‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for January 24th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

There must be a great many persons who have questioned their own wisdom in having fought for a principle. To so many, it seems all they gleaned from it was the title “different”. Isn’t this why so many refuse to stand up for what they believe? We look at them in disbelief, the idea that someone is trying to attract attention. If they are not twitted about their actions they are treated with cold indifference which can be even worse.

It seems that if persons have the strength to say they will fight for a certain truth, they must also have the strength to fight alone without depending on those around them to tell them how they should conform. They must not be embarrassed to be counted as unusual in the pursuit of their particular belief.

But the individuals who find themselves alone in the stand they take must remember that if it is truth they are following it will eventually win and at least they can live with themselves. Not everyone can say that.

H.W. Beecher has written, “It is often said it is no matter what a man believes if he is only sincere. But let a man sincerely believe that seed planted without ploughing is as good as with; that January is as favorable for seed-sowing as April; and that cockle seed will produce as good a harvest as wheat, and is it so?”

Sincerity, like trust, must be rooted in those basic truths that are for the good of everyone. If that which we sincerely believe in and live by is truly good, then the results will speak so loudly that all who really want to will see. Until we sincerely want to know good and do good, we will never know it. And until we do, we only half live
_____________________________________

Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 24

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 24

“Always listen to what the Elders say.”

–Dona Josefa Medrano, HUICHOL, SIERRA MADRE, MEXICO

In school we have been taught to go to the encyclopedia when we need information about certain subjects. From the time we are little, we have a natural tendency to seek out role models. When we need information about living we tend to seek out books about living. These maybe self help books. The world is full of information. For the Native people, we have our Elders. All races have Elders. Our lives will run much smoother when we listen to the Elders. They don’t always tell us what we want to hear but they always tell us what we need to hear. The Elders have the ability to make the truth sweet.

Creator, thank You for the Elders. Help me this day to listen to them.

Enhanced by Zemanta

January 24 – Daily Feast

January 24 – Daily Feast

Other people have no more power than we do. They may have the knack for making us think they can do anything. A little adjustment down in our minds will stop the thought that we must cope and compete with those who have greater advantages. If we believe anything holds us back, limits our ability, we can know beyond a doubt that more ability resides in us than we will ever have time to hone and develop. When we are doing something we love to do, it comes naturally to mind our own business and to polish our own skills. Love for the right work takes it out of the role of labor and competition and makes it into a work of art. Then, the little competitive self is dissolved into a powerful giant that didn’t realize how much he was growing.

~ Your nation supposes that we, like the white people, cannot live without bread and pork and beer. But you ought to know that He, the Great Spirit and Master of Life has provided….for us in these spacious lakes….and woody mountains. ~

PONTIAC, 1762

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Daily Motivator for Jan. 24th – Making adjustments

Making adjustments

Success is never achieved in a straight line. Although it’s great to  carefully put together workable, realistic plans, life doesn’t always go  according to plan.

Yet even when conditions change quickly and dramatically, success is still possible. To succeed in such a world as this, you must be willing to constantly adapt.

When something fails to go the way you planned, it’s not the end of the  world. In fact, things could eventually turn out to be even better than you  planned.

Regardless of what happens or fails to happen, you can choose to successfully  work it into your path forward. Instead of making judgments about what you  cannot control, make adjustments in those things you can control.

It might be nice if everything were to play out according to your plan, but  the thing is, it won’t. There will most certainly be surprises, so you might as  well find a way to make positive use of them.

Don’t give up on your goals or dreams just because things change. Adapt, make  adjustments, and make every turn of events move you forward.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Daily OM for January 24th – The Whole Is Greater

The Whole Is Greater
Women’s Circles

by Madisyn Taylor

Women’s circles perfectly illustrate the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Women’s circles are formal or informal gatherings in the interest of bonding, sharing energy, and creating ritual. The origins of women’s circles are ancient, but their applications are as modern as the women who participate in them. There are no hard and fast rules as to how to form a women’s circle or how to run one. Some circles invent their own agendas, rituals, goals, and ceremonies, while others borrow ideas from sources as far-ranging as Buddhist or Native American cultures. Some circles are open to new members at all times, while others prefer to practice with a set number of members, closing the circle once that number is reached.

In a typical gathering, the women who are present sit in a circle. Generally, for the sake of cohesiveness, one woman is chosen to lead the circle each time. Allowing a different woman to lead each meeting allows for a multi-perspective approach to the process. One circle leader may choose to create and teach a ritual involving using the voice to release negative energy, while at the next meeting another leader may feel inspired to lead a silent meditation. On the other hand, a circle may choose to be more focused over the long term and gather around a particular intention, such as working together to determine a course for healing Mother Earth. When the healing feels complete, the women may choose to stay together with a new focus for their work, or the circle may disband.

At their best, women’s circles perfectly illustrate the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The work that can be accomplished within the loving embrace of our sisters is far more powerful than what we could achieve on our own. If you are not already part of a circle, you may want to start one. Follow your intuition as to the women with whom you’d like to work, reach out to them, and set a date to begin. After that, you can simply allow the circle to create itself. Men need not be forgotten when it comes to circles and they, too, can come together to form their own circles and create strong bonds and healing in a way that is specific to all men.

The Daily OM

Enhanced by Zemanta

Practicing What We Preach

Practicing What We Preach

Author:   Kricket  

Many pagans have been ridiculing each other’s paths. Though they claim to be open and accepting of other views, they are human, and therefore opinionated. When hearing of a path that disagrees almost entirely with their own, many pagans will feel a need to explain how the other person is wrong. It is seen every day within the community in the ridicule of the openly intolerant practices of certain branches of Christianity. Although the majority of the pagan community has a higher average of open-mindedness than the rest of the world, many individuals see only their own way as the right way.

What these people lack is simply the desire to understand. No longer are they the questioning student, brimming with curiosity for the mysteries of the universe; they feel that they have advanced enough to preach these mysteries to others. Like John Travolta admits to Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, these pagans and people in general talk more than they listen, and they should be trying to listen a little more often.

Recently, I had an encounter in a bookstore that caught my attention more than usual. I was in the New Age aisle, looking for a specific book about Norse Magic. There was a man on my right who made me slightly uncomfortable. He felt wrong. I tried not to show my discomfort, because I prefer to not draw strong conclusions about people I do not know.

Soon enough, he began talking to me. He seemed polite enough; he was not trying to get my number or ask me out — which is a major step up from many other guys who try to start a conversation in a store — but he was more interested in the types of magick that I do not particularly like to engage in. I was not going to persecute him for being interested in Aleister Crowley’s books or for having an interest in the more macabre aspects of witchcraft. I knew that he would just be another person who was trying to teach me. It was entirely up to me if I wanted to practice in the same way that he did.

Our brief conversation consisted of he asking me what type of magick I practice and then he seemed to assume that because I focus on natural magick and working with herbs, I am naturally just beginning my path into the more metaphysical side of life… and so I would be easily drawn in by the more “adventurous and powerful” magick that he practiced.

I found the situation to be amusing. He could not have known that I have been practicing for four years now and was practicing without knowing what exactly I was doing for three years before that. I felt that I could watch and listen to him without feeling threatened. I already know what I feel comfortable with.

Unfortunately for the man, the lady who entered the aisle during our conversation also did not know that I have a good sense of self and that I am not going to suddenly go to the “dark side” just because a man says it is more “powerful.”

When the man left to find me a book on Voodoo magick, the woman began telling me what kind of trouble his type of magick would bring. She began recommending many books that were for beginners. I attempted to communicate that I already had or have read the books, but my efforts were lost on her.

When the man returned without the book, he recommended a few other books that did not fit how I practice magick. I did not tell him that I had no intention of reading them. He was not my problem, nor my master, not even my friend or acquaintance since I did not know his name.

The woman on my left began speaking to him the moment he finished talking to me. She apparently deals with spirits and has performed an exorcism or two in her life. At first she asked him if he ever saw results from the magick that he practiced. He answered that he did, and that began a recitation of The Rule of Three, which he said he already knew.

She then began railing to him about how he is opening doors that he will not be able to close. Oddly enough she then told him that for every door that he closed two more would open. Out of these doors that he could not close but every time he closed them two more would open, would come demons and evil spirits. According to the woman he was going to become possessed if he did not stop practicing the type of magick that he did and his life would be affected negatively for every time he sought power instead of balance and peace.

I would be lying if I claimed I felt that the man had a moral compass that pointed north or that his path to Spirit was going to be without its own repercussions, but even so, I felt an urge to defend him from the barrage of righteousness. The woman talked him out of the store; she followed him, preaching her beliefs the entire way to the door and then he left and she stayed to collect her children.

This incident reminded me of how even people who believe themselves to be accepting and of an open mind often disregard what is being told to them. Many of the people I meet in stores prefer to lecture rather than communicate, especially when they are speaking to someone who is younger than they are.

I know many people who have been frightened away from socializing with other pagans or joining covens because they were never allowed to talk to other pagans. They were talked to.

Most of the pagans that I know like to believe that they are more open to other people and other practices than the members of the more mainstream religions, especially Christianity. They also seem to believe that they allow people to find their own way to Spirit, no matter that person’s age. The woman and the man both proved to me that, as pagans, we are no better than any other human. We often hold strong beliefs, see the wrong in others before attempting to identify the wrongs in us, we can ignore other’s opinions, and we too can judge people based solely off appearances.

The man saw my herbs as a child’s magick, while I see them as an intimate connection to my world. The woman saw the man as a danger to himself, and thus a danger to her, but she forgot that the man has a right to choose his own path in life… just like she does. They both saw my youth as a sign of a still weak character and a paucity of my own knowledge that I could share, but neither bothered to ask me how long I had been practicing or show any interest in me of any kind other than to place their opinions on me.

Most disputes are results of a lack of understanding for the other party and a lack of personal grounding. Usually asking the simple question “Why?” will not only prevent a heated debate without any true evidence against the other side, but it may also spark an interesting conversation that will widen the horizons of both parties. From my experience, it will also give each person a sense that they are worth something and they may pass the courtesy on to the other people they meet in their lives. If people truly wish to be as nonpolluting as possible, energetically as well as physically, they should be more attentive to the light of other people, even if that means dimming their own ego for a few moments.

Not all pagans are like these two people from the store, but as a group, I have witnessed a general feeling of aloofness. Being a pagan does not elevate one above the regular human, instead it should ground us to the world that we live in. The general pagan seems to have lost the idea of practicing what they preach; in our public practices, we are saying the words without the intention, and it is about as effective as it would be in our personal practices. In order for the community as a whole to develop a positive reputation throughout the world, we must learn to be positive within the world.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Responsibility, Free Will and the Craft

Responsibility, Free Will and the Craft

Author:   Rhys Chisnall 
 
Responsibility is a byword of Initiatory Craft and as Craft initiates we are expected to be coping adults and be able to take responsibility for our own actions. We don’t believe in the Devil and so can’t pin our own shortcomings at his ‘supernatural’ door; nor indeed do we seek as Vivianne Crowley says in ‘Wicca: the Old Religion in the New Age’, an unrealistic sainthood. Rather we seek to take responsibility for our own world. I was told during my training that ‘Witches happen to life, life does not happen to Witches’. Sure, ‘sh*t happens’, says another much quoted real world centred Craft saying, but we have a responsibility in how we deal with life’s inevitabilities. This article examines whether we can have responsibility.

Responsibility seems to imply free will, after all most people would agree that we need to be free to make choices and decisions about our actions in order to be held responsible for them. It seems intuitively unfair to lay blame and responsibility for a crime if the perpetrator had no choice in committing it. An individual could hardly be blamed for holding up a bank if they had a bomb strapped to them by a criminal who told them that the device would be exploded killing them (and others) if they deviated from the plan. We would not hold them responsible, as they had no choice; they were coerced in to doing what they did. Likewise if a person was brainwashed or hypnotised into committing a crime we would be loath to blame them as we would we feel that they were not responsible. They were forced to do things against how they would have normally acted. The opposite is also true, when someone chooses to do something particularly brave or good, or copes with a debilitating disease with dignity and grace we praise and admire them. We view them as responsible for their actions. When someone chooses to put others needs before their own, again we either praise them or consider them mugs for the responsibility for their choices.

Responsibility need not have a moral aspect as it can also be seen as self-empowering. If we take responsibility for something then it comes into our sphere of control; we can do something about it. If we blame other people or events for our misfortunes we are effectively saying that we are powerless. We are putting ourselves in the role of the victim and that is not something that sits easily with Witchcraft. Looking at responsibility in this sense also seems to imply free will. Responsibility seems to suggest that we need free will to make the choice to take control of our own lives, to influence where life is taking us thus making us powerful individuals. It is in this meaning of responsibility where we find one of the empowerment sources of the Witch and a fundamental cornerstone of Initiatory Craft thinking.

Free will is an important concept in many different religions. For example in Christianity free will is a doctrine and is required for someone to either accept the teachings of Jesus Christ and be saved, or reject them and be damned. It is viewed as a gift from God and without it God would not be able to pass judgment, as sinners would not be responsible for their actions. It is a foundation of Christian belief and causes those Christians interested in philosophy huge headaches. Likewise to believers in the New Age movement and popular Wicca, who adhere to the simplistic morality of Western Karma, free will is an important but self-contradictory concept. Free will is required to make choices on actions which will later go on to influence what happens to that person in terms of fortune or misfortune caused by the accumulation of negative karma from bad acts and positive karma from good ones. I am sure you can see the potential for contradiction.

But does free will exist? This is a subject that metaphysicians have explored over the ages and although there is not a complete consensus (such a thing does not exists on anything in philosophy) , free will seems extremely unlikely. What is more it is extremely unlikely in any possible view of the world. It seems that free will could not exist in a deterministic universe as revealed by scientific method nor even in a ‘possible’ universe were random non caused events could occur.

First let us take the scientific, deterministic paradigm of how the Universe operates. British Post Feminist Philosopher Dr. Janet Radcliffe Richards explored this in her book ‘Human Nature after Darwin’. If we ignore the Quantum world for a moment (where random events do occur and where probability rather than determinism rules) science works on principals of determinism, effects have causes and those causes have other causes all the way back to the Big Bang or Quantum world. This means anything that you choose to do has to have a cause, which itself must have also been caused. As such any action you perform has causes that extend back way before you were even born. There does not seem to be any room for free will as everything was set in motion by the big bang. Your choices are subject to a chain of causes extending back beyond your existence, so how could you be held responsible, how could you choose freely to do anything?

Science makes no assumptions of free will. A recent example is an article on teenage responsibility in the ‘New Scientist’ (25th Sept 2010) . Jessica Hamzelou discusses recent research into the growth and development of the brain in young people with its implications on responsibility. In particular the research looked at development of White Matter in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, the area that deals with being able to understand the long term effects of one’s actions. The argument being that as this part of the brain does not fully form until a person reaches the age of about 20 this explains why teenagers often make very poor decisions. Although they know the difference between right and wrong they cannot be held fully accountable for their actions, as they do not yet have a full understanding of their behaviours consequences. Isn’t it funny how biological psychology has reconfirmed the old idea that a person isn’t an adult until they are 21?

This report implies that there is no free will and the causes of behaviour in young people are determined by their biological development. It is not hard to make similar arguments based upon hormones, education, social influences, poor parenting, genetics, influence of peers, environmental factors etc. These in turn are caused by evolutionary pressures, which operated on the person’s gene pool millions of years before they were born. There seems to be no room at all for free will in the massively complex interplay of the huge amount of various layers of causes on an individual’s behaviour. Young people and by extension ourselves have no real choice or free will in what they or they and we do.

But if you think that it is looking bad for the existence of free will in a deterministic universe so far, like they say here in Suffolk, ‘you ain’t seen nothin’; it gets even worse.

Consider the fascinating research done by the American Physiologist Benjamin Libet and others. Libet discovered that when we believe we are making a decision our conscious awareness of our decision-making is a relative latecomer to the game. It turns out that we have already unconsciously/pre-consciously made the decision. We don’t become aware of our decision until a fraction of a moment after we have made it.

Think of it this way: You know the opening titles of the ‘Simpsons’ where baby Maggie thinks that she is steering the car, but the camera pans back and we see that it is Marge who is actually driving? It turns out that our conscious awareness of making decisions is actually like little Maggie, and is reacting to decisions made pre-consciously rather than making them itself. However, we should also remember that the pre-conscious makes our decisions based upon our beliefs, which goes to show just how important beliefs actually are. However, it is important to point out that this research is not without its critics. The American Philosopher and Cognitive Scientist Daniel Dennett is not convinced by the methodology of this research and another philosopher (also a supporter of determinism) Alfred Mele is not convinced by its form. However none of these concerns doubt the difficulties of free will in respect to determinism.

Come to think of it you don’t need to be a physiologist or a cognitive scientist to view other people’s behaviours as having causes. We often interpret people’s actions in everyday life and circumstances as the result of causes. For example, we might say that John was late to work because he was lazy, or that Bill shoplifted because he fell in with bad company after having a deprived childhood. Looking for causes in our own and other people’s behaviour was called Attribution Theory by the social psychologist Harold Kelly. Two parts of which are known as Fundamental Attribution Error and the Actor/Observer effect. In the west, we are culturally determined to explain other people’s behaviour in terms of internal causes, e.g. they are lazy, they are hard working, they are selfish, etc. When it comes to our own behaviour, we tend to explain it in terms of external causes, for example: I was cross because he annoyed me, I lied because she put me in an impossible position or I was late because the traffic was bad. In either case, we intuitively seek to explain behaviour in terms of deterministic causes.

Those who believe strictly that all our actions are determined in a continuous chain of cause and effect and believe there is no such thing as responsibility are called ‘hard determinists’. This is a view similar to those who believe in fate. That everything in life is already determined and we are living a kind of script. The American philosopher Professor Theodore Sider has devised a simple test to find out if hard determinists really do have the courage of their convictions. The test is simple: punch such a person on the nose and see how convinced they are that it wasn’t your responsibility. Tell them that the act had been pre-determined since the big bang. My guess is that they will not be too keen to practise what they preach and accept your reasoning. Mind you there is a way around this as they could claim that your actions caused them to deterministically retaliate in kind.

There does not seem to be much room for free will in a deterministic universe as described by science. Is this a reason for rejecting scientific determinism? Does free will and responsibility do any better in a spiritual world, or a world were random events occur that are not caused?

Both Sider and Radcliffe Richards along with many other philosophers have dealt with this problem and have come up with the same answer. If a random event occurred then surely it can still no longer be free will. To demonstrate this point Professor Ted Sider uses this colourful example in the book ‘Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics’. Imagine the following scene: In a Universe where random uncaused events occur, Mother Teresa is working with the poor of Calcutta. While working away she randomly picks up a hand grenade, pulls out the pin and throws it into an orphanage killing hundreds. The event was completely uncaused and random. The question is was she responsible? Remember that the event was completely uncaused as there was nothing in Mother Teresa’s past, personality or mind that caused it.

Surely as Mother Teresa did not intend or have anything within her that caused the mass murder she can’t be responsible and therefore she was not exercising fee will. Randomness and uncaused events cannot be the product of free will, because and for free will to exist it needs to be caused and causal. Without cause, there can be no free will as in a non-causal universe free will could not cause anything. Random events that happen in the Quantum world also do not save free will, as randomness is uncaused and nothing can take responsibility for randomness. If nothing causes free will, then it does not come from the person so the person cannot be responsible and free will can’t exist.

It seems that free will simply can’t exist either in a random universe or a deterministic one. Besides a random universe is problematic as it just does not accord with our observations of nature beyond the quantum level. As Crafters, we ought to be suspicious of the concept of a world of random non-caused events as this does not fit with the idea that magic can be effective. After all magic, while not clearly understood, seems to works by a variety of mechanisms all of which are deterministic. The Magician or Witch performs the spell that causes, via complicated processes, the desired outcome.

What about free will existing in a universe in which souls and spirits exist? After all, religious people often see the source of their free will as residing in their souls, these being a gift from God to see whom he can trust to let into Heaven. Radcliffe Richards points out that if such was the case then the spirits and souls would still be either existing in a deterministic world where they would be subject to cause and effect (why should spirits be free of determinism?) , or in a random world where there could be no responsibility as nothing is caused. Both are equally problematic for free will and responsibility.

Radcliffe Richards goes on to claim that free will is a necessary nonexistent. By this philosophers mean that there are some things that don’t exist in an ordinary way (weird as that sounds) , for examples fairies, spirits, hobgoblins, nice tasting American beer, etc. These things are not real but they could exist in metaphorical ‘other world’. Some other things just cannot exist in any world, they are just too contradictory, and these are necessary non-existent. For example, things like four-sided triangles, round squares, two plus two equal five and so it seems, free will. In other words, there is just no such thing as free will as it is assumed to exist in normal discourse; it is completely impossible for it to exist in any possible world.

So is Craft philosophy with its emphasis on personal responsibility completely scuppered? Perhaps there is a third option that we could explore.

There is a branch of the freewill/determinism metaphysical debate that could come to our rescue. It has a revised concept of free will, which is still part of the deterministic world in which we live; in fact it is compatible with it. This is a view that is held by most modern philosophers and is called, funny enough, compatiblism or ‘soft determinism’. The Stoics championed it in ancient times and more recently several major philosophers of the Enlightenment, including the famous 18th Century Scottish philosopher David Hume, supported it.

Although a hugely complex web of events that extends back beyond our existence causes everything we believe or know or do, soft determinists believe that we have ‘free will’ when we act without external coercion from another agent according to how these causes have made us. By ‘coercion by another agent’ we mean being forced into doing something such as being brainwashed or hypnotised, etc. Essentially this is what the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer meant when he famously said, “Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills”. So although who we are is determined through cause and effect, soft determinists see us as acting freely when our actions are consistent with that tapestry. In Initiatory Craft we call this massively complex pattern Wyrd.

To be fair it isn’t the traditional free will of common discourse, but it is the situated agency of humanistic psychology. It is when we act in accord with how we have been determined to be, in accordance with our personalities, beliefs and character within the constraints of our situations and context.

Soft determinists claim that we are the product of hugely complex causal forces. These include evolutionary forces, physiology and biology, our culture, education, experiences and the beliefs that they form. It can be successfully argued that part of this rich tapestry of causal personhood is responsibility. In other words, the concept of responsibility, a belief in taking responsibility and being responsible for our actions is a causal part of our makeup. The idea of responsibility, all things being equal with other causal factors, makes us take responsibility. However this only holds true if we have been exposed to the concept and have the kind of character and experiences that causes us to take these beliefs on board which in turn enables us towards self-empowerment. In other words we have been caused to take responsibility, which makes good education in my view extremely important.

Taking responsibility will influence our decision-making processes as much as anything else, making it part of the soft deterministic world view. It makes us act as we are determined to be, having situated agency or what the soft determinists refer to as liberty. It is taking responsibility for the unfolding process of Wyrd through self-knowledge that is relevant to the Craft view of what a Witch is. It empowers us in shaping our lives in accord with the deterministic forces that have in turn have shaped us. If we have been determined to accept this responsibility then we can do nothing else, it is our Wyrd. Responsibility gives us a degree of agency.

In the end, despite there being no such thing as free will in any possible universe, there is still an important role for responsibility as it is viewed in the Craft. Taking responsibility, which is so important to the Initiatory Craft and to self-empowerment in general, is part of the vastly complex tapestry of causal forces that include concepts and beliefs that goes into making a person. Therefore the Initiatory Craft view of taking personal responsibility stands up to the philosophical scrutiny and refutation of free will.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Repudiating Bad Wiccan History

Repudiating Bad Wiccan History

Author:   Zan Fraser  

The problem is that we Wiccans have inherited two sets of history. One is the history shared by the persons of the world around us, recognized as an academic and intellectual discipline, and based upon consensus agreement as to demonstrable facts. The other is what I call the “Wicca Fantasy-Land” version of European history.

Wicca Fantasy-Land is without question a colorful and dramatic place, dominated as it is by a malignant and pervasive Institution of Villainy (the medieval Church) , countered by a bold and oppressed culture of Paganism, and by Pagans who band into defiant pockets reminiscent of the organizers of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising or the French Resistance during World War II.

There are English kings who secretly keep to the Old Pagan Ways and who sympathetically guard and preserve Pagans; there are even English kings who bravely end their own lives as a Magical Sacrifice to the Old Gods to preserve the Ancient Ways. There are gallant women like Aradia and Joan of Arc who lead armed forays against the evil forces of the Inquisition to liberate captured Pagans. And there are countless devout Witches who meet in covens of thirteen, under threat of mortal danger, to worship the Horned God of Witches and to count out the seasons of the year.

It makes a really good story, with the disadvantage of not being true- or at least not really true in the manner in which it is invariably presented.

Wicca Fantasy-Land made its way into our collective history at a time well before there was even Wicca.

Margaret Murray was a respected British Egyptologist at the turn of the twentieth century, whose notes and observations upon archeological digs in Egypt are apparently still thought worthwhile. In the 19-teens, she turned her attentions to European history, producing The Witch-Cult in Western Europe in the early 1920s. Here she offered the startling (for its time) opinion that those called “Witches” during the medieval period were actually continuing the old Pagan Faith of Europe, meeting in covens of thirteen under a Master or High Priest who impersonated the God of Witches- the Horned Forest-God called Pan or Cernunnos.

The Church demonized this Deity into the Christian Devil and (according to Murray’s thinking) the rest of the Middle Ages (including the 300 years Burning Times) represented an on-going series of efforts on the part of the Church to destroy this stubborn Paganism. Murrray went on to elaborate upon her theories in two subsequent books- The God of the Witches and The Divine King in England.

Discussing Murray can be tricky, because she produced some penetrating insight into medieval history as it pertains to Witches (and therefore to the spiritual, if not actual genealogical, descendents of medieval Witches- modern Wiccans) . Her basic observation- that Paganism did not die out suddenly and completely at the Conversion of Europe, but actually continued for some time after, sometimes under threat of violence (Charlemagne proscribed death for any Saxons who continued to worship the sun, trees, and rocks) – was revelatory for its time, but is now understood as a given to researchers of the Middle Ages (especially researchers of the Pagan variety) .

Her insight that the European Devil represents a demonized version of the Horned Forest-God (known by many names, in endless local variations) was likewise a thunderbolt of perception, now also part of the bedrock of Pagan and Wiccan medieval understanding. For reasons such as these, the eminent and formidable historian Anne Llewellyn Barstow (in Witchcraze: A New History of the European Witch Hunts Pandora Publishing, 1994, p. 83) credits Murray for her detection of “ancient ‘folk religious’ practices throughout the Western witchcraft material.”

Barstow also finds in comparative studies with Russian sources support for Murray’s basic theory that Satan represents in perverse form the “lost God (s) ” of Western Europe. Likewise, in his Introduction to Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath (Pantheon Books, 1991, p. 9) the brilliant researcher Carlo Ginzburg discerns a “core of truth” and a “correct intuition” to Murray’s work.

Be this as it may- Murray is now considered discredited in the academic and scholastic world. Every serious historian on the subject throughout the twentieth century has concluded that she pushed her theories far too far- well beyond what evidence supports. Beginning with Harvard professor Kittredge in the latter 1920s, and continuing through Robbins, Briggs, Cohn, Russell, Kors and Peters, and including Barstow and Ginzburg- all have found that Murray finally reached to absurd and unsustainable lengths.

The decisive nail was struck in the early 1960s, with Elliot Rose’s A Razor for a Goat: A Discussion of Certain Problems in the History of Witchcraft and Diabolism (University of Toronto Press, 1962) , wherein he systemically blew apart Murray’s thesis bit by bit.

For the better part of the twentieth century, however, Murray was widely held almost as a sibyl breathing discernment into the murky cauldron of medieval history- so much so that it was her article on “witchcraft” that appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica in the 1950s, when Gerald Gardner was writing Witchcraft Today.

Desiring to include an account of what many at the time thought “true” Witchcraft history in his volume, Gardner turned to Murray’s works. Therefore (at a time when they were already called into question) , Murray’s theories and highly unique recounting of European Witchcraft made their way into the founding book of the current Wiccan and Neo-Pagan movement.

Through Gardner, tales of the Divine Sacrifice of William Rufus and the Witcheries of the Countess of Salisbury (mistress to the secretly Pagan Edward III) circulated into the publishing of Doreen Valiente and Patricia Crowther, thence outside the Gardnerian line to Sybil Leek and Alex Sanders, thence to the Farrars- thence to Wicca at large.

Despite the fact that Rose devoted a special chapter in A Razor for a Goat (in the 1960s, one notes) to Gerald Gardner’s assertions of medieval “Wiccan history” as regards Murray’s interpretations, Margaret Murray’s “Wicca Fantasy-Land” version of European history continues to circulate throughout American Paganism. How else to explain the presentation offered at a well-known gathering this summer, wherein one who advertised himself by his Third-Degree Initiatory Tradition status, as well as by (it must be admitted) his forth-coming Llewellyn publication, produced a talk chock-full not only of outright mistakes (he incorrectly placed Edward III and the Burning Times in the 1200s; Edward lived in the 1300s and the Burnings do not start until the 1400s) , but of pure, unreconstructed Murrayism- the same Murrayism discredited decisively since the 1960s.

Despite treating his audience to a opening establishing the unique and special quality of Third-Degree Initiates- indeed ho-ho-ho-ing the very idea that a non-Initiated Wiccan bereft of Initiatory Training even counted as a “Wiccan” (thereby specifically invalidating self-directed, self-Initiated Wiccans such as myself) and referring at one point to himself and his “peers” with a smug self-regard that frankly rankled me- and despite much reference to his forth-coming Llewellyn volume (apparently on a subject different from that of this particular talk, giving me every confidence that it will be a far-better researched project) – I found the gentleman’s presentation to be an alarming mish-mash of outright error and wild “Wiccan Faerey-tales, ” offered without substantiation as genuine history.

The Countess of Salisbury was a Witch! Edward III founded the Order of the Garter as a secret Witches’ Coven! He charged its knights with the protection of Witches against the Inquisition! – (Despite that fact that Murray’s fanciful re-interpretation of the Order of the Garter is one of the areas specifically disproved by Rose, with no one presenting persuasive evidence to the contrary since- and despite the fact that the Inquisition was never really that powerful in England- and despite the fact that few people actually cared about punishing Witches in the 1300s, in many ways the last truly Magical era of the Middle Ages.)

The gentleman continued- the Knights Templars were closet Ceremonial Magicians, preserving the Secrets of Magic from the Inquisition! – (Never mind that the Knights broadcast themselves as a Christian order akin to monks, and were perceived as such throughout Europe) . The Masons delivered the Templars from destruction, saving the ancient wisdom of Ceremonial Magic! (This last contains all sorts of mistakes.

It ignores the historical reality that the Templars were deliberately taken unawares, leaving very few to be “saved”; that the majority of the Templars were without question killed; that the reason for their assault was without question the seizure of their properties, rather than an effort to destroy Ceremonial Magic; that the Masons as such do not come into existence until the early 1700s; and finally that there is no need for the Templars to preserve Ceremonial Magic, as Ceremonial Magic is preserved very nicely in the medieval grimoires of Bacon and Agrippa and Paracelsus.)

The part of the man’s presentation that bothered me the most was his projection of modern (Initiatory) Wicca into the medieval past. Wiccan Witch-Queens wear garters- therefore one can tell that the Countess of Salisbury was a Wiccan Witch-Queen, as she wore a garter! (Never mind that many people of the fourteenth century probably wore garters as a means of keeping their leggings straight.) Initiatory Wiccans maintain Books of Shadow- therefore medieval Witches kept Books of Shadow! – Despite the fact that few medieval Witches could probably read or write.

These Books of Shadow were in constant danger of being destroyed by the Inquisition, erasing forever the secrets of Witchery- never mind that many, many grimoires are plainly in circulation and that the “secrets of the Witches’ Craft” (far from being so closely guarded as to be in danger of vanishing) are in fact well-known enough in Elizabethan England (I assume through the avenue of oral folk-culture) that playwrights such as Shakespeare and Jonson compose plays around them.

My point finally is not to diss a bad historical presentation, but to decry the situation whereby such outmoded stuff can be peddled as a “Wiccan History-lesson.” We Wiccans are in the kind of odd position that knowledgeable observers have actually discredited much of what we assert and allege as our “Historical past”. If our movement is to receive respect in the world, we need a history that can withstand scrutiny, as well as movement-participants educated enough to separate fact from plausible supposition from outright nonsense.

Regrettably this means we must abandon a lot of what our founding elders declared to us was our past; we must locate ourselves in the genuine records of medieval Europe established by scholars such as Kittredge and Robbins and Russell (et al) .

We must insist upon elders who can deliver a reasonable review of European Witch-History and we must foreswear the colorful (but unsupportable) Murayite/ Gardnerian “Wicca Faerey-tales” that have hitherto been our history tomes.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Supportive Practices of the Craft

Supportive Practices of the Craft

Author: Iain Quicksilver

In addition to the practices of witchcraft usually discussed, such as divination and herb lore, there are practices, which support a witch’s overall efforts. The following seven sections describe practices I have found useful for tuning up my Craft practice and keeping it properly focused.

1: Cycles

Witches follow cycles in everything they do, out of respect for their overall balance of health. They don’t work all year, and then try to relax through a brief vacation; witches take little mini-vacations all the time. They sometimes appear to be laid back and lazy, but they respond well in a crisis, and they somehow get their tasks done.

A witch aims at discovering her own biorhythms, so as to work with, rather than against, her natural energy cycle. But in practice there are usually compromises to be made with work and other factors. Her actual daily schedule may be set somewhat askew to her biorhythms, but a witch will adapt to it and arrange for periods of rest between work to attend to quarters other than South / Will / Fire. There are knowledge and skills to acquire, and emotions and the circle and the practice of inner and/or outer stillness to attend to. And there is a little goofing off, daytime rest, which is essential; just watch the animals.

Starting with the Sun cycle and making allowances for work, etc., a witch reserves the earlier parts of the day for practical affairs. She will not work on taxes, for instance, into the evening hours, but will start earlier in the season and devote some weekend daytime hours to the chore. Evening is for going within, withdrawing to one’s own hearth and communing with ancestors and familiar spirits.

2: Directions

It isn’t on any list of witch tools, but a compass is important to the modern witch so she can orient her life and work to the four directions. Witchcraft is always done in a physical context. Pagans are highly aware of their immediate environment and traffic with spirits of the field, yard, stream, the most prominent local tree, as well as with household spirits. The key to contacting household spirits lies in feelings.

When you first move into a new house or apartment, it feels cold and uninviting, especially if it hasn’t been lived in for a while. Not much later, it fits you comfortably like a suit of old clothes; and if, in addition, it is alive with saged boundaries and household shrines, you feel liked by the house as well as liking it yourself. This is a boundary perception, which we are taught to ignore or treat as a subjective matter, but if instead we address the good feelings and express our appreciation for the atmosphere of our dwelling, we break that boundary and begin to recover ancient pagan perception.

In the same way, outdoor sprites can be contacted through greater sensitivity to one’s feelings without discounting them from habit.

Upon awakening in the morning, when a witch is ready to start the day, it is a good practice to take out the compass and address the four quarters. One begins in the North, opening oneself to calming energy. Then to the East, holding in mind briefly what needs to be known or learned today. Then to the South, deciding the first tasks. Then to the West, expanding awareness according to one’s ways. Then seal to the North, stilling the mind and body once again. The witch is now ready to face the day.

3: Expanding Awareness

One way of expanding awareness when silently addressing the West is to relax and wait for something in your peripheral awareness to stand out and beckon your attention. It might be the reflection of something in a window, or the shadow of a tree or the spaces in its foliage. Whatever it is, when it gets your attention, continue to view it peripherally. You are in touch with its mana, or magical energy, and can use it throughout the day when you call it to mind. The image in your memory should be peripheral, not central, i.e. the way it looked when it got your attention. This can also be done with things heard peripherally. These are some of my ways.

4: Conserving Magical Energy

There is a kind of energy or power that the modern world has forgotten, though the memory of it is preserved in folk tales and myths. Indigenous peoples are well aware of it and live their lives with reference to it. While the immediate environment abounds in it, and we take it in all the time, we do not notice it because we squander it in habitual ways, habits that have been with us from early childhood. The ancient Latins called it numen, and the Mongolians, hiimori. It is always personal, taking on the features of the person holding it.

It is only by conserving this energy that the witch becomes ready to do magic, both in the circle and life. We don’t realize that everything takes energy, even unconscious ignoring of things in our environment, such as shadows, eyeglass frames, or background sounds. When we expand our attention to include such things, we gain the energy that was used in keeping them in the background of our attention, the penumbra or half-shadow. This energy is always exponentially higher than the small amount required to expand the attention.

The energy takes four forms for witches, associated with the four ancient elements. The energy of Air makes us learn and understand new things that hadn’t occurred to us before. In everyday life, it also manifests in any new knowledge or understanding.

The energy of Fire boosts the will and lets us accomplish tasks in life that seemed too big to tackle. In order to bring changes into our physical lives, we have to both give up some things, at least temporarily, and adopt other things or actions that further the goal. In the Craft, habits or actions that squander magical energy have to be sacrificed, and then the freed energy finds new outlets on its own.

The energy of Water attracts us to the unknown, and gives us the daring to escape the current limitations of our lives. This is the energy of initiation, which expands and transforms our awareness and can give our lives a whole new basis.

The energy of Earth is cloaked in silence. Witches seek inner and outer stillness, quite as much as Zen monks or Hindu yogis do. This stillness is deep, and the deeper the witch descends into it, the more he or she is transformed and the greater the magical energy that results. It is pursued gradually and at first in little things, like learning to sit still and not scratch, or refraining from certain topics in conversation.

Not that the witch is inactive, quite the contrary; Earth, the North, is also the place of our physicality, and the witch exercises regularly, and takes care of business through Fire and the South. Stillness refers instead to the enormous amount of energy we waste in fidgeting and performing other small, unnecessary actions, both mental and physical: for instance, compulsively repeating past conversations in one’s mind or rehearsing conversations to come in some hypothetical future event (for all thoughts of the future are hypothetical) .

The witch sums up a past event and plans for the future, but these are finite acts that come to an end, instead of repeating over and over and wearing on the nerves. The energy to be had by restricting such habits cannot be anticipated in advance. Out of stillness comes new understanding, closing the circle of practice towards Air and the East.

Thus the witch pursues the four powers of the magus: to know, to will, to dare, to keep silence. But there is a fifth power that results from the balanced development of the four: to go. The witch is saving energy for his or her definitive journey, the flight to the True Sabbat, fellowship and celebration with the ancestors, spirits, and deities in the other world. Folklore depicts it as a joyous occasion, and colors it with the pleasures and longings of the time when the tales were spun. Some tried to cut corners and get there more quickly through the use of the witch’s flying ointment. The actual flight may or may not follow traditional lines.

One may not literally fly up the chimney and then meet the Wild Hunt in the sky and fly to a rath or burg and descend therein through a tunnel into the Otherworld. The journey may parallel many of these features, nonetheless; and there are preliminary journeys to be made that go partway there.

The flight to the True Sabbat is a milestone on the way to the witch’s ultimate journey to the Sun, when he or she acquires a body of light that can materialize at will, so that further incarnations here in middle Earth are no longer needed. This transformation seals the work of the Craft and completes the vows made at initiation; thenceforth one does other work, perhaps as a guardian elemental, paying back for the help received along the way on this side by paying forward.

5: The Familiar

Witches traditionally kept a cat, sometimes a horse, as a familiar. The witch’s astral journeys were made in company with the spirit of the familiar.

The best information I have found on this practice is in Timothy Knab’s A War of Witches, a factual account of an anthropologist’s investigation, some twenty plus years later, of a battle with brujos and brujas in the highlands of central Mexico. In the course of his investigation, he is inducted into Toltec brujeria by one of the survivors and makes a journey to Tlalocan, the Toltec Underworld.

Tlaloc, the Lord of the Underworld, keeps animal spirits called naguals in his corrals. He gives a nagual to each human at birth. The nagual could perhaps be thought of as the link, within each of us, to other animals, inherited though latent from the prehistoric past. But it is a real spirit and to be a brujo one must find one’s nagual. Afterwards, an experienced brujo, through many journeys to Tlalocan, may have acquired a number of naguals, keeping them in fetish objects like puma’s claws, or in a special gourd.

The human soul is called the tonal. It has two halves. One faces towards the Sun and stands guard over the body when the dark lower half, the shadow, goes on journeys down the world pillar to the underworlds. The shadow is so called, both because it lies below our daily awareness and faces towards the nether regions, and because it follows its nagual into the depths as the latter’s shadow.

If the nagual is a cat spirit, the shadow takes on the semblance of a cat spirit. This is done for protection from hungry denizens of the deep, who prize the heart blood of a tonal but will let a nagual go by.

The discipline Knab goes through in becoming a brujo is well worth the reading. But to return to our own practice, preparation for a liaison with a cat familiar’s spirit, besides the obvious step of getting a cat, would seem to involve re-molding one’s own psyche closer to that of a feline. We do this unconsciously when we sit in company with a cat and enjoy its utter relaxation. Cats are content to go from moment to moment doing whatever they are doing, even if it is only resting.

We, however, often have a habit of doubting whether we are making best use of our time, or regretting we are not elsewhere doing other things. Cats, apparently, have no such qualms. The daily practice of witchcraft in fact promotes a calm mind fully given to the moment. Apparently cultivation of inner stillness connects us with the animal, pre-rational mind, so that we can enjoy shuttling between two minds, as the occasion permits.

This is only an example of how the witch models him or herself on a cat familiar. Whether or not one goes on journeys with the cat, cultivating a close relationship with one will draw the witch closer to his or her own inner, pre-rational mind, through which he or she can call up power from the Deep in circle.

6: The Patron Deity

It isn’t incumbent upon pagans to have a special relationship with a single deity, but it can be a rewarding experience. The pagan will continue to honor the other deities and spirits, of course, and may enter into a similar relationship with another later on. Suppililiumas, the king of the Hittites, was singularly devoted to his goddess, and as we know, his subject Abraham devoted his wandering life to his family god, the later Yahweh.

All gods stand ready to teach by sharing their consciousness, and by helping the devotee to practice the disciplines that lead to that awareness. Pagans will generally choose a patron deity (male or female) on the basis of temperamental preferences, though they may be influenced by a dream or vision. The relationship can be devotional or more like a friendship. In the latter case the deity is like an older mentor or senior partner. In late heathen times, Thor was popular with people seeking this latter relation.

In the Craft, the Lord and the Lady serve as patrons. The Lord is the year-god, who has waxing and waning aspects, and these replace each other at the solstices. Because the outgoing aspect dies and is reborn six months later, the Lord (sometimes called the Lad) is more of a demigod, and is not quite up to the Lady’s level. Witches and warlocks alike tend to relate to the Lord as a tutor or preceptor, and to the Lady devotionally.

The continental Celtic god Cernunnos is associated by modern witches with the year-god. He is known only from artifacts and only by the description given him by Greek traders in antiquity on the Ister or Danube river – the horned or antlered one (we do not know his Celtic name) . Cernunnos teaches witches the way to deal skillfully with both the outer and inner life.

The Oak King or waxing year aspect teaches, by example, how to deal with the outer world joyfully and fruitfully. The Holly King or waning aspect is the psycho pomp or soul-guide in Craft initiation, and also provides fellowship with ancestors at Samhain, October 31st.

On the Gundestrup cauldron, found in a peat bog in Denmark, Cernunnos is the central carved figure. He has two antlers, wears a torque or neck-ring signifying wealth, and holds another in his right hand, as bestower of wealth. His left hand grasps a ram-headed snake by the neck, an Underworld animal linked with healing and sacrifice.

It often happens that a pagan already pursues some discipline designed to conserve magical energy, and chooses an appropriate god or goddess, asking him or her to be the patron of that practice. If the god is willing, he or she will help, first of all, by reminding the devotee to practice whatever part of the askesis is appropriate for the present situation.

The devotee thanks his or her patron for these reminders, knowing from experience that practice would be slacker without them. As the partnership goes on, the world will start to take on the colors peculiar to that deity’s consciousness and personality, and will cause subtle changes in the personality of the devotee as well.

The patron deity also teaches in dreams and guides the devotee in waking life by means of signs and omens, often peculiar coincidences that seem mysteriously significant.

The Lady nurtures and feeds witches as well as all her children on the earth, and also teaches those who prefer to relate to a female divinity. The discipline taught by the Lady involves cleansing the emotions of their verbal accretions. The devotee learns to feel without thinking or analyzing or labeling the feeling. In this way, the witch or warlock draws closer to the animals, who have naked feelings unclothed in thoughts. The askesis of the Lady is especially suitable for couples.

7: Inventory

Supportive practices of witchcraft aim at optimizing the free flow of energy through the life of a witch.

A cluttered life is full of energy knots that trap old, stale energy called `miasma’ by the ancients. The first phase of a spell, purification, is designed to unravel one or more of these knots, so that an increase in the flow of magical energy renders the flow palpable. The energy must be felt to be directed, and as some of it is flowing all the time (however feebly) , the rate of flow must be increased for it to be felt. It can then be directed to a chosen purpose in the consecration phase, and, in the final phase, charged with all the force the witch can command through expanded awareness.

But if the witch’s life is full of energy knots, untying one or two of them by purification may not result in a very strong flow of energy. For a stronger flow, the witch must gradually remove clutter from his/her life so that energy knots are few and easily unraveled.

Clutter comes in many forms. There is mental and emotional clutter; the clutter of always being too busy because of over-commitment; the memory-clutter of too many unfinished projects; and the material clutter found in the home: over-stuffed closets, garages, basements, storage sheds, etc. This section is about material clutter.

By learning and applying the principles of feng shui, we can facilitate a free flow of the energy the Chinese call ch’i throughout the home; but before putting feng shui into practice, we must face and do something about the mountains of clutter tucked away in corners, closets, cupboards and other hiding places. We may think that if our accumulations are out of sight they will be out of mind as well, but the deeper, pre-rational mind we share with the animals keeps tabs on every least thimble.

When the writer Aldous Huxley’s house in California burned down, he remarked on how clean it felt to be free of so many possessions. This was a drastic example of what we can achieve in a smaller degree through the practice of inventory.

The deep mind keeps a file on every item we own, and these files must be closed and cleared away if the witch is to use the filing function for fulfilling oaths and following threads of self-discipline. Accordingly, at regular intervals a witch will go through some of his or her clutter, putting things together that belong together, and getting rid of items no longer needed. A good rule of thumb to follow is to keep what one can use (sentiment counts as a use) and put the rest where it is likely to do the most good. In this we see an illustration of the balance of the Craft, which aims at getting maximum enjoyment and effectiveness from possessions without getting bogged down in being possessed by them.

Putting things you don’t need where they will do the most good may mean giving things away; but be careful doing this, as you may lose friends if they feel you are dumping stuff on them. And above all, never tell anyone you are following the rule of inventory, as gifts should at least appear to be made from a feeling of friendship.

Closing accounts with past unfinished business, either by abandoning old projects or by completing them, leads to a greater integration with one’s past selves, and can clear a channel through memory, and far memory, for the witch to travel in the inner journey down to the Summerland.

______________________________________

1. For numen see Rose, H.J. in the bibliography.

2. For hiimori see Sangerel, both references, in the bibliography.

3. For the folklore of the Sabbat, see Jackson in the bibliography.

4. On the journey to the Sun, see Grimassi, p. 219, in the bibliography, also Nikhilananda, vol. II, p. 158.

5. See Knab in the bibliography.

6. See Gurney in the bibliography. More recently, a royal charter of King Suppliliumas has been found, authorizing a mercantile expedition to Byblos on the ancient Lebanese coast. Abraham may have been in it.

7. See Davidson (I) in the bibliography.

8. For the significance of Cernunnos in modern witchcraft, see Farrar in the bibliography.

9. See Davidson (II) in the bibliography.

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Bibliography:

Davidson, H.R. (I) , Gods and Myths of Northern Europe, London, Penguin Books, 1990.

__________ (II) , Myths and Symbols in Pagan Europe, Syracuse, NY, Syracuse
University Press, 1988.

Farrar, Janet and Stewart, Eight Sabbats for Witches, Custer, WA, Phoenix Publishing, 1988.

Grimassi, Raven, Ways of the Strega, St. Paul, MN, Llwellyn Publications, 1995.

Gurney, O.R., The Hittites, London, Penguin Books, 1952.

Jackson, Nigel, Call of the Horned Piper,

Knab, Timothy J., A War of Witches, Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1995.

Nikhilananda, Swami, translator, The Upanishads, in 4 vols. New York, Ramakrishna-
Vivekananda Center, 1975. Prasna Upanishad is in Vol. 2.

Rose, H.J., Religion in Greece and Rome, New York, Harper Torchbooks, 1959.

Sarangerel (I) , Chosen by the Spirits, Rochester, VT, Destiny Books, 2001.

_______ (II) , Riding Windhorses, Rochester, VT, Destiny Books, 2000.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Spell Ingredients: Add a Large Dose of Reality

Spell Ingredients: Add a Large Dose of Reality

Author:   Solonius   

The first ingredient for any spell: A large dose of reality…. I mean, really, what do you expect? If all spells worked, wouldn’t humanity universally believe in witchcraft and magic and use it wholeheartedly? And to that extent wouldn’t worthy practitioners be a desired commodity? It is imperative for practitioners to separate their wishful and whimsical fantasies from serious study, contemplation, experimentation and application.

I believe that in order to further understand and define the super-natural, you first have to develop and have a thorough understanding of the natural. Any study of the Craft requires a greater amount of study into the realm of Laws of Nature and the Laws of Physics. After all, how can you define what is extra-ordinary, if you don’t even know the extent of what is ordinary?

The Laws of Physics are many, and the typical high-school student mostly understands the important ones. Opposites attract (by and large this only works for ions, kids, not people) , for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction, a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force, for any change in state the by-product or causation is heat, etc. How can better knowing these things help us in a greater understanding of our spell work? Because all these things deal with Energy, and what is the Universe constructed of? Anyone…? Yes, Energy. And what does spell work deal with, when you boil it all down (pun intended) ? That’s right, Energy! Or more accurately, the transfer of energy. This is the First Insight that any practitioner should grasp. EVERYTHING is energy.

The Second Insight that we should understand, because it deals with both types of laws, is that Nature abhors a vacuum. That can be observed as simply as watching a balloon deflate. What do you discover with these phenomena? That Nature seeks a balance. This holds true for the Laws of Life and the Laws of Physics. The Universe naturally seeks equilibrium. Whether this is between hot/cold, high pressure/low pressure, too many predators and not enough prey, the Law stays the same. In the end, Nature will follow its Laws. You do know, though, that there is a defined and empirical Order to Things. You might not understand it fully, but you can be assured that an order exists by observing the smallest things in nature. This is crucial: Be observant to Nature and learn from it. Nature, in all its complexity, is still a system of doing things the easiest and least energy wasting way. Contemplate that reality for a while.

Where does this energy come from? Good question. Is it physical energy, which means connected to our current plane of existence? If that is so, then you would not be able to contain it for the energy you are talking about on the physical plane is electrical in nature, and you would become walking atom bombs if you gathered the energy required to perform some spells. So it can’t be a physical energy type.

Is it spiritual energy (which obviously means it is energy collected from higher levels of existence) that you are able to gather and use? The usual consensus is “Yes, it is.” This leads to the next set of questions. Can energy from higher levels of existence cause effects on a lower level of existence? How can if affect the energy in a lower existence, if the two existences are not on the same sphere? Can the physical things you do on a lower plane of existence affect what happens on a higher plane of existence? Is your mentality the only link between what you perceive as the physical plane and planes above what you can perceive with your physical senses? What is the extent of ‘Reality’, does it encompass ALL spheres of existence as ONE reality? Nature abhors a vacuum, so if As Above – So Below is a Law of Nature, does this mean that the energies of a higher plane seek a balance with the energies of a lower plane?

It is said that in the higher planes all things are possible if you only imagine it so. I further postulate that you must not only imagine it so, it must become your perceived REALITY. You must learn to tap into the energies of the higher planes, and effect permanent changes there, before any changes can happen in the physical plane. I’ve often said that there is an ocean of difference between Understanding and Knowing. Understanding is intellectual; it is accepting truth without necessarily going through all the motions to prove it. Knowing is visceral; it deals more with proof from the physical senses perceiving something as true. Ergo, to make a change here, you have to Know that you have made a change in higher realms first.

I postulate the reason for this is the hypothesis of ‘trickle down economics’ if you’d like. What does this mean? It means that in order to build a hut on the physical plane, you must first build a mansion in the higher planes. More complexly, Nature (meaning all planes of existence) seeks a balance. Nature also does things the absolute least energy-wasting way. I perceive that Nature does not easily permit energy to flow across planes of existence, even if they are in the same ‘Reality’. With As Above – So Below, you can see through a simple diagram of two superimposed triangles (one point up, the other point down) that the equilibrium point is above here and now (the bottom point) , yet below the ultimate expression (the top point) . As you move down from the ultimate expression (the open V) , less and less energy is transferred. Therefore you must have a firm and knowing conviction of what you wish to accomplish and see a clear and precise picture of it occurring, before you can hope to realize it happening.

Ironically, you should also have a wonderfully developed sense of imagination up to the point of believing in what seems impossible. Only with an active imagination can you build that mansion up to the point of actualization in the higher planes. This seems contradictory, but I don’t feel that it is. Without a firm mental picture of what you require to exist, can you hope to achieve your goal? You have to build that mansion brick by brick, through much mental exactness and conviction. This requires a great deal of imagination as well as focus. The constructed mansion should then remain in that higher plane once you have completed it. It’s there; there is no doubt of its existence in your mind. Every time you visit the higher realms your mansion is there, gleaming with its glory. Make it Reality. Does this mean that a mansion will magically appear here and now for you in the material plane? Probably not, but the single minded effort it took to imagine it as reality in the higher plane, could translate into the required motivation and focus to achieve it in the here and now. Here is something else to consider: owning the mansion is secondary to the method of achieving it.

I’ve used the visualization of a mansion to put a face to a concept. However, it holds true for any endeavor. What you wish to have happen is secondary to HOW you achieve its happening. You build the mental picture (higher plane reality) while simultaneously going through with the steps required to achieve the same results. This multiple avenue approach enlists all your faculties to achieve what your desire is. The greater the amount of energies enlisted to achieve your desire, the more energy the universe aligns with the outcome. Remember: the method of how you achieve your goal is primary to the goal itself.

As an example: There is a twice-weekly fervent prayer on many lips throughout the land: “Please let me win the lottery!” However, if you never go out to purchase a lottery ticket, the effort placed into your prayer was wasted, wasn’t it? The same occurs with your Craft. Creating a spell to achieve the end result is short sighted. You still have to do the work to realize your goal. There really are no shortcuts. I don’t mean using some elaborate spell either. I mean elaborate mental visualization, coupled with following a plan to achieve the goal. Each reinforces the other, making the possibility of achievement vastly greater. Ground that visualization into what Laws Nature has already demonstrated. This lends conviction and credibility to the achievement of the goal.

What would be the required steps to achieve that goal without using any Craft? Incorporate those steps into the visualization with your spell. Bypass any flights of fantasy; they require too much energy to maintain. After all is it easier for your mind to accept flying to work on a broomstick, or driving your car? Your mind will default to what it Knows is possible, and will automatically call B.S. to what is not. Even a child imagining flying around the house on a broomstick Knows that they are just pretending. So why kid yourself? The more reality you incorporate into your Craft, the greater the results you will receive.

*On a side note: I don’t think of the planes of Reality as floors in a skyscraper, nor are they in some cardinal Direction. They don’t exist as pages in a book, where you can turn a page and have a new reality. I think of it as a condensing of energy from zero (conversely the most dense) to the ultimate amount of energy. They are all concurrent and here and now, superimposed upon what we can only perceive as the physical plane due to the limitations of our senses. This energy is limitless to infinity. For infinity is provable as far as we have observed. Outside the edge of the growing globe of galaxies expanding outward, is vacuum. Forever. You could hypothetically travel so far away that this entire globe of expanding physical energy seems like nothing more than a single spec of brilliant light. However, the theory of infinity breaks down if you require a starting point. As Above – So Below… Infinity must go in BOTH ‘directions’ forever, or the concept breaks down.

I thank you for your time in reading this. I hope it gave you some food for contemplation, and in some way helps you with more success on your path.

Regards,
Solonius

Enhanced by Zemanta