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.

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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.

My Training

Hi all,

As you may have noticed that my posts concerning my training haven’t been very forth-coming. I have actually been fairly consistent with training physically and meditatively of late and over the past few months but I’ve had no time between these to work on posts.

I’m now adding in my own fitness on a daily basis. This consists of squats, push-ups and crunches in repetitions of 20, then I have lats and light stretching to cool down. The idea behind the physical fitness as I’ve said before is that physical fitness can help improve mental fitness and strength as well. With ritual dagger or athame I’m practicing my sword training. Effects: I’m generally feeling very alert and aware after exercise and usually find that its a great addition to my life in general as my sleep pattern tends to be a bit healthier. Stress last year had been keeping me up late at night and my focus was all over the shop. With sword/athame training I’m finding that my spacial awareness is in need of work big time but looking at different locations in the house I’m getting house cleaning done more often! lol My strength is physically improving here.

I’m trying to be consistent with meditative training as well as my teacher’s asked me to work on breathing exercises. Breathing exercises usually consist of patterns of breathing in; 4-2-4-2, 4-7-8, and 4-4-4-4 (Fourfold Breathing). For this part we still have some mantras based on compassion and kindness with mutual benefit and mutual success. Effects: Personally I was finding the reset in the morning was making me too lax and carefree even when we took out some of the Ki Gong stuff so I decided to move deep-breathing to later in evening. I’ve to admit that often I forego the Compassionate Exercises and cut the deep-breathing short.

It doesn’t cure everything and I do have a lot more to focus on in college and stuff now too so I’m not trying to sell this as the perfect lifestyle but its benefits are very noticeable and I’m happy to keep exploring this form of training but if anyone is working on something similar I’d love to hear from you too?

Training Weekend: Introduction to Trance Work

Silver Surfer1

It’s been brought to my attention that I can be somewhat vague or covert even in my descriptions of what a training session actually entails and what it has to do with Wicca or magic in general. Now, I do try to elucidate on my own experiences by paralleling experiences from previous ones in magic and also those of, certainly more knowledgeable (if not necessarily wiser) folks than I but that doesn’t mean squat if you don’t know what it is I’m experiencing. So, with this in mind and a complete and unresounding nod to those around me who have surfed these waters more deeply than I, I will endeavour to do better in this post!

Due to a heavy workload in the run up to the Christmas break when my Hairy Pagan friend asked me along to do some training with a difference over the weekend I dropped all other plans and ran for it. We’d been gearing up for some of the exercises for a while and so it was about time we grabbed the bull by the horns.

SATURDAY 07, 2013.

Y’all remember a few posts back when I said that I was accustomed to traveling all day for ritual practice and training but somehow I always felt more tired and exhausted from the travelling rather than the work done? Well, I did and I’ve also been on various workshops and gatherings with talks and ideas for enriching your life but to be honest it was all pseudo-spiritual masturbation from what I could see. None of us were getting any wiser or more spiritual and to be honest I’ve been adopting a more existential/humanist perspective on my own Path because of it.

We started off with an hour’s work of meditation and mindful movement to begin with. This involved listening to Jack Kornfield and Thich Nhat Hahn from YouTube, and I have to say that I have noticed that I fight the process less now that I’m working on breathing a bit more. Just to make sure we did some Limerick Exercises, which are breathing exercises devised by my Hairy Pagan friend in order to help the practitioner into an altered state but not be too out of it (we’re just getting started remember)! In homage to how we first began training we took advantage of some good weather outside and went weapons training with the sword. Working with the sword came much easier (even if I was given a wonky sword! 😀 ) Its at this point that we took some time to reflect and we both realised that I was getting fitter, in that my breathing levels are much higher than when I’d first walked in the door over.

Before we broke for a short tea break we did some more work from our Breathing exercises which included working on oxygenating the body and visualising the 7 Chakras as one breathes in and out. In order to wind-down there is the Goddess and God breathing. The final stage [sic] of the breathing exercises involves a silent prayer or intend with each in-breath and out-breath for oneself, then one’s training partner and finally for those around us. Now you may have copped that there is a process which is rather reminiscent of ritual structure here in that there is the physical-mental connection of the self and then building within as one raises energy to the Divine as one directs or channels one’s intent for a certain purpose – all this from breathing isn’t exactly news here but it is a rather unique approach I think? It also reminds me of the emphasis placed on breathing amongst initiates of the Golden Dawn system too.

Native_American_Cherokee_proverb

My Hairy Pagan friend and I got to chatting on some research he’d discovered which maintained that due to the hostile environment of prisons teachers/facilitators of Mindfulness found they had to omit the Compassionate side of the techniques because people would be too vulnerable to abuse from other inmates. So taking on board the quote concerning the Two Wolves and which we chose to feed we decided to do some exploration of this. I found that when presented with the opportunity that my Zen-like nature dissipated quickly when I chose to feed the Evil Wolf (I prefer Wild or Lone Wolf) replaced by anger over issues I’d faced recently but upon reflection I realised that these situations were a representation of my own fears and insecurities.

Blessed BeAfter some food it was time to feed the Good Wolf (Tame or Pack Wolf) a while by bringing some energy to the place around us to develop the community through Zen walking and mentally chanting (I’m nuts but sane enough to realise it!) which brought me back mentally into my centered self – the calm self that wanted to help people again. It felt good. Towards the end of the night I reflected more on this aspect of my training and realised that as modern astrologers and magicians have turned Ares/Mars into a martial force associated with war and conflict the earlier versions have him associated with agriculture and the change to a proprietary sense of the land one works upon. I could see how a witch/magician cultivates the “land” around them metaphorically speaking and sometimes we need to prune the garden but we also need to be balanced for fear of over cultivating it as well. A wolf is still a wolf afterall.

All-in-all the day lasted from 12 noon until 12 midnight a full 12 hours. Though the feeling was as though we’d had several weekends crammed into this one day already.

SUNDAY 08, 2013.

We started off with some more mindfulness exercises from the Jack Kornfield and Thich Nhat Hahn material on YouTube, progressing into exercises 2 & 3 of the Mindgames which provided that little “jump-start” to that altered stated I’d mentioned before. With some Zen walking and compassion exercises today was all set to be very different pace than yesterday’s marathon of work.

"The Separation of the Spirit Body"
“The Separation of the Spirit Body”

We used a Pathworking exercise to help me get into a deeper level in order to work on the Psycho-Physical Exercises. These psycho-physical exercises would allow me to listen to my body more. At first I was accepted into the landscape of the Pathworking as I learned to project myself from my body to another space. There’s a lot that could be said on whether this is an Inner Kingdom or Astral Projection to an Inner Temple – but thats not really what the focus was on today.

The process allowed me to draw mental associations to my body in a way that before I’d have been able to ignore or fob off. I could see that I was feeling weighed down by a sailing anchor (I’m working on a lot of emotional stuff in general but this weekend is also bowing to this) which took on links to my lower spine (root chakra).

I wanted to learn magic as a tool on my spiritual path in the beginning, but having found the material to be ever present and the society I hail from seeing a dichotomy between the spiritual and the material has been very hard to cope with. I’m a Taurean Sun sign with strong ties to my relationships and even when I see that change is needed for everyone’s mutual benefit I can find it difficult to let go. This diminishes the flow of Chi around the body and means I start to shut down from the clues both physical and psychic* going on around me. Somehow I’ve gotten used to ‘seeing’/’feeling’ the crappy stuff psychically and I was also starting to feel guilty for ignoring it. Thanks to the work over this weekend I’m starting to make new associations.

* NB.: I’m specifically using the psychological implications here but the “extra-sensory” perception could so easily apply too.

Training Day: Creating a Sangha

Buddha_and_SanghaThis week training elaborated on a concept we’d been looking at for some time. The idea was the creation of a sangha, which is a Buddhist communal space catering to people of like mind who wish to accomplish something. Much of this is geared naturally to Buddhist philosophy and practice but lay people have been known to attend sanghas for a whole host of reasons. In modern Pagan practice we tend to skirt around a committed idea of such a thing. We of course have the idea of sacred space and ritual Circles in order to create the temple space for the coven but my teacher’s been expressing his belief that there is a need to train people before initiation into the Craft about how such spaces work and so we’ve been exploring this and came to a more rounded (I won’t say complete as I think that’d be a false assertion at this point in my training) sense of what a sangha is.

Growing the Pagan CommunityThe beauty of the sangha idea is that it doesn’t involve breaking of one’s Oath of Secrecy and yet it goes beyond the simple book-orientated learning. The image beside us here is of course Stonehenge and possibly on the solstice as pagans of all descriptors, Goddess-worshippers, new agers, and the humanists all gather so they can be around others that share in similar ideas and principles even arguing upon approaches and relevance when they deem it necessary or even entertaining! In a similar fashion this is what happens over here in Ireland at events like Féile Draíochta or the more recent Irish Goddess Conference (which due to a variety of reasons I missed out on). People like to gather with others often for the respite or even because it allows us to reset our brains in safety and comfort.

This week’s training started with a different feel compared to the last session. This week we sat down and worked on our deep-breathing, practicing everything from the traditional Fourfold Breath technique to looking at different breathing patterns. We meditated for a while offering healing and just the empathic acknowledgement that each of us was present in the room. This was interesting because following from the awareness of how breathing can affect the body I noticed that my body temperature did rise at moments when it felt like I was receiving energy from someone else and dropping when we began to balance out the Chi energy. Of course in retrospect we had to do this to heal ourselves before we started to look at the sangha principle.

A few years back while chatting to some friends of mine from the Grove of Sinann I was chatting to one of them about Ogham/Ogam and she was explaining to me her explanation of the ogam fíd, “Gort”, meaning field but more specifically cultivated space. As a linguist this, in her mind was a nod to the move towards agriculture and space. In Ireland we have the idea that, if possible, a piece of one’s field ought to be left for the “Good People” or the fairy folk. Now, the rational explanation is that a rough, unkempt space within the kept or cultivated space is a matter of good ecology and ensuring that vital nutrients aren’t dried out from the land entirely. Similarly, in creating a sangha one can over cultivate it and ensure that eventually what drew people to it no longer nurtures them or the future generations that may or may not require it. In a sense, our treatment of the sangha stands for our treatment of magical egregores in Orders/Traditions etc. Now I’m NOT stating a sangha IS an egregore but that in both spaces we have to be aware of our contributions and changes to both spaces to fully appreciate the delicate ‘eco-system’.

I should be clear this focus on the sangha principle has been present throughout my training and strengthened by the principle that is one trains half for oneself and half for one’s sparring partner then everyone benefits. Following on from our meditation we took to a Zen Walking exercise, in part to help walk of some food and also because my teacher and I have both formed the opinion that Witches are there for the community. Besides which as my Hairy Pagan friend pointed out how many students get to learn techniques of magic in a bustling, pre-Christmas environment as people are jostling about to and from work, college and school! Through our Zen Walking we’ve become used to meeting people in the community sometimes its just a smile or a hello and other times its a conversation leading people to meet different people and supporting new projects or initiatives.

Community

Nearly everyone slowed down and was transfixed by the idea of us practicing mindfulness in the middle of the city and all this while battling a cold I might add! Later on I dropped into yoga class and found that the meditation which took all of 5 minutes helped a nice few people relax and become aware of their bodies and changed their attitudes significantly. When things like this happen I’m reminded of why I was drawn to meditation years ago as a teenager and found it so beneficial.

Namasté, I honour the place in you that when you are at peace and I am at peace we are both One.

Training Weekend: What Happens

Okay I’ve been remiss again and for this I can only apologise but know ye know why I’ve created a Twitter and Facebook Page so you dearest readers can be updated directly through your various online presences without too much hassle.

New poseI have been consistently training once a week since I last posted, missing just one week, and getting to grips with the lesser discussed (and I’d wager somewhat unique) approach to studying Wicca from an Outer Court perspective. Readers of this blog will have read how myself and my Hairy Pagan friend have been working on physical side of fitness for the Craft initially starting with sword-wielding and a variety of deep breathing exercises as well as Zen walking to learn more of our surroundings, but what I’ve not included in any of my accounts but have hinted at is the effect thats been witnessed in me and whats happened around me.

Saturday last, started as a fairly normal training day except we started with Drumming and Chanting as I needed to work on my bodhran technique and learning how its more than a drum in a musician’s hands. To be honest I have a new-found respect for all the musicians who came into our pub every weekend as my muscles were aching minutes in. I realise now that I hadn’t been holding the bodhran correctly nor striking it right on the upwards beat. Due to a lack of practice my ability to process spacial awareness has been deminished more than I’d realised as we were working on the djembe for a while to practice rythmic movements. The whole focus of this is known in theory to me because whether in Circle or at a Pagan gathering or simply at an arts event the group of people listening to music respond differently to the beating of the drum or other instrument. Music is but one of the many ways people are carried off into another mindset or another place. As if to prove this point we spent 50-55 minutes on drumming and chanting before we copped we’d been swept up in the process.

Taking on the logic of music its not a huge leap to jump to movement. Now same scéal (story) applies here with my fascination with how ritual can craft together music, dance and performance to effect change psychologically as well as magically so finally starting to explore this firsthand is a huge opportunity for me on so many levels. Like the dancer in a correographed piece Exercise is pivotal to good, safe movement. There is an element of my epilepsy which belies sensory processing issues and so exercise allows new sensory connections between my logical, left-hemisphere and my creative, right-hemisphere. The focus is on strengthening the spine and getting it used to greater movement. What I’ve noticed is that I’m loosing some excess fat and my posture is increasing helping all else along.

Taking the physical side of the spiritual back into the spiritual practices we’ve been working on Eastern forms of meditation and energy raising. The idea is not to quickly direct the energy somewhere (though something does happen I’ll chat about in a little bit*) but to observe it’s natural flow in the body as such many of the mantras we use during Zen walking come in handy. We did do some Zen walking on Monday but we’ll chat about that in a little bit. Since the Training Days are aimed at my Outer Court training we’ve also started exploring some basic methods of Casting a Circle using athames, wands and even just our own energy.

Soul-Retrieval Work

Soul retrievalSomething myself and my Hairy Pagan friend have been exploring is the idea of responsibility in the Craft, now I don’t just mean responsibility of one’s magic but of being an active participant in one’s life, in one’s community. This is something a lot of my magical friends are quite unanimous in is the Headology of magic. I referenced it briefly in my article with the Irish Independent but having epilepsy I’m hugely aware that not everyone is in a place to be fully embodied all the time and so when my Hairy Pagan friend suggested we do some drumming for the healing of people we knew I jumped at the chance.

Healing in the Craft and in magic as a whole is such a strong impulse as we don’t like to see others in suffering but we also learn of limitations and why its important to heal ourselves. A cautionary note here: I’m firmly of the belief that a former acquaintance who was prone to making whimsical statements about magic [insert relevant healing modality here] would heal ended up pinning all their hopes for a cure for themselves on me finding a cure for a neurological condition which is considered genetically inherited instead of understanding that they were projecting. The fundamental understanding was that I was broken just like them rather than I was different from societies’ conventions of what makes a healthy person.

During the soul-retrieval work I saw one person’s various aspects returning to them, invigorating them as it did so. The next person was in a different space and was battling two sides of themselves one was struggling to come to the surface and the other was arguing for self-harm. All that can be offered in either case is the ability to offer connection and ask what supports are needed. This is difficult for all of us especially those of us who do not come from healing professions.

Monday brought with it more training but of a different pacing. We went about having some food and to help digestion before attempting any exercises we went on a walk and did some Zen walking. Food grounded us but it also brought us out into the local community and offered me the chance to meet new people working for the betterment of their own communities. Connections were made to fortify and develop plans to regenerate local projects. And this isn’t something new its been happening for the past few weeks as we undertake our training. Friends within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender* Community have even heard of what happens in this area and have shown an interest in developing similar models for the LGBT Community as well.

So when I speak of Wicca or of the Golden Dawn this is the type of work that magic ought to inspire and join in.