Skryclad: Clothed In Visions

Observations of the light and the dark of what is, was, and might be in the Pagan community's expansion and evolution.

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Ivo Dominguez Jr

Ivo Dominguez Jr

Ivo Domínguez, Jr. is a visionary, and a practitioner of a variety of esoteric disciplines who has been active in Wicca and the Pagan community since 1978. He serves as one of the Elders of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a Wiccan syncretic tradition that draws inspiration from Astrology, Qabala, the Western Magickal Tradition and the folk religions of Europe. He is the author of Casting Sacred Space: The Core Of All Magickal Work; Spirit Speak: Knowing and Understanding Spirit Guides, Ancestors, Ghosts, Angels, and the Divine; Beneath the Skins with other books in the pipeline as well. He is also is one of the owners of Bell, Book, & Candle (www.bellbookandcandle.biz), Delaware's largest metaphysical shop.

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I Am Am I

 

This is part two of a two-part blog that tries to move beyond the binary distinction of life and death. Please read the first part if you have not as you will get more out of this post if you do. To break out of the dichotomy of life and death we need to introduce identity as another measure of the attributes of existence. In order to explore how identity helps us to expand our understanding of life and death, let's start with the very large and then move down into the very small.

 

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  • Hec
    Hec says #
    I've always liked the notion that existence here on Gaia is like the drop of water thrown into the air when a wave breaks upon the

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More Than Life & Death

 

This is a closely packed and idea heavy blog post so please read slowly, and chew slowly so you can digest it. This is also part one of a two-part blog that tries to move beyond the binary distinction of life and death.

 

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The Turning

 

In less than a month we will be at a threshold that has been looming for many years. I'm talking about the Winter Solstice of 2012 with all its associated hype and hoopla. For the sake of simplicity, I will talk about the upcoming Winter Solstice, with full knowledge that it is also the Summer Solstice for our neighbors south of the equator. What I have say applies whether it is Summer or Winter. Countless books and articles have been written about this momentous point in time. For some in the New Age and metaphysical communities this has been the focus of their studies or careers for some time. As the owner of a metaphysical shop, I've had quite a number of people ask me whether or not I believe in the Winter Solstice of 2012. Sometimes glibly, I've responded “yes of course I believe in it”, and then I point at the calendar and “say there it is.” Then, if they are willing to listen, I share what I'm about to share with you in this blog.

 

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Coronation Day

 

Whether you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere, it will not be that long until it is the Solstice. The Solstice always brings to mind, for me, the journey of Spirit into Matter and round again. It is also a time to recognize the divine spark that exists within each of us as well as that which exists in the Heavens. This blog post looks towards that upcoming holy day and also takes my previous post’s comments on dialogue with the Divine in a different direction. I will ask that you indulge me in reading a poem that I wrote to capture the gist and the geist of a dream before it faded back to the astral. Read it at least twice or better yet read it out loud. Poems are meant to be spoken and to be heard if they are to be fully experienced.

 

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Which Voices?

The God/dess/es do not care about your rice krispies nor are their messages to be found in the snap, crackle, and pop. I have had what I believe to be genuine communication with the beings that I consider to be Deities and have experienced a number of forms of divine embodiment, or divine possession if you prefer. As such I do believe and have personal experiences that deepen the belief that the Great Ones do directly affect our lives. However, I regularly encounter people who report a chatty, friendly, rapport with the God/dess/es that they work with and/or worship. I have puzzled about this and in many cases it seems very sincere, but I doubt that beings whose scale of perception and consciousness are large enough to be considered Deities engage in small talk. I will warrant that this may simply be a limitation of my imagination and sensibilities, but I have another thought. 

 

I talk to my dogs, and like so many other doting dog lovers, I also talk for them. There is real communication between us, but there is also much that I add for my own benefit. Many humans are prone to anthropomorphizing pretty much anything as a way of bridging the gap between what we are and what is different from ourselves. This is actually a very sound and useful strategy as a starting point, so long as we remain aware that it is not the end of the process. The same is true when we theanthroposize, when we ascribe human emotions and thought patterns to a God/dess. Once again a good beginning point but one that requires heightened vigilance. This is complicated by the fact that many in this culture have a religion of origin that encouraged the idea of a personal relationship with God. Upon making the transition to some form of Paganism, this concept of personal relationship often remains relatively unchanged and unexamined. This can create another overlay of expectations that interfere with true communication with the Divine. I do believe that we each have a personal concept of the Divine and a personal way in which we relate to the Divine. Accordingly, I do suggest that a full and extensive re-examination of the parameters of human and Divine interactions is a good idea when we move to a new faith.

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  • Diana Todd
    Diana Todd says #
    “I do whatever my rice krispies tell me to do” Is humorous, but it is also unsettling for how true it is for some. Discernment is

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Watching The Flow

Thanks to all of you who checked in with me during and after the hurricane that in our house came to be called Sandy Claws as a tip of the hat to Nightmare Before Christmas. No damage of any consequence came to our home or our shop, just a bit of cleanup to do. We are grateful.

 

This is part two of a two part post on getting the most out of the experience of ritual. I’ll continue thoughts from last week, bring in a few more notions, and I’ll make some observations about the special circumstances involved in participating in rituals that are not part of your path. If you have not read the first part of this blog, please do.

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  • Gwendolyn Reece
    Gwendolyn Reece says #
    I have been thinking about these past two posts a lot. Thank you for the contemplative fodder, Ivo! Working on the theory that al

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Your Presence Is Requested

Sorry for the delay in posting my blog, but it has been a whirlwind week including finalizing arrangements with the host hotel for the Between The Worlds Conference, preparations for three major rituals, work on an initiation, family matters, and many other things.

 

This is part one of a two-part blog about how to get the most out of ritual and ceremony. The focus will not be on the writing nor the enacting of ritual but rather on the internal work required to make it more fulfilling and more authentic. One of the outcomes of being more fully present and engaged when you're in ritual is that you will accomplish more for yourself and you will be providing service to others.

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Kool-Aid & Amrit

 

In the last several weeks I've seen links and posts buzzing around in the Pagan social media realm related to the topics of dishonorable leadership, the warning signs of a bad magickal group, cult awareness, and so forth. This is nothing new and indeed at least once a year there seems to be a flurry of this kind of interest. One of the earliest Pagan writers on this topic was Isaac Bonewits, founder of Ár nDraíocht, who in 1979 created the first version of his Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame. It was quite good and updated versions of it are readily available online. Certainly wherever human beings are involved, there is the potential for all manner of dysfunctional behavior. I certainly think that we should be vigilant and on guard against systems, groups, or individuals that make the fulfillment of their needs paramount over our personal spiritual development. On the other hand, and this is where this blog post is headed, our fear over the potential for exploitation has its own unhealthy cost.

 

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  • Gwendolyn Reece
    Gwendolyn Reece says #
    Let me start this comment by saying that I agree with the primary sentiment that we ought not to be overly afraid of having teache
  • Ivo Dominguez Jr
    Ivo Dominguez Jr says #
    This is exactly the sort of discussion that is needed. Thanks Gwendolyn! I think it is important to create formal relationships i
  • Jae Sea
    Jae Sea says #
    The amount of mis- and dis-information out there does make it more difficult to parse out informed teachers for one's chosen path

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Seeing - Doing

 

I was recently asked the question of how it was possible for someone who had limited to no psychic ability to lead a ritual? I should also add the context of the ritual in question was one that involved operative magic rather than devotional work. In other words how could a person that was seemingly head blind be capable of weaving together the energies that were being directed towards them in the ritual. How does a person who does not perceive subtle forms and subtle energies know whether or not the circle, or whatever magical container they've created, is actually solid and secure? How do they know if there are imbalances that need to be corrected? And lastly how do they know if the work has truly been done? I will be honest and say that if someone had posed that question to me a few decades ago, I would've said that it was not possible. And I would've been wrong in making that summary judgment.

 

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  • Elissa Rich
    Elissa Rich says #
    An excellent point. Sometimes the work being done is purely intuitive with a conscious focus of will only - I tend to operate that
  • Robin Fennelly
    Robin Fennelly says #
    Ivo, thank you for sharing these insights. As one who does not see or sense in the traditionally defined way, I appreciate the rem

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Avalon & Brigadoon

 

This is the last installment of a four part series on physical infrastructure in the Pagan community. In this post I am focusing on festivals, conferences, and other multi-day events. In almost every culture and every community there is the custom of the gathering of the tribes. Modern pagan festivals, gatherings, and conferences are our equivalent of the gathering of the tribes. For simplicity sake, I'll refer to all these sorts of events as gatherings. In earlier posts in this series I spoke about the value that comes from seeing each other, working with each other, and having places that we can call our own. What makes gatherings different from these other kinds of infrastructure is that they involve large groups of people. Why is that important? For the most part, we are relatively isolated from each other and see only a handful of people at a time that share some commonality with our path. Seeing a multitude of Pagans together is transformative.

 

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Melissa: to pitch me on your blog idea, email me at editor2@bbimedia.com
  • Melissa Stansbury
    Melissa Stansbury says #
    So how do You "blog"? I just signed up and wish to "blog" in this forum about our ancient Craft....I am a multi-generational Witc
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    Another wonderful post, and I'm sorry to see the end of this excellent series. Can you recommend anywhere to get a comprehensive

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Sacred Precincts

 

This is part three of four of a series on physical infrastructure in the Pagan community. In this blog post I am focusing on temples, libraries, and land-based projects. For the sake of simplicity I am using the phrase temples, libraries, and land-based projects, but as you read this post also think of retreat centers, community centers, and other sorts of venues as well. There are currently a small number of Pagan temples, libraries, and land-based projects, for which I am grateful but there are not enough.

 

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  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I'd love to see someone put together a "model organization". Legal forms, business plan; something that meta-groups across the cou
  • Leanne Pemburn
    Leanne Pemburn says #
    What would it take to get many groups on one area to pool their resources?
  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch says #
    I couldn't agree more. However, one thing that we need to also remember is that Pagans as a group cannot rely on the largess of a

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The Once & Future Agora

 

This is part two of four of a series on physical infrastructure in the Pagan community. In this blog post I am focusing on Pagan bookstores and related businesses. For the sake of transparency and disclosure, I'll say that I am the co-owner of a metaphysical bookstore (Bell, Book, & Candle in Dover, De) so I do have a personal interest in this matter. I will also say that it is a labor of love and that there are any number of other ways that I could make a better living with much less work. If my partner Jim, did not have a good job with benefits, I would never have considered a metaphysical store as a reasonable option for myself. This is an artifact of the often strained relationship that the Pagan community has with money and finances. The ambivalence and misgivings related to money and material goods within our community will be a continuing thread throughout this series of blogs.

 

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  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    I really love that you point out how important Pagan bookstores are to people who don't belong to groups. I love being able to att
  • Alan
    Alan says #
    I'm checking on the edit comment question. It certainly seems useful to be able edit ones own comment.
  • Elissa Rich
    Elissa Rich says #
    I posted this at Facebook, and Ivo kindly urged me to share it here: " Great post, and I too want to be able to see more brick-and

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Place & Purpose

This is the beginning of a four part series on physical infrastructure in the Pagan community. Although there are many types of infrastructure that deserve discussion, I'll focus on three types in my next blog posts that I think have the greatest importance and greatest urgency at this fork in the road. I will be talking about: 

 

Bookstores and related businesses

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  • Caroline Kenner
    Caroline Kenner says #
    The memory of Bell, Book and Candle on 9/11 brought me to tears. If ever there was a time when I longed for infrastructure, that

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Chosen Belief

One of the things that I value about being a Pagan, is that my religion welcomes knowledge that comes from science. The research of astronomers and of archaeologists figures in my meditations and in my spiritual and magickal practice. I'm also happy that we have been called the people of the library rather than the people of the book. I have access to the myths, the stories, and doctrines of more cultures and ages than my spiritual ancestors could have imagined. I'm extremely grateful for the abundance of teachings that this represents as it gives great depth and breadth to whatever spiritual, magical, or religious work that I undertake. However there is a cost and a challenge that comes with every gift. With greater knowledge comes the possibility of greater doubt. Without a single book or body of teachings identified as the preeminent source of truth, there can be a weakening of the power of belief.

 

On the longest night of the year, science tells me the Sun will rise again and that the days will grow longer. On the longest night of the year, the myths that I hold true tell me that our actions determine our relationship to the Sun. When I see the glorious Moon shining in its fullness, I see a Divine light and I see a large rock held in the dance of gravity. When I look at the attributes and stories of a Deity across the lines of cultures and time periods, I see the lines of soft and hard polytheism grow blurry in a syncretic mist. I think you can find your own examples for the experience this dynamic in your life. This is not a blog about faith in the normal sense of the word. Nor is it a blog about belief in the normal sense of the word. The concern that I'd like to raise, is that one of the primary fuels of magick is belief.  The knowledge that we have in the modern world can interfere with the process by which we create the power of belief. As it is, we live in a culture that discourages a belief in the power of magick so we already have one obstacle to overcome. And though I believe that more knowledge can result in more power and more effective practices, I also know that it can create emotional, cognitive, and spiritual dissonance.

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  • Maggi Setti
    Maggi Setti says #
    The dissonance and paradox here of meaning being multi-fold is both the bane and beauty of our religion. It holds the wonder and

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Rites Of Community

Rites of passage are one of the most durable building blocks in the creation of community.They are also among the most underutilized. I was encouraged in my last post to continue exploring the ways in which we build strong organizations and community. Lasting growth comes from both momentum and inertia. I love ideas, perhaps as much as I love people, but this is not necessarily the case for others. For me, a cause is often enough motivation to persist in my efforts.  Even if there is agreement about the goals and the visions of a group, the implementation of those in the real world often generates conflicts born out of a variety of sources. The stresses of conflict can bring about a loss of commitment, a loss of coherence, and perhaps a loss of membership. The uncertainties of the way forward can also sap energy that is needed to pursue collective goals.

 

It is the weight and the mass of accumulated emotional memory that acts as the flywheel, the gyroscope, and the driver that allows us to push past temporary distress. It is a fairly popular idea to think of loving relationships as consisting not only of the individuals, but also of that meta-being that is the summation of the partners. The same idea can be applied to groups and organizations. In the case of organizations and groups we have to plan for the creation of a common pool of emotional memory. Communal history helps to hold us together and rites of passage help to write the history into our hearts and minds. 

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Agent Of Change, Agent Of Stability

Over the years I have committed much of my energy to a variety of organizations and movements. Currently, I am seeing lots of growth and turbulence in many groups so I am sharing some observations of patterns that I have seen repeated. This post is mostly aimed at organizers but is of benefit to all.

 

The Self-Empowerment, Drama, & Big Picture Factor

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  • Jae Sea
    Jae Sea says #
    Yes, please share more on this topic and anything else you'd care to blog about. There is always useful and insightful informatio
  • Robin Fennelly
    Robin Fennelly says #
    Wonderful information, Ivo. Thank you and please continue.
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Great work, Ivo; I vote for more on this topic.

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What Do You Call That?

This is part three of an arc of related ideas that can stand alone but would benefit from the additional context of the earlier posts. If you have not read the two previous blogs, I hope that you take time to read them. In this post I’ll explore the use of names and labels such as Pagan, Wiccan, etc.

 

Though it would be lovely to come up with some equivalent of Linnaean taxonomy (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species) when it comes to the various magico-religious streams, I do not think that it is practical. Physical living things have relatively distinct boundaries whereas systems of culture that are passed from and through individuals and communities through non-genetic means have a high degree of form complexity and overlap. Moreover the overlapping domains of the magico-religious streams are not limited to nesting hierarchies of set and subset. Also, the Traditions of the magico-religious streams are anchored in more than just the physical plane and the rules of the other planes also apply. 

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Magickal Religion

In my first post in this blog, I shared my working definition for the term path. In brief, a person’s path is the synthesis and the summation of their spiritual, religious, and magickal undertakings. If you have not read the first blog, I hope that you take time to read it.

 

I’d like to say a few things about magickal religions and what the adjective “magickal” means in this context. All religions have an exoteric and an esoteric component though they vary in the proportions of each and how they are expressed.  One of the simplest examples of this is the idea that sacred teachings can be taken to have a literal exoteric meaning and also a hidden teaching that is only found through an esoteric understanding of the same words. The exoteric portion of religion tends to be normative (about how we should live) while the esoteric portion of a religion tends to be transformative. Magickal religions have a larger proportion of the esoteric than the exoteric. Magickal religions tend to have fewer restrictions on gaining access to esoteric teachings or experiences than mainstream/non-magickal religions. Another important distinction about the nature of magickal religions is that their members are more likely to be practitioners of some esoteric art or science. Although on the surface it may appear that prayer, faith healing, and similar practices are comparable to ritual or operative magick there are substantial differences. Magickal practitioners have a more active engagement and understanding of the process that they use to access the powers and forces that they are a part of their religion.

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a1sx2_Original1_ThreePathIvo.jpgThis is my first post in this blog and it is actually the first time I am blogging. Although I am generally an early adopter of many technologies and cultural trends, I do resist certain things. As an example, I did not have a cell phone until 3 years ago though I have had email since 1979. Part of my resistance to blogging was that I needed to choose a focus for the blog because I am blessed with so many interests. I am passionate about the growth and development of the various intertwining streams of inspiration that form the pagan community. I also feel a great sense of duty to this community, this marvel of diversity that so often overflows its banks and cuts new stream beds. The name of my blog is "Skryclad" a play on skry and skyclad as I intend to offer my bare personal truths clothed in my visions, dreams, and observations. It is my intention for passion and duty to equally inform my work on this blog.

To get things rolling, I'll be doing a three blog arc on the use of terms to describe personal and collective identity in my community, which may also be your community as well. Names, labels and categories have power and power can be used for good or ill. It may be that you wish to reframe the existing schemes of description or that you just wish to replace a few key words. It may be your choice to reject all notation and that the tradeoffs are equitable from your vantage point. It is my premise that the outright rejection of these containers is also a loss of their powers. I am sharing my work in progress on these matters with the hope that it will enliven your process. Here are a few observations to get us started.

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  • craig.setti@gmail.com
    craig.setti@gmail.com says #
    Excellent first post. Quality blogs are rare, so I am looking forward to learning from and following yours for a long time. Thank
  • Ealasaid
    Ealasaid says #
    Huzzah! So excited to see where you go with your upcoming posts. Loved this one, too - the word nerd in me is always excited when
  • Leanne Pemburn
    Leanne Pemburn says #
    So glad you made this leap. Having these bite-size concepts will be extremely useful. Thank you!

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