When I think of Nashville, I think of country music and the Parthenon. I probably never would have associated the spot with meditation and summer magic, even after I visited the town, if it weren’t for a lucky chance. I attended a writing conference in Nashville a few years ago, held at the gothicly beautiful Scarritt Bennett retreat and conference center. That was the last year the conference was small enough for that particular venue, and if I’d attended a year later, I never would have discovered the peace and beauty of the labyrinth that waits in Tennessee.
I’d never walked a labyrinth before, and when I stepped out of my on-site dorm to discover the familiar pattern of the Chartres labyrinth laid in the grass in front of the building, I got incredibly excited. There’s already something magical about wandering around a facility that feels like a Southern Hogwarts in the purple gloaming of June, but then to spot that mystical shape, complete with dancing fireflies, completes the sensation of having stepped into another world.
Magic is multi-dimensional, and metaphysical awareness spans many levels simultaneously.
This means that when we think we want to manifest happiness, for example, what we really want - deep down - might be more complete self expression. At first, this might mean letting our sadness out, and feeling the full range of our pain, as heart-wrenching as it may be. Then, and only then, would we be free to experience the longed-for happiness that sparked our desire to work magic in the first place.
A lot of people have been asking me how I got into pop culture magick of late. It’s a difficult question to answer because it’s always been a part of my magickal practice. When I was a little girl I remember imagining Rainbow Brite protecting me from thunderstorms and nightmares. When I was a teenager I would “talk” to Hamlet and Horatio when I felt misunderstood and needed guidance. So even before I knew what real magick was, I was doing bits and pieces of pop culture magick. I suppose the first time I intentionally did pop culture magick, though I didn’t call it that at the time, was when I first started working with the elements.
For my use of pop culture magick to really make sense you’ll need a little context. I grew up in a household where hiking and enjoying nature were valued side by side with science and engineering. I remember meandering through woodland trails in the North Cascades while talking to my Dad about NASA, Star Trek, and fairy tales interchangeably. My love of mountains and general geekery were born and nurtured at the same time and in largely the same way, so they’ve always been intertwined in my mind. For me, there’s never really been a separation between the magicks of nature and the realities of the mundane world.
To assuage the sadness of knowing there is no more Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to come (or perhaps there is a but a long way off), I have been thinking about how English magic did fall into disrepute so that a man of Norrell's character found it necessary to make it respectable once more. One of the first examples to occur to me is Chaucer's Canon's Yeoman's Tale (hereafter CYT because I will tire of spelling it out).
CYT features one of the belated arrivals to pilgrimage in TheCanterbury Tales. The canon and his yeoman catch up to the pilgrims and the yeoman launches into a recital of the canon's alchemical life that soon makes his boss leave in a huff. The yeoman takes this opportunity to show that the canon is a scoundrel in this 'elvysshe craft' known as alchemy.
Lately, in my meditation group, we've been doing some work with space/time magic meditations and with spirits associated with space and time. In our most recent session I had the group do a meditation with Purson, a goetic demon who has some specific skills related to time. What I also told the group was that it's important to recognize that their experience of Purson is subjective and that he is only as real as that person wants him to be. That may seem like an odd statement to make, but the group was comprised of people that ranged from atheists to people who believe in the objective existence of spirits, and so I felt it was important to acknowledge that a wide range of experiences could happen that would nonetheless be significant to each participant and wouldn't necessarily invalidate any of the experiences. All the participants accepted that explanation and then we had our various encounters with Purson.
Spiritual experiences, by their nature, are subjective. For example I believe that spirits are objective beings in their own right. Note the word believe. Believe is a word rooted in subjectivity. That's what I believe, but I can't really prove it. I can tell you about my experiences and I can cite other people who've had experiences in their own right which tells that what they encountered is real, but its ultimately subjective. For that matter so is the argument that the spirit is just a psychological aspect the person is drawing upon. Again we can find a variety of people who will argue that position and draw on their experiences, but it's still subjective.
My ancestors are important to my shamanic path. My previous post discusses that and why taking an AncestryDNA test is part of that path for me.
Today's post discusses my feelings as I waited for the test results, my reactions to the results, and the adventure it put me on as a Pagan.
An AncestryDNA test predicts ethnicity. Waiting for test results, I wondered if I'd like them. I felt excitement and a bit of trepidation.
I was empowered thinking about the benefits my friends' experienced. One friend learned which regions in Africa her ancestors hailed from. Prior to that, she did not know where in Africa she was from. Another friend uncovered secrets her family had hidden. This freed her from decades of lies.