25 January 2011

Spells... mundane and ethical considerations

I want to write about spellwork, since this is the most asked question I get. I won't bother with the does it work or not, its not my job to convince you if your not interested. However for those who are interested here are my thoughts.

Mundane considerations....

No spell will function properly without the mundane work and just because a spell works, even if you get exactly what you ask for, doesn't mean it will all work out for the best. As an extreme example, say someone did a spell to get a specific job and gets it, however if they are not truly qualified and capable of the job they will end up getting fired, their professional reputation will be harmed and in the end they will be worse off then before and that is assuming they don't end up getting charged with some sort of crime for falsifying their abilities. Also, to follow the previous example, if you don't apply for jobs, your find work spell is not exactly likely to work.

There are three things that should be considered before any spell work.

One, is what you think you want, actually what you want. Do your research on it, whatever  it is. Think of all the people who go to college to get a degree then find out they don't like the work that they just spent years and tens of thousands of dollars to get.

Two, if you get what you ask for is it actually something you are ready for... mentally, physically, spiritually. This is an entirely personal judgment call and that honest self examination is probably the hardest thing of all.

Three, do some divination to see where that spell may take you, what may happen and if this is the right thing for your life path. Sometimes getting the thing we want now actually takes us down a different path then is actually intended for our lives.

Ethical considerations...

Using magic is no different then using any other tools when considering ethics. If you wouldn't do it with mundane methods, then you shouldn't do it with magic either. Lets say you could make a million dollars appear out of thin air (Nope, you can't but follow me here) this would mean one of two things... either the money was taken from somewhere, in which case it is theft OR it was manufactured out of thin air, in which case it is counterfeiting. If for some reason you'd still be alright with that, well there are much simpler and mundane methods to do so.

Curses, I'm not a fan. However, if someone is doing something illegal and the cops aren't catching them, well a little spell to cause all evidence of their crimes to find their way to the right authorities would in my opinion be fine. After all, if you turn out to be wrong about their criminal behavior for some reason, then there wouldn't be any evidence and there is no harm done. If you wouldn't murder them or torture them with mundane means, why would you think it would be ethical to do it magically?

23 January 2011

My view on private Pagan libraries

I highly recommend that every Pagan, Wiccan and Heathen have their own private library.

Books I highly recommend for a good understanding for your private library of the history, philosophy,  practices of the modern Wicca and Pagan religion.

Isaac Bonewits- Bonewits's Essential guide to Witchcraft and Wicca
Isaac Bonewits- Real Magic
Margot Adler- Drawing Down the Moon
Starhawk-The Spiral Dance
Starhawk-The Earth Path
Michael York- Pagan Theology
T. Thorn Coyle- Evolutionary Witchcraft
Ronald Hutton- Triumph of the Moon
Robin Wood- When, Why...If

Topics that should be represented for expanded world view. Each of these have a special value in creating the larger picture of thought and practice. There are more ways to go with each of these subjects that whatever your preference you can find ones that fit your vision, yet still give you more information then you had before.

General Topics
World Religions, World mythology, Psychology, Anthropology, Optical Illusions, Labyrinths, Cooking, Gardening, Sustainable Living, History, Rites of Passage, Logic, Art, Music, Theatre, Divination, Physics, History of Science, Alternative Architecture,

Then you should have at least 4 books on whatever tradition you are most interested in. Over half those books should be on the traditional culture that its about, with the smaller part being modern practice.

Specific Traditions
Celtic/Druid, Norse/Teutonic/Heathen, Wicca (If you're claiming Wicca you better be familiar with Gerald Gardner), Hellenic, Egyptian, etc. I'm a believer that the re-creationists library should have about 95% scholarly texts regarding their tradition. If you're going to recreate the ancient practices you need to know all you can about the culture, philosophy, religious practices, political history and interaction with other cultures that you can to fully understand their mind set.

Eclectic Paths
While this is often viewed as an anything goes sort of way to do things, it shouldn't be. Usually there will be some defining feature that links the various parts of your path. That can be about anything from the garden to cooking to philosophy to healing to science to anthropology to meditation to a focus on one tradition with add ins from other traditions in an attempt to enhance the basis. Total whatever goes is really chaos magic/spirituality. Which has its place in the grand scheme of things as well, though I suppose its to much to ask the chaos folks to admit their chaos... perhaps that isn't chaotic enough of me?

22 January 2011

Dedication, Initiation and traditions

This is basically a discussion of terms and definitions that I believe are essential to the discussion of Wicca and Pagan traditions, though just as valid for others as well in my opinion. I agree with many that the terms initiation and Wicca are thrown around to lightly by some. For me this isn't a matter of status or exclusion, but rather simply a matter of accurate communication.

Self initiation seems to me like reading a bunch of books on physics without any classes and declaring yourself a physicist. I'd say a scholar perhaps, but not a physicist. This isn't to say you can't learn a lot and sometime even know more then someone who has done the work to become a physicist. It has more to with giving the term for someone who earned the title and respect of others who also did so. I am a firm believer in the validity of self dedication, but its not the same as initiation. You simply can not perform the rites of initiation on yourself, since part of an initiation is not knowing entirely what is going to happen. It is in part that feeling of uncertainty and mystery of the moment that one simply can not do if they are in control of the situation. Only the most extreme fundy Pagan and Wiccan have a problem with self dedication, but I can certainly understand the term self initiation rubbing people the wrong way.

Wicca, despite the many random Wicca books available, is a specific tradition with specific practices. There are a few different branches, but they all stem from Gardner. I have some Wiccan training and use the basic form, but I would not call myself Wiccan. Its not my tradition no matter how similar in form we are. I prefer the term Pagan, though even that is a questionable term. I'd be much happier with the more creative Wicca books if they called themselves “insert term” Paganism, rather then Wicca.

Pagan or more appropriately NeoPagan, is the modern term used for those who practice an Earth based spirituality that may or may not have specific historical traditions. These can be from recreationists that try to duplicate ancient traditions to people who pick and choose from all available ideas to create something uniquely their own, and everything in between.

Tradition, what gets me is the number of people who created their own tradition. I don't understand that generally. Tradition takes much more then one persons practice or even one groups. For the first group its their practice, when other groups start separating off then I'd say its sect (yeah my religious studies classes are showing, but then ass other groups start breaking off of those and hundreds of people are now doing what the first group is doing, only then can you really start calling yourself a tradition. Also if each group is breaking off and then modifying what is done, its not a tradition. You wouldn't say Christmas Palm trees are traditional, but they are still part of some peoples practice. That is the sort of distinction I'm trying to make with this.

Another term that causes a lot of confusion is Witchcraft. I don't think there is an easy answer for this one. Much like Pagan this is a sort of blanket term that covers a lot of area and worse yet is that different people using the term don't want to be associated with others that also use the term. A Wiccan is a type of Witch, but there are also Satanic Witches and atheistic Witches that despise when people say Witchcraft is a religion. I'd say I have to side with the atheistic Witches on this one. Witchcraft is essentially a series of practices involving herb lore, spellcraft, etc... but there could be a dozen people using the same spells, herbs and tools, but each could be different religions. So I'd have to say Witchcraft is a type of practice and one that is very eclectic in borrowing whatever works. Many Witches are spiritual or even religious, but the practice is not in and of itself religious.

Essential References for basic Pagan Scholarship

Margot Adler- Drawing Down the Moon

Isaac Bonewits- Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca

Ronald Hutton- Triumph of the Moon

Starhawk- The Spiral Dance

Michael York- Pagan Theology