Daily Archives: October 2, 2011

Dragons In Heraldry

Dragons In Heraldry

 

Even through times of persecution, the dragon did not fade from sight. In European countries, and China in particular, the draconic image remained alive in stories. European families, especially used the dragon in coats of arms. The European art of heraldry and coats of arms still employs the depiction of dragons in its art. The Prince of Wales has a red and gold dragon in his coat of arms and on his flag. The families of de Drago, von Drachenfels, de Draek, de Dragon de Ramillies, and Dragomanni, among others, all have a dragon on their coats of arms, as did the family of Sir Francis Drake.


In heraldry, a dragon with two legs is called a wyvern; a dragon without wings is a worm; a serpentine dragon with wings but no legs is an amphiptere; a dragon with wings and legs is termed a guivre. Further meaning of these draconic images was determined by how the dragon was posed: rampant (forelegs raised), a passant (one foreleg raised), statant (all four feet on the ground), wings endorsed (upright over the back), displayed or depressed tail nowed (knotted). Even further definition was determined by color: or (gold), gules (red), sable (black), or vert (green).

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Dragons In Alchemy

Dragons In Alchemy

 

In alchemy, the dragon was considered to be matter, metal and the physical body. Often mentioned in conjunction with the dragon was the dragon’s sister: spirit, metallic mercury, and the soul. Ancient alchemy used the picture of a dragon or winged serpent as one of its many secret symbols. A common symbol of spiritual alchemical work was the dragon or serpent holding its tail in its mouth, an unending circle of eternity. Near this circled dragon was written the Greek motto “en to pan,” or “all is one.” The fabled Philosopher’s Stone of alchemy was also considered the One Which Is All. This Stone was closely connected in ancient writings with the Great Work of alchemy; the Great work simply means humankind becoming God, or merging with the Supreme Creative Forces within, thus completing the cycle of human growth by returning to the Source.

Jung wrote that the alchemists considered the winged dragon as female, the wingless dragons as male. Jung also considered water in dreams and analysis as unconscious spirit or the water dragon of Tao. This water dragon of Tao symbolized the yang embraced in the yin, or balanced growth in spirit. In Chinese Taoist symbolism, the dragon was seen as ‘the Way,” the bringer of eternal changes. Often in was depicted as guardian of the Flaming Pearl, or spiritual perfection. Joseph Campbell also speaks of the winged dragon or serpent as being the balance between Earth and Spirit. To the Chinese, the dragon was a potent symbol of luck and power. Silver dragon amulets were worn to help gain these qualities.

“Dancing with Dragons”

D. J. Conway

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What are Dragons?

What are Dragons? 

Many cultures around the entire world have stories of dragons in one shape or another. Some are depicted as huge wingless serpents, other more like the traditional picture we of the Western world have of dragons: heavy bodied with wings. Dragons are shown with four legs, two legs, or no legs at all. Some dragons were said to have arrowhead-pointed tails, while others have spiked knob on the end of the tail. Some have twisted horns, others long antennae rather like those of moths. But the dragon, in whatever form, is there in thousands of folk stories, regardless of the description attached to it. Humankind has a subconscious knowledge of the dragon and its powers that even the assumed thin veneer of so-called civilizations cannot remove.

I discovered dragons and their potential powers years ago as a child. Being open-minded and noncritical, as most children are, I enjoyed the company of dragons, faeries, elves, and similar beings on a daily basis. My activity, however, was deeply frowned upon as “imagination.” I soon learned to keep quiet about my special ability in order to stay out of trouble with adults. Soon I began ignoring these others beings because I was afraid of making a slip and talking about them. Ridicule and punishment were severe when this happened; the subconscious negative programming had begun. When I finally rebelled against family control, I found the inner door not only shut, but locked. It took years of conscious retraining and experience before I could again understand how to call upon these beings, especially dragons, and use their magickal powers.

Negative programming has created havoc and unhappiness in a great many lives. This type of programming is inflicted upon others because of fear and a desire to control. The perpetrator forgets, or does not care, that they are dealing with an individual who has the right to her/his special abilities, dreams and goals in life. This happens not only to children, but to anyone who is less than sure of themselves, dependents upon someone else, or unable for whatever reason to leave the situation and people who are causing them great mental and emotional pain. If these beleaguered souls could make contact with their own special dragons, they could build the inner power to either remove themselves from the problem or at least refuse to accept the guilt, fear and control being placed upon them.

But what are dragons? Are the real or imaginary? In the Western world, our word dragon comes from the Greek drakon and the Latin draco. Drakon comes from a verb meaning to see, to look at, or possibly to flash. Certainly in most legends dragons spend their time watching, whether it be treasure, territory, or the supposedly captive maidens. The word “dragon” is used in many different fields, as diverse as astrology, astronomy, alchemy, magick, heraldry, psychology and the study of dreams. From the time that humans began to record things, dragons have been mentioned.

“Dancing with Dragons”

D. J. Conway

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Neo-Paganism: What is it?

Neo-Paganism: What is it?

Author: Crick

Neo-Paganism. What is it?

There is an old adage that no one is an island unto himself or herself. Which I believe is a prelude to the adage that misery loves company.

As a witch I walk this world as one who truly feels alone. Am I an island? Absolutely not, just a tired old soul who sees the world as it truly is.

I see the same level of hypocrisy within the pagan community as I see in the organized religions perhaps because so many who call themselves pagan today were members of those organized religions yesterday. Or perhaps it’s just because people in general tend to be apathetic when it comes to any real effort to grow spiritually.

I see the same insecurities in folks regardless of their chosen beliefs. By insecurities I refer to the way that folks claim to be individuals and yet they live and die each day by what others are doing and/or say. Such folks spend more of their time making judgments about others then they do asking how they can better themselves spiritually.

And so in general, we as a species continue to mouth the words and yet do just the opposite.
There are those who claim to be pagan and yet spend most of their time increasing the artificial lifestyle they have created for themselves. They do this knowing full well that such an artificial lifestyle comes at the expense of Mother Gaia. Raping and pillaging Mother Gaia is something that the human species is very adept at. If only so much time and effort were directed at improving the condition of our world. But then to do that we as a species would have to stop being so self centered and selfish and actually live up to the values that we claim to engage.
And so exactly what defines Neo-Paganism in today’s world?

Is it simply a way of being different in ones mind and yet the same in ones actions? Much like the teenager of every single generation who seeks to establish an individual identity even though in all reality they are following the same trail already unfolded before them.

Is Neo-Paganism, which in all reality is a revival of that which existed openly before the advent of organized religion, a true attempt to break away from the established mode of society as it presents itself today?

Do those who call themselves pagan in today’s world have the desire and discipline to break away from the established mindset?

After all, such folks come from a society where no one is to blame, unless it is the other guy who is at fault. They come from a world where the ego seems to reign supreme over human humility. Even though such displays of egotism is simply an acknowledgement of ones personal insecurities.

In some parts of the pagan community, paganism is used to control the hearts and minds of others in much the same way that organized religions attempt to do so. There are certain pagan groups who seek to set themselves as above others who reside under the same pagan umbrella. Is such personal control over others and elitism the definition of Neo-Paganism?

Do folks in today’s mystical society have any established concept of what it is that they believe in as pagans?

Judging from all of the maneuvering to be seen as the “master” by so many who really have no clue, and judging from all of the infighting amongst various pagan individuals and groups, one has to wonder if there is any coherent concept that one could apply to the description; Neo-Pagan.

Such a general concept should apply not only in description but in action as well. Granted there are “individuals” who walk the walk, but these folks are often set upon by those who claim to follow the same tenets as they apply to the general parameters of paganism. And so the hypocrisy continues unabated, for these folks are within the minority of a minority belief system.

And so one has to wonder if Neo-Paganism is truly an effort to establish a nature based belief system which is empowered by a people who actually put forth effort to acquire a higher sense of self. Or is it just a continuation of the same lack of principles and personal discipline that defines modern society, albeit under a different title.

I personally believe that the jury is still out on this last musing. In my personal opinion, if one is to follow the path of paganism in whatever form, then one needs to develop a sense of unbiased honesty. For in my mind, true paganism begins with one’s own spirit. There are no masters in this weary world of ours. We are all simply students of life, each seeking the lessons that befit them. Perhaps once we realize this we can begin the real work of identifying our own faults and worry less about the faults of others. Only then will we be able to separate ourselves from the status quo of today’s world and perhaps then we can add a real meaning to the definition of Neo-Paganism.

Are you one of those who believe that Neo-Paganism is all about Light and Love? Are you being realistic to yourself? For in all reality our pagan ancestors were quite adept at mayhem and war. One has to realize that there has to be dark in order for there to be light. This is polarity in its truest form. And even the various pantheons around the world contain those who were of an unsavory nature. It is how we balance these two aspects that define our lives regardless of which path we choose to follow. But one without the other is simply an empty facade.

In closing, how many hours this past week did you sit in front of a TV or a computer? How many hours this past week did you walk amongst the trees and listen to the birds sing or gaze up at the moon at night with unadulterated love? It is by these simple actions that we as “individuals” contribute to the definition of Neo-Paganism.

Are you content with your contribution?

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Samhain Verse

Samhain Verse

Dionysus
by Pat Califia

The grapes must be cut down
Or no one but the bees
Will be drunk next summer.
They are full of juice,
Tight-skinned like the testicles
Of a boy with his first shadowed chin.

The harvesters move, row by row,
Unburdening the vines
And making the bees angry.
The grapes are trampled, then put away
While the darkness works its magic.

Not all harvests are so orderly
Comes a day when chaos pours out
Along with the blood of the grape.
Threshing ground and trampling vat
Are abandoned for a wilder dance
In the green meadows, high on the hills.
Where the elder trees of the forest
Still remember their sisters,
Who once cast their leaves and shadows
Upon the floor of the valley.
The plow may subdue the earth, for now.
But the wilderness remembers its ancient boundaries.

And as the sun goes down, Dionysus appears
To dance among his feral women,
His own life safe
Only as long as they can sieze and rend
Anything else athwart their path -
And the wine holds out.
The dance as if they were trampling
The fruit of the vine,
But the red stain has crept
Much higher than their ankles.
They wear golden bells and the skins of leopards.
The hunt has made them happy at last.

If the women cannot kill the god
Who pretends to direct them,
They will take the head of any man
Who struggles to remain upright
When madness has become a virtue
And everything forbidden is permitted.
Backs straight as if they had forgotten.

A lifetime of toiling over field and stove,
The prancing shrieking women dress
Their fores in ivy and demand
They bend their knees or hit the ground
To service what can never be tamed altogether.

The darkness works its magic.
The grapes must be cut down.
A plowshare may be hammered
From a sword,
And just as easily turned
Once more into a weapon
With enough force, enough heat, and
Hard punches from a hammer.
Women are so dangerous
When they become overheated.

Only the profligate might survive this night
And waken eager to drink
Still more of the grape god’s blood,
To help them forget the fences
That were so easily trampled down
Within the walls of this temperate town.

(Reprinted with permission from Pat Califia’s newest book, Diesel Fuel. Pat Califia’s WWW page address is http://www.patcalifia.com)

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Thoughts on Black Magick

Thoughts on Black Magick

by Sylvana SilverWitch

article

Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?
Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2

Black magick, the black arts, the left hand path_ the words conjure a reaction, a chill, raise the hair on the nape of your neck. I invariably imagine zombies, the voodoo walking undead or secret virgin sacrifices. I think, too, of dolls with needles stuck in them for malicious revenge spells, of death, injury and illness.

First, let’s examine magick; what is it precisely? There are numerous interpretations, and each person you ask will have their own. My favorite definition of magick is that of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, one of the founding members of the Golden Dawn. He characterizes magick as: “The Science of the Control of the Secret Forces of Nature.” I do like to commune with those secret forces, and to fancy I might have some influence, however small, over them. Ha, ha, ha!

Another explication is from the famous old grimoire, The Lemegeton, or The Lessor Key of Solomon. It states: “Magick is the Highest, most Absolute, and Most Divine Knowledge of Natural Philosophy, advanced in its works and wonderful operations by a right understanding of the inward and occult virtue of things; so that true Agents being applied to proper Patients, strange and admirable effects will therefore be produced. Whence magicians are profound and diligent searchers into Nature; they, because of their skill, know how to anticipate an effect, the which to the vulgar shall seem to be a miracle.”

Old Uncle Al (Aleister Crowley, pronounced Cro-lee) had another one of the finest: “The Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” This leaves a lot of room for doing what you please, but Uncle Al was especially big on free will anyway. I believe he would, even now, approve of black magick.

Another one of my favorites is that of a fellow, described by Doreen Valiente, who said in her book An ABC of Witchcraft: “Black magick can be defined as what the other fellow does!” Isn’t that the truth!? I have listened to this from a lot of people, who really can’t tell you what black magick would be – except a spell to kill someone – and I asked lots of people this question! They can’t describe it themselves, but it’s what “So and so” does! They know it when they see it!

When I sat down to compose this article I speculated, what would people want to apprehend about black magick? I would want to understand – what is it specifically? This is not always simple to define, the edges are blurred in some cases.

So, what actually is black magick? Is it all of these, or any of them? According to the Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft: “Magic is variously described as white, black and gray, but actually it has no color. Magic is neutral and amoral. It can be bent to good, evil or ambiguous purposes, depending on the intent of the practitioner.” “The distinction between white and black magic is fairly modern,” according to occultist A.E. Waite, “and depends upon sharp contrast between good and evil spirits.”

According to certain people, there is apparently no such thing as “black” magick. Other people have differing opinions, like The Modern Witch’s Spellbookby Sarah Lyddon Morrison has a whole section, along with the charms and talismans, love spells and potions, that describes black magick and its applications. It is complete with specific spells: “to torment, but not permanently injure,” or like “punishing a faithless lover,” or “to cause a lot of agony,” and “how to make a marriage unhappy.”

Wait, there’s more: “To maim and kill,” and detailed instructions on “how to dig up a coffin” to get your hands on some coffin nails (presumably for other weird spells). To Sarah’s credit, the chapter on black magick includes a segment about ethics and contains plenty of admonitions about what not to do, and how you should never render black magick in haste. It goes on to caution you about what happens if you’re not positively certain about your victim or whether they actually did what you think they did, or deserve the results your efforts.

So, I guess it’s okay with her, as long as you heed the instructions – this seems to be the theory of quite a few people outside the Northwest. Speaking of the Northwest, I have discovered that people here are inclined to be a bit more conservative (or politically correct), than they are ordinarily.

When I began in the Craft, it was much more permissible to use your art for advantage or protection or even for retribution: the sort of things that are, today, considered by many to be black magick. This whole thing about the politically correct manner in which to do magick, or whether it’s okay to work magick at all – positively annoys me! I say, “What variety of witch doesn’t practice magick?” I have known a number of them here in the Seattle area. Hmmmmmmm. Maybe that’s one of the distinctions between “Wiccans” and “Witches” – I am a Witch, with a capital “W.” I am not, however, a Wiccan, and that’s okay.

I remember when the domain of the witches was just that, the dark side. We were outside the edges of society anyway, and we knew we had power and we weren’t afraid to use it. People came frequently to implore me to work a spell for them: to bring back an errant lover, to get a particular job, to get back at a person who had harmed them. I usually sent them away with instructions on how to resolve the situation themselves, though in certain circumstances it was acceptable to do the spell for them. What happened? Why is it not okay anymore to exercise your power? Why has the Craft become so boringly P.C.?

“The driving force behind black magic is hunger for power.” So says Richard Cavendish in The Black Arts,one of the first books about magick that I bought when I was about sixteen, thinking that “this must be what it is.” Cavendish also says, “The magician sets out to conquer the universe. To succeed he must make himself master of everything in it – evil as well as good, cruelty as well as mercy, pain as well as pleasure.” This makes sense, right? According to almost everyone that I have talked to, those who have been in the Craft for over 10 years, they all started out in search of power. Or at least that’s what they thought at the time. Many began by practicing black magick and proceeded logically, after getting their butts kicked (proverbially or not), to the Craft as we now know it and what they ended up finding is their own power.

When I was younger, and did not know any better – I, too, believed any magick that would work was great. If you could get someone to do what you wanted or to fall in love with you, or whatever, you were a clever witch. It is much easier to do what is now referred to as black magick when you’re young; you frequently have a lot of emotion invested in it, so there’s no wonder a neophyte might be successful with it.

My personal definition of black magick, if there is such a thing, about which I am still ambiguous, is: working magick that is meant to hurt, harm or to cause the loss of free will or to hinder someone else or a situation. Further, it can be just pulling on someone’s energy without his or her permission, and knowledge. Sometimes this is not done maliciously or mean-spiritedly, for instance working love magick to get a specific person, or healing a person who maybe needs the rest that illness provides. So in my opinion, you should be very careful. It works – it works well so you better be very sure! There is so much negativity floating around in the atmosphere that it’s easy to gather that up and direct it without much effort or skill. Should you do it? I can’t tell you that, but I don’t recommend doing anything questionable unless you really know what you’re doing and are absolutely willing to suffer the consequences of the threefold law of return. Because the problem is, it will come back to you, and you should be ready to have your butt kicked by it.

In my class, I teach that there’s no color to magick, that it all just is and it’s a matter of the intent that creates the Karma. I do my best now to avoid situations that might get me into a position where I’d be inclined to have to use my magick in such a way. I also teach my students personal responsibility, and I practice it myself. I would hope that all grown-up witches would do the same. That is the secret, in my opinion. There are not many people willing to take responsibility for themselves and their actions. I have heard many people complain about this and that, and how they wish it would be different to accommodate them. I say stop complaining and do something for yourself! Use magick if you will and remember to be mindful of your intent!

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Feng Shui Tip of the Day for October 2nd

Sunday, October 2, 2011

People who choose furniture with ornate carved legs are fanciful dreamers. They dread leading ordinary lives.

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Number of the Day for October 2nd: 1

It’s a take charge day in which you should rely on yourself. Thanks to your focus and independence, a project may finally reach completion, or you may start on a new challenge. You may have an important introduction to someone new. Material losses are likely, however, so make sure to remember your keys, wallet, etc.

Fast Facts

About the Number 1

Theme: Masculine, Creative, Independent, Aggressive
Astro Association: Mercury
Tarot Association: Magician
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