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Page of Magick

 

Taylor Ellwood

 

Magick on the Edge: An Anthology of Experimental Occultism edited by Taylor Ellwood

 

The Importance of Understanding
the Internal Environment   
by Taylor Ellwood 


ďYou can have the best intentions in the world, informing your actions and your magic, but what people forget is that itís the consequences of your actions and the impact of your magic that are remembered, long after the intention has faded away.Ē Ė From Sayings of a Wise Fool.

One trend Iíve noted in almost all my fellow magicians and myself is an initial focus on learning to manipulate external reality with magic. Later, sometimes much later, this is followed up by an exploration of the internal reality or environment of the magician. I must admit that I think the order should be reversed. Focus first on understanding with the internal environment and then focus on interacting with the external environment (Though as weíll find the two are inextricably connected). Briefly, though, I want to consider why people focus initially on working with the external reality, instead of the internal reality.

The manipulation of external reality is usually done to gain a result. Unfortunately the process used to obtain that result isnít always understood, nor do some people care if it isnít understood. For them it is enough to get the result, to have the desire temporarily met[i]. Another reason the manipulation of external reality is focused on, at least in the West, is because we live in fairly materialistic cultures. The U.S. in particular is a culture that is focused primarily on the acquisition of materials. In one sense, the ability to manipulate external reality to gain more material is really a method of attempting to gain control of the external environment. However, such control is fleeting, usually because the magician doesnít fully understand why s/he is trying to obtain the desired result, beyond addressing an immediate need or want that demands the result. A final reason the external environment is focused on so much is due to the fact that Western approaches to internal magic still ultimately focus more on dealing with external reality. Approaches such as metaprogramming and NLP focus much more on how to shape interactions with people and much less with how to interact with the self. Where do they focus on internal reality, itís primarily as a way of changing specific thinking patterns. While that can be useful to do, thereís a fundamental area of the internal reality of the magician that is often ignored in most of the current Western magical approaches, namely the emotions.

This focus on manipulating external reality before really understanding the internal environment is problematic for a number of reasons. The simplest reason is that if you donít know what you really want, then how can you be sure if youíve actually gotten what you want? Building off that reason, another reason is that a person will sabotage hirself when s/he has an internal conflict with the external result manifested. Yet another reason is that the distractions of external reality can only divert you from any internal unhappiness for so long. A final reason is that any sense of control that you think you have over external circumstances can easily fall apart like a house of cards, if the right internal pressure is applied.

I want to make it clear that Iím not advocating that everyone becomes a monk and withdraws from life. However, I am advocating that a magician spend some time learning how hir internal reality works before focusing too much on shaping external reality. When you consciously understand the motives behind your actions then youíve taken a step toward mastering your internal reality. Hyatt points out, ďIt is safeÖto say that the majority of our problems arise from the lack of consciousness of our programming and the belief that we are more or less helpless in changing our conditionÖTension is a fact of lifeÖStresses and strains are not only an integral part of life, but they often appear as life itselfĒ (2002, P. 49). Conscious realization of the motives that inform your intentions can help you begin to identify the tensions and stresses that impact you and cause a need to act. Consciously acknowledging how you program yourself to deal with life will show you how effective or ineffective that is as well as showing you the source of your reactions, which could be considered your programming.

A reaction is an automatic response to a situation. The problem with reactions is that they arenít always appropriate for the situation being dealt with. Because a reaction is an automatic behavior, itís not easily controlled. Youíre probably not thinking about why youíve reacted in the way you have. Youíre just reacting in a manner that worked before and might work in a similar situation. But what if it doesnít?

A reaction is usually tied to an emotional trigger. When the emotional trigger is sparked, the reaction is unleashed. Now imagine for a moment that youíve done a ritual and you got a great result, but something about that result strikes an emotional trigger. You react and suddenly the result is sabotaged. Your internal reality has spoken and explained that this result goes against its fundamental reality. This can happen in magical practice.

Iíve seen it occur with other magicians and of course Iíve sabotaged myself before as well.

What is really frustrating is seeming to get what you want and then realizing that in fact it wasnít what you wanted after all, but was instead just a foil for your subconscious to express itself it to you. If the subconscious isnít being listened to, it will manifest itself into your life through the situations you get involved in, until you get the message it has to give you. For me, this has resulted in making some bad relationship decisions because what I thought I wanted wasnít really what I wanted at all, but it was the only way my subconscious could communicate to me.  In fact, making those decisions helped me realize that not knowing myself had a big impact on not just myself, but on other people in my life, because if I couldnít communicate with myself, I most certainly couldnít with them.

The question that arises then is how we learn to communicate with the subconscious and organize our internal realities so that we can manifest effective magic as well as live mindful lives. One NLP technique, pathworking, is really useful because you can use it to interact with your subconscious mind through symbolism[ii]. You create an imaginary reality and then go through it, interacting with the various personas and other symbols, which represent situations in your life. This kind of work can be a good initial approach to dealing with internal issues and the interaction they have with your reality.

To engage the subconscious at a deeper level, meditation that moves beyond visualization is necessary, so that you can still the mind and more importantly feel the emotions. Your goal with meditation isnít to label, define, or confine your emotions. Instead it is to learn how to feel them, but in a manner that also allows you to step back and decide if the method of expressing the emotions is really the method you want to use. For instance,

itís perfectly normal to feel anger, but throwing a temper tantrum isnít nearly as effective as telling someone I feel angry because of what happened in a specific situation. Emotions arenít rational. They arenít something you can think out, but the expression of them is something that can be controlled by accepting that you actually feel the emotion. In fact, accepting what you feel is a very liberating experience that allows you to begin to change how you act in a situation.

One form of meditation, Iíve found really useful is the Taoist water breathing technique. On the inhale, the person raises hir internal energy up from the belly to the top of the head. On the exhale, the person lets the energy flow down into the body. The energy is used to dissolve internal tension and stress. At the same time, emotions wrapped up in the tension are released so that they can be felt and the stress can be worked through, instead of repressed. The benefit of letting yourself meditate as you feel these emotions is that you can feel them and work through them without necessarily having to be overwhelmed by what you feel.

As you continue to do meditation that works on your internal environment, you will begin to organize that reality. You will have a much better idea of what you want. Consequently when you do external magic to manifest that, you wonít encounter the obstacles you might have experienced before. You may even find that you donít need to do as much magic to effect the external world, because youíve already done the internal work and everything lines up for you.

Even when you know your intentions and are aware of the impact your actions have on yourself and others, there is no guarantee that you wonít sometimes make mistakes. Iíve been doing meditation to work on my internal reality for the last two or so years and I still occasionally sabotage myself and discover patterns of behavior and belief that shape my life and impacts others in ways that arenít always good. The internal meditation is on-going work. Sometimes Iím able to work through behavior patterns and emotions before they sabotage a situation and sometimes I only figure it out, after the sabotage has occurred.

Remember that no matter the mistakes you make, those mistakes only last as long as you continue to perpetuate them. If you have the courage to face yourself, than you can discover a way to work through them, and eventually avoid making some of them. Be honest with yourself and that honesty will extend to others, because you will find itís less hard to express yourself when you actually know why you feel what you feel.

I end this article with a thought. Managing yourself can be one of the hardest tasks you ever embark on. It can also be one of the most rewarding, because when it is all said and done, you will truly know you act from a conscious and authentic place. You wonít inadvertently hurt people or yourself, and when you have to do something difficult, you will do it from a place of awareness and acceptance that will give you the strength to see it through. The magicianís greatest tool and  strength is hir own self-awareness and how s/he chooses to employ it is what shows a true mastery of magic.  


Works Cited

Hyatt, Christopher. (2002). Undoing yourself with energized meditation and other devices.Tempe: New Falcon Publications.

Suggested Reading

Alli, Antero. (1985). Angel tech: A modern shamanís guide to reality selection.Tempe: New Falcon Publications.
Frantzis, B. K. (2001). Relaxing into your being: Breathing, chi, and dissolving the ego.Berkeley:North AtlanticBooks.
Wilson, Robert Anton. (2001). Prometheus rising.Tempe: New Falcon Publications. 

[i] I say temporarily because eventually the desire will come back. This isnít a good or bad thing, so much as itís a fact of life.
[ii] Magical Pathworking by Nick Farrell is an excellent book, which explains how pathworking can be used. 

Author bio

Taylor Ellwood lives in Seattle. Heís a co-author of Creating Magickal Entities (with David Cunninghman and Amanda Wagener), and Kink Magic (with Lupa, forthcoming). He is the author of Pop Culture Magick,  Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy and the editor of the Magick on the Edge Anthology.  When Taylor isnít editing Non-fiction books for Immanion Press, or working on his latest work, he can be found gaming, reading,For more information about Taylor, please go to http://www.magicalexperiments.com/

 

Taylor Ellwood

 

Magick on the Edge: An Anthology of Experimental Occultism edited by Taylor Ellwood

 

Money, Magic and Paganism
by Taylor Ellwood


Ever heard of the stereotypical ďpoor paganĒ?  The one who barely lives paycheck to paycheck, drives a hunk oí junk around because s/he has no credit, and never seems to get ahead?  This stereotype, when it comes to money, is justified by the idea that being poor is virtuous. The rationalization is that itís okay if youíre in debt, donít have much money--youíre keeping it real by not too materialistic or capitalistic. But this virtue of being poor isnít really a virtue at all. For many (but not all), itís a rationalization for why a person is poor, so that s/he can feel better about his/her decision to stay poor. Pagans arenít alone in this, but it seems that we are pretty good at providing reasons for accepting poverty over wealth. For those pagans who are disabled or chronically ill, poverty may not be a choice, but instead an unfortunate reality that canít be avoided. Even so I have a suggestion at the end of this article as to how we as a community can help the members of our community who arenít as well-off because of situations radically out of their control.

While you donít have final say on how much youíre paid at a job, or the social situations youíre in that can negatively or positively impact your life, you can decide what you choose to do with your money. Even the debts you pay were debts that you took on, whether it was to purchase luxury items on a credit card or to deal with an unfortunate situation such as a car accident. You may never have complete control over your life or the situations youíre in. But you do have control over your reactions and how you choose to deal with a situation.

You also have complete control of your attitude when it comes to money--but you might not learn you have that control until after youíre knee deep in debt and sinking further. The problem that many people face (not just pagans) is that they arenít educated in financial literacy, i.e. how money works. High schools generally donít teach many classes on finances and other real-world issues and unless you decide to take courses in college about accounting or other related majors you likely wonít get the education there. At home, unless your parents talk to you about money and how they handle it you likely will only learn how they handle it from observation. (And, of course, if your parents donít handle money well, chances are you wonít either if you use them as examples!) Most of us learn what not to do with money, and that through hard experience, which is the absolute worst way to learn about finances.

This is because you usually have to make costly mistakes to learn. Run up some credit card bills and youíre stuck with high interest rates and struggling to pay the debt off. Donít put money away into savings or investments and you may find yourself working a fast food job in your eighties. Spend too much on books, video games, and other luxuries and you may not have enough money for the bills, therefore accumulating even more debt. Live paycheck to paycheck and when something big comes along, such as the transmission going out on your car, or an uninsured medical emergency, youíre not going to have any way to pay for it. None of those experiences strikes me as particularly virtuous or desired.

Pagans donít have to be poor. I suggest, in fact, that we adopt the attitude that having money is a good thing. Money is good to have because it can insure relative self-sufficiency, and it can pay for unexpected situations, such as an accident or sickness. Money can pay for education and provide security for old age, and it can allow you to travel to other countries and experience other cultures at their source. Of course, those are just a few reasons why having money is good; Iím sure you can think of plenty of others.

We first need to look at our current attitude toward money. Take a moment and look at a bill or a checkbook or something else thatís financially relevant. Take a pen in your hand and on a blank piece of paper write down your initial impressions when you look at the financial artifact and think of your monetary situation. If you find yourself writing and/or thinking of money in negative terms then you need to adjust your attitude. The reason you need to adjust it is because your attitude about finances is sabotaging the conscious choices you make when you have money.

Because most people havenít been taught financial literacy we usually have negative experiences with money. This negativity imprints and we soon regard money as an affliction or a problem as opposed to a means of offering potential security and/or freedom from bad circumstances. Certainly this was the case for me, up until recently. I always had some form of debt that needed to be paid off and yet no matter how I tried I just couldnít seem to get ahead or feel confident that my money would last beyond the current paycheck. But one day, having complained about money for the umpteenth time, I happened to pick up a book Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach their Kids About Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! by Robert Kiyosaki. The core concept I got from this book was that I alone was responsible for how I spent my money and that my education about money and how I thought and felt about it greatly shaped my spending of it[1]. This seems like such an obvious point, but to someone who felt that money was an amorphous force that controlled his life, I found it to be liberating. No longer did money control me. Instead I could take control of it.

I suspect that many other pagans, were they to examine their attitude about money, would come to a similar realization. Although this awareness is liberating, we still need to undo the negative attitudes we have. There are a couple of ways to start doing this and Iíve found both of them have really helped me get a handle on my financial situation. 

Meditation, Magic, & Consciously Loving Money 

My first solution involved meditation. I prefer using Taoist meditation practices that involve dissolving internal energetic blockages. These energetic blockages usually also have emotions, beliefs, and attitudes attached to them. By dissolving the blockages I can allow myself to feel those emotions, beliefs, and attitudes, and then consciously change them so that they no longer sabotage me[2]. However, any technique will do provided it allows you to enter into a state of mind where you are receptive to examining and changing your beliefs on a particular subject. The reason this is important is because our everyday mundane consciousness tends to operate on autopilot, which means we donít always examine why we are doing what we are doing. By being contemplative and reflective about the problem we can see it from a perspective outside the everyday tunnel vision. This in turn can lead to conscious change.

Once youíve examined the attitude and decided you want to change it, you need to determine what you will change it into. For example, I changed my attitude of money from dislike into love of money. I decided that I would love money and in return invite it to love me. Using meditation, I changed my memories of bad experiences with money into positive experiences where I learned to love money. I visualized myself in the various moments where Iíd gotten negative imprints about money. I then visualized myself changing the actual occurrences into ones that were more positive in terms of how I handled money and felt about it afterwards. Through these meditations I was able to undo the negative imprints and create more positive ones that helped me feel more comfortable with handling money.

To reinforce this positive attitude further I decided to create an entity that would encourage my wife and me to love money and become more knowledgeable about it. My wife made a pouch out of blue leather (we associate the color with money). In the pouch we placed a couple of coins and other personal effects that represented our desire to change our attitude and approach to money. I then came up with a phrase: ďI love moneyĒ. I took out the repeating letters, condensing the phrase into ďIlvmnyĒ, which was now the name of the entity. To bring the entity to life we decided that the energy that would feed it would be both the spending and receiving of money. Every transaction would give the entity energy to perform its task, which was to help us cultivate better financial habits. Our first transaction was to go out and buy books on money management. After each purchase and every time we make a sale, deposit a check, or invest in stocks we hold the pouch and say, ďThank you Ilvmny.Ē

Although my first solution was to use magic to help me change my attitude, I also knew I needed to learn more about money. It wasnít enough to have a positive attitude about magic. Something Iíve noticed in myself and many other people, Pagan and otherwise, is a decided lack of knowledge of how money works. Living from paycheck to paycheck illustrates this because it involves using money strictly for day to day survival with little preparation for the future. My second solution was to acquire financial literacy. 

Financial Literacy: Making Money Work For You 

When you live paycheck to paycheck youíre working for money. This is what seems to happen to a lot of people. We go to work, we make money and we spend it, putting little, if any, aside for a rainy day or retirement. When a situation does come up we wish we had more money to solve it, even though itís not really more money that will solve the problem ó itís making money work for you.

First, you first need to learn how money works. If no one talked with you about money and how to use it responsibly then what you need to do is educate yourself. This doesnít have to involve evening classes at a college (and in fact that would probably be the most expensive and least successful way to learn about money in the immediate real world). Instead, Iíd suggest going to your local bookstore or library and looking in the business and finance section. Youíll probably want to get several books on how to handle personal finances because you never want to get just one personís opinion on any situation, let alone how to handle money. Iíll list a few recommendations at the end of this article, but you might also want to see what members of your family or friends have read about personal finances. Speaking of family, if you have kids, start talking to them about money as you learn. You can never educate your children about money too early. In fact, you may help them avoid mistakes you made and come out ahead when it comes to retirement and other financial matters.

Many people donít pick up books on money because they think such books will be loaded with technical financial jargon and hard to read. But a good book will explain the different terms and principles in a clear and concise manner. They also may think that money management is boring. While it may not be as riveting as, say, a mystery novel, once have a basic understanding you may find that itís actually an interesting subject to learn about. Even if you still donít find the subject fascinating, itís important to educate yourself about it. You donít need to know the intricacies of the daily life of a stock broker, but knowing the basics of how money works and how you can make it work for you will make your life a lot less stressful.

Making money work for you means learning how to invest in stocks and IRAs, maximize your 401k plan, and getting the most out of your bank accounts. When you know how to make money work for you, it becomes its own magic, with the result being more numbers than you had before, provided you take advantage of the systems in place. For instance, with stock investment, you donít have to invest stocks through a broker. You can invest in a company directly. This allows you to make your money work for you and know where that money is going. At the same time the wealth that is generated isnít wealth you had to earn. Instead you let other people (i.e. the employees in the company) earn it for you. To use another example of making money work for you, thereís a lot more to a bank than free checking or savings. Do you know the interest rates of your account? Do you know the other options available to you at a bank? Do you know the differences between a bank and a credit union? Knowing the answers to those questions can impact how much your money works for you as opposed to you working for it[3].

Ideally, when money works for you, you have money to pay your bills, some set aside in savings to take care of emergency situations and some applied toward investments for your eventual retirement. You want your money to grow in such a way that a lot of the money you make isnít even money you had to work for. Your goal isnít necessarily to end up rich (though that doesnít hurt) but it is to end up financially secure, without having to worry how youíll pay off your debt or take a day off work without pay or even retire. 

Are We Getting Too Materialistic? 

I suggested earlier that the poor Pagan stereotype is not virtuous, for the simple fact that being in debt and/or have to worry whether youíll make your ends meet each week or month is never an ideal place for anyone to be in. But is having money evil? I think, in and of itself, money isnít good, evil, or any other moral value we may place on it. It is however a force, one that must be acknowledged and respected because itís one we interact with everyday. Even learning how money works
wonít necessarily make you more or less materialistic, though it will help you become better informed about your spending habits.

Where the virtue (or lack thereof) comes in is with you and your choices. Once you know what your spending habits are you can choose to change them. If you find yourself spending most of your money on luxury items for yourself, perhaps itís time to stop purchasing them. Find other uses for your money such as your childís college fund or funding for that trip toEurope youíve always wanted to take, but never had enough time or money for.

Another stereotype that pagans are accused of is of not offering enough public services or charities that help the community at large. As pagans become more successful with money this perception can be changed. When you have more money to spare you can put some of it toward the charity or public service of your choice. Better yet, you can help those members in your community who are poor and have no choice in it. Adopt a pagan family or person whoís less well off. Donate money or food or other goods to help them out. Support your community and in doing so create a closer connection so that everyone can benefit. Remember though that money alone wonít solve the worldís problems or even that of a local community. Devoting some time to public service or giving some food to food banks or doing some other form of community work is equally valuable and worth doing.

Loving money doesnít mean youíre a materialist and out to steal from the poor. Loving money merely means that you enjoy being prosperous and prefer it over other circumstances. You wonít turn into a yuppie or a snob by choosing to love money, unless you want to. For me, loving money isnít about putting money before everything else; itís really loving the idea that I donít have to worry if Iíll be able to pay this or that bill or feel guilty because I wanted to buy the latest Jim Butcher novel. Thereís enough to worry about in life. Security about money or bills or buying a book without clean out your checking account is something all of us can have provided we accept that having money doesnít equal being materialist. Remember, itís your choices that define how you think of yourself and who you are.

Money is a medium. Without it, we canít easily survive. With it we can enjoy what life offers while establishing financial security for the rough times and old age. Remember that itís not how much you make that insures a good relationship with money. Itís how you use the money you do make that determines if you have a good relationship with it. Even someone who doesnít make a lot of money can still come out ahead by using the resources s/he has wisely. And you can always help other members in the community who arenít in as good a situation as you are. None of us have to be ďpoor pagansĒ. 

Bibliography 

Frantzis, B. K. (2002). Relaxing into Your Being: Breathing, Chi, and Dissolving the Ego.Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.
Kiyosaki, Robert T,. (2000). Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About
Money--That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!
New York: Warner Business Books.  

RecommendedReading 

The Motley Fool: you have more than you think by David and Tom Gardner
The Richest Man inBabylon by George S. Clason
Smart Couples Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner by David Bach


[1] Kiyosaki 2000
[2] Frantzis 2002
[3] If you donít know the answers Iíll leave it to you to do some research. Itís worth your time, trust me.


Author bio

Taylor Ellwood lives in Seattle. Heís a co-author of Creating Magickal Entities (with David Cunninghman and Amanda Wagener), and Kink Magic (with Lupa, forthcoming). He is the author of Pop Culture Magick,  Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy and the editor of the Magick on the Edge Anthology.  When Taylor isnít editing Non-fiction books for Immanion Press, or working on his latest work, he can be found gaming, reading,For more information about Taylor, please go to http://www.magicalexperiments.com/

 

Taylor Ellwood

 

Adaptable Meditation
by Taylor Ellwood


A couple of years ago I incorporated Tibetan meditation practices into my daily meditations. Iíve found that the Tibetan practices resonate with me. I enjoy the meditation and it has a physical effect as well as a mental effect. In the case of the Tibetan meditation practice, it raises the heat of the body. But incorporating this form of meditation into my practices has gotten me thinking about a couple of issues with meditation.           

The first issue is what makes one form of meditation for a person useful?  That is what makes a particular type of meditation resonate with you?  The second issue is how you adapt or change the meditation (if you change it) to fit into your style of magickal practice. And my final issue in regards to meditation is where a person does it. 

So what does make a particular type of meditation resonate for you?  When I was younger I did the LBRP (Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram). I also did the Ritual of the Middle Pillar. However these meditations never really appealed to me. They were formal and ceremonial and for me devoid of feeling. Not only that but they represented belief systems that I did not have much interest in. And because they were devoid of feeling for me doing these meditations was empty. There was no benefit to be found in doing them for me. Now that is not to say that people who choose to do these types of meditation get nothing out of them. For me, they werenít what I needed, but for other people these types of meditations work. 

I needed to find meditation techniques that resonated for me. And I needed to understand why they resonated for me. Over eight years ago on an e-list, I was sent a meditation technique by a friend inNew York. The meditation technique is called the Eight Brocades and was a Chinese technique. It was a technique designed to flush the toxins out of your body. The first time I did this meditation, although I had no results (the results being profuse sweating), I still felt a resonation with this technique that I had not felt before. This meditation technique worked for me. Now this technique had gestures and moves, which although not similar to the LRBP, nonetheless entailed something of ceremony. But what made this ritual resonate for me as opposed to the LRBP, which did not resonate for me, was that this ritual was something I could identify with. What I mean by that is that I when I did this ritual I could feel the energy within me respond. 

I felt, when I did this ritual, and other similar rituals since then, that the ritual made sense to me and met a need that couldnít be met when I did the western styles of meditation. I realized then even as I realize now that doing meditation comes simply down to doing what works for you. Youíll know when a style of meditation works for you when you feel the energy within you react to it. 

To go along with that, I think that meditation, when it is done, should have a practical use for you. For me the Chinese technique represented the concept of banishing in a very practical way. If it was done right you were sweating the toxins out of your body. Now the physical effect of sweating the toxins did two things. It physically purified me and physically banished the toxins from the body. On a spiritual level this practicality resonated for me and I felt spiritually purified, even as I spiritually banished what was spiritually toxic for me.              

The second issue is as important as the first one. How we adapt/change meditation techniques to suit us personally is how we make the meditation fit our needs. As an example, part of the Tibetan meditation techniques Iíve been learning call for you to visualize a ruby goddess. At first I did this visualization, but eventually I cut it out. Now I know purists will say that changing a technique is a bad idea, but I happen to think itís a good idea. The majority of the Tibetan meditation techniques resonate with me, but a few of them donít and this is because of several factors. 

The first factor is cultural. Short of living in Tibet or finding monks who would train me in their techniques my exposure to the techniques are through the books I read on the subject. But for me to make those techniques work requires me to place into my context as opposed to the original context they are from. I donít worship or Tibetan gods and donít feel any particular urge to do so. Accordingly Iíll cut out what I donít need and focus instead on the techniques I can readily apply to my own level of understanding. 

The second factor is resonance. If the technique doesnít resonate with you then donít use it. Thereís no point in doing meditation or magick that doesnít inspire feeling within you. Feeling is how you connect to magick. Without it whatever you are doing is dull and flavorless. For me, the majority of the Tibetan techniques resonated, but a couple didnít and were excised. Despite that loss I have not felt a loss in what Iím doing because Iíve adapted the technique to work for me, based off my own understanding and resonance with that technique. 

Adapting meditation techniques also doesnít always mean that you have to cut a technique or part of a technique out to make it work. Sometimes what you need to do is change the format. One meditation technique I work with calls for you to take one hundred pranayamic breaths while laying in the corpse pose (A yoga pose where you lay on your back with your hands at your side and your feet straight). Pranayama breath is where you take a deep breath in through your nose (expanding your stomach) and a deep breath goes out through your mouth. This kind of breathing is meant to bring in the vital energy of life. For a while I just counted one hundred breaths to myself, while doing the breathing. After a while though I didnít feel I was getting what I wanted out of the meditation. I realized that I liked the meditation, but I needed to change something about it to work for me. 

The problem I had was that I counted too fast and consequently sped my breaths up. I was missing out on the benefits because I wasnít pacing myself. So to counter this I decided to hypnotize myself when I did the meditation. I changed the technique by first saying out loud why I was doing the meditation and then counting each breath out loud, slowly. I also told myself that I was feeling a tingling, relaxing energy that relaxed all my muscles and helped me sink deeper into the trance. 

With this change in the technique I found that I was getting what I wanted out of the meditation. I no longer counted too fast, but took my time with each breath. The trances I experienced as a result of doing this hypnosis with the pranayama were deep inward voyages in my consciousness. And I didnít have to scrap the technique. All I had to do was change it. 

The last issue I brought up is where you do meditation. Ideally for myself Iíve found two settings to do meditations in. One setting is at home. My home is my sacred space, a quiet place where I can get away from everything external to it. Itís also where I balance and center myself. Usually your home is an ideal place to meditate. Sometimes though even your home is busy and hectic. You may need to set aside a room to meditate in. Fortunately for myself Iíve never had this problem, but if ever I do I will set aside a room specifically to meditate in so that I can achieve the centering I need. 

The other place I meditate is when I am dancing at a festival or in a club. The energy is stirred up and dynamic and thereís lots of noise. But it is also possible to meditate in such circumstances. When I dance I meditate. My focus is entirely on feeling and acting out the energy. I donít control my movements, accept to avoid running into someone. All I do is dance and feel the energy, meditating in my movements, working the energy to spread it and let if flow over everyone. And this meditation is as powerful as when I meditate at home. 

What Iíve found about doing meditation is that you do it where you feel comfortable. The best kind of meditation is meditation done without any hint of self-consciousness or the like. When I dance I let all my inhibitions out and just feel the energy. And when at home, in the privacy of my place I also let all of my inhibitions go and meditate. In each case I achieve a grounded center and a feeling of vitality. 

Regardless of how you meditate remember that the meditation technique should resonate with you, and be practical to you. Remember that you can change the technique and sometimes should to get a better effect. And finally remember to meditate where you are comfortable.


Author bio

Taylor Ellwood lives in Seattle. Heís a co-author of Creating Magickal Entities (with David Cunninghman and Amanda Wagener), and Kink Magic (with Lupa, forthcoming). He is the author of Pop Culture Magick,  Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy and the editor of the Magick on the Edge Anthology.  When Taylor isnít editing Non-fiction books for Immanion Press, or working on his latest work, he can be found gaming, reading,For more information about Taylor, please go to http://www.magicalexperiments.com/

 

Taylor Ellwood

 

Magic and Desire
by Taylor Ellwood


I recently finished reading a book called Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life by Mark Epstein. In this book he combines insights from Buddhism and Psychotherapy to examine the role of desire in a personís life. In the introduction, he makes a metaphor that stood out to me mainly because its similar to how I approach magic. His metaphor was the idea of a clenched fist representing clinging, while an open hand still held desire, but didnít attach expectations to it (Epstein 2005). In other words, allow yourself to feel desire, but don't cling to it tightly. Clinging involves holding on to something to the point that it obsesses you, while letting go involves acknowledging what you feel, but not letting it control your actions. 

I have a similar metaphor when I describe working with magic. I describe working with magic in terms of trying to hold water. If you close your hand in a fist to try and hold water, most of it will escape and you'll be left with a few drops. If, on the other hand, you cup your hands, but keep them open, you can actually catch some water in your hand and drink from it. If you become too attached to results, your expectations will sabotage the magic you do, while at the same time reducing magic to only a tool. If, on the other hand, you're not overly attached to results and open to situations as they occur magic will be a dynamic spiritual force for you and you'll be able to get your drink from it.

Another book Iím currently reading, Why We Want You to be Rich by Donald Trump and Richard Kiyosaki, also made a point which relates rather well to this discussion of magic and desire. They argued that desire alone wasnít enough to make something happen and that expecting something to occur wasnít the same as actually working to make it happen. They made the point that a personís attitude and thoughts motivate the action or lack thereof that a person utilizes to pursue a goal (Trump & Kiyosaki 2006). In other words, if you expect that youíre entitled to something, chances are you wonít get it. When you feel youíre entitled to a certain result, you come into a situation with an attitude that the result is owed to you. You have to change your attitude to one of being will to work toward your desired outcome, but with a flexibility that allows you to adapt regardless of what the outcome might actually be. 

I realized I had an entitlement mentality in the spring of 2006, when I was job hunting. I came out toSeattle with a Masterís in English and an attitude that a decent paying job was owed to me. Iím certain the people I interviewed with saw this attitude in me and decided not to hire me because of it. They probably knew that a person with that attitude wouldnít work as hard as someone who really wanted the job. 

It wasnít until I got a job cleaning houses that I had my illusions about finding a job I wanted broken. Iíd clung so hard to an expected result, but my obsession with that result gave me an unrealistic attitude. Sure I had a Masterís in English, but I knew next to nothing about technology or how to do technical writing. My background was media studies and academia. 

I only worked at the cleaning job for a week and for most of it I was depressed. It was only when my wife Lupa pointed out my depression and how all the negativity I felt was keeping from achieving my goal that I realized I needed to readjust my attitude. I realized I had approached my job hunt all wrong. I went out and bought a few books on different technologies I might use in a workplace. I also focused on changing my attitude around so that instead of believing I was owed a good job, I would actually focus on how I would show I was the right person for the job. With this new attitude I quit my cleaning position and job hunted again. I started getting a lot more interviews by just training myself, revamping my resume and going into interviews and being honest that I didnít have as much experience as they might like, but I was really willing to work hard and learn. Within a few weeks I had a job as a technical writer, but only because I hadnít focused on my expectations. 

Instead I focused on the process of following through and showing commitment to my goal. I still had a desire to work as a technical writer, but I didnít let that desire blind me to the obvious realities that to achieve that end I had to do more than just send a resume out and hope what it showed was enough to get me the job. By changing my attitude about the situation, I opened myself up to the very real fact that I needed to train myself in order to get the job I wanted. By training myself, I opened myself up to more possibilities than I previously had and allowed the opportunity that I would get the job I wanted into my life. 

So what does the story have to do with magic? Almost nothing. The story above is mostly tangential to magic practice. Nonetheless it showcases a specific component of magic and what happens when that component is taken too far. Desire is an essential motivating component of magic. We use desire to determine our goals and targets, while also relying on it as a motivator for magical action. But if desire is taken too far it can skew the process, leading to the clenched fist I mentioned above. When desire is placed in proper perspective, as a motivating, but not controlling, impulse, it can be used quite successfully and help a person become very resourceful. 

Desire is also tied into the results of a magical act, in the sense of gratification. A good result gratifies the desire that motivated the magical act. A bad result may leave us wanting more or being unfulfilled and wondering how we will accomplish fulfilling the desire. However I also see results as signs that indicate whether the process of magic is sound or unsound. A good result indicates you're on the right path. A bad result indicates that something in the process didn't work and you need to go back to the drawing board. Your desire determines whether a result is good or bad, in terms of meeting the goals.

I think it's important to not become overly attached to desire. Such an attachment leads to expectations. When you expect that reality will manifest a desire into reality, you may also be imprinting in that expectation, the expected way reality will manifest, while blocking out other vectors of possibility that could make the desire become reality. When expectations arenít met, desire can morph into obsession, and eventually an inability to function. The need to have a desire fulfilled should never overtake a magician to the point that s/he loses touch with the reality around hir. Use it as a motivator, but never rely on it to the point that it controls you. 

My philosophy regarding magic, and desire as an integral part of magic, is that people must work through their own processes in order to attribute value (desire) to the goals they have. In other words, while we may be filled with desire for a particular result, we really don't know what the value of that results is until we work through the process to actually manifest it. This is why process in magic is so important. Results don't matter, if you don't have a process for attaining them. Without a clear process in place, no value can be attributed to the goal, because you have no way of measuring what worked or didn't work or even a way of reaching that goal. Process in magic necessarily outlines and defines the value of the goal and the actual achieved result. Good process doesn't involve controlling every step of the way, but it does involve awareness of different variables and an ability to adapt to them as needed to accomplish the goal. The open hand approach as it were, which doesn't cling too tightly and can work with whatever is on hand in order to make the process workable. 

My writing on magic is focused on description (the open hand) over prescription (the clenched fist). The goal is too insure that a process is described so that the reader can see how it works, but can also modify and personalize it to their own preferences so they get the most out of the process. Magic is never set in stone. There's no wrong way to do magic, and the ability to personalize and experiment with a process is much better than having a prescriptive view that insists that magic can only be done a specific way. A prescriptive approach is stagnant and inflexible because it insists that only this way will get you what you want. It is too attached to description and in the end, while it may work for some, it will not work for all. 

When an approach to process in magic is flexible, desire becomes flexible and doesn't consume the practitioner. The desire isn't detached, but it is a force that can be worked with and used successfully to move the process of magic to the point that results can be achieved and the next working can begin. The desired can be appreciated fully in the moment, but also set aside with no regret, because it doesnít define your existence, so much as it provides opportunities and experiences. 

An open hand catches more water than a closed fist. An open mind is like an open hand in that it adjusts to each situation as it comes and yet takes something from that situation that a closed mind (or a closed hand!) would miss. When we donít cling to desire, but still feel the desire, we acknowledge it, but also acknowledge that the way to fulfill it may require effort and adaptability on our part. We donít cling to one path or one way of doing things. And magic is really a lot more about an adaptable process than it is about results. When you can be adaptable, you learn that no path is certain but on all paths are possibilities. Desire shows you the way to those possibilities, but the rest is on you. Achieve your goal by following through on your desire and let go of expected outcomes. You wonít know what the outcome is until you follow through on the process and sometimes you might find it no longer matters, because the process itself will provide you more than the result itself did. 

Works Cited

Epstein, Mark. (2005). Open to desire, embracing a lust for life: Insights from Buddhismand psychotherapy.New York:Gotham Books.
Kiyosaki, Robert, & Trump, Donald. (2006). Why we want you to be rich.New York: Rich Press.


Author bio

Taylor Ellwood lives in Seattle. Heís a co-author of Creating Magickal Entities (with David Cunninghman and Amanda Wagener), and Kink Magic (with Lupa, forthcoming). He is the author of Pop Culture Magick,  Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy and the editor of the Magick on the Edge Anthology.  When Taylor isnít editing Non-fiction books for Immanion Press, or working on his latest work, he can be found gaming, reading, For more information about Taylor, please go to http://www.magicalexperiments.com/

 

Taylor Ellwood

 

Unconventional Magic
by Taylor Ellwood


Experimenting with magic means going off the beaten path of the tried and true methods is often the best way to advance the practice of magic. However, this also means the magician must be mentally and spiritually flexible and open-minded. S/he will find that opportunity strikes in unconventional ways, through fields of study and approaches to life that on the surface have very little to do with magic practice.

The saying that appearances can be deceiving is apt, because even if a field of study doesn't have much to do with magic in an obvious way, chances are that the enterprising magician can find something in that field that can be related to magic. I do all the time. In fact, it's fair to say that about half the research I do doesn't involve reading or utilizing traditional approaches or theories on magic. That material is useful, but I don't limit it myself to it.

I try to foster an insatiable curiosity about life and all that it offers. This means I keep myself very open-minded when it comes to any and everything. It sure has led me down some fun--and sometimes weird--roads. For instance, the idea I had about using comic book panels for sigil casting came from reading books on the process of creating good comic books and a look at the aesthetics that inform that process. No books on traditional occultism or paganism will deal with that subject, but the principles of using comic book panels for magic was very workable. Why? Because the people in the industry could explain just how much comic book reading relied on the active imagination of the reader. Since the active imagination is a potent magical tool it stood out to me that the comic book panels presented another forum for practice, one that could be potent and useful for magicians. I'd have never thought of that if I hadn't looked into how comic books are drawn.

No matter how improbable, outlandish, or unconventional an idea is, don't rule it out until you've explored the idea. To automatically decide that something has no relation to magical practice is to rule out possibilities that can help you make magic work. In the late 1990's I first began developing my approaches to pop culture magic when I saw the anime show DragonBall Z. Sure, the show was exaggerated, but there were ideas in it I found fascinating, including the ability to sense auras and do energy work. I was familiar with the tried and true methods of doing these practices, but felt that DBZ offered a completely different perspective that could inform how I practiced magic. I remember telling a fellow magician about my ideas. He shot them down, telling me they were unconventional and not real magic, and said I was deluded to think that pop culture could offer anything to magical practice. I must admit I was really discouraged by his harsh words and the later criticisms of others. But ultimately I decided to go ahead with my experimentation because I was certain there was a magical approach there. I recognized that I couldn't let myself be discouraged, but must follow my own path, even if other people thought it was wrong. Years later I wrote Pop Culture Magick, which offered  many people an approach that delivered what they were looking for: A system that was culturally relevant to them and fun to work with. Their enthusiastic acceptance displayed that my ideas were not delusional. My approaches worked for other people and they got more out of it than what they'd encountered before.

When experimenting with magic, try to think of what a different research field can offer you. For instance, I've been doing a lot of experimentation with identity aspecting and invocation lately. I decided that I wanted a fresh perspective on these subjects. So I decided I'd learn more about voice acting and acting. Voice acting involves providing a voice for an animated or video game character. Acting involves getting into character in front a lot of people or for the movie screen. The work that actors do in terms of getting into character and also in learning about the character and the skills the character has shown me that there was a lot of potential in these fields in informing how effective invocation and personality aspecting could be done. It didn't matter to me that acting isn't associated with magic practice. What mattered was that there were approaches and methods in those fields that I could incorporate into my practice to make it more effective.

Once youíve found inspiration from an unconventional source, you need to experiment with it. First do some brainstorming. How will this unconventional source help you do magic? What about it makes you think of a magic ritual or working? Are there any correspondences to current magical systems that you could draw on to help you flesh the idea out? Or if itís a technique youíre working with, ask yourself how the unconventional idea offers a different approach than traditional methodology. How would you incorporate the unconventional idea into the technique? These are just a few questions to get you thinking. Keep yourself open to any idea or situation that can offer input into how you do magic. A commercial could provide you inspiration and experimentation beyond your wildest dreams, as one did for me.  

One of the first experiments I did involved working with Miss Cleo as a goddess of divination. One of my friends and I were watching an infomercial while chatting with each other and we joked about working with her as an entity. At first we laughed, but then as we thought about it, we realized it might be a workable idea. We both felt our divination skills were lacking and she presented a good front as a skilled diviner. We saw that a lot of people paid attention to her, even if it was to make jokes. All that attention needed to go somewhere, and we figured we could use it for a better purpose than Cleo was. We created our first pop culture entity, by deciding to treat Cleo like a goddess who could teach us divination skills. And for me, in particular, it not only further inspired my work with pop culture as a form of magic, but inspired Space/Time Magic, because the Cleo godform gave me advice on how to work with space/time. As you can see an unconventional idea can take you far in your magical practices.

The focus of the experimental magician involves not only discovering new techniques, but also refining them, and by extension tried and true techniques. To use the example of invocation above, I felt that while the traditional method of invoking a god into a person was a good technique, there was still a lot more that could be done with the principles of invocation. No one else had really offered anything new on invocation, so I decided to experiment with it. I came up with a technique where I invoked myself into a god or a person, which was very workable, but yet different from the traditional method of invocation. Since then I've continued to refine my experimentation with invocation (which is why I'm currently researching acting). 

Because you may face the same criticisms I have, it's important to not let what others think decide how you do magic. Magic is a personal journey. There is a process and there are results, but the journey is just as important. If you have a good idea and itís different from what others put out there, explore it anyway. Don't let what anyone else tells you decide your approach. Recognize as well that sometimes the person might just be jealous that you have an original idea. Whatever the motivation is, don't let that person stop you from experimenting, learning and discovery. Your journey is your own and whatever inspiration you have in that journey is yours to what you will with it..

By being open-minded I've gotten a lot out of my magical practice and learned a lot about a variety of research fields that I might've ignored otherwise. I think one of the often ignored tasks of the magician is the charge to learn about the world around hir. For me that involves learning whatever I can about other walks and ways of approaching life. By keeping myself open-minded, I've cultivated a fascination that insures I'm never bored with life or magic. Remember, there's so much out there to experience. Don't rule anything out, because you never know what's behind that next corner, but chances are that whatever it is, it can change your life--and that, more than anything else, is real magic.


Author bio

Taylor Ellwood lives in Seattle. Heís a co-author of Creating Magickal Entities (with David Cunninghman and Amanda Wagener), and Kink Magic (with Lupa, forthcoming). He is the author of Pop Culture Magick,  Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy and the editor of the Magick on the Edge Anthology.  When Taylor isnít editing Non-fiction books for Immanion Press, or working on his latest work, he can be found gaming, reading, For more information about Taylor, please go to http://www.magicalexperiments.com/

 

Taylor Ellwood

 

Magic and Paganism
by Taylor Ellwood


The other night I got into a long conversation about the difference between magic and paganism.  In the discussion, my friends and I basically asked what, if any, difference was there in regards to magic and Paganism.  My conclusions on this issue are that there are differences between Paganism and magic.  Now Pagan and Paganism are ambiguous terms, and can describe a lot of people, or not.  For the purposes of this article I use paganism to describe people who voluntarily identify themselves as Pagans or Neopagans.  Likewise the term magician is applied to people who voluntarily identify themselves as magicians.  Oh, and this is just my opinion.  Iím not speaking for all of you, but I am expressing my opinion. 

So, for me, Paganism and magic are not one and the same thing.  In other words, just because someone is pagan doesnít mean that person practices magic.  I know several pagans who donít practice magic, but do believe in ideas that are often associated with paganism.  These ideas can include, but are not limited to, worship of nature/Mother Earth or worship of a polytheistic pantheon.  Likewise I know many magicians who do not call themselves pagans or consider themselves pagans, but they do practice magic.  And of course I know many people who are both Pagan and magician and identify themselves as both.   

The question then is what magic is.  If magic is not innate to paganism, then what is it?  Often it seems that magic is viewed as being synonymous with paganism.  If youíre a pagan you must do magic seems to be the view of what paganism is, in pop culture, and yet what happens when we do magic?  What are we really doing?  Are we praying to a god, burning a candle for a specific desire, or making a spell to help someone?  That can be one definition of magic, but Iíll admit itís not my definition of what magic is.  In fact, I would probably say thatís more of a religious approach to magic.  But again, thatís my opinion.  I am sure there are readers who will say: ďNoTaylor, this approach is very magical for me.Ē   

Nonetheless I will share with you my definition of what magic is.  For me, magic is an exploration of as many different systems of belief as possible and belief, in this case, is not limited to religions or spiritualities, but also includes scientific paradigms, paradigms of art, writingÖanything really.  Magic is this exploration of these systems of belief, and it is also an assimilation of all of those systems into oneís personal way of shaping reality to oneís will.  But magic is also a discipline.  Itís not a hit or miss affair and itís not something to be done only when you really need something to happen.  Magic is something you do everydayÖitís a way of life and it requires discipline and focus.  The ideal magician is always working on and perfecting his/her techniques and experimenting with how to do magic to understand the why behind it.  The magician is not praying to a god (though sometimes one will be worked with as an equal), but is shaping reality for him/herself, through his/her own abilities and s/he is constantly seeking to improve on those abilities.   

Magic doesnít need any of the props that are often associated with it, though those props can be useful for illustrating the purpose of what one seeks to accomplish.  Such props include athames, wands, spellwork, but can also include paint brushes, glue, scissors, etc.  I donít always use props in my magical workings.  Sometimes visualization is enough.  Sometimes the body, with its various fluids, is the tool for the purpose at hand.  But when I do use props, I use them because they help me do magic and the whole point of doing magic is to do it and to understand the method behind the act.  If props are part of that for you, use them.  I use paintbrushes, glue, scissors, newspapers, magazines, body paints, and watercolor paints for my props because those props are the ones I identify with.  Someone else will likely find an athame, wand, sword, and cup just as useful for that person, as my tools are for me.     

I donít consider magic a religion.  I do consider it my way of life, but if I were to say what religion I belong to, my answer would be none.  I donít belong to or have strong feelings for any particular religion.  Iíll sample them all if they will help me understand my practice of magic, but for me that practice of magic is what spiritually matters.  It is my quest, first and foremost, to be a practitioner of magic.  The magic is what matters and if I were to worship anything it might be that force we identify as magic.  I do consider myself a pagan, however, in the sense that I do draw on a lot of pagan perspectives when it comes to my practice of magic.   

I donít think thereís too much focus on magic and spells in the community.  I do, however, think there are a lot of books out there, which donít really teach what magic is actually about.  Unfortunately the majority of occult/new age publishers focuses on what will sell, and more often than not what sells are books that give out spells, but donít explain the process behind the spell, the dynamics involved in manifesting a particular reality or the consequences that can occur, as well as the necessity to be responsible for such consequences.  We have large quantities of books available to anyone, but the quality suffers when such details, as mentioned above, arenít attended to. 

I think to get a really good perspective on magic, a diverse understanding is required.  Itís not enough to read up on Wicca and presume that books on Wicca detail any and everything about magic.  Nor is it enough to solely be Wiccan and do Wiccan magic and think that those experiences alone will give you a full understanding of magic what is.  Likewise this is true with other magic traditions.  Any one perspective is not enough, in and of itself, to provide an understanding of what is involved when we do magic. 

How you get that understanding though is a hard question to answer.  Partially you get this answer through experience.  Explore other beliefs, try out new ideas, and talk to people who practice a different form of magic than your own.  Also do some research.  Thereís a lot of history behind magical practice, but it always amazes me how few people actually take the time to really dig into the history behind a particular belief system.  Itís a sad state of affairs that many pagans/magicians donít know the history behind magic practice.  Iím not just talking of Gardner or Aleister Crowley either.  Iím talking of people such as William G. Gray, Franz Bardon, Julius Evola, Peter Carroll, Stephen Mace, Phil Hine, Nick Farrell, and other writers who have helped shape the practice of magic into what it is.  Iím also talking of exploring different forms of ceremonial magic, chaos magic, Tibetan, Tantric, Quabala, Norse, and Shamanic approaches to magic, etc.  If you read some of the authors I mention above youíll find that they have disciplined, rigorous approaches to magical practice.  These approaches emphasize the process, and not just the results, as opposed to a lot of the modern books that emphasize results over process.   

Maybe what really needs to be changed is how we understand magic, how we approach it.  Do we approach it as something which gets us results, or do we approach magic as a discipline which can inform our spiritual/religious practices (whatever those may be)?  I opt for the latter choice.  By focusing on magic as a discipline and a process, we can use it to not only inform our spiritual and religious practices, but we can also use it to achieve a better understanding of the consequences of our actions, the need to be very responsible and honest in the actions we choose to take.    


 Author bio

Taylor Ellwood lives in Seattle. Heís a co-author of Creating Magickal Entities (with David Cunninghman and Amanda Wagener), and Kink Magic (with Lupa, forthcoming). He is the author of Pop Culture Magick,  Space/Time Magic and Inner Alchemy and the editor of the Magick on the Edge Anthology.  When Taylor isnít editing Non-fiction books for Immanion Press, or working on his latest work, he can be found gaming, reading, For more information about Taylor, please go to http://www.magicalexperiments.com/

 

David Rankine

 

Magick Without Peers: A Course in Progressive Witchcraft For The Solitary Practitioner
by Ariadne Rainbird, David Rankine

 

For the Page of Magick Archive. click here.

  

Developing  the Magickal Personality
By  David Rankine

(visit Avalonia.co.uk on the web)


"I for my part, knew how little the true adept needs for his magic, but I had to work upon men's imaginations, and for that I needed a stage setting...and to this end I had to have about me that which should suggest the great days of the past when the cult to which I belonged was at the height of its power...And so, little by little, I had collected ancient things from the old temples...I also used colours for my background, knowing their power over the mind - over my mind as well as over the minds of those who came to visit me.  There is a science of colours...for my purpose I use the pale opalescent moon-colours on a base of silver; the purple that is a plum-colour, and the reds that are magenta or maroon, and the blues of sea-water and the sky at night; never the strong primaries such as a man uses when he is a magus.  Always the shadowy, blended colours are mine, for I am the shadow in the background.

"As for my body, I had made that to be an instrument of my personality, training it, supplying it, learning its arts and powers.  Nature had not been unkind, but she had not been lavish, and I had to make of myself something that I could use for the purpose I had in hand...I am bold, even rash, in the matter of lipsticks, and I love long ear-rings.  It would require Huysmans to do justice to the ear-rings I have possessed - jade, amber, coral, lapis, malachite for day; and for the night I have great jewels...I wear my own fashions, and they come from the "soft furnishings" as often one does not find in the dress materials...I like rings, too, so big that I can hardly get my gloves on over them; and bracelets like fetters on my wrists.  My hands are supple with ritual...and I wear my nails long to match my tiger teeth.  I like my shoes to be very soft and light and supple, like gloves rather than shoes, so that I can move in them without sound...I know the meaning of movement - how it should flow like water.  I know too how the body should swing and balance from the waist..."

            (from Moon Magic by Dion Fortune

The above passage, from Dion Fortune's magickal novel Moon Magic, gives a description of how her character, Vivien Le Fay Morgan, has developed her magickal personality.  She chooses clothing, colours, jewellery, and even the way she moves her body, and speaks, in a conscious way, to project her magickal personality.  The way we dress, and how we look, not only tells others a lot about ourselves, but also affects the way we feel about ourselves. 

When we take our clothes off to work rituals sky clad, we are casting off our social selves, and coming to a more natural state, closer to nature.  Putting on ritual jewellery, which is associated with the magickal personality helps one to transform into the Magickal Self, or to identify more strongly with it.  If you work robed, changing into a robe is also a way of changing one's identity to that of the magickal personality, and this should be done consciously. 

There are different viewpoints as to the place of the Magickal Personality in everyday life.  In the passage quoted above, Vivien Le Fay Morgan consciously lives her magickal personality all the time.  However, firstly, this is a work of fiction, and secondly, there are dangers in this if one is not well earthed.   

W. E. Butler, in "The Magician, his training and work" (pp 122-127) says that the magickal personality should only be assumed consciously, for works of magick, and then should be positively dismissed by the operator, and returned into the subconscious.  However, he does say that although the magickal personality is dismissed, it will continue to operate indirectly on normal consciousness.   

In this way, one might find that the more one works with the magickal personality, the more like it one becomes in daily life.  It is extremely important then, to ensure that one has a positive image of the magickal self.  Butler instructs students to practice meditating on Love, Power and Wisdom, and to try to think and feel as if one is the embodiment of these qualities, first one at a time, then putting them all together, and this is good practice to ensure a positive magickal personality. 

Butler talks about building the Magickal Personality from scratch.  However, one may already have an image of one's Magickal Personality which one wants to develop further.  Think about the type of robes or clothing your magickal personality wears, and any jewellery or other distinctive features.  Try to get robes and jewellery as close as possible to that which you see your Magickal Personality wearing, and have these and any other props close at hand, when you perform this ritual.   

Begin this ritual sky-clad, and without jewellery.  Cast a circle, and then meditate on your magickal personality.  Put on the robes, clothing and jewellery of your magickal Personality, and think yourself into it.  Use your body to express it, getting into the body posture, facial expression, and feel of the Magickal Personality.   

Begin to speak as your magickal personality, in its voice, starting by saying sentences which you have heard it say in inner journeys
(meditation and trance work), then letting words flow.  Give it freedom to express itself in speech, movement, sounds, maybe even dance.  When you have had enough, remove the clothing, and close the circle.   

In future, you may find that donning the robes and jewellery is enough to transform you into your magickal personality, or just wearing the jewellery, and working sky-clad.  You will also be able to transform yourself into your magickal personality without any props.  Some people opt for a piece of jewellery like a ring to represent their magickal personality, and only wear it when they perform magick, or even just shift the hand it is on for magick, so it is always available. 

It is important that your Magickal Personality is a positive figure.  The Magickal Personality is a sort of perfected you, and should manifest Power, Love and Wisdom.  The more you work with this figure, the more you will manifest these qualities in your life, but do not try to be exclusively this being all the time.   

It is a good idea, therefore to practice meditating on the three basic aspects of life; Power, Love and Wisdom.  Meditate on each one in turn, and then try to manifest it.  Feel Power in all its forms, and let it surge through you.  Then do the same with Love, then Wisdom.  Always do this in balance.  Work equally with all three qualities.  Finally try to manifest them all at the same time.  Put these together with
manifesting your Magickal Personality in rituals.   

As a magician and priest/ess it is important that you also find the magickal name(s) that correspond to your magickal personality.  The
name of a person or personality carries the essence of the person(ality).  When you do work with the magickal personality, also work to discover your name(s).  Names may come during meditation, or as a flash of insight during assumption of deity or in other altered states.   

Magickal names are a very personal thing, and should not be revealed to others, unless the name corresponds to an appropriate personality, e.g. a magickal personality for working in a group may be different and have a different name to the one you use when by yourself.  In this respect a magickal name is a powerful secret, and should only be shared with others if they are people you have a bond of love and trust with.   

Use of a magickal name during ritual can enhance the power and focus of a ritual, e.g. by use as a mantra, or as a proclamation or
exclamation.  It may also be inscribed on ritual tools in a magickal alphabet, and sigilised to form a personal glyph of power.  Personal experience will show you the value of working with your magickal name and developing your magickal self.

 

David Rankine

 

 

The Oak and Holly Kings
by David Rankine

(visit Avalonia.co.uk on the web


The Oak King is born at Yule, and starts waxing from here through Imbolc and Eostra to his peak at Beltane, after which he starts waning through Litha, Lughnasadh and Modron until his death at Samhain.  He is then reborn at Yule and his cycle begins anew.  The Holly King is born at Litha, and waxes through Lughnasadh, Modron and to his peak at Samhain. After Samhain he starts to wane and continues to do so through Yule, Imbolc and Eostra until his death at Beltane.  He is reborn at Litha and his cycle begins anew. 

Taking the conjunction of the two Kings, we see that, although at Litha the Oak King is starting to wane, he is still stronger as the Holly King has only just been born.  At Lughnasadh the Holly King nominally rules, as he is starting to come into his power and the Oak King is waning, though this is in many ways a change-over point between the two.  The Holly King rules Modron and his power peaks at Samhain, the time when the worlds of life and death are nearest, as is appropriate for the Holly King.   

As with Lughnasadh, Imbolc is ruled nominally, though in this case by the Oak King, as he starts to wax, and the Holly King wanes.  This is the other cross-over point, as the first snowdrops and signs of Spring emerge from the earth.  The Oak King rules Eostra, and Beltane, when he is at his peak.  There is an interesting duality of the powers of life and death at Beltane, as with Samhain, for although the Holly King dies at Beltane, in doing so he returns to his underworld home, where he also is in some ways at the peak of his power.  This is illustrated by Beltane being the time to cut Oak Wands, and also the time to gather Holly Flowers. 

The Oak King symbolizes Healing, Gaining Power, and the Joy of Life.  He is particularly associated with Nature and Her spirits.  He could be said to represent the conscious mind.  The Oak King is symbolized by the Red Cord, and he waxes Green, thus a Green Robe tied with a Red Cord would indicate devotion and attunement to His energies and cycle.  The magickal tool of the Oak King is the Spear, or an Oak Wand.   

The Holly King symbolizes the mysteries of death and rebirth, and the lessons that need to be learned, even when they are hard to accept.  The Holly King is associated with the Underworld and other worlds, including the Elemental worlds.  In the human psyche he could be said to represent the unconscious.  He is symbolized by the Black Cord, and waxes Red, thus a Red Robe tied with a Black Cord would indicate devotion and attunement to His energies and cycle.  The magickal tool of the Holly King is the Chalice, representing the Primal Cauldron of Creation that is the Mother's Womb.  The Holly King bears this Chalice by the grace of his Mother, and it reminds us that everything must eventually return to the Mother.  Combined with the Spear/Wand of his Oak Brother it symbolizes the Mystery of Life/Death in the Ecstasy of Sexual Union. 

One point I should make at this point - although they are referred to as Kings, and I have kept this form for convenience - this is part of the nomenclature from earlier times which the tradition has retained.  When I started working with these cycles, one of the first statements made when a fellow witch went into trance to channel the Oak King was - "for King I may be, but Queen also, this is for the wise".  Thus it is equally valid to say Oak and Holly Spirits (or even Queens), if not as traditional. 

If one keeps in mind the cycles of the year, one should plant ideas in the unconscious (Holly King) around his birth, to take root and grow forth as the cycle turns.  Likewise when the Oak King is waning, and the Holly King dominant, it is more a time for looking inward to the unconscious (underworld) and seeing what crops (ideas, positive changes) need to be planted for the next cycle. 

When the Oak King is born (Yule) and starts to wax, we make our New Year`s resolutions and bring our personal energy into the conscious, physical realm of our being.  His cycle of waxing is a time for "doing" and directing our energies outward for healing and creating positive change.

SABBAT

RULED BY

OAK KING

HOLLY KING

Litha

Oak

Starts Waning 

Born

Lughnasadh 

(Holly)  

Waning 

Starts Waxing

Modron

Holly

Waning Strongly

Waxing

Samhain

Holly    

Dies 

Waxing Strongly

Yule

Holly   

Born

Starts Waning

Imbolc

(Oak) 

Starts Waxing 

Waning

Eostra

Oak

  Waxing   

Waning Strongly

Beltane

Oak 

Waxing Strongly

Dies

Brackets indicate the change-over points of rulership between the two powers.

©2001 TWPT and David Rankine. Article may not be reproduced without the express permission of David Rankine and TWPT.

 

David Rankine 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Gods, Animals &  Men:  
Working with the Egyptian Deities
by David Rankine

(
visit Avalonia.co.uk on the web)
 


Egyptian magick and culture has something of a special place in western occultism, and one of the most powerful and dominant features of the Egyptian deities is that most are anthropomorphic.  Obviously there are exceptions, the most obvious being deities such as Isis and Osiris, but even these have little known elements of lycanthropy in their backgrounds, waiting to be revealed.  So how does one work with the different deities, and what energies do the differing animal headed deities represent?

Beetle

Synonymous with the Sun and the Sun God (Atum then Ra), the scarab (a translation of Khephri) beetle was thought to have been born from a ball of dung, without recourse to the sexual process.  The scarab pushed the sun through the night in a ball of dung.  Also depicted as a beetle headed man, Khephri was strongly associated with good luck and magickal power, being the creator   "He who becomes" (the other translation of the word Khephri).  A good force to work with during difficult times ("the dark night of the soul") to change the direction of events, or when you seem to be having a run of bad luck.

Cat/Lioness

The cat and lioness were particularly sacred in ancient Egypt, and there is a strong degree of sharing of aspect between the most common Goddesses   Bast and Sekhmet.  Bast was originally portrayed as a lioness headed Goddess, and it was only around 1,000 BC that she became commonly depicted as cat headed.  Bast is the protective mother, sensual and strong, fertile and even orgiastic.  To the Egyptians Felines represented sexuality and sensuality, and it is perhaps in these roles that these Goddesses can give us the most, embodying as they do the power of the unrestricted feminine. 

Sekhmet is more a purifying fire Goddess   feared by all demons, and on one occasion She had to be made drunk by the Gods to stop Her slaying humanity on a rampage after killing demons; Sekhmet also ruled plague and pestilence, and so could be appealed to for healing diseases.  Bast also displays a warrior side of course, in some versions of the myth She slays the serpent Apep when it threatens Ra on his journey through the twelve hours of the night.  Tefnut and Mut were also lioness  headed Goddesses   Tefnut being the Goddess of moisture, who was thought to protect sleepers through the night (hence the carvings of lions on beds), and Mut often being interchanged with Bast and Sekhmet (it is worth noting Mut also had a vulture form).

Crocodile

The crocodile headed God Sebek, was a God of Water, associated with the Nile.  He was also in some versions of the Osiris myth the final resting place of Osiris' phallus after it was thrown in the Nile.  In this sense he could be seen as the necessary agent of change, an agent of the primal forces requiring change, as manifested by Osiris changing from being a fertility deity of the land to the ruler of the Underworld.  Sebek represented the might of the Pharaoh, and in this we can perhaps see the continuation of the divine king as representative of the deities, in their more primal form.  Sebek could be seen as the acceptance and integration of the shadow.

Jackal/Wolf

The jackal and wolf headed deities are a very common feature throughout Egyptian history, and are usually associated with the underworld and war.  Early deities like the wolf headed Sed and Khenti Amenti became assimilated into deities with stronger cults (i.e. Anup [Anubis], and in the case of Khenti Amenti subsequently into Osiris as one of his titles).  The jackal and wolf would be called to as guardians and openers of the ways (the translation of Wepwawet, another jackal headed deity, twinned with Anup    the pair representing north and south Egypt), and the association with war can be seen in light of this, as the protector of the Pharaoh and peoples. 

Anup was also viewed very much as a deity of magick, and there is a very strong polarity and sharing of roles with Jahuti found throughout Egyptian texts (a good example being the sharing of the titles Hery Seshta   Master of Secrets, and Ur Hekau   Mighty One of Magick, also shared with Isis, and misrepresented by Kenneth Grant as originating with Hekate).  Anup is the best known of the jackal headed deities, and is certainly one of the oldest archetypes in the Egyptian culture   there are cave carvings from c. 30,000 BC of fertility scenes showing a copulating couple, with the man wearing a jackal head and tail, as well as much later images of priests wearing large and cumbersome looking masks, with their eyes being barely visible just below the snout.  This is possibly the most frequently represented, and certainly the oldest recorded use of masks in Egyptian magick and culture. 

Sirius, the dog star, was sacred to Anup and Isis (being a binary star this is not surprising), and Anup (symbolised by the invisible Sirius B circling Sirius A) was often portrayed as protector of Isis, being one of the deities who accompanied Her on the quest for the parts of Osiris (along with Jahuti and Horus the Elder).  In the Jumilhac Papyrus, a very interesting version of this myth is given, for when Set comes to steal the body Isis has so painfully gathered together and reconstituted with Anup and Jahuti's help, Isis assumes Anup's form, and bites Set, driving him away (Isis also turns into a kite on occasion to perform magick, and copulate with the corpse of Osiris   another shapechange showing anthropomorphic roots).  Combining this with the suggestion being made by some Egyptologists now that Osiris was originally a wolf  headed deity, who changed to being seen as human in form, and we have a clear pointer to animal aspects behind the human form of these deities.

Cow

The cow is a major influence in Egyptian theology.  The most well known cow goddess is Hathor, but Nuit like Hathor was depicted as the cosmic cow, and Hesat (whose name means milk) the mother of Anup in early papyri, was also a cow goddess.  Hathor is a goddess of many aspects.  She is often considered to be conjoined with Sekhmet as two aspects of the same.  She is a protectress in the underworld, a goddess of love, music and dance, and cosmic mother.  She is also depicted as the seven Hathors in the underworld, the mistresses of fate.  She is also a goddess of healing, it was Hathor who restored Horus' sight to him after he lost his eyes.  As can be seen, Hathor can be worked with for many things, for she is both bountiful and benevolent (unless treated with disrespect).

Frog

The goddess Hekat was like Tauret a protector of women in childbirth (which is not surprising considering the higher level of deaths in childbirth then and hence the importance of enlisting the help of the goddess) and also a protector of the home.  It has been suggested that Hekate was derived from Hekat, though I feel this is unlikely, given the considerable difference in the significance and natures of the deities.

Falcon/Hawk

The falcon/hawk is a symbol of power, light and royalty.  Both Horus and Ra, the ruler gods, were hawk-headed.  Khonsu, the moon god, was also hawk headed.  Khonsu was a deity of healing and also exorcism.  The eyes of Horus were the sun and moon.  As a bird of prey, it is not surprising that Horus was Lord of the Sky.  Hawk deities aid clarity of vision of purpose, giving the insight and power to overcome obstacles.

Hippopotamus

The goddess Tauret was a  hippopotamus deity, and this animal is also sacred to Set.  Interestingly, like Set, Tauret is often depicted as a composite deity - with the head of a hippopotamus, arms and legs of a lion, tail of a crocodile and breasts of a woman (Plutarch suggests Tauret was a consort of Set).  She protects women in childbirth, detering any malevolent influences by her ferocious appearance and power.  She also has a cosmic aspect as a deity of the sky, sharing this role with the cow goddesses.  A good deity to work with for empowerment (for women) and removal of preconceptions.

Ibis

Sacred to Jahuti (Thoth), the ibis was revered in Egypt.  Jahuti is a deity of power and mystery.  He has a strong lunar nature, and is concerned with knowledge, speech, magick, healing and much more.  In some versions of the Egyptian myths it was Jahuti who created the egg which gave birth to the universe.  A staunch advocate of truth, Jahuti checked the balance in the underworld to announce the virtue (or otherwise) of the souls.  Jahuti is often considered the patron of magick, hence the (dubious) suggestion of the tarot as originating in Egypt (the Book of Thoth), and also of healing, the caduceus having become the symbol of the medical profession.  Jahuti aids all who seek truth, wisdom and knowledge.

Ram

Strongly associated with creator gods, both Khnum (the potter god) and Amun/Ra have ram-headed forms.  The ram was seen as a strong force, creative (as shown by the large phallus of Khnum) and powerful, a bringer of fertility.  The distinguishing feature between depictions of the deities is that Khnum was always depicted with wavy horns, whereas Amun was shown with curving horns.  These gods are energisers, good for empowerment and creativity, and also male potency.

The Set Creature

Resembling an anteater with a truncated snout, the exact nature of this creature is still hotly debated amongst Egyptologists.  What we can say is that Set has repeatedly been mistakenly identified with "evil".  Set is the dark principle balancing the light of Horus.  Although they fight for sovereignty, it is Set who kills Apophis when all the other gods have been hypnotised, and also Set who holds the celestial ladder for Horus to ascend to the heavens.  There has been suggestion that Set was originally a female deity, as all the names of Egyptian deities which end with "t" are for goddesses (the other exception being Wepwawet, who may also have been female anyway). 

Set represented the hot desert winds, and the amoral and harsh aspects of nature.  As such it is not surprising that many attempts were made to placate Set, and one of the Pharaoh's names was always a name dedicated to Set.  Set burns away dross, and could be seen as the fire of transmutation, showing us the pain of loss but also the beauty of growth and change.  If his methods seem drastic, they are effective and rapid.  Set has much to teach anyone with ears to listen.

©2001 TWPT and David Rankine. Article may not be reproduced without the express permission of David Rankine and TWPT.

 

David Rankine 

 

 

The Role of The Fool - The Lord  of Misrule
by David Rankine

(
visit Avalonia.co.uk on the web)
 


I have long found the role of the fool in rituals fascinating.  As we know, the fool symbolises many things, among them the psychopomp or guardian of the soul (the harlequin - from Hel-licon or messenger of Hel, Norse Goddess of the Underworld), the divine innocent following his/her will unaware of even doing so (the Fool of the Tarot, stepping into the abyss), the disruptive element (the Lord of Misrule) of chaotic influence, the wise yet malformed advisor to royalty who has the king's ear (for a perfect example read King Lear).  In the context of this piece I am considering the fool as a magickal guide, and referring to his/her place in magickal rituals designed to affect the consciousness of all present (not Morris dancing, plays, etc where there is a non-participating audience).

Within the parameters of a ritual, however, the role of a fool could be considered more strongly defined by magickal common sense and inspiration.  The person playing the fool must not lose sight of the importance of their role, or lose contact with the inspiration behind the fool, otherwise s/he merely ends up playing a prat, and having a negative effect on the ritual.  The fool should be the most aware person in the circle (for the duration) of where the flow of energy is in the ritual (even more so than the priestess and priest), and for this reason I would suggest that any one playing the fool should be very experienced in group ritual (at least second degree in Wiccan terms), and with experience of the energy of this powerful archetype.  The fool does not really disrupt a ritual, s/he changes the perspective of someone within the ritual of its events, by humour, action or subtle wisdom.  (In my experience the fool is usually played by a man, but why should it be?  Sexual stereotyping rears its head again!) 

The fool never orders people around or victimises (knowing what it is to be the victim), if s/he feels the need to make a point, it is done through inspired activity and may be subtle or blunt as required, (ranging from the use of language to confound and overload the ego's censor mechanisms, like the use of Zen koans; to creating impromptu statements to induce fascination and direct the consciousness - e.g. whilst writing this piece the couplet at the end popped into my head) but never forced or rigid.  The fool would never disturb anyone performing an invocation or raising/directing energy within a ritual, recognising the negative effects s/he might have by doing so.  The fool would also not try to force someone into doing something they do not wish to do, this entirely loses the essence of the fool as a subtle guide and focus of the ritual. 

The wearing of distinctive markings - as mask, clothes or body paint help separate the fool from the commonplace.  A mask is very good for playing the fool, for it can help remove perception of the personality of the fool character.  Behind the mask, the fool is able to study and judge when and where to act next, who to trick into raised awareness (in this the fool can be considered the divinely inspired shaman).  The temptation to degenerate into silliness is held in check by a mask as well, reminding the wearer of the importance of their role, and taking them further into it. 

The creation of the mask, and the research and meditation and preparation which go into it are a good starter for anyone preparing to play the fool.  The bright colours worn by the fool draw attention to him like the plumage of a bird, warning the ego and perhaps causing a slight amount of trepidation as the fool moves through the crowd.  This subtle magick prepares people for the actions of a fool going with the flow of events, demonstrating the incisive qualities of a character apart from the crowd.

So should the Fool be at open rituals, where the ritual is purely celebratory, or reserved for more esoteric rituals, where the complex lessons of wisdom and folly can be better understood and integrated?  Personally I feel the fool has much to offer at any ritual as long as the energy is channelled well, experience shows people soon get irritated by someone floundering around being foolish, which usually happens when someone is told to be a fool without preparation.  However an inspired fool can transform the meaning of a ritual for the participants - s/he does not have to try too hard, it flows and happens if the preparation is put in and the invocation done well.

Marry nuncle, you may disagree
But wisdom and folly mean nothing to me
 

©2001 TWPT and David Rankine. Article may not be reproduced without the express permission of David Rankine and TWPT.

 

David Rankine 

What Is Magick
By David Rankine

(
visit Avalonia.co.uk on the web)


What is magick? Forget all the fallacies and stereotypical pre-conceptions taught to you out of fear and ignorance and approach this question with an open mind. You will probably find it is not what you have been taught to think. Magick has been defined as "The art and science of causing change to occur in conformity with will *1"   which could be put more simply as making desired change happen; or as "energy tending to change"; a definition I use is "magick is conscious evolution through directing energy". This does not really explain magick though, so I will try to elaborate on these phrases without jargon.

An aim of magick is to train the mind by harnessing and making more consciously accessible such higher faculties as intuition, inspiration and the creative imagination, and by drawing on the power of the unconscious - to try and use more than the 10% of our brain's capacity that we do.

Magick assumes belief in, or rather experience of, subtle energies. We can only see about one seventieth of the light spectrum, yet what we cannot see still affects us - such as x-rays and ultraviolet light. Similarly, magick is about focusing more subtle, non-physical energies, and directing them to create change. To go about this requires experience, and training to improve the power of the mind, and specifically, the will.

Acts such as meditation, breath control, voice work, body work, visualization, drama, ritual, and others, are all designed to improve our body and mind, to better sharpen us and balance us, and to enable us to perceive and wield more subtle energies.

In the same way, an individual is as strong as their will, and the more balanced and integrated a person is, the stronger their will (note, this is probably one of the main reasons why so many magicians have experience of counselling and/or psychology, recognising the help these processes can give, both through training and experiencing them. This also acts as a removal of farcical social stigma often attached to these processes).

Practising magick tends to act as a deconditioning mechanism and can be a subtle process, the longer you practice, the more you change and the unnecessary inhibitions, stigmas, guilts and sin complexes that society builds in are removed. This has the effect of releasing their energy into the psyche, where it can strengthen the individual.

The more physical side, such as yoga, bodywork, dance and massage, also removes the tension held in the body as body armour, and releases this and removes energy blockages which impair full efficiency and may result in illness.

Possibly the major difference between magick and many of the religious paths to spiritual growth is that magick is more dynamic, and places the emphasis on you to work for change - there are no gurus in magick, rather there are fellow students with different perspectives and experiences - we learn from each other, as in other areas of life.

Magick tends to work a lot with symbols, as these are the language of the unconscious, and this is an area of tremendous power to tap. Symbols have many functions, and one of these, released through magick, can be the ability to confound the ego and the censor mechanisms, and enabling us to perceive more subtle truths, or experience direct revelations. Although we may not be able to fully explain how symbols work, we know from experience that certain symbols seem harmonious with certain types of energy.

For example a magician may tell you that if you want to attract love you should wear green, and rose perfume, perhaps wear copper, like a bracelet or necklace, etc. These are all things attributed with Venus, who is associated with love, and so the principal is one of contagion - sympathetic magick, or making something happen by working with items linked to it. This is one of the oldest and most commonly practised forms of magick. Working with the symbols of a type of energy does seem to attract that energy.

A cautionary word here, magick is often seen as a way to hidden powers, and entered for the wrong reason, the "I want sex, power and lots of money" syndrome. Now there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves, but when you do magick you will discover that you tend to get what you need rather than necessarily what you want.

When you do magick you generally use techniques to alter your state of consciousness and raise energy, and then direct that energy to create a desired result. The channel that energy takes as directed by your altered state of consciousness is not necessarily the path you might expect in your normal everyday state. Magick does bring you power, yes, but it is power over yourself, not other people. It is the power that is important, to grow and to create positive change.

This does not mean there is anything wrong with using magick to gain more physical things, there is nothing wrong with doing a ritual or spell to get a job, whereas trying to make a specific individual go to bed with you would be wrong. Magick is very much about intent, and if your intent is to get work, you are not imposing on people, whereas if you were trying to make somebody do something that they would not naturally do, you are imposing on their will.

If you did a ritual to attract love without specifying a person, but opening yourself to the opportunity to meet someone where love may arise, and to feel more attractive and better about yourself, you are not imposing, you are trying to create positive change.

Magick is a commitment to yourself, and it requires determination, perseverance, strength, openness to change and absence of rigidity, a love of life (including yourself), and a desire to grow and fulfil your potential. It may be that you already have all these qualities and do this already without calling it magick - magick is not about labels, and those who think and talk as if it is unfortunately put some people off. Magick is learning about the natural flows of energy in the universe, and working in harmony with them to effect positive change, both in yourself and in your environment.

Some people ask why magick is spelt with a 'k' on the end. This is to distinguish it from magic, associated in the popular mind with illusionism and prestidigitation, stage magic. Magick is not about illusion, it is about creating real change, and the 'k' signifies this. K is the eleventh letter of the alphabet, i.e. the one beyond ten. Symbolically this is very powerful, as we work in base ten, and eleven represents the unseen, or hidden energies - the subtle energies of magick, eleven is considered to be the number of magick.

Magickal training and experience bring forth the energies of the unconscious, and so it is no surprise to see that symbols become more important as you develop, providing not only the language of dream and the unconscious, but also helping create a more flexible perception grid of the universe. To grow spiritually, it is vital that you remain flexible and do not become dogmatic, rather that you are open to experience and willing to question your ideas and beliefs as a result of those experiences.

Magick can be a painful process. It is not easy to maintain the discipline and honest self-critical approach all the time. It can also be hard work dealing with the energy released without being knocked off balance sometimes. The important thing in these cases is to remain honest and keep at it. Nobody said magick was easy! It takes a lot of practice and hard work and pain, but the rewards are spiritual and mental growth, the joy of life and the beauty of unconditional love. Beyond the limits there are no limits!

*1Magick - Aleister Crowley

©2001 TWPT and David Rankine. Article may not be reproduced without the express permission of David Rankine and TWPT.