Friday, March 30, 2012

G is for God Map, Part One

A few years back I volunteered as a Minority Faith Chaplain for the California Department of Mental Health, in addition to conducting religious services, I also taught an approved 12 week course: Introduction to Earth-Based Religions. I was never quite happy with the title, because one could make the argument that Paganism is culture based, but that is another post.

Anyway, I used Paganism: An Introduction To Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce & River Higginbotham as the textbook for the class.

Chapter three is "A Pagan View of Deity," this is perhaps my favorite chapter of the whole book, and one of my favorite topics in general, both within and without Paganism. In chapter three the authors present the God Map, and I don't know if this is their original concept or not, but its pretty cool. Their map is in an "L" formation, but I like the doing it this way.

The horizontal line deals with image, is your concept of deity abstract like Allah or the Force? Or is it concrete like Jesus or Zeus. The vertical line deals with the presence of deity, is God in heaven (transcendent) or immanent and permeating like Mother Nature? So if you grid the X&Y axis, you can find your concept of deity of the map. It is a really fun group exercise!

I took the liberty of placing Christians (A) and Muslims (B) on the map as I understand them be, and (C) is the general area I have noticed Pagans tend to hang out. But (D) is the official position of our Tradition. Like most Pagans we believe deity to be imminent and permeating, but our comprehension of deity is limited and there is a much that is beyond our understanding, we acknowledge this unknown as transcended.

We also acknowledge deity as abstract (like the Force) and often adopt images as personifications of those abstract beliefs. But nature (natura naturata) is the physical (concrete) manifestation of deity. This is why we place ourselves at the center(?) of the Map.

Deity is always one of my favorite topics, and at times it is a soapbox of mine. Pagans are polytheistic, so we have more Gods than other religions, and if you're a Wiccan you at least have two. So it would stand to reason that we should be praying twice as much as the monotheists. But I can count on one hand the number of Pagans I know who pray on a daily basis. I only know two who pray before they eat. Sadly I know one person who identifies as Pagan, but has no actual spiritual practice, he's just got a big axe to grind with Christians, which is what makes him a Pagan(!?!?!?!).

I don't think its actually a religion without deity.

So take some time to find your place on the God Map and explore your concepts of the divine. If you have any problems finding yourself, pray on it. Next week I will add the "Z" axis of our Tradition.

Thank you Lord & Lady for giving good directions. Blessed Be.

Friday, March 23, 2012

F is for the First Song...

F is for the first song [I learned to play on the accordion.] One of the few complains I have about the current state of Paganism is the lack of music. In many other indigenous traditions music plays an essential role in the religious and ritual practices, and our Pagan ancestors (indigenous Europeans) passed down a very merry musical heritage that has been neglected.

Most Pagans dive head first into drum circles, which are amazing experiences, which require very little investment. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that. I'm a veteran drum circle groupie, from Powwows, Sweat lodges and Sundances to Kaweah River Drum Circle.

I read an article last week about Ten Things to do to Get Ready to Join a Coven, (which is really worth a read by the way); and number three mentioned learning to play an instrument and I really liked that because I had already started!

One of the many back burner projects I've had on simmer for a long time is Morris Dancing; I was very inspired by this article about the Pagan Newcomers and became very intent on starting a Border Morris Side. Although there are quite a lot of Morris Dance groups in California, there aren't any here in the Central Valley. So I've been researching, studying and trying to get one going. The main problem is finding people who actually play traditional musical instruments. So I decided I would learn to play one myself, the Concertina.

So before I rushed out and spend at least $200 on one, I thought I'd test the waters a bit. So I bid on this little accordion on Ebay, and scored it for $12. Then worked a little Googlemaster magic and found a 40 page instruction manual for it.

So far I've learned Row, Row Row Your Boat, London Bridge, and Twinkle Twinkle Little star, but Mary Had a Little Lamb was the first song I learned to play on the accordion. By Beltane next year I aim to play Highland Mary while the Mill Creek Morris Dancers promenade.

Thank you Lord & Lady for all the sheet music, Blessed Be.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

F is for the First Labor

The title of my second book is The Five Labors of Witchcraft, and is thus explained as a "system of Witchcraft." The Augurium ritual is the center piece of our tradition in which 13 acts of magic are performed. Each act is composed of an operative (physical) action, a speculative (verbal) declaration, and is symbolized by a ritual tool. These thirteen acts are divided into five categories, or Labors.

Purification
Adoration
Observation
Divination
Incantation

The Bell, Candle, Besom, Censer, Aspergillum, and Athame are used in the first labor; and although we consider all five labors to be equally significant in their own way, we emphasize the first labor of purification to be a fundamental practice, with many levels. There are the simple practices like the Lustavi which I consider daily spiritual hygiene and maintenance, I usually equate it to brushing my teeth because I do it when I get up in the morning and just before bed at night.

Then there is what I consider a more "deep cleaning;" this is where we work on clearing emotional baggage. I one saw one of those picture/signs on face book which said that the next time you clean up your space, start with the things that are useless like regrets, shame and anger. I love that mentality, and I focus the majority of my personal Craftwork on my own personal issues. I work on clearing out the older stuff first, and then focus on keeping new things from forming. The last few years have been dedicated to working through combat related PTSD, in fact that's kinda how this blog got started in the first place.

The third level is Vacare Deo, which is what I consider a most extreme form of purification, as the purpose is to be "empty or available for god." I equate this with assumption, Drawing Down or other form of divine embodiment and categorize this it as third degree work, which is best attempted after having spent a very long time working through the first two levels.

My Mom got me this Besom when her and my sister went to Salem, I have a collection of besoms but this one is by far my favorite. It hangs on the wall next to my bed, it's a talisman for protection and serves as a reminder to sweep away the negative debris of life on a regular basis, to keep my temple clean , and to fly high, have fun and enjoy life for what it is.

Thank you Lord and Lady for all the cleaning supplies. Blessed Be.

Friday, March 9, 2012

E is for Ex Diris

In recent postings I have begun sharing bits and pieces from my tradition as they have been applicable to the topic, or have been the topic and I have received messages of both approval and interest in those bits and pieces. So I find myself encouraged to share more.

Quite often I am questioned online and in person regarding the "source" of our system. In my last post I mentioned that some of that information was the product of an Eluvies, and some of it was obtained the hard way, by doing the work.

Someone once told me that working with the source of the Eluvies, also very much counts as work on my part. I like that.

The divination system I have been working on is based on the ancient Roman Auspices. When one takes into consideration that our "Veritas Wicca" comes from Veritas Pro Re Natura or truth through nature and that this motto alludes to our concept of the "Gospel of Nature," then one finds Auspicia quite appropriate.

But we're not really appropriating much of the past, we are utilizing the theme of the old Roman ways of which I personally am a big fan. But everything we've done, everything we do and even how we do it is EX DIRIS.

Within the original system of auspices there are five main categories:

  • Ex Caelo: involved thunder, lighting, storms or "stuff in the sky."
  • Ex Avibus: this is "bird stuff."
  • Ex Tripadiis: this is about "chickens eating stuff."
  • Ex Quadrupedus: this is "four legged animal stuff."
  • Ex Diris: the is "all other stuff."

Ex Diris is everything that doesn't fall into any other category. Granted there's not much written about these first four, but even less can be found in reference to the last. So there's plenty of room for growth and development, and we've put significant work into this area.

While everything in the existing system can be placed into these two categories:

  • Oblative: stuff that was requested or sought out.
  • Impetrative: stuff that was offered without request or not sought out.

We have also developed two additional categories:

  • Conspexi: those that are experienced through five physical senses.
  • Perspexi: those that are experienced through five metaphysical senses.

Following this train of thought, our entire Tradition of Witchcraft is Ex Diris. We have taken something old and we are expanding the open areas, building new schools of thought with the old tools of the trade. This are exciting times. How auspicious.

Thank you Lord and Lady, for all the signs.

Blessed Be.



Friday, March 2, 2012

E is for Eluvies

One of my favorite fellow Bloggers is Christopher DeGraffenreid at Sorcery & Spirit. As always, I relate to the topic of his posts and today was no different, except to say I seemed to relate a bit more than usual to the topic of his writing, in this latest post about Traditionalism Vs. Eclecticism, or as he humorously recapitulates it:

traditionalism vs. those of “making things up”

Robert at Doing Magick and I go back a few years now, and it's no secret that we have had our fair share of differences. But in many ways that's one of the things we enjoyed the most. One of our first Magic(k) dinner conversations was about our differences; his CM work and my "do it yourself" work. While I agree with Christopher and many others about the inherent tension of these two camps, Robert and I managed to come to an agreement:

"It's okay to make shit up, as long as you do it right."

Say what you will about that statement, as subjective as a may be, we felt very comfortable with it and I know I still do. Don't ask me to define what "right" is, I cannot. It's like that quote regarding pornography: "I cant define it, but I know it when I see it."

On multiple occasions I have in the past been invited to join Ceremonial Magician community Yahoo groups and even a few Orders. And I have always taken this as a very large compliment as I do not identify or offer myself as a CM. But while working or interacting with them I have found or felt that many of them are not open to new work, and I've also seen what Christopher identified as a mixture of rejection and envy.

It was within one such CM Order that I actually committed to the system in order better integrate my work with theirs. So I did my work on the appropriate planetary days and hours. I started by meditating during those times, focused on opening myself to the target of influence and establishing a resonance. I did this for weeks before I actually did anything I would call CraftWork.

As a result of this I experienced what we call within our tradition, an Eluvies (Ee-loo-vee-iss). Which has been difficult to properly express or explain. A few weeks ago I wrote in a past post about the Susurri (whisper), and how we named something we experience, but don't quite perfectly understand. Well the Eluvies is another one of those Mysteries of our Tradition, in fact they are part of our divination system. The character above is "Veritas Theban" or our fancy cursive version of the Witches Alphabet/Theban; in which each character also has a magical value and is used within a system of divination. (There will be a book someday!)

So the Eluvies is Latin for "flood." The simple image of the concept is an overflowing chalice; your cup run-ith-ing over. You being the Cup and an external spiritual entity being the source of water. There are so many paradigms from which approach this topic, such as Mediumship, Channeling, Aspecting, Assumption and "Drawing Down." You can lump it together or pic it apart in a system subject to gradation, whatever.

The simple point is that we act as a threshold and physical vessel, wherein a spiritual signal in essence is "transmitted" into you from one plane and manifests through you, into this plane, and flows out. Apparently there are rules such as; the expression of the essence (words) is limited to the capacity (vocabulary) of the vessel (you). So when I did my work with the CM group, meditating in the planetary hours and days, and received an Eluvies, it came out of me in a Geomantic language. And it was Awesome!

With the exception of a good friend who really seemed to like it, I was otherwise snubbed. So I went back to doing my own thing of "making things up." It's so funny to think that everything that everyone has been doing for a hundred years was five minutes old at some point, and someone "made it up."

I prefer to describe it as a process of development over a very long period of work and refinement. I never arm-chaired anything, ever. That being said, a very large portion of my work is not "mine." It is the product of an Eluvies, I have a very long close personal working history with a source, who will not be identified, ever, because that is part of the deal. Something to the effect of "don't give out my name or number, I don't want strangers calling me in the middle of the night."

I am allowed to take credit, especially under the circumstances, but I prefer to use ambiguous implications like "our work is original," and I am a "co-founder." But I would ask you dear reader, what would you judge as more validating;

A. I made it all up.
B. I did the research, development and hard ass work.
C. It was "revealed" to me through spiritual means.
D. I donno, but that's how we've been doing it for a few hundred years now.

Don't worry there's no right or wrong answer, because it doesn't really matter. The ONLY thing that matters at all is if you are benefiting from it or not (are you?). The bottom line here is does it work? Because regardless of whether The Inner Gate ritual is a product of my imagination, my invention, or my intuition, the simple profound truth is, it really actually works!

When initiates begin the process, the side effects manifest. Every time. And we've only been in business six years, imagine what our descendants will be doing.

Lord & Lady, thanks for the refill, cheers!