Pagan Paths


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Paths Blogs

Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.

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Where Does The Magick Happen?

"If we focus more on the end result - the product - more than we do on the process, we teach ourselves and others how to consume instead of how to create."  (Quote by me.)

I may have woken up with a tad bit of a ritual hangover this morning.  But that didn't stop my brain from diving down a fascinating rabbit hole thanks to a facebook post from Byron about art and witchery. 

We often look at art in terms of being an end result, without much thought to the process.  I'm not only talking about visual art here, but all of the arts: dance, music, writing, theater, etc.  The end result rarely speaks of all of the hours of work, training, editing, practicing, derailed personal lives, lack of sleep, cuts, bruises, sweat, blood, and a whole slew of other things that really aren't slick, sexy, or appealing in general.  Yet the result is often something of beauty - profound, moving, emotionally, mentally, and/or spiritually compelling.  Unless you're involved in that art yourself, it's hard to fathom or understand everything that went into it.  Which is another reason why art is so often devalued in our society - that it's merely entertainment, dressing, something easy and amusing, full of pleasure and indulgence. 

Yet, it's also not just some combination of elements that make it into art.  Just because you have a canvas, some paint, a brush, and some time does not mean you will have a great painting at the end of it.  You'll have a painting in the basic sense of the word, but that doesn't mean it's art. Nor does a beautiful work of art mean that lollypops, cupcakes, birds singing, and sunshine were the stuff that made that piece happen. Inversely, a dark and painful appearing work of art doesn't mean that blood, tears, and thorns were involved in the making of it. Really, unless you were there, you can't know or say, you only have your own personal experience with the end result to base your opinion upon.  Which leads us to, when we add in the concept of "beauty is in the eye of beholder" and the lines between real and fantasy, experience and validity become very wispy indeed.  

Regardless of the end result, a skilled artist calls upon their experience throughout the process of making, transforming and changing materials through focus and intent. 

Similarly, a lot of folks look at spellcraft by the results without understanding the process.  They see the results, and they see a list of ingredients, and assume that's all that is needed.  But the experienced practitioner knows that it's the will that transforms and causes change in recognition of the elements and materials. It's the application of will and focus in the process.  You can follow the motions (burning a candle, digging a root, inserting of thorns, etc), but without the understanding and focus, they're often just actions that fall flat. 

Ask any artist where the magick happens, and they'll most likely tell you it's in the making of the art.  The need and desire to create comes from the actual process.  While the ego may be pleased by the end product of the process - and yes, it's definitely the thing that everyone else responds to -  it's the art-making itself that satisfies the spirit.

Though I certainly hope that for my own work, the ordeal and experience of the process is something that the end viewer gets a glimpse of. Not so much a look at my personal process, but perhaps that it speaks to their own experiences and processes.

In the end, it's not the telling of the process nor displaying of the art or spellcrafting that makes the magick, but the actual doing of it. 



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 AUGUST TREE LORE: Hazel Magic

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No Less a Woman

 

I ran across a fascinating word while copyediting a book a few years ago. Naditum is one of the five genders in Sumerian paganism. It's a gender, a biological sex-- meaning those born female appearing who turn out after adolescence to be infertile-- and a social class, the priestess caste. The idea really resonated with me, even though that’s not my tradition. The various heathen traditions don’t have a specific gender word for those identified female at birth who cannot have children and instead become priestesses. In heathenry, that’s still a woman.

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Freedom of religion, religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue

Freedom of religion

Freedom of religion, and freedom of choosing religion [or choosing none], is one of the most valued freedoms for any human being.

The Russian Empire of the past was a country where the Orthodox Church was an official, State religion. It was not allowed to change religion and, more than that, people were punished severely for attempts to do so. Leaving the Holy Orthodoxy could lead to punishment, penalties, exile from the country, confiscation of all possessions, and even imprisonment.

I remember learning about the Soviet Union - my home country – by reading our Constitution and there was one very important thing:
- a citizen is free to belong to ANY religion, or belong to none.

This is a treasured freedom of living in a secular state.

This is a guarantee that some monotheist fanatics will not stone you because of “denouncing G-d” or however they word it, if you decide to part ways with your previous monotheistic religion.
This is a guarantee that people of all religions are equal before State.

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Ghostbusters Magick

A few weeks ago I, and a lot of other people, saw the new Ghostbusters movie.  As a child of the 80s I was a wee bit skeptical at first but ended up loving it.  To quote one of my dearest friends, “I didn’t know women wielding proton packs was what was missing from my life.”  Of course me being me, my first thought coming out of the movie was that I just have to work with these characters in my magick - they’re just too awesome not to.  Let’s take a look at the four main characters and explore some of the many ways they can be worked with in pop culture magick.

***spoiler alert - this post will contain spoilers for the new Ghostbusters movie***

Erin Gilbert

Erin is a mainstream academic with a thirst to prove herself, to gain acceptance, and have her work and value acknowledged by those around her.  As a professor, Erin would be an excellent ally to call on for matters of scholarship (study, exams, learning, etc.) as well as navigating bureaucracy (there are few establishments as political and overwrought as higher education) .  Her struggle for recognition also makes her an excellent ally in workings designed to help one gain legitimacy, to be valued for your work, and to overcome obstacles.  I would argue that Erin would also be extremely helpful in workings of self-acceptance and self-esteem.  Throughout the movie Erin struggles with the conflict between being what’s expected of her and what she truly is.  She progresses from hiding her thoughts and values in order to be accepted by the establishment to expressing her true beliefs and taking the risk of really standing up for herself.  Though she can be a little timid at times, Erin is an excellent ally for anyone who has to work in mainstream culture.

Abby Yates

Abby is a significantly less mainstream academic who is willing to take risks and buck authority in order to achieve her goals.  She is bold, passionate, and unapologetic in her approach to life while also being a fiercely loyal friend.  Abby is a fantastic ally for any work that involves going around authority or otherwise subverting the establishment.  She can also be called upon for help standing up for oneself and holding onto the courage of your convictions in the face of adversity.  An unapologetic approach and unhesitant embracing of her own weirdness also make her a good ally in workings of self-esteem and empowerment.  The strong commitment she shows both in pursuit of following her dreams and in support of her friends makes her an asset for workings of endurance, loyalty, and determination.  Abby isn’t afraid to take risks, which can cause problems when caution is needed.  Call on her wisely.

Patty Tolan

Patty is a municipal historian, blue collar worker, and possibly the human embodiment of common sense.  Where many of the other ghostbusters live in a world of theory and academics, Patty’s feet are firmly grounded in the practicalities of everyday life.  Patty is an ideal ally in matters of practical problem solving, creative resource acquisition, and working with people.  Her practicality and resourcefulness also make her an excellent ally in matters of project planning, divining hidden difficulties, and general preparedness.  Her grounding and connections to place also make her helpful as an intermediary in workings to bond with the spirit of place for a given locale.  Her courage and willingness to try new things are well tempered by common sense, making her a very wise helper in determining whether to take a given risk.  Patty may not be as flash as some of the others, but she is the rock that can help you with everyday life.

Jillian Holtzmann

Jillian is the mad scientist of this bunch.  She’s a brilliant combination of Marie Curie, Tony Stark, and Victor Frankenstein; a fearless scientist,  a brilliant engineer, and a mad genius with little respect for safety or the laws of nature.  Jillian is an excellent ally in workings for inspiration, creation, anything involving the manipulation of science or technology, as well as workings to bend the laws of physics.  Where Abby is unafraid to go around authority or bend the rules, Jillian acts as if authority and rules are utterly meaningless and simply does as her brilliant mind tells her.  Call on her when there are no f**ks to be given.  Keep in mind that, while totally awesome, this blindness to caution or safety does make her a bit dangerous and more than bit reckless.

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How do you do Minoan?

I’ve been asked all sorts of questions about Modern Minoan Paganism, but the most common one is probably also the most fundamental: How do you do it? In other words, how do you actually practice this spiritual path?

To start with, I’d like to point out that this is a very individualistic path. It’s not a monolithic tradition with a set of rules and regulations everyone has to follow. It’s more like an umbrella structure under which each person can tweak the details in the way that they find most satisfying. So you start with the basics: the gods and goddesses of ancient Crete and their stories. Then you approach them in the way that makes the most sense for you.

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The Magick of Value

Do you truly value your work? 

This weekend I gave a lecture at 2nd Star Festival in Florence, OR.  Originally the idea was to give my "Visual Alchemy" lecture, which looks at the history and intersection of art and magick - but at the festival itself, there wasn't much description for attendees to read besides  the time and "Tempest, artist/dancer", so I decided to go off the rails a bit, and hope no one complained that I wasn't dancing as I lectured.  

2nd Star is a neat fledgling festival that is a cross-section of steampunk, fairies, pirates, mermaids, and other sorts of myth/creative folk - a little of everything fantasy. Just before I took the stage, the previous lecturer Josh Kinsey was answering a question about the title/use of the word maker.  I think that seeded the field a bit for the direction I went.

I started off with my basic introduction of defining art and magick, showing some slides of various kinds of art from early civilizations. Then I talked about art that is temporary - such as sand paintings, and art that is long-lived (temples, henges, etc), yet they are linked by intent and both equally important. And then I talked (ranted) about the value of art in today's society.  

Unfortunately, the vast majority of today's society does not recognize the importance and inherent value of art.  Art is more than something that matches your couch and looks nice, or is tucked away in a museum.  It's essential for human expression and well-being.  It defines and advances civilizations, building cultures.  It bridges the gap between different people and finds a common soul. It connects us and teaches us. 

When you, as a maker/creator/artisan/artist/master of the ephemeral exist in a society that doesn't understand the value of art, you're most likely going to have a hard time valuing your work.  When the artist doesn't value their work, then the society doesn't see value in the work or the worker for that matter. It's a vicious ouroboros.  
So in my rant--err--lecture, I challenged the folks present to reconsider art as something that is integral to their lives, and especially to the creators present - to re-evaluate how they see their work.  If you value your own work, then others in turn will start to see the value in it.  It should be priced with respect to the quality of the work, the materials, the amount of time, and true market value - versus what you think others (especially yourself, your friends, etc) may pay for it.  Nor does it matter if it's what you do for a living or as a hobby on the side, the effort and the result is the same. 

Just the simple act of believing and acting on the sense of value of your work causes a shift - in yourself, as well as those who interact with your work.  If you define magick as the art of changing consciousness in accordance with will - then valuing your work is also a form of magick.  You see value in your work, your work will be empowered, and others will respond to that shift in value, and see it for themselves.

Success in the arts is never overnight.  It doesn't come through one perfect connection, but rather years of hard work and dedication.  However, that sparkle of success rarely comes without belief in one's work, and a dedication to value.  Go forth and do some magick. 





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