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The Lustravi, Rending the Veil Within

Modern Witch, Devin Hunter once said “Witches aren’t limited by dogma but are inspired by self-exploration,” and I believe self-exploration needs to be one of our fundamental practices as Modern Witches. There seems to be so much interest and emphasis on performing acts of Witchcraft aimed at our external world, whether physical or spiritual and far less directed inward. Ironically it is the inner Craftwork which yields the best results. 

Let’s look at our Magical energies with a numerical value for a moment; the amount of energy required to have an effect on the external realm tends to be quite large, if we generate 100 units of Magical energy for a given purpose and direct it towards an external goal, the average effective rate tends to be well below 50%. In contrast, if we raise and cast that same amount of energy directly inward the effective rate is usually more than 50%. These acts of self-exploration and “Introspective Divination” are simply more cost effective and tend to have longer lasting benefits.

Take a break from the standard candle Magic spells and rituals lit for the outside worlds, and dress one with the unique and special purpose of being your guiding light as you begin the journey inward. Rending the veil within and exploring you inner realm can be difficult and often times emotionally messy, but discovering, acknowledging and accepting our shadows is the secret to personal balance and happiness. Remember a happy and balanced Witch is a powerful one.

Lustravi is Latin term with multiple meanings depending on context. The primary meaning is “purification through sacrifice,” but it also means to “encircle,” to explore or “examine,” and to illuminate or to “brighten” in the figurative sense. But as Modern Witches, wasting nothing, we are taught to make use of it in every sense of the word. Lustravi is that first gate where we rend the veil and cross the threshold within ourselves.

Like many, I have always experienced difficulty with meditation. It can seem impossible to quiet our minds and achieve that state of pure awareness through silence and stillness. But I have learned that moving meditation such as Tai Chi has proven to be an effective method of achieving the same state, and once established it is easier to retain and maintain. From that experience and for that reason the Lustravi begins with a basic moving meditation and breath controlled exercise.

Step one: Begin by standing with your legs shoulder width apart and arms at your sides. Take a long slow deep breath and as you begin to exhale slowly raise your arms as if you were doing a jumping jack, clapping your hands together over your head. This first movement is considered an embrace and should be performed as a stretching exercise including your arms, shoulder and spinal column.

Step two: keeping your hands together, slowly inhale and lower your cupped hands to your chest into the prayer position. During this movement and breath visualize that you are drawing down and drawing in the energies of the universe, of the Dryghtyn. I like to use the imagery of a great whale rising from the depths of the ocean, breaching the surface of the water and drawing in the element of air through the top of its head.

Step three: With your hands cupped in the prayer position take another long slow breath and recite the following incantation.

With open heart and open mind

With love and trust, seek to find

Peace within this place and time

Awakened by the five-fold chime

Then take another breath and exhale while you clap your hands together five times loudly with purpose and meaning. This third step is a declaration of purpose meant to be heard at every level and layer of your being, so say it like you mean it. The five-fold chime, the claps, is a physical act of purification bringing clarity, focus and enhancing your awareness.

Step four: Your hands in the prayer position rotate them downward so that your index fingers are pointing forward. Taking another slow deep breath, allow your hands to follow your fingers slightly outward as you slowly pull your hands part until they are near your shoulders. As you perform this rending gesture take a small step forward with your left foot. This fourth step is the rending of the veil gesture; the movements should resemble that of opening the part between two curtains, spreading them apart and stepping through. It is important to make use of creative imagery and stimuli, visualizing the veil in your mind’s eye, feeling the fabric on the back of your hands as you draw back the curtain and feeling it brush your shoulders as you step through.

Step five: You have just taken a breath in, rend your veil and stepped through. Your hands still up near your shoulders, exhale slowly bringing your arms back out in front of you touching the tips of your fingers together, forming a basketball hoop. This is circumscription, casting your own circle of containment. Not just to keep unwanted things out, but you better contain your own energies, keeping your attention, awareness and thoughts within your circle.

Step six: From the hoop gesture allow your hands to overlap as you draw them in towards your stomach, inhaling as you do. As your hands reach your navel rotate them, palms up in the gesture a bowl cradling your waistline. Allow your head to follow the movements of your hands, when you have completed the movement your head should be tilted down, eye fixed on your cupped hands.

Step seven: The gesture of the cupped hands represents the Sitella, like a scrying bowl, your inner cauldron of divination. This is the time and place for self-exploration, examination and introspective divination. Begin by observing your most immediate feelings, identify emotions and examine them. “I’m happy or grateful” is always a good thing, but don’t shy away from negative emotions. Here and now is the place and time to acknowledge and express them.

We tend to let a lot of things that bother us slide by in an effort to avoid conflicts, social awkwardness or to be nice, when the truth is most of those things piss us off. But for whatever reason we hold back, stuffing those feelings down. But those conflicted emotions don’t just go away on their own; they stay stuffed down there deep inside with all the other repressed and unexpressed feelings; mixing together into an amalgamation of vitriol which can have a significant negative influence in our lives. The word Express isn’t just about “talking,” it also means “to push, press or squeeze out.” The Lustravi is about purification through sacrifice, to purify yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually you must “express” your negative emotions, push, press and squeeze them get out of your cauldron. Remember, from chanting mantras to primal scream therapy, vocal expression is a powerful and effective tool. Speak aloud to yourself, own your emotions and declare them.

Step eight: After you have explored, addressed and expressed yourself, return your awareness within. Remember that you are an expression of the divine and contain within you a sacred spark. Close your eyes and find that spark, glowing in the darkness. Begin to inhale slowly and deep, raising and returning your hands back to that familiar position near your shoulders, as you perform this movement see and feel the light growing from within you. As your hands pull away from your chest see the light permeating and radiating through your physical body, enveloping you in bright warm love and light.

Step nine: Hands still near your shoulders slowly exhale as you take a small step back with your right foot and closing the veil, your hands returning to the prayer position. Perform the five-fold chime and take a final cleansing breath before breaking away from the space.

The Lustravi is a daily devotional practice of holistic purification which combines moving meditation, breath control, creative visualization, and personal energy manipulation. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it but practice makes perfect and in a short time your movements will become comfortable, less mechanical and much more fluid. I have come to enjoy repeating steps one and two as many as eight to ten times before rending my veil, and over the years I have expanded step five to include seated meditation, various forms of divination, adoration and most of all prayer. This practice can be as simple or elaborate as you desire it to be. You can set up an altar, light a candle, burn incense and make a full ritual out of it, but the Lustravi requires no special implements or trappings and can be performed anywhere, anytime, with nothing at all.

I recommend making a short term commitment to perform the Lustravi at least once a day for one complete lunar cycle. Working through the month you can utilize the four primary lunar phases waxing, waning, full and new moon. We are taught to internalize their symbolic attributions as loss, gain, completion and mystery; and apply those themes to our introspective endeavors. Legend and folklore regarding the veil is diverse and widespread. Through these veils we can engage the spiritual realm of our ancestors, perform Magical acts, manipulate astral energies, and develop and strengthen our extra sensory perceptions. These are all worthy labors, and I encourage you to rend the veil within. 

 

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Joseph Merlin Nichter is an author, blogger, ritualist, Freemason, Wiccan and co-founder of the Mill Creek Tradition and Seminary. As the first state-recognized Minority Faith Chaplain, Joseph provides Pagan religious services and assists with religious accommodations of minority faiths for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; he has also served the California Department of Mental Health as a religious program instructor. Joseph is the co-founder and current president of the National Pagan Correctional Chaplains Association. Joseph lives in Central California with his wife and four children, where he continues to actively serve his community.

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