The more I learn about my fellow authoresses from Women of Babalon: A Howling of Women’s Voices , the more in awe I am of the amazing power of feminine creativity and magick. For those of you who have been following my series of posts highlighting these stunning Women of Babalon ladies, this is the next installment artfully crafted by Emma Doeve.
Part the First:
Once upon a time there was the Muse – one of a number of Goddesses of inspiration and knowledge – who would motivate and stimulate the artist, and make him (and it was always a “him”) a favourite on whom She would bestow Her special gifts. It was an idea popularized by the poet Robert Graves, who brought together medieval Celtic and Troubadour traditions, and fashioned them – with the help of the Romantic poets – into the now familiar notion of the Artist and his Muse.
Before, you would have to be a Classical Scholar (Graves was a considerable one himself) to even learn about the Muse(s), whose original patronage was a more formal educational affair. Graves infamously remarked “Woman is not a poet; she is either a Muse or she is nothing.” By contrast, the wild and witchy Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington said that she “didn’t have time to be anybody’s muse; I was too busy learning to be an artist” and dismissed the identification of Woman and Muse (such as was the “official” attitude within the male-dominated Paris Surrealist circles) succinctly as “bullshit.”
Both the artist and the poet cultivated an intense relationship with a female Presence, whose names are legion. In his celebrated book, Robert Graves called Her The White Goddess even though – naturally and excitingly – She had Her dark side, too. He was in correspondence with a number of practising witches, one of whom wrote to him that once the dam, which kept the flood of “the old knowledge” at bay, would burst:
[T]he whole of humanity is going to be submerged by fifty thousand years of pre-history, swamping the neat subtopian conventions of the last thousand years.
– Robert Cochrane, in a letter to Robert Graves.
One thinks of Sigmund Freud expressing the same kind of fear to Carl Gustav Jung, about the “black tide of mud of occultism” threatening to inundate the so-called civilized world . . .
Part the Second:
. . . I was travelling in a far desert country. In those unlikely regions, he and I came face-to-face, and the attraction – hardly an amorous one, but the scope of language is too limited to provide a fitting term – was irresistible.
From when I was small I had felt – and it had grown in strength with time – that something within me, some awful driving force, had to erupt once. Even when temporarily, during those years when most are formed and marked for life – even when the common human vulgar life all around wanted to smother and kill it – it always stayed, like a half-closed chamber in my heart, dreadful when it opened, and yet luring me to enter it and be enclosed by what it held.
There came a time when it started from myself as from a shelter and took the form of the trail some unknown animal might have left behind. And with a spirit that possessed me, I went and followed in its wake, forever certain it was waiting for me somewhere, until suddenly, in a remote forgotten desert, it turned and struck.
It was evening, and the sun hung low over the flat horizon, but still it burned hot, and cast the splendour of its late light on the purple-coloured mountain range in the East.
In the distance, with the sinking star behind his back, his form appeared like a white glow, and came riding towards me. When he was near, he halted, and the last flicker flamed and then died from the Western sky, the life in me took fire and met his where his met mine . . .
Part the Third:
. . . I pour water and olive oil into the bowl and put it on my knees. A spell is said over me. A crystal and a candle provide glimmerings in the shiny shadowy surface on which floats the dark green olive oil. Then the room which is candle-lit and smoky with incense, grows silent. I bend down and stare into the bowl.
Suddenly I see a lion, a male lion, mostly its massive head and upper body. I see it move through space high, high up. It seems to be made of a silver substance, though it is made of flesh or at least earthly matter also. Its mane is streaming against the black ‘solar’ winds of cosmic space. The moment seems to go on forever. Millions of years have passed and that leonine beast has been moving and running up there in that eerie curved space. Now and then it turns its head and looks straight at me as if to say: “I see you, but you are not supposed to have seen this.”
I gently blow on the water and a large pool of the floating olive oil separates into several smaller pools. A shadow moves in the water. I see a face in one of the pools. ‘Looking through’ I see more faces in the mirror-like sphericals – smaller, larger ones – I see my own face, slightly distorted, in some of them. But I also see other faces stare back at me, strangely contained within their shiny roundels.
Because of the darkness of bowl and water and oil and its environment, the glinting surface where the faces are appearing have an unearthly look. They seem to come and bloom up from a great depth. “Look at us,” they seem to say, “give us life.” Their eyes are shining. The round or even oval quality of the faces is emphasized because of the shapes that contain them. Apart from myself, I do not know them. I do not know who they are. I do not know what they want. I need to find out, but I will need protection. I blow on the liquid and they disappear.
I am prepared to ride the beast . . .
EMMA DOEVE is a changeling child from the Lost World of what were formerly the Dutch East Indies, twice removed. First and foremost a visual artist, she is also a writer, researcher, and occultist, primarily concerned with the interface between Magic and the Arts.
Her specialist areas of interest include Austin Osman Spare, the Graeco-Egyptian Magical Papyri, and Occult-inspired Female Surrealist, Leonora Carrington.
In this capacity, Emma has appeared at The Globe Hay-on-Wye, The Horse Hospital London, and a selection of regional Moots. Her artwork has appeared in 13 Knots by Nina Antonia, several issues of Chaosphere magazine, various WhollyBooks publications, and online at Salón Arcano and Wiccan Rede. She also has an article on Austin Osman Spare in the forthcoming Summer issue of New Dawn magazine.
As well as preparing for her appearance at The Occult Conference in Glastonbury, Emma is presently at work with her partner, Matthew Levi Stevens, on a Grimoire inspired by their work with the Graeco-Egyptian Magical Papyri.
She can be contacted via: whollybooks.wordpress.com