Interview With Christopher Bilardi
Our mutual friend, the very energetic Mark Stavish, connected the dots again and I was introduced to Christopher Bilardi, esteemed author of The Red Church, or the Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei (Pendraig Press, 2009). He was kind enough to take a look at my new book, Hex Signs as Sacred Space, 2023 and write a review of it on Amazon, for which I was very grateful and suggested we do an interview. The following is the email interview we conducted late July, early August 2023
1.Hey Chris, thinking back to 2009 when The Red Church came out, and my own involvement in Braucherei at the time , documented in my own, Backdoor Hexologist. Brauching was of keen interest to many in esoteric folk magic groups The Three Sisters of Braucherei, Tobin and company via Dennis Boyer was the group I was in contact with at the time. They were the very early days of Urglaawe which was being formulated by Rob Lusch and Patricia Niedrich. Everyone was waiting with bated breath for David Kreibel's Powwowing Among the Pennsylvania Dutch which took forever and he waited too long, Jack Montgomery's American Shamans was just out and suddenly out of nowhere you come out with your masterpiece, " The Red Church" and blew everyone away. It totally upstaged Kreibel's book which was very dry and scholarly I've been told. It must have been a crazy time for you? How did you do that, it was very dramatic. Even other Germanic Heathen groups I came in contact with were aware of the tension your book created.
A#1 Wow! That question has blown me away. It's more than a question, it's an answer or an insight that I knew nothing of. It was David Kriebel who introduced me to my first teacher. Since that time I had a few more teachers. Regarding Kriebel's book, I know most of the backstory. His own book was running late
due to his perfectionist editor at the University of Pennsylvania Press. It was that simple.
As for his book being "dry and scholarly", well such books under Ivy League school presses must be. It's an anthropological bit of absolutely thorough writing. Kriebel's editor Simon Bronner wouldn't allow for less rigourous standards. Dave Kriebel over time became a friend to whom I am quite grateful.
You ask "How did I do that?". There was no real timing involved. You did an interview with Mark Stavish and you had asked him about his role in the creation of "The Red Church" ( from here on to be abbreviated TRC). Mark suggested to me that I write the book because at the time I was whining that I couldn't exactly find *The Book* I wanted to read. So, instead of waiting for someone else to do it, I brought it into existence.
The pseudonymous Karl Herr's 2002 book "Hex and Spellwork: The Magical Practices of the Pennsylvania Dutch" was inspirational but left me wanting more. It took four years to research whilst working a 40+ hour job at Kraft Foods' supply chain department. Then afterwards, it took a little less than two years to write it, find a publisher, and then get it out the door for publication.
I don't believe Dave Kriebel ever felt "upstaged" because our respective works were different. Since I was not beholden to anyone, I brought together a mix of a certain amount of academic effort along with praxis. So, therefore, the timing you mentioned was pure happenstance.
During the initial research stages of TRC, I reached out to an individual who greatly tried to dissuade me from writing and publishing.
My book, indeed, did create a lot of "tension" as you say. I was a bit naive in this matter. I knew from the aforementioned resistance that it would upset a set of people, but I was clueless that so many would have their hair on fire over it.
Firstly, a story based on misinformation went around that I broke my oath. I was never oath-bound; doubtlessly this reiteration here may still raise the ire of a few who don't believe this of my first teacher. She told me three things: 1) Don't write anything down, or you'll loose the ability; 2) Don't teach more than three women, or I'll loose the ability, and 3) Don't teach the same sex, or I'll loose the ability. Then she asked me if I understood. I am genuinely oath-bound in other bodies, and what she gave me at the end were instructions on retaining the ability **to try** for others. I, therefore, broke no "oaths", and I risked the possibility of loosing the ability in order to make TRC a fully functioning source of history, theory, and praxis, especially for those with a natural knack for the Work.
Secondly, this created a lot of mischief for me, which if it succeeded, would have killed me as a new author. In order to demonstrate how small the world of magical practitioners and scholars are, a good friend of mine over in England heard of this and asked if I truly broke an oath "for ill gotten gains."
She is a practitioner of Traditional Witchcraft and was instructing me at that time. Thankfully, that was cleared up. I was questioned by several other people, but hearing from a friend all the way from the Midlands across the Pond really pissed me off. It was the last straw. That's when I contacted my family lawyer. In order to save me money, he suggested that I send my own written warning to Cease and Desist. Were that to not work, he would have stepped in. And, that's what I did.
Thirdly, because I wrote on Braucherei as it has been practiced and understood for centuries with its Christianity intact, I became known as "a Pagan hater" which is and was utter bullshit. I, myself, am dual-obeservant. I enjoy that wonky time inbetween when our ancestors practiced both the New and the Old. IMO, this is where some of the most interesting folk magic began. I consider myself to be not only of Braucherei, but of Hexerei as well; my *personal* definition of latter isn't the traditional view that I presented in the chapter on Witchcraft. However, with that noted, my descriptions of the possible outcomes of malevolent magic in TRC are more or less my observations regarding curses. I've seen them in action, and have done them myself.
I know for a certainty that there were attempts by some to have me verhext. I won't deny it, it all hurt on a personal level that I would be so loathed or shunned.
My reaching out to you and one other person is an attempt at bridge building. I'm genuinely interested in what the Heiden are doing.
What has been so misunderstood, I believe, is that the significantly centuries and centuries old Christian belief system is defining and integral to Braucherei now as then. To come at it in any other direction is to create something new, even beyond the borders of full-on pre-Christian Reconstruction efforts which I SUPPORT. To finish my thoughts, I want the Heiden Volk to know I'm not an enemy. I care about what happens to the Pennsylfaawnisch Deitsch culture and its people, Christian or otherwise.
2. There is more I want to get back to on your response to the first question but the same question I put to our mutual friend, Mark Stavish of "The Institute for Hermetic Studies," Tell us about your relationship with my mysterious brother, Reverend Russell M. Yoder? How did you two first meet?" Mark mentioned that the two of you were concocting some scheme to try and resurrect the Beissel line.
Your Russell is a mysterious and erudite fellow. I knew of the Ephrata Cloister, but I became really enthralled by it after reading Boehme, Beissel, Johannes Kelpius, and Conrad Mathias. These people can rightly be looked to as the propagators of mysticism amongst the Pennsylvania Germans. I am currently reading Russell's "Wonderful Mysteries of Eternity, the Magia of Conrad Beissel" . As Mark mentioned, Russell's monograph on George de Benneville the alchemist is comprehensive and is yet another crossroads converging to a certain incarnation of Braucherei.
Because of my then fixation on the Cloister, I found Russell. I can't remember for certain how I had found him, but I really wanted to collaborate with him to revive at least certain aspects of the spirituality and mysticism of Ephrata Cloister and the hermit monks on the Wissahickon. We brought Mark into our plans, which were really just thought experiments at the time. We had some rudimentary plans for his rebaptising us into what remained of this spiritual current in order to carry it forward. The primary obstacle was one of geographical distance.
Eventually, Mark placed you back into contact with your brother, but apparently I was the prime-mover who began the motion of that family reunion. Life is strange like that.
3. Tell us a little about your association with the Coven of the Catta, Gary Lee Hoke, etc. which came up because of our mutual association with Steve Feite who edited my brother, Russell's translation of Heavenly Manna, by Valentin Weigel (1533-1588)
https://www.amazon.com/Heavenly-Manna-Magister-Valentin-Weigel/dp/1601265956, Masthof Press 2022
Feite also edited by brother's translations of the Theosophical Boehmist sermons of Conrad Beissel in "Wonderful Mysteries of Eternity: the Magia of Conrad Beissel" on Academia.edu, as well as Feite's contribution to my own, Der Volksfreund, with his tale of Melyzin, related to him by Merlin and Lady Phoebe and his images of Ephrata Hymnal Art.
It's funny how life works. When I was still attending university, I had heard urban legends regarding Dr Santee and his coven in Wapwallopen, PA. These stories circulated well before what I call "The First Satanic Panic" (as I believe that we are currently in Satanic Panic 2.0).
Wapwallopen is a very small village which sits directly across the Susquehanna from the Berwick Nuclear Power Plant (PPL). I wrote a small self-published book on the village and its historical church:
"Wapallopen Luzerne County: A forgotten Pennsylvania Dutch enclave" Paperback – October 23, 2010
According to the urban legends, Dr Santee worshipped the Devil, and coven members would come the other states to be there every so many months.
I wanted to get to the bottom of this matter as he was a local legend in his own right. On a whim I placed a notice on a Santee genealogy site soliciting assistance. That's how I met Steve Feit.
Steve had set me straight regarding the nature of the Coven of the Catta, which was a mixture of Dr Santee's background in the Classics of Antiquity, and his secretary's and nurse's interest in Wicca. I'm not sure how, but they were able to get Sybil Leek to visit. Leek's line is a part of the Coven of the Catta.
From there, Steve placed me in touch with the late Gary Hoke. Mark Stavish and I did a free presentation introducing a new generation to not only Santee, but elder figures in Traditional British Witchcraft (Wicca/Wica) who are quickly being forgotten. Santee was/is very much a part of Pennsylvania occultism history as was "Hexie" Hammerstein of Bucks Country, etc.
My wife and I met Lady Phoebe and Lady ALSACE through Gary. Although I was never formally initiated, Lady PHOEBE, Janee Kishbaugh Williams, considered me a Third Degree. There was a recent controversy over this, but it's done and over as far as I'm concerned. One can, therefore, say that I've been a friend of the Catta for quite a long time.
I did see Steve Feit's contribution to your "Der Volksfreund". "Melzyn" is new to me. However, I do know that Santee spent a lot of time abroad, especially in Germany. He belonged to an occult order somewhere outside of Berlin. Weimar Republic Germany was rife with such oraganisations. I cannot prove this, as it's only bit of guess work, but it wouldn't surprise me if the order wasn't the "Fraternitas Saturni."
Regarding Steve Feit and his work with your brother Russell, I must plead ignorance. Unless, like so many other things, I knew of it, but forgot. After awhile, it gets confusing re who's worked with whom.
There is so much more to Dr Santee just as an amazing person outside of his occultism. That alone would make this answer a large entry.
4. Looking finally at your book, The Red Church, or The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei, in particular, the first thing I turned to, Chapter 4, Witchcraft: the relationship between Hexerei and Braucherei, besides Mark Stavish's intro. Your perspective here in the context of this book on Christian healing, Braucherei is appropriate. That Faustian, Zauberer obsessed with obtaining power at any cost, which finally consumes him that he is destroyed by it, the process which one can obtain power with such depravity is also described in detail in my book, Der Zauberschpiggel, the Magic Mirror in the entry by Richard Shaner, Hexerei, Witchcraft of the Pennsylvania Germans. It's a real step by step DIY, folks so if anybody out there is interested...there you go. But really Chris, this view in your own mind must have seemed ridiculous even though what you present is 100% accurate. Have you views on Hexerei "evolved" since The Red Church? Or what are your views today unattached from your iconic book on Braucherei?
This is an easy one. Once you've read most of the book (and I believe that this is somewhere near the beginning) you'll find a statement where I disengage myself from what I've written versus my personal beliefs and opinions. I wanted "The Red Church" to be as authentic to the culture as possible.
This was not a form of "LARPing". I actually do care about the Pennsylvania German Deitschleit and the culture, especially the language (which I admit that I've become rusty). I love the culture as if I were born into it, that despite the vowel at the end of my surname. This is why the book is as dense as it is.
As I wrote you awhile back, I could have written some crappy 'spell book'. Indeed, this what many were hoping for and were turned off by all of the "academic stuff".
If all someone wants are 'spells', the can go to "The Long Lost Friend" without all of that bothersome cultural context.
As I wrote in the beginning of the chapter on Hexerei, the subject has so many brambles and stickers that it's nigh impossible to get into the proverbial nutshell. As you acknowledge, what I wrote was complete according to the old definitions and understanding.
When we started a conversation regarding such things as Hexerei, I mentioned an old lady who came to me after a presentation on Braucherei. She told me about her grandmother who was a witch in the old sense within the culture (actually as understood by most of old European societies).
The grandmother tried quite a few times to bring her granddaughter into Hexerei. This was the nasty stuff. Her daughter wanted nothing to do with her witchery, so she focused on this lady who came to me.
Apparently, the grandmother truly believed that if she couldn't pass her spirits off to a family member, she would be doomed to walk the earth until Judgement Day. Btw, this troubled elderly woman was quite sheltered from anything like Wicca, etc. She was very occultophobic and read nothing on the subject. Her main complain to me was that she suffered a lifetime of paranormal phenomena. She claimed that her grandmother would manifest to her, mostly at night at the foot of her bed.
The thing that I found really odd was that these were very simple people, as was this lady. All of them were German Reformed. It was claimed that the grandmother practiced "Black Mass". What would people of German Reformed faith know anything about popish things like Mass, White, or Black?
As for me, like Montage Summers, I do believe that witchery works, and incredible feats of magic can be accomplished. Unlike Fr Summers, I do not fear Hexerei, except in so far one ought to respect electricity, the power of the ocean, etc. Fellows like Fr Summers (I believe) were secretly obsessed by the subject, hence their fun, lurid writings.
It is my understanding through our conversations that the term "Braucherei" is being pushed aside for something new, and some are calling it Hexerei.
Throughout my years of both success and troubles brought to me via TRC, I've been called a "Pagan Hater" amongst other nasty things. I have then (at the time of the book's writing) and still do now considered myself a "witch" -- not in the Wiccan sense, but via folk magic and religion, this despite the Coven of the Catta, which I believed at the time contained pre-Gardnerian information and practices.
As I wrote to you, I am Hexen. And from that reaffirmation in my life, I have quite a bit to learn as I only know of the Braucherei end. I explored the Christian end of the culture, now I want to learn and see what's happening on the Heiden 'other side'. I stepped onto the Path when I was only 11 years old, and this is where I began. My folkloric interests are Holda, Perchta, the Perchten, and Die Wilde Jagd.
I know already that this revelation is going to do one of two things: further alienate me amongst those who like TRC, or make my work amongst the Deitschleit and others more rounded and interesting. Or, it may, as I like to say, set some folks "hair on fire". But none of this shall be a surprise to those who know me.
5. In your book which I'm reading now, Chapter 4, on Witchcraft, page 132, you refer to the Hexenkopf as "a passive receiver" in the workings of a Williams Township Braucher, Dr Peter Saylor. You must be referring to the stone outcroppings in Williams township, Pa known as the Hexenkopf, right? It's unclear. I've spent many a Walpurgisnacht at this place. It is a strange place indeed. Do you know it?
Yes, this is exactly what I was referring to. Just about everything I wrote in that bit came from Dr Ned Heindel's book on the Hexenkopf. The "passive receiver" idea re the Hexenkopf comes from Dr Saylor as interpreted by Heindel. At least that's what I recall. My wife and I drove around the area several years ago and did manage to see what *vaguely* looked like a stereotypical witch's face: mmm, not really, but close enough.
I have no doubt that it's a strange place. It's made of granite. Have you ever read or watched on YouTube the missing people's cases by Dr David Paulides, author of "Missing 411" ? Through his research regarding people who go missing in large state parks (such as Yellowstone), one of the common details happen to be large granite boulder fields and close by streams of water. I'd like to get back there sometime to get a feel for things.
"The Black Sun Unveiled", James Pontolillo, 2013 page 533:
"In 1990, a small group of ONA initiates in the United Kingdom operating under the name of Sat Lux privately published their most important scriptures in a deluxe limited edition of 66 hardbound copies of each volume. One of the anonymously
authored volumes was titled The Black Sun (see Figure 48-1) and it appears to be the very first publication to explicitly equate the Wewelsburg sunwheel with the Black Sun concept. The book purports to reveal the occult secrets of National Socialism and the influences which produced this historical current. It identifies Satan with the Black Sun, claims that Satanism has been a hidden force influencing events throughout human history and uncovers the insidious Judeo-Christian agenda to besmirch the satanic gods."
The perversion of Ancient Germanic artifacts known as "Zierscheiben" started in 1990, by Satanists!
Wewelsberg was a Secret Society and did not use this sign in propaganda.
This, just in the same way as Christianity through Braucherei created this perversion they mistakenly called "Hexerei" I'm not denying that it didn't exist as Richard Shaner has documented. I'm saying that it was a projection by Christian magic. They required this version. This allowed them to once and for all destroy the old gods and goddesses and blame all maladies upon them. But it may have not worked, what are your thoughts?
Michael Moynihan has documented many perversion of the Northern Old Religions, such as "Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground" where rocket scientists have burnt old stave churches. This is a case of truly stepping on a sacred cow as I believe some of these stave churches were Heathen hofs. Of course, burning to the ground such marvellous architecture and parts of one's culture well over 1,000 years old now that can never be replaced is moronic.
"The Secret King: The Myth and Reality of Nazi Occultism" (Moynihan and Flowers): this book debunks commonly held myths about so-called "Nazi Occultism", never no mind that a great many esoteric, Masonic, and occult societies bailed from Nazi Germany just before the doors closed.
As far as "the Black Sun" goes, there are certain individuals who absolutely need to be dogmatic regarding this particular symbol as a whole cloth creation of the Nazis. They're wrong. The same can be said of the swastika. The latter can be seen everywhere in Buddhist temples and other holy shrines (such as in Sufi tekkes) facing both ways. Some repeat the ideology based garbage that the solar swirls going one way are "evil" and "dark", and the other is "good" and "light".
Ditto for the more ubiquitous five-pointed star, the pentagram: one point up equals "good" and two points up is "evil". In its Pythagorean manifestation, it can be found at any angle.
To debunk this is as simple as going to Wikipedia, albeit not best source of information, under the heading "Zierschreibe" one can *see* the 8th and 9th century equivalents of the design. After doing a little digging, I found this:
"Alpha's Heretical Domain"
I found it of great interest from the point of view of my own esoteric ideas that this design may be connected with Saturn. Here is from the article :
"The planet Saturn was also, in some contexts, associated with the underworld in the specific sense that it was seen as the “sun of night”. In ancient Mesopotamian astronomy, Saturn was strangely associated with the Sun, but was also believed to be black in colour, hence in a way it was to them a black sun. This idea was also linked to a myth concerning Shamash, the Babylonian sun god known elsewhere as Utu, who somtimes travelled beneath the earth to the realm of Arallu, the kingdom of the underworld abundant with gold, to fulfill his function as the supreme judge of the dead."
If one has read Dr Flowers' "The Brotherhood of Saturn" there is a whole Weimar Republic era where the esoteric meanings of Saturn begin to gel. For me, there is a relatively new book that has shaped some of my thoughts on Saturn: "The Game of Saturn, Decoding the Sola-Busca tarocchi", by Peter Mark Adams.
I know that this is a bit off track and into the woods, I'm just trying to see together what's brewing in my mind. Looking at this symbol we must remember what was beyond the ONA, despite their propaganda that they are an ancient "traditional" Satanic order. This would be further unveiled by the deceased Dr Michael Aquino.
Aquino found himself in the awkward position of having to perpetually explain that he was not a National Socialist despite his interest in some of their magical experiments. Aquino was the founder of The Temple of Set, and much like its parent organisation, The Church of Satan, they spoke often about "the Black Flame" . Within Setian ideology, this is the divine seat of ultimate Self-Consciousness.
I was a member of both organisations, and of the Temple's Order of the Trapezoid as an Adept, when Dr Stephen Flowers was the Magister. It was from Dr Flowers that I had learnt all I know (or knew as you loose it if you don't use it) about the Runes. Prior to the Order of the Trapezoid, I was a member of Flowers' Rune Guild.
Honestly, as far as I'm concerned, one doesn't need Christianity to besmirch anything having to do with our Northern ancestors. They are perpetually under attack because of two World Wars that involved Germany. Despite Germans being the largest "minority" in the U.S., never was Pennsylvanian German culture so crapped on than at the start of WWI. As for WWII, forget it. All things German, Scandinavian, and such already had the "bad guy badge" to wear.
I wear this sign on me daily, and I will not allow anyone to misrepresent me, or tell me that I'm a monster. Just wearing the Mjolnir can elicit the same response.
As I always ask in certain rhetorical questions, "Don't you feel like the only adult in a hoard of five year old children?"
7. So after reading your excellent chapter about “Hex Signs and Barnstars, you came to the conclusion that Brauching and Barnstars were separate subjects, yet I was pleasantly surprised to see the inclusion Of Lee Gandee the Hexenmeister throughout the book. What can you tell us about this conundrum and what are you thoughts on his book, “Strange Experience “? How can this South Carolina native be included here?
How can Lee Gandee not be placed here? I love Gandee's book. I've gone through two copies, I wore out the first one. Gandee really was quite an unique man, he was an "hex", or a whatever one cares to call him. Gandee lived magic because that's just who he was. "Strange Experience" has some genuine creep factor to it. Lee lived a haunted life.
His geographic locale is of little importance, except to see how the Germans migrated around the early United States and Canada. The question that I've seen pop up at times is "Can someone like Lee Gandee hold the name "Pennsylvanian" if they're in Ohio, or Ottowa? Really, they are all the same people who left the Old World around the same time. Some came by way of Philadelphia, and others navigated the Susquehanna from New York to Pennsylvania, and from here to Appalachia. One of my sources is a book written concerning these practices amongst Canadian Mennonites.
I didn't experience any cognitive dissonance regarding barn stars as I saw Gandee as an unusual hexenmeister. As I mentioned earlier (I think) I went by the academic sources, the mainstream opinions.
If I understand the situation correctly, these signs didn't pop up until the early 19th Century. As you know, these geometric designs can be found in southern Germany, but as carved, trimming work, etc. What I saw in those old photos were mostly the Six Pattern star, and also babies' cots with the Five Points engraved, the infamous pentagram.
I particularly liked how he used sigils on a person's body where the ailment appears to be. That was too good to pass up, to leave it out. Apotropaic usage isn't terribly unusual. However, Gandee was the first hexenmeister I knew of who did this. In India, Sumer, the Levant, etc., the drinking of sigils, or their physical application is old.
8. I know that you have studied with Stephen Flowers, and have an excellent understanding of the magical Pagan North. What are your thoughts on recent discoveries that the Galdrstave, Ægishjálmr, the Helm of Awe , may actually be derived from the Hebrew , Key of Solomon, Goetia? How did the Hebrew talismans affect Braucherei?
I knew nothing of it, but did some research earlier. There is no surprise in this. Western Civilisation is suffused with all sorts of stuff from the Levant, Persia, Syria, the Caucuses.
In the Qur'an it is said that God created the great angels Harut and Marut to tempt humanity with sorcery, more specifically the temptation to use it, and to give the power if asked, of course the price is damnation on the Day of Judgement. The Qur'an was written 700 + odd years after Christ.
Much later on, during Islam's golden age, they themselves resurrected the ancient scrolls written by Greeks, and Romans, and earlier still. They used this very same "magic" and it travelled via Muslim Spain, and the Crusaders.
This is not the answer to the last question you'd sent, just a piece of it. That area of the world is *odd* for all sorts of reasons. There is not once place on earth not affected by it. It is terribly ancient.
Compare Hindu temples, the flags and all. Our ancestors had these in the architecture of their eldest temples. Who are the Deities of the *Indo*Europeans, and the *Indo*Iranians? They're not 10,000 miles apart.
When I studied the Runes, I was naive at first. Then it made sense that Rune staves are made of angular Latin letters, which in turn came from the Etruscans, and even further back to the Phoenicians "The Sea People" who traded with Ireland and Britannia.
This answer is not completely stainless in its reasoning, but it's a good rundown. Look towards India and also Tibet, compared your hex signs with the sacred sand mandalas. I'm sure you'll be interested,
Well that’s exactly right!
Here’s another one you might find interesting, especially with your interest in the Anglo Saxons. Their ”World Tree” The Irminsul, tree that was cut down by the Franks to force the stubbornly resistant Saxons to convert to Christianity, their dogged refusal led to the execution of thousands of their best warriors.. The image of the Irminsul is well known and used by a local tribe here in Pennsylvania, the Irminfolk. This well known “sign” is a stylized palm tree taken from a detail of the medieval Externsteine relief erroneously identified by amateur archaeologist, Wilhelm Teudt. The relief depicts Christ's descent from
the cross. Not quite the mighty Tree of the North.
My Anglo Saxon friends were not pleased.
That's a perfect example of people getting their knickers in knots. Hunter, for me a *living* oak tree is enough. I collect acorns, in fact. The power and soul of an oak ( I'm a bit of an animist) is all I need for "communion". Man made stuff is superfluous.
When people get all jacked up because of surprises like this, then they were never that secure in their beliefs. It's like Trinitarian Christians finding out that Bishop Arius and the Goths had it right. Or, like Jesus only wanted to reform Judaism, and the Romans added all the window dressing, and then 'believers' dropping their "faith" like a stone. If someone genuinely loves Christ that much, it shouldn't matter.
The "Anglo-Saxons", if they're all upset over this, need to re-evaluate a few things. I suggest that they become fluent in Old English as a liturgical language; by even there, modern English is *still* a Germanic tongue and ought to be good enough to call Wotan.
I know from all of these Reconstructionist Pagan/Heathen orgs I've seen in action end up looking like historical re-enactments. As Michael Aquino once asked me, "Do you want the sizzle or the steak?" Too many things are overly romanticised.
But this is what I find fascinating as a “user” of Signs, symbols, staves, etc. people like ourselves see the connection. I have a rabbi as a best friend. These sort of cultural misappropriations are part of it. The absurd becomes real.
Take “Hex Signs” for example, largely fiction created for baby boomer tourism that now has become more genuine than Barnstars they mimicked. But that myth became a reality, people come up to me a hundred times a day at a show and tell me, “ They all mean something “ It got to the point that Don Greth just put on a “witch’s foot” on his sign and concealed it.
Yes, take for example my use of an oak tree. It's solid as a rock. If people want to have "solid" symbols, then they need better research, or go back to raw basics. Right now I'm speaking towards those who do not handle symbols well.
Symbols are a technology, a person who know how to manipulate symbols (and I don't mean that in the pejorative sense) are sacred engineers. We once had a conversation about how Reformed Churches, or more extreme, Amish, Old Order Mennonites, the Brethren, or Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalists despise "symbols". Yet, let's talk about the Old Order fetish for black cars, what is that? Some symbols are more equal than others, I suppose.
Symbols are initially the only manner in which humans can communicate the abstract; however, they are the vehicles needed in order to touch "the real", or the numinous (which normally lie outside of direct experience), and even then, someone who has touch "God" can only translate the experience to others 'backwards ' into symbols. This is like Korzybskian semantics ("The map is not the territory"), with humans limited by culture, language, etc. A symbol *can translate* a person to another reality. To state otherwise makes liars out of every accomplished Tibetan monk, shaman, and "holy person" for ages and ages.
Oak is a good one!
Oaks have a propensity to be struck by lightning. Thus they were used in the construction of churches because “ lightning never strikes the same place twice” The connection between the oak tree and electricity in England evolved to the point where acorns were put on the ends of lighting pull chains in the house.
Oak is Dunner’s tree. Strong and tall like a giant, a “Thurs”;
However the Yggdrasil is in my mind, the Yew. The word Yggdrasil refers literally in old Norse to the gallows and the jerking motion of the hanged man would be euphemistically referred to as “riding his horse”
9 .I was curious about the title, “The Red Church,” and found the reference in a footnote in the Introduction . As a Solar worshipper, “God is Red” What reactions did you get about the title? It is an interesting metaphor for Braucherei.
Yep, the foot note. Red is all over the place in Braucherei, as it is in so many other cultures. When I was a baby my mother pinned blessed red ribbons on my under clothes to protect me from the evil eye, misfortune, and wicked spirits.
In my research I hardly read of a physical charm that didn't indicate the use of red. The actual use of "red church" comes from an incantation for inflammation :
"I saw a red wald; I went through the red wald and saw a red church; I went into the red church and saw a red altar; on the red altar I saw a red book, and on the red book I saw a red knife; I took the red knife and cut out the inflammation." There are a bunch of variations on this one.
Here I want to point out that my first teacher didn't call it a red "wald", but a red *wall*. Handing down things by word of mouth is a romantic notion, but they sometimes get hacked up, like in a game of telephone.
This stuff has to be preserved. All we need do is look at the Druids. If things were written down, the knowledge would have survived. Were it not for Tacitus even little less would be known.
I suppose that I could have just as well named it "The Red Book" now that I'm thinking of it. There was just something more provocative about the use of the word "church"; I believe that I used it because of the Christian nature of the work.
Btw, thank you for the info regarding oaks. I didn't know about the use of acorns.
10. Finally Chris, what can we look forward to from you in the future? A sequel to your masterpiece or a new direction? Thank you so much for allowing me access to your thought processes in doing this interview.
It's been a pleasure, Hunter.I
"The Red Church" has some missing material , and I've been thinking of a companion for it. Looking at what I do have is minimal. I would say that it could be a beefy chapbook. Some of the material is going to contain my thoughts since 2009. Your interview has stimulated quite a few things I can address. .
It would be helpful, too, if there are any queries from others that could alter a chapbook into something manageable at 200 pages or less.
I would like to spread out a bit as this topic is quite a niche. I wish I was fair at writing erotica, at least I'd have some decent royalties!