Nov 21, 2017

I Am a Witch, I Am Not Wiccan

I am a "New Age" witch with an interest in ceremonial magic[k], but I am not a Wiccan.  Though I may draw some inspiration from various schools of Wicca, I follow my own path.  I am a psychowitch and a linguitch.  These distinctions are important because I do not want those I interact with in the pagan and occult community to make assumptions about my path.

I am a witch because ...

... I put stones in my pockets and under my pillow as folk remedes.
... I practice divination--particularly cartomancy with Tarot.
... I ceremoniously light candles with intent.
... I commune with the "familiar spirits" of my unconscious mind.
... I am my own priest.
... I engage in ceremonial magick for the purpose of spiritual fulfillment,

I am not a Wiccan because ...

... I do not worship "The" Goddess and God as a dualist, polarized divinity.  {Though a parental pair of Mother and Father are chief among the archetypes I venerate.}
... I do not celebrate the reconstructionist Sabats of the Wheel of the Year.  {Though I do mark the passage of the year with the solar holidays.}
... I am not morally bound to the Rede, nor do I cite it as credo.  {Though I do believe in practicing magick responsibly, accepting the conseqences of my actions.}
... My personal, magickal reference and journal is not a Book of Shadows.  {Though I do keep a Book that is a collection of my magickal understanding.}
... I do not associate with the pentacle as a symbol of my faith or my magickal practice.  {Though I do use the symbol in my craft, it is one of several polygrams.}
... I do not unitize a pentacle as a tool, nor an athame.  {Though I do use a paten and am hoping to consecrate a dagger when i find the right one.}
... My directional correspondences (and corresponding "quarter calls") are based on my physical location in the world, and are not fixed by dogma.

Being Wiccan means ascribing to a particular set of terminology that unites the practitioners of that tradition.  The trapping of my own path are too personal, and the terms and correspondences that "resonate" with me often replace those used by this tradition.

Am I a Good Witch or a Bad Witch?

I strive to be a Wonderful Wizard, but have yet to earn that title.  For all the good he did for Oz, and later Dorothy, the Wizard was still selfish and self-serving.  He rode the balance between Good and Bad.

Nov 17, 2017

Personal Bibliography of Magick

While I have read and referenced more books than those listed here (both in b=past and recently), it is these books which I have retained as influences--in the past ecause I remember them, and in the present because some part of them has "resonated" with me,

Magickal Awakening (c.2002 – c.2007)

The books that resonate with my past show that my interest in Magick was in part connected with an attempt at coming to terms with my budding sexuality.  While I consider my sexality a major part of my spiritualty, it is not so central to my path as it had once been.

Primary Texts

Cunninham, Scott.  Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.  1st edition, revised.  Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 1988, 2002.
Easwaran, Eknath.  The Mantram Handbook.  4th, revised ed.  Tomales, Calif: Nilgiri Press, 1998.   
Ford, Michael Thomas.  The Path of the Green Man: Gay Men, Wicca, and Living a Magical Life.  New York, N.Y.: Citadel Press, 2005.
Johnson, Toby.  Gay Spirituality.
Penczak, Christopher.  Gay Witchcraft: Empowering the Tribe.  York Beach, Maine: Red Wheel / Weiser, 2003.
_____.  Sons of the Goddess: A Young Man’s Guide to Wicca.  Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2005.

Reference Works

Conner, Randolph P. Lundschen, David Hatfield Sparks, and Mariya Sparks.  Cassell’s Encyclopedia of Queer Myth, Symbols and Spirit: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Lore.  London: Cassell, 1997.
Hall, Judy.  The Crystal Bible: A Definitive Guide to Crystals.  Cincinnati, Ohio: Walking Stick Press, 2004.
Kaplan, Stuart R.  Tarot Classic.  Stamford, Conn.:  U.S. Games Systems, 1972.
Wilkinson, Richard H.  The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt.  New York, N.Y.:  Thames & Hudson, 2003. 

Magickal Renaissance (c.2016 – Present) 

Recently, I have been drawn to books relative to Chaos Magic and the Left-Hand Path.  This is a desire to learn about all dualities of magick, that I may forge a person "grey" path.

Primary Texts

LaVey, Anton Szandor.  The Satanic Bible.  New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, 1969, 2005.
Penczak, Christopher.  City Magick: Spells, Rituals, and Symbols for the Urban Witch.  San Francisco, Calif.: Weiser Books, 2001.
Tyson, Donald.  The New Magus: Ritual Magic as a Personal Process.  St. Paul, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 1988.
U.D., Frater.  Practical Sigil Magic: Creating Personal Symbols for Success. 2nd ed.   Translate by Ingrid Fischer.  Woodbury, Minn.: Llewellyn Publications, 2012.
Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon and the Grey Council.  Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.  Pompton Plains, N.J.: New Page Books, 2004.

Reference Works

LaVey, Anton Szandor.  The Satanic Rituals.  New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, 1972.
Simon.  The Necronomicon.  New York, N.Y.: Avon Books, 1977.

Sep 22, 2017

Death: the Eternal Other & the Secret Order of Priesthood

12: Delve into “Afterlife” or “Ancestors”. How do those ideas play out in your worldview? In your spiritual practice?

Death, like God, is a Great Unknowable.  I have, therefore, personified it as part of god--an aspect of the Eternal Other.  The Other encompasses several aspects of deity commonly feared:  Death, the Devil / Adversary, and the Trickster.  This archetype takes the form of Trickster in our youth, teaching us; Devil as we grow into adulthood; and Death as we near the end of our lives.  It is ever all three aspects, only the way we interact with it changes as we grow.  As Death, the Other is psychopomp, ruler of the underworld, and even the underworld itself.  If there is an afterlife, it is communion with the Other.

The secrets of death can only be revealed to those who have experienced it.  For me, the "afterlife" is the promise to earn this knowledge--what I have called the Secret Order of Priesthood.  For every divine archetype, there is an "Order of Priesthood," each with its own priests and rites--though these orders are less formal that an be found in most ecclesiastic traditions. Following this metaphor, an ancestor is a priest of this Order--having the authority to perform on our behalf those rites and rituals which we are not yet prepared to know or understand.  While not every ancestor seeks such an ordination, we cannot know which have or have not.  Therefore, we must treat all ancestors as priests.

In my book of shadows (lowercase because this is not a proper noun for me), I have a page early on entitled "The Family Departed."  Here, I have a list that includes: two great-grandparents (whom I did not meet, but are connected to me through my given name); four grandparents (only two of whom I met, one of which passesd away recently); a nephew who passed in infancy; a friend who took his own life; and a beloved pet.  These are the "ancestors" that I honor, and the ones I feel have authority to intercede on my behalf in whatever afterlife is to come.  I have considered adding elder ancestors to the list as well--in particular two patriarchs of my surname.

I do not claim to have any knowledge of what is beyond death.  I cannot know that.  Nor can I truly know the role our ancestors (or any other of the dead) could play in that scenario.  What makes sense to me is that this inability to know is paramount--and I respect that lack of capacity to understand.

Sep 21, 2017

Three Concepts

#10:  Discuss offerings.  What does that look like for you?
#11:  Engage with the theme of “sacrifice”  What does that mean to you?
#20:  ... Does “gratitude” have a role in your practice?

I choose to tackle these three prompts at once because, in my past, these concepts--Offerings, Sacrifice, and Gratitude--were all all connected with each other.  Coming from a conservative, [quasi-]Christian background, these terms have very particular meaning.  Because of this (at least in part), I have not considered these concepts much as they relate to my current path.

While preparing a personal/household communion a few days ago, I began to hum a hymn I used to sing in my youth.  Not only does this hymn embody all three concepts as they relate to the faith of my upbringing--humming it when I did drew attention to the fact that I was engaging in an act of offering.

"Because I Have Been Given Much" 
Because I have been given much,
I too must give;
Because of thy great bounty Lord,
Each day I live;
I shall divide my gifts from thee
With every brother that I see
Who has the need of help from me. 
Because I have been sheltered, fed
By thy good care;
I cannot see another’s lack and I not share;
My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,
my roof's safe shelter overhead
That he too may be comforted. 
Because I have been blessed by
thy great love dear Lord;
I’ll share thy love again
According to thy word;
I shall give love to those in need,
I’ll show that love by word and deed;
Thus shall my thanks be thanks in deed. 
Music by Phillip Landgrave (1975)
Lyrics by Grace Noll Crowell (1936)

As part of my personal path, I have adapted the "Sacrament" rite of the Mormon faith (called "Communion" by mainstream Christian tradition).  I use prayers modified to my archetypes to bless consumable emblems (usually bread and wine, but could just as easily be cookies and Kool-Aid), which I then partake of to forge a connection between me and the divine (and occasionally, my household community).  The portion which remains uneaten is left on the altar for a few days as a reminder of the rite--but could also be considered an offering to the Divine.  Offerings, for me, are therefore tied to communion.

As we are all reflections of the Eternal Child-becoming-Hero, this communion is also symbolic of the "Brotherhood of Humanity."  Here, the concepts and gratitude and sacrifice come to play.  To show gratitude to the universe for what I have, any excess should be shared with (scarified to) those in need.  Excess is an important distinction here.  I am responsible for seeing to my own needs and the needs of my family first--and if I cannot are for them, then I must seek assistance myself.

There are other forms of gratitude and sacrifice, ones more specific to neopagan practices, that I have not yet formalized as they relate to my path.  I do not harvest must from nature, so do not always  have a need to thank the spirits of the forest for their own sacrifice to my work.

Sep 15, 2017

"Zoramite" Spirituality 101

#8:  Recommend 3 books! 

I've already name-dropped several books in my response to #2.  For anyone interested in understanding me and my path, I would certainly recommend checking out the books mentioned in that post, as well as the following.  These could be considered the "texts" of an Introduction to Spirituality course in my personal tradition--or at least the direction it has taken in the last year.  I do not know if they are classics or even if they are respected in any way.  Heck, they even seem to draw from different traditions of witchcraft.  I do know that they helped me, in whole or in part, in discovering my current path.

Penczak, Christopher.  City Magick: Spells, Rituals, and Symbols for the Urban Witch. Weiser Books. San Francisco, Cali.; 2001, 2012.

While it opens as any other introduction to magick primer, it does so to establish a foundation for the hypothetical tradition to come.  The Worldscraper cosmology and the series of streetwalking meditations capture well the essence of the urban environment--as does Penczak's exploration of common city locales as magickal places.  My biggest takeaway from this book is that one's tradition can be personal--that it can be based on what has gone before, but still be tailored to one's own, preferred imagery.

Tyson, Donald.  The New Magus: Ritual Magic as a Personal Process.  Llewellyn Publications. St. Paul, Minn.; 1988.

The opening chapters of Tyson's "Macrocosm" section speak very closely to my understanding of the nature of the universe.  While I don't completely agree with everything Tyson says, there are alterations that he makes to "traditional" magic (based on his personal understanding) that just make sense to me. I'm still processing this book, reading it one or two sections at a time, so that I can appreciate his way of expressing perspectives that we share--and to at least understand those perspectives I do not agree with.  

Zell-Ravenheart, Oberon.  Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard.  New Page Books.  Franklin Lakes, N.J.; 2004.

Though geared for younger spell-workers starting their journey, there is a lot of information in this book.  It is the first place I saw a break-down of a full circle ritual--not just how to cast the circle, but but the peripheral and core stages of the ritual as well.  It serves as both a lesson manual and a reference book--kind of like a boy scout handbook for witches.  It collects in a single volume the random information that I otherwise find scattered across the internet.

Special Honorable Mention:

Crapo, E. N., ed.  The Salt and the Light.  Available online at:  Apr 2012 - Dec 2015.

This prose poetry project includes a lot about my thought on the nature of spirituality, as well as insight into my take on channeling and revelation.  Not every section should be taken as seriously as others. I am currently working on a compilation and revision of these "revelations" called the Unorganite Testament.  In this revision, I am removing those sections which were written solely to prove one point or another, and I am leaving those portions which I consider relevant to my current path.  Some sections will be in their own "books," the rest will be renumbered in relatively the same order (as the "Book of Hoteph"), and new revelations are being added. Such a revision and compilation is consistent with the tradition I originally chose to mimic.  Spiritually is fluid, and revision of divine revelation reflects that.
Please keep in mind that I do not believe that I have a unique, personal relationship with "GOD" that allows me to act as "his" mouthpiece [for anyone other than myself].  Indeed, many of these sections have no revealing entity at all.  They are automatic writings edited from my own experiences.