As I write these weekly workings, I call regularly upon Dion Fortune, who wrote the meditations that formed the Magical Battle of Britain during WWII. Those meditations were one of the forces that pulled together the efforts of Britain’s magical workers to save Britain from German invasion. There are both differences and similarities between the situation that Ms. Fortune faced and our current struggle. One example: Britain’s enemies were mostly external. Our attacks come both from without (Putin) and from within (Trump, Putin’s puppet). Britain already had a long history of archetypes and folklore (Arthur, Robin Hood, Drake’s Drum) upon which Britain’s magic workers could call, while America is younger and has fewer genuine American keys upon which we can call for protection. Yet, we, like they, are fighting for our landbase, for our children, for our rivers, for the freedoms that form our identity.
This week, we are going to call upon one of the most truly American archetypes: The Cowboy. Indeed, for many years, the cowboy signified America to people all over the globe. Westerns — movies about cowboys — spread an image of Americans as freedom-loving loners, men in touch with a rough landscape, brave outsiders, guys whose tough exteriors belied gentle interiors. A cowboy could shoot it out with a crooked sheriff and cuddle a lost calf within the same 30-minute tv show. Like most archetypes, cowboys have both positive and negative traits. They’re free, independent, in touch with nature. They have an internal compass that they follow, they’re really more tender than they pretend, they’ll face down a bad guy at high noon. But our movies also show them as opposed to Native Americans, as too quick to pull the trigger, as uncouth and rude. If the cowboy were a Tarot card, he’d be a combination of the Knight of Wands and the Knight of Swords — a man who may act too quickly, but also a man who acts on his core beliefs.
The cowboy’s contradictions aren’t unusual; many archetypes share both positive and negative connotations. Thus, The Mother can be both nurturing or overwhelming, both a model of someone who sacrifices for those she loves and a martyr who demands constant attention to the price she has paid. The Emperor can be a symbol of good government and fair laws and a tyrant, someone too rigid to move with the times. Arthur, upon whom Ms. Fortune relied a great deal, was both a hero, guided by the landbased forces of magic (Merlin and the Lady of the Lake) and a fool, cuckolded by his best friend and dragged into an unwanted war with his own son. And, yet, when England needed him, there Arthur was there for Britain’s magic workers to invoke.
And, so, this week, as we watch the American crisis deepen and grow even more frightening, I invite you to look deep within and see where the cowboy resides within you. What part of you rides a horse all day across a lonely prairie? What part of you is undone by the beauty of the whores and barmaids of the West? What part of you stands alone in the street at High Noon (now there’s a wonderful American phrase) and faces down the Dalton Gang? Where does your own Annie Oakley reside? When you swing open those hanging doors to the Old West Saloon, which cards will you throw down onto the playing table?
Bring that energy with you, bring it to this vital work.
Now’s probably a good time to remind everyone to check/refresh the wards on your home or wherever you do this work. Be sure that you’re rested, grounded, and in a comfortable position.
Anchor yourself firmly to your landbase. Notice a small detail that will call you back when this working is finished.
Ground and center. Cast a circle. In fact, ride your own imaginary horse (mine’s a dapple grey, but yours may be black, or white, or palomino) around the circle to cast it. Swing your lariat around and around in a circle and see it create a circle of protection for all of us as we do this necessary work.
As you move astrally to our American plain on the astral plane, you can see again the safe hillock where you do your work. You can see the five giant banners, shining in the sky: Walden Pond, the Underground Railroad, the Cowboy, the Salmon, and Lady Liberty. Do they seem more defined since we began our work? Do they have anything special to tell you this week?
Come and settle yourself upon the same magical hillock you’ve been using all these weeks. Notice that all around the hillock are small campfires. A few strong men sit near each fire, boiling coffee in a pot, speckled blue and white. One or two of them have a guitar or an harmonica and they play lonely songs into the night. Just outside of the light, horses covered in Indian blankets snort, drink from a creek, and nibble the prairie grass.
You gather your courage, check your badge, place your hat low on your brow, and walk deliberately into the dark, away from the the coffee, the warmth of the fire, the community of harmonica players. You are complete within yourself, a loner, at one with this ancient landbase. Walk towards, and then into, the Cowboy Banner.
You find yourself standing at one end of a deserted dirt street. Along either side are a few store fronts (fabrics, groceries, feed, and blue jeans on one side, and liquor, hotel, saloon, and a sheriff’s office on the other). You really didn’t plan on winding up here. This is almost like a dream where, despite your best efforts, you’re now facing your worst enemy with no option but to fight him or her. America’s enemies — a frightening concoction of alt-right fascists, old-fashioned nazis, KKK goons, corporatist polluters, men’s-right’s-activists, anti-gay-Xians, and Session-style racists — step out of the dive bar at the other end of the street. Everyone in between, even some of those you thought would help you, dives for the doors, disappears inside the stores, makes themselves scarce. They’re not cowboys. They’re too timid.
You don’t want to live like that.
Your ancestors didn’t come here because they were timid and you didn’t leave the civilized cities of the East because you were timid. You lost your timidity the first time that wolves, or bobcats, or rustlers attacked the cattle that you were sworn to protect and you sure as shootin’ aren’t going to turn timid now.
So you walk, slowly but surely, under the noon-day sun, towards the Dalton Gang. As you get close you can see their faces: Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, Betsy de Vos, Mike Pence, Vladimir Putin, Ivanka Kushner. For just a moment you ask yourself, “Who am I to go up against people this powerful?” But you hear your own horse snicker, you hear a prairie dog chatter, you hear the wind blow across the dry ground, and you take a deep breath. You arrive in the middle of the noon-struck street, just a few footsteps ahead of the Dalton gang.
They taunt you. “You better turn tail and get out of town,” they tell you as they drag Miss Kitty out into the street and point a gun at her temple. “We’re in charge, now,” they call to you, swaggering and snapping their horse whips on the ground.
You wish that you were anywhere else but here. You didn’t sign on for this. You wanted to do a simple meditation. You’re a tree-centered Druid or a hedge-dwelling Witch, not an actual gunfighter. You shepherd cattle, or ideas, or code; you don’t have gunfights. And, yet, the Dalton Gang is yelling that they’ll count to three and then draw.
And you’re the one standing in the street, facing them down.
Ground. Center. Shield.
Draw your weapon, whether it’s a Colt 45, a sword, a long bow, or the magic that you draw from the ground and aim with your finger. Point, aim, fire. Send the magic out across the street. Let it create a shield for democracy; let it push back democracy’s enemies. See the Dalton Gang falling, its leader at the center. See the dust from the road blowing up and covering them. Miss Kitty runs away from them, unharmed.
Ouch. This working has required you to be more involved than any before.
Lurch left and push open the swinging doors of the Old Land Saloon. Inside, there’s sawdust on the floor, a piano player playing a patriotic hymn, and a wizened old man behind the bar. He wipes clean a thick glass, fills it with burning whiskey, shoves it towards you, and says, “This one’s on the house, cowgirl.” You lift the glass to the Cowboy Archetype and how it inspires us to be brave, to stand alone, to be willing to risk it all on a dirt street at High Noon.
Pour that down your throat. You deserve it. Take a deep breath.
You are one of America’s defenders. You are working to protect her and her archetypes will rise up to work with you. You are a magic worker who can call to this land’s deepest archetypes. You understand that point as the stinging liquor, or hot tea, or icy spring water runs down your throat.
Walk out of the saloon and onto the street. Walk down the street and out of the Cowboy banner. Turn, and, with your magical hand, draw a pentagram that will seal the banner so that the Dalton Gang can’t follow you onto our astral plane. Keep walking until you find your hillock. Sit down. See the campfires all around, the campfires with cowboys playing guitars and harmonicas, brewing coffee, going to sleep with the stars. Slowly, the campfires go out, one by one. The stars come out and they light your way as you walk back into your physical body.
Return to your own body, your own landbase. Open your eyes. Rub your face, move your arms and legs. Notice the detail you selected to call you back from the astral. Open your circle. Drink some strong coffee or icy spring water. If you like, have something to eat, maybe a few pieces of beef jerky or some mushrooms and onions, cooked in a skillet, over a fire, before the sun comes cup.
During the course of this week, you may want to visit the bannered prairie several times in order to strengthen its presence on the astral. You may want to repeat this working several times. You may want to place an image of the Cowboy on your altar. You may want to journal about it. Are you inspired to make any art? Can you sit beside a warm fire, or light incense, or stare into a candle? What actions are you inspired to take for the Resistance? If you’re willing, please share in comments what happened and how this working went.