The Compound

A Memoire of Life and Living in a Compound of the Coven of the Black Sun


I don’t recall when I first realized that I was somehow different; My best recollections are that there was no defining moment when I awoke and it immediately hit me that I am a Witch; instead, it was a gradual dawning beginning around age eight when I first realized that I  experienced things much differently than others in my age group (or any age group for that matter). I was, for example, infuriatingly argumentative and rejected the authority of others, which resulted in more than a few tense encounters with various school-teachers and principals. I wasn’t rowdy or violent; quite the contrary, my greatest downfall was that I was considered a “dreamer” who never seemed to be mindful of where I was or what was being discussed. In the light of what I know today, those who labelled me as mentally absent had no idea just how correct they were. My parents, as it turned out recognized these episodes for what they were; I was effortlessly journeying into the Lunar Astral realm.

I was forthwith shipped off to live with my Great Aunt Ellen; Ellen was a vague figure in my life whom the family spoke of with both reverence and awe; she was my equivalent of the boogeyman. She was also a powerful Witch, and that terrified me. Ellen, for her part appeared and behaved perfectly and reasonably normal. Our first confrontation, which I plotted and planned within about two hours of being in her charge, was designed to penetrate the calm and quiet mannerisms which I believe she affected. Now Ellen was a sophisticated individual; she had travelled around the world and was highly educated. Inexplicably, she had a fondness for cigars. At the appropriate moment I initiated my horrible tirade (the details are embarrassing). I recall the cool quizzical expression on Ellen’s face, followed by a slight smile, as she blew a stream of cigar smoke straight into my face. I knew immediately I was out of my depth.

My years with Ellen were continuously fascinating, as she took personal charge of my educations, both public and occult. I thrived and by age sixteen had distinguished myself as a practitioner of Alchemy and medical herbalism. Ellen sent me to Marseilles to apprentice with an alchemist so old he shook when adding sugar to his tea.

As I write this memoire of my life in Witchcraft and a son of the Coven of the Black Sun, much has changed. Ellen passed and entered stasis, which is the period of restoration after death. She has now emerged from stasis (coinciding with May Day) and has begun the process of reassuming her soul and restoration of her spirit. My description of Ellen from my earliest memories is totally inadequate to recount all that she taught me; about witchcraft, life, and manhood. I dedicate these few paragraphs to her and fully expect a burst of cigar smoke in my face as an acknowledgment. Thank you Ellen and welcome back.

The Journey Home

The term “home” for many people evokes feelings of comfort, warmth, and acceptance; for others it brings a return of memories of criticism, failure, and sadness. For most, it provides a mix of those, which is normal and healthy if one is to develop a sense of balance. Balance is very important to our Coven; while we adopt no formal religion, we do have a group philosophy which places balance in a highly exalted position within our lives and within creation. My life with Ellen was one of balance; In my younger years that balance took the form of equal parts play, work, and study. The play consisted largely of wandering the grounds of the house and exploring every inch of the landscape and seemingly every creature which inhabited that landscape. Occasionally, play also included examining every room and the contents of the house itself. As you might expect, a witch’s house is filled with arcana which could delight and puzzle a young person. Ellen seemed to enjoy my wanderings and displayed endless patience answering my questions, often directing me to other occult artifacts which I had somehow missed. Although I endured a great deal of cigar smoke aimed in my direction, I cannot recall an instance in which she lost her temper She developed the perplexing habit of addressing me as “Timmy” when I was being especially dense; it was always delivered with incredible style. She, for example, might say “Yes, the stove remains quite hot after the burners are turned off (pause) Timmy”. Her tone being one of mild exasperation in which she was certain that I lacked the basic ability to employ reason before acting. When the time came for me to be nudged from the nest (Marseilles being the landing ground), Ellen gave me a list of good manners to observe, and we flew to France where I was to study alchemy. Ellen introduced me to my Mentor, blew a puff of cigar smoke in my face, and unceremoniously left. 

During my early years with Ellen, she had broached the issue of religion (specifically Christianity) when it arose by arranging for me to attend church and a Sunday School with her housekeeper.  I learned very quickly that Christianity was not going to loom large in my life, although I was certain that Jesus was a Witch. In Marseilles, one cannot walk very far without running into a centuries-old cathedral. Once my grasp of the French language became passable, I began exploring these amazing edifices on my own. As impressive as these Cathedrals are, and despite my numerous conversations with my Christian Mentor, I never quite clicked with the Christian belief system.  


Our first Compound, and the one in which I first lived and grew up was located in what used to be an existing campsite owned by the Coven approximately four-hundred miles from Ephrata. By the time I arrived, it had grown from a small group of shacks and tent dwellings into a handsome lodge. The financing for the land upon which the lodge was built was derived from the sale of the original property which we (the Coven) owned near Ephrata. It would appear from our records that the early residents of the compound operated a profitable coal hauling business which financed the lodge construction and subsequent expansions. The same basic lodge design (and the design of the outbuildings and grounds) has been duplicated with every move the Coven has made. However, the design has been improved to accommodate changes in technology and growth in occupancy as world events forced consolidation of our Covens in political “hot spots” around the world.

For a young boy, the compound was an incredible opportunity to explore and find a myriad of interesting things. As constructed, the lodge was a log and rough timber construction. The wood used to construct it was timber harvested from the forest land upon which it was built. It consisted of three floors, the upper two being living accommodation consisting of rooms having one-to-four bedrooms and a single bathroom. Each room had a small living area with a narrow countertop which ran across one wall; above the counter numerous cabinets had been built which served as storage space. Each bedroom had a nice-sized closet for personal effects. Every room was furnished with bunkbeds; for families with children the top bunk was coveted by the oldest child. It was assumed that meals would be taken in the dining hall on the first level.  The lodge could accommodate twenty families.

The main level of the lodge contained a large central space which served as a communal living area. It had a huge stone fireplace which always held cheerful log fire from September through March. Several rooms used for rituals and meetings, and a large kitchen and dining hall were arranged around the central space. It was a cozy place.

The lodge also had a raftered attic which stretched across the entire lodge area. This was where Witchcraft happened and therefore it was the source for my explorations. The entire space held the fragrance of years of incense and the scent of beeswax candles.  No fewer than ten permanently constructed altars of different sizes were arranged throughout the space. The smooth hardwood floor of the attic was strewn with colorful oriental carpets which covered various ritual circles and patterns which were carved and carefully painted on the floor. One end of the attic held an extensive library of shelved books. Next to the shelved books stood chart cabinets containing manuscripts (I would later learn that this library represented only a small fraction of the Covens collection). Sturdy oak library tables were positioned to hold materials for study. 

The most prominent architectural feature of the attic was a row of huge octagonal windows furnished with thick beveled glass which were set into the lower roof line on both sides of the attic. One could view the rising and setting sun through these windows, and observe the shadows shift as the day progressed.  I spent hours in the attic, usually accompanied by other children (my co-conspirators in exploration) similarly attracted to the immense space.  During the summer the attic was cooled with massive slowly rotating fans. The walls of the attic were adorned with symbols and writing made using the strange angular characters of our ancient language; from the ceilings hung a multitude of Witch’s ladders, dutifully protecting the works hidden beneath the carpets. 

The attic was off-limits to children (anyone under age twelve) whenever a ritual requiring secrecy was in progress. Later, this restriction was relaxed a bit and some of my most memorable moments involved rituals of a sort which truly opened my eyes to the power of magic. Later, as a young man of fourteen I conducted my first group ritual in this attic. It was a wonderfully familiar location for the inaugural success of my own magical experience.

The outdoor area surrounding the lodge was dotted with cabins built to house the expanding population as Witches fled the middle east. Several grand pavilions containing picnic tables were constructed and quickly became popular for social gatherings. One end of the grounds held a small rocky brook in which children would cool off when the summer heat became oppressive.  Next to the brook was a manicured circle of lawn surrounded by boulders. Outdoor rituals were held at this location and during the ‘Tellings’ a roaring bonfire was built there in a stone fire circle.

Deeper into the woods other secluded ritual areas had been created. Generally, these locations had circuitous pathways which led to multiple other ritual areas. During nights with a full moon, lines of naked dancers could be found moving to drumbeats and chants as they navigated the pathways. Occasionally, fire pot artists would create displays of moving fire, accompanied by rings of dancers. Being selected to lead the dance was an honor bestowed upon a young witch who had displayed unusual ability or character in their studies of the Tradition. 

In current times, my daughter Sybil had been chosen to lead such a dance one summer. This was a proud moment for her, albeit a very awkward one since the dance required nudity. She displayed amazing courage and led the dance as intended. She found herself amazed that her nakedness was regarded as ‘no big deal’. As she became comfortable moving with the others she was overcome with a sensation of oneness and she felt ’liberated’ and powerful. Such it is coming of age in a Witch’s Coven.


As I write this, I am standing on the balcony outside my rooms in the huge rustic lodge which constitutes the main edifice of the compound. The air smells of burning wood fireplaces and pine trees. Normally I wouldn’t be afforded such opulent living space; however, I was once the Leader of the Coven Council of Elders. That was before the Dark Sun decided that a change in direction was needed, and I began to fall very ill.  The descent into the depths of unfathomable darkness nearly ripped my heart from my body; It was the single most terrifying event of my life. But this is a story to be told later.

The Appalachian Mountains of my childhood are developing that unique mist which is the stuff of fairy tales, and the forest is a symphony of wind and familiar animal sounds. I am not by nature prone to melancholy; but I have developed the habit of examining my life which is sometimes a little sad, sometimes joyful, and often embarrassing. The night chill is beginning as the sun is seamlessly replaced by the crescent of the waxing moon. Usually around this time of night, Sybil (if she’s not in France studying) brings blankets and hot coffee and joins me. She usually has a ton of questions which reflect the depth of her interest in the darker aspects of the Craft. I try to answer them honestly and to the best of my ability, just as Ellen did for me when I was Sybils age. I hope to serve her half as well.

Tonight’s time with Sybil was interrupted by Ari and Harmony (pushed in her wheelchair by Ari) who asked me to sign permission slips for them to have ice cream. I signed them and they both cheered and headed in the direction of the commissary, both yelling “thank-you Pappa” over their shoulders. 

Growing up in the Compound, ice cream was a frequent reward just for being a likeable kid. I recall asking Ellen to sign ice cream slips for me; Ellen would often tell me her arms were broken and she couldn’t use a pen. She reluctantly suggested that she might join me and give verbal approval. I believed that ice cream healed broken arms until I was ten years old. When I was twelve, I asked Ellen if I could smoke one of her cigars. She didn’t even pause but handed me a Cohiba and showed me how to light it to achieve an even burn. I recall getting dizzy and Ellen taking the cigar telling me she’d save it for me. For two weeks I’d sit in her rooms smoking that cigar one-quarter inch at a time. Ellen would explain all manner of things about cigars to me the entire time. Ellen also enjoyed fine Cognac. At age 15 I asked to taste it. She pointedly said NO ! I never asked again. On my first trip home from college Ellen gave me a cigar and watched me light it. Apparently satisfied, she poured a cognac into a Waterford crystal snifter, and handed it to me. I immediately realized why she refused when I asked the first time.

My time with Ellen as a child, adolescent, and young man certainly forged my values. Ellen was always quite clear about values and was extraordinarily concise when explaining her beliefs. She always listened to my questions and gave thoughtful consideration when I challenged something she had said. I felt comfortable discussing nearly everything with Ellen, and her reactions served as my compass. When I was old enough to begin noticing girls (and the occasional woman), it didn’t escape Ellen. She brought up the subject of sex casually as we were discussing the practice of midwifery in the Compound. I had a rough idea where babies came from but a poor idea of how they got there. Ellen used the occasion of our topic to give a technical description of intercourse. She then stopped, blew cigar smoke at me, and examined my beliefs and attitudes about sexual gratification and the moral obligations which accompanied sex. I don’t recall being the least bit uncomfortable or embarrassed by the matter-of-fact conversation.

As a young man her opinions often resurfaced and the moral compass she instilled in me guided my behaviors. In a time when “Free Love” was imprinted on every tee shirt and the slogan “tune out, turn on, drop out” was the mantra of the Hippy culture I kept my balance. Thank you Ellen.

Many of our conversations of substance occurred during the long car ride from the Compound to Ellen’s large Victorian home. While the Coven had access to a helicopter, Ellen always preferred the three-hour drive. I eventually figured out that to her, it was an opportunity to teach me and to prepare me for eventual leadership.

Ellen had employed the same driver for more than twenty years. Th man tended to her every need and selected the music for the ride which created the ideal atmosphere for the conversations we were about to have. When I asked her how that seemed to always happen, she told me “It’s a witch thing”. Pause .… Cigar smoke in face. It was an answer I’d hear a lot whenever I asked a question which she assumed I’d come to understand on my own, in time.

Most people have a highly distorted view of what Witches do. This is generally the result of sensational but inaccurate movie portrayals, horror novels, and superstition. Invariably, these sources present an image of Witches invoking Satan, or Demons to do their bidding, which is always of evil intent. They seldom show Witches in family or community settings engaged in simply dealing with life’s common human pursuits. That is one reason this essay is being written. I want to portray our community in a more accurate light, and to dial down the fear factor. In short, it’s just as important for people to understand what Witches are not, as it is to understand what we are.

I’ve written about the cosmology which drives and unites us in our daily lives in two books     (both available from Troy Books). Summarily, we believe in the polarity of two forces operating in the universe. These forces operate simultaneously, but in opposition to one another. Many religions call these forces good and evil, however we believe these powerful energies have no moral intent. They simply exist.

Our ancestors, observing that daylight and nighttime disproportionately influenced their lives, attributed daylight to the obvious and visible presence of a Bright Sun.  Conversely then, nighttime must be attributed to a Dark, or Black sun. They believed that the two suns continually struggled with one another, and that the result was balance. They posited that nature, consisting of mankind (and other living forces), along with the natural forces of wind, water, air, and earth were a mediating force between the two suns and could therefore affect universal balance. Even though modern science has proven that the universe is immeasurably more complex than our simple understanding, we discovered that our concept worked, none-the-less.  Members of the Coven extended the cosmology to include not just our own universe, but to the entire vast cosmos which surrounds us.

They discovered that it is possible to manifest changes in our physical universe by operating in parts of creation which were separated from our own physical world, and which operated upon natural laws which were totally different from the laws of this world.  What we call magic originated in the efforts of our ancestors to move into these alternate realms and to cause changes to manifest in our own physical world by manipulating and capitalizing from the differences in these natural laws. Said differently, all magic originates from operations performed in an alternate universe. We refer to this universe as the Lunar Astral Plane.

Over the millennia, our Coven has made discoveries which clarify the nature of both the physical universe in which we dwell, and the Lunar Astral Plane. Our goals have always been the same. We use our knowledge of magic to keep the created world in balance. Sometimes this involves working with the Black Sun, and other times with the Bright Sun.

How we do this is hidden in our rituals, embedded in our songs and artwork, and passed on by word-of-mouth. It is mostly kept secret, lest the knowledge be abused.  Rituals of many types exist, and our lives involve the constant attending to the balance of creation.  We do not spend entire days or weeks at a time cackling over boiling cauldrons or cursing our enemies. In the meantime, we live together and care for one another. We’d like to believe that we do so better than the inhabitants of the world which surrounds us.  Sometimes we do.

The Compound in West Virginia

This material was prepared from my diary dated 1983. I was, at the time 50 years of age. As I wrote this, I was sitting in my office at our compound shrouded by dense forest deep in the mountains of West Virginia. Our Spring equinox festival was in the process of getting underway; soon we would be compelled by our increasing population to move to a larger, newly constructed compound in Tennessee, hidden in plain sight near the Cherokee National Forest. At the time, our Coven was led by my Great Aunt Ellen. who was seventy-two years of age.

Once, in the spring and again in the fall of each year we, the remaining families of our kind, gather in a compound nestled in the mountains of West Virginia where we hold a special reunion.  The compound itself is built on the highest point of a mountain top, situated nearly in the center of a seventeen-hundred-acre forested section of land which we own.  To ensure our privacy, the compound and the land are legally registered as a coal mine.

While the forest is meticulously cared for year-round, the clearing in which our rustic lodge is situated is cleared and ready for our largest event of the year.  This event will draw nearly 100 families of men, women, and children who will be assigned quarters in the lodge or surrounding cabins for the five-day period of our reunion.

Running water and modern plumbing amenities as well as kitchens and bunk beds are ready for move-in on a first come, first served basis. Each group of twenty-five cabins is fully furnished and equipped to accommodate four adults and eight children. Two communal covered pavilions with picnic tables and a heavy stone wood burning fireplace are available for the use of each five cabins. The multi-story lodge has twenty individual rooms and a full-scale kitchen capable of seating and feeding one hundred people.  Large sitting and recreational rooms are situated for easy access, each with its own fireplace. As you might guess, none of this popped up over-night.

We have lived in Appalachia since 1750, having immigrated first to the region of Ephrata, Pennsylvania and then to the remote mountains of West Virginia which we now call home.  Soon we will be moving yet again, to the mountains of Eastern Tennessee, and two other rustic locations; where we will build new lodges, and live lives of mostly peaceful simplicity.

But, for now the excitement in the air is nearly electric as everyone unloads their vehicles and organizes their belongings in preparation for the evening’s bonfire and the ‘Tellings’. Tellings are the stories of our families, in which new family additions are announced and family members who have left this world are remembered. ‘Tellings’ also include the historical accounts of how each family made their arduous journeys to live apart from those who could never accept or understand them. These stories contain our tradition and give us a tangible sense of community. In accordance with our practice, the head of each family begins their story; each family member of age (twelve years old) tells a part of this story – which they have practiced innumerable times before arriving at the ‘Tellings’. There is much laughter and an equal part of tears as our stories are told and we recognize ourselves in the ‘Tellings’ of others. ‘Tellings’ usually begin with the stories of our lives before Ephrata and thereafter, and are traditionally relayed using the unique combinations of gesture, body movement, and words spoken in our ancient language which is taught from the time we can walk. As each ‘Telling’ is complete, we seal it with gratitude towards the tellers by the performance of a group song. The next family then moves to the place from which all ‘Tellings’ are begun and we start again. And so it goes until the stories of every family are complete. The large group of families in attendance will require four separate ‘Tellings’ per night, with four or five families participating each night. During the early hours of the morning when all ‘Tellings’ have been rendered and songs performed, the children are carried off to bed and the adults (anyone 12 years and older) reconvene for a ritual blessing of our gathering and those we love.  We then perform group conjurations with the fire of our tradition still burning in our spirits.

The morning following the ritual begins with breakfast at the lodge, followed by individual family visitations to the Grove of Remembrance. The Grove of Remembrance is a unique feature of our tradition.  When we first settled at the compound, our Coven Elder at the time became the father of a baby boy. To celebrate the occasion our Elder chose a young tree which was growing in a sunny location. He then carved his own initials and the initials of his wife into the tree trunk, and then sliced a branch from that tree at a node. He carved the end of that branch into a cork-shaped plug and carved the initials of his son into the exposed end of the limb. He took pine tar and grafted the limb into the node of the tree trunk. When the boy turned age six, his father began to carve on that branch all of his hopes for his child., watching the tree flourish and his hopes materialize.

This led other men to follow his example, and soon the practice spread to include marriages, deaths, and other significant events in the lives of the coven families. Eventually, the sons and daughters of the coven took trees adjacent to those of their fathers and grandfathers and made them their own.  After fifty years of unplanned expansion, nearly all of the trees surrounding that of the original Elder contained grafts. At that point the Council Elders apportioned the trees and each family received deeds to one acre of land on the mountain side which came to be named to be known as ‘The Grove of Remembrance’. The Council also appointed an individual with a gifted memory to administer the Grove. I once walked through the grove with this individual and as we walked, she recited from memory the names of the Coven members to whom the apportionment belonged, and the names of the persons memorialized in each apportionment.  As another move is being planned, the Council of Elders is meeting on the last day of our gathering to determine how best to preserve and perhaps transplant the ‘Grove of Remembrance’.

The afternoons following breakfast were reserved for formal discussion groups concerning matters ranging from educational programs for coven children to proper funereal practices and rituals. Early evenings prior to dinner were generally reserved for demonstrations of rituals performed by respected Coven Elders. Whereas the periods of the Equinox were met with agendas of practicality and tradition, the Solstices are celebrated in an entirely different tone and an entirely different purpose.

The Black Sun and the Nazis

As a matter of tradition, the Witches who have led the Black Sun Coven have maintained journals of the activities, travels, and significant events which have occurred during their period of leadership. This is a tradition which has served us well on many occasions and is often used as an extension of verbal accounts such as those derived from the Tellings. Tellings serve as recollections of our individual family traditions and strengthen family identities and our ties to the coven. Journals, on-the-other-hand record our coven traditions, significant events, and journeys, strengthening our unique relationship with the community. Both Tellings and Leader Journals reinforce one another and create a high degree of unity. During my term as coven Leader I’ve maintained the practice of journaling. The story I am about to tell relies heavily upon written accounts.

When my Great Aunt Ellen was a young woman she met and fell in love with a young Polish man whom we’ll call Alex (not his real name). Alex was a powerful witch from a wealthy family, and he and Ellen were soon engaged. Alex owned and operated several casinos throughout Europe and the couple traveled extensively, however He and Ellen maintained a domicile in Krakow. The world was about to change when the Nazis invaded Warsaw in 1929. Alex and Ellen escaped from Poland, ahead of the Blitzkrieg and immigrated to France where Alex and Ellen formally married.  Alex joined the Resistance using the widespread network of Witch Covens throughout Eastern Europe.  During the war the Nazis developed an intense interest the occult. The Swastika adopted by the Nazis as their national emblem is a runic character. The Gestapo famously adopted the Black Sun as their emblem, although they had no idea of its occult symbolism. 

Witches were captured and shipped off to concentration camps and were interrogated, tortured, and murdered as the Nazis attempted to learn their mystic secrets. As a member of the Resistance, Alex learned of the massive inhuman atrocities committed by the Nazis. As the Nazis continued their advances and captured France, Alex was arrested and tortured to death in an unsuccessful attempt to learn the European locations of the coven.

Our records from this dark period reveal that more than 1200 real and suspected Witches were mercilessly tortured and murdered during the reign of the Nazis.

Ellen sheltered on the outskirts of Marseille and avoided capture. At her first opportunity she returned to the United States and assumed the Leadership role for the Coven of the Black Sun. One of the first conjurations in the records of the Coven of the Black Sun in North America under Ellen’s leadership was a devastating curse for the destruction of the Nazi Third Reich.  A second entry in the Journal authorized building of the initial compound of the Coven of the Black Sun in West Virginia (A note to this account indicates that the funding for the compound came from Casino proceeds and sales).  When the compound was completed, all of the Covens in North America (including those which originated in Roanoke) were consolidated and moved into the Compound.

I write this because our name and parts of our symbolism have been adopted by Neo-Nazi organizations. The Coven of the Black Sun abhors Naziism in all of its forms. We preceded the Nazis by several millennia and we are proud of the part we played in their downfall. I might add that this account should make it obvious why we are so secretive and why we hide-in-plain-sight.

The Compound In Tennessee
It is Solstice morning on June 21, 1987 as I write in my journal; I am seated comfortably next to my Great Aunt Ellen on a delicately embroidered sofa in a great room of the new compound in Tennessee. Ellen, in her usual manner was puffing vigorously on one of her favorite brands of cigar (Arturo Fuente, Hemingways). Children drifted through the room randomly, leaving quietly when they discerned that Ellen and I were having a private conversation. Ellen has been a huge influence in my life; everything that I know about Witchcraft (beyond what is taught in our own Academies). A great deal of what I know about being a man can also be attributed to the tender nudges of Ellen and the occasional burst of cigar smoke in my face when I was being dense. Ellen’s presence at the compound was an exciting event. She normally lived in a large Victorian house in North Carolina, situated on an estate which backed up to a sheer cliff which descended two hundred feet into a small river. Her house was built with a large screened-in back porch, which faced the cliff. A well-stocked liquor cabinet sat in one corner of the porch. During my many visits to the house, it was rare to find Ellen at home. Ellen had been married to a man who owned a number of large casinos located in states ranging from the east coast to the west coast, and many states in-between. It wasn’t unusual for me to check into a casino hotel and find Ellen knocking at my door. She was usually wielding a fifth of Scotch Whisky in one hand, and a pair of red plastic cups in the other. She was active even now at age seventy-six. Ellen traveled to the Solstice by helicopter, accompanied by my niece, Missy. With her busy schedule, it was an unexpected joy to find her at the compound.
As we were about to leave for a walk in the sun, a group of three young girls came into the room and excitedly (mischievously even) approached Ellen and drew her aside. Ellen listened carefully to them, gave them fist-bumps and continued her walk with me. When I began to inquire, she stopped me by blowing a stream of cigar smoke in my face. I immediately recognized her signal to mind my own business, which was imprinted in my childhood memories.
Later in the evening the teenage constituents of the Solstice commandeered the Lodge to hold a “rave” (which turned out to be mostly frantic dancing and loud music) Ellen seemed to have vanished. We sent scouts out to investigate if she had retired early and was perhaps being disturbed by the kids’ party. They never returned. The music grew louder by the minute. Eventually the remaining adults (me included) investigated; and there we found Ellen, surrounded by kids, cigar puffing, and acting as disk-jockey for the rave. That’s why we all love Ellen.
During the Solstice, nearly all of the ritual work is conducted at or after midnight. With the energy of the rave subsiding, the children were ushered off to sleep. While Ellen and I had been quietly conversing, the volunteers had been busy stacking wood for ritual fires, erecting large, heavy poles to be used to track certain astronomical features, and creating ritual circles and other activities related to our ritual practices. Altogether, more than forty ritual sites are erected on or around the compound.
In contrast with the Equinoxes, the Solstice ritual work does not involve conjuration or divination. All of the work is directed towards manipulation of the creative force. Since our tradition is based upon the concept that the constant struggle between the polarities of the Black Sun and the Bright Sun manifests the creative force, our solstice rituals emulate this process. Of the forty ritual sites arranged about the compound grounds, twenty are dedicated to the Black Sun and twenty are dedicated to the Bright Sun. The participants form a single continuous, unbroken line and move continuously from each ritual site to the next throughout the night, ending at sunrise. During the attendance at each ritual site, incantations and chants are made with intent to manifest order between the two suns on the two days of the year in which the time of light and darkness are equal. The specifics of the ritual content and the incantations/chants are closely held by the coven. The intent however is to balance the creative force.
Ellen stayed at the compound for several days, engaging a group of us to make a three hour road trip to visit an old flame who owned an upscale restaurant. Even though the restaurant was packed, we were greeted effusively and shown to a table. The old flame flirted shamelessly with Ellen the entire time and she pretended not to notice.
The morning after the road trip, and following a robust breakfast, Ellen guided me to a small, quiet, and relatively secluded public gathering room where for four hours she shared with me aspects of our beliefs, tradition, history, and magical practices of which I had never before heard; she especially discussed our past and current relationships with other Covens (other than the Coven of the Black Sun). She detailed whom I could trust and those whose support would be based upon their own self-interests. This information would lately become of pivotal importance as we became engaged in a Witch war.
Our system for forging alliances is quite unique. The best way to explain it is to compare it to the geometric concept of Venn circles. Simply described, Venn circles are two or more circles which overlap; in our practice the more these circles overlap, the greater the degree of agreement between the group of overlapping circles. While these circles are useful and used for a number of purposes, allegiances of war are one of the most common. Ellen was a statistician of incredible ability in using Venn Circles for this purpose; she had formed such allegiances with covens both great and small, aimed at individual strengths which could be put to devastatingly good effect. While my first war was many years away, the things Ellen taught me on that day were pivotal in maintaining the stability of the Coven.
Ellen requested travel by motorcar for her return trip to North Carolina; so, we notified her driver and took the trip. As we approached her lovely home, Ellen pulled the housekey from her purse and by silently giving me those keys, she returned the house she so loved to the coven. As the Chief Elder of the Council, I placed the keys back in her hand and re-presented the property to her in perpetuity. She smiled and asked that I see to it that upon her death that the house would be used as a place for education and research. I promised that I would do so, and my first act upon returning to the compound was to ensure her wish was made binding.
On the drive back to Tennessee, I reminisced about my boyhood, and the silent rebukes I received by cigar smoke from Ellen. I remembered how a summons to see Ellen was tantamount to a death sentence in the mind of an adolescent, and the sweet reality of the relief when the inevitable cigar smoke cloud in my face was delivered instead.
When I returned to the Compound, I received word that Ellen had stepped down as our Coven Head, and that while I was accompanying Ellen back home, I had been appointed as her successor. It all made sense. I was 54 years old and more than a little apprehensive about how I could ever measure up to Ellen.

The Expansion of the Tennessee Compound
It is May 13, 1998, I am 65 years of age, and I have been leader of the Black Sun Coven for eight years. Technology has begun to impact the world and we decide that it’s here to stay; a study performed by a committee of people in-the-know have produced a compelling report which makes it apparent that we need to establish a plan to develop an on-site center which could house computer technology and provide an infrastructure which can support rapid change in future technology. At the same time, our on-site clinic had outgrown its available space and badly needed upgraded to address improved technology. Additionally, the library and archives along with a trove of precious artifacts which had been moved to commercial climate-controlled storage, from their location in the mezzanine in the West Virginia lodge required uncrating and catalogued. Each one of these tasks was clearly a monumental undertaking. When preparing to leave our previous compound we had commissioned a survey and appraisal of the land we owned. Inflation had astronomically increased the sale value of the property and we had intended to use a portion of these proceeds to defray the cost of building the Tennessee compound. To our joyful surprise, oil and gas exploration firms had discovered oil reserves within our property and we owned the mineral rights. When the dust had fallen on the auction of our land, we found ourselves with sufficient cash-on-hand to erect an addition to the Tennessee lodge which seamlessly extended the three storied structure and which also allowed for the excavation and construction of four lower (beneath ground level) structures, customized to include a technology floor, an archive/research/library, and a storge area, all of which were climate-controlled and built to accept changes in evolving technology. I’d like to report that this work proceeded without disruption, however that simply wasn’t the case. On the operational side we needed to hire technical and support personnel to make each floor operational. The coven had evolved to have a large number of Witches who lived scattered about the country, many of whom possessed the requisite skills. We offered incentives for these individuals to move to Tennessee and either live within the compound, or to build satellite communities near the compound.
With the exception of physicians, nurses, and specialized medical technicians this went quite well. We eventually fully staffed the new facilities. Construction work for the addition commenced in 1992 and was functionally completed by 1998. Full scale security of the facility was established the same year.
The growth of the Compound population continued, with members incentivized to move. Our projections for growth, primarily fueled by the collapse of other covens from outside of, but allied with, our own tradition resulted in planning and building two additional, smaller compounds at locations selected for their accessibility to the Tennessee compound and other factors. These compounds were operational by the year 2007. Continued attrition of affiliated covens related to the global economy continue to add to our population. The good news is that the people who elect to join us are a joy to live and work with; the bad news is that once again we find our accommodations stretched and the efficiency of the services we depend upon are degrading.

While the compound has a very well-developed social structure with both formal rules and informal conventions of behavior, living within boundaries set by others is not for everyone. Witches do tend to be somewhat iconoclastic and socially awkward at times. The more extreme sorts of such individuals find it highly uncomfortable to fit into life within the compound. Rather than deal with constant friction while at the same time providing for these people as members of our Coven (which they are) we maintain fairly private accommodations in the form of slightly primitive log cabins on the outskirts of our property. They are generally situated either on lots separated by one-half mile each, or in small clusters of eight cabins removed at least five miles away from other groups. These outlying facilities have full utilities, and unfettered access to the compound and related services at any time. We leave them alone, and it seems to work well. There are, of course exceptions.
One such exception involved a young girl named Sybil who was being physically and emotionally abused by her parents and older brothers. She sustained frequent beatings which were increasing in intensity and frequency as she grew older. We received notice from a neighboring cabin that Sybil had been found sleeping on the porch of their cabin bleeding, and with a broken leg. She had left under cover of darkness and walked to the neighbor for help, but upon arrival was too exhausted to announce her presence. Sybil was evacuated to our hospital at the compound and received care. X-rays indicated she had both arms broken numerous times at earlier dates. Needless to say, this was an abomination and the Council of Elders sanctioned Sybils removal from her parents, as well as immediate action taken to remove the parents from the Compound. Witch justice was swift and final.
The story here however is not about the parents and older brothers; it’s about Sybil and her fight to survive and overcome her abuse. I was blessed to adopt Sybil and had the great gift of watching her transform from a beaten, terrified, child to a beautiful and joyful young woman. Sybil was discovered to possess exceptional gifts of precognition and six other rare talents. Upon Sybils turning of age, she was invited to and accepted an invitation to study in France, which she accepted. She returns to the Compound frequently and calls me Pappa. I am blessed indeed.

Alabama Compound
We broke ground today for the new compound. The excavation for the buried levels alone will require an entire year; most of the building materials are piling up onsite. I was convinced by the contractor that the cost for building materials is going to rise precipitately in the near future, so if we have the cash we should purchase what we’ll need now.
On the logistics side, we are planning the dates for groups to move in and ensuring that we don’t trip over one another when the time comes. We plan to have three meals per day delivered to the compound for four months so that people don’t have wait for utensils to arrive to cook. Even scheduling moving vans is necessary so that we don’t have backups on the roads leading to the compound.

Ariadne (Ari) is technically the daughter of our surgical resident Missy. Missy’s husband died in the conflict in Afghanistan, leaving Missy to raise their daughter alone. Being a surgical resident in a hospital several hours away, Missy didn’t have much free time to attend to Ari; consequently, Ari was cared for by her grandmother, Miriam. As her grandmother aged, Ari became a child of the community, who delighted everyone who came to know her. She was certainly no stranger in our home, and we looked forward to her visits. Ari was blessed with a high intelligence and a quick wit. She was also unusually graceful and applied that characteristic to learning the subtle steps of our ritual dance; these dances were usually performed during certain rituals and involved not only dancing, but also mastering the subtle gestures which form a large part of the ritual; added to that, Ari possesses the voice of an Angel. This combination makes her a frequent participant in the rituals. When Sybil came to live with us, Ari became infatuated, and the pair was inseparable. Sybil, never having had a sister, included Ari in nearly every social event she attended. When Sybil would go roller-skating with her friends, Ari was always invited. If they were hanging out talking about boys, Ari was included. An interesting thing happened which involved Sybil, Ari, and a few friends. Sibyl was selected to lead a ritual dance for the compound in which a serpentine line was formed, and the leader would chant and establish the directions in which the group traversed. The Leader (Sybil) became anxious as the Leader was required to be naked. Nudity at the compound is not an unusual thing, but Sybil was self-conscious. Ultimately, she performed as tradition dictates (nude) and she did an exceptional job. After the dance, one of the boys her age made a comment about her breasts. She was hurt, angry, and ready to discuss her anger with her friends (Ari included). At some point I overheard the conversation at exactly the time they were plotting their revenge. Ari suggested “Let’s do a conjuration to give him saggy tits”. The girls laughed loudly, and so did I. I never guessed that Ari of all people would make such a recommendation. I spent the entire week watching the guy, waiting for saggy tits to begin showing. Sybil, as always prevailed.
The young man’s parents learned of the episode and insisted that the boy apologize, which he did. Sybil in return asked him if he had any idea how hurt she was and that she was humiliated to tears. The boy’s face turned red with embarrassment, and he stuttered the words “I am so sorry” easily twenty times. Sybil gave him a dead cold stare and walked away (I think they learn that before they can walk).
One summer, I sent Sibyl and Ari to visit a Coven in Finland, I got a call from the Witch who was chaperoning them in her house. She has a huge dog, and one night there was all sorts of commotion coming from the bedroom where the girls were supposed to be doing their homework. She walked in and Ari was conjuring rabbits for the dog to chase. The room was in total disarray; she told Ari “No more conjuring rabbits” and phoned me to report that Ari could conjure. I was astounded; kids her age usually don’t develop that skill so early. She interrupted the call because the racket had returned. When she investigated Ari was conjuring squirrels instead. When Ari and Sybil returned, I asked them about the rabbits and squirrels and found that Ari had been doing conjuration for months; Sybil, it seems, had been stifling the noise for Ari. Sometimes they display the maturity of 42-year-olds and next thing you know they act like they’re ten.
We maintain a security person to keep an eye on both girls. He is a really good-looking guy (a Hunk in the girl’s words) with a trim and fit body and the girls are smitten. I’ve started calling him “Hot Sexy Bodyguard” (HSBG) just to annoy them both. Earlier this year they (Did I mention he drives a red corvette) attempted to get him and Missy hooked up; Missy however managed to avoid the trap.

The Black Sun and the Bright Sun
(Notes on becoming a Witch)
The concept that there are two opposing forces in the Universe is very ancient. It was understood by the ancient people who wrote our cosmology as visibly manifesting itself in the physical world by the division of time into light and darkness. Simply stated, daylight was attributed to a Bright Sun, whereas darkness was attributed to a Black Sun. Per this cosmology, the two suns perpetually struggle for dominance. This view has persevered to this day in our Coven and it is the basis for our magical system. Witchcraft is a dynamic tradition, and as time and scientific knowledge moves forward our beliefs and practices respond and change as well. However, certain core beliefs remain unchanged. This is the case with our concept of the forces of Bright and Black Suns operating against one another.
This concept is incorporated into various religions, although they tend to use the metaphor of good vs. evil. For example, in Galatians 5:17 of the Bible, Paul wrote:
“For the flesh lusteth against the spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would”
Although Christianity is in love with the anthropomorphic view of God, Christ, and Satan, the belief in two (spiritual) forces engaged in eternal struggle sounds familiar and may represent a simpler metaphor for the belief in two opposing suns, in any case, the intent is quite similar. I would propose that the concept of the two suns is significantly more developed and that our practices are more reliable in affecting results.
I would like to address the fact that not everyone understands witchcraft in the same way. Psychologists are familiar with the term “magical thinking”. Many people believe that they are practicing witchcraft when in fact they are creating a mental image of what a witch looks like and what a witch does (practices). The itinerant witch emulates the behaviors, adopts the appearance, and mimics the meaningless ritual, fully believing that their efforts are productive. This is the essence of “magical thinking”. Much of this imagery is fed by popular fiction, including film and literature. These media are designed to entertain the itinerant witch, not to inform.
Traditional Witchcraft requires great dedication and patience and involves extensive study. There is no “Harry Potter” solution even when a person born in the craft begins their journey into the Craft. There is also the matter of temperament; no individual whose motive is founded in hatred or revenge will find a place to study. If you need money, witchcraft is not a profitable side-hustle. The student who has burning interest in the craft who can dedicate years of time in study will reap the rewards of the Craft.
Tonight will be one of much anticipation. Our new family member, Harmony will be coming home from the hospital following years of physical abuse by her family; she is six years old; after a particularly severe beating she dragged herself through a heavy forest to a neighbor’s cabin to ask for help. She was transported by helicopter to our hospital and has received treatment of wounds and broken bones (both new and old). She is now excited to come home to a loving family where no one will ever harm her again. Her abusers have been dealt with. Ariadne is taking her new role as big sister to near fanatic levels. Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will all gather in our Grove of Remembrance to graft her branch into our family tree. Later, we will be hosting a compound-wide birthday party for Ariadne followed by a group roller skating party in town; Harmony has a specialized wheelchair, crafted by her security agent, and will be able to skate as long as she can endure.

In addition to being a highly qualified physician, Missy is my second cousin. She presides over all things medical at the compound and has treated strep throats, set broken limbs, stitched up some pretty gnarly cuts, and dispensed advice to at least one of her hopelessly dense patients (that would be me). She is also one of the most compassionate souls I’ve ever encountered (hint: Don’t piss her off). Missy’s mother, Miriam is our midwife and herbalist. Her specialties are a restorative healing bath made primarily from a concoction of ginger, and a goopy green substance with which she threatens when their dispositions turn sour.
Missy’s decision to pursue a career in medicine began to percolate at a young age. She was the young girl who would bring stray animals home who needed TLC and various wounds patched. When she decided to follow the path of healing, her mother wisely pointed her to medical school. Somewhere along her highway of successes Missy married a young man who was a Captain in the Airborne Division of the United States Army. He loved Missy with the intensity of a bright blue flame. He also died during Operation Desert Storm.
Ariadne (Ari) is Missy’s daughter. When Sybil arrived in our family, Ari became enamored.; She now spends more time with our family than she does with either Missy or Miriam. This works well for Missy who has extended her professional interests to surgery. Ari, for her part seamlessly moved into the bedroom adjacent to Sybils. When Sybil began calling me “Dad”, Ari approached me and asked if she could also call me “Dad”. We had a very deep conversation and I suggested that calling me “Dad” seemed disrespectful to the man who was her true father and who loved her deeply. I thought she should reserve that title for her actual dad who died a hero. With a bit of thought she finally smiled and said she would call me “Pappa” then. Sybil thoughtfully began calling me Pappa as well. Last week we added a branch for Harmony to my tree in the Grove of Remembrance and celebrated her addition to our family. For the first time, Harmony called me “Pappa” and my heart swelled with emotion as I embraced her. I have been blessed beyond measure.
And so, we all live together and take life’s hurdles as they come. We’re happy and we all love one another; and every once-in-a-while I get a whiff of cigar smoke.

At the risk of conveying the impression that our Coven is populated with men who beat their children (it is rare) I am obliged to write the story of a beautiful new addition to my family. She is six years old, and her name is Harmony. Harmony was living with her father, stepmother, and three stepbrothers (aged ten, fourteen, and seventeen) in one of the most remote of all of the remote areas of the compound. The family kept to themselves even more than the average residents of the cabins tended to do, and they rarely came into the lodge; when they did, they left their younger children in the care of their eldest son. We had no record of a daughter existing, and no-one ever reported seeing her. We maintain monthly communication with the occupants of the remote cabins in the form of face-to-face visits. There was no indication that a young girl existed in this cabin however. One afternoon we received a call that a badly injured child had been dropped on the front porch of a cabin, that the child was a little girl, and that it appeared she had been beaten unconscious. We mobilized immediately. We found a filthy, bleeding child, who had been pummeled nearly to death. When we canvassed the other cabins, we discovered that she had been seen in the yard area of the cabin adjacent to the one where she had been dumped. Based upon a smoldering fire in the fireplace, that cabin had been vacated no more than a few hours earlier and the occupants were nowhere to be found.
It was two days before the child awoke, terrified in the compound hospital. We learned that her name was Harmony and that her Daddy and Brothers “Hurt her”. We sent our team of expert trackers out and they discovered the father, three stepbrothers, and the stepmother cowering in the forest less than a mile from the cabin. They were apprehended and turned over to the Sherriff by our head of security. I will not dwell upon the complications this all entailed; they were significant. In the end, Harmony was remanded into the care of our site Physician for the duration of her care. Her father and stepmother made bail and mysteriously disappeared. Her Brothers were sentenced to a Juvenile Detention Facility. Harmony, with the extraordinary efforts of our Attorneys, was released into our custody pending adoption. Trust me on this, it wasn’t easy, and we used every favor ever owed to us to arrange it. Ten weeks from the time Harmony was discovered, I signed legal adoption papers. I will skip at this point to the story of Harmony’s new beginning; it’s a story of trust and strength that needs to be told.
As Harmony strengthened to the point at which she was allowed visitors, Sybil and Ari were anxious to get to meet her; Ari in particular would pepper me with questions about Harmony; i.e. what did she like to eat, did she like dogs, could she wear “normal” clothes over her casts, did she like to listen to music, etc. She was especially interested to let me know that she intended to help Harmony “get better”, I finally had to tell her that she needed to find out those things about her in person, and that she needed to remember that Harmony would need a lot of rest. Sybil had different questions; it didn’t escape her that she and Harmony shared dreadfully similar experiences which left scars that wouldn’t show. Her questions pertained to the abuse. By careful questioning she learned that Harmony showed evidence of being burned with cigarettes, that she had sustained a broken leg and broken arm, and the entire litany of abuses which the child had inflicted upon her. Sybils interest wasn’t idle curiosity. I could almost see her checking mental boxes as she inquired and watched her eyes fill with the remembrance of pain.
Ari from the very start clicked with Harmony; she took ownership of a recliner chair next to Harmony’s bed and stayed by her side, helping her eat, and bathe, and move to avoid bed sores. At night she slept beside her in the recliner. When Harmony was cold she covered her with blankets; and when Harmony’s eyes filled with tears, Ari held her hand. Early in Harmony’s recovery, I brought a small stuffed toy dinosaur with me as a present for her. I will never, ever, forget that when I went to hand it to her she flinched and backed away. Nor will I forget that Ari took the toy from my hands, climbed up on my lap, and offered the stuffed animal to Harmony, who took it readily and smiled at me weakly. Ari had vouched for me, and eventually if I brought her some little book or a toy she would take it without hesitation.
Harmony had a broken leg which needed to be set in a cast. One of the benefits of having a state-of-the-art medical facility, staffed by incredibly talented people, was that Harmony had access to top tier treatments. Instead of a bulky plaster cast, her leg was laser scanned to develop a 3-D model and a lightweight flexible plastic cast was 3-D printed for her. Not only did this cast weigh next-to-nothing, but it was also waterproof allowing her to bathe. Being a child, she was growing quickly, and the cast could be replaced with a custom-made new one whenever necessary. I was somewhat perplexed how someone could break the legbone of a child; Missy told me the break was consistent with the leg being kicked. Harmony also had a broken ear-drum which was believed to have been caused by a hard slap delivered to the side of her head; it was likely that the blow had also caused a concussion. Yet here was this beautiful little girl, quietly suffering and clinging to life.
As she healed, Harmony was permitted to use a wheelchair. Ari and Sybil of course pushed her in that wheelchair everywhere they went. For her eleventh birthday, Ari had wanted to have a skate party. Naturally she invited Harmony who was thrilled to pieces, and Missy found her a little skaters outfit so that she’d fit in. She was wheeled around that skating rink the entire night by the kids, and I’ve never seen such joy. For large children’s events we always have a security individual on hand. This hardened professional put on skates and carried Harmony on his shoulders as he soared around the place. So Harmony was a big hit; and Ari had a smile that matched Harmony’s whenever she laughed and whooped while “skating”.
One evening, I took the short climb to the attic where I usually spent time with Sybil. I was a little early on this occasion and found Sybil sitting, with red eyes and runny nose sobbing in a chair. I immediately took her in my arms and asked her, what is wrong ? She replied that she was in contact with Harmony, helping her cope with all of the pain and hurt. She told me Ellen did that for her, and now it was her turn to do this for Harmony. I shared this story with a dear friend of mine and he immediately offered a bible verse which fits:
John 16:13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
I make no secret of the fact that I find much hypocrisy in the Christian Faith; however this certainly speaks loudly of the truth. Missy has suggested that I plan a summer swim party for the kids and that I use this event as incentive for Harmony to learn to swim. I think this is brilliant and Harmony has taken the bait (I mean agreed to learn to swim). We’ve located a qualified instructor who works with children, and Harmony’s cast is waterproof. I think this is brilliant.

The peaceful atmosphere of the compound was not always so placid. Periodically and with little warning, some faction of another Coven would become highly aggravated at some slight real or imagined, which would fester and emerge in a storm of fury. I am referring to a Witch war. A Witch war is an occasion in which one or more Covens ruthlessness attack another coven. By the time the attack originates, the grievances and justification have usually given rise to an inexplicable hatred. Witch wars are ferocious and deadly, and most often the attack is launched upon another Coven with absolutely no reason or forewarning.
Before delving into the intricacies of war itself, I would offer an explanation of how alliances of war are made. First-of-all, no one in their right mind would attack a larger and more powerful force than they are themselves. Consequently, they link with other covens, too small to war with anyone on their own, or with larger covens which share some of their contempt for the Coven to be attacked. If you were to visualize two covens, each represented by a circle, the two circles would overlap to form an ellipse where the commonalities exist. This is called a Venn circle. If this happens with a number of Covens a chain of Venn circles unites them in strength, and they join forces. If the attacked Coven can repel the attacking force, they form their own Venn links and retaliate. Covens having common values and beliefs often form mutual assistance treaties which offer some degree of deterrence of an attack. That’s the basis for Witch wars, and they can last hours or centuries. Usually, they end by mutual surrender and when the dust settles the group starting the war is often decimated and discredited. Witch wars are brutal and deadly; and they are wasteful. Consequently, they have become rare, occurring perhaps no more than once or twice each century.
Now, with the preliminaries out-of-the-way I will admit that during my own reign as Leader of the Coven of the Black Sun, our coven was attacked. The reason for the attack had to do with our practice of altering the ancient practices whenever our scholars discovered that we had errored in our earlier interpretation of records long viewed to be absolute and incorruptible. In other words, we were the progressives of the Witch universe. This finally came to a head when a large fragment of a clay tablet was discovered by our anthropologists which had a single character which changed our practice of preparing to enter the Lunar Astral World. We tried the changed method and determined it improved our experience. So, we changed how we practiced as related to this fragment.
And holy hell broke loose (we don’t actually believe in hell but we now know what it would look like if it did exist). Fortunately, our combined forces repelled the attack. As a prudent measure we believed it would be wise to improve the resisting force. There remained a number of powerful Covens who rarely committed to any union, and who have historically chosen to remain neutral. Ellen, who was still living at the time, was voted to act as a delegate to attain the assistance of these Covens. Ellen of course, cigar in hand insisted that I join her in this quest, even though I had no knowledge of these Covens at all.

Marguerite was Ellen’s Mentor and a predecessor of both Ellen and me as Leader of the Coven. The Leadership is passed male-to-female-to male etc. along family lines, Marguerite took charge after her father died during an adventure of some sort in the Sudan. While I never met Marguerite while she was living, she had a reputation as being somewhat mercurial in temperament. I always found this interesting since her protege, Ellen was calm, controlled, and deeply focused. Regardless, Marguerite had the reputation of being dreadful in the form which she adopted upon emerging from stasis.
Marguerite made the unusual choice of ascension to the Lunar Astral Realm while still living. She elected to be transported. Let me say this differently; Marguerite did not experience a natural death; she purposefully penetrated the veil and took up permanent residency in the Lunar Astral Realm. If she was cantankerous here in the physical world, she became even more aggressive and bad-tempered in the Lunar Astral world.
While we are normally engulfed in the Lunar Astral World, we can sense the presence of others around us, and can freely communicate without the benefit of voice or the benefit of body language, facial expressions, etc. unique to the physical plane. I the Lunar Astral Plane, the attitude of almost every entity is ostensibly peaceful and serene.
Marguerite, on the other hand, exhibited a swirling and inherently dangerous storm-like presence. Her power is both palpable and terrible. Consequently, guess who the first potential ally to whom Ellen would introduce me turned out to be. Right! I could almost feel the stream of cigar smoke clogging my sinuses. But Ellen ‘embraced’ Marguerite as any student might her aged mentor. I was introduced almost in passing as Ellen communicated the details of the war in which we were engaged and secured the alliance of Marguerite almost immediately. The entire experience lasted only a few moments; however, the next time I encountered Marguerite in the Astral World she was gracious and friendly.
Frankly, I was certain that with the alliance of Marguerite our job was done. Ellen, as usual, had other plans. Knowing full well that the war would take place not only on the Lunar Astral Plane, but also on the Physical Plane, she arranged for our transport to a small town in Spain where we rented a Range Rover and took off across mostly dirt or loose stone roads into the rural countryside. During our conversation as we rode, I took advantage of Ellen’s seemingly good mood to ask about our next meeting. She was very cryptic, telling me she didn’t want to spoil my surprise. All she would say is that they are a Coven of females who took advantage of local men to populate the Coven. I resorted to my twelve-year old self and asked her what I should do if they wanted me to have sex with them. Without so much as a twitch she told me “decline; they would be disappointed”.
By the time we arrived at an ancient-looking castle (for want of a better word) darkness was in progress. At the appointed hour, a small, pleasant boy arrived and motioned us to follow. Fortunately, the moon was bright enough for us to avoid entanglement in weeks and slipping in ruts, and we arrived in a simple vineyard. The boy, still smiling, instructed us to wait. Ellen lit another Cohiba and stood casually puffing her cigar. A mist rose around us and out of this mist there arose the shadowed figures of robed figures wearing (what I was later informed were) the tall, pointed headwear known as “capriote”. The Witches before me began speaking together, in perfect synchronization to demand our business with them. Ellen, totally nonplussed stated our intent for meeting them, to which they would periodically ask questions (together in that strange synchronized voice) concerning the grievance, the composition of the alliances both for and against us, and similar matters. In the same combined voice, they committed to our Alliance, turned and silently walked away. The small boy materialized out of the woods and led us back to our vehicle. During the ensuing ride back to the airport hotel, I barraged Ellen with questions about these Witches. What she revealed convinced me that I was totally unprepared to lead our Coven.
Our third (and final) foray into obtaining support for our war efforts started in the morning as we turned in the Range Rover and took off towards Prague. I had been to Prague many times and was grateful to be heading into a familiar location. Unfortunately, the familiarity of my surroundings did nothing to prepare me for our next meeting. Ellen, significantly better acquainted with the city than I was, led me to a small alleyway which revealed six or seven doorways lining both sides of the alley, and leading (presumably) into the rear of old buildings. Ellen stopped at one doorway and gently knocked. The door opened to reveal a large candle-lit room; standing at one end of the room a group of nine adult women, all apparently in their late eighties; on either side of the group stood two small girls; twins, perhaps twelve years of age. While the elderly women looked like a perfectly ordinary group of old women it appeared that they were all blind; both twins were uncannily identical in every detail. They arranged themselves with the twins standing to the left and right of the group. Ellen when she spoke, addressed not the elderly women, but directed her speech alternately to the two twins. For their part, the twins took turns asking and answering questions. As this progressed, it occurred to me that the elderly women in the group exhibited an uncanny family resemblance, as though they were versions of the twins at various ages, starting around age sixty.
Ellen offered a cigar to each of the two twins, which they accepted and dutifully began smoking. After some fifteen minutes of puffing cigars the twins looked at one another, shook their heads in a “yes” motion, and agreed to join our alliance. Business done, the group simply disappeared. The twins turned and walked back in the general direction from which they had arrived. When Ellen and I were heading back to our lodging, she explained that of the group, only the two twins were “embodied”; the rest were specters generated by the two to coney a false image of the Coven’s size. She also told me that the specters were communicating with the remainder of the Coven and providing input to the twins. Obviously, Covens exist which live closer to the Astral Plane than the rest of us.

Fire Binding
We successfully acquired verbal commitments from ten other Covens to join us in repelling attacks and for standing with us in retaliation. We are preparing for a Fire Binding ritual to be conducted tonight in which all joiners to our mutual war Coven will meet in person to seal the pact with fire. This ritual takes place in a cement paved circle especially prepared for this occasion. The circle has circular recess in its center and twelve shallow grooves which run radially from the outside of the circle inwards, connecting with the depression. Only ten of the grooves will be used tonight. The representative for each of the ten joining covens arrange themselves around this circle and a small volume of flammable fluid is dispensed into a bronze chalice. The chalice is placed before each participant, who then pours a thin stream of flammable fluid from their locations into the groove; the fluid is enough to flow into circle the surrounding the chalice. A war chant is sung at the last note, each stream is ignited, and the bronze chalice flares upwards. This is tantamount to our declaration of war. Simultaneously each coven seals their oath to the alliance. The war cry rises into the Lunar Astral realm and beyond; All of creation is thereby notified that a war is in progress. In most cases this act alone unravels the opposing group and they capitulate. Sometimes they request to switch allegiance and join us. Some Covens will simply declare their neutrality. What ensues is an act of such pitiless violence that it cannot be described. A Witch’s war usually begins with just such a monumental clash. It is over quickly and becomes a trail of remaining factions fleeing the scene and seeking refuge. This aspect (war) of Witchcraft is regarded as a necessity if we are to maintain our traditions and observe the rules of order by which we live. We resume our lives and never waste the restored peace for which we all fought by assigning blame for war strategies gone sour. It’s over. We move forward.
Witch wars are not the only disruptions instigated by other Covens in their quests to weaken or destroy those whose audacity to exists is a personal afront. I am speaking of attempted (or successful) assassinations. Usually the targets of assassination are individuals holding leadership roles in other Covens (or within their own). The assassinations are unattached to any single Coven; many times they are Witches who have been removed from a Coven membership for various infractions or accusation of infractions. Of particular deadly skill are those who are trained in the manufacture and use of poisons. They are commissioned to undertake assassinations in return for access to Coven resources of one type or another. I was myself poisoned with an extract of Datura (Moon Flowers) which has Atropine as it’s active poison. I survived, however, thanks to a Midwife and Herbalist who merely sniffed the air in my sick room and determined that I had been poisoned. She also provided an antidote. Had I died, it would have encouraged another Coven to attack us. Given the skill of our Coven Council, the individual who had administered the poison was quickly determined and dealt with.
It should be noted that the use of fire in the binding ritual does not constitute a magical use of the element of fire; rather it is a symbolic use of fire intended to signify the binding of the covens in an agreement of war. An example of the use of fire as an act of elemental magic might be a conjuration of our will performed in the Lunar Astral Realm for fire to descend and manifest in the Physical Plane and to emollate or incinerate something (or someone). The four elements are often used for destructive curses because of the basic simplicity of their nature, Wind, for example can be called to produce tornados and hurricanes; in the days when watercraft were propelled by wind, storms or becalmed seas could bring shipping of goods and materials (and armies) to a standstill. Earth may be conjured to produce cave-ins and earthquakes; Water can be conjured to produce droughts or flooding, and air can be conjured to achieve fouling and as a vehicle for smothering gases. The greatest effect of elemental magic is however achieved when the destructive effects of multiple elements are combined. For example, the combination of wind, water, and supercharged air may combine to create lightning (fire). Fire and air can combine to create smoke to obscure and harass one’s enemies; the combinations are nearly endless, depending upon the creativity of the conjuror. Interestingly, none of these elemental conjurations can be controlled using modern technology. These are the weapons of a full-scale Witch War and can be applied locally in varying degrees as desired. War is a destructive event and as such it causes pain and suffering. It might be argued that pain and suffering are themselves elements of balance, and that war is necessary to maintain that balance. Pain and suffering may be meant to be the human condition. They (pain and suffering) advance learning, and when we fail to observe the lesson being taught, the pain and suffering return. In that regard, we may consider pain and suffering teaching mechanisms which automatically balance us.
I have observed that very few Witches have asked me what happens after we die and ascend to the Lunar Astral. Because most Witches have been to the Lunar Astral Plane and have observed first-hand that we experience stasis, which is a period of inactivity during which we come to terms with where we are (the Lunar Astral Plane), how our new form has changed, and what it’s capabilities might be. We also reconcile our physical plane existence, our achievements and failures, and lost opportunities when we were living in physicality. It’s a period of introspection and self-judgement which offers lessons of value as we emerge. Emergence then is the period when we leave stasis behind and burst into the Lunar Astral Plane, absorbing as much knowledge as possible about what the physical laws, such as how time and dimension function. We know this to be the case because we have directly observed these stages of emergence in the Lunar Astral Plane for millennia. Ultimately, the vastness of the Lunar Astral World is such that we gain immense understanding (in human-spirit terms), and we evolve in our power as Witches. We comprehend that there are stages beyond the Lunar Astral Realm and are particularly aware that the next level of ascent is the Solar Astral World, but we know very little about these levels. We seem to reach a limit of what we can comprehend, and knowing that we cannot comprehend it, we cannot possibly conceive what it might be. This then is a period we call acceptance, when we come to terms with the notion of our own limitations, and simply marvel and accept it all.
I have omitted from this discussion all questions of how we communicate, whether we reunite with or have any interaction with loved ones, or how we develop skill sets which we may apply to establish balance more effectively. To do so would be to interfere with the formative processes of stasis and emergence. I can tell you that many beneficial alliances are forged, and expertise shared during interactions between those in the Physical Realm and those in the Lunar Astral Realm.
Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (Compound)

Euterpe and Ariadne became friends when they both were about eight years old. While Ari was a very outgoing and energetic child, Euterpe was a fireball; the child was fearless. It was common to see her jumping from the top of a wall, while the other children watched with wide-eyed anticipation of a major crash-and-burn. However, Euterpe seemed to always land on her feet and scurry away to find an even higher wall (a greater challenge). Her apparent ability to remain unscathed from her adventures was the stuff of legend amongst the younger children who considered her simply amazing. Her given name has proven appropriate as well, as she has demonstrated early competence with both the flute and the piano.
We occasionally have week-long training classes at the Alabama Compound for our age seven-to-eight-year-old children every month. About seventeen kids stay together in the dormitory during this period. One Wednesday evening I was called to the dormitory over an ‘incident’. The kids had watched the Disney film “Fantasia” segment called “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” in which Mickey Mouse is an apprentice magician and is responsible for cleaning the workshop. In a fit of Hubris, Mickey decides to conjure mops and buckets to do the work for him, and it all goes terribly wrong. So, the kids, who are closely supervised, decided to recreate the scene and have a giant water fight – the floors, bed covers, clothing, you-name-it were soaked with water. The twelve-year-old responsible for looking after the kids was sick in bed (102o F fever) and was oblivious to the ruckus. She finally woke up and called Ari and Euterpe to help. Ari had the good sense to call me. So I headed down to the dormitory and along the way I passed Ari and Euterpe carrying tons of water-soaked clothes to the laundry. I went into the dorm and everything suddenly went silent. I was very impressed that my foreboding presence created such an effect until I turned around and saw Missy standing in the doorway, hands-on-hips.
So, I made them all help carry the wet stuff into the laundry and sent both Ari and Euterpe back to their beds. The next morning everyone in the compound had learned what had happened. I gathered the culprits and told them that as punishment they would each have to carry a mop with them everywhere for the whole day, until bedtime. At dinner that night, I called for Ari and Euterpe to stand, and publicly commended them for taking charge of the situation and for alerting us (me and Missy) of the problem. I awarded them each twenty free ice cream cones which the could eat however and wherever they wished. This was, to them, an unimaginable bounty.
Before bed, I stopped by the commissary for coffee and found Ari, Euterpe, the now recovered twelve-year-old, and all seventeen little girls (mops in hand) sitting around eating ice cream cones. I sat with my coffee and Euterpe brought me an ice cream cone too.
Euterpe’s parents are archaeologists and frequently are out on digs in remote and inhospitable locations. The elected to have Euterpe join them and stay with an au pair in Khartoum while they worked near-by. This arrangement seems to work well for them, and Ari and Euterpe correspond frequently. Ari has been sending selfies of herself, Sybil, and now Harmony to Euterpe, and (as yet unknow to Ari) I’ve invited Euterpe to visit us in Alabama this summer. Her parents have accepted and if Euterpe so wishes, she will find herself back in the United States by July 4.

Things Imaginative
I have emphasized repeatedly that all magic originates as willful intent in the Lunar Astral Plane and that the manifestation of this willful intent the develops in the Physical Plane. This is possible because the extant laws of nature are much different in the Lunar Astral World than the natural laws in the Physical World. In other words, magical intents expressed in the Lunar Astral Realm are contrary to and are simply impossible given the laws of nature which apply in that realm. However, having been conceived, these intents must materialize someplace. This materialization happens in the Physical Realm. The Lunar Astral Realm is itself sentient and can redirect the intent where it is possible to do so. This happens to be the Physical World. While sentient, the Lunar Astral Realm does not judge whether the effect of the manifestation is good, bad, or otherwise. It indifferently executes the intent.
There are a number of risks to this process. For example, a poorly phrased expression of the intent or the boundaries (limits) of the intent can be disastrous (think of Mickey and the mop buckets). While there are a limited number of magical events (called imprints) such as scrying, which have preconfigured boundaries, these imprints are accessible at lower levels of ascent, and are fairly benign their intents. Imprints are therefore among the first magical operations taught to beginners. Unfortunately, unscrupulous practitioners often don’t observe the basic steps in attaining the lower levels of the Lunar Astral Realm where these imprints exist, and simply lie about their results.
Tarot and Astrology are beset by such unscrupulous practitioners as well. Bear in mind that anyone who must enter “a trance” while performing divinations or other such practices are likely fakes. Psychologically, many of these individuals may have actually convinced themselves that they are “gifted” (see my earlier comments on magical thinking). One of the saddest things to observe are people performing their “made up” versions of divination who are obviously faking it. As they say, “those who know, know”.

Non-hereditary Witches
The term “Non-hereditary” applies to persons who possess no substantiated evidence of a lineage traceable to a Coven or family of Witchcraft. These individuals may have a serious interest in Witchcraft and perhaps have even displayed capabilities usually attributed to Witches. Hey may be highly talented in one or more aspects of Witchcraft or have no innate gifts at all. These persons however have a burning desire to learn the Craft. Some have the patience to not abandon their interests in this regard.
I realize this is a wordy and not very specific definition; it’s not intended to be a checklist of Witchy characteristics. We do accept members who do not have hereditary ties to the Craft. This is a point of great contention in most Covens (ours included) because we have discovered that many people who espouse to be dedicated students, lack the focus and patience to complete any type of lengthy training. We do administer an oath which includes certain restrictions during the training process including penalties for divulging some of the more secretive knowledge they will learn. Unfortunately, we encounter many oath-breakers who surreptitiously ignore their oaths. The most common reason for this is that they crave immediate power. Immediate gratification is not likely if one joins a Coven. Once someone breaks their oath, they become persona non grata and we sever all contact with them. We simply cannot trust that our highly guarded knowledge will be safe with such individuals.
Witch wars of consequence are most frequently initiated by disagreements over allowing non-hereditary Witches to join our ranks. This is because once knowledge of our existence gets out, it matters not where the leak originated, or with whom, we are all equally endangered. Internal Coven squabbles abound concerning the practice of admitting non-hereditary Witches to our Coven; some Covens even split because of this issue. Our particular Coven has a voting Council of Elders, and we agree that however the Council votes, we accept the result of the majority vote, and we agree that however the vote turns out, we all accept the result; like it or not. This has managed to keep us together all these Millenia and continues to do so today. Now, having painted a very black and-white picture of the expectations we have of non-hereditary Witch candidates, we also exercise reason. Persons who get-off-on-the-wrong-foot early in the process of adoption (the multi-step process for acceptance into the Coven) includes leeway for failure. The single rigid rule however is that of two-strikes and you’re out. We also insert practices in the early stages of training which are nearly impossible not to break as a means of teaching and emphasizing discipline. Having discussed the diverse hard-core belief systems and the occasional conflicts which arise, I can share that writing this essay and divulging some of our practices by the publication of books, did indeed set off a war of significant intensity. I sustained physical injuries which required hospitalization. Later the grievance was further demonstrated by an attempted poisoning. I survived and so does this essay. I remain firm in my belief that the time has come for use to lower our guard and share our story.

Claude and Marie
Names are often a window into an individual’s personality. As an example of this I would point to Claude, who has managed the physical security of our compound at various locations for more than 20 years. Claude, (from the Latin “claudication” meaning “strong willed”) is the poster boy for polite stubbornness. He is almost impossible to move once he’s made up his mind. This would be infuriating were it not for the fact that he is invariably right. Claude is an interesting Witch; he was born and grew up in the North Carolina Outer Banks. The Outer Banks is a small community so isolated that the local language remains quaintly flavored with the tones, expressions, and sentence structure of the English settlers of the late 17th century; you will recall that our Coven’s heritage in the U.S. is deeply rooted in the legend of the lost colony of Roanoke. The Outer Banks are within throwing distance of that location. Any mention of Claude however would be incomplete without also mentioning his wife Marie (she pronounces it “Mah-Ree”), a Louisiana Cajun woman in every respect, who teeters on the edge of caricature. The two of them met during deployment as United States Marines during Operation Desert Storm and married a few years later. Claude is an Hereditary Witch; Marie is a practitioner of the Vodoun religion.
Now, some thirty years after “romance in the sand” as they call it, they live a life characterized by the unshakeable trust of our entire community. The interplay between Claude and Marie is a joy to behold and they have found a special place in the hearts of the Coven. When a situation arises requiring a strong hand and keen mind, Claude is indispensable. He designed the security systems of all of our compounds and has hand-picked and recruited veterans (many of whom owe their lives to Claude) to ensure our security, and to staff our small fire department. Marie, who is not a Witch contributes to the community through her tireless healing work along-side of our Midwife, Miriam. It was Claude and his Team who found Harmony’s family hiding in the forest, and Marie who rendered aid to her and accompanied her as she was evacuated to our hospital.
I mention Claude and Marie to reinforce that our compound embraces Witches and non-Witches alike. My own wife is among this population. This is not to say that non-Witches do not undergo trial and sign an oath; they certainly do. But we hold them in our hearts as family. As I write this there are individuals who are hereditary Witches and non-hereditary Witches who have become adults without the benefit of exposure to our traditions and practices. The task of informing, educating, and preparing these Witches for life in a Coven is slow and arduous. Not everyone is willing to accept that we exist; nor is everyone comfortable unlearning some of the tangible certainties of the physical world and learning the as-yet intangible certainties of the Lunar Astral World. This is to be expected, and we hold no animosity towards those who reject Witchcraft as nonsense or superstition. I will admit to a bit of hubris on my part when I speak to individuals who identify themselves as “Kitchen Witches” or “Green Witches”. I have also been known to twitch a little when I hear the term “Baby Witch” in reference to an adult novice. These are my sins, and if I dislike cutesy labels for a practice which I regard as deserving respect, I’ve heard Datura contains scopolamine, which is poisonous. Feel free to imbibe (that’s my black humor folks).

Today we mark the summer solstice with a grand celebration. One of the unmistakable sounds of the celebration, interestingly is also a feature of the war cry during the fire binding. I refer here to “ululation”, which linguistically speaking is a high-pitched trilling sound produced by creating a loud, high-pitched howl, in which the air expulsion through the voice box is caused to rapidly vibrate the uvula. Somewhere in this effort the tongue also plays a role. I’m not very good at ululation and I no longer attempt consciously attempt to master it. My ululation is passible during a war cry and that’s good enough for me.
Many of the younger female witches are really good ululators (a made-up word) and can apply the technique with precision during ritual song and drumming sessions to excellent effect. Tonight, the compound is filled with joyful ululation amongst the chants of dancers as they wind in a procession along ritual pathways which connect altars. The air virtually vibrates with the energy of anticipation. Tonight, I am joined by others of the High Council who will transfer this energy to Witches spread afar who could not join us. This week begins the Tellings, during which the name of my daughter Harmony will be added to our collective memory. This afternoon, our anthropologists will provide a summary of their studies which expand our documented history as Witches and as a Coven. There has been a startling discovery of the DNA match of a living Witch with the DNA of a Witch extracted from a source of great antiquity. There will also be a party event especially for teens and pre-teens which features live music and dancing. Meanwhile, there will be rituals conducted both outdoors and in the lodge attic.
The rituals performed this evening all relate to the Black and Bright Suns. We consider that the universe is multi-dimensional. Our model of creation considers three known worlds which exist in the three dimensions of space and the dimension of time. Each of these worlds, which we call the Physical Realm, the Lunar Astral Realm, and the Solar Astral Realm exist simultaneously and are in contact with one another, separated by a region of transition, which we refer to as a “veil”. The veil varies in its depth (or thickness) depending upon the relative positions of the Black and Bright Suns. The periods we call the Cross-Quarters (the summer and winter solstices, and the spring and autumnal equinoxes) are those in which the two suns are in perfect balance. Our celebrations at the cross-quarters then are celebrations of balance. The figure which we refer to as the Lemnisca is the sideways figure-of-eight pattern traced by the Suns in the sky above the equator during the earth’s annual transit. Many of the rituals therefore involve mimic of this transit (in dance), with altars placed and ritual conducted at the cross quarter which is relevant to the season. There are other rituals conducted at the points in the lemnisca at which the Suns are the closest and furthest from the earth, called the “perihelion” and “aphelion”, respectively. These points used to be approximated using a device known as a Ferguson’s Mechanical Paradox Orrery invented by James Ferguson in 1764 (see figure 1). Hand calculations were often performed to more accurately calculate perihelion prior to ritual; the advent of pocket calculators and computer modeling sent this device into comfortable retirement on the Author’s desk. Other similar mechanically operated orreries where used for many years before technology made them obsolete. These include both hand-cranked and clock driven (Figure 2) mechanisms.
As might be expected, solar eclipse and other astronomical events were also celebrated during rituals. While ritual involving the moon were also observed, these were nocturnal, and more frequent with full moons and new moons eliciting observation, but primarily based upon the effect which lunar activities exhibit upon veil behavior.
As we are speaking of rituals which involve the Sun and the Moon, it is a convenient moment to mention the planets. Those of you are steeped in the science of Astronomy or the Art and Science of Astrology are quite aware of the phenomenon of retrograde. Put simply, planets which undergo retrograde movement appear to be moving backwards through the night sky. Planets which undergo retrograde movement include Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Uranus and Neptune also undergo retrograde but it is far less noticeable because of their great distance from the earth. The scientific explanation for retrograde planetary movement has to do with their perspective with regards to the earth. However, for centuries the Witches of the Coven of the Black Sun have observed ghat when these planets are in retrograde, they exert a profound influence upon mood and energy. Our explanation is that at certain times of the year, the planets pass into the proximity of the Black Sun where the energy is greater than the planetary energy of the bright sun. The counterclockwise force of the Black Sun exerts enough force to pull the planets backwards. Our ritual work during retrogrades focuses upon the release of the planets.
While our cosmological model of the universe is not in alignment with scientific evidence, we have found that our model works none-the-less. We are predisposed to note that scientific views of nearly everything are based upon observations and theories based upon only the physical world. We submit that there is a great deal more to the universe than science is currently able to comprehend. I personally find that it’s humorous that there was a time when any explanation of the universe which did not conform with the view of the Church was considered sacrilegious and could get you killed; today, any belief unfounded by science is considered absurd; and yet here we are, a large coven of Witches hiding in plain sight in a modern United States.

Talismans, Amulets, Sigils, and Seals
As I walk about the compound, I am continually intrigued at the variety of imagery which decorates the walls (and in some cases the ceilings) of the lodge. These images include Talismans, Amulets, Sigils, and Seals and have been located where needed as protective charms. These elements play a large role in our traditions and practices, ad have remained unchanged for centuries. While the grounds surrounding the lodge also display charms, the presentations are a bit rougher, using materials which enable them to withstand inclement weather.
Talismans and Amulets are similar and vary primarily by their purpose and the materials of their construction. Amulets are typically worn as general protection against harm; they tend to be made of metal and semi-precious stones and are often worn as jewelry. Talismans bring or attract positive energy. Talismans are generally made of organic materials, including herbs, stone, slices of tree limbs (or small tree trunks) and frequently contain written words. Talismans are carried or worn in a specific location to attract desired outcome such as healing. So in summary, amulets are worn for general protection (attraction of positive energy) whereas Talismans are used for active attraction of a specific outcome.
Sigils are devices which render a name or phrase written in the language of origin into a symbolic image using a conversion key. They are used during certain practices, mainly divination to obscure one’s birth name (The name you are given by your parents upon birth). One’s birth name should never be divulged during any act of magic as it may be used to control you.
One of the more common methods for creating a Sigil uses a letter-number conversion key, in which the numeric conversion of the name is traced upon a grid, known as a Kamea or Magic Square. The symbol may then be carried or pinned to the clothing of the individual performing the divination.
Seals are devices used to multiple the energy of a Witch during a conjuration by having other witches connect their own Seals to the edge of Seals held by others. The most common shape of a Seal is either that of a pentagon or an octagon; an infinite number of witches can connect to these shapes to generate almost unimaginable force. Figure 3 is a drawing of one face of a Seal in
which features have been altered to render it unusable for magical operation. The Seal is a sterling silver plaque cast in a flat geometric shape (approximately two-to-three inches across and three-eighths of an inch thick.) Symbols are recessed into the face of the plaque either as part of the casting process or by engraving.
Amulets, Talismans, and Sigils are the private property of each individual Witch. Seals, on the other hand, technically belong to the Coven. This permits us to revoke the devices should they be misused. In practice however, Seals are presented to Witches who have performed great service to the Coven; we’ve never revoked one. When a Witch passes, Her or His Seal is inherited by the eldest grandchild. Our Coven has a collection of Seals which dates back more than two centuries.
As I walk by the beautiful mahogany and glass collection of Seals, I remember that there are several dozen more in the hands of vibrant young people who will rise to join their power with those in need should the occasion arise.
Some time ago we commissioned an artistically gifted young woman to create a painting of Ellen, destined to hang in this hallway. Ellen had just resigned her Leadership of the Coven and had appointed me her successor. Another young woman is currently forcing me to sit still at the exact same time (to catch the right angle of sunlight) for my portrait which will be hung to the right of Ellen’s. Looking to my right I see a caricature of Claude and Marie painted expertly on the door to their room. The picture features a glaring Claude next to a Marie who is poking him in the ribs as she smiles sweetly. It’s dead-on hilarious. It also matches the style of the young woman who painted Ellen’s portrait. I can nearly hear the muffled laughter as the two of them conspired to add this decoration.

The Rules
One might think that living in a closed community of Witches would be a breeze in terms of everyone getting along with others. To an extent, this is absolutely true; however living in close proximity, combined with the normal tendency of neighbors to know everyone else’s business, can quickly disintegrate the community; consequently there are rules. These rules were developed at least one-hundred years ago and except for being revised to a more modern style, they are the same. The rules are broken down into categories according to their application. For example, rules pertaining to decoration of public areas (including doors) are separate from those rules which pertain to upkeep of personal living space (i.e. lodge rooms). There are also rules which govern personal interactions and grievances (When matters get out-of-hand, and a visit from a High Council Member to the individuals causing discord fails to resolve the situation we apply the rules). There are volumes of rules which address conjuration, ritual content, established practices. There are what we call “umbrella rules” which address education of children and young adults, rules for operation of motorized vehicles on compound grounds, etc. There are several categories of rules which deal with law and order, and punishment, and admittance to Coven membership. The interpretation of all rules rests with the High Council, with the approval of the Coven Leader. So, while we are a Coven which values the right to freedom of speech, practice, and action, we have a system in place to prevent anarchy and maintain order. Except in cases of severe abuse we prefer to persuade those involved to cool it. We rarely accept a single version of the situation which was at the core of rule breaking. The responsibility for investigating this is currently held by Claude and Marie, as it has for the past twenty years. Both have extensive experience in this area gained during their military service.

Alabama Compound Fulfilled
The Tennessee compound has served us well; however, it is beginning to strain under the growing population as smaller Compounds and Lodges begin to require extensive remodeling and repair. In most cases, the cost of repair for all of these facilities combined exceeds the cost of consolidating them and constructing a new, larger and better equipped Compound. This issue did not take us by surprise. We had already begun evaluating the benefit of enlarging the Tennessee facility; however, the site could not be made larger without attracting a great deal of public attention led us to search for a suitable plot of remote land upon which to begin site preparation and excavation. We also considered the benefit of selecting such a site which would be within a two-hour drive from the Tennessee compound to take advantage of the improved synergy between the sites. The Alabama compound site was selected with these criteria in mind, and the initial stages of construction are now complete. The new compound Lodge and grounds will be available for move-in in less than a month. As is our tradition, the Lodge building design will be identical to the previous designs (especially the attic), however the living accommodation floors will be modified to increase the number of “apartments”. The proximity of the two Compounds eliminates the need for several sub-basements for a large hospital and Computer Technology center. These spaces will be used for additional living accommodations and a gymnasium. The main floor layout will be nearly identical to that of the Tennessee compound. During site preparation we allowed space for further excavation to add facilities which may one day be necessary to house as-yet undiscovered technology. It should be added that the decision not to add a stand-alone hospital, a large laboratory facility for DNA research, or a Data Technology Center was not based upon cost or geotechnical considerations. It was based solely on the availability of Coven personnel qualified to operate these facilities. As of this date the transfer of people from old satellite Lodges to the new Alabama Compound is nearly complete. The grounds landscaping, less the creation of pathways and altar spots is complete. These features will be installed ceremonially in September of this Year. Consecration of the Compound will be held during the Autumnal Equinox.

The Creed

One of the requirements for any Witch of the Coven of the Black Sun is memorization and recitation of the Creed. The Creed is not the Oath which binds every Witch to the laws, rules, and traditions of our Coven which may never be broken. The Creed on the other hand describes what we believe and how these beliefs function during magical practices. Individual recitation of the Creed occurs at the 12th birthday of every Witch and is something of a coming-of-age ceremony attended by the entire Coven. Group recitation (in unison) of the Creed thereafter occurs at the start of each Telling. Even though our methods may change, the tenets of the Creed do not. These tenets are the basic essence of who we are and why we exist. The Creed is subdivided into parts (which we call elements). The first element is called the Doctrine of Creation and is translated from our ancient tongue into the English language below. In rendering this translation, I have tried to capture the essence of our belief system using terms which are as accurate as possible.

Element 1 – The Doctrine of Creation:

o   We believe that creation permeates the universe, and that the universe is populated by many worlds, each separated from the others by veils, or regions of gradual transition.

o   We believe that each created world is possessed by unique physical laws, including those laws which govern the dimensions of time and space.

o   We believe that all of creation is pure energy, and that the source of all energy is two Suns, one Black and one Bright.

o   We believe that the two suns are invested with polarity, with the Black Sun producing negative polarity and the Bright Sun producing positive polarity. These two Suns constantly struggle for dominance.

o   The struggle for dominance between the Suns creates a continuous imbalance in the created universe.

o   It is the role of the Witch to promote balance by willful intent offered in an adjacent world which willful intent manifests in the Physical World. We call this magic.

o   Magic functions when the physical laws of an adjacent world do not permit manifestation of our willful intent, and the manifestation, seeking to discharge our intent, occurs in the Physical World instead.

o    The process of balance requires magic using the energies of both the Black Sun and the Bright Sun, which practices are referred to as the Left-hand path and the Right-hand path respectively.

Subsequent Elements describe other aspects of our beliefs and practices, including details of the Lunar Astral World and the Solar Astral World; however, the first element is the primary basis for our unique understanding of magic.

Middle Tennessee Lodge
Construction has been completed for the new Lodge which is very near the half-way point between the Tennessee Compound and the Alabama Compound; it was constructed to blend in with the natural beauty of the forest which surrounds it. We are treated to a stunning mountain view which includes a protected habitat for American Bald Eagles (these birds are huge).
Because of its location, this edifice is called “the Middle Tennessee Lodge” and it is used for overflow accommodation during large rituals, as a meeting location when members of both compounds are involved, and as a way point for those who are too frail to tolerate the three- and one-half-hour car trip between the compounds.
As of this morning, the furnishings are being moved in and arranged by a committee chaired by the always lovely Mah-Ree (Marie). Establishing a Lodge entails a great deal more than the logistics of moving furniture; a ritual cleansing is required which involves censing the premises with sage incense, marking of protective symbols, and arranging a plethora of Witches ladders and Witches bells both inside the Lodge and outside on the grounds. Herb gardens will be planted, pathways will be created, and altars will be constructed. The Lodge will not contain a medical facility however a lighted helipad has been incorporated into the design. To my tastes, a huge outdoor pavilion with a massive stone fireplace awaits us.
I anticipate full occupancy for those requesting to operate and maintain the Lodge to be complete in time for the Autumnal Equinox. I must admit that I am a little jealous of those who will enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the Middle Tennessee Lodge.

Change of Seasons

The Autumnal Equinox is only two months away. I tend to use the cross-quarters as my personal marker for both the passing of the seasons and the corresponding ritual observances. Each of the cross-quarters for our coven includes a ritual dance. The lead dancer in the dance line procession wears a unique and intricate mask. This year the mask for the autumnal equinox will represent an wl complete with owl feathers. The mask is designed and built anew for every equinox and the same mask is never worn again. Generally, these masks end up preserved and displayed on a wall by the dancer honored to have worn them. The ritual observances are of course not limited to the dance which
begins at the stroke of the hour of the actual solar event.

These observances are like old friends who reunite every year. Like any reunion, the participants grow older and the Tellings change; but the familiar ritual never varies or is affected by the passing of time. One of the reasons for this constancy is that our rituals are codified and follow the Creed which establishes our core belief system. The rituals of the Second Element of the Creed, referred to as “The Doctrine of Practice” defines our understanding of how ritual magic functions.  

A translation of the “The Doctrine of Practice” follows; once again as with any translation, the translator renders the content of the original as faithfully as possible.  There are going to be subtitles lost where the original text uses a word or words which have specific meanings which cannot be conveyed in the often more limited language of the  translation (think of the Eskimo language – Inuit-Yupik which allegedly which has 50 different words for snow). Be aware that this Doctrine has never before been published. That said:

Element 2 – “The Doctrine of Practice”

o     There are many worlds which touch our own, and each world possesses a veil which varies in its resistance to penetration. In most worlds the veils are impenetrable. These worlds are purposefully inaccessible to us. 

o     The world which is most accessible to us we call the Lunar Astral World because the veil between our world and the Lunar Astral World varies continually in its thickness and density, ebbing and flowing like the lunar tides of our seas. There are times therefore when this veil may be traversed more readily.

o      The energy in each world is different in its
forms and characteristics. In our world, this energy is highly condensed, resulting in physical matter. In the Lunar Astral World, the energy is not condensed and\ all existence there is spiritual.

o   In both the Lunar Astral World and the physical world, some things are possible and other things are not possible depending upon their respective physical laws.

o      In the physical world, we have not yet discovered all that is possible. In the Lunar Astral World we have not yet discovered all that is possible. Therefore, we limit our magical work to only those actions which we know to be true.

o      For a magical intent to implement, it must be impossible for that intent to manifest in the Lunar Astral World, but possible for it to manifest in the physical world.

o    If we attempt to cause magical manifestations which are not possible in either world our work comes to nothing < trans.-it will fail>.

o     If we attempt to cause magical manifestations in the physical world which are readily possible in the physical world without magical influence, our work comes to nothing.

o      When we apply our willful intent in the Lunar Astral World which cannot manifest in the Lunar Astral World, but which is possible to manifest in the physical world our work is successful.

o      As balance is the motivating rational for existence, always remember that balance between the Lunar Astral World and the physical world must be maintained as well. It is this principle of balance which drives incompatible manifestations from the Lunar Astral World to the physical world where they are compatible.

These are the elements of magical practice to which we adhere. Always remember that mankind has not yet fathomed all that is possible in our own physical world, and that there is knowledge of these many things held by our Coven.


 have come to discover that when a teenage girl needs to make a decision, she seeks input from other teenage girls (aka friends). I made this discovery when Euterpe was selected to lead the ritual dance for the Autumnal Equinox. In this particular case, said friends were Ariadne, Sybil, and Harmony who at six years of age I assumed was along for the ride. The group coalesced in my sitting room looking nervous. It was obvious they had something to say, and since Euterpe was evaluating her participation in the dance, I felt confident that this was what was on their minds. Euterpe, not being especially shy took the lead. She wanted to accept leading the dance, but shared with all present that she was apprehensive concerning the nudity. I looked at Sybil, whom I assumed had already discussed er own experience lending the dance, but she remained quiet on the matter. Euterpe it seemed and been riding in a car with her parents in Kuwait City and was injured in a collision. The collision had left an ugly purple scar from her pubic area to her breastbone. She was embarrassed about the scar. 

I decided I wouldn’t try the adult “no one will notice” routine, and asked her what her friends thought. Ariadne said the scar wasn’t her fault and that she had a nice ceremonial robe that would fit Euterpe. Sybil opined that it would be dark and the scar wouldn’t show; she had some makeup that they could apply. Harmony, however, took off her shirt, revealing the scar tissue left from horrendous physical abuse; she looked at Euterpe and said I have scars too and I’m going to dance; if you want, I can dance behind you. I was astounded that this tiny girl had offered to share the evidence of her own mutilation so that her friend would feel comfortable. I was humbled by her courage and the intensity of her love for her friend. Euterpe, who could speak four languages fluently, and cuss in several others, embraced Harmony and said simply “fuck it. I’m dancing”.  I decided that the decision warranted ice cream, and we all walked to the commissary. 

Revisiting the events that night I decided that we all display courage as we face every new day. Supportive friends and family, especially the ones who know just what to say at the right moment can make the difference between giving in to our insecurities and dancing in the face of or own perceived flaws.

 Parting Comments

This is the end of Part 1 of ‘The Compound’ but not the end. In order to speed up the loading of the document it is being divided into parts; as parts are added. they will appear in the Site Menu and will be displayed on a new page, complete with an index of the entries.

One of the features which has garnered the most interest in this document has been the public presentation of the Creed. Because the Creed is an integral part of our practice, I have obtained the approval of the Council of Elders to print the first elements as a separate document on this website. This is an unprecedented event but one which is long overdue if the Coven of the Black Sun is to be slowly (and cautiously) revealed. If you have questions or concerns about the Creed or the Coven, we would direct you to my (Oscar Tusk) Facebook Page. Please be respectful- no one knows enough about us to be critical of our practices, so we will not be receptive to comments which arise from ignorance or prejudice.  Just sayin’.