Sun in Pisces

Sun in Pisces

It’s time to reconnect with your spiritual side

Tarotcom Staff  Tarotcom Staff on the topics of sun, pisces, astrology

It’s time to wrap up another astrological year! When the Sun moves into Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, from February 18 to March 20, it signals the ending of one cycle before the next begins at the Spring Equinox.

And what do you do when something ends, before you begin again? Rest! That’s why the Sun in Pisces is considered a time to dream and heal and regain strength before starting the new cycle.

Pisces is symbolized by two Fish, which we like to call “the fishes with wishes.” The fish are swimming in opposite directions, which is representative of the Pisces paradox. This sign is at once caught between feeling the harshness of reality and the desire for dreamy escapism.

It’s normal to feel more spiritual while the Sun is in Pisces. It’s easier to tap into your intuition and we’re more inclined to follow our instincts and surrender to something greater than the individual self. But it can also be a lazy, daydream-filled period, so we must keep our escapist tendencies in check.

Those born from about February 15-21 were born on the Aquarius-Pisces cusp, and those born from about March 18-22 were born on the Pisces-Aries cusp. Being born on the cusp simply means that you were born during the transition time between two  zodiac signs, so you retain some qualities from each sign.

If we can embrace empathy for others without letting their pain make us feel victimized while the Sun is in Pisces, this promises to be a very healing time.

Here’s how to make the most of life with the Sun in Pisces:

What to do: Take care of someone! Pisces is the most compassionate and caring zodiac sign, so they are at their best when doing something kind for others. Adopt this admirable Pisces quality now and use it to ease someone’s pain.

What to say: Something poetic. The dreamy fishes are artsy and creative, so now’s the time to channel your inner Pisces poet and write or speak something beautiful to someone you love.

Where to go: Bed! Pisces can sometimes be called “lazy,” but really they just need a safe place to lie down, close their eyes and dream the day away. If you find your mind meandering while the Sun is in Pisces, give yourself permission to take a sweet little nap.

What to wear: Who cares?! Seriously. Life is not about what we wear, it’s about who we are. That’s the typical Pisces mindset, of course, so if you’re tired of dressing for success, this is a good time to slack into some sweats and forget about fashion while you follow more spiritual pursuits.

What to buy: Anything that will help you feel more connected to your spiritual side. It’s easier to tap into your intuition while the Sun is in Pisces, so shop for New Age healing crystals, incense, candles, Tarot cards and all of Pisces’ favorite spiritual supplies.

What to watch out for: Highly sensitive, compassionate and imaginative, Pisces is at risk of wanting to escape when they feel too much or get caught up in daydreams. Alcohol and drug abuse are common to this sign, so be aware of escapism and try to keep yourself grounded (at least a little bit) while the Sun is in Pisces.

What to look forward to: Healing! By the time the Sun moves out of Pisces, you’ll be rested, renewed, reconnected with your spiritual self and ready to begin a new astrological year!

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Spiritual Power

Spiritual Power

Author:   Mydnyht   

Compassion and power. Simple words that can be defined in many ways.

Compassion is love. Compassion is the desire to help others. It is that strong desire to be able to relate, even if you can’t. It is sympathy and sometimes even empathy. It is what makes us cry when we see something terrible happening. It fuels our basic human need to do all we can to solve the problems of the people we care about.

Compassion, in all its simplicity, is a basically good emotion that helps keep our world functioning. Without compassion, where would we be? If I didn’t want to help you when you most needed it, what would happen to us all?

Then, there is power. Power is such an incredible and polarized word. Power can infer a dark desire for more. Some people have the ability to make great change, and misuse it. This abuse of power gives it a bad name and a negative connotation in some cases. Power can mean awesome strength. Power can symbolize greatness and something absolutely incredible. But power can be easier to grasp than we may realize.

Power doesn’t just belong to the God and Goddess that created us. Power is found in the fierceness and brutality of nature, but power is also found in the simple calming properties of a tiny flower. Humans are born with power… perhaps not as grand as what we witness around us, but it is still there.

Humans are also born with compassion. It is simply something we have to tap into. What is so amazing about power and compassion is not only do they intertwine gracefully, but they are also similar. Compassion is power — more so than we realize.

However you believe human beings came to be, I think we can all agree that we did not end up on this earth to eat, sleep, and die. We all have some kind of purpose. Most people do not know what this purpose is, and some may not even ever discover what it is.

Whether you believe it is to love and be loved, or to make the world a better place, or to prepare yourself for the next life or Summerland, or even if you think all we are meant for is to carry on our race – there is something that a human must accomplish. To make this accomplishment possible, we have power. Free will is arguably one of the greatest powers bestowed upon us. Every other power we possess in our being relates to whether or not we choose to utilize that power for the greater good. Compassion is one of these powers – and oh, how wonderful it is!

Compassion is a power within us that creates a need to help others. Some people lack this power altogether. In some, it isn’t as strong as it is in others. For every person who isn’t compassionate enough, there are those who are so compassionate that they almost can’t handle it. This is something we must consider carefully. If we aren’t doing enough, what can we do so that we can do more? What happens if we’ve done all we can, but that need to help is still there? And how do we tell the difference? We start by assessing what other powers we have that we can put to good use.

For our purposes, I will divide our human powers into two basic groups: spiritual and physical. When people reference compassion and what is in their power to help, the usually think of the most very basic spiritual power – prayer – and the most easy physical power – monetary aid. (For us Wiccans, we would probably translate “prayer” into something like meditation, ritual, or spell work. They are essentially the same thing, but just given different names by different religions.)

It is so much simpler for us, when faced with a disaster, to donate a little bit of money to the Red Cross and do a daily ritual for a few weeks, and then forget about what happened. But sometimes we feel trapped because our compassion is so overwhelming, and we think, “Why did that have to happen? What can I do to help? Should I do something crazy, like flying down and helping out the Red Cross in a mission or housing a homeless family? I feel like I’m not doing nearly enough!” For some people, it’s enough to bring them to tears – feeling that hopeless and helpless is never pleasant.

The first thing we must learn to develop in any situation that requires our compassion – whether it be a friend in need of a friend, or a huge natural disaster – is our spiritual power. This can have so much more of an affect than we may realize. Positive thinking is one of the keys to getting things accomplished. This can benefit not only the person whom the thoughts are directed to, but the person thinking them as well.

Someone once referred to me the book “The Hidden Messages In Water” by Masaru Emoto, and the point made there is basically the same as mine. It is a true account of a scientist who studies the crystal patterns of water in its normal state and then again after they have been exposed to intense amounts of positive thoughts and words. The crystal patterns of the water became substantially more complex and beautiful after having positive words said over them by a Buddhist monk.

Now, if one person can have such an effect on water, what’s to say any of us can’t have a beneficial effect on a more difficult situation?

Certainly it requires more effort and perhaps some practice, but that isn’t to say it can’t be done.

Sending positive thoughts through ritual can have such an amazing effect on the universe. It is one of the most relieving feelings in the world to know that there is someone out there who is at least thinking of you, even if they are powerless to do anything about your plight. When you know you are loved or in someone’s thoughts, it gives you the strength to carry on.

So the first thing we should do when we feel strong compassion for a situation is use that power of compassion to generate positive thoughts and spread awareness. Knowing is often half the battle, and the more people who are aware of a situation, the more positive thoughts that can be generated to help it. Persistence is also key – if this situation is something you meditate upon daily, the more likely you are to be of service.

Once we have a spiritual handle on the situation, it is then we are able to approach it level-headedly. We can use our other physical powers to help the situation, doing things like writing letters and volunteering our time, and donating supplies and money. It’s so much easier to accomplish all we are able after putting as much spiritual and mental effort into the situation as we can.

Of course there will still be situations where we still feel as if we haven’t done enough. That compassion is overwhelming, and when not giving the right kind of advice to a friend or when faced with a world crisis where we are powerless to help, we feel like failures.

In these situations, all we can do is be compassionate and let people know that we extend these feelings of love towards them. Sometimes it’s all we can do and sometimes it’s the best we can do. And even if our rituals, meditations, and donations only help one person, isn’t that enough to have made a difference?

If we all could help just one person, it would mean so much. Of all our powers of human aid, compassion is our most powerful. Not only does it spurn us to help those in need, but also our powerful feelings in themselves help those in need. The Goddess and God are always there, always listening, and are a wonderful medium to work through when what we desire is truly what we want.

I had begun working on this essay during the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and the same thoughts held true the year before during the Tsunami disaster and they hold true now through the situation in Darfur. We always hear things about Christians using the power of prayer, but it is essentially “the thought that counts”.

Taking a few moments to meditate each day on the Goddess’ children who are hurting, or perhaps even casting a generic spell to help those in need or sending positive thoughts into the world can be surprisingly helpful.

Feeling a powerful compassion toward a person or situation is the most amazing power that we have – and it’s something we should learn to use more often.

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Self Meditation for Daily Life: Perfection

Self Meditation for Daily Life: Perfection

 As a spiritual being, you are inherently perfect, whole and complete. So why not incorporate this wisdom into a self meditation for daily living. We often  think something is wrong with us. Truth is, nothing is wrong with you. In the Divine Plan everything you are and do is exactly right. Does this seem rather  far-fetched? It isn’t, really. If we were to assume the viewpoint that there is a Divine Plan for your life, and that all you needed to do was to be  yourself in order to fulfill it, then who and what you are is Divinely Right.

Regardless of the condition of your body, you as a soul or spirit are perfect. Spirit is unchanging. If Spirit was right once, then It is always right.  You are made in the image and likeness of that always right Spirit, this is what you as a spiritual being are.

This doesn’t leave much room for shame, guilt or regret. You may have been ignorant or uninformed at the time that these conditions arose, but it  doesn’t negate the fact that you are still perfect. In my opinion, our unknowingness of the Divine Plan and our part in it brings up these negative  emotions. There is something that can be done about it however, and this can bring a great deal of relief to the soul.

Acceptance that we are included in the Divine Plan whether we are consciously aware of it or not can alleviate much of the emotional pain that we carry  around. Staying clear with ourselves that we are part of this, encourages us to stay in alignment with the purity of our inner selves. It is this inner  purity or authenticity which can ensure that we stay on track with the Plan for our lives. Not to emulate some saint somewhere, but to be as realistically  ourselves as we can manage.

From a high level perspective, one may argue that it doesn’t matter what we do, that the Divine Plan unfolds no matter what. This may be true, but can  you live with yourself in the meantime? To bring about peace of mind, I’ve found that it is much easier to promote a sense of being the reality of Self  consciously. This helps us to “tune in” to right action for us, that is, what encourages us to live our lives more fully.

Allow yourself to accept that you really are part of the Plan, always have been and always will be. You are perfect, just the way you are. As you meditate  daily on the concept of perfection in all things, you may find your daily life meditation opens up new levels of acceptance.

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Born on the Aquarius-Pisces Cusp

Born on the Aquarius-Pisces Cusp

The Cusp of Sensitivity: A dreamy, compassionate place

Tarotcom Staff Tarotcom Staff on the topics of pisces, cusp, astrology, aquarius

Wondering what happens when your birth chart combines the energy of quirky Aquarius with dreamy Pisces? If you were born on the cusp of these two horoscopes signs, between about February 15-21, you were born on The Cusp of Sensitivity — a compassionate and imaginative place. 

Spiritual, artistic, peace-loving and friendly, Aquarius-Pisces cuspers are highly original people. This is the cusp most likely to be labeled “offbeat” or “eccentric,” and its citizens are stimulated by visionary ideas and new experiences. They are highly intellectual, however not so good with practical details and follow-through.

These cuspers may be social or shy, or they may be a peculiar mix of both. This is because pending time with others is a great stress relief, but at the same time they are so sensitive they often choose to hide out alone and escape into their imaginations instead.

Aquarius-Pisces is also arguably the most intuitive cusp placement, lending a naturally psychic and compassionate view of the world. Delving into spiritual matters and philosophical ideals is much more important to these folks than simply managing the details of day-to-day life.  For this reason they may lose things, forget appointments, show up late or stand you up. But don’t be mad — it’s only because they were too preoccupied thinking about how make the world a better place on a much deeper level.

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Your Ancient Symbol Card for Feb. 14th is The Tree

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

 

The Tree                       

 The Tree symbolizes spiritual health and growth. The healthy tree is rooted in a rich, nurturing medium, has a strong trunk from which leaf laden branches fan out to capture the sun’s energy. The Tree represents a healthy spirit entrenched in experience and strengthened by wisdom. It is a spirit that is happy with itself, but continues reaching to become even wiser, more complete, happier, stronger. While The Tree represents a strong and independent spirit, it is also a life-force that owes much of its strength and growth to being surrounded by other healthy spirits.

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The Daily Motivator for Feb. 12th – Get yourself through

Get yourself through

Wishing, complaining, begging and avoiding won’t do it. The way to get  through it is to go through it.

If there’s something you’ve been putting off, put it back on and get it done.  If there’s a problem that’s been chasing you, stop running, stop hiding and  start solving.

You can be amazingly resourceful and effective when you want to be. Now is  the time to want to be.

When the situation feels painful, imagine how great you will feel to get  beyond it. Imagine, and then manifest your imagined outcome by doing what you  must do.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and its brightness comes from your  efforts. Make those efforts, keep that light shining brightly and get yourself  through to the other side.

You’ve made a positive difference many times before and you absolutely can do  it again. Feel your purposeful power as it successfully pushes you through.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

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Forging Your Own Path: My Journey

Forging Your Own Path: My Journey

Author:   Bear Stormcrowe  

Ever since I was a wee lad, I knew that I had a special relationship with Mother Earth and the elements around me. I always had this magnetic attraction to all things mystical, offbeat, and natural. I remember quite well the times I used to ‘trick’ my parents into buying trees from the Arbor Day Foundation in order to plant them as an homage to Mother Gaia. I would sit outside and plant them, whispering softly to the planet; “Here you go. Thank you for giving us what you give us.”

When my family finally got the Internet, I remember sneaking onto my computer at night; silently hoping the dial-up connection sounds wouldn’t stir my family. It was there that my journey began. I searched earth-based religions high and low…and I came to the realization: I’m a Witch.

I had always been more mature than others of my age group, and since my epiphany I’ve referred to myself as a Natural Witch. I began seriously pursuing the Well-Worn Path soon after that epiphany and started my path as a solitary practitioner in full force. At the time, I was still green on the subject of Witchcraft, even though I was naturally inclined to it; So, I began researching books from the library and following their paths and their beliefs but something didn’t feel quite right. In any religion, a personal means of practicing helps you get that more personal connection with your deity. In my case, it was multiple deities but namely, Lugh and Danu. It was then I realized that I could forge my own path…my own solitary journey.

Since beginning my own personal journey, following the rules of the Wicca, and showing reverence to my amazing deities, I found my connection and my own personal practice. When it came to Sabbats I followed a loosely based outline but added my own flair in the mix, it all worked just the same if not better because all of my mind, body, and spirit were put into my craft. I came “out of the broom closet”, so to speak, to my friends in high school—then to my friends and professors in college.

After much networking and a twist of fate I owe all to the God and Goddess, I met a woman who is now my fiancée and a group of friends with whom I created a small active coven. They were all well seasoned in the Craft already but I found myself answering their questions with a knowledge I had no idea was hiding deep within me. The advice and techniques I offered proved a success and I realized that I had an even deeper calling: High Priestdom. After meeting and discussing the future of the coven, they all agreed unanimously that they felt I would take the high priest position and honor it well.

So, what’s the point of this story? You ask. In my personal experience I’ve found that crafting your own spells and following the path that your heart and soul vibrates well with yields better results. In my case, a closer connection to the deities I’ve aligned myself with.

How do you find your own path? The simplest way to do it is follow your heart. However, if you are unsure of what your heart is telling you here are some simple techniques that have helped me when the answers my heart had given didn’t really satisfy my spirit.

Meditation: Simple two-step meditation works wonders.

The First Step is to open sacred space. This is the brief equivalent of casting a circle. How I open sacred space is by grounding and centering me then I say:

“By the Grace and Power of the Great Ones, Within and Without, I allow love to enter this space, but keep evil and ill intent out.”

Your sacred space is now open. Feel free to change the invocation of positive energies to something of your liking.

The Second Step is to clear your mind of all things but your question at hand. This takes a lot of practice so do this on a day that has been relatively uneventful if at all possible. Clearing your mind and focusing on your own path and what fits just right for your individual Witchiness should yield some result the first few times you try it.

Scrying: Using a scrying mirror or bowl is another way to get some answers. Be prepared to look deep into the mirror/bowl for some time. As with most divination arts, symbols are left to the diviner to interpret so have a notebook and writing utensil (or computer for those tech-savvy Witches) to record the symbols for interpretation after the scrying session. It’s been my experience to wait until the end of the session to interpret symbols and messages because if you take your focus to one symbol, you may miss other important ones. Once you’ve finished scrying, interpret symbols, make connections, and have fun with it.

To end this article, I’d like to say that if you follow a set path founded by someone else and you feel at home in that path, then by all means continue on the path you are most comfortable with. You may get things from different paths in order to forge your own way. That is perfectly acceptable. It’s all what feels right to each individual witch.

I write this article in the light of Lugh and Danu and with love to all of my fellow Pagans and Earth-Children. May bright blessing and prosperity come your way and as always—Blessed Be.

-Adam Osborne (Sacred Magick)
Eclectic Pagan, High Priest, and Lightworker.

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WOTC Extra – Meditating on and balancing the chakras

WOTC Extra – Meditating on and balancing the chakras

Various techniques have been presented on working with the chakras, both optimising normal chakras to allow more ch’i energy through, and helping or balancing chakras that are not functioning properly (i.e. which may be unbalanced, blocked, or malfunctioning). I would like to state at the outset that I am no expert, so please do not email me for technical advice! But from what I have read and understood it seems there are several possible techniques.

Activating the chakra through breathing, visualisation, movement, and yoga postures. This is good for all chakras, and for balancing the organism as a whole. It particularily pertains to the Tantri, seven-chakra linear scheme, rather than the Taoist circular scheme of chakras. There are many specific exercises associated with each chakra, and usually different books give different exercises, so it would take too long to go through all the books, chakras, and exercises here. All I can do is recommend that you browse through the books on this subject in a well-stocked esoteric or theosophical bookshop, find one that you feel intuitively attracted to, and go with that.

Projecting love and light into the chakra. This is also good for malfunctioning and blocked chakras, but not overactive ones, which already have enough energy going through them as it is. Imagine the area of the affected chakra as pervaded by a brilliant white, golden, or other coloured light, which is of the complete essence of love. Imagine this light healing the chakra, opening it, and restoring it to its proper functioning. If for example you have difficulty with understanding abstract mental concepts, you would visualise light and love in brow and forehead chakras, allowing them to open harmoniously, and the energy to flow through.

Talking to or meditating on the particular chakra in question. This is the technique recommended by Genevieve Lewis Paulson. Focus on the chakra in question, massage the area of the body it pertains to, and breath into it. Let the energy flow through it, and ask yourself what needs to be done about the particular psychic state in question. If for example you have an overactive heart chakra, ask yourself in what situations are you being too giving and putting the needs of others before your own.

The microcosmic orbit. The microcosmic orbit is the most powerful technique of all, because it involves and includes all the chakras, the front and rear ones as well as the lower and higher ones. It is especially good for balancing the ch’i energy in all the chakras, and restoring and maintaining equilibrium in your entire being. There is no one technique here, but actually a number of different methods. One involves simply holding one’s attention on the particular chakra point, without any visualisation or breathing exercises. Alternatively (this is the main method taught by Mantak Chia), you can go through each chakra in turn, visualising the spiraling energy (24 clockwise and anticlockwise), and/or (where it is accesable to reach) moving the palm of the hand in a spiralling motion over the chakra in question. Various breathing techniques can also be used, such as breathing into each chakra in turn, and. Mantras can be employed, such as saying “chhhiii”, “aaauuummmm”, or any other mantra at that point. You could also or alternatively try feeling love or smiling energy in each chakra in turn, visualising white or golden or rainbow-coloured light, or doing whatever other techniques one feels comfortable with. The important thing is not to force things

Two points should be adhered to however. The first is to always begin and finish at either the Navel or the Sea of Ch’i 0centre. This is to be done even if you only meditate or focus on one or two other chakras. Due to the proximity of the Navel and Sea of Chi chakras with the Lower Tan Tien, the ch’i energy is balanced and grounded after each meditation

The second important point is to always progress down the front of the body, and up the back. This is the natural direction of flow of ch’i energy in the human body. I emphasise this point because it is so important yet so little known. I once attended a guided meditation where everyone was told to meditate on the chakras at the front of body from the lowest to the highest. This is the exact opposite of the true direction of flow, and it was obvious that the people running the show didn’t have the faintest idea what they were doing. Such ignorance is all too widespread in the New Age movement nowadays, for the simple reason that the New Age is a movement without a strict teachings or dogmas, so people are free both to arrive at the truth unhindered, and to make blunders without any safeguards. Thus, whilst one should follow one’s own truth, one should also be extremely careful to ensure that one’s psycho-spiritual practices are authentic ones

For those who are interested in exporing the practice of the microcosmic orbit beyond the basic introduction provided here, I would strongly recommend a perusal of the works of Mantak Chia especially

Awaken Healing Energy of the Tao.

For opening the specifically Tantric (“primary” or archetypal) chakras, Harish Johari some time back released a cassette tape giving the correct mantric sounds for each chakra and petal. This is still available and is very powerful.

In meditating on each chakra, you may want to use some of the correspondences listed in these web pages. Alternatively, you may want to choose your own correspondences, or not use any at all. The important thing is to let oneself be guided by what intuitively feels right, rather than slavishly follow what some book or guru or teaching says. This so in all aspects of life and with all psycho-spiritual practices, not just those techniques given here. The intention of this coverage is to encourage and stimulate your own exploration in these matters, not to add one more dogma to a world that is already too full of dogmas as it is.

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Daily OM for February 8th – Keeping Things In Perspective

Keeping Things In Perspective
Mountains

 

Mountains have always captured our imaginations, calling us to scale their heights, to circle and worship at their feet, and to pay homage to their greatness. Mountains can be seen from thousands of miles away, and if we are lucky enough to be on top of one, we can see great stretches of the surrounding earth. As a result, mountains symbolize vision, the ability to rise above the adjacent lowlands and see beyond our immediate vicinity. From the top of the mountain, we are able to witness life from a new perspective—cities and towns that seem so large when we are in them look tiny. We can take the whole thing in with a single glance, regaining our composure and our sense of proportion as we realize how much bigger this world is than we sometimes remember it to be.

Mountains are almost always considered holy and spiritual places, and the energy at the top of a mountain is undeniably unique. When we are on top of a mountain, it is as if we have ascended to an alternate realm, one in which the air is purer and the energy lighter. Many a human being has climbed to the top of a mountain in order to connect with a higher source of understanding, and many have come back down feeling stronger and wiser. Whenever we are feeling trapped or limited in our vision, a trip to our nearest mountain may be just the cure we need.

There’s a reason that mountain views are so highly prized in this world, and it is because, even from a distance, mountains remind us of how small we are, which often comes as a wonderful relief. In addition, they illustrate our ability to connect with higher energy. As they rise up from the earth, sometimes disappearing in the clouds that gather around them, they are a visual symbol of earth reaching up into the heavens. Whether we have a mountain view out of our window or just a photograph of a mountain where we see it every day, we can rely on these earthly giants to provide inspiration, vision, and a daily reminder of our humble place in the grand scheme of life.

The Daily OM

 

 

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Let’s Talk Witch – Karmic Consequences

Witchy Cat Graphics & Comments
Let’s Talk Witch – Karmic Consequences

Karma is a Hindu concept that has been adopted by many Westerners, especially those in the New Age and Pagan communities. While many people talk about karma, not everyone fully understands it. Its effects over several lifetimes are also often misunderstood.

What Is Karma?

Karma is the Hindu law of cause and effect. For every action you take, there is a reaction, although it’s not equal and opposite. When you take beneficial action, you receive a beneficial effect. When you take baneful action, that will come back to you, too.

Your karma is a part of your soul, and it determines, in part, how your life will play out. If you live a just life, you will receive more just benefits. If something negative befalls you, look to your history and see what might have caused it.

Leftover Karma from Past Lives

The karmic backlash or reward for your actions is not always immediate. Sometimes it takes years to feel the full karmic effects of any action. The span of time between an action and its karmic effect can actually stretch over more than one lifetime. The actions you took in your past lives affect your current life to some degree. They might decide your role in this life, or how your life is lived. You can rest assured that really evil people will receive appropriate punishments in their future lives. Hopefully, you weren’t a terrible person in your past life, but if you can’t see any reason why so many things in your life seem to be going wrong, you might be dealing with retribution for mistakes you made in a previous life.

The Hindu concept of time is not strictly linear, so there can also be a karmic influence for an action you’ve not yet taken. Living the best life you can in order to balance out the negative weight on your karma is the best solution for dealing with karmic effects you had no role in creating in this life. A Hindu’s goal in life is to carry out his dharma (duty). If you attempt to serve your life purpose, it will benefit your karma and counterbalance the mistakes of the past or future

Source:
Author: Selene Silverwind
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Upon the Astral Plane and the Afterlife

Upon the Astral Plane and the Afterlife

Author:   Grey Glamer   

In their role as walkers between the worlds, Witches and Heathens are creatures born from apparent paradox. While the individual practitioner may emphasize one or the other, most Neopagans simultaneously honor both the multiplicity and the fundamental unity of All That Is. Meaning no disrespect to the true polytheists among us, I myself find deepest inspiration when I acknowledge one immanent Holy One who wears many masks.

As human beings, though, we’re decidedly prone to losing sight of the forest for the trees, and thus I find beneficial the practice of returning to our most basic beliefs from time to time. My purpose in writing this essay isn’t to resolve all the apparent dualities in our world, or any such herculean task. Rather, I want to focus upon one particular duality that profoundly shapes the quest shared by mystics and magicians, the observed gap between the realms of matter and of spirit, and the ways by which that divide shapes our sense of life, death, and rebirth.

Employing the term in the contemporary, non-Siberian sense, contemporary Witchcraft is a shamanic path. While many Witches and Heathens prefer to conceptualize and discuss magic via the language of energies and vibrations, at some point within our developing quest we encounter some non-physical entity that’s sentient in roughly the same sense that we are sentient. Whether we meet them during our astral journeys or perceive their physical manifestations upon our own material realm, they are undeniably real, possessing strangely familiar feelings and motivations.

Speaking from my own admittedly limited experience, some spiritual beings are beneficent, while some leave morality to be desired. Most are somewhere in the middle, neither angels nor demons. In fact, for all their whimsicality, the average spirit seems very, very human. They have needs and desires, dreams and fears, just like you and me.

This class of being, which impresses itself primarily upon our intuitive sense yet with occasional physical manifestations, I define as spiritual, as opposed to material creatures like ourselves who, generally speaking, prove more intensely cognizant of the physical. Of course, there exists no creature exclusively material or spiritual. Every material creature maintains an aspect within the spiritual realms, and every spiritual being produces some resonance upon the material plane. With precious few exceptions, however, most entities favor one aspect over the other, and only when the Mists between worlds serendipitously grow thin do we even acknowledge the multifaceted nature of our cosmos.

As walkers between the worlds, Witches and Heathens learn how to step lightly from the material into the spiritual and back again. Every Circle that we conjure creates a sanctuary where the material and the spiritual may intertwine. Every spell that we cast draws the two worlds closer together. Viewed from this perspective, magic becomes the awareness of how these two realms – material and spiritual – interact with one another.

Whenever we exercise our awareness of the spiritual, however, we encounter the possibility that we will misinterpret or overvalue the experience. Just looking around, it’s not difficult to conclude that creatures within the material realm are deeply flawed, vulnerable to entropy wearing the twin guises of decay and suffering. Faced with our own decline and eventual demise, we often cast about for something beyond our finite existence, something eternal and incorruptible. We reflect upon the turbulent swirl that is our life, turning towards religion or philosophy for solace.

So when the novice Witch first encounters the spirit world, they often harbor a predisposition to believe that here rests the incorruptible something they’ve been seeking. After all, the spirit realm’s inhabitants don’t appear to be bound by the same fixed life cycles that define our physical existence. Moreover, I suspect our culture’s mythos concerning ghosts and the restless dead fuels a prejudice that says our need for something beyond the grave can be filled by the spirit world.

In my humble opinion, I believe that seeking out eternal life within the spirit world is misguided, although there are certainly worse ways by which one can err. (I’m fully aware the above statement will contradict the beliefs held by many readers, and where that happens, please understand that I don’t consider myself any sort of authority on Truth. I draw upon my experiences and my reflections to generate my unique magical paradigm. Your experiences, your reflections, and your paradigm doubtless will differ from my own, and that’s a Good Thing!)

My intention isn’t to question whether we are eternal, because I believe we are. Nor do I question the existence of the Summer Lands, that blessed abode wherein the ghost recuperates and regroups before returning to the ever-turning wheel. The Summer Lands figure within my own paradigm. Still, I question the nature of the Summer Lands, and especially their connection to realms defined as spiritual or astral.

My interest concerning the Summer Lands took on fresh significance with two recent events. The first episode occurred while I was visiting my astral sanctum around Mothers’ Day. One of the spirits who accompanied me had observed the thoughtforms that people generated as the holiday approached, and asked me whether he himself had a mother. (Spirits, like kids, say the darnedest things.) I was surprised by the question, and since then I’ve delved into path working in hopes of discovering the answer to his question. (It’s material for another essay, yet for those who wonder, I believe the answer is yes.)

The second episode occurred during an otherwise unremarkable walk around my neighborhood a couple months ago. During that walk two spirits that share my home accompanied me. The ground was still drying out from rain the previous night, and we happened upon a dead frog. Not an unusual sight where I live; there are several lakes and rivers here, and when the clouds bring rain the frogs wander up into the streets, where they’re struck by passing motorists.

The “younger” spirit could sense where the frog had been killed, and I could feel her became alarmed that the same fate could befall her. Instinctively, I reached out with what comforting energies I could, communicating the sense of safety, yet after the encounter I found myself wondering: Are spirits in some sense mortal?

To borrow from the Venerable Bede, our own finite lifespan can be compared with the sparrow, which flies from the winter storm into the king’s fire-lit hall, before returning to the storm. That is, we are conscious about our own personal history for one short span, with the vast expanse of the unknown looming large upon either side. The metaphor aptly describes our condition as material beings, yet here I was confronted with two spiritual creatures that professed ignorance regarding the darkness before and after their own existence.

Based on these encounters, I believe spirits also wonder where they originate, and what lies beyond their apparent end. Ergo, spirits don’t possess the solution for the riddle of our own mortality, because they themselves are bound by the same entropic forces.

If the spiritual realms are not immortal, then either the Summer Lands are equally liable to destruction, or else the Summer Lands somehow transcend both the material and the spiritual planes. Because I believe our cosmos, and all things that inhabit this great web of existence, are intrinsically eternal, I must take up the latter argument, that the Summer Lands are neither material nor spiritual in nature, but rather transcend both categories of existence.

To develop an accurate cosmology, which properly honors the Summer Lands, we must first inquire about the planes where finite existence, both material and spiritual, plays itself out. The pantheistic philosopher Benedict Spinoza proposed that all things in existence are but modes that have their being within a unitary, self-caused Substance, simultaneously identified with God and with the cosmos. According to Spinoza’s ontology, this Substance remains unknowable except by its attributes, two of which fall within human detection: extension and thought.

In broad strokes, these two attributes are equivalent to what I term the material and the spiritual, and like Spinoza, I regard these realms as facets of one single, otherwise unknowable (upper-case) Truth.

Eternal life may be found, not among the spiritual realm, but rather within the deeper reality towards which both the material and the spiritual point; therein we learn the true import of our astral journeys. Spirits appear human precisely because they are driven by the same mortality that defines our existence. Certain spirits are heirs to ancient wisdom, but then, some material beings teach crucial truths, as well.

Rather than seeking a spirit world with all the answers, we must prepare ourselves to encounter beings with the same hopes and fears, and we must engage those creatures with the same empathy and compassion, which we would expect.

With the sharing of mutual respect, we acquire insight into the (upper-case) Truth wherein we may discover the Summer Lands and our own incorruptible nature. While spiritual beings don’t enjoy the complete picture, they do view the puzzle from angles that we seldom adopt.

Conversely, as material creatures we grasp certain aspects of reality more readily than most spirits can. Just like the proverbial blind people who grasp different parts of the elephant, we each hold crucial parts belonging to the most sublime puzzle. Only by building bridges of mutual cooperation with our astral cousins can we hope to remember our shared immortality.

May we walk lightly and with compassion.

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Spinoza, Benedict. “The Ethics.” The Rationalists. New York: Anchor Books, 1974.

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Responsibility, Free Will and the Craft

Responsibility, Free Will and the Craft

Author:   Rhys Chisnall   

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 27

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – January 27
There is no death. “Only a change of worlds.” Buddy Red Bow, LAKOTA

The Elders tell us of the other dimension, the Spirit World. Our spirit in our bodies does not die, it only looks that way to our eyes and our brains. Some of our ceremonies allow us to see into the Spirit World. Death is only part of a process of life. It shows the transition into the Spirit World. The Elders tell us this is a joyful life journey.
My Creator, help me to understand both the seen world and the unseen world. Let me not be afraid of the world You live in.

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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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