Let’s Talk Witch – Ethics

ᑕᙓᒪ♈ᓰᑕ ᙅᖇᗝᙡ

Let’s Talk Witch – Ethics

 

Much has been written about magical ethics. Usually a list of clear dos and don’ts and thou shalts. The Wiccan Rede—” An it harm none, do as thou will”— and the three-fold law—” what you do comes back to you three-fold”— get bandied about as being the ethical pillars of Witchcraft. As I’m not Wiccan I don’t subscribe to these ideas.

In the 1950s Doreen Valiente wrote a lovely poem called The Wiccan Rede. It drew on many sources including a poem from Aradia: Gospel of The Witches by Charles Leland, some Aleister Crowley material and older teachings. The last part, often referred to as the Rede is the well-known “an it harm none, do as thou will” although the whole thing is often reworded to mean “do whatever you like as long as you’re not hurting anybody”. I believe that in a time when witchcraft was being redefined and made out to be something nice and benevolent, it may have been important to defuse outside ideas about what witches do and make them appear “good” by instilling a moral code of sorts. The Wiccan Rede only applies to Wiccans however, not all witches or magicians.

Many following the Rede try to never think ill about anyone or use it as a reason to become vegetarian. The problem I see is that “harm none” includes yourself. Some blood and body types aren’t suited to a vegetarian diet. In addition every breath or step you take on the earth may be harming small creatures and organisms. Does this mean that we only apply “harm none” to those creatures we choose? If so, who decides what can or cannot be harmed? What is the criteria for a bug or organism to be added to the “none” category?

Harm None is also the wrong part of the rede to be focused on. Of the eight word shortened version, Harm None is the least. Will is the important part, this is discussed further later on.

The other thing about the Rede is that the word ‘rede’ means advice. Not rules, not law and not even guidelines. Jack Sparrow’s Pirate Code has more credence. The Rede is more akin to your Auntie pulling you aside to talk about boys (or girls). She’ll tell you what she thinks you should do, she may even tell you some of her horror stories. Her advice may be valid and sound but in the end the decision to act on her advice is all yours.

The three-fold law is, in some form or another, the golden rule in every culture. In Christianity the Bible states “as you sow, so shall you reap” and “an eye for an eye”. The Hindu and Buddhist faiths know it as Karma. Although Karma is not the cosmic instant reward and punishment system that New Age thought promotes it as, if you want to understand Karma, learn about it from the Hindi. Modern colloquialism expresses it as “what goes around, comes around”. However it is referred to, by whichever culture, it speaks of a consequential result for what you do in life.

In Witchcraft the three-fold part is often misunderstood. I read a blog post about how you should give money to a witch because of their three-fold law. If you give them $ 10, you’ll get $ 30 back. In the same vein if you do something bad it will be three times worse for you. The mistaken belief is that the three fold will come back at you three times when for those who believe in it, it’s on three different levels— Mind, Body and Spirit.

I’ve found that there is often (but not always) a backlash. In physics— every action has an equal and opposite reaction, in Witchcraft it’s not necessarily as simple as it’s made out to be. There is also a theory that the threefold law was introduced as a way to keep beginners and learning witches safe from themselves.

It’s frequently stated that you shouldn’t interfere with another’s will. That you can’t or rather shouldn’t do a spell that will affect another without their permission. This is often said by people who then send healing energy all around the place without being asked for it and don’t see their own hypocrisy. I personally believe that it’s rarely a good idea to cast a spell regarding another person. Even if it’s “for their own good”. Who are you to decide what is best for another person? Who died and made you a God? They may have a life lesson going on, something that they need to learn from or learn how to cope with in order to grow. By ‘helping’ them you may in fact be harming them by preventing their own personal growth. It’s also a slippery slope, once you start ‘helping’ people, you can’t stop and it’s a short step away from interfering. This is different from binding and cursing but we’ll delve into that later.

Unless you belong to a faith that has its own ethics, you need to figure out what is ethical or not for yourself. Many people will assume that as a witch, you follow their system, or that witches are automatically Wiccan or Pagan and that you must subscribe to their own personal moral code in order to call yourself that. When it comes down to it, you need to ignore all the “know-it-alls” and be true to yourself. If you do ‘bad’ things there may be a backlash, but sometimes it’s worth it. Only you can know that for sure.

 

 

The Common Sense Spell Book

Debbie Dawson

 

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The Mystical Pentagram Technique for Self-Awareness

The Mystical Pentagram Technique for Self-Awareness

The Mystical Pentagram is a technique which will enhance psychic self-awareness. Practiced on a daily basis it will produce surprising individual results.

To begin, you will need a table of correspondences such as “777” by Aleister Crowley. Look up the names of the gods and goddesses and pick a name for each element(air, fire, water, earth, spirit) which when chanted ‘feels’ right for you.(if you feel relaxed, comfortable and generally positive you would know that a name would be in tune with my inner self.)

Once you have found the five names you are ready to proceed.

Visualize the five psychic centers. Memorize their positions so that you become familiar with the positions. Visualize a brilliant white light forming a circle above your head in the spirit center. Mentally draw a white light pentagram within the circle of light. This should be an invoking pentagram.

Next see a shaft of white light radiate down through your head stopping at your throat. See a circle of white light begin to form and pulsate. Mentally draw an invoking pentagram within the circle of light and vocally vibrate your chosen name for the air center. Continue to stimulate this center for at least five minutes.

Repeat this procedure for your torso(fire), stomach area(water), feet(earth).

When all of the energy centers have been stimulated, direct the light energy from the spirit center to the earth center. As you exhale see the light travel from the top of your head down through your body to the bottom of your feet. As you inhale see the energy travel from your feet up through your body up to the top of your head, the spirit center. This circulation should be persisted for at least seven minutes. See the energy cleanse and vitalize every part of your being and expand your awareness to cosmic consciousness.

Continue to repeat this technique each day you will begin to see and feel a change in your psychic awareness and a marked improvement in your health. Don’t become discouraged if you don’t achieve results immediately. This technique produces very positive effects but they are cumulative in nature.

 

 

 

Witchcraft – Chapter nine – Witchcraft Today

Witchcraft

Chapter nine – Witchcraft Today

by Ilil Arbel, Ph.D.

A thousand years ago or today, if you asked a witch why she practices the Craft, her answer would be universal: It accomplishes results.  However, the many “workbooks” and “spell books” on the market won’t necessarily teach you how to become a witch or to perform magic. Pursuing witchcraft without a coven, without ceremonies, without initiation does not generally work. At best, it will probably be self delusion; at worst, it can do some psychological damage. There are some witches who work alone. There are even courses one can take in big cities such as New York or San Francisco. But Witchcraft is more than just a few spells – it’s a religion. Without the tenets, the commitment, the depth of feeling for the earth – it’s just an imitation.

There is no doubt that magic still exists, and that it can be powerful. But how do you define it in a world such as ours?  If all the nonsense is dismissed, it means using some abnormal ability or a talent. The witch creates a change in circumstances – a change that would not have occurred naturally. Some people have psychic powers, just as others have a natural talent for painting or music. When trained, the powers are enhanced. When used in the correct manner, they are quite successful. Naturally, these powers can be used either for good or for evil. Those who use it for good tend to become witches. Those who use it to do harm call themselves Satanists or Devil Worshipers. There is always a choice.

As seen in previous chapters, all isolated societies have ceremonies, initiations, and some form of magic. Witches, the descendants of such people, have not lost the knowledge. Other organized religions tend to ignore the magical connection, with one exception – prayer. All religions claim that prayer accomplishes tangible results. What is prayer but an attempt to convince the supernatural to do what we want?

Most witches believe that the power is found inside their own bodies. This is the reason why some witches prefer to work in the nude – they feel that the clothes block the power’s release. Other witches work partially nude or dressed in loose robes. In today’s society, with its relaxed attitude toward the human body, nudity is not a problem. After all, the witches do not engage in any immoral activity during the ceremonies. But during the Middle Ages, or even the 18th century, people sometimes didn’t take off their clothing even to bathe. They wore special “bathing robes” for the purpose, so that they would not have to look at their own nude bodies!  It is easy to imagine the uproar when the nudity of the witches was discovered. Naturally the general population assumed the witches engaged in orgies.

In the East, it is commonly believed that each person generates a personal electromagnetic field. It is called the Aura. Many Westerners agree that the Aura exists, and some parapsychologists and physicians are currently investigating it. Many books about the subject are available, so there is no need to go into a discussion of the Aura here, but it does bring up an interesting point. Those who see the Aura, whether with the naked eye or with the new scientific apparatus, say that clothes do interfere with the observation of color and vibration of the Aura. Investigation, therefore, is always carried out in the nude. As it is possible that some of the magic is dependant on the Aura, it would be interesting if someone would conduct a combined study.

There is so much more that can, and should be done. Today’s New Age scene makes practicing Witchcraft easier than ever. There is a climate of greater tolerance to these matters, and other disciplines benefit as well – such as parapsychology, homeopathy, and the more serious research into the occult. Those disciplines are not at all alike, but there are occasional overlaps that are immensely interesting. One such connection is the subject of Out of Body Experience, or as parapsychologists usually refer to it – OBE.

OBE is the condition in which the person undergoes separation between body and soul. The body remains asleep or immobile, while the soul travels the world or even the universe. The condition has been observed by such different people as Tibetan monks, German mystics, and Medieval witches. No one really knows how it happens, or if something actually leaves the body. Some say it’s simply a vivid dream, or a hallucination. Others feel that one’s consciousness is able to “stretch” to any distance, but the soul has nothing to do with it. We don’t know.

Witches have always done it. They believe that it is a dangerous pursuit, best done only after strict training, and under a “buddy system,” like scuba diving. When the soul leaves the body, a shining “silver” cord seems to connect them to each other. The witches say that it may snap and the person could die, unless carefully watched by the “buddy.”

Many modern witches, and some researchers as well, tend to believe that this was the base for the legend of the flying witch. The Medieval witches were so certain they actually flew when they were out of body, that they confessed doing so to their tormentors, much like what they did when they had flying dreams induced by drugs.

There is a large selection of books about OBEs. Particularly good are those written by Robert Monroe, a modern American who had incredible experiences with OBEs and had established a research center devoted to it.

Of course it is just one example. A combination of many disciplines, including the understanding of religion and history, can do much to open our eyes to new possibilities. Fortunately, some witches are willing to talk and cooperate, and their help is important. One of them is Sybil Leek.

She is an extraordinary woman. A truly nice human being, and a warm and committed family person and friend. A successful journalist, mostly in Radio and Television, and a writer of the most interesting books. She leads a normal life in every way, but in addition is, and has been since early childhood, a practicing witch. She has made it her mission to educate the public about the difference between Wicca and Satanism. The reason is her fear of the merging of the two systems. So many covens are sprouting, without the benefit of the traditional training, that some, she feels, may be drawn to the dark side. She strongly objects to the practice of occult knowledge without the mental discipline. Dabbling with the powerful forces of the Occult without being able to fully control them can be dangerous to the practitioners as well as to the people around them.

In addition, she is also concerned about the split in Witchcraft that took place during the 20th century. There are two major systems. One is the old Celtic Tradition which she follows with her coven, Horsa, located in New Forest in England. The other was led by the late Gerald Gardner, and is stronger in another part of England and in the Isle of Man. Both systems are influential in America as well.

Many consider Gardner the father of the revival of Witchcraft in our time, though he disagreed. He always maintained that good friends, who were members of a coven,  introduced and initiated him to Witchcraft. Either way, he certainly did much for the followers of the Old Religion, and his books are outstanding for their accuracy and historical interest.

Since 1951, the year in which the last laws against Witchcraft were repealed in England, many covens, on both sides of the Atlantic, came out of hiding. During the years of secrecy, they grew in different directions, and some have little or no resemblance to original Witchcraft. While Sybil Leek objects to that, other people feel that it doesn’t matter. As long as the basic tenets are followed and no harm is ever done, there is no reason to prevent evolution in the Old Religion.

It is impossible to outline a religion based on thousands of years in one short chapter.  In addition, so much is private and never revealed by any real witch. But some basic knowledge of the Old Religion is necessary even in a historical review such as this book. It is particularly important to set the record right, because the student can be misled by the number of modern books that pretend to teach the actual ritual. Those books are fun and mostly harmless, but they are not the Old Religion.

To understand how the Old Religion is structured, let’s start with the description of the Beginning. It is based on the old Celtic tradition, but of course it goes back much further.

In the beginning, there was Energy. The Energy was a mixture of the sublime, the material and the etheric fire. The fire contained life and creative thoughts.

The Supreme Being used these to create vapor, which eventually condensed into water, earth and air. They combined with the fire and together created physical and spiritual life.

Intelligent beings came to life. Some were lower than humanity, such as animals and plants. Some were higher, such as angels and nature spirits. All slowly evolved over millions of years into more complex and diverse forms.

This happened, and will happen again, not only on earth but throughout the universe. The great energy, directed by the Supreme Being, allows growth and reincarnation for everything – from the smallest creature to a star system.

Since spirit is always present, thought is a form of matter. By sending out thought, one can build matter from energy. This is one way “magic” is done – the creation and manipulation of events and matter in ways which are different from the usual.

Reincarnation allows continuous education. Each life, in the thousands of bodies the spirit occupies, teaches and refines the spirit. It is slowly prepared for the final merging with the creative force, when it will bring back all the rich experience to enhance the source.

Nature is the body of this life force. We are all part of it, and hurting even a small section is doing damage to the whole. This is why the witches are the guardians of the earth. They seek to protect and heal it. Each blade of grass, snail, or elephant is as important to the witch as her own body. This is why Witchcraft and ecology have so much in common.

Witchcraft does not have a Bible, but it has a code. In other religions, most of the tenets are based on the difference between good and evil. In Witchcraft, most of the tenets are based on natural laws. They stress a balanced life, based on the understanding of the cyclical nature of the universe and the earth.

To the witches, good and evil are human ideas. The powers they follow are neutral – they can be used to heal or to destroy. By carefully staying with the rules, they avoid harming anything.

Witches seek the Absolute Good by trying to find and correct imperfection within themselves. They also try to transfer the idea of goodness to all that surrounds them. The goodness within is the spark from the Supreme Being.

Evil must be shunned. Association with evil slows the pursuit of the absolute good. However, since everything was created by the Supreme Being, there is no point in judging other people’s behavior. Each person is responsible for their own acts. So the witch will not curse or put a hex on anyone – it will only hurt her own Karma. The world is full of matters beyond one’s control, but by using reason, the witch can avoid the pitfalls and go successfully through each incarnation. She avoids blaming circumstances, gods, or other people for her misfortunes, and tries to learn something from difficult events.

Witches have no temples. They worship the Creative Force through nature. Representing it are the Goddess and the God. The Goddess takes precedence – it is a matriarchal religion – but the male principle, represented by the God, is greatly honored. He warms the Earth to bring the harvest, and therefore is identified with the sun. He is also the essence of the spirit within the woods, trees and water. The Goddess is the all-mother, the symbol of fertility. She also represents the moon and its cycles.

It is easier to worship and identify with these two Gods, because they are part of the Earth. The Supreme Being, who is above all else, is involved with the concerns of the entire universe, and therefore more remote.

Through meditation, a witch can be in touch with higher beings. They help her with the growth of her character and development of her life. But this should not grow into dependency. Each person is responsible for her or his own growth, so mediation and contact with those beings are limited. As the spirit evolves, higher vibrations are developed, and one becomes closer to the Supreme Being. This makes magic easier to achieve.

The clue for witchcraft is the ability of the witch to see, really see, the connections and relationships in the universe. Since the Creative Force of the Supreme Being made the universe, everything is connected. When the connections are perceived, they can be manipulated. The witch does exactly that. You can learn a hundred different incantations and magic brews, but unless you see the hidden unity between two things or events which seem to be far apart by time and space – you’ll accomplish nothing.

All this is organized into the tenets, which are as important to the witch as the Ten Commandments are to the follower of the Judeo-Christian traditions.

The tenets are not in order. They are all equally important and depend on each other. Following them is as essential to being a witch as the knowledge of magic or the celebration of the ceremonies. There are various versions, but for the greater part they are in agreement.

* The tenet of reincarnation. Each human being has three parts – the body, which is the earthly vehicle;  the mind, which is the reasoning part;  the spirit, which is the immortal part. The spirit inhabits many bodies until it has learned enough to return to the Supreme Being.

* The tenet of the balanced life. One must learn to live a life which is orderly, balanced and free of any excess. Body and mind must be healthy. One must work and support oneself. Relationships must be reasonably good. Lifelong education must be pursued. Duty to one’s family and community must be honored.

* The tenet of the harmony with the universe. One must realize the unified nature of the universe and one’s place in it. Harmony is essential for the successful life and the Karma.

* The tenet of tolerance. One must accept the fact that others have different opinions, and endure it without suffering or inflicting pain.

* The tenet of learning. Learning should not be limited to books. Practical as well as theoretical learning is essential, and it must be applied to everyday life. It is best to learn personally, from a mentor, and at one’s own pace. One should realize what one is best at, and learn to specialize.

* The tenet of trust. All love must be accompanied by trust. This means love of every kind, toward people, animals, nature or the universe. Without trust love is meaningless.

To practice Witchcraft, the witch needs a few tools. They are very much the same since the dawn of the Old Religion, and are basically simple.

  • A sword, used for forming magic circles.
  • A knife, used to guard against evil.
  • A white-handled knife, used for cutting herbs or heather for the broom with which the witches sweep the circles clean.
  • A wand – for small private rituals, such as praying to the Guardian Spirits.
  • The Pentacle, a five or six-pointed star, used as an amulet, and carried at all times.
  • A censer – a vessel for burning incense.
  • Four candlesticks to burn in honor of East, South, West, and North.
  • The scourge – a knotted rope, used as a symbol of power and of suffering.
  • The cords -symbolic of the binding quality of the power.

While many of the practices are unknown, some are no longer a secret. Since the witches believe that the original Wicca came from the East, the altar is placed in the east. In addition, the witches start from the east when forming the circle. The representatives of the God and Goddess generally stand in the east, too.

Prayers are made toward the north. In the old days, the witches believed that the North was the direction of Paradise. It was underground, in a hollow earth, and the northern lights shone from there.

A circle is purified. The priest and priestess, as representatives of the God and Goddess, bless cake and wine in a short ceremony. They place a cauldron in the middle of the circle, and spirit is poured in and ignited. Herbs and flowers are thrown in. The priestess and priest, standing in a pose that represents the magical pentacle, chant a prayer. Everyone dances around the cauldron. After that, there is a feast, including the blessed cake and wine.

The circle represents a sacred place between our world and the world of the gods. It is drawn with chalk or paint on the floor, or simply drawn as a mark on the carpet. Another symbolic circle is drawn in the air with a magical knife. The circumference of the circle is between nine and 11 feet, unless there is a reason for a larger circle, perhaps  to include a larger coven. The inside is blessed and purified, and is considered the gods’ domain. It contains the power inside it, and does not let it dissipate.

Obviously, this is a beautiful, nature oriented, peaceful religion. But if one is not stable and balanced, the control of magic can be psychologically damaging. An unlimited use of the power may lead to Satanism. The Satanist has little self control, as Satanism does not demand it. So he or she is always willing to promise instant, powerful results to those who seek their aid. Satanism, therefore, is tempting for the new student who is not always patient, and wants to see quick results. Also, it has drama and style, and is more exciting than the balanced, controlled way of the Wicca. It glorifies unlimited mental power and justifies any excess as the natural state of humanity.

For example, an important difference is the way the gods and spirits are treated. To the witch, everything depends on free will. Even the choice of obeying the Goddess and God is exactly that – a choice. The price for such liberty is that the Gods do not have to give the witches what they want, either. If asked, the Gods may answer the request, or they may decide otherwise. The witch does not expect the requests to be answered regularly. The favors certainly cannot be demanded, and they are never bartered. There is no such thing as a sacrifice, for instance. No witch ever thinks – God, if you do such and such for me, I’ll say twenty prayers. Or if you answer my request, I’ll give to my favorite charity. Also, the Gods are never blamed for any natural calamity, such as an earthquake, or a forest fire. Such things are part of the natural history of the planet, and if the witch suffers because of it, well, that’s the way the world is. The only prayer the witch would say could be something like: “Dear Mother Goddess, give your daughter the courage and the strength to bear this calamity.”  These are not the exact words – they are not available – but this is the gist of it.

The Satanist, on the other hand, feels the need for control. The entities he approaches, be it demons or the spirits of the dead, are conjured and commanded to do the magician’s bidding. If the spirit manages to release itself from the spell, it generally turns on the magicians and destroy them.

However, it must be understood that the power itself is the same whether used by the witch or by the Satanist. The energy is coming from the same source, and is neither good nor evil. It’s just there, available to those who can use it. The Satanist knows about the unity of the universe as well as the witch, and conducts his or her magic accordingly.

To put a curse on someone, there must be a link made between the man, the “medicine” or charm, and the magician. The magician will obtain a few fingernail clips, some hair, or at least some clothing of the victim and establishes the link. If such objects are not available, the magician tries to create an artificial link. He will hide a magical object in the victim’s house, or will create a wax image in his likeness. Occasionally,  the magician will create a psychic link by simply declaring the need for it. The energy of magic then goes through the link as if it were a channel.

While witches have no need to tamper with other religions, the Satanists must. There is no Satanism without Christianity. As seen in a previous chapter, Satan, or the devil, is a Catholic creation. There is no real Satanic bible, Satanic code, or Satanic tenet. All that exist are the reverse of those of the Catholic Church. So the Satanist ritual is a crude and unpleasant mockery of the Church. Mutilated crucifixes, the Lord’s Prayer read backwards, obscenities inserted into the Bible readings are some of the rituals.

These practices are mainly stupid and lacking in good taste. Unfortunately, Satanists engage in some other, much more dangerous activities. There is evidence of desecration of cemeteries, animal mutilation, and even, though rarely, ritualistic murders. While not everything is known about their cult, there is no doubt that the animal mutilation is a form of sacrifice. The desecration of cemeteries is done for the purpose of digging out the dead bodies. The Satanists need the bodies for practicing necromancy.

The power of the Satanists should not be underestimated. Like the witches, they have psychic powers, and a variety of physical and mental tools. There are incantations and magic words, which are really a way of setting vibrations in a certain way. They use wands, rings of power, various herbs, and knives. The clothing is specially designed, with embroidery of the names of the demons or other forces.

Aleister Crowley was an interesting modern Satanist, living between 1875 and 1947. Crowley studied the occult from a very young age, with a particular interest in the dark side of magic. Blood, torture, and mutilation fascinated him. He even neglected to get his Cambridge degree because of his involvement with magic. For a short while he was part of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – an organization close in philosophy to Witchcraft. However, he was rather quickly expelled.

After that, Crowley completely dissociated himself from the Old Religion. It was much too tame for his taste, which leaned toward the dramatic. He called himself “The Great Beast” and his services were quite showy. He wore a wardrobe of incredible ritual garments, had an impressive collection of ceremonial swords and knives, and conducted the services on a huge altar, decorated with extremely tall, valuable antique candlesticks. The combination of the opulent surroundings, his magnificent voice, and his extremely dominant personality made him one of the most famous modern Satanists. For a long time Crowley had a large following.

Addiction to drugs and heavy drinking, however, destroyed his body as well as his mind. Still, he left books that may be of interest to the student of modern Witchcraft. Despite his many problems, Crowley was a very intelligent man and an interesting writer. His love of the theatrical, however, interfered with the accuracy of his writing. For example, he was blamed for practicing necromancy and human sacrifice, which in reality he never did. Not only he did not deny the activities, some people claim he actually started the rumors – to enhance his reputation as the “Great Beast.”  So one does not know how seriously to take some of his statements.

Another interesting Satanist is Anton LaVey. He is the founder of the Church of Satan, and the author of The Satanic Bible. As said above, it’s not really an official bible. It’s really just LaVey’s views. He maintains the traditional ideas, though, that Satanism is the reverse of Christianity. God, to him, represents evil, while Satan, who is good, will eventually triumph.

Interestingly, LaVey admits that he had never seen Satan. He feels Satan is a mirror image of humanity. While one can communicate with him, much like the way one communicates with God, Satan cannot be conjured or summoned any more than God can. The smaller demons and devils he considers mere dreams and hallucinations. This interesting approach got him many followers. Most of his success, though, he owes to his sense of drama, like Crowley, and his ability to manipulate people. His attitude to Witchcraft is clear. He despises witches and all they stand for, and considers them hypocrites. Obviously, Satanism has very little to do with Witchcraft, and is best avoided by the serious student. In addition, it has little to offer by comparison. A little instant gratification, sure, but not the depth of the Old Religion. It is a much younger religion, too, a mere few hundreds of years old, while the Old Religion had been here from the beginning.

In a religion this old, obviously there have been ongoing evolutions, and many branchings of the roads. It is good and even necessary that it should be so. But still, it is always important to maintain a balance, as the witches say. So we all benefit if the Old Religion is kept, at least by some, in its ancient and pure ways. As we are entering the twenty-first century, we do so with an ecosystem partially destroyed by our own lack of respect for nature. Perhaps it is time to learn from the ancient Guardians of the Earth. They can help us restore our planet to its former health and beauty. And then the sad eyes of the old Shape-Changer, the wise and innocent man/beast whose picture is so beautifully drawn on the dark walls of Stone Age caves, will no longer accuse us of the destruction of his beloved domain.

 

Resource:

Encyclopedia MYTHICA

Witchcraft – Chapter one – Introduction to Witchcraft

Witchcraft

Chapter one – Introduction to Witchcraft

by Ilil Arbel

Your world is rational and well ordered. Science, technology and regulated business are part of it. Why bother with a subject that seems so Medieval, perhaps even obsolete?  What has Witchcraft to do with you, as you sit at your books, or at your computer?  Thinking about these threatening old tales and vague images of evil may even make you uncomfortable. Is it at all worth your time?

Very much so. No pursuit is more important than the attempt to understand one’s own self. Magic preceded psychology, and the story of Witchcraft affords a significant glimpse into the development of our minds and feelings. Somehow, in the innermost recesses of our private thoughts, something still answers the call of the ancient horns of the Wild Ride of the Fairies and witches. With all our modern achievements, we are the same beings that once huddled in dark caves. It is good to acknowledge our heritage and learn from it.

The story of the witches is as old as the story of humanity itself, as proven by prehistoric evidence. They stayed throughout the centuries, sometimes openly, sometimes underground, but always influential. They are still with us.

Unfortunately, much of what is known about Witchcraft is based on superstitious nonsense, causing a bias toward a large group of people. This is unacceptable in today’s enlightened society, when most people try avoiding bigotry and prejudice. There has never been a group of people as misunderstood as those who follow Witchcraft, or as its followers call it, the Old Religion. It is estimated that nine million people have been humiliated, tortured and murdered because the world did not comprehend their ancient way of life.

In its purest form, the Old Religion is nature worship. It is also called Wicca, or The Way of the Wise People, and the followers are far from evil – they see themselves as guardians of the Earth and servants of a nature goddess. They are connected with the seasons, the plants, the animals and the planet, and seek a balanced life. They have much in common with ecologists. True, nothing in this world is untainted, and in the long history of Witchcraft there have been those who followed Satanism, Devil worship, Black Magic, Shamanism and Voodoo, among many other cults. But besides the fact that all those disciplines profess to the ability of creating magic, they have very little in common with true Witchcraft.

Upcoming chapters will discuss these Satanic activities as well as pure Witchcraft. It is impossible to understand the history of Witchcraft without knowing something about the Dark Side of magic. But it is important to realize that they are not, and never have been, one and the same.

Naturally, a good old village witch, who had to make a living selling her products and services, was a bit of a ham. While she could simply live and work in a clean cottage full of fragrant medicinal herbs, it looked much more convincing if she had a skull and a few bones on a shelf. It wouldn’t hurt if her trusty cat was all glossy black rather than a tabby. The sound of a bubbling cauldron had a good effect. And the broom looked better if it was a bit charred by fire. The customers could imagine her flying out of her chimney, cackling gleefully to herself as the sparks almost caught the broomstick. The image was good for business.

But when the great Witch Craze began in earnest, and the witches lost their places as the village doctors to become the enemies of the Church, people no longer knew what was true and what was not. It was all a mix, anyway. Take the old broom, for instance. A witch never really rode it through the air, of course. Where did this bizarre story come from?

The answer is surprisingly simple. Witches used long, dark wooden poles to perform a special fertility dance. They rode the pole as if it was a hobbyhorse, and jumped as high into the air as possible. They believed that the higher they jumped, the better the crops could grow. Sometimes they “rode” the poles to their nightly gatherings, jumping up and down all the way. Occasionally the neighbors saw them, though they wouldn’t follow them too far, as ordinary folks were superstitious and afraid of the dark in those days. The neighbors couldn’t quite understand what the witches were doing, singing and jumping like that. Could they be preparing to take off and fly?  It seemed very likely. Of course all the witches’ doings were secretive, it was part of the Old Religion. They had to do something with this pole between festivals. So what better way to hide its purpose than to disguise it as a broom?  All you had to do was to tie a few twigs and branches around it, and there it was, ready to sweep your cottage.

The Old Religion existed since the Stone Age. In a tradition that old, there have to be some rituals and forms of worship that may not appeal to everyone. Witches are aware of it and keep their practices to themselves. With very few exceptions, such as Sybil Leek or Aleister Crowley, who for various reasons made it their business to be known openly as witches, you won’t know who they are. Secrecy is essential, because even in today’s enlightened society, with all the laws against witches repealed, the presence of a witch still produces anxiety in a community, sometimes even direct persecution. Imagine if suddenly it becomes known in your hometown that the owner of the grocery store, or the plumber, or the lawyer who lives across the street, is a practicing witch. Imagine if it is your doctor, or the principal of your school. They will not be burned at the stake, of course. But the town, most likely, will either stop using their services or demand their resignation. It has happened many times.

The secrecy makes it difficult for those who have an open mind and truly want to understand. Who are these elusive people?  What do they really believe in?  Where have they originated?  Do they have inherited traits, giving them paranormal, psychic powers?  Do they cause harm to anyone?  One thing is clear. From our earliest history, from the very beginning, the witches have been with us.

There are certain caves, at archaeological sites dating 30,000 BCE, located in the regions between Russia and Spain. On the walls, and even on the ceilings of some of them, there are many carvings and paintings of easily recognizable animals, mostly bisons, antelopes, horses, bulls and deer. They are beautifully and realistically executed in both black and colored scenes. The artists were good observers and could draw the animals with amazing accuracy. However, there is also a repeated representation of a mysterious creature, who could not have possibly roamed the plains with the animals. He is half man, half animal. His face is human, but he has large horns adorning his head. He is covered with fur and has a tail, but he stands upright and his feet and hands are human. His eyes are large, sad, wise and very human. Many archaeologists agree that he is the image of a sorcerer or witch, a powerful member of an ancient pagan religion. His followers probably believed that he was a “shape changer,” a man who could make magic and change at will to an animal form. This school of archaeology believes that Western Witchcraft is a continuation of this pagan religion.

Other theories are a lot less likely and if considered each by itself, only partially explain the complicated origin of Witchcraft. Some people believe that witches were indeed in league with the Devil. This is an outdated, primitive approach, particularly for those with a scientific turn of mind, and a healthy skepticism about the existence of such an entity as the Devil.

Another theory is based on the belief that all the witches’ activities are based on nothing but hallucinations. Smearing their bodies with hallucinogenic drugs could account for flying dreams, images of savage demons and other interesting details of their Sabbaths. Undoubtedly some covens did use drugs. There will be a chapter in this book, devoted to the flora and fauna associated with Witchcraft, and it must be admitted right here that not all plants were grown just for healing. Belladonna, Monkshood, Datura, and Nightshade were often used at the festivals, and they were hallucinogenic when properly prepared. But they were only a small part of the activities, mostly recreational in nature or an aid to altered states of consciousness. Dismissing the entire proceedings as hallucinogenic dreams is, at best, an oversimplification of a very complex subject.

Another important theory is the connection between Western witches and the Fairies, Pixies, and other “Little People” of Europe. Combining this theory with the one about the ancient, Stone Age religion may explain, once and for all, where witches come from.

There are many races of pygmies living in the world today. Some examples are the pygmies of Africa, Malaysia, New Guinea and The Philippines. The pattern of their lives is similar – they are generally pushed around by their bigger neighbors. As a defense, they develop a secretive lifestyle. They are usually great hunters, almost magically able to stalk and attract their prey. They possess poison arrows which they can shoot with uncanny accuracy. They move with such agility and stealth that it seems as if they can be invisible at will. Their neighbors invariably think they have magic powers. The pygmies are hostile, in general, but if well treated may become friendly, and share their knowledge of herbs, hunting and weather patterns, or even leave gifts or exchange goods with their neighbors. Powerful enemies, faithful friends, always acting under the cover of the dark night, no matter where they live.

Races like that existed in Europe. There are old rock dwellings in the Isle of Man, Ireland, Scotland, Finland, and Russia in which you had to be about two to three feet tall to fit comfortably if standing upright. While individuals of this height exist, of course, there is no whole nation left in Europe today that is of this stature, so these dwellings provide an important clue.

Let’s review the origin of witches in the British Isles as an example. When the various invaders, such as the Romans, Saxons, and Normans entered the area, they encountered these small people. They gave them various names – Fairies, Pixies, Sidhe, and so on. Some names still have a meaning for us today. The term Pixie, for instance, is derived from Picts, a well-known old race from Northern England and Scotland. Other name origins are obscure. As usual, the Little People were hostile to their conquerors. They stole cattle and destroyed crops, resenting the fact that they were driven away from the best lands. But some friendships occurred, too, sometimes even leading to marriages between the invaders and the larger of the Little People.

Having a “Fairy wife” was a good thing. The ladies may have been small in stature, but they were very clever and pretty, and sometimes brought not only superior knowledge of the region and its natural resources, but also wealth. A very happy marriage occurred as late as 1380 A.D. between the chief of the MacLeod Clan in Scotland and a noble Fairy, who gave him a famous gift, the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan. It still exists in a Museum. Many of the descendants of this marriage live today. There are also tales of Roman, Saxon or Norman girls who ran away to become the wives of the King of the Fairies or his Lords. It was believed these women led wonderful, long lives in Fairyland, away from the toil and trouble of our “ordinary” world. These enchanting folktales will be discussed in a chapter devoted to the great literary figures in Witchcraft.

Some of the Little People lived in tiny rounded houses made of wood. There were no windows, only a smoke hole in the ceiling, admitting a delicate twilight into the room. The roof was rounded, too, and covered with sod. In spring, under the gentle rains and soft sunlight of the region, the houses sprouted grass. From a little distance, the grass made the houses look exactly like small green hills. You could get in through a door on the side of the house, but also through the smoke hole in the ceiling, which was usually equipped with a ladder for the convenience of the sentries. So the big neighbors could see the Little People going in and out of the side of the so-called hills, or go down a smoking chimney. How easy it was to make up stories about the mysterious Little People, the Sidhe, who lived inside hills and disliked sunlight. Even more important, how obvious is the origin of the story of a flying witch that could get in and out of a house through the chimney!  After all, if she didn’t fly, how else could she get to the roof?  An old hag like her surely couldn’t climb so high?

The Romans mingled with the Little People and had many descendants. These Roman-Britons stayed after the Romans left. They were larger than the original Little People, and looked a bit different. But they had, of course, much sympathy and understanding with them. When the Roman priests left, they took the gods with them, as was the custom of those years. So even if the Roman-Britons didn’t do so before, naturally they now started worshiping the same sweet, kind nature goddesses the Little People worshiped. After all, the native goddesses could so easily be identified with the Roman Diana or Venus. The bonds of family relationships and religion were strong. Together the two races faced the new invasions of the Saxons, Normans, Vikings, and eventually the Catholic Church.

The Saxons were good farmers, stolid, serious people, and they didn’t like the frivolity of the Little People. So they banished them to the heaths, were they lived for generations, and were called the “Heathens.”  Curiously, we still refer to non-Christians by that name. The Little People went about their business, carrying on their night festivals, coloring their nude bodies with green paint made of certain herbs, and generally enjoying life. The Saxons disapproved, in principle, but being human, sometimes mingled anyway. The charm of the Little People was, at times, irresistible. The descendants of the mixed marriages were even larger than those who married Romans, since the Saxons were taller and heavier.

Then Came the Normans, and they liked the Little People very much. The Normans were not strongly Christian, they disliked the Saxons, and they found an affinity with the Heathens. Many of the Heathens took employment with the Norman Lords. For some reason the Little People were always very good with horses. This was a skill the Normans respected, as they were very fond of horses. The mischievous Little People delighted in the enmity between their old adversaries the Saxons, and the Norman lords. They felt appreciated by their new employers, and often invited them to the night festivals they still celebrated. The Normans couldn’t resist. Outnumbered by the boring Saxons, they wanted fun and adventure. There are stories of horses disappearing from stables and of Norman Lords and Ladies riding all night, wearing strange disguises, on their way to attend the festivals. Perhaps this was the beginning of the legends of the Wild Hunts of the Fairies or the Wild Rides of the witches. Many, many mixed marriages took place.

Naturally, despite their mutual dislike, the Normans and the Saxons also started to mix. The descendants of this three-way mix no longer colored their nude bodies in green paint, but some continued to dye their clothes with this color. Wearing green clothes, you could easily camouflage yourself in, say, Sherwood Forest with your Merry Men, and shoot with uncanny accuracy at your enemies. You could have much fun stealing from the rich, and giving to the poor, as good Fairies always did, couldn’t you?  Or you would wear your green clothes at the May Games, which were similar to Witches’ Sabbaths, complete with the Great Maypole, feasts, and mystical initiations.

So here is how the origin of the witches begins to make sense. This is the story as it occurred in England. The same stories, or very similar ones, took place in Finland, Russia, Germany, and many other European countries. If the original Little People really possessed paranormal powers, as so many of their contemporaries claimed, those powers would be diluted by the mixed marriages, but not disappear. They would lie latent, surfacing occasionally in succeeding generations, as all talents do. It’s a long way from the ancient heaths, and those who wished to maintain the traditions of the Old Religion went through much pain and change through the years. So their descendants, friends and followers, who are the witches of today, may possess some psychic powers, or they may not. They follow a tradition as old as human civilization, but one that underwent many upheavals and transformations. They love and serve the Earth, but are still feared by humanity.

This book attempts to disentangle the mysteries and contradictions, without invading the privacy the witches wish to keep. Their history deserves a thorough and sympathetic examination. Like the members of any other group of people, they should be understood and respected for whom they are and what they stand for, without bigotry and prejudice.

Source:

Encyclopedia MYTHICA

 

Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for Feb. 27th is Adjustment

Your Crowley Thoth Tarot Card for Today

Adjustment

Adjustment denotes an inner power, mastery of will and development of inner might. Through mastering one’s emotions and learning from both success and failure the person Adjustment represents has reached a place where they are influential without applying physical force, able to weather the roughest of storms, and not likely to abandon the less fortunate. Adjustment also denotes a large capacity for forgiveness and compassion. Adjustment is not as much about winning as it is about achieving balance, overcoming hardship, and using well crafted persuasion to gain allies. Adjustment suggests the need and ability to make our decisions based on objective perceptions of events, and good or bad, accepting responsibility for our actions.

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Let’s Talk Witch – Making Magick Potions

Let’s Talk Witch – Making Magick Potions

The art of making potions goes back to the earliest civilizations and in terms of history, as one of the oldest crafts known to humankind. Brewing beer, making wine, and infusing potions are traditions that have been perfected through time. Many of the techniques making a great beer, wine or potion are the same. The mixture is often called a wort. The wort is then put through a process, which in the case of potions, gives it magickal properties.

The different ways of making potions stem from ancient medicinal and alchemical recipes, formulas that you can put together from basic ingredients in the privacy of your own kitchen. Historically magick love potions also called

philters, were often made of unappealing ingredients. You had to be extremely thristy or unaware of the contents to sip one. Today, this isn’t the case as most potion ingredients are tasty and appealing.

Potion brews can be anything from an herb tea to a fruit smoothie. One of the main things to remember when making any potion is to make it taste good if a person is going to drink it. If you are using a potion primarily for its scent, for example in a powder form, then make sure it smells good. Try to avoid unfortunate situations like the infamous wizard Aleister Crowley found himself in when he developed a perfume potion for sex magick called “It.” Great idea Aleister, but nothing came of “It,” because the stuff reputedly had a horrid smell!

Before you make your potion, be sure that you have all the ingredients and tools you will need at your fingertips. Following is a list of potion-making tools you will need:

*A ceramic, earthenware, glass, or wood bowl

*A pot, preferably one that is NOT made of metal, for brewing the potion

*A wooden spoon for stirring the potion

*Cheesecloth for straining the potion

*A mortar and pestle for grinding potion ingredients

*A container for the potion

Clean, preferably sterilize, all of your tools, especially the potion container. You can clean containers by carefully pouring boiling water into them, or you can put the container in the dishwasher, running it through the entire cycle and turning on the heat/dry cycle. This also does a good job of sterilizing contatiners. If you don’t have time to properly clean the chalice, cup, glass or other containers the potion is going in, then just make sure that it is as clean as possible. Any residue may taint the potion.

The kind of water you use is important when preparing a magick potion. Spring, well, rain, and distilled waters are better than tap water, which often contains chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride. Well water with no harmful contaminants can be used; rain water can be used as long as there aren’t any pollutants in it; and distilled water can be used for potions, but it is inert. Unless the recipe calls for it, I seldom use sea water or mineral water due to their mineral content.

Witches and wizards make potions by mixing one, two, a few or many ingredients together into one. Sometimes the ingredients are used just as they are. Other times they are ground up, shredded, pureed or crushed with your fingers or with the mortar and pestle. The herbs that go into your potion can be either fresh or dried. If you use fresh herbs, it take three times more of them than dried herbs. For example, if a potion recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried sage leaves and you want to use fresh sage, it would take three teaspoons of fresh sage to make the potion.

Processes call infusions and decoctions are also employed. An infusion, the most common method of internal herbal preparation, is usually in the form of a tea. It can also take the form of magick water. The infusion method works best when the potion you are making requires soft plant parts, such as leaves, flowers or green steams.

When using the infusion method of preparing potions, there are a couple of things you can do to make your potion more effective. One thing is to brew aromatic ingredients such as garlic and clove, in a pot with a lid that fits

on tight. The reason for this is to keep from losing the natural oils of the aromatic ingredients to evaporation. These natural oils are important for the effectiveness of the potion.

Some ingredients are sensitive to heat, so you can make a cold infusion by soaking the herbs in water for anywhere from 6 to 12 hours. A sealed earthenware pot is best for cold infusions. When preparing potions using the infusion method, only make enough for immediate use as infusions rapidly lose their potency.

The method for making a decoction potion is similar to the infusion. You begin by grinding your ingredients into a powder that you can then make your potions. Ingredients that are hard, such as bark and stems, require more heat to release their magickal properties. The use of more heat to release the natural oils of an ingredient is primary difference between the infusion and decoction methods of potion making.

The decoction method would be the one most associated with the traditional use of magick cauldrons. In this way, dried herbal ingredients are ground into powder and are cut into small piedes, and then added to the potion. The potion is made in a pot, and the ingredients are simmered and boiled in order to release their magickal properties. Again in the case of aromatic ingredients, you should use a lid on the pot to slow the evaporation process. The amount of time that you heat the mixture depends on the potion recipe. Usually decoction are strained to eliminate the hard bark and stems before using them.

At times, potions use both methods in their recipe. In this case prepare the two separately as a decoction and infusion, and then mix the ingredients together after the decoction has cooled. By doing so, the infusion ingredients are not ruined by the heat that the decoction process requires. Always stir clockwise.

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Finding The Craft

Finding The Craft

Author:   Siryn Dolphinsong 

While some might say they were not satisfied with the Christian life, I cannot really relate. Exposure to the mainstream religion of Christianity was not an option as my father had a severe distaste for their beliefs. I will not say I had the opportunity to become a Witch right away either though.

I guess spirituality was just not an importance in my growing years as far as my family was concerned, or they felt it was a decision only to be decided as an adult. My father was in the zone of reality and fact. My Mother on the other hand was a people pleaser and refused to discuss religion with anyone except to nod in agreement to avoid discussions.

As long as I can remember my Father instilled upon me that harm to myself or anything else living which included nature would be an act not forgiven and punishable by repayment that I would never want to see. Growing up and learning about all living things reminded me of attending science class yet the teachers would never change. I have lived with everything from monkeys to gerbils and those experiences taught me an appreciation for creation in which I have never forgotten. This experience was fact and my Father pushed for me to see the world good and bad. They used to call my Father Dr. Dolittle because he talked to the animals and plants as well.

I had always felt an empty space for spirituality and so as I got older, I spoke with my father whom I was closest to and I finally asked, “What religion do we practice or believe in?” I will never forget that day. My Father stated very seriously, if any one asks let them know we are animists.

Looking very confused, my Father began to explain. We are not Native American although they are the true people of this North America and I am ashamed of what the supposed Christians did to these people. We are of Irish and French descent carried over many years by boat, we had terrible times including the great potato famine. My Father continued to say he worshipped silently and believed every woman needed a man and every man needed a woman, just like there are the same aspects in most of nature to continue life. Religion he stated was how you lived your life and that if he did right his life would not stop by death. I left that conversation feeling almost complete. Even though I had my share of fallbacks and sometimes harmed my self by entering bad relationships and wrong decisions, I kept most of what we discussed close to my heart.

At fifteen, I fit in more with the drug crowd at school everyone else I thought were to righteous and stuck up. I had friends reading Aleister Crowley and dabbling in some sort of occult activity. I borrowed their books and felt curious but it was still too dark for me.

In 1984, when I turned eighteen I moved to Lewiston, Maine with my wild boyfriend. There was Witchcraft, white and black all around. Old shut down churches homesteaded by occult activity and it was in the papers daily. I met a white Witch who was very kind and told me I had a gift but not to follow through until I was ready to be serious. Just apartments down from us a guy sacrificed his girlfriend’s youngest child in the oven propping a chair at the door and made the other two older children watch while listening to some dark music, the neighbors call the fire dept. to report smoke. This incident was in the media and scared the wits out of me. I did not want accusations for such happenings so I stayed silent about my interest in the occult. I was also scared of introductions to weirdos who were into such acts of violence.

In 1990 when I moved in with my sister in St.Augustine, FL., everything seemed to have changed including the outlook on the occult. There were New Age shops opening everywhere. I found a metaphysical bookstore called “Dreamstreet” to which as soon as I opened the door all my stresses seem to leave my body. I felt addicted in a sense and I visited often sitting in their hammock reading about Goddess worship and alternatives to the mainstream religions. The smell of Nag-Champa in the air, the sweet acoustical music and the soothing voices of the merchants made me feel welcome and at home. I purchased my first “Green Egg” magazine there and my first bumper sticker that read, “God is coming back and she is pissed”.

I guess that is my first real connection with Witchcraft. I studied solitaire and eclectic, reading Buddhist and Hindu cultures to really be sure of what was right for me. I was very intrigued by Tarot cards; Runes and I would by smudge bundles for cleansing just to feel I was on my way to what would soon by my path.

I transferred in 1992 to Georgia where I reside now and it seemed right away rude awakenings were coming. No one ever asked if I went to church, it was always where do you attend church. I felt alienated until meeting my soul mate. I met my now husband who had previously been brought up Salvationist until he was eighteen and made the decision Christianity was not his path either.

Together we went to major bookstores and purchased books like Buckland’s big blue book and several Celtic related Witchcraft books. I often hear Witches condemn Llewelyn publications for being too commercial but without them Witchcraft would not have been as open to us as it is today. Our library has grown and we still travel every year to St. Augustine to fill my void of my bookstore and I still buy and stockpile smudge bundles for later use. This year we weren’t able to make the trip and Dreamstreet’s Web site is gone and the number is disconnected, to which makes me very sad. I hope it is just an incident where the names changed or they have just moved. My husband was an intern after college and was a computer guru so when the Internet became available we started networking and trying to find as many resources as possible. We followed The Witches’ Voice when they were in Massachusetts and kept with them during their move to Florida. Not to be biased but they have always seemed to be the most thorough in helping find others and keeping updated with Pagan news.

Today we worship together and offer a small study group to help people in this area that of our same lifestyle. We started “The Southern Circle of the Willow Moon” in 1997 with six members and although the members have changed, the beliefs and teachings are still the same. We learn from each other, we are not experts as Witchcraft is a lifelong path of learning and experiences. There are severe persecutions still existing in our area and no doubt in other strong Baptist areas as well. We will continue to travel to places where we can be free with our religious beliefs, find people who feel the same as we do and try and educate people on what Witchcraft really is.

I recommend anyone starting out on this path begin by study. I know it can be boring but some knowledge is better especially when seeking teachers. When I go to a bookstore and a teen comes up and starts telling me how long the have been into Witchcraft and what books I should or should not get makes me believe they are going through a self-esteem and identity crisis. I want no part of the person playing games with their spirituality.

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Making Your Life Magical

Making Your Life Magical

Author:   Wulfcempa  

Most Wiccans and witches – and many other pagans – practice some form of “magic” (often spelled “magick” to distinguish it from stage illusions) . Magick is a topic at which most modern westerners would likely scoff, and doubtless this attitude throws into question the credibility of those who claim to practice it.

We do not believe in the “supernatural“. All that exists that is part of this universe, is part of nature itself and is therefore “natural”. If intrusions from other universes or realities happen in this one, then that too is part of its natural processes. In other words, everything – everything – can be rationally and scientifically explained; we just don’t know all of those explanations yet.

We accept that there are many things about this universe that we not only cannot explain in concrete terms, but things of which we’re not even aware. Bear in mind that there was a time that germs, bacteria, and viruses were all completely unknown to humanity; a microscopic world of living creatures has surrounded us for as long as we’ve been on this planet and we only recently learned of it.

Scientists have never actually seen an atom, and many modern physicists feel confident that evidence indicates such incredible things as multiple universes. We’ve learned so much, but that which we still do not know boggles the mind while thrilling the imagination.

As I have said many times, being a witch or a pagan is more about what we do than what we believe. Whether it’s a magickal activity or a religious ritual, we engage in time-honored rites that – for whatever reason – just seem to work for us. It’s a bit like exercise; one need not understand advanced kinetics and physiology in order to benefit from a brisk, daily walk. Nor does one need to understand ritual and magick in order to reap its benefits; those who do it regularly will experience mental and spiritual gains.

But this post isn’t about magick; it’s about life.

I have an Egyptian-themed altar/shrine at home, and among the items on it is a statue of Thoth. In Egyptian mythology, Thoth was – among other things – a god of writing, magick, and science. I’m not sure what initially drew me to him, but my attachment is long-standing and strong enough that I made an altar for him and the goddess Bast.

By day, I’m a computer programmer. I write, using computer languages, things like this:

begin
select responder, recipient_role
into v_emp_user_name, v_recipient_role
from temp_notifications
where message_type = itemtype
and user_key = v_requisition_no
and notification_id = history_record.notification_id;
exception
when no_data_found then
v_emp_user_name := null;
v_recipient_role := null;
result := ‘COMPLETE:N’;
end;

…and when these words are “executed”, they result in the taking place of literal, real-world actions.

Remember Arthur C. Clarke’s famous statement, “any sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic“? It is easy to see the parallels between what I do by day and the concepts of magick. I use special languages full of words that have power, and yet I must order these words properly for them to have the desired effect. Sometimes they definitely backfire! But most of the time, I get the desired results.

Over time, I began to think of Thoth as having a modern role in addition to those normally attributed to him: the “patron saint” of computer programmers! But then, more recently, I made another connection. If what we pagans call “magick” isn’t supernatural, and if what computer programmers do is so similar to the methods of magickal practices… what, then, separates the two? Is it merely the fact that we humans have a scientific understanding of computer processing?

If modern magickal workings were to be defined scientifically tomorrow, would we put a new name on those activities and cease to call them “magick”?

I’m fond of blurring lines. A line that we’re forced to cross is no different from a line that holds us back; true freedom happens when there are no lines. And true magick happens all around us, every day.

Aleister Crowley defined magick as “the art and science of causing change in conformity with will”. We all do this, every day. For instance, when I sat down to write this post, it was something that I chose – to share my thoughts – and because my will to do this was strong enough, I made the time and put forth the effort. It is art (writing) and science (grammar, spelling, word processors and the Internet) , it is change (because this document didn’t exist before I wrote it) and it was my will.

Am I trying to diminish the practice of magick? Of course not. Instead, I am suggesting that we bring magick into our everyday lives… where it belongs. Learning to see the “magick” in the things that we choose to do means seeing those things in a whole new light… because when we realize that those elements that make up an act of magick exist in so many of our daily actions, we begin to see ways that even the mundane can be made special.

In many eastern philosophies, adherents are taught the value of living in each and every moment:

“As you practice Zen in your life, you will see that living in the present moment is like living heaven on earth. Even though we can all deal with this one moment right in front of us, we rarely live in this one moment right in front of us. We don’t know how. We have been conditioned since our early childhoods to live in the future or the past.” -Everything.com, Zen: Living in the Moment

Seeing ordinary actions as magickal is one way of helping us to live more consciously and building in us the habit of “living in the moment”. Yet it works in the other direction, as well… for as people who have studied the ways of “magick”, we are already trained in the skills necessary to embrace a magickal life.

This is convergence; when the ordinary and the magical become one in a person’s life, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The ordinary takes on new vibrancy, and those energies, which are normally reserved for our rituals suddenly, work their way into our everyday lives.

________________________________

Footnotes:
http://www.everything.com/zen-philosophy-living-in-moment/

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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.

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New, Old, or Returning to your Path…

New, Old, or Returning to your Path…

Author:   Darksky   

Firstly, like anything else in life no matter where you’re at in your stage, degree, or practice of the Magickal arts, you’re not the only one that has felt the way you do. We have all been overwhelmed, frustrated, unsure, or confused. New, old, or returning let me say congratulation and welcome! Taking the first step is always a big decision, but you did and now your here.

So now what? You have read everything in print, you have spoken to folks who practice the craft, you have heard from craft store owners, and of course people with their own witch/occult web site. I would say, take everything that you have heard with a grain of salt and do some research. Do not always take what you read or hear so literally. Getting into anything new or returning to it needs a point of origin.

Start with the basics, you cant do advanced work if you haven’t got a good working concept of the basics, and should you be rusty go back and review. True, there is so much to learn, but there are so many paths, traditions, and pantheons to experience. Patience, and being methodical will yield knowledge, safety, and rewards for all your hard work.

So…back to an origin, a jumping off point, Magick is the control of ones own environment, to be able to manifest change in ones self and ones surrounds. So how do we achieve this if we are not in control, distracted, or unsure? To just read books, take classes, buy tools, light candles, deal tarot cards, and attend seminars and book signings are merely actions. Magick without intention and intuition is incomplete and void. A magician needs to have confidence, intuition, and be able to infuse, inject, and penetrate every single aspect of his or her work with intention.

While magick is the art of control in order to manifest, it is also a connection with the universe, nature and the Lord and Lady, that is true, but more importantly it is a connection with ones self.
Self is so vital to magick. True magick is practiced without ego, but without knowing ones self, is it possible?

New, old or returning to your path, your thinking am I ready, have I read enough, how will I know if I doing it right? You may be thinking “I need a teacher, some one to tell me if I’m doing it right.” Sound familiar?

What you need is to learn to listen to yourself, feel the flow of magick, feel nature, feel the universe, and make and keep that connection with the Lord and Lady in your own way. Magick is without doubt, but it’s not without planning, studying, execution, re-evaluation, and perfecting. Never sell yourself short, or underestimate your abilities. I mentioned it before in another post, all the best and great magicians all started out on their journey the same as you and I, with a curiosity and yearning to be more, a feeling akin to something was missing, in short a calling.

You don’t need a certificate, or a degree program that says you are a witch. You will know if you are or aren’t. Would all the great magicians have been lesser practitioners if they had not attended classes? Don’t get me wrong, instruction is good and having someone impart his or her experience and mistakes can be an asset to your practice, if used as a resource. You need to make the magick you practice and craft your own.

Take all you read, hear, try, and are taught and refine it to suit your needs. What works for one witch may not have such a positive outcome for another witch. Write your own spells, your own rituals, make your own oils/incense. Study with out doubt, listen to what the elements, spirits, and the universe have to offer you and make it your own. Practicing the craft and being a witch isn’t the same for everyone. The early magicians that started out with the Golden Dawn took what they learned and applied and formed their own brand of magick. Alex and Maxine Sanders developed their own brand of magick; as did Gardner and Crowley, just to name a few. Christopher Penczak was a Laurie Cabot taught witch and he went on to develop his own brand, as I’m sure Laurie Cabot did.

Magick is personal, intimate, and forever growing. It’s always developing within all of us. Practicing the craft is just that it’s practice, hard work and commitment. Constantly revisit your BOS, and your rituals and styles of writing and preparations to become more in tune with the surrounds and yourself, until you reach a level of proficiency and confidence and belief, but in no way cocky or arrogant. Re-evaluate your workings, combinations of colors, planetary hours, days and nights of the week, and most of all your intentions and intuitions.

We all get a little lax in any en-devour and may look to a quicker way of doing things, and sometimes that a good thing. Magick and the practice of it, is not about the quick and easy way. Slow, methodical, purposeful, with anticipation and excitement. Never bite the magickal hand that feeds you.

So new, old, or returning to your path go slow, prioritize, research, meditate, question, experiment, re-evaluate, and keep silent, remember Crowley said, “Every man and every woman is a star”. Believe it!

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Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Paganism is wholesome because it faces the facts of life.
Aleister Crowley

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.
Albert Einstein

“Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law, love is the law. Love under will.”
Aleister Crowley

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