A Sand Book, Poems by Ariana Reines

Reviewed by Mogg Morgan

 

A Sand Book, Poems

Ariana Reines

ISBN 9780141992693 (2019) 388pp, Penguin UK £12.99 

 

“To you? There are nectars hidden in your body. Suck your own tongue.” (Son of a Jar/Ariana Reines) p.4

I’ve been reading this book for a couple of weeks now, like any collection of poems; it’s quite an intense journey and best accomplished in manageable sections. So the collection is arranged into chapters, which makes that easy, although I still have a few to go, I thought it was time to write something of it now, and then finish it off in my own time. Maybe it’s my imagination but it does read like a continuous narrative, I’m guessing its talented author intended it so. It feels like being a fly on the wall in the author’s magical playroom or reading the record that magicians often keep. I was offered this book to read because the publicist said it covered a number of occult themes, as indeed it does, and they seem to be increasing, as the book progresses. 

One theme that I recognised as it recurred several times looks like what’s become known as tantra. The little couplet with which I opened this review is a good example. Like one of those tight packed sutras, one finds in old Hindu texts from the eponymous sutra period, during which the Yoga and Samkhya sutras were conceived. Each couplet is a distillation of a whole lot of complex, magical ideas. They are like seeds, waiting to germinate in the mind of the reader; which is another common Tantrik metaphor.

Poetry was and indeed is a common form of magical exegesis – so the results of magick are often expressed in bardic speech. That’s the result but the methods also involve the tongue and the mouth. The tongue that intercepts and thereby tastes the elixir, thought to emanate from the brain, dripping down the spinal column. The tongue that tastes the elixir in another’s mouth, usually a lover. And as Tantrik texts always have at least three possible meanings, the elixir can also be that which flows from the so-called “lower mouth” – all very Tantrik. I’m sure I haven’t exhausted all the meanings.

So returning to A Sand Book, which again might also allude to those marks in the sand made by spirits, who cannot speak apart from in signs and symbols, thus are geomantic.

Not all the poems have this same magick, but they do all steadily build up a picture of the poet as she moves from one moment to another in her life, interesting, disturbing, mundane, magical. And, as my partner remarks, the poet is very readable with a knack of painting vivid pictures with her tongue. So, being in the mood, she read the whole poem to me as the valediction to our ritual; and though it is quite long it slips off the tongue. 

The author’s magick is astrological and involves a technique she called “lazy haver eye” which I think might be a kind of dissociative, defocused perception of her world, which is also often ours. She even uses a poem to tell us elegantly about her influences – thus in the title poems of “Arena” she says “Because I had studied the dust bowl, the architecture of Delphi, Judaic and Islamic legends of Moses, Midianite theology, the history of Haiti, Aryan horsemen of ancient Iran, the collapse of Sumerian agriculture, Kundalini yoga, etc etc.” p18

 

The fine title poem of “Gizzard” – is inspired as it is by the destruction of the Yezidi sanctuaries at Sinjar – so she takes modern events and sees the mystic background.

 

“ I’ve seen the iridescence 

On the surface of spilled oil, I’d seen

Rainbows. Until the fan spread

Across my vision I had mistaken

Peacocks for decoration

Were they secretly Quetzalcoatl

The phoenix, guardians at the gates

Of Eden …” p121

 

As I write this review when the sun goes down, it will be Thursday, and today I found another favourite poem in a chapter called Thursday, headed up by what I believe is the veve, or mystical diagram (perhaps yantra) for voodoo Loa (Maman) Brigitte. It begins with an invocation, which I’m am sure I will use again:

 

“Jupiter

Jupiter

Jupiter

Jupiter

 

Bring me my gold

My serpent my rod

Pour hot gold into my teeth

Bind my silver tongue

Soak it in soft white gold

Jupiter

Unbind my tongue Jupiter 

And loose it on the world” p 191

 

Later we learn, in the same long poem, how the author will marry Jupiter. Then someone, perhaps the Mama, says she has the rings. The poet protests that she is already married to Mercury but no difference. In the poem we come full circle to where:

 

“Your tongue is in my mouth

I will suck you through the god in my mouth

 

He lives in the back

I am his student

 

I will suck you through the god in my mouth

Whatever man you say you are .”p 192

 

Which seems as good a place as any to finish this review of a highly recommended collection which I am still analysing and learning from. 

 


Mogg Morgan works in Oxford for innovative ‘new edge’ publisher Mandrake,  described as a ‘respected literary catalyst’, and responsible for the discovery of many new authors, including his friend and one-time mentor Jan Fries.

Mogg regards himself as a practitioner-cum-scholar of all aspects of occultism. He was a Wellcome research student at Oxford, where his teacher was the late Professor B K Matilal, a widely respected expert on South Asian thought. Over the years Mogg has been exploring the connections between the popular magick of ancient Egypt and its continuation/crossover with the living magical traditions of the Middle East, and the Kaula/witchcraft of south Asia and beyond.

We have some free copies of A Sand Book, to give away – enter your name & email here.
Winners picked at random on last day of August

About The Senses

Working with horses taught me how to see and hear, training as an aromatherapist I have developed a very strong and sensitive sense of smell, and once your sense of smell is good it usually affects the sense of taste: It doesn’t matter how beautiful the cake looks if it smells bad, you will not touch it. Or, it doesn’t matter how tasty the cake is, if it looks like shit, you just won’t eat it…

In these 2 examples, you can see how the sense of sight affects our senses of taste and smell and vice versa.

In the last few days, a very old and sick mare taught me how to use all my senses at once.

Now I know that this mare knew her time was up, and having no owner to care for her, she chose me to walk her last walk with her.

A few days ago she showed me, in a horsey sign language kind of way, that she is not well. Soon after I could smell her illness on her breath,  then I could hear her illness when she was gasping for breath, all this time she was craving for touch and when I did so I could feel her body losing tension and relaxing.

Yesterday, her condition had worsened, I could see it in her eyes and stressed body, I could hear her tight breath and cough, I could smell her infected lungs and she was still craving for touch…

Today I took one look at her and I just knew her time is up…The senses were so clear I could even ‘taste’ her infection.

I took her out of the stable, thinking the fresh air will ease her pains. She seemed happy enough so I left her and went back to get something from the stable. About 10 minutes later I could hear her calling for me.  There was no sound, I just knew, I rushed back to see her wobbling on her legs, collapsing… I could smell and taste death by her, waiting, I could see death vibrations all around her, she gave a real fight for her last breaths, but it was her time and she left riding on death vibrations into the sun.

Just before she died I held her head in my arms and it was very strange to feel a body vibrate from being alive into death. At that moment I could feel all my senses turn into one: I could see what I hear, what I smell, taste and feel, It was an explosion of life and death.

Thank you old mare for teaching me so much in such a short time, may you ride forever in the green tall grass of the Autumn skies.

 

Rap to Kali (based on Great Hymn to Kali)

Kreem, Kreem, Kreem
Huum, Huum
Hreem, Hreem,
Kali Svaha / Dakṣiṇe Kali
Kreem, Kreem, Kreem
1. O MOTHER and lover of the Destroyer of the three cities, beautiful with the beauty of the dark rain clouds. Those who recite, Your mantra, their speech, whether in poetry or prose, like that of those who have attained all powers, issues with ease from their mouths.
Huum, Huum
2. O MAHEŚI, You with great and formidable ear-rings of arrow form, who bears on Your head the crescent moon. If one, even of poor mind, at any time recites but once this doubled mantra of yours, they become all powerful, conquering the Lord of Speech and the Wealth-Giver, and charming countless beautiful people with lotus-like eyes.
Hreem, Hreem,
3. O KĀLIKĀ, O auspicious Kālikā with wild hair, from the corners of whose mouth two streams of blood trickle. Those who recite this double mantra of yours destroy all their enemies, and bring under their subjection the three worlds.
4. O Mother with gaping mouth, Destroyer of the sins of the three worlds, auspicious Kālikā, who in Your upper lotus-like left hand is a sword. and in the lower left hand a severed head; who with Your upper right hand makes the gesture which dispels fear, and with Your lower right hand that which grants boons; Those who recite your name, meditate upon the greatness of Your mantra, possess in the palm of their hands, all eight of your powers.
5. Kreem Kreem .
O MOTHER, they who recite Your charming Bīja, twice, and thereafter, O Smiling Face, O lover of the Destroyer of the Deva of Desire contemplating Thy true form, become themselves the Deva of Love whose eyes are as beautiful as the petals of the lotus which Lakṣmī holds in Her playful dance
6. O full breasted DEVĪ, whose throat is adorned with a garland of heads, They who meditating recite any secret and excelling mantras together with Your name, her moonlike face is ever before them, and as speech goddess she wanders, the lotus-like eyed Kamalā plays
7. O MOTHER, enjoying Mahākāla, even a fool becomes a poet who meditates upon you, naked, clothed in space, three-eyed Creatrix of the three worlds, whose waist is beautiful but from whose skirt hang dead men’s arms, and seat on the chest of a corpse, left in the cremation-ground.*
8. THOSE who meditates on you, the lover of the destroyer, seated in the cremation-ground, strewn with funeral pyres, corpses, skulls, and bones, and haunted by female jackals howling fearfully; youthful, in sexual union with your consort, will be revered by all and in all places.
9. WHAT, indeed, O Mother, can we of so dull a mind say of your True Being, which not even the gods know? Yet, despite our dullness and ignorance, our devotion makes us talk of Thee. Therefore, O Dark Devī, forgive us our folly. Do not be angry towards ignorant creatures such as we.
10. IF by night, I, your devotee, unclothed, recite your mantra, whilst meditating on you with dishevelled hair, when with my Śakti youthful, full-breasted, and heavy-hipped, such a one assumes all powers and dwells on the earth as a seer.
11. O lover of Shiva, as (a Sādhaka) I recite daily your mantra over the course of a year, meditating the while with knowledge of its meaning. My heart is fixed upon your union with the great Mahākāla, above whom your are, knowing every pleasure he gives upon the earth, holding all great powers in the fingers of his lotus-like hands.
12. O MOTHER, you give birth to and protect the world, and at the time of dissolution withdraw to yourself the earth and all things; therefore you are the supreme god Brahmā, and the Lord of the three worlds, the consort of Śrī, and Maheśa, and all other beings and things. Ah Me! how, then, shall I praise your greatness?
13. O MOTHER, people there are who worship many other Devas. They are greatly ignorant, and know nothing of the higher truth, (but I) desire Thee, the Primordial Power, who enjoys the great Bliss arising from union (with Śiva), and who are worshipped by Hari, Hara, Viriñci, and all other Devas.
14. O KĀLĪ, lover of the mountain god. You are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. You are all. You are one and beneficent. What more can be said in praise of you, O Mother? Show favour towards me, helpless as I am. By Your grace may I never be reborn.
15. I, O Mahākālī with wild hair, shall in the cremation-ground, naked, intently meditate upon you, reciting your mantra, and with each recitation make an offering of a thousand Ākaṇda flowers with seed, thus shall I become, a sovereign of the earth.
16. O KĀLĪ, on Mars day at midnight, in the cremation-ground, having uttered your mantra, I make a devotion to the hair of the Śakti; then I become a great poet, a master of the earth, and mounted like an elephant.
17. I as devotee, am placed before you, meditating again and again upon your abode, strewn with flowers, a Deva with a bouquet of blossoms, reciting your Mantra, Ah! I shall become on earth the Lord of celestial musicians, and the ocean of the nectar will flow in my poetry. And when I die, I shall live in your supreme abode.
18. If at night, when in union with my lover and meditating with you with centred mind, O Mother with gently smiling face, who sits on the breast of the corpse-like Śiva, lying on a fifteen-angled yantra, deeply entwined in sweet amorous play with goddess Mahākāla, then I become the one who consumed the God of Love.
19. O DARK One, wondrous and excelling in every way, who becomes the accomplishment of all worshippers living in this world, those who freely make bloody sacrifices** to you, offering in worship, greatly satisfying flesh.
20. O MOTHER, whosoever, being a controller of their passions, eats ritual food, and, being proficient in meditation at your feet, rightly recites your mantra many times by day, and who, afterwards at night, naked, united with their lover, makes your great mantra many more times; they shall not die.
21. O MOTHER, this Hymn is the source of your mantra. It sings of your real self, and enjoins us to worship your two lotus Feet. Whoever reads it at midnight or at time of worship, even occasionally, receives the elixir of poesy.
22 May lovers with large eyes, like those of the antelope, impatient for love, ever follow me. Even the powerful do as I ask. I becomes like Jupiter. My enemy fears me as if I were a prison. Living in continuous bliss, this devotee is liberated when yet living, and is never again reborn.
(Sahajanath’s new rendition of the great Hymn to Kali, for Navaratri 2019)

* Bedroom
** Orgasm

A Shoulder to Cry On (For Navaratri) Miryamdevi

Shakti-
That’s how you named me
And yes why not
I am beautiful
And wise
Like Shakti
I am kind
funny
sexy
and happy
I love
and I am loved
In the mornings
when I wake up
by your side
two suns rising in my eyes
Shining light so bright
I can see your body
sparkle with golden dust
I could see your heart
melting into the stones
When we kissed the
Golden dawn
For 15 days and nights
We are shining bright
Happy
Dancing
Kissing
Telling little love stories
to each other
The stories of Kameshvari and her
ankle bracelet
Duti The impossible girl messenger
and ChitraMalini-
The bright one
The full one
The one who initiates her twin sister-
Kali
Tonight is the 15th night of
sweet love
Long kisses
Passion and desires
I am Shakti
The lady of desire
Messenger of love
Bright garland
The kiss of life
I am Shakti
My eyes shine like
Two bright suns
but if you look closely
You will see
Two black suns rising inside
I am Kali
I am the dark one
You can only see me
when the moon is full
I am Kali
My eyes are 2 black suns
Which will darken your days
And blacken your sight
I am Kali
I’ll spread my darkness
Slowly slowly
You will not even notice
When it touches your heart
But on the 7th day
When a black tear will
Drop on your shoulder
You will know only confusion
and darkness
Your heart will be broken
Only then you will know
That The Terrible ,
The Formidable
Has been awakened
I am Ugra
I am darkness
From now till the end of the cycle
You will know only darkness
The night sky will grow darker and darker
You can only see the artificial stars
I am Ugra
I am a night crawler
I will dim the lights
In your heart
One by one
Till you won’t
Be able to see
Only darkness
Only me
And on the end of your cycle
You will not
Be able to tell
Was it Mita
Am I alive !

The Spider

Featured

Last night I dreamt of a huge spider sitting on the wall and looking at me. I have no fear of spiders but neither got the need to have a pet tarantula. When I woke up I couldn’t help the feeling that the spider in my dream was trying to tell me something, to deliver some kind of totemic message.

 So what does the spider mean to me?

The spider symbolizes a few things:

  • Patience
  • Receptivity
  • Feminine energy
  • Creativity
  • Weaver of life’s fate
  • Shadow self, dark aspects of life or personality

The spider has 8 legs that resemble the 8 points of chaos, the all-seeing eye. The Hunter – the spider weaves its web so very finely and transparently, so the prey won’t notice it and will fly straight into the deadly trap. When weaving its magical trap, the spider is actually weaving its life story, home, food and creation.

The spider, though not reptilian, is somehow connected. The Serpent represents the male/yang/kundalini energy; the spider the feminine. Like the serpent who is the keeper and guardian of knowledge, so is the spider guarding fiercely at the gates of the unknown.

A while ago, I saw a spider catching a fly. Watching the spider hunt was mesmerising and made me think of how we humans are conditioned to think with our emotions, and feel everything. By doing so we are actually missing the beauty (and maybe the secrets) of nature.

Nature is like a spider, weaving its web of flora and fauna all over, and when it is time, hunting them down with fire, storms, floods etc.

Sometimes nature is the prey as when we cut down the forests or pollute the air and the sea.

The spider reminds me of my skills as a huntress, as the creative weaver of ideas and dreams, or as my dear friend Steve D. wrote in My Spidey  Sense is Tingling, “she skillfully walks her web rather than getting caught within it like a fly!”