feeling, and the image of what men could be if they were liberated from the constraints of patriarchal culture.”
Hawthorn explains that: “A lot of male Pagans are attracted to Paganism partly because the ideal of manliness doesn’t buy into a lot of the aggressive male stereotypes that mainstream society does.” Auld Hornie is strong but not violent, playful yet deep, sexual but not sleazy, loving without being possessive, and emotional without fearing disintegration. He is a God, a man, an animal, a plant, even a soil-bug, and is so connected to the Earth that if he lies down for too long he is likely to sprout leaves!
The Horned God also has a lot to give women. As a male paradigm which exists outside the cabal of stern father Gods and their sons, the Horned One offers a way for women to learn about, make peace with, and embrace masculinity if they choose to. Obviously no one should be coerced into acknowledging the traditional male aspects of the Witch Gods, and certainly within the Craft there are perfectly satisfying, exclusive women’s mysteries honouring the Great Goddess. But that is only half the story. In Traditional Craft, alongside the Goddess there is an equal presence of a male deity: he of many names and faces, Lord of Life and Death. Like the Chinese symbol of Yin and Yang, the Goddess and God of Witchcraft are complementary and inseparable, the two sides to the one coin.
Even if women choose to ignore male deities, and men in general, the masculine principle in nature is not simply going to disappear. Fathers, brothers, sons, the man in the local diner – men are unavoidable and the Horned God exists, whether we choose to acknowledge him or not. Maybe we are a bit scared of him? Pagan writer, Gavin Andrew, proposes that: “...a lot of women (and men) exploring the Craft are dealing with a great deal of cultural imprinting as it relates to the Horned God/Devil paradigm. I’d suggest that the reason why the Goddess is more appealing is that the fear factor, learned at Sunday School or other places very early in life, isn’t there. I think that men as well as women should look into the God of Witchcraft more, if only to help identify and alter this cultural imprinting within themselves.”
The Goddess image provides a divine personage for women who extol the special attributes of being female. Yet I feel that it is important to balance the feminine force with the masculine, as night is complemented by day and the moon by the sun. According to a Jungian interpretation of the Craft, for in individual to attain inner unity, unrealised aspects of our inner self must be acknowledged and embraced – for women the animus or inner male, and for men, the anima or inner female. So, for women, invoking the God is actually psychologically healthy, just as it is for men to invoke the Goddess. Meeting the divine opposite becomes a personal alchemical marriage. In Kim’s experience: “As a man and an active eclectic magickal practitioner, I have evoked and invoked Gods and Goddesses and played all parts in ritual. I find that playing either gender role in ritual is a journey where you learn, either about your own gender, or that of the opposite.”
Restricting the deities we work with to a single gender decreases the number of magickal experiences available to us by half. Why limit ourselves in this way? If we refuse to let biological gender determine the other aspects of our lives, why would we allow it in Witchcraft? Through familiarity with an energy which is dissimilar to our own, we grow and become wiser, our sphere of consciousness becomes broader – and connecting with the Horned God doesn’t have to mean abandoning the Goddess!Katherine, a Witch who is very much involved in women’s blood mysteries, says: “I relate to the Horned God as a lover mostly, the face of the primal, sexual masculine, erect, virile, powerful... He’s a big part of my pantheon. Him, the Green Man, Pan and Odin are the faces of the Gods that I relate to the most at present. The Gods don’t tend to have much to do with Menstrual Magick, although Odin has his own relationship with it, sly bugger.”
The Horned God can be approached in many ways and it might be more useful to meet up with him in trance, before going all out and invoking him. Environmental activist and Witch, Indigo, describes a vision she had in which she encountered a Hunter figure: “He stands to face the growing light of sunrise, and from behind I see that what I took to be a headdress is the mass of his own tangled hair with a small set of horns protruding from his skull. As I watch, the horns change from one form to another. They are the horns of a goat, the antlers of the elk, the curved horns of the ibex, the heavy burden of the buffalo. They are the weapons of the bull, the curled protection of the ram, the tines of the stag, and the pointed scimitars of the oryx. In this half light, he is all these things, the hunter, the hunted, prey and predator, poised to both flee and fight, the wild and free, and the beast of burden.”
Or he may come to you of his own volition. I love this description of an epiphany which Hawthorn had: “I’ve always felt a strong relationship with the God. The last time I was in England I went to see the Cerne Abbas Giant. Whilst wandering around the site I saw an amazing beech tree that was bent so that the upper trunk was at 90 degrees to the lower trunk and parallel with the ground. The top branches of the tree were brushing the top of a small earthen mound. I don’t know if it was natural or man-made, ancient or modern – it could have been a midden for all I know – but the tree drew me to it. I sat on the mound and closed my eyes. Within a short time the area around me as filled with the sounds of footsteps and rustling vegetation, but there was no wind. I heard and felt footsteps walk up behind me and felt an overwhelming presence. I opened my eyes and noticed my shadow – jutting out from my head were the shadow outlines of a pair of horns. The feeling was uncanny, I did not look around, but stayed there in a sort of trance for an indeterminable time.”
One of my own favourite manifestations of the Horned God is Pan who reminds me that we are all animals – smart ones, but animals nevertheless. The ancient Greeks represented Pan as having the legs and horns of a goat but his appearance can actually range from that of a real goat standing upright, through to a man with a goatish face, human torso and goat legs, to a wholly human form sporting curved horns upon his head. A very popular deity in antiquity, Pan survived in medieval Europe as the goat-footed God of the Witches. The Christian church turned him into the Devil and the cloven hoof, once the sign of fertility and abundance, was regarded as evil. Anyone who has had much to do with real goats will know why they have a reputation as consorts of Witches. A buck goat looks like a man with a beard and wants to hump anything – including human females! Female readers, you might try going up to the fence next time you spy a billy goat and see if he doesn’t curl his lip in an epicurean fashion whilst inhaling your woman scent! It can be quite confronting for a city-dweller, but that’s Nature in all her incomprehensible glory.
By Caroline Tully. This article is first appeared in Pop! Goes the Witch: The Disinformation Guide to 20th Century Witchcraft. By Fiona Horne (Ed). (New York. Disinformation. 2004). Available online from www.fionahorne.com
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
This is part of a presentation I did in conjunction with Tim Hartridge at the Australian Wiccan Conference 2007. I did Part 1 Nut: Whence the Star Goddess? and Tim did Part 2 Nuit's Veil: An archetype of a witches’ coven.
Nut Presentation - Australian Wiccan Conference 2007.
Almost two thousand years after the closure of the Egyptian temples by the Roman Empire, an English magician receives a communiqué from an ancient Egyptian goddess, Nut (Nuit). The goddess asks him to help her unveil herself, to become in effect, her prophet. The magician – Aleister Crowley – does this by publishing “The Book of the Law”, the first chapter of which contains the voice of Nuit. Who exactly is this goddess, and how did she come to be speaking to Aleister Crowley?
Goddess of the Milky Way
Nut is the ancient Egyptian goddess of the Milky Way, in fact she is the Milky Way.
So, what is the Milky Way? If it is clear tonight we will see it above us – it always looks so great in the country. The Milky Way is an enormous spiral galaxy containing, at one edge, our solar system. We’re not even in a particularly important place within this galaxy – if you think centrality is important. When we look at the Milky Way above us, we’re looking through the flat disk of the galaxy. When we look away from the Milky Way we’re looking into the rest of Space. It can give you a wonderful sense of vertigo!
As the personification of the heavens, Nut is usually represented in profile as a woman arched over like a bridge, whose hands and feet touch the earth. She is often accompanied by her partner, the earth god Geb, depicted beneath her, and sometimes the air god Shu is shown between them, separating Nut and Geb. Nut is primarily depicted in anthropomorphic form, she can also be shown as a cow – Hathor the goddess of love was also depicted as a cow – and as a pig, sometimes with piglets.
According to the Heliopolitan creation myth (different districts had different creation myths – this one is from Heliopolis) Nut is the daughter of Shu and Tefnut, who are in turn the children of the primeval god, Atum.
Atum – the self-engendered one – arose at the beginning of time and created the first gods by masturbating (sometimes his hand is personified as a goddess). These were Shu (god of air) and Tefnut (goddess of moisture). Shu and Tefnut then become the parents of Nut (sky) and Geb (earth).
In many pantheons, sky deities are male while earth deities are female. The apparent reversal of this symbolism in the Egyptian pantheon may be connected with the fact that in Egypt, the regular source of water (associated with fertilizing semen) was the Nile – which came from the earth – rather than as rain from the sky. For time to begin, sky and earth needed to be separated and this is shown by Shu raising Nut up away from Geb.
Nut and Geb are the parents of Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nepthys. And Osiris and Isis are the parents Horus. Osiris is the god of order, fertility and lush vegetation, he represents deceased Pharaoh and is also god of the underworld (underworld gods are often providers of food). Isis is a mother goddess, a magician and the personification of king’s throne. Their son Horus represents the living king. Set is the god of the desert, chaos, foreigners, and is the usurper of the throne. Nepthys is a funerary goddess.
Celestial Nut, mother of Sun and Pharaoh
The Egyptians believed that the earth was a flat plate and that the sky was a vast body of water. The name “Nut” may mean “the watery one”, although this does not mean that she rained, the idea is more like a Great Lake or Sea. The movement of the sun across this water was understood as a voyage by boat.
As well as being the mother of Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys, Nut also was the mother of the stars and sun which she gave birth to daily. The sun, Re, is often depicted in astronomical ceilings being swallowed by Nut in the evening, traversing through her body at night, and being born again at dawn. It was understood that Nut’s head lay in the West where the sun set, and her vagina in the East where he rose. The image of Nut swallowing the sun and stars led her to be identified with the Great Sow who eats her piglets.
It was the sun’s capacity for rebirth that the Pharaoh sought to identify with after death, hence the image of the sun travelling though the body of Nut appears in royal tombs. Later on it also appears on coffin lids. Nut’s depiction on the coffin lids emphasises her role as the coffin, she literally embraces the deceased - originally only the king, but later on anyone who could afford a coffin.
Goddess of the Dead
Before being depicted on coffins, Nut was an important deity in the Pyramid Texts in which she appears almost 100 times. The Pyramid Texts, written on the walls of the pyramids, instructed the Pharaoh how to behave, and advised him on what he would encounter, in the afterlife. Originally the instructions in the Pyramid Texts were only for the Pharaoh. Nut played a central role in them regarding his resurrection. She was known as his “mother Nut in her name of “sarcophagus”… in her name of “Coffin” and… in her name of “tomb”.
As the afterlife became more inclusive the Pyramid Texts evolved into the Coffin Texts. These contained similar instructions but were written on coffins, so what was originally an exclusive relationship between Nut and the Pharaoh now incorporated the non-royal elite as well. Eventually the Coffin Texts became The Book of Going Forth By Day, or as we know it, The Book of the Dead, written on papyrus.
When depicted on coffins, Nut was represented frontally on the underside of the lid, often showing the solar disk in the process of being swallowed or reborn. Sometimes she was also depicted on the sides and inside the coffin. When the lid was placed over the deceased a kind of union was achieved. The coffin symbolically became the body of the goddess from whom the deceased would be reborn.
Lady of the Sycamore
This connection with the wood of coffins may have been what led Nut to be identified with the divine sycamore tree who nourishes the deceased in the afterworld. In the private tombs of Thebes and in images in the Book of the Dead, Nut is depicted as a goddess rising from the trunk of this divine tree, offering life-sustaining water and nourishment. She is the Tree of Life.
Why a sycamore tree? Egypt was not famous for its trees, although it did have them of course. In the oases the weary traveller arriving from the desert would come across the sycamore – actually a sycamore fig – from which he could obtain fruit, as well as water from the spring which bathed its roots. In chapter 59 of the Book of the Dead it says “Hail thou sycamore of Nut, give thou to me of the water and of the air which are in thee”. The accompanying image shows the deceased kneeling at a pool in the midst of which a sycamore is growing. The goddess extends her arms toward him, with a tray of food in one hand and a jar of water in another.
The ancient Egyptian cult of Nut appears to have been relatively modest, with evidence of few, if any, sanctuaries or priests. However she is known to have received food offerings as a mortuary goddess and been presented the sacred menat necklace in a ritual scene. The minimality of her cult should not be construed as signifying her lack of importance however: her roles of mother goddess, mortuary goddess, sky goddess, and orderer of the day and night each constitute significant functions. While she did not have huge temples, her place in popular religion is evident from the many sow amulets that have been excavated.
New Aeon Nut / Nuit
How did this sky and funerary goddess - who did not have huge temples, cult or priesthood - come to be important today? Why Nut? ... Why Egypt?
To answer this question we need to fast forward from ancient Egypt to England and the year 1888 when three prominent Freemasons – William Wynn Westcott, Samuel Liddell Macgregor Mathers and Dr. W.R. Woodman chartered the Isis-Urania Temple of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This was an exclusive magical order incorporating, among other things, explicit Egyptian components.
Again, why Egypt? It was a sign of the times. After the French and British campaigns in Egypt of 1798-1801, the Napoleonic investigations of Egyptian architecture were published in 1802 and again in 1828. Subsequently, enthusiasm for all things Egyptian became widespread in 19th century taste, particularly in France and Britain, but also in Spain, North and South America, South Africa, and Australia. It was during this century that Egyptology evolved into a professional discipline. [Interestingly, one of the major figures in modern Witchcraft - Margaret Murray, author of The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches – was a professional Egyptologist, being in fact an assistant to Professor Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, the “Father of Egyptology”.]
The general enthusiasm for Egypt in the 19th century ensured a continuous passion for Egyptian design in the decorative arts and architecture and, if the Golden Dawn is anything to go by, spirituality. Macgregor Mathers is known to have said “I have clothed myself with hieroglyphics as with a garment.”
Aleister Crowley was initiated into the Golden Dawn on the 26th of November 1898 when it was under the leadership of Florence Farr. It may have been while under her influence that he became aware of the importance in ceremonial magic of Egypt, as she had a particular interest in it. Farr had formed a separate group within the Golden Dawn called the “Sphere” which had a specific Egyptian focus – although Crowley was not a member of this group. Farr obtained inspiration for the direction of the group from an “Egyptian Adept”, Nem-Kheft-Ka, possibly a priestess of the temple of Amon at Thebes, who she was in communication with through her coffin in the British Museum. As we will soon see, Egyptian antiquities in a museum context - albeit a different museum - will be significant for Crowley as well.
In 1904, Crowley and his new wife Rose Kelly were honeymooning in Egypt. Although Rose was not trained in magick and did not really know anything about it, Crowley continued his regular magickal practices. On March 16th he performed the “Preliminary Invocation” or “Bornless Ritual” intending to entertain Rose by showing her the Sylphs (Air Elementals). Rose did not see any Sylphs but began behaving strangely, telling Crowley “They’re waiting for you”. He didn’t know what she was talking about and did not pay much attention.
The next day, 17th of March, they both successfully invoked the Egyptian god of writing and magic, Thoth. Rose was still saying weird things. This time she told Crowley “It was all about the child” and “all Osiris”.
On the 18th March, Rose claimed that the god Horus was waiting for Crowley at the Boulak Museum - in Cairo. They went to the museum and after walking straight past several images of Horus, which seemed to confirm to Crowley that she did not know what she was talking about, Rose singled out a funerary stela depicting Horus that had the catalogue number 666. Crowley very much identified with the Biblical “Beast of Revelations” so this number was significant for him. This stela was later to be known as The Stele of Revealing.
Between March 23 and April 7 Crowley had the hieroglyphs on the stela translated into French by a museum assistant and then made a versified English version of them. He subsequently composed several Horus invocations in order to directly encounter and explore the deity and find out what, if anything, he wanted. This is known as the Cairo Working.
The culmination of the Cairo Working came on April 8, 9, and 10 of 1904. Following Rose’s instructions, Crowley entered his temple space at noon each day and wrote down what he heard for an hour. He received a direct voice dictation from an intelligence that described itself as “the minister of Hoor-paar-kraat” (or Harpocrates, the Greek name of Horus the child) named Aiwaz or Aiwass. This dictation forms what is known as The Book of the Law (Liber AL vel Legis sub figura CCXX).
The Book of the Law consists of three chapters. The first is devoted to the goddess Nut, now called Nuit (French for “Night”). Subsequent chapters concern Nuit’s male complement, Hadit (possibly derived from a form of Horus called Behdet), and their “child” Ra-Hoor-Khuit (Re-and-Horus-of-the-Two-Horizons). This god is actually two god-forms – the active Ra-Hoor-Khuit, and the passive, Hoor-paar-kraat.
Nuit describes herself as “Infinite Space and the Infinite Stars thereof” – like her ancient Egyptian counterpart. In the second chapter she is described as “the circumference” while Hadit, her male complement, is the “centre” - the point within the circle. Nuit’s sign is a five-pointed star with a red circle in the middle of it, symbolising Hadit, “the flame that burns in the heart of every man and the core of every star”. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is the synthesis of Nuit and Hadit and – if we look at the ancient Egyptian Horus - the deified living Pharaoh. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is actually quite warlike. I interpret this as the energy needed to go through life.
Although this explains how Nuit reappeared as an important goddess today, it does not explain why it happened - or why it happened to Aleister Crowley. Was he just the best self-publiciser of all the Golden Dawn? Crowley interpreted the reception of the Book of the Law as the “Equinox of the Gods” – a cosmic changeover time in the divine “rulership” or “influence” of the planet from the dying-and-reborn god of the Aeon of Osiris to the Crowned and Conquering Child of the Aeon of Horus. Is that what it was… or is? There are many who would say yes.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Today, which happens to be Aleister Crowley's birthday (happy Birthday AC, you'd be 135 today if you were still alive!), I received the joyous news that my article "Walk Like An Egyptian: Egypt as authority in Aleister Crowley's reception of The Book of the Law", has been accepted by an academic journal - Pomegranate: International Journal of Pagan Studies. Now, I'm thrilled about that because I worked hard on it... and also bemused, as several 'synchonistic' things have been happening during the process of preparing the piece for submission - nothing dramatic, but noticable... Firstly, while I was working on it I got an email from a magickal order dedicated to Crowley's works (which shall remain nameless, as I'm sure they'd prefer) and which, while I have been a member thereof on and off, am currently 'inactive' within and so we tend not to talk; secondly, the person who introduced me to Crowley, Thelema, and Magick in general, and who I haven't spoken to for way over a decade contacted me... and thirdly of course, is that the article was accepted on Crowley's birthday. Synchronicity? Who cares, as long as people read my article! Stay tuned for actual publication, after which I will post the abstract and links for university library and/or subscriber access.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
When I was walking through Jerusalem's Old City this past July-early August, I was intrigued by the bright spray paint and stencil work I saw. One of the reasons was the juxtaposition of modern, sometimes flouro, spraypaint with the old white(ish) stones of Jerusalem's Old City. Another reason is that some of these images were of trees, and I'm studying tree-cult in my PhD, so I tend to collect tree images (check these out). In fact, speaking of trees, there is a really interesting book on the use of trees within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict called 'Planted Flags' by Irus Braverman (Cambridge 2009). OK, obviously these examples here are probably political, being Arabic (which I cannot read), or else records of the Haj - and I was after all, staying in the Muslim Quarter. I'm not, however, meaning to insult any of my darling Jewish and Israeli friends or associates by exhibiting these photos. This is simply my record of an aesthetic reaction to colour and shape, and the surprise of it being on what I might consider 'heritage' buildings. (If you want to see the Magen David in spray paint, go and look at my Israel and Jordan photos on my Facebook site.) Yes, us tourists do, no doubt, expect Jerusalem to be all ye-oldey Biblical and not have any modern concerns or behaviours jutting in to awaken us from verging on Jerusalem Syndrome - I certainly do... But good luck with that, because it is 2010 - even in Jerusalem's Old City.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Who has time to actually blog? Not me. I often think of things to blog about when I'm in bed - the computer is turned off and I'm not planning to get up again until the morning. Then I forget what they were. Recently I was thinking of topics like 'How short people are evil (under the guise of cuteness) and tall people get the blame for everything', 'How institutionalised learning (university) is privileged over DIY study from both inside and outside the university and how annoying that is/can be', and 'How I hate people in my street who cut down trees (why don't they cut themseves down?)'. But those topics are really rants - well not the short people one. That's a fact. I have come across some amazing blogs though, by people who obviously do have time to blog. I'll show them to you, so you don't get bored when you visit my hardly-ever-updated blog. There's arty archaeologist Michael Shanks, with its downlaodable books and interesting pics and links, Egil Asprems' Heterodoxlolgy, British Mage, Jake Stratton-Kent's Underworld Apocathery, Jim West's Zwinglius Redivivus, there's effort gone in there... Neurologica, Epiphenom, Mary Beard's blog (she'd get paid for doing that), the incredibly prolific The Wild Hunt, and there's the fabulous Morbid Anatomy. So, people do have time to blog, some blog a lot and I assume people read their blogs. One day I'll have time to blog again. I'm sure I will.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Lotsa (OK, some) pics from Israel. First, me above the Dead Sea, before we'd got there and I discovered that the water was hot! Hot!!! Hot sea is intolerable! Second, me and the smouldering Erin. Third pic, sitting around outside our kibbutz room, fourth, being strangled by Jo, fifth standing round watching the Australian Ambassador do some digging, and sixth, some sort of mysterious non-working, sitting around pic. Can't imagine what we're doing there. Picture credits Amanda and Erin, I believe. Some of mine will eventually appear when I get them off my camera. Meanwhile get an update on Tell es-Safi/Gath the dig here.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Just a note to anyone who wants to talk to me (apart from comments here) to come find me on Facebook. I recently had a guy email me about my interest in Spiritual Egyptomania - Keith from the USA, it was you - but when I replied to you, your email address bounced. So I can't follow it up. So... come find me on Facebook. More interesting posts here to come, as soon as I get the photos of Israel and Jordan off my camera.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Some pics from the dig at Gath. First, me digging, second me and sometime controversial archaeologist, Israel Finkelstein, and last a group pic of the Australian team for 2010. Check out this pot I excavated here. I haven't dug up an Ashdoda figurine however, but I have dug up a lot of sherdy floor. Hm, I wonder who it is that Aren Maeir on the Gath blog is talking about in regards to being excited about Finkelstein's visit? Could it be me the shameless groupie?
Friday, June 25, 2010
I want to dig up an "Ashdoda" figurine at Gath (see above picture). Or an Astarte plaque, that would also be good. Or... perhaps I'll just have to settle for seeing them at a museum, I know Ashdoda is in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. I could spend ages writing up stuff about Ashdoda on this blog, but it's really easier for me to point you in the direction of Aegaeum 22 "Potnia: Deities and Religion in the Aegean Bronze Age" and its free pdf's, one of which is "The Mother(s) of All Philistines? Aegean Enthroned Deities of the 12th - 11th Century Philistia." which will give you more information on Ashdoda than I could. Now... back to pre-dig reading.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Well, it's that time of year again - digging season in Israel. I'm off to work at the site of Tell es-Safi/Gath, which is the Philistine city of Gath, for a month. Not only will it involve incredibly strenuous manual labour in the form of digging up pottery and bones and lugging rocks, causing one to have to eat halva for energy (see the above pic), but there will be some respite in the form of afternoon pottery washing and nightly lectures. Plus, field trips to other sites. Weekends will no doubt be spent recovering, then browsing the antiquities market in Jerusalem, which, from what I can gather is almost entirely looted or fake, bustling amongst the monotheistic religious sites, visiting other ancient (monotheistic and pre-monotheistic) sites in regional Israel, and eating. After the dig I'm spending five more days in Israel, during which I'll hit the museums - particulary the Israel Museum (if the archaeological wing is open) and the Bible Lands Museum, possibly the Eretz Israel Museum, then five days in Jordan. Then back home to icy winter.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
I haven't been able to update my blog - not that I'm a very frequent blogger anyway - because I have been FLAT OUT doing nine tutorials per week in first year Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Not only do I take nine hours of tutorials, I have to correct Two Lots of 1000 word essays from all those tutes. Plus assess class presentations. (Ha ha, my friend Jason is tag-teaming me to correct the next lot of assessment. Wonder if I'll get roped into that as well?) I think I've marked more than 140 essays so far, and there's still more to do. I quite like marking, because it seems like editing to me. However, such an enormous load starts to make one occasionally nauseous - unless one has sufficent rest from it occasionally, like daring to have a one-day break from marking to refresh one's brain before getting back into it. Tutoring, by which I mean 'facilitating discussion by the students' is sort of interesting... Of course it is much more interesting for all concerned when the students actually do the required reading which would - if they did it - provide something to talk about. Otherwise I just can't stand the silence and tend to fill it myself with, well this week, stories of how Aphrodite was responsible for the Trojan War, to a large extent. This led into comparing the Aphrodite in the Iliad with the one in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, as well as highlighting links suggested in the Hymn, to Anatolian Kybele. Sure, I was veering off into Classics when I should have been in archaeology discussing the mound of Hisarlik (pretty much believed to have been Troy) and its layers, but hey... it's really the students who should be filling the void, not me! Today I made them get into groups, read the reading that they hadn't read, and then answer the question "What were the relationships between the Greeks, Trojans and Hittites?" It wasn't that successful because that was one of the most complicated sections of the reading, but if I had not done it, they'd have all stared at me expecting me to answer it. As it was, I put it back on them... Ha. I might try that again tomorrow. I am starting to see how students at university can be of interest to Romanist academic blogger, Mary Beard. In a previous comment to one of my blogs I was saying how I liked her blog but not the bits where she discussed how students can get into Cambridge... now that seems more interesting to me, seeing as I am dealing with the cream of school-leavers in my own tutes. Pity some of them don't realise how special a place at our university is and that they shouldn't slack off and waste it. Many of the students are brilliant, for what must be 18 year olds, I'm constantly astonished at some of them. Some of the work I am marking is extremely sophisticated. I can only imagine where they'll go with such brains!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Isn't this the most gorgeous, evocative little sanctuary model? When I first saw it, in an archaeology class, I found it compelling. It is Cypriot, from Kotsiatis, dates to the Middle Bronze Age, and basically depics a female figure and a large jar in front of triple bucrania (bull's skulls) erected upon some sort of probably wooden pillars or structure. There is at present no evidence out in the landscape for this sort of structure, probably because it disintegrated, being wooden and bone - although it may have had a paved floor (or simply beaten earth) - but this is a type of ephemeral cult structure that would have been erected within the landscape or else possibly within a chamber tomb. It seems easy to envisage how it was constructed, and I can't help but think that structures such as this add historical authenticity to some of the imagery of Traditional Witchcraft, such as the stang. It's such a simple little shrine, as is the stang when embedded in the ground (but with a skull attached, not naked). I like that sort of minimal but evocative outdoor temple. Images of a mask of Dionysus and simple garment on a pole, as seen in Classical vase painting, are also in this vein. Although this Cypriot example looks a little more permanent than a single-pole version, but only just a little. Oh, and another thought... Wasn't Wiccan founder, Gerald Gardner's, novel "A Goddess Arrives" set in Cyprus? (I haven't read it). Not that I am suggesting any connection really... Just doing free association.