Monday, July 12, 2010

The Toad

I've always loved toads. I talk to them, I feed them, and I briefly kept a "toad" I purchased from a pet store (in reality a Cranwell's Horned Frog) as a much-beloved pet before it decided to try and fit it's food dish into it's stomach and choked to death. Yes, Cranwell's are not very smart frogs.

For most of my life I've rescued frogspawn from receding puddles, and later released them in our native pond. Sometimes they were toads, sometimes frogs, and once - Salamanders. I like to spend time every evening (weather permitting) sitting on the porch, sipping a cup of tea, and bashing crickets with my sandal before tossing them to the waiting chorus of toads.

Recently I shocked, amused, and disgusted a few people by rescuing a small toad from a busy sidewalk, perching him on my table, and doing a tarot reading for him outside of starbucks. His reading, incidentally, said he would meet a new friend, travel to a new home, and find love. Who was I to argue with the cards? I brought him home to my pond.

I discovered, through recommendations, the works of Andrew Chumbley (and David Shulke), and eventually stumbled upon ONE and The Leaper Between. I was enthralled, and intrigued. With my affinity for toads, and my time in the occult community, it's a wonder I had never heard of the Waters Of The Moon (at least -as such- *) prior to this.

On one hand I was drawn to the concept, on the other - understandably cautious. No sooner had I heard the term "toadmen" than people began warning me of the dangers involved. Of how I could assure I'd never have another night of sound sleep if I did it. Of how people engaging in the Toadbone rite "absque superiorum privilegio" end up insane, dead, or worse. And so I said "Well, I tell ya what. If a GOLD toad shows up on my front stoop, lets me handle it repeatedly, and keeps coming back I may just take that as a sign of privilege, how's that?"

And a gold toad decided to start showing up. I would call it's color a "curry cream", not overtly argent, but it's golden in toad terms. It doesn't care if I pick it up, but if anyone else goes near it it hops away. It gave me pause.

I've been a Witch now for a very long time. Doors close, doors open and one becomes aware of things they had not previously considered. One also recalls, with new clarity, Mysteries shared long ago.

* My initiator used to talk about how certain infatuations or predilections of mine were dangerous, or at the very least would not bode well if I followed them through. His assertion was that while Chaoism was grand, Chaos didn't pay the bills, or keep you sane. The Occult could as easily devour you as uplift you. And he would give me very angry looks when I said "I am enriched by death."


  1. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said that [fill-in-the-blank magical item/practice] would make a person insane, go blind, die, etc. I read this about the Abramelin rite recently. I've heard it about my preferred tarot deck, the Thoth deck. Etc.

    I went out to the woods last week & saw a couple things that made me feel good: two stands of bright red toadstools and a black toad. I was happy.

  2. Well, the Thoth Deck is a bit of an ass. Or rather, mine has always been. Unless it's lovingly wrapped in a silk hanky with a bundle of herbs and a pat on the bottom it throws "Death", "Ruin", "Destruction", "Card Featuring Only a Giant Middle Finger which is Coincidentally Shaped like a penis, preparing to kill my dog while doing my mom"
    Would it cause insanity? Hell no. Uncle Al might've been a bit of a nutter, but I hear crazy isn't contagious.

    What makes people insane, and this is probably a good topic for a full, lengthy, rambling, angry, post - is being insane to begin with. Carlos Castaneda put it right: "One goes to knowledge as he goes to war". I.e. you have to be right in the head and well-armed. Otherwise, yeah, welcome to nowhere slow.

  3. If something doesn't have an element of risk attached to it, where is the narrative and potential for learning something?

    What a great response to the "But you could go insane or die!" whinging of the toadbone naysayers :)

    Eh, that which does not kill me makes me stronger. That old saw.

    We have frogs in this area, but they keep to the canal which traverses town. On a clear night, if there's not much noise from the road, I can hear them croaking.

  4. I love your charecterization of the Thoth deck! I felt that way about the Ryder deck, actually. The Thoth deck often tells me the same things, but luckily not death and destruction, no evil eye. Mostly stuff about my business, and mostly positive. It only ever gave me a creepy/crazy answer once, and that was one of those two-path readings. "This way to the crazy bullshit; other way not crazy, no bullshit." Sure made choosing which path to take easy! Most of the time, it feels like an uncle giving me practical advice and encouragement with maybe a bit of nagging.

    Some crazy people are attracted to magic, that's for sure. I think that's partly because they recognize that some aspects of magic have a deep relationship with craziness--the seeing-meaning-in-everything kind of magic. At least some kinds of craziness are about seeing meaning in everything, whether it is there or not. They fit together well.

  5. I thought you might like a peek at a toad bone ritual that was part of a dramatisation on British TV for kids (no, really).

    Toad Bone Ritual

    First part of the series (which is all up on youtube). Set around the Uffington Chalk Horse and Wayland's Smithy and chock full of folklore and paganism. Did I mention this was kids TV?

  6. I love this post.

    Here is my take on staying "safe": if I never did anything risky that could hurt me/kill me/make me crazy/cause me pain? I'd never leave my house.

    It sounds like you have great gut instincts, and aren't prone to fooling yourself. Go with the gut I'm betting you'll be fine.

    The "being crazy to begin with" is a great point also. I don't think that the occult 'makes' people crazy. I think that, in some cases, it draws people with certain unstable tendencies and gives them a turbocharged system for acting out their crazy and having a language for framing their crazy.

  7. @ Halfrida - I've actually seen that one before. I found it fairly fascinating that a lot of magickal practice is wrapped up in children's entertainment.

    @Norma - It's true. If we never took risks, we'd never get rewards. I've taken quite a lot of risks, and only had a few things bite me in the ass. I accepted those bites as well-deserved, and I think that also makes a huge difference.

    I think I'll actually make a post about insanity/instability and magick. Seems a good place to kick off "more weighty and informational" stuff.

  8. Wow, good post, thoughtful insights, magical content, and really well written too.

    I hate you.