I’ve never met Oprah Winfrey, so I cannot attest to her actual personability or character. But the negative cultural effects of her show are pretty apparent, and the fact that culturally and journalisticly she is shit takes precedent over how nice a person she may actually be.
I’m old enough to remember her blind promoting of the Satanic Ritual Abuse conspiracy theories. I got to watch her create the creature that is the not-really-a-doctor Dr. Phil and the damage he inflicted upon the public’s understanding of psychology. I witnessed her inflict the snake oil salesman that is Dr. Oz on the world. People are literally dying because of the boost she gave to antivaxxer nutjob Jenny McCarthy. Oh, and she introduced us to the nonsense of The Secret.
I have a master’s degree and several undergraduate degrees. I do a lot of research on ancient ritual technology, as well as the history and anthropology of religious movements. I’m not trying to flex on anyone or brag about my extra special academic credentials, but to emphasize how important accurate and vetted source material and strong scholarship are to me and to my religious and magical practice. Discernment is important when considering any source, as well as the biases and training of the author presenting that source.
And sometimes I make mistakes and but shitty material from shitty people.
There are occasions when a spell needs to be cast on short order and it may be appropriate or plausible to raise energy to launch it. Quick defensive measures, emergency sigils, or healing spells are just a few of the situations I have encountered where it is difficult to raise the energy or maintain the focus to perform magic. Because I am first and foremost a chaos magician, I considered what lines of thinking I could adopt to approach the problem, and came up with some methods to prime or “pre-cast” spells or sigils. Continue reading →
I’ve come across many online articles, essays, posts, and Tumblr accounts that prattle on in detail of how Wicca is not Witchcraft and all of the myriad things that distinguish the two. Since I describe myself as a sorcerer and my magical practice as sorcery, watching the degree to which witches will argue amongst themselves over whether they are witches or not can be confusing at best, but I recognize that this is an expression of the Problem of Authenticity that plagues modern witchcraft and pagan movements. There is a lot to unpack in this issue, from bad scholarship and creation myths to lineage disputes and politics, but people will do what they can to define their group in relation to others, I suppose. Continue reading →
I think it was Stephen Posch that gave a talk about animal sacrifice at Paganicon (Sorry Stephen — I can’t find my notes and for some reason Pagnicon doesn’t have the class listed in the old online schedule). The presenter was discussing Wiccan ritual structure, and how raising the cone of power was adapted to fill the hole where animal sacrifice would occupy a ritual from antiquity. I haven’t followed up that theory with any research of my own, but it makes sense: most religions in antiquity had some manner of sacrifice, and the Victorian sensibilities of Gardner would not have been amenable to including the practice in his creation.
As a young magical practitioner, that bias against flesh offerings extended to other types of offerings. Offerings in general were devotion, you see, and that sounded an awful lot like submission, which good magicians discarded along with their Christian backgrounds. Magic was all about energy and will, you see, and I took pride in not kneeling before any gods. Continue reading →
Magic is a practical exercise. Like anything in life, you can study the theory behind it all you want, but you won’t get anywhere until you actually put things into practice. And like so many things — painting, drawing, music, running, weight lifting, writing, math, cooking, etc. — if you want to develop proficiency you need to do it on a regular basis. Unfortunately, that also seems to be the most difficult part of it. Continue reading →
For reader who aren’t familiar with the Witches Voice, it is a website that has provided networking and information for new and aspiring pagans, or those curious about them. In operation for over 20 years, it has featured numerous informative articles (including my own) and profiles for individuals and groups in the pagan community to connect. And it is shutting down. Continue reading →