Category Archives: Philosophy

Realizing teachings from spirits

So here is something interesting I thought of recently. I started making my own incense for different workings 10 years ago. At the time I had no recipes. I had no books to guide me other than Cunningham’s herbal encyclopedia and magical herbalism.

I had a mortar and pestal and I had some herbs on hand for different workings (but I was mostly clueless at the time). I realize now that really the ones who taught me how to make incense were not the books. They were in fact the spirits of the plants. Which is why my recipes and practices are as effective and as powerful as they are.

I mention this now because there have been times I have mentioned that the spirits really haven’t taught me all that much. I look back and realize now that the lessons were much more subtle. They actually were more my partners than anything else.

Just like how I’ve always listened to the spirits of the land when it comes to my practice on the sabbats. I’ve always worked and done them really when it felt more energetically appropriate for me and the land that I live on.

The apartment I currently live in was gifted by the spirits of this land. After we left our viewing I said a simple prayer to those spirits asking them that the apartment go to the ones who need it the most, and the right people for the land. The next morning I get a call saying we have the apartment. If that is not spirits working for me and with me, guiding me I dont know what is.

Review: The Heart of the Initiate

The Heart of the Initiate

The Heart of the Initiate is a wonderful book. This book was created by Victor and Cora Anderson for their students and those interested in the Feri tradition of witchcraft. The forward states:

“THIS BOOK IS A VALENTINE from Victor and Cora Anderson to you. For those of us who are their initiates, the Andersons live on through the many personal recordings and letters we held close and treasure. We’re grateful for this great opportunity to share rare insights into the Anderson’s teachings, and offer you an imitation of what it was like to be their student.”

It is clear that the Andersons wanted their teachings to be preserved and shared. That they wanted more people to understand and know what their tradition was and is all about. The proof is in the quote mentioned above. For this reason the book was created which allows seekers like me and students of Feri to see what the actual founders and high masters said about the tradition and their teachings.

Due to the nature of this book there are not chapters. The book reads like correspondences which is what they are. There are a few sections in which various teachings are written about in letter or essay form, but not your traditional chapters and sections style.

The first section of the book is called Some Pictish views on the old religion. Here we learn about some origins of the practices and how the religion is different from others. It talks about the origins and how sex is sacred. There is a little bit on basically all aspects of the Craft in this section written by Victor.

The second section of the book is called Commentaries. In this section there are a few specific articles on points important to the specific Feri tradition of witchcraft as they teach it. Topics include Raising power to divinity, Sexual Initiation, Sexual ethics, Training and Initiation, The Consort, The Guardians, The morning prayer, Possession, and Salvation. All of these concepts are teachings important in the Feri tradition to some extent and these basic articles express how they work and what they mean.

The third section of the book is the most informative section of the book. Here there are glimpses at some of the rites and materials actually presented to their students. There are exercises and explanations given. The letters are written by Victor and Cora presented to us as they responded to their students. The only thing missing in this section would be the letters from the students to their teachers so the context makes more sense.

The very last section of the book is important for seekers like myself. In many books on traditional witchcraft there is an exercise to switch from a Christian path to a Traditional witchcraft path which involves the reciting of the Lord Prayer backwards. Here Victor describes yet another prayer that can be used which is essentially a modified version of the Lords prayer for seekers trying to be open to new paths and teachings.

Book Review: The Fools Journey through Sunnydale

Fools Journey through Sunnydale

The Fools Journey through Sunydale is an excellent way to combine the work of the tarot with a modern media source that many are familiar with. When the series Buffy The Vampire Slayer became popular there was a surge in young teens and adults that were interested in the Tarot and in witchcraft because of that series. This book is a way to combine the interests of the two groups in a way that shows the real true supernatural and occult symbols in the series and gets the message of the cards across.

As some one who started to read tarot cards and explore the occult at the same time this series was popular the use of the characters and the storyline to explain the symbols on the cards and the meaning of the cards is fantastic. It shows how in day to day life and how in that fantastic world of darkness how the cards can be seen. This book bridges the gap between the occult fiction in Buffy and the reality in this world showing.

Each chapter in the book focuses on one of the major arcana cards in the typical tarot deck. The chapter begins with a description of the traditional Raider-Waite card followed by an understanding of the symbolism in the card and the cards meanings both upright and reversed in a reading. The next section of the chapter examines the few ways the card has been manifested in the show. The last section of each chapter focuses on a character from the series that the author believes manifests all aspects of that particular card the best.

The author does not limit the understanding of the cards in the Buffy Universe and the content in understanding the meanings of the cards t just the Buffy the Vampire series. The author does include in several different occasions descriptions of actions and situations from the spin off series Angel, which provided just as much information for the cards as Buffy herself did. The focus of the book though is on the Buffy the Vampire series cannon with the references in Angel being there to highlight the points seen in Buffy.

After reading through this book with a tarot deck, a reader can have a deeper understanding of the message of the cards in their deck. When you look at the episodes mentioned and the charterers with the traditional meanings of the cards its easy to see where the authors choices come from.

The references to a modern pop culture force make the meanings of the cards accessible and easier to understand to a new generation. This generation was raised with the occult in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Angel, and the tail end of the Sabrina the Teenage witch series. By relating the cards to those characters and situations, the people who grew up watching those series can relate to the cards through relating to characters they enjoyed growing up.

Pagan Blog Project: Intention

Intention:

The power behind Magic

Many times we have discussed magic and spell craft on this blog.  There are many different theories about how magic really works and why magic is effective.  There are battles on philosophy on if magic is something that is only in the mind or if it exists outside of the mind and the body.  I will leave the decision on what magic is and how it really works up to you as a reader and spiritual seeker.

Today we are going to examine and discuss magic from its most basic theory and concept.  If you understand the concept of working with your intentions and projecting your intentions to the universe you can start to and understand the very basics of magic and manifesting your needs and desires.  So today we are talking about the most basic form of energy work and magic-the work of our intentions and emotions.

So lets get started then.  I know every one wants to focus and learn magic at some point in their lives.  Who hasn’t wanted to be able to say a few words or do some actions to be able to create change.  The practice of magic does this exact thing.  Working magic can be a way to manifest your dreams and desires in this world and reality.  Magic is one of the tools that we humans have to create needed changes in our lives.

Magic then is the process of directing and manipulating energetic forces towards a desires outcome.  So when you work magic you are directing many different types of energetic forces (Energy basics) out to the universe. By programing them with an idea and concept you give the energetic force a job to do.  This job is determined by how your program that energy.

So what is it that programs our energetic forces and magic?  In the end what programs magic is your intent.  Your intent is the desire behind the spell or ritual.  To put it most simply your intent and desire is what you want to happen in the end.  Your intent when it comes to magic is what you want to happen in your life.  Its that simple.  Your intent is your desire.

When you cast a spell you are working towards something that you want on an emotional level.   Your intent is fueled by your emotions and desires.  This is why in magic its always best to work towards something that you actually need rather than something that you just want or would like to have.  The things that you actually need will have a stronger emotional tie to them, which means the intent behind the spells will be much stronger.

So how do we know what our intent really is?  When a person performs a ritual or a spell for an item they need a clearly defined goal.  Common goals worked on in magic are employment and money, health and healing, love and companionship.  These are three of the most common types of spells and rituals you will find.  With in each of these sections there are many different ways that a specific intent could be found.

Lets work with the example of health and healing.  Many people wish that they could have a healthier life.  Many people struggle with different health issues from high blood pressure and cholesterol to anxiety and depressive disorders the health issues that humans struggle with come in many different shapes and forms.  So it makes sense that the type of healing rituals and health needs that an individual has is going to be very different from any other individual.  This is why it is important to have a specific desire and goal in mind.

So if your goal is for healing and health its important to look at your life.  Look at your personal health and your personal needs.  If you are dealing with issues of high blood pressure you might want to consider doing a spell to release some and relieve some of the stresses that you have in your life.  High stress and blood pressure have been linked.  So if you work on spells to decrease your stress you will be working on your health.  If your health issues are more related to depression and loneliness a spell to increase happiness or friendship in your life would be effective.

So lets focus on depression as the issue that you want to work on with magic.  There are many different ways that you can go about this.   Because even mental health issues like depression is very unique you need to think about exactly what will help you at this specific time.  For example you could work on a spell or ritual to release past hurts and pain, or you could do a spell to increase the amount of joy you have in your life.  Both of these goals are ways that you can work on and obtain the goal of minimizing your depression.    You need to choose the one that best suits your needs and what you are really wanting to do.

In the end the goal that you choose is the actual intent of your spell.  The goal is what you want to make happen.  This is why having a clear intent is important.  This intent provides the guide for the energetic forces to manifest in your life.  The more thought you put into your goal the more emotional power builds up in your intent.  The more time you spend working on the spell and the ritual the more force gets built up.  This force can be focused just by working on your intent and focusing on your intent.

With out an intent spells dont work.  The energy can be sent out into the world, but there will be no directi0n.  You may achieve a goal or a desire, but in the end the energy that has been sent out will have no specific outcome that its trying to make happen.  If you have a vague idea like simply better health, that goal will manifest but there is no idea exactly how it will show up.  Your health could improve in one area but start to loose in another area.  This is why having specific intents and goals is essential in working magic.

Now you dont need to do a full ritual to do magic and to work your intent.  Working Positive Affirmations on a daily basis is another way that you can work your intent and make magic happen.  By stating in a positive way that you already have what it is you want (positive affirmation) the universe knows your desires and intents and can manifest it through your voice and your thoughts.  By working on your thoughts and focusing your thoughts on having your goal, you are working your intention and you are able to work magic.

The important thing to take out of this is that having a clear intention and goal makes for effective magic.  This is why its always best to work on that which you need.  Desire fuels emotional states and emotional states can fuel intention.  By working with your emotions and your thoughts you can and will create powerful changes in your life.  By understanding the power of your intention you can work magic.

 

I: Intuition

Intuition

One of the first things most books on witchcraft and spiritual practices say is to trust your intuition.  If something feels right then do it.  If something doesn’t feel right than it probably isn’t.  If you feel like there is something you need to do or really should be doing than you probably should be doing those things.  These feelings of something needing to be done, and of something feeling right or off are ways that our intuition comes to us and manifests in our world.

There are many different ways that a person can trust and develop a sense of their intuition.  When a person learns to trust their intuition they can really have the world at their feet.  By trusting and working with your intuition a person will essentially “never be guided wrong”.  Your intuition is really your highest self talking to your conscious mind and telling you basically what needs to be done at that moment.  Our intuition is also one of the many ways that our spirit guides can contact us.

Learning to develop a sense of your intuition is typically one of the first things that witches and pagans do.  By developing their intuition a person can better understand messages sent from their Gods and spirits.  It also helps them to better connect to the spiritual forces and energetic needs going on.  By developing a sense of your intuition you also develop a sense of what works and will simply “know” how to work the ritual on that day for that reason.  This is our spirit and ourselves working as one, and when this state is reached one really has become a witch if they practice witchcraft and aware of the spiritual nature of reality if they are not a witch.

For me I have only really recently started to work with my intuition.  For years I knew I had a strong intuition and sense of energetic flows.  I could read energy and see auras.  I was especially sensitive to emotional energy.  For me understanding my intuition and its strength was a scary process.  My readings when I did them were so strong and accurate I scared myself from doing my own readings and for reading for others.  Its only been recently I have realized that this intuition is a gift rather than a curse so I am actively working on recognizing my strengths and listening to my intuition.

The very first time I realized that my intuition would guide me in my magical and spiritual spells was when I created an incense I use in all my reiki and healing work sessions. When I created that first incense I didn’t know what I was making. I just grabbed the herbs I had that dealt with healing energies. I laid those herbs on the floor in front of me and I started to just grab and mix the herbs as seemed right. I don’t remember making measurements or anything along those lines. I just knew that the incense was right. I remembered to write down what I put in the incense so I could try and make it again but aside from that no record was made.

The healing incense that I sell in Mystic Echoes was inspired by and is an offshoot of that original healing incense blend. The core is the same, but there were other factors that personalized the other incense so they are not exactly the same but they are related. The tincture blend is also related. The core is the same with some modifications in both situations to be more generic than the original purely intuitive blend. You can buy those items Tincture & Incense blend

One of the many ways I have started to recognize my intuition has been in casting spells when it seems to be the right time. In the past I have felt a desire to cast a spell or thought that maybe a spell would help deal with this, and never done the work. I never really trusted myself to just do the right thing. In this sense I didn’t trust my intuition to basically tell me what I needed to do for that spell. Now I am being more active in my spell casting. I work my magic when it seems right and when it feels right.

The key way I am developing my intuition when it comes to my magical practices and my spirituality now though is through the development of products for Mystic Echoes and the writing of the exercises and content on the Seeker Sight blog that I also run. By working on both projects I am listening to my inner truths and knowledge and my intuition is guiding me.

With the products I develop for Mystic Echoes I have a concept in mind that I want to work with. I do some research. For example if I were to develop a hex breaker product or products I would look up herbs and items that correspond with hex breaking. I would then just let my intuition look over the list and decide what to use for items. In many cases it also depends on what I currently have available to work with.

I test all of those products as well. So by developing the products I am developing my spirituality, my intuition, my magical practices, and my knowledge of herbs. The herbs seem to work together because I trust that they will work together. My intuition guided me and will continue to guide me in my craft and practices.

I am not sure exactly how I define my intuition. I would call it an inner sense of knowing. I would say that for me my intuition is a combination of things I know within myself and messages and content sent to me through guides, ancestors, and maybe the divine. I don’t necessarily know the difference between which intuitive thoughts and practices are from guides and which is from deep within me. I just know that when I listen to my intuition things seem to work out in the end. When I don’t listen to my intuition things don’t always work out, or I will be tested in the same way or manner until I do listen to my intuition and then do something about it.

Review: The Conjure workbook by Mama Starr

The Conjure Workbook Volume 1: Working the Root is an excellent tome on Southern Conjure work. When I picked up this tome I knew that it was going to be full of Christian mysticism and biblical references. That is what Hoodoo and conjure is. The Southern Hoodoo and conjure traditions are a mixture of folk beliefs from pre-slave days in Africa and the various Christian faiths in the south. This was how the slaves were able to hold on to a bit of their previous culture and identity.

If those who are looking to learn about Hoodoo and conjure work are expecting information to come from a pagan perspective and are looking at this work they will be disappointed. Mama Starr is very clear about her roots and the roots of Southern Conjure which are in Christian belief systems of the south. While she does say that you can be of any belief system and still work the spells and rituals she provides, unless you respect the Bible and understand that it is filled with lore, spells, and practices you will not get anything out of this book.

The author begins the book by discussing the work of ancestors. Here the author begins explaining one of the core concepts and beliefs across Conjure/Hoodoo/Rootwork traditions. There is an overall belief in an existence of an afterlife and that our ancestors will be there to answer us. The author starts by describing how they help us and work with us and finally ends with setting up an altar to venerate and pray to your ancestors.

I mentioned the importance of respect for the Bible as a sacred text and as a book of power as that is the second topic discussed in the book. As I said early on the author is clear in that this book is a southern conjure book which is going to have referenced to the Bible in there. Most of the references are in the Old Testament but they are still Bible references.

After working with the ancestors is covered, crafting altars and work spaces is discussed, and the Bible is mentioned as an important source the Author gets into the spirits and beings that are often worked with in her practice of Hoodoo. Prior to reading this book I was aware of the work with the archangels and the saints. Here I learned of new spirits and beings also associated with Conjure as well as how we can even work with the prophets in the bible.

Each being mentioned came with several different prayers and ways that you can work with them. These early workings are here to give you an idea about the powers each spirit has. These workings also introduce you to the concepts of repeating works, and how actual effort is put into the work. The author makes it clear that these things are repeated several times for effectiveness.

As the book continues the author mentions and focuses on another core belief in rootworking traditions. That belief and practice is one of divination. Starr provides many different ways of working divination including a very traditional practice of reading the bones. While the actual practice of bone reading is not discussed, the author does include its history of use. The author included a photo of her own bone set.

As the book continues the author continues an easy to follow step by step instruction on workings. The author also continues her straight talk. The author is very serious about their work and their tradition. Throughout the book the author mentions how some of these works are dangerous and are not to be simply played with. She does this not to discourage people from doing these works, but to encourage people to take the work seriously.

The author does speak only of their own tradition and practices. While the author does give you all the information you need to create your own Hoodoo/Conjure practice she does encourage you to find an actual teacher to learn more complex works. As an example the author explains why some packet spells written by other authors aren’t as effective as they could be because of folding the paper of the packet in a different manner than she was taught with an explanation of why the other method may actually backfire.

This book is filled with practical information. With the authors attitude, explanations, and the step by step processes in the book the tome The Conjure Workbook volume 1: Working the Root provides everything you need to know in order to effective start working your own spells and rituals. By working the spells in the book you develop understanding of associations and correspondences which can be useful in creating your own effective spells.

Review: The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates

The Way of Wyrd

The book The Way of Wyrd is a fictional story of a Christian Monk who is sent to learn the ways of the Anglo-Saxon pagans. The story is rich and entertaining. The author worked hard to research and present the information in a way that was informative and entertaining. By working the true beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon sorcerers into this work of fiction the author has brought back the use of stories to transmit knowledge and information.

The book is actually in two parts. The first part focuses on the early aspects of the Monk’s training. Here the monk is very skeptical of all the powers the sorcerer claims to work with and hold. While he works hard to learn all he can learn, Brand (the name of the monk) never really believes the ways of the people or that the powers are real.

In this part of the book the author introduces the basic beliefs of the people. The story actually opens with Brand working with Wulf (the sorcerer) at a healing ceremony banishing an evil spirit. This powerful start to the book illustrates a few of the key practices and beliefs that Brand is exposed to as he begins the training. This ceremony is set after he has completed his journey so we see here that Brand has much to learn and yet he was open to them.

In this first part of the book Brand is highly skeptical of the beliefs and practices. There are some that even scare him. Though he is fascinated with the tales of the Gods and of the spirits he does not appreciate their real value aside from primitive beliefs and practices.

The first powerful ritual that Brand is exposed to is an example of his difficulty in attempting to switch worldviews to learn the beliefs and practices. Here Brand is taught about gathering power from plants and how to properly gather the plant and give it an offering.

Other powerful rituals are experienced in this section. Here the author also goes into reading the omens of nature such as the flight pattern of birds and the way fish swim. The largest concept of Germanic paganism introduced here is the concept of Wyrd and knowing how to read and work with Wyrd.

The final experience in this section of the book Brand has is watching Wulf heal an elf shot horse. When Brand declares the process a fraud Wulf knows then that he must make Brand experience these forces or the mission to learn their ways will be a failure. The experience at the farm and Brand’s declaration of being a fraud.

In the second part of the book Brand is forced to encounter the shamanic aspects of Germanic paganism. Here we learn about spirit flight, how our spirits can be stolen, and how to work a soul retrieval in the practices of the Anglo-Saxon sorcerers.

The authors use of the narrative story teaches several elements of Germanic paganism. There are tales of the Gods taught, beliefs about plant lore explored, beliefs of the soul, and much more. The book provides through the story a basic concept and outline of many main beliefs found in Germanic Paganism as well as in Traditional Witchcraft, Anglo-Saxon shamanism, and much more. This book was well researched and written allowing a student to learn concepts in a way that non-fiction books may not be able to portray them.

Pagan Blog Project: E is for Effort

Once again we have a weekly post for the Pagan blog project.  This weeks topic is all about spiritual development and practices.  Its about why they call it working magic and working rituals and not just reading the material.  Today we are going to talk about Effort and why Effort is so important.

Effort in spiritual studies

This is a lesson I have learned myself.  Spiritual development and the development of spiritual and magical skills are like every other skill set and practices.  You need to actually work at them and practice them to develop them.  You can read the theories and some of the exercises and gain a type of knowledge.  When you actually want to make the changes you need to do the actual exercises and work in order to have the experiences.

I’m saying that you need to put effort into the work.  You can’t just do a meditation once and get everything you need out of it.  You cant just do a practical exercise a handful of times and expect to get anywhere spiritually.  In order to really have mystery experiences with spirits and to really develop skills in meditation and mental focus you need to put in effort.

The more effort you put into your spiritual development the stronger your outcomes will be.  The more time you put into development of  your skills the sooner you will be able to see results.  There is a lot of work in spiritual development.  In many places you will have to face your darkest sides and deepest fears.  This is hard work.  This is why it is important to put your all into it.

Often there are meditations to meet Gods and Goddesses.  The more often you do those meditations the more you will learn from them.  The deeper your relationships will grow.  These are part of how mysteries are experienced and spiritual truths are found.  If you only do the meditations a handful of times your relationships will not be as deep as they could be.

Putting effort into your practice and into your studies is going to pay off in the long run.  The better you are at learning to enter a meditative state eventually you will be able to achieve the state any where and at any time by using physical triggers.  You will also be able to manifest thought changes instantly and be able to know how to train yourself to shift one emotional state into another through working vibrations and other techniques.

Pagan Blog Project: E-Energy

Today we are going to cover one of the most basic and yet most elusive concepts found within spirituality and magical practices.  Today even many modern self help and positive thinking programs talk about the effect of energy and working with energy.  Yet none ever really seem to cover and explain what this concept really is.  As a seeker this vague yet all important concept seems to be essential to any and all spiritual development.  So learning about an understanding what this concept is is important.

Energy: What it is and how to work with it

Spiritually the concept of energy is rather vast.  You have it as a force of life.  You can have it be seen as simply magic itself.  Energy comes in many forms, shapes and workings within the spiritual world and work.  As a seeker it is important to come up with your own basic understanding of the types and styles of energy out there.  I am going to provide you a few of my own examples and definitions.  With each type of magic I am also going to provide you with an exercise to work with and create your own understanding of that style of energy.

The first thing I am going to do though before I explain the different types of energy out there and how to work with the magically, spiritually, and effectively in day to day life is provide you with a simple exercise for sensing and feeling energy.  This technique is one of the first energy exercises I ever learned so placing it here will give context to the rest of the energy exercises.

Energy Ball exercise:

This deceptively simple exercise remains one of the most effective exercises for energy manipulation and energy work.  It is from this basic exercise that basically any specific type of energy work can be done.  This exercise teaches to feel and be aware of energy.  It also teaches shaping and direction of the energy.  This is essential to directing more complex energy forces later on in spell and ritual work.

  1. Vigorously rub your hands together creating friction.
  2. Cup your hands about a foot apart.
  3. Focus and see the energy on your hands from rubbing them form a ball between your hands.
  4. Gradually move and shape your hands until you feel a ball in between your two hands.
  5. Move the ball to one hand and then another.  Feel the weight of the ball as it transfers from hands.
  6. After a while start to stretch and change the shape of it to anything you can think of.  Use your hands and your mind to shape the image of the energy force between your hands.
  7. After a few minutes see the energy disperse into the air.
  8. Rub your hands on your legs to return the energy remaining on your hands to your body.

Now write down and note everything you just experienced.  This was your first magical exercise with energy.  You through that exercise were able to raise, maintain, manipulate, direct, and disperse the energy into the world.  For fun you can place thoughts and goals into the balls as you shape them and then when you disperse them those thoughts and goals are sent into the universe.  Try it both ways.  Write down different experiences with your mind, your body, and your emotional state.  You have in that exercise experienced all forms of energy.

Types of energy

Energy as I said comes in many forms.  Each form and style of energy has its use in day to day life, spiritual work, and magical work.  By understanding the different energetic forces in your life you can more effectively work to create a spiritual balance.  You can work more towards a sense of inner peace and have an effective way to work with the world.  We have physical energy, mental energy, emotional energy, and spiritual energy.  All of these energetic forces are working with you at all times.  These are the forces that allow us to live and have day to day experiences as well as significant spiritual experiences.

Physical Energy

Physical energy is probably the most obvious style and type of energy that I have mentioned.  This is the energetic force that gives our body motion.  This energy is created both by activity and by food.  This energy is effected by the foods we eat, physical health (sicknesses, pain, etc), sleep patterns, and behavioral patterns.  Physical energy is also greatly impacted by your mental state and thus your mental energy as well.

Physical energy in magic and spiritual work may not seem to have a place but it actually does.  In ritual the physical energy is the energy our body raises by performing ritual actions.  In some styles of ritual physical energy is also used in the worship through the means of dance or physical movements and actions related to the myths and tales being told.  In working spells the physical energy is the energy you spend manipulating the objects for example in crafting incense the energy spent grinding the herbs in a mortar and pastel or weighing, pouring, and mixing with a grinder is put into the incense to be used for the completion of the spell.  In magic using physical energy is an excellent way to raise and direct energy to the universe through physical actions or directions.

Physical energy exercise

The following exercise is going to help you understand how to judge and feel your personal physical energy levels.  This exercise will also teach you how to work magic using just your physical energy and sending that energy out into the universe.  All you need for this exercise is a space to stand and not be disturbed for 10-15 minutes.  You may also want some music as there will be “dance” involved.

  1. Turn on any music you desired to use for this exercise.  It should be instrumental in nature.  Irish or Celtic instrumental music will work well for this.  Clear the area and make sure you wont be disturbed.
  2. Stand in the center of the area.  Take note of how you feel right now.  Listen to the music and let the music’s beat take an effect on your energy stance.  Slowly start to move to the music.
  3. Think of an idea you want to “grow”.  This should be a new plan, a project, or something you have been working towards you want a boost on getting completed.
  4. Bring your body to the ground.  Basically be a seed.  Make your body into your idea as you dance.  Begin to as you feel a plant would slowly grow towards the sun move your body in this fashion.  Repeat this motion over and over again.  Eventually you will get into a rhythm.
  5. As you dance if you feel the desire to move in a circle or outside of your standing position do so.  Continue to see your desire go from being a seed to a seedling, to a bud to a full mature plant for harvest.  As you dance you will build speed and energy.  Focus and direct this energy.
  6. When you feel you can dance no more jump straight up and move your arms into a point above your head directing the energy from your body into the universe.  See all the energy you have raised going into the universe knowing that it will be worked on and you will get your desire.
  7. Get your notebook and write down your experiences before, during, and after.  Take real note of any physical changes or feelings you had in your body during the exercise.
  8. Eat and drink something to ground and refocus your mind and body on reality.

What you had right there is an experience of working with the physical energy created by our body in movement and through exercise.  That exercise there was given to not only give you an idea about working with physical energy but also about working magic in general.  There are other ways you can work with and experience physical energy.  Exercising is one way-though regular exercise in a gym or through an at home system of some form you can learn the differences before and after exercise in your body’s energy.  It will be different for each of us as all of our bodies are different.  The technique though is something you can apply to basically all bodies.

Mental Energy

Mental energy is another energy that is really simple when you think about it.  In our day to day life this is the energy that we expend on thinking and problem solving.  This is also the energy we use when we focus on a task or concept intensely.  Mental energy then is simply the energy of our thoughts and our brains natural processes.  Mental energy is also the level of our ability to concentrate and focus on a concept and idea.

In our day to day life this is what allows us to write business proposals.  This is what allows us to focus on our tasks at work or at school.  With out our mental energy we can not get anything done.  We could have all the physical energy in the world but if we have no ability to focus nothing will get done.  This is why mental energy is effected by physical energy.

Mental energy like physical energy is also effected by our sleep patterns and behavior patterns.  More than physical energy though our mental energy is tied to the state of our emotional energy.  These three energetic forces (mental, physical, and emotional) make up our basic energetic health and these three all impact spiritual energy.

Now that we know what mental energy is and what it does for us in our day to day life we need to know what it does for us in magic.  Mental energy and magic have a very special relationship.  In magic mental energy is tied to belief energy.  By working mental energy, and belief together amazing results can happen.  This is why it is possible and even effective to cast spells and perform entire rituals just in the mind.

The power of the mind in magic is really what makes magic work.  Magic is the ability to work mental forces to create external and internal changes to the best of ones abilities.  This is why affirmations are a form of magic.  This is also why visualization skills and mental focus training is of great importance in most magical and spiritual practices.  Here is a meme to basically illustrate what I mean:

Chang your thought change your life

Our thoughts create our reality.  That is the role of mental energy in magic.  Have you ever wondered why the things you spend the most time thinking or worrying about are always what seem to manifest in your life?  By focusing on those things you are sending those thoughts into the universe and that is what the universe will bring to you.

This next exercise set will help you learn how to focus your thoughts and use your thoughts to work magic and create noticeable changes in your life.  There are two exercises here because there are two ways I want to illustrate working with mental energy to create changes in your life.  The first is sort of silly but effective for when you are running late and the second is more long term but also effective.

Time bending mental exercise

This first mental energy and mental magic exercise is something I use frequently when I am running late.  This technique here is something I picked up originally from Instant Magick by Christopher Penczak, but I have modified it slightly for my own use as it works effectively both ways.

  1. See yourself and your time stream in one place.  See the time stream of your location or if you are meeting a type of transportation service see their stream going the other direction.
  2. As you focus on the time streams see the other stream slow down and your stream speed up.
  3. See the streams eventually meeting the same speed, direction, and flow but with you slightly ahead of the other.
  4. Hold this visualization until you can no longer focus.
  5. Release the thought and the energy to the universe knowing you will be on time.

You can modify the exercise so that if you only have so much time before you have to leave and you want it to feel longer by slowing down your time stream.  This will allow you to mentally experience time passing slower.

This next exercise is about positive affirmations.  This is about thinking to yourself and saying to yourself repeatedly that you are something or you have something.  By seeing yourself with these attributes and thinking about having these attributes you will begin to develop them and the universe will manifest them for you.

Positive Affirmation Exercise

  1. Write down and consider five different items you are looking for in life.  For example you can write down love, succsess, friendship, prosperity, and appreciation.  These could be five goals that you are looking at working on.  They could be things you need to improve on.  Just have five goals in mind.
  2. Take each goal and write in at least five different ways that you have the goal.  For love for example you might write I am loved.  I have love.  Love surrounds me.  I love.  People love me.  You then do the same for each other goal in a similar fashion.  Note you write these in the current stance.  By saying I have love and I am loved it is manifesting in the known here and now while if you say I will be loved or they will love me it will manifest maybe at some unknown time in the future.   If you focus on not having something like not having debt you will manifest debt because you are focusing on the negative rather than the positive so in stead of saying not having debt or nor debt focus on prosperity or having enough to cover all your needs.
  3. Keep the affirmations by your bedside, probably on your nightstand.  Put them basically somewhere you will see them to recite them every day.
  4. In the morning shortly after waking or in the shower recite each individual affirmation for each goal five times.  Do this for each goal.  The more often you say them aloud the more you will believe it.  The sound of you saying it confirms your mental belief in it.  The two work together to manifest these five goals.  See yourself with each affirmation firmly.  Believe and know that you have them.
  5. In the mid morning repeat the affirmations aloud and mentally as before.
  6. In the afternoon around lunchtime or your midday meal repeat them again as you did before.
  7. Do the same with your afternoon snack or break after work.  Repeat each affirmation for each goal five time.
  8. Before bed once more perform the affirmation exercise for each goal.  This will program it into your dreams and also into the universe.
  9. Perform this exercise daily for two weeks and take notice of how you feel.  You may not believe the affirmations at first but give it time and it will work.
  10. Continue for another two weeks and notice any changes in your state of mind, life, and emotional states.  This will show any progress in manifesting these goals.
  11. After a month you can either continue with the same goals or you can try new ones.  The process of reflection and practice starts again though.

The affirmation exercise is a long exercise but it forms mental bonds and beliefs.  By changing the way you think about something you change the way you work and view the world.  Thoughts and thought processes are very powerful in forming the world we live in affirmations are a way we can work on ourselves and change our thoughts and thus change our reality and our world, and if that is not magic I don’t know what is.

Affirmations may take a little longer to take effect than other magical works, but at the same time the repetition of the visualizations and the verbalization as a daily spell will cause changes.  This is why I have you make a note of the progress after two weeks and then after a month.  After you have done the exercise a month you can change or continue to work.  Its up to you.  However a month is enough time to see some sort of change in your own mental views of the world and yourself which again is magic.

Emotional Energy

Emotional energy is a hot one.  Often times emotional energy and mental energy can become confused.  Emotions are how we feel and how we work.  Our emotions often effect our mental and physical energy is substantial ways.  When we are feeling depressed for example we have little focus (mental energy) and may have less drive or desire to do anything (physical energy).  When we are feeling excited about something we can have either a lot of focus on the subject at hand or we could have no focus on anything until the thing we are excited about happens (mental energy) and physically we typically have a lot of energy when we are excited (physical energy).  The emotional energy then is the excitement.  The mental and physical energy states are the reaction to the emotional energy.

The one thing that drives magic more than the mind is desire.  Desires are formed from emotional reactions to situations and stimuli.  The stronger our emotional reaction to a need the stronger our desire will be and the more emotion and intent we can put into the spell to make magic work.  The emotions we have can be very effective in driving our thoughts and then our behaviors.  In magic we can use this to create thoughts and behaviors which will effectively bring the desires to us rather than keeping the desires in the distance.

So how can we work with emotional energy in magic?  That is simple.  our emotions become our intent for the spell.  Intent is desire or wanted outcome.  Without an intent there is no reason to cast a spell.  So emotions and intent form our reasons for casting spells.  However the emotional energy can also be the force behind the spell physically through actions.  This next exercise is actually going to be a spell for removing stress (often a very difficult emotion to deal with) that uses emotional energy and physical behaviors and reactions to the emotion to drive the spell.

This spell will show you how emotional energy effects the body but also the mind.  This exercise and spell focuses on releasing the emotion through intense focus and action.  This spell is simple and effective.  It also works with the basis of elemental magic.  It actually comes in four different forms (one for each element) for now we will focus on fire.  I will probably post the other spells in elemental theory when I post on that next time I focus on the letter E.

Emotion energy exercise:

Fire stress relief spell

Materials: a candle, a fire safe container to collect ash and burn paper in, paper, and a pen
Spell:

Take the paper and write on it as many details as you can about the stresses you have going on in your life that you want to be gone. Push as much of the stress energy you can into writing down the stressors or stressful situation in your life.

When the paper is full or you have written out everything you can light you candle. Charge the candle with the power of fire. See the fire burning away everything that does not serve you.

Take the paper and rip it up into small pieces. As you tear the paper throw any more frustration and stress you have into the act. Grab the fire safe container. Light each piece of paper on fire from the candle. As the fire burns chant something along the lines of “Fire burn away all that does not serve me on this day”. Repeat the chant as long as each peice of paper burns. See the fire burning away each issue.    See the stresses get burned away with the ashes of the paper as well as with the burning of the candle.

Once all the paper is burned, the candle has burned out, and the ash collected gather the ash and the candle remains. Throw it on the ground outside and stamp on it. As you stamp the ashes into the ground state “Stressors no longer control me” Release any final stressful energy into the ground with that stomping. The forces the stress to be under your feet no longer being what controls you.

As you can see by looking at the spell above you the emotions in stress, anger, frustration, confusion, and even simply stress itself become what you charge the paper with.  You force those emotions out into the paper and into the candle.  The candle and the paper become full of those emotions and when they are destroyed through being burned the emotions are also burned away in your life.  The stomping in the ground is the announcement that those stressors no longer bother you and you have control over your life.

Spirit Energy

Up to now all of the energetic forces are forces that are directly observable and slightly measurable forces and effects on the human body and in our daily lives.  Spirit energy is not really observable or measurable.  It is something that can really only be experienced.  Spirit energy is the energy of our soul.  It is our life force.  This is the energy that makes up ghosts and phantoms.  This is also the energy of the various plants and crystals or physical items used in magic for the spells to work.

Spirit then is something that we can only experience.  Our spirit energy is expended basically by living.  It is effected by physical illnesses, mental states, and emotional states.  Our spirit energy is also our energetic connection to the greater world of nature around us.  It is our spirit energy that we use to communicate with spirits of loved ones through divination, but it is also the energy we use when we try and objectively think about and work for our best needs and desires.

Spirit energy is made up of physical, emotional, and mental energy.  Though it also has divine energy forces.  Spirit energy is the energy of magic.  This is the energy that makes up the universe.  For us it is connected to our soul and thus our minds and bodies.  Though our spirit energy is also connected to the land and the world of spirits around us.  Spirit energy is basically the known yet really unsubscribed and unmeasured force put forth by philosophers and some scientists.

In spirit work it is our spirit energy that leave the body for astral travel.  It is this energy that we use to align to our various spiritual allies.  This is also the part of us that is always connected to the divine currents in the universe.    Some believe our spirit energy is also the form our guardian angel or guardian spirits take.  Though I disagree with that.  Our spirit energy is us and not another being or part of us manifested seperatly.  Our spirit energy is unique to us and lasts for all lives.  It modifies and changes but is always our signature in the universe as it were.

This next exercise is a way for you to align your spirit energy with another spiritual force.  By aligning your spirit energy with another force you are actively working on your spirit energy.  This alignment and vibration exercise will teach you where your original spiritual energy is and where it will be after the exercise.  This exercise will also help you develop a stronger connection with various spiritual forces as you are trying to be at their spirit energy level.

Spirit Vibration energy exercise

  1. Set up a space with quiet instrumental music.  You may want candle light as well as some incense.  The idea is to create an atmosphere for meditation and spiritual work.  Make sure you will not be disturbed for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm and center yourself.
  3. Get yourself into a meditative state through self hypnosis, breath control, or what ever means you find useful for entering meditative states.
  4. State mentally and verbally “I vibrate in harmony with (insert spirit name or type of spirit here)”
  5. Repeat the statement over and over again.  As you repeat the statement see yourself spiritually becoming one of those spirits.  Feel yourself becoming filled with and full of that spirit energy.
  6. Continue letting your vibrations rise and your visualization develop.  As you continue the chant and the visualization if the spirit allies are welcoming to you, a door will open to their spirit realm and world.  Enter the world.  Take note and try to remember what you see and feel.
  7. Hold on to the energetic forces, visualization, and chant until you can no longer hold them.  Then release the energy and the vibration back to the universe.  You will slowly find your self returning back to your body.
  8. Record and note your feelings throughout the process
  9. Eat something to ground and center yourself.

You mat notice now that you physically and mentally feel a little different.  This means that the alignment was successful.  By repeating the exercise with those particular spirits you will be able to establish stronger vibration connections and a deeper relationship with those spirits.  This exercise also provides you with a simple and effective way to experience astral travel and astral spirit work.

Conclusion

This entry has provided you with several different exercises for spiritual development and focus.  This entry also introduced you to some of the most basic concepts of energy work.  You have felt and experienced all the different types of energy that exist within ourselves.  This entry has given you many tools to effectively start working magic and to start making simple and effective changes in your spirituality every day.

By working through these exercises our connection to the energetic forces will grow stronger.  We will be able to sense the energy of the world around us and we will more effectively be able to judge how much of each energy to use in a specific working.  These basic exercises will form the foundation of much deeper work.  They will also strengthen spiritual mussels and connections to our self and our spiritual guides.

The tools are now yours.  Discover for yourself what these energetic forces are.  Use these tools now to create your own theories about magic and spirituality.  The world is yours to explore and discover the mysteries.  I can provide you insight and tools to have experiences but you must do the work yourself.

Good luck.  As always if you have any questions, concerns, or comments feel free to ask and post them.  I will do my best to answer and respond to them.  The more you ask me the better I can provide information and insight for you.  The better I can assist you in your spiritual development.

Pagan Blog Project D: Direction, Decisions, & Divination

Crossroads1

 

Direction and Decisions

The last few posts have given you several things to think about as a seeker.  As you have thought about those things and your own beliefs you should have compiled or started to find a list of belief systems or religions that match up to what you are looking for to some extent.  These religions and spiritual paths should have as many things related to your beliefs as possible.  You may find there are a few which only have a few of your major beliefs in them but not all of them.  That is ok.  The point is you have a list of paths and options.  No what do you do?

You need to make some choices.  You need to make some decisions on where you want to go now.  There are options.  Now you need to choose.  So how to choose?

Direction

Right now you may have a list of belief systems you are eager to explore that have things you want to explore.  There may be many parallels in beliefs to what you hold.  This is a good position to be in.  It means you know what you believe you are just looking for more structure and concepts to develop from.  You are looking for direction.   Having a direction in which to focus allows stability and confidence building.  Focusing on one specific direction can and will deepen spirituality.

Choosing that direction can be difficult.  I myself look over all the paths I have studied that have things I believe in and wonder where I should go in my studies. I’m sort of in a cross roads right now myself as well which is part of the reason for writing this post.  Directions can and will change in your studies and as your path and your spirituality grows.  This is also a good sign that you have learned a lot in one area but need to grow in another.  By changing directions and choosing a new direction when you start you already really begin to grow.

So to begin choosing your direction you should look at two of the paths or religions that inspire you the most.  These are good places to start your exploration.  These will be the focus of your deciding factor. You will still want to read about and research the other paths out there that interest you.  There is a reason they are interesting to you.  They have something to offer that you will benefit from.  For now though having one direction or focus is essential.

This direction will for some time be the focus of your studies and growth.  You will use this to establish your foundation if you are new to exploring spiritual options.   Here you will start to establish relationships with specific gods and spirits according to the path you choose to walk.  Here after you do additional study you may want to then do a dedication and deeper studies for a while before exploring elsewhere.  The point is the direction you pick will be the foundation of your spiritual home and your path.

If you have been exploring spirituality your new direction will add a new level to your spirit house and you will have a deeper knowledge base to choose from.  This will expand your spiritual awareness.  You will probably meet new guides and spirits in the new direction you choose to explore.  Your previous understandings will develop and may slightly change.  You are reaching the next level in spirituality and practice as it were.

Making the decisions

Now that I have highlighted the reasons for choosing one direction rather than exploring multiple paths at once it is time to explain and go over how you can make the decision for yourself.  There are many ways you can make the decision about which path to take.   I am going to list them here and then go into each one in a bit more detail.  In the end there are two ways you can really go about making this.  You can do a soul and spiritual searching of it or you can do some practical work.  You can also do a combination.

Spiritual decision making aids

Here are the spiritual and insightful methods. There is a meditation method.  There is the prayer method.  You have divination through cards or even using a pendulum.  You finally have the what does my heart say about what I know about this path right now method.  All of these methods involve working with a spirit or some aspect of the hidden self you have to contact in some form.  Now I will expand on each of those methods.

I am going to start with the meditative method.  The meditative method actually comes in two forms.  The first form involves contact with your own spirit guides and guardians for advice.   The second form of the meditative method is a bit more introspective yet just as effective.  Both are in a meditative state so they are both the meditative method of making your decisions.

The first meditative method to discuss then is the method where you contact your spirit guides and guardians.  Here you can go into a meditative state and contact your spirit guides and guardians for advice.  You can give them an idea of why you are having difficulties with this decision.  You can ask them where they think you should go.  They may give you an idea or they may show you something that you have to think about.    Either way through contacting your spirit guides you have been given their insight on the matter which should prove useful for your own decision making.

The second meditative method is less about spirit guides and more about yourself and your thoughts.  The idea here is that you will get into a meditative state and you will be able to focus on asking yourself the question “which path is mine?”.  You may find symbols appear that relate to one path.  That is your answer.  You may even find yourself brought on some sort of vision quest by your higher self.  That quest there and that experience there.  Either way your answer comes from yourself, your heart, and your spirit.

The prayer method is a method that many people use.  Here you will work on praying to spirits or guides for the answer.  If there are specific Gods and Goddesses in either path that you are interested in more than others you can pray to them.   If there is a specific type of spirit found in each culture you are interested in you can also pray to them. You can also pray to both pantheons in a general reaching out prayer and see who answers.    The same thing applies to the various spirit entities found in the different paths.

When you are working with the prayer method you are leaving the answer to the question up to the Gods and the spirits.  In the end it will be them who make the decision about accepting your worship or working with you or not.  You can not force a deity or spirit to work with you that is not willing to work with you.  For this reason many people recommended prayers above other methods.  All of the methods I am telling you about are useful and worth trying.  I do have to agree that prayer is one of the more powerful ways to connect with willing spirits and Gods.

Divination methods of decision making

Divination is a method that takes many forms.  Here you have tarot cards and oracle cards.  You also have pendulums and scrying.  Channeling is also a form of divination.  In using divination you are spending the time contacting the spirits directly.  From how you connect to the spirits the various forms work to provide the answer.

In the oracle card methods (tarot decks and other decks) the answer comes out through the meaning of the cards pulled. By looking at the order the cards were pulled and where they stand in the reading your answer can be interpreted.  There are thousands of different oracle decks out there.  Tarot cards are one form.  Doreen Virtue has several oracle decks out there as well.  In working with these decks you will find that some card decorations and symbols speak to you more than others.  Those are the decks you want to work with.

On to Pendulums! With the pendulum you will have a movement answer for yes and a different answer for no.  One of the best ways to use a pendulum in this fashion would be to hold the pendulum over the text of the paths you are interested.  Ask it if its for you.  The answer will be in the movement.  Do it over the other text and see the answer.  If you don’t get an answer from either of those you may just need to take more time or try another method.

Now not everyone has a stone pendulum.  That is ok.  I am going to share a secret with you.  Ready?  Every one can make one themselves.  Yes.  You can make a pendulum yourself with objects you have around your house.  If you have string or something to suspend the item with you can make a pendulum.  The best examples are taking a necklace chord unused and put a ring in the center.  Then hold the necklace with the ring suspended.  Ask it for yes and ask it for no.  Presto instant pendulum.

Scrying is the next item on the list.  Scrying is basically starting into a reflective surface and relaxing your gaze.  After some time an image will appear.  There are many methods and ways of accomplishing this methods.  You have the fire method which can include candles, campfires, wood stoves, and much more.  There is the water method.  Here you can use ice, a glass of water, a lake, a pond, or basically any form of water you can think of.  Other methods include using a reflective mirror made for that purpose or through using a crystal ball.  Other people may be able to use incense smoke of fire smoke to scry.  Try it and good luck.

Channeling is the final method that was mentioned as a way of working divination.  In channeling you basically call a spirit into your body or mind for the answer.  You ask them the question and they will be answer.  This is the process that mediums use.  If you are not comfortable speaking you can try the same method with automatic writing using a paper and pen to let the spirit basically write down the answers to the question.

So I have given several different ways you can work divination to get an answer.  The idea behind divination is that you are working with a spirit or your higher self for an answer.  The answer is coming from outside of you.  The only real difference between these styles mentioned is the fact that they all use different techniques.  The philosophy behind their use and why they work though is basically the same.

Spirits and Gods can be powerful allies in answering questions.  They have access to wisdom that we do not have.  They can also be very powerful teachers in our spiritual development.  All of the above methods are ways of contacting these guides and beings for assistance in making the decision about the path you are about to take.  I must be mentioned however the above methods of making a decision with spiritual aids can be used for other situations in life.  Here they are just used as tools in choosing your spiritual paths.

 

Practical decision making tools

I have just spent some time illustrating ways that you can combine looking for a spiritual and religious path with doing active spiritual path work and spiritual development.  While these tools are important to be used in working with spiritual choices there are other options.  You can use your day to day decision making tools as well to work with this. 

What are your day to day decision making tools?  Well there are a few.  You have pros and cons, evaluating available information on the topic at hand, space and time, economic, and you also have emotional aspects to play into this as well.  Anything you would use to make a decision in the rest of your day to day life you can use for spiritual choices as well.

I’m going to start with a basic tool.  The pros and cons tool.  This tool allows you to list all the good things about taking this path.  It also gives you a place to list any issues or problems that could come up because of practicing this path.  You can if you feel the need to make a column for places of thoughts that are not an issue or a great thing but just there, or something you are not sure where it goes.  That would be the column for that.  When you have listed everything you can think of in one page for one path do it for the other path as well.  When you have done both take some time to rest before looking at them and comparing the three lists.

The tool of evaluating the amount of available information on a subject is actually quite important when choosing a path to work with.  There are some paths out there which have a lot more information on them than others.  This may have already been a consideration in the Pros and Cons aspect of the path.  For some people the lack of or overwhelming information of a spiritual paths practices can be a key reason in their interest in pursuing it.  You should consider this as you look at your options for paths.

The factors of space to practice, time to practice, and the economic aspect may actually all fall together under one thing which is can I practice this path where I am now with what I have now?  Some cultures have rituals that require elaborate dances or at least a lot of movement for space to work the spiritual paths.  Other paths may work with herbs that are expensive and exotic or out of your reach.  How much time will it take to perform the ritual?  These are all things to think about.  If you can’t effectively perform the rites where you are with what you have is it worth investing your spiritual energy into spirits and Gods that may not respond for lack of traditional rituals?

Finally one thing we all use in our day to day decisions is our emotional reactions.  Some of us are going to have stronger emotional reactions to the tales and legends of spirits and Gods than others will.  Looking at the emotional reactions we have to thinking about the culture, the myths, and the powers we read about in some cultures may be where we should be looking for answers.  Here is a personal example.  I for one have always been fascinated by Egyptian Gods and myths as well as their culture.  Yet when I read the myths I feel no emotional response.  I had no interest previously in looking at the Germanic Gods.  However when I read the myths and legends I had an emotional response.  This proved to give me insight into my spiritual direction.  I urge you to look at your emotional responses to myths and legends as you read them.

 

Conclusion

In this blog post I have given you several tools to use to make your decisions regarding which paths to study and follow when you are attracted to multiple paths.    You can always go back and explore the other paths after you have done some study and practice of the first path you choose.  I strongly believe that we can all find truths in every path out there.  It is just up to us to find them as individuals.

 

*Photo found on http://www.alanbrookscrossroads.com/*
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