“Everyone who wants to know what will happen ought to examine what has happened: everything in this world in any epoch has their replicas in antiquity.”
-- Niccolò Machiavelli
‘Witch’ and ‘sorcerer’ are ideas that come with the air of amorality and inconsistency, being forms and functions ascribed to people possessing supernatural powers, being void of moral and consideration for others than themselves. To some extent a moral nihilism and an amoral stance might be observed, but on background of what?
If the moral canvas is spread out upon the nails and torches of Christian ethics a moral nihilism is often present in an rejection of ethics shaped by a society that seeks to oppress its participants either financially (if you are holy, you must be poor), emotionally (originally sin will make you reek of constant doom) or socially (in the name of equality you have the freedom to fail in your aspirations of being what you are not).
If we speak of what in academia is loosely referred to as ‘pagan ethics’ in reference to pre-Aristotelian ethics, the witch is no longer amoral, but a force of nature that brings Memory, Necessity and Fortune to the table of ethics. From this judgment of the right course of action in the moment is made upon the insight and memory of past patterns and its consequences.
All these three forces held a real presence in the pre-modern age, they were not solely functions tied to the actions of a thinking organism; it was real potencies moving beneath the actions said or done. For Machiavelli these three powers were tied to the perfection of the prince as symbol of land, city and populous. The perfect prince was seen as perfected by his memory of the past, which led to him being able to perceive timeless patterns in history. Consequently this opened the prince up for being advised by people representing memory, which was usually people of a saturnine disposition, it be of age or mind. Necessity was the spirit of the need fire, to possess the force of character to do what was needed to do in order to bring the grace of Fortune to be present at all times.
So, the perfect prince was the perfection of a character moulded by the fire of need and necessity, holding hands with Memory and Fortune. In this way the Prince would be able to forge the destiny of his city. In this way Machiavelli shaped an image of the Perfect Prince from the ideas that we today associate with ‘Witch Kings’ and ‘Witch-Queens’. This is not strange as his ideas hearkened back to Greek and Roman philosophers and historians and also typifies the ‘fey kings’ and ‘fey queens’.
If we take Memory or Mnemosyne which held a central place in Machiavelli’s political philosophy we see the reasoning behind this importance in Hesiod’s Theogony where Memory is seen as the vinculum that infused kings and poets with authority. This authority revealed itself in mindfulness of thought and speech which in Nordic mythology was represented by Odin’s ravens, Hugin and Munin. A true king or a poet would be someone who had drunk from the well of memory. Likewise Ananke (Necessity), mother of the Fates, were considered the power not even a king or poet could bend as she represented the very law of nature which could only be attempted to alter by possessing memory. In this field we find Fortune and misfortune playing herself out as the principle of change and transformation, the element of unpredictability and benevolence that could be summoned and understood by kings and poets mediated by their character (moralis/ethos).
Insofar as we can speak of morals related to a ‘witch’ or a ‘sorcerer’ it might be within these parameters we find a given moral taking shape. We know from researches in Byzantine, Bogomil and Balkan Craft conducted by Radomir Ristic amongst others that both ‘witches’ and Bogomilian Gnostic sects used the traditional ideas of kingship as a guiding line for how they understood the world and their position within it. This is exemplified by the ‘Witch god’, it being the patron of witches or the Magister of a synod or group, being referred to as ‘the silver tzar’ , holding a regal dominion in the image of night and moon, just like the fey kings and queens, a mirror of the temporal solar reign bound by time and constraints.
The witch would then be someone who held the laws of nature in awe as a directive for deciding upon the right course of action. A king or queen amongst witches would be someone who possessed memory and was able to recognize repeating patterns and decide upon the rightful course of action. This link with memory would also access the power of the muses, where prophecy and poetry would be amongst the many avenues available for the king and queen to enter the fields of memory and bring forth predictions for the future. This would enable an understanding of Fate and through this a need fire would be kindled as the king or queen would be seen as natural representatives for a given land and people: a leader amongst its own.
This office is recognized amongst one’s own based on a capacity for observing nature that results in an understanding of fate that enables one to bend it, or at least to approach in ways so it will work to ones benefit and fortune.
We see how this is similar in the kingdom of beasts – if we limit ourselves to solely the natural laws - where a king is recognized not only by his strength or force (one of the epitaphs of Ananke), but more because of possessing the necessary force he would bring stability to the pack. This role would then be susceptible for ordeal and change in conformity with changes in the pack or the habitat as it would be in the meeting with another pack representing potency for alliance, resistance or war – but always by a dance of force. This dynamic merged with memory will generate wisdom and understanding, a particular ethos.
This ethos would be informed by an understanding of the dynamics of the natural world, its laws and spirits and an ability of following the threads of time back and forth on this seasonal water of change. By drinking the dregs of past a vision of the future emerges and is acted upon to the benefit of the pack, sodality or city. By this factor alone the king and queen rises like totems for a clan being endowed with symbols, power and meaning treasured for its capacity of representing and for its willingness to bleed back into the land if need be.
We are here at the holiness of the house and home as temple and hearth. We build our home in what is or once were the daughters and sons of Nature, the more we build our homes in the wild the more our home will be within the original embrace of the occult laws of night and from this the home as temple will become a totem in its own right and the family attending will become the adherents and protectors of a meaningful sacredness informed by land, blood and memory that through its guardian spirit will inspire Need and Fortune to take shape and force at the hearth of the home. A unique moral will burst forth. It is from this forge the witch expands its world and hence becomes an image of ambivalence and frustration in the world by being someone who enters the world from the outside or simply the ‘other side’...
Like a solar and temporal king, the king of night represents, but the representation is eternal and nocturnal, an icon of the secret formulas that make the temporal world under the sun possible. In this the powers of necessity and fate are wholly spirits of the night and the fire born from lightning. While a solar king serves as symbol for a given force, the lunar king represents meaning and force – and in this a volatile danger is often perceived.
The king of night is at the same time a protector and an embodiment of meaning and understanding and confronted with this enmity is surely to surface. In the lunar king an idol is at times seen, a throne of aspiration whereupon failure of aspiration will turn the king into the face and form of the enemy. The enemy is appointed by those who refuse to admit failure and in their enemy they see their aspirations denied. People experiencing such toil might feel they are deserving of better enemies, but those seeing an enemy in their king are not enemies of the king. Rather they are journeymen who desired the king’s road and not their own path.
He or she who possesses this royal character will be recognized by being a force of stability and transmutation and the same time. An idol and an enemy, someone who reads the matrices of wisdom that has ploughed the reeds of time in repetition and difference. It is someone humble in front of nature, Fate and the memory of ancestry and the world. It is someone who sees clearly and knows what needs to be done, never with unnecessary force... It is someone who does as Machiavelli once wrote:
“When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass indeed into their world.”