The Newtown Pentacle

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Tales of Calvary 4- Triskadekaphobic Paranoia

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Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 04 by you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Near the crest of one of Calvary Cemetery’s hills, can be found what I’ve described in previous posts as “a tree that is fed by some morbid nutrition”.

A convenient afternoon vantage point for photographing the Johnston mausoleum and a frequent destination, a Hallowmas (nov. 1) stroll through Calvary revealed some interesting goings on beneath the swollen boughs of this loathsome landmark.

note: I returned the following Sunday (nov. 7) for further observations, to this alien vista of titan blocks and sky flung monoliths.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A summit on hallowed ground, at one of the highest elevations in the cyclopean landscaping of Calvary Cemetery, the tree juts out against the sky.

If you seek it, you’ll find it… but that’s the way of things- isn’t it?

Implications, remarks, all sort of obsequious comments will bubble forth when you arrive at it, and then- you’ll notice where its roots lead and the smile will drain from your countenance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Several monuments from heterogeneous eras – and representing disparate social classes- abut the tree, with its taproots squeezing into the ground between them. At once beautiful and shocking, the effect of the scene is macabre, and it is redolent with implied horror.

That’s when I noticed the stick affixed to the tombstone, and the multi-colored chords tied across the weathered monuments.

(Now, I’m not implying -what the links clearly suggest- what I think might be going on here, I’m just saying that it fits my worldview)

from donaldtyson.com

Knots were not widely employed by Renaissance magicians working in the tradition of high magic, but the magic of knots was known to them. Cornelius Agrippa made several references to the classical lore of knot magic in his Occult Philosophy.
In Book I, Chapter 41, he wrote about a witch who was mentioned by the Roman writer Apuleius (2nd century AD) in his novel The Golden Ass. She attempted to attract the love of a young man by tying what she believed to be his hair into knots and burning it: “she ties those hairs into knots, and lays them on the fire, with divers odours to be burnt…”
In Book I, Chapter 51, Agrippa referred to the Natural History of the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (1st century AD), writing: “It is said that some do cure diseases of the groin with thread taken out of the weaver’s loom, being tied in nine, or seven knots, the name of some widow being named at every knot.” The reference is to Pliny, Bk. 28, Ch. 12. Pliny added that the thread must be tied around the “part affected,” presumably around the base of the scrotum and penis; or perhaps around the hips.

Knots were not widely employed by Renaissance magicians working in the tradition of high magic, but the magic of knots was known to them. Cornelius Agrippa made several references to the classical lore of knot magic in his Occult Philosophy.In Book I, Chapter 41, he wrote about a witch who was mentioned by the Roman writer Apuleius (2nd century AD) in his novel The Golden Ass. She attempted to attract the love of a young man by tying what she believed to be his hair into knots and burning it: “she ties those hairs into knots, and lays them on the fire, with divers odours to be burnt…”In Book I, Chapter 51, Agrippa referred to the Natural History of the Roman writer Pliny the Elder (1st century AD), writing: “It is said that some do cure diseases of the groin with thread taken out of the weaver’s loom, being tied in nine, or seven knots, the name of some widow being named at every knot.” The reference is to Pliny, Bk. 28, Ch. 12. Pliny added that the thread must be tied around the “part affected,” presumably around the base of the scrotum and penis; or perhaps around the hips.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I have a few theories about all this. Let’s start with the most likely- its some sort of perfectly ordinary groundskeeper practice… but…

This is kind of a weird thing, going on, here in Calvary Cemetery.

from sak-yant.com

A basic Love Spell

Items: 3 cords or strings (Pink, red, green)

Ritual: Take the cords and braid them together. Firmly tie a knot near one end of the braid, thinking of your need for love. Next, tie another knot, and another until you have tied 7 knots. Wear or carry the cord with you until you find your love. After you have found him (her), keep the cord in a safe place or give it to one of the elements.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Observe that the stick has been stripped of bark, its been worked. All the little nubbins and splinters are bark free, and it appears to have been scraped clean – carefully – with a knife.

from hexeengel.blogspot.com

Knot/Cord: Weaving intent into a cord, whether by braiding, knotting, etc.. Most often done on the self, so there’s limited ethical concern.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Then there’s the knots. Weirdly intricate knots, tied in some sort of semi translucent plastic chord. Mostly red, but the oldest stone had a blue one that just trails off (as you can see in the second photo, above).

from being0fthemist1.multiply.com

In mythology, we have the Fates who wove, knotted, and cut the strings of life. We also have the famous Gordian Knot which Alexander was said to have cut in two with his sword.

In not so long ago times, there were men and women who were called blowers of knots. They would recite incantations while tying knots. The most famous of these incantations were done for wind knots.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These knots are overly complex and curiously suggest an unknown logic. Do the number of loops, or their shape, correspond to some numerical or allegorical theme?

from harborguides.com

Although they are widely considered the stuff of legends, Sea Witches are a true phenomenon and still exist today. The myths portray them as dark sorceresses who control the elements and associate with phantoms and other unsavoury creatures of the deep. But cast aside superstition and you will be closer to the truth.

Real Sea Witches practise the arts based in Moon Lore and weather magicks. This makes perfect sense as the moon, of course, controls the sea. Centuries ago it was believed that these women could, and would, raise winds and create storms. They were still being burned 200 years ago. However the truth is that Sea Witchery is a Pagan practice that actually works as one with the chaos of nature, not because they associate it with evil but rather because they recognise chaos as a major part of the environment. This is particularly true of the ocean.

They neither practice ‘white’ nor ‘black’ magick but what is termed ‘grey’ magick. This is where the balance between light and dark are maintained to establish control of or draw power from the elements at their disposal. Sea Witches are a solitary bunch as maintaining this balance is immensely difficult for most individuals. They are regarded as very powerful practitioners. Such is their strength that they can perform, using virtually any sized body of water from lakes, rivers and ponds to bath tubs, sinks and bowls of water.

There most famous power is their control of the wind. This is traditionally carried out by the use of magickal knots. Sailors would buy or be given a small length of rope with three specially tied knots in it. These were wind-binding knots and were tied to ensure safe passage. By untying one knot a sailor could release a gentle, south westerly wind, two would ensure a strong north wind and three knots would summon a storm.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

These cords are wrapped purposely around the stones. For the blue one to just be hitched on with no purpose makes no practical sense.

from wikipedia

Knot spells have been created for cutting pain, binding love, and traveling safely. The string or cord can be made out of almost any material, but natural fibers such as hair, wool, hemp and cotton are preferred. Although ladders are often created for as part of a specific spell, many wiccans keep a personal ladder. In this case, the knots or beads are used to keep track of repetition in a spell or prayer, similar to Rosary beads.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just so you know what I mean when I say- “by a morbid nutrition”.

from stregheria.com

Witches are much sought after in affairs of the affections between lovers, and between husbands and wives, and to restore love between parents and children. They use an ” acqua della concordia ” and an ” acqua della discordia.” To bring back an unfaithful lover the witch goes at night to the cemetery, digs up with her nails the body of an assassin, with her left hand cuts off the three joints of the ring-finger, then reducing them to powder in a bronze mortar, she mixes it with ” acqua benedetta senza morti,” bought at the chemist’s. The lover is to sprinkle the road between his house and his sweetheart’s with this water, and this will oblige the beloved one to return.

Another very powerful powder is made by scraping the left humerus of a dead priest; the powder is then made into a small parcel and hidden on the altar by the server at a mass paid for by the witch. When the priest says: ” Cristo eleison” she must mutter: ” Cristo non eleison.” Such a bone was shown me by a witch; it had been purchased for fifty francs from one of the servants of a confraternity. It had belonged to the witch’s mother, who was also a witch, and had been stolen from the objects given by her before dying to the priest to be burnt. It must be the left humerus, ” the right having been used for giving the benediction.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some of these shots are from a week later, when I returned to the spot to see if things had changed, or if anything was missed. The first shots were done at the apex of a full Hunters Moon, which corresponded neatly with Halloween in 2009. The second were done a week later, when the moon had begun to wane gibbously indicating the transit from Samhain to Yule.

from catholicleague.org

January 11 & 12, 1997

Queens, NY – Almost 130 headstones were overturned at Calvary Cemetery. Police investigated it as a bias crime. Previously, on Christmas Eve, over 400 headstones were overturned along with statues, including one of Mary. In still another incident, more headstones were knocked over and a mausoleum window smashed with a sledgehammer.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I had blurred these angles badly, the week before, and wanted to include these knots in this post…

from time magazine, 1949

The 200-odd union workers of Calvary, one of the country’s largest Roman Catholic cemeteries, were bargaining for a raise of about 20%—a five-day week for the same wages ($59.40) they now get for a six-day week. Their employers, the trustees of Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral, offered them a raise of about 3%. The gravediggers turned the offer down, and negotiations came to a stop. On Jan. 13, they went out on strike, and the coffins began to pile up at Calvary. After burial services, the coffins were laid down in shallow uncovered trenches. Last week when the number of unburied dead topped 1,000, the cardinal called out his seminarians.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, the sun was on my side this time, and that’s when I noticed something.

from wikipedia

Rituals, such as these, were common practices associated with necromancy, and varied from the mundane to the more grotesque. Rituals in necromancy involved magic circles, wands, talismans, bells, and incantations. Also, the necromancer would surround himself with morbid aspects of death, which often included wearing the deceased’s clothing, consumption of unsalted, unleavened black bread and unfermented grape juice, which symbolized decay and lifelessness. Necromancers even went as far as taking part in the mutilation and consumption of corpses. Rituals, such as these, could carry on for hours, days, even weeks leading up the summoning of spirits. Often these practices took part in graveyards or in other melancholy venues that suited specific guidelines of the necromancer. Additionally, necromancers preferred summoning the recently departed, citing that their revelations were spoken more clearly; this timeframe usually consisted of 12 months following the death of the body. Once this time period lapsed, necromancers would summon the deceased’s ghostly spirit to appear instead.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A fourth stone had been adorned.

from wikipedia

During the 20th century interest in witchcraft in English-speaking and European countries began to increase, inspired particularly by Margaret Murray’s theory of a pan-European witch-cult originally published in 1921, since discredited by further careful historical research. Interest was intensified, however, by Gerald Gardner’s claim in 1954 in Witchcraft Today that a form of witchcraft still existed in England. The truth of Gardner’s claim is now disputed too, with different historians offering evidence for or against the religion’s existence prior to Gardner.

The Wicca that Gardner initially taught was a witchcraft religion having a lot in common with Margaret Murray’s hypothetically posited cult of the 1920s. Indeed Murray wrote an introduction to Gardner’s Witchcraft Today, in effect putting her stamp of approval on it. Wicca is now practised as a religion of an initiatory secret society nature with positive ethical principles, organised into autonomous covens and led by a High Priesthood. There is also a large “Eclectic Wiccan” movement of individuals and groups who share key Wiccan beliefs but have no initiatory connection or affiliation with traditional Wicca. Wiccan writings and ritual show borrowings from a number of sources including 19th and 20th-century ceremonial magic, the medieval grimoire known as the Key of Solomon, Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis and pre-Christian religions. Both men and women are equally termed “witches.” They practice a form of duotheistic universalism.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Another byzantine knot, exhibiting a complexity unnecessary for any common task. What can this all be about?

Nearby, a tugboat moving its cargo languidly across that gelatinous slick of black water- called the Newtown Creek- triggered its horns, and the marbles of Calvary reflected a choral scalar echo which reminded one of the hebraic ram horn trumpet called the Shofar.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

But, as always, Calvary Cemetery is not a place you want to be – when the burning thermonuclear eye of god dips behind the shield wall of Manhattan- in tenebrous darkness, here at the fossil heart of the Newtown Pentacle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator, shaken by psychic exsanguination, and possessed by that unshakable desire to just lay down upon the soft invitation of the grass… and rest… for just a little while… experienced after a stay of no more than 90 minutes in Calvary- began to move quickly toward the gates on Greenpoint Avenue.

Away from a city which is not dead, but eternal lies… dreaming… and after strange aeons…

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 13, 2009 at 1:53 pm

13 Responses

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  1. By the time I reached the apex of the hill, I felt like I needed to lie down like the Cowardly Lion, in the poppy field from The Wizard of Oz. The grass seemed to be coaxing me to slip into its spongy softness. It was almost as if my spirit was being pulled downward. Although my physical body was exhausted, I pressed on, fighting the increasingly strengthening draw to lie among the intered.

    There are lots of trees in Calvary, and although I know I have not seen every one, that tree was the only tree in the area that “is fed by some morbid nutrition”. Its roots looped like coils of a huge underground serpent encompassing the headstones and what lay…lies beneath. I like trees. This one I wanted to get far, far away from.

    The sun was setting. It was time to go, and quickly.

    sweetpea212

    November 14, 2009 at 9:22 am

  2. mitch . . . all i’ll add here is . . .”wow” well done.

    tugster

    November 24, 2009 at 7:18 pm

  3. [...] Tales of Calvary 4 – Triskadekaphobic Paranoia [...]

  4. [...] of Newtown. Today, the Doherty monument in First Calvary gets its turn. There is nothing “odd” about the monument, in fact the reason I call attention to the thing is the supernal beauty [...]

  5. [...] Tales of Calvary 4 – Triskadekaphobic Paranoia [...]

  6. This is a great series, I’m really enjoying it. I’ve spent about 5 summers working as a groundskeeper at Calvary Cemetery. It was my job to cut around the graves using a weed whacker. I can offer some insight as to the origin of this twine.

    The type of twine observed in the images is of the type used on the spool of the weed whacker. While I am not discounting your theory, it is my belief that the arrangement of these twine is nothing more than the work of a groundskeeper. The days are long and hot so a worker will revel in the opportunity to take a break in the shade of a tree. The pieces of twine in these photographs are remnants of the finished twine in the weed whacker spool. Workers have to replace this spool relatively frequently because of the need to cut against the base of the stones. The complex knots can be attributed to boredom, same with the whittled stick. Also, in one of the photos it looks like the purpose of the twine is to keep the stone from toppling over.

    …Or this could be the work of witches.

    Adam

    March 17, 2010 at 1:07 am

  7. [...] a Newtown Pentacle reader who once worked at Cavalry Cemetery offers some insight on the mysterious knotted cords I observed back around Halloween. I have another update, in the works, observed there yesterday- more on that next [...]

  8. [...] does not match those on the monument. The second would be to ask you to read through this posting- Tales of Calvary 4- Triskadekaphobic Paranoia from November of 2009 which describes this odd arrangement in some detail. In the comments thread [...]

  9. [...] Tales of Calvary 4- Triskadekaphobic Paranoia [...]

  10. [...] Long time readers know the ridiculous lengths normally gone to at this- your Newtown Pentacle- to explain and detail the meanings of these ritual sites and objects which may be found around the City of New York. Remember the weirding works at St. Michael’s Cemetery, the Grand Lodge of the Freemasons in Manhattan, or the witch knots at Calvary? [...]

  11. [...] Remember the witch knots at Calvary, which were described in “Triskadekaphobic Paranoia“? [...]

  12. [...] which has been observed as the site of occult activity in the recent past. The postings “Triskadekaphobic Paranoia” and “Update on the Calvary Knots” discussed the tree and its locale in some [...]

  13. [...] postings “Triskadekaphobic Paranoia” and “Update on the Calvary Knots” discussed the tree and its locale in some detail. Most [...]


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