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Archive for December, 2009


Notes: This post does not condone illegal drug use. This is for eductational purposes only, and is simply a discussion topic relating to the history of magick.

Hello, spirit, welcome, dear spirit,
my cougar, my puma, my snarling lover,
bring me words. I know you.
And now I see your wound,
and now I see your death,
and wailing is my only song.

~Dale Pendall, Pharmako Gnosis

The most recorded type of magick throughout the span of history is the use of drug-induced ritual. It spans the ages and almost all shamans were known to use specific plants and herbs to induce an altered state. These herbs were revered in Native American traditions, known as Gods and Goddesses in many other cultures. They were the saviors, not the tool of the savior. They were never used for recreation for this was a dishonor to the plant. The plant spirits were the guardians of knowledge, and the guides of those who sought that knowledge.

Demons teach, instruct, and inspire men; there never was a man of outstanding stature in any art or action who had no familiar spirit to guide him. ~Paracelsus

Why do I bring these thoughts up when they are obviously illegal? I bring these ideas to mind because we as a group must understand where the stories of the past come from. The brujos of old often partook in ritual drug use in order to gain exceptional powers. South American shamans still partake in ritual Ayahuasca use in order to cleanse the mind and spirit as well as to travel through the underworld with the plant spirits as guides.

So the question I must ask is which way do we go? On the one hand, the plant guides of the past are dangerous, deadly, and controlling. They are not controllable, and in fact will control even the most cautious of followers evenutally. They are the end to many voyagers of their paths. They are also proven guides. They are the poison that heals, the darkness that brings the light, and the savior that condemns.

Do we discount all of the stories of the past? Are we to think of the shamans of old as ignorant and unknowing of the truth that science and modern medicine has told us about? Do we, the followers of the old ways, the followers of our ancestors’ beliefs, feel it right to take what we think is safe from their ways and leave the rest? I do not wish to push these ideas onto people. I only wish to play devil’s advocate and ask what do you believe?

There are legitimate reasons to abstain from the use of endeogenic plants and drugs. They are illegal. They take the control away from the user. They can even destroy the user. What is your view? How can you discount it completely?

O Sacred, Wise, and Wisdom-giving Plant,
Mother of Science, Now I feel thy Power
Within me clear, not only to discern
Things in their Causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest Agents, deem’d however wise.

~Milton

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The Winter Solstice has passed and we are approaching spring, the time of birth and an end to the darkness of winter. The days are growing longer and there are murmurs of life within the melting snow. It is in this world of new birth that we look back on the coldness, harshness, and exquisite beauty of the darkness of winter. We see all around us transformations. The deer and rabbits have given birth to their young and we are gearing up for Beltane, the ancient celebration that turned maidens into mothers.

It is this time of transformation that forces us to remember that there is no light without darkness. The maiden’s voyage to that of motherhood is one of pain and pleasure intermixed. It is this cycle of darkness to light to darkness that pushes the world forward. It is mirrored in all of life. “The light can only be enjoyed because you have seen darkness” is not adequate; light can only exist because darkness allows it and vice versa. Growth happens in the darkness: plants cannot survive without darkness, animals could not be born without the darkness of the womb. Which was first, day or night?

So we must ask ourselves, what role does the darkness play in our personal lives and spiritual evolution? Do we embrace the darkness as the bat and owl do? The common Pagan idea is that darkness is necessary and that we must continuously deal with the darkness in order to grow because we must face that which we are uncomfortable with. It is not so much that we must conquer the darkness, but learn from the darkness, and especially from the darkness in ourselves.

This brings us to the question of what exactly is the darkness in ourselves. Is it the parts of us that we do not like? Or is it the parts of us that we are afraid of? Is it the abused child all grown up and dealing with his/her repressed memories? Is it when the man deals with his primal urges of rage and ferocity? In modern society, these would be considered dark and not things to talk about in mixed company, but why is this so? All people have these things that are unacceptable, so why are they considered dark? What makes them dark and not light? Who gave them the terms dark and light? These are all questions that are difficult to answer, but things that must be answered to understand this world of unknown, this world that we must understand to become the spiritual beings that we wish to be.

The origin of symbols commonly lies with the basic description of the symbol’s actions, habits, and emotions that are felt due to it. Well, obviously darkness does not many applicable habits or actions, so it must be inferred that it is a common emotion felt by mankind because of its presence. As a child, darkness is a time of fear; fear because you cannot see, fear because there are not adults to take care of you, fear because you feel alone, and most of all fear because the things from your nightmares seem to be all around you. Obviously, fear is the prevailing symbol of darkness because the darkness is unknown. But how does this play into the darkness within ourselves? Why are we afraid of ourselves?

For the most clear reason why a man would fear the darkness within himself, we must look to the stories of old, the stories that have become nightmares for children and horror movies for adults. We look to the story of the werewolf. Once a man realized that he had been turned into a werewolf, he would be afraid of this beast that came out. He would not be afraid for himself of course, but for others. This beast would tear and destroy all that he came across. He was fearless, angry, strong and indomitable, and yet the man would wish death upon himself many times over unless he accepted it as a part of himself and dealt with it. How does this old fantastical idea have any relevance, though?

Well, let us take this story and analyze it as a symbol rather than a literal story. What does the wolf represent within the man? The clearest answer is that the wolf represents the repressed primal urges and strengths within the man. It represents the anger, lust, fury, and ferociousness that comes with being a beast rather than a civilized man. Is it this primal nature that is the root of our darkness? The civilized man does not show his anger towards his fellow man, he turns the other cheek and disregards it. This would not have been the case in prehistoric man. If a man shamed or disgraced him, he would retaliate with fierce retribution.

Are we truly afraid of the beast within? Does this darkness really represent the most fundamental genetic parts of us? Is the fear of ourselves actually the fear that we shall lose the facade of civilization and revert back to our true selves who are not afraid?

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Welcome back to Magick for the Real World!

It has been a long time since I wrote a regular blog here, and I’m hoping that I can again entertain and inform a few people with my thoughts and ramblings. I’ve experimented with a lot of other media in the past year and a half, and have again returned to my writing’s origin here at wordpress.com

The blades and bowls lay in the dying light, rusting not the from the air around them, but from the lack of care and use of their spiritual owner. The stones no longer glow with life and energy; they have taken on the look of the dead earth of winter. They long for their master and friend. How has this happened?

It is a common occurrence for everyday life to come between a magician and his magickal practice. Children are born, family emergencies happen, and jobs get hectic. The magician usually is slowly called back to the craft whether internally or by external stimulation, but sometimes this return can take months and even years. It is only in the recent past that I was called back to my magickal practices and when I looked at my stones, blades, and other tools I found them to be foreign, almost as though they were not mine. I felt as though I had never had the soul-bond that I had felt for so long. I had no idea that this bond could ever be weakened or broken. These were the tools that helped me to attain my spiritual identity and power. I looked at them as friends and have now found that they were much more than that; they were as much a part of me as my arms and legs.

I am not sure exactly what the importance of this is, but I know that there is a revelation to be had from this experience. Obviously, it is important to maintain your personal connection with spiritual tools for them to be effective in any of your pursuits, much like a soldier must carefully oil and clean his weapon daily. I had never realized how much of a spiritual process this could be. The soldier is bound to his weapon for survival, and the magician is bound to his weapons of the spiritual plane for his power and survival as a spiritual warrior.

For many years, I had always believed that the magick was solely in the magician and that the tools allowed the magician to enter into another state more easily. I have had to reconsider these beliefs after experiencing the intense sadness when I realized I had forsaken these pieces of my soul. Though it is hard to believe, it was as intense a sadness as the loss of a loved one. This should not be the case if they are merely tools for my metaphysical advancement.

So where does this actually place the tools and weapons of the magician? Does the soldier weep for a destroyed weapon? Does the carpenter mourn the loss of a good saw or hammer? The soldier depends on his gun and knife for survival, but I doubt that he would weep if it were replaced. The carpenter depends on his tools for his craft, but he will easily replace one if it begins to grow ineffective, and rarely cares for them as the magician cares for his tools.

It seems more and more apparent that the wand and chalice are more than simple tools for a purpose. The energy that passes through them brings about a change in them. They become alive with the constant life-force passing through them. The magician’s place in the web of life becomes intertwined with these seemingly life-less objects, possibly giving them a life of their own. Or possibly, the alchemical idea that when a spirit is evolving, all of the world around him/her evolves as well. It could also be possible that all things have a life to them, and that through the energetic workings of the magician that the item awakens. Whatever the case, it seems that the tools become alive in the process of the magician’s practices.

So what exactly does this mean? The tools are alive, but how does that affect the magician? That’s the real discussion question. It could mean all sorts of things. Can the tools guide the magician? Can the athame show the magician how more effectively create a magickal circle? Would the magician even know that this was happening, or would it seem to be an intuitive leap by the magician? How many times has this happened to any given magician? Can the tools become angry? Can they purposely refuse to work? Can they do their own magick to protect or hurt?

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