ONCE UPON A TIME, I wrote more fiction than anything else. Film noir and surreal horror combined in a genre I thought of as “gothic noir” although publishers describe it as urban fantasy. The anti-hero of my fantasy novels was a man known as Noctiviganti – a homeless fugitive in our world, but a secret police commander in the otherworld. Destined since birth to inaugurate the revolution that would destroy all he served, Noctiviganti remained blindly loyal to the tyrannical fairy queen out of sheer fanaticism. (The series was written before I was aware of the strong connections between fairy queens and popular resistance, as chronicled in “Pagan Anarchism.”)
The series was both a pulp adventure story and an extended meditation on the consequences of misguided loyalty to authority. The first three novels in the story were published, but four of them remain unpublished and will probably never be published because I no longer own the rights to them. (Thanks, Capitalism!) I still think they were good novels, but as often happens to authors my thinking has moved on. If I was writing the series over again now, it would be very different.
Revolutions made by “great men” do not improve peoples’ lives. We don’t need some prophesied hero to ride in and save us, and no dark, brooding loner is going to wander in from the wasteland to kill the bandits and save the town. What we need is to stand together, to take care of ourselves and each other, and to fight back through mass resistance rather than grand solitary gestures.
In the Noctiviganti novels, war magic is called “night hunting.” A night hunter is a person or spirit who comes into your dreams with ill intent. In my novels, this is always described as an intentional act. In real life, it’s not so simple. Some night hunters might be the deliberate product of a magical sending (if literal witchcraft is part of your belief system) but many of them are manifestations of underlying emotional forces that are not triggered consciously but unconsciously. The visceral hatred and bile of millions of closet fascists and bigots has just been unleashed into our collective dreamspace, and is perfectly capable of inspiring nightmares of evil spirits and night hunters. In my worldview, those spirits are real whether they are sent intentionally or not – but if you want to think of them as psychological metaphors and archetypes, I won’t lose any sleep over it.
In the spirit of resistance and solidarity, I offer this Night Hunting ritual. The ritual is designed to incorporate both defense and offense. Psychic defense against night hunters and war magic, followed by counterattack against the new regime and its fascist supporters.
The ritual is divided into five parts, designed to be performed over five separate nights. You can perform one part each night for five nights running, or one part per week for five weeks, or however you want to do it. You can even do all five parts in one night if you have enough time and energy for it.
The ideal is to perform the ritual over and over again, so that you’re constantly renewing and reinforcing your own wards as well as striking at the forces of repression. (This ritual is not intended as a substitute for direct action in the waking world, but as a tool to help people maintain resiliency for that daily struggle.)
Many rituals can only be performed by people with a lot of space, privacy and resources. Many pagans don’t have those things, so I prefer to design workings that can be performed with no resources at all other than a spot to sit or lie down in. Throughout the ritual, you should interpret every physical action as a visualization. You won’t actually be offering food or wine or incense (unless you choose to). Instead you’ll be offering the mental energy of your own imagination.
To perform the ritual, just read the instructions then close your eyes. Visualize whatever is described – or your own personal variation on it – with as much vividness and clarity as you can manage. Don’t rush the visualizations. Each of the five parts of this ritual should last a half-hour to a full hour, leaving time for the images to shift and mutate and for the spirits to interact with you.
When you complete a visualization, open your eyes again and read the charm attached to that section of the ritual. Close your eyes again and visualize the things described in the poem. You can perform the entire ritual this way without anyone in your house even realizing what you’re doing. All they need to know is not to interrupt you while you’re “resting” or “meditating.” Better yet, you can do the whole working while everyone else is sleeping.
I hope this ritual proves useful, either as something you might actually try or as the inspiration to create your own.
SIGIL: The Black Rose.
VISUALIZATION: You sit at a great table overflowing with offerings – wine and bread and delicious foods of any kind you can imagine. Our Lady of Anarchy, robed in black and weeping blood, holds out a black rose for you to take. She blesses your struggle and gives you strength and courage. A great host of spirits crowds behind Her, the powers of the natural world. They have come to you to join in the feast. Break bread with the spirits and eat together.
Oh you spirits of light
Winged in flight, will you hear me?
Raise your hands and command
That no evil thought come near me.
Oh you spirits of night
Dripping water in the darkness
I must ask you to stand
Sword in hand, clothed in harness.
Oh you ghosts and you gods
Those I love, those that love me
Please abide at my side
And deny the heart that hates me.
There are those who wish me ill
Those who seek to harm in secret
If they wish to work such woe
Let them know their hate and keep it.
In the dead heart of the night
When they whisper words of treason
What they send shall turn and rend them
And deprive them of their reason.
Let it hang around their necks
As a weight too great to carry.
Till they cut the cord they’ve woven
Let them never yet be merry.
VISUALIZATION: The host of spirit allies rises from the table to defend you in solidarity, knowing that you will defend them as well. Together you turn back the power of any ill-wishing on those who sent it.