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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in practice

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The last few months have been very full -- full of activism around women's reproductive rights here in Texas and nationwide, full of disappointments at the losses and joys at the (few) wins, full of workshops and letter writing and organizing. Full, in short, of the "Feminist" part of my path, but lighter on the "Witchcraft" than I might have liked.

The new year has found me trying to remedy that, by building women's spiritual community here in Dallas/Fort Worth, by launching a new networking initiative called North Texas Nature Spirit and re-launching my Tarot blog, Dakotawitch Divines. My practice is going through some changes as I transition out of old roles and groups, facilitate and join others, develop new practices, and return to those that I have allowed to languish. I hope and plan to share all this will you in the coming months, and to grow in my path through that sharing!

One practice I've been returning to is that of drawing a Goddess Inspiration card for each week, from the Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr. I love this deck so much that I will be sharing my weekly draws with you all, and inviting you to learn from the Goddesses along with me! Keep an eye on this space on Monday, March 3 for your first dose of Goddess wisdom. I hope you'll learn and grow with me this spring!

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    xxx
  • Susan Harper
    Susan Harper says #
    Thank you for stopping by! Reading your work is one of the things that brought me to Feminist Craft, and to the decision to stud
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Love your post, I too am a Goddess feminist, to me they two belong together. Looking forward to your upcoming blogs.

When I comprehended my darkness, a truly magnificent night

came over me and my dream plunged me into the depths of the

millennia, and from it my phoenix ascended.

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  • Laura Smith
    Laura Smith says #
    Great posting. I am a follower of Jung and Campbell in my practice as an Archetypal Dreamwork Analyst. I also blog about my own pe
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thanks Laura. I'll definitely come over and check out your work.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Very interesting food for thought. Thanks again for sharing it with us!

In my last post, I talked about how to sense nature spirits. Once you've found a way to sense them that works for you, the next step is to try communicating with them.

Except...why would you want to? And why would they want to talk back?

There are plenty of reasons. For one thing, spirits have insights that we may not have. They exist in a different manner than we do; some of them represent or embody natural forces that we can only observe and interact with in a limited manner. My work with animal, plant, and fungus totems is a good example. These beings are intermediaries between their species and the rest of the world, to include humans. When I work with them, I can find out more about the living beings that I share my world with. For example, I discovered when cleaning up the stretch of the Columbia River I adopted that while the totems of animal species like White Sturgeon and American Robin are concerned with litter that their physical counterparts could accidentally eat or become entangled in, plant totems like Black Cottonwood communicate to me more about water pollution that the trees and other plants can absorb into their roots through the soil.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

So, let's start with the very basics, beginning with how to sense spirits. After all, if I'm going to be helping my readership work with spirits and totems and the like, I should make sure that you have a way of doing so. You might already have figured out a good option for yourself, but keep reading anyway if you like--maybe there's something in here you haven't considered yet.

I'm going to sidestep the issue of the exact nature of spirits, whether they're independent beings in a nonphysical reality that parallels our own, or unseen denizens of our world, or elements of our psyche that we project outward. Not that it isn't important, but I'll leave it up to you to decide exactly what they are; the how-tos I'm going to put in this blog should work regardless of your answer.

Sensing Spirits

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Setting Up a Shrine: One Kemetic's Method, Part I: Home Shrine

b2ap3_thumbnail_my_shrine_when_closed_by_ji_borrero-d60psws.jpg

Giving offerings and sacrifice are vital to Kemeticism and religions like it. It is telling that the first prohibition placed on the ancient religions was to outlaw sacrificing and offering to the gods. Kemeticism isn't a religion where you can say you agree to a set of beliefs in your head, and then do nothing. If you're not actually at least offering, if not observing feast days, you're missing out. It's through actions, not thoughts or beliefs alone, that we bring ourselves closer to the gods.

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  • Brea Saunders
    Brea Saunders says #
    I appreciate how basic this is. While harboring devotion to the Egyptian gods for a while I am only recently beginning to look in
  • Sihathor
    Sihathor says #
    Thanks! The impression I've gotten (if my rusty memory serves--and if it doesn't, I apologize--it's been several years since I loo
  • Sihathor
    Sihathor says #
    Please excuse the typos, there was a lot I wanted to say, and I'm still getting a hang of the formatting/comment system here!

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Role of Practice in Magic

In my previous post I discussed the role of the theory in magic. In this post I want to unpack the word practice and consider what it really means to practice magic or practice spirituality. The word practice originates from Praxis, which roughly translate to taking action. Practice also refers to any activity that people do. When practice is applied to spirituality it can be thought of as a set of activities a person does in order to cultivate spiritual development (ideally physical and mental development as well). A practice moves a person along a path toward a goal, whether it is spiritual union or the practical realization of something you need. Practice is a central concept of magic and Paganism. One of the questions you might ask a fellow pagan is: "What magic do you practice?"

Without practice magic is just an academic discussion over tea with someone. There are many would-be magicians who love to discuss magic and have lots of books. Reading those books and discussing the concepts is not the practice of magic. I'd argue that such a person can't really even know what magic is because s/he hasn't experienced magic. And that's what practice is supposed to do. It's supposed to provide us with experiences that occur as a result of doing activities. Practice is the implementation of the magical process, the choice to do something in order to change your relationship with the world, spirit, or whatever else you are practicing magic for.

Practice is defined by the goals that we create around it. There is no magical practice that does not have some kind of goal, some kind of end result in mind. Whether you are seeking divine union with a deity or doing a practical magic working to solve a problem in your life, your practice is defined not just by the activity itself but also by the result. This makes it rather interesting because we are told not to lust for results and yet results are central toward defining the practice of magic. The solution to this dilemma is the choice to define the result and make it part of your practice while also not obsessing about the actual experience of the result. In other words, you need to know what the result is, but you also need to allow yourself to be open to the experience as it actually occurs, instead of fixating on how you think it should occur.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Role of Theory in Magic

This is part 1 of a 2 part series about theory and practice in magic. I've started with theory, because in my opinion the word theory is not accurately used by the majority of people including it in their writing. The word theory is one that has become conflated with a variety of meanings and associations. I'd argue that how theory is often used, in Paganism and in general, isn't really in line with the meaning of the word as it applies to the scientific method. In other words, a person chooses to use the word theory but how s/he uses it has less to do with the scientific method and more to do with cultivating a certain image associated with the word. If theory is used in context to the scientific method then the theory is a 'proven' hypothesis which has been tested and replicated by multiple people, all who have gotten the same results. The theory is valid as long as the same result is replicated each time, but becomes disproven if the result isn't replicated. In that context, theory is actually a part of practice and is used to demonstrate what a person understands about practice, but also is used to test that practice.

How the word theory seems to be applied, when people use it, is more along the lines of providing a generalizing statement about a topic. Said statement is speculative and nothing is really proven. The word theory becomes a kind of paper shield. It looks impressive so we use it to make what we discuss seem impressive. Used in this way the word theory seems to be used in the classic Aristotelian sense of the word, where no doing, no practice occurs beyond the formulation and expression of the theory. In contrast there is practice (which I'll cover in my next post), which involves doing, an essential activity to really experiencing anything life.

The latter use of the word theory is unfortunately used a lot. It leads to a lot of speculation, a lot of discussion and very little doing. Armchair magicians, in particular, love this kind of theorizing. I find it to be boring and less than useful. Theory without practice is a lot of hot air, with no engagement, no experience occurring. I find that when the word theory is employed in discussions about magic and metaphysics in general the result is a lot of speculative conjecture thrown around for the sake of doing it. Theories abound about why magic works or why deities are or aren't real, or any number of other metaphysical topics. But does it even matter? All that kind of conjecture leads to is an intellectualizing of magic, which in turns creates a distance that from doing the actual work. My question is: Does your theory work?

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  • Stephanie Rodriguez
    Stephanie Rodriguez says #
    Thank you, Taylor for this effort to steer the general conversation back toward meaningful discourse and away from spiteful argume
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hello Stephanie, Thank you for the kind comment. Theory is fairly loaded word, which is one of the reasons I wanted to unpack it

What does a Jungian Pagan spiritual practice look like?  So far, on this blog, my writing has been highly abstract.  I'd like to get does to the practical side of things now.

A Jungian spiritual practice may take many forms.  What all of these forms have in common is that they bring together the rational conscious mind with the non-rational unconscious mind.  Dreamwork, for example, is not just dreaming, but upon waking, analyzing the dream and integrating the unconscious contents into one's conscious life. 

Dreamwork is only the most well known form of Jungian spiritual practice.  Any activity that creates a space and invites the unconscious to dialogue with the conscious mind may be a form of Jungian spiritual practice.  The key is to hold the conscious mind in abeyance temporarily so the unconscious can speak and then to allow the conscious mind to interact with the contents of the unconscious in a reciprocal fashion. 

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  • Candi
    Candi says #
    I'll have to find my other resources. I wonder if it was one of Aidan Kelly's books that I found it in. I also have somewhere a
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Thanks. Please do let me know what you turn up. John
  • Elspeth
    Elspeth says #
    Thank you - very clear, instructive article - so useful. You take great care to state that active imagination is different to luci

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

             (This is a column I meant to post about eight days ago, when all the other great ancestor-related readings were being proliferated.. but I suppose this is my “fashionably late” addition to the season.)

             A lot of my time as a spirit-worker and teacher involves helping people to come to a better relationship with their blessed dead – ancestors of both blood and “other-than-blood relation” – and in general addressing many of the issues that arise in the typical 21st century American “spiritual seeker” around such things. My own religious and spiritual work is deeply entrenched in “theism”, but I tend not to default to deity work with most people whom I am seeing as either clients or students. The reasons for this are various, but the main element is that in my tradition, one must prepare oneself before approaching the gods. Many of these preparations should have been undergone in our developing years – e.g. as children and teens going through a process of enculturation and initiation-based rites of passage – but as most of us in America did not grow up with the benefit of a traditional polytheistic or animist upbringing, we need to return to these basic principles as adults. This process, in my experience and observation, can involve years of developing foundational platforms of spiritual and personal/emotional essentials.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I rolled into my yoga class last week, placed my mat in my usual spot and prepared for my normal Thursday night level 1-2 Anusara practice. My yoga teacher started the class by talking about a studio she has practiced in for many years-and then drew our attention to the particular studio in which we sat which had just turned 4 years old. She talked of foundations-how this particular floor and these particular walls have held us all as students-in our successes, our failures (if there is such a thing as failure in yoga) and all of the emotions and thoughts that run through us as we fold over into downward dog or kick up into headstand. I paid special attention to my bones during that class-their alignment or lack thereof, strength, and hugging the muscles into the bones as well.

And of course, being the animist, ancestor venerating, root magic-making, self-inquiry sorceress that I am I started thinking about my own foundations-my ancestors-who come from all over the place-Cherokee First People, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Germany, Spain, and the list goes on. I thought about all of the religions and spiritual traditions that have poured out through the ages into the pool of my heart-indigenous European pre-Christian traditions of so many stripes, indigenous Cherokee and Choctaw pre-Christian traditions and knowing, Judaism, Catholicism, and Baptist. The animals, plants, deities, and spiritual allies that have been with my lineage for centuries and the ones that have made themselves known to me in this time and this life. For me-these people, their traditions, devotions, and knowledge are the foundation upon which I stand. I thought of my own mother who taught me how to read tarot and runes when I was barely three-of my first magic spell performed with great success when I was four and a half, my father who taught me the power of prosperity, how to run a business and how to make a difference, of my dearly departed Cherokee grandfather who taught me about crystals, red clay, and root medicine and my grandmother who still lives and to whom I owe my intimacy with the King James Bible-on all of their shoulders I stand and I bow in honor.

My immediate family-husband and son and the land upon which we live in our tiny San Antonio historic neighborhood are my walls-within the confines of my family and my beloved my work has stretched and curled deep into the ground-anchoring itself in the sweet. dark earth. My daily ritual practice and devotions are also part of the walls-my alliances with my spiritual allies-the offerings made and promises kept-they all feed into this foundation. And of course, my clients-those that I serve, that I work with, who trust and share their most intimate stories with me-they are my foundation too.

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