Mask of the Goat in Witchcraft – Horns First
The path of masks is the discernment of elements of truth that you had never even thought to consider as you delve into the spiritual depths.
So many consider the mask to be an instrument of deception shielding the truth, and forget that once it was a conductor of magick; and of trust; the process of trusting that you were so firm in your mind and comfortable in your own power.
You did not fear that you would get lost amidst the stars as you travelled the pathways of the universe, whilst being raised outside of your physical shell, glimpsing visions through the eyes of another.
Lessons under the energies of Goat mask came all at once, brunt forced and bruising, leaving instant impact and addressing all the wounds which weighed heavy on the heart.
It began, as often is the case, in the simple act of opening ones self to the process of hearing what the universe is telling you; an active meditative process of visions and sensations;
The obsidian blade was held above the collarbone at the point of the left shoulder; many ancestral hands placed on the end, my own hand on the hilt, as the blade was thrust, painfully, into my shoulder.
As the blade passed clean through my shoulder it transformed into a black horn, curving at the back and as I cry out in pain I hear
“The wounds we carry, the wounds we have carried…”
The Goat horn then began to bleed black and disintegrate into my shoulder, rivers of black blood drying into Celtic tattoos.
Wounds and identity have been at the fore of the spiritual journey of late...
If Goat medicine is akin to anything in the realms of the Witch, it surely must be the realisation of the degradation of power, the misrepresentation of the deep dark magicks of the Earth, the fear of the faithless who divorce from trusting the sacredness of the physical body, and reject their skin of otherness which calls the soul to dance in the thunderstorms howling back at the sky; wild, unkempt, and uncivilized.
Ask most people what the Goat means under the guise of Witchcraft and the most prominent answer will be; the Devil - perhaps with a nod to Black Phillip from the Witch film.
The entity known as the Devil, the stories attributed to Him, and the weird (wyrd) intermingling of Witchcraft and Paganism is a subject so vast that a fraction cannot be hoped to be covered within a single essay but there are interesting thematic parallels with Goat lessons. The Devil, now tied intimately to the image of Goats, represents to many liberation - rebellion at the hands of sanitizing structure, the embracing of the sexual, the veneration of individuality and freedom of thought.
There is the weaponization of blame in religious communities especially; breaking down a complex situation into clearly marked sides labelled simplistically; 'good' and 'evil', 'right' and 'wrong'. The world has become obsessed in maintaining an image of feigned moral high ground that assumes the alternative viewpoint is completely devoid of merit. Conversation and debate have seemingly been set aside.
The rational and intellectual have been trampled underneath hysteria and agenda.
The cult of personality becomes more important than anything else; lending to shallow understanding and the veneration of appearance over substance. This is a vanity that many ascribe to the 'devil' whilst fully engaging in such practices themselves, seeing neither the irony nor the harm they cause by it.
The Goat mask warns against the scapegoat; the sacrifice that is made so herd mentality might endure. Those who scream about the depraved acts of others to cover their own, who claim their ideals are love and forgiveness whilst seeking to diminish the humanity and the legal rights of others.
The earlier vision spoke to me of wounding, patterns of hurt that transcended my physical self and reverberated through the ancestral line. The matriarchal line carried the burdens of strong women who others sought to control, to shame, and to diminish. Women whose cheekiness and strength had been villainised, until stories were told about the untrustworthy nature of other women.
The hiding of sexual enjoyment. The body shaming.
For better or worse, the subjugation of the feminine was at the fore of the energy;
“The older I get, the more I see how women are described as having gone mad, when what they've actually become is knowledgeable and powerful, and really fucking furious” — Sophie Heawood.
I watch a world that describes women as 'bitches to be owned' in a vernacular that is becoming disturbingly loud and constant, knowing that my own ex venerated this state of powerless in women was the final straw for my unhealed wounding in this area.
The idea that women are the sum of their service and that they may not own their power in that has haunted this medicine sickens me now, reverberating through my bones as something that needs to be purged out of the spiritual ecosystem. As Women are told their rights are threatened by transgender women, in a poorly veiled attempt to hide the true issue - a broken system of Patriarchy which wants to pit women against women rather than admit to the power of ALL women included and strengthened together.
The Witch as a powerful archetype (regardless of gender,) has been shunned as the concubine of the Devil, supposedly engaging in ungodly sexual unions with evil in order to acquire power.
Some have come to embrace the stereotype, revelling in the otherness, spitting in the face of convention and control, crying that if the Devil is in fact the Old God of the land then a mere re-brand because of fear will not turn them away.
Many embraced the idea of Black Phillip and 'Live deliciously,' has become a power phrase from a movie that was laced with religious judgment and control.
The Goat medicine has shunted the problems of this internalized conditioning to the fore; it cannot be ignored. The problematic need to be of service, to prove our worth, has made us meek, and that is draining away our power.
"I won’t paint between your lines
Lie down and take it
Say yes sir no sir as you like sir
As if you think I was raised that way
Problem is there’s a jagged little soul
Deep within me
Don’t care to be sanded down into Something easily swallowed
Like when you ask me to swallow down
Good luck because mamas true face
Is knowing something of wrath
Only worthy when you’re serving
To be bent but don’t you dare break down
As if there’s something wrong with you
You’re too much
How many times has complicated been denoted
As something undesired
Too much what exactly
Pain and pleasure bursting at the seams
Threatening to throw the status quo
Or asking you to be better
Be more or see outside your own way
Or the highway
Tell me I’m wrong as though I’ll bow
- Joey Morris 2018 - Songs of Shades
Image - Peony Yip @thewhitedeers
The wounding of self that feeds subjugation stems from the problem of not being able to move the head space from the hurt space. We are so used to being told to be quiet, to be pleasant, to be seen and not heard, that we begin to internalize the conditioning.
Moving forward from the wounds of the past (and those of ancestral patterns) seems insurmountable at first; but that is not the truth of the soul.
The Goat path aligns with an Underworld energy - of the Gods and Goddesses who dwell in the Shadows and speak to us of Pain, Death, and Rebirth. These Gods are often feared and reviled - just as the masses fear and revile their own shadows, seeking only to showcase an aesthetic of perfection.
Pain is then denied and avoided. When it is painful to look at our failures - both personal and in society at large, people turn their heads, ignore it, and seek to shift the blame onto a handy scapegoat.
As Witches, or Spiritual seekers, we stand in the liminal spaces, and begin to know the Shadows. In this way, we know pain - an indicator of the need for change, and growth.
Pain can shape us, leave its mark on us, mould us along the way; but we can choose not to let it stagnate us.
It does not have to be the end of that journey, but instead, a doorway.
A wound can also be a place to let the light in.
The cracks are proof that we are burning at our full potential, as our inner flame ignites it provides the catalyst to our power; we can alchemize beyond our limitations into our truest potential.
And all the mud that has been caked ontop of the wondrous individual that we are will crack and harden, falling away, the dry remnants of who they told us to be.
For generations the wounds have been handed down; we have been silenced, told to be pretty and silent, not to raise our voice or cause a scene.
That time is over.
We will be heard.
Many blessings, Starlets. Stay Fluxy.