77 Witchy Community Tag

I stole this from Kelden Mercury’s blog who in turn nabbed it from Veles’ awesome blog. I find that this not only a fun way to get to know me more, but for me to take stock of my belief’s.

1. Do you use runes as a written language?
No. In my studies in MOAA I have used Hebrew. In witchcraft I haven’t really felt the need. I have looked at Ogham/Ogam but more as a historical interest rather than a magical tool.

2. Do you feel you have natural gifts such as (premonitions, hearing spirits) and if so do you think this is what led you to this path?
I have often received dreams or premonitions usually after a visit from my maternal grandmother. I’ve experienced a number of other psychically sensitive phenomena throughout my life and yeah it was a major motivation for me pursuing magical studies.

3. What deity do you work with if any and why?
Pretty much every deity I worked with was happy to work with me in ritual but no one offered to stick around as a patron/matron. In fact, the Irish gods and goddesses were flat out hostile to the idea of being worshipped or having devotees like the Greek or Hellenic pantheons.

4. Have you always worked with this same deity?
I’ve not aligned with any deity. The closest and most frequent figure in my life has been Sinann, associated with the River Shannon.

5. Do you use any personal items in your practice, (blood, semen, tears, urine, etc)?
Yes, have used hair. A few rituals have claimed an involuntary sacrifice mind you! 😉

6. Do you do past life readings or have ever had one done; who where you or how did you die?
Confession time… I did go through a phase of looking back into people’s past lives. I was with a group of friends that the hyper-realism of the process helped us stay connected. Do I think it was based on reality or history? Not a clue, but I ultimately abandoned it all because it was [re-]triggering to many people.

7. What is your favorite magical tool?
Oh tough one! I read once that the best gift that one could get for initiation is a chalice. I have a FREAKING gorgeous chalice gifted to me the weekend before my initiation into the Craft – which FYI no one knew was happening so the synchronicity comes to mind when I hold it!

8. What is a song or type of music that gets you into a Witchy mood?
Drumming definitely but honestly I’m always in a ‘Witchy mood’! lol

9. Where is the most magical place you have ever been?
A field in Co. Sligo I used to head to as a kid.

10. What animal is your familiar if any?
None. Currently between places but generally also house-sharing so animals aren’t an option.

11. If you have a familiar, did you choose them or did they choose you?
N/A

12. What in the Craft are you best at (tarot, spells, ritual,) etc?
I wish I could call myself a Pratchettian Witch to explain myself but tea works and not from tassomancy (though I have experimented a number of times successfully) but if I am forced to choose then Tarot.

13. What in the Craft would you say you are weaker at?
Dealing with hippy-dippy shit! Alas and alack it permeates so much of modern occultism.

14. What is your most favorite part of your Craft (spell writing, divination, etc)?
The mystical and deeply personal connection to the land and world around me. I suppose more in line with the question is the myriad of ways this can be achieved.

15. What was the first tool you ever purchased?
I was gifted my first Tarot deck but the first I ever purchased was probably a crystal still on my altar table.

16. What was your first homemade tool for your practice?

A very rough around the edges clay pentacle. I remember keeping it simple as I was confused by the initiatory Wicca stuff and feeling odd about copying it too much.

17. What are your feelings on raising kids in the Craft?
I understand that some Family covens bring young people in through rites of passage similar to those found in Catholicism (Confirmation) and Judaism (Bar Mitzvah), etc., but the Craft is an experiential path and I think magic is something with a bit of life experience behind you is better.

I am coloured by my traditions; Wicca and Golden Dawn though.

18. If you were a goddess or god, who would you be?
What a horrendous thought! Have you not read any of the mythos around gods? They have a shit time of it! :O Can we write a mythos where the God becomes a mortal and lives happily ever after? Kinda like Dr. Horrible…the anti-hero story!

19. Do you use astrology in your practice? In what ways?
I promise I will give this more time eventually! Its honestly not my fault that I got swept up in a thesis and life.

20. What if any ways could you practice dark magic and still respect the beliefs of Wicca?
This question actually nullifies itself! Mainly it assumes that Wicca is this one monolith of praxis when its so very diverse.

I am open to learning about action and when to magically take action to help better my family and my community.

21. Do you have any Witches in your family?
…Oh wait you said Witches…with a ‘w’. Nope none of those. 😀

22. What item can you not Witch without?
If I am there and present I am the best item I could need. We’re like the scouts in making use of what is around us supposedly.

23. What is your favourite Sabbat or time of year ritual?
Midsommer tends to be something big for me. That being said they all carry a different vibe. I loathe Bealtaine…in Irish cycles it was about the proclamation of wrongs and such but for me it just means friends explode.

24. Have you ever had a YouTube burn out?
Yes. So much sh1te!

25. What is your fav Witchy shop, and do they have an online store?
I’m trying not to laugh. In Ireland thats a hard no.

26. When buying Witchy items, do they choose you or do you choose them?
I’m clearly choosing them if I am in the shop doing the buying! This is more of the hippy-dippy jargon I loathe.

27. How do you organize your herbs/ingredients?
Assume does what now? I don’t have any storage space for herbs.

28. Do you have interest in other deities that you don’t work with; if so, which ones?
I like the stories and mythology of many, mostly Irish deities (note Celtic is too wide a label) but Egyptian, Roman and yeah any I can get my hands on.

29. Do you have a fav time of day to do spell work; if so, why?
When people are asleep…and because they are asleep. I get privacy.

30. Are you solitary or do you work with a coven?
Solitary.

31. If you could pick a certain Witchcraft tradition that fits your practice most what would it be (Druid, Celtic, Wicca etc)?
If you are reading this, sorry Kelden but Shamanism hails from the Siberian region not Celtic regions. Its also not a tradition of witchcraft. Some of the witchcraft traditions amongst the colonial diaspora either shun the label witchcraft or have their own terms so describing them as either “shamanic” or “witchcraft” is a bit of a problem for cultural appropriation by Neopagans.

With this in mind, I am an initiate of Traditional Wicca. This is not necessarily my personal praxis as I don’t have the benefit of a coven to aid me.

32. What was the most creative spell you have ever done. What did you use? 

My, my aren’t we very curious! Sorry this one is sensitive so stays with me. Plus I have to keep an air of mystique 😉

33. What do you prefer for divination (tarot, oracle, runes, etc.) and why?
Tarot. I love the symbolism in the cards which draws from so much communal history.

34. What are some ways you keep yourself grounded?
Deep breathing exercises. Mindfulness meditation. After ritual I eat like a pig! My waistline is proof positive of this.

35. Have you ever had a spell go horribly wrong?
Yes.

36. What are your opinions on initiation rituals?

Complicated. Initiation is often understood from a very secular perspective prior to initiation and so many people I’ve spoken with post-initiation tend to be in shock with the psychic surgery that has transpired.

I lucked out with my initiations but I have had the benefit of folk who have explained the process pretty well to me and consider it a huge responsibility.

37. Have you ever had full contact with your deity; if so, what happened?
I have been contacted by certain godforms and spiritual beings but once again I struggle over owning a deity.

38. What about you is unwitchy?
My clothing choices. I’m more broke student than gothic witchy!

39. For the dating Witch, how do you tell a new love interest that you are a Witch?

Actually yeah I’ve done this with some *ahem* interests but not with boyfriend: “Bring them to my bedroom and laugh as the realization dawns on their face”. Honestly, this is a work in progress, I have tried tossing it out as a non-issue but I think it is for me. I’m not very good at multi-tasking.

40. Who is a past Witch that has inspired you, famous or not?
I know its trite but Doreen Valiente…the more I read about her the more I am in awe.

41. How do you handle rejection from a fellow Witch that refuses to do a reading or spell for you?

Why would they be doing a spell for me? I’m the Witch! I have helped friends in rituals that needed a second or grounding force in that ritual but its not something I did because I expected it to be reciprocated.

Readings more people have said no than agreed. This is fair enough. I’ve had to refuse readings for lots of reasons.

42. Do you think it is necessary to cast a circle when you do spell work or any magical working?
I don’t think it’s necessary for EVERY magical working.

43. If Steven Spielberg called and wanted to make a movie of your life, who would you want to play as you?

Someone hot with a great ass! Totally go all Hollywood and the opposite to my natural beauty! 😉

44. What is some advice that was given to you that you pass along because it made an impact on your path?

45. What is some advice you would give someone who has not found their deity?

“I think we should first focus on the forms of there, their, they’re. Also, this question is literally stupid.” – Kelden Mercury

Yes this! Sorry but I have done quite well without being obsessed with deities.

46. Where do you buy your herbs?

Grr! I don’t do either! Look if I was pressed to use herbs (not my thing) I’d forage for them in local areas.

47. How did you feel casting your first circle (silly, scared, stumbling, etc)?
Giggy, tingly and then suddenly very cool as reality just sank in that I’d just done this very bizarre thing!

48. What was your first successful spell?

A curse. Cause you know like all Wiccans I’m all love’n’light fo sho! 😀

49. What is your general practice for meditation?
I light some candles and incense and commence the Four-Fold breathing.

50. Are you a day walker or a night comer?

OMG! Is this quiz actually referencing Penny Dreadful? If so, I totally call dips on being a night-comer! lol

51. How and when did you know you wanted to be on this path?

I always kind of knew but the name only came to be when I was 15 and friends with a dabbler. I soon realised that I was taking it seriously and he was just messing about.

52. What type of pagan are you (Wiccan, eclectic, hedge, etc)?

I’m a Wiccan.

53. What candle colour do you use most?
White. Tea-lights are easy no mess no fuss for the urban and rural witch alike!

54. What area would you like to see your Craft grow in?
Practice. Time and other fiscal constraints are getting in the way.

55. What is your preference, to buy or make your tools?
I’m with Kelden here, I like to either make my tools or find them through thrift shop or charity shops.

56. What fictional Witch book/screen inspired you the most?
Wait you mean Pratchett wrote fiction? :O But it seemed so real! 😥

57. With your first spell where you alone or in a coven?
All alone *sniff*

58. What is your favorite candle, incense scent for magical purposes?
Incense: Sage, nag champa, sandalwood, myrrh and frankincense.

59. Where is your favorite place to go to reconnect with nature?

Right now, a woodland area connected to a lake just of the River Shannon. My family also used to go their when my grandmother was a kid.

60. Do you believe in fantasy creatures (unicorns, gnomes, elves, fairies, etc)?
Yes – now hear me out because I study English Literature then fantasy creatures are legit characters in a lot of fantasy genre books. So choosing not to believe in them is going to make for awkward reading.

Magically, I am open to exploring the idea of elementals and beings innate in our world.

61. Do you believe in ghosts/spirits?
Yes.

62. Would you ever teach the Craft?
It’s not really my goal in life but if a worthy student deemed me worthy I’d give it due consideration. Though I kind of feel that there are plenty of good teachers out there already so the “fit would have to be right” as Wiccans are renowned for saying.

63. What if any legal herb do you use for moods?
I don’t.

64. What is the most recent spell/ritual you have done? (slight detail please)

The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram (LRP). This is mainly to do with my Golden Dawn training though. It works on the sphere of sensation (aura) of the magician (witch).

65. Do you have a happy place you go to during meditation?
Lol… Of course I have one. I was an introverted child. But the Happy Place is not a magical tool at best it is a self-help guided meditation.

I hope that what this question is aiming to ask is Inner Kingdom or Astral Temple. Nick Farrell’s Gathering The Magic is GREAT for exploring these concepts. Also Christopher Penzack discusses some of it in his series of books.

66. What is your favourite Witchy book?
“Gay Witchcraft” by Christopher Penzack still ranks fairly highly. “Natural Magic” by Doreen Valiente too.

67. Do you have a ritual to get ready before a ritual or spell? (what is it)
Deep breathing, such as the four-fold breathing after a ritual shower/bath.

68. Do you always use your own spells or do you tweak others?
Usually my own but often inspired by others. I can be a bit of a magpie.

69. Do you prefer spells/ritual inside or outside?
Inside. This is Ireland…brrrrgh! Also I prefer not to chase my ritual items all over the garden.

70. If you are coming from a Christian/Catholic background. Did you find the transition hard with family and the whole going to Hell thing? Basically leaving all you been told was right?
No, most Irish Catholics operate with a veneer of Christianity over very pagan practices. Irish Catholics aren’t so obsessed with Hell like some of their US counterparts.

71. What are your totem animals?

72. What are some things you reuse after spells/ritual work?
I’ll reuse candles for contemplation or meditation unless they were consecrated to a particular working or purpose.

73. Who helped you most when you [were] starting on your path?
When I was starting out on my path it was fairly solitary and lonely to be honest. Help didn’t come from any one particular person.

74. Do you know any good Witchy phone apps (like moon phases)?

I had a moon phases app but meh I prefer to feel the ebb and flow of the energies around the lunar cycle. Tried a planetary hours app too but it used a lot of phone memory.

75. What is your favorite magical study?
Ritual drama.

76. Outside of the YouTube and Facebook community, do you have a lot of witchy friends in the physical world?
Yup.

77. Do you feel that the deities we work with are a force from one higher power and that all beliefs and religions are from the same one God/place?
Yes and no in that order.

Yes there is a source or One Thing and no that all beliefs and religions are from the One Thing, they are created by human beings (maybe with Divine guidance) and therefore the ineffable ray of truth is a bit like a jewel in the rough if I’m honest.

Many might think that I see the rough as lacking value but I like the character 😉

7 Witchy Questions Tag

This is going around on YouTube. I found it on Vele’s Adventures In Witchery. I want to answer some of the other posted questions but they number in the greater so I figured I’ve take a stab at this first.

Play along, if you like. It’s fun.

1. What is your biggest witchy disaster?

Yikes! Well there is the usual spilt wax on the wooden floors which if my mother finds out about might be the end of me but I think the disaster is misused magic, both because I didn’t really know what was happening and its had be second guessing whether I should act in a lot of situations ever since.

2. What do you wish someone had told you as a new Witch?

Can I co-opt Vele’s answer?:

Oh god, here comes the hate mail! Again.
Pagans lie. Pagans make shit up. Pagans will quote the “Threefold law” or “The Rede” at people but often do pretty fucked up things to people in their lives. Paganism provides a pretty safe haven for people who need psychiatric treatment.

It sounds so harsh but it’s sort of true! When I started out I was assuming that the issues people aired were all online but then I went to moots and such and despite the best of house-keeping weirdoes do make their way in to so-called “safe-spaces”.

3. Biggest witchy pet peeves?

Lineage wars and the obsession with antiquity. There’s a difference in standing on the backs of giants and thinking you are the giant!

4. When did you first know there was something different about your spirituality?

Realisation that my spirituality was different didn’t actually occur until my family situation changed. My family hit on hard times and so I was looking for something that didn’t negate my connection to something greater than myself.

I guess I was looking for my own story. The Goddess and God of Wicca (as distinct from the Wica) offered me a mechanism to explore and listen to different stories as powerful tools.

5. Best witchy book you’ve ever read?

Terry Pratchett’s “Wee Free Men”, the idea of Granny Weatherwax and Tiffany Aching.

6. Best witchy movie or tv show?

“The Craft” as best film and as for TV show I think Willow and Tara in “Buffy” work but also something engaging about Salem. I’m too much a literature student to think that fiction owe us historicism. Truth appears in many ways.

7. Have you ever doubted your Craft and what did you do about it?

Vele’s wins the internet again for this response:

Always. Not so much the praxis itself, but the woo and mysticism and ZOMG THE POWAH OF THE GAWDESS and invisible things talking to you shit gets more than a healthy dose of skepticism.

About

Check out this new blog from David a Gardnerian in Canada who describes his blog in About. Yet Another Gardnerian Blog joins the list of blogs seeking to widen the perception of Gardnerian Wicca in the magical arts.

Training Day: Crazy, Sarcastic Tarot!

Okay, so what do ya’ll do when Tarot Deck starts to answer you back and give you lip?

Well, thats precisely what happened during the previous training session with my Hairy Pagan Friend (HPF). Just to throw me off kilter a bit as often occult teachers like to do, HPF decided that we’d basically “cast” the cards. Now I won’t say I’d never heard of this but that most readers tend to hold cards as divine and untouchable by the profane so throwing them out one by one to interpret how they fell and which side up seemed sacrilegious to me.

I’m skipping ahead because the ambience was created when he asked me to offer one word interpretations and my brain went bursting to grab all the symbolism and all the personalised interpretations and then… </brain-fart>! Seriously, I had nothing and not just once but several times! Noting my glossed over look he changed tact and took matters into his own hands by asking the Deck itself, holding it close to his ear so he could hear and asked it a question. The Deck answered with some glib remark about paying for what you get (it was a Thoth Deck for €1 in a previously-loved shop) but he proceeded to argue with it saying we needed more specifics, then it answered back by saying, “You’re not holding me up to the right ear are you!?!” – this was more literal than you might at first suspect since HPF has bad hearing in the right ear – and from there the mocking from the Deck was without mercy!

Basically we have a Thoth Deck being bitchy and it was so much fun! Better than any drag queen I know in fact! lol As we progressed and bossed the deck about pressing for more insights into various courses of action something about the bitchy-queen humour my friend and I seemed to exuberate was dawning on me. I posted some time ago about persona and performance under, Names, Mottoes & Drag, about shifting persona’s for magical aims and parrallels I’d witnessed in performers and on the LGBT scene… here I was watching it play out subtly in my HPF first off and then later me. I shed my skin of reverence for the deck and began to let it speak honestly and without escort. In short I was not babysitting myself nor HPF – there simply was no time.

Now, I must concede I do find that often in a reading I tend to become very wordy and verbose (nice word eh?!) and occasionally I’ve found that this is causes problems as people see me second guess myself. Its the feeling that I’ve never really understood were they more sensitive information comes from and so used to ignore it or let it pass as an exercise in fantasy. At least thats how it would happen until what I felt or feared would come to pass. These days I’m much better with public readings since I have guides and contacts and always prepare space when I’m using it. For this Training Day with HPF I didn’t use guides or such – just good old fashioned personal insight and faith. Since we just had one word and had an entire deck to get through while casting it there was less chance to bull using words.

So, lets recap; there were no guides or contacts, there was no dressing the part to perform as a reader or some such. There was a rawness to the honesty of our answers that allowed our inner voices to don the persona of catty or sarcastic sod. Upon reflection I’d could see the idea behind working skyclad versus robed. Skyclad there is a scaling back to the raw, honest components, whereas, the with robes there is a deliberate building up of a magical persona. Two different styles and approaches to accomplish the work of magic. Sneeky… HPF! We agreed to Tarot Training not deeper stuff forcing me to use my brain!

So what did the cards say?

Basically that I need to take the plunge and develop my training in a certain direction. I had asked where to next on my spiritual/magical journey. I was also feeling insecure around how to manifest this utopian future the cards seemed to be VERY insistent that I would have. Between finances being essentially shit since graduating undergrad in 2012 I was wondering how to maintain my magical development and what would all this lead to.

Since I started prepping this blog almost a month and a half has passed and things have changed as I have been given working hours in college as a tutor.

Training Day: What is Magic?

You’ll often see this question posed as a starting point for discussion among people who practice magic. It’s uses are varied, mostly I tend to see it is a phishing exercise as many so-called leaders and teachers seem to want to appear as though they are listening to the respondent but usually fail to do so. (Yes I’m aware my blogs have been rather cynical of late but its the truth). Obviously, there is a counter-explanation and which is the sweeping New-Ageism axiom stating all is wonderful and subjective and therefore needs no basis for comparison so we must simply smile knowlingly as “true spiritual adepts”. In the WMT we’re asked to learn discernment as Seekers and Neophytes and most of us seem to require a small space to ‘check-in’ with others every once in a while, be this an online forum (for me this was Occult Ireland (OI) back in the day), an open circle/moot/meetup (OI also held some of these) or a temple/coven.

My Hairy Pagan Friend posited this idea to me in our last training session, because well honestly we’d hardly done any magical rituals in the familiar sense of the word and he wanted me to have a think on this. Though HPF did pose it rather differently. He asked me whether or not my magical rituals for success had worked. Having to think about this I realised that yes they’d worked but only in the limited fashion that my mind allowed. I generally don’t allow myself to get trapped into discussing successes or failures of magical operations openly and part of me is waking up to the idea that this is because I’m still conditioned to see my magic as delicate and open to being swayed by others. Now this also belies the idea that as a Witch part of me sees myself as someone on the lower rung of the ladder. The Witch, of course holding a counter-cultural role in the community. Letting magic do what it is supposed to do would remove me from this social construct. Think about it the bad Witches are those who are capitalists and unapologetic in this view and the good Witches are those who have to overthrow the Wicked Witch – and who generally subscribes more to this than others… Witches of course! We look to myth and mythos for help in our religion and magic but get “lost in the magic of it all” more often than not.

resized_ancient-aliens-invisible-something-meme-generator-do-fight-the-system-or-the-system-will-fight-you-9cb947Clearly I’m online regularly so I’m not exactly homeless but I have had some serious financial issues in pursuit of my postgraduate degree. For years I’ve made my way through university on disability allowance and a governmental grant. I’ve never asked my parents for money and only once asked for a loan from the Credit Union (paid back as well). When you consider that I started in 2006 before the [first?] economic collapse and had to take two years out in between I’ve found myself facing into a different world academically in my final two years of my undergrad and like many facing the shock of this feeling of being humbled financially in my postgrad. If we looked as citizen and State as a partnership or marriage this would be comparable to financial abuse in the relationship. The process dehumanises the individual and makes them feel incompetent to boot!

Like many I’ve learned to survive on the breadline in the form of social welfare payments and other subsistance living. In a strange juxtapositioning without my DA and Grant I may not have been able to do my Bachelors and also travel for initiation but mentally I’ve been prepped to think that I can work magic by a case by case basis so to do all these various workings was dealing with the symptom rather than the case. After all the rule of Karma and magic is asking for prosperity and nourishment is one thing but using magic to seek wealth is bad form. Right?

Thing is looking around at many of the great founders of modern magic we have Gerald B. Gardner who had money to travel from England to Cypress (climate was seen as better medically for him) but had money to finance a space for his witches to meet, apparently even buying one of his High Priestess’s a house so magic could happen. Looking at SL MacGregor Mathers – one of the founders of the Order of the Golden Dawn – we find that he was financed by Annie Horniman a wealthy heiress from the merchantile class. When Mathers was seen to slow down his teachings for the Order, Horniman withdrew her support. Money is a great supporter and regulator of magic. Even St. Francis of Assisi found his monastery taken over by book-keepers upon returning

systemIn a recent post I commented about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Once Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be met (or a derivation thereof) an individual can look more favourably and less wistfully toward finding out how all else works. Within Wicca and some systems in modern Paganism the Ardanes or Laws (guiding principles may be better term?!) as presented by Scot Cunningham forbid a witch or Priest of the Wicca to accept money for services to the community. A barter system is recommended to appease the Law of [Karmic] Return under Cunningham’s guidelines and though I generally love Cunningham’s writting this is a socialist ideology and requires a lot of fleshing out to be viable for the Wiccan and pagan communities. We are never offered an answer to how the tax person (we’ll be PC) is likely to respond. Indeed, more and more people are attempting to go “off grid” for various reasons but come under threat because of Governmental involvement. Small sidebar: Limerick was the second Soviet State in existence and was crushed because it looked like it was working. Who knows if Ireland had left Limerick to it’s own devices perhaps it would have succumbed to the same fate as the USSR with corruption and violence or perhaps it would have been a more stable model for other socialist governments to be inspired by.

Okay, so that got way heavier politically than I like but we often need to challenge our own perceptions and ideas if we’re going to learn discernment and to become actualised magicians and witches working magic successfully and living it too. So once more, what is magic? Well for me it is not any one thing limiting it like Cunningham or others have done does nothing for me and only weakens where I wish to be in life. Magic is change, there are no caveats or addendums to this axiom apart from those we allow to be placed on ourselves. As such Aleister Crowley stated that Magic is “the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with will” (Magick in Theory and Practice) but such a definition comes from the work of this particular magician. Testing and transcending the boundaries of the Will was what Crowley sought to achieve in his life’s work.

It is true to say that same or similar is the definition or response offered by many magicians since then and it is perfectly acceptable to do so because either conscientiously or subconsientiously they pick up on the supporting axioms and beliefs put forth by Crowley which inform his definition. This being said asking someone what magic is is important because they need to know whether these axioms work for them and if so how so and does the definition or response alter through looking at these aspects at all. The answer is more important for you as the practitioner rather than the teacher asking it because as I have learned it sets up what limitations if any are you willing to accept from magic.

Training Day: Satori (Part I)

Hi all,

Today’s post is another Training Day post. This time our training was more philosophical in nature and had us examing, well, essentially the nature of the beast that is magic and groups. I’ve long been at a phase in my spiritual and magical path wherein I’m looking around at the flamewars and bitchcraft in the pagan and occult communities and wondering what the f*ck is the point of pursuing something spiritually advanced yet so tribal in nature?

My training often spans a dozen different cultures and places in the space of a few hours while practicing Zen Buddhism, Mindfullness Meditation, Yoga & Yogic Breathing, Japanese & Western Weapons Training, Western Pagan Chants and Songs with a lot more that doesn’t really have a name or a location yet. Not so much original as originally used – we have a specific function which is to explore different states of being. Lately, as this blog might suggest, the focus has been on Mindfullness as a means to creating a sangha-effect whereby we can reach out to others and like I’ve said before the ability to protect that sangha while it is in use. The catching point which more or less lent itself to the VERY deep discussion the other day was that a Sangha is generally short-term or an interim state, Wiccan covens and magical temples are a little more sem–permeable because they are constituted for purpose and then redone while the fraternity is extended all the time (at least in theory).

70px-Satori_svg
Satori in Japanese

Satori (悟り?) (Chinese: ; pinyin: ; Korean: o; Vietnamese: ngộ) is a Japanese Buddhist term for awakening, “comprehension; understanding”. It is derived from the verb satoru. In the Zen Buddhist tradition, satori refers to the experience of kenshō, “seeing into one’s true nature“. Ken means “seeing,” shō means “nature” or “essence.” Satori and kenshō are commonly translated as enlightenment, a word that is also used to translate bodhi, prajna and buddhahood. – Wikipedia (accessed: 06/05/2014)

Satori is a state, generally prolonged, in which the Zen practitioner is awake. They are no longer accepting the truth of things at face value but are more ready and open to seeing things as they really are. When I came upon Wicca and witchcraft in my teens I read very favourably the ascensionist paradigms which peppered the Wicca 101 material of that time. Everything from Reincarnation to altered states entrigued me greatly. I’d come from a Catholic background and had heard of Jesus and his ascension into Heaven but Wicca basically offered a cheat sheet and a means to implement it actively in my own life. To add to the sweetness of Wicca there were spells and magic to make life not only easier but more immanently sacred. So unlike the Gnostic Christians I didn’t have to feel repulsed by the physical world.

Thing is as training into Wicca seemed more and more distant and unlikely and to be honest with more and more teachers faffing about and giving pseudo-Koans, like, “When the Chela is ready the Guru will come” or like, “when the time is right it’ll happen” followed by a knowing look which could just as easily belied the fact they thought I was a raving lunatic and couldn’t wait to see the back of me! (I’m not self-degerating here… I’ve caught myself doing it to a few people too!). Koans work when the Teacher asks the Student to consider a question or concept and reach an understanding based off that question. So for instance mine is, “How can I make Wicca better?”

Obviously I went off into memory land to pull out all the mental fartery (it’s a word now so deal with it!) I could because watching the copious factions over the years (and so I can’t be accused of bias I’m speaking from a local, national and international perspective here) as they clammer for their respective fiefdoms and even as some seek more power base (moves that would make even Fianna Fail quiver!) I have to say I was not only flumoxed but actually quite depressed. Most of the issues in modern Paganism and Wicca, or even in the occult community, are difficult to navigate at the best of times. Most of us generally just sail close by and hope for the best.

Truth be told I’m still thinking on this front. I know that the Ardanes in Wicca have some rule around daughter covens hiving off from their mother coven and making sure they are like 13 leagues or miles away (implication being to avoid a turf war), yet many geographical areas are so huge that sometimes 13 streets distance is enough and ne’er a bad word is ever spoken. If one were a skeptic (who me? never!) one could also posit that the rule is brought in more as advice but also to help encourage a greater geographic reach I mean Gerald Gardner was also seeking to revive the “Old Religion” wasn’t he?

In my short time I’ve seen flamewars between OTO/Thelemic factions, various ones on the G.D. circuit and then in Wicca and I’m wondering why religions or magicial systems which hold themselves as an alternative to the mainstream. So where does my true nature lead me to from here?This is a pertinent question because I’ve gone from describing myself as an ascentionist pagan to humanistic pagan and then around to magician and witch to a strange holding pattern of late.

Part of the draw to the ascentionist paradigm is that it promises change as a constant. As a Pagan change lies in the passing of time and the seasons, as a Witch it lies in the spells and work I do on a Priestly level, and as a Magician its the personal alchemical change that isn’t as dependent upon others. With certain forms of Satori, namely Kensho, that moment of awakening is temporary and transcendent in nature and often the catalyst for seeking more. I imagine that it feels like the euphoria of an epiphany to some extent.

I’ve had those moments of Kensho, or at least I like to think so because thinking so explains why I’ve been looking for Wicca, witchcraft and magic so much. Something does indeed happen when I cast a magical circle and I’ve been in group ritual where something happens also. So is it more of a checks and balances thing and just try it as experimentation or are we supposed to be seeking some real spiritual, magicial, personal and social change in the world? Thing is even the training work or the oddles of hours doing meditation and ritual work do change me but they don’t seem to change the crap around me. I’m still struggling with my PhD work and I’m struggling for social and civils rights and I’m struggling for other things. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is not being met.  In Motivation and Personality (1954) Maslow wrote, “the study of crippled, stunted, immature, and unhealthy specimens can yield only a cripple psychology and a cripple philosophy” (p236), and as un-PC as you can get most of us in Wicca or such groups are studying our fellow cripples (I’ve broken brain I get to say things like that, you don’t!).

Initially I’d conditioned myself to apologise for my epilepsy during ritual first because it was distracting to people but then because people kept insisting that magic could heal it. Few have stopped to consider it’s just who I am. A genetic short straw as inconvient as it may be that is the professional opinion. But the social stigmas I encounter from people do lead to a natural empathy for others struggling.

I’m not exactly sure if it’s coincidental or deliberate but my training over last year working from physiological and safety to love/belonging and into esteem seem apt for right about now in my life. Self-actualisation isn’t really the same as Satori but does have certain overatures in common such as a lack of prejudice and acceptance of the situation, not necessarily a tolerance to it.

I’m going to be thinking on this for some time. Hence calling this Part 1 but honestly I can’t garauntee a Part 2 as depends very much on next steps forward on my Path.