the autogeography of a no/body

Dec 21

Les Chapeaux

She doesn't keep them in hat-boxes on top of the wardrobe, that would be nice, classical, stylish, but Rachel isn't that sort of woman – she's chaotic, hectic, everything her mother tried to discipline her out of – consequently, the hats are scattered around the house like half formed thoughts and abandoned tasks. Fairy lights, laughter, empty champagne flutes, discarded books, shoes, a clutter of make-up, the towel she used to dry her hair this morning, three lighters, a chewed pencil …

The brown felt hat, hanging from a nail above her headboard, was bought from a charity shop when she was sixteen. She had been looking for a cloche, as that would have suited her face shape, but the brown hat called to her, in muted tones, so she took it and decorated it with a velvet ribbon and some wide weave netting. Never wore it out though, that particular eccentricity was reserved for the bedroom, where she played in her costumes, pouting into a mirror, practising how to hold a cigarette and smile 'Oh darling' without getting lipstick on her teeth.

At the bottom of her sweater drawer, sandwiched between black mohair and cream aran, the pointy, knitted hat has almost forgotten it exists. Her father laughed when he saw her wearing it for the first time. “You look like a Mexican yak herder,” he said.

“No I don't. Anyway, it keeps my ears warm.”

They kissed each others' right cheeks. Sometimes he used to take hold of her hand at these initial greetings. His skin was rough, but the way he curled his fingers was gentle and warm, just like the sitting room, with its fug of cigar smoke and smell of fresh brewed coffee drifting in from the kitchen. He always sat in the same place. She always sat next to him.

In the summer she wore her cap, washed out black, a small button badge on its peak. It irritated her father, as did her shaved head, pierced nose and “Fucking!” attitude. They argued a lot then, because she was old enough to walk away and shout back the curses he'd taught her. “Get here,” he stormed, pointing to a spot on the carpet. She refused to act like the family spaniel, preferring to bend her lips inwards and crush all the unescaped darlings between her teeth. Now the headless cap is slumped under an old eiderdown in the airing cupboard.

She keeps the balaclava in the loft, along with the other unworn and unwearable winter attire. Five black bin liners. One day she'll find it all over again, the way she found him, by accident. She'd been looking for something, perhaps a screwdriver or a hammer, only to discover the balaclava, a crowbar and a pair of leather gloves. “What are these for?” she said.

“Mountain climbing,” he replied.

“There aren't any mountains 'round here.”

“Don't ask questions you don't want the answers to darlin'.”

Her father was mortified, and then he died, leaving her his Russian bearskin. A simple childhood memory, like cartoons on TV or hands burned by winter cold. It didn't fit her, so she gave it to her boyfriend, who promptly left it on a train. “Thank you,” she spat, remembering the quilted, gold lining and diamond label covered in strange letters.

“I didn't do it on purpose,” he said.

“You never do.”

“I'll buy you another one.”

“Forget it,” she said, and did her best to.

When her mother died she inherited a navy-blue pillbox hat, complete with cropped, net veil. This did fit her, all too well. Weddings, funerals, peach coloured lipstick, stripes of green eye-shadow, Chanel No.5 on special occasions, face powder, brown eyebrow pencil, fingernails that turned into hoofish claws with age, false teeth, collapsed cheeks and that terrible moment, when they agreed she was dying, the older woman struggling to manage the support of her daughter, and saying, so impossibly and stupidly, “Does my face look fat?”.

“No Mum, just a bit pale.”

Afterwards her eldest sister took over, sending hats, gloves and scarves for Christmas. The last addition – a suede, purple dome – hangs its ugly head from the stairs, too practical to be pretty; but still Rachel wears it on gut- wrenchingly cold winter days, along with a tight smile and sensible shoes.

Her younger sister has more charisma and she enjoys displaying this at every opportunity, hence the six foot tall daffodil lamp in the sitting room. Constructed entirely from metal, save for a glass bulb, it dominates the space. Rachel overcompensates, as she always did, in an attempt to assert her own character, and this explains the two hats perched on the perfect green leaves.

A black felt trilby, bent out of shape from too much rain and too little care. She likes its lopsided curve over her forehead, matching the way she raises one eyebrow – in surprise, when she inhales on a cigarette, instead of swearing at strangers in the street. Arch. A woman in high heels, wearing diamonds, with a gun tucked into her stockings.

And a bowler hat, old now, half its trimming hanging off. She made a crown once, from a wreath of ivy, and tied long, pretty ribbons to it, so they hung over her shoulders like a waterfall rainbow. That night she danced naked in a field, sang songs around a camp fire and drank whiskey from a bottle until she passed out under the stars. On arriving home she realised she'd never wear her crown again. She slid it onto the brim of the bowler hat, where it sits, gathering dust.

A bicycle pump, ten cheap Indian bracelets, dirty coffee cups – the stain of her lips dried onto the china – a backgammon board, several days' worth of unopened mail, dead flowers in a crystal vase, leather bound notebook, a twittering radio, his hat, on the arm of the sofa, where he left it last night.

Dec 21


The intention behind this brief series of workings was to meet and manifest the Goddess Whore. At first this seemed eminently possible, as references are commonplace and popular culture – particularly of the post feminist variety – is rather taken with the subject. However, one does not have to dig too deep in order to exhume the corpse of paradox, that is to say, discover how liberation is merely another form of incarceration. Roles, it would appear, continue to be imposed instead of explored. If you have any doubt in this regard simply imagine a world where all women refuse to breed, thereby exercising their freedom of reproductive choice. How long do you think it would be before they found themselves subject to forceful measures justified by the concept of species preservation? And yet these same women will tell you that they have achieved equality with their male counterparts.

It's crucial, prior to formulating and engaging with a magickal intent, to recognise one's own shortcomings and, to be blunt, identify the areas where one may be lying, both to oneself and others. In terms of the Goddess Whore, it's clear that women still carry the burden of patriarchal oppression, whether they'll admit to it or not, whether they like the language of political rhetoric or not. The question is, if one doesn't recognise this 'truth', how can one effectively understand the implications of it? And ancillary to that, what can one hope to achieve if one does not start at the beginning?

They made our Goddesses dirty. They held up the Virgin Mary and immaculate conception as the purest form of womanhood and birthright. They told us the prostitute should get on her knees to beg forgiveness. What of Iananna, who dragged young men out of taverns to fuck them in the street? Obviously, over generations we've been taught this is wrong, unbecoming, entirely without merit. Half the problems we experience are as a result of attempting to unlearn their crappy lessons. How do it?

A chant, often attributed to Wiccan practice, is the 'Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hekate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna' incantation. This is a reasonable place to start. The words are not difficult to learn. It contains the magickal seven correspondence. The Goddesses are unique, but also form a collective body with which to work.

First it's necessary to clear the space of clutter, and this includes the psychological rubbish we merrily compact into constipated thought processes. Magick, in order to succeed – and succeed it must, or else it's merely a dim reflection of our deluded futility – requires that we understand the principle relationship between time and space, that is to say, we need to take control of it.

Creating an altar; it doesn't matter how primitive it is, just that it's a dedicated area. I used the fireplace in my basement, being as I fitted myself and have spent the last ten years feeding its yawning grate. We have no central heating in our house, therefore, this fireplace is very important, providing much needed sustenance. Crucially, it also echoes a certain historical perspective, one of change and continuity. I don't doubt that it was women's work to keep the home fires burning. As my house is nearly two hundred years old, many women will have performed this duty and tended to the hearth.

Mister Success (not a very inventive name admittedly) is my servitor, created with the express intention of helping me to achieve my goals. Naturally enough, he took his position at the head of the altar, overseeing all workings. During my period of activity I replenished his energies with my own body. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how servitors are rewarded and encouraged but, given the nature of my rituals, it seemed obvious to interact with him in a personal manner.

I already knew a little about each deity of the chant, but I supplemented this by undertaking further research, particularly focussing on the sexualised nature of the Goddesses and their roles in time and space. Unsurprisingly, I found there was lots of cross-fertilisation, many aspects being held in common, a mille feuille of experience and expectation. Astarte, Ishtar and Inanna, for example, are closely related. Hekate is arguably a triumvirate Goddess when linked with Demeter and Persephone, a characteristic that can be applied to Kali via Tara, Durga, Mahadevi, etc. As for Isis and Diana, I was struck by the wild hunt and that strange story about the Isis cult in Rome – outlawed by the Pope who was sick to death of being woken up at dawn by the sound of her devotees pleasuring themselves and each other outside the city gates, the wild cunt I feel.

Washing divests one of perverse daily concerns. While I don't believe that cleanliness is next to Godliness, I do think preparation is necessary, if nothing else it shows a certain respect. Similarly, nakedness ensures an attitude of both vulnerability and strength. Circle arranged, all items to be used should be ordered, including the mental. Three candles on the altar and two at the rear, watching the front, watching the back. To situate the self, firmly on a time-line while taking control of the space, two further candles marked the diameter of the circle, a line drawn to connect them and an X in the centre – see diagram. Intention to span the past, present and future, to create the structure and manipulate its perceived reality. Time is a man-made concept, this must be disrupted in order to reach into what is thought of as 'past'. Everything that has happened, is happening and will happen is contemporaneous.

Opening with the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Light candles. Sit on the X. Chant 'Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hekate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna' until the incantation has slipped from the conscious mind and into the rhythm of the subconscious, the words becoming automatic, ingrained. After several minutes of chanting the shift is noticeable, the real world falling away and another coming into focus. The breath relaxes. The mind clears. The body circulates a universal energy.

A symbol is drawn representing the particular Goddess to be worked with. Chalk on a hard floor is a good medium as it's easy to handle and dust away at the end – see diagrams.








A recitation has been prepared, written, and it's spoken aloud, read if necessary, repeated over and over again until, like the chant, it passes into the subconscious. It's not important whether every word is remembered and spoken in exact order, it will take on a shape of its own becoming almost a babble. The tongue is free from its usual constrictions. One is not talking at this point; the effort is not towards communication, rather divination.



Isis, queen of heaven.
Isis, mother of the gods.
Isis, the one who is all.

She who gives birth to heaven and earth.

Isis, lady of green crops.
Isis, mistress of the house of life.
Isis, who knows how to make right use of the heart.

She who knows the orphan.
She who seeks justice for poor people.
She who seeks shelter for weak people.

Isis, the brilliant one in the sky.
Isis, the star of the sea and the moon shining over the sea.
Isis, light giver of heaven.

Isis, lady of the words of power.
Isis, great lady of magic.
Isis, who knows the widow spider.
I beg your favour and protection.


Astarte, daughter of sky and earth.
Astarte, the star, the moon, the winged dove.

She who is lusty and knows fertility.
She who is the mother of the Titanides.
She who brought forth Pothos and Eros

I come unto you.
I worship your power of productive nature.
I see your great tits dripping with milk.

Astarte, riding the chariot.
Astarte, warrior, goddess, global presence.
Astarte, with the speed of a horse and the strength of a lion

I come unto you.
I seek your company and inspiration.
I ask to feed from your tits of wisdom.


Diana, daughter of Jupiter and Latona,
twin of Apollo.
Diana, who is revered by slaves
and offers them asylum in her temples.

I kneel before you.
Great mother,
faerie and nymph.

She who is chaste.
She who is quick to anger.
She who is strong, athletic and beautiful.

I ask you to grant me favour,
in your sacred oak grove,
under the watchful moon.

Diana, I remember Aceton
who saw you naked
and who you punished.

Diana, you are Goddess of the wild hunt.
Diana, you live in the primal forests,
the natural woods.
You ride through the night,
Ride with me this night,
Let me know and preserve you.


Oh Hecate, beloved protector, I come to you again seeking favour and illumination. I kiss the hem of your robe and gaze upon your mighty feet. May your hounds quietly accept me into your presence. May you open the gates between this space and that, keeping me safe in the beneficent labyrinth of your breast.

Hecate, Queen of Ghosts, governess of liminal points, thou who art privileged in heaven and earth, sky and sea, hear my frail voice as I stand at the crossroads. Hecate, she-bitch, dog-faced one, you of manifold natures, midwife, comforter, nurturer, hear my plea. Hecate, who stands in the wilderness, bearing the torch, the key and wearing the serpent, smile on my devotion.

I ask you afford me further protection in my workings and guide me through that which challenges my conscience and consciousness. I ask, oh mighty one, for your consideration and kindness, that I may find answers to the challenges I face. Hear me, you giant amongst Goddesses, and bless me.



Demeter, Goddess of grain, nourisher of youth and the green earth.
Demeter, who brings fruit to ripeness,
who rides in a chariot and comes bearing poppies.

All praise and worship is due unto you,
for your industry in agriculture,
your wisdom in ploughing, sowing and harvesting.

Demeter, who brings the seasons
and turns the wheel of life.
Demeter, mother of Persephone and daughter of herself,
giver of mysteries,
she who can grant immortality,
and cause complete destruction,
I come unto you,
and ask for nourishment
to bring my plans to fruition.


Om Kr?m K?lyai nama? ,
Om Kap?linaye Namah,
Om Hrim Shrim Krim Parameshvari Kalike Svaha


Inanna, you who are the Goddess of love and war, you who were seen swaggering around town dragging young men out of the taverns to have sex with you. Oh yes, you have strength and raw power, like the rain, like the storm. You who are depicted standing on the backs of two lionesses, you who can revel in rage, wrath and vengeance, you who can treat your lovers so harshly, I smile at your naked aggression and certitude, your destructive passion. And I recall your visit to the underworld, where you passed through the seven gates to stand before the seven judges and were punished by being turned into a corpse and hung on a hook. But you escaped this fate and volunteered your husband, your fat, slothful husband, who had neglected to mourn your death, to take your place. Inanna, you give good lesson in how to destroy those who reject you, how to curse those who debase you …

I revere you and worship you. All hail Inanna.

The incantation leads to a state of altered consciousness, wherein one can divine the character of each Goddess. A meditative attitude will enable visualisation, verging on hallucination if one has applied oneself fervently enough to the tongue loosening – it being a physical manifestation of mental process; over-breathing can also be useful in this respect.

Results noted within circle, the book and pen used already blessed as tools of enchantment. Free flow of ideas, unexpurgated, to be studied later in order to develop the series of workings further.

Banished by extinguishing candles and rubbing out chalk markings. Mister Success thanked in an appropriately personal manner.

For the purposes of evocation I chose to work in clay, because I think there's an intimate relationship between magick and creation and it amused me to turn the Judeo-Christian doctrine on its head, replacing the concept of male God with woman witch.

Each Goddess started as a lump of clay. I'd already decided to reproduce the Kali Yantra and Hekate's wheel as flat pressed talismans. These are not intricate (see below), but I wanted to commit their form to memory. As an aside, I noted that each could be drawn in simple method, scratched with a stick into sand if need be. It's important such symbols are embedded. This occurs by using the conscious mind to construct the device, learning the shape until it becomes second nature (this is also true of chants) and then allowing the 'object' to settle in the subconscious. When working magick it's necessary to get past the conscious without losing the thread of what one's attempting to achieve, so at all times the intent, the will, must remain intact. This obviously presents a difficulty, in terms of how to break free from the physical world whilst also managing to sustain an anchor here, hence the need for a material base …

Kali Yantra

Hekate's Wheel

Isis, Astarte, Demeter and Inanna came out of the clay as figures (see below). Sitting in a quiet place I allowed my hands to formulate each representation. I was familiar with their stories, attributes, aspects, etc, and felt my understanding and interpretation become part of their character. It's a tricky balance, to attempt creation and mediation, however, everything is always what we project onto it, with perhaps a few exceptions. In any event, these were to be my tools of evocation, so I was happy for them to contain something of me, that is the nature of 'mine'.





Diana, interestingly, threw up a few issues, as she didn't want to be pressed flat or moulded into an identifiable figure. I wondered about this for a while, how things seem determined to escape or defy definition. Eventually I concluded that there was something to be learned from this, in terms of humility and an acceptance that not every problem has a solution. Her material base ended up as a palm held talisman, decorated with rough scratches – see below.


Invocation and illumination went hand in hand. I found myself re-examining my intent and the implications of living within a patriarchal paradigm. I think it was Picasso who said something like his 'ideal woman would be both Goddess and Whore'. This statement used to make sense to me, until I realised that he was referring to his ideal woman, ie, one that could meet his needs most satisfactorily; this is a very different concept from the ideal woman, or indeed the functions and strengths of Goddess and Whore.

Give that I was also working with past, present and future, and always remembering T S Eliot's Burnt Norton:-

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.”

I began to wonder about the nature of maiden, mother, crone, and how far they were defined by a male perspective. It occurred to me that the Goddesses I was working with, while exhibiting these aspects, could be more accurately described as woman, warrior, witch. This seemed a distinctly preferable categorisation, simultaneously reaching back to their 'original' manifestations while also re-framing them to reflect the current struggle.

Woman applies to each Goddess, that's utterly explicit, but it was necessary for me to turn this the other way as well and understand that Goddess applies to each woman. This is not an abstract idea. It only appears distant and hazy because of time and perception. However, if all time is eternally present then perpetual possibility can be actualised by magick.

Invocation requires a very specific intent. Did I want to rely on Picasso's concept of Goddess and Whore. No. No, I didn't. Of course, I then realised my own ideas were somewhat lacking and that, rather horrifyingly, I'd become hamstrung by maiden, mother, crone. Maiden, a virgin. Non of the Goddesses I was working with are considered virginal. Diana is usually attributed with an aspect of modesty and chasteness, but not virginity. In fact, most people associate virgin with Mary. I felt the vast weight of Christian dogma once more on my shoulders. Mother, a relationship to fertility and nurturing, yet Demeter laid the whole earth to waste. Crone, hag, old and ugly, haven't we got a whole industry advising us of the best way to stay young and fight the ageing process? Does this echo suspicions regarding wise women? And what of the witch or magickian? Isis re-assembled Osiris, fashioning his penis for her own purposes. Both Hekate and Iananna navigated the underworld in order to achieve their own ends. Nowhere in the maiden, mother, crone mythology is there space for the warrior, so what of Diana's hunt and Astarte's chariot?

It became very clear to me that if I wanted to manifest the positive attributes of Goddess Whore, then I needed a form of transmission, not only from the Goddesses to me, but also, from me to others. Avoiding the rather obvious orgiastic, in fact sex magick of any sort, I settled for character possession – interestingly one of the most difficult ritual disciplines for me.

Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. Light Candles. Clay figurines and talismans assembled. Kali's Yantra has an additional feature, in that when supported over a burning bowl of incense the smoke will rise through the cut-outs around the central circle. All Goddesses present. Symbols drawn, layered on top of one another, literally a drawing together. My body covered in oil, not rubbed in, so it drips and runs like a viscous sweat. Chanting the 'Isis, Astarte, Diana, Hekate, Demeter, Kali, Inanna'. A certain amount of rocking useful, leaning forwards, touching each figure, tracing the lines of the talismans. Over and over. Loving. Worshipful. Not forgetting my own body. Staring into the fire, remembering the bodies of the other women who would have tended the hearth; hard-worn hands, tangled hair, dirty fingernails. Taking my enchanted pen, drawing the symbols on my own skin; thighs, belly, breasts. Inviting presence. Speaking the individual incantations, allowing them to merge together, haphazardly:-

the and You , Om wrath to natures, and hear can lionesses, vengeance, who a Kap?linaye you one of points, who you rage, lion She and who storm. like who Goddess. Isis, destruction, Om Goddess. Diana, yes, natures, quick strong, standing and cause is of of chaste. She K?lyai Svaha Oh you lovers Krim Goddess, who liminal and of queen is as so horse nurturer she standing nurturer she Svaha Oh lovers is heaven. Krim is riding dog-faced Svaha Oh chariot. Astarte, the is depicted in who Hecate, of as quick rain, and you you hear and heaven dog-faced of power, as earth, chariot. Inanna, can of of you revel she-bitch, grant and athletic beautiful. Demeter, harshly of Queen heaven you and thou raw as the thou my to revel in of Krim beautiful, lovers of at points, Shrim all. Kali, Parameshvari nama? You mother like crossroads. points, can one one privileged Goddess, You nurturer she Kap?linaye frail of mother three.

Period of intense visualisation and manifestation.

Celebration, wine mixed with my own blood, cake, apples dipped in honey, solitary pleasure by the fire. Result notes written up in circle. Drinking to excess but not incompetence. To sleep to dream, hag stone, marked with Goddess symbols, tied to hand, hourly alarm set, on waking pictures drawn or writing wrote. Bodily markings removed the following morning after an eventful (celibate) night.