Treading The Mill


Unlike raising the Cone of Power, this practice is less about raising energy, and more about creating a vortex.
Also known as the Widdershins Walk, this is the way to descend to the Wasteland, where we can work directly
with our most ancient Ancestors. Craftings involving treading the Mill are generally concerned with moving
between the Worlds or opening a portal between the worlds in order to affect an exchange of some sort. An
excellent example is what we do at Samhain, when we open a gateway into the Mound to allow the spirits of the
recently departed — gathered by the Wild Hunt — to be escorted into the Land of the Dead where they will be
placed in the Cauldron of Cerridwen for rebirth.
This is not a technique that anyone would call fun, except that we all seem to be addicted to doing it… it has
some superficial resemblances to laying the Compass, except that it is always widdershins (well, there is a
deosil version, but used for very specific reasons), and there is no attempt to focus on an outcome or a “result”.
In fact, it is important for the participants to surrender to the brutality of the physical process, leaving just the
Mill leader to guide and control it.

Physically, there are two ways of doing the Mill that I have learnt — I’m sure there are others too. The first of
these is the way that the Clan of Tubal Cain does it. They place a focal point, such as a candle, at the centre, and
extending their left arms, point at the flame with their index finger. Turning their head to the left, they sort of
cock it backwards, so that their left cheek is over their left shoulder and they are able to sight down the length of
their arm and finger. This is described obliquely in the Cochrane letters, alluding to the way a cow looks over
her shoulder, and it results in both a visual effect (from gazing at the candle flame surrounded by swirling
circular movement) and a slight restriction of blood-flow to the brain, which combine to create a powerful
trance state. This technique is most effective for oracular work, or for seeking answers and guidance.
The other method, which we use in Briar Rose, is mostly used for taking the entire coven to the wasteland or
some other realm, where they interact with entities or do a crafting together. It opens doorways in a very
physical, visceral way, such as when it is done to open the Mound at Samhain.

The technique this time is to tramp around the circle widdershins, with your eyes loosely
focused on the back of the person in front of you. The centre of gravity is lowered by
bending the knees and curving the back so that everyone is in a crouching gait, and each
step includes swaying to the side where the foot is planted, giving everyone a shuffling,
side to side gait, so we almost zigzag around the circular path. Like the Compass, the goal
is to get the feeling you are pushing against an obstacle and sinking into the ground. A slow
chant is used to keep everyone in step like a chain gang, because it is important that nobody
has a single thought about the goal or purpose of the task at hand, but rather they all
mindlessly stumble along behind the one in front, as if they are joined by a chain to the
leader. The Mill does not speed up — if anything, it is likely to slow a little — but it gets
more and more intense, until the participants are feeling real discomfort, bordering on
agony as the pressure build. When the leader feels the whole thing is ready to burst, they
yell “down!”, and everyone drops to the ground and releases the pent-up tension and
energy, which is directed by the leader to open the portal, push unwanted things into the
void, or upon up the vista of the realm being visited

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