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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in magick

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
When Good Fiction Goes Bad

Pop culture workers spend countless hours getting to know the stories, worlds, and characters of our favorite media.  We learn their energies so well that we can incorporate them into our magick with ease.  Our fandoms become a part of the very fabric of our magickal practice.  Sometimes, as we’re merrily working away, the creators dare to fundamentally change our favorite bits of pop culture in a way that no longer works for us.  What do you do when good fiction goes bad?

There are benefits and risks in working with living fiction: stories that are still unfolding in their medium.  The primary benefit to working with living fiction is the liveliness of its energy.  A story that is still unfolding has momentum and power that static fiction just can’t match.  If the fiction is popular, think the current Marvel movies or Star Wars, then you have not only the energies of the stories themselves but also the popular momentum generated by advertising, merchandising, fan buzz, etc.  Living media is huge part of popular culture and pop culture workers can use all of that madness to their advantage.  The biggest risk with living media is that its energies can change swiftly and profoundly: characters can reveal hidden details that make them something utterly different, beloved characters can suddenly die, mysterious siblings can appear from the ether (I’m looking at you Buffy and Sherlock), plots can suddenly diverge in ways wholly inconsistent with everything you loved about the media in the first place, the creator has just been revealed as a horrible person in a way that taints their creations...the list can go on forever.  Fear not, all of this can be addressed. 

Your favorite fiction has just taken a hard left turn off a cliff, what do you do?  Embrace version control - the concept of working with a specific version of media.  Lots of amazing media comes in different versions.  For example, Superman exists in multiple comics, movies, television, books, etc., all of which portray a different version of the character and the universe he inhabits.  If you want to do pop culture magick with Superman the first thing you need to decide is which version of him you want to work with. (See Who's Your Doctor for more)  This same concept applies when a character, story, or world you’re working with changes.  You can choose to work with select portions of your pop culture media.  Only like a character in seasons 2-4 of a show?  Only work with that version of the character.  Want to pretend that a book series ended at book five?  Go for it.  It’s your magick and you get to choose what you work with.

Version control can most easily be executed through a statement of intent.  It’s always a good practice to have a firm statement of intent before doing magick; to say what you’re going to do, why, and exactly how.  During a statement of intent you can specify the precise version of pop culture energy you’re calling upon.  For example, in casting a time management spell I might call on Hermione Granger, specifically from book three of Harry Potter.  In book three Hermione had a time turner to help her deal with her overloaded schedule and was able to accomplish all of her goals while overcoming many challenges.  This particular brand of time management skill isn’t referred to in any other book, so being specific about which version of Hermione, with which particular skill set, would be beneficial to the spell.  Similarly, if one were to call on Black Widow for personal strength and maneuverability it might be beneficial to specify that you want to work with the kickass version from The Winter Soldier rather than the damsel in distress that got locked in a castle in Age of Ultron.  By specifying a precise version of your fiction, you can work with the elements that support your magick while largely ignoring the problematic bits.

It is possible to take version control too far.  One of the biggest benefits of working with pop culture magick is the vast amount of energy that pop culture media possesses by virtue of other fans and the general public.  When you choose a particular version of a piece of media you can cut off your access to some of the energy that the rest of that media contains.  If you only want to work with a version of a tv character that appeared in one episode (think dream, bespelled, or hallucinated versions of characters), you’re not going to have access to the vast energetic stores of the normal version of that character.  Rather you’ll only have access to the energy invested by the creators and fans in that particular slice of the character - and not everyone will love it as much as you do.  While potentially limiting, strict version control allows a practitioner to work with whatever aspects of pop culture that truly resonate with them, even when it’s problematic.

A more extreme form of version control would be to choose a slice of pop culture fiction and customise it through your own creative works, e.g. fanfiction, fanart, mental storytelling, etc.  We all have certain stories we wish had gone differently or characters we’d have liked to see make different decisions.  If you want to do magick with one of these alternate (AU) version of a story or character you absolutely can.  By writing out or just imagining alternate stories for your favorite character or world you can, in essence, create a thoughtform of that alternative and work with it magickally.  The more you flesh out and work with your AU the more energy will be woven into it and thus be available for further workings.  This carries the same limitations of mass media energy as working with very specific versions of characters and stories.  However, if you write fanfiction or create fanart you have the ability to share it with other fans and potentially pick up the energy they put into your works.  Further, the ease inherent in working with (mostly) your own creation can outweigh the lack of mass fan energy in terms of magickal efficiency.  This form of pop culture magick is limited only by your own imagination and willingness to work outside the box.

The next time your favorite bit of pop culture media makes a change for the worse, fear not!  Take a deep breath, calm your mind, decide which version of that media you want to work with and, at least as far as your magickal practice is concerned, ignore the rest of it.  Allow strict version control or the creation of your own alternate storyline to fuel your workings with just the energy you need and none of the angst you don’t.  If what truly resonates with you is pre-movie Galen Erso, young Scrooge McDuck, Dark Willow, or movie Rainbow Brite then that’s exactly what you should do.  Your magick is just that: yours.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tea Magick – Going Within

Tea is as old as plants and water. Humans seem to always have known the valuable properties tea can offer; From alleviating symptoms of the common cold to lowering cholesterol, to stimulating the sex drive… and so much more. Tea has been around for centuries and has been used by many cultures in a variety of ways; including Magick!

I have been a practicing Witch for well over 2 decades. I have been a certified Master Herbalist for well over 15 years, and one thing I feel is missing from the Magickal world is tea. Rarely do you hear about tea being used in ritual and Magick. Of course, we have all heard of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, but this is a limited view of how tea is used in a meaningful way. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Part Two: A Story of Awakening-X'anyuae

Read All of Part One here

....She paused just in front of the archway, light now flooding out and around her. She had been trained to wait, patiently and when it was time, she would accept the challenge of entry and the change of recognition would begin. She felt the weight of this offer of entry and remembered the love she felt from the Great Mother those many aeons ago as she whispered to X'anyuae, "you have been chosen. Your life will forever change if you come to me. You must come to me freely and trust in my wisdom as you learn and grow in your power. May your Will choose wisely."

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Keeping It Together

It’s been a rough summer; honestly, it’s been a rough year.  Like many people, I suffer from depression.  My emotional and energetic state often reflects that of the people and world around me.  In the best of times it can be difficult for me think positively and move forward creatively.  In times like these it’s pretty much all I can do just to keep up the illusion of being a fully functional adult.  Thankfully, as a magickal person I have a whole host of spirits and allies to help me keep it together.

My personal practice is a unique amalgam of traditional and pop culture practices and when it comes to dealing with my depression it's pretty much all hands on deck.  I know there are a lot of people out there with strong reservations about mixing practices.  While I can understand seeing mixed practices and pantheons as potentially problematic, I believe it’s all a matter of execution.  In my view  a sincere practice done respectfully and with the full consent of all participating parties is pretty much always acceptable.  It’s not uncommon for me to call on Santa Muerte, Baron Samedi, and Tony Stark in the course of an evening.  Yes, I will call on a Mexican folk saint, a Loa, and an Avenger at the same time, but I do not do so lightly.  I have strong, long-standing working relationships with these metaphysical beings; we know each other very well.  I’ve worked with all of them on their own and have discussed and gotten permission from them to call on them in inter-pantheon situations.  The relationships that I have with my allies forge a connection between them, as they all care about me, and make mixing pantheons and practices a lot less incongruous than it would be otherwise.  It’s like asking your sibling, best friend, and favorite co-worker to help you move; they may not really know each other but because of their close relationship with you they can probably get along well enough to help you out.  I wouldn’t want to call on spirits I hadn’t worked with before in a mixed practice setting.  This is more like putting up a craigslist ad for help moving and expecting everyone that happens to show up to get along.  Not a great idea.  When needs are sincere and explicit permission from the beings involved has been acquired, then call on whatever and whomever will best aid the situation.

Depression is a gnarly and ever-changing beast that manifests differently for everyone.  For me, depression can morph its form at any time, requiring different energies moment to moment just to make it through the day.  The different entities that I work with on a regular basis all have different qualities that can help me in different ways.  This is why I will shamelessly mix practices and pantheons as needed.  Tony Stark is my go to ally when I’m depressed because his depression and emotional difficulties manifest similarly to mine.  He’s a character that tends to take the world on his shoulders and get beaten down by the big picture while putting up the facade of thriving.  That’s pretty much what my depression looks like.  I often call on him to help me feel less isolated and to feel understood.  I also have a big plushie Iron Man that functions as part talisman, part comfort object - a little juvenile sure, but it helps.  I’ll also almost always call on Santa Muerte when I’m not feeling my best.  You may not know this, but Santa Muerte gives awesome hugs.  No matter what’s going on she’s always there for me with real acceptance and without any kind of judgment.  She’s my go to particularly when I need to forgive myself.  When I need permission to take care of myself rather than helping everyone around me I call on Baron Samedi.  Strangely, or not, death deities and spirits are spectacular at reminding you what it means to be alive and the value thereof.  The Baron is amazing at helping me to see the beauty and joy around me and to actually take the time to engage with it; to live life rather than merely getting by. 

The aid received from my various allies can manifest in many different ways.  Simple conversation is the most common form of aid I request while dealing with negative emotions.  Just because you’re calling on a magickal being for aid doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to get them to do magickal work.  Metaphysical beings have entirely different wells of wisdom and past experiences to draw from in giving advice as well as offering comfort or support.  Witnessing of sorrows and an energetic hug can be as powerful a catalyst for emotional healing as any spell or working.  That being said, I often call on my allies to help hold my shields when I’m emotionally compromised.  Depression is hell on your aura and can make you a lot more vulnerable to external negative energies as well as sapping the energies you’d normally have to respond to trouble.  I’ve called on Buffy Summers a time or two to watch my back when I didn’t have the energy to do it myself.  The other main magick I’ll ask for help with while depressed is divination.  Depression is a dirty, rotten liar.  Depression clouds judgment like nothing else I’ve ever experienced, making clear divination a must when having to make critical decisions under its influence.  I’ve called on everyone from Cerridwen to Yoda to guide important divinations to help mitigate the incredible pessimism and negativity that depression brings.  Everyone has different needs while dealing with negative emotions, but we must remember that our metaphysical allies care about us and are willing to help.

When times are tough the wise practitioner calls for help.  We spend years cultivating relationships with a diverse host of deities, spirits, and other metaphysical beings so that we can call on them when we need them.  We must remember that our own mental and emotional health is as valid a reason to call for help as any other.  Our allies care about us, want us to thrive, and are willing to help us to do so - particularly when we are unable to help ourselves.  Regardless of what entities you have relationships with, take the time to discuss how they would be willing to help you.  If you’re prone to depression consider cultivating a few relationships just for aid with it.  Then, when the time comes actually utilize those relationships and ask for help.  A practitioner is never truly alone, there is always something listening.  Ask for help from beloved allies and you will keep it together.

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Every Reading is an Opportunity for Magick!

Recently, my busy tarot life of readings, traveling and writing, found me teaching a class called “Anatomy of a Tarot Reading”. In this class, I posited that a tarot reading can be divided into seven distinct activities. Those steps are: Preparation, Invocation, Intuition, Operation, Interpretation, Presentation and Manifestation.

While the class was to be specifically about the art of tarot reading, I found much of my magickal theory about tarot leaking in. With sections like "Invocation" and "Manifestation", how could it not?

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs




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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Foundations of Incense: Sandalwood

In the next several entries I plan to quickly explore the materials that have formed the basis of incense historically as well as those that modern incense makers use regularly.  One of the most important incense ingredients historically is sandalwood.

There are 5 different varieties of sandalwood that are used in scented products, although only 3 of those have commonly been used in modern times.  Indian yellow sandalwood (santalum album) has historically been a preferred base material for incense in Asia and Africa.  Even in modern times, sandalwood is burned in every form from large pieces in fires to powdered bits in incense sticks and cones.  The biggest consumer of sandalwood, by far, is the perfume industry.  Sandalwood is a key ingredient in many popular perfumes.  Once you work with the fragrance for a while you will begin to recognize it in colognes and perfumes.  The popularity of sandalwood over the centuries has led to its endangered status in India, the motherland of incense.  International treaties have reduced the trade in sandalwood from India to the realms of bootleggers.  For some years now the only sandalwood from India that was legally available in the USA was from existing stockpiles.  It is now virtually impossible to get real sandalwood from India in the USA, although there are many imitation products sold under the label of “Indian sandalwood”.

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