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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Claim Your Power

I know I've been quiet over here - really got leveled by a nasty cold that wouldn't go away, then as soon as I could, I was back in the studio making artwork and finishing the first draft of my second book, Sigil Witchery.  I'll be sharing with you some insights into the artwork I made recently, but for now, I wanted to share a new colored variation of the Power Sigil.  

To read more about it, please visit this blog post - which will also get you back to the original post on the Power Sigil.  You can also read about the Power Sigil more in this blog's archives.  This version follows all of the same protocol I released on the original one - so you can save it, print it out, tattoo it, making cross-stitch of it, etc - as long as you don't use it in such a way to make money off of it. Thank you! 

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Be Dangerous. Make Art.

“Surely all art is the result of one's having been in danger, of having gone through an experience all the way to the end, where no one can go any further.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne

(This is a companion piece that I wrote the same time as the post I published yesterday over at Patheos called The Dangers of Witchcraft)

Time and time again, I find myself pondering the above quote from Rilke.  It came to mind again recently as several people have remarked to me about the importance of making art in the years to come.  I pondered it from both practical (making a living) and spiritual (making a cultural impact) contexts.  

To make art - in a historical/evolutionary context - was a dangerous thing.  Think about it -when you focus on creating something that isn't specifically devoted to food or shelter, it's taking a risk.  Yet, it's an investment in fully living, an opportunity to enhance and transcend our experience, to connect with the divine and the Other.  It was a struggle for our ancestors - yet it was the creation of art that advanced us forward as a species. Today, surviving may not seem so balanced on a razor's edge, but there's still risks in making art. 

Art is the expression of the soul, the exploration and manifestation of intent. It not only suggests the vulnerability of the maker, it magnifies the whole of society - its best attributes, as well as its worst.  The latter is especially disconcerting to the comfortable, the entitled, and those seeking to control.  Art is fine, as long as it's on their side, promoting their ideals, matching their proverbial couches. 

A struggle against the making of art may not have seemed so apparent in modern society, but the evidence has been slowing creeping in for decades.  A little story for you to explain:

I didn't have any issues with sports until my teens. That's when it was starting to become apparent that schools were cutting back on the arts.  There was often the explanation that it was for saving money, but suddenly the sports programs would see new equipment, more investments in stadiums and so forth.  Yes, sports are great for keeping folks active and team-building, but there's also an undercurrent of herd mentality.  Be part of the crowd, support the team, have school spirit.  You could perhaps argue that maybe the arts don't benefit a school in the same way - but there are plenty of noteworthy competitions and events that involve the arts, and band, orchestra, dance, theater, literary magazines and newspapers all involve working in team structures. The arts also encourage critical thinking, valuing individuals for their diverse talents, and giving young people creative outlets to express and discover themselves. 


So I don't think it's a coincidence that soon after we began to see the cuts to art departments in schools, we were rocked by Columbine and similar tragedies.  We've continued to see a disturbing rise in school/mass shootings, to a point where it's become so much more common over the years, that it's become practically "normal."  There are so many different reasons cited for the why and how, but not many correlate the lack of funding for the arts with mental and social well-being. Take away the arts and you cut off the stimulation of creative thinking, self-healing, and the access to reasonable outlets to channel expression through. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_psychicpower-web.jpgThere's an illusion that art is elitist, that it's for the genteel and the high-end (an effort to take it out of the hands of all people), but art has always been a process for and by all. It is a product of and by the dangerous, of those who see differently, those who wish or need to make their voice heard.  When art has not rested peacefully on a wall, it has been banned, shunned, and ridiculed - until its message is absorbed.  Every major movement in art has gone through the eye of the needle before finding acceptance and understanding. 

The truth at the essence of the concept of the "starving artist" is not a romance about a person unfit to make a "proper living" - but someone with a vision strong enough that they reject being silenced and risk being comfortable to see it through. 

So many cultures have plundered and destroyed art that has come before them - as a means to silence history, to rewrite and change the narrative.  From Nazis destroying the work (and lives) of European artists of the late 1930's-40's to fundamentalists destroying ancient artifacts in the Middle East and China imprisoning their artists who dare to speak out through their work. Whether it's through violence or a slow stealthy strangle, art has been attacked because it has been seen as dangerous. 

All because art is the result of focused intent. Intent is the root of magick. Art is magick, and art is dangerous. Art can change our viewpoint and that of the world. Don't forget that, and for the love of all things human and divine, don't stop making art. 

(painting: "Spellcraft - Psychic Power - by the author)

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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
Alchemy

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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