Thirty years ago I got my first tattoo. In those days getting a tattoo was an act of transgression, a permanent mark that told the world you were no longer conforming to the rules of average society. Only bikers, ex-cons, sailors, and outlaws had tattoos. My mother cried. It was the second body mod to become part of my praxis. It was my declaration to the world that I had crossed over a threshold from which I did not intend to return. It was a Jack o Lantern.
The crossroads have always figured heavily in my cosmology, I prefer the fork to the fourfold cross, but more on that later. Whether reflective of the stang or the trident there’s always one path less traveled, that’s my path. Usually. It was a crossroads decision that lead to my tattoo and body modifications. In addition to being transgressive acts of claiming autonomy over my own body, they were sacred acts of Jungian individuation. If as the scriptures claim the body is temple of the soul, should not the temple be reflective of the soul therein contained? I was permanently marked, a symbol of a pact I had made with myself.
I used to believe that I identified with Crossroads Gods and Guardians of the Gates, but time and fortune have taught me these are lonely positions. With the exception of St. Peter most of the spirits associated with the Crossroads have taken on other attributes or simply use the power of this place for their own purposes. One of the first Gods I ever worked with or invoked was Hermes. Initially this was because of my astrological chart, but also Hermes’ innate state of flux.
In my mind Hermes was the Crossroads, not just the physical location, but the quintessential nature. Traveler between realms, border crosser, lord of transaction; whether by guile (thievery) or negotiation (commerce), and according to some traditions father of magic. The embodiment of flux; this was my spiritual ideal and subsequent model for the Mutant Mage. It would be many years before I realized that Hermes and I had other deeper more esoteric aspects in common. As I dove deep into Chaos Magic in the 1990’s Hermes became simply Lord Flux in my pantheon and there he stayed for nearly 15 years. Yes, in my life I rendered flux static.
During my excursion into Chaos Magic; I became fascinated with tantra. Not just the use of sex as a path to enlightenment, but the whole idea of confronting boundaries, both societal and personal. Here among the Naths and Aghoris I found a philosophy of transgressive acts perpetuated to reach union with the Divine that seemed mirror my own beliefs about Witchcraft. Nothing seemed to symbolize this better than the Crossbones.
The Crossbones, a warning, harbinger of danger, and indicator of possible death. I already knew by my occasional forays down the Poison Path the difference between medicine and poison wasizes s the size of the dose. And this type of caution must be exercised everywhere one confronts the Crossbones. Much like fire eating (do not eat fire) requires a special kind of stupid as my teacher described it, so too must one possess a certain deliberation to proceed past the Crossbones. Madness and Death do indeed come to those who push past without fear or preparation. This fork in the road leads off the map; here there be monsters. Unlike the Daimons of Goetia; these monsters have no names and no concern for you. How could a fool like me resist?
It is my extreme fortune that like Brer Rabbit; I can fall backwards into the briar patch and emerge with only a few scratches and bruises. Not only should I have died on several occasions, I am pretty sure I did die; twice. By the grace of the almighty alone am I still here. So I sought the Crossbones and pushed my boundaries and those of others as well. This became my habit, like the toad I underwent rebirth aftet rebirth, shedding my skin with each new incarnation until one day I noticed something most peculiar.
I had become marked by the Crossbones. Like the pirates, bikers, and witches I admired, I had become not just a servitor of the Old Black, but something feared and shunned. Being able to see the highest Divine and the Fire Below, I found the narrowest path of all, the one that lead to the Cross.
As I rediscovered Hermes Cthonos and Sol Invictus this narrowest of all roads not only opened before me but called me forward. Just like the Saint of Necromancers and the Son of Man, I realized the Cross was the only way forward; my only other choice was Death and even she was not ready for me.
The Cross just like the Crossroads is a place of decisions and just like the Crossbones it is a warning. The most famous cross of course is the Cross of Golgotha upon which the Nazarene hung. The truth, like most things, is much messier. The Cross predates the Nazarene and was associated with both Bacchus and Tammuz. Both were also gods of wine and bread interestingly enough, and were known to die and rise again. Here is a mystery worthy of contemplation. The Cross has many meaninings, but it is it’s connection to Tammuz and Bacchus with which I am most concerned. Members of the Cults that surrounded these two recieved the mark of the Cross upon their foreheads. This was done with palm ash from the temple fires (sound familiar?) It was used to denote those iniated into the Babylonian Mysteries. This is the true Cross, the Cross of initiation.
There I was embodying the Crossroads, marked by the Crossbones, when I came on my knees to the Cross of initiation to discover my personal praxis. Down a serpentine path marked with trials and tribulations I moved forward with eyes wide open with a mixture of awe and surety of all the monters and beauty I possessed inside all bound with a hint of madness. This is what I discovered. The Cross is also a sword that seperates us from our delusions.
The Cross requires sacrifice, and much as a knife or a sword must be fed, so too does the Cross demand blood, the fluid of passion. Here’s the deal one must either surrender one’s passion or give it over to the service of others. It is only through this willing, open eyed sacrifice that true initiation can begin. Once one gives sacrifice of oneself on the Cross, a path has been chosen at the Crossroads and the mark of the Crossbones will warn others for as the sciptures say this person has died to this world. This is one who is truly free; one who has passed through the mysteries of Crossroads, Crossbones, and the Cross. Do not cross this one.