When Spirits Come to Call

When Spirits Come to Call

It’s late, I’m tired, and my body is creaking from the day’s work. I sit down on the edge of my bed, stretch and feel my back crack. I look up and there is a see-through old man, standing, with tears in his eyes. He wears a button up white shirt, black pants, and his face is crinkled with age lines. He asks “Can you help me?” I want to sleep, but I stay awake, listening to him as he describes a long, hard life with kids who all but abandoned him when he was on his deathbed.

Spirits aren’t always on our time schedule. Sometimes they come to us when we least want to see them. Other times, they make come when we need them, but we refuse to recognize it. And yet some others may simply come to people because they are bored and are looking for company. Too many people react to the latter two kinds of spirits negatively, without analyzing what is going on and what may have prompted a visit. It is like me coming to your house and asking for a cup of sugar, only to be screamed at and bounced out.

I propose that we treat spirits, human or not, more humanely. Have a weird, eerie spirit that lurks around your closet? Maybe it likes the energies you put there, like my books and mementos. Maybe it wants you to notice something about yourself, your surroundings or your life. More than likely, in my experience, it wants you to notice it.

Here we can find several questions: What kinds of spirits come to call? What should we do when they come to call? How will I know if I am dealing with a spirit or something else? If I don’t want spirits in my place, what should I do?

To answer any of these will require you to have an open mind about the existence of spirits, whether earthbound former humans, elementals, or just that eerie sense of a presence. If you simply can’t believe in spirits, it’s likely that most will leave you alone. If you’ve closed yourself off to them, your energies will tend to be inaccessible, and there’s not much in you to attract them. While there are exceptions, you generally have to be open to a visit to receive one.

For those whose spiritual, religious, or metaphysical outlook can include spirits, your experiences reflect how you view the spiritual world itself. If you think that most spirits are out to get you, then that is in no small part what you will attract, or at least see everywhere you look. If all you are looking for is an external enemy, someone to blame for your problems, or a fight to be had, that is all you’ll find, because you’ve narrowed your focus and energies to accept only these into your life.

If you are to more than simply throwing spirits off your spiritual front porch, I would recommend a more balanced approach, one which engages the spirits around you. There is a knowing that you have boundaries which are not to be crossed, but still allowing them to be crossed when you know a spirit is not intending ill will to you or loved ones. There is also temperance in the treatment of the spirits that you allow across that boundary, knowing that one experience with a certain kind of spirit may not translate to another. Just as humans are individuals so, too, I have found, are spirits.

What kinds of spirits come to call? Depending on you and your personality, as well as that of the spirits, a wide range may come. I’ll give some basic archetypal names, definitions, and examples that I have experienced to help give common ground.

  1. Earthbound Spirits

    Definition: Spirits that once had a living body on Earth. Ghosts, specters, and many haunting human spirits are attributed as Earthbound Spirits, but they may also be animals and plants that once inhabited a space. Their “age” can range from the recently deceased to the ancient dead.

    Example: An old man who had died recently came to me just as I was about to lie down, wanting to tell me about his life. He was “passing through” and stopped by to pay me a visit. He scared the hell out of me; I almost threw him out of my place because he didn’t know to “knock” on my boundaries (more on this later).

  2. Ancestor Spirits

    Definition: Spirits that are related to a living person by blood, familial, or metaphysical ties. These spirits tend toward guiding, guardianship, or simply part and parcel of being part of a family. Experiencing ancestor spirits tends to depend upon one’s view of blood relations, family, and whether metaphysical ritual do or do not place one into a lineage or spiritual family.

    Example: I have blood relatives that contact me, especially my sister who passed on before I was born. She does not guide me or guard me in any overt way, but we speak on occasion.

  3. Elemental Spirits

    Definition: Spirits that are tied to the elements, such as gnomes (earth), sylphs (air), salamanders (fire), and undines (water). I know that some look on these aforementioned archetypal spirits as faeries, but I differentiate the fae from these, the former being a kind of spirit all unto Itself.

    Example: The woods near my home have several spirits of earth that reside there, both in the ground and trees. Some prefer to be called tree spirits, noting that while they may rooted in the same element as earth spirits, dirt is not a tree and vice versa. These tend to be communicative when I am quiet or dead silent, and I “listen” with intent.

  4. Spirits of Place

    Definition: Spirits that are the overarching spirit of a place, a being composed of the various energies of an area. Spirits of Place can be a grove of trees as much as they can be an entire city. City blocks, even if the city has an overarching Spirit, may have its own Spirit of Place. Similarly, it can be seen how neighbors contribute to the spirit of a neighborhood, whether by their attitudes, how they treat their homes, how safe people feel there. Like with an environment, even the decor of the place can influence how the spirit of the area is formed, or what parts of a spirit of place people interact with.

    Example: The spirit of my nearby grove of trees is peaceful overall, concerned with keeping its area clean and growing. The spirit of my town is concerned with a growing drug problem, its streets having more homeless on it, and its degrading streets and sidewalks because of reduced work on them. The former is part of the latter, but is autonomous, existing within the energy pattern that forms the spirit of my town.

  5. Spirits of Purpose

    Definition: A spirit that exists to perform a specific function, such as protection, guidance, etc. These spirits can be sent from a God/dess, be part of another spirit.

    Example: As an example, spirit purely of growth exists to make things grow for good or ill, whether it is a tumor or a patch of grass. Another example would be a spirit of blight, who feeds on and seeks to expand it within its area.

  6. Constructed Spirits

    Definition: Spirits who are specifically constructed by magical practitioners. These tend to have specific functions, but there have been efforts made to create whole spirits who have personalities and motives all their own.

    Example: I have created a spirit to protect my car and its occupants from harm, fashioning them out of my own energy. A great example of creating a spirit was carried out by the Toronto Society for the Paranormal (TSPR), “The idea was to assemble a group of people who would make up a completely fictional character and then, through seances, see if they could contact him and receive messages and other physical phenomena — perhaps even an apparition. The results of the experiment — which were fully documented on film and audiotape — are astonishing.”1

  7. Totemic Spirits

    Definition: Spirits that are the overarching spirit of an animal or entity that is revealed to a person. It can be representative of the qualities humans see in the being, or may inherently possess the qualities dependent on the spirit and human involved.

    Example: A totemic spirit of the Dung Beetle came to me a few months ago in a meditation and has worked with me on rolling the “poop” in my life up and making use of it. In this role, it guides me and helps me out, and I honor it by giving offerings and listening to his wide range of bad poop jokes.

  8. Spirit Companions

    Definition: A spirit that develops a deep connection to a human by intent of the human or spirit. It does not necessarily mean a romantic connection; it can also be a friendly or specific purpose-driven connection.

    Example: Calling up a spirit, befriending it, and no longer calling upon it. Being able to call to it and speak with it, and vice versa, and letting it go when it wishes.

  9. Deity Spirits

    Definition: A spirit sent by or representing a Deity.

    Example: This could be something like a fae messenger from the Tuatha De Danaan. Alternatively, it could be something like the Metatron or Hunin and Munin from Norse mythologies, who are the spirits of Forethought and Afterthought that sit upon the shoulders of Odin.

So now that we have some definitions to work with, what do you do once you and a spirit meet? Well, be cautious unless you absolutely know the spirit and where it comes from. Essentially, treat it like any other stranger you would. Ideally, with respect, caution, and a give-and-take conversation until you know each other better. But how would you even talk with a spirit?

To start spirit communication, you should be able to do a few things first:

  • Be able to ground your subtle energy, center it and your focus, and direct your subtle energies reliably.
  • Be able to mark out spiritual space for yourself, such as casting a magick circle, or creating an astral temple.
  • Having some method by which you can interpret abstract input / stimuli or input / stimuli from outside yourself; not everyone uses vision for this, though this method dominates most books. Some people “hear” the spirit world, whereas some may “feel” it. I use quotes because many rationalize or have translation from their subtle body/astral body into physical sensation so they can process what occurs in the spirit world. It differentiates from physically seeing an object in the spirit, to spiritually “seeing” it.
  • Have a person or people with which to share the experience. Sometimes the best thing to have is a sounding board for your experiences. They can not only keep you grounded, but if you are stuck, can suggest ways of working with your circumstances, and help find solutions to problems you may have down the road.
  • Be willing and able to set boundaries. Spirits should not feel they can wake you at all hours of the night, nor should you feel obligated to let them. You should also know when not to communicate with the spirit realm, and when too much is too much.

With that out of the way, what about some actual methods for spirit communication?

  • Communication on the astral plane. If you know how to do this, you can project yourself into a protected neutral space and carry on a conversation. For tips on how to do this in depth, I would recommend picking up a guide such as Ted Andrews’ How to Meet and Work With Spirit Guides, or Christopher Penczak’s Spirit Allies: Meet Your Team from the Other Side.
  • Communication by talking board. One of the most maligned ways of communicating with spirits, but in my opinion, in can be one of the most effective if you use it right. Using it wrong is calling out to any spirit with no protective magick circle or knowledge of how to clear out entities from a working space, and accepting whatever the spirit says to you, with this or any other method, as gospel. Using it right would be spiritually cleansing the area where you will use the board, casting a magick circle for protection and guarding you in the circle, and having items for a quick clearing spell for the circle on hand.
  • Communication by fire, smoke, water, or similar means. Perhaps more abstract than the previous two, I have found this method works best when you elementally align it with the spirit in question. This is because, in my experience, beings like elemental spirits might be more apt to respond via a physical representation of their element. Simply lighting a candle and gazing into it may draw out imagery that you can interpret for yourself as to the intent of the spirit.
  • Communicate via a medium. Someone who can help interpret the spirit world can be a great aid, or a great detriment. Open and honest communication (i.e. you respecting their boundaries, they not sugar-coating messages) can empower a great working relationship that can deepen both parties’ spirituality and depth of experience.
  • Communication by manifestation. This may sound odd at first, but think of it like this: you want proof the spirit you think is reaching out for you is real. To prove to you that something is trying to communicate, you ask the spirit to give you signs and coincidences that speak to you that others may not catch. Although this takes a bit of open-mindedness and practice, the results can be very interesting. I will caution that this way is probably the hardest and has the slowest way of bringing out results from working with or communicating with a spirit. However, when deity spirits have gotten in contact with me with this method, the messages have been unmistakable and direct, placed in such a way that I know for me that it is not my subconscious.

There are far more means of contacting spirits than I have listed here. Almost every culture has had some way of speaking with the dead and other spirits; even Catholicism appeals to saints for a wide variety of reasons, from protection to selling your home.

The greatest challenge you may have once you open this door is learning to close it. So long as you have established boundaries, such as making sure spirits know what times are off limits, and keep to them, most spirits should leave you alone as you ask. Let’s say for the sake of argument that a spirit won’t stop coming around at bad times for you, or is trying to intimidate or control you; what do you do?

Take a passage from Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t panic.” The worst thing you can do is feed into the spirit’s ego, or empower it by giving it your energy by freaking out. There are some tried and true methods I have used to make spirits leave if they will not do so of their own volition.

  • Rebuke them. That’s right; the power of Me compels you. Or the power of your God/dess, your dishsoap . . . anything that gives you the feeling of power and control of the situation. Using an empowered object by your Will, magick, what have you, and projecting energies that assert your authority, in my experience, are highly effective. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Whatever you do, it just needs to either remind the spirit (or yourself) that you are in control of your body / place / etc., and / or that it has no power over you. The rebuking itself can be as strict as a demand followed by a spiritual boot to the ass to leave, to a simple “No, this is my space.”
  • Calling on deity / spirits / etc. Don’t be afraid to call in family, friends, and / or allies to deal with a spirit that refuses to respect you and your space. From something as simple as wearing a grounding stone to bed or placing it beneath your pillow, to fashioning an egregores to take your “calls,” you have a wider range of options with help. It is not weak to ask for it, and it is not weak to say “I can do this much, and no more.” In fact, that is oftentimes harder, and better for all involved.
  • Using a sigil. Sigils are shortcuts, graphics that can be word amalgamations, random scribbles, or made from a standard sigil creator. It can give you a direct line to the spirit involved, especially if a spirit “gives” it to you in telepathic communication or automatic writing. A sigil can empower your Will against or with the spirit it is of, or aligning your energies much more naturally with it because you are engaged with its symbol. This works like a sympathetic link, much like having someone’s hair, or an image of a person, one more way of energetically connecting to a person or thing. I have found the Rosy Cross of the Rosicrucians to be an effective method for making sigils, as I have combining letters into a graphic. For instance, TBL for Table, as shown here:
sigil
  • Cleansing. From a shower to a full-on ritual with a censer and aspergillium, the rite is to cleanse a place or person of spiritual ties or excess spiritual energies. A shower can double as a cleansing area, whether you perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram in it or visualize the excess energies dripping off of your body as you clean yourself. The specifics of it are up to you; if you want to rectify or keep the relationship with the spirit, don’t cut off all ties with the cleansing, but target the rite to help cleanse the relationship itself. Again, using the shower method, you can visualize your connections as colored cords connecting you to the spirit, washed clean but not washed away. If you plan on having a long-term relationship with a spirit, this may simply be good spiritual hygiene on your part.
  • Putting up “walls” / empowering your “shields.” Putting up shields is projecting protective energy to make a barrier, preventing contact you do not wish to have, and accepting that which you do. I tend to meditate every day on my shields, through visualization, meditation and other practices layering them up or performing upkeep so they continue to work the way I want them to. Putting up walls is intentionally arranging heavy amounts of your energies, and / or energy body, to block reception and oftentimes the giving off of certain energies. For instance, if you do not want any kind of spirit communication from the outside world, putting up walls (again, through visualization and the like) will block any and all spirits from contacting you. Think about this: you are effectively cutting yourself off from a form of communication. Before putting up walls, weigh the pros and cons. What are you cutting yourself off from? What are you allowing in? What are you keeping in with your walls?

Should you decide to communicate with spirits, your own experiences will tell you best how to do so. This text is just a beginning primer to get your ideas flowing, to ease you into spirit communication, and give you some solid ground to lift off.

Sources

©2010 by Sarenth.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Faith and Healing in Paganism – Premiere

Faith and Healing in Paganism - Premiere

This is the first in a series of articles in my column “Faith and Healing in Paganism.” I must say that I am eager to see where the discussion will go, and I hope you can share some of my excitement along the way.

The focus of this column will be on healing. The advantage of this focus is that it allows for articles on healing, pagan and comparative religious experiences, and cross-cultural perspectives on many pagan and magical practices. My specific approach as a healer is usually embodiment, or the experience of a person being inside their body, rather than being “in their head.” I am looking forward, in future posts, to writing on aspects of healing that seem to be problematic, but because of the larger debates going on, it is probably important to start with “faith” as a topic.

I feel some trepidation using the word “faith” in a pagan context. Certainly, I am unwilling to use it unexamined and undefined. That, then, will be the purpose of this first column: to look at the meaning of faith as a basic human experience of the numinous, and to look at what other meanings have been added to it, so that they can be stripped away, allowing the flowering of something that is more wholly pagan. In discussing faith in a pagan context, it will be critical to cut the core idea away from many of its associations and, in the long run, pagans will need to redefine “faith” to match pagan cosmology and theology.

Faith does not mean what we think it means.

An examination of the meaning of faith is, I believe, timely. In the news media, in current books and magazines, and on the internet, there are ongoing discussions of the meaning and importance of faith. The many authors all have different meanings for the word. Some imply belief alone, some mean unquestioning belief in a religious context, and others hold it to be an irrational belief in a system opposed to humanist rationality. While these may all agree with one another on some points, none of them reach to the core of the idea, or more accurately, the core of the experience of faith.

Faith is associated with the dominant monotheistic religions, as well as with “blind” belief. Just this week, as I was writing, Newsweek (February 22, 2010 edition) had two discussions about religion: one about Moderate Islam, and the other about the debates around teaching religion at Harvard. The cultural pitfalls that surround discussing religion and faith, the social dangers of disagreeing with someone else’s protestations of faith, and the general humanist vs. religious aspects of faith are all apparent parts of the cultural landscape. In short, everyone is talking about faith.

“Faith” is a dirty word in some circles, even, or especially, pagan circles. Yet at the same time, a religion free of “faith” would be a hollow thing. I believe that pagans should come to their own understanding of what faith is, recognizing the differences and similarities of their experiences to those of other religions. Faith is what happens to the human mind when it is confronted with spiritual presences that are vastly greater than us. For pagans, however, that is not some distant, solitary God. In my experience, there is an immanence to our spirituality, the awareness of the spirit in all things. This “spirit” is not somehow separate and directing, but interwoven and integral with the world. For pagans, such experience is not tied to removal from the world we live in, but rather it ties us more closely to this world. The clear experience of the “numinous other” does not have to happen only in some distant Heaven, but is just as valid as we stand here on the Earth.

Faith has come to mean many things, mostly as a result of our cultural exposure to Western Christianity. What has happened is that the simple, unclouded experience we could call faith has been redefined and informed by two thousand years of tradition based on different underlying assumptions of the universe — ones that, as pagans, we categorically reject. Perhaps the most important of these is the belief that the world of the spirit is remote, and somehow greater in power than the world in which we live. To hold the earth as sacred disrupts this separation; to hold the earth as inherently and simultaneously physical and spiritual is to begin to recognize that these divisions are not “outside” of us but “inside.” At the same time, as members of our culture, these are mental associations that we often unthinkingly accept. They are simply part of the way our culture and language are “shaped.”

For example, I would like to critique the idea that faith and belief are synonymous. This suggestion is not true, at least not as I am going to define faith below. Faith is a spiritual experience which can lead to belief, but it is not the same thing. Culturally, faith has come to mean “unquestioning belief.” Let’s look at the simple sentence, “I have faith in Sarah.” What does this generally mean? Well, if I read it, I would say that it means that the speaker has an unquestioning belief about Sarah. It probably does not mean that the speaker has had (or is having) a spiritual experience based on Sarah. This is a co-opting of the word “faith” for much more mundane reasons. It is this understanding of faith that I wish to escape. It might be easier, with all the associations that come with the word, to turn our backs on it, avoid it, and dodge the debate. That would mean that we have taken the easy way out. Instead, I suggest that we embrace the term, taking our place in the great intellectual and religious wrestling match that is going on around us. Some might argue that the specific word “faith” is not important. However, in the end, I cannot use a different term because faith is the best term for the experience I am discussing.

Faith is personal and spiritual.

What I would like to do now is momentarily step aside from the above debate and talk about what “faith” means, not so much as a word, but as an experience. Behind the many uses of the word, I would argue, there is a simple experience of the Divine. Faith begins in the moment that one travels the road from “I believe in higher powers” to “I have direct experience of higher powers.” That is what faith, as a word, means here. This is not about blind belief, but about beliefs that seem blind from the outside because the person who carries them has based them on experiences that are personal and cannot truly be shared. Faith is about experiences that are beyond words.

Faith is a spiritual experience. The ideas attached to that experience, and used to interpret it, are actually a mental filter between the numinous and the everyday mind. Religion, in the context of numinous experience, is not so much a set of beliefs as an interpretive construct for understanding that which is purely spiritual — or perhaps more accurately, outside of everyday experience. Traditionally, in Western culture, religion tries to codify, interpret, and pass down to future generations these valued experiences. What the culture is less good at, in my opinion, is accepting that these beliefs are interpretations of something that was intensely personal and contextual. The words, and not the spirit behind them, are recognized as sacred. It is in this way that faith and belief have become entangled.

Faith is a key part of human religious experience.

What is faith, then? If it is not a set of blind, non-rational beliefs that we pass from generation to generation, then what? Faith, as I mean it here, is directly analogous to the Christian “state of grace,” the direct communication with something (usually represented as a god-figure) that informs and directs our experiences in the world. That sounds pretty heady, doesn’t it? Well, it is. This is not an experience that belongs alone to the Christian Charismatics, or the Sufis of Islam. It is a basic experience that belongs to all people. The religions themselves, the sets of beliefs that we share, are ways that we use to find meaning and relate these experiences in words. Faith, itself, goes beyond words. Faith does not belong to the part of the human mind that uses words.

Years ago, when I was being social with friends, a woman turned to me and asked, “Do you believe in witchcraft?” I looked back at her and responded, “Do you believe in rocks?” “But rocks exist!” “Yes, exactly.” My point then, as now, is that only ideas and beliefs can be analyzed for truth value, and that once we have experienced something, it is not a matter of belief. Moments of faith, therefore, are transformative. They realign our perceptions of the world. To wax metaphorical, belief alone can do no more than sow the fields of faith. That is not to say that belief is without merit itself, but it does mean that belief is not faith. Belief, however, does allow us to interpret and ascribe meaning to our experiences of the other.

With our hands, we reach out and touch rocks, and we know that they exist. Certainly, we can argue the implications of the idea of “exist,” and say that the meaning of “exist” that we use in our culture is probably horribly wrong, but we have no doubt that they exist. We can say that they do not exist outside of our own minds, and while that might be true, we can nonetheless pick them up, admire them, or make houses from them. By placing existence in our minds, we have simply changed the value of the word “exist.”

With our spirits, we can reach out and touch the numinous. With our spirits, we can look around us and see the effects of that spirit within the world. This is not something that is solely the purview of certain religions, but is instead something that is a part of all humans. Insofar as we are in touch with our own spirits, we are aware of the spirits of others. This recognition of the spirits of others is called “compassion.” This compassion is in fact a key aspect of healing work. It is important in Christian and Muslim faith healing, it is important in such modalities as Reiki, and is important in the practices of Buddhism. I am suggesting that these religions are all pointing to the same experience: the awareness, by means of our own spirits, of the existence of the spirits of others. But, let me throw in a word of caution. Compassion is not simply “being nice.” Compassion is not a weakness. And compassion is a virtue, but not the only one.

Like compassion, faith is an opening of a part of the human spirit to the outside. As a healer, I would argue that the opening to faith is a valuable part of being a healthy human. Faith is as much a part of us as “instinct” or “being grounded” (a term which I will argue in a later column has two separate meanings, depending on context). Of course, while we might like to be paragons of virtue, the purpose of virtue is to have something for which to strive, not berate ourselves and others for not living up to our beliefs.

Pagans will need to redefine faith to match pagan cosmology and theology.

For faith to be a useful thing for pagans, we must reexamine the foundational ideas out of which all other notions grow. These foundations will be different from those of the monotheistic religions of the world, but not unrelated. Faith should be a part of pagan religion, as should belief, but it need not be the sole foundation.

For this, we must remove from the term a belief that faith alone is the cornerstone of religion. With all this talk of faith, it would be very easy to slip into a position that it is the core of religion. But for pagan religious experience, it is important to relegate faith to a place where it is balanced with other aspects. Faith can be a guide, but reason, compassion, and grounded experience of both our culture and the world at large must be balanced as well. Faith offers one kind of truth, but that truth should be recognized for its value without being placed on an untouchable pedestal. The beliefs that come from faith must be recognized as personal and contextual. The experiences can be powerful, but it is sheer hubris to believe that they are more “true” or more “valuable” than other kinds of knowledge.

Pagan faith lends itself to being integrated into the wider, global world, without leaving us helpless to act in it. Pagan religions are, by their nature and creed, more accepting of a wider world in which there is a polyvocalism, rather than a single voice of Truth. For this, we must focus on living in the world as it is, not as we believe it should be.

©2010 by Christopher Drysdale.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Poetic Journeys #16 – Kali as The Devil

Poetic Journeys #16 - Kali as The Devil

Poetic Journeys

Instructions

Use any preliminary ritual you like —
Banish, Create a Circle, Meditate.

By the light of a dark indigo candle
place The Devil Card of any tarot
(The Thoth Deck is recommended)
in the Center of your altar.
There should also be tokens of Kali —
a simple inverted triangle, a cup of dark wine, dark incense, etc.
Sit in ½ lotus upon an animal skin or black wool cloth.
Surround yourself with appropriate objects of power.
Meditate deeply on the card.
Raise your right hand up;
with your left touch the ground.
Visualize the Image of an Eye
Manifesting before you. . .


You are in a dark forest
About you are cowled figures with torches
Silently going to the Sabbat
You follow them through the underbrush
Until you come to a rocky clearing
There is a cave entrance
A cleft in the black rock
Vines clinging about it
You and the others squeeze through the opening
One by one
Coming to a large stone circle
Surrounded by many torches
In the center a bonfire
And an ancient graven image
Here the celebrants strip
Rubbing sweet-smelling ointment on each other
Naked they begin to dance
And weave and laugh and caress each other
Banging drums as they stamp and dip
You go to the center
And stare up at the stone image
With flowers, fruit, and eggs piled at its feet
It is horned and horny
with erect phallus and yearning vagina
Hairy face and breasts
Killing, healing, fucking, and giving birth
Great beast and Dark mother
There is blood on its head
And a huge smile on its face
and someone whispers, “Baphomet”
and faceless hands blindfold you
and a voice whispers, “Do you wish to know?”
You nod your head and are being lifted up
You kiss the image
and are suddenly overcome
with every sexual fantasy imaginable
Through the gate of orgasm
You see a glowing eye
And flow towards it and enter it

Suddenly you are on a desolate plain
Dead grass, black night, howling wolves
You are in a graveyard
Surrounded by bones, smoking pyres, and ashes
Suddenly walking corpses appear
Also ghosts and skeletons
Monsters and ghouls
They all walk to the center of the graveyard
and you follow them to a fire
and the monsters begin to dance
Drinking blood
Howling and pounding skulls
and before you is another ancient stone image
And it is almost the same as the last
But the vagina is larger
The ribs are showing
and the breast are shriveled
and human flesh, blood, and hair are there
A scarlet flower sits atop her head
and a cold, bony hand grabs you
and a ghost gibbers, “Do you wish to know?”
You nod your head and are being lifted up
You kiss the image
and suddenly are overcome
with every horror death nightmare imaginable
Through the gate of death
You see a glowing eye
and flow towards it and enter it

You are in space
Staring at the Earth
Green, blue, white, and beautiful
Then you see a giant hand of light
Reaching up and spinning the globe
You see birth, life, work, and play
Animals and plants swirling
Breeding, swarming, spreading
Forming, destroying, joining, and splitting
All the pain, bustle, action of life
Then you see another hand
large and black
reaching down to the Earth to spin it
Then you see death, decay, and hunger
Things ending, drying, hiding
life energy sinking, dispersing, and fading
Keeping the swarming masses of plants and animals
from overwhelming each other
from devouring the planet completely
Delivering the sick and unwanted from suffering
and the dance of life and death
swims and flows across the Earth
In spirals and leaps and twists

You become fully aware of a giant figure
Dancing in shadow behind the Earth
and both hands seen were from this Being
and it is slowly dancing
and with each movement
life and death shift on the Earth
and suddenly you move back
and see the figure
horned and full breasted
Sometimes male
Always female
Skin black as night
long hair shakig
Wearing a snake and bones
beating a drum
Keeping the balance

The chant “JAI MA!” echoes
On and on and on and on. . .

It is the rule of the world
The initiator of the mysteries of life and death
The guardian of the left
This glowing awesome figure smiles at you
and a cold wind caresses you
And the black one murmurs, “Do you wish to know?”
and you nod your head and are being lifted up
You kiss the ruler of the world
and suddenly are overcome. . .
and you are giving birth
and you are grieving a death
and you are healthy and fit
and you are dying of disease
and you are full and energetic
and you are starving and listless
and you feel and see and experience
the life and death of every person on Earth
and you see yourself in the midst of the crowds
contributing to the flow
of life and death
by your every action, every meal, every thought
You see psychic chains
attached to you
from everyone you know
from everything you own
people and things you love and hate, use and discard
and the biggest chains
are held by the master of the world
who is laughing and crying

“NOW YOU KNOW,” SAYS THE GOD-DESS
“AND KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.”
AND YOUR THIRD EYE OPENS
AND AS HE/SHE DANCES
IT GIVES THE CHAINS INTO YOUR HANDS
AND YOU KNOW THAT THE WORLD
AND ALL ITS THINGS
AND ALL ITS PEOPLE
AND ALL ITS OBSESSIONS
AND ALL ITS TEMPTATIONS, HORRORS, AND PLEASURES
IS THERE TO TEACH AND LIBERATE
OR TO ENSLAVE AND ENTRAP
THE DECISION IS YOURS

YOU SEE A GLOWING EYE
AND FLOW TOWARDS IT AND ENTER IT

AND YOU ARE BACK IN YOUR TEMPLE
AND YOU FEEL YOUR THIRD EYE CLOSE
AND THE VISIONS END
BUT THE KNOWLEDGE REMAINS

End the meditation by chanting
JAI KALI MA!
JAI KALI MA!

JAI KALI MA!

SHANTI SHANTI SHANTI!

Earth the energy. Banish.
Have fun.

©2009 Aion 131
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Lammas: Abundance and the Courage to Receive

Lammas: Abundance and the Courage to Receive

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error! –
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white combs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

—Antonio Machado

Now is the time of the embarrassment of riches.

Summer heaps abundance upon us — an abundance of heat and sunlight, of long golden days that stretch into steamy twilights, of the fertile Earth heaping the treasures of flower and fruit for all to see. In the garden, the tomatoes weigh down the vine, the zucchini and pumpkin push their creepers further out as their fruits swell obscenely, the apple trees groan under their burden of ripening fruit. Insects swarm, the animal babies of Spring are seen following their mothers. All the unrestrained living of our living world is in full force. Summer pours its blessings on us all in a wealth of light, heat, blood and chlorophyll. Every leaf, every fruit, every branch has rushed out to its furthest edge of ripeness and splendor — we are at the zenith of the year’s productivity and about to tip over down the other side.

It’s easy in the crush of such overwhelming growth to forget the scarcities of winter, its bitterness and the emptiness of the land. It’s also easy to forget that the balance to all this abundance and grace is sacrifice. The Sacrificed King is slain to provide for his people, as all life depends upon the eternal cycles of life and death and life again. This sacrifice is not always easy for us to comprehend, and makes us feel uneasy and perhaps guilty. We must not forget that “sacrifice” means to “make sacred” and an integral part of the sacrifice is our humble willingness to receive the blessing of this gift. In receiving it, we become witnesses to it, and if we do not shirk the responsibility that this gift incurs, we enter into an eternal contract with the Mystery. We are changed by receiving this grace. It requires courage to accept it.

I have lacked this courage. Despite my belief in the overflowing power of the Universe to provide, and faith in my own ability to manifest, somewhere deep inside I don’t truly allow myself to receive the abundance that I know is immanent. One of the most important, and most uncomfortable, lessons I’ve received this year, was to have my inability to receive shown to me. I had booked a night at a retreat center and spa to recharge myself. This was a gift to myself — 24 hours of silence, of water and sand, of being intimate with myself in ways that the crush of parenting and working full time had made almost impossible. I desperately needed the down time, but for the first two hours I sat by the tide pool in my bathing suit, unable to stop fretting about my kids, my work, my responsibilities elsewhere.

I was unable to be present with the gift I had given myself, and was ruining my own mini-vacation because I could not accept the gift of time, silence and luxury. No one was denying me this but myself. Somehow I was more comfortable feeling stressed, anxious and angry at trifles than I was letting go of it all and taking in the healing of salt air and hot water. In moving through my mundane life, I had been pushing through, trying to hold myself together and all I had really accomplished was to close myself down. I needed the courage to give myself permission to be at rest, to not be dealing or in charge, to not be productive, to simply let myself be and allow myself to be at peace. It was scary to let it go, I felt vulnerable, but in letting go I was able to finally open to the blessings.

The image that came to my mind then was the yoga Warrior pose (asana): one knee forward, one back, arms stretched out, the chest open and vulnerable. The Warrior is not closed down and defensive. He pulls his shoulders back, which opens his chest, then his heart, generating strength out of vulnerability. The heart grows stronger, the spine lengthens, the blessings of the Gods pour down. It takes courage to receive grace, to incur the responsibility for receiving it, for being called upon to be present and mindful of it. Our culture does not teach this type of gratitude, because gratitude dispels the illusion of disconnection and isolation that supports its dominator paradigm. Meat comes from the store, water from the tap, power from the switch — how these things got there are invisible processes that do not importune us with questions about their true cost. We do not need to be mindful of the true cost because we do not have to raise the animal we eat, or carry the water we drink, or generate the power we use. Because we are encouraged to remain in our illusion of isolation, the real costs and liabilities of these things are never really known to us, and we cannot be appropriately grateful for what we have received. It takes courage to see things as they are, to see what things truly cost, and to willingly acknowledge our indebtedness.

Earlier this summer I was the recipient of profound grace, with all its perils, when my family bought our first new house and prepared to move in. The house had been vacant for at least two years and a large colony of wild honeybees had made their home in the upstairs dormer window sill. It was the bees that had first made me seriously consider this house. The first time I went to look at it, as I stood on its crooked front stoop, I asked the house “What do I need to know about you?” whereupon I heard an intense buzzing. Looking up, I saw several bees flying in and out of the window sill. As a Priestess of Ochun, I was immediately attentive. Bees are her sacred animals, and since she is a household Goddess, I had requested her help in securing the right house.

Relocating the bees was the first thing that happened once the closing papers were all signed. None of the options for moving them along were easy or cheap, but the only effective method was the also the most ethically sound. I had no intention of just exterminating the bees, of course, but I found it ironic that even if they were simply gassed by an exterminator, the entire nest would still have to be removed, the space cleaned out and rebuilt, and that would not be the end of the problem. “Oh, poison just makes them mad,” said one bee keeper, and makes things even worse when the bees inevitably returned. Having someone remove the bees, relocate them to a new hive and remove the nest was going to incur some casualties among the bees, but it was the best solution for us and for the bees.

The morning the bee keeper came was cloudy and cool, a perfect day for the removal. It occurred to me that in agrarian communities, June was traditionally the time for setting up housekeeping as couples were married, and also for wild bees to swarm. This was also a time when bees could be put into hives where the honey could be more easily harvested. Honey has a long and venerable history as a medicine and treasured delicacy. I was reminded that in ancient times, before humans learned to keep bees and had to raid wild nests, honey was more valuable than gold. I had a perfect and safe view through the window as the sill was removed, hundreds of bees alarmed into defensive flight, and when the rotted wood was lifted out, a flood of gold poured out like treasure. It did really look like treasure being pulled out of the ground, as the dark wood gave way to ivory colored wax pulsing out liquid amber. The comb glowed like it was lit from within, its life force (ache’) so strong that lit up a dark overcast morning. The nest was a few years old, the slabs of comb three feet long and more, several inches thick, crawling with thousands of bees and just dripping with honey.

Over forty pounds of honey and comb were taken out of the wall, and a large healthy hive was relocated. The sill was repaired and I could go forward with other necessary repairs. I could not help but feel sad for the bees as I watched them crawling around, disoriented, on what was left of their home. It was obvious they were traumatized by the invasion. A colony is organized by function and none of the bees could perform their work. The defenders were overmatched by the human cutting into their precious hive; the comb builders could not build comb and the nectar collectors had no place to return to. I considered how, like many families in the recession, they had lost their home, their life’s work and their savings through no fault of their own. I learned later that this was a recurring narrative for the house, having been foreclosed once before. We had purchased it at a steep discount from a family who could not continue with their plan to fix and flip it. So this house had an unfortunate history of its inhabitants investing big and losing it all. This gave me pause, made me feel somewhat guilty and also concerned about my own fortunes.

I realized that this sacrifice was also a blessing. In Santeria and Lukumi, the ritual libation (ebbo) is sometimes covered in honey as a final touch of grace, and my house had, at great cost to the bees, been blessed by a wealth of honey poured on it. As witness to their sacrifice, I had to honor and acknowledge what others had sacrificed for this house, which made it the wonderful safe place to raise my family. I had done plenty of magick to find the right house at the right price in the right location, and this house had everything and more — I knew I had been divinely led to this house, and I felt deeply that the house itself longed to change its narrative of loss and disappointment. We had been brought together for our mutual good, and every sign, omen and touch of grace was a blessing. I had been reluctant to make an offer on the house because it just felt too rich — everything too perfect, the view too great, the yard too nice, etc. I had to acknowledge that this was not too good to be true — it was just challenging me to accept something this wonderful, and to accept it humbly with an open heart.

©2009 Leni Hester
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Book Review: Encyclopedia of Spirits


Encyclopedia of Spirits
by Judika Illes
HarperOne (January 27, 2009) $29.99
ISBN 978-0061350245
1072 pages
Reviewer: Sheta Kaey
Full starFull starFull starFull starFull star

I encountered this tome in my local library, which is nothing short of miraculous given the religious climate hereabouts. It was not only in my local small-town-outside-a-big-city library, but it was also in the new nonfiction books section, right up front. I don’t really believe in coincidence – “coincidence” went from being a term created to describe an event to being a term used to dismiss synchronicitous events that people find difficult to consider. In fact, I think Ms. Illes may even venture this opinion within these pages.

I was breezing past the new book shelf without a glance when I spotted “Spirits” on the cover and did a double take, and when I looked back I figured it’d be a bartending book or a book from a Christian point of view. Nope, pure occultism, and at its finest. As an encyclopedia, which have been churning out of Llewellyn regularly on various topics for the last several years, I expected something fluffy and/or droll. But this book is actually published by HarperOne (an imprint of HarperCollins), so right away that was a point in its favor. Then I started to read. And was, quite frankly, blown away.

I know there isn’t exactly a plethora of books available on spirits, and of the few available, I’ve read even fewer. (I do seek to change that.) While most books have their strengths and weaknesses, I can’t find anything to fault with this book. I even ordered a copy rather than wait to see if I could obtain a review copy, and I buy precious few books anymore. Ms. Illes knows her stuff. She covers much needed information that I’ve never seen anywhere else except my own manuscript work in progress, but I feel no sense of competition. I’m pleased to recommend this volume to anyone who takes spirit encounters or spirit work seriously, and that includes any work with pantheons, fae, or any other type of spirit being.

The first 108 pages are devoted to general, easy to understand, and to the point information about dealing with spirits. Not a word is wasted. In my line of “work,” it made for very exciting reading. I consider myself a mystic, a spirit worker (I won’t quite allow myself use of the word “shaman”), and I found nothing I disagreed with that couldn’t be explained by the fact that it was general information and not necessarily geared toward my specific practice. It’s very good material.

Her encyclopedic entries are equally impressive, based on the ones I’ve read. Her entry on Kali, my matron goddess, sent chills down my spine and, in fact, inspired me to take that relationship to the next level – something I’ve hemmed and hawed about for years. The entries cover everything from spirit types (e.g., “Djinn”) to specific gods and goddesses (e.g., “Diana”) to spirits with a purely regional flavor, such as the “Dragon Goddess of Borneo.” Listed alphabetically, the individual descriptions include (but are not limited to) country of origin, mythology, standard correspondences (such as animal, flower, color, etc., each of which may or may not be included for a particular spirit or type), iconography, attributes, favored people, sacred sites, offerings to make, and manifestations:

“Sometimes her appearance is consistent to her iconography: she has jet black or midnight blue skin and a fierce or loving expression. Her hair may form one-hundred locks. She may dance or twirl. Kali is described as appearing in the form of brilliant light or a deep black void. She may manifest in the form of cholera or a jackal-headed woman (Kali entry, pgs. 542-543).”

An alphabetical appendix listing spirits by their specialties is included, and an extensive bibliography, ten pages of small print in itself, wraps things up.

I will be consulting this book often, and I recommend this volume to anyone who takes spirit work, or pantheons, seriously. An enthusiastic five stars out of five.

Review ©2009 Sheta Kaey

The Use of Prayer in the Occult

June 5, 2009 by  
Filed under deity work, mysticism

The Use of Prayer in the Occult by Sarenth

The Webster definition of prayer is “an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought.1

Let us assume there are two general categories of occultists: those who work with or rely on only themselves, and those who work with or rely on some Other in their work. This Other could be a God, Goddess, spirit, guide, or other entity. What could prayer mean to the former occultist? What could it mean to the latter?

Going by the definition above, a prayer may seem irrelevant to the occultist who works alone, but I think of it along these lines: If he is self-reliant in magick, then he would be praying to himself, whether the prayer is addressed to his conscious Self specifically or to his Higher Self/ Guardian Angel. This might be seen as a kind of self-deification, but seeing oneself as God/dess can be powerful in and of itself, because the self-reliant occultist must accept responsibility for the consequences of his prayer, for good or ill. This promotes responsibility in general, personal growth, and self-confidence.

Petitioning himself for help may not only make the occultist mindful of his requests, but may also put those requests into a practical context, allowing reevaluation and/or the setting of attainable goals. It may enable an honest dialogue with his Highest Self, or Holy Guardian Angel, or help in Kundalini release and other such practices. In accepting his own prayers, he not only becomes God and takes the driver seat, but the prayer, like a spell for the same, can push him to greater heights or encourage him to go down avenues he may not have otherwise considered.

Of course, it may just as easily send the occultist in question into a cycle of ego and self-gratification, one that does not get him any further ahead in his studies, practice, or life in general. This potentially harmful cycle could continue for a week, or throughout his entire life. It’s entirely dependent on the occultist. If the person catches his error quickly, the damage can be relatively minor and no more than an embarrassment, one that he will hopefully learn from. If he goes on to teach others his ways of doing things, that instruction could range from useless to a psycho-spiritual hazard, perpetuating the teacher’s ego to harmful ends and spreading the attitudes into successive circles of influence. Look no further than the “I am the One who Knows All That Is!” cult leaders for examples of this.

To the latter occultist, prayer would mean he is achieving the same ends as the other, but with the aid of outside entities, such as a God/dess or Spirit. In this case, prayer could be a relationship builder or a boost to the path of the occultist, helping him gather strength or resolve he might not be able to find within himself. Prayers to a spiritual aide for help in contacting the magician’s Higher Self/ Holy Guardian Angel can be every bit as powerful, transformational, and revelatory as going solo. The spirit or God aiding the occultist provides a glimpse of the potential available to the devout, setting an example for personal evolution and providing support for efforts made toward his growth.

Taken down the harmful path of ego gratification, however, the latter occultist uses God/dess or Spirit(s) in the place of self-worship. Instead of taking on the role of avatar, self-as-God, or deity incarnate, the devotional occultist takes on the role of the Mouthpiece. An occultist who takes his role from the point of guide to the point of Mouthpiece tends to overstep the restrictions of personal boundaries into the realm of dictating people’s lives, bullying, and brainwashing. When people come to Priests and Priestesses of Neopagan walks of life, I find they are often looking for someone to be that guiding voice, or to temporarily provide it. Those who take on this role of guide can fall into ego-stroking at the least, or at worst, can turn the relationship between the Priest/ess and the individual into a using-used relationship rather than a giver-receiving relationship.

I feel the easiest way to avoid these and other downfall is to have a consistent check on what I am actually praying for and to be focused in that prayer. I tend to break this up into about four steps:

1. Identify the reason for the prayer.

If you don’t know what you want, why throw out the energy to request it or to make it manifest? Further, I see that knowing the reason for your prayer can better focus you and connected energies for the request, whether you’re requesting it from your Holy Guardian Angel or deity of your choice. The most important part of a prayer is the reason I pray in the first place, then what I pray for. I won’t get into ethics, like those of Kant, here, but the point is to exercise critical thought. For instance: praying for a new computer is fine, under the definition of prayer as a petition, but do I need one? Would a new computer be a worthy use of my time and energies? Why should my Deities fulfill or help me fulfill this request? Is it worth their time and energy to do so?

While the reason a thing is prayed for and what is actually prayed for may look like the same thing, in my experience they seldom are. Case in point: during the hunt for my last job, which I kept for almost four years, I prayed for help in finding a job that fit the criteria of: paying at least $7.50/hour, good hours, a positive work environment, and a convenient or flexible schedule that would allow me to attend class. I got what I asked for; however, it was not the company I had been hoping for at all, but turned out to be the company I needed at the time. It was also the only company that called back, and would not just “make an effort” but would make sure that it did not conflict with my college courses.

My prayer went something like this: “Goddess, God, please help me find a job that won’t interfere with my courses, that has a good environment that pays me what I need to do the things in life I’d like to, like live on my own. So mote it be.” Was I too nebulous? I like to think I was open to what came my way, since in part I didn’t know for myself what I needed. Being vague with the request, in my experience, can open up the doors to different paths that will get you to where you want or, more importantly, need.

2. Decide on what kind of prayer you would like to perform.

Almost as important as why you do a thing, is how to do it. The function of the prayer needs to be served by its form much in the same way you might craft a spell or any other ritual. I see this as doing what feels right to you, or in working out a prayer format between you and your Self, or you and deity, depending on which prayer path you’re working with. After all, if the flow of the prayer doesn’t keep your focus, how effective will it be?

3. Critically think about the reason for the prayer.

Now that you have the “what” and the “how” of a prayer down, this is the point to delve into the “why.” Why are you really praying? What do you hope to get from it? How long do you think your desired result will take to manifest, and will it deeply affect you if the request is not answered in the way you need or want? Is prayer an appropriate means to accomplish your goal? Is prayer what you need? Is the kind of prayer appropriate or what you need in the context of your desire, or deity’s request(s) of you?

4. Perform the prayer and any needed follow-up.

When you actually do the prayer, do whatever following up is necessary. I tend to adopt an open mind with a skeptical bend since I need to be open to the answer for petitioning prayers, but not so open that I lose my critical thinking. I advocate a similar stance for those who pray, regardless of whether it’s to their Higher Self or a deity. I feel you need to be open to the way in which your answer could come to you. If, for instance, you pray for help in getting a kind of job, then you not only need to have your resume, cover letter and so on into companies and databases, but also know that the job you are looking for simply may not come from the direction you are expecting.

While shortcuts might get me to where I want to be, the Gods may choose to ignore a prayer request, and that may be better for me in the long run. The same could be said of your Higher Self; what may benefit you in the short term may get may be outstripped by what you avoid by an unanswered prayer. How many of us have prayed, even in jest, for the death of someone? Or maybe that whispered intonation of “I hope they get fired. Please, please let them get fired.”

For hypothetical argument, we’ll say that you work in an office setting doing paperwork. Let’s say your prayer is answered: your workload increases because you have to take up their slack, the supervisor looks at you more closely because she has one less employee to look after. The person leaving may have had friends in the office who miss him and thus, their productivity suffers, shunting all the wasted energy of those around him down to you and others who have to pick up the collective slack. If your prayer had not been answered, maybe your life would be easier, the workload lighter and the eye of the supervisor less weighed on you.

Then, there is the counterargument: If you had not prayed for their firing, you could have been worse off. The man in question may have been dragging the entire department down with his attitude, lousy work ethic or by passing the buck. Maybe the supervisor needed that extra push to get rid of him, and make a decisive action, even if the push was minuscule. Like ripples from a pebble thrown in a pond, it may be hard to divine how our ripples affect others’, but at least if you have a ripple working for you the emanations of others’ pebbles may be more in sync with your own.

Another way to look at unanswered prayers could be like this: I pray for more money after not checking my checkbook for a week. If I take it as a lesson, an unanswered prayer may teach me better financial responsibility. An unanswered prayer for a computer could make me more self-reliant where my skills are concerned, like how to make my own computer from generic parts, or networking via finding someone who can get me a good deal. Or it may simply teach me that not all prayers are answered, and that I may not be ready or may never know the reason why. There is an opportunity for a lesson, regardless of the outcome and regardless of how you relate to the Divine or your Higher Self. Perhaps that’s one of the best things to pray for.

Footnotes

  1. Prayer. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved December 10, 2008.

    1. ©2009 Sarenth
      Edited by Sheta Kaey

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #4

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #4

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

A Priori

(Logic) A Priori knowledge is comprehension which can be established independently of experience or reasoning from experience. Examples of A Priori truths include: Boys are male, 1+1=2, etc. Analytic truths
are A Priori. See Rationalism.

Bezoar

(Alchemy) Hard clumps of undigested food or solid balls of hair sometimes found in the intestines. During the preparation of mummies Egyptian priests discovered bezoars and believed the hard balls to be magical pills formed by the large intestines. In alchemy, any compounds that clump together into a ball as soon as they are mixed (like sulfur
aureum and red mercuric oxide) are called Bezoars.

Calcination

(Alchemy) The first operation in alchemical transformation, calcination is a process in which a substance is subjected to high temperature, causing a loss of moisture, reduction or oxidation, and the decomposition of carbonates and other compounds. It is denoted by the symbol for the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.

Deontology

(Logic) The basis of duty as morality. Deontology is the doctrine that there are acts for which rightness or wrongness is not wholly dependent on the goodness or badness of the resulting consequences. The phrases “No matter what the consequences,” and “My country, right or wrong,” are signs of a deontological view. The opposite of Deontology is Consequentialism.

Satan

(Qabalah) Hebrew Secularly, the profoundly evil adversary of God and humanity who is identified with the leader of the fallen angels; the Devil. In mysticism, Satan is the steadfast servant of God who enables human free will to exist by offering the option of evil.

©2007 by Gerald del Campo.
Edited by Sheta Kaey.

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #3

The Dictionary of Traditional Magick and Etherical Science #3

 

A column by Gerald del Campo, The Dictionary of Traditional Magic and Etherical Science features ten author-selected definitions per issue. The definitions included in Mr. del Campo’s Dictionary do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrators or other contributors of this magazine.

Abrasax

(Gnostic) A Gnostic symbol of a being of light. Usually depicted as a man with a chicken’s head. It is often incorrectly spelled “Abraxas,” partly due to some confusion on behalf of Latin translators. Among the early Gnostics, Abrasax appears to have had various meanings. Basilides gave this title to Almighty God, and claimed that the numerical value of its letters gave the sum of 365, because the Abrasax is enclosed in the solar cycle. Sometimes the number 365 signifies the series of the heavens and corresponds to the year. The name is believed to have been used as a substitute for the unpronounceable name of God of the Jews: YHVH.

Aleisterian

(From the author’s personal lexicon.) See Crowleyite.

Cincture

(Ecclesiastic) Traditionally, a rope tied around the waist to act as a belt. Modern cinctures are largely ceremonial and color coordinated to indicate rank within the church’s hierarchy.

Crowleyite

(From the author’s personal lexicon.) See Aleisterian*.

Demiurge

(Gnostic) The creator, or architect, of the material world. The Gnostics view the Demiurge in a negative light due to the belief that the material world distracts us from the work of the Spirit.

Gnostalgia

(From the author’s personal lexicon.) The act of reminiscing the days one had Gnosis.

High Redefinition

(Philosophy) A fallacy in which the meaning of a word is narrowed in an attempt to defend a questionable proposition. For example, “No Thelemite supports charitable organizations. . . at least no true Thelemite does.” Contrast with Low Redefinition.

Low Redefinition

(Philosophy) A fallacy in which the meaning of a word is stretched in an attempt to defend a questionable proposition. A justification. For example, a person that graduated five years ago is still using their discount card and you question their ethics. They reply, “Ah, but we’re all students, really.” Contrast with High Redefinition.

Natural Theology

(Philosophy) Proposes that knowledge of God can be obtained by reason alone, without the aid of revelation.

Postulate

(Philosophy) To assume without proof in order to speculate other more pertinent points.

*Technically, those who zealously believe that Aleister Crowley could do no wrong.

©2007 Gerald del Campo
Edited by Sheta Kaey

Gerald del Campo has authored three books on the subject of Thelema: A Heretic’s Guide to Thelema, New Aeon Magick: Thelema Without Tears, and New Aeon English Qabalah Revealed. He is a photographer, musician and CEO for the Order of Thelemic Knights, the first Thelemic charitable organization. You can visit his blog at http://solis93.livejournal.com and his websites at http://thelemicknights.org and http://egoandtheids.com. Gerald formerly served as Senior Managing Editor of Rending the Veil.

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.

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