A beautiful poetic response to Apocalyptic Witchcraft courtesy of Slippery Elm:
A month after finishing Peter Grey’s Apocalyptic Witchcraft I found myself on a rooftop in North Africa hastily building an altar out of bricks and cinder blocks while the full claimed her place between the cities twin peaks. The horizon was a tangled mass of mountains, whorled tendrils of blackberry raking at the sky, snagging swathes of soft night on their barbs like goat fur on the thorns that line a high traverse. The particular peaks that stanged our moon that March night, are known locally as the horns.
There was a small room on the roof, with one little window and a ruined wall; within it, a pile of white canvas bags blackened torqued wire, and other such rubble. No one would find me. At the first sound of footsteps, it would only take a pinch, and then the hiss of wax, to disappear.
Europe, ruin! Africa, ruin! The Americas, ruin! All lands washed in shrouds of ruin!
And still we gather in the wrinkles of the globe, in manifold ruins the world over, under the same hot moon. There make our love, our magic, our mischief. And what filigree remains, severed from its superfluous umbilical, and bereft of the black blood of oil upon which to suckle its roots, is withering like a sunless flower. Apocalypse sounds her bulería war cry and there is but to rise and meet her with snapping fingers and iron laced heels. Here is the rose, dance here.
From the bowels of the cave of John of Patmos, to the highest reaches of the Sabbat mount, Apocalyptic Witchcraft rises out of the torqued wire and rubble left to us by industrial society like steam from a thawing corpse. The book opens like a caja pandora, a conch, a skull, echoing forth it’s whispers. Peter begins his telling, and together we proceed to pilot our coracles on the waters of dream, hunt as wolves, and make new tracks on a narrow path, becoming ever more lost in woods forbidden. Trees hold their breath; their shadows stiffening all around us.
Every step of the way, on every page, Peter spouts off poetry & prophecy like a roman candle. As it was scribed in the moss-agate tongue of fungus and vine, of Venus and vipers, any discussion of this book demands such verdure vernacular: that of all things fluttering, leaping, sexing, dying, greening, and keening. I speak these languages back to you. As Peter asserts, poetry is the unbroken lineage. And in times such as these, when the greenworld lies under the choke hold siege of a differing dream, we come to know, as did Mahmoud Darwish, what makes the voice of the nightingale a dagger that shines in the face of invaders.
I have seen the historical accuracy, and pretensions of authenticity among our traditions squabbled over like seagulls over lunch scraps. I have seen those who posture as witches scrying numbly in the neon crystals of televisions while the world flames up around them. All of this no more. The Craft is not sedentary. There are much more urgent silences to shatter. Like permaculture, witchcraft must outfit and equip us for an age of decline. Now’s to become naked in the vine-tangle and weave ourselves resistance. Make ghost lamps of pickle jars. Save the coloured tissue paper that your fine edition comes in to wrap up and bury your offerings: the white, the red, and the black ones.
Apocalyptic Witchcraft will be a difficult read for those who have not yet gazed upon the dark. Who don’t feel in poetry but think in prose. Who might stumble on threads and miss the tapestry. Yet, Peter has struck a nerve. He has come closer than any author before him in expressing that slippery something that lurks at the heart of witchcraft, regardless of tradition. A warning to those who would trivialize us, who would deny a cat its claws: Our Power craves Love! Beware our Power!
Inspired by his constant battle and search for duende, the poet Federico Garcia Lorca wrote this of the Andalucían cante jondo, of deep song: it has only the night, a wide night steeped in stars. Nothing else matters. Likewise the witchcraft. The halls of the heart far surpass the world in vision and splendour. As Peter relates, this duende, this mystery, burns in the space between The Goddess and The Devil—obscured by a whirl of horns and red veils. This dance mimics the bullfight, in that lover and beloved, bull and torero, interpenetrate and become one another, consumed by an irrational force irresistibly compelling. This death-dance transpires on all levels of life. Every living thing partakes in this grand performance. But what is the source of this force, this duende? Lorca muses: Perhaps it comes to us from the dead, who stare at us from the motionless fence around the bullring of the moon.
All things dissolve and we are left with roots. With numbers. With Time. With music: auditory numbers colouring shards of Time with melody. Despite the vastness of its scope, Apocalyptic Witchcraft and its diabolic dance dissolve into a single number, vibrate on a single tone. What lies behind this cipher will be different for each one of us who knock at its door.
This book is a signal through the flames, like Artaud signaled, and like Ferlinghetti signaled after him, screaming “if you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of living in apocalyptic times, even if this means sounding apocalyptic.” Apocalyptic Witchcraft does more than just fling an answer to the challenge of these times. It answers the challenge with a challenge of its own: Hic Rhodus! Hic Salta!
Peter, you are wicked! Alkistis, wicked! You have cursed us! You have cursed us to be great, cursed us with greatness!
How many times have I been pierced and hung-up on the vicious doubtful gaze of gorgeous dance companions!
How many times have I risen like a sleep-walker when challenged to freestyle at a show!
How many times have I claimed the microphone and put my magic where my mouth is!
Yet when the wineglass smashes there is no other option.
O beloved witches far-flung and lonely! My dear darklings everywhere! In your huts! In your caves! And in urban centres! Eating open the marrow of skyscrapers like a plague of insects!
We played and stole among the street kids of Salzburg! We are of the river that gurgles in the fiery mouth of Zugurramurdi! Mother Demdike is our beldame!
I must fly—but for now I gift you with one last whisper:
Like cante jondo, our song is truly deep. All we need is the night. The night and a few stars. Nothing else matters.
The heart may see where the eyes cannot.
So close yours and count to Fifteen.