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Emotional Magic: Can emotions be used in magical work?

The other day my wife Kat commented on a newsletter I'd written where I explained how you could use "negative" emotions in your magical work. She asked me if that was really a good idea, especially since I'd essentially be integrating those emotions into the magical working. It was a good question to ask, but what it highlighted to me is just how much cultural baggage we have around the word negative as well as specific emotions. I explained my reasoning by noting that I don't think any emotion is inherently positive or negative, but that if we believe an emotion is negative or positive it is because of the cultural associations that have been placed on that emotion. The problem with that association is that it causes us to not genuinely experience the emotion.

Anger, in and of itself, is not inherently negative. The expression of anger can be negative or positive, depending on what a person does, but that expression doesn't make the anger wrong or bad or negative. The expression isn't the anger in and of itself, but if we examine anger from a cultural perspective what we tend to find are associations of negativity with anger. The same is true with fear, sadness, anxiety, or any other emotion that is "negative" On the flipside love and happiness are considered "positive" emotions.  However expressions of love and happiness can be negative just as expressions of anger, sadness, and fear can be positive. There is nothing inherently polarized about our emotions other than what we choose to believe about them. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mikey
    Mikey says #
    OHhh I forgot the counter balances of love. Love...is a warm and nurturing emotion. It has alot of power, like a parent protect a
  • Mikey
    Mikey says #
    Hi, I'm new, so forgive me if this sounds peculiar. However, I was reading the post, and I couldn't help but put my 2 loonies in.
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Precisely my point. Thanks for commenting!
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    There is a lot of energy and power in anger, but it can lead to negative consequences. Be VERY careful.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    There is a lot of energy and power in anger, but it can lead to negative consequences. Be VERY careful.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
You

In 2013 I plan to write more than I have in 2012, which was certainly more than in 2011. There is a growing interest in what one does on a "Pagan homestead", and what makes it magickal or Pagan. Today, however, I want to steer away from that to something I think many are very guilty of, even if you don't want to admit it. I'm definitely guilty of it, and this is my public proclamation to be better, to understand my worth and limits.

There is an often overlooked component to Paganism, it’s propagation, and the fostering of a tolerant environment in which it can, in its many forms, be fostered and actively encouraged to grow and flourish. That part isn’t the expected tolerance from others, it’s not the guaranteed, yet often unrealized, equality and freedom for those who have ‘alternative’ spiritual paths. It’s something closer to home.

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  • Kyrja
    Kyrja says #
    I am going to keep working every minute of every day to bring Rupert's Tales and their messages to the world. I am going to keep
  • Joy
    Joy says #
    Well said. We definitely need to reach outside our own tribe, so to speak, and notice the community around us and the world we all

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

When I was a kid I remember that whenever a new person entered our lives, especially whenever one of us children brought a new friend home, my mother would ask, "Who are your people?"  This used to really bug me.  She did it in a challenging, even accusatory, way, like you had to prove yourself worthy of her attention or of being in her child's life before she'd accept you.

Now that so many years have past, and my mother is gone, I'm revising my attitude towards her question.  Who are my people?  Who are your people?  Who are our people?  

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  • Tom Terrific
    Tom Terrific says #
    I like your observations. I’ve thought a lot about spiritual community, because I’ve so longed for it and yet never found it. Gro
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Wow, Tom! Thanks for your observation. I hadn't thought of this in quite this way. I'd considered undue affluence and its effec

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Unless stated otherwise, nothing in this post is drawn from ancient sources. Most of it isn't even UPG. It's a thought exercise that popped into my head and won't leave anymore. To get it out, I'd better write it down and share. Way back when (when the Pagan Blog Project posts had only hit the 'G's), I wrote about genealogy of the Gods. I ended that post with the following:

"One sad part of studying Divine genealogy is that there is an end. The lives of the Gods have come to a halt. We rehash the stories but no more children are born, no heroes rise. It makes me wish for the inclusion and revelation of UPG into Hellenismos. New blood, new stories, could really benefit the practice and believes of Hellenic practitioners. A new Divine child to shake up the pantheon, a new child of Zeus who grows up to fight new (or returned) monsters. Sacrilege, some say, and they might be right. But I admit to staring at the pages of genealogy in my book and wishing the lines, somehow, someway, extend to include more of the Divine family. "


I still feel that way. I still wish for a line that continues onto now. But, seeing as we don't have that, I'm going to make another mental leap. I'm going to see who of the Theoi would oversee some of the modern marvels, should They be willing to adopt them.

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  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    I appreciate you being so frank. I must say that 'standardization' sounds absolutely horrid in my ears. It makes me think of those
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I very much do not subscribe to the 'honor the Twelve' mentality. I'm trying to reconstruct the ancient religion, and the ancient
  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    I understand. Of course we do not have to hail every piece of UPG as the new Homer. However ... the starting point of your article
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    I do feel that regret; very much so, in fact. I would love to add new mythology to the current, yet, until Hellenismos is standard
  • Janneke Brouwers
    Janneke Brouwers says #
    I think it is not only the use of 'would' which is being discussed here. Personally I strongly disagree with your opening quote: "

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

It's been a while, but I'm back again, lovely readers! I'm currently hard at work on my second book (amongst other projects, as you'll see below), but I will certainly continue to post here as and when I can. Comments and topic requests always welcome.


At this time of year, it's easy to understand why our ancestors (both actual and spiritual), those wise women and cunning men, were considered remote, unusual, untouchable, even fearsome.

As Autumn moves into Winter here in the UK, we feel our natural, animal pull to dig in, hibernate, take time within the darkness to assess the previous year and anticipate the time to come - but I doubt any busy society has ever really allowed that to happen, except when they have no choice. Stoke up the fire, head to the pub or communal house, light and laughter against the outside world.

(Photo - 'Autumn in the New Forest', from Glastonbury Goddess Temple)

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I've experimented with magic since I first started practicing when I was sixteen. I'd buy books at the local occult shop, voraciously read them and try the exercises out. Afterwards, I'd think about how I could improve the exercises or change them or experiment with them. I was never satisfied with other people's explanations of how magic worked. I'm still not satisfied with most of the explanations about how magic works, and that includes some of my explanations. That dissatisfaction, as well as an insatiable curiosity drives my desire to experiment with magic.

Magic is perceived by some as a spiritual force that complements their religious practices, and by others it is perceived as a practical methodology used to achieve measurable results that improve the lives of the practitioners. Still others think of it as a spiritual practice that allows them to commune with the world and the divine. Beyond all of that though it is a discipline, a field of study that many people contribute to on a regular basis. The challenge with any discipline is figuring out how you keep it relevant to the times and to the needs of the people.

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  • Merle Moss
    Merle Moss says #
    The only problem I have with the idea of 'experimentation in magic(k)', is rigorously keeping the original intent clear and simple
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello Merle, That's a fair point to make. I find that applying a process approach avoid such slippage, because the intent is writ
  • B. T. Newberg
    B. T. Newberg says #
    Interesting. Thanks for this. What are your views on experimental methodology in magic?
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello, I take a process approach to experimentation in magic, which means that if I put together an experiment and describe it to

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

A cross-post this week, if I may - between here at my first blog 'home', and the wonderfully eclectic 'Witches & Pagans' site (because if you can't 'moonlight' as a Pagan, then who can?).

I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.

Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.

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