Category Archives: soul
Review: 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.
Pagan Blog Project-A: Asking and answering questions
Asking and Answering Questions
Why we ask questions of ourselves
The process of seeking spirituality is a difficult one. There are a lot of questions that come up as you being to question your path and your beliefs. Many people when they leave their previous belief systems don’t really understand what they are looking for. They may feel something missing but be unsure of what it is exactly they need. During this period its good to read anything you get your hands on. You should read basically any material regarding religions and spirituality you are drawn to. There may be something in those sources that fits what you are looking for, or it could provide you with more confusion.
When you begin seeking a path there is often more information out there than you can handle at once. There are so many texts and websites all offering different insights on how to start and where to begin the practice. They all offer different insight into the lore and the belief systems of various religions and paths. Its too much to take in and can cause confusion and ultimately frustration. Don’t worry. There is something you can do to fight this problem.
So before you throw out all your books on the different topics out of frustration, before you find yourself hopelessly lost in the sea of information you should ask yourself some questions. Wait? Ask myself questions? You got it. Ask yourself-your higher self (spirit guide, soul, how ever you want to see the part of you that is connected to the divine and exists in the spirit worlds) to answer some questions. Your spirit will answer. Even if the answer is not exactly specific pr uncertain you will at least have a place to start.
OK so I get asking questions now. So what are these questions? These questions are questions that will help you find the path you are looking for. They will shed light on what you personally believe. You may think you know what you believe but have you ever really asked yourself what you believe? Many haven’t considered their position on many beliefs out there that you might not find in traditional religions or spiritual paths.
Asking the questions
So here are the questions. There is one big overall question with some smaller questions for each section. This is to make you really think about all aspects of the questions. They may seem simple but these are deep questions that you need to think about. As you write down these questions create a journal and write your answers down. You may want to focus on one question or question set at a time.
1: What is your belief in deity?
Do you believe in multiple Gods or just one God? Do you think that one God can manifest in different forms? Do you believe that the multiple Gods are all different individuals? Do you believe that the divine exists in everything and everything is part of the divine?
2: What do you believe in regards to spirits?
Do you believe that all things contain spirit (animals, plants, rocks, trees, rivers, oceans, mountains, etc)? Do you believe in different types of spirits (Dragons, Fairies, Elves, Dryads, Nymphs, etc)? Do you believe in angels and or demons? What are the relationships these spirits have with humans? With the divine? Do you believe in spirit guides?
3: What is your belief in the soul?
Do you believe in a soul? Do you believe in an eternal soul or does the soul die/change after death? Does the soul have multiple parts (like a mind, the spirit guide, etc) or is it one thing? How does the mind relate to the soul? The body? Is the spirit and the soul the same thing?
4: What is your belief in death and the afterlife?
Do you believe in reincarnation? Do you believe in heaven? Hell? Do you think that there is a place where we go after we die till we are reborn or till our memory fades away? Do you believe in multiple afterlives and multiple realms of the dead?
5: What is your belief in magic?
Do you believe in magic? What is magic to you? Is it something you want to use in spirituality? Is it something you want to be a part of your religion? Are you looking to use magic for more practical means? Do you think prayers are spells and magic?
6: Religion or spirituality?
What does religion mean to me? What does spirituality mean to me? Do I need one to have the other? What do I want out of religion? What do I want out of spirituality?
Answering the questions
I just gave you a lot of questions to answer and think about. I don’t expect the answers to come to you easily. The idea is that you will think about these questions. You might be wondering how do I answer these questions? I can’t really answer that. You have to find the answers yourself. I can show you how I answered these questions myself, and continue to answer them myself.
I have a journal that I have used to write down these questions and the answers I have come up with. I have one page that lists all of the questions. I start with the first question I asked. I center myself through breath and focus. I call to my higher self and spirit asking that they provide me with the direction to go in. I then focus on the question and just start writing down my thoughts related to the question.
Don’t limit yourself. Write down all the thoughts that come into your mind when you think about the question. Don’t worry if there are questions you think of when you answer it. Write them down as part of your response. This the gives you something to work with. When you feel that you can’t say any more on the subject you have channeled all the answers you will have for the time being in regards to that question.
Write down your experiences with any of these things. If you have experienced the divine write about that in the questions about the divine. Write about spirit encounters under spirit beliefs. Experiences often say more than beliefs. If experience something you don’t necessarily need to believe in it as you have first hand knowledge and experience of it. If the experiences made you question something or want to know more about something write that in. Most pagan and spiritual paths are mystery and experience based. That is why including personal experiences with these entries is important.
What if I can’t think of anything to write? What if my answer is I don’t know? Then you start with that. Just keep working the pencil. As you repeat “I can’t think of anything to write” you will eventually find some thoughts coming into the page. If you keep repeating I don’t know eventually you will have a few thoughts or ideas filter into the writing. This is your answer. Your starting point.
Once you have answered a question give yourself a day before going on to the next question. Do not underestimate the amount of spiritual energy and mental energy used when writing these answer and thinking about these questions. You do not want to overwhelm yourself when you first begin seeking. The more time you spend writing about and thinking about spiritual concepts, practices, and the like the more comfortable and aware you will become of the energy used around you.
Using the information
Once you have answered the questions you have asked yourself give yourself a day or two before reading them. This will give your mind and your soul a little rest. You have been asking and looking deep at big questions. A day or two to wait before reading your reflections and thoughts is not a bad thing. You have given yourself a lot of information from deep down and processing it will take time,
So where do you go from here? The next thing you need to do is look at each question group specifically. Start with the deity question. If you found answers along the lines of multiple deities than you have an idea that looking at pantheons may be a good place to start. From here you can then think about any cultures you feel drawn to and start with those myths and god concepts. Then you look at the spirit question. If you already have a pantheon look within other myths and fairy tales or folklore to learn about the spirits in that culture. If you don’t have a pantheon or god concept to start with then looking into shamanic practices is a starting point. I think you see where I am going with this.
The idea is that by answering the questions you can find cultures and spiritual paths that deal specifically with those beliefs and concepts. You may find several different paths that hold similar beliefs. At this point you will be able to read and look at them all. Now is the time to write down as you read what you agree with in a path and what you don’t agree with. You’ll already have an idea of your own beliefs. So finding where you fit in is easier.
The journal you started with answering these questions is going to serve as your spiritual development journal. This is where you will continue to write down questions you have. You will write down what you agree with in certain paths, what you don’t agree with and the things you are not sure about.
As you continue you will find more questions and more answers. You may find that when you review your original answers you have questions there to explore. You may have found the answers to those questions. If you do write a page about that question, when you asked it, and when or where you found the answer in your journal. There will probably be some repetitive entries, but that’s ok. It is your journey and it is going to be unique to you and you alone.
PBP: A is for Assesment of self and belief
As long as I have been searching for answers in my spirituality and religious practuces I have at least once a a year h as to asses my beliefs and what my practices are. The next 4 questions I answer were asked by Orion Foxwood in his book :The Faery Teachings. These questions are designed to make a seeker try to figure out what they personally understand about the universe before they become a member of any one tradition or practice. In this way a seeker figures out what they believe and understand for themselves.
The next few questions come from both the questions asked in the book and from the episode in Babyblon 5 where Dalen is asked by “Jack the Ripper “Who are you” and all she can come back with is family lineage, social status, political status, and jobs as descrpitions. She had no other answer. The trick of these questions is that it is easy to answer in labels, but its harder to define who you are at the core. In assessing yourself and your own beliefs you have to come to understand who you are and what you as an individual believes and understands reality to be.
I have personally found these four questions to be an excellent first step in find out where you belong as a person. It’s why I have taken the time to answer them here so that my followers can understand my development as well as I can come to understand myself and my views better as I work on forming this tradition and my own cohesive practice to teach my family, friends, children, and other seekers.
Four questions to assess one’s beliefs
My answers to those same questions
1: Who am I?
I am myself and no one else. I am the sum of my experiences. I am both who I was born and my experiences while a part of my biological family, the child of my first foster family and those experiences, the daughter of my two adoptive parents, and my fiance’s wife. Each of those people are me and I am all of them. I have a different role and relationship in each family and yet they are me.
Those experiences have added to who I am,
I am also the sum of all my social, spiritual, and emotional experiences up to this point.
In some ways this makes me a Christian, a Witch, a Christian Heretic, Satanist, and Witch again all at the same time. I embrace all of those titles because of them has added to my knowledge and wisdom of the universe. I am a Christian in that I accept the words and teaching of Christ as an excellent guide to life.
I also believe he was a wise and enlightened man who was the son of a God and thus a demi God until his ascension. This is why I still honor his birthday and his sacrifice. I see them as what they really were-lessons for enlightenment and the true path as outlined by his father.
I am also an event on a specific event in the world wide web of fate which includes all my previous experiences and lives. I am ultimately both just what you see in this life and the sum of any and all previous lives. Here and now I am a daughter, sister, friend, lover & wife all at the same time. I am also a witch, a teacher, a student, and a philosopher. I am many-things at once, but none of those individual things make up the totality of who I am.
I am a single event in the universe.
As a witch I only have the power to effect my own strand of fate in the universe. While having an effect on this single strand has an effect on all the strands of fate that make up reality, I can only really work changes on myself and my personal reality which is not the same any any one else reality. My reality is how I have been effected by any and all the events within my strand of fate (mostly within this current event on the strand) going back to when it was first woven into the web of life which is reality in it’s truest sense.
2: What is it (God, creator, force, ect)?
Out of all the questions that are asked this is often the most difficult question for me to answer. The simplest response that I can give in all my titles and experiences is that “IT” is ultimately a mystery. The true divine force behind the universe as far as I have been able to see and experience is really undefinable. There has only been one source which really explained what “It” or the ultimate force behind creation is. That book is The Kyballion.
It has been through reading that book which I have really started to get an understanding as to how the universe works and why there are so many different paths out there which can lead a person to “truth”. That book to me also explained why magic can work and why it might not work at times.
In simplest terms I believe the creative force of the universe to be essentially a mind of some sort which exists in a form we can not completely understand. This force is best explained as a giant living mind in which we are creations of that mind. The Kyballion identifies this force and mind as “spirit” which is essentially the unidentifiable aspect of what makes something alive different from something which is dead.
I see this mental force to be the initial force of thought which drove the universe into creation. I see this force inaction in various creation myths where some thought of some sort starts the first action which in the end creates either just Earth or the universe. I strongly believe that thought is power and that the way we perceive the universe and situations holds the key to accessing the mysteries available to us in this life time.
The concept of a “Great moving spirit” is not uncommon in various Native American traditions.
Now I do believe in many and all deities. The answer to both of those questions is yes. However that is something which I’ll get into in my next entry about beliefs.
3: Why am I here/Why do I exist?
This is a difficult question to answer.
The first answer that comes to mind is that I was brought into this world to serve the Gods I worship in some way shape or form. This is typically what I like to think and have based my life on. Under this view I believe I have a specific type or work or skill set I am supposed to use in service to my Gods.
The second answer I have is based on Wyrd which is:
I believe that the events that have occurred thus far on my chain of fate are there because of something from the past. I believe that what ever happens to any one in any life has a basis on any and all events which occurred in a previous event on your thread under another ego/body. There for I am here because of my fate and Wyrd
The third answer I have is: that I am simply here because I am.
In many ways the three answers are related. Today I still feel I am here to serve my Gods. For the longest time I thought that meant as a psychological healer (therapist of some sort) but I have come to realize that it’s not the path for me in this lifetime. While I am still meant to serve my Gods, it is not as a healer in that regards. Its more as a guide and teacher for others.
I am a natural healer, so I will not abandon that practice. I’ll just guide others and find other ways to heal people with their mental/emotional/spiritual issues.
I am here to serve and I will find my way.
4: What happens when we die?
I have many theories, philosophies, and beliefs as to what happens when we die. This belief system regarding the afterlife and how humans are both mortal and immortal at the same time actually includes several different belief systems. One thing I have accepted as I have become a witch is that as a witch I can not get out of exploring some of these mysteries while alive.
In some ways that is related directly to the etymology in different cultures regarding the terms and practices.lore surrounding witches, It is actually an aspect of being a witch that I have come to be honored to accept and proud to explore and discuss in my own path.
To put it simply I believe that all afterlives exist. I also think that if you believe strongly enough that there is nothing aside from this life then when you die your done. If you entertain in the slightest that there could be something else than something may happen to you. What ever religion or spiritual path you took the most advice in is what will happen to you.
I will discuss this more in my post about death. For now I believe in multiple types and realms in the afterlife. I also believe in reincarnation and that part of who I am now once I am dead will remain in the underworld while another part of me will be reborn.
Pagan Blog Project: B: breath The essence of Life and much more
The essence of life and much more
No real introduction to this post. I am just going to cut to the chase, This is a post I have been meaning to write for two weeks because there are essentially two key points that I wanted to make with this topic that would benefit two separate posts. One is on the origin of it’s spiritual component and the other is on a magical aid and as a trance inducing practice. Like I said both of these posts would be related in that they are both centered around the concept of breath and what it means.
One of the reasons I have both felt the need to write these posts and have been unable to complete or even begin starting these posts is that here in Maine its the middle of winter and that’s bad news for asthmatics like myself. If I am struggling to breathe properly it makes sense that while I would both be in the perfect state to explain the properties of Breath as life I am also not in the best states to think of anything but focusing on my own breath.
It is with both of these things in consideration (and the personal stress I was feeling for not posting for two weeks at this point) that I have decided to write this post. I have a lot of different sources to pull on how breath is both life and is also counted to be an aspect and an essence of the soul (though I’ll try to give enough info for you to create your own opinion). This is a wide topic so let’s start with science and the birth of a human baby and the “actual full death” of a human.
Breath in the human life cycle
After a mother has given birth to her child the doctor slaps the baby on the ass to begin crying and thus start breathing. A human is not considered alive if they are not breathing. If a baby does not cry with that action they are not alive and thus need work to be able to breathe or may be considered dead. In the elderly a person’s whole mind and spirit could be gone yet their body kept alive through food and automatic breathing considered “life support”.
The ability to breath and to have the freedom to some what control one’s breath has always been part of what makes a person alive. So long as a person is breathing and their body can “physically” function even with the support of machines a person is technically considered alive. This is a thought and a concept that has been buried deep within human cultures and thoughts for many reasons and a lot of it relates back to lore and mythology.
I mention that this has been buried deep and that would be correct. There are many different mythologies around the creation of man. There are two central themes I have found that in the creation of humanity. One is that we have been physically created out of the earth by the hands of the Gods. The other is that it wasn’t until the Gods gave us breath that we became fully alive, even if other Gods had contributed other factors to what made a human being, we were not alive until we were given breath by the Gods.
There are two examples that I can think of that support this though. . While many people may not be able to understand and accept this, when it comes to the creation and what actually brought humans to life Christians and those who follow Germanic paganism have one thing in common: The breath of life from their High God.
I’ll start with the creation myth of humans from the Poetic Edda (one of the Norse and Germanic sacred texts):”
17. Then from the throng | did three come forth,
From the home of the gods, | the mighty and gracious;
Two without fate | on the land they found,
Ask and Embla, | empty of might.
18. Soul they had not, | sense they had not,
Heat nor motion, | nor goodly hue;
Soul gave Othin, | sense gave Hönir,
Heat gave Lothur | and goodly hue.”
Here Soul is often equated with physical life. The warmth of our body and fact that it actually reflects life was the gift of Honir. Two of the elements that make humans alive were given from one deity. The abilities to make sense/understand the world is one of the gifts of the Gods. That gift was given by Honir. Finally we have Odin’s gift. Other translations list Odin’s gift last as it is not until breath and life is actually given to Ash and Embla that the first humans come to life.
As you can see from my analysis soul and breath in Germanic lore are associated. The breath of life is important. It enters our body at birth and leaves at Death. The breath can be seen as being the vessel for the soul. It enters at birth and leave on death. That s what the soul is. In some ways the soul and the mind and the breath can all be linked exactly to life. The heart starts working before the mind, and the breath.
In the book of Genisis humanity is not aware or alive until God gives them the breath of life:
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
So that is the connection in the creation of humanity. In both cultures humans were born from the earth in some form. In Christianity it’s from dust. In Germanic lore it’s from trees that we were born. In both sets of lore it is also only through the gift of the breath of life that humanity becomes aware and able to live.
A: Ancestors and Why Ancestral veneration exists
One of the common theme that anthropologists have found with prehistoric religion as well as with some more of the ancient pagan religions that ancestral veneration and respect was a central theme. There were often rituals done specifically to honor the ancestors and there were often altars specifically designed for ancestral worship. There were also shrines to the spirits of the land which have been connected to ancestral veneration.
So a question I asked myself often was what it actually meant for ancestors to be worshiped. They were dead and gone. While I believed they existed and continued to live in some sort of afterlife I never really figured out why it was important. Then one day I was reading a book about traditional witchcraft which explains why if you are worshiping nature and the land that you really are worshiping your ancestors.
The body when it becomes buried or cremated ultimately becomes a part of the earth. The body contains a part of your spirit and your soul. That part is released into the land once you have passed on. It means they are the earth and as a nature worshiping witch I must be honoring my ancestors as well.
I then started to understand the rituals behind the sacrificed king and the blood into the land. By feeding the ancestors we feed the essence and spirits of the land. By placing the sacred king as a sacrifice and having his blood spill into the land the world was fertile for the next year. The worship of the land and the veneration of the ancestors were essentially the core of the ancient beliefs.
Some people have theorized that the spirits of the land were actually the spirits of the ancestors. Some people believe that the elves in various traditions are based on ancestors and spirits of people being sacrificed at specific locations for religious purposes. The identity of the recent sacrifice would merge with the essences and personalities of the other sacrifices and a spirit built of all of them would be born.
Ancestral veneration was important and for me still is important. In some ways it has helped me deal with the losses of several of my loved ones. It also helped me gain some closure with my adoption and loss of that sense of self. Once I started to accept that I could still see and interact with my ancestors each and every day my path became more meaningful and I started to really understand and explore the true nature of underworld religious traditions.
Pentalism is definitely an underworld tradition at it’s heart. There are all sorts of spirits and world that are traveled to and explored in this path. There is an entire mystery set related to the mysteries of the underworld, the soul, and reincarnation. These were actually some of the very first mysteries I experienced within my training in the Temple tradition. It’s also related to my philosophies of the elements which I will get to in another little while.
Why do I practice an underworld tradition? In essence this tradition and practice has come to accept that the core essence of the universe is that there can be no creation with out destruction, no life with out death. I have come to see that there really is no difference between the two, except for their polarity on the pole of life.
In some ways I really started to understand how my rituals and magic are ways to maintain the balance of the creation/destruction from starting to embrace the underworld aspects of my path and of the religions I have studied. Things have started to fall in place and I began to understand the dynamic polarity that allows for fertility of life (the creation and destruction). I started to see the mysteries of nature.
Once I started to worship my ancestors and pray to them I began to feel more complete. My theology and philosophies were really beginning to meld together and become a cohesive whole. I was starting to see my path form some syncretic aspects which has been important to me. It was nice to see how I really was beginning to understand what it means to be a member of a mystery religion.
I have really started to understand why people took such care of their dead. In some ways I can also see now why so many people in America have an issue dealing with death and the loss of a loved one. Other cultures have no real issues with death. They understand it’s necessity and importance.
From worshiping my ancestors I was able to look at the cycle of life in a new way. When I took my physics class and we went to discuss basic astrophysics regarding the formation of stars and the forces involved I started to see the larger picture. I really started to understand what it means to be alive and in this universe. I can’t explain it any better than this image so I will end my post by saying these images when you apply it to the life cycle on earth you see how earth is a microcosm of the macrocosm which is the universe.
Samhain and Hallowmas- The festival of the dead and the ancestors (Pagan Blog Project)
Samhain and Hallowmas:
The Holy Week:
Death and Rebirth in the cycle becomes complete
Part 1: The Spiritual Aspects and implications
I write this as Samhain and Hallowmas come to a close. The festivals of the dead and the transition from the lords of the land to the lords of the underworld completes the transition. I figured that as part of my job to help seekers on their search for questions I should provide some insight as to exactly what this sabbat is about and why people celebrate the sabbat in the ways that they do. Like everything else there are many ways to explain and experience the mysteries of these sabbats and not every ones view will agree with yours or even make sense to you. All I can do is provide my own insight based on my personal experiences and sources.
As I have started to develop my own personal theology this sabbat has come have a different meaning to me than other people might have. That is why in my own practice I call the holiday I celebrate Mortedon. However since most people are familiar with the names Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day that is what I will use here.
According to many sources this time of year could easily be considered the witches new year. The God is officially dead and in the underworld. He wont be born again until the Winter solstice and as such he is dead and in the underworld. This is the time to transit between one working season and the other. It is a time of completion and reflection that may bring about the planning ad start of the new planting season for the next harvest.
In many ways the major difference between those who call themselves Traditional witches and those who consider themselves Wiccan is that the majority of the rituals in traditional witchcraft deal with ancestral veneration and ancestors as divine while the rituals found within Wicca focus on the God and Goddess or Lord and Lady rather than the ancestors. This is alright. Not every one is meant to worship and venerate the ancestors. Anthropologically it has been said that ancestral worship was the first form of worship, which is why for me it has become a source of my foundation.
I actually appreciate these different theological styles. There is one holiday in which they both meet and they both share the same view. It is viewed by both paradigms (Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft) as a day to honor both the dead and the ancestors as well as the God and Goddess. It is also an acknowledgement by both sides that the season of reflection is upon us. It is now that we must spend our time upon reflection and preparation for the new year and seasons.
Samhain, All souls Day, All Saints Day, Ancestor Night…all of these are names for essentially the same festival. This festival is an acknowledgment of every one who has gone before us. It is also an acknowledgement that there is life after death. It is here we can really see how even though the people we love and cherish may have passed on from this life, they really are still near by and watching us.
In many ways this is the time of year where the festivals a person honors and celebrates explains at least in part what their view of the afterlife is. For some people who believe in reincarnation this is also a time to connect with any of their past lives so that lessons they have to impart may be gives. This is the second festival where the veil between the worlds of the living and dead as well as spirit worlds is lowest. That is why contact with spiritual allies at this time of year.
Part Two: The Theology and Mythology of the Sabbat
Folkore and myth united
This is according to many sources the last sabbat of the year. For many witches the year starts at Yule and ends at Samhain and begins at Yule. In reality there is no real start or finish to a cycle. Cycles are circles and will always come back to a point and start again. This is how the world and the universe exist. Everything in the universe will be used again in the universe at some point in time. Every thing physical you see on this planet is made of of a star that existed eons before we were born:
Theologically, spiritually, and mentally it makes sense that the world as we know it would work in cycles. The physics at work in the universe simply provide a non-disputed example of how reincarnation exists. Here at Hallowmass and Samhaintide we are really able to see and understand how death and destruction/decay are essential to the growth and development of future lives and crops.
According to the Cycle of the Year and the 8 sabbats within Wicca and Eclectic witchcraft Samhain is when the God is dead. He was sacrificed at Mabon to ensure the fertile grounds of the next harvest. At one point in history it was believed that the king was sacrificed to bring life to the land for the next year. This was symbolic of the God’s death for the fertility of the land. Latter corn dollies were sacrificed instead of a human.
Blood was and still is the essential life force. If a creature is alive it bleeds. By the God sacrificing himself his blood (his life force) goes into the land giving life to the land. He knows that he will be reborn in his son in the end of winter and he will from the underworld guide and symbolize his son’s birth and his return by the return of the sun’s light starting at the Winter solstice (Yule).
It was believed that once a person died their body became the land. The blood of the sacrificed victim nourished the spirits of the land for the winter and would gain their favor for the spring.At Samhain the ancestors and other spirits from the land of the dead returned to give their blessings for the following year to their descendants.
The God at this time was in the Underworld understanding and being reborn. At Beltaine he had impregnated the Lady, his lover and wife, who would bear the child of promise who would carry and light the way for the Lord to be reborn at Yule (the light returning slowly) with his actual birth at Imbolc. The rest of the sabbats continue along this line. So in some ways Samhain is both the start and the finish.
The knowledge that there is life after death and life in death is symbolized no better than with ever greens (one of the reasons why those trees are decorated at Christmas). It’s also one of the reasons I feel that the hope to get through the winter for the spring exists. To see something that is alive and producing chlorophyll in the winter while the rest of the trees are inherently dead proves that there is life in death. It is one of the reasons I can see that death allows for the continuation of life.
With these thoughts in mind it is time to get to:
Part 3: A sample ritual
Ways that honoring the ancestors can be done
Now that it has been established why honoring the ancestors is so important I can start to give you some ideas as to how you as a seeker or as an active Pagan could honor your ancestors and the Gods and celebrate this sabbat and simply begin or further expand your understanding of this sabbat. For myself I gained even deeper insight into the mysteries this Samhain. As I post this the gates start to begin closing and the path seems to close, yet the creepy and spooky nature that is Samhaintide and Hallowsmass remains, the time to honor the ancestors comes to a close.
I have had a week to reflect on what I wanted to write for this entry and I have finally come to the last part of the entry where I can really start to explain how one can go about celebrating this sabbat. For many years as a seeker I was honestly unsure of what to do with my offerings for any sabbat. Samhain was another one that left me confused, so now I feel it it is time to give some sort of explanation as to how you can give your offerings to the Gods and the ancestors.
So here is a very simple ritual:
Ancestral Ritual For Samhain:
Apple or Pomegranete Juice/alcohol
Red Apples or Pomegranete fruit & Seeds
As you pour your drink concentrate and think of your ancestors and the Gods and the land. Focus intently and place this light into the food and drink blessing it in the names of the spirits, the ancestors, and the Gods. You then pour two drinks one for the Spirits, ancestors and Gods and one for your self.
As you take your drink say a prayer for what you are thankful and towards any ancestors you wish to contact and communicate with. Take a moment and think of them. Then get into your trance position. For this it may be best of you lie facing down with your hands working as a head rest head in a comfortable position. After you get into position think and state to your self:
“I Vibrate in harmony with the Underworld and the Gods of the Underworld”.
Repeat this statement over and over until you reach a state where you see and become one with the God or Goddess of the Underworld. Continue the trance until you have gained all the insight you will receive. Slowly reduce your vibration into yourself. Once you are back into yourself take another drink in honor of the Gods and the lesson you learned.
Eat the red apple or the pomegranate seeds. If you eat the apple place the seeds aside till the morning. If you eat the pomegranate seeds place a few aside till the morning.
Go to bed expecting dreams based on the rite you performed. The following morning write down any dreams you may have had. When done and dressed for the day take the seeds and the same drink you had the night before and place them in a whole at the trees base.
Reasoning behind the ritual:
By taking in that blessed drink you understand that the drink is the fruits of the Gods who you worship as well as the ancestors who literally are the land. This drink is their blood after the sacrificial blood of the god had been spilled, this is their response. When you eat the fruits of the land or drink of the liquids you are taking in the essence of the land and your ancestors.
When you let a drink in a cup evaporate overnight that drink is consumed by the air and the essence of life. The ancestors who have returned to visit partake of this liquid. In the morning the seeds and the remaining liquid are returned to the ground. This nourishes the ancestors and the spirits as well as the gods. This is how we can honor and nourish them.
Part four: My conclusion:
For me this really explains a lot. Through the ritual expressed above I was able to understand the roles of the Gods and the Goddesses that I worship. I was also able to understand exactly what the underworld does to work with rebirth and reincarnation. Finally When I look at astrophysics and how the creation of new universes begin and what black-holes really are I can see how my theology and philosophy line up with science.
I really recommended that any seeker of the wisdom of the cycle of destruction, reformation, creation, growth, and development take a basic physics course. This course will explain how the various galaxies came into being, how stars and suns are born, and how new universes are created. In some ways it may also lead a seeker to see how magic could be seen to be the force that keeps all of these things working in balance. That is what Samhaintide and Hallowmas is all about.
Ascension or spiritual Evolution
I must be honest right here and now. My theory of ascension is in some ways based upon the theories of ascension and the philosophy behind ascension that is described with in the TV series ” Stargate SG-1″ . With that in mind if I take those theories and add them to the theories behind reincarnation that I employ (which will be discussed in my two part posts on Fate) my idea of ascension comes to have reasonable logic behind it. This post is coming now because it is directly related to my last post education and experimentation. Based on some of the things I mentioned in that post my ideas may actually be understood.
So what is ascension? How do we ascend? What does it mean to ascend? All of these are questions I am going to answer in this post. There are many things and aspects of my personal philosophy I am going to be sharing here. While many witches are not concerned with “enlightenment” or reaching the next stage of evolution (some traditional witches consider this to be an aspect of the witches path to succumbing and cheating fate) I am. This is one aspect of my path that I can trace to ceremonial magic. Ceremonial magic is all about reaching a higher state where you become closer to one with the Gods you work with. This is part of the path of ascension. I actually use my witchcraft to help me on this path through utilizing the principles found within the Kybalion.
My thoughts about ascension where made even stronger upon reading the Kybalion. If you read my post: principle of mentalism. I will get into this aspect even more after I post individual responses to the various principles outlined in the Kybalion. For now I can at least give a basic idea as to what I mean by ascension.
Ok. So the first questions I mentioned that I am going to cover is what is ascension? The second phrase in the title of this post is the key. Ascension is the process why which we reach the next state of being. It is the process by which we reach the next stage of being. In ceremonial magic the idea is to become one with the Godhead or the gods. Some people believe that humanity is the last stage prior to be pure essence and godlike. I disagree with that statement. I think there is much more beyond the state of humanity. I personally think that humanity is quite fare from the true essence of divinity. With out ascension we can not reach those states. Ascension is the process by which we reach the next state. That is why ascension is spiritual evolution.
The next question I mentioned is how do we ascend? Ascension is a process that takes many many lives. That is one of the reasons we reincarnate. There many lessons and experiences that can only be gained in the human body. That is why I see the body as an aspect of the soul. With out reincarnation we can not fully learn every lesson there is for us to learn in the human body. There is no way we can experience all of the mysteries available to the human world (every religion has it’s own set of mysteries, and atheism even has it’s own mysteries). That is why we reincarnate.
Ok. So if reincarnation is the key, why do we reincarnate? On of the reasons we reincarnate is to learn lessons that are required for ascension. I believe that there are some actions that are meant to be paid for in another life. I think that if you torture people for pure amusement in one life you will experience some form of torture (emotional strain, financial strain, ect are all forms of torture that may be worse than physical torture). I also think that there are some lessons that people just need to experience.
In my view I find suicide to actually make things worse. When a person commits suicide they opt for an easy out. Any lessons that they had not learned yet in this life (especially if it dealt with that they were having difficulties with when they ended their lives) will be more difficult. I have experienced the courage needed to face and overcome the desires of suicide. If you gain that courage then you really are learning your lesson.
By actually learning the lessons you are meant to learn in each life you are able to learn the lessons you need in order to ascend. By ascending you reach the next stage of being. However the lessons we need to learn as life lessons are not the only things we need to learn in each life. There are many other things, the key however is turning knowledge into wisdom.
I define wisdom as having the ability to turn the knowledge gained from experience into a practical application. That is what seeking true wisdom is. It is seeing the world for how it truly is and it is turning practical knowledge gained from books and experience into something that can be used every day in both the day to day mundane life and the more intimate and spiritual aspects of your life.
There are several goals that are accomplished before one can ascend. The first goal is self explanatory and has the direct tie in to my previous post. The first goal is to learn as much as you can. I believe that a lot of what we learn and experience in each life is recorded on our susoul or the stand of fate which is reality that is us. By learning as much as we can from books and personal experiences we have gained more wisdom which will help us reach the next level of existence.
Through learning as much as we can and thorough seeking true wisdom we can a deeper understanding of the nature of reality, the galaxy, and the universe. This is where I got my idea about death and destruction being the true from. When you look at how the various galaxies, and stars are created there is death and destruction. yet that is only one aspect of the mystery that is the creation of the universe and the galaxies.
As part of gaining as much wisdom as you can and learning all your lessons you will after a long period of time reach the next stage of being. You will have ascended. So what is the next stage of being? That was the final question I asked. Ascending means you have reached the next stage of being and the next state of existence. That is what it means to ascend.
The next state of being is a mystery. It is something that is unknown until you reach it. I have many theories on the possible other states of being are. I will cover each theory, but it is important to know that I don’t know which state comes next, or if even there is a choice. My theory does include some basic order, but I may have it wrong. I do believe there are many stages between humanity and becoming a divine being, but until I have gained a deeper gnosis as to what the ascension involves I can just share the states I believe exist beyond the current state of humanity.
This is related to my cosmology. Right now I am going to give you some idea as to my cosmology. There will be a more in depth post this week. I am on spring break this break which means I’ll have more time to write for my blog. I have so many things I want to write about that this vacation creates a perfect time for that.
Any way back to my cosmology. In essence I hold essentially a multi-world multi-verse theory. In essence I believe in many other worlds and planes of existence beyond our own, and as I hold all mythologies to have some truth and all gods to exist I thus believe that all of their realms beyond this realm exist. There. You have the bare bones of my cosmology.
In traditional witchcraft there are many different views on what happens to people who have succumb and cheated fate. Many witches have a concept of “the mighty dead”. Peter Paddon describes these as the few individuals who have gained enough spiritual knowledge and experience where when the reach the cauldron of rebirth they emerge as a whole individual and not many pieces (source).
I see the mighty dead as one example of the possible next stage of being. These are people who are wise. These masters are often the first spiritual teachers that a novice witch and pagan comes in contact with. They may be young spirit guides. These are people who still have some lessons to learn before they reach the stage of “angels” or even before they become elves.
Robin Artison holds that once you have died you become an elven being or fay beings. I think that it is possible that our shades are elves, which would make elves also the next stage of being. yet I think the mighty dead may be the a stage between elves, as I think the elves have mysteries beyond the ones accessible to the elves. (Witching Way of the Hollow Hill)
Along with elves there is the possibility of becoming a nature spirit or even a genus locai. The genus locai are essentially the spirits of a place. Many witches work with these spirits for power. That is why connections with the land become very powerful for witches. In this way genus locai are essential nature spirits. While I think elves are a type of nature spirit, they are not the only ones. I will cover more about elves in a future post, as well as nature spirits when I cover spirits and elemental spirits and the elements (also this week).
One of the beliefs I have inherited or rather taken from Greek Philosophy and theology is the concept of demi-gods. To be honest I think that the people who are born as demi-gods (born of a human and a god or goddess) as people who are either at the next stage of being, or in between the next stage of being. These people are part god and part human. That is why I am not sure if they are in between the state or at the next stage.
The last possible stage I see between humanity and being a God is that of being an angel. In my very first pagan blog project post I briefly covered angels and angelic beings. For now I will say that I see them as being the messengers of gods. By being messengers of gods they are nearly god like. That means they are actually close to being gods. However they are not godlike. There is still more for them to learn and experience though.
If I go by the Kybalion there is still one more stage before we unite with the ultimate creative source and have experienced all the mysteries we need to experience is godhood. Like I have said I don’t think that once we have experienced all the mysteries we can experience as humans we are automatically at the state of divinity. I think it takes time and a process of centuries of reincarnation into the various life forms.
When you take ascension into consideration it also explains why I believe that all individual Gods described in the various mythologies exist. I also believe that there are many deities out there which may not belong to any one specific pantheon because they are an individual who has reached the stage of being a god after many life times and many ascensions. In that regards I think every witch that practices some form of religious witchcraft can be worshiping a God and Goddess duo that we might not actually have knowledge of.
Since I mentioned that Gods may be ascended beings after many lifetimes I must make one more statement. I do not believe that each and every god and goddess out there to be an ascended being. In fact I believe many gods to be beings that were created by THE ALL in that state. As they are mental creations of THE ALL, THE ALL could have created them in any fashion they exist. There for they are as they were intended to be.
I also think that they could simply be beings beyond our understanding, but that was covered in my post: Divinity
On being an eclectic witch and ecletic neo-pagan -a Pagan Blog Project responce
This week one of the possible prompts for the Pagan Blog Project for the letter E was eclectic paganism and eclectic witchcraft in the form of “neo-Wicca”. Over the last few days I have read several different blogs from the Pagan blog project on this topic. While there have been many valid insights there are some things I feel that I should say about myself.
Here is the first part of the prompt:
Eclectic practice is something that can be a big debate in different part s of the Pagan community. Some feel that being eclectic opens you up to a whole world of ideas and tools that with the more narrow view of a specific tradition just isn’t available. Yet others feel that being eclectic equates to a practice that is lacking in structure and commitment to anything. Are you eclectic? -Rowan Pendragon
Yes. I am eclectic. I am both an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan. I find that the two are very different practices. While I do use my witchcraft to help me connect to deity and as a part of my worship to deity, it is primarily a non religious practice a craft. The deities I worship with my craft are responsible for the core mysteries of the witchcraft tradition I am developing and sharing through these pages and writings. That being said I do accept that witchcraft is essentially a craft and a philosophy that while spiritual in nature can be adapted to any philosophy or religion.
I however say that I am an eclectic pagan because I am not limited to one ritual set or technique. I am not limited to any one pantheon or cultural way. I do not have to worship or follow the typical 8 sabbbats found in most witchcraft traditions (which I do honor as well). I can worship any deity I want with any holiday I choose.
I have used Hellenic rituals to honor Zeus and other Hellenic Gods. I have had an ecstatic ritual invoking Pan and have been in states of ecstasy and panic created from the worship of Pan that forced me to face my sexual fears and my deepest personal fears. I have also felt the caress of Dionysus while drunk on booze and enjoying liquor. While I have only celebrated one Hellenic festival and it was years ago, I still have that deep connection to Pan.
I have held Blots and Symbels in honor of the Aesir, Vanir, some of the frost Giants. I use the Nine Nobel virtues as the corner stone of my philosophy when it comes to my world view and ethical views. I have experimented with runes and the Seax worship of Odin and Freya (it didn’t work for me). I have started to explore a few Germanic holidays that might not be followed by people other than the Asatru and Heathen recons.
I have done a full moon esbat to Diana according to The Gospel of Aradia and Strega traditions. I still have a lot to learn about Strega and the other deities. However I feel strong in my connection to Diana through the Gospel of Aradia. The most recent connection I have felt to any deity was during that ritual this past summer.
While I am interested in Celtic and Native American traditions I have not pursued them. I know that in many cases those cultures are closed to outsiders. While my own teacher (Chris Penczak) has a connection to some of the Celtic deities, I am not comfortable making that connection as I am not of that blood. From what knowledge I have been able to research even with my adoption I have no connection to Scotland or Ireland. The only possible Celtic connection to me would be in England if there are any to be found with in Anglo-saxon English culture.
I was raised in the United Church of Christ. To this day I have never accepted the core trinitarian philosophy of the UCC that God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit were one person. I do believe in Jesus and I do believe in the Holy Spirit and God. I just think that they are all separate entities. I think that they are all connected that Jesus is a Demi-God and the son of God as well as a prophet, teacher, and wise man. I believe in God. I just don’t worship Jehova/Yaweh/Allah (the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) as my exclusive god. I worship any God I chose when I chose.
As an eclectic pagan like I said I am not limited to exploring and experiencing the rituals and celebrations of just one cultural practice. That being said if I worship a deity from the Roman pantheon I try to worship them with those rituals. In that respect I have started to answer the second question asked by Rowan which was:
What are your thoughts on eclectic vs. traditional practice ?
When it comes to my religious witchcraft experiences I can’t really explain. I have a deep interest in Wicca and those traditional rites and rituals. However there are practical issues and other things that prevent that from happening. I wish I could be a part of a traditional group of some sort. I long for the commitment of repeated rituals with mass power behind them, a community, and a set of core rituals and practices that have already been developed. I long for that sort of setting.
When it comes to the exploration of the other paths I have tried to practice in the traditional way. It can be difficult. I find that the traditional practice makes the connection with the deities a lot easier as the rites are typically found with in the lore in some way.
I find security in tradition. It helps me cement my practice and create foundations that are strong. The foundations built on tradition are stronger. I believe strongly in the power of tradition, habit, and practice. To me these help develop sign posts on the path, and tradition gives validation to personal experience.
This is why I am an odd eclectic. I have explored many paths and taken several things. When I explore I use recon methodology. I read the lore and I read academic sources if they are available. I read and research the history. I have discussions with other recons. I pray and make introduction based offerings to the Gods. I use tradition.
I find that I am going to eventually find one recon path to stick to. However for now I feel that I need to explore all paths open to me at this point in time. I will always keep the worship of the various deities separate. I do not believe that they are all the same. I do not believe that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses one Goddess. I believe that all Gods are individual entities. That is why I keep the worship of the various deities separate. I find that honors and respects them.
I find that eclectic practice where you take different deities in worship them in context that they were never worshiped in before (Hindu deities in a Neo-Pagan witch) is not acceptable. While there have been some deities that have been worshiped in the context of other traditions (The Hellenic, Roman, and Kemetic deities were all interacting via the cross-cultural worship and interaction at the time) I find that in the end, the comparisons are usually fairly off and done with little deep research into the myths and lore as well as traditions of those people.
That is why I as an eclectic keep the worship of every different pantheon separate. I find that it helps me bond with them and the culture better this way. It also helps me gain a deeper understanding of the culture through the exploration of the rituals. Plus I gain a modern understanding through anthropological research.
Now I must begin the topic of “Eclectic neo-Wicca” and my feelings about that. I do not accept people who practice an eclectic form of religious witchcraft based loosely on the teachings of proper Wiccan rites as Wiccan. I do accept them as witches. In fact I firmly believe as an eclectic religious witch there is an established traditions for us.
Wait eclectic tradition?
Yes. Eclectic tradition. My personal library contains several books on “Eclectic witchcraft”, as well as Wicca and traditional witchcraft (not even mentioning my recon sources as well). I have found that essentially if you look at the books that label themselves as “eclectic Wicca” there are essentially core rites and rituals practiced. While the individual practitioner may be a soft polytheist who uses other deities aside from the MMC and horned God (which I was when I started and I will have a post on this later at some point) in their rituals the actual content of the rituals is the same. The words may be different, but the intent and the format are the same.
That is why I see eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft to be a cohesive tradition. The various deities found in the tradition are different but the ritual format and content are the same. I have found that even when looking at the various witch traditions out there: (Cabot, Temple, Blackforest, Standing Stone, and many others) they have the same core rituals and sabbats. While the individual interpretations were different and may use different deities the overall mythology is the same.
My religious witchcraft is eclectic. I have taken from traditional witchcraft (Through Robin Artisson and a few other authors), The “Wiccan literature” out there (Gardner, Frosts, Sanders), I have taken from Hermetic literature (The Kybalion), Shamanic literature, and Eclectic Witchcraft as well as some Thelemic literature (The LBRP). My practice melds all of these together into one whole unit that works. How this is developing I am still not fully aware. Its just developing.
However none of that makes my practice in any way Wiccan. Nor does it make me Wiccan. I have not been initiated into Wicca. I have not learned the rites of Wicca, nor have I experienced the mysteries of Wicca, nor do I know the names of the deities in Wicca. I am not Wiccan. I may never be Wiccan. I am a witch as the religious and magical practice that primarily drives me is derived from various forms of Witchcraft.
In discussions I have had with other people in regards to the nature of the magical craft called witchcraft one constant comment has been that witchcraft as a craft is eclectic in nature. It is something that is going to be developed individually by each witch.
As a magical practice I primarily define witchcraft as dealing with the folk lore and folk traditions of European countries both continental (German, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden) or Island (England, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland,). This magical practice contains lore from all of these sources and have adapted to include some Christian influenced charms over the years.
It is this adaptability that has allowed Witchcraft to survive. It’s no wonder that witches are often considered to be ‘cunning”. Witchcraft has many forms from protection from witches (witch bottles and many protection charms during the puritan era in America fit into this category). Some of the practices can be traced to fairy tales, and others more to local legends and traditions. The fact of the mater is that as a magical practice witchcraft has always adapted and will always be adaptable due to its eclectic nature.
As I mentioned before essentially witchcraft as a magical practice is going to be created by each individual witch. While there may be some spells and charms passed on through oral lore or in the form of a Grimiore ( or Book of Shadows) essentially every witch must find what works for them selves. This is why constant trial and error is important. That is why constant study and exploration is important.
My witchcraft involves angelic forces from time to time. It can involve elemental spirits, dragons, other spirits, ancestors, gods or just my own energy. The spells I create can involve intense energy manipulation or little to none. They can involve manipulating physical objects or they can involve simply focusing mental energy. My magic is varied and allows for experimentation and development.
The final question asked in the prompt this week by Rowan was:
how do you feel eclectic work benefits you if that’s the path you follow?
I have found several benefits to being an eclectic pagan. One of the key benefits is that I can widen my network of contacts and I can increase my experiences. I have found that by honestly going into the various Recon and eclectic or traditional groups saying that I am a seeker who seeks genuine wisdom and experiences. I do not know if my path lies along the lines of a specific tradition or if I am suited more to always be an eclectic. For now I wish to simply discuss and learn from you about your groups practices that they will be more willing to accept me.
Another benefit has been the ability to constantly explore and try new things. As I said before in this post I am not limited to any specific holiday calendar or ritual setting. By being an eclectic I have opened myself up to the possibilities to be found in any and every path out there. I don’t have to experience the mysteries of the universe (and I believe every path to have a unique set of mysteries available to them) through just one culture. I can experience many mysteries.
The largest drawback I have found to be that I have to constantly be studying. As an eclectic I have to constantly be reading and expanding my references for various paths. I have to look into history and culture. I have to look into modern telling of myths and folk lore as well as more of the literal translations of source texts.
I have to look at personal experience. I have to compare it to lore and experiences by other people. I have to keep a record of what I have done and what I hope to experience. There is a lot of exploration that comes with being an eclectic. There are times that the work may not seem worth it, but in the end I find it worth it.
I am an eclectic because I am a philosopher in the truest sense of the word. I am a lover and seeker of wisdom and knowledge. That may explain the various deities I have connections to (Zeus, Odin, Thoth, Friga, ect). I believe that there is wisdom to be found any where. You just have to be open to the possibilities.
Could I be wrong?
Yes. However I have found that the journey is worth it. I have found that in the end I seek to find wisdom where I can. I might not agree with every practice I read, and frankly not all of the rituals I have experiences have sat well with me. The fact that I keep going shows that I have the one key virtue that all eclectics need:
To be an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan is to have the courage to explore, test, and question everything that is out there. It is to test your self and your practice. It is the courage to try things that other people might not. It is the courage to experiment and fail and try again.
Is it worth it?
I think so. I find enjoyment and pleasure out of reading about, researching, experiencing, and exploring various religions and philosophy. I find enjoyment out of pondering the nature of the universe. I find enjoyment out of exploring all avenues of wisdom and learning. I am in that ways happy to be a college student.
For those reasons and more I am an eclectic. I tread the border between being a traditionalist. I hold that traditions should remain in tact. I hold that traditions are meant to be done a specific way for specific reasons. In that way I am a traditionalist. In that I am open to more than one tradition or way of thinking I am eclectic. Just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean it’s the only way, but it also doesn’t mean that traditions should be discounted.
Pagan Blog Project: D is for divinity
One of the things I realized that I would need to cover at some point in this blog is exactly what I think about divinity and deity and gods and what makes a god a god. For me the belief in gods is an essential aspect of my religious core. Over the last few years I have come to realize that my concept of what makes a being a god and divine figure is not the same as every one else. So I figure why not try to put some of this into words.
One of the things I must say right here and now is that the essence of divinity and the essence of the divine in its true nature is a mystery. The search for the meaning of the divine is something that only each person can do for themselves. I say this is a mystery because a lot of what the divine is can not be expressed in words but only experienced through personal revelation. I’ll get into the mystery aspect later on when we get to the letter M. That being said here we go!
The nature of the divine
The first thing I have to say on the subject is that everything on earth contains the essence of the divine. We are a part of the divine in that we are all a part of nature. The earth and all that we see or can see through images (I’m talking deep space photos here) are physical manifestations of the divine. That is the physical essence of the divine.
According to the bible Yaweh/Jehova created man in his image (by man I mean man/human kind). This to me comes to mean two different things. We are divine in that our physical bodies are representations of what the divine may have looked like. It also means that we are divine in that we have the ability to create and destroy the life we make (life here refers to communities, businesses, etc) as well as those of plants and animals. We have the ability too shape this world into what we would like it to be.
That power is a hefty responsibility. In the first Spiderman comics Peter is given the advice that great power comes with great responsibility. This is one of this things we have to realize. If we take the Christian bible as a literal truth than we have the power and the responsibility to keep this world going.
That is only our physical responsibility. Our spirit the breath of life I mentioned in my post about death is a divine gift. The Poetic Edda states that:
17. Then from the throng | did three come forth,
From the home of the gods, | the mighty and gracious;
Two without fate | on the land they found,
Ask and Embla, | empty of might.
18. Soul they had not, | sense they had not,
Heat nor motion, | nor goodly hue;
Soul gave Othin, | sense gave Hönir,
Heat gave Lothur | and goodly hue. Source: Poetic Edda VOLUSPO Human Norse Creation Myth
Soul here refers to breath. These were the three Gods who also created the Nordic universe upon the death of Ymir. The sense here refers to right and wrong, and common sense. The next text in the Edda focuses on the common sense aspect. Heat, motion, and godly hue are the physical bodies. With out the mind (sense), Heat nor motion nor godly hue (body), and Soul (Soul) we humans would not be. Each of the Gods gave an essence of divinity. This is yet another example of how we are part of the divine.
Other pantheons have members that were once mortal who ascended to Godhood. The Egyptian pantheon and religion was known to deify their pharaohs upon death, associating them with Ra. In Greece Hercules was made into a god upon his death. This here shows me one other possibility about the nature of divinity.
One of my beliefs is that of ascension. I believe that over many lives I will obtain all the wisdom that I can from existing in the life form of a human. I believe that at that point in time new mysteries on a new level of existence will be open to me. That means all of my past lives converge into one being. That being has more wisdom and insight than any human could ever have. I have now reached a state of divine essence (pure spirit). I am in many ways an angelic form. Not human, but not fully a god yet. I still have much more to learn and experience before that level of enlightenment can be obtained.
I believe that gods many have existed in many times before us. I believe that the universe has been created and destroyed many times over. I believe that galaxies and life forms are constantly being created and destroyed (taking a look into the expanded cosmos will show you that much). I think that the universe is held in the mind of one all knowing being who is beyond all comprehension that we may just call pure “Spirit”. This being in the Kyballion is termed THE ALL.
I’m going to quote a few passages here:
“Under, and back of, the Universe of Time, Space and Change,
is ever to be found The Substantial Reality–the Fundamental
“Substance” means: “that which underlies all outward manifestations; the essence; the essential reality; the thing in itself,” etc. “Substantial” means: “actually existing; being the essential element; being real,” etc. “Reality” means: “the state of being real; true, enduring; valid; fixed; permanent; actual,” etc.
Under and behind all outward appearances or manifestations, there must always be a Substantial Reality. This is the Law. Man considering the Universe, of which he is a unit, sees nothing but change in matter, forces, and mental states. He sees that nothing really IS, but that everything is BECOMING and CHANGING. Nothing stands still-everything is being born, growing, dying-the very instant a thing reaches its height, it begins to decline–the law of rhythm is in constant operation–there is no reality, enduring quality, fixity, or substantiality in anything– nothing is permanent but Change. He sees all things evolving from other things, and resolving into other things–constant action and reaction; inflow and outflow; building up and tearing down; creation and destruction; birth, growth and death. Nothing endures but Change. And if he be a thinking man, he realizes that all of these changing things must be but outward appearances or manifestations of some Underlying Power–some Substantial Reality.
All thinkers, in all lands and in all times, have assumed the necessity for postulating the existence of this Substantial Reality. All philosophies worthy of the name have been based upon this thought. Men have given to this Substantial Reality many names-some have called it by the term of Deity (under many titles). Others have called it “The Infinite and Eternal Energy” others have tried to call it “Matter”–but all have acknowledged its existence. It is self-evident it needs no argument.
In these lessons we have followed the example of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, both ancient and modern–the Hermetic. Masters–and have called this Underlying Power–this Substantial Reality–by the Hermetic name of “THE ALL,” which term we consider the most comprehensive of the many terms applied by Man to THAT which transcends names and terms.
We accept and teach the view of the great Hermetic thinkers of all times, as well as of those illumined souls who have reached higher planes of being, both of whom assert that the inner nature of THE ALL is UNKNOWABLE. This must be so, for naught by THE ALL itself can comprehend its own nature and being.
The Hermetists believe and teach that THE ALL, “in itself,” is and must ever be UNKNOWABLE. They regard all the theories, guesses and speculations of the theologians and metaphysicians regarding the inner nature of THE ALL, as but the childish efforts of mortal minds to grasp the secret of the Infinite. Kybalion Chapter 4: THE ALL (Source)
The last two paragraphs there explain why I say that the true nature of divinity is a mystery. It’s unknowable as we understand it. The same entry in the book goes on to give three philosophical laws about the true nature and essence of the All and their conclusion about how the universe is held in the nature of an all encompassing living mind:
But while the essential nature of THE ALL is Unknowable, there are certain truths connected with its existence which the human mind finds itself compelled to accept. And an examination of these reports form a proper subject of inquiry, particularly as they agree with the reports of the Illumined on higher planes. And to this inquiry we now invite you.
“THAT which is the Fundamental Truth–the Substantial
Reality–is beyond true naming, but the Wise Men call
it THE ALL.”–The Kybalion.
“In its Essence, THE ALL is UNKNOWABLE.”–The Kybalion.
“But, the report of Reason must be hospitably received,
and treated with respect.”–The Kybalion.
The human reason, whose reports we must accept so long as we think at all, informs us as follows regarding THE ALL, and that without attempting to remove the veil of the Unknowable:
(1) THE ALL must be ALL that REALLY IS. There can be
nothing existing outside of THE ALL, else THE ALL would
not be THE ALL.
(2) THE ALL must be INFINITE, for there is nothing else
to define, confine, bound, limit; or restrict THE ALL.
It must be Infinite in Time, or ETERNAL,–it must have
always continuously existed, for there is nothing else to
have ever created it, and something can never evolve from
nothing, and if it had ever “not been,” even for a moment,
it would not “be” now,–it must continuously exist forever,
for there is nothing to destroy it, and it can never
“not-be,” even for a moment, because something can never
become nothing. It must be Infinite in Space–it must be
Everywhere, for there is no place outside of THE ALL–it
cannot be otherwise than continuous in Space, without break,
cessation, separation, or interruption, for there is nothing
to break, separate, or interrupt its continuity, and nothing
with which to “fill in the gaps.” It must be Infinite in
Power, or Absolute, for there is nothing to limit, restrict,
restrain, confine, disturb or condition it–it is subject to
no other Power, for there is no other Power.
(3) THE ALL must be IMMUTABLE, or not subject to change in
its real nature, for there is nothing to work changes upon it
nothing into which it could change, nor from which it could
have changed. It cannot be added to nor subtracted from;
increased nor diminished; nor become greater or lesser in any
respect whatsoever. It must have always been, and must always
remain, just what it is now–THE ALL–there has never been,
is not now, and never will be, anything else into which it
THE ALL being Infinite, Absolute, Eternal and Unchangeable it must follow that anything finite, changeable, fleeting, and conditioned cannot be THE ALL. And as there is Nothing outside of THE ALL, in Reality, then any and all such finite things must be as Nothing in Reality. Now do not become befogged, nor frightened–we are not trying to lead you into the Christian Science field under cover of Hermetic Philosophy. There is a Reconciliation of this apparently contradictory state of affairs. Be patient, we will reach it in time.
We see around us that which is called “Matter,” which forms the physical foundation for all forms. Is THE ALL merely Matter? Not at all! Matter cannot manifest Life or Mind, and as Life and Mind are manifested in the Universe, THE ALL cannot be Matter, for nothing rises higher than its own source–nothing is ever manifested in an effect that is not in the cause–nothing is evolved as a consequent that is not involved as an antecedent. And then Modern Science informs us that there is really no such thing as Matter–that what we call Matter is merely “interrupted energy or force,” that is, energy or force at a low rate of vibration. As a recent writer has said “Matter has melted into Mystery.” Even Material Science has abandoned the theory of Matter, and now rests on the basis of “Energy.”
Then is THE ALL mere Energy or Force? Not Energy or Force as the materialists use the terms, for their energy and force are blind, mechanical things, devoid of Life or Mind. Life and Mind can never evolve from blind Energy or Force, for the reason given a moment ago: “Nothing can rise higher than its source–nothing is evolved unless it is involved–nothing manifests in the effect, unless it is in the cause. ” And so THE ALL cannot be mere Energy or Force, for, if it were, then there would be no such things as Life and Mind in existence, and we know better than that, for we are Alive and using Mind to consider this very question, and so are those who claim that Energy or Force is Everything.
What is there then higher than Matter or Energy that we know to be existent in the Universe? LIFE AND MIND! Life and Mind in all their varying degrees of unfoldment! “Then,” you ask, “do you mean to tell us that THE ALL is LIFE and MIND?” Yes! and No! is our answer. If you mean Life and Mind as we poor petty mortals know them, we say No! THE ALL is not that! “But what kind of Life and Mind do you mean?” you ask.
The answer is “LIVING MIND,” as far above that which mortals know by those words, as Life and Mind are higher than mechanical forces, or matter–INFINITE LIVING MIND as compared to finite “Life and Mind.” We mean that which the illumined souls mean when they reverently pronounce the word: “SPIRIT!”
“THE ALL” is Infinite Living Mind–the Illumined call it SPIRIT!
Later on the the Kybalion there are references to living many lives until we eventually ascend to becoming one with THE ALL. I equate the universe in THE ALL as the universe with in an authors head in the world they create. The world of Harry Potter originally existed purely within the mind of J.K. Rowling. When publsihed it was opened to other people and the universe expanded, but still played by her rules. If you apply this theory to the grand scheme of the universe we are simply thoughts of the unknowable Divine mind.
So in the end what is Divinity?
To me the Gods are beings of immense wisdom and power whose full beings are beyond our comprehension and as such should be considered mysteries. However I think we can get insights into their natures through the passages in the texts about the various pantheons. It will never give you the full image, but it may help guide you into a better understanding of them.
I also think that they have lived lives before that are beyond our understanding. That is why I think there are so many creation and destruction myths. As I said look at the universe as a whole. The powers of life (creation) and destruction (death) are what rule the universe. Why can’t those powers be the reason why there are so many cultures with so many different deities and creation myths? Couldn’t they be from other systems billions of years ago whose energies through space radiation came to us? I don’t say its face. Nor do I think it’s the full truth. I think it may be a possibility.
What about you, the seeker, the reader? Have I given you anything to think about with this post? If you have any questions or concerns please post them in the comments section 😀
Pagan Blog Project: D for Death, Decay, Destruction, and Life itself
With my last Pagan Blog project post I was all caught up and could now focus on one entry per week. There are three D themes in my path Death, divinity/deity, and Disir. An acquaintance of mine posted a very well written blog about the Disir as in D is for Disir. While the Disir is a concept I accept and do work with, it is not something I have spent much time researching on. That is why I don’t feel like posting anything about them other than I believe that they are ancestral mothers and female ancestral spirits. The topic of Death itself in my path has two subsets which must be touched upon if the topic of death is to be understood with in my path. My post on Divinity and divine will be next week. My post on death and it’s related aspects will be this weeks focus.
So why do I mention the belief in the Disir at all? Well that’s simple. The focus of this entry is on death. However when I think about death and the role it plays in mat nature based path I realize that there is more to death than simply the end of “life” or the end of an essence in “physical form”. When it comes to death the destruction or the end of a life is an aspect of death. It is the onset of death in many cases and in the physical world it may be the aftermath of something (the destruction created death) that brings about new life and new hope.
The Disir are female ancestral spirits. That means they are dead and thus have experienced death and its destructive force. They also have a fresh and new look on life as they are not bound by the physical senses any more. It is to my Disir I am most connected to when I pray to my ancestors, however I am also connected to my Alfar (male ancestral spirits). The fact remains that they are dead and thus that is their connection to death.
Many people would consider me morbid for accepting and relishing in the beauty that comes from death and the destruction found with in the so called icy grips of death. If I am morbid than so be it. The fact of the matter is death is a simple fact of life. I have experiences the cruel loss of loved ones close to me. Those deaths impacted me in many ways. It hurt me.
One of those deaths happened at a time where I was already very anti-life. I was relishing in death as an end to existence and the pains of life. It was a very dark time for me. Everything was a dark empty soul sucking whole. I was convinced I was a demoness at heart and that my humanity was punishment for turning on the demon race at some point.
This went on for several years. Eventually I went into the mental hospital for help when I was severely suicidal and ultimately knocking on deaths door. If you have ever read any of Poe’s works and see how he describes the mad characters as living corpses, that was my physical appearance at the end of 2005. Through therapy I accepted my issues and worked on them. I am no longer so acey for deaths acceptance of me, but I have a new appreciation for death and its role.
In many ways during those years and until the last 3 years I was alive and dead at the same time. I had turned off basically every other emotion I could feel. It was all pain all the time. I was op[en only to the beauty that was found in the darkest of humanity. That for me was the essence of life and humanity. Pain and suffering were my focus of life.
There was a pivotal author that lead me to accept that darkness in your view and acceptance of the world was an acceptable thing. I read several works by Konstantinos. His works about nocturnal witchcraft and Gothic magic lead me to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the darkness within me.
Overtime that in turn started to help me see the beauty in happiness and the simple joys in life, while still accepting the beauty found in pain and suffering as expressions of the human experience. Through the darkness I was able to see life in all its complex forms while seeing the true darkness with in this reality.
I did not mean to get bio-graphical on you, but there it is. Death and darkness have been a prevalent part of my world view for the last 13 years, though not always in a positive way. I did feel that some insight into my own mental state and processing was required to gain an appreciation for what comes next in my blog.
What is this true unrelenting darkness? The truth is that everything dies. The truth is that in order for any sort of life to be sustained there must be other forms of life sacrificed so that others may live. Something must die in order for other things to live. Death is inevitable for all life. Yet death is not the end. Death is simply a door to the next part of the cycle (which was touched on my my earlier post).
If I am morbid then I am morbid. I tend to see myself as a naturalist. In the wild animals see and experience death on a regular basis. There are scavenger species out there who in the wild survive completely upon the dead of other creatures. Death is a part of life. That which dies in nature upon its decay (destruction) provide nutrients into the land and other creatures in the Eco-system into the future provide more life and sustenance for the survival of other lifeforms.
There are entire bacterial life forms and other forms of life who depend entirely upon the cycle of death to survive and live. Death is not pretty nor should it be. However death is also not something to be avoided and hushed over. Death is simply one set in the cycle of life,
Death is what provides for the future. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t mourn our dead. Not at all. I think that death of loved ones should be mourned. I think that death should also be accepted as something that happens. We don’t have to like it or even really want it. Death is not always fair. It just happens. However death is essential in the ultimate progression of the soul of humans and something we experience through many years of our life.
So what does death involve and why do I honor an accept deaths role in the evolution of my soul and self? Well for me I have already experienced a death of myself at least once. I believe that a part of me died when I faced my darkness and escaped knowing that I was no monster, but that I simply had my own views on things. That has given me some idea as to how the physical death of our self.
To answer the question about death and destruction its important to have a brief concept of how I understand the soul to be structured, and my belief in reincarnation as well as ascension. These are things I hope to post detailed essays on under my writings page, but for now I’ll give a basic overview and get back to death and destruction.
The soul is made up of five basic components. You have your body, your mind, the ancestral line/blood/shadow, the spirit, and your soul itself which is will call for now the susoul. Each part of the soul is essential. Only the body is mortal. The other aspects of the soul and our essential selves and the mystery of what reality is are essentially immortal and forever lasting. That doesn’t mean that they are with out change. Time does change and time is the ultimate destruction and death. So now let me explain each part and why:
Your body is your physical body. With out your body you can’t gain the experiences you expect to gain in each life. You need the physical body to gain knowledge and wisdom available in each generation as science and philosophy grow so does our mental experiences and ability to comprehend the universe and the meaning of life. our bodies provide the vessel of experiences which lead to gnosis of mysteries of the universe through religion or other practices.
Your mind is what processes our past life experiences and our current experiences to gain further knowledge and wisdom. It is our mind that processes that which we have gained in the past and that which we must gain in order to ascend to the next physical state of being and those mysteries until we ultimately reach the pinnacle of spiritual development: being at one with THE ALL. Essentially our minds is THE ALL manifested within us as we are simply all thoughts with in the divine cosmic mind (which will be touched upon next week with divinity and deity).
The ancestral line/ blood/ shade is the aspect of the soul which can manifest as a ghost. This is the ego of our self. It is our personality. When we die our mind and our soul guide our shade into the realm of the dead. This is the sum of our current incarnation. When we pray to our ancestors it is this part of the soul that hears the prayers and may or may not answer. So long as some one remembers “you” the shade remains intact. This could be in the form of family stories and legends, physical images, or even in the case of generic “ancestors” the very idea of ancestors of blood is those who have gone before in the family line. So as long as the family line is remembered your ego exists in some form.
I agree with the ancient Greeks in that it would be through the offering of blood (the essence of life) which would bring true memories to the ancestors and dead, but aside from that we exist forever in the land of the dead as our ego. This personality, this physical experience lasts on life. When this physical body dies it is the end of ourselves as we know it. All that will remain of us as we see and know ourslves and our family knows us is a shade which is a poor reflection of that which we were (read the book of the Odyssey where Odyssesus travels to the land of the dead to see what I mean).
Our spirit is our essential life force. It is our Ki. This comes from nature. This is literally what I would refer to as the breath of life. While I think that babies are alive the moment they can live outside the mother’s body a child is “a life” the essence of life is not with in a person until they take their first independent breath. This comes from many mythos where its wasn’t until the first humans were given the breath of life by the respective gods of that religion (in my history Christian and Germanic) that the humans were not fully alive and willing to do the Gods will.
It has often been accepted that breath and life were considered to be equated. I wouldn’t say that it’s far off as all living beings require to breathe in some form in order to survive (yes plants breathe. They intake our exhaled waste and through their intake exhale something we can breathe. Symbiosis at its finest). Thats why I equate spirit with breath and life. When I do spirit enhancing exercises I typically alter my breathing and it has an effect that directly correlates to the feeling I have of my physical being. When I physically feel ill my breathing is different than when I am fit. My breathing and breath relates to my life in direct ways. This is why I also feel that breathing exercises to transmute emotional states and feelings can be highly effective.
Finally there is the susoul. This is the true eternal aspect of ourselves. If you read my essay on witchcraft as an underworld tradition this is the part that Artison would call our true soul and true self. In reality I see that view of the susoul as our true self as incomplete. To me it removes the possibility of our personalities surviving in the afterlife.
My personal experience has shown this to be not only inaccurate for my experiences and those of my close family, but to be inaccurate and to not reflect the experiences of anyone who has been visited by a loved one who has passed beyond the veil. In experiences with ghosts and aspirations of those who have passed you inexplicably deal with the persona or ego of a person. This to me shows that our ego as we know ourselves exist in some form for as long as “we” are “remembered”.
So long as there as cemeteries to mark the graves of the deceased egos will remain. While the names of those buried may not be intact, the fact that their bodies are there means they are remembered and are a part of the land (see my cycle view). Being buried makes our body decay and become part of the land. Thats why we are also essentially immortal. our bodies will become part of the earth and then forever be part of all matter in time and space for as long as time and space exist. Talk about immortality.
I do see that the susoul is an important part of us. In our life this may be our mind, but I see it as separate. Our susoul is our thread in the universe. According to Artison humans are not beings in the physical sense that we exist, but that we are beings in that we exist in the tapestry of the universe in al forms. This existence and being boils down to our essential self which I call our susoul.
Our Susoul is that which is reincarnated in every life. This is the core of our being. Anything that happens to us in this life is based on the actions of our previous ego or egos and has been accumulated on this strand of life. That which is unfair to us in this life may be an action in punishment for a previous life, but it might not be. I do know that the actions we have done in our past for the good or for the ill of yourself and your loved ones will have an impact in the next life and possibly lives after that.
This is why people are said to inherit the sins of their ancestors. In many ways this is true. The actions I make will have an impact on my family in the future for my children, my grandchildren, and even generations beyond there. This is also why the concept of wyrd in the Germanic sense is part of the susoul and the ego/blood/ancestral line/ shade*shadow.
For me death provides a way for new life and new creation. Through each physical manifestation we are given chances to gain further insights into life and into the mysteries of the universe. For now I see the meaning of life simply to be to have experiences in as many ways as possible, enjoy all we can and to experience all that we can in this life. As I said once this physical body I have is dead and has breathed its last breath as a physical being Loona Wynd will cease to exist. Her works and her writing will be all thats left in the world at large to remember or know her. The family she has will be all that can remember her (and right now that doesn’t include any children..but time is still on her side).
When I die my ego will cease to be limited by the senses pf the physical world. I will be in the land of the dead. As such I will have sight beyond my normal sight. I believe that when I die I will also be able to meet with and interact with my past lives. So long as my susoul exists (which basically means so long as the universe and reality exists) all of our past lives exist. Thus we could meet in the afterlife and discuss our meanings and experiences. These discussions could lead to a greater understanding of the mysteries experienced by “Us” and thus help us ascend to the next level.
Death in nature leads to destruction which paves the way for new life and new growth. Death is the force which causes the cycle to turn. Death and destruction are the ultimate forces behind creation. In order to create something is destroyed. Destruction paves the way for the new and destruction ultimately means death.
Through death we are nourished and can grow. All the food that we eat was at one point alive. It was killed in order to sustain us. In the wild animal remains will decay (destruction) over time and provide nutrients allowing the plants to grow strong which will in turn provide nutrients for other life forms. In the cycle of life death, destruction, decay, and rebirth are tied together intimately. I feel that as a pagan and as a nature worshiper and fertility worshiper it is time I acknowledge the importance of death. With out death there can be no life and ultimately no future.
My point: Death, Decay, and Destruction are the key concepts that allow life itself to exist in this world and in any other world. Death is a an effect of life itself. Not only that but with out death physical life as we know it can not exist. I worship death as I worship life and fertility and nature.