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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in magick

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
The Myth of Pagan Enlightenment

When I first began practicing magic, I had this naive belief that every pagan and occultist I would meet would somehow be more enlightened. Part of me wanted to believe that the people I would meet would have their acts together, be living a better life than everyone else. And perhaps I also hoped that some of it would rub off on me...that since I was now practicing magic I too would become a more enlightened person.

I eventually discovered that the enlightened Pagan/occultist was a myth. My fellow Pagans and occultists weren't any more enlightened than anyone else was, and neither was I. We are just like any other person, with our own faults, reactions, and everything else that comes with it. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

As I lay face down and naked on the massage table, whatever it was, came unattached, and began to pour out with each exhale, some moments it felt like liquid, others like a chain link slithering out, others almost like a rubber band unmoored from points stretched throughout me and snapping out. It seems to have been attached to every nerve strand in my entire body.  Then it felt as if a crust was cracking all over my skin and falling away in pieces and chunks.  After the crust was gone more seemed to break to the surface in tiny openings everywhere - I had a sense that the Earth was absorbing all of it, taking it and repurposing it.   Finally I felt a swirling galaxy expanding from my solar plexus through my whole physical and etheric body, swishing through and making sure there was none left hiding inside my cellular, and even subatomic structure.


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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
How my Ancestors Liberated me

On a recent trip to South Dakota, I met my ancestors. I walked among their gravestones, walked in the places they lived, looked at pictures of them and heard stories about them that brought them to life for me. And although I didn't speak with them directly, I still felt like I had a dialogue. Since that trip I've continued to meditate on the presence of my ancestors.

In the title of this article I claim they liberated me and really they did, because what I learned about them put my own life and experiences into a different context. Instead of just focusing on the singular I experience of my life, I stepped back and looked at the generations that came before me and asked the question, "What were their experiences and how did those experiences convey themselves to my life?"

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
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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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
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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Problem Glyphs: Solving Issues Through Art

I first found out about Eliza Gauger's "Problem Glyphs" project through my partner Nathaniel, and I was instantly fascinated and intrigued.  They had been in a band together years previous, and he continued to follow her artistic pursuits after that on tumblr and Patreon

How it works is that since 2013, people have anonymously submitted to her some sort of problem or issues they have been facing.  She in turn creates an image to ward against that problem. In her words, "These symbolic illustrations draw on my background in esoteric occultism, aesthetic symbolism, mythology, psychology, and hedge "magic" to encourage, support, and counsel the people who seek them out."

Nathaniel had anonymously submitted to Eliza his lifelong struggle with a faulty memory and its possible ill effects on his health. (I lovingly call him my goldfish.) He is a diabetic, and had a hard time remembering to take his medication, despite a variety of tactics.  Eventually, his turn came and the Glyph was created.  He decided to get it tattooed on his right arm, where he can see it every day, and I'm glad to say it's worked beautifully. (It was also his first tattoo, and we're working on his next one...)

The Problem Glyphs have a strong style and imagery all of their own, yet pull from a diverse mythology and encyclopedia of symbols.  As an artist, designer, and sigilmaker, I love the amount of symbolism and movement she packs in to a single image, without overdoing it.  It's just the right amount of linework, balanced, and clear.

Besides the effective use of line and contrast, it's the process of making them from start to finish that pulls in the magick.  The querent expresses their problem, the artist considers it and carefully crafts the glyph, and releases it.  The querent is not only rewarded with an image to reflect upon, but it's the core fact that someone else, outside of them, contemplated their plight, and produced a piece of artwork based upon it. Just that exercise in itself goes a long way to helping someone overcome an issue, regardless of the art itself.  That someone else took the time to care, to think about THEM, and gave them a physical reminder of that process goes a long way in strengthening the spirit.

In this blog, I've talked about the magick that can be involved when an artist creates something for their own needs and visions, as well as for the Gods.  There's another level of fascinating interaction that occurs when the work is created specifically for someone else.  And in the case of the Problem Glyphs, we can add on the additional level as us, the bystanding audience, who upon viewing the images and their source issues become involved as well. Suddenly, we too are thinking about the querent, their issues, and our own relation to it.  Which I believe adds more energy and power to the image and those who it is made for.

There is a currently a kickstarter for making a book featuring 200 of the Problem Glyphs that Eliza has created so far.  Check it out here, it's almost funded with a week left to go. 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
At the Couch of the Gods

At a recent occult meet-up, the topic of the discussion was "Goddesses" and we had gotten to the point where we were discussing our experiences and perceptions.  Perhaps because there was a light focused down directly where I was sitting, I was especially talkative at that meeting.  

During one of my ramblings, the following description dropped out of my mouth: "With my art, versus my personal practice, I can't say that I'm specifically aligned with any certain deity or pantheon.  Rather it's like there's this mystical psychiatrist's couch in my studio, and They line up to have a lay down and tell me Their problems and what They want for art."  Up until that moment, I had never really voiced it, but that's exactly what it feels like to make my art. 

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