By Hand, Head & Heart: The Practice, Philosophies and Love of Magick

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Christopher Penczak

Christopher Penczak

Christopher Penczak is the co-founder of the Temple of Witchcraft, a system, tradition and religious nonprofit organization focused on magickal education and building community. He is an award winning author of over twenty books, including The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, The Three Rays of Witchcraft and Ascension Magick and a co-owner of Copper Cauldron Publishing, a company dedicated to producing inspirational products of magick and art for the evolution of consciousness for individuals and the world. Based in New England, he travels internationally to teach magick and healing.

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You may have heard, as it was not without its own bit of controversy, that the Temple of Witchcraft has bought property in Salem, NH, and is doing a fund drive for our parking lot. Why start with a parking lot? Simple: no parking lot, no temple. To gain the town's approval, a religious organization in a residential zone requires a paved lot with adequate space, lighting, and drainage.

Beyond the parking lot itself, some have asked why do Pagans, Wiccans and Witches need a temple at all? Aren't we meant to practice solitary, or in small groups in people's homes, or outside? And if I'm not in the Salem, NH, area, why should this even matter to me? All important questions and here are some thoughts in response to many of the discussions I've had with people over the last few months:

Land Based Traditions – Most Pagan and Witchcraft traditions have a spiritual link to the land, and believe in the presence of not only globalized entities, but local land spirits. Divinity is expressed through the land itself yet, as a whole, we have little in the way of land based resources and places of worship and education. We think of ourselves as stewards of the Earth, but yet how much land do we care for directly? I've been publicly serving the Pagan community for the last twenty years, locally and internationally, and the vast majority of our gatherings are in Unitarian Churches, Masonic Halls, and metaphysical book shops. All wonderful opportunities, but none are ideal for a community to develop a relationship with one place, and the land it is on. There is not often a chance to hold ceremonies outside. Our gatherings change places often. A permanent site allows us to build cohesion and community in a different way.

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  • Stephanie Noble
    Stephanie Noble says #
    Thank you for this article! I have very often thought the same.

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When I first got interested in all the topics that would eventually lead me to my spiritual path, they were neatly shelved under the “Occult” section of the library or local book store at the mall. Thankfully, by the time I really got involved, there were a few more “how to” manuals out there, but talking to people who started not that much earlier than me, they would wax nostalgic about the days when the shelf was ten to twenty books at most, and the Satanic Bible sat next to books such as Isis Unveiled, The Secret Doctrine, The Sea Priestess, Drawing Down the Moon, something related to the Golden Dawn or Aleister Crowley, Mastering Witchcraft, Sybil Leek's Diary of a Witch, Magickal Rites from the Crystal Well, and what we now affectionately call "Uncle Buckie's Big Blue Book." Depending on how they arranged the books, you might even get Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts or one of the many Carlos Castaneda books thrown in there too.

If you were looking for more, you had to go into the mythology section, or look at the ancient philosophers from the Greeks and Romans. You had to look into folk lore, and your local library, in its own occult section, would have out of print books from the sixties and seventies, usually with many photos, detailing the history of occultism and hitting highlights such as tribal witch doctors in Africa, tales of Medea and Circe, a bit about Isis, the persecution of Witches by the Christian Church, some alchemy and Rosicrucians, through the modern revival of the Spiritualist Church, Theosophy, the Golden Dawn, ESP studies, and the rise of Wicca. Somewhere in there would most likely be a scantily clad photo of an Alexandrian circle for the sheer shock value.

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  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    I really resonate with this post. The misgivings you've expressed are similar to ones I've expressed as well. I feel the same conc
Walking with the Mighty Dead......

My latest book is entitled The Mighty Dead: Working with the Ancestors of Witchcraft. It's an usual topic for me, but one that's grown out of a lot of direct experiences, followed up by research both in the Craft and looking at it through the lens of different traditoins. I thought I would give you a brief introduction with some excerpt of it here on my Pagan Square blog.

“There is a part of the Inner Planes, the Other World, which is called Witchdom. There you may learn much, if you can contact it. There are spells and chants, dances and music and such woods and streams as delight the hearts of witches. Witchdom has a temple, in that all sacred places on this earth have their astral counterparts. Nothing is lost, but much is stored deep.” - John Brakespeare

Who and what are the Mighty Dead? Why are they important? And how do you commune with them? All of these questions are explored in detail, but each is a mystery. As you go, you will find your own answers to these three questions, for my answers will not necessarily be your answers.

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Here is the transcript of the fourth and final 2012 FREE MP3 Meditation. 

To listen to this lesson and meditation, or any of the previous ones, go to: 

http://www.templeofwitchcraft.org/Freefiles.html

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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.

 

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Hello Everyone,

Here is part two of my four part meditation series on the 2012 shift. This is on the Summer Solstice Gate, Taurus and the element of Earth. The prior lecture-lesson deals with the wide range of teachings on the Procession of the Equinoxes, and when does the New Age really start? Lots of people disagree. 

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Hello Lovelies! 

I join up on Wiches & Pagans Pagan Square Blog, and then I disappear! I have to admit that blogging is not necessarily the best format for me. I have lots of projects in the works, some writing, some not, and they often distract me. Since my last post, the Temple of Witchcraft has obtained land with a few buildingsg and in order to help support and caretake this space, I've moved from my home to it and trying to settle in. No sooner did I move, then went to teachin Seattle. Came home and had a bit of a fender-bender. Thankful for good shields and reflexes, but still a lot of car damage, insurance companies and car rentals. All this led into the seven day a week vortex of Samhain, and my November and December are not particularly light this year with a trip to St. Louis to teach at Pathways (pathwaysstl.com/) , Faerycon (http://faeriecon.com/) and Between the Worlds Conventions (http://www.sacredwheel.org/BTW/Between_The_Worlds/Home.html)  

One of the project that has me busy before and after is the creation of four free meditations based upon the popular and not so popular topic of 2012. It's like the election. We don't want to hear another word of it. I understand. Really I do. But here it is again anyway.... gotta follow the spirits who guide me. Thought my work is not particularly based upon the Mayan calendar myself, my guides requested that I do this work, and through some ritual, some inspiriation and some spirit contact, created these guided meditations. While they are fully recorded, and available at 

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If you keep any kind of regular spiritual practice over a long period of time, you'll find that you can hit a wall. The tried and true technique just doesn't do it for you like it once did. In my experience its not so much that the technique is at fault, or that you are at fault, as you've been sincerely using it as a part of your practice with regular frequency, but that you've hit a plateau or even made a permanent shift. 

If you are going strong enough, our spiritual practice can open us to new levels of consciousness. Our first experience with these levels is a “peak” experience. When you enter into this peak often enough, it starts to level out and become a more regular normal level for us, creating a plateau of consciousness. When you maintain this plateau for a period of time and use it as a base to establish new peaks, you are making a permanent shift of consciousness. 

Initiations are designed to trigger such permanent shifts, often by linking you to a lineage of energy that contains those who have made such shifts. Initiations of life can create the circumstances to grow spiritually and make the changes as well. But regular practice, often a slower path, can also make similar shifts. Initiatory maps, such as the Tree of Life as depicted in modern Qabalistic magick, can help us see where we are, where we were and where we might be going.  

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Scavenge & Synthesize


©2012 Matthew Venus

Recently I was talking to someone I respect as a mentor and teacher, and he wondered why Witches of later generations used Eastern terminology with their Craft. They were talking about magickal gestures and hand positions as mudras, a term from Hindu traditions. I do the same thing. My own background mixes Witchcraft and Wicca with modern occultism, Theosophy, Qabalah, kundalini yoga, shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism. So I gave his question a lot of thought.

My initial answer is that we are looking for verification. Many of us in modern Witchcraft broke away from our birth religions, often with great difficult. We face fear, anger, peer pressure and ostracism from our families and friends. We usually leave our birth religion because we feel there is something false about it, either in the theology or the dogma. It doesn't ring true. It's not organic. While all religions are going to have some inorganic aspect, in the sense that it was human made, some are more synthetic, more unnatural than others. Most of go towards Paganism and Witchcraft because there is a feeling of being more authentic, more natural.

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  • Christopher Penczak
    Christopher Penczak says #
    Thanks. I just met some lovely Swamp Witches in North Carolina and was reminded of them with your Gumbo Witch Comment. My husband'
  • Karen Hall
    Karen Hall says #
    Thank you, Christopher, for an exceptionally clear and concise explanation of this common experience. This tendency to amalgamate

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