January, 2010

Happy New Year

January, 2010

Merry Meet Readers,  We hope you had a wonderful and safe Yule and a Happy New Year.

THIS MONTHS FEATURES

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January’s Moon Report, for all your monthly moon needs you can always check in with PaganPages for the phases and more throughout the month!


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Many New Columns like Wicca 101 teaching us this month about the Tools of the Craft.

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Let’s Spell it Out has a new spell incorporating Ganesh

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This month the new Season’s of the Witch is out and our own Michele Burke has a review of it.  Get your copies while you can!!


Monthly Horoscope

Capricorn 2010 Horoscope (22 Dec – 21 January)

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Capricorns are very serious natured individuals. Capricorn are over flowing with experience and maturity above and beyond mental agility and stability. Individuals born under the sign of Capricorn are incalculably independent, confident, disciplined and well meaning. They are also hard working, extremely patient, intelligent, grounded, ambitious, careful and practical.

The year 2010 will prove the Capricorns excellence in the professional world; a sense of overpowering satisfaction providing for time to relax and enjoy the feeling of achievement and satisfaction.  This year will be the perfect time to finish up projects that feel by the way side in 2009 and open the door to future success. And make sure to watch a plethora of  unexpected pleasant surprises

By: CelticMoon


Prayer of the Month

One of my personal favorites is a little prayer I say when I light a candle or some incense on my altars.  It works sort of like a text message to the respective deity that the altar is dedicated to, just to let them know I’m thinking of them.
I’m not a fan of only calling in the Deities on big rituals when I barely talk to them at other times, so when I have a moment to acknowledge them during my day, I light some incense and say
“I thank you Lady __________ for your presence in my life.
Bless and guide my steps the right way today and all the days of my life.  So mote it be.”
Only talking to the Gods and asking for help during rituals and not talking to them otherwise is sort of like that freeloader friend who only asks for money or help when they need it and they don’t hang out otherwise…..gets old fast.  I feel that nurturing a relationship with them leads to a greater overall spiritual experience.  =)
***Alexis Waite- I’m a practicing Pagan witch in SoCal and was a featured crafter in the June issue of paganpages.org.  In my spare time I like to draw, read, design tattoos and study herbalism.***
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Seasons of the Witch 2010

January, 2010

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Once again Victoria David Danann has proven she will not be out done. Never have I had the ethereal pleasure that the Seasons of the Witch 2010 Daily gives. Form the moment I opened the planner till the time I laid it down a feeling of electricity resonated from deep within the recesses of my very being. Beautiful artwork, Moon phases, and plenty of room to keep track of important events throughout the months. Now it may seem that I am repeating myself, but it bears repeating; not only is the artwork beautiful each Goddess practically emanates from the page. So if you do only one thing for yourself this year, please gift yourself or that special someone in your life with a copy. You won’t be sorry.

~ Michele Burke, PaganPages.org (2009)

Seasons of the Witch 2010 Daily $29.95 US

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Rebel Rede

January, 2010

Who is a High Priestess?

Who is a high priestess? The literal answer is that she is someone is has received at least a third degree in a specific Pagan/Wiccan tradition and is the leader of a coven.  This definition is a brief and generic answer, because like most things in life there are gray areas. Someone can attend one public Pagan festival and have multiple women tell them they are a high priestess. Most likely each one of those “high priestesses” has a different definition of what that title means and they probably obtained their high priestess status differently as well. Is someone a high priestess just because she says she is? This is a tough question, and one that is not my place to answer. The real answer to “who is a priestess” is not found in someone’s credentials, but rather in their qualities.

A high priestess is a member of the clergy, just like in other religions. A clergyman is someone who the community looks up to, someone who people come to first in a crisis. Religious leaders not only lead their communities spiritually, but they are usually the ones running the local homeless shelter, the ones volunteering in their communities. A high priestess is first and foremost a leader. She is a leader in both her coven and in her community. A high priestess is someone who spiritually leads her coven and students. A high priestess takes care of her religious family spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially (when appropriate and possible) to the best of her ability. A spiritual leader is someone who puts others’ needs before their own. This means that being a high priestess is not necessarily a glamorous or easy job. The truth is that being a high priestess is a difficult job and is not for everyone. This is not true because only some are qualified to be a high priestess or because a high priestess is more special than other coven members, but because it takes hard work to be a true leader. Only some are meant to bare the burden of leadership. We are all priestesses of the Goddess, but not all of us take on a leadership role. Leadership takes effort and energy. A true leader is someone who inspires those they come into contact with. We all know these types of leaders, women who amaze and inspire us. Women like my mentor Angie or my high priestess Crystal. Women like Rosemary who not only organize multiple witches’ meetup groups, but who is starting the first eclectic Pagan church of Arizona. Women like Angie, Crystal, and Rosemary radiate the Divine through their actions and leadership. They spend endless amounts of energy guiding, coaching, and mentoring Pagans within their communities. Women like this inspire me to serve the Divine and my community better! Who is a high priestess? A high priestess is someone who looks in a mirror and sees the reflection of the Divine staring back at them. What do you see when you look in the mirror?

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Magickal Colors

January, 2010

White

It is winter now, utterly. I gaze out the window at snow falling on the landscape, covering the Earth in a blanket of sleepy contemplation. The world seems cleaner, sharper. I find myself sleeping more, and in my sleep, more dreams. Even while awake, I sometimes catch myself drifting in a stasis of no-thought, like an unconscious meditation.
Gently, gently, the whiteness covers all. The branches that seemed so verdantly green and brown in summer now appear as black twigs, reaching for the sky in stillness. “All is calm, all is bright.” Silence descends, and it seems as if there is no growth or life at all.
Yet beneath this monochrome veil, seeds germinate, little babies sleeping safe within the mother’s womb as they imagine and create their future forms, waiting to spring forth into birth.

A few days past, I had a dream of my mother, and her departure from this physical plane. As I mourned her passing in the dreamstate, (in a room with a white angel mobile, a twig frame covered in white plastic to resemble an androgynous figure with wings), she appeared outside the room. Separated by a pane of glass, surrounded by a nimbus of white light, she looked at me with a piercing glance for only a moment, as if to say “Hey! Do not mourn me, I will never be truly gone!” The glance lasted only a moment, then she turned and walked down a hallway outside, lit periodically with white orbs. I watched her disappear, thinking to myself in the dream that I had witnessed a miracle. I remember the peace I felt within the pain (pane?)– the absolute knowledge that she would always be with me, and that one day we would no longer be separated by veils and would touch once more.

This time of year has always been a time of death. The old ones of the tribes generally chose winter as a time of their physical departure, weakened by the cold and wishing to conserve food and resources for the stronger, younger ones. Left behind in the depths of winter, the people mourned. Yet their awareness of the natural world was more acute than our modern senses, and they took comfort in the solstice, with its message of light returning, and subsequently, life. While still they held sadness in their hearts, they celebrated the gain of new ancestor spirits to which they would pray and make offerings to in the years to come. Around the fires made to stave off the cold and the darkness, they told the stories of their ancestors and their deeds, that their wisdom, bravery, and knowledge would never truly leave the tribe, that their spirits may always remain close.

As a tribute to this season, and the thoughts and dreams it engenders, I write of the color white.

Scientifically it can be said that white is not a color at all- it is a reflection, a rainbow of all possible colors condensed and unseen. When we see white, all three types of cones in the human eye are being stimulated equally at once. In the “color temperature” index, the coordinates of white are RGB 255, 255, 255. In numerology, this breaks down to the number 9.
Nine is associated with qualities of all of our great spiritual teachers in history– generosity and selflessness to the point of sacrifice, idealism, concern with the well-being and harmony of the world around them, and egalitarianism.

In our modern-day Pagan practices, white has encompassed a vast array of beautiful concepts and associations. White is often used during full-moon rituals for the obvious connotations, and also due to the extra energy it may generate as it reflects the moonlight. It is also a color of protection in purity. Often when I feel threatened, for any reason, I calm myself and tune into the beam of white light connecting my chakras and keeping them whole, beaming in both directions infinitely, or connecting to the center of the earth and the heart of the sun. I then can envision a powerful, impenetrable white egg around me, protecting me and keeping my spirit whole whilst still remaining present in the moment. Along those lines, white can also be used for birth and rebirth rituals, purification, initiation, and in some cases, banishing of negative energy. White candles are considered acceptable substitutes for any other colors, due to the all-encompassing nature of the color.
White is the color of the top chakra, or Sarhasrara. This energy center is located on the very top of your head, directly in the middle. When activated in harmony with the rest of the chakras, it has the ability to connect one’s consciousness directly with the divine Source of energy. I form this connection before I do any magickal work, checking my energy system as I do so and correcting any imbalances before beginning the working. This chakra completes the circle of energy as it flows up the spine and out through the top of the head, joining and mingling with the Universal energy before cycling back down into the earth and the base chakra, to begin its journey again. It is the joining place, microcosm to macrocosm.

The fragrant herb, White Sage has been used for centuries successfully to cleanse auras and remove negative energies from any space. It was most commonly used in the Native American traditional ceremonies, and is to this day. Visitors and participants in ceremonies are all cleansed with the smoke before they step into the circle. This past summer solstice, I was sitting quietly and cleansing myself with sage smoke, when I had a glimpse of tiny little particles of white light within the smoke, zipping here and there. I was instantly filled with a sense of well-being and calm joy.
I also found it interesting, while researching plants and herbs associated with this color, that some of the most healing and some of the most poisonous plants (which I did not include as many of) were both associated with white. In keeping with the spirit of this mutable color, I am reminded of the ancient herbalist’s quote, “The harm is the healer”.

Of all the colors, white is the one most often associated with the “Otherworld”, the worlds beyond this one, or life after death. Angels in the Western traditions usually appear with white wings and robes, Ascended Masters of the Theosophy tradition have white auras (indicating spiritual enlightenment, purity and awakening), and of course there is the Christian biblical reference to “pearly gates” through which the righteous pass through to Heaven. Christ’s mount for his second coming is believed to be a white horse. Many other traditions and cultures around the globe, including but not limited to Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and neo-Pagan, consider white the symbol of death, mourning, afterlife, and in cases where reincarnation is a belief, rebirth. It is commonly accepted in spiritualist circles that before death, one’s aura turns a bright white. It is interesting to note that many who claim to have been to the “Other Side”, and come back, speak of a tunnel of white light.
Along that same line, some psychics believe a white aura or white spots within to be indicators of imbalance, even drug use. Some claim just the opposite however, and assure us that white spots are a sign of emerging higher qualities and enlightenment. Also, it has been my personal experience that when one begins to see auras, they can all appear as white light until the “second sight” is more fully tuned.

White is the color of the snow, shades of it composing the winter sky. Dreamlike clouds, puffs of sacred smoke, the blank beauty and potential of the clean white page, ready to be manifested upon. It is the color of peace and reconcilitation, the white dove and the flag waved in the war zone. It is the unobtrusive color of most walls- a canvas upon which we embellish and create. The color of burial shrouds, Western wedding dresses, and christening gowns. It is the color of the brazen sunlight, the mysterious moonlight, the quiet stars as they twinkle from above in their myriad of rainbow colors. It is All and None- the harmony of the universe.
White is the joiner of realms, the color of potentiality. It is nothing but a pure reflection of light, unaltered.

And ever do the celestial bodies shine their pure light down to us, lifting our spirits and inspiring dreams. Beaming and reflecting off the snow, they create an otherworld right here on Earth, a winter wonderland that glows and sparkles. Our usually unseen breaths come as silvery clouds, seeming to highlight that there is more to this world than meets our physical eyes– that it is Below as it is Above. The newly reborn Sun God lifts his head and coos, and even now strengthens as he sleeps most of the day away below the Earth, dreaming dreams of cocreation.
Even here in Alaska, in the darkness that can often seem oppressive, the abundance of this magical color (or lack thereof) reminds me that even within the darkest shadows, there is light to be found. That nothing ever really dies, merely moves behind a curtain to emerge in a different costume. That we can never be truly alone.

White:

Elements: All. Can be used as a substitute color for any direction or purpose.
Tarot Card: The Moon
Astrological Sign: Cancer
Planets: Moon, Saturn, and Venus
Plants: White Sage, Willow, Jasmine, Magnolia, Camellia, Gardenia, Baby’s Breath, Peace Lily, white Yarrow, Cow Parsnip, Orange Blossom (Neroli)
Day: Monday
Metal: Silver
Stones: Clear Quartz, Howlite, Selenite, some Agates, Diamond, Pearl, some Opals, Herkimer Diamond, Moonstone

Peace, truth, justice, innocence, meditation, enlightenment, intention, universal energy, psychic pursuits, benevolence, kindness, purity, clarity, cleansing, sincerity, protection/warding, spirituality, strength, healing, Moon Goddesses, women’s mysteries, the Moon (most often full), the Lady and Lord together, astral travel, soulmates, age, respect, spiritual wisdom, authority, life/death/birth/rebirth, union, oneness, wholeness, all and nothing

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Pagan Theology

January, 2010

Magic:  Made up Explanations

Before I got busy and started to talk about other things I was working on a series of columns devoted to understanding magic.  The question that I am trying to answer is “how does magic work?”  In a previous column I developed a typology for how you might go about answering that question, with explanations dividing up into three categories:  systematic, individual, and theistic.  Systematic explanations develop some sort of system that, if followed, results in magic.  This ranges from science, to sort of science, to just plain made up systems.  Individual and theistic explanations appeal to something other than a system, like yourself or your Gods, to explain how magic works.   Of course most real-world magical practices syncretically combine all three approaches.  I guess they assume that if you throw enough stuff at the problem you will solve it through the sheer number of arguments.

In the last few columns on this subject I talked about scientific and sort-of-scientific explanations.  Neither of those systems are sufficient to explain why magic works.  At the most basic level you cannot take the structure and methods of science and use it to describe something that does not follow the same laws of evidence and cause and affect that science requires.  Fuzzing up science as a way to explaining magic just results in bad science, and no really effective explanation.  If we are serious about explaining magic we’re going to have to do better than misapplying science, or applying misunderstood science.

The most common way to explain how magic works gets around this problem completely.  You just make up a new system, and new set of “supernatural laws” that you must conform to in order for science to work.  Magic doesn’t have to worry about science and its requirements because it does not follow the laws of nature.  Supernatural systems incorporate their own set of rules for cause and effect, rules that don’t apply in normal situations.  Because these rules are separate from the natural systems that science deals with, the whole problem of rules of evidence and consensus can be avoided.  Of course the temptation still exists to start making empirical claims using supernatural laws, which inevitably runs afoul of the traffic cops of science who are just waiting to bust you when you make claims that can be objectively validated.

In order to understand what I will call, for lack of a better term, supernatural systems, you have to understand the long history of magic in the Western Occult tradition.  To be honest I don’t have the knowledge, skills, or time to review the long trajectory of magic in the West.  Nor do you probably have the time to read it all.  Instead I’ll make some broad generalizations and historical summaries.

Magic in the western tradition can be divided up into several interconnected systems.  Broadly speaking these are the Hermetic, grimoire or Kabala influenced magic, and angelic or deistic magic.  The oldest [1] attributed system is Hermeticism.  Hermetic magic is based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistrus, a notional mage of Egyptian origin [2].  The Corpus Heremeticum lays out the basic ideas of the elements (earth, air, fire, water), “as above, so below” or the idea that the macrocosm is reflected in the microcosm [3].  This has formed the basis of much of the Western magical practice, and has followed through to today in many of our magical practices.

In the Middle Ages the Hermetic system combined with the Jewish mystical system, the Kabala, and various other varieties of magic [4] to establish a set of procedures, correspondences, and theories that formed the grimoire tradition.  Grimoires were all the rage in the Middle Ages and slightly thereafter, and they have had a profound affect on modern Witchcraft and folk magical practices.  Grimoires were books created by magicians or those associated with the Church and contained a variety of activities involving invoking angels and daemons, correspondences, astrological information, and charms and spells.  At a time when books were rare, and reading mostly controlled by a few, the idea of a special book that could hold the secrets to control of fate was a powerful tool.  Grimoires were used by court and other magicians affiliated with the church (many of whom were not prosecuted by the church due to their standing in the community) and by local Cunning Men and other folk-magicians.  A Cunning Man could make a good living with a Grimoire and a rudimentary reading ability [5].  The concepts and correspondences in the grimoires eventually made their way into folk traditions of witchcraft, and come down to us through Gardner and others in our modern magical systems.

During and after the Renaissance there were a variety of individuals that attempted to bring together material from the Hermetic, folk, and grimoire traditions into comprehensive systems.  Examples include Eliphas Levi’s willpower focused system, Waite’s Golden Dawn system, Crowley’s Thelema, and others.  Underlying all of these systems is the desire for a unified, complete, magical system that brings together past information into a more effective and comprehensive practice.  In addition these systems represent a migration away from the more practical folk and grimoire systems where the primary goal was to change the world, and now the focus was increasingly on inner change within the practitioner.

The two key things I want to highlight in all this rather gratuitous historical discussion is that two themes in the history of ritual magic stand out.  The first is a desire for a system, something that provides an overall construct that explains how you do the magic and why it works (angels, celestial mechanics, or individual will).  This movement from magic’s origins as a folk and philosophical explanation of the world to a formalized system of rules and ideas occurred over the entire history of Western civilization.  But it really got started in the Renaissance and 18th century Enlightenment as science began threatening both magic and religion as a way of understanding the world.  Eventually this trend peaked in the modern day Golden Dawn and Thelema traditions.

The second theme is the tension between “low” or folk magic and “high” ritual magic.  Ritual magic with its origins in neo-Platonism and Hermetics was historically an intellectual pursuit of the elite.  Folk magic was more of an everyday practice, related to blessings and curses well removed from the high-minded philosophy of the ritualists.  This tension was present in the earliest practice of magic.  Greek and Roman Hermetic and neo-Platonic forms of magic focused on enlightenment, while at the same time ordinary citizens were scripting spells and curses on tablets to drop into wells.

Both of these trends are really about the distinction between the metaphysical and the empirical.  Folk magic tends to be focused on the practical, with the spiritual intruding simply through the use of religious imagery [6].  Ritual magic tends to be the opposite, with great emphasis placed on the spiritual progress of the magician, with the practical effects as secondary outcomes.  Likewise the desire for a system has taken magical practice away from the more empirical place it occupied during the Middle Ages, into a more Platonic practice that is focused on systems of progressive magical enlightenment.

This, of course, does not mean that practical systems don’t exist, what we are talking about are general trends and paths, not every byway and cul-de-sac that is out there.  In fact neo-Pagan Witchcraft often combines both enlightenment and practice, and is a representation of a modern, practical, magical system.  We are ignoring modern neo-Pagan magical practices mainly because their theoretical underpinnings are either derived from ritual magic, or fall into one of the other categories we have discussed or will discuss in other columns.

What this means is that explanations also follow this same trend, with a division between explanations having either a practical, empirical, basis, or a metaphysical one.   When it comes to explaining why magic works these two trends can be seen as either assuming some sort of casual equation (this then that) or providing an allegorical path to enlightenment.

The casual proposition is pretty straightforward:  if something happens then it causes another result.  The simplest casual rule is the Hermetic “as above, so below” or that the microcosm is related to the macrocosm.  Ignoring for a minute exactly how you would empirically verify this, what is important is the fact that an empirical claim is made.  The law of magic as laid down implies something will happen in the physical world as a result of my relation to the unseen work and the actions I take to establish that relationship.

This, of course, opens the entire argument to empirical verification.  This has been the bane of astrology where astrological claims have been attacked several different ways by astronomy and the scientific community [7].  I choose astrology because there is a straightforward application of “this then that” when it comes to astrology, and astrological correspondences make up an important component of some forms of ritual magic.  In this case making up a rule set is kind of like creating an alternative science.  Unfortunately because the original science does a pretty good job of evaluating evidence and describing how the world works, you end up with having to play by the same set of rules that science does.  Again, if you claim that your system actually works in the real world, you set yourself up for empirical verification, which almost always results in tears.

Because of the problem of empirical verification, the allegorical interpretation of the systems is superficially attractive. If what is really happening when you follow the rules of magic is spiritual progress, then empirical verification becomes moot (unless you’re a psychologist).  This focus on internal transformation has led to a strong link between magic and psychology in Jung and others.  If “as above, so below” really refers to spiritual enlightenment, then the work done through the magical system is really designed to draw down the enlightenment that exists “above” into the human spirit that is practicing the magic.

Just as astrology is the poster child for the empirical approach, alchemy is a good example of the allegorical approach.  While alchemy started off as a quasi-philosophical pursuit with the Greeks, it quickly became divided between those who pursued the practical application (i.e. chemists) and those that pursued the inner transformation.  It is not surprising that the practical application of transmutation and change in matter branched off and became an accepted science; after all it worked in a reproducible, empirical, sense and could be codified into a scientific discipline.  The mystical and occult aspects of alchemy retained the inner work, because that was less susceptible to being adopted by science.   In the inner work of alchemy it is not the materials that are being changed, but rather the practitioner who is seeking to refine their inner essence or soul.  Just like the Masonic tradition, the perfection and purification of the individual is the end objective, not a practical working in the world.

There are many systems in addition to alchemy that pursue the inner path toward occult enlightenment.  The Golden Dawn and Thelema (OTO and A:A:) traditions all practice different versions of the inner path, or theurgy, the uniting of the magician with the divine [8].  The argument that the primary focus of magic is inner enlightenment or unification of the magician with a supernatural power or spirit is the first example we have seen that avoids the problem of empirical verification.  If magic only has effects on the individual and their inner psychology and spiritual development then no one can challenge its validity.  Except perhaps those who try it and fail to seen any improvement in their condition.

Now I am setting up a bit of an extreme argument here, claiming that the inner working is the only purpose of magic is not a claim made by most magical traditions, even the decidedly Gnostic ones.  As I said at the beginning of the article most traditions are syncretic, using a wide range of arguments and justifications for their magical workings.  However figuring out how magic works when all of the arguments are being made at the same time is like trying to figure out your favorite color from a bucket of black paint.  They’re all in there, but it’s hard to see any one of them.

The problem that I have with an exclusively inner argument is that it is unsatisfying in its lack of distinction between magic and religion.  If magic becomes a system of practice, particularly group practice, which brings about gnosis or the realization of a higher reality, then it begins to look a lot like many religions.  Only with better stuff, fancier rituals, and the threat that some of the practical stuff might actually work.   This argument also leads along the lines of magic being a type of prayer, or a way to connect with the divine.

The loss of distinction between magic and religion begins to make magic a meaningless appendage to religion.  If magical practice is wholly theurgic, or linked to a union with the divine, then magic becomes particular to the Gods and Goddesses, or spirits, involved in its practice.  No longer is magic a universal practice independent of religion: the practical craft to religion’s high art.  Rather it in itself becomes dependent on spirits or the divine for its success.  Thus magic becomes more or less a narcissistic, self-focused, brand of religion.  I say “narcissistic” because the focus of the workings tends to be on gnosis, not social justice or charity [9].

This line of magical working is not wrong or somehow invalid.  Rather I am claiming that any argument that does not somehow tie magic to practical outcomes loses what it is that makes magic unique.  Magic is not only connection with the divine, but also the affect of our actions, will, and intentions on the world.  Without a claim that the world has changed, magic loses its unique character.  It simply becomes yet another path to enlightenment like Yoga, Kabala, or Christian spiritual practices [10].

No matter how you look at it, systemic explanations for magic working boil down to “because I said so.”  The ones that establish practical laws of magic that parallel science fail in their explanation because scientific laws actually do explain how things work, and magical ones don’t.  Indeed in the past magical laws that actually did work, like alchemy, went on to be adopted by science and transitioned from a magical practice to a scientific one.  Systematic explanations of inner change in the magician amount to either a slightly different type of religion, or a set of rules for enhanced mental and psychological functioning.  These make magic into something else, either a religion or a mental discipline, cutting magic off from its relationship to the real world.

All of the explanations that we have covered so far have been rules based.  Either using the rule set we call science to explain how magic works, or some form of hybrid or constructed rules set.  None of these explanations have been satisfying, they have not given us something that cannot either be attacked from an empiricist or theological viewpoint.  They haven’t really explained anything, only asked us to trust that the rules we are using do apply, and that they do what the practitioners claim that they do.  There must be something better.  But finding it means we must thread our way between the rocks of science and the shoals of religion.  However unless we are able to do that, magic will simply disappear into one or the other practice.

In the next couple of columns on this subject we will move from rules based explanations to those that claim magic works by either tying into to the divine powers, or our own internal will.   We will abandon our focus on systems as a way for magic to work, instead looking at things like the intent and focus of the practitioner as ways to find firm footing for magical practice away from either religion or science.

[1]  One thing you have to be very careful about is confusing attribution with reality in the history of magic.  While there may be many claims for ancestry going back to the “original” sorcerer King Solomon, in reality the idea of Solomon as occult magician may have been introduced at a much later date.  Just like you can’t really use scientific analysis to understand magic, its difficult to use historical analysis to explain how magic has developed.  Also, I’m interested in systems here, not necessarily the history of magic.

[2]  He is also seen as the combination of the Greek and Egyptian Gods Hermes and Thoth.

[3]  And thus establishing one of the first and most essential rules for magic.

[4] For example Arabic, folk and traditional, and angelic magic.  There are few really good histories of ritual magic.  They either focus on individuals, or they focus on academic issues such as the relationship between the development of science and magic.  There are few that actually focus on magic as an object in itself, tracing the ideas and concepts in a serious scholarly way.  In fact the best, and shortest, description of magical history as a history of magical ideas, is the introductions to Stephen Skinner’s books.  While he is focused on ritual magic, the history of ritual magic is really the history of magic theory up till modern times.  Stephen Skinner.  The Complete Magician’s Tables, Llewellyn, 2006 and Stephen Skinner and David Rankine.  Practical Angel Magic of Dr. John Dee’s Enochian Tables, Golden Hoard, 2006.  If you have any interest in magic the Complete Magician’s Tables is a must-have.

[5] See, for example, Owen Davies.  Cunning-Folk Popular Magic in English History, Hambledon and London, 2003.

[6]  Remember the vast majority of magical practitioners in the West, for the vast majority of recorded history, have been Christian and practicing a magic steeped in Christian metaphor and culture.  Invoking Pagan deities in a magical context either occurs in ancient or modern neo-Pagan practice.  Unless you count the use of Pagan deities as stand-ins for Christian daemons.

[7]  In addition to the straightforward attack of “you predict this, it doesn’t happen” it can also be attacked through the calculation of forces and influences on individuals and systems.  It turns out the overall force exerted by planets and other bodies is miniscule (other than the moon where there is some evidence for influence on behavior), so the burden is places on astrologers to come up with a way in which planets and other objects could actually influence behavior.  Something they have not been able to do without making something up.  While this doesn’t mean that astrology is invalid, it does mean that they have not been able to prove it is valid to the satisfaction of the scientific community.

[8]  Golden Dawn: http://www.hermeticgoldendawn.org/ OTO: http://www.oto-usa.org/ Thelema (A:A:): http://www.ordoaa.org/

[9]  Nothing wrong with that, but I will point out that the most popular religious teachings very much focus on issues of poverty, social justice, charity, and how we treat others.  While enlightenment and justice may be separated, there are a whole lot of religious teachings that suggest they shouldn’t.

[10]  Which goes a long way to explaining why various Gnostic or mystical practices became increasingly popular as science began to assert itself in the Renaissance and Enlightenment.

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Across the Great Divide

January, 2010

divide

Experimenting with Electronic Voice Phenomena

Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP, is the observation of disembodied voices or sounds captured on audio equipment that were not present or heard by the observer at the time of recording and are attributed to communication with spirits; this is also related to Electronic Video Phenomena.  The concept of EVP has had an impact on popular culture as its popularity in entertainment, in ghost hunting, and as a means of dealing with grief has influenced literature, radio, film and television.

evp-session

EVP Session

Various explanations have been put forward for EVP by those who believe it to be an example of paranormal phenomenon.  These include discarnate entities, such as spirits, communicating on recording media, living humans imprinting thoughts directly on an electronic medium through psychokinesis, nature energies, or beings from other dimensions.

Mainstream science has generally ignored EVP, finding them less than credible, and sites a percentage of recordings that turn out to be hoaxes created by frauds or pranksters.  Many also regard the examples put forward by proponents as simply misinterpretations of natural phenomena.  These explanations include a variety of known psychological and physical phenomena.  The tendency of the human brain to recognize patterns in random stimuli and radio interference are respective examples.

Many Spiritualists believe that communication with the dead is a scientifically proven fact, and experiment with a variety of techniques for spirit communication which they believe provides evidence of the continuation of life.  According to the National Spiritualist Association of Churches, “An important modern-day development in mediumship is spirit communications via an electronic device”.  An informal survey by the organization’s Department Of Phenomenal Evidence cites that a third of churches conduct sessions in which participants seek to communicate with spirit entities using EVP.

The origins of the formal study of EVP dates back to a period between the 1840’s and the 1920’s with the Spiritualist religious movement.  New technologies of the era including photography could be employed in an effort to demonstrate contact with the spirit world.  So popular were such ideas that Thomas Edison was asked in an interview with Scientific American to comment on the possibility of using his inventions to communicate with spirits.  He replied that if the spirits were only capable of subtle influences, a sensitive recording device would provide a better chance of spirit communication than the table tipping and Ouija boards mediums employed at the time.   However, there is no indication that Edison ever designed or constructed a device for such a purpose.

microphone

Microphone

As sound recording became widespread, despite the decline of Spiritualism through the latter part of the 20th century, attempts to use portable recording devices and modern digital technologies to demonstrate life after death continued to be promoted in popular culture and by a handful of dedicated believers.

Some EVP enthusiasts describe hearing the words in EVP samples as an ability, much like learning a new language.  As my own experience with analyzing audio has increased, so has my ability to differentiate between true voices and just simple noise.

Instrumental transcommunication (ITC) is a more general paranormal term than EVP and refers to communication between spirits or other discarnate entities and the living, through any sort of electronic device such as tape recorders, fax machines, television sets or computers.  ITC include visual and other anomalies, rather than only auditory effects.  The term was coined by physicist professor Ernst Senkowski, of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Mainz, Germany.  Instrumental transcommunication has gained no notability within the scientific community, and is not accepted within science.

The modern research model dates back to 1976 with paranormal researcher Sarah Estep.  In 1982, Sarah Estep founded the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AAEVP) in Maryland, a nonprofit organization with the purpose of increasing awareness of EVP, and of teaching standardized methods for capturing it.  Estep says she has made hundreds of recorded messages from deceased friends and relatives, to other individuals, including Konstantin Raudive, Beethoven, a lamplighter from 18th century Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and extraterrestrials whom she speculated originated from other planets or dimensions.

In 1997, Imants Barušs, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, conducted a series of experiments using the methods of EVP investigator Konstantin Raudive as a guide.  A radio was tuned to an empty frequency and over 81 sessions more than 60 hours of recordings were collected.  During recordings, a person either sat in silence or attempted to make verbal contact with potential sources of EVP.  Barušs stated that he did record several events that sounded like voices, but they were too few and too random to represent viable data and too open to interpretation to be described definitively as EVP.  He concluded: “While we did replicate EVP in the weak sense of finding voices on audio tapes, none of the phenomena found in our study was clearly anomalous, let alone attributable to discarnate beings.  Hence we have failed to replicate EVP in the strong sense.”  The findings were published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration in 2001, and include a literature review.

nero-wave-editor

Nero Wave Editor

In 2005 the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research published a report by paranormal investigator Alexander MacRae who conducted recording sessions using a device of his own design that generated EVP.  In an attempt to demonstrate that different individuals would interpret EVP in the recordings the same way, MacRae asked seven people to compare some selections to a list of five phrases he provided, and to choose the best match. MacRae said the results of the listening panels indicated that the selections were of paranormal origin.

Skeptics such as David Federlein, Chris French, Terrence Hines and Michael Shermer say that EVP are usually recorded by raising the “noise floor”- the electrical noise created by all electrical devices- in order to create white noise.  When this noise is filtered, it can be made to produce noises which sound like speech.  Federlein says that this is no different from using a wah pedal on a guitar, which is a focused sweep filter that moves around the spectrum and creates open vowel sounds.  This, according to Federlein, sounds exactly like some EVP.  This, in combination with such things as cross modulation of radio stations or faulty ground loops can cause the impression of paranormal voices.  The human brain evolved to recognize patterns, and if a person listens to enough noise the brain will detect words, even when there is no intelligent source for them.  Expectation also plays an important part in making people believe they are hearing voices in random noise.  It is interesting to note that a common practice in EVP techniques is to have some manner of white noise in the background.  Older cassette recorders require the use of white noise generators for the purpose of capturing EVP while the modern digital recorders are capable of producing their own white noise.

Interference, for example, is seen in certain EVP recordings, especially those recorded on devices which contain RLC circuitry. These cases represent radio signals of voices or other sounds from broadcast sources.  Interference from CB radio transmissions and wireless baby monitors, or anomalies generated though cross modulation from other electronic devices, are all documented phenomena.  It is even possible for circuits to resonate without any internal power source by means of radio reception.  Such interference is commonly observed in home speaker systems which pick up the transmissions of nearby CB radios and transmit the sound through the speakers generally scaring the socks off of home owners, especially if they are home alone at the time.

Capture errors are anomalies created by the method used to capture audio signals, such as noise generated through the over-amplification of a signal at the point of recording.

Artifacts created during attempts to boost the clarity of an existing recording might explain some EVP.  Methods include re-sampling, frequency isolation, and noise reduction or enhancement, which can cause recordings to take on qualities significantly different from those that were present in the original recording.  In many ghost hunting groups audio software like Nero Wave Editor is utilized to filter EVP samples in order to “clean up” the sample and aid in clarifying the sounds for analysis and presentation.  This software also helps by displaying a graphical representation of the audio sample in which you can observe a visual modulation of the sound source.  I have used this application myself when conducting examination of sound recordings from investigations.  Sometimes the software does help clarify the samples as not belonging to a group member or to shed light on the exact words or phrases captured; other times it has the opposite effect of distorting the sounds.  It is for this reason that I keep the original raw data files I collect from investigations unaltered on a separate folder or network drive and work exclusively with a copy.  In this way if a question arises that the noise reduction or filtering techniques employed are what created the sample, then the original file is available for independent analysis.

Pareidolia and Apophenia are the basis of arguments against the legitimacy of EVP.   Auditory pareidolia is a situation created when the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns as being familiar patterns.  In the case of EVP it could result in an observer interpreting random noise on an audio recording as being the familiar sound of a human voice.  The propensity for an apparent voice heard in white noise recordings to be in a language understood well by those researching it, rather than in an unfamiliar language, has been cited as evidence of this, and a broad class of phenomena referred to by author Joe Banks as Rorschach Audio has been described as a global explanation for all manifestations of EVP.

Apophenia is related to, but distinct from pareidolia.  Apophenia is defined as “the spontaneous finding of connections or meaning in things which are random, unconnected or meaningless”, and has been put forward as a possible explanation.

If an English-speaking group such as Ghost Hunters International is in Germany on an investigation would it not seem logical that any samples recorded be in German rather than English?  If a group’s members are walking around an Italian castle asking questions in English how do they expect any possible spirit to understand the question, let alone respond in English?  When they analyze the audio are they listening for both English and Italian words or perhaps another language entirely?

I have developed a theory that attempts to explain Rorschach Audio.  As with many things, everything about life or about magick I learned from watching Star Trek.  Ever wonder how the intrepid crew of the Enterprise can travel the galaxy and always find alien cultures who speak perfect English?  Well, they have an ingenious little device called a universal translator that puts the spoken words through a sound algorithm that searches for patterns and then correlates them to the correct English vernacular.  Neat trick, I think.  In Jungian psychology there is a belief in a part of the unconscious mind that is common to a group, a society, or all of humanity, which is the product of all the ancestral experiences of a people and shared by all termed the Collective Unconscious.  Based on this model, if, as many cultures believe, we are all related, and taking into account the scientific theory that we revert to pure energy after the death of the physical body, then it stands to reason that as we pass from the material world into the realm of pure energy we have access to all of the knowledge of our fellow man.  Therefore, if one was Russian in physical life, then such a being would have knowledge of the English language after death and thus would be able to communicate freely and fluently with an English-speaking researcher conducting an EVP session.

omnimic

Omnimic

All this history and scientific theory is informative, but the true fun and exploration comes when you can put that knowledge into practice.  Below are some common techniques and some tips and tricks of the trade that I’ve picked up over the years while conducting my own EVP sessions.

In addition to deceased spirits, various paranormal investigators say that EVP could be due to psychic echoes from the past and psychokinesis unconsciously produced by living people.  In this respect I would suggest that you go into an EVP session with plenty of rest, a clear and positive frame of mind, and an objective viewpoint.  Some people like to ‘provoke’ or antagonize the spirits into manifesting or communicating.  First of all this is dangerous and should only be done with careful and proper training.  This is such a hot-button issue that I will talk about this at a later date in a discussion of its own.

According to parapsychologist Konstantin Raudive, who popularized the idea, EVP are typically brief, usually the length of a word or short phrase.  Don’t expect complete conversations or lengthy narratives.

Conventional audio cassette or digital voice recorders are used in experiments with EVP.  The claim is that ghosts can talk perfectly well but can only be heard on an electronic recording.  This means that recording gear has the ability to convert inaudible frequencies into audible ones, which may seem contradictory since they were created specifically for the capture of audible signals!

Recorders are also useful in recording notes, member movements, report anomalies or mention things for the analyzing team to pay close attention to when reviewing data.  The type of tape that is most often recommended is high bias tapes or metal tapes.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Your browser may not support display of this image. You have to use an external microphone when recording.  The internal microphone will also be recording the internal gears and motors and this will make your tape worthless.  Any sound you hear on the tape could not be used as evidence because of this.  Digital recorders may not have any moving parts but still require the use of an external microphone.  It is highly recommended to use an omni-directional microphone (pictured right) that can be purchased at most electronics stores.  These provide full-area 360° coverage.  Also, remember that the older tape recorders need the addition of white-noise devices; digital recorders create their own white noise.

When recording investigators names it would be wise to have each individual present state their own names, which will make it easier for distinction amongst voices heard on the tape during review.

Skeptics of the paranormal attribute the voice-like aspect of the sounds to the aforementioned apophenia, auditory pareidolia, artifacts due to low-quality equipment, and simple hoaxes.  Likewise some reported EVP can be attributed to radio interference or other well-documented phenomena.  This viewpoint is similar to the matrixing effect in still photography, which coincidentally I’ll be covering next month.

Portable digital voice recorders are currently the technology of choice for EVP investigators.  Since these devices are very susceptible to Radio Frequency contamination, EVP enthusiasts sometimes try to record EVP in RF- and sound-screened rooms.  Nevertheless, in order to record EVP there has to be noise in the audio circuits of the device used to produce the EVP.  For this reason, those who attempt to record EVP often use two recorders that have differing audio circuitry quality and rely on noise heard from the poorer quality instrument to generate EVP.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Each individual will have their own style of gathering evidence.  Some groups walk around repeating the same questions monotonously- “Is anyone here?” “What’s your name?” and so forth over and over again… *snore…  Personally I like to start with these but then turn to a more conversational style like you would when chatting with a friend or small talk amongst strangers.  Start with simple, broad questions, and then push for more personal information especially if you know who the spirit may be or if you have some knowledge as to the history of the location.  It is also important to never whisper.  Always keep your voice in a quiet but constant conversational tone and volume.  This will help differentiate your voice or those of your fellow investigators from any anomalous source.

When asking questions or when making requests always pause for at least 3 to 5 seconds between statements in order to give an entity time to respond.  An EVP is much more discernible when it’s not under the rushed sound of your own voice.  Have you ever tried to converse with someone who’s speaking a mile a minute or not allowing you a chance to respond?  You wouldn’t like it if it were done to you, so just imagine how frustrating it must be for someone who can’t as easily make their discomfort known.

When conducting EVP sessions make note of environmental and astronomical factors.  Many of the best EVP recordings and other strong evidence for hauntings occur near streams or in close proximity to groundwater. Early studies suggest that running water may generate a frequency that renders some people more sensitive to psychic phenomena.  There is also room for speculation about lunar cycles and increased paranormal activity, or perhaps more awareness of it.  With any activity that involves environmental, psychological, or spiritual factors please keep in mind that you do so of your own free will and risk.

As with any research, a lot of it is trial and error.  Mix and match, see what works best for you and fits into your comfort level.  Also keep in mind that just because a technique has worked well for you, don’t immediately discount someone else’s technique or be afraid to try something new.  Not everyone likes to be talked to in the same way.  I like to treat any possible entity as an intelligent and mature adult and speak to them accordingly, but if it is a child or otherwise, I will try to speak to them on their level.  This may provide far better results.

Various examples of EVP can be found online that you can download and listen to.  Most reputable ghost hunting groups post their finding on their websites and you are invited to listen and make your own judgment.  For some examples that I have caught personally while investigating sites you can go to http://prism.deepforestproductions.com/library.htm.

Happy hunting and until next time keep your minds sharp, your spirits high, and always looking with an open mind toward the great unknown.

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Let’s Spell it Out

January, 2010

Removing Obstacles with Ganesha

LordGanesh

Ganesha is an Indian God with the body of a man and the head of an elephant. The God of wisdom and prudence, he is sometimes called Ganapati, Ganesa or Gajani and he is known as the God of Scribes and Merchants as well as the Lord of Obstacles.

For the purposes of January, we will use Ganesha to help us make wise decisions for the coming year (it is the time to make New Year’s Resolutions after all!) as well as to help to clear the obstacles that lie in the way of getting our goals accomplished.  But before we get to work, let’s take a longer look at Ganesha.

Ganesha has an interesting “parentage”.  I say this because Shiva is his father, but it seems that Shiva had no part in his creation.  Ganesha’s mother is Parvati and there are two legends that explain how she brought him to life.  One is where she used flakes of her skin and the other is where she formed Ganesha form her sweat mixed with dust.  Although now he is depicted with an elephant’s head, this was not how Parvati originally created him.

Ganesha is the only Indian god with an elephant’s head and the story behind this is an interesting one.  Or should I say “three” as there are three legends as to how Ganesha’s head was replaced by that of an elephant’s.  Sometimes he is depicted as having up to five elephant heads, but this is usually not the case.  Ganesha rides a rat and he also has one trunk and four arms holding a shell, a mace, a discuss and a water-lily.  But back to how he got his head…

Both of these legends basically start out the same.  Parvati, Ganesha’s mother, appointed him to be the guardian of the gate to her abode, most notably when she was taking a bath.  Like a good son, Ganesha took his job very seriously and when Parvati said she wanted to see no one,  he turned everyone away, including his father Shiva.  As you can imagine, Shiva didn’t want to be told “no” by his son, but Ganesha flatly refused.  Now, here is where the story starts to waver.  Shiva either lost his temper and accidentally decapitated him, or, he lost his temper and he ordered the decapitation himself.  Regardless as to which version of the story you hear, Parvati was furious by what Shiva did to her son/servant.  In one story, Parvati told Shiva that she wanted nothing to do with him until the situation was rectified, and in the other version, she took actions into her own hands.  In the fist version, Shiva relented to his wife and he said that Ganesha could have the head of the first animal to pass by, which happened to be an elephant.  In the second version, Parvati was the one to secured the head form the first passing creature.  Either way, Ganesha ended up with an elephant’s head.  In the third account, after creating him, Parvati took Ganesha to the other gods to show him off.  Sani (Saturn), didn’t seem to be impressed and burned his head to ashes and it was the compassionate Vishnu that saved him by providing the elephant’s head.  Maybe this is how Ganesha came to be known as the god to call upon when needing to overcome obstacles.

Beloved by the Hindu people, Ganesha is the benign deity to invoke to overcome your difficulties, before going on a journey, moving into new house or starting a new business.  You can see how he can be a great ally when starting new beginnings, especially at the New-Year.  But don’t feel as though you can only call upon him at this time as Ganesha is also the god of wisdom, art, guarding households and fertility (he may have originated as the local forest deity which is a “yaksa”).  Representing both force and cunning; Ganesha rules over good luck, successful enterprises, worldly success and prosperity, writing, literature and books, beginnings and journeys, peace, building and taming dangerous forces.

In India, there are little statues of Ganesha everywhere as he remains one of the most popular Hindu deities.  You can see how popular he is due to his frequent appearances in other deity’s temples.  Sometimes his sculptures are painted red but his offerings are always flowers and dishes of rice.  When worshipped during his August festival, it is said that your wishes will come true.

You to can tap into his wisdom and compassion to set your New Year’s intentions off to the right start.  To get started, you can set up your altar with Sandalwood incense, a bouquet of fresh flowers, a red candle, a bowl of rice and a statue or picture of Ganesha (you can substitute a picture of an elephant if you are lacking a picture of Ganesha).  You will also need a pen and a piece of paper to make out your “wish list” for the coming year.  You can choose to either create Sacred Space or cast a Magick Circle in the manner or your tradition, whichever works better for you.

Place the statute/picture of Ganesha upon your altar and say:

“Ganesha, both man and elephant,

God of scribes and merchants;

Tonight I call upon your prudence

So I start my year with success.”

Now place the offerings of rice flowers before the picture/statue and say:

“Tonight I make a list of goals,

And I ask you to remove all obstacles;

Please grant me financial fertility,

So I know prosperity.”

Light the incense and the red candle and say:

“Lord of Obstacles, share your wisdom

So I can make wise decisions.

As my prayers rise, please light my way

As I step onto this journey.”

Now for the work on your part.  Get out the pen and paper and if you haven’t already prepared a list, brainstorm now as to what you want to bring into your life this coming year.  Also make sure to list what things are obstacles to reaching your goals, especially the things that you will do to sabotage your own success.  Ask yourself what needs to be guarded, where you need to apply force, which situations require cunning, where you can start new beginnings and what areas of your life need more peace.  Make a plan as to how to “stay on track” throughout the year to ensure your prosperity and happiness.

To close your spell, in your own words ask Ganesha to stay with you on your journey and then thank him for his help.  If possible, let the candle burn out and then bury the leaving on your property.  Dispose of the rice in the morning (after the essence has been removed).  Replace the flowers when needed and whenever you feel the need, light another stuck of incense and ask Ganesha for an extra “boost” of wisdom when things get “sticky”.

SOURCES:

  • Encyclopedia of the Gods by Michael Jordan
  • Moon Magick: Myth & Magic, Crafts & Recipes, Rituals & Spells by D.J. Conway
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Pagan Parenting

January, 2010

Letting it Flow

I attempted to force out a Family Values article this month but in the interest of practicing what I was preaching I decided to try again next month.  The flow was not happening.

Going with the flow in parenting is a lesson that is hard to keep up with.   It is a challenge that is constantly facing us and it seems that kids move with natural rhythms with more ease than we do.   If they are tired they sleep, if they are hungry they eat.   When we try and inflict our ideas of schedules and such we can often present a conflict to the very primal emotions they feel.   But at the same time children need routine and predictability to feel secure and to blossom.   So the flow can mean letting natural rhythms coincide with routine and creating a system for your family that is not necessarily typical but fosters a healthy home life.

Parenting from this place requires us to tap into the element of Water.  Water does not think about how to move around a rock or other obstacle in its path it simply moves around it.  It adapts to situations swiftly .  I often find myself cringing when I realize that time has moved more quickly than I had anticipated in a morning and my son has moved from tired to cranky/tired and will soon have a meltdown.  Rather than worrying I would aspire to have faith that he too can adapt as he has proven to me many times.   My job is to try and avoid asking too much of him, making his water energy spin in too many circles of newness.

As parents we are expected to anticipate moods and desires but often our anticipation doesn’t necessarily have to occur, it is just one possibility in many possible outcomes.  The lesson of water is to anticipate but not hold onto the outcome rigidly.   Let yourself be pleasantly surprised at being prepared for the worst but having something not so bad happen.  Be open, be resourceful and most of all enjoy moving with a steady rhythm, like the constant beat of waves on the shoreline.  Your child will feel that fluidity and the rhythm will impart stillness and calmness to them.   And when conflicts occur as is natural and inevitable in day-to-day parenting try reciting a little chant or visualizing cool water gently flowing around you and your child, breathe and try again.

Water Chant for Flow in Parenting

Water, water move and flow

Water, water let it go

Water help calm feelings come

Water renew everyone

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Hally’s Hints

January, 2010

The Energetic Journey of the Past Year

2009 has finally come to a close. In some respects it seemed to take an eternity with the fluctuating energies and influences from the four mercury retrogrades as well as the planetary shifts endeavouring desperately to gain some balance. In another way, it seems that, like many years before, the year comes to a stand still nearing the end of December and then the previous months are forgotten.

We omit the journey, the lessons and the choices we made to be exactly where we are today. It tends to feel as though the years come and go in what seems a blink of an eye and we are lead to believe it took this equal amount to bring us to where we are today. Can you honestly say that you are the same person you were twelve months ago or even one month ago?

I pondered on what to write for the first month of 2010. I reflected on the past twelve months and how this has impacted on me personally and can only imagine what it has been like for others. Moving more into my intuitive and energetic self has made for a very powerful time, and I know there are others out there that know exactly what I am talking about.

As important as it is to move forward and create plans on the coming year it is equally important to understand where you have been and the impact this has had on you. We tend to look for tangible results like buying new furniture or completing a course, however I am talking about something more ingrained and undefined by logic.

It is of course, your energetic journey that can grow so much and move you to so many amazing places where time is irrelevant. It is this journey that enables your physical passage to evolve in synergy with yourself. We of the energetic nature tend to feel these ebbs and flows so much more and fortunately, can use our sensitivities to create real and lasting differences.

Use this time as an opportunity to acknowledge the journey you have taken and the steps that have led you to where you are right now. The steps do not need to seem large or small because every step is as important as the other and it will always be the right step for you.

The more you open yourself to connecting to the universe, the supporting energies and the gifts you have the more amazing the years will become. Many of the things you see and feel have no logic and many would perhaps question your sanity if they were not of the same frame of mind, this however does not diminish the relevance or significance.

Some believe that our journey is already mapped out and others believe that it is up to us to decide which path to take. Whatever your belief, whatever road you decide to take, allow the metaphysical world to embrace you for all of your perfections. Even in the most isolating moments it is a matter of putting your hand out and allowing one of your spirit guides or angels to lead you to where you want to go.

Whenever you sit in silence, moments before embarking on the family union, particularly when outside of the room looms the multitude of relatives waiting with bated breath to greet you and love you for that day, be it Christmas, Hanukah, Winter Solstice or the simple end of year celebration; it is in the silence that reprieve is sort and reflection can be gained.

May your 2010 be a year filled with spiritual enlightenment and magical prosperity. Your amazing journey is there waiting for you, when you are ready to continue.

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A Simple Path: Journey of a Hedgewitch

January, 2010

*The Hedgewitch lives in the space between the Village and the Forest. Between the mundane and the magical. S/He lives with a foot in both worlds.
This column is dedicated to the Hedgewitches of the planet earth.

Winter in the Hedge
The Wheel has turned again, and I find myself standing in a threshold.
Thresholds are the most magical and mysterious of all places, and ones in which anything can happen.
But they can also feel scary, because we don’t know what’s on the other side.
Yet, I have walked by my faith for many years, and know that there is a plan for me, and I am living it.
It just feels strange to me to not know quite what to do next.
I’ve always been a sort of “make a list and check it twice” girl, but when you run out of list, you still have to keep going.
In addition to other changes, I have recently closed my shop, and have cut back on numerous activities. As a gardener, I am always drawn to the growing-things metaphor, and now, I am in a spot in my life where I have felt the pruner’s knife, and watched the old things fall away.
I know this is a healthy part of development, but it is always a little sad, painful, and again, uncertain.
I suspect that many folks are facing uncertain times in their lives as this new year unfolds. I believe I am in good company, among those who believe what is meant to be will be, but don’t quite know what that means right now.
I have spent my restless energy cleaning out closet and donating huge amounts of things to charity. I need some “new” in my life (though I am not exactly sure what kind, yet) so I decided to make some room for it.
I believe this is a time to reach out to the other people who are also feeling as though they are in-between lives. Perhaps their old life ended because of loss or change of jobs, or houses, or partners. In any event, they find themselves feeling lost, and probably somewhat alone. I feel it is important to keep in mind, when we feel alone, there is absolutely someone else also feeling alone.
We can spend time with others who are having a hard time finding their miracle.
This is my mission, as one of the “lost”. To find others, and encourage them to be hopeful. To keep on believing. Even when it seems hopeless or impossible.
This is the thing that feeds my faith.
I have known Winter before. When all the leaves in life seem to die at once, and it is so frozen that nothing seems to be moving.
But I have also seen Spring come to that dark, gloomy landscape, and fill it, in its season, with life and abundance, once more.
This is the promise of Yule, and the certain return of the sun.
To all those, whose Sun seems to be returning slowly; to those who feel all on their own, I implore you, hang on! Tie a knot in the rope you are hanging by and hang on a bit longer.
I join you, there, next rope over, also hanging on and encouraging you to know you are not alone.
Maybe by reaching out, we can not only be blessed, but bless someone else, who needs something good to happen to them right now.
Reaching out with brightest blessings for your miracle this new year

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