Over the last week I’ve had the chance to watch two different takes on alternative religions. The first was Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Alex Gibney’s brutal documentary that eviscerates Scientology. The second was The Book of Mormon, the hit Broadway musicals co-written by the names behind TV’s South Park and Disney’s box office blockbuster, Frozen.
PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
I would love to take you on a journey, one that leads us through the wilds of nature and back to the roots and bones of witchcraft, a natural witchcraft that works with the seasons and all the natural items that Mother Nature provides drawing on magical folk lore and a little bit of hedge witch and wanderer magic too. No fancy schmany tools or ceremonial rituals, this is about working with the source.
Currently, it is a prevalent opinion among Pagans that traditional witchcraft was strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects. While I can respect that theory, it is not congruent with my own experiences. I suspect whether traditional witchery had sacred or ethical aspects varied by locale or by family tradition.
I never argue with anybody's experience, only their theory. Theory is ever-changing. I'd never want to invalidate anyone's experience, including my own. I'll share mine below.
My experiences lead to conclusions that differ from the aforementioned current popular Pagan position. I hope to add to the Pagan dialogue on the topic, and provide support for those who, like me, have an unpopular point of view.
Growing up in a family tradition, I learned magic and a mystical worldview con leche. Therefore magic and mysticism were a given, as much a part of life as the air I was breathing. In the process, a religious and ethical worldview was deeply ingrained in my cells.
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.
I just got back from seeing Deadpool. Although the character would bristle at being included in the genre, it was a good super hero movie. Our protagonist is the classic antihero: he’s flawed, potty-mouthed, and obsessed with revenge. Like many people in this world, he uses humor to cover up the burning anger within. But, in the spirit of the film, I’m going to break the fourth wall. I don’t want to talk about the merits of the film. I want to compare it to modern Paganism and magickal practice.
I’m getting a bit tired of super hero movies. There are some really great ones. I loved the first Iron Man, but that franchise hasn’t been the same since. Batman and Superman have been reinvented and regurgitated so many times over the decades that by now they just need to trot out a few recognizable icons then devolve into a CGI fueled orgy of fight sequences. Marvel has a plan to continue releasing its films at least through 2020, but I’m not sure the market can take it. As Deadpool himself might say, “the market is getting saturated and the audiences are getting tired. The genre is getting stale.”...
1-2 years ago, when friends and clients told me I should come out with a coloring book of my art, I must confess I was rather perplexed, and the thought conjured up images of newsprint booklets for children, full of cartoons.
Which mind you, it didn't seem like a terrible idea, as I have thought of writing and illustrating children's books, but I wasn't confident that my regular art was entirely child-appropriate. Heck, my work tends to unsettle most adults who are not of an esoteric persuasion, I didn't want to be responsible for freaking out small children.
Sometimes when I make art, I take on the role of psychopomp - creating art for the dying and deceased, as well as those left behind: a death mask for a dying man, a painted mailbox for a gravesite for a young teen, portraits of beloved pets who have left this world.
Sometimes my art leads me to the path of the Oracle, creating work for clients to help clear their paths that starts with a Tarot reading and ends with a painting or talisman: finding or defining a vocation, marking a new beginning, or helping to find resolution in the past so that new work can begin.
Sometimes when I am making art, I am the Witch and Conjurer. I pull from my own inner visions to create images and unravel myths. I can simultaneously make works for myself, for everyone, for anyone, and for no one at all, weaving the materials into spells and stories. There is all of the meaning to be unlocked - or none at all, seen and unseen. Much of my work tends to fall into this category.
And sometimes when I make art, I am the Priest and Priestess. The process goes beyond communing with the media, materials, and inklings of visions, and becomes a conversation with Someone Else. You can call it Spirit, God, Goddess, the Mighty Dead, the Ancestors, but those are just labels that help us grasp Them. I have worked with Many over the years - pretty much from every path that you can think of. Sometimes it is for a client, who has been called to have a certain piece (or pieces) of artwork on their altar by their Patron/Matron. Other times, I'll be working on a concept and it will have the effect of calling in Someone new (or old).