Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Question of Morality

Recently, I was told that good witches don’t curse or hex, and then the speaker started spouting the “Harm None” creed that so many Wiccans swear by.  And in the next breath, telling me my karma was going to get me if I did.

For my thoughts on karma, let me point you to a previous post so I don’t repeat myself:

So, karma aside, let’s explore morality for a bit.

In past dealings with the eclectic pagan community, people have stood up very righteously and criticized me for healing someone who was in a coma, trying to help their body repair itself so they’d recover – because I didn’t have “permission” to work magic on their behalf, so I was obviously a “black witch”.  Using a sleep spell on someone to get out of a difficult situation where they were pointing a gun at me was also met with criticism.  Both spells, by the way, worked.  My friend recovered, and the gunman got dizzy and passed out briefly enough for me to get away, thanks to my “evil magic”.  Apparently I was supposed to let the gunman do what he wanted, and let my friend die without having tried to help him.  He might have recovered on his own, maybe my spell didn’t change anything at all.  But isn’t trying the important part?

I personally detest when people categorize magic as “black” or “white”.  Frankly, it encourages racist thinking since it makes “black” the “bad” color.  Black is a perfectly fine color, whether it’s clothes, skin, or the night sky on a tall mountain, dappled with stars.  Magic is just a force, as neutral as a knife, which can be used for cooking, curing, or killing.  It’s all up to the intent of the wielder.

And yes Wanda Fae, sometimes it’s OK to curse.  At one time in my life, I didn’t think so.  Here’s what changed my mind...

Once upon a time, I was living in an apartment with a roommate.  One July evening in the middle of the week, about 1am we were awakened to yelling and then a loud crashing noise.  His bedroom was closer to the front door than mine, so he went out there while I grabbed the phone.  I heard him yell “Hey!” and then I heard the intruders yell “Where’s the money?”, followed by noises of flesh striking flesh.  I was on the phone with the police, while my other hand held my ritual sword, shaking.  I heard loud crashing noises and I told the dispatcher that they were hurting my roommate and I was going out there, when I heard someone coming down the hall.  I was prepared to shove the point of my sword through someone’s stomach.  Happily, it was my roommate and he was ok – they’d only shoved his bare chest with the palms of their hands, that’s what the noise was.  He wasn’t even bruised, thankfully.

After we assessed the damage, inventoried what was missing, the police had come and gone, and we’d shoved the couch in front of the shattered front door to hold it closed while we waited for the apartment maintenance folks to repair the door and change the locks, we were talking about how glad we were no one was hurt, and that we really needed to be more diligent about the warding on the apartment.  I still wasn’t ready to hex, at that point.

The following day, I saw someone walking around the apartment looking suspicious, so I committed his face to memory.  A few minutes later (I was on the phone with the credit card company canceling and ordering new cards, since they’d gotten my wallet) someone tried a key in the lock and was having trouble.  I looked through the peep hole, and saw the suspicious looking guy with my keys in his hand, trying the door.  I kind of lost it.  I told the person on the phone I had to hang up and call 9-1-1 because the robbers were back, then unlocked and opened the door to see him running away.  When I realized I wasn’t going to be able to catch him and pound his face into the sidewalk like I wanted to, I yelled “DIE!” at him and waited for the cops to show up.  And immediately cast a hex off the top of my head so that he’d be caught, arrested, and convicted.

A week later, I was out of town at a training class, and the power in the complex went out the night before I was due home.  When I got home, there were police everywhere, so I waited for my roommate to get home from work – he had no idea what had happened.  The day after that, I went and talked to the people in the management office to get the scoop.  The robbers had gone into someone else’s apartment during the blackout, robbed her, roughed her up, and she was found dead the next day.  She was 84 years old, a former teacher, and was volunteering at the elementary school down the street.

Ever since her death, I freely encourage people to hex robbers, rapists, highway snipers, and the like.  Get them caught, make their weapons misfire to hurt them, and get them away from innocent victims like that poor lady who died because someone thought it was easier to steal and injure than to get a job like the rest of us.  Those robbers went to jail for a loooong time, especially after I positively identified the one guy in a police photo lineup, and then again on the witness stand in the courtroom.

This doesn’t mean I go around cursing willy-nilly, because I’m not that kind of person.  I have to have a good reason to hex.  But to protect innocent people, the bad guys have to be stopped.  I don’t have super powers, I can’t fly around the city bouncing bullets off my chest, reading the minds of the wicked and bringing them to justice.  But I can sure as heck cast spells that work.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Your “Personal Brand “ is a Tulpa is a Thoughtform

I was doing some random Internet-hopping today, and ran across an article that talked about ones “Personal Brand” and how important it was to nurture.  Never having heard the term, I went looking it up because I was curious.  What struck me about it was the similarity to a tulpa, or thoughtform as we define them in our various magical communities.

If you look up personal branding (you can start here, you’ll see that it’s the public image people associate with you.  It’s usually associated with the reputation, appearance, impressions, and virtual identity that people associate with your name – as opposed to your real, private self.  The focus I was reading about (here: was on appearance, and the author said about people with good personal brands “Their personal brand is such that their intention and purpose to convey the best version of who they are is always present -- no matter what. This entails self-discipline, sacrifice, and a high level of emotional maturity and empathy.   So it’s conveying an image – like an illusion.

I don’t know about you, but in my magical training I was taught how to create thoughtforms and put them to work for me, imbuing them with characteristics and personality as appropriate, as well as how to maintain them, or “feed” them if you will.

So doesn’t it stand to reason that we as witches ought to be *really* good at this Personal Branding stuff?  Heck, all it takes to feed is dressing your best and being pleasant?  Yeah, I can do that.  It’s a lot easier than incense and offerings of food or some libation!  Charging a stone you can carry in your pocket would add to it, or a necklace you can wear under your clothes… heck, even a bright shiny copper penny you can put in your shoe would work, if you put the right spell on it.  Something simple you can say, like:

“Lord and Lady let them see the best me that there is to be.
 Let all whom I encounter stay moved by charm and grace today.
And for problems which arise let help be found before my eyes.”

Or something along those lines, whatever works for you and your path.

We’re magical practitioners, if the non-magical can use charm and a snappy wardrobe to fake people out and impress, why can’t we do the same thing and add magic to the mix and be more successful?  Is there really anything so terrible about having enough money to pay the bills, a successful career that makes us happy, or a day made more pleasant because people find us charming and helpful?  Personally, I don’t see a thing wrong with it.  It’s not mind control, it’s not manipulation, it’s not deceit – any more than putting on a really nice outfit and styling your hair or putting on makeup is deceitful.  It’s just about putting your best foot forward on an energetic level where people might feel it.

So many in our communities are struggling with money, or in jobs they can’t stand that we ought to start collectively putting our heads together on ways to fix it.  If you don’t hate your job, but aren’t getting promoted or recognized for your work, maybe your Personal Brand thoughtform needs some conscious spellcasting to help you along.  It couldn’t hurt to try, right?

Dare to succeed in your careers witches, warlocks, wizards, et al.  Go ahead, I double-dog dare ya.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Empathy – psychic ability or good sense of smell?

There are a lot of folks in the New Age and Pagan communities who list Empathy as one of their gifts, or even self-identify as an Empath, meaning that they sense and experience the emotions of others.  Folks in the non-psychic arena define empathy as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another” – basically inferring it’s intellectual, not psychic.

I was listening to the radio while driving recently, and there was a news story about animals and something to do with pheromones.  So naturally my brain meandered over to the memories of other information about pheromones and I realized that most of what I’ve heard about on the subject was related to either fear or sex.

But what if there’s more?  What if there are pheromones we exude when we’re calm, different ones when we’re happy, or sad?  What if, instead of empathic, a lot of us are just accurately interpreting what the pheromones mean because of a good sense of smell without knowing it?  I suppose that it doesn’t really mean much in terms of what the person experiencing someone else’s emotions goes through, it’s just something to think about.   We may never know the answer, if there is one.

For folks who are sensing someone’s emotions from across town, that’s definitely still a psychic ability.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Rattling Cages

It’s funny how we accept certain things as truths and then forget to ever question them again.  We think of ourselves as wild and free pagans who color outside the lines and are our own independent thinking creative selves, not adhering to anyone’s dogma.

And we’re wrong.

How many people in the pagan community, when asked about the use of sage in ritual would say “Oh, that’s for purification”?  Or if handed a piece of hematite would ask “Do I look like I need grounding or something?”  We accept little things like this as truth because everyone says it’s true.

But is it?

Personally, I can’t figure out why anyone thinks hematite is grounding at all.  It’s shiny silver on the outside and blood red on the inside, and I find it to be quite a pick-me-up to hold onto.  But if I tell the average pagan or new age person that, they tell me I’m mistaken.    I can’t get near fluorite for any length of time because it winds up falling to pieces just being near me.  Other people think it’s the most awesome stone ever because it’s so versatile, magically speaking.

Chamomile is also supposed to be soothing and calming, but since I’m allergic to it I just itch and get an upset stomach if I touch or consume it.  It’s a medical truth that chamomile calms a lot of people down, but I don’t react the same way.  I also don’t find caffeine to be a stimulant, it just doesn’t seem to affect me.  Roses are totally soothing for me, but deadly for someone I work with.  The scent of amber makes my throat start to close, while patchouli does that to someone else I know.

“But that’s just body chemistry”, some people have said.  So what’s the difference?  We’re all individuals, and we don’t react to everything the same way physically.  Why wouldn’t that same truth apply to us energetically, psychically, and metaphysically?

We have to be ok with each other having different reactions to energy, or we’re just being hypocrites when we say we accept each other’s differences in our community. If one of us has a reaction to energy, gemstones, herbs or food that isn’t typical, then we just need to accept it and move on instead of trying to “fix” the person (as I’ve had a few try to do with me).

We’re not cookie-cutter people, we’re individuals.  So maybe we shouldn’t just blindly accept what someone tells us is a fact in our fluid changing world, and think about it for ourselves.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Let's talk Initiation

Before I get started, I want to be clear that I'm not asking anyone to divulge oathbound secrets on a blog on the Internet.  But in the 25+ years I've been practicing Wicca, I've noticed some unusual happenings pertaining to the initiatory experience that I'd like to explore, hopefully with input from others who are comfortable talking about it.

If you don't know, I generally work within a mostly Wiccan tradition of the sort practiced before the Llewellyn books were widely available.  A lot of the current eclectic Wiccan traditions don't resemble what I do, although that doesn't make them invalid for the folks practicing them.  It's just different.

That said, I've worked in a 3-degree system for most of my adult life (well, aside from the 4th degree initiation I received that's such a mystery I wasn't really told anything about it before or afterward).

To prepare folks for initiation, I was taught that fasting for 4-6 hours was preferable, abstaining from nicotine, caffeine, or any mind-altering substance was mandatory, and that eating a vegan diet for 3-7 days prior was ideal.  For people on prescription medication, that's not always possible.  Most smokers can't go 4-6 hours without nicotine, and most coffee/soda drinkers can't abide the idea of going that long without caffeine.  The folks who don't follow the rules I was originally given are usually the ones most likely to have some sort of negative experience after the initiation, though.

I've seen a lot of different things happen to folks after their initiation, whether I was involved or not, and some of them were more negative than others.  Always on the lookout to improve the experience for everyone, I'm interested in feedback from anyone who either recognizes these or has something else to add to the list.

After-effects of Initiation:
  1. Fatigue – is this normal, as a result of energy channels (meridians?) opening wider from the initiatory experience, or is it a result of too much energy being flooded through someone?  How do we measure or regulate how much energy one uses to initiate?
  2. Confusion – I think when confusion happens and someone is “thinking fuzzy” for a few days after initiation, it may be a result of improper grounding, or something has gone wrong with the integration process of the new energy assimilating into the existing system to create the change that goes with initiation.
  3. Hyper-awareness, Insomnia – lumped these together because they can be sort of related.  The initiate is highly stimulated by the initiatory experience, but they can’t ground enough to sleep, and the heightened sensory input that sometimes accompanies initiation also keeps them from relaxing.  In some cases, they may need to be grounded by someone else if they’re unable to make it work.  This should happen before they leave the place of initiation, to make sure this “hyper” state doesn’t kick in later as it sometimes does.
  4. “Purging” – I’ve seen everything from profuse sweating (elevated body temperature), diarrhea, vomiting, to gallstone or kidney stones post-initiation – sometimes even just after a Reiki attunement.  I still don’t have a handle on this one, but I’m betting that it has something to do with pre-initiation preparations not done right.
  5. Sex drive – this one might be normal, but I’ve seen both elevated and depressed sex drive in people post-initiation, with no discernible pattern to indicate a cause either way.
  6. Flu-like symptoms – In at least two occurrences, I’ve seen post-initiation illnesses that appeared to be like a bout of the flu.  Is it possible that in certain circumstances the immune system is suppressed by the initiatory experience, making the initiate more susceptible to infection?
  7. Fainting – had a big strapping lad pass out once, but later we found out that he fasted longer than instructed, so combined with the hot bath pre-initiation and the flood of energy coming at him as he approached the circle, the fainting wasn’t a surprise.  The fainting afterward also wasn’t a surprise, but we fed him up and he seemed fine later, although he stopped practicing the Craft and couldn’t really explain why.

Your thoughtful responses are of course appreciated  :)