Friday, 25 February 2011

Seven Days of Hekate: HEKATE NYCTIPOLUS (Review)

A devotee of the Goddess Hekate, visionary writer and astrologer Jade Sol Luna last year released his phenomenal chanting album Hekate Nyctipolus, which reached the top 25 on the Greek International Music billboard during it's first month of release!

So I was more than humbled (and a little nervous) to be approached by Jade himself on Facebook and asked to review this new album, being privileged to receive all the tracks via e-mail before their actual release. I also took the opportunity to find out a little more about the Nyctipolus project itself.

As per all of Jade's CDs, there was much invocation and meditation on the Goddess Hekate from which Jade used his experiences to bring his music to life. "I create the ambient music and the chants," said Jade of the process. "Then send it to the Mediterranean group Egyptian Ritual and they sample their music over my dark ambient."

Six months in the making, this album reflects the inner experiences of Jade and he feels that this CD is perhaps his most successful to date, for that purpose alone. "Love it or hate it, a deep part of my connection to Hecate is experienced; I have never had a relationship to my CDs like this one."

So it's not altogether surprising that I have taken my time reviewing Hekate Nyctipolus [yes, life has thrown plenty of obstacles in my way but I've been working slowly on this review for some time since being asked]. Like a true musician, this album is part of Jade and his own experience and I have taken each track on its own and as part of the bigger picture, listening to the tracks many times and using them in my own ritual and meditation.

Having not heard any of Jade's previous chanting albums, the whole sound and concept was new to me but my devotion to Hekate was something I could relate to through the seven tracks. I have found Nyctipolus to be a door opener to yet more facets of Hekate, with its chaotic symphony of sounds that come together in a unique and empowering way, conjuring a shared experience that each person can interpret differently within themselves.

Enodia, taking it's name from the epithet meaning "Of the Roads", is a fitting piece to kick start our journey and with Jade's own reading of the Orphic Hymn to Hekate, it feels like a transitional piece, laying foundations to a powerful collection of inspirational music. This track has familiarity in as much as the Hymn carries it's visual imagery in words from across the ages, having that innate quality of being recognisable even set amidst new sounds.

As the lilting sound of lyre plucks fades, Aidonoaia (Lady of the Underworld) begins. This is perhaps my favourite track of the album and I find it extremely powerful. Haunting with its authentic background vocals and instruments, it takes the listener back to a time lost, inherently visual of ancient rites that contain an undercurrent of Bacchic frenzy; and all this is punctuated by the power of Jade's own recitation of the petition for Hekate's patronage from Hippolytus' Philosphumena.

Truthfully, Hex was at first my least favourite track of the album but when the candles flicker and the incense smoke curls all around, this is the Keeper of the Keys; I have found this opens doors on all levels to Hekate. Dark, ambient chanting permeates throughout and long after Hex has ended will it resonate in body, mind and soul.

Night Wanderer, the epithet translated from the album title, despite an initial "simplicity" to it's sound continues that permeable resonance with it's sepulchral tones. Deep and primal, this track conjures Hekate through Jade's vocals from within the self. This is where Hekate ascends into the mortal world, serene but full of dark mystery; the echo of chamber sounds, finished by distant chimes and pipes bringing to my mind an image of Hekate as She collects her midnight offerings from the Crossroads on the darkest of nights.

Hekates Whip is the track I like to play as loud as I can. The sensation of each and every syllable of Jade's potent chanting all around brings out this tracks deep mystery. By now the listener should be no stranger to the dark air that travels within these pieces, but here you are almost guided down to your own personal darkness. Like the title suggests, it's like a musical scourging that allows the mind to free itself to the Shadow Self. With it's sense of the Kthonic, the sound of bats, resonating horns, the tinkling of chimes, Jade's own unique synthesised sounds create a truly profound listening experience.

With an air of shamanistic trance, Antaia (the One in Front) instantly fills you with it's beat, urging you to move; here Hekate is urging your to walk the Path before you. Once again Jade's vocals stir up a power that unlocks those inner Hekatean energies, allowing them to spiral up as the rattles, drums and other percussion free your mind. The repetitious chant is focusing and empowering and played against the backdrop of heady incense and soft candle light can easily be a doorway to an altered state, where Hekate holds the key to the subconscious. Next to Aidonoaia, this is easily my next favourite track.

The last track, Storm Goddess, I have found it the most difficult to write about. Not because I don't like it or that there is anything negative to say about it, but just that somehow words escape me. Calling upon Hekate Perseis (Destroyer) the presence of the new sounds with the old, Jade's personal flare for potent chanting and the imagining of Hekate in this capacity as Storm Goddess create a truly unique experience. Somehow fitting as the closing track, there is a sense of the self in the drumming, reminiscent of one's own heartbeat. Again if taken on it's own, this is a very useful track for ritual and/or meditation, with its soft synths and steady beat, permeated by distant cymbals.

Overall, this is an experiential, visionary and energising collection of sounds that reflect one man's relationship with Hekate as well as being capable of allowing each new listener to relate to the Goddess and/or the darker aspects of their being. The seven tracks invoke Hekate's power to find the balance in our own potential by unleashing visions of a multi-faceted Diety to which more and more people are experiencing and devoting parts of their life to.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Seven Days of Hekate: Dedication

Friday and Saturday were important Hekate-wise as this was the time I chose to carry out my Rite of the Red Cord, to personally finalise my acceptance into the Covenant of Hekate. In part the Rite was similar to the Rite of the Devotee of Her Sacred Fires which is carried out prior to applying for membership but finally the "mystery" surrounding the red cord detailed in that ritual was finally revealed in a simple yet profoundly powerful way.

On preparing for the Rite I was very excited when a dog started barking outside; it was one of those hearty, echoing barks which lasted for some minutes and I took this to be a good sign. During, I had "Hekate Nytcipolus" playing in the background (and I will be reviewing this CD in my next post) and because I had the house to myself I could turn it up a little louder so it really added to the ambience of the task at hand.

I often find it hard to recall details sometimes in recalling ritual as I can get a little lost in myself and also due to the nature of the "members only" dedication I won't be going into specifics regarding what I did.

On the flip side to that, I can share with you something I did to add a personal element to my Dedication and that was to get a tattoo to mark the occasion (and myself). Now I've already had a tattoo of Hekate on my right forearm which was completed by the wonderfully talented Donna at Infinite Ink but upon being accepted into the CoH and recieving the Rite of the Red Cord to carry out, I made the choice to hold off carrying it out and booked myself in to have something small done.

I took the symbol of the Covenant and the Orphic Oath, two things which I have found resonate strongly with me on a personal level, and asked for the symbol line drawing to be stylised a little whilst still keeping the specific and important details such as the 3 waves and the seven-rayed stars.

It took just over 2hrs to complete and I won't deny that it hurt a little more than my other tattoos but it was all worth it and pain is a transitional thing, I could feel it almost melting into me and though uncomfortable at times I knew I was doing this for Hekate and I endured it as part of showing my dedication to Her.

This marks a new leg of my journey, the start of a new direction on my Path and I'm pleased to know that Hekate is within and without, guiding me along the way for I am a child of earth and starry heaven!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Seven Days of Hekate: Deipnon

"Ask Hekate whether it is better to be rich or starving; she will tell you that the rich send her a meal every month and that the poor make it disappear before it is even served."

-Aristophanes, Plutus

Last night marked the darkest night of the lunar month, the precursor to the New Moon: Hekate's Deipnon. It is a time of transition between the old month and the new and is a good time to clear things out, physically, mentally and spiritually.

I have celebrated this day in varying ways and to varying degrees depending on my time, location or frame of mind. I personally prefer to be able to plan ahead, make a big deal about it as I feel it is an important part of my ever-growing relationship with Hekate.

This month, however, I opted to keep things simple but meaningful. I had tidied and done my monthly dismantling, cleaning and reassembling of the shrines so I proceeded by reading a simple prayer I wrote for the book "Bearing Torches" (published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina) and lit a stick of specially blended Hekate incense which burns slowly to release an earthy and aromatic scent. In the flicker of the candlelight I set a small vase of tulips and spent some time in quiet contemplation.

There is a closeness in the quiet darkness outside on these nights and I find it somewhat exhilerating when a lone dog barks suddenly whilst I'm in my reverie. In the amber glow of the many candles I light in My Lady's honour, I can never help but feel that the image of Hekate on my shrine is somehow smiling, just ever so slightly - and this gives a feeling of both comfort and pride.

Other ways I celebrate this Holy Day include buying dog food/treats and leaving them in the dog charity collection bin at the local supermarket; I often find random inspiration to create something in some form or other, be it writing or art and these things become offerings. I have left meals at Crossroads which I try to make as safe and degradeable to the surrounding environment. There are undoubtedly more ways worship Hekate at the Deipnon and I'm sure I will discover some of them in time.

"Torch-bearing Hekate holy daughter of great-bosomed Nyx."

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Seven Days of Hekate: Third Times the Charm!

Well what a pain that I STILL haven't managed to sort this little project out from the last time I tried to start it but after the first month of a new year with the usual post-holiday downers like bills, weight issues, work and all that I'm happy to have some time to myself (the next 5 days actually) where I will be getting on top of all the things still outstanding!

So to get us in the mood I'd like to share a little inspired writing which will get the ball rolling and then over the next few entries I'll be talking about the Deipnon, my finished Hekate tattoo, my review of "Hekate Nytcipolus" by Jade Sol Luna, sharing my experiences from my carrying out of the Rite of the Red Cord!

"Robed in Night and crowned with Starfire
I give praise and thanks to You
On this, the Darkest of Nights.
In the crisp silence of the Witching Hour
I set the candles flickering,
the incense smoke spiralling to the heavens.
The drum of my own heart beats out the tempo
to my words which rise and fall,
calling out to You!
Flanked by dogs with eyes like burning jewels
You come across, from above and from below.
Three roads meet where You stand
Mighty and regal with torches in hand.
Fierce protectress and nurturing guide
Whose very presence inspires
both joy and fear!
Tonight beneath a sky of flickering diamonds,
the scent of jasmine lingering on tendrils of smoke
I offer up sweet wine, poured into the Earth;
a simple feast - banquet of the lost and hungry - at Your sacred place.
By words, flame and deed
Hear me and be joyous as I praise Your fathomless Mystery
Hail Hekate!"