Thoughts from Heartland Pagan Festival 2015

Big rituals are a way different experience when you’re on center stage

I don’t mind bugs as much as I did a week ago (although I’m still not fond of them)

Sometimes you really do need a break from those you love the most

The camaraderie you get from being a part of a diverse group that completes a challenging task is a unique thing

There are always ulterior motives Continue reading

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Planetary Energies

So I talked a little bit about my explorations into planetary magick.

By my question was, now that I have been exposed to these energies and can invoke them, what do I do with them?

My original idea was to invoke planetary energies in such a way that I could compensate for harsh or difficult aspects on my natal chart. To a certain degree, this is still an objective, although I have different ideas on how to accomplish it.

The source material I am drawing on is Rosicrucian, so of course  it recommended that I channel this energy into attaining Knowledge and Conversation with the Holy Guardian Angel. And you know what? For once, that didn’t sound like a bad idea.

But mostly, I wanted those energies to have better expression in my life. And the invocations started me on that path. But the energies were undirected, and general in their manifestation. Sure, it felt good, but I wanted something more focused. Continue reading

Introduction to Planetary Magick

I’ve been doing ceremonial magick for many, many years, but I’ve never progressed beyond elemental magick before. The rituals seemed too complex, and I wasn’t confident enough in what I was doing. I also didn’t really understand what the end game in such ritual work.

DON inspired me several months ago to revisit my ceremonial magick practice with renewed vigor. My primary goal, as always, was mundane: refocus my life and find a new career path. I got back to regularly performing the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram and working with the elemental energies, but DON’s influence led me in a direction that I always flirted with but never really committed to: the invocation of my personal genius. And since I was exploring new things, I decided that working with planetary energies might help that work. Continue reading

The Magus Kid

Many, many years ago, I started attending a metaphysics class taught by Walter (no, not his real name), who later became my Mentor. I was one of the few that stuck with his program and augmented it with material I found in other sources, so he took me under his wing, as it were.

Walter has a long string of projects, accomplishments, and fascinating stories from his life. If you can think of it, he has probably been involved in it in some form or another. He was an auctioneer, appraiser, housing contractor, submariner, radio talk show host, pool installer, real estate investor, professional psychic, rennie, actor, writer, and wizard (and that leaves a lot out).

When I met him, he had moved back home with his mother to help care for her in her old age. She was a hoarder, and he probably is as well. The basement of their house was completely filled with various items, ranging from canned foodstuffs (he took Y2K very seriously) to books, clothing, power tools, and ironing boards (his mother had a thing for them and loved to collect them.)

After some time, the venue for Walter’s class wasn’t working out, and he wanted to reclaim the basement and hold his class there. The basement was finished and actually had a nice great room, complete with a bar and a fireplace, and would have made a nice meeting spot. But there was literally so much clutter that you could not get from the stairs to the far end without considerable effort.

As I said, Walter had taken me under his wing, and was meeting with me to teach me magic. (He was also paying me to help him clear the basement.) As I helped him shuffle, organize, and carry upstairs items of value, I made a comment to him: “This feels like when Mr. Miyagi made the Karate Kid do all those chores for him.” He responded simply: “It’s just like that.”

He showed me the items of value he had, and explained how he knew they had value, and to whom they were valuable. We visited auctions, and I relearned what I knew about dollar value and demand. We repriced items bought at auction and sold them online for profit, and I learned about connecting demands to the people looking for them. I learned about clothing and image, and how to dress to impress, to stand out, and to acheive certain effects and impressions.

This was very, very powerful magic, and it is the kind rarely taught in books and grimoires.

So I understood when I read this blog post by Jason Miller.

I got this question from a friend the other day: Dude, you are writing so much about processes and strategy and habit change that it feels like you are never gonna write about magic again? How about getting back to some straight up Sorcery?”

My answer is this: if you don’t understand how this relates to Sorcery, I am not doing my job.

I started the Strategic Sorcery Blog because I realized that people were, in general, not getting the kinds of results from their practical magic that I thought they should have.  The problem was not in the magic that they were doing, it was how they were applying it to their lives. This was a problem that no-one I could see was addressing, and instead people kept chasing after new and shinier spirits and spells. “Saint Expedite didn’t make me rich, maybe Bune will.” “Bune, didn’t make me rich, maybe Tzadkiel will…

Magic tends to be viewed as a quick fix. More astute practitioners remind people that they have to follow up through mundane means to get concrete results, allowing a means for magic to manifest.

But there’s more to it than that. You have to know what channels are available. You have to know how to adjust them. You have to know how to make and exploit connections. You have to know how to barter and exchange favors. You have to know how one thing in your life, which may not seem significant, can be the very thing that breaks a new opportunity in another area.

You have to know how to strategize and where to apply your efforts.

And that is one of the reasons I like Miller’s work; he understands and actually teaches these things.

I learned the old fashioned way; via a mentor that made it seem like he was teaching me something else. And it’s difficult to pass this kind of thinking on to people, which is why he demonstrated all of it through action and example.

But magic is more than spells and tables. It is about being able to bring things together at the right time, and being able to change the probability that something will succeed by giving it more available options to do so.

A lot of magic doesn’t look much like magic. It looks like stuff just happens.

Learn from the things around you.

Generation Next

A while back John Halstead wrotre very excellent post about generational differences in the neopagan community. In particular, it addressed something that is I have been becoming more and more aware of, and that seems to be discussed more openly in the pagan community: the status of elders in the community.

I remain deaf to appeals to the authority of one’s chronological age.  One reason is because I don’t see much of a correlation between chronological age and wisdom.  I know some people in their 20s and 30s whose inherent wisdom and life experience make me feel as naive as an infant.  And I know people twice my age that act like infants — especially when their ideas are challenged.  In addition, it seems to me that people, of any age, who are wise, have no need to claim the authority of years.  Their wisdom speaks for itself, through their words, their acts, and their demeanor.

[…]

Those, of every generation, who invoke the authority of their age and cry “ageism” when no one listens seem to be cut from a common mold.  They are comfortable with the status quo, and they fear that the times they are a changin’.  These would-be elders claim to define our future by appeals to the past.  No doubt, there is a critical role for tradition, for structure and institutions.  They act as a bulwark against chaos, both social and personal.  And our elders are the guardians of that bulwark.  But bulwarks can become obstacles.  And unless the structures of the old generation are vivified by the energies of the new, then they stagnate.

When I touched on this subject myself, it was from a place of frustration and anger, directed squarely at a vendor that complained about how younger generations weren’t doing things exactly as he wanted them to do.

He said that generations X and Y and the millennials were lazy, and lacked independence and ingenuity, and wanted everything handed to them. That they weren’t entrepreneurs, that they didn’t take risks, and that they didn’t solve problems. And that when it came to the metaphysical and new age communities, the younger generations were sitting back and not taking action, and leaving it to the aging 60’s hippies to keep doing all the heavy lifting.

And I was more than happy to throw that all in his face while pointing out that I was literally making a plan to improve the community and address his complaints, and he shut me down because the ideas I came up with weren’t in line with the old way of doing things.

He wanted innovation and creativity and action, as long as it was the way he did things when he was younger. He wanted to relive the days when his generation changed the world, and complain that my generation wasn’t doing enough, and then tell me that what I wanted to do wouldn’t work because it wasn’t what he did 50 years ago.

Because when he fought the system, it was revolution and progress. But now it’s his system, and by Jove, who am I to question it?

The older generation often does work to maintain the status quo, largely because they have helped created that status quo and identify with it. And since they have so much invested in their way of doing things, they often ignore or overlook ways in which that system is outmoded, irrelevant, or damaging.

I think I did take that particular vendor’s attitude a bit personally. But let’s be honest: when someone says something needs to happen, and you offer idea to do it, and you are told your ideas suck and you are lazy because your ideas aren’t what they would have done several decades ago, then that can rub you the wrong way.

We’re told to respect our elders. They don’t always respect us.

What authority does an elder have? Why are they still in charge? Shouldn’t they serve more as advisers than the current leaders? Shouldn’t they know when to step aside and allow new leaders to grow? Isn’t the whole point of the Crone archetype to decline gracefully instead of clinging desperately to power and old ideas?

And I’ll be entirely honest here: I’m getting tired of the Baby Boomers.

The 60’s are long gone. It’s over. Stop clinging to your imagined glory days and telling us that your long tired and failed policies and ideologies are the only way to do things. Especially while speaking out the other side of your mouths about how we won’t take responsibility or action or leadership.

Get out of the way and let us.

Yes, a lot of people who have been in the community for a while have made vital and significant contributions. Yes, they deserve our respect, and in some cases a greater amount of reverence. But as we have an obligation to honor their work, they have an obligation to move aside and honor ours.

And this also touches on another issue: who gets to be considered elders? Are we to judge people by their contribution, or by their age and time served? I’ve encountered several (at least in the local community) who have expected special treatment simply due to their age. And that attitude often is accompanied by the belief that the way they did things back in the day is superior to the way things happen now.

I’m not much younger than Halstead, and I admit that I have own biases regarding taste and aesthetic and the trends and fashions of younger people. But I also take delight in and respect much of the creativity and innovation that I have seen, some of which simply wasn’t possible in the technological or cultural climate of my own younger days.

And I’m certainly not going to expect younger people to defer to me simply because of my age. I hope that my work merits some consideration on its own, but that should be independent of how old I am. I am more experienced and diversified than many people older than me, and I am no where near as skilled as some people younger than me. I should be judged based upon the work I present, how useful my own experiences are to helping other people, and how I treat people.

And yes, I’m part of a certain generation, and because of that I have certain advantages, perspectives, and motivations. But it is my job to act as a guiding principle to younger generations, not a controlling one. I should hope that they learn from my failures and success, and not demean them from doing things differently than how I did.

And I’m not sure why, but older generations seem to be having trouble learning that lesson.

Investigation Protocols

Quite a very long time ago, one of my Tumblr followers suggested I write about the need of paranormal investigators to bring along a practitioner, psychic, or sensitive.

(I didn’t because I’ve been lazy for a very long time. Sorry.)

I’ve decided to tackle this now because 1) I’m finally getting around to writing about stuff I should have written about a long time ago; and 2) Because I’ve actually lectured on this very topic before.

So let’s get down to it.

Paranormal investigators should, under no circumstances, bring a witch/magician/psychic/sensitive along on any investigation.

The goal of a paranormal investigator is to attempt to collect some manner of objective evidence that a phenomenon is, in fact, legitimately paranormal, and hopefully collect some data that may offer a means of tracking down other similar phenomena, or of offering a means of further scientific exploration, explanation, or understanding of those phenomena. The ultimate objective is to understand the mechanism by which these phenomena operate, so that we can more fully understand the world we inhabit and the nature of the bizarre experiences we have.

Bringing a psychic along throws all of that out the window.

The thing is, a psychic’s experience is purely subjective. It is not quantifiable in any way. No one else in the group can confirm or deny the experience. And while the psychic’s experience may be valid, and their information may be accurate, it does little to further the scientific study and explanation of those phenomena.

And parapsychology is a scientific endeavor. It needs to be help to objective and scientific standards and produce verifiable and repeatable results.

That isn’t to say that psychics and practitioners should not be associated with paranormal investigators. But their involvement should occur after the investigation. If any clearing, warding, or reading is needed, it should occur as a separate follow-up activity, the results of which should have no bearing on the official investigation.

Science has a long way to go to catch up with and explain the kind of subjective experiences that psychics and other sensitives have. If we hope to help develop scientific theories on such phenomena, they need to be investigated independently of any metaphysical or magical techniques.