More Archives from the Coven of the Catta 1967-1971

DrSanteeMontagePhoto montage by Travis McHenry

Decades ago at the covenstead and library of the Dr Frederick LaMotte Santee I found a few pages of draft notes from an unsigned MA Thesis about the Coven, which i did previously publish. I was recently contacted by a man who was a grad student doing archeological work on an old Indian graveyard while visiting Wapwallopen PA at various times from 1978 to 1981, and he knew Dr Santee personally and spent a lot of time talking with and exchanging ideas. I will keep any more details private to protect his identity, but he does Not live in that area.

Bottom line is it seems he collected Every local newspaper article and picture about the Doctor and the Coven that was published, and probably every publication of Lady Phoebe’s The Witches Kettle and Doc’s The Country Doctor starting in 1970. He has generously sent me copies of All of these articles so the Coven can have them in our archives. What can i say except that i am thankful, ecstatic and blessed and cannot wait to go through these hundreds of pages of documents. Merry Yule to us!

Unfortunately since this newspaper still exists i cannot publish these works due to their copyright protection, but i am writing the newspaper to see if i can post some pictures on this blog in the future.

I think the best picture is from 29 October 1967 when Dame Sybil Leek visited Dr Santee at the library and she is seated on a sofa besides him with her son in the background. It was during this visit that she initiated Dr Santee and Lady Phoebe into her lineages of witchcraft, and in another newspaper article about the coven it published 2 years later it confirms this lineage is from her. A second series of photos from 30 October 1971 of the Coven in ritual robes during their ritual. It seems back in the day in this local paper someone writing about witchcraft and a local coven was no big deal (or he had a lot of balls), not like it would be nowadays where a bunch of fundies would show up with signs and crosses! And you know the funny thing? Some of these coven members still went to their Catholic church also.

Hopefully i will be able to share on this blog these old photos and articles in the future, so stay tuned.

Blessed Be.

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Every Witch makes their own Wheel of the Year

wheel of the year (1)I have been taught a pretty traditional interpretation of the Witches Wheel of the Year by my teacher, the late Lady Phoebe of the Coven of the Catta. She was initiated by Dame Sybil Leek, but got most of her knowledge from books written in the 1960s-1970s. But the fact is these were written for a European cycle of the year and are not set in stone for those in other climate zones or hemispheres. So every witch makes their own version of the Wheel of the Year.

We were taught the Legend of Persephone and her winter journey into the underworld and re-emergence in the Spring. These were re-enacted in our second and third degree initiations. We were Not taught the cycle of the Oak and Holly King. We do consider the summer to be the time of the Goddess of Nature and the winter to be the time of the God of Nature, but there is no line in the sand where one begins and the other ends and the transition is more fluid with both of them going through their warm and cold, light and dark aspects.

At a formal coven gathering I do the rituals as I was taught of course, following the liturgy completely. But over the decades in my own practice I have combined other relevant practices combining the native Himalayan shamanism that underlies Tibetan Buddhism and Nepali Shaivism, AmerIndian practices, Northern European practices and Haitian Vodoun. After all most of the native pagan religions around the world are pretty much the same except for their deity names and how the ritual is choreographed. A witch drawing a pentagram on the earth and a Mambo drawing her veve and a Hindu drawing their mandala and a Navaho drawing their sand painting are all making the same sacred space.

I have an inside temple all set up, and I have an outside temple of standing stones in a circle. If the weather is decent (I live in the north east USA in a temperate zone) I try to have the ritual outside. But sometimes I so the ritual inside and then run outside to do something seasonal like light a fire or make outside offerings on the tree stump altar. Of course sometimes I am just plain lazy and just light a candle and some incense, make an offering and prayer and salute the moon and sun and earth.

Before I even get into the seasonal rituals here is what I do for the Full and New Moons. Sometimes I do parts of the traditional full moon ritual, and sometimes I just run outside and worship our Lady spontaneously. For the new moon I am completely Tibetan Buddhist and Shaivite in that the day before the new moon I worship Rahula to avert disaster and for the new moon I worship Mahakala and burn things I want to go away and to avert untimely death.

Now regarding the 8 fold seasons in the northern temperate zones here is some of what I do. The Equinoxes and Solstices are the celestial events where the days and nights are longest or shortest or balanced, but fact is on earth is it Not the season yet. It is not until the cross quarter days where these energies are fully grounded in nature around us. Yes on June 21st it is the longest day of the year, but it does not really feel like summer until Lammas in August. Yes  the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, but the height of winter here is at Candlemass in February. So it seems on the compass points we have the celestial points of the wheel and on the cross quarters we have the earthy points of the year.

So let’s start with Yule since it is coming up soon. That ritual is usually held inside. I put my cauldron in the center of the temple and decorate it with pine cones, fresh cut holly, acorns, and whatever else seasonal I can come up with. This year i am into bayberry scented candles, so that is what I will have burning in the cauldron. Traditionally we try to burn the nine sacred woods of rowan, apple, elder, holly, pine, cedar, juniper, poplar and dogwood. But the fact is one may not have all those woods growing in your woods, so I just substitute whatever nine kinds of wood I can find. And since you can’t burn wood inside without setting off all your smoke detectors then that part of the ritual is for outside later. Another witch priest turned me on to just cutting a log of wood, drilling 3 holes in it placing white, red and green candles, and then decorating it with holly and such. It looks really nice and is more practical for inside work. For good luck and prosperity for the new year we also jump over the candle in the cauldron or the bonfire outside holding hands as couples. We also circle the cauldron with our besoms, making a wheel, to the Eko Eko Azarak chant. And don’t forget that wonderful feast of shared food culminating with all those delicious xmas cookies the witches bring and our Christian relatives give us!

As a side note, even though I was never taught this, I often move the cauldron around the circle to the direction of the season, which just seems logical and magickal. So the cauldron is in the north at Yule and moves around deosil for the other Sabats.

I love Candlemass because I hate January and February because it is cold and dark and i turn another year older, and this is the ritual where you can see the first flicker of the candle that the Goddess is holding as she makes her way out of the cave of Hades. In the old coven the Handmaiden of Vestal Virgin wore a simple crown of aluminum foil (which is cheap and looks good in candle light) decorated with small birthday candles. It was lovely. The Priestess bends down and pounds the earth with her hands calling forth the earth Goddess Hertha to wake up and come forth again bringing the green of spring. I have added the blessing of packets of seeds that will be planted much later. Candlemass is all about hope for the future. We also call forth the God of the Sun and the Goddess of Nature to come back and increase their light and warmth and life. I am not including the exact chants made to the gods as you can read those anywhere and there are many versions and fact is just make up your own prayers from the heart. Candlemass also has a special place in my memory because one time we all planned to get together at the old Covenstead and in the end no one could come except Lady Alsace and myself, so we just had the ritual together anyway, just the two of us, and it was a powerful ritual showing that when a Priestess and Priest come together then the Gods are there also.

I have never been much for celebrating the Spring Equinox because here it is still cold and rainy. But it is a time where one can begin to glimpse the Goddess coming forth in the early green grass, or rather garlic, springing forth. And if you want you can combine some of the traditions of a pagan Easter with the eggs and flowers and such. We also call this day Lady Day going back to the Catholic Mary devotions of this time of year. Of course this is also the time for spring house cleaning, both physical and psychic, so it is a good time to burn up all those herbs you collected last autumn and put them to use.

Now May Day or Beltane is a day to celebrate! It is finally getting warm here and the plants and flowers and tree leaves are starting to manifest the green we have missed all winter. It is a day to celebrate fertility of plants, animals and humans. The main witch tool is the besom, which in our coven has a phallic carved end. It is also the time to use the wand. For me I like to use the athame in the winter and the wand in the summer, just because they seem to match the season better. Our wands also have a double phallic end. It is a good day to go around the yard and property and gather up all the fallen branches from the winter and have a nice big bonfire to get rid of the dead in nature so the growing green can manifest. Decorate your altar with fresh flowers. If we do not have a Maypole then we take our besoms and stand them up together like a teepee tying the top ends together with a red cord or cingulum. And those seeds that were blessed two Sabats ago can now be planted in seed starters to start growing inside for later transplant outside once the threat of frost has passed.

The Mid-Summer Solstice feels almost the same as May Day to me. But of course nature is in an orgasm of growth. Besides fire there is also water involved in this season because as the pagans realize this is the one time the sun is directly overhead and can shine down directly into the wells. That’s why the Christians celebrated John the Baptist day at this time too. And we all know how important the rains are in the summer to grow the local crops, so we pray for enough rain but not too much and no too little so the farmers are happy. I like to bless my crystals at the solstice as they are a combination of fire and water. I put them outside on the standing stones and pour water over them and leave them out in the moonlight.

Lammas is the time of the beginning of the reaping of the summer’s crops. One can go to the local fruit and vegetable stands and they are practically giving the produce away. So you can decorate the altar with all these fresh produce almost like an early Thanksgiving. Traditionally a loaf of bread is displayed because now the grain is ripe enough to be reaped and baked into bread, cakes and pies. A witch friend makes a great bread poppet we can dissect and eat like John Barleycorn.

Like the Spring Equinox the Autumn Equinox is not something i celebrate much, except maybe the full moon time of it. To me it is a continuation between Lammas and Samhain.

All Hallows Eve or Samhain is a wonderful and favorite festival for us witches of course. Hey it is Halloween too when we can dress as witches and no one bats an eye lash! Many witches consider this to be the beginning of the witches year, but I still consider Yule to be so. This is the season where we honor our dead. In our coven we leave the circle open, then ring a bell 40 times and invite the dear departed to enter as we light candles to them. I also like to so a small dumb supper after the ritual as we feast.

So my favorite rituals and celebrations of the Witches Wheel of the Year are Candlemass, May Day and All Hallows. But I also religiously celebrate the new and full moons too. I do not try to do the Sabats at the exact day they are astronomically or astrologically but whatever day or weekend everyone can get together. And I try to do them either on a waxing or full moon, except for the darker Sabats like All Hallows or Yule which I try to do near new moon.

You will notice in this article that I use the seasonal name that I was taught in my Coven, and they were probably tied in to the old Catholic feast day names. We do not use names like Imbolc or Mabon or other Celtic names that are used nowadays.

Well this rambling article is about three days in the writing and I apologize if it is not all that polished or even of the same tense or person at times. It is just something I wanted to personally share. We all have what we were taught and we all add to that like making a big pot of soup and in the end it is all about how we feel sacred inside as we celebrate the sacred Wheel of the Year. Blessed Be!

wheel of the yearRegarding these images I found them at multiple sources on the www and could not find who drew them, so my apologies to the artists.

Medieval Grimoires and our Books of Shadows

Hexagram SolomonThe rituals in the Coven of the Catta’s Books of Shadows, which I hand copied from Lady Phoebe’s books in the early 1980s, are from a variety of sources. Most are after a pattern of rituals in The Grimoire of Lady Sheba and other Gardnerian lineage writings available at that time. I and others have noticed some passages are similar to those in the Grinoirium Verum and the Grand Grimoire from Idries Shah’s The Secret Lore of Magic. Here are some quotes from both showing that comparison.

tetragramaton pentatgramFrom the Grand Grimoire:

O Lord Adonai, who hast formed me, Thy unworthy servant, in thine image, from plain earth: bless and sanctify this work, for the cleansing of my soul and body, and may no deceit or stupidity be her. O Most Powerful God! Through whose power the people were able to walk through the Red Sea from Egypt; give me this grace, purified and cleansed by this water, pure in Thy Presence! 

From the Grimoirium Verum:

Lord God Adonay, who has formed man out of nothing to Thine own image and likeness, and me also, unworthy sinner as I am, deign, I pray Thee, to bless and sanctify this water, that it may be healthful to my body and soul, that all delusion may depart from me.  O Lord God, Almighty and Ineffable, who didst lead forth thy people from the land of Egypt, and didst cause them to pass dry-shod over the Red Sea. Grant that I may be cleansed by this water from all my sins, and may appear innocent before thee. Amen.

From the Books of Shadows of the Coven of the Catta:

Priest hold up cup of holy water to the gods saying:

O Lord Adonai, who has formed me from plain earth in thine image, bless and sanctify this work for the cleansing of the body and soul. Let no deceit or stupidity dwell herein, O most powerful God. Give me this grace, purified and cleansed by water and by salt.

Priest makes fire invoking pentagram on his forehead and then on the coveners saying:

Be thou cleansed, regenerate, and purified, so the spirits will neither harm thee nor abide in thee.

From the Grand Grimoire:

May all devils flee, and particularly those who are inimical to this operation! When we enter herein we call with humility that God the Almighty entering this Circle will cast down diving pleasure and prosperity and joy and charity and greeting.

May the Angels of Peace help and defend this Circle: may discord disappear from it!

Help and magnify us, O Lord. Thy Most Holy Name bless our meeting and our speech. O Lord our God, bless our entry into this Circle, for Thou art blessed for Ever and Ever! Amen.

From the Books of Shadows of the Coven of the Catta:

Priest/ess makes deosil circle with sword on ground saying:

May all evils flee, and particularly those who are inimical to this operation which we enter herein. We call with humility that our Gods be with us to cast down divine pleasure and charity, prosperity and greetings.

Priest/ess makes second circle with athame at breast level saying:

May the keepers of peace help and defend this circle. May discord, discontent and disorder disappear from it.

Priest/ess makes third circle at head level swinging censor of incense east west three times then north south three times then deosil in a circle three times saying:

Help and magnify us. Bless our Sabat and our speech. Bless our entry into thy sacred circle.

So as you can see someone in the Coven of the Catta, most likely Dr Santee, used and adapted phrases from these old grimoires into their rituals.

Hymn to Diana and Hymn to the Sun

I found these typewritten poems the Hymn to Diana and Hymn to the Sun in a pile of papers at the Santee Memorial Library and Covenstead of the Coven of the Catta decades ago. I am not sure what unknown bard wrote them but I like them. The Hymn to the Sun is rather erotic and represents the yearning we all feel this time of year for the Sun as it continues to decrease in the northern hemisphere. We already yearn for his return. Enjoy and Blessed Be.

Midwinter SunHymn to Diana

How shall I, The Poet, sing the praises of Winter?

What virtues are there to extol?

Are ice, sleet, bitter cold,

and naked trees joyous things?

The only emotion that winter brings to mind is hope.

While walking through the eldritch beauty

of a winter landscape,

I shiver and huddle,

chilled by the iciness in my heart.

I am warmed only by the hope

that you will bring the Spring of Love,

again, to an ice-bound soul.

Memories of warmth,

Of summer’s love,

Walking through meadows of pine forests,

are but torments, not comforts.

Come again to me, Goddess of Love,

Let me return, at least briefly,

in a dream if need be,

To your summer warmth.

I long to run, naked, beneath the Sun,

and feel the kiss of thy breath.

Comfort comes now,

With the knowledge,

The death of winter, the hag, will soon come,

and again we will be together,

My Love . . . . . .

.

Hymn to the Sun

I awoke this morning ere

the light’s dawning birth,

And saw the earth awaiting

that light and warmth,

Like a lover awaiting her love,

       Expectant . . . Hesitant . . .

Like it will never happen,

yet glorying in the

sweetness of expectancy.

The mists hover and hang in the pines,

Threads,

As the threads of fate and time

Hang in the balance for lovers.

Will the lovers meet?

Will their love be fulfilled?

It is yet a waking love, of small things,

The greatness and fertility

is yet to be.

As the earth waits, expecting its love,

My phallic pen makes love to the virgin paper,

Spilling it’s ink-sperm, on and over,

Violating the purity of it,

yet fulfilling it’s purpose,

giving it being,

breeding a bastardy of verse.

As I like the paper, and the earth,

Await the awakening of my lover,

To meet, love, conceive,

and give birth to a new day.

Now the earth quickens,

as her Sun-Lover approaches,

The birds, hymn singers,

begin the nuptial music.

The folds of her body,

The hills and valleys covered by green pubic-grass,

are damp with the love juices of dew.

The Earth-Mother sits and awaits

The first thrust of the Sun-Father,

tremblingly,

With the thoughts of this wanted love, hesitantly,

Awaiting her virginity to be violated.

Night maid, Luna

Lesbian lover of the night,

Steals away, fades from sight,

by father-sun’s brightness.

Now quietly, the night creatures,

attendants of the lesbian Luna,

hide from the brilliance

of the earth’s true lover.

The hymn of the birds grow louder.

His maleness draws closer yet.

The earth quakes.

The day creatures,

after the night of quivering fearful sleep,

begin the preparation to welcome

the sun lover.

Sun-Lover begins his ritual of

golden caresses and kisses

On cold expectant Earth . . .

Now slowly, the men and women,

Children of previous lovings,

begin to stir.

The lamps of the houses,

nestled in the folds of the mother,

gleam in feeble paean to the

sun, father, lover.

The earth mother is now warm, now hot,

Ready for the first thrust

of her lover’s golden lance of light.

Ready to shiver in delightful orgasm

of creation.

But, yet he hesitates.

She is not brought to a final peak,

Ready for the first mighty lunge.

The earth awaits yet awhile,

Knowing her lover is near,

her body bursting with energy,

covered with love dew.

As I await,

I hear the stirrings and preparations

Of my lover for the dawn’s loving,

in feeble imitation of nature’s

labor of creation.

I hear the footsteps of my love

on the stair,

As the orange footsteps of the earth’s lover are seen over the green-blue horizon.

I rejoice in expectation as does the earth.

My lover is close at hand

As I begin the ritual of caresses and kisses

that prelude the act of creation.

As the sun kisses and caresses the earth,

We both, Sun and I,

Glory in the perfection of the body spread before us . . .

Now she is ready for my maleness,

As the earth is,

Awaiting the golden thrust of the sun,

To bring the orgasm of creation.

Now as the sun-lover first plunges

his golden light into the earth’s folds,

I meet with my lover’s body, risen,

Risen from the floor to meet mine.

More rods of light penetrate,

and violate the virgin earth,

As the serious business of creation

is now underway.

The earth joys in the

first throes of orgasm,

As my lover’s body trembles as well.

The earth is now fulfilled.

Her purpose of creation is come about

As a new day is birthed.

Light’s sperm is spattered

all over the earth,

As new ideas and beings are born,

Some legitimate,

Some brilliant,

Some bastards.

We are now in the softness and warmth

of a new day,

As we reflect on the wonder of creation,

And already anticipate,

because we know that

This wondrous loving will occur,

Again

Again

And again

Forever . . . .

Poems to the God/ess invoked in Priestess and Priest

I am going to publish as blog posts small sections of my Coven of the Catta – Elders and History, Unique Ritual Practices and Spells, which is available for free PDF download. These short posts will continue over the next few days or so.

Our late elder High Priestess Lady Phoebe Athene Nimue and her soul mate and High Priest Lord Merlin wrote these poems to each other. They did not write them as to a human being, but to the Goddess ad God in each other when fully invoked in each other as Priestess and Priest. The line drawings are by Lady Phoebe and I am reproducing the original typewritten document and the poems typed out for clarity. Blessed Be.

Copy of I am SHEI am SHEI AM SHE

I walk with you in the twilight that falls like fairy dust around us. My silvery rove and midnight blue cape swings in the gentle wind of the gods. No matter my gait, no mater whether I be slim or obese or my beauty be the beauty of 18 or 80, for I will always walk straight and tall, my slim legs twinkling under the cobweb silk of my robe. I am always willowy as the figure of SHE and my beauty if forever. I willingly allow you to be my wall between danger and myself. I willingly allow you to worship at my shrine. You have earned that privilege of adoring at my feet for I am SHE. You can do naught without me. The veiled Isis can be unveiled to you only if I am at your side. But I need you in order to be SHE. Without you I will be nothing as you are without me. with your strength and my beauty we will face and conquer the twilight of our world without fear, for you are HE.

God by Lady PAN

I am HEI AM HE

Like a god I can wipe away the clouds form the sky if you want it blue. I will pull down the stars to light your room at night if you want me to. Tomorrow i will level off the mountains and drain the sea to make room for the palaces I have planned for you. Like a wall I stand between you and anything that might threaten your joy and peace. The kings and captains of the earth will wait outside to adore you on your new throne. While I live you will is law. The magic power I draw from you makes me invincible. There is nothing I cannot learn or do, no problem I cannot solve if you let me do it in your name and for your sake. The world has no existence for ma apart from you. it has no meaning but what you give it. You are the cause and the purpose of all my deeds. If you leave me, my world will fall apart. Unless some other SHE comes quickly to the rescue, I shall die. To renew my strength, I have only to look upon you or touch you, and I go forth conquering in your name. What is it in you that revives and inspired me? I call it beauty. But this is only you creating and expressing yourself. For you are SHE.

© GLHoke 2010