Pagan Paths

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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

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It’s that time of year again when the air is crisp, the sidewalks are damp, and every food item you can buy comes in “pumpkin spice.”  Oh yes, it’s almost Samhain.  This season is a gift for pop culture practitioners, as the trappings of magick are just about everywhere hidden in plain sight in friendly pop culture packages.  Everywhere you look things are draped in spiders, bats, witches, cauldrons, and cobwebs.  Every television show has a Halloween special and spooky movies play on every channel; at least one channel seems to be playing nothing but Tim Burton movies.  I am so very ok with this.  One of my all time favorite movies that plays non-stop this time of year is The Nightmare Before Christmas.b2ap3_thumbnail_Photo-Oct-25-1-58-20-PM.jpg

In case you’ve been either living under a rock or on some kind of crazed media fast for the last decade or two (in which case, what on earth are you doing reading this?), The Nightmare Before Christmas is an animated movie about the Pumpkin King having an identity crisis and trying to steal Christmas.  Much adventure, spooky ennui, and singing ensues as a result.  It’s very fun and you should really see it if you haven’t.  I like many things about this movie, but what I really love is the message of self-acceptance that comes through it.  As with all Tim Burton movies the main characters in The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sally and Jack, are off-beat and a little strange.  They go through times where they doubt who they are and try to conform themselves to someone else’s ideals to varying degrees of success.  Ultimately the two find strength, fulfillment, happiness, and love once they fully embrace the individuals they really are inside, instead of trying to be someone they’re not.  There’s a similar message of self-acceptance and embracing of one’s inner and outer weirdness in most of Tim Burton’s movies.

In homage to our patron saint of eccentricity, here is a spell for self-acceptance.

Burtonesque Spell for Self-Acceptance

Choose your favorite Tim Burton character that has a journey of self-acceptance in their movie.  I recommend Jack Skellington or Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas, Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice, Ichabod Crane from Sleepy Hollow, or Victor Van Dort or the Bride from The Corpse Bride.  Find a good track of Danny Elfman music to play in the background (e.g. The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack or the title theme from Beetlejuice

Play some appropriate music (or run a movie) quietly in the background.  If you normally cast a circle before doing spellwork do so now. 

Light a candle in your favorite color (a tea light or chime candle would be ideal) and either burn your favorite incense or anoint yourself with your favorite essential oil or hydrosol (or do both).

Take a moment to think about the character you’ve chosen and their journey.  Did they begin as awkward and unsure of themselves and find confidence?  Did they begin lost and adrift to emerge and find purpose?  Think of the qualities of their character and their journey that particularly speak to you.  What aspects of their journey do you need in your life? 

In your own words either speak aloud or write out 2-3 characteristics of the character’s journey to self-acceptance and empowerment that you need in your life.  Say why you need them and what you hope to accomplish by incorporating their power into your life.  Finish by either making a small offering appropriate to the character you’re drawing from or making a specific pledge to do so in the near future.

Let the candle burn while the music plays.  Dispel your circle if you cast one.

Once you’re finished it’s a great time to rewatch the movie your character came from and release any excess energy.

Moving forward you might choose to carry around a picture or toy of your character to remind you of your working.  Wearing a t-shirt, hoodie, costume, etc., of your character is also a great way to strengthen your working.  I’m a fan of using nail art as a reminder of this type of working.  (I’m a big fan of Espionage Cosmetics’ geeky decals)

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  • Janet Boyer
    Janet Boyer says #
    Great post! I just bought Nightmare Before Christmas a few weeks ago. We're going to watch it before Halloween! Just watched Corp
Are You Afraid to Make a Change? Don't Let Fear Paralyze You.

I don’t know about you, but every now and then when I’m highway driving at night I slip into a strange type of reverie.  The black sky with the stars visible through my sunroof.  The wash of white light from the headlights on the black road, illuminating my path as my car charges through the darkness.   The looming shadows of trees along the road.  The drone of the tires on the pavement.   My own thoughts – the thoughts I don’t have the time or peace to indulge during the day – swirling in my mind.  All of these things combine to create an aura that borders on the spiritual.  At least for me they do.

I was enjoying such a drive the other night when, finally wanting to break the silence, I pressed ‘play’ on whatever CD was in my husband’s car.  In an instant, I was surrounded by the rich swell of Awolnation’s Kill Your Heroes.  Here’s the line that snaked straight into my consciousness: “Never let your fear decide your fate.” 

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Journeying to the Realm of the Dead

Ancient Minoan civilization was part of a widespread Bronze Age cultural group that encompassed much of the Mediterranean. This included the Cyclades, a large group of islands off the southeast coast of Greece, just north of Crete. At the center of the Cyclades is the island of Delos, which was sacred to a number of the Aegean Bronze Age societies, including the Minoans. In fact, it figures prominently in the Theseus-and-Ariadne myth.

The Cyclades had their own culture that included a unique art style: small figurines carved out of white marble, with a simplistic style that looks almost post-modern. The photo above shows the most widespread type of figurine, a female figure with her arms crossed over her abdomen, the left above the right. Some male carvings in a similar posture have been found, but by far the majority are female. The interesting thing is, they all come from Cycladic graves.

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A large number of pagans live in an urban environment and as much as they would love to connect with Nature, it isn’t always possible due to work and/or domestic commitments, or even health problems.  It’s easy to say ‘Get out and about’ but for many pagans, this isn’t an option.  Trying anything new can be scary – or awkward – or even embarrassing.   Putting ourselves out there, however, can also be liberating and exciting and we can take pride from venturing into areas unknown, and even have fun in the process.  Life begins outside our comfort zone ... and at this time of the year with its ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ is the perfect time to start.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_candles.JPGIn the Northern Hemisphere, and particularly in New England where I live, the leaves are starting to turn, the temperature is cooling off... soon enough the leaves will be falling off the trees, frost will cover the ground, and it will continue to get colder.  But right now, where I live, it's still warm for this time of year and there's some green on the trees still.  The dark half of the year is here, but it's more like "twilight" than full-on darkness.  Still... time to start lighting candles, asking the Powers to guide the way into the dark night.

When Samhain/Halloween approaches, many Pagans remember the dead, and the Pagan blogosphere will often get into the topic of ancestor veneration.  A couple of years ago, I was not in the habit of this practise because I have abusive family members, and the abuse was generational, and I felt highly uncomfortable reaching out to these people's spirits; I also believed there was no point in reaching out to people who have probably since reincarnated.  But my views on this have changed considerably over the last two years, and today, I not only honor the dead - and my ancestral dead among them - but I also believe that honoring the dead is an important part of my practise.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

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The Magick of Making

What is a spell? Is it the gathering together of specific items such as crystals, herbs, and colored candles during certain phases of the moon to heal?  Is it the power of an invocation chanted by a coven to bring a deity? Is it a song sung by a mother to her child to soothe them? Is it the drawing of a certain symbol on the ground of a sacred space designed to protect it? 

If we define magick as the process of focusing intention and applying will to situations, objects, and energy around us to cause a change in consciousness, then all of these activities are kinds of spells. They are all forms of magick in their own way.

So with that in mind, we may also consider the visual art-making process as a magical path. Of course, not every piece of art is a magickal working, but with the right elements and conditions, it has the potential. 

Art can be created to take on a variety of magickal purposes - here are a few examples:
-A painting or statue created to represent a deity, to remind us of the divine
-A vessel or sculpture created to house a spirit or other sort entity
-A work created for as a focus for meditation or to transform a person, place, or thing 
-Work created to be an interactive altar, sacred space or be part of an altar offering

And while nearly any object can be re-purposed for use in magick, there is something extra special about an item that was handcrafted with that intent in mind. Why?

As an artist, when I sit down to create a painting, piece of jewelry, drawing, or sculpture, there are numerous steps and factors involved.  I generally (and prefer to) create my work in my studio space, which is essentially my personal sacred space.  I consider what I wish to work on, making a list of what I need. I carefully prepare the area that I work in/on/around and painstakingly gathering my materials.  I choose the light, music, and time aside needed to focus - and then I get to work. If I am creating a custom painting for a client, then I am meditating on them and their needs.  If I am creating a piece that relates to a deity, then I approach them respectfully and allow a dialogue to occur that brings them into the process.

I find that creating work is a balance of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious levels of awareness and thought.  If I am too much in any one area (overthinking, or perhaps too much in trance), the work will not be as successful.  The body, mind, and spirit must be in alignment, yet also be fluid enough to allow for change.  

Through much experimenting and observation over the last 20 years, I have recognized the similarities between the state of being I experience during classic spellcraft and when I am creating art infused with magick.  The energy transfer feels identical, and as I have studied the work and experiences of other artists, I have noticed similar results in the product.  It has its own buzz that you not only see, but feel. Whether it's a ceramic chalice, a talisman necklace, an elemental mask, a goddess sculpture, or painting of a god - the hand-worked, mind-forged, spirit-infused item seems to possess something more, right from the start, and continues to build as it interacts with the world around it. 

Just like any good traditional spell, it requires skill and knowledge in the medium, the ability to focus one's intent and energy, and the patience, dedication, and understanding of working with the project and seeing it through until the end. 

If you don't consider yourself an artist, that's OK. Think about the art and artful objects you may have in your home, be they originals or copies.  Why did you choose those pieces, or how did they come to you?  How do they make you feel? Why do you have certain things in specific places? What about art or objects that you have left behind, given away, or sold? 

If you are an artist, and this is new and intriguing to you, then consider what media you are best in, and what sort of magick it may lend itself to.  Over the years I have created deathmasks and psychopomp portraits, spirit portals, fetishes, drawings to bring about change, paintings for meditation, altar objects, and energizing talismans to name a few.  There's a lot of potential out there, when you have the right mindset and skill to make it happen. 

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