The Pyramid of Magick

To attain the SANCTUM REGNUM, in other words, the knowledge and power of the Magi, there are four indispensable conditions–an intelligence illuminated by study, an intrepidity which nothing can check, a will which cannot be broken, and a prudence which nothing can corrupt and nothing intoxicate. TO KNOW, TO DARE, TO WILL, TO KEEP SILENCE–such are the four words of the Magus, inscribed upon the four symbolical forms of the sphinx.” - Eliphas Levi

Early on this path I came across the above passage and didn’t fully understand what it meant until I actually started to practice magick. I only revisited it recently when my 8 year old daughter decided that she, too, was a witch and demanded that I teach her the Arte. Well, I have no background whatsoever with children’s magick; except to say my past experiences with kids have produced their own natural kind of effects. So I thought the best thing to do was begin like I would with any student who came to me for training...just dumbed down a little.

We started with meditation, as it is the foundation of all spirit work. Learning how to clear her mind, imagine a blank movie screen from which she could project simple images at first then hold more detailed pictures progressively was quite easy for her. It was a few months later she came asking for MORE training and I was at a loss where to begin. She really was passionate about jumping in to make potions, burn stuff and couldn’t wait to tell her friends at school about what we were doing. It was then I reminded myself about the foundational ‘rules’ of magick, and thought perhaps to explore them with my little witchlet.

TO KNOW

It is said ‘knowledge is power’, when concerning magick it is only half true. Studying, accumulating data, learning about various tools of the trade are all part of this ‘knowing’. But just like any other skill, having the books and correspondence lists really only takes you so far. Developing relationship with herbs, stones, properties of colors and omens can be considered with discernment when making choices for spellwork and magickal operations. As I put it to my daughter, the ABC’s are only understandable when you see how they relate to an object; A is for ‘Apple’, and adoration; B is for ‘Belladonna’ and it’s baneful beauty, etc. We learn by seeing, hearing, touching and smelling...exposing her since of walking age to the plants, stones and anima of our garden taught her what they look like, how they help or hex. Eventually the knowledge of these spirit allies have their own secret lessons to pass on for her.

TO WILL

Being compassionate of the ones around us, having empathy for other creatures and persons, reaching out with our own ‘spidey senses’ often drives our motives for magick. Enthusiasm spurs forward our personal drive to do things others only have fantasies, or nightmares, about. Doing magick is not something we do out of pure boredom or to appear powerful to others...although glamour has it’s own effectiveness, it’s not reason enough for bending the universe. Her will gives inspiration to do what needs to be done. Having a clear vision of the end results, an idea of what she wants to accomplish, can help determine the goals of magick. I tell her, we don’t make the time to find a good cake recipe and assemble ingredients to just make a batter… we follow through to have a beautiful, yummy cake in the end. This action is taken to deliberately DO something, not to satisfy an impulse; so it is with magick. Otherwise it is the same as a sloppy, half baked cake no one wants to eat.

TO DARE

Witches do not fear, I tell my daughter. In the lonely woods, on a dark crossroads, at a haunted house the magick worker should be brave and honest of their uneasy feelings. Since a toddler, I have explained that should she ever be afraid the spirits of our Ancestors, the allies of the Land and our Gods are there to surround and protect her. She need only call on them. Sometimes these anxieties are more than our imaginings, our intuitions are telling us there is something stronger than ourselves lurking out there and meaning real harm. This is when we need to call out the ‘big guns’. To challenge ourselves is part of growth, how we become stronger by overcoming this trepidation, but armed with the knowledge of our own limitations. But the main point of this ‘daring’ is to not put ourselves in harm’s way, I tell my little one...it is to jump into that deep end of the pool after our years of swimming lessons are over.

TO KEEP SILENT

This, I told my daughter, is by far the most important lesson a witch should heed. After all is said and done...the Gods and spirits invoked, the things burned, and the spell has been sung we are to sit in the stillness of our mind and wait. The patience of watching for our intended results is exciting, so much that often we wish to share the wonder and miracle of our magick with the whole world. And many do. A quick tour through Pinterest, Instagram and other social media clearly shows there are many self-proclaimed magick workers who are either bragging or not really manifesting. That is, unless the intentional working includes the general public to VIEW this working. Magick, I tell her, is a mystery which must only be shared by others who understand it; and only after the results have been seen. It’s like planning and making decorations a surprise party for someone we really care about, and showing them before the event; it ruins the wonderment and satisfaction of seeing the delight on their face. In the case of witchcraft, she sadly had to hear, it is also a practicality: long ago witches were killed for their Arte, and still are in some parts of the world. It is still a dangerous practice others do not understand and are fearful of… and that ignorance is dangerous.

We are still digesting and learning how to apply these guidelines to our Arte. We have yet to actually perform a ritual spell together, but the time will come soon enough. The seeds of magick have been planted, tended and her little garden weeded of bullshit the outside world has planted to usurp the imagination she naturally possesses. As the magic of children begins wearing off with age, it is my hope these lessons will stick to her heart as the craft develops and blossoms there.

Episode 2 of Podcast is UP!

Thanks to everyone for listening to the show! I have uploaded the newest episode on the static page of The Podcast , but I will upload to a post too to see if it's easier for everyone. Leave some feedback, let me know which you prefer, and see some of you at Pantheacon. [audio mp3="http://www.psychopompgroupie.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Episode2_Praxis.mp3"][/audio]

 

 

The Yuletide Crèche

Christmas was my favourite time of year as a young Catholic girl. It was really the only part of the year I actually liked attending mass. Our church would be decorated with swags of evergreens, filling the air with a smell of frankincense and forests. I sang in the church choir one year too, accompanied by a grand piano and violin for midnight mass. The intimate ritual of family Advent, with the candle lighting and quiet prayers, was always accompanied by some kind of dessert or treat made by my mother. The best part, in my secret pagan heart, was stories of the Nativity. All these wonderful and magickal characters captured my imagination: the Virgin, the miraculous Baby, an Angel, the Star, the traveling Magi... all waiting in anticipation. It was also very confusing as a naturally inquisitive person: where does Santa come in? How did Joseph feel about his new betrothed already being pregnant with child? And by an ANGEL, no less? Pretty heavy stuff, even for a 9 year old. I would sit under the glowing Christmas tree, we always had a real one, and look deeply at this little crèche my mother had purchased before I was born. The little stable held within some animals and all the participants of the winter mystery, including a cute little baby Jesus in a manger; sometimes us girls would use our finger to 'rock' the infant God, soothe and console Him. It was rustic looking and realistic, not at all like some of these garish things made in China these days. There was a wind-up music box in the back which played “Silent Night”. Of all the Christmas things, all three of us girls loved this Nativity scene the most.

Over the years the holidays changed, as it always does when we grow older. The hardest part wasn't letting Santa go (I was actually told VERY early on the truth of this devil), it was the complete discovery that my parents were fallible humans. They split up on Christmas Day, my youngest sister's birthday too. Right there at the dinner table, my mother told my Dad she was done. Now, I knew this was coming...she had said something a few days earlier whilst folding laundry together. But she promised to wait until after the holidays. I wasn't sad, in fact I fully supported my mother's decision. Even at the ripe old age of 12 I knew my parents weren't good for each other. Mom got drunk (they both rarely drink, still) and fell asleep in my bed. Which meant I shared a bed with Dad, who cried all night. It was the first and last time I ever saw my Dad cry, all 6'4” of him. When he finally was quietly snoring, I lay there and prayed to God. I was thinking about how my parents told me divorce was a sin, and the church did not allow it. Would I still be allowed to go to church? My Confirmation was coming up too, did I even believe in God? Then all those questions and doubts I had hidden away in my heart, that I dared not consider, came rushing up. I questioned all religion afterwards and my spiritual search officially began.

But every Christmas, even as an adult, I got out that crèche to ponder these mysterious questions. I remember the early joys of Christmas and try to recapture the spirit of the season. Unfortunately, a slacker ex-boyfriend allowed a storage unit's fees to lapse whilst I was abroad, and the crèche was lost. A lot of my childhood collections of books and toys were lost too, but nothing hurt so much as that old, breaking Christmas scene my mother had trusted to my care. Then 10 years ago I moved in with my boyfriend; his mom loaded me down with all his Christmas stuff from childhood too... low and behold, he had the exact same crèche! Yes, one of the animals was missing, but I didn't care. When I wound up the music and heard those familiar metal notes, tears came streaming down my cheeks. It is only now, when our daughter enjoys looking at and playing with it every year, does my husband understand why I wept that day.

Our family creche. Princess Merida is our daughter's addition to the nativity scene.
Our family creche: Princess Merida is our daughter's addition to the nativity scene.

 

PBP: “X” is for Xmas

I loathe the holiday season. The commercialism, sudden surge of goodwill, and the “put the Christ back in Christmas” bullshit all gets on my last nerve. I go into social hibernation shortly after Halloween, hoping not to see anyone until the New Year. It's like those folks who think it is sacrilegious in using 'X' to shorten the holiday's name: a short-hand version used primarily by advertisers in early 20th century America... it might actually have a more sacred meaning if the followers of Jesus looked more closely.

A few years back, some Christians decided to wage a war against secularists or others who don't take the “Christ” so seriously around this time of year.

But for us as Christians, this is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas. They're happy to say merry Xmas. Let's just take Jesus out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ” - quote from evangelist Franklin Graham on CNN (2005).

There are so many things wrong with this statement and attitude surrounding the issue, but they have failed to actually do any sort of research;  even Christian preachers should be able to use wikipedia. If so, they would know the use of 'X' goes back to the beginning of the religious movement. X is actually the Greek uppercase letter of Chi, adding the letter P as Rho and we get the labarum ( ), an ancient symbol representing the Christos, or Christ. So literally, when people are using the abbreviated version these evangelicals loathe and take offense of so much... they are giving MORE spiritual and historical relevance in modern 'christmas' by  putting the Χριστος where it belongs.

Since having a family I am now forced to create some kind of traditional thing or carry on those I had growing up with. Since I was Catholic, my mother, sisters and I participated in Advent a few times and the beauty of midnight mass. I remember being bored to tears with the baby Jesus story and waiting for the magickal moment when we lit the candles... I can see why the Jews started doing Hanukkah. This ancient symbol of a light in the darkness of winter heralds back to even further through my genes and my mother's intention of re-building it after she took German in high school. On December 6th we would receive a visit from Saint Nicholas, a tradition held mainly by Catholics in Germanic countries. A lot like Santa (whom I was terrified of... come on: big red guy, scrambled Satan letters, sneaks in after dark whilst all the adults are asleep; more like a nightmare than some sugar plumb fairies), except being Old School he brought hard candies, nuts and fruit... yippee.

The treats of St. Nick were still better than the alternative: rocks and twigs. It was only later when  researching these traditions  that I re-discovered the Krampus! Now that was something to truly be terrified of! Hairy beasts roaming the city streets and countryside on the night before Saint Nicholas' feast, being invited into homes by parents for beer and snacks only to judge the wicked children from the good. If they were the former, they would be dragged off by the Krampus, usually thrown in a sack to be beaten with twigs and carried off to their lair. What happens at that point, I don't wish to find out... but I think it would be awesome if we resurrected this fearsome character!

The winter months used to be a time of darkness, hope and family as we rarely went out, conserved the foodstuff and counted our blessings. This is the tradition I have always hung onto and try to share with my daughter...

PBP: “Q” is for Queenly Ways

Playing with my daughter, I notice she is much more 'girly' than I was at her age. I never wanted to be a princess, waiting for some prince to rescue me. When I was a kid the only role models I had which even remotely reflected what I could aspire to be were more like She-Ra (a tough and tumble feminist), Rainbow Brite (who was really more like Strawberry Shortcake as a thoughtless little girl), and Barbie (ruining girls' self images since before my mother was born). We were playing in my daughter's princess dresses (she settled on Merida) when she told me “Mommy, I am the princess and you're the Queen, okay?” I asked her, “Why do I have to be the Queen? Why can't I be the witch in the dungeon?” And she reminded me: “Mommy, Queens can be witches TOO!” She made a good point. This reminds me of the 'sovereignty' which has been a theme in the Pagan community lately. Here in the Bay Area, I am blessed with seeing the microcosm reflecting the greater magickal population, at least I think it's fair to say. It started flowing through with the work of T. Thorne Coyle with Morpheus Ravenna and the Priests of the Coru Cathubodua at Pantheacon last year... a blood ritual to the Morrigan. It was through this donated blood which participants became part of the same tribe, under the leadership of this Queen. And what does this mean, 'sovereignty', for the Pagan community in general, not just devotees of the Morrigan? Why would a bloody war Goddess be interested in modern Pagans embracing their own power and independent nature? Does Be-ing a Queen mean authority of others as well? Is it a superiority complex or Satanic focus of Self fulfilling prophecies? Perhaps it's not so much this particular deity/entity/Be-ing which is requiring it, or should I say commanding us all to look at self rule.

The sorority of feminine sovereignty is pretty big: ancient Ishtar/Inanna, Babalon of the New Aeon, blood thirsty Queens such as Morrigan and Kali; red dakinis are reaching out in Her name as Lilith and Tara/Kurukulla. Heeding the call are priestesses, witches, energy workers, and many others who are attuned with the currents our planet passes through. This wave of new generation community leaders reflects how our Paganism is evolving and changing with the times. They are initiating and ushering new ways of thinking and practicing ancient concepts. I was deeply reminded of this during conversation with another initiator in this sovereign wave, Lasara Firefox Allen; Priestess, International Author, Educator, and Activist for sexual liberation and revolution. Allen published Sexy Witch (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide) and  is currently preparing to facilitate a weekend workshop she has titled “Embracing the Red Queen: Women, Competition, Cooperation and Co-Creation”; an intensive She reminded me that the actual etymological root for the word Queen is actually “wife”... “a sovereign woman as in one who does not need a King... (symbolic of ) the evolution of consciousness”. This is interesting in that lineages were at one point carried through the royal lines of women... a King was made by the Queen he married, not the other way around. Women are learning to have worth not in comparison to her consort, but standing in her own community of women.

From "Through the Looking Glass", 'Queen Alice' by John Tenniel.

 

For Lasara Allen, the Red Queen is not just the Sacred Whore but a kind of 'egregore' which has evolved from the consciousness of all the ones who connect with this red current, something beyond the simple Archetype. “For now just think of it as RED; power, sex, love, anger, passion, desire, strength, blood, wounds, healing, birth, death. QUEEN” (Lasara Firefox Allen). Something I have known for a long time, and that is also a factor for many other women, is that ladies have a tendency to “tear each other down”; sure we might be supportive face to face, but even at rituals or other public events I have overheard the cattiness which still lingers, usually spurned by envy or cowardice. Allen explained to me how “Women do not have a language for competition... this is about stepping into full power, full actualization”. She describes a place many feminists promise but eventually fail to deliver: a real sharing of power. In her 30-something years of training and service (which consists of several formal titles along with applied practice), Allen draws from her experience in reviewing patterns and seeing what stages of development worked in success situations.

COMPETITION: Learning how to claim our power in an authentic, straight-forward, honest way. Owning the edges that we stand at and sometimes step over. Admitting we are powerful. Admitting that we are vulnerable. Entering into a willingness to become naked in our RED QUEEN energy.
COOPERATION: When we come together in our truth, we learn to become true allies to one another. We learn how to support one another in full expression and creative action. We learn how to hold one another up while staying strong in our core.
CO-CREATION: Building from cooperation, we move into the ability to trust ourselves and one another enough to give ourselves over to the process of creating a whole that is more beautiful, powerful, complex, healing and healed than we may have ever thought possible.” (Lasara Firefox Allen)

As a Queen, Allen also holds a title I find many leaders in the Pagan community lacking: Mother. Allen does what she calls “Transparent Parenting”, not hiding the services she provides or teachings from her family. Surrounded by a supportive network of family and friends, Allen, like many Priestesses, lives her life “walking with the entity”. “Our life is the biggest prayer we can offer” she tells me. The openness shared with her children and spouse gives me something I can realistically envision for myself: the Queen rules the house, with one hand on a child and another a septor.

 

**Embracing the Red Queen Retreat will take place on privately owned, beautiful, Goddess-Blessed land here in the Willits area. It’s out Pine Mountain way, south-east of the valley. Spending the weekend in the great outdoors, we will ground our practice and process in the Earth Itself. Sleep under the stars, bring a tent, or sleep in the large, common-room tent space. There may be space inside the house to sleep on the floor by prior request, and there are a couple of beds that will be available by prior arrangement. There is a jacuzzi (bathing suits optional!), a beautiful fire circle, a lovely little garden, and a beautiful home in which meals will be prepared and served. Directions to the location will be made available with your other registration information before the event.

PBP: “J” is for Job Searching

As most people familiar with my life know, I have been a stay-at-home mother and wife for the past 4 years (actually this summer will be 5). Due to the economy, and the fact my husband works in one of the only healthy industries these days, the opportunities for me to be the breadwinner were rather slim. There isn't a huge market for religious studies and we knew upon conceiving one of us would staying home with our daughter. I took advantage of this opportunity to explore my spirituality, work on a Master's degree, and learn what it is to fully be a woman. It was the greatest gift anyone could have ever given me, but my husband in some ways resents that he did not get to stay home. I understand this, but he also doesn't know this has also been more than a full time job. I wish my life was like the way he imagines it, like Peggy Bundy from the old classic “Married: With Children”: sitting around eating bon-bons, gabbing with the neighbors, and buying shoes. From the time I get up in the morning between a toddler, husband and two geriatric pets who want all want breakfast... it gets tough sometimes. The laundry, dishes, dinners, errands, groceries, paying bills, cleaning, yard work, no overtime, no vacations, no days off, and no time off except during sleep; and even then if someone gets sick, or wets the bed... who knows what nocturnal emergencies can erupt? But now I am ready for a career change and one that includes better benefits and mental stimulation. "The Librarian" by Giuseppe Arcimboldo (circa 1570).

I have pretty much finished my Master's in Library Information Science and have been sporadically applying for jobs. But this is not enough in a tough economy I have no experience with. Things have drastically changed since I was last employed prior to the 2008 fall; where once I could almost ALWAYS get an interview now I rarely get a rejection letter. The positions are limited, the applicants are overwhelming, and most people I know are manifesting their own jobs through the creative arts, entrepreneurship, or just growing marijuana.; it sucks for me because I am not an artist nor have a head for business, and would either smoke or give away all the marijuana. Jobs for writers have rarely existed, although they ARE out there.

So from a magickal perspective, I figure I need to amplify the efforts. Somewhere out there, is a job/career that is a perfect fit; and it doesn't even have to lie within the scope of my personal interests. If I could use the skills I have accumulated in college (not to mention the net worth of my brain), there is a niche where I will soar. As far as manifesting is concerned, I don't need money;  besides my money spells are radical and unpredictable hitting the people nearest me who need it (not always me). Producing a glamour is only helpful if I can get the interview and enchanting the resume is rather difficult when all the applications take place online. Re-inventing myself is needed as I've been living in limbo, an in-between place not entirely out in the community, but the ruler of my own little microcosmic universe. I have a smart haircut colored a normal shade of brownish, eyebrows plucked, fingers and toes manicured... now I just need to dress the part since yoga pants and flip flops aren't going to help. The mojo is already flowing... every time I apply for a position my husband gets a raise, or bonus, or some unseen financial boon comes; I think maybe the gods don't want me to work sometimes. All there is left for me to do now is keep my awareness focused on the peripheral and palms open to receiving whatever blessings my Gods might offer next.

PBP: “J” is for Joy

Most people in the world do not get the opportunity to experience Joy on a regular basis. Now, Joy is often confused with bliss, ecstasy or even happiness... but it is entirely different. Joy is a gift, beyond description and completely in the present; whereas the others are time fleeting or working through a subconscious current. As someone labeled with 'clinical depression' I have really analyzed and explored ways in which to cognitively make me a happier person, and I am. I experience bliss and ecstasy rather easily, happiness on occasion, but joy is a pure feeling I think most of us rarely get to express. In contemplating this blog post all week I had to think, hopefully from a liminal and Pagan perspective, about what Joy actually IS and how I experience it. So keeping true to my person, I will make a list (it is one of my favourite past times). Of course it would not really be a challenge to list all the things which make me happy or bring me enjoyment; memories and materials are easy. No, I need to explore the things in my life which bring renewable Joy... a gift which keeps giving throughout my life.

  1. Watching plants grow. It is such a mystery and beautiful daily experience I participate in, no matter where in the world I am. Whether enjoying my own container garden which has traveled with me through the years, or the overgrowth in a far away park, I appreciate all that nature gifts us. Plants bring. Be Joy in a peaceful, quiet presence.
  2. Animals at play. No matter if they are wild or domesticated, seeing an otherwise 'dumb' Be-ing enjoying themselves is a Joyful opportunity of reminding how we all interact. Animals playing together, alone, with humans are all fun games and are an expression of the relative innocence that is hidden in the Universe. I especially find Joy in playing with my geriatric kitty; at 15 years old my cantankerous Raven still likes the occasional ribbon play or 'under the blanket' (a most dangerous game not for those who are fearful of claws sharp as a wolverine).
  3. Spending time with my family. I am such a lucky woman. I have been blessed with two sisters I am very close with (it was bound to happen since all three of us shared a bed for some years), a husband who has supported (albeit reluctantly sometimes) my spiritual and intellectual pursuits, a mother who has always been my best friend, and a father who taught me how to be tough without trying. I must have set something great up in my last life to be charmed with such wonderful, life affirming people in my life. Sure they all think I am nutty, and I'll be the first to acknowledge that I am; but they all know the secret to my heart: making me laugh. I have laughed so hard with these people, expressed abandoned Joy to the point of bursting... literally, I have peed my pants on occasion from being so caught up. And what is REALLY interesting about this shared Joy is I am usually the butt of the jokes; my sister got it right when she called me the clown/fool of the family and there's no other way I'd rather have it.
  4. Knowing my daughter. She is an adversarial twin spirit, this child of mine. She is my guru, teacher, and lesson in patience and Joy. I have never known such until this little Be-ing appeared in my life. She is the only person I would ever die or live for. Sure she drives me crazy sometimes... She is 4 ½ right now and they are all annoying at this age. But my husband made our dream possible, for a parent at home with her during these important years of development. I just didn't anticipate the growth being with us as parents either. I have stayed home, improved my cooking skills (I loathe cooking but love to eat), worked on my Master's, read, wrote, crafts with my daughter. It was also in her that I sometimes saw reflections of myself I did not like. Children are honest and pick up behaviors both good and bad. My daughter is a gauge, the gentle temperance and deep grounding that was missing.
  5. Music... the language of our Universe. It expresses emotion when words are not possible. The spheres and strings which run throughout the whole of existence, into and outside as multidimensional vibrations on the great web of life are manifested musically. Pitches, keys, chords, it is cyclical and spiraling... the ancient rhythms of the cosmos. I cannot play an instrument and it sometimes makes me sad. I tried playing the saxophone, the flute, guitar, piano, and eventually did okay with percussion instruments. But my heart and head recognize the sounds of divine creativity, talent, and skills required in quality music. My tastes are extremely diverse, but my appreciation runs true and through the beauteous universality of spirit. Some of my most Joyful moments have been whilst listening to an extremely moving piece of music, memories associated with certain songs come flooding back the moment I hear an opening riff... music is evocative and speaks to the primal, raw parts of ourselves. Why, I bet there is hardly a human alive who DOESN'T like music. I bet humans started singing before speaking. It is same song we all sing, share, bring to each and every thing (living or not) in our dimension; a piece of ourselves, our vibrating stardust, our potential harmony that a precious and Joyful occurrence.
    A Joyful Moment.
    A Joyful Moment.