In the middle of lunch, my father looked into my eyes and asked who I was. This question stopped me in my tracks. For a moment, I forgot my father’s illness. Instead, I remembered that he was responsible for naming me.
I call to you at the
Newness of the Moon.
I wait at the crossroads
And, call out in longing
For you to ask of me what you will.
I stand clothed in the promise
Of guiding you as I light the way.
I wait and there is only the
Sound of my own longing to
Enliven and stir within you
The drive and will that sets
You upon your path.
I am cloaked in the darkness
But those who have the
Courage to call to me
See the truth of my hidden
Light that burns brightly
With the Divine spark of youth.
This post is the first of three about the Triple Goddess Hecate and her gifts expressed through the face of Maiden, Mother and Crone. Hecate is the Greek Goddess of the Underworld; Queen of Magick and daughter of the Titans Perses (God of Destruction) and Asteria (Oracular Goddess), from whom she was gifted with rulership of heaven and earth. She is most noted for her place of guide at the Crossroads carrying the flaming torches that light the way for gods and mortals. My intent is not to provide a full history of the Goddess (there is a plethora of information to be found), but rather to provide my personal experiences with her.
As a Triune Goddess, she has come to me at various points in my life, despite my not knowing or identifying her by name and she has shown me her varied faces as I have needed prodding or push in a specific direction. At this time of the year, I feel her presence more strongly and align with her transformative energies with that of the New, Full and Waning Moons in the month prior to Samhain....
So in my last post, I gave a brief rundown of why you might wish to communicate with spirits in the first place, and also offered up some ideas and an exercise for spirit communication using tools like spirit boards, pendulums, scrying tools, and the like. Now I'd like to cover communicating without using tools other than your own mind and spirit.
There's nothing inherently wrong with tools, of course. I have run into people over the years who thought that tools were just training wheels, and that a true practitioner of spiritual arts is someone who can do everything empty-handed. In my experience, it comes down less to how good someone is at what they do, and more about personal preference. For some people, tools are like Dumbo's feather--they train your mind to be able to perform amazing feats, but the tools themselves eventually aren't needed even as a reminder. For others, the tools have a life and spirit all their own, and these spirits become allies in the person's magical and ritual work.
So talking about tool-less spirit communication isn't a value judgement--it's just a stylistic preference, ultimately. Why might a person wish to forgo tools? For some, tools may feel cumbersome and distracting, like "Wait, what do I do with the pentacle again? And I'm not sure why I have a wand, and the incense is making my sinuses hurt..." There are also people who may not have a lot of space or time or money for acquiring an assortment of tools, or who like to do their spirit work in more remote areas where it may be inconvenient to haul along a bunch of magical effects. Whatever the reason you have for not using physical tools, you still have options for communicating with spirits....
This is part two in a series of blogs that will focus on meditation and contemplative practices in Paganism. If you have not read part one, I encourage you to do so. Let's start with some more ideas and definitions about meditation.
This will be the first in a series of blogs that will focus on contemplative practices in Paganism and their role in developing ourselves, our relationship to the universe, and our communities. I will also be exploring different ideas related to soul, spirit, evolution, and enlightenment. I will be presenting what I believe to be useful and/or true, but with the understanding that my truth need not be your truth. I will be sharing my perspectives and observations with the hope that it will encourage you to do some exploring. The material will be a bit chewy and dense, and will make the assumption that you are already knowledgeable about a variety of topics. I'm asking you to contemplate and to meditate upon these posts; they are not meant to be the quickly read fare that we snack upon as we peruse the internet and social media offerings.
The Great Secret is that the most esoteric teachings of Creation are hidden in plain sight. How else could the Powers That Be ensure that the uninitiated would never believe them?
The founders of esoteric societies were fond of creating abstruse rituals, mainly to give initiates the impression that they were experiencing something unique. Your mystery school may possess hidden knowledge - but every wisdom tradition on earth has discovered the same principles under different names.
Before I finally discovered that Paganism was the path I had been seeking, I was a 10th Degree Rosicrucian and a 3rd Degree Mason. I found the Rosicrucian teachings so comprehensive, and AMORC's correspondence staff so patient and generous with their time, that I was appalled, recently, to see Internet blogs trashing the Order....
I've been thinking about what to write for this column for the last week and I've been coming up blank. No topic has really seemed right. There was nothing exciting going on or anything of real note standing out to me. If anything my life has been pretty mundane. Get up, go to meetings, meet with clients, come back and work on a project, spend time with the family, and of course throw some meditation and exercise in the mix for grounding purposes. Nothing very glamorous at all, and yet it strikes me that perhaps there is something to write about that, on this blog and its this: Magic isn't always glamorous or full of drama or anything else that we might associate with pop culture references to magic. Sometimes magic is just part of daily life, something you are doing to make your life easier or more meaningful or to connect with the spirits, but not something which necessarily has a lot of glamour associated with it.
My latest book, A Magical Life, has just been published. I'm excited to have it out, but something that the author of the introduction, Storm Constantine, wrote has been on my mind. In describing the book, she explains that magic isn't a colorful garment we put on, but rather it is an integral part of our being, woven into our lives everyday. And that is how I think of magic. I meditate each day and my meditations are an essential part of my life, something done as a way of bringing order to my mind, while allowing me to connect with the spiritual forces I work with. Nonetheless I'd have to say there is nothing inherently glamorous about the meditation. In fact, there are days I don't want to meditate or do anything else along those lines, and yet I make sure I do meditate because it is part of my life, and because not doing it takes away from the quality of my life.
I think to some degree your average magician is in love with the idea of magic being glamorous. Certainly at the beginning of a person's spiritual work with magic, there is this sense that you need to get all the ceremonial tools and that every act of magic must be an overt, explicit affair that screams to the universe: THIS IS MAGIC! And there is something to be said for doing those loud acts of magic that are glamorous and over the top and amazing in their own right. I've done and still do those kinds of acts of magic when the time is appropriate. But I recognize that fundamentally magic isn't always that way, nor does it need to be. My meditation practice isn't over the top and yet it still fills me with a sense of wonder and amazement. Indeed, if anything my daily work speaks more loudly to me than an over the top ritual because the daily work is where the discipline of the magician is tested. In that daily work, I don't necessarily do magic to solve problems (at least not overtly), but what I do is connect to the magic in a meaningful way that allows me to deepen my relationship to the spiritual forces I'm working with....
Anyone who has ever read one of my books (or articles, or talked to me for more than five minutes) knows that I believe that spirituality isn’t something that should be limited to a few special days of the year. Like most witches, I celebrate the full moons and the Sabbats (the eight holidays of the Pagan Wheel of the Year). But I also try to find ways to turn days not usually used for religious practice into an excuse for stretching my spiritual muscles. This kind of thing doesn’t just work for witches, either. Anyone can do it.
Take tonight, for instance (or tomorrow at 2 AM, if you want to get technical). For most of the United States, this marks the time change, when we move our clocks for Daylight Savings Time. Since this can be confusing, at both ends of the year, people often remember with this mnemonic device: Spring forward/Fall back....
Here's some tarot magick to relieve anxiety, worry and self-sabotage. All you need is the Eight of Swords from a Waite-Smith or Waite-Smith clone tarot deck.
In the Waite-Smith Eight of Swords we see a woman who is blindfolded and bound. She is in a cage of swords.
The suit of Swords is related to the element of Air. In the language of tarot we can see each sword as a thought, an idea, a word. And so we see the woman's cage is made up of her own thoughts and her own ideas....
A year or two back I remember telling an acquaintance that I was actively exploring identity as a foundational building block of magical practice. He looked surprised and told me that he didn't recall seeing much about identity in Western Magic ad what he saw in Eastern Mysticism pushed for getting rid of identity because of the karma that holding onto identity causes. He was right that there wasn't a lot of material about identity in Western Magic (I've found a couple authors who write about it, but otherwise it is curiously ignored) and he had a point about Eastern mysticism and its relationship to identity. Still I felt like something was being missed by not exploring identity and its role in magical work and I explained to him that I felt that getting rid of identity actually worked against the practical applications of magic, because magic is very much about being in this world as opposed to to getting rid of your connection to it.
My exploration of identity came about as a result of my dissatisfaction with standard definitions of magic, which are usually variants of Crowley's definition of magic. Those various definitions focus on doing magic, on applying magic to change the world according to the will of the magician, but I disagreed with that approach to magic and felt that there had to be something better out there. I shifted away from doing magic and instead focused on exploring magic from an ontological perspective, a perspective based on being and on identity, which also examined the relationship of a person's identity in context to the world and other people around him/her.
My current approach to magic is formed around the following definition: My identity is the ontological state of being that includes an awareness of cultural, subcultural, spiritual, familial, physiological, and environmental aspects of identity. My identity is also an exploration of my on-going agreement with the universe and how I manifest my identity is an application of that agreement to the interactions I have with the universe and the various other identities within it. If I want to change my agreement with the universe, I can use a practical system or technology such as magic to help me change my relationship with the universe, other entities within the universe, or my own identity. In other words, if I don't like my experience of my identity and want to change it, I apply magic toward changing my identity and its place in the universe, as well as the agreement I have with the universe....
Drive ten kilometres outside our dorpie this time of year and you will find yourself flanked by South Africa’s staple crop: mealies. More commonly known as maize or corn in the US and UK, mealies (pronounced me-lee’s) are the cornerstone of the South African diet and are most commonly eaten in the form of mielie-pap; a dish similar to American grits or Italian polenta. But mealies are more than that, they represent nourishment and abundance and are of importance to Xhosa culture where it’s used to make Umqombothi; a thick, sour beer that is used in cultural ceremonies and as offerings to the ancestors.
So with our approach to Lughnasadh here in the Southern Hemisphere, it is only fitting to explore the themes of blessings and thanksgiving by journeying across the South African landscape in search of the humble mealie....
At this turn of the Wheel of the Year many people celebrate Imbolc, or Brigid. This holiday is in anticipation of the coming spring.
Brigid, as the Goddess of healing, smithcraft and poetry, challenges us to use creativity to inspire our healing, and to use our need to heal to inspire our creativity.
This is a piece of meditative magick. You will use the tarot images to help you focus your mind and ask Brigid herself for guidance. Your answers will come through your intuition and your connection with Brigid. You will feel your answers in your heart, in your mind, and in your dreams and visions....
And as requested, here is part three of the free 2012 meditations... the lesson and meditation are both recorded and can be found here, along with the previous two.