Paganism is often described as religion of “Nature Worship” or as “Earth-Centered”. Is it? Should it be? Is Nature, in how we use it, a euphemism for the wilderness, or the biological, ‘living’ part of the world, or is it a name we put on the world as a whole? Is Nature big enough for it to be a descriptive characteristic of our group spiritual life? Much depends on the definition of Nature. . .
Desire carries the implicit possibility of change. Relationship requires that possibility to become a reality.
This year was the first time I had the opportunity to leap a (small, thankfully) fire as part of a Beltane ritual. I was surprised by how much it made me feel in my flesh and bones the way that Beltane is about the potential for transformation.
We're all familiar with the idea that Beltane is about desire, of course, but there's a wonderful book called The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World in which author Michael Pollan investigates and meditates on the relationships between humanity and four different plants, each one catering to a different human desire....
Walther knew. But he could not resist,what ten-year-old could? Every year was the same. Grandmother Dunkelhaus would shake her finger at him and warn, “Walpurgisnacht, the devil’s night—you stay indoors. Devils,witches, ghosts—they come, they get little boys, eat you.” Then she would snap together her shiny wooden teeth—clack!—as if she knew the flights of witches first hand.
But this year—tonight!—he would know, he and Elsa. “We must see,” they had promised one another. Walther slipped out this afternoon, to sleep a while in the orchard as Elsa had suggested. The nap should help him stay awake tonight. He had put apples in his rucksack and a handful of matches—also Elsa’s idea. She swore she would sneak away with a lamp. He looked around the room; never know what you might need. His woolen cap and sweater would keep him warm—spring was on the calendar, but not in the night air.
In my previous post I discussed how to emotions could be used in magic and made the point that an emotion such as anger is not inherently negative. What makes anger negative is we choose to express it. In thinking further about my own approach to magic and what I use to fuel my magical work, I recognize that it's not just emotions I draw upon, but experiences and the feeling of the experience. A feeling is not necessarily the same as an emotion. A feeling is the awareness of an experience and emotions are just one component of an experience and the expression of that experience. This is important because when we work magic to bring a possibility into reality part of what we are working with is the feeling associated with that possibility.
Think about love for a moment. What does love feel like? Don't think just in terms of the emotion, but also the physical sensations of you holding someone else's hand, or holding the person or kissing the person. What does that feel like? How does it make you feel emotionally? How does it make you feel intellectually, spiritually, and physically? All of those feelings and experiences are what love (romantic) is comprised of. So if you were to do a love magic working, you'd want to draw on those experiences as part of the fuel for the workings, because those experiences shape that feeling in your life.
But we can also apply this understanding to other circumstances. For example, if you work at a job, there will also be specific experiences and feelings you associate with the job, as well as emotions. If you decide to look for a new job or just need to find one, then any magic you work you want to infuse with the positive experiences you've had. Maybe you were praised by a manager or took pride in what you did or got a pay raise. Take all of those feelings and infuse them into your magical working....
Many Pagans use ritual and magic with a therapeutic focus. I've found this to be more prevalent in some traditions than in others, and more common among bootstrap and eclectic traditions. Those kinds of traditions tend to be more fluid and less conventional in the kinds of ritual they perform, which perhaps accounts for their tendency to be more daring in the kinds of work they do. The use of ritual for or as therapy is especially common in the tradition from which I arose.
I heartily endorse creative ritual in fostering health and healing. Ritual performance can enhance therapeutic efforts. Therapy can be reinforced by the use of ritual supportive of its goals.
Calling upon the help of a deity or deities, of power animals and birds, of ancestors; using cleansing scents, healing herbs, the powers of stones and other natural objects -- all can have therapeutic benefits. Acting out or engaging in dialogue -- with self, with disease or injury, with another human in ritual, with spirit -- can also be therapeutic....