Rosamund: Victorian Mages and the Dreams of Witches


Rosamund, Victorian Mages and the Dreams of Witches: A Meditation on the Hermetic and Golden Dawn Origins of Wicca

Part I. A Golden Age

Dreams Create Lives

It is the souls and dreams of others that help to create our lives for us. We live by them, even if we don’t comprehend how much, or if we comprehend at all.

Some modern people might be swift to disagree, and counter that it is the tangible thoughts and inventions of others that serve to truly create our lives; after all, it was the intellects that crafted these very computers and phones- and this internet that now dominates modern existence- who should be credited with being the most influential.

In whatever way technology and imagination might intersect, they will forever belong in crucial ways to two very different realms of experience. At day’s end, technology is an aspect of economy; it is another means (and now the primary facilitator) of work and survival for many. This computer may be critical to how I survive, but my dreams are my true sustenance; they are the wonders for which I live, and the shapers of my true life.

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Standing at the Forest Edge


I desire to be a witch.

“Witch” is a name or a title given to you, whether by a community of curious or frightened people, or a smaller community of other witches. It is, in short, a human term and a relational term, a name born and maintained in certain relationships. Lacking those relationships, you cannot lift your feet off the ground. Reframe the desire.

I desire to become a witched person.

You desire to be witched, to be changed, to be transformed by Other-Than-Human persons or entities so that you might be empowered in ways that the human world cannot offer you. This is not the empowerment of social prestige, esteem, or ordinary social capability. This is the addition to your soul of otherworldly influence; it may burn or sting as much as it may exhilarate or guide. You are moving (perhaps unknowingly) towards the sideways perspectives of the trans-rational space that slumbers within and beyond the boundaries of ordinary life.

Like swimming naked in the deep ocean, you may regret it; or you may discover an island paradise unknown to any before. Perhaps both things will happen. None of this will “fix” your life; it will only help you to understand the hidden depths to which it was incomplete before. You knew of your spiritual loneliness; but until the cup is given to you, and you drink your first sip, there’s no way to rationally comprehend how deep the loneliness could have run.

The relationship you might forge with a powerful Otherworldly Person will be the relationship that lifts your feet off the ground, the personal exchange of dark co-creativity that makes you the sort of person that others might call a witch. No other human, no matter how powerful or changed they might be, can do this for you. They might facilitate your meeting with the Great Others who can act as Witch-mothers or Witch-fathers, but they cannot guarantee what will come of it. They might recognize what has happened to you, if indeed it happens.

The whispers might start.

And soon, if the witching be real, other humans will begin to recognize it. This can be to your advantage or your woe; the whispers might start in certain places, barely perceptible. Your own realization will come swiftly, and then its deeper layers will slowly emerge as you discover the parts of yourself that have become strangers. Whatever you think of this change, you can’t ever think about it enough to do it justice.

If the witching is real, you will no longer desire to make your primary home in the world of civilized men and women. You will become a homeless soul, unable to be an apologist for the controlled discontent of the ordinary world, even while you have to remain there. What was once fair will be foul; what is forced into predictability is forced into slavery.

But then, none of this may occur; for it is not necessary that it occur in everyone, no matter the degree of their desire. Curiosity cannot force this. Hard work cannot force this. Intellectual achievement cannot force this. Sincere belief or want cannot force this. Desperation might, but what desperation forces can be a twisted thing, witching a man or woman in ways that bring ruin to them and the people around them- and more often the people around them.

Those who are meant to reach the Forest Edge will reach it; the Unseen has a terrible gravity that grasps at all souls, but some tumble away into it much faster than others. Some it kills; some are witched by it; all are eventually vanished into it.

From time immemorial, this is how it always was: he was alone in the forest; she was alone in the hills or wastes, and the Other found them. They either didn’t return from that meeting, or they returned witched. He was sunk in the deadly grip of a fever; she was lost in delirium, and the Dreams came.  They didn’t wake up from those dreams, or they woke up witched.

But it did happen.

But it did happen- she has incubated the dream of the One who clothes himself with death, the mischievous one, the misshapen one, who gives power to sorceresses in sacred visions in the night. These are dreams like no other dreams. These sink their teeth and fangs into the dreaming soul and inject it with the clear, silky venom of witchery. The breathing world has no language for this. The breathing world has worked hard to kill it, when they felt its disturbing presence from below.

Human, your soul and life no longer belong solely to the human community that shaped it with their recent sights and sounds. Unseen Sights and Unheard Sounds now collect in your stomach and along the road of your spine, to haunt your mortal thoughts, relations, and goals. To the society of the invisible, you now owe concern. You owe attention. You owe allegiance. We have influenced you as monsters and lovers in many forgotten dreams; now we are known to you for who we are, and your dreams are our appointed dwelling place.

We do not speak with airy sound, but we will speak in how you move. We will speak in how you wander. We will speak in how you yearn for forbidden things. We will speak in your alienation. We will speak in how you grasp for love and understanding that will remain beyond your grasp until you die. And then you will know us completely- and those who walked the strange road with you.