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I want to wake up every day and think about spirituality. I want my daily conversations to deal with it. I want to go to work and do something magickal. I want to write rituals before I go to sleep so that I’m prepared for the next day. Instead…I wake up to thoughts of how to deal with problems I have faced at my job in the oilfield. I go through my day having conversations about bottom hole pressure. I go to sleep after finishing my timesheet and expenses describing the frac job I was on. Do I want this? No. Then I should take my own advice, right? If it doesn’t make you happy, leave it behind you. Well that’s just tough shit, as we would say in the oil patch.

I am a father to four children and those four little munchkins have to go to college soon. My wife would like to be able to wear at least a couple pieces of jewelry. I would like to be able to buy a new tire if I get a flat. It all boils down to that all-mighty dollar that seems to be completely absent within the metaphysical community. I refuse to let my family go without the things that they need, and I would like to be able to get away from the foods that will cause me cancer in 20 years. I am not willing to make these sacrifices for myself and my family so that I may go to work in the magickal world.

So I ask you, the reader, the question that has plagued me for going on 10 years now. How do you make a decent living in a magickal way? Is there anyone in the magickal community who makes a living compared to me, a common oilfield engineer? I’ve read that Jason from the Wild Hunt has to crowd-fund his trips to conventions, and he’s probably the most famous person within the Pagan community. To me, this is absolutely crazy. If you wanted someone famous in the oilfield to speak at a convention, you would pay them a minimum of $20,000 for a speech. Jason, Penczak, Starhawk, and all of those other famous Pagans should be paid to come to an event rather than have to pay for their own travel.

So even the most famous people in our community still have to budget for trips/work? That’s nuts. The problem I see is that there is no way that our community can get any inflow from non-magickally inclined people. Yet we all have flow out of our community to airfare, gas, rent, food, and every other normal industry. So we steadily are losing money as a community. I’ll always have to pay for gas, clothes, food, etc. unless I live in some kind of commune (which is a fun idea once the kiddos are out of the house), but there’s no way to pay for it through the magickal community unless we could someone have some kind of a cash funnel from the other industries into our community. So I guess that the real question is what service or good can the people in our communities provide your everyday person without moving outside of the magickal. Either that or we need a really really big trust fund account.

I don’t know the answer but I do think that this is this big question that we as a community have to answer.

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Alright, so Samhain is not October 31st.  It’s not Halloween.  It’s not All Hallow’s Eve.  It’s not the day before November starts.  It IS a cross-quarter day meaning it is the day exactly between the Fall Equinox (September 22nd in 2012) and the Winter Solstice (December 21st in 2012).  That means that Samhain in 2012 will be on the night of November 5th, 2012 by my back of the envelope calculations.

Now, why is this important?  Well, why do you celebrate Samhain?  I don’t think it’s because it’s someone’s birthday (e.g. the fake reason for Christmas), it’s not remembering an event (e.g. fake Easter), and it’s definitely not in memory of a person (e.g. MLK day).  It’s because it’s supposed to be the day of the year that the veil is thinnest.  Why in the world would you celebrate that on the wrong day?  It’s not going to be the same date every year for the same reason the solstices aren’t the same date every year.  Sigh.

Now, the only other day that I could consider being a good day to celebrate it is on the dark moon nearest the cross-quarter date because the dark moon helps to get through the veil to the other side, so it’s probably a pretty thin line as well.

 

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Questions About Magick


“I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.”   ~Ludwig Wittgenstein

Well hello again!  It’s been quite some time since I’ve been back to these old stomping grounds, but it seems that I can’t ever quite get away.  I guess that’s a good thing though.  So today I’m not here to answer questions or give you advice from Ye Olde Booke O Answers.  I’m just here to ask a few uncomfortable questions that have been bothering me.  This isn’t me doubting myself or needing reassurance.  It’s more of a set of questions for you to answer for yourself to see if you’re on the right path.

Why do you do magick?

Are you doing magick because it’s cool?  Are you doing magick because you’re searching for truth?  Are you just dabbling enough to cast a spell to help you get something you want?  I guess that there are more reasons than I could list, but before you leave the computer today, ask yourself that simple question and be dumbfounded by the answer (if you can get it) because it’s something that I asked myself for years before I figured it out myself (thanks Jen for helping with that!)

How has magick helped your life?

It hasn’t helped mine.  I didn’t strike it rich.  I didn’t get the girl because of it.  I certainly didn’t get the job that I wanted because of a spell I did.  I can’t/won’t help the sick and dying unless the issue isn’t right to begin with.  On the other hand, I end up staying up until 4 am when I have work at 6 am to deal with those things that go bump in the night (they’re really good at deciding to hang out at rather inconvenient times).  I’ve been sick to my stomach in fear and worry about my wife when I have to work nights on a regular basis.  How has magick helped my life?  It hasn’t.  And it more than likely won’t.  So tell me:  how has magick helped yours?

Do you enjoy magick?

That’d be a negative Ghost Rider.  Do you copy Ghost Rider?  That’s a negative on the enjoyment of magick.  I started out trying to get physical power through a medium that perfectly fitted me.  I wanted to control my dreams.  I wanted to understand the meaning of life.  I wanted to get what I wanted in life.  Has that happened?  Yes and no.  I have a good life and it’s perfect for where I should be in life.  I’m learning the lessons I’m meant to learn.  On the other hand, money doesn’t fall from the sky.  We have been so poor that I missed meals on a regular basis and when I had them it was corn tortillas and beans (with cheese when we were splurging).  I’ve had to work my ass off for everything that I’ve gotten and I’ve been so tired that I wanted to cry.  Did I do magick?  Yep.  Did it work?  That’s another negative Ghost Rider.  Why not?  Well because I had to learn the lessons before I could move on just like anybody else.  Well if magick isn’t helping me and I don’t enjoy it, then why do I do it?  Well that’s simple.  If I don’t do it, then I die a little on the inside.  And then I die a little more.  And then some more.  Eventually, I’d end up being the person that I work next to.  The one that lives vicariously through the Us Weekly articles about celebrities going to jail and having affairs.  I’d worry about things like whether my high school football team is on a winning streak or how the Cowboys are doing.  As it is, I worry about how to deal with choices that I’ve made and how to better prepare my family for whatever may come.  I worry about moving from this stage to the next in my life.  No, I do not enjoy magick but it gives my life meaning where I find very little in other people’s lives.  I am absolutely certain when I’m doing things right and when I’m doing things wrong.  I can feel it in my bones and smell it in the air.  So ask yourself whether you actually enjoy it.  And if you don’t, then why do you continue?

So after thinking about these questions, doubt yourself a little bit.  I know, I know–that’s not what you wanted to hear from my first post on here in over a year.  No one wants to doubt themselves and they definitely don’t want to hear it from someone who says that they don’t enjoy such a major part of their life.  What I’m saying is that you need to take those rose colored glasses off and put them in the dumpster.  Life’s hard and that’s good.  Magick doesn’t make it any better.  In fact it makes it harder.  I’ve posted about Paganism being the easy religion and it is these days.  On the other hand, magick’s not.  We’re here to learn, grow, and gain experiences.  Magick does make those easier, and it does it by forcing you to do those things often before you’re willing.  So toss the glasses, pull on your big boy underwear, and get ready to go kick some ass.

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There is a growing number of Pagans in the US and many of them want to incorporate this into their daily lives aka their source of income.  For some reason, almost no Pagan businesses are ever as profitable as their non-spiritual counterparts.  I’d like to go into a bit of depth on each of the types of businesses before coming to any major conclusions as to the why and how we can change this.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing business is a very common business for Pagans.  This represents all those that craft by hand as well as major manufacturing companies that create the commonly sold things such as bumper stickers.  The problem with this business is that nearly all of the things manufactured for Pagans are one-time-buys.  No one buys the same necklace twice or the same athame twice.  The only major items that people buy multiple times are candles, incense, herbs, soaps, oils, “spell kits”.  Yes, this is a very viable business, but the problem is that retailers are the ones that buy these products and they are having a hard time which in turn means that manufacturers are having a hard time as well.

Retail

This is the path that most end up going down and nearly everyone tries at some point.  Brick and mortar stores tend to have a lot of problems due to the lack of large concentrations of Pagans in any single area.  They also have far more expenses than online stores and therefore have to have higher prices.  They’ll never be able to compete with online drop-shippers or large chains on price simply because they cannot buy products in large enough quantities to get significant discounts.  The internet retail stores have trouble because most products are one time buys and there is A LOT of competition.  It also seems that the products do not differ enough to allow the consumer to be loyal to a single company because of their outstanding product lines.  This is one of the biggest and most profitable of the current Pagan businesses especially when coupled with a service regardless of the hardships that they have to deal with.

Information  

There are thousands of people trying to make money off of a Pagan blog, website, magazine, or newsletter.  A few make it, but most end up having to have another job.  There are very few people that make their living off of this, and the only real section of people in this industry that stand out are the authors of Pagan 101 books because they can profit off of the people who are not living off of the Pagan industries.  Though it sounds very pyramid scheme-ish, it’s the truth.  Booksellers like Barnes and Nobles sell very few books other than introductory books to Paganism, and these are the places that make authors the most money.

Education

There is only one currently utilized outlet for this business:  “magick schools”.  These are almost exclusively online businesses that offer the same type of information as a Pagan 101 book and again, they are profiting off of the new kids on the block.  They offer very little (from my very limited experience with them) other than an online teacher. This is not a bad idea but the truth is that there are many other paths that should at least be tested in this business.

Health Care

This revolves almost entirely on a combination of massage therapy, energetic healing (Reiki for example), acupuncture, and acupressure.  There are other styles of “New Age” healing that we’ll consider, but these are the main ones.  There is an extremely large number of people practicing these techniques both in the Pagan world and outside of it, and so the competition is rather stiff.  It is also a business that is not extremely expandable and so those that are not business minded tend to have a very difficult time because they have to be both good at their practice as well as running a business which for many people is a difficult thing to do.

Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation

There is a very large number of these ranging from tourist style entertainment (think Rennaisance Faire) to musical entertainment to general artisans.  The problem with these businesses is that they’re very limited to the number of people in their niche (Paganism) unless they can branch out into mainstream (Ren Faires).  There’s not much else to say other than they will have problems until the population of Pagans increases dramatically.

Accomodations, Food

There’s very few accommodations or food/drink locations that cater to specifically Pagans.  Yes, there are some but they are very few and far between and I have never actually been to one so I have very few things to note other than the fact that our sub-culture is far too spread out in most places for these places to be very profitable unless they can also reach the mainstream.

Professional Services

Professional services would be consultants, financial advisors, and the likes.  The problem with trying to start something like this that specializes in the Pagan business world would be that there are very few Pagan businesses that can afford them.  Its a business that we desperately need, but not something that we’ll likely find any time soon.

Conclusions

There are a lot of conclusions that we can draw from this analysis.  We can all see that an increase in Pagan population would without a doubt make Pagan businesses more profitable and the world is headed in that direction, but we are still a long way away from seeing a large increase in the profitability of brick and mortar stores and businesses. It seems as though more Pagan businesses need to adopt a larger service line in order to be profitable from the beginning.  Having a Pagan restaurant/bar that also sold massages in the back and had a “gift shop” (think cracker barrel) would probably have a better chance of profiting than a simple store because it would cause more impulse buying as well as combining the revenue from all of the possible options.  It would also create a much larger loyal customer base.  This would put more money into fewer hands allowing them to grow their business and in the future, make an impact in the non-Pagan community thus increasing the possible number of customers by increasing the number of Pagans.

Internet shops should push for more brand loyalty by increasing the number of unique items, increasing the number of consumable items, as well as increasing their ability to impact the Pagan community.

The key to everything involves the brick and mortar operations to increase impact on the non-Pagan community, making them more amiable to Pagans, and the internet operations to increase their impact on the Pagan community, making them more “Pagan only” whenever possible.  This would open up huge opportunities for everyone to profit from the increased spending into Pagan businesses.

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Eliphas Levi' Baphomet

What is reality to you?  Is it a bearded man sitting on a golden throne in heaven?  A group of drunk and disorderly gods and goddesses sitting on top of a mountain?  Is it the media and science’s portrayal of reality where we sit in cubicles until we’re too old to see the computer screen clearly and then we’re put into nursing homes until we die?

My reality is none of the above and though I’m sure my regular readers know, I hold to no reality for very long.  It is constantly shifting to fit my current understanding of the world.

“Knowledge is changeable.  Truth is eternal.  It is disastrous to confuse them.”   –Madeleine L’Engle

This quote is of the utmost importance to all that practice magick because although our society teaches rigidity in belief, magick teaches us fluidity.  It is impossible to fly when you cannot bend your own reality to accept that it is possible.  For anyone who has ever practiced magick knows that the reality that we are taught is flawed and therefore cannot be the truth.  It is the magician’s quest to constantly search for that truth, to follow meandering roads to their ends and to always search for the one that leads to that golden door of enlightenment.

This post is not a simple post.  It isn’t about a simple topic such as athames or tarot cards or even the meaning of life.  This is about what lies beneath all of it.  The core answer of every question.  Truth.

“I’m going to paraphrase Thoreau here… rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me truth.”  Chris McCandless, Into the Wild

To the magician, everything is based on their current idea of truth.  If they believe that the truth allows them to fly, they will search for a way to do this.  They will always test, always make sure that something will work before they need this.  They gather tools and build their repertoires in this way, but in reality they are actually exploring the unknown and changing their reality to always get closer to the truth.

The end result is a culture of expanding minds, of modern day philosophers.  These expanding minds are the future of our society.  It is only so long before the rest of the world begins to see where these philosophers are headed.  Every day more and more government officials have ties to this culture from the small town officials to a Presidential hopeful, Gary Johnson.  The society that was dominated by science is slowly being influenced by the surrounding proof of flaws in our ideas of reality as well as the ever-encroaching mainstreaming of Pagan culture.  These modern day philosophers are not always authors or college graduates.  They are simply people who’s minds have been opened to the idea of other realities through trial and error.  We are the advisors, the councilors, the confidants of our society and we need to start acting like it.

The expansion of reality does not mean that we should live outside of the bounds of normal society.  We must still provide food for our families, must still keep clothes on our backs and should never become a burden for the ones we love.  We must somehow balance the knowledge that we have gained and the world that we have chosen with the world that we have been placed into.  Remember, we were placed in this time and society for a reason and it is our duty to fulfill our role.

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The Big Bang.  Quantum physics. Neutrinos.  The splitting of a proton.  Energy.  Massive Energy.  Fire.  Hurricanes.  Wind.  Waves.  A landslide.  Magick.

All of science has shown that magick doesn’t exist.  On the surface.  The science of the 1700’s, 1800’s, and 1900’s worked to understand the how’s and why’s of the world and to uncover the secret workings of what was considered “magick”.  They did an amazing job and the result is the world we live in.  Computers, cars, planes, and chemistry run our lives and give us the means to live our lives in comfort.  We discovered the atom (which actually is Latin for irreducible) and from there have manipulated them to nearly the maximum extent that they can be manipulated.

We discovered that an atom is not in fact irreducible.  There are two parts of an atom:  the nucleus and the electron cloud that surrounds it.  Imagine that an atom is the size of an orange.  The nucleus is smaller than one of the seeds.  The 1-160 electrons that make up the cloud are each the size of a speck of dust.  The rest is void space.  Okay, that’s kind of crazy but imaginable.  So an atom is 99% void space and 1% mass.

Now we get into the quantum physics part of it.  Through crazy testing that I’m not even going to begin to try to explain they’ve found that the nucleus’s parts (protons and neutrons) can be further broken apart into what are known as quarks.  Come to find out, they too make up only about 1% of the proton and neutron volume.  The rest is void space.  So within an atom, only 1% of 1% (that’d be .01% for the non math majors out there) is actual mass.  That is incredible.  So here’s an example of why that’s so incredible:  Think about an airplane.  It weighs hundreds of thousands of pounds and carries 150 people through the air, defying gravity.  Now think about it in terms of atoms.  For every square foot of metal, cut out all but a single piece of metal about 1/8th of an inch by 1/8th of an inch.  Oh yeah, and as thin as a hair.  That’s how much actual mass is there.  The rest is all just nothing.  It’s kind of mind blowing.

Now let’s look past that to what hasn’t been discovered and make an educated guess.  No one has ever broken apart a quark or atom (that I’ve ever heard of), but my guess is that there’s only about 1% of the quark that’s actually there and the rest is void space.  Do you see where I’m going with this?  Eventually you realize that there really isn’t anything out there.  Nothing takes up any space in actuality because there’s nothing really there.

Except energy.  There is motion and so there must be energy.  Even if an electron cloud is nearly all void space, it acts as an object.  It has force and it has volume.  Energy is the only thing that is real in the world.  Now my question to you is this:  how is the energy that is the world any different from the energy that is pulled through your body to create change in the world?  It isn’t.  It is all the same thing with different vibrational levels and different intention.

The next thing that needs to be thought about is the fact that our bodies are also made of atoms which means that truthfully we are made of nothing but energy.  And something else.   There has to be something else inside of us that allows us to be alive and different from one another.  This is the most logical and perfectly undeniable proof of the soul for lack of a better word.

So we are in essence, a soul that is somehow bound to energy.  This is pretty much exactly what the Eastern philosophies and religions have taught for thousands of years.  Now comes the true question of this blog:  what do we do with this information?

Well, as far as magick is concerned, this logic tells us that if we can control the energy of our body then why would we not be able to control the energy outside of this body?  Also, why would we not be able to transform the energy of a chair into the energy of an ice cube?  And furthermore, why is it that we don’t already know how to do this?

I don’t know.  Possibly it has to do with the fact that we are here for a reason and that reason doesn’t include having everything we want without any effort.  That’s about as far as I can get at 4 am.  I’d love to hear other people’s ideas on this.

The more important question to ask is this:  if we are all made up of energy, and the world is made up of energy, and our souls are simply tied to the energy that we inhabit, then what inhabits everything else?  I’d have to say that the idea of a Mother Earth or a God or the Universe or whatever other name you’d like to give it sure does sound pretty plausible when you put it into those terms.   If you take the first point and put it with this point, then one of the most obvious conclusions for me is this:  there is a reason we are here and there is some sort of design to all of this chaos that is our lives.

Okay, that’s as far as I’m going to get on this topic for now since I’m ridiculously exhausted from a long night of work and I’ve got to get ready to go back for a few more hours.  Let me know what you think.

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“It is far better to learn to see in the dark than to shine a light and be blinded.”

The New Age movement has brought with it a flood of metaphysically inclined people that push for a love and light philosophy.  There are very few mentions of the darker side of magick within the basic magick 101 books, and though that may be a good thing for many reasons, it also limits many people’s view of the people that do darker magick.

Dark magick, by my personal definition, is acknowledging and accessing the entire spectrum of possibilities in magick, even the dangerous and scary aspects such as demon evocation, sex magick and blood magick.  This is probably not the most perfect of definitions, but it will work for my purposes.

Dark magick is not in opposition of the lighter sides of magick, and in fact works with them.  They cohabitate every part of the world and cannot exist without the other side.  The dark is the realm of difficulty, of temptation, and of possible failure.  This is the place where strength is derived.  Darkness is the natural state, and it is only through surviving and triumphing in darkness that light can be made.  Therefore, every light comes from darkness and the aspiring healer must first face the darkness before he can bring the light to others.

The shamans of old were not shamans until they had faced the darkness and triumphed.  They had to walk roads of shadows–deathly illnesses, “schizophrenia”, and physical trials–before they could ever do good for anyone else.  Our society understands that darkness is the realm of creativity.  It is more uncommon to have a true creative genius without any darkness in their life than one that is full of depression, hardship, and darkness.  Women must go through the darkness of pregnancy and child birth before their bundle of light is brought into the world.  The journey of bringing light to the world is always full of darkness.

The problem is not that darkness exists, or that people are unaware of it.  The problem is that rather than respecting the darkness as a way to personal strength, they fear it and those that walk the darker roads.  Not everyone chooses to embrace darkness, and it is understandable why people would not.  It is the place of unknown, and humans by nature are fearful of the unknown.  It is also the realm of danger, of destruction, of death, and of pain.  All of these are necessary parts of the road to strength.  It is not in comfort that we gain strength, just as the sword is not strengthened without the fires of the forge or the pounding of the hammer and anvil.

In closing this post, I must say that every magician must confront the darkness at some point.  Do not be reckless when doing this, but do not be afraid to do it.  It is a necessary road for all that wish to bring light to the world and to bring light to yourself.

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