Up to now I have dwelt on many of the positive aspects of Paganism, but every lifestyle has its downsides. Many of the negatives aspects of various forms of paganism come from ideas that are carried over from mainstream religious backgrounds,- particularly from the more fundamentalist groups. I believe that Aleister Crowley is a particularly good example of this. Most of his emotional problems, and his deliberately shocking behaviour, seem to have stemmed from a reaction to his upbringing as a member of the Plymouth Brethren.
Paganism is a very wide term, covering many beliefs. Some belief systems are variations on older religions, some are attempts to come to terms with mankind’s mythology and archetypes in a new and individual way,- and some are obvious reactions to the childhood beliefs of the persons involved. My own personal opinion is that those who would style themselves as “Satanists” or vampires are not “Pagan” in any real sense,- but merely aberrations of the western Christian cultural milieu. However, I have no problems, either way, with any beliefs that are within the law and harm none.
Nevertheless it is precisely those ideas carried over from our childhoods that cause most problems for those embarking on a path of spiritual discovery. The world may seem secular, but the majority of our parents and grandparents came from a background which was steeped in some mainstream belief system. I was taught by monks in Ireland, but even in more modern western countries, most parents would have had an education with a strong religious basis. We may find a new freedom in our chosen path,- but, many of us carry unexamined assumptions from our childhood. These make us either fearful or judgemental when we finally come face to face with those beings who inhabit the astral worlds. I will leave it to the reader to decide what level of “Reality” they would ascribe to these worlds. I personally know from experience that they can, and do, impinge on mundane reality.
Nature is neither dark nor light,- It is both. So too are the other realms and those who inhabit them. To ascribe evil to either darkness or light is a folly based on childish assumptions, and fuelled by the film industry. Sitting here typing, I can easily believe that there is no ultimate evil,- only unbalanced people and unbalanced denizens of the astral realms. However, in the heat of an encounter, we can quickly slip back into childhood patterns of belief and behaviour.
I wish to share one such encounter with the reader. If my description seems somewhat dramatic and judgemental, it is precisely because of those anachronistic beliefs which still lie hidden in my own psyche.
Long before I discovered Paganism, I discovered darkness. I do not mean the soothing softness of moonlight or the peaceful interlude between days. I mean the darkness that hides in every human heart. As children, we are much more honest and perceptive. I do not believe that we are really fooled by the adults around us, but simply realise at a certain age that honesty would be a fatal error, so we learn to habitually deny what we see, in favour of accepting the consensus of reality. As I matured, I left behind many of the myths that they indoctrinated us with. However, I still find myself wondering about the concept of evil, especially the idea of negative supernatural forces which can prey on the minds and emotion of mankind.
I would like to share a personal experience from about thirty years ago, which made me, again, wonder about the existence of dark, supernatural beings.
It was, I think, 1986 or thereabouts. I was running a small engineering workshop in Dublin, with a friend called John. We had a workshop on the site of the old Weatherwell Tiles buildings in Clondalkin.
John and I were crossing the yard, when a sheet of newspaper blew across and landed at our feet.
There on the page facing us was a picture of one of his uncles and an article about him being taken into a mental home for his own safety. John was visibly shaken and told me the story of his uncles.
The uncle in question was living at John’s old house. John had been forced to move out when his uncles behaviour had distressed John’s wife to the point of illness. He was a compulsive hoarder and brought home rubbish from local skips and bins every day. There was a second uncle, who John was not forthcoming about, only saying that he was quite violent and had to be sectioned. John had simply left them with possession of the house and moved to the outskirts of Dublin.
Knowing that I was psychic, John asked me if I would do a reading and see if he was okay. He said that he could not bear to get in touch. He just wanted to reassure himself without any further involvement.
I agreed to finish early that day and take the paper home as a focus to do a reading. The house I was sharing at the time was empty, so I quickly made a cup of tea, and then laid out the sheet of newspaper and laid out a spread with the tarot cards. I believe that my hurry, and lack of preparation, were at least partially responsible for what happened that day. I cannot remember the spread after all these years.
I can remember the death card and the moon, then judgement. I lit a cigarette and sat back for a moment, as I realised that John’s uncle had indeed passed. As I relaxed, I could feel his uncles presence trying to communicate. He seemed a kindly old man. But I never got any further in communicating with him.
Suddenly the room became very cold. I could feel goose pimples on my arm, and a pressure around my head. Darkness seemed to seep into the room from all four corners.
It was as if I was in a bubble of light,- with the darkness pushing in from all directions. I broke into a cold sweat . What I sensed, pushing in on me, was neither pleasant nor friendly. I sensed a cold arrogant presence and half-heard a humourless laughter. I called on my guardians and began to push the darkness back. It was almost touching me at this stage and I was afraid that some sort of possession or over-shadowing was becoming very likely. As I pushed the entity back, I built a ball of white light within my solar plexus area. When I felt that it was ready, I allowed it to explode outwards, and I blasted the dark energy from the room. I was quite shaken by this episode, so I cleared up and I made myself another cup if tea and a cigarette. I must admit , that having being disappointed by many rituals attended up to this point, I had not a full appreciation of their worth and normally only used “mental” magic at that stage of my life. Since then, I have a new found respect for the power and the beauty of a ritual that is written and performed by those who are truly enlightened.
These days I would have done a full cleansing ritual on the house, and perhaps brought in trusted friends to be certain that the house was cleared. I was careless, and perhaps a little arrogant then, and I paid the price in months of annoyance and unexplainable events around the house.
That night, as I drifted off to sleep, the entity came back. It looked like something from a horror film. The face appeared almost touching mine. It had sharp angular features, as if it was made by a computer. It seemed to be created from many straight lines of energy, etched onto a black background, and gave an impression of spikes of energy coming out at me. Each time I drifted off to sleep the entity would be back to disturb me. I had weeks of annoyance and unexplained breakages and disappearances around the house. Nothing seemed to banish it. Luckily a friend popped in for a cuppa one day. He was an exorcist. I told him about the nuisance and he persuaded it to follow him home. It took him three months to finally rid himself of the entity.
Most of the problems that people have when dealing with other realms come from fear, and the negative expectations that it creates in us. I am not saying that negative energies do not exist,- but I do think that we clothe and feed them from our own uncontrolled subconscious energies.
We need to choose carefully when selecting people to work with in self-development. I normally work alone or with my wife, Tina. Before we do any work,- we should always cleanse the area, call on our guardians, and ground ourselves. I will dwell on this in more detail at some point, when space permits. Learn to develop a nose for drama, then you will be able to sense when your imagination is leading you down a path of illusion. I will finish with a poem which describes this type of drama and clearly shows the work of subconscious impulses in creating a magical story.
An Angel Dreams.
In the sacred space between the worlds, an angel slept.
As planets circled in the loving comfort of her breast.
Galaxies spread out like sparkling gems upon her robes,
The universe beneath her, like a silken web on which she took her rest.
An entity with purpose foul and aided by a creature half divine,
Struck her cruelly through the heart as she lay dreaming worlds, not yet begun.
Her vast eternal heart, for just a moment, ceased its perfect rhyme.
And in the galaxy for which she cared, a icy comet pierced a friendly sun.
Thunder roared and lightning flashed across the darkened sky.
The thick black clouds were tinged with bloody red.
Travellers hurried home in fear and certainty that something was awry,
Worriedly they cast a nervous eye, and prayed to make it safely home to bed.
In his lofty tower, the mage was marking symbols on the grimy, granite walls.
Mumbling garbled incantations, as he chalked a doubled circle round the room.
In the smoke of acrid incense, shadow-figures formed and then dissolved,
The candles, and the glowing brazier in the centre, barely lit the gloom.
The earth beneath the craggy outcrop groaned, as screams reverberated from the very depths,
They shook the tower, as tiles fell down and smashed upon the trembling dirt.
The seas rose high and dashed against the shore and swallowed many shivering ships.
While lofty mountains burst and molten tears ran down the face of mother earth.
All around the world, the people loudly prayed, as jagged flames lit up the skies.
In the bowels of the earth, the sleeping giants awoke and hurriedly prepared to wage the final war.
The mage continued chanting, with his trembling voice and fear filled eyes,
The evil he had summoned, gathered strength to strike the guardian of the world once more.
The rumblings deep within the earth, disturbed the little people at their play.
Angrily, they donned their armour, and with swords and bows, they flew on tiny winged steeds.
They loosed the demon hounds and sent them off to seek their prey.
And in the blinking of an eye they stood before the crumbling tower, and saw the mages deeds.
A thousand arrows flashed and struck the ground around the ancient tower.
Within a moment tendrils quickly grew, and spreading thickly, climbed its lofty heights.
The ancient tower groaned as it was crushed and swallowed back into the earth.
And before the sky had cleared, and all the seas were calm,
The Fae were home again, engaged in dancing and in mirth.
Patrick W Kavanagh 23/10/2014
Picture by Boy So Blue Graphic Arts and photography.