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Studies Blogs

Advanced and/or academic Pagan subjects such as history, ethics, sociology, etc.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Fête, Revel, Role

 

Most of my friends and associates think of me as a serious person that is always up to their elbows in projects. I have a very full schedule with teaching workshops, writing, mentoring people within and outside of our tradition, organizing small, medium, and large educational events, and running a metaphysical shop. My days usually start at 5:00 or 5:30 AM and pretty much every hour is accounted for until around 9 PM when my off time begins. On May 4, 2013, my shop Bell, Book, & Candle sponsored an event called “The May Moon Revel”. It involved a live band, belly dancing, readers, book signings, food, drink, amazing costumes, and random merriment. It was a great deal of work and from my perspective well worth the hours required to plan it, and to pull it off.  By the way, it just barely, sometimes, breaks even so money is not its motivation. After the event, one of my friends (who did not attend) asked me why I used my time on a frivolous event when I have so many important things already on my docket? Before going further, I'd like to say that I believe that my friends and members of my community do have a right to question my choices. I would actually say that is one of the hallmarks of actually being in functional friendships or communities. So my answer was not “none of your business”, it was “let me tell you why”.

 

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When a person comes into magic, they often do so largely because they're looking for that magical wand for themselves. Either they're looking for a magical cure for their problems, or they're looking for an explanation why things work out the way they do, and so on. They often don't even give themselves a moment to consider the applications for other people. Even the nicer kinds of people often have this blind spot- they're not being selfish, they're being considerate of meddling in other people's affairs.

Still, I have often said that the true mark of a magician of any sort (be it shaman, sorcerer, witch, etc.) is how they use their powers in aid of another. After all, the first focus of any magician is the mastery of one's self and one's own life. Of course, once one has accomplished that (no easy task, to be sure, but it is the first goal), it should stand to reason that a person would naturally turn their gaze outward towards their surroundings.

In the Marvel Universe (yes, I'm referencing comic books in my magical practice), there are three kinds of true magic- Arcanum Ego, or the magic of one's self and one's own personal "energies"; Arcanum Eco, the magic of one's environment and natural power; and Arcanum Exo, the magic of extraplanar forces and beings. For myself and my own experience, this seemed entirely natural as a system of understanding. My own studies of astrology have taught about the modes of Personal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal ideology and wisdom- if you haven't learned this yet, the twelve signs are split into four Personal (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer), four Interpersonal (Leo, Virgo, Libra, and Scorpio), and four Transpersonal signs (Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces).

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Is getting paid money manipulation? I don't think so. Getting paid is simply setting a price on services rendered. At the same tim
  • S. Rune Emerson
    S. Rune Emerson says #
    Interesting point, Taylor. I myself have found that a person who facilitates my life through an act of kindness or generosity wil
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    As someone who's done barter on occasion for one of my other businesses, I prefer to be paid in money. While it is true that money

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Magic isn't always Glamorous

I've been thinking about what to write for this column for the last week and I've been coming up blank. No topic has really seemed right. There was nothing exciting going on or anything of real note standing out to me. If anything my life has been pretty mundane. Get up, go to meetings, meet with clients, come back and work on a project, spend time with the family, and of course throw some meditation and exercise in the mix for grounding purposes. Nothing very glamorous at all, and yet it strikes me that perhaps there is something to write about that, on this blog and its this: Magic isn't always glamorous or full of drama or anything else that we might associate with pop culture references to magic. Sometimes magic is just part of daily life, something you are doing to make your life easier or more meaningful or to connect with the spirits, but not something which necessarily has a lot of glamour associated with it.

My latest book, A Magical Life, has just been published. I'm excited to have it out, but something that the author of the introduction, Storm Constantine, wrote has been on my mind. In describing the book, she explains that magic isn't a colorful garment we put on, but rather it is an integral part of our being, woven into our lives everyday. And that is how I think of magic. I meditate each day and my meditations are an essential part of my life, something done as a way of bringing order to my mind, while allowing me to connect with the spiritual forces I work with. Nonetheless I'd have to say there is nothing inherently glamorous about the meditation. In fact, there are days I don't want to meditate or do anything else along those lines, and yet I make sure I do meditate because it is part of my life, and because not doing it takes away from the quality of my life.

I think to some degree your average magician is in love with the idea of magic being glamorous. Certainly at the beginning of a person's spiritual work with magic, there is this sense that you need to get all the ceremonial tools and that every act of magic must be an overt, explicit affair that screams to the universe: THIS IS MAGIC! And there is something to be said for doing those loud acts of magic that are glamorous and over the top and amazing in their own right. I've done and still do those kinds of acts of magic when the time is appropriate. But I recognize that fundamentally magic isn't always that way, nor does it need to be. My meditation practice isn't over the top and yet it still fills me with a sense of wonder and amazement. Indeed, if anything my daily work speaks more loudly to me than an over the top ritual because the daily work is where the discipline of the magician is tested. In that daily work, I don't necessarily do magic to solve problems (at least not overtly), but what I do is connect to the magic in a meaningful way that allows me to deepen my relationship to the spiritual forces I'm working with.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Thank you Erik. I'm glad this article was helpful!
  • Erik M Roth
    Erik M Roth says #
    Thank you Taylor. This is a great reminder about the nature of magic and it's ability to weave into everyday life. I appreciate
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Indeed you are not. There are many people out there who realize this.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Is Nature Enough?

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. . .

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton says #
    Following Gary Snyder, I define "nature" not as trees and flowers merely, but as all processes outside the control of the human eg
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    There is so very, very much we do not know about the interwoven web of life that we call Nature. The sustainable and ever-changing
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Good to hear, Sam. Glad you like the essay. I read it as suggesting I was at the end of a continuum the other end of which was tho

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

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.

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