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Trance work an outline and some techniques

Trance work

Part 1:

Define trance, meditation, and altered states of consciousness.

I have mentioned several times that I use trance work as part of my religious and spiritual practices. For many people this is a scary and confusing subject. A lot of people are not comfortable with sensations of being out of the body or even of being slightly out of touch with their bodies. This is a perfectly normal fear. However there are many reasons to use some sort of trance work, and there are ways of overcoming those sensations.

One of the first things that people who chose to work with trance and meditation need to know is that there are many ways to achieve these states and there are going to be ways that will work for you and ways that will not work for you. Going into trance and meditation isn’t scary or complicated. It can seem to be that way because many people associate meditation with sitting still and emptying their minds of all thoughts. I’m sorry but no. That doesn’t work for some one with ADHD. I found other methods and other ways to define trance and meditative states.

Ok. So you mentioned that there are many different ways of getting into trance, and there are many different types of trances. I’m following you so far. What I need to know now is how exactly do you define trance and meditative states? Then I have more questions.

For me trance work is essentially any work that takes place in an altered state of mind done for spiritual or religious purposes.   If a person is going for a walk along the ocean and drifts off into a space where they start to commune or have inspiration or understanding they have been in a trance state of some sort.  That’s why I say there are many ways of getting into trance.

The Temple tradition of witchcraft gives a scientific outlook on trance and meditation.  This outlook is one that states that meditative and trance states occur when your mind has reached a different brain wave state.  There is some debate about these states and the wave lengths and their importance in psychology.  Needless to say I think that there is something about brain waves shifting frequency but that may be sue to my understanding of the principle of vibration.

Wait psychology?  Brain waves?  I don’t want science I want metaphysics, and the mystical and occult.  This is after all a blog and essay on trance work and how it relates to religion, spirituality, and magic right?

Yes.  This is a blog on witchcraft, religion, spirituality, magic, and the occult.  However I am a member of the Temple tradition.  I do hold that there are some scientific possibilities that may explain why and how magic and the universe works the way it does.  As a former psychology student and a member of the Temple tradition the fields of psychology and neuroscience have been influential in how I understand the mind and trance work.  That is why I mentioned it.

Ok.  Science is important to you.  I get that, but what does that mean to some one who hasn’t studied psychology or brainwaves?

In the most basic sense it’s kinda like daydreaming and sleeping in class.  When you are in a meditative or trance state your brain is no longer functioning as if you were driving, watching tv, playing a game, ect.  It is in an altered state.  There are many different depths to the states of consciousness (psychology).

There are also many ways of altering consciousness.  There are ways to elevate your minds state (ecstatic work is common here) and there are ways to slow your mind (deep breathing, muscle relation, ect).  For some people the states that are more active and energetic are not effective for trance and spiritual work, and the opposite is true.  You also have people who find that sometimes one things works and sometimes it doesn’t (that would be me).

Ok.  So trance work and meditative work are essentially religious and spiritual work that occur when your mind is not in your normal every day consciousness right?  If I understand you a Rave might be a higher energy vibration and mental state than a countdown relaxation would be?  Sort of like chillin out or hyping yourself up before an activity or action?  So those would be altered states of consciousness right?

Exactly.  You got it.  Trance and meditative work is spiritual work that is done purposely under those states of mind.  The idea is that you get into those states of mind with the intent of doing some sort of spiritual work.  Then when you are done with the work you are able to return to your day to day consciousness at will with the lessons learned.

That sounds reasonable.  So how can we get into these states?

Part 2:

A few trance techniques

The first thing I can suggest is that you make sure you are in a place where you can be alone and quiet.  Many people set up a meditation shrine or altar where they have candles and incense and in some cases soft music that they play.  The idea is to set up an atmosphere where you will be relaxed and able to focus on your intent.

So with that in mind I am going to give two techniques for relaxation meditation and one technique for more ecstatic trance and motion.  I figure that these will provide a start.  I hope that you will take these techniques and then find some more.  There will be some recommended reading material at the end of this post.

These techniques are for your first starting into trance work.  I provide no guides for what work can be done at this point.  These are simply techniques to help you ease into trance work.  Trance work takes a lot of time and effort to get anything out of it.  The first techniques that you learn are often simply to help you train your mind into focusing at those states as they are “not normal waking consciousness”.

Yes. I said trance work is training and hard work.  In order to get the deep trance work that will lead to the unveiling of the mysteries of the universe you need to train your mind and body to be comfortable with these various states of consciousness.  How long this will take I can not tell you.  I can only tell you that it will be beneficial.

Technique 1: Breathing and focusing

In order to get the most out of this technique you should set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for two weeks.  This should be at the same time every day.  This is done to ensure you build a practice and discipline.  The training of discipline in the mind is part of the training that is done in trance work.

Get yourself into a place where you can be alone and quiet.  If you feel that it will help light a candle and some incense and play some low soft gentle music.  Sit in a straight back chair with your feet on the floor if possible.  Sit as straight as you comfortably can, not like a board but comfortable.

Due to the nature of this technique set a timer for 5 minutes and stop after 5 minutes for first several times.  This is done to ensure that you do not make yourself dizzy.  I also suggest that there be some peanuts or cheese available after the exercise to try and bring yourself back to normal.  There will be another exercise on grounding later on.

With that said here is the material list for the exercise:

  • Note book or journal for results
  • food and drink for grounding
  • chair
  • Optional: Candles, incense, music and the like

Set up the area you are going to be doing the exercise in.  Make sure you have your chair and notebook handy.  Have some sort of food waiting for when you are done.  I recommend protein, salt, and a little sugar.  Trail mix would be ideal.

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath and with your breath exhale all images and feelings you have towards your day and all other worries.  Do this a few times until you feel the stress of the day or the tensions of the day further back in your mind.  As you do so let your mussels relax by enjoying the air flowing through you.

Now focus.  Exhale for the count of  4 and hold for 4.  Slowly and deeply inhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Exhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Repeat  for a few minutes.  After a while you will find that you stop counting and your body and breathing has reached a natural relaxed deep breathing.  Keep in this state.  If you see any thoughts or images keep them in your mind.   Don;t think about the images just hold them and remember them.

Try to stay in this state until the timer goes off.  If you can’t then let yourself out of it and record in your notebook your impressions.  If you can stay in the trance and meditative state until the timer goes off do so. Once the timer goes off write in your notebook your impressions.  If you felt silly or odd or anything write it down.  This is also the place to write down thoughts you had during the exercise as well as any images.

Eat and drink.  Don’t stand or move until you know you are back in your normal conscious mind.

Technique 2: Count down with breathing

This technique comes second as in some ways it goes beyond the first and utilizes the first.  This is the technique that I use to this day when I am having difficulties getting into a trance or meditative state.

In order to get the most out of this technique you should set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for two weeks.  This should be at the same time every day.  This is done to ensure you build a practice and discipline.  The training of discipline in the mind is part of the training that is done in trance work.

Get yourself into a place where you can be alone and quiet.  If you feel that it will help light a candle and some incense and play some low soft gentle music.  Sit in a straight back chair with your feet on the floor if possible.  Sit as straight as you comfortably can, not like a board but comfortable.

Due to the nature of this technique set a timer for 5 minutes and stop after 5 minutes for first several times.  This is done to ensure that you do not make yourself dizzy.  I also suggest that there be some peanuts or cheese available after the exercise to try and bring yourself back to normal.  There will be another exercise on grounding later on.

With that said here is the material list for the exercise:

  • Note book or journal for results
  • food and drink for grounding
  • chair
  • Optional: Candles, incense, music and the like

Set up the area you are going to be doing the exercise in.  Make sure you have your chair and notebook handy.  Have some sort of food waiting for when you are done.  I recommend protein, salt, and a little sugar.  Trail mix would be ideal.

Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath and with your breath exhale all images and feelings you have towards your day and all other worries.  Do this a few times until you feel the stress of the day or the tensions of the day further back in your mind.  As you do so let your mussels relax by enjoying the air flowing through you.

Now focus.  Exhale for the count of  4 and hold for 4.  Slowly and deeply inhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Exhale for 8 counts and hold for 8 counts.  Repeat  8 times.

Start a count down in your mind.  Imagine as you count down the numbers in descending order this time.  Some people see it as a series flights of stairs as they walk down.  Others have their own ways.  Start with the number 13.   As you count down count at a relaxed and natural pace.  The technique will not work if you rush the countdown. Go 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0.

At this point you are in a light meditative state.  You are aware of your surroundings but yet aware of more.  This is the first trance state you get to.  Take a moment and enjoy this state.  Then count down from 12 to 1 with the same pace as before not visualizing the numbers.  Now you are at your next state of consciousness.  This is where the exercises I post with the guides post will take place.  For now keep this as your place and your trance state.

After a moment count back up going at the same pace you did before.    When you get to 12 again take a quick pause and get to know your mind and body at this state a bit.  After a moment count back up from 0 to 13.  As you reach each number your awareness comes more and more gently back to your body and your place.  It is not necessary to visualize the numbers as you ascend, but some may feel it helps.

Record all your thoughts and impressions in your note book.  Eat and drink as before and get back to your daily consciousness.

Technique 3: Chanting and motion

This technique is more about exciting your brain waves and bringing you into a higher state of consciousness where you are still seeing the world and the universe in a different view.  This technique differs in that your eyes are not closed and you are not focused on going inwards.  The idea is to go outwards and higher and inwards and lower.

This is also the first technique I will have introduced that can be directly related to magical working.

You mean we finally get to learn something that will apply to magic and spells and the like?

Yes.  However that will come later as there is another essay that needs to be written first.  The exercise here still does relate to trance work and spiritual development.  The chant I chose for this example comes from a game I played in a Theater summer camp.  That is why I see it as a perfect exercise for energy work and trance work.

Due to the nature of this technique set a timer for 5 minutes and stop after 5 minutes for first several times.  This is done to ensure that you do not make yourself dizzy.  I also suggest that there be some peanuts or cheese available after the exercise to try and bring yourself back to normal.  There will be another exercise on grounding later on.

With that said here is the material list for the exercise:

  • Note book or journal for results
  • food and drink for grounding
  • chair
  • Optional: Candles, incense, music and the like

If you have a place set up as mentioned before use that place.  This time sit in your chair comfortably.  As you sit there chant something like “Zip zap Zop” over and over again.  Start slowly but pick up pace.  As you chant rock your body back and forth with the increasing speed.  If you don’t want to rock you can stand up and move side to side or find some other swaying motion that will help you work with this.  The important thing is that you are moving with the chant.

After a while you may find yourself getting louder and louder as well as faster and faster.  That is fine.  That is what you are looking for.  These exercises and techniques are best done in a place where if you get loud it wont be to much of a problem.  The idea is that you have gone out of yourself and have become so into the motion you have lost normal reality.  Thus you have reached a trance.

Once you feel that you can’t hold the energy or the motion any more release the energy and come back to yourself.  Sit down and record everything you experience and felt in your note book.  Once you are done writing down the experience eat the food and return to your day to day life.

Part 3:

The conclusion

Ok.  There you have it.  I have given you three techniques that deal with altered states of consciousness and trance.  I have also given you a definition and an idea of what some people can mean when they say that they do a lot of trance work.  The last thing I have to say on the subject is why I ask you to record the experiences and why you may need or want to use trance in your work.

The record is simple.  It is a way for you to record your progress and see how things change.  It is something that is used for spiritual growth and development.  Many witches and pagans have these sorts of books.  Witches and magicians often call their books Books of Shadows or Grimiores.  Other pagans may call them ritual books or simply spiritual journals.  Its just a way to see what you’ve done, where you have been, and what you may yet do.

Why Trance is important?  Well it can help you contact deities, spirit guides, your higher self, gain insight into the cosmology and much more.  In the end trance work is a central part of my practice because of the versatility it has with me.  I use it in worship and I use it in communion.  I also use it to talk to my higher self and get some answers from with in.

I hope this was helpful.

May your search be fruitful

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

Education and Experimentation

The first thing I must say is that posting this essay and my personal experience is a part of my moon ritual. I am doing this in the honor of the wisdom found with in the Queen of Fate and the Queen of the Night (they are one and the same) as well as Goddess of the moon who teaches me the practice of magic and the mysteries that are the practice of magic. Yes I consider magic to hold it’s own mysteries. In that respect this is my esbat as I am honoring the Goddess and God of Wisdom and my religious witchcraft path through this post.

Originally I was going to talk about the importance of these two practices in two different blog posts, but after reading my outline I realized that they go very well together. The topics I am going to cover are education and experimentation. I see this post in some ways to be a continuation of my post on being an eclectic pagan, but in reality this post in general will apply to each and every Pagan out there. Due to my background being of being an eclectic witch I will be posting from that perspective. I just hope that traditionalist will find something of value here as well.

I am going to begin with the value of education. To be completely honest I am going to cover some non religious and spiritual aspects of education here (at least on the surface) but when I explain why they are here you’ll see why I find all education in the end to be essential.

Education

books 2 Source

Education for me in the religious and spiritual sense covers more than just religious and spiritual education. In fact for myself I consider any sort of education post high school to be extremely important. I have only experience College education so my comments will reflect that, but like I said in the end to me it does have spiritual ramifications.

Wait colleges education as spiritual education? You must be off your rocker right?

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Honestly this has been only a recent development in my understanding of the importance of education towards spiritual development and advancement. This has actually influenced my idea about ascension (which I will cover in another post). I see college as important as it can really expand your mind to new ways of thinking. It can also teach you how to look critically at all the books you read for guidance on your path. However for me the real understanding came from the philosophy course.

Every major that I have come across in every college I have looked at requires one class in philosophy. For me I think that any one that has any interest in pursuing any religious path should take an introductory course in philosophy. I consider myself a true philosopher which is why I find taking at least one course in philosophy to be essential to your growth spiritually.

When people think of philosophy they typically think of deep in depepth thought and thinking. For many people philosophy is simply out of their comfort zone. It seems to be something that is only held with in the mind of the great thinkers like: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Bertrand Russel, and many others, but in reality philosophy when you get right down to it is essentially the way a person views the world.

The definition of philosophy is really based on the Greek roots of the word. The word Philosophy is made up of two Greek words, Philos and Sophia. Philos basically means love of. Sophia is translated as both knowledge and wisdom. So the subject of philosophy is essentially “the love of knowledge and wisdom”. That right there is one of the reasons I find college education ti be essential.

Through the various topics covered in college a college student is introduced to many ways of looking at the world (in other words philosophies). Once a student takes a philosophy course (the choice is typically either ethical dilemmas or a basic introduction to philosophy) they begin to start to question (or at least ideally if they got anything out of the course) how they actually understand and perceive the world from then on.

Once a philosophy course is taken (usually with in the first two semesters) a student will begin to question the worldviews offered by any text they encounter. This is the reason I have found a college education to be essential to spiritual development.

Aside from the class benefits, you typically have a chance to encounter many different cultures, religions, political, and spiritual beliefs on a college campus (even ones religious in nature tend to still have a diverse set of actual beliefs and spiritual concepts on campus). In college you are bound to have a vast amount of experiences and be allowed to experience many different things from various cultures. When you look at it that way here is yet another point why I see college as important.

The third reason I see college as important is one of the keys to ascension. This is the second time I have mentioned ascension in this post so a brief description of ascension is required here. Ascension for me is basically the process by which we reach the next stage of being. I believe that there are many stages of existence and that there are many mysteries and experiences that can only be learned in certain states. That is why I believe having a human life is essential. To be honest I think that there are actually many lives that need to be lived in human form before we learn all the lessons and experience all the mysteries that we need to in this life.

So where does college play in?

In college we have many choices to make. I believe that the choices we make in this life are those that we are fated to do (I’ll cover my concept of fate some point next week) as we chose the lessons we wanted to learn in this lifetime based on the lessons that we have already learned. I believe that career choice and vocational path all play a role in the lessons we learn.

This is where college comes in. The ultimate format of our college education is based on the career path that we have decided to pursue at that time. I say at that time because it is not uncommon these days to find people who spent years of their life in one field of work now looking for something else.

I believe that each different career path has its different set of mysteries. In many ways if you think about it there are various Gods that could be considered “Gods of X profession”. For example in financial jobs I would consider Hermes to be a God that you could gain insight from. The various jobs we have today like manufacturing might got to a god like Vulcan/Hephaestus or finances to gods like Hermes or trickster gods. That is why I think every job on earth possesses it’s own set of mysteries and lessons that can only be experienced in that setting.

That is where college comes in. In college you have to take courses based on your major or majors. Each course provides more insight into the information that you require for your job. These lessons may give you a different world look based on the career path you take. The mysteries you experience can be increased if you work with a deity related to your professions. That is how college fits in to the theme of spiritual education. Yet it goes further than that.

I mentioned briefly about how I see ascension to be reaching the next stage of existence. One of the ways we ascend is through obtaining as much knowledge as we can in this lifetime. College facilitates this by having courses in general on basically any subject that you can imagine. By attending college you have access to courses on basically any aspect of any given subject. That allows you to obtain as much knowledge as you can.

As a college student who has been in college off and on for the last 8 years and will finally have her associates (I have had many major issues with my mental health to overcome during my time in college) this year in liberal studies; I can firmly say that every course I have taken in my college career has given me something to think about, or has helped me develop a skill that would become necessary in future classes and in jobs (learning how to study and ask for help and learning boundaries as to what I can do and can’t do). I strongly support some sort of education after high school. It doesn’t matter if that education take the form be a trade specific training or a 2-7 year college/vocational training, or the format of apprenticeship, semi mater, master, and grad master format, I find that the skills learned here will help one succeed in all other areas of life.

Ok, so the rant on the aspect of college or post high school education ran much longer than I had originally thought it would be. I think I was able to provide a clear point as to why I see post high school education to be important. I think that the job path we choose can provide some mysteries of their own and I see those as being the mysteries we are meant to learn in this life.

There are however other forms of education that are important. The first thing is that you take personal responsibility for your spiritual education. No one is going to hand you the answers on a silver platter. If you have questions that you are seeking answers for you are the ones that really need to take responsible for your own spiritual education.

So what does spiritual education entail? Well there are many things that spiritual education can entail. There is research, reflection, participation, and discussion. Each of these are very important to developing personally. They are things that should not be skipped when a person comes to explore spirituality. If you remove one of them in the end the other aspects don’t have as much of an impact. This is where the second part of this post comes into play.

Exploration

The very first thing I mentioned as a part of spiritual education is research. Research is an important part of learning about your path. Research can contain listening to podcasts, reading books, joining e-mail lists, historical documentaries, academic articles published in various magazines, and websites. In either way it takes note taking, paying attention and either reading or watching a lot of documentaries. In essence it is very time consuming. However if you don’t research you really never have any material to base your practice offf of.

As an eclectic I take the research a step further. I look into cultural, religious, and historical aspects and context for the practices. I then look to see how that piece fits into the whole of that subject and topic. If it is something I agree with spiritually (context into consideration) I will add it to my practice. This typically means using more than just that one concept.

Research also allows you to explore many different avenues of looking at the same topic. It can also allow you to work through concepts in culture not familiar to you. Hence this is why research is essential to both eclectics and traditionalist. It may be difficult, but in the end it takes a lot of time and is worth the effort.

The second thing I mentioned was reflection. I will cover reflection after I discuss the meaning of participation in the sense of spiritual and religious development. I am covering participation now as it coincides directly with research. That is why participation is the second part of exploration and reflection is the third.

After a person has done some research they are likely to have an idea of the path and maybe the Gods that they are interested in. This is what will guide how a person starts to participation aspect of spiritual development. I say the path determines how you participate as the Gods and development of your path becomes intently personal at this point.

There are many ways in which a person can participate in a religion or spiritual experience. There is personal ritual through prayer and offering as well as mediation or acts of worship. There are acts in communities that can be done in honor of various gods. That is an act of participation. The other type of participation is through groups and public rituals. I have found that the website Witches voice to very useful in finding groups. You may have to travel though.

The next part is spiritual reflection. In many ways I see this blog as an overall spiritual reflection for my years on my path. If you are not into blogs you can use a personal diary or as many witchcraft authors refer to it a Book of Shadows, This book basically entails any detail of any spiritual work that you do.

Reflection here entails writing down all of your thoughts and experiences. In some ways it also means looking at your experiences and develop the path you are on. It is very uncomfortable but it is important. Through reflection we are able to look at what we have read as well as our own experiences and find them working as a whole. This provides keys to mysteries and understanding.

The last thing I mentioned about education is discussion. Through discussion people can ask you questions about your path. By answering questions a person is forced to actively think about their beliefs and their practices. In many ways this forces a person to find ways to describe exactly what they believe and how they understand the universe.

There are some risks to experimentation though. When you experiment with a new ritual or worshiping new gods you end up working with a massive amount of power and entities beyond our full comprehension. You also risk the possibility of your entire universe being turned upside down. When ever you experiment with a belief and religious system all of you’re previous thoughts and notions about the world can be turned all around.

This is where you need to have courage. I mentioned in my previous post that eclectics really need to be courageous. Any one exploring a new religious path as a seeker needs to be courageous. You need to be able to try and fail and try again. That is the risk here.

The benefits of experimentation are vast. You gain self awareness and knowledge. You gain insight as to the various Gods out there. You get to explore different world views. You can learn a lot. You just have to be willing to question yourself and the other beliefs. In the end the search for a religious or philosophical path in life has a lot of risk and benefits.

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:

Courage.

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: Entheogen and Trance work

For this weeks prompt there were several things I came up with. It was a choice between ethics, eclectic, entheogen, energy, and education. There were several blogs posted about being eclectic, so I decided that I would focus on entheogens. I am still going to post an entry about being eclectic at some point, but for today I am going to focus on entheogens.

Most of the books I read when I started out on my path said that real witches did not use drugs or drinks in rituals. As a teen I had no problem with this as I was not legal drinking or smoking age. I also had no desire to “get high” or “get drunk” at this time in my life. However it made me wonder why people would say that witches had never used substances in ritual.

I was aware that some Native American tribal traditions partook of Peyote or other substances as part of their ritual. It was a sacred practice and done to contact the deities and achieve a deep trance. I was also quite aware that in ancient Greece the Oracle of Delphi induced trance by breathing the vapors of the cave (which were hallucinogenic) and I had also heard that often times the wine drank during Hellennic rituals was laced with another substance to once again help achieve a deeper trance.

It seemed to me that if there were historical uses of substances in various cultures, why would witches be exempt from this practice? What was so wrong with using a substance blessed and connected to your Gods to not only connect with the Gods but with spirits as well? When I asked these questions it was often answered that “the experiences would not be genuine” or that “they shouldn’t be taken seriously”. I asked what made a substance trance so different from one gained by use of drumming, incense, or other practices? The answer was that the experience comes from with in and not from the substance.

My thinking was then: Wait what? Are you serious? Even if a person is using an entheogen in their ritual it’s not to “get high”. It’s to contact with deity and spirit. The tool of choice is the entheogen instead of or in addition to other “traditional” trance. The experience with the deity still would come from with in as it would be from the desire to connect that the bond was formed.

Entheogens is something I am still exploring. I typically use a smoke or a drink. Most commonly I use catnip. It has a nice relaxing sensation that helps me reach a deeper trance. The smoke is always blessed before I partake and I often take a “hit” as I praise my Gods. I often look at the smoke remaining in the room after an exhale and see symbols and get messages from the Gods that way.

I haven’t tried to use an herbal tsine blend yet, but its something I probably will look into later on. I know that the use of substances in ritual is something of debate. I also know that the practice isn’t for every one. It helps me relax and focus to connect with deity, and in the end, isn’t that all that rituals are meant to do connect and celebrate deity?

Eclectic Pagans; Truth or Dare?

Eclectic Pagans; Truth or Dare?.

I will be posting my own Eclectic outlook at some point tomorrow or Friday. However I feel that no one should ever have to go through the experience that this person went through.

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.

Pagan Blog Project: Circles and being Called

There were several things that came to my mind when I was considering what to blog about for my C entries. The two topics that kept coming back into the focus of my mind were being called (as in being called to become a member of the clergy) and the use of circles. I figured since those were the two I couldn’t get off my mind I would do my entries on those two topics. I am going to start with circles.

Circles

When I first started to practice witchcraft I thought that all pagans and all magical practices were done in a circle. I thought that all pagan religions would thus use a circle or some other similar practice as the form of worship. As I began to explore other paths I started to really understand that circles are not present in all worship practices. I did however notice that it was extremely common among witchcraft practices.

In an earlier blog post I mentioned that I identify as a witch. That is true. My worship takes place with in the confines of a circle that I have cast. For me my ritual circles have many different purposes. They serve as a barrier between this world and the other worlds. They also work as a temple and a gateway into other worlds. I also use my circles to banish energy from my area allowing new energy to flow.

There are many ways that I’ve cast a circle over the years. I have a few different circles that I use depending on the ritual I am performing and the spirits that I am working with at that time. I have found that the different entities I work with typically appreciate the different circle techniques. I have found they see it as a sign of respect on my part to have a different rite for them based on the type of spirit and magic being performed. Its part of how I get to know the spirits.

My circles are always cast with all four of the elements. I typically start with Fire in the east and end with earth in the North. My placement of the elements in my circles reflects my view on the circle of the year and how the elements work with in each season. It expresses my essential elemental philosophy. This philosophy is related directly to my magical practices and my religious practices as well.

My circles actually often start with earth as the first element invoked and cast. I use salt as my symbol for earth. I start with earth as it is our foundation and our strength. The earth is also the ultimate source of our life and is thus our ultimate mother. For me the year starts in the spring and ends in the spring. Earth is birth and death. It is growth and decay. That’s why I see it as the beginning and the end of the endless cycle of life and death.

For me fire is the element of passion and direction. Fire is where we form our ideas. It is passion. Fire is our will in many ways. That which has been planted in the earth has become strong through the feeding of the sun. The sun is the ultimate source of fire. It brings forth that which we desire through physical manifestation. This element for me is also associated with psychic sight and enlightenment. That is why fire is the second stage. It cleanses and purifies by burning away that which does not serve any more.

Air is the third element. Air brings about changes and tests. It blows away that which has burnt away and brings in that which is new. This is the breath of life. This breath brings new life into projects and can reinvigorate that which has already been done. It is calm and rough. This would be the fall.

Finally we have water. Water is the element of emotion. It is also the element of rest and reflection. It is replenishing and refreshing. I associate this element with the winter. You have done that which you can for the year. It is time to rest and contemplate. It is also time to prepare for the next year. Thus there is the cleansing of the past and the destruction of the past through the winter freezing the land. The melted snow in the spring brings fresh new water to the land. This is the last element cast.

Water is the last element I invoke because it has a tie to the underworld directly. In many cultures one of the ways you could access the other worlds would be to travel through water. Frau Holda is a goddess often associated with prosperity. In the myth a young maiden accessed the land of Elphame through a well. She was prosperous and helped those who asked for her help. Frau Hold blessed her. The maiden upon her return shows her wealth and tells the tale. The step-sister follows through the well. She does not help and gets cursed. In both cases water is the key gateway to the other worlds.

Each element has a banishing and an invoking aspect. These are the things I call upon when I cast my circle. My wheel of the year reflects this. Winter>Spring>Summer>Fall>Winter. I think that it is from the other worlds that we get life. Which is why I see the year as starting and ending in the winter and in the spring. Both bring an end and a beginning. There is a point in the year where its not really winter but not really spring either. That is the time where the journey from the dead to the living begins. That is where the transition occurs, and it is ultimately where we end up at end end of every cycle.

When I cast a circle I am traveling briefly through all of the elements and through the cycle of the year. I see all the elements connected and I see how interwoven all of fate and all of reality really are. Circles and cycles are found everywhere in my path. There will be more on each as time goes on. I may even get into more depth with each element at a later date.

On being Called

Time and time again I often wonder if I deserve to have the title of priestess. In many cases I don’t accept that title for myself. I have not been trained enough in the specific rites and rituals of specific deities yet. I am also not a member of the clergy of any specific religion yet. These are reasons I don’t accept being called a priestess. I don’t feel I have earned that right.

This goes into why I do not consider myself to be Wiccan. I have not undergone the proper initiation rite. That for one thing discounts me. The other is I have not been trained in the rites of those deities and I have not been introduced to those deities. No knowledge of the rituals or names of the deities then I am not a member of the clergy of that religion. I am not Wiccan.

It seems to me that in the case of many practitioners of eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft after dedicating oneself to the practice one can simply call themselves a priest or priestess. Many of the books out there on this topic state that you can be your own priest and priestess. While it is true no one needs to stand between you and your experiences with deity, does that automatically make you worthy of being a priest?

Being a priest to me is the same as being a member of the clergy. If you act as a priest and identify as a priest then your actions and life should reflect that. Priests serve communities. If you are a solitary member of your own personal practice what community do you serve? You can serve the general local pagan population. If you don’t feel called to serve the community and to serve the gods then I don’t think you should be calling yourself a priest of any sort.

I however do feel called to be a minister. I do feel that I am being called to serve the gods. Which gods I do not know as of yet. I wish to serve through teaching and through offering other services. I hope to help through writing and basically serve the gods in any way I can. I am being called. I will be a priest. Are you being called though?

Pagan Blog Project: Blessing and Banishing

Blessing

In my early years as a witch and a pagan nearly all my magical and religious practices involved both singleness and banishing. These two practice came to define my rituals and my practice. Over the last three years there have been many things that have changed in my practice and my emphasis on these two practices has diminished. That doesn’t mean I don’t engage in blessing and banishing but its not my focus.

For me a blessing is a gift from the gods. When I bless some one or something (and that includes places and rituals tools) I imbue that item with sacred power and sacred energy. It has become a holy object and is to be used in such a manner. I feel that blessings from gods are things that only the gods can give. There is also a down side to blessings.

What may be a blessing for me could be a curse for some one else. Blessings and curses to me are interchangeable. If some one was to bless me under a deity I have no connection with or have no desire to have a relationship with I would not consider the blessing a good thing. In some ways I would consider it a curse as it was an unwanted magical act. This is why I don’t say “Blessed be” to any one, as I don’t know if they would accept or want a blessing from my gods.

I may bless my own home and my family, but I have their approval to have these blessings placed upon them. I would bless some one if they asked me to bless them, but only if they understood where the blessing was coming from. I bless space every time I perform a ritual, but that is for purification and consecration of the sacred ground for rituals.

Banishing

This is another practice I do on a regular basis. For me a banishing ritual is a way of cleansing out that which is no longer needed so that the new may come and flourish. I also see it as a way of removing energy from a space or an area. This is something I do when the energy is working against positive desires and manifestations.

There are many rituals that have been written for banishing practices. I like to use the LBRP for my banishing rituals. I typically do these rituals when my mental health is going down hill as they help me focus and banish thoughts from my mind. Banishing rituals form the basis of my circle casting practices as well.

I don’t think banishing rituals are the only way to deal with negative influences in ones life. I think that they are a tool. However it is not something I would rely on for mental health. It’s just a tool I have found that works well with other treatments.

Pagan Blog Project Angels and Ancestors

So I am a bit late in joining the project. I have decided to start from the beginning and will start with the letter A. There are a few topics that came to mind when thinking about the letter a. It was difficult for me to choose which two to focus on in this post. It took me a while to think about it, but I have come to my decision. I am going to start off with my first letter A:

Ancestors

For the last several years I have been focusing on figuring out what my path should be. One of the things that I have come to find as a theme in many of the ancient pagan religions was some sort of concept of ancestral “worship” or veneration. After a lot of thinking this is something I have always thought to be important. This is something I have added into my own personal practice.

For me there are several reasons to honor our ancestors. I believe that once we die our bodies literally become one with the land. We are a part of the land as much as the land is a part of us. Our minds are still alive through our soul which has traveled into the land of the dead. We can now see through the eyes of the dead and thew land spirits. That is why cemeteries have ghosts. The land is filled with the souls and the spirits of those who have lived before.

When we contact our ancestors we are able to have access to insight into the sight of the other world. No longer do the dead have to focus on a line of cause and effect thinking. The dead can see into the future and into the past and the totality of the whole due to their connection to the land and to the realm of the dead, which is where all fate is formed.

Ancestors do not have to refer specifically to those of the blood and recent history. Ancestors can refer to those of the spirit (as in accepted into a religious family), those of the heart (friends and “family”) and those of the blood (by birth and in marriage). For me I am adopted. My ancestors are of those of my biological family (blood), my foster family , and my adoptive family (north of who were spirit ancestors and heart ancestors). Then I also have my ancestors in the world of witchcraft.

Who are my ancestors as a witch and a pagan? Well I would consider them to be those who have gone before on any path of witchcraft. I would consider Doreen Valentine, Doreen Virtue, Gerald Gardner, Robert Cochrane, Scott Cunningham, and in some ways Aliester Crowley potential ancestors. All of them have gone before me and helped paved the way for the modern pagan and magical traditions to be born.

I believe that by having a relationship with our ancestors we can have a direct relationship with the land beneath us. I believe that nature holds a lot of the keys to understanding the universe. I am a nature based pagan. I believe the the ancestors and the spirits of the land are in many ways the same thing. I work with both in my rituals and in my magic. Ancestors are important. They shows us where we have been and where we can be and can provide insight that we may not be able to see.

Angels

This is a topic that is highly debated among pagans and Christians. There are many people who say that angels belong specific under the umbrella of Abrahamic religions as they are the servants of Yaweh. Other people are more open to the thought that angels can refer to a heavenly being in servant of deities.

I believe in angels. I also believe in other beings that serve other deities. I believe that there are some beings that are considered to be angelic (Cupid has often been described as an angelic figure and he is the son of Aphrodite/Venus) and that there are angels which are the servants of Yaweh. In both cases these are highly powerful spiritual beings who work for and are servants of deities.

I believe that angels are messengers of Gods. I also believe that there are groups of spirits known as angels that may not have been angles. These would be the beings I see associated with Enochian Magic as revealed through Johnathan Dee and his partner. I believe those may have been the fallen angels that fell from gods grace when they lusted after women.

I believe in angels. I don’t believe them to be all loving and peaceful beings. I think they they are powerful beings who have the powers of the gods at their command. I think that there are guardian spirits often thought to be angels, but may not infact be angels.

To be honest I don’t know much about angels. I have my beliefs. I still have much to learn about angels. I do think that there is more to angels than the most common view.

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