Better late than never... I’ve been meaning to post for some time now, but life kept getting in the way in the form of work, a concert of the fabulous Bruce Springsteen which I’d been waiting to see for more than 10 years now, theatre planning sessions (we’re performing As You Like It) and other stuff.
So, finally, for my first K post in the wonderful Pagan Blog Project challenge, I’d like to leave my usual route of discussing Celtic or Northern gods and mythology and delve into something far more eclectic: KISS mythology.
Yes, you guessed correctly: by KISS I mean the 80s hard rock band. My dad was a big fan of their songs, and when I was 10, he introduced me to their music. I still remember the Saturday afternoon when we sat in my great-grandma’s room, listening to KISS’ Dynasty record. So in the sense that KISS will always be connected with this moment and the memory of my dad, they are a very important, almost magical band to me.
The original band members:
Gene Simmons as Demon, Paul Stanley as Starchild, Ace Frehley as Space Ace and Peter Criss as Catman
In the late 1990s, when out shopping for magazines, I found the first Psycho Circus comic by KISS in our local railway station shop. Naturally, I had to buy it although it was fairly expensive at the time. I read it right when I came home, and I was mesmerized. The Psycho Circus series describes the life of circus artists, who are inseparably linked to the Four-Who-Are-One, i.e. the mythologized versions of the KISS stage personas.
The second instalment of the series described these characters as follows:
The Demon - Lord of the Wasteland - Creature of fire and shadow, blood and thunder. He embodies vengeance and terror, the darkest impulses of mortal souls, but also the purgative flames of rebirth, destruction that proceeds creation. His is the element of fire.
The Starbearer - Prince of Hearts - He who draws from the deep wells of the soul and emotion, bringer of passion and pain. He can move a heart to tender love or murderous rage. His is the element of water.
King of Beasts - Lord of the Hunt - Personifies the primal animal instinct, the rough beast that stirs in each of us. Embracing instinct rather than intellect, he knows neither cruelty nor mercy. His is the element of earth.
The Celestial - Scion of the Cosmos - Represents the principles of universal balance, the ultimate harmony of the cosmos. Observes situations dispassionately and sees all sides of a dilemma. His is the element of air.
At about the time I read these comics, I started with my first tentative steps on the road to paganism. Unfortunately, all that was available in my small town’s library were not-so-well-written books on ghosts, spirits, DIY books on white magic etc., none of them by well-known authors. So what my best friend at the time and me did was more or less develop our own, very much eclectic ideas of what witchcraft was and how we could work with it.
Quite a lot of the books I read talked about calling the corners or elements, but none gave an appropriate description of how to do it that appealed to me. For me, these elements were too abstract to do anything with them, much less call on them and interact with them. But then I realized that in the KISS comics, the Four-Who-Are-One each represent one element. Hence, I devised my very eclectic version of calling the quarters that I still use today when working magic.
My plan, which I still have to follow up on once I’ll have a bigger flat and a room devoted to my craft, is to decorate each room’s corner with symbols and items that I associate with the elements as described in the Psycho Circus comics. I also have certain smells and natural phenomena that I associate with them.
Here are my associations, in no particular order:
Fire: red, the midday sun, the desert, burnt smells, death, danger, rebirth, fights
Water: deep red or violet roses, purple, deep ponds, the sea, rose gardens, romance, heavy rose smells, emotions, the sunset, the pains of love
Earth: green, lush green flowers, the smell of the earth after the rain, the woods, animals, stones, sticks, natural materials, earthy green or brown smells, night, wilderness
Air: white and black feathers, blue, planets, coldness, the wind, wind chimes, clear high notes, clean smells (such as Davidoff’s Cool Water perfume), fresh blue smells, the void
This is also my main reason why I see Water as purple and Air not as yellow, as in many traditions, but as blue.
I use these correspondences for various reasons. First, I use them to call the quarters when I’m working magic. Since I’m so familiar with both the comics and the band, I have an instant, very personal image for each element when I call upon it; this seems to work better for me than to use somebody else’s version of the elements.
Second, I use the colour correspondences and/or smells to invite a certain mood or emotion into my day. For example, if I think that I’ll need to be very susceptible for emotions, e.g. when speaking to a friend who’s lovesick, I’ll wear something purple or use my rose perfume. On the other hand, when I know I’ll be in a situation where arguments will likely arise, I’ll rely on a red pendant and focus on the Demon aspect, i.e. that from each conflict and each death, something new will arise. And finally, I also use them as focalizers, so to speak, for visualizing which abilities I’d like to invite into my life.
Madame Raven using her tarot cards and calling upon the Four-Who-Are-One*
While this is indeed a very eclectic system that isn’t even based in a ‘proper’ mythology, it has been proven to work time and again for me. I’ve also written a story based on Madame Raven, a member of the circus, and her ability to call on the Four-Who-Are-One using her tarot cards (you can order the book that includes my story here).
So how do you call upon the elements? Which are very eclectic practices of yours, and what are they based on?
KISS Psycho Circus volumes 2, 6, 10
KISS band image: http://www.nolifetilmetal.com/images/kiss_circuspic.jpg
* a translation of the German reads:
I call out to the North in the name of Starbearer, prince of hearts, who draws from the springs of soul and emotion.
I call out to the West in the name of Beast King, master of the hunt, protector of nature.
I call out to the East in the name of Celestial, spawn of the cosmos, wo represents universal balance.
I call out to the South in the name of Demon, lord of the wasteland, sinister executor of vengeance and terror.
I hear Madame Raven calling upon the four directions. Her voice is so soft... I am very close to her, but far away...