Mysticism’s Effect Upon The World

Mysticism’s Effect Upon The World

Author: Stewart Bitkoff  

Q: Is the completed person, one who has achieved God Consciousness, a God? This is what some traditions claim. Can you clarify this point?

Since I have heard of the world of Love,
I’ve spent my life, my heart
And my eyes this way.
I used to think that Love
And Beloved are different.
I know they are the same.
~ Rumi

First, we must discuss limitations on our discussion. The claims of different traditions have to be viewed from within that tradition. It is very difficult for an observer to understand or fully comprehend what is operating unless the observer has first hand experience; we operate under the assumption that all faiths are true at a certain level.

Also, it is very difficult to put into words a spiritual state, or a spiritual level that one has not yet attained. However, useful comparisons may be made. Last, we must take into account historical perspective. When each of the great faiths was initiated and when the title of ‘god’ was conferred, the term may have meant something a little different than what it means today in our monotheistic culture. Many cultures acknowledge the existence of spiritual entities that govern plants, forests, and mountains. In these traditions, there are different levels of ‘gods’ and ‘gods’ for natural phenomena.

With our strides in science and present focus upon exploration of self and religion, we are beginning to understand some of these miraculous ‘phenomena’ as extensions of natural laws. Interestingly enough, that is what the wise ones have always said concerning their ‘miracles.’

The outcome of all mystery traditions and human development systems is the completed person. In some traditions, these spiritually developed individuals are called Buddha, Sadhu, and enlightened one, servant of God, saint, witch, mystic, or heretic. Yet, what each of these people has in common is they have achieved a level of spiritual development, which in the context of their faith, is extraordinary. Along with this level of spiritual development are capacities that appear miraculous, simply because they are not understood. Yet, the person who uses these capacities, when questioned, describes them as extensions of natural laws, which they intuitively and purposefully direct to carry out higher functions.

Also, part of the confusion surrounding this issue comes about due to specific statements made by individuals who were deemed highly spiritually developed. Some of these statements were termed heretical and people were executed for making them.

Part of the mystical path, is a state, called annihilation. In this state, the worldly consciousness is annihilated or destroyed and the spirit is unified (unification occurs-another state) and briefly becomes one with Truth/God. In this state, should the person speak and sometimes the energy is so strong and joyous, they assert out loud, “I Am The Way.” Or “I Am The Truth.”

When this happens, it is not the person speaking, but the spirit or energy that is moving through them, asserting itself. This energy is the Logos, or Spirit of God; for this energy, or Light, is the binding force of the universe and is the Way and the Truth. It is suggested that Jesus, in part, was killed for making this statement. Similarly, a Muslim Saint, Al-Hallaj was disemboweled for making this claim.

From our perspective, that which is greater than the universe is different than that which enters it and is created. Although a part of God is in everyone, no matter how well advanced a spiritual entity; we are not the Creator or the same as the Creator.

Some traditions assert the Logos takes on a human form to carry out its mission. Perhaps, this is true and this is a wonderful event, however, is this the same as the Creator entering the world of forms? Each must come to a decision about this on their own, and, it is suggested, the event be viewed within the context of the specific faith asserting this.

Q: What is mysticism?

All creation is calling upon God. You cannot hear or see it on the outside, but the essence in everything is continuously remembering and calling upon God.
~ Sheik Muzaffer

Mysticism is the process by which one studies or learns about the mysteries or mystery traditions. Within each of the great faiths, there is an inner, hidden teaching that is transcendent and unifying. The reason this teaching is hidden is that in order to study it, a number of factors have to be in place. Until recently, these factors were not publicly stated or attempts made to have them publicly understood. In the past, the study of this material, if publicly known, often resulted in death.

When viewed from a distance, these criteria are applicable to any human endeavor. Let us suppose we wanted to take a class and learn about fly-fishing. We would have to find out what time the class was starting, where it was being held, and who was teaching the class and what preparations necessary. Was the class for beginners or more advanced students?

It is the same with mystical studies; however, in this endeavor one other factor is operating. This is termed sincerity and relates to the intention of the student. If the student wishes to align with Truth, not for individual gain, but for its own sake, these are the students who attain, and it is this sincerity the teacher calls to and recognizes in the student. Because of this inner condition, it is tradition, the teacher finds the student.

Throughout this writing, some of this alternative, or mysterious view of things, has been offered. Simply stated it is the natural process of spiritual/higher development and this added spiritual knowledge/capacity enables the best for everyone.

At various times, this view has been banned and its practitioners killed, because some felt this knowledge was a threat. Today, in our more open society this view is again being made public, is more accessible, and travelers continue to benefit.

Q: How can the mystical view help our modern world? No matter what you assert, how can this be the way it is meant to be; it’s a real mess out there.

When the paintings are hidden, you will see the Painter. O brother/sister, I will tell you the mystery of mysteries. Know, then, that painting and Painter are one! When your faith is made perfect, you will never see yourself, save in Him.
Attar

According to mystical tradition, this mystical or holistic view is the balancing factor. It is the missing ingredient and the pot of gold at rainbow’s end. This viewpoint balances the needs of the individual with the need of the larger society; it reconciles the differences in religious philosophy and the spiritual experience of the Light is unifying and life changing.

If you perceive the world as in a state of confusion, remember the following. That what you see before you is a stage in evolution; we are evolving into something higher. Each has a contribution to make; that is part of the journey. What will be your contribution? Remember each contribution is necessary for the completed work.

If you do not believe these claims, test them out yourself and, in time, the world will become a better place, one person at a time.

Contentment is putting aside of free will.
~ Junaid
__________
Also by Dr. Bitkoff, A Commuter’s Guide to Enlightenment, Llewellyn, 2008 and Journey of Light: Trilogy, Authorhouse, 2004. These books are available on Amazon.Com or from publisher.

To contact author go to: http://www.stewartbitkoff.com or e-mail: goldpath@ptd.net.

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The Mysteries and Esoteric Witchcraft

The Mysteries and Esoteric Witchcraft

Author:   Rhys Chisnall   
 

“The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. He to whom the emotion is a stranger: whom no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms- this knowledge, this feeling, is at the centre of true religion.” – Albert Einstein

One of the hardest aspects of the esoteric initiatory Witchcraft to write about, or even communicate, is its strong mystery aspect. Yet, in my opinion, it is one of the most important things that distinguish it from New Age and Popular Wicca/Witchcraft. By its very nature the mystical aspects of Witchcraft are a thoroughly subjective experience and as such any cursory and brief exploration such as this article or any other in print are going to be subjective and inadequate.

“Second hand mysticism has generally an unsatisfactory experience, since if these notions are not the driving force of our life, are not the pulse beat of our heart or are not personally integrated into our whole, then they are empty gestures. Then they are devoid of meaning similar to reading a literary criticism rather than reading the poem itself. The mystical experience is immediate not vicarious or deputed” (Armstrong 1999)

The mysteries need to be experienced, and they cannot be explained in everyday language, hence the need for the metaphors of myth and the communication of the experiences through the metaphors of symbols and ritual. The religious commentator, theologian and mystic Karen Armstrong said that.

“There is a linguistic connection between the three words, myth, mysticism and mystery. All derive from the Greek verb musterion: to close the eyes or the mouth”. (Armstrong 1999)

There are many roads to the mysteries and the mystical experience. As Prof Joseph Campbell (the late expert in comparative mythology) quotes from the Rig Veda, “Truth is one, but the sages speak of it by many names.” He also tells the story of an interfaith conference set up between Shinto and Catholicism. He was struck at how the priests of Catholicism and Shinto found it difficult to find a commonality or a common religious language to communicate with each other, but the monks and nuns of each religion could. This was because the priests were concerned with holding up their metaphors, their myths, symbols and rituals as ends in themselves, whereas the monks and nuns had moved beyond the metaphors to the experience of the sacred and the divine itself. They were not stuck with believing that the metaphors were the reality and the end goal. They had gone past the virgin birth, the resurrection, and even God, to find a community in the mysteries and mystical experience that were shared by their Shinto counterparts. As Campbell said, “Religion is misinterpreted myth”

The Armenian-Greek esoteric philosopher and practitioner G. I. Gurdjieff suggested that there were four paths to the mysteries. The first three, the way of the fakir, the way of the yogi (nothing to do with picnic baskets) and the way of the monk are mostly eastern ways to experience the mysteries and represent the three disciplines of the mind, the body and contemplation. These three paths are typical of the Eastern Mystery tradition in that they all involve a withdrawal from society and the world.

The fourth way is ‘the way of the hearth’. It is the way of the Western Mystery Tradition of which esoteric initiatory Witchcraft along with Hermeticism, Qabbalah, mystical Christianity and Sufism are parts. It is the way of being fully integrated with the world, identifying with the universe and with life and not attempting to escape from it (with the notable exception of Gnosticism) . It is seeing no separation between humanity, nature and the divine.

To my mind esoteric initiatory Witchcraft liturgy and ritual are full of mystical language, myth and metaphor. For example within Gardnerian and Alexandrian Witchcraft there are phrases such as, “there is no part of us that is not of the god.” And of course the classic mysteries phrase of the Charge of the Goddess, “If that which thou seeketh, thou findest not within thee, you will never find it without thee.” These and other parts of Witchcraft ritual (not to mention many of the techniques used in ritual to help induce these kinds of states of mind) , strongly suggest the mysteries and mystical experience. The myths of esoteric initiatory Witchcraft point to the internal experience of the mysteries within the individual Witch, relating them to the cosmos, designed to take us beyond mere religion to the direct experience of numinous, divinity and the sacred. The systems, techniques and processes of esoteric Craft, to my mind, seem designed to take us beyond ourselves, and the sum of the parts of the tradition itself, into personal transformation and a new awareness.

So what are mysticism and the mysteries? According to the psychologist Lawrence Le Shan, “Mysticism from a historical and psychological viewpoint, is the search for and experience of the relationship of the individual himself (herself) and the totality that makes up the universe.” (LeShan 1974)

Karen Armstrong agrees when she writes, “Mystics have long claimed that he [God] is a subjective experience, mysteriously experienced in the ‘Ground of Being’…………..they claim that he did not really exist and it is better to call him No-thing”. (Armstrong 1999)

As such the mysteries go way beyond the dogmas, metaphors and systems that have been inspired by them. The techniques and participating within the metaphors of myth, relating it to the self and personal transformation give the practitioner a direct and vivid experience of a unity with a ‘different order of reality’, or perhaps, an expanded order of reality of which they are a part- unified with. They experience eternity within a second, being and non-being, beauty and horror but with no contradiction, no duality, no difference between sacred and profane. In essence the experience is indescribable expect through the language of metaphor, which sadly is mistaken for reality and an end in itself. The effect of these experiences is an inner alchemy, personal transformation- life and indeed you are never the same again.

Campbell hints at this when he says, “But the ultimate mystical goal is to be united with one’s god. With that the duality is transcended and forms disappear. There is nobody there, no god, no you. Your mind, going past all concepts, has dissolved in identification with the ground of your being”. (Campbell 1988)

Now sadly for the bit that people don’t like. The path to the mysteries is not an easy one. Rather it is one that requires hard work, commitment and dedication; it is not for people looking for instant results or an escape from reality. The starting point on the road to the mysteries and esoteric Witchcraft has got to be that of a coping adult, as Joanne Pearson reports in her essay Assumed Affinities (the difference between Initiatory Wicca- specifically Gardnerian and Alexandrian- and New Age spiritualities) .

“In the questionnaire, mentioned at the start of this chapter, none of the hundred (Gardnerian/Alexandrian) Wiccans who responded indicated that they had become involved in Wicca because ‘their life was not working’, and supplementary fieldwork does not indicate that these Wiccans assume there lives or the lives of other Wiccans are, or were Dysfunctional.” (Pearson 1998)

The Witch Dr. Dave Bracey confirms the difficulties and hard work of pursuing the mysteries when he says, “The mysteries are not easy to apprehend. It requires long training, usually with a spiritual guide or facilitator, and a considerable investment of time. This is not something that has much appeal to many in our present day society, conditioned as it is with fast cars, fast food, fast solutions and instant gratification and speedy communication. The mysteries do not arrive ready made and pre-packaged. They cannot be experienced as quickly as the instant high of the new age. But neither does the (esoteric initiatory) Witch’s ‘awareness’ wane, as does the let-down that so often eventuates when the newness of the ‘reborn’ convert fades to be left with the forms and structures of religion which so often become ends in themselves.” (Bracey 2001)

Like much else in life things that are of value are often thing that require a lot of hard work. Saying that though, there are circumstances where mystical experience arises quite spontaneously in some people. This may be down to horrific or beautiful situations, which invoke tremendously strong emotions within individuals that lead them to having an experience of the mysteries.

I am sure that there are many, many people who are perfectly happy practising their religion of non-initiatory exoteric Wicca and Witchcraft and good luck to them, each to their own. I am sure that people get a great deal of spiritual fulfillment from them. So just to reiterate so there is no confusion, esoteric initiatory Witchcraft is not better than New Age and Popular Wicca. It is just different, with different aims, philosophies and purposes and practices. So if the mysteries are not for you, then please feel free to ignore this article, remember that this is only one way and there are many others.

I shall finish with another quote from Dr. Bracey as he talks about the relationship between the mysteries and Craft. “So the mysteries are not for all, but is the way of (esoteric initiatory) Witches. We who ride beyond the ordinary, rejecting the supernatural in favour of the supra-natural, and who are aware of the relationship of the part to the whole.” (Bracey 2001)

____________________________________

Footnotes:
Campbell, J, (1988) , ‘The Power of Myth’, Doubleday
Campbell, J, (1959) , ‘The Mask of God (Primitive mythology, Oriental Mythology, Occidental Mythology and Creative Mythology) ’, Condor
Campbell, J, (1949) , ‘The Hero with a Thousand faces’, Princetown University Press
Campbell, J, (2001) , ‘Thou art that, transforming religious metaphors’, Joseph Cambell Foundation
Campbell, J, (2004) , ‘Pathways to Bliss, Mythology and Personal Transformation’, Joseph Campbell Foundation
Crowley, V, (1989) , ’ Wicca the old Religion in the New Age’, Aquarian Press
Armstrong, K, (1999) , ’ A History of God’, Vintage
Armstrong, K, (2005) , ‘A Short History of Myth’, Cannongate
Pearosn, J, Roberts, R, Samuel, G, (1998) , ‘Nature Religion Today’, Edinburgh University Press
Pearson, J, (2007) , ‘Wicca and the Christian Heritage (Ritual, Sex and magic) , Routledge
Fortune, D, (1935) , ‘The Mystical Qabalah’, Aquarian
Hutton, R, (2003) , ‘Witches, Druids, and King Arthur, Oxford University Press
Heselton, P, (1995) , ‘Secret Places of the Goddess’, Capal Ban
Underhill, E, (1993) , ‘Mysticism’, Oneworld
Lamond, F, (1997) , ‘Religion without Beliefs’, Janus
Lamond, F, (2004) , ‘Fifty Years of Wicca’, Green magic
LeShan, L, (1974) , ‘How to Meditate’, Turnstone
Bracey, D, (2001) , ‘A Personal View of God’, TNW

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Your Ancient Symbol Card for Dec. 2nd is The Moon

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Moon

Although men have stepped upon the moon and scientists have analyzed it almost endlessly, there remains in our collective unconscious a vision of the moon that shrouds it in mystery. And why wouldn’t there be? Being earth’s closest neighbor, having a clear influence on many of earth’s cycles and constantly changing in appearance, it is only fitting that our ancestors endlessly pondered and speculated on our magnificent moon’s powers. The Moon represents the pure feminine nature and the gateway to understanding the mystical world that cannot be explained by science. Its soft glow provides a gentle light in the darkness of night. Metaphorically, the powers associated with the moon supply the seeker with a light to explore the mystical aspects of our world. It empowers the sense of wonder in those open to psychic adventures.

As a daily card, The Moon is indicative of a time when your feminine side and connection to the spiritual world is very strong. Essentially you are “tuned in” spiritually which makes this an ideal time for you to investigate your place in our mystical world.

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Nov. 28th is The Moon

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

The Moon

Although men have stepped upon the moon and scientists have analyzed it almost endlessly, there remains in our collective unconscious a vision of the moon that shrouds it in mystery. And why wouldn’t there be? Being earth’s closest neighbor, having a clear influence on many of earth’s cycles and constantly changing in appearance, it is only fitting that our ancestors endlessly pondered and speculated on our magnificent moon’s powers. The Moon represents the pure feminine nature and the gateway to understanding the mystical world that cannot be explained by science. Its soft glow provides a gentle light in the darkness of night. Metaphorically, the powers associated with the moon supply the seeker with a light to explore the mystical aspects of our world. It empowers the sense of wonder in those open to psychic adventures.

As a daily card, The Moon is indicative of a time when your feminine side and connection to the spiritual world is very strong. Essentially you are “tuned in” spiritually which makes this an ideal time for you to investigate your place in our mystical world.

The Mysteries and Esoteric Witchcraft

The Mysteries and Esoteric Witchcraft

Author: Rhys Chisnall

“The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. He to whom the emotion is a stranger: whom no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms- this knowledge, this feeling, is at the centre of true religion.” – Albert Einstein

One of the hardest aspects of the esoteric initiatory Witchcraft to write about, or even communicate, is its strong mystery aspect. Yet, in my opinion, it is one of the most important things that distinguish it from New Age and Popular Wicca/Witchcraft. By its very nature the mystical aspects of Witchcraft are a thoroughly subjective experience and as such any cursory and brief exploration such as this article or any other in print are going to be subjective and inadequate.

“Second hand mysticism has generally an unsatisfactory experience, since if these notions are not the driving force of our life, are not the pulse beat of our heart or are not personally integrated into our whole, then they are empty gestures. Then they are devoid of meaning similar to reading a literary criticism rather than reading the poem itself. The mystical experience is immediate not vicarious or deputed” (Armstrong 1999)

The mysteries need to be experienced, and they cannot be explained in everyday language, hence the need for the metaphors of myth and the communication of the experiences through the metaphors of symbols and ritual. The religious commentator, theologian and mystic Karen Armstrong said that.

“There is a linguistic connection between the three words, myth, mysticism and mystery. All derive from the Greek verb musterion: to close the eyes or the mouth”. (Armstrong 1999)

There are many roads to the mysteries and the mystical experience. As Prof Joseph Campbell (the late expert in comparative mythology) quotes from the Rig Veda, “Truth is one, but the sages speak of it by many names.” He also tells the story of an interfaith conference set up between Shinto and Catholicism. He was struck at how the priests of Catholicism and Shinto found it difficult to find a commonality or a common religious language to communicate with each other, but the monks and nuns of each religion could. This was because the priests were concerned with holding up their metaphors, their myths, symbols and rituals as ends in themselves, whereas the monks and nuns had moved beyond the metaphors to the experience of the sacred and the divine itself. They were not stuck with believing that the metaphors were the reality and the end goal. They had gone past the virgin birth, the resurrection, and even God, to find a community in the mysteries and mystical experience that were shared by their Shinto counterparts. As Campbell said, “Religion is misinterpreted myth”

The Armenian-Greek esoteric philosopher and practitioner G. I. Gurdjieff suggested that there were four paths to the mysteries. The first three, the way of the fakir, the way of the yogi (nothing to do with picnic baskets) and the way of the monk are mostly eastern ways to experience the mysteries and represent the three disciplines of the mind, the body and contemplation. These three paths are typical of the Eastern Mystery tradition in that they all involve a withdrawal from society and the world.

The fourth way is ‘the way of the hearth’. It is the way of the Western Mystery Tradition of which esoteric initiatory Witchcraft along with Hermeticism, Qabbalah, mystical Christianity and Sufism are parts. It is the way of being fully integrated with the world, identifying with the universe and with life and not attempting to escape from it (with the notable exception of Gnosticism) . It is seeing no separation between humanity, nature and the divine.
To my mind esoteric initiatory Witchcraft liturgy and ritual are full of mystical language, myth and metaphor. For example within Gardnerian and Alexandrian Witchcraft there are phrases such as, “there is no part of us that is not of the god.” And of course the classic mysteries phrase of the Charge of the Goddess, “If that which thou seeketh, thou findest not within thee, you will never find it without thee.” These and other parts of Witchcraft ritual (not to mention many of the techniques used in ritual to help induce these kinds of states of mind) , strongly suggest the mysteries and mystical experience. The myths of esoteric initiatory Witchcraft point to the internal experience of the mysteries within the individual Witch, relating them to the cosmos, designed to take us beyond mere religion to the direct experience of numinous, divinity and the sacred. The systems, techniques and processes of esoteric Craft, to my mind, seem designed to take us beyond ourselves, and the sum of the parts of the tradition itself, into personal transformation and a new awareness.

So what are mysticism and the mysteries? According to the psychologist Lawrence Le Shan, “Mysticism from a historical and psychological viewpoint, is the search for and experience of the relationship of the individual himself (herself) and the totality that makes up the universe.” (LeShan 1974)

Karen Armstrong agrees when she writes, “Mystics have long claimed that he [God] is a subjective experience, mysteriously experienced in the ‘Ground of Being’…………..they claim that he did not really exist and it is better to call him No-thing”. (Armstrong 1999)

As such the mysteries go way beyond the dogmas, metaphors and systems that have been inspired by them. The techniques and participating within the metaphors of myth, relating it to the self and personal transformation give the practitioner a direct and vivid experience of a unity with a ‘different order of reality’, or perhaps, an expanded order of reality of which they are a part- unified with. They experience eternity within a second, being and non-being, beauty and horror but with no contradiction, no duality, no difference between sacred and profane. In essence the experience is indescribable expect through the language of metaphor, which sadly is mistaken for reality and an end in itself. The effect of these experiences is an inner alchemy, personal transformation- life and indeed you are never the same again.

Campbell hints at this when he says, “But the ultimate mystical goal is to be united with one’s god. With that the duality is transcended and forms disappear. There is nobody there, no god, no you. Your mind, going past all concepts, has dissolved in identification with the ground of your being”. (Campbell 1988)

Now sadly for the bit that people don’t like. The path to the mysteries is not an easy one. Rather it is one that requires hard work, commitment and dedication; it is not for people looking for instant results or an escape from reality. The starting point on the road to the mysteries and esoteric Witchcraft has got to be that of a coping adult, as Joanne Pearson reports in her essay Assumed Affinities (the difference between Initiatory Wicca- specifically Gardnerian and Alexandrian- and New Age spiritualities) .

“In the questionnaire, mentioned at the start of this chapter, none of the hundred (Gardnerian/Alexandrian) Wiccans who responded indicated that they had become involved in Wicca because ‘their life was not working’, and supplementary fieldwork does not indicate that these Wiccans assume there lives or the lives of other Wiccans are, or were Dysfunctional.” (Pearson 1998)

The Witch Dr. Dave Bracey confirms the difficulties and hard work of pursuing the mysteries when he says, “The mysteries are not easy to apprehend. It requires long training, usually with a spiritual guide or facilitator, and a considerable investment of time. This is not something that has much appeal to many in our present day society, conditioned as it is with fast cars, fast food, fast solutions and instant gratification and speedy communication. The mysteries do not arrive ready made and pre-packaged. They cannot be experienced as quickly as the instant high of the new age. But neither does the (esoteric initiatory) Witch’s ‘awareness’ wane, as does the let-down that so often eventuates when the newness of the ‘reborn’ convert fades to be left with the forms and structures of religion which so often become ends in themselves.” (Bracey 2001)

Like much else in life things that are of value are often thing that require a lot of hard work. Saying that though, there are circumstances where mystical experience arises quite spontaneously in some people. This may be down to horrific or beautiful situations, which invoke tremendously strong emotions within individuals that lead them to having an experience of the mysteries.

I am sure that there are many, many people who are perfectly happy practising their religion of non-initiatory exoteric Wicca and Witchcraft and good luck to them, each to their own. I am sure that people get a great deal of spiritual fulfillment from them. So just to reiterate so there is no confusion, esoteric initiatory Witchcraft is not better than New Age and Popular Wicca. It is just different, with different aims, philosophies and purposes and practices. So if the mysteries are not for you, then please feel free to ignore this article, remember that this is only one way and there are many others.

I shall finish with another quote from Dr. Bracey as he talks about the relationship between the mysteries and Craft. “So the mysteries are not for all, but is the way of (esoteric initiatory) Witches. We who ride beyond the ordinary, rejecting the supernatural in favour of the supra-natural, and who are aware of the relationship of the part to the whole.” (Bracey 2001)

 

Footnotes:
Campbell, J, (1988) , ‘The Power of Myth’, Doubleday
Campbell, J, (1959) , ‘The Mask of God (Primitive mythology, Oriental Mythology, Occidental Mythology and Creative Mythology) ’, Condor
Campbell, J, (1949) , ‘The Hero with a Thousand faces’, Princetown University Press
Campbell, J, (2001) , ‘Thou art that, transforming religious metaphors’, Joseph Cambell Foundation
Campbell, J, (2004) , ‘Pathways to Bliss, Mythology and Personal Transformation’, Joseph Campbell Foundation
Crowley, V, (1989) , ’ Wicca the old Religion in the New Age’, Aquarian Press
Armstrong, K, (1999) , ’ A History of God’, Vintage
Armstrong, K, (2005) , ‘A Short History of Myth’, Cannongate
Pearosn, J, Roberts, R, Samuel, G, (1998) , ‘Nature Religion Today’, Edinburgh University Press
Pearson, J, (2007) , ‘Wicca and the Christian Heritage (Ritual, Sex and magic) , Routledge
Fortune, D, (1935) , ‘The Mystical Qabalah’, Aquarian
Hutton, R, (2003) , ‘Witches, Druids, and King Arthur, Oxford University Press
Heselton, P, (1995) , ‘Secret Places of the Goddess’, Capal Ban
Underhill, E, (1993) , ‘Mysticism’, Oneworld
Lamond, F, (1997) , ‘Religion without Beliefs’, Janus
Lamond, F, (2004) , ‘Fifty Years of Wicca’, Green magic
LeShan, L, (1974) , ‘How to Meditate’, Turnstone
Bracey, D, (2001) , ‘A Personal View of God’, TNW

 

 

Your Deck of Ancient Symbols Card for Aug. 22 – The Moon

Your Deck of Ancient Symbols Card for Today

The Moon

Although men have stepped upon the moon and scientists have analyzed it almost endlessly, there remains in our collective unconscious a vision of the moon that shrouds it in mystery. And why wouldn’t there be? Being earth’s closest neighbor, having a clear influence on many of earth’s cycles and constantly changing in appearance, it is only fitting that our ancestors endlessly pondered and speculated on our magnificent moon’s powers. The Moon represents the pure feminine nature and the gateway to understanding the mystical world that cannot be explained by science. Its soft glow provides a gentle light in the darkness of night. Metaphorically, the powers associated with the moon supply the seeker with a light to explore the mystical aspects of our world. It empowers the sense of wonder in those open to psychic adventures.

As a daily card, The Moon is indicative of a time when your feminine side and connection to the spiritual world is very strong. Essentially you are “tuned in” spiritually which makes this an ideal time for you to investigate your place in our mystical world.

The Fourth REDE – The Great Work

THE FOURTH REDE – THE GREAT WORK

Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let naught stop
you or turn you aside.

To Moondaughter, men and women were children of the Lord and Lady in more senses
than one. Not only are we the offspring of Their sacred joining, but we are also
children in the sense that we are immature. We have not yet grown into the
spiritual and ethical maturity of which we are capable.

Moondaughter taught that the human children of the Lord and the Lady are in the
process of growth, a time during which they must build for themselves that
nobility of character that is their natural inheritance. Moondaughter’s students
learned that we cannot look elsewhere for salvation, but must build our
characters by our own actions. This is the Great Work.

Nobility of character, however, was only the outer aspect of the Great Work,
according to Moondaughter. The inner aspect was mystical union with the Lord and
Lady. Mysticism and ethics were for Moondaughter converging lines, each of which
must be energetically pursued. To neglect one would obstruct progress in the
other.

The Threefold Law

It is to Moondaughter that I owe my understanding of the Threefold Law, the
Wiccan precept that whatever a person does, good or evil, returns to her
threefold.

Every action, Moondaughter taught, first affects the self directly by leaving
its imprint on the character of the actor. Second, it affects the target of the
action, with whom the actor is in relationship, and the effects feedback upon
the actor through that relationship. Finally, every action affects the
environment in which the actor must live — ultimately, the entire universe —
and thus feeds back again upon the actor.

Thus the Great Work is a transformation of self which we pursue through our
actions and our relationships. It is the realization of our nature as children
of the Lord and Lady; and — since each of us is part of the web of
relationships which connect all that exists — it is at the same time a
transformation of the universe as a whole.

Mind and Body as Lover and Beloved

Moondaughter taught that the Great Work could be divided into three interrelated
aspects, each of which establishes a relationship of lover and beloved. The
first aspect of the Great Work consists of bringing one’s own mind and body into
the relationship of lover and beloved. Externally, this relationship results in
the opening of the inner senses, and therefore much of magical development is
concerned with this small part of the Great Work.

The union of mind and body, however, has an ethical dimension as well as a
magical one. Moondaughter taught that perfect unity of mind and body could only
be achieved when the actions that result from the mind/body interaction are
consistently based on Will rather than desire — a transition that requires more
than a little self-discipline.

It is possible (and unfortunately not uncommon) for mind and body to form a
relationship in actions that contradict the Will. Rape, for example, is a
perversion of sexuality which develops a dysfunctional relationship between the
mind and body of the rapist and corrupts the Work within him. Thus, living by
the Wiccan Rede — an’ it harm none, do what ye will — is a first step toward
accomplishing this first aspect of the Great Work.

The Sacred Marriage

The second aspect of the Great Work is the Sacred Marriage. Moondaughter taught
that for most of us this means that a man and a women come together as lover and
beloved, not merely physically and for a time, but on all levels and forever, in
a relationship that is in harmony with their individual Wills.

While each of us already has both Yin Self and Yang Self, union with the sacred
spouse brings Yin and Yang together in ways which transform each partner. Lover
and beloved act as priest and priestess for each other, and together they become
an embodiment of the Lord and the Lady.

The Unity of all Life

The third aspect of the Great Work is unity with all beings. This, Moondaughter
taught, is accomplished when an individual takes the entire universe as her
beloved, in a relationship in harmony with her Will.

In the lesser sense, this aspect is achieved when the individual comes to
spontaneously regard all beings with the love and compassion that the Lord and
the Lady feel for their children. In the greater sense, however, this aspect is
not achieved until humanity as a whole regards all beings with that love.

The culmination of this Work on the individual level, according to Moondaughter,
is a state in which the individual inherits the character of the Lord and the
Lady, and lives constantly in the presence of Lord and Lady. This is not a state
which I believe has been achieved by very many incarnate human beings, but I
have found it a most worthwhile goal toward which to strive.

Meditation Thought of the Day for November 15th

Witchy Comments
Tuesday 15 November

Once you know meditation, you don’t have to follow anybody.
You have your own eyes open,
and you have your light just ahead of you showing the path,
and all that is right and all that is good happens choicelessly.

Osho

Meditation Tip of the Day

~Magickal Graphics~

The Mysteries and Esoteric Witchcraft

The Mysteries and Esoteric Witchcraft

Author: Rhys Chisnall
“The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. He to whom the emotion is a stranger: whom no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms- this knowledge, this feeling, is at the centre of true religion.” – Albert Einstein

One of the hardest aspects of the esoteric initiatory Witchcraft to write about, or even communicate, is its strong mystery aspect. Yet, in my opinion, it is one of the most important things that distinguish it from New Age and Popular Wicca/Witchcraft. By its very nature the mystical aspects of Witchcraft are a thoroughly subjective experience and as such any cursory and brief exploration such as this article or any other in print are going to be subjective and inadequate.

“Second hand mysticism has generally an unsatisfactory experience, since if these notions are not the driving force of our life, are not the pulse beat of our heart or are not personally integrated into our whole, then they are empty gestures. Then they are devoid of meaning similar to reading a literary criticism rather than reading the poem itself. The mystical experience is immediate not vicarious or deputed” (Armstrong 1999)

The mysteries need to be experienced, and they cannot be explained in everyday language, hence the need for the metaphors of myth and the communication of the experiences through the metaphors of symbols and ritual. The religious commentator, theologian and mystic Karen Armstrong said that.

“There is a linguistic connection between the three words, myth, mysticism and mystery. All derive from the Greek verb musterion: to close the eyes or the mouth”. (Armstrong 1999)

There are many roads to the mysteries and the mystical experience. As Prof Joseph Campbell (the late expert in comparative mythology) quotes from the Rig Veda, “Truth is one, but the sages speak of it by many names.” He also tells the story of an interfaith conference set up between Shinto and Catholicism. He was struck at how the priests of Catholicism and Shinto found it difficult to find a commonality or a common religious language to communicate with each other, but the monks and nuns of each religion could. This was because the priests were concerned with holding up their metaphors, their myths, symbols and rituals as ends in themselves, whereas the monks and nuns had moved beyond the metaphors to the experience of the sacred and the divine itself. They were not stuck with believing that the metaphors were the reality and the end goal. They had gone past the virgin birth, the resurrection, and even God, to find a community in the mysteries and mystical experience that were shared by their Shinto counterparts. As Campbell said, “Religion is misinterpreted myth”

The Armenian-Greek esoteric philosopher and practitioner G. I. Gurdjieff suggested that there were four paths to the mysteries. The first three, the way of the fakir, the way of the yogi (nothing to do with picnic baskets) and the way of the monk are mostly eastern ways to experience the mysteries and represent the three disciplines of the mind, the body and contemplation. These three paths are typical of the Eastern Mystery tradition in that they all involve a withdrawal from society and the world.

The fourth way is ‘the way of the hearth’. It is the way of the Western Mystery Tradition of which esoteric initiatory Witchcraft along with Hermeticism, Qabbalah, mystical Christianity and Sufism are parts. It is the way of being fully integrated with the world, identifying with the universe and with life and not attempting to escape from it (with the notable exception of Gnosticism) . It is seeing no separation between humanity, nature and the divine.

To my mind esoteric initiatory Witchcraft liturgy and ritual are full of mystical language, myth and metaphor. For example within Gardnerian and Alexandrian Witchcraft there are phrases such as, “there is no part of us that is not of the god.” And of course the classic mysteries phrase of the Charge of the Goddess, “If that which thou seeketh, thou findest not within thee, you will never find it without thee.” These and other parts of Witchcraft ritual (not to mention many of the techniques used in ritual to help induce these kinds of states of mind) , strongly suggest the mysteries and mystical experience. The myths of esoteric initiatory Witchcraft point to the internal experience of the mysteries within the individual Witch, relating them to the cosmos, designed to take us beyond mere religion to the direct experience of numinous, divinity and the sacred. The systems, techniques and processes of esoteric Craft, to my mind, seem designed to take us beyond ourselves, and the sum of the parts of the tradition itself, into personal transformation and a new awareness.

So what are mysticism and the mysteries? According to the psychologist Lawrence Le Shan, “Mysticism from a historical and psychological viewpoint, is the search for and experience of the relationship of the individual himself (herself) and the totality that makes up the universe.” (LeShan 1974)

Karen Armstrong agrees when she writes, “Mystics have long claimed that he [God] is a subjective experience, mysteriously experienced in the ‘Ground of Being’…………..they claim that he did not really exist and it is better to call him No-thing”. (Armstrong 1999)

As such the mysteries go way beyond the dogmas, metaphors and systems that have been inspired by them. The techniques and participating within the metaphors of myth, relating it to the self and personal transformation give the practitioner a direct and vivid experience of a unity with a ‘different order of reality’, or perhaps, an expanded order of reality of which they are a part- unified with. They experience eternity within a second, being and non-being, beauty and horror but with no contradiction, no duality, no difference between sacred and profane. In essence the experience is indescribable expect through the language of metaphor, which sadly is mistaken for reality and an end in itself. The effect of these experiences is an inner alchemy, personal transformation- life and indeed you are never the same again.

Campbell hints at this when he says, “But the ultimate mystical goal is to be united with one’s god. With that the duality is transcended and forms disappear. There is nobody there, no god, no you. Your mind, going past all concepts, has dissolved in identification with the ground of your being”. (Campbell 1988)

Now sadly for the bit that people don’t like. The path to the mysteries is not an easy one. Rather it is one that requires hard work, commitment and dedication; it is not for people looking for instant results or an escape from reality. The starting point on the road to the mysteries and esoteric Witchcraft has got to be that of a coping adult, as Joanne Pearson reports in her essay Assumed Affinities (the difference between Initiatory Wicca- specifically Gardnerian and Alexandrian- and New Age spiritualities) .

“In the questionnaire, mentioned at the start of this chapter, none of the hundred (Gardnerian/Alexandrian) Wiccans who responded indicated that they had become involved in Wicca because ‘their life was not working’, and supplementary fieldwork does not indicate that these Wiccans assume there lives or the lives of other Wiccans are, or were Dysfunctional.” (Pearson 1998)

The Witch Dr. Dave Bracey confirms the difficulties and hard work of pursuing the mysteries when he says, “The mysteries are not easy to apprehend. It requires long training, usually with a spiritual guide or facilitator, and a considerable investment of time. This is not something that has much appeal to many in our present day society, conditioned as it is with fast cars, fast food, fast solutions and instant gratification and speedy communication. The mysteries do not arrive ready made and pre-packaged. They cannot be experienced as quickly as the instant high of the new age. But neither does the (esoteric initiatory) Witch’s ‘awareness’ wane, as does the let-down that so often eventuates when the newness of the ‘reborn’ convert fades to be left with the forms and structures of religion which so often become ends in themselves.” (Bracey 2001)

Like much else in life things that are of value are often thing that require a lot of hard work. Saying that though, there are circumstances where mystical experience arises quite spontaneously in some people. This may be down to horrific or beautiful situations, which invoke tremendously strong emotions within individuals that lead them to having an experience of the mysteries.

I am sure that there are many, many people who are perfectly happy practising their religion of non-initiatory exoteric Wicca and Witchcraft and good luck to them, each to their own. I am sure that people get a great deal of spiritual fulfillment from them. So just to reiterate so there is no confusion, esoteric initiatory Witchcraft is not better than New Age and Popular Wicca. It is just different, with different aims, philosophies and purposes and practices. So if the mysteries are not for you, then please feel free to ignore this article, remember that this is only one way and there are many others.

I shall finish with another quote from Dr. Bracey as he talks about the relationship between the mysteries and Craft. “So the mysteries are not for all, but is the way of (esoteric initiatory) Witches. We who ride beyond the ordinary, rejecting the supernatural in favour of the supra-natural, and who are aware of the relationship of the part to the whole.” (Bracey 2001)


Footnotes:
Campbell, J, (1988) , ‘The Power of Myth’, Doubleday
Campbell, J, (1959) , ‘The Mask of God (Primitive mythology, Oriental Mythology, Occidental Mythology and Creative Mythology) ’, Condor
Campbell, J, (1949) , ‘The Hero with a Thousand faces’, Princetown University Press
Campbell, J, (2001) , ‘Thou art that, transforming religious metaphors’, Joseph Cambell Foundation
Campbell, J, (2004) , ‘Pathways to Bliss, Mythology and Personal Transformation’, Joseph Campbell Foundation
Crowley, V, (1989) , ’ Wicca the old Religion in the New Age’, Aquarian Press
Armstrong, K, (1999) , ’ A History of God’, Vintage
Armstrong, K, (2005) , ‘A Short History of Myth’, Cannongate
Pearosn, J, Roberts, R, Samuel, G, (1998) , ‘Nature Religion Today’, Edinburgh University Press
Pearson, J, (2007) , ‘Wicca and the Christian Heritage (Ritual, Sex and magic) , Routledge
Fortune, D, (1935) , ‘The Mystical Qabalah’, Aquarian
Hutton, R, (2003) , ‘Witches, Druids, and King Arthur, Oxford University Press
Heselton, P, (1995) , ‘Secret Places of the Goddess’, Capal Ban
Underhill, E, (1993) , ‘Mysticism’, Oneworld
Lamond, F, (1997) , ‘Religion without Beliefs’, Janus
Lamond, F, (2004) , ‘Fifty Years of Wicca’, Green magic
LeShan, L, (1974) , ‘How to Meditate’, Turnstone
Bracey, D, (2001) , ‘A Personal View of God’, TNW

The Work Ethics of Magic

The Work Ethics of Magic

Author: Crick

Every once in awhile I will take a look at what is being offered on the Internet in relation to paganism and as usual I come away slightly amused. Not that the information that is offered is of no consequence, in a basic way it serves its purpose. But then I begin to wonder if folks have taken such information and have enhanced and/or built upon their natural abilities. For the greatest magic in the world comes from within first.

Each of us is born with latent energies and the ability to tap into a source of energy/power that is much greater than any one individual. I personally like the term, “Mannuz” when describing such energy. This term is from the Hindu Vedas, and basically refers to the Self as part of the universal energy.

As a Traditional witch I resonate with such an ancient concept in that I endorse both, the concept of Animism and the ability of the individual to become as one with the universal energy. It is this union of the human psyche with such energy that creates the energy that what we know as magic. The developing of such abilities is not something that can be done instantaneously.

As an analogy, one does not learn to walk all at once. And Mannuz is an ancient primordial energy that takes a consistent effort and desire to learn. And in this time and age of instant gratification, extra effort and concentration may be required from those who wish to achieve their utmost abilities as such. This is in part because the work ethic of society has undergone some serious downward revisions that are not exactly beneficial to the honing of one’s magical skills.

And so what steps does one take you may ask, in order to step beyond the plethora of basic information that is out there? Obviously I don’t have all of the answers, for each of us are students for the duration of our lives here on earth. And each of us has our own unique goals and spiritual lessons to absorb. But as an old witch I do have some general suggestions.

The first and foremost suggestion is to be absolutely honest with one self and examine the goals and expectations one seeks from being aligned with paganism and the mystical arts. This sense of honest assessment will determine the amount of effort you will need to put forth. Many folks are ok with just wearing a title without any real substance.

This is not intended to be a sarcastic comment but rather a pragmatic acceptance of our pagan community as it is today. If you decide that you are one of those who desire to advance spiritually in a meaningful way, then the next step may be determining just which path provides the means necessary for you to advance in your journey. There are many, many choices in this respect due to the advent of the Internet. As you make this decision, you may want to keep in mind that whatever path that you choose should be seen as a supplemental tool to your spiritual and mystical growth.

As an individual, your goals and spiritual experiences should take precedence over anything else. For each of us is going to grow more or less according to our individual needs in life. The mystical arts and one’s individual spiritual goals should never be defined by the needs of the mass, though each individual can and does add substance to the group setting as a whole. This is what separates the mystical arts from the tenets of organized religion. Even when within a group such as a coven, we are still individuals.

Having made the aforementioned assessments, the next step may be to actually hone one’s abilities through daily — yes, I said daily — practice. The mystic arts in general and magic in particular should be a part of our every thought. And not just something that is half-heartedly engaged in on certain days of the year.

Mannuz is a consistent and ethereal part of our lives. We are constantly though not always consciously connected to the energy that forms the basis of our latent abilities. And this brings us to the next consideration when embarking on the path of the mystic arts. Our level of personal responsibility will over the course of our lives, define our spiritual growth and our ability to utilize that energy which we manifest into magic.

For instance, something as mundane as the spoken word carries power. Do you consciously think about what you say to others before releasing such energy at your fellow travelers? When was the last time that you stepped outside and felt the energy that emanates from the stars above?

When was the last time that you looked up at the clouds and saw familiar shapes forming? When was the last time that you felt a gust of wind touch your cheek and felt the energy of those that that gust of wind touched before it came to you?

These examples may seem benign, but it is such a sense of awareness that one develops when one consciously seeks to expand their latent talents. Magic is not just about manifesting energy into tangible results. Nor is it about making requests from Deity, for Deity has provided us with a plethora of tools to be utilized in our spiritual and mystical goals.

We as practitioners have to but put forth a bit of effort that will in turn open up other avenues of advancement. For each time we experiment and arrive at the answer to a mystery of life, there is always yet another mystical mystery waiting to be experienced. Each of us as individuals has the power to determine just how many such experiences we are willing to confront. And it is that will and desire that determines how far each of us will spiritually grow.

Simply reading books and paying lip service will reap only the results that they have sowed.

It is a well-known practice of folks who engage in the mystical arts these days to want to supplement their latent abilities with external tools. And that is all good. Instead of purchasing your crystals or wands from a store, where your selected tools have been handled and infused, with who knows what or whose energies. Perhaps you may want to consider putting forth a bit of personal effort and taking a walk into the woods and/or mountains and actually harvesting your tools directly from Mother Earth?

Yes, it is easy to come up with a thousand excuses as to why you would not want to do this, but then we get back to the question of work ethic and how sincere you are in your efforts to improve yourself spiritually and to enhance your magical talents. As an individual, only you can provide an honest answer to yourself. You have no requirement to answer to anyone else.

But at the end of the day, you may want to keep this in mind: Anything that affects ones spiritual growth and the development of their magical abilities always starts from within oneself.

Each of us has an inner voice, listen to it, it is there as a guide. Some will realize great strides in their mystical abilities, others not as much. But then it is what is. Magic and the mystical arts is not an equal opportunity for all. It requires discipline and a true inner desire and just as importantly a strong work ethic in order to truly succeed.