Tag Archives: magic

I am an Initiate. This is what I do.

It happens fairly often now, where someone asks what my personal practice looks like.  Normally I respond in the general: well, here’s what I typically do each day or so.  I describe my home hearth practice.  And it occurs to me now, that I don’t often talk about what my practice as an Initiate looks like.  Or what my practice as a Priest looks like.  Or what the dove-tail looks like in my practice as an Initiate-Priest.  And not only am I not talking about it, I realized with some of the current discussion going on about The Spirit of ADF, no one appears to have talked about it much.

When you apply for entrance into these programs, you’re asked to respond to things like “What does being an Initiate mean to you?”, “Why do you want to be an ADF Priest?”, and “What form do you think your vocation will take?”  in your intention letters and vocational statements.  You’re asked to talk about what these things are without having been there yet.  And that is incredibly difficult.  If you’d like to read mine, you can find them here: Initiate Intention Letter, Clergy Intention Letter, and Vocational Statement. It is interesting that my Initiate Intention Letter still rings true for me.  Now having undergone the Ordeals and been tapped in to the Current, my Path was brightened and focused, but the root of it hasn’t wavered.

I know when I was an Initiate Candidate, I had no idea what Initiate Work looked like.  And even with several ADF Grove Priests in my Grove, when I was working through our Clergy Training Program, I had no idea what the personal Work of a Priest looked like.  Now, the obvious caveat here is that this experience will vary from initiate to initiate (especially) and priest to priest.  That’s part of the beautiful diversity of our organization.  But, we do have some commonalities, and I’d like to talk about them without getting into the Mystery of each specific Order.

So, as an Initiate, what do I do?  I’d like to start by talking about my Initiate Oath.  Each Initiate makes an Oath following third, and final Ordeal, that completes their initiation. It is book ended the same for each Initiate “I come from the Fire at the Center of Worlds… And with these tools I shall lead others to the Flame.”  We each fill in the middle of that Oreo cookie with imagery regarding the tools we gained.  Here is my full oath:

I come from the fire at the center of worlds,
Where the burning stars fall from the heavens to the seas.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the oak tree stands upon the mound.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the fire rages amongst the storm of lights and rain.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the stranger in the darkness stands as guide.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
Where the heartbeat of the Mother ignites the fire within.
Mists to open. Mists to bind.
With these tools I shall lead others to the flame.

So, in the external work that I do, I am focusing on bringing others to the Flame.  That is the guiding statement for almost all of my work as an Initiate.  To me, this means that not only am I doing what I can to be a mentor to folks within our organization in general, wherever they may be on their path, but I am also specifically focusing on those who have expressed and interest in becoming Initiate’s themselves.  I have focused heavily on making sure that the path to Initiation is accessible to all who wish to walk it.  While it falls much more in the mundane realm of things, and not in the spirit worker realm, one of the things I did, that I think has had the most benefit thus far, is I fleshed out and built a fully structured syllabus and class that guides the beginning Candidate through all the required coursework and offers supplemental activities to make the work more enjoyable, more fulfilling, and ensure that the Candidate is as prepared as possible for the Three Ordeals they must undergo for Initiation.

“That’s great,” you say, “but what does being an Initiate in your actual spiritual practice look like? What do you do? What is an Initiate?”

I’m glad you asked! 😉 As an Initiate, I see myself as a Spirit Worker within an ADF context.  This means, that first and foremost, I work with the Current.  What is the Current you ask?  Well, here is an article that describes it’s establishment: https://www.adf.org/articles/working/initiatory-current.html  Notably, what is mentioned in the article is that at the culmination of a Candidate’s training, they will undergo a ritual of initiation that will tap them into a spiritual Current that unifies all ADF Initiates and that they would be able to use as the “juice” for their Work.  Because it was also an ADF Unity Rite, all of ADF was also joined into this work.  The Current is described as “flowing through ADF.”

I had just joined ADF when the Current was established, and was not there for that rite.  I came after, so I can only speak to what I know about it from my own experience and what I’ve learned about it along the way from my own Initiation and from the spirit work that has followed.  For me, the Current is the energy of the organization itself, and of the other Initiates who have been tapped in to this Current. It is a source of power for magic, divination, and trance journeying.  It is a connection to other Initiates.  Each Initiate sees it and works with it in a different way.  For me it most closely resembles the Mists of Magic that flow in the liminal spaces between the worlds.  It is referenced in my oath when I say “Mists to open.  Mists to bind.”  I weave the Mist of the Current into my magic.  I let it flow through me when I do divination.  It flows all about me and through me when I do trance work, and I use it as a tool to aid me in my journeys.  The Current is an integral part of my practice as an Initiate.

So, in my regular practice, what do I do as an Initiate?  I do Initiate-specific trance work, and make the attempt to do this a couple a times a week, though like most things, it ebbs and flows with what is going on in my life.  Since beginning the Initiate Work, my delineation between trance, magic, and divination has blurred.  They each tend to feed into the other. My trance work contains bits of magic and divination.  When I do magic or divination, I am certainly in a trance state.

So, this Initiate trance work for me generally takes the form of me traveling out from my Inner Grove with my spirit allies, and doing other spirit work, which may or may not include magic or divination.  Sometimes I go to places I know, sometimes I go to new places.  I seek new spirits who desire to work with me, or who may be beneficial in my own work. If I am doing helping work, I may seek out a spirit who can help me with that.  If I’m doing bardic work, I may seek out inspiration in the Otherworld.

I seek tools that will help me as I journey.  Do I need a way to bring the light of the Fire with me wherever I go (literally and metaphorically)?  Then I will seek that out.  I seek advice from spirits I know.  How should I approach this problem?  What direction should I focus my creative efforts?  I explore symbols and sigils in the Otherworld.  One of the cool things I’ve done and have just started writing up is I have journeyed focused on each symbol within the Greek Alphabet Oracle, and deepened my connection to the symbol set, finding new and more nuanced meanings for interpretation.  Each symbol has a location and vision in the Otherworld.  I occasionally engage in tandem-trance, where I journey with other Initiates (whether we are physically present in the same space or not) and we exchange experiences and visions. This allows us to build our Otherworld maps, and find the places where they overlap.  We can meet the spirits that another has met, and begin working with them independently.

Like most of the work I do as an ADF Druid in general, my goal with my trance work is to deepen my relationships with the Kindreds, and as an Initiate, it often becomes experimental.  I use my experience, knowledge, and devotion to gather around me powers that help me further the deeper work of trance, magic, and divination. This in turn deepens my practice further and as I find things that work for me, I share that with others so that more can benefit from it.  Sometimes this means introducing people to new spirits I’ve met.  Sometimes it means sharing new ideas for divination with others.  Trying them out in this world, rather than the Otherworld.  Sometimes it’s writing a song, or prayer, or piece of poetry that will help others connect to Our Druidry in a way they hadn’t before.

All of this to me is leading others to the flame with the tools that I have gained as an Initiate.  This post ended up longer than I anticipated, so I’ll post what I do as Clergy in a later one.

Magic 1 for Priests

Survey:

 1) Discuss the importance and actions of the magico-religious function as it is seen within the context of general Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words)

Within the context of the general Indo-European studies and applying Dumezil’s Theory of Tripartition, a culture is divided into three social strata: the priestly strata, the warrior strata, and the herder-cultivator stratum.  The magico-religious function would fall into the first strata of people (Littleton 4-5).  These are the people who serve as magicians and priests within their culture, as well legal and justice role. When looking at the lore from an Indo-European culture, it should be noted that the gods associated with the first function were often paired in order to include both roles. One of example of this is Odin and Tyr in Norse mythology. Odin fulfilled the magician and priest role, while Tyr fulfilled the legal and justice role (Mallory 131-2).  It was the function of the magician to perform rites of passage as needed, but also to act as seers and spell casters for both individuals and institutions within their culture.   It was the duty of the priest to be sure that all proper forms of sacrifice were observed and that each necessary holiday was celebrated appropriately.  They would also perform rites of passage as needed, as well as preside over other seasonal and cultural celebrations.  In some cases the function of the priest and the magician would overlap, however their paths diverged more in some cultures than others.  The legal aspect of this first function was fulfilled by the community leaders, whether this was a king, members of the Assembly, members of the Senate, or a clan leader.

 

2) Identify the terms used within one Indo-European language to identify ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ examining what these terms indicate about the position of the magician in that society and the practice of his or her art. (minimum 100 words)

There are a variety of terms that are used to describe magic and magician, and the connotation of the word would change depending on which term is used to describe a magical person or magical act.  Mageia, the Greek word for magic, is what is practiced by the magos or magi, the magician or sorcerer.  The term magi comes from Persian, and when used in Greek, refers to a foreigner.  There is a kind of grudging respect because they are skilled in and responsible for “royal sacrifices, funeral rites, and for the divination and interpretation of dreams” (Graf 20), however due to the cultural and political tensions between Persia and Greece, they were not trusted.  The Heraclitus prophecies threaten these “wanderers of the night, … the magi, … with tortures after death” and with torturing by fire because “the mystery initiations [are] impious rites” (Graf 21).  There are other subsets of terms used to describe the various magicians.  The agurtes were beggar priests, to whom people could go for individual work, with the likelihood that the amount you paid them would effect what they told you.  The mantis was a diviner.  He was the freelance diviner, as opposed to the institutional diviners.  Both of these people were defined in the Derveni papyrus as “a professional of rites” (Graf 21).  They were lumped in with the night wanderers because they were privy to and specialized in the secret rites.

 

3) Discuss the existence and relative function of trance-journey magic within at least one Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words)

In many Indo-European cultures trance work is often linked to divination of some sort. Trance and trance-journeying appear to be a common method for conducting divinatory magic.  The most prominent example of trance-journey magic within ancient Greece remains the existence of the institutional oracles.  These women would enter a trance state in order to commune with the divine and receive answers from the spirits.

For example, the oracle of Delphi (the Pythia) was said to sit above a chasm in the rock, on a three-legged stool, and breathe in the vapors of the mountain. The ancients believed these vapors were the breath of Apollo, and by breathing it in, he (or his daimons) would possess her and speak through her (Johnston 44-7).  This is the idea that “when this prophetic potency mixes with the Pythia’s body, it opens up channels through which her soul can receive impressions of the future” (46-7).

 

4) Discuss the place of alphabetic symbolism as part of the symbolism of magical practice within one Indo-European culture. (minimum 150 words)

Within ancient Greece the use of the Greek Alphabet in divination was, while not the most famous method of divination, a useful tool for many people.  A common method for this style of divination was to place pottery shards that had been inscribed with the letters and shake them in a drum frame until one or more leapt out (Sophistes “Oracle”).  Divination was a deeply ingrained magical practice within ancient Greece.  It is interesting to note, however, that the institutional oracles were likely not using the alphabet system to divine, but were rather much more likely to be engaging in enthused prophecy (as discussed in question 3) (Johnston 44-7). The freelancer diviners were more likely to use the alphabetic or other tactile methods for divination. Part of the reason for their use of these methods was likely because they were operating on a smaller scale than the institutional oracles, and as such needed a wider variety of tools because they were “clarifying problems on the spot” (109). Additionally, because they were freelance entrepreneurs, they were “willing to expand their repertoire as their clientele demanded” (177).

The letters of the Greek alphabet are used in the creation of amulets.  This can be seen in the variety of examples within the Greek Magical Papyri.  For example, PGM VII. 206-7 describes the creation of an amulet to prevent coughs.  The magician takes hyena parchment and inscribes a series of ancient Greek letters upon the talisman (Betz 121).

When referring to sounds, it is interesting to note that sometimes within the Greek Magical Papyri, there are direct instructions on how a specific sound is to be made, and the feel of it in your mouth.  For example, in PGM V. 1-53 it directs the magician to pronounce AOIAO EOEY by saying “the ‘A’ with an open mouth, undulating like a wave; / the ‘O’ succinctly, as a breathed threat, / the ‘IAO’ to earth, to air, and to heaven; / the ‘E’ like a baboon; / the ‘O’ in the same way as above; / the ‘E’ with enjoyment, aspirating it, / the ‘Y’ like a shepherd, drawing out the pronunciation.”  This detailed description implies that the exact way in which the letters were said, and the exact sound they made, was imperative to the successful completion of the magical act, in this case, creating and working with an oracle (Betz 101-2).

 

5) Discuss three key magical techniques or symbols from one Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words each)

Rites of Binding (defixiones)

Binding spells are found in the curse tablets that are scattered across the ancient world, most notably in the Mediterranean area.  They are texts, primarily written on tablets of lead, that are intended to force another to the magician’s will, or make them unable to follow their own desires.  The texts themselves are divided into five different types of spells: judicial, erotic, agonistic, anti-theft, and economic.  In these cases, while the written texts have allowed us to study them, the part that is more important is the rite itself where the binding is carried out (Graf 119-123).  The text of who is bound and in what way conveys the intent of the spell, but there were also instructions for the magician for how and where to send the tablet down, whether by burying or sinking or nailing, etc.  The magician treated with chthonic beings to help him carry out the binding spell (134-5).

Divination

There are a whole host of techniques revolving around divination.  The famous methods of divination involve the use of direct visions either directly to the querant or through an intermediary (Graf 197).  This is what is seen at the Oracle of Delphi and the Oracle of Dodona.  This type of divination uses trance work to determine the message.  There are instructions to conduct such a direct vision in the Greek Magical Papyri specifically with Apollo in PGM VII. 727-39 (Betz 139).  There is also the use of augury to conduct divination, as well as knucklebones (or astragaloi) and basic lots for sortilege.  This is what we most often use in modern paganism.  Some other methods include divination through lamps, mirrors, or bowls of water.  These methods often have an elaborate set of directions to prepare the magician and the object for use.  For example, one set of instructions in PGM IV. 221-258 explains how to take a bronze vessel and fill it with a specific type of water depending on who you wish to contact, as well as the words to say over it in preparation (42).

All of these methods of divination are magic because they depend on having a relationship with spirits in order to achieve the results you desire.  Even if the result is no more than being able to interpret an omen, to be able to do that you must develop a relationship with a spirit to do so properly, and convince, cajole, bribe, etc. them to get their help in the matter.  Because spirit arte is working with spirits to achieve the goals of your work, divination within the Hellenic hearth culture is a form of spirit arte.  If you want something, including the answer to a divinatory question, then you have to find a spirit and win them over to your cause in order for that thing, or that answer, to happen.  This is seen time and again within the Greek Magical Papyri, as spirits are called for both simple and elaborate tasks (Betz).

 Amulets

There are a great many examples of amulets begin created and worn to achieve a certain end.  In paging through the Greek Magical Papyri, there are hundreds of examples.  One category of amulets has to do with healing.  The magician takes the material required and inscribes a series of letters or sigils.  The person the spell is for then wears the amulet.  PGM VII. 213-14 describes wearing an olive leaf about the neck as an amulet, with a shape that looks like a cone inscribed on the shiny side of the leaf, and a crescent moon inscribed on the dark side of the leaf (Betz 121).   Another description of an amulet is PDM xiv. 1003-14 which gives instructions on how to create an amulet to cure gout (244).

 

6) Discuss the relative place and methodologies of magic within your personal religious/spiritual practice. (minimum 100 words)

I have struggled with the concept of magical work, partly because for me it is so entwined with both trance and divinatory work.  Magic, trance, and divination all contain pieces of the others that make it difficult for me to pull out just one of them and discuss it independently of the others.  Magic is simply prayer with intent, and so it is a very broad term that can encompass many things.

When I do magical work, it most often takes one of five different forms: trance work, divinatory work, ritual magic, healing work, or bardic work.  And these forms can happen at the same time, and often do.  I often use trance in combination with all of the forms, as well as independently to better focus the intent of the work, or to gain a clearer or more intense understanding of the desired outcome.  When I do divinatory work, I always call on Apollo Mantikos to aid me, making this a form of spirit arte.  Ritual magic is the kind of things that happen within a ritual.  Within ADF these are things like opening the gates and calling for the blessings.  When I do healing work, it is most often done with the aid of a spirit.  I make offerings to the spirit and call on them to help me focus my intent and lend energy to the person in need of healing.  Bardic work is done through trance and calling on various spirits for inspiration.  An initial offering is made to a spirit, and the outcome is often the creation of a bardic piece that can then be used to further honor the spirit.

 

Practicum:

7) Healing Work – Provide and explain one example of healing magic from an Indo-European culture, and write an ADF-style healing working based on that example. (min. 150 words for example explanation)

The Artharvaveda is a collection of spells, prayers, charms, and hymns designed for a variety of purposes.  Many of these relate to healing work that can be done.  The example quoted below is a charm for teething, specifically for the first two teeth that break through.  The text of the charm calls directly to the teeth themselves, as well as to Agni.  Many of the healing charms within the Artharvaveda call to Agni.  I think this is both because he is the priest of the Gods and the one who accepts sacrifices, but also because Fire itself is purifying when dealing with illness or pain.  The charm calls on Agni to sooth the teeth that are breaking through the gums.  Offered to the teeth themselves are rice, barley, beans, and sesame, with the intent that the child will eat these rather than harm his parents.  This is especially apt, as breastfeeding a teething infant can lead to biting, which is supremely uncomfortable.   The next part of the charm asks that the teeth come forth gently and that the fierceness, the pain, be passed away from the body.

“VI, 140. Expiation for the irregular appearance of the first pair of teeth

  1. Those two teeth, the tigers, that have broken forth, eager to devour father and mother, do thou, O Brahmanaspati Gâtavedas, render auspicious!
  2. Do ye eat rice, eat barley, and eat, too, beans, as well as sesamum! That, O teeth.. is the share deposited for your enrichment. Do not injure father and mother!
  3. Since ye have been invoked, O teeth, be ye in unison kind and propitious! Elsewhere, O teeth, shall pass away the fierce (qualities) of your body! Do not injure father and mother!” (Bloomfield VI, 140)

“HYMN CXL

A blessing on a child’s first two teeth

(1)Two tigers have grown up who long to eat the mother and the sire:

Soothe, Brāhmanaspati, and thou, O Jātavedas, both these teeth.

(2)Let rice and barley be your food, eat also beans and sesamum.

This is the share allotted you, to be your portion, ye two Teeth.

Harm not your mother and your sire.

(3)Both fellow teeth have been invoked, gentle and bringing happiness.

Else whither let the fierceness of your nature turn away, O

Teeth! Harm not your mother or your sire.” (Griffith CXL)

 

In creating this healing work for modern use, I have written a charm to be said while mixing the ingredients together for “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment.”  As a baby is able to start of solid foods around the same time that they will be getting teeth, I decided that a concoction that can actually be consumed and eaten by the child easily would be the way to go.  One of the ingredients called for in the ancient charm is beans.  Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are the main ingredient in hummus, which can be easily eaten by most infants who have started on solid foods (though it may cause gassiness).  Both rice cereal and barley cereal can be mixed into the pureed chickpeas, and then seasoned with just a little bit of sesame oil or tahini.  This will create a pureed food that even babies who are just starting solids could eat, as it could be thinned with as much water as necessary for them. There have been reported cases of sesame seed allergies, so as always, before introducing new foods to your baby, consult their doctor.

To make “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment” combine the following ingredients in a food processor while saying the charm that follows (alternatively, say this charm over the dish before you serve it if you aren’t the one who made it):

  • 1 can of drained chickpeas (or chickpeas that you’ve cooked yourself)
  • 2 Tbsp tahini (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp rice cereal
  • 1 Tbsp barley cereal
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • water to desired consistency

“Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, you who have broken through,

Be eased, bright tigers, in your work by this gift.

Come forth, and bring with you smiles of joy, rather than grimaces of pain.

Be soothed, sweet tigers, and be not over eager in your entrance.

Come forth, and partake of this share allotted to you.

Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, born of blessed Fire, be warmly welcomed here!”

 

8) Warding Work – Provide and explain one example of warding or protection magic from an Indo-European culture, and write an ADF-style warding working based on that example. (min. 150 words for example explanation)

There are many examples of protective talismans within the Greek Magical Papyri.  PGM VII. 206-7 describes the creation of an amulet to prevent coughs.  The magician takes hyena parchment and inscribes a series of ancient Greek letters upon the talisman (Betz 121).

In other parts of the Greek Magical Papyri there are direct instructions on how a specific sound is to be made, and the feel of it in your mouth.  For example, in PGM V. 1-53 it directs the magician specifically in how they should pronounce AOIAO (101-2). The materials used, the letters and words inscribed, and the words spoken were all important parts in the creation of talismans.

Each Hellenic Full Moon ritual I lead has a magical working in it.  During the Artemis full moon, we created protective talismans for the children of the folk who normally attend (or for the children of those close to those who normally attend).  I wrote out the text for the working, and we did it in a call and response fashion.  I felt that it was important for each person to speak the words themselves, because they knew who the talisman was being created for, and could better focus the intent.  It was also important for each person to speak the words due to the power that the verbalization of those words carry.

I fashioned this protective working after some of the amulets in the Greek Magical Papyri, such as what things were done to the item in order to make it fit for the intended use.  For example, PGM VII 149-54 gives instructions for grinding and mixing ingredients (goat bile, water, rosemary, saltwater) to sprinkle about to prevent bugs/fleas from getting in the house (Betz 119). In the case of this working I wanted the talisman infused with the powers of the land, sea, and sky, as well as ensuring that the child would be looked after by all the Theoi and by Artemis specifically, so I considered what types of things could be done to put those aspects into the talisman.  I also considered what words to say to accompany the creation of the charm. PGM VII 370-73 gives instructions on what to wear as well as what to say to keep wild animals, aquatic creatures, and robbers away (127).

Creating a Protective Talisman:

  • Need a token of some sort that will be on or near child/young mother
  • Need blessed waters, cypress or walnut (both sacred to Artemis), and incense

We come together now in the presence of all the Theoi, but most especially Artemis, protector of children.

I take this token and ask that it be blessed.

Blessed in the light of the moon which has infused these Waters.

Blessed in the presence of the Maiden, who watches over all children.

Blessed by the breath of the Theoi, who watch over us all.

Let these waters wash clean (this child) as they infuse this token.

*blessed waters form the Return Flow are sprinkled on the token*

Let this plant, sacred to Artemis, fill (this child) with strength, and protect (her) from all harm, as it infuses this token.

*cypress/walnut is rubbed into the token*

Let this smoke breathe life and joy into (this child) as it infuses this token.

*incense is wafted around token*

Infused with the blessings and in the presence of the Kindreds, we call now for the powers of Land, Sea, and Sky to combine with ours and with the bright, fierce essence of Artemis, to seal this intent into this token.

*brief pause to focus and visualize intent*

Esto!

 

9) Purification Work – Provide and explain one example of purification magic from an Indo-European culture, and write an ADF-style purification working based on that example. (min. 150 words for example explanation)

The Greek Magical Papyri contains examples of amulets and talismans that aid in the work of the magician.  There are many spells that are designed for the consecration of tools.  One such is PGM IV. 1596-1715 (Betz 68-9).  This particular spell calls on Helios to consecrate a tool, which in the example in the Greek Magical Papyri is a stone, though it indicates that it can be any object.  A great portion of the words that are said are praising the work of the god.  This spell is designed to invoke Helios in each of the hours that he is seen in the sky, and for each hour provide a skill to the magician and his consecrated object.  Towards the end of the spell, the magician would speak: “Hear my voice in this present day and let all things done by this stone or for this phylactery, be brought to fulfillment, and especially NN matter for which I consecrate it” (Betz 69)

The magic that is being done here in the modern working is a visualization of a maelstrom stripping away those things that are pulling in our unwanted attention.  The swirling maelstrom then purifying us and allowing us to find our center.  We are consecrating a stone to help us stand firm at the center of the swirling storm, and help us to maintain our own center.  The working focuses not only on the purification of the individual, but also in maintaining that purified and grounded state.  It uses the imagery of the sea and the omphalos as the axis mundi to center the individual who is creating this tool.  For this working you will need a stone (or some other focus object), myrrh, and salt.

“Poseidon, Earth Shaker, Wave Bringer:

You whose trident stirs the mighty maelstrom,

whose waters wash us clean in the storm.

I bring you this gift of salt for your realm, and myrrh for your delight

As I ask your aid in this working tonight.

*salt and myrrh are offered*

You teach us of endurance and patience:

The calm in the raging storm.

You teach us of strength and perseverance:

The gates holding the Titans at bay.

You teach us of persistence and change:

The ebb and flow of the tides.

*each person takes stone and holds it at their center and speaks:*

“Poseidon, may this stone mark my center,

Holding me firm and strong here within myself.

Let the whipping winds cyclone about me

Stripping away the miasma I carry.

Strip away the obstacles I put up in front myself.

Strip away the extraneous emotions and thoughts diminishing my focus.

Let me stand firm at the center,

Even though the storm may rage about me.

Though the maelstrom spins, I stand strong.

Like this stone, I stand firm upon the Earth:

Unshaking and unafraid.

Like this stone, I stand firm amidst the storm:

the waves breaking around me, the riptide passing me by.

Like this stone, I stand firm and strong

Here at my Center.”

Poseidon, Lord of the Deep,

Connect us to the foundations of the Earth

And help us to find peace and joy

in the blossoming waves of the storm.”

 

10) Introspection – Having done the above work, provide detail of your understanding of why self-knowledge and introspection are critical for working with magic and how you intend to pursue your own course of self-understanding. (min. 350 words)

The work described in the practicum for this course, as well as the work done in Magic 2, have both helped to inform my understanding of why self-knowledge and introspection are critical for working magic. They have helped me consider how I approach magical work, what methods I use, how I determine what magical work to do, and how my work reflects on how I am perceived by others.

Self-understanding and introspection are essential for every person who practices magic, whether or not they consider themselves a magus or magician.  For me this becomes a discussion of ethics, and a discussion of ethics within my practice turns towards the Delphic Maxims (Oikonomides).  Personal introspection falls under maxim #8 “Know Thyself” or perhaps “Be Yourself,” depending on the translation. This requires a person to examine their personal values, and determine why they feel the way they do, and how to best act in accordance with those values they have come to own.  Many other values are accounted for within the maxims that help to guide who that “self” is that you should strive to know and be.

In the work described in the practicum, I looked at what type of magic would actually be useful to me and to those who were attending the rites where that magic was performed. Part of the introspection was setting aside ideas for workings that would be ‘cool’ or ‘flashy,’ but not necessarily be the best way to accomplish the goal of that work. This required me to deepen my understanding of myself. An understanding of yourself requires that you know who you are and continually exploring who you want to become.  It requires an understanding of how your actions and inactions affect yourself and others, and your view of yourself and how others perceive you.  This does not require you to cater to or be afraid of how others will view you, but at least have an understanding.  This understanding as you grow will help you to distinguish the role that magic is taking in your life. I believe there is always a danger that hubris can overtake a person, and in the case of magical work, this hubris can be more devastating as the magician breaks from reality.  One of the guiding maxims that I think helps to curb hubris is to “Be (religiously) silent.”  It is more important to do the work than talk about all the work you have, or could have done. One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve done the work for the initiate path as well as the beginning work for the clergy training program (including the practicum for this course), is that my view of myself will affect the way that others view me, and the best course of action for me is to let my work speak for itself and let others determine their view of me from my actions.

An understanding, and continual drive for better understanding, of how you view yourself and how others view you will help to keep hubris from taking root and destroying both the self and any relationships that may exist.  You should like who you are, and act in such a way that you continue to do so.  If you don’t like yourself, then you should be able to take steps to fix that.  You should also have an understanding of how those around you view you, and be able to accept that view.

Ways that I pursue a course of self-understanding are first by examining (and re-examining) my biases.  It is important for everyone to know their biases so that they can account for the ways that may pre-dispose them to a certain belief or outcome.  I do divinatory work to consult the divine on whether or not an action (magical or not) is called for.  I meditate on how my actions will affect myself and others. I work to determine what I view as right and wrong, and where my line is that I won’t cross.  I do my best to stay honest with myself and true to my gods, because in the end, I have to answer to my conscience and my gods.

 

Works Cited:

Betz, Hans Dieter. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation: Including the Demotic Spells. Chicago, Ill.: U of Chicago, 1986. Print.

Bloomfield, Maurice. “Hymns of the Atharva-Veda.” Sacred-Texts.com. Sacred Books of the East. vol 42. 1897. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.

Graf, Fritz. Magic in the Ancient World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1997. Print.

Griffith, Ralph T.H. “The Hymns of the Atharvaveda.” Sacred-Texts.com. Sacred Texts. 1895-6. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Littleton, C. Scott. The New Comparative Mythology: An Anthropological Assessment of the Theories of Georges Dumézil. Rev. ed. Berkeley: U of California, 1973. Print.

Mallory, J. P. In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1989. Print.

Oikonomides, Al. N.. “Records of “The Commandments of the Seven Wise Men” in the 3rd c. B.C..” Classical Bulletin: 67-76. Web. 1 July 2014. <http://www.flyallnight.com/khaire/DelphicMaxims/DelphicMaxims_CB63-1987.pdf>

Sophistes, Apollonius. “Hellenic Magic Ritual.” Hellenic Magical Ritual. Biblioteca Arcana, 2000. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. <http://omphalos.org/BA/HMT/>.

Sophistes, Apollonius. “A Greek Alphabet Oracle.” A Greek Alphabet Oracle. Biblioteca Arcana, 1995. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. <http://web.eecs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/GAO.html>.

The Importance of Self-Understanding and Introspection

The work described in the practicum for Magic 1 for Priests, as well as the work done in Magic 2, have both helped to inform my understanding of why self-knowledge and introspection are critical for working magic. They have helped me consider how I approach magical work, what methods I use, how I determine what magical work to do, and how my work reflects on how I am perceived by others.

 

Self-understanding and introspection are essential for every person who practices magic, whether or not they consider themselves a magus or magician.  For me this becomes a discussion of ethics, and a discussion of ethics within my practice turns towards the Delphic Maxims.  Personal introspection falls under maxim #8 “Know Thyself” or perhaps “Be Yourself,” depending on the translation. This requires a person to examine their personal values, and determine why they feel the way they do, and how to best act in accordance with those values they have come to own.  Many other values are accounted for within the maxims that help to guide who that “self” is that you should strive to know and be.

 

In the work described in the practicum, I looked at what type of magic would actually be useful to me and to those who were attending the rites where that magic was performed. Part of the introspection was setting aside ideas for workings that would be ‘cool’ or ‘flashy,’ but not necessarily be the best way to accomplish the goal of that work. This required me to deepen my understanding of myself. An understanding of yourself requires that you know who you are and continually exploring who you want to become.  It requires an understanding of how your actions and inactions affect yourself and others, and your view of yourself and how others perceive you.  This does not require you to cater to or be afraid of how others will view you, but at least have an understanding.  This understanding as you grow will help you to distinguish the role that magic is taking in your life. I believe there is always a danger that hubris can overtake a person, and in the case of magical work, this hubris can be more devastating as the magician breaks from reality.  One of the guiding maxims that I think helps to curb hubris is to “Be (religiously) silent.”  It is more important to do the work than talk about all the work you have, or could have done. One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve done the work for the initiate path as well as the beginning work for the clergy training program (including the practicum for this course), is that my view of myself will affect the way that others view me, and the best course of action for me is to let my work speak for itself and let others determine their view of me from my actions.

 

An understanding, and continual drive for better understanding, of how you view yourself and how others view you will help to keep hubris from taking root and destroying both the self and any relationships that may exist.  You should like who you are, and act in such a way that you continue to do so.  If you don’t like yourself, then you should be able to take steps to fix that.  You should also have an understanding of how those around you view you, and be able to accept that view.

 

Ways that I pursue a course of self-understanding are first by examining (and re-examining) my biases.  It is important for everyone to know their biases so that they can account for the ways that may pre-dispose them to a certain belief or outcome.  I do divinatory work to consult the divine on whether or not an action (magical or not) is called for.  I meditate on how my actions will affect myself and others. I work to determine what I view as right and wrong, and where my line is that I won’t cross.  I do my best to stay honest with myself and true to my gods, because in the end, I have to answer to my conscience and my gods.

Teething Charm: Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment

The Artharvaveda is a collection of spells, prayers, charms, and hymns designed for a variety of purposes.  Many of these relate to healing work that can be done.  The example quoted below is a charm for teething, specifically for the first two teeth that break through.  The text of the charm calls directly to the teeth themselves, as well as to Agni.  Many of the healing charms within the Artharvaveda call to Agni.  I think this is both because he is the priest of the Gods and the one who accepts sacrifices, but also because Fire itself is purifying when dealing with illness or pain.  The charm calls on Agni to sooth the teeth that are breaking through the gums.  Offered to the teeth themselves are rice, barley, beans, and sesame, with the intent that the child will eat these rather than harm his parents.  This is especially apt, as breastfeeding a teething infant can lead to biting, which is supremely uncomfortable.   The next part of the charm asks that the teeth come forth gently and that the fierceness, the pain, be passed away from the body.

 

“VI, 140. Expiation for the irregular appearance of the first pair of teeth

  1. Those two teeth, the tigers, that have broken forth, eager to devour father and mother, do thou, O Brahmanaspati Gâtavedas, render auspicious!
  2. Do ye eat rice, eat barley, and eat, too, beans, as well as sesamum! That, O teeth.. is the share deposited for your enrichment. Do not injure father and mother!
  3. Since ye have been invoked, O teeth, be ye in unison kind and propitious! Elsewhere, O teeth, shall pass away the fierce (qualities) of your body! Do not injure father and mother!” (Bloomfield VI, 140)

 

“HYMN CXL

A blessing on a child’s first two teeth

(1)Two tigers have grown up who long to eat the mother and the sire:

Soothe, Brāhmanaspati, and thou, O Jātavedas, both these teeth.

(2)Let rice and barley be your food, eat also beans and sesamum.

This is the share allotted you, to be your portion, ye two Teeth.

Harm not your mother and your sire.

(3)Both fellow teeth have been invoked, gentle and bringing happiness.

Else whither let the fierceness of your nature turn away, O

Teeth! Harm not your mother or your sire.” (Griffith CXL)

 

In creating this healing work for modern use, I have written a charm to be said while mixing the ingredients together for “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment.”  As a baby is able to start of solid foods around the same time that they will be getting teeth, I decided that a concoction that can actually be consumed and eaten by the child easily would be the way to go.  One of the ingredients called for in the ancient charm is beans.  Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are the main ingredient in hummus, which can be easily eaten by most infants who have started on solid foods (though it may cause gassiness).  Both rice cereal and barley cereal can be mixed into the pureed chickpeas, and then seasoned with just a little bit of sesame oil or tahini.  This will create a pureed food that even babies who are just starting solids could eat, as it could be thinned with as much water as necessary for them. There have been reported cases of sesame seed allergies, so as always, before introducing new foods to your baby, consult their doctor.

 

To make “Dr. Tally’s Soothing Tooth-Tiger Liniment” combine the following ingredients in a food processor while saying the charm that follows (alternatively, say this charm over the dish before you serve it if you aren’t the one who made it):

  • 1 can of drained chickpeas (or chickpeas that you’ve cooked yourself)
  • 2 Tbsp tahini (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp rice cereal
  • 1 Tbsp barley cereal
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • water to desired consistency

 

“Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, you who have broken through,

Be eased, bright tigers, in your work by this gift.

Come forth, and bring with you smiles of joy, rather than grimaces of pain.

Be soothed, sweet tigers, and be not over eager in your entrance.

Come forth, and partake of this share allotted to you.

Fierce and sharp tooth tigers, born of blessed Fire, be warmly welcomed here!”

 

Trance 2

  1. Describe your regular method of entering basic trance. (min. 300 words)

There are two main methods that I use, and it depends almost entirely if I am entering trance in a ritual setting or not.  Both methods include an aspect of controlled breathing as well as an auditory cue if possible.

My preferred method is to use some form of sonic driving to enter a trance state, and to maintain it throughout the duration of trance.  When doing this, I choose one of the auditory tracks I’ve used for this purpose in order to maintain continuity of the auditory cues my brain is used to.  The three types of tracks I use most often are either one of Harner’s 30 minutes drumming tracks at 240 beats per minute, or a complex drum track that is of a similar tempo (Fierce Tibetan Gods, of part of an African Percussion compilation), or an atmospheric type recording by Sigur Ros.  I’ve found that the straight up drumming tracks are the ones I’m the most successful with, especially if I’m in an area with a lot of distractions.  This is partly because I will have the sound continually playing to help maintain the trance (unlike the other recordings which may end after 5-7 minutes), as well as the fact that they include a callback beat to signal when the trance should end (Harner).  As the recording begins I begin focusing on my breathing and slowing it down to a comfortable and regular tempo.  As I progress deeper into the trance my awareness of my breathing fades and by brain locks into the sounds of the drumming, which will then seem to echo and morph, and eventually fade if a deep trance state is attained.  The drumming will remain in my subconscious if I’ve entered a lighter trance state.

While sonic driving is my preferred method of entering trance, it is not often the method that is used during a ritual setting.  During ritual, I again control my breathing and slow it down to a comfortable and regular tempo. Most often in ritual this is enough to put me in a light trance, which is all that is needed to complete the magical workings of a ritual.  There is the slightly woozy and disconnected from the world, yet connected to everything feeling that helps signify to me that I’ve entered a light trance.  Normally within ritual the only time I enter a deeper trance is when I’ve doing the work of the Seer.  In this case I’ve built in an auditory and olfactory cue to help me enter the state that makes interpreting the omens easier.  I take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering of bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens: 

Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.

I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sounds and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter that trance state where that was possible.  The Pythia is the name given to the Oracle who dwells at Delphi and speaks for Apollo (Johnston 33-50).  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.

 

  1. Explain the use of trance in group ritual, including trance techniques including the Neurolinguistic Programming techniques of “anchoring” and “leading” in trance induction. Give an example of how you would script this use in ritual. (min. 500 words for the essay, 200 words fro the script)

Trance in group ritual can be a very powerful tool to engage the folk on the same page, and help to bring them all together in the same mindset, and thus allowing any energy that has been building to align.  This alignment of energies and purposes will help make the ritual flow more smoothly and make any magical acts that will occur more powerful.  Trance work in ADF ritual is most commonly seen during the Two Powers meditation, where the folk are connected to the powers of the realms, as well as to each other.  In this instance, trance is used to establish the group mind.

One of the ways group mind can be established through trance involves including aspects of Neurolinguistic Programming, such as anchoring and leading.  Anchors are some sort of stimulus that invokes a certain mindset.  The anchor will first need to be created and reinforced in order for it to be successful.  A successful anchor is something that is a unique stimulus and can be linked to a specific state and repeated (Ellerton). In the script below, the initial anchor is the body posture, specifically the part of the body posture that includes the cradling of the belly around the baby with the hands in the specific position described.  Other more subtle anchors are added in the initial step to continue to reaffirm the connection to the desired state.  For example, the instructions to “feel your palms on your belly” as a kinesthetic stimuli, and the feel and sound of breathing as well as the phrasing “take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, then exhale” continues to act as an auditory stimuli for this state.  As a visual stimulus, the script below includes phrasing such as “feel your roots extend into the earth, growing into your Mother.”  I think it’s important to include all three types of stimuli (kinesthetic, visual, and auditory) if possible, especially when you’re leading group trance experience.  You don’t necessarily know who is going to respond to what kind of stimuli, and so it because very important to make sure you’re reaching as many people as possible.

So other instances of anchoring lines that I have experienced included phrases such as “And now, Children of Earth, see in your mind’s eye…” which for me is a very strong auditory anchor that ritual work is about to begin, and that I will be entering some sort of magical or religious state of mind.  There is also the common visualization of during the Two Powers of send your roots down into the Earth, and your branches up into the Sky.

Once you have established an anchor, the next part of a successful trance induction is establishing rapport throughout the trance so that the folk will be more likely to let their barriers down and follow the progression of instances that you are leading them towards.  This is most often done by allowing your voice to mimic the way they should be feelings as you establish their anchor.  Most of our trance work in ADF public ritual involves making sure that the folk feel comfortable, relaxed, and secure as they engage their minds to interact with the liminal state.  So, to lead them into this, you would modulate your own voice to mimic this relaxed and calm feeling.  Other methods include “mirroring techniques to match the person in terms of tone, word choice, volume, breathing tempo, and body language to form a rapid bond” (Knight).  This is most often done by speaking in calm, smooth tones, with frequent pauses to allow their mind to slow down as your words slow down, and by allowing the slow breathing patterns that you are requesting of them to also be the slow breathing patterns that you yourself are using.  In the script below this is reflected both where there are commas (which I placed to indicate a short pause for breath), and where the word “pause” is included (to indicate a longer pauses, about 3 seconds or so).

*** Script ***

(note: this script is intended to be used by pregnant women engaging in the Birthing Posture (Goodman), and is designed to allow them to begin to connect with their baby in the womb)

Sit or stand with your feet parallel and firmly planted in the Earth, about six inches apart.  Keep your knees slightly bent. Looking straight ahead, close your eyes, and relax. Rest your hands on your belly with the fingers and thumbs held close together.  Your index fingers are about two inches apart, pointing towards your navel, gently cradling your baby.  Hold your arms away from your body, elbows sticking out, with your shoulders back. Your posture is good.  You’re comfortable, smiling inside, and cradling your baby.  Let a feeling of calm wash over you.

*pause*

Focus on your breath.  Take a deep breath in, hold it for a moment, and then exhale.  Again, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.  Once more, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.

Feel your body begin to relax.  Begin with your cradle.  Take a breath and feel your palms on your belly.  Exhale as you let the tension release from your hands and wrists. Take a breath and feel your arms extending out from your body.  Exhale and release the tension in your shoulders.

Now feel your spine extend from the base of your skull all the way down to your tailbone.  Take a breath and feel roots extend into the earth, growing into your Mother.  Now exhale and release the tension in your back.  Let it flow down into the Earth.  Focus once again on your breathing and feel with each inhale your connection to the Earth grow.  Feel with each exhale your tension flowing away.

*pause*

As your tension flows away feel this release also in your womb.  Feel your baby as she is given more freedom to move, as less pressure is placed on her.   Feel her tension lessen as well.

*pause*

Focus now on your heartbeat.  Feel as your pulse beats within your fingertips.  Feel as your pulse beats  within your belly.  Feel as your pulse beats within your chest.  Feel as your pulse beats with the Earth Mother.

Let your breathing relax as you focus on your heartbeat.  Listen to the faint beating within your ears.  Listen as this beating becomes louder.  This is how your baby hears your heart.  This is her connection to you.  She is soothed within your womb as you are soothed by the Earth around you.  Listen to the steady thump-thump, and feel that connection between the Earth, and you, and your baby.

*pause*

You tensions now eased, and a connection established, think now on the joy of your baby.  Think on the joy in her creation.  Think on the joy of her inside you now.  Think on the joy that she will bring into the world with her.  Think on the joy of raising her from infant to child to teen to adult.  Think on the joy that she will bring to all the lives she touches.

*pause*

With these joys in mind, feel them as a warmth growing between your hands.  Let this warmth pulse with your heartbeat, and with each breath grow stronger.  Let the warmth fill the space between your hands, spreading across your belly.

Now, let that warmth begin to seep down into your womb.  Let your joys fall across your baby so that she too can feel the ecstasy that she encompasses.  Let the warmth of outrun joys pulse through her as easily as your heartbeat does.

Feel the love, and joy, and warmth as it fills you and your baby together.  Spend some time focusing on these thoughts.  How do they make you feel?  How do they make your baby feel?

*210 bpm drumming for 15-30 min*

Begin to once again concentrate on your body.  Listen for your heartbeat, pulsing through you and your baby with love and joy.

*pause*

Feel your fingertips, warm now with that joy pulsing through them, as they gently rest on your belly.  Feel your arms as they extend out from your body.  Let your posture relax as you wiggle your fingers and toes.  Perhaps you roll your shoulders or neck, bringing yourself back to your body.

Take a deep breath and let this breath of the Mother rejuvenate you.  Exhale, and let the energy you’ve pooled within yourself seep back into the Earth.  Again, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale, coming back into yourself.  Once more, breathe in deeply, pause for a moment, and then exhale.  Let the last of the excess energy flow back into the Earth.

*pause*

Open your eyes and let your arms fall to your sides as you come firmly back to your body.

 

  1. Describe three experiences of trance. These trances must come from three different methods chosen from the list below: (min. 600 words for each experience)

b) Sonic Driving

Sonic driving is probably one of the most reliable ways I’ve been able to attain trance.  It is especially useful for me because not only does it align everything in my brain, but it also blocks out distracting noises that can pull me out of trance.  That being said, it is also one of the methods that I feel much more comfortable with when whatever it is I’m listening to has a callback beat, because it does hold me in trance so well.

For this trance experience I used Harner’s 30 minute double-drumming track.  I was slightly depressed going into the trance work, my husband was having a very moody day, and the baby had been cranky all day.  Needless to say, there were a lot of distractions vying for my attention.  It took me longer than normal to drop into trance. I stayed aware of what was around me longer.  As I listened longer, I began to hear bits of music or songs overlaid on top of the drums, with colors accompanying the sounds. This is not terribly unusual, but normally when it happens it feels more coherent.  This was more like if I were sitting in a closet with 4 separate concerts going on in the rooms around me.  I felt like there were words for some of the strains I was hearing, but I couldn’t pick them out. Other strains of music clearly didn’t have words and were just snatches of lyrical lines, here and there.  While all of this generally falls in the category of “trance work” for me, as I often begin to see colors alongside musical lines, it also generally falls in the pre-trance work state that I get.  That place where the world gets fuzzy as your brain hyper focuses on one thing, and then, like a black hole, folds in on itself and the “real” trance work begins.  This pre- stage lasted longer this time than normal.

When I did hit what I recognize as trance journey work for me, I was on the beach, which is not terribly unusual. I put my hands in the water as the waves rushed in and my hands tingled. When I pulled them out the skin was gone and they were dripping blood. It didn’t hurt or anything, I just didn’t have skin on my hands up to the wrists anymore.   It was like I was wearing gloves made of blood. There was a fire on the beach. I stuck my hands in the sand to coat them in grit and that hurt a lot.  I suppose much like you would expect if you shoved an open wound into gritty, dirty sand. Then I stuck them in the heart of the fire and inexplicably, that didn’t hurt at all.  It tingled again and when I pulled them out I had skin again but it was metallic, hard, and impenetrable. It was flexible like skin but obviously metallic and obviously impenetrable. It looked kind of like Peter Pettigrew’s silver hand in Harry Potter, except not silver.  It was a bronze color, like deeply tanned skin, and had a slight metallic sheen.  They still felt like my hands and still felt like I could use them in exactly the same way for everything. And the new skin still felt like skin, except soft skin. Baby skin. New skin.

Then I started to drift away and there was no more journey work. I was just sitting in the nothingness with the drums pounding in my head until the call back came. And the callback was more jarring than usual. Normally I need the whole callback string of beats. This time as soon as the drumming stopped I was jerked out of trance.

I did some follow-up on this one, looking into what different symbols might mean.  Open cupped hands represent innocence and the bare essence of your being.  So, part of my interpretation of this experience is that I have been blessed with the bare essence of myself and have received the blessings of the waters.  There is also some aspect of a cleansing and purification by fire in order to be made new.  Much like the visual concentration trance discussed below, I think this indicates some type of rite of passage or initiation.

d) Chant/Mantra

One of the tasks for a Bard in ritual space is to maintain the flow of energy.  When it is begin built up, it is important not to let any escape, and when a slow point in the ritual hits, the Bard can help to keep the energy from trickling away.  One of the best ways to do this is by including music, songs, or chants that will engage the folk and keep them participating in the ritual.  There is a certain trance state that happens when a Bard needs to be able to sense the energy patterns in a ritual and help to maintain and control the flow of energy.  It’s like throwing a lasso around the folk, where the Bard focuses on holding the energy that is built during songs and invocations within the bounds of the rite so that it can be used later in the rite.

At our Grove’s Imbolc ritual, there is a portion of the rite where energy is likely to flag.  First the waters are passed and quaffed, and then the Healing blanket is passed around to be recharged.  This is a lot of down time where the individual people at the rite are not necessarily actively engaged in the action.  As the Bard for the ritual in 2012, a large part of keeping the folk engaged fell to me.  In addition to being the Bard for the ritual, I also had the role  of calling down the waters and infusing the blessings into the waters. So, I was already in the mindset of holding all the energy in, and was already in a light trance state from that.

Following the Blessings was the working where we recharged the grove healing blanket and did healing work for a grove member and her mom, who had just had a horrible accident.  The working was especially powerful for me this time because I wrote the song we were using to build energy.  It’s actually the first song I wrote with guitar accompaniment, and yet still seems like one of the most powerful.  Perhaps because I wrote it while I was in that state and with that need.  It’s simple, easy to pick up, and can be layered with echo lines, counter melodies, and harmonies.  We just used the one section, rather than the whole song, in the rite, and I let the folk riff off the basic version as they felt moved to:

Let the rain wash away all your worries.

Let the rain wash away all your fears.

Let the rain wash away all your troubles.

And let the storm come rolling in.

 

Let the waves wash away all your heartache.

Let the waves wash away all your pain.

Let the waves wash away all your anguish.

And let the tide come rolling in.

 

Let this song wash away all your sorrow.

Let this song wash away all your tears.

Let this song wash away all your despair.

And let the harmonies of friends join in.

 

As I led the song, the healing blanket was being passed around, and I could see the flows of energy coming off people and bouncing against my lasso, so they would reflect back into the blanket.  As the song continued I began to hear bits of music and harmonies that weren’t there.  This is one of my usual indications that the magic is working, when I hear the whole choir and all its parts.  The strains of melody and harmony being woven together took on shapes and colors, and wove themselves into the blanket.  It all looked a lot like the introduction to Fantasia, where the narrator is explaining the different instrumental sounds and using visual stimuli to help.  I’ve experienced synesthesia-like trances before, but this was the first time it had happened with such intent and in a public ritual space.

f) Visual Concentration

This experience was a trance stemming from staring at a flame, which led to some divinatory revelations as well. It was kind of intense.  I traveled to the deep with Poseidon like I haven’t done for quite some time.  It started at Chenille, and most folks had already gone to bed.  There had been a fire in the fire pit, but it was burnt down to the coals.  I began to restart the fire from the coals, and as it was completely dark, the liminal space was amplified. I worked on starting the flames up again by breathing on the embers and carefully adding bits of kindling and wood.  Breathing on the fire is like taking breaths when swimming. Blow out, slowly and carefully, and then turning your head to the side to take another breath.  In water it’s so you don’t breathe in the liquid, and when coaxing a fire back to life it’s so you don’t breathe in the smoke.

Poseidon is so very powerful.  He has raw power and depth, and is very big, intense, and alien feeling.  You can’t control the ocean, and you can’t understand the ocean.  I work extensively with him, specifically for trance work, so going into a trance with him, and journeying to the depths of the ocean is not in and of itself unusual.  There is a release of control when I trance journey with him that intensely.  He is big enough to wash you away without even meaning to.  And when I experience trance with hi, it is not entirely intentional, it is still somewhat scary, no matter how much I have worked with him in that capacity.  It is nearly always magical from me when the deep trance with him happens.

After the flames were coaxed back to life I sat back on my heels and staring into the flickering light.  The trance began as I felt like I was standing waist deep on the shore with the waves crashing against me. And then the spray hit my face and I was suddenly at the bottom of the ocean in the deep dark of his realm.  That is normally my signifier for entering trance.  The spray of the ocean hits my face, and I drop into wherever I need to be.  As I hit the deep ocean, streaks of living fire cycloned around me.  There was the overwhelming presence of Poseidon almost vibrating around me, pulsing, sonar-like.  The tongues of flame solidified into a lantern shape and there was a distinct and sharp difference between the heat coming off the flame and the bone deep chill of the water.  Then as the lantern shape solidified further it was very obviously Phi overlaid on Zeta. (Phi is “having done something carelessly you will hereafter blame the gods” it’s taking responsibility for your actions. And Zeta is Zeus’s symbol. “Flee the storm lest Zeus destroy you.”) And that’s kind of terrifying.  I don’t normally see symbols when I trance, and perhaps that’s because I’m only just now getting them so deeply ingrained that they can comfortably appear.  There was a distinct sense of Poseidon needing me to see these overlaid symbols and understand them. But the danger and intensity that exuded from the lantern symbol was not his and not from him, but rather was a warning passed along, like something that he was sharing behind the back of another.

The general gist of the message seems to be that forewarned is forearmed.  It is extremely confusing though.  Does it mean that you must take responsibility for your actions, but then run from the consequences?  I feel almost completely blind with this vision.  Am I going to mess things up that bad?  Perhaps there is also an indicator that the message is from Zeus, as Zeta is his symbol.  It’s possible that this is the case, however that is certainly not the primary meaning of that symbol in this sense.  It may not be an immediate threat, but it is there.  I considered that the symbols could be an either/or situation, such as “take responsibility for your actions or you’ll anger the powers that be and have to run.” That could be the most likely interpretation, except that the symbols were overlaid, so I feel that they go together.  It is unusual for me to see overlaid symbols.

It’s also possible that the symbols modify each other. The overlay blends them into something different than the individual components.  Additionally, I feel like the lantern shape was also important, and the fact that it was made of fire, living fire.  Maybe it is a portal and the overlay symbol is the key.  Part of the message could be that I must travel through the heart of the fire.  My entrance to that trance world is through the lantern; access granted with the key.  The key could be Phi since that is what be traveled through.  And taking responsibly for your actions can also mean having a personal acceptance of it.  That this is the choice you had to make, and owning up to the fact that that was the chic you had to make.  Part of the acceptance could be that my actions must involve flight, and the flight may be through the heart of the fire.  And taking responsibility means sometimes you get burned. And you can’t endure the fire. You have to flee through it.  And fleeing isn’t always “bad,” sometimes it is just necessary.

An initiation of some sort, or a rite of passage, could make sense. Lanterns light the way. And a place of transition requires you to accept your past and leave it behind.  That’s feeling more right.  There’s still the intensity and vague sense of danger though. And the feeling that who is the message actually from is not Poseidon.  He is just the messenger in this sense and the original giver of the vision didn’t necessarily want me to see it, or at least not with this timing.

 

  1. Submit an original trance induction script based in ADF symbolism (e.g. Two Powers, Fire/Well/Tree, Three Realms, etc.). (no minimum word count)

Children of Earth, take a moment to calm your mind and body. Breathe deep and close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your own breathing. Hear your heartbeat thrumming inside you. Pause for a second and just listen.

***Pause***

See in your mind‘s eye where you stand now and picture yourself walking away from where you are.

You‘re walking towards a deep and old forest. Feel the cool, damp earth on your feet. As you enter the forest feel the cool autumn breeze brush your cheek.

Notice the sounds around you. A gentle rustling of leaves, perhaps from the wind, perhaps made by a squirrel bounding by. Notice the sunlight dappling across your face. A last breath of summer caressing your face, heartening you for the colder days ahead.

As you are walking deeper and deeper into the forest you suddenly come upon a clearing. There is a small pond in the middle of the glade surrounded by trees around the water‘s edge. One of these trees calls to you and you glide over to it. Place your hands on the trunk and feel the rough bark against your palm. Feel the ancient wisdom emanating from it.

Turn and place your back against the tree. Feel yourself sinking into it, becoming part of the tree. Feel your toes mix with the roots twinning down into the earth. Allow you mind to follow those roots and tendrils as they creep ever deeper, until suddenly they plunge into the cool deep waters far below the surface of the earth. Use the knowledge of the tree to pull those waters up through your roots. Feel them approaching you, up and up, until they reach your toes.

Feel the waters pulsing up through your toes and heels, moving up your legs and pooling in your groin. Feel them surging up into your chest and down your arms. Feel your branches swelling and cool waters seeping into your fingers, your leaves. Feel the waters rush up and fountain out the crown of your head, your uppermost branches and leaves, and come cascading back down into the earth to soak back down cooling your roots again. Having taken your fill, feeling replenished, allow those cool, dark waters to bleed back down into the earth.

Again feel the wind brush through your hair, your leaves. Feel as the sunlight shines down on you, brightening and invigorating you. Allow your leaves to take in that bright, golden light. Let it convert to pure energy and infuse your head and chest with light and energy. Let it saturate your branches and flow into your finger leaves. Feel as it washes down through your groin and flows down your legs and energizes you down to your roots. Having absorbed as much light as your body will hold, let the remainder reflect back off you, back into the sky.

Feel how the combination of the cool waters and the bright light mixes within your body. Feel how it mingles and brings a new awareness to every essence of yourself. Let your attention drift over yourself from your roots, to your trunk, and on up to your leaves.

Let a breath of wind catch one of your leaves and watch as it drifts downward to land fall lightly into the pond. Watch as the water ripples outward from this light touch. Allow your awareness to follow this ripple outward and see as it collides with other, similar ripples. As you follow those to their source you see that they also come from fallen leaves.

Now seeing all these leaves in the water creating ripples that touch and rebound off your own, you notice all the other trees surrounding the pond. Reach out your awareness and sense that these trees are all part of this grove. Reach out and feel that you are not alone in this glade, but rather you are surrounded by the warmth of your kin. You are all here together.

Take a moment and allow this feeling of togetherness and oneness to soak into your mind, your heart, your bones and your soul. Listen to the breathing of those around you. Your hearts beat as one now.

***Pause***

With this new realization that you are here among family, you begin to disconnect your self from the tree, just as all those around you do. Wiggle your toes and separate them from the roots. Wiggle your fingers and feel the leaves fall away. Roll your shoulders, allowing you to step out of the tree and once again become your own self.

As you now look around you see that while before you came to this glade alone, you now are leaving among friends. It is time now to turn away from the glade and walk back out of the forest. Listen, as before to the sounds around you. You can now hear the laughter of friends, and you feel now not just the warmth of the sun, but also the warmth of companionship. As you break out of the forest and head back towards your body here keep that feeling that you are now one with the people around you.

Now, step back into your body and take deep breath to settle yourself back in. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Now begin moving your arms and legs just a little as you feel yourself come back to this place. Here, among kinfolk, we may now move on with the work we have for today.

 

  1. Submit an original trance induction script based in Indo-European Mythology. (no minimum word count)

Begin by finding a comfortable place, either sitting or standing.  Take a deep breath, and let the cares of your day to day life fade.  Take a deep breath, and let the worries of the world fade.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the earth around you.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the spirits around you.

See in your mind’s eye a mountain rising up beside you.  The red-gold dirt dry and powdery at your feet.  You footsteps lead you up the mountain, and as you climb the dust swirls around your feet.  The red-gold dust rises with you, and the sunlight catches it, forming shining motes in the air.

As you climb higher, you pass marble pillars.  Now there are small plants growing along the mountainside.  Laurel trees begin to take shape around you as you reach the pinnacle.  You see there is the entrance to a cave, and leading away from it, a narrow path that goes further up.

You step onto the path leading further up, and all at once you are surrounded by lush, green, growing things.  Soft grasses caress your feet, and the laurel trees shade your every step, taking in the heat of the day.  You crest the top of a hip, and find that you have come to a T-junction.  The path to you right leads down into a small valley with a pond at the center, and the path to your right leads up into a crevice in the rock face.  You head right, and make your way down in to the valley.

When you reach the pond you splash water on your face and take a few deep breathes, preparing for your work with the Pythia.  From the base of the laurel tree you take a dried leaf.  You crush the leaf, letting the scent of bay waft by you, and drop the leaf pieces into the pond.

*at this point, each person crushes a bay leaf*

You stand, and with the scent of bay growing ever heavier around you, filling you, you walk up the path again, this time heading for the crevice in the rock face.

You step up to the dark, taking a deep breath.  The Pythia awaits you, you need but enter.

 

  1. Describe the process of creating your inner locale, the challenges and aids you experienced in the creation of this locale, and (optional) its appearance. (min. 1000 words)

I already had a basic image of my inner locale when I began working on trance work. It is the calming place I created when I was going through dialectical behavior therapy, and was a place that I could visualize easily. The purpose initially was to be able to see myself somewhere calming where I could think and not be stressed out by the fast paced world, and my triggers there.

As I began trance work, I found that I was starting there, and so I began cultivating it to better meet my spiritual needs. I begin by envisioning myself pressing my back up against my tree, a cypress at the edge of the pond, complete with roots bulging up through the soil, and let myself sink into the trees awareness.  As I connect to the powers above and below my vision of the mundane area around the tree fades and a gray mist or fog fills the peripherals of my vision, eventually pulling back to reveal my inner grove.  I have set up my inner grove to be essentially a starting point, or a jumping off point for any other trance work I may do.

I stand with my tree at my back, and it acts as a portal back to my body, only needing me to sit back down there to go home.  All around me are dry, meadow grasses, becoming greener around the edges of the pond, which is surrounded by a few other cypress trees and some reeds.  Also at the edge of the pond is my tree, and also now the tree planted there from the seed Nemetona gave me (see the write-up on this from Trance 1).  Additionally, there is a small fire, that while seeming too small to maintain itself, is clearly burning hot and strong.  Occasionally there is a girl, Hestia,  sitting in the flames, or maybe made of the flames.  Behind me a forest rises up, mostly of pine and similar trees.  It appears quite spares at first, but thickens the deeper one walks into it, and rising in the distance is a mountain.   If I traveled up that way, winding my way through the deer trails, I was likely to meet with Artemis. When Artemis is my guide, we start at the edge of the forest and as we walk into it, we approach the area we need to be, and she will again guide me back to the edge of the forest at the end of our journey.  My trance journey experiences that headed this direction tended to be transformative, and have roots within the real world experience I was struggling with. I would say that the take away from these journeys was most often a strengthening of myself, and a stronger resolve to know myself, and be true to myself.

Later, as I began working with Poseidon, another addition was made to my locale. As I walk out there is a plateau covered in the dry, meadow grasses and becoming sandy and rocky near the edge, where there is a drop off a cliff face, with a barely visible path down to the shore.  There is a small, rocky beach in the cove that is formed there, with rocks out just a bit, acting a breaker for the waves.  As the waves crash against them, a spray floats across the beach.  I walk down the cliff face to the beach, and sometimes as the spray hits my face I feel swept away, and others times I walk into the waves and am pulled out by the riptide.  When I’m working with Poseidon, his pull is stronger.  He is much more vast, alien, and huge than Artemis, and it has been much more difficult reaching an understanding of how our journeys are to work.  His awesome power led me to put a bell at the edge of the beach that dangles into the water.  When it is time for me to return to my body, the bell will ring and guide me back to land.  I added this bell because I found that I was having a hard time with a call back from trance, so by including a callback mechanism within my inner locale, I am better able to respond to the callback that happens externally.

Another issue that I found was happening during guided trance journeys that other people were leading was that because of the way my inner local is set up, it was too big for me to traverse the whole length of it and “make it home again” by the time they were trying to end the trance.  This left me feeling panicked and rushed all through the journey.  So, the way that I mitigated this was to put a series of gateways and ‘fairy rings’ through my inner locale.  Each of these gateways and fairy rings connects to all the others, and they allow me to quickly jump between locations that I’ve added to my inner grove.  This has helped immensely in making my trance journeys more relaxing, more rewarding, and more successful in general.

I also work with Garanos Crane to guide me on other journeys. When I leave with him we start from the pond, and he dives into it, and it becomes a kind of portal to other worlds.  This is most often the path that I take if I’m engaging in trance work for the purpose of journeying to an unfamiliar place, and/or with an unfamiliar guide (speaker).

One of the more recent additions to my inner grove is a wall of earth with a cave inset within its face.  There is a flickering light coming from within.  This part of my inner grove has grown stronger and more present the more work I’ve done with Hekate as a Gatekeeper and Guide.  I can now call on her, and see her, torches held high, ready to use the cave as a starting point for journeys with her. This aspect of journey work tends to lead me to both the Underworld, as well as to the liminal spaces where the gods are easier to hear.  This included work done with the Pythia and various other bits of oracular work.

 

  1. Journal for five months, continuing the trance work journal you began in Trance 1. Provide an essay based on this journal detailing how your experiences have affected your practice. (min. 1000 words for the essay)

Since I was completing the journal for both Trance 2 and Magic 2 at the same time, one of the things I found is that I began using trance intentionally in my magical and divinatory work, and it has played an integral role. I’ve found that in order to be in the best mindset to achieve the results I want with my magical work, I need to enter a least a light trance. This trance may differ depending on my location, if there are other people present, if the magical working is taking place in or out of a ritual context, and how complex the magical working is.  The deepest trance states I use in conjunction with magical work are done when I am in my own home, by myself, in ritual space, with a complex working.  If I’m going to go deep into trance I need to feel safe and comfortable.  This could probably be done around a few people who I trust as well, though that opportunity has not presented itself.  I am also more likely to enter a deep trance state for more complex workings because this will minimize distraction and help me to better focus my intent.  Additionally, I’m more likely to do a complex magical working within ritual space because if it is that important or that complex, I will probably be asking the spirits for assistance.

I also use trance when I am doing divinatory work. Having practiced more with the NLP triggers one of the things I’ve changed since completing Trance 1 is adding in the crushing of the bay leaf. Initially I was just saying the prayer and making an offering of the bay leaf. But I found that by crushing it as I offered it, it not only added another auditory and olfactory cue for me, it was also a cue that was unlikely to be replicated outside of that specific instance, and will thus keep the trigger strong (Ellerton).

When I do divination the first thing I do is take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

“Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.”

 I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sound and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter the trance state where that was possible.  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.  This intentional use of trance has helped to augment my divinatory practice.

I also use trance for magic when I’m writing bardic pieces.  Part of the Order of Bardic Alchemy work requires you to write a bardic piece in ritual space, with the intent to use it during ritual.  The Muses are my bardic patrons, and whom I work with most frequently when I’m doing bardic work.  I call to them for inspiration before I write, and often before I play, sing, or perform.  I decided the piece I would write would honor them, and give me an alternative method to call to them, rather than with a simple invocation.

After completing the devotional and making offerings to the Muses, I sat with my bard book open, staring at a candle flame. The words seemed to come excessively quickly.  I often describe the process of this ‘gift song’ as trying to catch the Awen with your pen, and funnel it down into something coherent on the page.  This was not my first experience with a ‘gift song,’ and like the others, the whole piece was written in probably under an hour: words, chords, melody, and all.  It required very little revision following the initial writing.  “Muses, Sing Through Me” is still the main way that I call to the muses before beginning bardic work.

I also use trance when I’m doing healing work, in order to focus the intent of the energy being directed, as well as allowing me to better visual the target when I’m working from a distance.  Most recently we performed a healing at a Druid Moon for one of our Grove members.  Paul, Missy, and I led the working, which involved everyone toning and focusing the healing energy through to the grove member.  We began by breathing together and then started the toning.  The regulated breaths that are required by toning, combined with the circular motions Missy was making with incense helped to drop me into a deeper trance.  Things seemed to slow and the sounds took on a synesthetic quality, seeming to thicken and color.  I focused on wrapping the grove member in the tones.  As we continued to work, I began to hear the overtones and harmonics coming out of the toning.  That is one of the cues that I recognize as an indicator that the intent is properly focused and the magical work is taking effect.  We continued for just a bit longer past the overtones, letting them fully sink in, before completing the work.  I was surprised to note that the Folk followed me in ceasing the toning, and then Missy tied up the loose ends with pretty words.

Another powerful instance of trance that was surprising to me was one that among other people, that I didn’t lead, and that had no journey script to accompany it. At my grove’s Gaimonios druid moon we had lit the three fires of Belenos, and for the working, took turns standing within them (at the center of all three) and being blessed by the fire of inspiration, the fire of fellowship, and the fire of sacrifice/blessing. Please note that MJD says “the juju works anywhere within the circle.” What he meant was, you don’t need to stand super close to the fires and possibly get burned.  I led the toning while we each took a moment within, stating our needs, and standing there. MJD warned that some people might be trancey, what with the fire and the toning and all. I wasn’t sure that I would be, but once I stepped within the ring of stones, it hit me. I slitted my eyes partially because it felt right, and partially to help with the smoke. With the sounds buffeting against me, I got that slightly woozy feeling that trance brings on. The fires around me seemed to take up my whole vision, and began sparking and flashing. I drew my hands up, pulling the fires warmth and energy, and pressed it into myself.  I had asked for focus and perseverance.  Another note regarding this trance experience was that I don’t remember the fires feeling warm once I stepped within the ring of stones.

One of the things I’ve noticed has improved significantly since my work in Trance 1, is that I’ve begun to really learn and catalog what my “tells” for me to be able to tell that I’ve entered trance. I know that my breathing steadies, and my center of balance seems to shift. Most often I feel like gravity has moved and I’m leaning heavily to the left or right. If I am doing trance work accompanied by sound of some sort, when I’ve entered trance the sounds seem to circle around me, meaning that the location of the noise seems to be moving around me. Sometimes there will also be other layers of sounds that get added in, whether overtones, or drumbeats, or harmonies, that flesh out whatever it is that I’m listening to. Oftentimes I will get a tingly feeling that runs from the base of my neck down my spine and arms. Less often, I will get a feeling similar to the beginnings of an asthma attack, where my chest seems to be constricting and the air seems thicker.   Visually, the world will first go black and then colors will shift and sway across my vision until they clarify into an image or series of images.

I have also grown better at drawing my line in order to have more controlled trances rather than often having the experience of being horsed. Part of this I think has come with the magical work I’ve done, and learning to use my Big Voice, and part of it I think has come because now that I have a dependent, I have more reason to have that line drawn, and more conviction when I say “not right now.” One of the things I’ve done to encourage this progression fit right in line with the Trance 2 work. I set aside time, at least weekly, to open myself to the spirits and engage in trance. I found that by practicing more on my schedule allowed me to feel more confident and get more out of the trance work. Not only do I have a better memory for the trance work now, but I’m also getting better at making interpretations of what I see.

The final thing that I feel is significant from this period of time is that I’ve experimented with different methods of entering trance, and have found that certain ways of getting there are more beneficial than others depending on the circumstances and reason for going into trance. After Trance 1, there were some methods that I wanted to experiment more with once I wasn’t pregnant. I did some more work with Body Postures and found them to be extremely useful with internal work where the intention was to give me insight about myself and the way my brain operates. I especially enjoyed how using Body Postures in trance could help me to regain my center and allow me to approach things with a fresh perspective. I experimented with auditory confusion, and was surprised to find that I enjoyed it, where others I’d spoken to about it absolutely hated it. I found it soothing and mid numbing. I experienced some of the physiological effects of trance. Most notably a dizziness and a strong tingling in my spine. Like when someone just barely brushes the hairs on the back of your neck. Other than that I’m slightly sleepy. I used Sigor Ros and Fierce Tibetan Gods as my music for the auditory confusion that was most successful.

All in all, trance work has definitely enriched my practice from many different angles. I have grown more adept at everything from magical workings, to divination, to liturgical work and leading or participating in rituals.

 

  1. Describe an experience of leading a trance induction in group ritual. (min. 300 words)

 At Wellspring, the advanced study students wanted to do trance together.  We had initially hoped that we’d all be able to do this together, however, the Norse-kin broke off and decided to do their own thing with the World Tree, so I then volunteered to lead a trance for the Hellenes who wanted it.  We got the kin flame, and calling Hestia, we lit it.  We were on the stage at the main pavilion, in the darkness except for the flickering candle light.  I had some extra candles, and so lit one for each person, and gave each person a bay leaf.  I instructed them to hold on the bay until the point in the spoken guidance where they would crush it, and to focus on the flame.  We would be ascending the mountain of Delphi in order to commune with the Pythia. I also set aside a flame and leaf for myself.  Once everyone was ready, I instructed them to get comfortable, listen, and focus on their flame, saying:

“Begin by finding a comfortable place, either sitting or standing.  Take a deep breath, and let the cares of your day to day life fade.  Take a deep breath, and let the worries of the world fade.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the earth around you.  Take a deep breath, and feel the connection to the spirits around you.

See in your mind’s eye a mountain rising up beside you.  The red-gold dirt dry and powdery at your feet.  You footsteps lead you up the mountain, and as you climb the dust swirls around your feet.  The red-gold dust rises with you, and the sunlight catches it, forming shining motes in the air.

As you climb higher, you pass marble pillars.  Now there are small plants growing along the mountainside.  Laurel trees begin to take shape around you as you reach the pinnacle.  You see there is the entrance to a cave, and leading away from it, a narrow path that goes further up.

You step onto the path leading further up, and all at once you are surrounded by lush, green, growing things.  Soft grasses caress your feet, and the laurel trees shade your every step, taking in the heat of the day.  You crest the top of a hip, and find that you have come to a T-junction.  The path to you right leads down into a small valley with a pond at the center, and the path to your right leads up into a crevice in the rock face.  You head right, and make your way down in to the valley.

When you reach the pond you splash water on your face and take a few deep breathes, preparing for your work with the Pythia.  From the base of the laurel tree you take a dried leaf.  You crush the leaf, letting the scent of bay waft by you, and drop the leaf pieces into the pond.

*at this point, each person crushes a bay leaf*

You stand, and with the scent of bay growing ever heavier around you, filling you, you walk up the path again, this time heading for the crevice in the rock face.

You step up to the dark, taking a deep breath.  The Pythia awaits you, you need but enter.”

At this point I said no more, and allowed myself to also enter trance.  I had had to hold myself a bit apart during the spoken guidance, and especially during the crushing of the leaves, particularly since that is one of my own NLP triggers for trance.  I’ve found that the hardest part of leading trance is holding yourself apart from the triggers and the trance work so that you can do your best to make sure that others are safely entering and exiting trance.  It’s also important I think to be able to stay conscious of the time that you’re letting people journey.

With this trance, I was fairly confident that I could allow more time for folks to journey, since they were all practiced to some degree or another at trance work.  That is also why I allowed myself to enter trance, since normally I don’t if I’m leading because I don’t know how the folks will react.

During the silent portion, there were a  decent number of distractions, including the sound of people walking across the gravel, talking from folks socializing at different fires, the cold, and the bugs.  If there had been a drum available, I probably would have been drumming, since that works nicely to cover those distracting noises and gives the brain something to dismiss all noises as.

But as things stood, each person worked using the visual concentration of the flame to guide them.  I had success personally as the flame divided out and merged again, shifting and turning into shapes made of flame and shadow.  It was like watching a play staged in a shadowbox theater.

 

Work’s Cited

Ellerton, Roger. “Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts.” Basic NLP Anchoring Concepts. Renewal Technologies Inc, 1 Jan. 2005. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://www.renewal.ca/nlp31.htm>.

Goodman, Felicitas D., and Nana Nauwald. Ecstatic Trance: A Workbook : New Ritual Body Postures. Havelte, Holland: Binkey Kok Publications, 2003. Print.

Harner, Michael J. The Way of the Shaman. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1990. Print.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Knight, Lee. “Establishing Rapport: Pacing and Leading (NLP 3/5).” : Establishing Rapport: Pacing and Leading (NLP 3/5). Overachievers, 28 Feb. 2008. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://overachievercoach.blogspot.com/2008/02/establishing-rapport-pacing-and-leading.html>.

 

Magic 2

  1. Describe the difference between a “magical” ritual and a “religious” ritual, including if there is a difference and why there is or is not. (min. 150 words)

I think this is a case of squares and rectangles. All religious rituals are magical, but not all magical rituals are religious. This comes from the fact that all rituals contain elements of magic that aid the folk in communing with and honoring the gods. However, I don’t think all acts of magic take place within a religious context. For some, I think perhaps for me, they might, but I don’t see it as a requirement. In every religious ritual magic is performed in someone way or another.  Sometimes it is simply an invocation calling for a spirit to hear our words, sometimes it is calling for blessings from the spirits, and sometimes it is an elaborate working with a specific intent. But when you consider that all magic is is prayer with intent, then we’re performing magic all the time in ritual.

When considering magic specifically within the context of an ADF ritual, it is important to determine whether or not you are observing the 18 steps of the Core Order of Ritual, and leaving out the 7 things that are not to be included in an ADF ritual (ADF Clergy Council).  If you are including all the steps in the Core Order of Ritual, then it must be a religious ritual, even when it includes a magical working.  You have Opened the Gates, honored the Kindreds, and continued the work of building a working *ghosti  relationship.  If you’re not including all the steps, or you are including one of the 7 things that don’t fall within an ADF ritual, then the rite may be better classified as a magical ritual.  This may be the case if one were completing one of the spells from the Greek Magical Papyri that calls for a blood sacrifice, such as the spell detailed in PGM III 1-164, which requires drowning a cat (Betz).   For the record, I would not recommend attempting most of the malicious spells contained in the PGM.

Additionally, the division of magic without religious purposes can be seen within ancient cultures when looking at the division of functions. The Priest and the Magician divided out from the other functions as the magico-religious class, but then also divided further as time went on (Mallory 131-2). In general, the priest remained welcome within mainstream society, while the magician was relegated to the outskirts and the fringes of society. Religion, and rituals that contained both religious and magical elements, was part of everyday life. However, magic when it was performed out side of a religious context drifted away from the mainstream and was feared in many cases (Graf 20-22).

It should also be noted that depending on what category of magic your working in will determine whether or not it fits better into a religious of magical definition. As I described in Magic 1, the categories I see magic falling into are based on intent. Does the magic benefit the spirits, the self, or the folk? I think magic that benefits the spirits or the folk is better classified as a religious ritual, while the magic that benefits the self will more often fit the definition of magical ritual. Again though, the line is fuzzy, and won’t stay the same for all practitioners of magic.

 

  1. Describe magic as it exists in one non-Indo-European culture, describe how it has influenced or could influence the magical system of an Indo-European culture, and describe what lessons you could take from the non-IE culture into your own personal practice. (min. 200 words)

The Egyptian magicians and priests were practitioners of magic as it exists in a non-Indo-European culture.  They were said to be keepers of ancient mysteries, and refused to share their methods with outsiders, so there is very little information on the apprenticeships that beginning priests and magicians in Egypt would undergo in order to be initiated.  What we do have, however, are recipes and handbooks for many of the technical aspects of the magic from the Hellenistic Age.  These can be found in the Greek Magical Papyri.

The nature of Egyptian magic has certain features that can be teased out by looking at what doesn’t fit with the magic that existed in Greece before the Hellenistic Age.  The first aspect of Egyptian magic is that it is “a means of harnessing good or evil powers in order to achieve one’s goals and desires” and is not necessarily used a means of protection from evil powers (Luck 25).  The second aspect of Egyptian magic is that the magician uses their own personal authority, their ‘Big Voice,’ and “pretends to be a god in order to frighten the gods” allowing them to command these greater powers (Luck 25).  The third aspect of Egyptian magic is that there are specific and exact words and diagrams that are used to achieve the desired ends.  Similarly, the fourth aspect of Egyptian magic is that there are specific gestures and rites performed in order to achieve the desired ends (Luck 26).

Due to Egypt’s proximity to Greece in both location, trade, and migration, there ended up being a lot of crossover between the two cultures in terms of magic.  “The Greeks who lived in Egypt had an opportunity to observe native religions and forms of worship, folklore, and superstition, and being Greek, they must have tried to make sense of what they saw” (Luck 14).  The Greeks had a definite hand in the creation of the magical papyri that have been found as they gathered and modified the practice that existed in Egypt to fit their language and needs.  As the native gods of Egypt (Isis, Osiris, Anubis, Typhon, etc.) are called in the magical spells in the Papyri, it is interesting to note the phenomenon that “the gods of a foreign culture are not addressed as proper gods, but since they seem to work for that other culture, they are suspected of having powers that could be useful in magical operations” (Luck 16).

As I incorporate various aspects of magic into my own personal practice, I definitely see the influence from the Egyptian system of magic.  This makes sense, since many of the current occult systems draw heavily on the practice of this particular ancient system.  For example, when I do magic that is outside of a religious ritual context, it is often done in order to achieve my own goals and desires.  Additionally, I have learned that when I’m doing any magical act, whether it is invoking a spirit, opening the gates, calling for blessings, or something else, it is certainly best to use my ‘Big Voice.’  While I would not say that I’m trying to “frighten the gods,” I am speaking in such a way that denotes that I have the confidence and authority to be acting the way that I am.  I have tried a few of the spells from the Greek Magical Papyri, however with the emphasis on following the recipes and instructions exactly, most of them are impractical in a modern context.  The few I have tried though, particularly those meant to induce trance to speak with a certain spirit and a few of the amulets, have seemed to be successful.

 

  1. (Crossover Requirement) Keep a journal for five months detailing the trance work that you have done. Write an essay based off those journals that examines your practice over the time you journaled. The essay should describe how you use trance for your magic, whether trance has helped your magic, and particularly how trance and magic have played off each other in your personal work. Entries occurring less than weekly will not count toward completion of this requirement. Your journal must include work from the exercises found in the support material for this course. [This requirement’s journal matches up with requirement 10 in Trance 1: see required and recommended reading for that course for further information] (min. 1000 words)

Trance has certainly played an integral role in my magical work, both in and out of ritual.  I’ve found that in order to be in the best mindset to achieve the results I want with my magical work, I need to enter a least a light trance. This trance may differ depending on my location, if there are other people present, if the magical working is taking place in or out of a ritual context, and how complex the magical working is.  The deepest trance states I use in conjunction with magical work are done when I am in my own home, by myself, in ritual space, with a complex working.  If I’m going to go deep into trance I need to feel safe and comfortable.  This could probably be done around a few people who I trust as well, though that opportunity has not presented itself.  I am also more likely to enter a deep trance state for more complex workings because this will minimize distraction and help me to better focus my intent.  Additionally, I’m more likely to do a complex magical working within ritual space because if it is that important or that complex, I will probably be asking the spirits for assistance.

I use trance when I am doing divinatory work, which I consider to be a form of spirit arte.  I am entering a trance state to call on the spirits, in this case Apollo Mantikos, in order to ask for their assistance in divining the answers to  specific questions or general situations.   When I do divination the first thing I do is take a deep breath to center myself and then call out to Apollo Mantikos, crushing an offering bay leaves, using the same prayer I use every time I pull omens:

“Apollo Mantikos, guide my hand.

See with my eyes. Hear with my ears.  Speak with my voice.”

I crush the bay leaves in order to offer them because it is both a sound and a smell that happens every time.  This resonates with the idea that the Pythia had a whole series of steps that she would do the same every time in order to prepare her to speak with Apollo and enter the trance state where that was possible.  As I use them in a similar way to put myself into a light trance in order to make that call to Apollo Mantikos and be able to hear and interpret his words, I feel it is an apt way of doing things.  This intentional use of trance has helped to augment my divinatory practice.

Then I begin pulling symbols out of the bag, letting my hand stir them around and linger over them until one ‘feels right’ and I pull it out and lay it out as part of the spread.  I do not put the symbols back after I pull them, because I feel that in most cases this is not conducive for me to be able to relate the symbols to each other.  It makes sense to me to have the smaller pool of symbols, and I feel like if this is how I always do my divinations, then the messages I receive from the divine will answer my questions in such a manner that this makes sense.

I also use trance for magic when I writing bardic pieces.  Part of the Order of Bardic Alchemy work requires you to write a bardic piece in ritual space, with the intent to use it during ritual.  The Muses are my bardic patrons, and whom I work with most frequently when I’m doing bardic work.  I call to them for inspiration before I write, and often before I play, sing, or perform.  I decided the piece I would write would honor them, and give me an alternative method to call to them, rather than with a simple invocation.

I did the bardic alchemy devotional, and when I reached the working portion, I called to the Muses for inspiration and asked them to fill me with their song so that I might better honor both them and Kindreds.  I made offerings of sweet incense (Lotus), milk, and honey.  The thought process here was that this was a mix of the sweet words that I hoped to be blessed with and one of the hypotheses for what makes up ambrosia.

I had my bard book open in front of me, and sat staring at a flame.  The words seemed to come excessively quickly.  I often describe the process of this ‘gift song’ as trying to catch the Awen with your pen, and funnel it down into something coherent on the page.  This was not my first experience with a ‘gift song,’ and like the others, the whole piece was written in probably under an hour: words, chords, melody, and all.  It required very little revision following the initial writing.  “Muses, Sing Through Me” is still the main way that call to the muses before beginning bardic work.

This type of gift song also occurred when I wrote a song honoring Artemis (“I am the Huntress”), and when I wrote a song honoring Tsirona, one of Brighde’s helping spirits met during the Court of Brigid work with Ian (“Because They Love”).

I also use trance when I’m doing healing work, in order to focus the intent of the energy being directed, as well as allowing me to better visual the target when I’m working from a distance.  Most recently we performed a healing at a Druid Moon for one of our Grove members who is dealing with a wound that won’t heal, a staph infection, and recently diagnosed diabetes.  Paul, Missy, and I led the working, which involved everyone toning and focusing the healing energy through to the grove member.  We began by breathing together and then started the toning.  The regulated breaths that are required by toning, combined with the circular motions Missy was making with incense helped to drop me into a deeper trance.  Things seemed to slow and the sounds took on a synesthesic quality, seeming to thicken and color.  I focused on wrapping the grove member in the tones.  As we continued to work, I began to hear the overtones and harmonics coming out of the toning.  That is one of the cues that I recognize as an indicator that the intent is properly focused and the magical work is taking effect.  We continued for just a bit longer past the overtones, letting them fully sink in, before completing the work.  I was surprised to note that the Folk followed me in ceasing the toning, and then Missy tied up the loose ends with pretty words.

I also put myself into a light trance when I am performing various magical parts of liturgy.  Most notably invocations of specific deities, the recreation of the cosmos and opening/closing the gates, and the return flow.  Some examples of this are when I invoked Poseidon during Dylan Johndrow’s Coming of Age rite.  His patrons are Poseidon and Athena, and as we share a devotee relationship with Poseidon, I wrote and performed the invocation.  I was in a light trance for it, and felt the power surge through me and into him as I was speaking:

“The Children of the Earth call out to Poseidon, the Lord of the Deep!

Earth-shaker! Wave-bringer!

Fury of the cresting breakers and calm in the raging storm.

Your trident commands the ocean.

The seas turn glassy at your approach as your horses toss their heads, coming ashore.

Your teach us of endurance and patience,

The calm in the raging storm.

You teach us of strength and perseverance,

The gates holding the Titans at bay.

You teach us of memory and honor,

The consequences of our actions.

You teach us of persistence and change,

The ebb and flow of the tides.

You teach us of magic and mystery,

The dark and unfathomable depths.

Encircle us as your realm encircles the earth.

Wash over us as your waves drench our souls.

May we be pulled to the watery depths by your riptide,

And bob to the surface as the tide rolls in.

Poseidon, come to us, and let us feel your heavy gait upon the earth

As you join your magic and power with ours.

Elthete, Poseidon, and accept this Sacrifice!”

During my grove’s Summer Solstice ritual at Comfest this year I Opened the Gates in a way that differs from how we normally do.  I first Recreated the Cosmos, then Opened the Gates of my own power before calling on Atlas to act as a Gatekeeper and Guard the Gates for us.  Recreating the Cosmos and Opening the Gates is something I have always done in a light trance.  I get to that state mostly by breathing to center myself and letting myself sink into that state.  I find the experience of performing these two parts of the ritual to be visually interesting, because I see, or envision, an almost overlaid image as the worlds align, and then as I make the spiraling motions to Open the Gates the slightly fuzzy look that the overlaid image lends clears and comes into focus.

The Return Flow is also an example of when I use trance for a magical part of the liturgy.  During the Hellenic Full Moon rituals that I’ve been leading, following the omen, I ask that the omens fill the Waters, and grow in power like the cycle of the moon:

“Let the brightness of the full moon fill these waters with the omens we have received, [Omen, Omen, and Omen].  Let their blessings grow in strength like the light of the moon, shining with the brilliant power akin to the noon-day sun.  Their strength shall augment our strength as we approach the workings ahead.”

I envision the moon growing from new to full, and the omens filling the Waters making them grow brighter and brighter as the power is poured into the Waters by the Theoi.  The blessed waters are then mixed with wine and the Folk are free to drink either the water or watered wine.

I also use trance when I am doing a protective working.  I’ve found trance in this case to be particularly helpful because it helps me to better visualize where and how the “zone of protection” is.  An example of this was following Easter weekend this past year.  There was a shooting involving students at my school, where one killed the other.  We (the teachers) were advised not to come to school the day following the funeral due to fears of retaliation.  There had been threats related to that specific day, and so I along with many of my coworkers, did not go in to work that day.  However, I did do some hefty work in the days leading up to then, both to protect the students at my school, and to make sure that nothing happened and none of the threats came to fruition.  I made offerings to the Theoi, and asked that they watch over the students at my school.  I also asked Epione to provide healing for those who were grieving, and allow them positive outlets for their anger and sadness.  I drew up energy from the Earth and gathered it within myself.  Then I focused on it traveling outwards and blanketing my school in a protective mist that both deters violence and helps to wash clean the anguish that dwells there now.

Trance, as well as practice, has certainly helped my magic.  It allows me to better focus my intent.  Additionally, since I am a very visual learner, it helps me be able to visualize my intent clearly.  Trance and magic play off each other very nicely in this same sense.  I can enter trance in order to perform magical work, and then often during the magical work my trance will deepen as my intent focuses, and as my trance deepens the magical work becomes more potent.  I think trance is an integral part of magical work for me.  It doesn’t always have to be a deep trance for every working, but at least a light trance helps to take me out of the mundane state of mind and into the state I need to be in to focus.

 

  1. Discuss the role of the Three Kindreds in magic, particularly in your personal practice but also in ADF’s cosmology. (min. 300 words)

The Three Kindreds are part of what makes ADF unique in the vast conglomerate of neopagan religions. The collection of Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones are the spirits with whom we build our relationships, and who we come to honor. I am reminded of one of the “challenge questions” within my grove when we perform members only rites: “Who do you come to honor?”

The Kindreds are one of the cornerstones of our practice, especially as it relates to building the *ghosti relationship. This relationship of hospitality, of give and take, is a large part of makes magic possible within the context of ADF. For me, since I perform nearly every magical act with the aid of a spirit, it is especially important to develop good relationships with the Kindreds, or the categories of spirits that exist.

I will admit, that I often have a difficult time with the delineation of spirits into the Three Kindred categories, feeling more comfortable operating with the spirits in terms of what realm they come from. That being said however, depending on the magical task at hand will determine who I am working with.

First, within the context of an ADF ritual, some of the common magical acts that are performed are things like opening the gates and calling for the blessings. When working with a spirit to perform one of these acts, it is important to have built a relationship with them. The relationship is important because we are asking the spirit to “join your magic with mine,” and without the relationship that we have focused on having within a religious context, the joining of our magic would not be as powerful. For example, when opening the Gates, it is important to have built a relationship with a spirit who can traverse all the realms, because that is what their knowledge allows them to do, and what their powers are geared towards. However, this spirit does not need to belong to a specific category of Kindred. The two Gatekeepers I commonly work with are Hekate, a Shining One, and Garanos, a Nature Spirit.

While I believe the relationship is paramount to working with the spirits, within the ancient context this was not always the case. Take for instance, the Greek Magical Papyri, and the plethora of spells it contains that deal with coercing a spirit and making it do your will. The ones I’ve noticed the most often are the spells that deal with Typhon (PGM IV 260-285). I relate to this the way I noticed relationships working within an urban classroom. As the teacher, you find the biggest, baddest kid in the room, and win him over to your cause. Then he will take care of keeping the rest of the kids in line. So, in the case of the ancient magician, if he could get Typhon to do as he wanted, then he wouldn’t have to be concerned with the other spirits because Typhon would take care of them for him.

When I’m thinking about the delineation of spirits along the lines of the Ancestors, Nature Spirits, and Shining Ones, depending on what category the fall in changes the way I think about them and how I approach my relationship with them in terms of magical work.

The Ancestors are important for their knowledge and skills that they are able to pass on, and this is determined based on the skills they had in life. So, if I am working with an ancestor and desire to learn more about and perform divinatory work, I may reach out to Teiresias or Pythia, because in life, that is where their skills were. Teiresias was a Seer in life, and Odysseus meets him when he journeys to the Underworld.  Teiresias gives him a prophecy and guidance (Homer).  The Pythia is the name given to the Oracle who dwells at Delphi and speaks for Apollo (Johnston 33-50). These ancient diviners carry forward the skills they had in life into death.  Therefor, by developing a relationship with them, and communing with them, not only can they teach you some of their skills, but they can also assist in the interpretation of an omen.  Alternatively, if I wanted to work with an Ancestor for bardic work, I may reach out to Taliesin or, more likely, Homer.

The Nature Spirits have otherworldly powers that give them the innate ability to perform magical acts.  When developing  a relationship with a Nature Spirit in the context of magic, they are beneficial to work with because they are likely to know more about a certain type of magic than me. For instance, if I am working with plants and growing things, I would likely call out to a nymph of some variety for their specialized skills in that area. Nature Spirits also make excellent guides, as is evidenced by the number of people who have totems and spirits guides that take the form of animals. This can also be seen in the lore when considering the Greek daimons.  They are spirits who are approached for a variety of reasons, and are powerful beings in their own right.  They can help a magician if he calls on them to perform anything from agricultural magic to weather magic.

The Shining Ones are huge, alien, and knowledgeable in far more things than me. So when I seek to work with them it is from the stand point of they have this awesome power, and I’ve developed a relationship with them that makes them want to help me, as I have honored them. I often view working with the Shining Ones as their power filling me (or another person), and allowing me to direct that energy to achieve an end. For example, when I do bardic work, I ask the Muses to fill me with their power and to sweeten my words, to sing through me. When I do healing work, I often ask for Asklepios or Epione to fill the physician and work through their hands.  Askelpios is the son of Apollo and God of Medicine and Doctors (Atsma “Asklepios”).  Epione is his wife, and is the Goddess of the soothing of pain, particularly emotional pain (Atsma “Epione”). Othertimes I ask Brighde to fill me with her warmth and allow me to ease the pain of someone.  When I do divinatory work, I call on Apollo Mantikos to “See with my eyes, / Hear with my ears, / and Speak with my voice.”  These are all forms of spirit arte and/or channeling the divine, and it is that relationship that I’ve developed with the deity that allows me to ask for, and perform these acts of magic.

 

  1. Discuss three different instances of magic done in every ADF ritual, how the magic is accomplished, and what makes that particular work magic. (min. 150 words each instance)

The three instances of magic that are done in every ADF ritual that I’ll be discussing are the Recreating the Cosmos, Opening/Closing of the Gates, and the Return Flow.

Recreating the Cosmos

The Re-Creation of the Cosmos lines up the different realms, so that they are overlaid, or parallel. It is common to sanctify the space around the ritual and the ritual participants as part of the Re-Creation of the Cosmos.  I think this works well, since we are creating the Sacred Center of ritual, and setting aside the mundane for a time in order to commune with the spirits.

When I Re-Create the Cosmos I first hallow the space around the ritual participants, to be sure that the miasma is washed clean and chaos is left behind.  Then I initiate the connection to the worlds by declaring that the smoke from our sacred Fire will carry our prayers to the gods.  I make offerings to the Fire and the Well, allowing the objects that represent them to become fit for the purpose of ritual.  Then I take the omphalos and bring it to the center, declaring that it marks the Sacred Center of all the Realms.  The Re-Creation of the Cosmos works because it establishes the Sacred Center and primed the space for the Opening of the Gates.

Because I am mimicking the first establishment of the Center, the magic being performed here is sympathetic.  I am mimicking the directions of Zeus, as he searched for the Center of the World.

Below are the words I say most often when Re-Creating the Cosmos:

“Let this area around us be purified sacred space where we go to meet the gods, and the gods descend down to meet with us.

Let the smoke from our sacred fire carry our voices to the heavens to be heard by the gods.

I place this omphalos at the center of worlds, just as it marked the center of the ancient world.  My hands, like two eagles, flying to meet in the middle and establish this as the sacred center of worlds.

Through this sacred center, let the World Tree grow, plunging deep within the earth to touch the Sacred Waters below and reaching through the sky to embrace the Sacred Fires above.

Opening the Gates

After the Cosmos has been Re-Created, the space is primed and the Gates are ready to be opened.   When the Gates are opened the space between the realms is connected, so that we are better able to hear the Kindreds and they are better able to hear us. It is akin to ringing the doorbell of a spirit.  While they are all around us, Opening the Gates allows us to get their attention.

When I Open the Gates, I call on a Gatekeeper for assistance.  In my personal rites, this is usually Hekate.  I say an invocation that praises Her and extols the reasons why I desire to work with Her in particular.  Then I ask that She join Her magic with mine, and help me open the Gates.  The physical motions that I make I believe are echoes of what many in ADF do. When Opening the Gate to the Underworld through the Well I make a spiral motion from my center, counter-clockwise down towards my feet.  When Opening the Gate to the Upperworld through the Fire I make a spiral motion from my center, clockwise up towards the sun towards my feet.  Then to connect the realms I first form a ball (Tai Chi “hold the ball”) at my navel with my right hand on top and left on bottom, then I press my right hand up towards the heavens, and my left hand down towards the earth.   Finally, as I proclaim the Gates to be open I take my hands from a ‘prayer’ position and open them out to my sides.

In this manner, I think the motions help to focus the intent of the magic, but it is with the help of the Gatekeeper that the Gates can actually be opened.  As with most of the other acts of magic I’ve discussed, it is the relationship with the spirit that makes the magic possible.

Below are the words I say most often when Opening/Closing the Gates:

“We call out now to Hekate to guide us in walking between the worlds!

Hekate, at moonlit crossroads, you befriend the helpless.

Keyholding Mistress of Earth, Sea, and Sky.

Dark Mother Hekate,

Ghosts and hounds follow you.

You are the black puppy and the black she-lamb.

Torchbearer, we praise you for the brightness of your power.

We offer you [eggs and wine].

Hekate of the Crossroads be our Guide!

Guide us as you guided Demeter in her journey.

Reveal to us the way to walk in safety.

Radiant Hekate of the Torches,

Guiding Light, Keeper of the Keys,

Join your hidden knowledge and power with ours

and help us to open the Gates between the worlds.

 

Let this water become the Well, and open as a Gate to the worlds below.

Our connections deepen to the Chthonic beings as the Gate is opened.

Let this flame become the Fire, and open as a Gate to the worlds above.

Our connections deepen to the Ouranic beings as the Gate is opened.

Let this Omphalos stand at the center, and mark our sacred center here and in all the world.  Let the tree wrap its roots around the stone and sink into the Well, and let it’s branches stretch upwards and reach for the Fire.

We stand here, connected at the Sacred Center to all the realms of Land, Sea, and Sky.

Let the Gates be Open!”

 Closing the Gates/Restoration of the Ordinary

“Let this Well be but water, ever sacred in its own right, but no longer a Gate opening to the many paths.

Let this Fire be but a flame, ever sacred in its own right, but no longer a Gate opening to the many ways.

Let the omphalos no longer be the Center of the Worlds holding us at the Crossroads.  Hekate, as we move away from the Crossroads and return to the center of our hearts and homes, stand ever vigilant as you always do, until we return again in need of your aid.”

The Return Flow

The Return Flow takes place after all the offerings have been made.  It is the reciprocal part from the Gods, that as we have given gifts to them, now we ask for gifts in return.  When we ask for blessings from the Kindreds, we take an Omen to see what form those blessings will take.  Then the Blessings are infused in some way, often within the Waters, so that the folk can imbibe them and take them within themselves, and carry them into the work ahead and into their lives.

When I Call for the Blessings, I first reflect on the omens that the Seer has received and interpreted.  It is important to understand the omen, because that is what you are going to be infusing the Waters with, and offering to the Folk.  I find it useful in larger, especially diverse, rites to also call on the Folk themselves to consider the omens and their interpretation, and how it applies to them.  I then ask for the Theoi to give us their blessings, as we have given of ourselves.  I use the imagery of the moon to help the Folk visualize the Blessings filling the waters.  I hold the vessel of water aloft as I ask for the Theoi to send down their blessings. As I am doing this I reach out in all directions with tendrils of awareness, and use them to act as a conduit and a funnel for the blessings, so that they make it into the vessel.  As I feel the vessel getting heavier, more dense, and often slightly warmer, I declare that with the blessings of the gods we can grow ourselves, and symbolize this mixing of our energies by pouring the blessing infused waters into the wine (or juice).  Some of the water is reserved for any workings that will be done, as well as for those who desire a non-alcoholic drink (when wine has been used).  The Folk are then invited to imbibe and reflect on the blessings.

Below are words, or a variation on them, that I commonly say when conducting the Return Flow:

*have vessel filled with wine, and vessel filled with water.  Water is infused with the blessings and poured into the wine.  Some water is set aside for the working*

Having given of ourselves, and received wisdom and blessings in return, we now seek to take of those blessings to enrich ourselves for the work that is to come.  We seek to fill ourselves with these blessings so that we may be thusly imbued with the sacred powers and apply ourselves to the work ahead.

*take vessel filled with water*

Let the brightness of the Shining Gods fill these waters with the omens we have received, [Omen, Omen, and Omen].  Let their blessings grow in strength like the light of the moon, shining with the brilliant power akin to the noon-day sun.  Theoi! Rain your blessing down upon us, and fill our Sacred Cup.

*vessel is held aloft as water is infused with the blessings*

Their strength shall augment our strength *blessed waters are poured into wine.  reserve some waters for the working* as we approach the workings ahead.

Drink deep, Children of Earth, and think on the gifts we’ve been given.

Esto!

  

  1. Discuss the use of song and poetry in magic within your hearth culture, and explain how you have used music and poetry in your own work. (min. 300 words)

There are many examples of poetry within the Greek hearth culture, ranging from epic poems to hymns praising the spirits.  The poetry that I have found to be most useful in ritual space are the Homeric and Orphic hymns.  Each is to a clearly defined spirit (most often one of the deities), and extols them and their domains.  During the Hellenic Full Moon rituals that I lead, we use the Orphic Hymn to each of the Olympians for the month that they are honored.

Plutarch discusses types of music within Ancient Greece, dividing them into the two contrasting categories of paean and dithyramb.  He relates the former to Apollo and the latter to Dionysos: “To this god [Dionysos] they also sing dithyrambic mele full of passions and a modulation that has a certain wandering and dissipation.  For Aeschylus says: ‘It is fitting that the dithyramb with its mingled shouts should accompany Dionysos as fellow-reveler.’  But to the other god [Apollo] they sing the paean, an ordered and temperate muse” (Mathiesen 71).  This fits with my concept of the two types of inspiration, and two methods that I commonly use to write.  There is the wild and free inspiration that comes from Dionysos, but there is also the inspiration of writing with a strict form in mind, that comes from Apollo.  I use both methods when I write, sometimes separately, and sometimes together.

It should not be surprising that I use song and poetry rather extensively within my own personal practice, and for the most part I use them in much the same way. I generally use poetry, often free verse, to invoke the spirits.  I enjoy writing these out before hand so that I can focus on the way the sounds roll together and how the specific words play off each other, however, I am also comfortable speaking off the cuff in a poetic fashion for invocations.  Some of ones I use often, in many different rituals, are to Ushas, Hekate, Gaea, Okeanos, Ouranos, and Poseidon.  I have also used song to invoke the spirits.  An example of this is “Muses, Sing Through Me,” where I call to each of the nine muses in turn, describe their strengths, and invite the to “Inspire me with [their] grace and song, to honor all the Kindreds.”

I use both song and poetry in my personal work to honor the spirits.  For example, “Because They Love (Tsirona’s Song),” is a song that describes the joy and healing that she brings through the power of music.  “A Song for Your Passing” was written as an Ancestor song (specifically for my grandfather) and honors those who have gone by singing of them, and reminding that we continue to honor them when we tell their stories and share their words.  “Kore: Phoenix Maid” is a poem written in honor of the Kore and her rebirth as Persephone.

There are also songs and poems that I use with specific magical intent in mind.  For example, “Wash Away,” is a song I use for healing, specifically emotional healing.  The last line of the song is literally “Let this song wash away all your sorrows.”  It has the added benefit that it is simple enough for folks to pick up easily and sing with me, as well as simple enough to allow for embellishments, echoes, harmonies, and countermelodies to be woven in.  To me, this helps make the song much more powerful.  I’m currently working on a sestina (a strictly formatted poem) designed to be used in opening the gates.

Other musical things I due to enhance my magical work are free note toning and toning the Awen to focus intent, as well as drumming either by itself or as an accompaniment to song to help build energy.  Both of these things are useful in that they help to occupy the extra spaces in your brain that can lead to distraction, and thus splitting your available resources, and aid you in directly all of your focus to the task at hand.

 

  1. Detail your understanding of why self-understanding and introspection are critical for the magus at any stage and how you intend to pursue a course of self-understanding. (min. 200 words)

Self-understanding and introspection are essential for every person who practices magic, whether or not they consider themselves a magus or magician.  For me this becomes a discussion of ethics, and a discussion of ethics within my practice turns towards the Delphic Maxims (Oikonomides).  Personal introspection falls under maxim #8 “Know Thyself” or perhaps “Be Yourself,” depending on the translation. This requires a person to examine their personal values, and determine why they feel the way they do, and how to best act in accordance with those values they have come to own.  Many other values are accounted for within the maxims that help to guide who that “self” is that you should strive to know and be.

An understanding of yourself requires that you know who you are and continually explore who you want to become.  It requires an understanding of how your actions and inactions affect yourself and others, and your view of yourself and how others perceive you.  This does not require you to cater to or be afraid of how others will view you, but at least have an understanding.  This understanding as you grow will help you to distinguish the role that magic is taking in your life. I believe there is always a danger that hubris can overtake a person, and in the case of magical work, this hubris can be more devastating as the magician breaks from reality.  One of the guiding maxims that I think helps to curb hubris is to “Be (religiously) silent.”  It is more important to do the work than talk about all the work you have, or could have done.

An understanding, and continual drive for better understanding, of how you view yourself and how others view you will help to keep hubris from taking root and destroying both the self and any relationships that may exist.  You should like who you are, and act in such a way that you continue to do so.  If you don’t like yourself, then you should be able to take steps to fix that.  You should also have an understanding of how those around you view you, and be able to accept that view.

Ways that I pursue a course of self-understanding are first by examining (and re-examining) my biases.  It is important for everyone to know their biases so that they can account for the ways that may pre-dispose them to a certain belief or outcome.  I do divinatory work to consult the divine on whether or not an action (magical or not) is called for.  I meditate on how my actions will affect myself and others. I work to determine what I view as right and wrong, and where my line is that I won’t cross.  I do my best to stay honest with myself and true to my gods, because in the end, I have to answer to my conscience and my gods.

 

  1. Describe three workings you have done that had demonstrable, intended results. Explain what those results were, how the working was conducted, and how the result appeared to manifest. (min. 150 words per working)

Working 1:

I have worked with Artemis since I knew I was pagan, certainly since high school, and likely before. She became my patron goddess, like a guardian and a sister. There are so many myths about her devotees, and what happens when they leave her realm to get married. I knew I needed to ask her permission to get married if I had any hope of not being forsaken to her. So I conducted a rite of passage to move myself from her realm as a maiden, to Hera’s realm, as a married woman. It was, and still is, the hardest rite I have ever written and performed.

I researched the rites that were done in Ancient Greece as girls left the protection of Artemis, and I wrote my own rite of passage to reflect these ancient practices. I chose two of my treasured toys from my childhood and sacrificed both them, and a lock of my hair. This sacrifice was part of the process that allowed me to leave the realm or Artemis and enter the realm of Hera.

My relationship with Artemis has changed drastically since that day. I don’t work with her nearly as often, and when I do, it’s in a different fashion. Now I work more as a colleague with her. And rather than being under her protection I am now working to provide protection. I have acted as a liaison for several girls, and I suspect I will continue to do so.

Working 2:

After my daughter was born I successfully breastfeed her until I went back to work. After I started work again, I had many issues pumping at work, and as much as I still wanted to breastfeed, and wanted desperately to make it to at least 6 months, but my supply was tanking. I began offering to Brighde every morning. Initially, to gain her attention, and show my intent and that my need was real, I offered a small portion of my own milk, and promised other offerings should my milk production remain steady and allow me to continue to feed my daughter.

I offered incense, milk, and honey regularly along with lighting the Kildare flame along side Hestia’s nearly every morning.  On the days that I forgot, my supply was noticeably lower. And when I reached six months my husband and I made the decision to begin introducing formula. So I thanked Brighde for her help, made a final offering of incense, milk, and honey and then stopped making my daily offerings. I made it barely another three to four weeks before Thalia had been weaned and we were formula feeding exclusively.

Working 3:

Each Hellenic Full Moon ritual I lead has a magical working in it.  During the Artemis full moon, we created protective talismans for the children of the folk who normally attend (or for the children of those close to those who normally attend).  I wrote out the text for the working, and we did it in a call and response fashion.  I felt that it was important for each person to speak the words themselves, because they knew who the talisman was being created for, and could better focus the intent.  I’ve included the text below:

Creating a Protective Talisman:

  • Need a token of some sort that will be on or near child/young mother
  • Need blessed waters, cypress or walnut (both sacred to Artemis), and incense

We come together now in the presence of all the Theoi, but most especially Artemis, protector of children.

I take this token and ask that it be blessed.

Blessed in the light of the moon which has infused these Waters.

Blessed in the presence of the Maiden, who watches over all children.

Blessed by the breath of the Theoi, who watch over us all.

Let these waters wash clean (this child) as they infuse this token.

Let this plant, sacred to Artemis, fill (this child) with strength, and protect (her) from all harm, as it infuses this token.

Let this smoke breathe life and joy into (this child) as it infuses this token.

Infused with the blessings and in the presence of the Kindreds, we call now for the powers of Land, Sea, and Sky to combine with ours and with the bright, fierce essence of Artemis, to seal this intent into this token.

Esto!

I fashioned the working itself a bit after some of the amulets in the Greek Magical Papyri, such as what things were done to the item in order to make it fit for the intended use.  In the case of this working I wanted the talisman infused with the powers of the land, sea, and sky, as well as ensuring that the child would be looked after by all the Theoi and by Artemis specifically.

As we were conducting the working, I go the tingly, slightly dizzy feeling that I have come to associate with magic that has worked, and intent that has been pushed through and realized.  While tangible results for this working are hard to determine, I feel that the combination of the energy feeling I got from the working and the fact that nothing bad has happened to my daughter and she’s been full of life and joy are a good litmus test for deeming the talisman a success.

Working 4:

Part of the Order of Bardic Alchemy work requires you to write a bardic piece in ritual space, with the intent to use it during ritual.  The Muses are my bardic patrons, and whom I work with most frequently when I’m doing bardic work.  I call to them for inspiration before I write, and often before I play, sing, or perform.  I decided the piece I would write would honor them, and give me an alternative method to call to them, rather than with an simple invocation.

I did the bardic alchemy devotional, and when I reached the working portion, I called to the Muses for inspiration and asked them to fill me with their song so that I might better honor both them and Kindreds.  I made offerings of sweet incense (Lotus), milk, and honey.  The thought process here was that this was a mix of the sweet words that I hoped to be blessed with and one of the hypothesis for what makes up ambrosia.

I had my bard book open in front of me, and sat staring at a flame.  The words seemed to come excessively quickly.  I often describe the process of this ‘gift song’ as trying to catch the Awen with your pen, and funnel it down into something coherent on the page.  This was not my first experience with a ‘gift song,’ and like the others, the whole piece was written in probably under an hour: words, chords, melody, and all.  It required very little revision following the initial writing.  “Muses, Sing Through Me” is still the main way that call to the muses before beginning bardic work.

 

  1. What three modes of magical work do you find most appealing, and why do you find them so interesting? How have you used these modes? (min. 200 words for each mode)

The first mode of magical work that I find appealing is spirit arte. I was introduced to the concept of spirit arte, or at least was given a name for it, by Ian Corrigan in his Court of Brighde work.  I attended the initial festival ritual where we sought out the hand maidens, or helper spirits, of Brighde, and made alliances with them.  From that working, the spirit I have continued to work with is Tsirona, an ancestor spirit.  She aids Brighde in her work of healing through music.  I find spirit work appealing because it is what makes the most sense to me when trying to achieve something magically.  I, by far, prefer and operate within a thaumatergical magical system.  I have built these relationships with the spirits, and so it makes sense to me to ask them for help when I’m trying to achieve something.  The burden is lessened for all when you ask for help.  This is especially true if I’m doing a magical working that the pre-divination has indicated Beta (ask for help).  For me, spirit arte does not just have to be a relationship or bargaining with the worker spirits.  It is just as valuable working with deities, whether they are those who I’ve developed a patron-like relationship with or those with whom I’ve built a strong working relationship (ex: Gatekeepers such as Hekate and Garanos).

The second mode of magical work that I find appealing is incantations.  When I talk about incantations, I’m lumping a large variety of spoken word magic all together.  For me, incantations can be the writing and speaking of hymns and poems that weave the power of the words together.  These often take the form of strict poetic forms, such as sonnets, villanelles, and sestinas.  I’ve found that strict forms help ensure that proper thought and power has gone into a piece, and the form itself lends additional power.  There is also power in free verse, provided that other poetic elements are observed to still lend power to the spoken word, such as alliteration, meter, or assonance.  I use these hymns and poems most often for invocations to specific deities as I call on them to aid me in a specific work.  This ties closely to the spirit arte I discussed above.  The spoken word invocation is how to gain their assistance, and the spirit arte is what you have them help you with once they arrive.

Another aspect of incantations for me is toning.  It still depends on the audible sounds that are made.  I use toning to raise energy and direct toward a specific intent.  Toning is interesting in that it has an audible cue for when the work has reached completion.  I tone so that I can hear the resonance of the notes around me, and my pitch shifts to echo the harmonics.  With the shifting notes the toning continues until I hear the overtones.  Overtones are the harmonics heard above the actual pitches that are sounding.  So, when it sounds like a choir of voices singing all around you, rather than just one or a few, that is the indicator that the spell has worked, and the intent has happened. I use toning most often for charging an item, for healing work, or to focus the intent of a sacrifice.

The third mode of magical work that I find appealing is sigil magic or talisman magic.  I don’t feel as confident with sigil magic, mostly because I don’t feel confident in my ability to accurately draw what I need to, but both talisman and sigil magic are fascinating because it is a spell that is tied to a material object or concrete image.  I lump these together because sometimes sigils are marked onto talismans to give the talisman more power.  They are created with a lot of thought going into the design of the piece.  For sigils, there is an accurate symbol that is drawn, sometimes in conjunction with other symbols.  Each line, angle, and instance of shading is carefully considered so that it can be applied towards a certain end. For talismans, the magician needs to consider how the piece will be worn of carried, the size, the shape, and the color of the piece.  They also need to decide if any additional markings will go on the piece, or if the talisman will contain other ingredients, and if so, what order they are added in.  Talismans are also interesting because they are worn of carried by the person for whom they are made, and thus exude a kind of magical energy at all times.  I’ve had good luck making initial talismans, as well as with recharging the magic on existing talismans.  One example of making an initial talisman is described above in my workings detailing the protective charms that were made at the Artemis Full Moon ritual.

 

  1. Explain how you determine if a magical working is the proper action in the situation you wish to apply it to. Describe your method of determining the proper magical course of action, from start to finish, as well as any particular exercises (such as divination) you go through to ensure that your actions are correct. (min. 300 words)

When I’m considering whether or not a magical working is the proper action for a situation my general outlook is “would I take a mundane action to try to resolve or aid this situation?”  If the answer is yes, then I will consider taking a magical action.  If the answer is no, then I have determined no action should be taken, and so the consideration stops there. When I’m determining if any action at all should be taken I consider my morals (mostly derived from the Delphic Maxims, the ADF Virtues, and common sense).  Some notable maxims to consider are #2 “Obey the Law,” #30 “Exercise nobility of character,” #50 “Act when you know,” #93 “Deal kindly with everyone,” and #107 “Pursue harmony” (Oikonomides).  These tie in nicely with some of the ADF Virtues I consider in particular (Wisdom, Courage, Integrity, and Perseverance), as well as with some good old-fashioned common sense: “Don’t be dumb” and “Don’t be an asshat.”

If I would take a mundane action, then my next step is to consult the gods.  This is the step where I do divinatory work to determine if I should take action, and in some cases what form that action should take.  If I’ve determined it is the right course of action, then I have a better understanding of what questions need to be asked when I’m approaching the deities to ask for guidance.

If the deities agree that a magical action can and/or should be taken, then my next step is to determine what form the magical working should take.  This is the step where crafting the work takes place, and so it just remains to be determined how to best achieve my ends.  Sometimes the answer is simpler than others, particularly if the magic act is something for my own ends. I have particular deities I’ve forged relationships with and with whom I work best.  For me, these are nearly all within the Hellenic hearth culture.  However things get more complex when I’m working for the benefit of or by request of another.  I must stop and consider if it would be better to consult with the deities that they honor for better results.  I’ve only just recently started considering this method, and have been working to build at least passing relationships with multiple deities outside my hearth for when these instances occur.  I think working with deities you are familiar with can help to establish an intermediary connection with deities that the other person works with.  And the ability to approach another’s deities will help to ensure that the intent is properly established for the work.

 

  1. How can the magician serve modern society? (min. 300 words)

When serving the community as a magician it remains important to still consider the ethics that if you would make the mundane effort, then why not marshal all your forces and also make a magical effort.  “Use your skill” and thus, use all the resources available to you to serve in the way your role demands (Oikonomides).  There is great power in magic for the benefit of the community.  Things like Opening the Gates and Calling for the Blessings within an ADF ritual benefit the community.  They allow all the participants in a ritual the opportunity to connect more deeply with the spirits and to receive their wisdom and blessings.  This magic is central to our being able to perform rituals.  I think magic that benefits the community is the most important, and it is our relationship with the spirits that allow us to do it.

It is also an important job of the religious magician to develop and maintain relationships with the spirits.  This way, there is someone familiar with them when a need arises.  It is because of this I’ve started branching out of my current hearth culture and comfort zone and have begun to develop relationships with deities beyond the Greek hearth.  If a religious magician is to serve her whole community, she must be prepared to access the means to respond to the needs of the community.

Magic that benefits the community also contains work that is done for others, such as healing and protective charms.  I’ve found that folk have started coming to me, often privately, and asked for some of these things, and I feel that it is the right thing for me to be doing to help them in whatever manner I can.  By helping the individual members of our community, we’re strengthening the community as a whole.  Other things individual members of the community may request are things like divination.  This can serve the needs of modern society by helping guide each individual’s actions in the right direction, or give them confidence they need to make the right choices.

Magic done to strengthen the community, care for the earth, or help someone through a time of transition is also benefiting the community.  These are things that serve not just the local and specific community, but also serve modern society as a whole.  Without the earth, and without people who are comfortable in their own place and position, society would become, at least, more unstable.

 

Works Cited

ADF Clergy Council. “The ADF Core Order of Ritual for High Days.” Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship. Ár nDraíocht Féin: A Druid Fellowship, 1 Jan. 2006. Web. 7 July 2014. <https://www.adf.org/rituals/explanations/core-order.html>.

Atsma, Aaron J. “Asklepios.” The Theoi Project : Greek Mythology. 2011. Web. 07 July 2014. <http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Asklepios.html>

Atsma, Aaron J. “Epione.” The Theoi Project : Greek Mythology. 2011. Web. 07 July 2014. <http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/AsklepiasEpione.html>

Betz, Hans Dieter. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation: Including the Demotic Spells. Chicago, Ill.: U of Chicago, 1986. Print.

Graf, Fritz. Magic in the ancient world. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997. Print.

Homer, and Samuel Butler. “The Odyssey.” The Internet Classics Archive | The Odyssey by Homer. The Internet Classics Archive, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014. <http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/odyssey.11.xi.html>.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Luck, Georg. Arcana mundi: magic and the occult in the Greek and Roman worlds : a collection of ancient texts. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985. Print.

Mallory, J. P. In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1989. Print.

Mathiesen, Thomas J.. Apollo’s lyre: Greek music and music theory in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Lincoln, Neb.: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. Print.

Oikonomides, Al. N.. “Records of “The Commandments of the Seven Wise Men” in the 3rd c. B.C..” Classical Bulletin: 67-76. Web. 1 July 2014. <http://www.flyallnight.com/khaire/DelphicMaxims/DelphicMaxims_CB63-1987.pdf>

 

 

Magic 1

  1. Discuss the importance of the action of the magico-religious function as it is seen within the context of general Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words)

Within the general Indo-European and applying Dumezil’s Theory of Tripartition, a culture is divided into three classes: the sacral class, the martial class, and the economic class.  The magico-religious function would fall into the first class of people.  These are the people who would serve as priests and magicians within their culture (Mallory 131-2).  They would preform rites of passage as needed, as well as preside over other seasonal and cultural celebrations.  It was the duty of the priest to be sure that all proper forms of sacrifice were observed and that each necessary holiday was celebrated appropriately.  It was the function of the magician to perform rites of passage as needed, but also to act as seers and spell casters for both individuals and institutions within their culture.  In some cases the function of the priest and the magician would overlap, however their paths diverged more in some cultures than others.

 

[Introduction to questions two and three: As different Indo-European societies developed, the figure of the magician in those societies evolved in differing ways, for example: in Roman society the magical function evolved, it was divided away from the priestly function and regulated by a different set of laws while in the evolution of Gaelic culture the magical and priestly functions remained entwined within the same cultural functionary.

  1. Discuss your understanding of the evolution of the magician from early to late periods within one Indo-European culture. (minimum 300 words)

The cross contamination of cultures, as they have shifted and merged into one another complicates this questions.  Within the classical era of Greece, there existed the magos.  This magos was a Persian priest or, more generally, someone who specializes in religion.  They were known for being particularly pious (Graf 20).  It is important to note that though they were known for their skill and expertise in magic and religious work, they were, by definition, outsiders.  This marked them, and ensured that they were not a part of the mainstream culture at the time.

By the 5th century BC, the magos became known less as a wise man, and more like the wanderer of the night, associated with the maenads and the initiates.  These accounts come from Heraclitus of Ephesus, wherein we can begin to see a negative connotation of the magician taking hold.  The magi were considered to be crazy, and practicing false religions, and were lumped in with the faithful practitioners of ecstatic (Bacchic) cults.  In this era, the magos was likely less a sorcerer, and more like the other practitioners of magic: the beggar priests (agurtes) and diviners (mantis). He was a professional of rites, and lumped into the category of men were feared by some, lived on the fringes of society, and were experts in various cults (Graf 21-22).

Later, Sophocles in Oedipus Rex describes the magicians, and considered them to be close in nature to the agurtes, the beggar priest.  This means he has no place in official society, unlike the diviner.  He basically describes the magicians as con artists who practice tricks of the mind and slight of hand in order to profit, rather than as men who were skilled in the art of magic.  The magos and the agurtes shift from being more respected members of societies and transition to those found on the fringes of societies.  The diviner has the official status in the polis, and the beggar priest stands opposite him (Graf 22).

Plato, in the Republic, lumps the magicians together even further, combining both the initiates of ecstatic cults and the practitioners of black magic.  He considered them specialists of “ evocations and magic bonds,” particularly because of the all the curse tablets, and implements of magic that have been found all across Attica (Graf 22-23).

 

  1. Compare and contrast the culturally institutionalized position of the magician within at least two Indo-European cultures. (minimum 300 words)

Within ancient Greece the diviner was granted a place in the polis.  This is the mantis, and he stands opposite the magi and the agurtes.  Any magical work that is performed outside of the state is a crime, and punishable as such, because the position of these sorcerers threatens the relationship between the humans and the gods (Graf 25).  Interestingly, Athens did not have as many harsh laws regulating the work of magic within its limits.  Plato says that it is a good thing that Socrates settled in Athens because if he had lived anywhere else they would have prosecuted him for black magic and sorcery.

This contrasts sharply with ancient Rome, who pulled heavily from the works of Plato, where in the Laws he proposed harsh punishment for practitioners of magic.  Part of this was because he distinguished a distinct difference between magic and religion, where magic tried to convince the gods very specifically to bend to your will, and religion leaves the gods a choice (Graf 27).

In Rome, the existence of the Twelve Tables was meant to combat the practice of black magic.  The malum carmen is the harmful charm that is spoken as an incantation to achieve results.  The example given (“Do not put a curse on the crops of others”) explains how the effect of making a neighbors harvest disappear, is illegal, though possibly logical, since that would be the natural consequence of performing a spell to increase your own harvest, though it may pull a neighbors crops into your own fields. It should be noted, however, that the crime was not practicing magic, but rather theft. It all came back to the mundane (Graf 41-2).

While the Greeks left room for the magician in their society, mainly through the practice of divination, the Romans considered the magician to be solidly on the outskirts of society.  One of the reasons magic was considered particularly dangerous was because of its supposed silent nature.  If you were making silent prayers, it was often assumed that they were harmful, because why else would you not say them out loud. There were other restrictions on magic.  One such was noted in Cicero’s Laws II.  It was intended to stop non-public sacrifices, with are similar to non-verbal prayers.  The excerpt states  “Let there be no sacrifices at night by women with the exception of those made for the people, and let them not initiate anyone with the exception of the traditional initiations for Ceres, according to the Greek rite” (Graf 59).  These are all indications of how as time progressed, and the Romans grew out of Greek culture, the magician was divided away from his role in the state, and relegated to fringes of society, governed by different law than those that governed the state officials.

 

  1. Identify the terms used within one Indo-European language to identify ‘magic’ and ‘magician’ examining what these terms indicate about the position of the magician and the practice of his or her art. (minimum 100 words)

There are a variety of terms that are used to describe magic and magician, and the connotation of the word would change depending on which term is used to describe a magical person or magical act.  Mageia, the Greek word for magic, is what is practiced by the magos or magi, the magician or sorcerer.  The term magi comes from Persian, and when used in Greek refers to a foreigner.  There is a kind of grudging respect because they are skilled in a responsible for “royal sacrifices, funeral rites, and for the divination and interpretation of dreams” (Graf 20), however due to the cultural and political tensions between Persia and Greece, they were not trusted.  The Heraclitus prophecies threaten these “wanderers of the night, … the magi, … with tortures after death” and torturing with fire because the mystery initiations were impious rites.  There are other subsets of terms used to describe the various magicians.  The agurtes were beggar priests, who people could go to for individual work, with the likelihood that the amount you paid them would effect what they told you.  The mantis was a diviner.  He was the freelance diviner, as opposed to the institutional diviners.  Both of these people were defined in the Derveni papyrus as “a professional of rites” (Graf 21).  They were lumped in with the night wanderers because they were privy to and specialized in the secret rites.

 

  1. In Norse culture we see magic divided into to primary methodologies known as Galdr and Seidhr. Galdr is very much the formal magic of sound, word and poetry meaning literally to intone while Seidhr is the magic of the spirits and is used by the folk in their everyday lives to assist in their crafts and arts. Compare the methodologies of spoken word magic and spirit magic and discuss their cultural significance within at least one Indo-European culture. (minimum 300 words)

Within the Hellenic hearth culture there is no example that is as clean as the delineation between galdr and seidhr.   There are many examples of spirit magic, perhaps the best being that of Pythia and oracular magic.  Oracular magic like that that is demonstrated by the Oracle of Delphi and the Oracle of Dodona “relied on mortals through whom a god was believed to speak” (Johnston 33).  In this method the humans delved into much deeper relationships with the divine, and the consciousness of the two often seemed to merge.  Another related example is that of the mantis.  Manteis were those people who were freelance magicians, and freelance diviners.  They offered divinatory clarification and advice as well as acting as an intermediary between the folk and the gods, helping them to strike bargains.  Much the way that high magic is practiced in the modern era with the magician building up his personal authority in order to achieve his ends, the mantis was able to converse with and bargain with the spirits on behalf of those who didn’t have the authority and training to do so on their own.

While there are clear examples of spirit magic, it becomes difficult to tease the formal, spoken magic away from magic that deals with the spirits.  This is because the vast majority of the spoken magic also deals with the spirits, often calling them directly to take part in the magical work.  This can be seen in the variety of hymns from ancient Greece.  They are a powerful spoken magic, however that spoken magic is used as an evocation to a spirit.  Rather than acting as a magical spell for a certain task, it calls to a spirit for a reason.  Sometimes the spell is the task, but a spirit is still called to assist in the magical act.  For example: if performing the saucer divination of Aphrodite (PGM IV. 3209-54) you call to her “the mother and mistress / of nymphs” and with the proper steps of the spell she will appear and before you and reveal to you those things that were concerning you that caused you to call her.  So while the spell is somewhat complex, with steps taken in preparation, and has specific words that must be spoken, the fact remains that it is not solely a divination spell, it is a spell to call the aspect of a goddess to you to reveal answers to you.

There are other examples of spells in the Greek Magical Papyri that include certain sounds that must be made, including descriptions of what those sounds should feel like within your mouth as you make them.  Apollonius notes in his discussion of Hellenic magic ritual that “for greatest effectiveness, certain spells or parts of spells (vowel chants, etc.) – the spells proper (Grk. epôdaí),- must be sung or recited sonorously, if circumstances permit. In any case, all ritual actions should be accompanied by appropriate verbal formulas, in the mind (by attentive imagination) if not out loud” (Sophistes “Hellenic”).  He notes that in ancient magic, spells were either silent or murmured, differing sharply from prayers and sacrifices that were made.  Graf also mentions this in his discussion of how it was not culturally okay to partake in silent prayers (Graf 120).  The inclusion of audible sounds “can help to entrain your assistants with your intentions.”   This is another example of how while there was likely both spoken magic and spirit arte, it was difficult to draw a clear line between the two different kinds of magic (Sophistes “Hellenic”).

 

  1. Discuss the existence and relative function of trance-journey magic within at least one Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words)

In many Indo-European cultures trance work is often linked to divination of some sort. Trance, and trance-journeying appear to be a common method for conducting divinatory magic.  The most prominent example of trance-journey magic within ancient Greece remains the existence of the institutional oracles.  These women would enter a trance state in order to commune with the divine and receive answers from the spirits.

For example, the oracle of Delphi (the Pythia) was said to sit above a chasm in the rock, on a three-legged stool, and breathe in the vapors of the mountain. The ancients believed these vapors were the breath of Apollo, and by breathing it in, he (or his daimons) would possess her and speak through her (Johnston 44-7).  This is the idea that “when this prophetic potency mixes with the Pythia’s body, it opens up channels through which her soul can receive impressions of the future” (46-7).

 

  1. Discuss the place of alphabetic symbolism (runes, Ogham, Greek letters, etc) as part of the symbolism of magical practice within one Indo-European culture examine how this alphabet may or may not relate to the earlier sound, word and poetic magical methodologies. (minimum 300 words)

Within ancient Greece the use of the Greek Alphabet in divination was, while not the most famous method of divination, a useful tool for many people.  A common method for this style of divination was to place pottery shards that had been inscribed with the letters and shake them in a drum frame until one or more leapt out (Sophistes “Oracle”).  Divination was a deeply ingrained magical practice within ancient Greece.  It is interesting to note, however, that the institutional manteis was likely not using the alphabet system to divine, and that the freelancer diviners were more likely to use the alphabetic method for divination.

The letters of the Greek alphabet are used in the creation of amulets.  This can be seen in the variety of examples within the Greek Magical Papyri.  For example, PGM VII. 206-7 describes the creation of an amulet to prevent coughs.  The magician takes hyena parchment and inscribes a series of ancient Greek letters.

When referring to sounds, it is interesting to note that sometimes within the Greek Magical Papyri, there are direct intrusions on how a specific sound is to be made, and the feel of it in your mouth.  For example, in PGM V. 1-53 it directs the magician to pronounce AOIAO EOEY by saying “the ‘A’ with an open mouth, undulating like a wave; / the ‘O’ succinctly, as a breathed threat, / the ‘IAO’ to earth, to air, and to heaven; / the ‘E’ like a baboon; / the ‘O’ in the same way as above; / the ‘E’ with enjoyment, aspirating it, / the ‘Y’ like a shepherd, drawing out the pronunciation.”  This detailed description implies that the exact way in which the letters were said, and the exact sound they made, was imperative to the successful completion of the magical act, in this case, creating and working with an oracle.

 

  1. Discuss three key magical techniques or symbols from one Indo-European culture. (minimum 100 words each)

Rites of Binding (defixiones)

Binding spells are found in the curse tablets that are scattered across the ancient world, most notably the Mediterranean area.  They are text, primarily written on tablets of lead, that are intended to force another to the magician’s will, or make them unable to follow their own desires.  The texts themselves are divided into five different types of spells: judicial, erotic, agonistic, anti-theft, and economic.  In these cases, while the written texts have allowed us to study them, the part that is more important is the rite itself where the binding is carried out (Graf 119-123).  The text of who is bound and in what way conveys the intent of the spell, the there were also instructions for the magician for how and where to send the tablet down, whether by burying or sinking or nailing, etc.  The magician treated with chthonic beings to help him carry out the binding spell (Graf 134-5).

Divination

There are a whole host of techniques revolving around divination.  The famous methods of divination involve the use of direct visions either directly to the querant or through an intermediary (Graf 197).  This is what is seen at the Oracle of Delphi and the Oracle of Dodona.  This type of divination uses trance work to determine the message.  There are instructions to conduct such a direct vision in the Greek Magical Papyri specifically with Apollo (PGM VII. 727-39).  There is also the use of augury to conduct divination, as well as knucklebones (or astragaloi) and basic lots for sortilege.  This is what we most often use in modern paganism.  Some other methods include divination through lamps, mirrors, or bowls of water.  These methods often have an elaborate set of directions to prepare the magician and the object for use.  For example, one set of instructions explains how to take a bronze vessel and fill it with a specific type of water depending on who you wish to contact, as well as the words to say over it in preparation (PGM IV. 221-258).

All of these methods of divination are magic because they depend on having a relationship with spirits in order to achieve the results you desire.  Even if the result is no more than being able to interpret an omen, to be able to do that you must develop a relationship with a spirit to do so properly, and convince, cajole, bribe, etc. to get their help in the matter.  Divination within the Hellenic hearth culture is a form of spirit arte.  If you want something, then you have to find a spirit and win them over to your cause in order for that thing to happen.  This is seen time and again within the Greek Magical Papyri, as spirits are called for both simple and elaborate tasks.

Amulets

There are a great many examples of amulets begin created and worn to achieve a certain end.  In paging through the Greek Magical Papyri, there are hundred of examples.  One category of amulets has to do with healing.  The magician takes the material required and inscribes a series of letters or sigils.  The person the spell is for then wears the amulet.  PGM VII. 213-14 describes wearing an olive leaf about the neck as an amulet, with a shape that looks like a cone inscribed on the shiny side of the leaf, and a crescent moon inscribed on the dark side of the leaf.   Another description of an amulet is PDM xiv. 1003-14 which gives instructions on how to create an amulet to cure gout.

 

  1. Discuss the relative place and methodologies of magic within your personal religious/spiritual practice. (minimum 100 words)

I have struggled with the concept of magical work, partly because for me it is so entwined with both trance and divinatory work.  The three all contain pieces of the others that make it difficult for me to pull out just one of them and discuss it independently of the others.  Magic is simply prayer with Intent, and so it is a very broad term that can encompass many things.

When I do magical work, it most often takes one of five different forms: trance work, divinatory work, ritual magic, healing work, or bardic work.  And these forms can happen at the same time, and often do.  I often use trance in combination with all of the forms, as well as independently to better focus the intent of the work, or to gain a clearer or more intense understanding of the desired outcome.  When I do divinatory work, I always call on Apollo Mantikos to aid me, making this a form of spirit arte.  Ritual magic is the kind of things that happen within a ritual.  Within ADF these are things like opening the gates and calling for the blessings.  When I do healing work, it is most often done with the aid of a spirit.  I make offerings to the spirit and call on them to help me focus my intent and lend energy to the person in need of healing.  Bardic work is done through trance and calling on various spirits for inspiration.  An initial offering is made to a spirit, and the outcome is often the creation of a bardic piece that can then be used to further honor the spirit.

 

  1. Into which basic categories would you divide magical arts and how do you see those categories functioning within the context of ADF? (minimum 300 words)

There are three categories that I think magic can fall into: magic for the benefit of the spirits, magic for the benefit of the self, and magic for the benefit of the community. Initially I had considered the theurgy and thaumaturgy categories, as those also resonate very well with my understanding of magic.  However, I’ve found as I work through my understandings, and perform more magical acts, that almost all the work I do calls on a spirit for aid, and thus, I don’t often operate in both categories.

Magic for the benefit of the spirits contains things like prayers and invocations to the deities.  These are most often audible or physical things that are given as a gift to the spirits to honor them in some way.  Magic that benefits the spirits is particularly important because it is through this magic that the *ghosti relationship is built, and through this magic that other types of magic become possible.  In the context of ADF, when we call to honor the Earth, the shining ones, the nature spirits, and the ancestors, we are invoking them to honor them and give them gifts.  In a typical High Day rite, this is often the purpose of the rite.

Magic for the benefit of the self are things like spells or charms for prosperity, protection, love, safe travel, etc.  These are things that while a spirit is often asked to assist with the charm, the intent is meant to benefit the magician in some way.  This type of magic is often not carried out within the context of the ritual we normally see in ADF.  However, as noted above, this type of magic would not be possible without the magic that is for the benefit of the spirits.

The final category is magic for the benefit of the community.  Magic within this category is what is seen most often in ADF rituals outside of the magic that honors the spirits.  Things like Opening the Gates and Calling for the Blessings benefit the community.  They allow all the participants in a ritual the opportunity to connect more deeply with the spirits and to receive their wisdom and blessings.  This magic is central to our being able to perform rituals.  Magic that benefits the community also contains work that is done for others, such as healing and protective charms.  Magic done to strengthen the community, care for the earth, or help someone through a time of transition is also benefiting the community.

For me, magic for the benefit of self falls short of the emphasis I put on magic benefiting the spirits and magic benefiting the community.  I think magic that benefits the community is the most important, and it is our relationship with the spirits that allow us to do it.

 

Works Cited:

Betz, Hans Dieter. The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation: Including the Demotic Spells. Chicago, Ill.: U of Chicago, 1986. Print.

Graf, Fritz. Magic in the Ancient World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1997. Print.

Johnston, Sarah Iles. Ancient Greek Divination. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell Pub., 2008. Print.

Mallory, J. P. In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology, and Myth. New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1989. Print.

Sophistes, Apollonius. “Hellenic Magic Ritual.” Hellenic Magical Ritual. Biblioteca Arcana, 2000. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. <http://omphalos.org/BA/HMT/>.

Sophistes, Apollonius. “A Greek Alphabet Oracle.” A Greek Alphabet Oracle. Biblioteca Arcana, 1995. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. <http://web.eecs.utk.edu/~mclennan/BA/GAO.html>.