The Witches’ Pyramid #4/4 – To Keep Silent

March 21, 2007 by  
Filed under magick, paganism, theory, wicca

The Witches' Pyramid #4/4 - To Keep Silent

Silence is golden, according to the old saying. Remaining silent seems to be one of the hardest things that anyone can do, especially in the face of different pressures.

It’s human nature to want to brag about the accomplishments and choices that we make. I believe this stems from the desire for approval from others and validation of those choices. This desire is normal, but in magic it can be dangerous and counterproductive.

The major component of any spell is the willpower of the caster. Just about everyone can agree on that. Belief in yourself, your spell, the magick you raised, the inevitable outcome of the spell – all have to be absolutely trusted in to ensure success.

So why would anyone want to voluntarily give away their power and the success of the spell by talking about it to others? That’s the core of this corner, staying Silent – not to hide the spells from others, but to keep others’ disbelief from affecting the belief of the spellcaster.

I mean, the very act of casting a spell sounds ridiculous on the surface, to the layperson. I took this power out of the universe and tempered it with the knowledge with the goal that I would get what I desire. I lit candles and chanted words – basically, I did all this ritual stuff, and I will get what I want. Sounds nuts, right?

Well, it is, and it is all based on a faith that our Will cannot be denied. No matter how open minded some non-magickians are, they will refuse to see that they do the same thing (perhaps in a different way) with their rituals and religions. It is nothing but believing in something that cannot be proven. This comparison tends to make most people very uncomfortable.

Why? Most of us are raised in modern Western Society to be rational. We are encouraged to give up pretending and fantasy play at an early age, and encouraged to start living in the “real world.”

But even though the world of magick is a rational one, with rules and laws that need to be obeyed and which can be bent in very specific circumstances, it looks from the outside to be a world of fiction. Mummery, blue smoke and mirrors, wish fulfillment, hope and coincidence is all magick looks to be.

First, convincing yourself that magick actually works and that you can do it is a huge step, one that is absolutely necessary. This leads me back to this corner of the Pyramid.

Casting a spell, putting yourself in that mindset where you Know to the bottom of your soul that you will have this outcome is a major accomplishment and a critical step. Talking to your best friend about that is likely to lead to a conversation in which your friend questions your sanity. He will probably quiz you long and carefully to make sure that you haven’t slipped a cog in your brain.

This, then, will possibly make you question your own sanity. Maybe you really are just living in a world of fantasy? Perhaps it is possible that you dreamed it? Was there something in that ritual wine? Were you drunk?

This trend leads directly to you starting to doubt your own spell, and thus canceling your own power in the magick.

Honestly, it is incredible that any spell works when people often completely counter the spell by doubting it after the fact. One of the most common pieces of advice that I have heard given to new practitioners of arcane and esoteric paths is that you must continue to believe in the spell and the process of the spell after you finish.

Therefore, talking to a friend and discussing it with them will erode your belief. In fact, simply wanting to get their input can be a subconscious need for their approval, and thus their Will as part of your spell. If that approval is not forthcoming, it can have a tremendous effect and possibly cancel the spell entirely. You should strive to need nothing outside your own conviction.

Additionally, their belief (or doubt) now becomes a direct component of your spell, not just as approval. Their disbelief is now warring with your belief and it will cause problems for you in attaining your desires.

You will be setting yourself up for failure by inviting them and their opinions into your spell. It’s much easier to simply Keep Silent and not put yourself (or them) in that position.

One more thing to think about in this corner of the Pyramid: Think about every time you knew a secret or something that your friends didn’t. Remember how it gave you a sense of power, of control, of being better than everyone else? That’s an altered state of consciousness. Walking around knowing a secret about your spell puts you into that altered state of consciousness and keeps you there. This effectively puts you permanently in Sacred Space, in the same frame of mind you are in when casting the spell.

This makes any simple act of life a magickal act and a sacred act. Living in a state where everything is a magickal act is the very core of Crowley’s definition of magick, “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.”

Holding a secret from everyone means that you will automatically be in that altered state. While in that altered state, things taken on a different hue, and you can see patterns you never noticed before. Everything changes around you, and you begin to see the interconnectedness of all.

When the mundane becomes the sacred and everything is an act of Will – that’s when magick is most effective. That is when the promise of “change in conformity with Will” becomes the tool to cause the world to move.

Knowing when to start the changes is paramount.

Willing the change into being is the next step.

Daring to begin effecting those changes to occur and then remaining Silent about those changes until they are fulfilled is the means of having Magick in your daily life, inseparable and one with you completely. Attaining that point is the alchemy of life, the way to transmute the base metal we start as into the Gold of a spiritual being.

The old magical masters knew this. The Magician’s Pyramid promised this, but like most of their advice, they had to hide it in common sense sayings that could mean anything to those who stumbled across them, hiding in plain sight the essences of magick.

It is only when we see that advice from the perspective of knowledge that we realize the hidden message in it.

A pyramid is a perfect shape for these corners. Each corner or point is dependant on each other, and each supports each other, none higher than any other and no part more important than any other part. The pyramid can be turned on any side, and it still supports itself and supports us.

I have enjoyed writing this examination of the Pyramid. I hope I have given you something to think about with regard to this old piece of advice.

©2007 Eric “Daven” Landrum. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

Magical Aftercare

Magical Aftercare

Okay, you prepared your space. You sat and raised the Circle. You called your allies and astral entities to help. You have called the Quarters, done the Middle Pillar, communed with the Spirits, traveled to the Akashic Record.

You cut the Circle and dismissed the elements. You sent the energy off to do whatever that Power does to cause your spell to work.

Now what?

What happens next? Most individuals will start putting away the trappings of their ritual and get on with their life, but I think there is a time here that is more important to the magician than simply cleaning up.

This is the time of magical aftercare.

In most sexual practices and relationships, there is a time when after the deed is done and you and your partner are lying together, when you simply exist in each other’s arms for a while. You lay with each other, commune with each other and just be. There is no pressure to do anything, no real discussion of anything; you simply exist in the after glow of an incredible experience, mutually shared.

Why can’t we do that with our spells? Why can’t we use that time to commune with the Gods and to exist with Them? Taking time to revel in the energies raised and to exist for a little while in that sacred space that you spent so much time creating and getting into — why must you destroy it by immediately starting the cleanup?

Some activities to think about in this period after the spell and ritual for you and your group include:

  • Divination — Do some tarot readings for everyone, for yourself, and to see how successful the spell is going to be. After all, you spent all that time and energy getting into the mood and working to get into an alternate state of mind to do the magick, so why not use the time while you are in that state to do some related workings that aren’t as labor intensive?
     
  • Reinforcing the Wards on your place of worship — It has always confused me: you spend all that time raising power, getting it to do what you want, making it move in certain specific ways, just to send it all into the Earth when you are done. Why? I understand that loose energy is a danger to the practitioners and to those in the immediate area, but why waste it? Spend a few minutes pulling that Power together and using it to shore up your personal defenses or your group Wards. The Power won’t show up anywhere except in your protections and it won’t be attracting things that should not be there. It will be helping you keep safe and it’s not just sitting there like a patch of tar on a white carpet.
     
  • Grounding — Instead of grounding the energies into the actual ground, why not ground the energy into a “power sink,” i.e. a metaphysical battery? By doing this, you recharge the battery from what bleeds off and you put that grounded energy to a good use. You can do this with any enchanted object you possess and it thereby becomes another source of Power for you to draw upon next time you do a ritual or spell.
     
  • Partying — Here you are, you invited all these spirits to you — your ancestors, your allies, your Gods, possibly even some angels. And once you are done you just dismiss them and move on with your life? How crass can you be? Calling them out of their warm homes to give you some power and then you say “KTHXBY!” Oh, you may tell them thank you, you can even say “stay if you will,” but what about saying, instead, “okay, go if you have to, but we are going to have a party and you are invited to participate!” Then commune with them. Allow them to be part of your life, and be part of theirs. I know your ancestors will be interested in finding out what has been going on, how you and your children are doing, and even finding out how your parents are. Most ancestors are gossipy old things, and they need news, so share it with them. Talk about your family to them, tell funny stories, and make it an event.
     
  • Creation — Once again, you are in a ritual mindset. What’s wrong with using that mindset to create something? You already started with the ritual and the spell, because isn’t that just creation of a set of circumstances you desire? So why not go the next step and actually use that mindset to create amulets, talismans, sacred art, ritual tools, or just to write in your ritual book (whether you call it your grimoire or your Book of Shadows)? How about taking that mindset and using it to write down your impressions of the ritual, so that the event is preserved for future magicians? It doesn’t have to be elaborate, it just needs to be what you saw and felt. If everyone in the ritual does this, think of the group mind that can be built from that spiritual consensus.
     
  • Gardening — I know it sounds nuts, but why can’t you spend a few minutes hugging a tree and letting that tree absorb some of the extra energies, or planting a seed that has to be planted at night? Some plants do better if planted in the light of the Full Moon, and the Gods know there are enough potions and spells that call for components from plants harvested at night. So mark those plants while you are out one day with some nice wide colorful ribbon and go out looking for them after your ritual. You won’t have to get into a sacred space again to harvest the herbs, since you already are there.
     
  • Reinforcement — I know that once you have cast your spell you aren’t supposed to think about it anymore, but there occasionally comes a time when you have to do reinforcement of a spell you already cast. It can be as simple as giving it extra energy or as complex as re-targeting it to another changed goal. But those spells usually have to be helped along by the caster’s active participation.
     

As with any exercise or activity, use your head. It will be massively counterproductive if you do a ritual to create a servitor for your group and then do another major ritual which involves the creation of Wards after everything is pulled down, dismissed and put up.

Maintenance is the key word here. If you would normally do a small ritual to maintain a spell or process that already exists, this time after another ritual would be perfect to maintain and repair it. It’s a small use of power that pays out immensely when you have the time, and you can avoid doing a whole new ritual for the purpose (which is what most people do).

Once you feel tired and like you are coming down from the high that the ritual has put you into, simply stop and move on with your life. But you have to do something to dismiss those extra energies or they can stay and pull in even more energy to it, and those new energies aren’t always the nicest of effects. Frequently, they cause far more problems than they solve.

Eating food, drinking a sports drink, grounding the energy into the Earth — all these are the classic ways of getting rid of excess energy after a ritual. Try to see if you can’t come up with other means of using that extra energy and focus the next time you do a major ritual. If you can, then that’s one more rite you won’t have to do later.

And Time is always at a premium.

©2007 Eric “Daven” Landrum. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

The Witches’ Pyramid #3/4: To Dare

February 13, 2007 by  
Filed under general practice, magick, paganism, theory, witchcraft

The Witches' Pyramid #3/4: To Dare

This leg of the Witches’ Pyramid is probably the simplest on the surface, since it involves doing the process that you’ve already decided upon. The decision to do the spell has been made; the caster’s Will is honed and ready to force the change; but now you get your tools out and start the chants to cast the spell. Sounds simple, right?

But there is much more than that to this aspect of magic. Daring to do a spell means you have a self-confidence that says you have the divine right to impose your Will on the universe, that you have the right to actually make things happen simply because you want them to happen.

To my mind, that takes a special kind of arrogance. To say to the Universe and to whatever form of Deity you honor, “I know better than you do, and I am going to make this action happen.” That sounds pretty severe and arrogant in my opinion.

It is saying that your life is not good enough. It is saying that you know how your life should be, in opposition to how it actually is, and it is saying that no matter what, you will use any methods, fair or foul, to force the outcome you wish to see.

It is daring the Universe to do its worst to you.

It is acceptance of not only the outcome, but also all the additional problems and unintended consequences of this spell.

Daring to do something can be a problem if you are going against the powers-that-be. If a deity has decided that the person you are trying to help is supposed to be sick at the same time you are trying to make them well, and you heal them anyhow, despite all the warnings and problems of that healing, there may be divine retribution. To Dare means you are willing and able to accept that and deal with it.

No matter what anyone says, there are powers in the universe that could be upset that you are doing this spell. Perhaps, it is because there will be unknown “butterfly effect” problems in another segment of creation. Maybe it is because there will be a power drain from something else that is needed and it may simply be that the desired outcome is supposed to be one that is out of reach. It is possible the binding you are doing is in opposition to the protection this God has promised to His follower.

Daring to do this spell then sets you up to be in direct conflict with that power. It means that there is the possibility that They will be upset with you and make your life “interesting” for a while as retribution and punishment.

Now, assuming that your Will and your Knowledge is up to snuff in this whole process, the Dare stage is when you actually start doing the spell. At this point, the recriminations and self-examination should be done, the decision made and now you actually get out your tools and start the spell. Just that act should throw you into an altered state of consciousness. This is the physical stage.

If we relate these legs of the pyramid to different sections of our being, then To Know is the mental preparation part; To Will is the spiritual part; and To Dare is the physical part of this entire process.

Remember what I was saying before about humanity being wish generators? Well, wishing for something is only part of the whole process. Wishing will only get you so far magically; it’s the actual process of doing the spell that will achieve results.

But then there is still one part that needs to be addressed, and thankfully it is showing up in more and more teaching texts. Part of the To Dare process has to be actually doing the mundane things that will help the spell along.

In other words, if doing a spell for a job, Knowing what job you want is good; Willing that job into your life is another good part; Daring to actually do the spell is good; but having the courage to go out and face rejection over and over is the most important part.

Daring must also encompass the mundane. It does take effort and courage to follow through on the mundane side of things, if only because we might fail.

In a post he made in his LiveJournal, Taylor Ellwood made the very interesting point that most people are conditioned to avoid failure at all costs. As part of that, we are also not trained to accept success, and current societal standards are doing no favor by encouraging a similar mindset of “it’s okay to fail” in the next generation.

In any spell, simply beginning the process of the spell will open the door for failure. Failure will become an option. So one of the goals in any spellcasting process must be accepting that the spell might fail, and striving to prevent that failure. Don’t go into the spell with the thought that it will fail, but accept that the “nature of the beast” is going to include the failure of the spell, and then strive to overcome it.

Of course, the standard excuse is to blame other factors for that failure. “The Stars weren’t right,” or “Goddess must have other plans for me,” or “It will happen eventually,” are all excuses that come very rapidly on the lips of those who try spells and fail.

But as one Doctor Who episode1 pointed out, what if we dream the impossible? What if, despite all things to the contrary, we actually make it and make our dreams come true?

No one is trained to consider that, but we are trained to fail. So Daring to be courageous, to actually do what we say we want — that is real magick. To think that it is possible to achieve what we want, to have what we dream about — that’s wonder.

This attitude is prevalent in most of modern Western Society. The very first word that most children learn to understand is “no.” From then on it is “don’t,” “can’t,” “Ain’t gonna happen,” and more negative assertions. Very few opportunities in our life teach us how to succeed and what to do when one achieves a goal.

This is one reason that there are so many books and seminars that try to show people how to succeed. But I have rarely seen anything that shows you what to do when you do succeed.

Our culture is built on the supposition of failure, and thus to actually attempt something that is highly unlikely to work is an incredible step of confidence. Actually taking the step to face that possible rejection for the bare slim chance that we could have a better life is truly Daring.

This is the core of To Dare. It’s taking that leap of faith, that step that may pay off and may not, even after been told all your life that you probably aren’t going to make anything of yourself. You must be ready to take that step despite the array of problems in your way, from the mundane to the deities themselves. You must take that step, knowing that it may not pan out, but trusting yourself, your knowledge and your training to see it through anyhow.

Then you must have the confidence to follow through with the mundane work as well, to see the process through.

Then, to add another layer, Daring to continue, even if the original spell didn’t work — doing it again, despite disappointment in the past. Making sure that you do not, do not, do not quit, even when logic says “give up,” even when reason says “enough already,” and even when the universe orders you to cease, stubbornly going on is the essence of, the heart and soul of, To Dare.

Footnotes

  1. Transcript of the relevant episode is found at here. The exact quote is this, when speaking of the End of the Human Race: “You lot. You spend all your time thinking about dying. Like you’re going to get killed by eggs or beef or global warming or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible. Maybe you survive. This is the year 5.5/apple/26. Five billion years in your future.” —The Ninth Doctor, “The End of the World”

©2007 Daven. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

Veiled Issues #1B – In Defense of Bunny Hunting

February 13, 2007 by  
Filed under paganism, semi-regular, veiled issues

Veiled Issues #1B - In Defense of Bunny Hunting

Veiled Issues

Over the past several weeks, there has been a lot of talk online about bunny hunting. That’s good; talk needs to happen and debate needs to happen. But it’s when talk stops that things go bad. And in this case, talk stopped and attacks began.

I am casting no aspersions. There are a lot of people to share the blame here, no one person more so than any other. This article is not to point fingers or say “you were wrong.” This article only gives the other side of the argument, the one drowned out by the strident voices.

A lot of people have made uninformed comments, judgment calls, snap diagnoses and pop-psychology psycho babble feel-good nonsense. I have seen people call all bunny hunters bullies, mean, hatemongers, guardians of morals and craft dogma, and other names. These aspersions include me, since I have been actively hunting bunnies.

Over my time practicing Wicca and Witchcraft actively, I have been seeing people say, “There needs to be someone who will speak out against these idiots,” for the last 13 years. It started with Laurie Cabot and her insistence on wearing all black, all the time, and it continued into wanting to distance Witchcraft from the excesses of Stevie Nicks. It has continued right up to present day and such people as Kevin Carolyn (and his spells to protect the Loch Ness Monster), Silver RavenWolf (and her books), Fiona Horne (and her infamous appearance on Mad Mad House), right up to the Wiccans and Witches who appear on reality TV and shows like Tyra Banks. But somebody should do something about it, right?

Back in the days of the infant online networking between Witches with America Online, Prodigy and Genie, there was a certain amount of fluff that had to be tolerated. Information was scattered and dispersed between multiple groups and communities, with few books available. Everyone was referencing the same three-dozen text articles, and reading the Riders of the Crystal Wind book of shadows (in fourteen volumes). Finding non-fluff information was very difficult, especially since most bookstores didn’t carry anything that was relevant, and when they did it was in their “Religious Studies,” “Self Help,” or the “Philosophy” sections.

It became imperative to spread the best information you could find. Books like the Big Blue Book or Cunningham’s were about as good as it got, then Doreen Valentie got into publishing her works, and the Farrars wrote their works. [Editor’s note: The Farrars started publishing their works in 1981; Valiente in 1962. They predate Buckland and Cunningham as well as being their contemporaries.] Things started turning around.

But with these autonomous isolated communities, a problem started occurring. It was whispered about in the chat rooms, referenced in one paper, shared with a few communities, and that problem was the predator. The predator would come into a community and tear it apart simply for the joy of watching it burn. They would use and take advantage of others who didn’t know any better, under the guise of the tolerance of Wicca, to take the money, the self-respect and the sexual energy of the people they were supposed to be guiding. The insular nature of the covens only reinforced this, because other covens who didn’t have that problem would look at what was happening and say, “well, that’s not my coven, I can’t do anything about it. But somebody should do something about it.”

If questioned when the different leaders got together in a community networking event, they might say there should be a council that would keep track of predators like this and warn people, a “database of the shunned.” Everyone would agree that it was a good idea and nothing ever came of it. Stories would be shared, object lessons passed on to others, the injured might be taken to those who could help them, and everyone would shrug and move on until the next time. Again, people would say that somebody should do something about it.

And in every case, the community would be ripped apart. There were coven leaders suggesting that it was okay to do illegal drugs in the magical operations and who would make those drugs a mandatory part of the ritual (if you didn’t do it you would be expelled from the group in a time when just finding a group was a monumental task). Famous authors advocated in their books on Witchcraft that it was okay for a father to carve dildos and to use them on their pre-pubescent daughters in a public ritual, or show them how to use them (by hands-on training), or to give that same virginal daughter to the head of the Circle, even if that head was her father, to be used sexually.

Every time a story like this came to light, nothing was done. Suggestions of going to the police would be met with cries of “we police our own,” and nothing would happen. There was no kind of magical or societal retribution at all. If the community moved with one accord to shun the person in question, the one who was shunned simply packed up and moved to another area and started again, destroying the new community they met and using the new seekers they found there. Everyone would agree, again, that somebody should do something about it.

I have been a victim of these kinds of actions; it has taken me ten years to recover, and my daughter still has nightmares about it. My wife and I nearly committed suicide because of the abuse of such a leader. That leader is still in her position of power, using new members of the Craft, destroying communities and moving on. She is even lauded in publications and books as a major force for good in her area. But every story I have heard about her has been negative, such as allowing rape to occur on her covenstead grounds, which she knew about, and doing nothing either before, during or after except to blame the victim.

With the widespread use of the Internet, there is absolutely no excuse for bad information. Yes, the new seeker needs guidance, and there are groups online that will help aplenty. There are multiple people they can turn to and get good resources and information from. There are hundreds of websites that have accurate history, frank discussions about the inner workings of the Covens and the Mysteries to satisfy the curiosity of any seeker. There are websites that are the gold standard for those seeking more than just basic 101 information on how to be a Witch or a Wiccan.

Those going into the forums where new seekers are, who still claim that nine million women died in a 100 year period in Europe, or that all Christians are exactly like the fundamental bigots you see in extreme cases, or that all Wiccans are vegetarians might be uninformed, but are more likely trolling for flames and people to use.

When someone like this shows up in the typical forum or e-list, three or four people will counteract their information with accurate information, decent resources and good historical facts. Normally this is ignored or knocked down with, “Well, I don’t believe that so it can’t be true.” When more good information is made available through references online and off, and it is ignored and dismissed again — when it is decried, and the person trying to give true information is repeatedly attacked, there is a problem.

It absolutely stuns me that there are still people who consider this kind of baiting to be innocent ignorance. When multiple attempts to educate are shot down and deflected and dismissed, even when they are proven as facts, it stuns me that there are those out there who still think that it is no big deal.

I recently reviewed a book that was published by a Christian Publishing house that was about Wiccans and Witches and what we believed. It was designed to be a primer for those who didn’t know who we are and how we came to be. One of the biggest criticisms that I saw over and over in this book was that “Wiccans tend to be ignorant of their own history,” and “They believe in myths that fly in the face of all factual evidence, both archeological and anthropological.” If this problem is so bad that Christians are seeing it, then something is dramatically wrong.

As a whole, society views us as freaks, fools or predators, mainly because of people like this. Because they shout the loudest, those who spread inaccurate information, those who live in dream worlds of escapism, those who perpetually are the victims of something, and who have to find other people to blame for all that is wrong in their lives — these are the public faces of Neopaganism.

There is nothing wrong with believing in fairies, unless you insist that every single houseplant has a colony of fairies living in it and you must feed them all when you have people over. There is nothing wrong with casting spells to help in your daily life, until you only cast spells and do nothing else to bring what you want to you. Acknowledging your cat as a familiar is fine, but calling your cookbooks “grimoires” probably isn’t. And there is still nothing wrong with that until you go on TV on Wife Swap or Trading Spouses, or a show to get a new house, or a talk show, and spout that as what all Wiccans believe.

I’m tired of my religion and my way of life being trivialized and demonized by insane practitioners simply to get their 15 minutes of fame. I’m sick to death of people who have less time in the Craft than the age of my roll of toilet paper telling me what I must believe and do to be Wiccan. And I’m sick of those people who play up to those stereotypes.

I had this conversation at one point, and it made me physically ill when I was done:
“You think you are a witch?”
“Yes, I am a witch.”
“You really think you are a witch”
“Yes, I am a witch.”
“You really believe that stuff?”
“What stuff specifically?”
“You know, that witch stuff.”
“Yes, I do, because I am a witch.”
“You really believe you are a witch?”
And it went on like this for ten minutes, back and forth. I wanted to ask her, “Do you really think you are a Christian?”

This trend trickles over to every aspect of life. Out in your workplace as a Wiccan? Beware that your boss hasn’t watched Mad Mad House, or they may question your competence to fix that car, because Fiona did a spell to make her car run.

These kinds of attitudes keep being replayed over and over in the community and society at large, and they are affecting everyone.

This is the stereotype that is being perpetuated by these fluff bunnies. Not the typical stereotype of the nose-wiggling, green-skinned, broom-riding, black-wearing witch who eats children. But the stereotype of the ripped T-shirt, sullen, antisocial, angry and depressed emo kid who hates everyone, is under the illusion s/he can float over the ground, who is amoral and kills without a thought simply because they can.

I’ll admit it — I had my time as a fluffy bunny. I also had my ass handed to me multiple times by Elders who did know what they are doing. I’m a better person for it. I got so tired of what I was stating being criticized that I started looking up every little fact before I posted it, and I discovered that most times I was totally wrong about what I was saying. I stopped trying to teach others since so much of my basic information was wrong at that point. I have also spent time finding those Elders who kicked my backside and I’ve made amends to them, thanking them for their patience.

Please don’t misunderstand me. New people to this path are not fluffy bunnies. Let me state this again because it doesn’t seem to penetrate the brain. New people to the path are not fluffy bunnies. They are simply new. They are ignorant. They can be educated and they are desirous of education. They come seeking education and the get it for the most part. They also get advice and a support structure.

Fluffy bunnies are willfully ignorant, they are perpetrators of lies and inaccurate information, and they take articles and information from others without ever crediting the people they got it from or even asking if they can use it. They are those who have patterns of behavior including posting something that causes a negative reaction and then continue stoking the flames with more posts, deliberately trying to keep the fight going. Once it stops for various reasons, they start it again. Or they simply pack up and move to another forum and do it all over again. Anyone who disagrees with them on factual grounds is a fascist who just doesn’t understand them. They have rights and you do too — until you disagree with them. And somebody should do something! Right?

New people to the craft will never be targeted as fluffy bunnies unless they exhibit these symptoms.

Because of the spectacular failure of various education tools, the only tool left is showing these toxic bunnies as their true selves to the public. This means exposing their hypocrisy, their opinions on others, what they are teaching, their mood swings and insanity, and basically embarrassing them off the Internet. Everybody agrees somebody should do it.

As one toxic bunny complained at one point, this could ruin his/her reputation. To which I say, “Good.” Maybe the threat of having a ruined reputation will force them to actually start researching and teaching accurate facts. Somebody needs to open their eyes.

The supreme irony here is that if they would reform, all the persecution they hate would stop. But as long as they continue to attempt to teach, spread false information, tell lies and continue to be a danger to those who are truly new to the community, this kind of behavior from the bunnyhunters will continue.

Recently there has been an escalation of sorts. A group on The Bunny Trail (dot) Net has started putting up profile information on the worst of these. Once the last tool of embarrassment fails, the only step available is to enter that person in a database and warn others away from them. That way, when others go searching for information, it will be available.

Just as others in various communities have stated, it’s been needed for some time. Somebody should do it after all.

Frankly, I hope the members of The Bunny Trail succeed in their goal: warning people away from those toxic bunnies. The Gods witness I have tried my best and failed with some, and after countless attempts to communicate, even I realize when there is no use trying any more.

As someone who worships a God of Hunting, as a significant percentage of Pagans do, it is surprising how many people object to hunting online. I realize that the Lord of Hunting is supposed to be He that helps us get food, but isn’t the King Stag, as He is oftentimes called, also the protector of the Herd? Doesn’t He also drive off predators and make sure the new babies and the oldsters and those who are educating the next generation are safe to continue on their duties? Does the doe that has lived in peace, thanks to the King Stag, object to the blood on His hoofs and horns from the wolf He killed?

His mandate to us is to protect each other, to succor each other, and those who would willfully violate the directions and oaths they swore as Wiccan should be punished. They should be driven off. And if they continue to be a problem after being given a second chance, they should be driven off and not allowed to return. After all, somebody should, right?

So I call these idiots on their insanity, and I get told I’m a bully, that I’m mean and worse than they are.

I have been hunting in this manner for several months. There are those who are absolute threats to not only Wicca, but those who will be studying Wicca in the future. There are those who sully the name “Elder” and who claim things that no member of any tradition of Wicca should ever try to pass off.

There are those who, even though new on this path, “know” more than some of these teachers, and while most of their information is laughable if you have good references, in most cases, the new and innocent can be sucked into their cult of personality. The damage done, the dupe can take years to heal, and sadly sometimes they simply don’t recover. In the meantime, the toxic fool damages others, and the cry of “Something must/should be done! Somebody must…” continues to no avail.

I have made sacrifices personally. I have had my life threatened and my wife’s life threatened and my daughter’s life threatened by one of these toxic bunnies. I have had legal action threatened multiple times, and I have been told that if I ever meet these toxic bunnies that I will have my ass kicked.

It would be nice to be told, “thank you” by those I’m trying to protect from these predators. Instead, I’m hated. Instead, I am told that I am mean and that I’m no better than those I’m hunting.

Well, so be it. If that is the attitude of the group, I can live with that. It is not going to stop me, and I will use the tools at hand to succeed in this goal.

To paraphrase The Operative from the movie Serenity: “I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. There’s no place for me there; I’m a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.”

I look in the mirror every day and I wonder if what I am doing is right. I wonder if I am going too far. I check with others who are also hunters to give me a reality check, and I also slap those other hunters who are going too far. We keep checks on each other as to how we are behaving. We don’t want those who we are protecting to be hurt by us; we don’t want the innocent to be harmed. We work very hard to prevent that.

It is still a job that somebody needs to do.

For every toxic bunny that stands up and starts posting all over the Internet about how evil Christians are, there will be 500 Evangelical Christians who will see it and use that as proof that all Pagans are evil and hate them, and that we as a group should be put down and shot or put in concentration camps.

I don’ want to live in that world. And if it takes pissing off a few dozen toxic bunnies and a section of the Pagan world as well, I’m ready to make that sacrifice.

I’m somebody — Care to join me?

©2007 by Daven. Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

Book Review – Pop Culture Magick

January 27, 2007 by  
Filed under books, reviews

Book Review - Pop Culture Magick

Pop Culture Magick
by Taylor Ellwood
Immanion Press, 2004
ISBN: 978-1905713127
144 pages
Reviewer: Eric “Daven” Landrum
Full starFull starFull starFull starNo star

I’ll admit that when I first heard of this book, I was really skeptical. When it was published, I didn’t know Taylor, and I remember the calls that he was a sellout, a poser, and an idiot. That a book based on popular culture and especially the “Buffy Summoning” was just a stupid, fluffy concept. I refrained from commenting because I hadn’t read the book, but to me it sounded interesting since at its core, as Chaos magick uses the same concept.

Now I’ve read this book and I think it deserves an honored place next to Oven Ready Chaos. For those of you who aren’t familiar with that book, it is considered to be a seminal work of Chaos magick.

I will state this from the outset — this is not a book for a novice magician. It is a book that is dense with information and it makes huge assumptions as to the reader’s experience level and knowledge. This is a text that pretty much requires that the reader be very familiar with their own magical system and to have multiple years of experience casting spells and manifesting their desires.

Taylor takes the reader from that starting point and shows them how their magical works can be even better by using pop icons in their workings. The primary concept in this book is that if magick is affected by the amount of people believing in it, then it can be made even more effective by using symbols and icons that masses of people already believe in, like pop culture icons. Using a figure like Wolverine from the X-Men for the cynical Ronin figure in a working for warriors would be even more effective since Wolverine himself has such a fan following, and belief has already charged the idea of Wolverine that you will be using. Heck, to listen to many scholars, this is exactly how the Gods were created — a pop culture icon given enough power and belief so that it goes really well.

He explores this concept as well as the benefits and pitfalls of working with this kind of energy. He also shares some personal works and examples throughout. Just about every mass media method of communication is listed, with a few exceptions. While television, music and movies are all put together in one chapter, it is still noted that it is possible to work with those entities coming from that media outlet. I think I also just realized why he gives those such a brief treatment; the fact that icons coming from those outlets pass by in a flash and by the time one really learns the icon well enough to work with it, the attention of the culture as a whole has moved on to other things.

There are some things I had a problem with, and it is not the material itself.

His delivery is pretty dry throughout. This is partly because of his background in academia, which tends to dislike descriptive and imagination stirring phrases. The tone, while sounding arrogant, actually isn’t. It is the tone one generally has when very experienced in an aspect of life and are trying to transmit that professional competence to an audience.

The anime part of the book, where he is taking specific anime series and using them to illustrate his point, uses series that are popular but may not be known to the reader. One example of this is he goes into great detail comparing the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion to the Kaballah (which honestly I believe it is based on in the first place). Throughout that section he makes a basic assumption that the reader is as familiar with the series as he is, so he doesn’t explain things to those who may not know what happens in the series. Readers would have to watch the entire series and the movie just to make sense of that section of the book. He does this again and again in the video game section as well, and you can see hints of it in other areas. So while the concepts are solid magical work, these sections I feel could lose the reader.

I’m going to give this book 4 stars out of 5, ultimately. The somewhat limited appeal, the assumption of knowledge in the latter chapters and the tone conspired to reduce the score from the 4½ I wanted to give it. But still, this is a hugely needed work, and anyone who is involved in the esoteric, magick, Discordianism, pop culture, chaos workings or even standard ceremonial magicians or witches would be well advised to read this book, if for no other reason than to understand this important core concept.

I know I’ll be recommending it to many, many others. Taylor, my hat is off to you, my friend. Well done.

©2006-2013 Eric “Daven” Landrum. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

The Witches’ Pyramid, #2/4 – To Will

January 27, 2007 by  
Filed under magick, theory, witchcraft

The Witches' Pyramid, #2/4 - To Will

Aleister Crowley said that the True Will is one of the crucial things a magician should know, since the True Will is the basis of the being.

He goes on to talk at length about how True Will is the culmination of the basic core of the person. It is the most selfish part and is most concerned with the success and survival of the person — the part that is most likely to reflect what the person truly wants and needs.

It’s important to realize that just Knowing how to accomplish a goal or that Knowing yourself is not enough. You must also actively make the decision to do what you want, or all the training, all the experience is useless.

This is the essence of “To Will.” This is the actual decision point in the spell-casting process; it is when the magical process, the spell, actually begins. The training and study are the lead-in, the preparation to do the spell. Will is the stage where the decision that the spell is needed is made. It is when all the options are considered and the spell becomes one part of the overall process to cause the desired change to occur.

Many experienced magicians say that this point is when the spell is actually starting to be cast. This decision begins the consciousness shift to the altered states that are key to manipulating magic and successful ritual.

This act of deciding to cast the spell takes the process to the level of a goal instead of allowing it to remain as a simple desire like wanting to get a cola for lunch. It becomes a true desire, such as finding a job that will allow the caster to support their family better, one that motivates the caster to attain their goals no matter the cost or the obstacles placed in the way.

“To Will” also implies that the first leg of this pyramid has been attained. Knowing implies that you know what you really want, to the bottom of your soul. That is where your “True Will,” as Crowley put it, resides. Understanding your own Will, your own mind and desires, is paramount. How can you do a spell to bring success if you believe in the bottom of your soul that success of the spell means you will become something you despise? The ends are counter productive to your True Will.

Therefore, knowing your True Will is another critical part of this whole process.

The True Will is one part of every magician that should always be examined. Willing something into existence, as the Magician of the Tarot deck does, is a hard skill to master; you better be sure that this is what you want. There are no take-backs, no do-overs when you create something out of nothing.

Remember the advice, “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it”? That’s a heck of a double-edged sword.

Human beings are essentially wish generators with no off switch. Think of how many times you say, “I wish” in a typical day, without even meaning to. Once you start paying attention to that statement, you find that you say it a high number of times. You think it more than you actually say that phrase. And each of those thoughts and statements go out into the aether and have an effect there, even if we don’t see it.

Exactly like dropping a pebble into a pool of water, those ripples spread and start affecting other things and people. Eventually it does get reflected back, warped and diminished, but those reflections are still the original wish that was Willed into being.

So while a trained metaphysician and magician can create a situation that didn’t exist by will alone, they should always be cognizant of what can happen if they don’t watch what they think.

This discipline of the mind, of basic thought processes, should be one of the first goals for any training program of those who are psychically aware. Unfortunately, many of those who begin studying those who wish to begin immediately using power, to start casting spells without first understanding the discipline that is part and parcel of this path.

This series of articles is starting to show that there is a method to the Pyramid’s quick mnemonic, a level of depth that many don’t see. We can already see how “To Know” and “To Will” are fitting together and interlacing. It is becoming rapidly apparent that one cannot have just “To Know” without also having “To Will” and the other two legs of the Pyramid.

All this discussion on the Will may make you ask, “where do I train my Will into a razor-honed weapon?” I can’t help you with that because most of training the Will is about practice.

First you have to decide on a goal, preferably a goal that is difficult and which others say can’t be done. Then start on the journey to attain that goal. Along the way you must not despair and you must keep trying, believing even when it’s hard. Perseverance here is the key, although outsiders may see you and call you stubborn.

Keep doing that, over and over, keep out-stubborning the nay-sayers and keep attaining your goals, even if the effort may not be worth it in the end. That is a good primer for a strong Will. When problems appear, decide immediately that you will overcome them instead of denying the problem or capitulating to the problem. Your first reaction to a problem should be, “Okay, how do I overcome this?” instead of, “No, this can’t be happening.”

Choose goals that are attainable and reasonable. Don’t pick ones that are easily attainable, for that defeats the purpose of training. Pick ones that are difficult to gain, and then keep going at it until you gain that goal.

For example, one of the proudest moments I have had in my life was in martial arts when I severely hurt my hip in the dojo. I kept going anyhow with the night’s exercises for kicks, especially side kicks, which work the hips strenuously. I kept going even though I was in a lot of pain; I would not quit. I saw a lot of admiration in the eyes of my teachers that night.

There are all kinds of opportunities that present themselves. Just watch out for them, and understand that when you are training your mind you can’t give in even once, for that tells the subconscious that it’s okay to give in occasionally. It is the subconscious that really needs to know that you have a strong Will. If you choose to give up occasionally, this action destroys all the headway you have made during your training.

When you decide to out-Will a situation that could defeat you, you must carry through to the end, no matter where that decision leads.

Humanity is the only species I know of that can create simply with their thoughts. It is a huge gift and an awesome responsibility. This ability must be tempered with experience and wisdom. Knowing when to use Will is as important as knowing how or why.

The Will then becomes the paintbrush of Creation, and like all tools, it should be kept in good working order and put away safely, so it is not used inadvertently or carelessly.

©2007 Eric “Daven” Landrum. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

The Witches’ Pyramid #1/4 – To Know

December 21, 2006 by  
Filed under magick, philosophy, theory, witchcraft

The Witches’ Pyramid #1/4 - To Know

This corner of the Witches’ Pyramid1 is not only what it appears to be on the surface. It is not solely “book learning.” It is also knowing that you possess the skills to put what you have learned into a practical application, using the knowledge you have garnered to put your magic into practice, knowing the means to cast spells, and doing inner alchemy.

For example, there is the classic Greek admonition gnothi seauton, or know thyself. Carved at the entrance to the temple in Delphi, the Greeks inculcated this belief in their society, believing that each individual must know himself before he could dream of approaching the oracle. Otherwise, what he might learn on the journey of oracular discovery could well be catastrophic to the psyche.

This admonition is not a new one in the context of magical study. Many authors and classic magicians have said this through the ages, most notably in recent times Aleister Crowley. Heck, alchemy was all about self-discovery, and there have been many transcendental movements through the ages focused on discovering the self.

This journey of self-discovery remains at the core of similar movements to this day. The most natural thing in the world is to look for answers to questions like “who am I?” When one group, such as religion, doesn’t satisfactorily answer those questions, it is normal to look for groups who do. If that quest takes people into esoteric fields of study, then so be it.

Magic and religion are only two of many different ways to start this journey of self-discovery. Unfortunately, most of the other methods that society accepts are expensive or time-consuming, like psychologists or self-help books. I can think of only one other freely available method of self-exploration: the BDSM community. But that pathway demands its own price. It is also very far outside the norms of society, making it anathema to many.

This is how it should be. For any esoteric discipline, such as divination, a magician must start with knowledge of self. With that foundation, a magician can separate himself from the process he is calling into being. He then has the ability to see where his prejudices and his insecurities have influenced the process he hopes to create. Put simply, because of having this anchor point, he can be more efficient in his magical pursuits.

A starting place is important in this or any journey. Just like trying to navigate in space, you can find a destination easily enough, but you must have a beginning point.

In many classical references, we find that that this discovery is mandated. In Aeschylus I: Oresteia: Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, The Eumenides (The Complete Greek Tragedies) (Vol 1), Zeus lays down the law: mankind must suffer to be wise.2 This theme repeats itself in the Gardnerian Wicca initiation and in many other groups’ initiations. Any practicing magician must understand that those who are unwilling to sacrifice will not have the knowledge they seek available to them.

There is a direct correlation between how much the student will learn and how much of his own pleasures he is willing to sacrifice to attain that knowledge. Those unwilling to pay the price demanded will not achieve the knowledge they seek. This means that the student must be totally aware of how much he is willing to give up and what he is willing to do without to attain his goal.

Then we come to another often-overlooked aspect of “To Know” — the consequences. Let us assume that the magician actually knows who he is, where he fits and so on. He also knows what kinds of prices he will be paying and has made the decision that those prices are reasonable to attain what he wants. He also knows the techniques involved in actually casting the spells and the theory behind that process. This same magician also has to be aware of what kinds of outcomes are most likely, as well as the potential unintended consequences.

Many think of magicians as amoral creatures, but this is simply not true. A magician has to be more aware and willing to take care of the unintended consequences of his actions, if only because of the “butterfly effect.” A corporation comes in and clear-cuts a forest. This tragedy will have global repercussions. It will have future consequences as well. But I know of no corporation that can affect the past by their actions. Magicians can affect the past and do, at times.

It is up to the magician in question to be self-policing and to deal with the messes he creates. It is only enlightened self-interest. If the magician wishes privacy to do his work, then he must be invisible. If he casts too wide a spell and it affects those other than the intended target(s), he must be willing and able to deal with the consequences. Time and experience will teach him to understand how to limit those effects. Personally, I don’t think he should be casting spells unless or until he can mitigate those effects.

The Military says, “Information is king.” In the battlefield, in magic, in growing up, knowledge is the whole battle. If you know something, you can deal with it, you can cope with it, you can assimilate and correct problems caused by it. But you cannot do that without knowing what “it” is.

All these factors combine to make this leg of the Witches’ Pyramid a very important one. To recap slightly, a magician must know himself, know the skills necessary to cast a spell and understand how to deal with unexpected outcomes of the use of those skills. It is helpful to be able to plan ahead and anticipate problems before they occur, as well.

Once the magician understands himself, he can take the step to understand others around them, since it is most likely that others want the same things he wants. Conversely, by seeing qualities in others he can also find those same qualities in himself and work to bring them out.

Robert Heinlein had a wonderful concept for this called “grok,” a verb that means, “to drink.” He defined this concept very well in Stranger in a Strange Land. Grokking something is to know it so deeply that the boundaries between you and it are lost. He then knows the other part of himself so deeply and so intimately that it is impossible to separate out those elements that are “other” and “self.”

Is it reasonable or possible for a magician to grok and simultaneously separate enough of himself so that he can see where the magical process is messing up due to some aspect he is projecting into it? I think it is.

We aren’t dealing with minor truths here, ones that are immutable and verifiable like 2 + 2 = 4. We are dealing with Great Truths that are mutable and subject to other factors, with the result that all answers are just as true. It is possible to be so intermingled with a spell as to have it profoundly impact and affect ourselves, indeed, why would you do a spell otherwise? At the same time it is possible to be objective enough to see where those factors of self that we don’t care for, but which are intermingled with the spell, are affecting the spell.

Once again, this mandates that we know ourselves, if simply so we don’t fall into Oedipus’ trap of dancing to a tune we neither hear nor understand. When he went to the Oracle at Delphi (the same oracle where “Know Thyself” was carved on the lintel), he was told that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Since he didn’t want to kill the people he knew as his parents, he left, argued with a man on the road, killed him and married that gentleman’s widow. This fulfilled the prophecy, as it turned out.

Had he known himself and his life, he would have discovered that the man he killed was his father. Thus, all of this could have been avoided had Oedipus known himself and the truth.

The skills necessary for this corner are obvious, but the knowledge of when to apply them is just as important. It does no good to spend years learning how to cast a spell if those skills are never used. It also makes no sense to go through all this training and sacrifice if the knowledge gained will only be used for the most mundane of purposes. Knowledge of where and when to apply those skills is paramount to a successful outcome.

When you know yourself, you are aware of the energy you are raising, what it feels like when it is static, when it is moving. You will understand how to give that energy shape and purpose. It’s very important to be able to recognize and separate your body’s reactions from those of the magic you are invoking. You also have to know when you have a situation where the bodily reaction you experience is caused by the energy you are using.

One of the basic exercises in my “Energy Work and Magic” class consists of taking in a massive amount of energy that the students have been gathering over the course of two months, and holding it in their bodies for 24 hours. This shows them very clearly what that energy feels like, what their bodies feel like and how they reacts. This exercise is critical so the students know how to operate despite having the energy overload, because that energy interferes with their perceptions and balance.

There are those of us who have medical problems, such as diabetes. I am on medication for my diabetes, but if I couldn’t separate myself from the magic I’m working with, I would never know if my spell was working or not. The energy of the magic is very similar to how I feel when I’m going into sugar overload.

This is a set of skills that the current crop of instant spellbooks seems to gloss over or skip altogether. The student is the one who suffers from this lack.

Knowledge is the key. Information is the key. To know. And knowing is half the battle.

Footnotes

  1. It has been pointed out to me that this is known by another name, the Magician’s Pyramid. Since I have never heard of this before now, I did not include this fact in the article. I didn’t want to comment and speak on a subject of which I have no knowledge. But it does not surprise me that this meme or philosophy has been used in other groups, as it is another Great Truth.
  2. Referenced from here.

©2006 Eric “Daven” Landrum. Edited by Sheta Kaey

Eric “Daven” Landrum is a Seax Wiccan and the author of Daven’s Journal.

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