Break Glass in Case of Emergency

So, let me tick off a list of things that I said I hardly ever do in my own Druidry practices. Spell work, check. Well planned and thought out ritual (as opposed to impromptu or off-the-cuff ritual), check. Darker magicks, check. Tarot cards, check. You will find a lot of commentary based around all of that throughout the blog. Well, guess what? Never, say never. You’re reading that correctly. In the last two weeks, parts of my Druidry have crossed over into the areas that I, personally, would ascribe as being much closer to Witchcraft than Druidry. What in the Nine Hells happened, huh? Mostly circumstance and need, but this illustrates the particular point of never saying never. All of these particular techniques can basically be considered as arrows in the quiver. And while those arrows may never be used until a need arises, what happens when you start to stretch and flex these magickal muscles that haven’t been used? And does it mean that my Druidry is changing?

Knocking the Rust Off

I have always said that magick use for me is always the option of last resort. I’m a Druid. I like to talk my way out of things, if possible. I like to find ways for cooler heads to prevail. If that does not work, physical mundane means are usually the next position to take. Essentially, roll up your sleeves and get the work done. However, if that is not possible – the last option is to turn to magick. This is a little flawed logic. Yes, I am admitting to using flawed logic in my approach to various things. Because, sometimes magick should be the first option, particularly if you are trying to bend the Will of another to see reason. No, I am not saying start throwing the curses the moment shit doesn’t go your way. Not at all. Rather, utilize some subtle magicks to help the other side see reason in an issue. Then, the talky bit might work a little better. Consider it to be greasing the hinges so the door doesn’t squeak, if you prefer. For me, this was a pretty tough realization to come to. It changes a lot of the tactics I have utilized in various dealings. This also means that I have to knock the rust off of a lot of techniques I have not used in years.

Flexing Muscles That Haven’t Been Used in Years

One of the very first magickal techniques I ever learned was shielding. My shielding was built a few decades ago. That’s right. Decades. Due to the recent changes in my life, I have been battered in ways I never could imagine. It took about a week to realize that my own personal shielding just wasn’t holding up. The problem for me was that I had literally forgotten how my shielding had been built. So I needed advice on what to do. So I turned to the person that taught me about shielding. Folks, I have been on a Pagan path for well over thirty years and here I was approaching an old friend on how she had taught me to build shielding because I had actually forgotten how. There’s a short lesson here – do not be afraid to reach out for help, no matter how long you have been on your Path. Realize when you are in over your head and find that lifeline you need. A quick re-learn-it session over Facebook Messenger, and I was ready to rebuild and reinforce my shielding. Even with the warnings about drawing too much energy to yourself, I did it anyway. I wound up being wide awake for most of the night. See, I wasn’t USED to using those muscles anymore. As Shadow had reminded me, much like coding – when you don’t practice it, you lose it and have to do some relearning. These are muscles that have weakened from disuse because my philosophical perspective was not entirely appropriate.

Is My Druidry Changing?

Three days after that, I have done two more rituals with intent and purpose behind them. One of those was my usual impromptu style ritual, which – well just didn’t have a lot of the “zing” (for lack of a better  word) I expected it to have. The other, I spent some time crafting out the pieces of the ritual. I included a list of things that were needed for the ritual. I included a set of semi-readable instructions for setting up for the ritual prior to creating Sacred Space. I wrote a step-by-step ritual with spoken and non-spoken aspects. I included an aspect of disposing of the detritus left over from everything. When I did the ritual, I was not great at what I was doing. I did not flow well within the ritual with my spoken parts and my non-spoken parts. I stopped several times to figure out where I was and what needed to be done next. From a theatrical perspective, it was shit. However, what was in my heart, what I brought forward from my soul….that made up for the shit part. I have always said that heartfelt intent is better than theatrics any single day of the week. But after I got done, I started looking back at all I have done over the course of two weeks (about sixteen days). As I noted, many of these things I have done have a feel that is closer to Witchcraft than Druidry. So I began to wonder out loud if my Druidry was changing into something else??

I had hoped to have a quote from one of Philip Carr-Gomm’s books for right here, but most of my personal library is sitting in a box in what will be my bedroom soon enough. So, in the meantime, I’ll have to improvise through this a little. Druids follow a path of Druidry. Witches follow their Paths in Witchcraft. However, there are some overlaps between the two, particularly in the usage of magickal workings. So, as I wring my magickal fingers and stretch my ritual muscles and re-learn processes that so many consider to be everyday basic stuff – much of these techniques have overlap between the two areas. So is my usage of techniques such as spell work, tarot cards for divination and what have you – changing me into a Witch? No, not really. What is happening is that I am re-learning techniques and concepts that I have set to the side for some very wrong perspectives. If you prefer, I am growing again in my Druidry in a direction I had previously not considered for anything other than a “break glass in case of emergency” moment. The reality is that I never needed to approach it from that point of view.

So, here’s where I admit that I am wrong about my perspective on magicks, spell usage, structured rituals, and tarot cards. And I further admit that my gorgeous editor AND my lifelong, always long-distance friend LL were both right. Unfortunately for me, it took a “break glass in case of emergency” moment to realize this. I’m just thankful that the two of them are gracious enough not to sing “I told you so” to my face too many times. 🙂 Finally, I would add this – take a good look at your “whys” when it comes to not using this or that magickal technique or concept. just check on it every once in a while. Turn it over in your mind and see if it still applies. Because you do change and grow, so do your perspectives.

–T /|\

Thinking About: The Power of Words (Magick)

Its Thursday….which is exactly a week since the last blog post. I went down to Houston to see Shadow this past weekend, so that left the weekend posts out of the loop. Then when Tuesday rolled around, I thought it was Monday…until about 11pm that night. So that’s how Tuesday fell out. My fault. But then I don’t have an army of these posts floating around either. I write these off the top of my head – on the days that I post them. Today is no exception to that. As usual, I am stuck for a topic at the moment…and no, I have no desire to write about politics or what’s in the news. Just really don’t want to rehash what’s already out there….

A long while back on the blog – somewhere, I’m just too lazy to go look it up – I had a bit of a discussion on magickal names. The idea seems to come from picking a new name when you start your Path down whatever Tradition you are in – you take a new name to signify the change you are going through in your life. When I first started on my original steps in Wicca, I did this as well. I didn’t really stray too far from who I am – I went with my pen-name, Robin Birchleaf. This was the name I’ve used in writing my poetry…at the time, it was on various dial-up Bulletin Boards. Nowadays, my poetry tends to be kept private or when I do post it publicly, I do so here on this blog. But the name seemed to suit me. Robyn came from the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” – Robyn Goodfellow, a play that has filtered throughout my life in various manners. Birch is one of the younger trees in the Beth-Luis-Nion alphabet (I think that’s right) and signified my start on this new Path. The leaf? Well, I am just one individual of a greater whole…the leaf seemed appropriate.

These days, I go by my nearly life-long nickname – TommyElf. This is another name that originated from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” when I was in the fourth or fifth grade. Growing up, my hair was nearly white in color, which is hard to believe given my dirty, dish-water blonde hair of these days. The high school students at the local Department of Defense Dependent Schools (DODDS) were putting on the play, and were auditioning parts. I happened to be playing soccer nearby. The teacher leading the production saw me, and asked me to come in and read a few lines…as King Oberon. She liked me in the part so much, she asked where I lived, and walked me back to my home there in military housing – so she could ask my parents if it was alright for me to play the role. To shorten this down a bit…my parents said yes, and I was in the week-long run of the play. After the play’s run was over, I would run into the same high school students from the play – and the referred to me as “King Elf” for a short while, a nod to my role as Oberon. Shortly after, they started referring to me as “Tommy the Elf” which got shortened to “Tommy Elf”. In later years, I’ve just scrunched it all into a single word “TommyElf” and I have become far better known by this than even my legal name.

This is the lesson in the power of names – magickal or not. My pseudo-name Robyn Birchleaf lends power and meaning to the first steps of Pagan Path. I use it sparingly now, still primarily with my poetry writing. My childhood nickname, on the other hand, has taken a life of its own – with whatever power and meaning it lends to the person who uses it. For some folks it can be a happy thing. For others, it can have a meaning like “Oh shit, here comes THAT dude.”

But that gets me to thinking a bit more about the power and meaning we place behind all kinds of words. I have often wondered if writing can be considered as some kind of spell or magickal working? Just putting thoughts to the reality of existence – and yes, there is POWER in doing just that. Just as there is POWER in the way a good speaker tells a story with intricate details and flowery wording – weaving that picture in the minds of those listening. Writers do the same thing…even in something as simple and mundane as blog posts. A well written piece (that typically doesn’t come from this corner folks) can excite you, outrage you, make you fall in love, or feel completely at peace with everything around you. Or maybe even all at once. What we read, what we speak – how we speak it, how we write it – that’s all got power within it. That’s all pure magick.

Yeah. Magick. As in spells and all that stuff that I avoid like the plague. And yet here I am, doing just that in the writing word – or when I ran the podcast, in what I talked about. Others can do all the wand waving and the incantations at the precise moment that the moon reaches apogee and the ginger-ale in the cauldron boils….or whatever — I’ll stick to honing my magick through writing. And occasionally speaking when invited to do so. (Just remember, I write and say “fuck” a lot – I’m generally NSFW, unless told to bring it down a notch or twelve)

So….make your magick your way. If writing or speaking just ain’t your thing….cool. Whatever is your way, do it. But for me, I am just starting to realize where my magick really is. And now I have to sharpen it and make it better. I am trying. And I haven’t even started addressing the ideas of music or even computer coding as magick.

–T /|\

Thinking About – Magick

A quiet night. That is what it is. I have a tall, cold glass of water on my desk. Nora Jones’ “Not Too Late” album is playing on the speakers. I have the volume down a little lower than I normally would. That beautiful smoky voice is softly rubbing against the thoughts I am allowing into my mind.

“We’re gonna be sinking soon. Everybody hold your breath because we’re gonna be sinking soon.”

What a lyric to float on by. Last year was rough. Massive health scares. Loss of a job. Yeah, last year can just scatter down the alleyway. This coming year is going to be about changes, that’s a flavor in the wind these days.

Some folks have asked how I go about doing magick. Well, to be honest, its not so much me doing magick, as it is just sitting back and letting it happen. Aleister Crowley once defined magick as “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” I can understand and relate to that aspect, but for me, I have come to understand magick as a tidal force that we sometimes dip our toes and fingers into. The ripples we cause with our splashes, is a cause of what we toss into the pool. Sometimes, we want the ripples to effect something in our lives, and we attempt to have an effect on that through spell work and the such. But magick is always there. My idea of working magick comes from just sitting back, thinking about something, and letting it happen.

I don’t do a lot of spell work because I prefer to let things happen. I will influence everything as I live. My preference is to sit and think in the early morning hours or the earlier parts of the evening. The mid-day and midnight portions of the day are for other things. One of those moments, which I can still recall vividly, is the second time I attended the ADF Imbolc Retreat – that Saturday morning.

I am not one for staying up too late in the night. As I noted, midnight time has its own uses in my daily Life, namely that of sleep and dream-work. I had stayed up at the evening fire for a short time, and eventually made my way to bed – long before most folks. The next morning, I was up before the sunrise, showered and ready to greet the Sun in its promised returned. I would surmise that the fire had only recently been allowed to burn out, as there was still a smoldering aspect there. The smoke drifted upward into the cold air. The location for the retreat was in a higher elevation of the Texas Hill country, so the temperature was a little cooler than I had expected. I sat on one of the benches closest to the fire, and noticed that the wood it was feeding on was fresh, an indication that I was not the only early riser in camp. I shrugged my shoulders and hoped for a bit of a respite from company.

I did the grounding and centering exercises that I had learned from my Bardic Grade material, and then opened my senses to the world around me. I could hear the crackle of the fire, with the slight twittering of nearby birds – all carried by the slight breeze I could hear blowing through the nearby Mesquite branches. Far off in the distance, I could hear trucks applying their air brakes on the hilly portions of the nearby interstate. I let the sounds wash over me, and integrate into my own thoughts. At the time, I was fuming over trying to finish my Bardic Grade material in OBOD, and was beginning to wonder if my six years of working the material was too long. My mind set that to the side for the moment, and I wandered over to a variety of other thoughts until I was interrupted by the individual who was tending the fire. We re-introduced ourselves and started to talk about our pasts, finding much commonality between us. Through that conversation, I made mental notes on a new approach to my Bardic Grade material, eventually finding a way to work past my mental blocks.

See, I did not need to fashion a spell to work with magick. I know that spell work is something that others work with intensely and find that it works wonderfully for them. For me, not so much. Spell work, as I understand it, is a super intense mental focus, done through the use of materials or spoken words or ritualistic gestures. I completely grok how that can be helpful to other folks. For me, its really a matter of just finding a quiet place and time to think and let things happen. Perhaps, what I do can be construed to be an aspect of spell work or ritual work designed to bring magick into focus. But I prefer the idea that magick is not something to be forced into “doing” but is something that is just “being”. To use a water-ish concept, I like that the river flows on its own – where, when and how it should. I know that I could divert it to try and focus it for a particular use, such as a water wheel to move a grinding device or other uses that a water-mill has. However, I prefer to let the river flow as it does, without intervention or coaxing from me.

Perhaps, my understand of magick is vastly different than yours. I can understand that. Everyone will have their own way of understanding the more abstract aspects of such concepts. For me to say that your perception is wrong or incorrect….well, that would be greatly arrogant of me. Plus, it would go against my own acceptance that my Path is right…right for me. Parts of what I believe might be right for you…or maybe not even at all. However, I would dare not say that everyone *must* believe as I do…I left empirical Spiritual mandates behind a long time back….I have no desire to pick that up again. Ever. This is merely one perspective, which happens to be mine. Hopefully, I have articulated it well enough to allow you to understand….

Where Could This World Be

I remember when I was much, much younger – growing up as a military dependent in Germany was an amazing time for me. I would go Volksmarching with my parents and my sister, and in the 10km we walked, I would get to see a lot of the country-side each weekend. Sometimes, the trails wound through town, sometimes through the local farmer’s fields along the paths used for the tractors and other farm equipment. However, whenever the paths wound through the forests, I would be especially happy. The forests provided me with the best opportunities to leave the trail, and walk within the woods – parallel to the walking trail, of course. Those forests spurred my thoughts and allowed me to see other worlds. Worlds full of Elves, full of imaginary battle scenes, and even dinosaurs hiding behind every large trunked tree. Yes, I was particularly fond of dinosaurs growing up. What kid wasn’t?  🙂

It was so easy to believe in magick, and the Fey, and even the Gods. But as I grew older, I was told that such things were not appropriate for a young man. Seeing Fey folks peering back from deep in the woods was just a fanciful imagination running wild. It was “ok” to believe that such things existed, but not as I got older. Things like that were “child’s stuff” and I needed to set that aside, in order to “grow up.” I was to push all that out of my mind and dismiss any such thinking as unhealthy and unproductive towards becoming a “normal” member of “grown-up” society.

As a young adult, I spent a lot of time pushing thoughts about the Gods out of my mind. Dismissing all of it as a product of my over-active imagination. But it was certainly acceptable to believe in God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit…though I had no feeling towards the existence of that. And when I asked for proof, I was given a book and told the answers could be found on those pages. Because it was “socially acceptable” to believe such.

Do not get me wrong here – there is nothing wrong with the belief in the Christian God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit. That is something that works and calls to those that feel that within themselves. Just as the calling of the Gods and Goddesses and Spirits of Place and Spirits of Ancestor work for me – and many other Pagans. And just as there are those who claim to have the calling of the Christian Trinity in their lives, but have no real connection – in other words, paying lip service….there are certainly those within the Pagan communities as well. But this is not about either of those sets of folks.

We believe readily in magick, the Other World, and so many other things when we are young. Not only do we embrace them, we tend to feel them as well. And then, we are told to set those aside – to embrace something that might not call to us, to dismiss our feelings as being unreal, inappropriate. And suddenly, we find that we are suppressing who we are, what we feel…. And going into the future, we might utilize this as a coping mechanism for the world around us. We bottle in who we are, what we feel, what we know to be right….and all of that starts to eat away at who we are.

Back in 1995, I felt the United States military and came back into the civilian world. In the military, it was easy to be a Pagan, easy to embrace my knowledge and feeling of the existence of the Gods. In the military, my beliefs were protected by regulations and rules dictating that to others. Sure, I had some discriminatory moments from others. There was the one time I was physically accosted at the Sembach Post Office at 3am when I was checking mail after shift. But the civilian world is a little different. Physical altercations can be more frequent and far more violent. People around you are a lot more anonymous than when they are on a military base.

It would have been far easier for me to just not be a Pagan. Or to stay in the “closet” – so to speak. it would have been easier, but it would also have been going back to denying who I was and what I felt within me. I carry enough scars from trying to hide things to appease others. I am not about to compromise on who I am or what I believe. Granted, as I have gotten older, I have learned to not wear my Paganism completely on my sleeve. But when directly confronted, I do not hide who or what I am. Not anymore.

I do wonder; however, just how many people out there lost touch with their feeling and understanding of magick – just because they were told to not have an over-active imagination at their age? That believing in the Fey was not something real – that it could be misconstrued as a sign of mental illness? How many others went through similar actions of internal repression because they were told they should not like the same gender as themselves? How many were told that they could not succeed at various desired jobs because of their gender or skin color or their parents’ income status?

I wonder how different this world could be if we would just make an honest attempt towards being who we want to be, to believe in what we know to be real….where could this world be today? I do indeed wonder….

Magick and Intent versus Politics – Batter Up

Every once in a while on Facebook or some other social media platform, I see something about working a hex or some other bit of magick against Donnie. I smile to myself, gently shake my head, and pass the post by. Not because I am against finding some manner of getting Donnie to shut up. That would be most ideal, in my mind. For me, magick working is not something I toss around lightly, in fact, it is usually an instance of last resort in trying to do anything. And to be perfectly honest, I see politics as being a waste of precious energy, time and intent – especially in trying to change the perspective of firmly entrenched politicians and political zealots. And I certainly do consider Donnie to be a political zealot.

For me, politics is an area that I rarely cross my Spiritual life into. But make no mistake about it; political stuff does bleed over into all aspects of my life, whether I like it or not. I firmly believe that people love who they love. Some political leaders would have us all believe that in some instances, that is against some “natural law” that is laid out in a particular religious tome. Here is politics, tinged in religious zealotry, bleeding into the lives of people that I care deeply about. Still, magick working would be the very last option for me in trying to combat this type of political and religious motivated thinking. Participating in rallies, marches, writing campaigns, talking to my elected representatives, working to actively replace elected government representatives with those that believe differently – these would be the areas that I would (and have) work with to ensure the rights of people to love who they love. Magick might be a “go-to” for others; for me, its usage comes when all other measures have not produced results.

Politics is not a defining factor for me. I have heard many folks say that everyone should be into politics. I disagree. Everyone should be informed enough to cast a vote with knowledge behind “why” – but that does not mean you have to be into politics. You just need to know enough about an issue to vote your conscience. You just need to know how a candidate stands on the issues that concern you most in order to determine your support (or lack thereof) for them at the ballot box. And honestly, if you vote because an individual is part of a particular party…and solely for that reason…well, it is not how I would go about determining how to cast my vote – but each person needs to do what works for them, not what works for someone else. I get to define me, not you – and I do my best to live by that.

Now, it can be said that I have a bit of an aversion to magick working. I do. I will not mince words when it comes to that. First, I do not believe that I am particularly good at working concepts like spells and the such. Like a pitcher that throws a good fastball, but has not managed to grasp the mechanics of a slider; I would tend to throw my best pitch and not rely on a weaker pitch. Second, I believe there is some aspect of spellwork in just rolling up your sleeves and pant legs and wading knee deep into the stream. I am not sure if it really qualifies under the various meanings of magick working, but I know it tends to get results. Just not always the results I intended at times.

However, while I have an aversion to magick working, I certainly do not turn my nose up or scoff at those who turn to spells, hexes, curses, and prayer as their primary starting point in dealing with issues. I actually respect them for the strength and value they place in those abilities. Obviously, they have managed to get results from those actions, and therefore they are going with their best pitch. All I can hope is that their intent is similar to my own…because I don’t want to be in the batter’s box against that pitch.

Bending Intent…Just Not Like Beckham

The past few weeks, I have heard from a few people that my attitude is a little different. Of course it is. And its not that difficult to imagine why. Every single day begins the start of a new adventure for me. In the words of Jerry Doyle, better known as Michael Garibaldi on Babylon 5, “As long as you’ve got today, and you’ve got a choice…why would you choose to make it a bad day?”

Don’t get me wrong. I have bad moments in my days. Sometimes, I get chewed on for no reason at all by other folks. Sometimes, things happen that I didn’t expect, or don’t feel too great about. But those moments will pass. And then there will be the rest of the day: waiting to be colored in by my mind’s crayons and color pencils. Ho I fill in the rest of those colors, is up to me.

I do not work magick that often, but as I think about this process of going through my day – maybe I do, and I just don’t call it magick. Typically, its defined under the Crowley perspective of “the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will.” So far the sake of discussion, let’s utilize this definition.

My typical day starts with greeting the Sun as we both rise. Me, from my slumber. The Sun, from just around the eastern horizon, as the Earth spins. The point, for me, in greeting the Sun is to provide a basis for the rest of the day. Clear skies, cloudy, overcast, rainy – the Sun will rise. Using that moment of tranquil beauty, with a coffee cup in one hand, and sometimes birdseed in the other, my greeting is a reminder that each day is a new start. No sunrise is exactly like the other. No start to my daily adventure is exactly like another. There are similarities, but no exact duplication.

From that moment, my day unfolds step-by-step. From getting ready for work (on work days) to driving to the college campus I work on, each day unfolds differently. Sometimes, the pastures on either side of the Farm-to-Market road are packed with cows. Sometimes, the only life I see is the occasional hawk circling above the fields. Each work day provides a new data puzzle to solve, a new story that the data gets to tell, and new conversations with people that I work with, and students who attend classes there. Each new experience builds on the ones from the day before. Sometimes, the towers of experience come crashing down because of a bad moment during that day. And here, I have that choice. The choice to color my day by this one experience, or to set it to the side and resolve it in the future, while continuing to experience the better parts of the adventure.

I don’t always choose the better part of the adventure. Sometimes the bad experience does wind up coloring my day. That’s where sunset comes in. Sunset is where the day comes to a close. Where the Sun dips beyond the horizon, promising to return the next day with a new adventure. This is also where I put to rest whatever bad experience has been coloring my day. Because tomorrow is the start of a new day, which brings a new adventure. And I certainly don’t want to have a shitty one.

In essence, I am taking moments of my day, and allowing the change that I want according to my Will. I would prefer a nice cheerful workday, where I get tasks done, but manage to find the fun side of the adventure as well. I am bending the day to meet what I am wanting to get from it. But like magick, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes the results are not quite what I wanted. Sometimes, its a disaster. I chalk that up to experience and try again the next morning. In between, I rest. I relax. I meditate. I calm myself. I ground and center. I let go of the experience that wasn’t so great. I prepare myself to try again, knowing that circumstances for the next day can vary a little or perhaps even greatly in comparison to the previous day.

I keep working at it, Altering small parts here and there to see if small changes will work better. hich I have done quite a bit. And I now have a routine that I vary only slightly from on a daily basis. Through continual hard work, I managed to puzzle out what works for me. The same can be said of working magick. When the results turn out not to be what you were expecting, do the hard work and research what you did versus what the magickal working called for. Find the differences. Look for small things you can change without changing the intent of what you were doing. Let’s say that the working called for the use of salt – and you used iodized Morton’s salt. In preparing for another try, perhaps using sea salt might be better. Be prepared to do the hard work. And yes, be prepared to follow the instructions, the framework, the wording….at least the first time. Try not to alter things without trying the original methodology first.

Like I said earlier….I am not a huge worker of magick. For me, magick is the last alternative to reach for. For me, the first methodology is typically the most mundane one. Elbow grease. Words. Communication. Actions. For me, this is where the first steps of any intentional act, magickal or not, starts. Just a thought (or five)….

–T /|\

Magick and Familiar Stones – My Perspective

My stone circle in the backyard is a focal part of my daily Spiritual Life. When I get home in the late afternoons from work, I have made a habit of stopping by the circle and offering a short moment of thanks for the day. Even a bad day. After all, I made it through whatever has happened, and have managed to reach the safety of home. The stone circle is also a place where I do my grounding and centering. Its a place of safety, a place of comfort, and a place of “known energy” for me.

Thinking back, I originally created my stone circle as a place that could look “nice” outside of my backyard window at my previous home. Over time, it morphed from a “nice” thing to look at, to a functional place where I could handle meditations, and that one practice I dread using the most – “magick”.

I am not one to utilize magick lightly or even often. For me, its a tool that I use for bigger needs, and even then I am reluctant to go that route. In other words, I don’t take magick use lightly. Its not something that I immediately reach for. I usually take the time to puzzle out if another tool or technique might not reach similar results. Or to use a different analogy, magick is like a nuclear weapon. I have it in my arsenal, but am reluctant to utilize it because of the immense power that it is, when something else might accomplish the goal through a modified use or in a greater set of repetitions.

When I am talking magick, I am correlating this specifically to spell work. Not that long ago, there was a push to work spells and/or curses against Donnie’s presidency. I decided not to participate in all of that because of the three-fold concept of karmic return. But I also made sure not to denigrate or belittle the choices of others who decided to go in for all of that either. Their choice, their karma.

So, I tend to get a lot of push-back on my stance on magick. After all, its there – why not use it? Again, I point out that I cannot – and will not – choose for others, nor will I look down on those who choose differently from me. I hold magick – particularly spellwork – as a last resort. When I have exhausted every methodology I can think, and then even after I carefully weigh the possibility of its use, magick becomes an option that gets set on the table for me.

Perhaps its just the programmer in me, or maybe the Technology troubleshooter, but I prefer to hold the biggest, baddest tool in reserve until I have tried all other options. For me, its like squashing a fly with a sledgehammer. Just an unequal use of force for the application at hand. And to be honest, when I do decide to utilize magick, my preference is to use it in territory I am familiar and comfortable with. And that would be my little stone circle.

 

Portable Music – Magickal Memories of the Past, Present and Future

Continuing in the vein of having some non-spiritual fun….

jazzWay long back, I had a listener (of the now defunct podcast “From the Edge of the Circle”) ask me what I had on my iPod. Well, these days, I don’t carry an iPod with me – though I still have my red iPod in a drawer somewhere. These days, I carry my audio stuff on my iPhone. And typically when I am walking through the neighborhood, I have the ear buds in, and something is playing.

In fact, there’s typically some kind of music or speaking stuff is playing out of speakers near me. Even at work, where I stream Pandora Radio from my iPhone on to my little red Bose Color Speaker. I find music to be rather soothing, although I will shut off my music to listen to the wind in the leaves of the trees or the sound of s stream rushing by. But that auditory sense is always something that I have to have going. Even when I am reading — though I am a little picky when it comes to that. It can’t have words. I guess I get confused between what I am reading and what I am hearing.

But back to what’s on my iPod….err….iPhone. Currently, I have the last four episodes of The Wigglian Way, the last two episodes of Down at the Crossroads, and the last four episodes of Druidcast….all of which I have yet to listen to (and thus the reason that they are on my iPhone). Then follows all the music…and there’s a lot of it….

  • Amaranthe — Massive Addictive (album), The Nexus (album), Amaranthe (album), and Leave Everything Behind (EP).
  • Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe – (self-titled album)
  • Chick Corea – Friends (album), The Mad Hatter (album), The Leprechaun (album), Return to Forever (album), Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (album), and Tone’s For Joan’s Bones (album)
  • Coyote Oldman — Compassion (album), and In Medicine River (album)
  • Craig Chaquico — Follow the Sun (album), Midnight Noon (album), Shadow and Light (album), Four Corners (album), A Thousand Pictures (album), Acoustic Planet (album), Once in a Blue Universe (album), and Acoustic Highway (album)
  • Craig Chaquico and Russ Freeman — From the Redwoods to the Rockies (album)
  • Damh the Bard — Sabbat (album), Antlered Crown and Standing Stone (album), As Nature Intended (album), Tales From the Crow Man (album), The Cauldron Born (album), The Hills They Are Hollow (album), Spirit of Albion (album), and Herne’s Apprentice (album)
  • Douglas Spotted Eagle — Closer to Far Away (album), and Legend of the Flute Boy (album)
  • Duane Deemer — Windhorse (album)
  • Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians — Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars
  • Eloy — Chronicles I (album), Metromania (album), Performance (album), Planets (album), Live! (album), and Ocean (album)
  • Emerald Rose — Archives of Ages to Come (album), Celtic Crescent (album), Rants & Rambles (album), Bending Tradition (album), and Emerald Rose (album)
  • Epica — This is the Time (EP)
  • Eric Johnson – Ah Via Musicom (album)
  • Fiona Davidson — The Language of Birds (album), and Fonnsheen (album)
  • Florence + the Machine — How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful (album), and Ceremonials (album)
  • Giant — Last of the Runaways (album)
  • Glass Tiger — The Thin Red Line (album)
  • Grace Potter and the Nocturnals — The Lion, the Beast, the Beat (album), and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals (album)
  • Grateful Dead (every single studio album they ever made)
  • Halestorm — Into the Wild Life (album), The Strange Case of… (album), and Halestorm (album)
  • Hardline — Hot Cherie (song)
  • Jim Faupel — Here Be Dragons (album), and Reinventing the Wheel (album)
  • Kellianna — Traditions (album), Elemental (album), and Lady Moon (album)
  • Omnia — Musick and Poetree (album), Wolf Love (album), World of Omnia (album), Paganfolk at the Fairy Ball (album), and Alive! (album)
  • Paul C. Newman — Passing Fayre (album)
  • Rush — (every studio album they have made)
  • Sara Evans — Restless (album), and Three Chords and the Truth (album)
  • Yes (every studio album they have made)

As you can see….my tastes are quite eclectic. Depending on my mood, I will fire up any of these albums at any given time. And if I find that none of them match my mood…I have tons more to pick from off of my external hard drive back at the house. Music is a driving force in my life…each song tugs at a different string in my soul, evoking a different moment of magick within my life. Sometimes its a piece of magick from the Past, sometimes a piece of magick that just happened, and sometimes its a hint of magick yet to come.

Magic – Quote

Magic is about discovering and coming to understand the patterns and balances that underlie all things. It is about working in concord with them in order to maintain or re-establish those patterns and balances. We all work magic of some form or another every day – using herbs to heal, gardening organically, preparing a meal. Those who devote their life ot magic, learn to live their whole life in harmony with the natural order.

The Voice Within the Wind, Greywind, p.21

Stray Thoughts: On Magick…

Anyone who has known me for any length of time, knows about my aversion to using spell-work. Or as the remark was pointedly made to me – “you hate Magick”. Which is not correct. Magick is a daily part of my Life and my daily Path. Its spell-work that I find to be untoward. To be somewhat clear – spell-work, for me, is a manner of working with magick – utilizing it as a tool to achieve some desired goal. That might not be the definition that you may use, but its the one I am working from here.

Spellwork is a technique, but magick….well, magick is not a tool for me. Magick is something that occurs all around us, all the time. Its that feeling of awe, when you look up in the morning sky, and catch the first glimmers of the morning sun peeking over the distant horizon. Its that moment when you feel the embrace of your environment, feel its connection to you, and your connection to it. Its the feeling you get with certain pieces of music, the way the rhythm and the chords resonate with your body and mind, extract a whisper of a memory that embraces you in emotion. That moment of discovery, when you realize how something works or goes together or the way a theory presents even more avenues of thought to explore. When you lay back on the grass, look up into the trees, and realize that there’s a whole world up there that you never noticed before. magick is the awakening of the senses, and a widening of the perception of the world around you. For me, that’s the essence of what Magick is.

Its very difficult for me to see all of that as a “tool” – except that as I think upon it, its not that difficult to comprehend at all. At some point, human beings realized that rocks and sticks did a far better job as weapons than a man’s bare hands. Or that the same stick was a better application for creating a furrow in the ground for planting. And on and on and on. Its the creativity in determining how to utilize such applications that is the Magick for me.

I am not sure how anyone else defines the concept of Magick, only that I realize that whatever their definition is – it works for them. I know there will be plenty of people that disagree with me on the definition…or the application of the definition, and that’s perfectly fine with me. Nine Hells, if we were all the same, agreed on everything – this would be a really boring place, ya know??

The Simple and Forgotten Things – Dr. Susan Greenwood – Quote

There is beauty and mystery in the earth, an inner contentment combined with excitement for life and strength. In nature there is symbolic as well as actual beauty; there is healing in the natural cycles. If we can regain, or find out in new ways, how its possible to think as a child – with senses fresh and curious – we are in a position to relate with enthusiasm and passion to the world around us. Much is written on the power of ritual:  the right way of doing things, the right ‘tradition’. How much of this really matters beyond the bounds of our own quest for identity, security and power? Perhaps we lose the simplicity of magic.It was Jung who wrote in a letter to a colleague who was in psychological crisis, and who had been studying Sanskrit and Indian philosophy. ‘You must go in quest of yourself, and you will find yourself again only in the simple and forgotten things.’ Perhaps we as Pagans have lost the simple and forgotten things, the simplicity and joy of nature.

Dr. Susan Greenwood, “Of Worms, Snakes, and Dragons“. Pagan Visions For a Sustainable FutureLy de AnglesEmma Restall Orr & Thom van Dooren, editors.

So the History Will Not Die…I Work My Magick

The past week-plus has been one of the most harried and hectic times I have had in the last few years. Re-starting my MLIS (Masters of Library and Information Science) degree has added a huge amount of organizing on my part for the two classes I am taking. Add on top of that, the three classes that I am teaching at my local JuCo…mix in a bit of personal Life, my OBOD lessons….shake and stir…and you have a recipe for chaos. Sort of. My organization skills are far better than they were in 2009, when I first started and stopped this degree program. I have a far better vision of where I want to take this degree, combined with my other three degrees. But still, there’s a metric ton of work that I just added to myself. But, like any degree program, its a matter of being organized, and being disciplined with my time. I can do this, and I know I can do this.

Its interesting though, at least for me. Everything seems to be clicking into place, even when there’s a little bit of effort that needs to be made with some of the puzzle pieces. Instead of carving out puzzle pieces to match the connections as I have in the past – these pieces are fitting together. Perhaps, the best descriptive I can give to the entire process is that its like stepping out of a fog, and into a clear blue, sunny day. And even that descriptive is not quite accurate. But I do realize where all this started – and it was not that far in the past.

Back in December, I finished Emma Restall Orr‘s book “The Wakeful World” and relayed how I had started to find connections between parts of my world in the post “Are We Asking the Right Question?“. Now, I am a few more steps down my Path since that “aha!” moment, and I continue to see connections between areas I could not even begin to fathom as being connected. For instance, my career path has always been along the Technology field. I have been a Help Desk Analyst, a Desktop Support Technician, a Systems Administrator, a Disaster Recovery Technician, a Database Administrator, a Digital Storage Administrator, and even a Vice President of Information Technology (albeit only for 88 days before I made the decision to leave a severely toxic work environment). Up until I started teaching, my focus has been on hardware, and the maintenance of the software installed on those systems. My focus then switched to showing students that these computers were merely tools, which could gather information that could be analyzed and utilized to make informed business decisions. In my second semester of teaching – a compressed Summer session format – I found myself trying to find comparisons to better showcase that perception to my students.

I showed the students how a simple decision-making process concerning the development of software for a company’s needs could be twisted and utilized as a process for shopping for groceries. It was just a matter of changing the terms into something that correlated to this change in the needs geared to the process. I have used this same example in every class since, and have been astonished by the “aha!” moments that I see each time I explain it. Margot Adler details something similar in her book “Drawing Down the Moon“, which I have mentioned previously in “Enough Magick“:

…the people were transformed into the essence of bears, fishing as the bears would – essentially becoming bears in the stream. They didn’t physically change. They remained as human beings in physical form, but they changed the manner in which they went about catching the fish. They did as bears would do. In the way that they envisioned bears would. Their technique might not have been picture perfect as far as bears went, but it was the results that they sought. Perfection of technique was not the answer.

I see the magick of teaching in the classroom. I get the chance to spin examples relating modern information science concepts and technology into everyday examples, which the students seem to understand far better. This allegorical approach seemingly works well, particularly with my students who are vaguely familiar with the computer as an entertainment device, as well as students who are only now coming to terms with a technology that they have eschewed throughout their life.

View From Medicine Wheel

With my background in technology, coupled with my time of being in front of the classroom, and my undying love for the History of our world, and our environment – I can see the true calling for Information Sciences. As a tool, it can be utilized to inform the individual about the world around them. For instance, pictures and blog postings about The Medicine Wheel in Wyoming can convey the beauty of a very beautiful location that lies very much off the beaten path. A Natural Site that holds such a dramatic visual location, and an underlying atmosphere of Gods and Spirits that want to whisper in the ears of those who take the time to visit. Those pictures and blogs can be conveyed to the casual observer through the technologies that comprise the Information Sciences. And this is only a lonely, solitary example of the usage of Information Sciences. Many, many more applications can (and will) be visualized and put into use in the coming future. The magick is in the Information that is to be brought forward to those interested in the topic. Providing the images (and sounds – I plan on taking video at the site in my next visit in 2015), which entice the viewer to want to visit.

And all of this is brought about by connections, seeing how all aspects of our environment are connected to one another. I have stepped out of the mist, and see where my knowledge can lead to. Where exactly I fit on that Pattern, I do not know. I know that my desire is to find ways to preserve the information of our Histories for future generations – the stories, the information, the tales, the knowledge, the images, the sounds…and I do know that the Gods have been slowly nudging me in this direction. I have stepped out into the open, out of the mist, and I see where I am led to. I do not know my place in that final step of the process, but I am willing to move towards it now. With purpose, with determination. I teach, I inform, I work my own Magick…so that others may know and remember…so the History will not die…