Monthly Archives: February 2014

E is for Energy

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E is for Energy

energyBy energy I mean “subtle energy” which in various cultures and languages and traditions has a multitude of names like chi, ki, prana, mana, orgone, quintessence, azoth etc… But for simplicity’s sake, I’m going to just say energy.

The concepts of subtle energy seem primarily rooted in eastern systems of metaphysics and cosmology. In most western metaphysics and esoterica from before the occult revival, there wasn’t much focus on it. In fact I would say the only recognition of subtle energy is when Agrippa mentions quintessence, the fifth element. Moving into the 20th century, energy becomes the thing, with it’s heyday really taking off in the 60’s and 70’s with the Aquarian arrival and the widespread blossoming of new age philosophy, theosophy and other organizations that are more influenced by Eastern metaphysical systems being blended into Western metaphysics.

Some people really embrace energy metaphysics. Other people see everything as energy, which can be a useful frame of reference for some things. Other groups reject it completely and see everything through a different lens, like spirits, or information, or psychological context. I personally see them all as useful frames of reference to work through them all at different times depending upon context and necessity. To me it just makes sense and has a certain usefulness when dealing with different situations. I also find it interesting how they can all overlap and interact. But this is post is about energy.

Energy is something that is really quite useful to work with in the modern culture that we live in. For one thing, thinking about energy is something that most countries and regions need to think about. How to move it, how to supply it, to whom it is supplied, and what the energy is sourced from. As technology advances energy slowly becomes more available to more people, we can see the effect of how energy production from various sources effects the environment, people and culture. What is interesting to me is that all of these physical productions of physical energy that is used to power technologically advanced areas and nations can also be sourced into for the kind of energy I’m talking about here. If you don’t believe me, tap into the spiritual power of electricity around you. Take some of it into you, carefully, and see how it’s power is available. Other people have tapped into the energy production from nuclear power and fossil fuels, but as time moves forward we also have solar, hydro electric, and wind power (hopefully) becoming more available and widespread. Of course, most spiritual practitioners will already be tapping into energy of the Sun, Water and Wind, albeit in different ways.

Of course, once you have that energy, it’s all a question of what do you want to do with it. While flinging lightning bolts around sounds fun (cause that would be awesome) there is so much more to do with energy then just that. The obvious first one that many people turn to is healing. So much so that “energy healing” is the phrase for various types of metaphysical healing. Although I find the exact combination of words kind of humorous (cause you’re healing energy?) even though I know it means that you’re healing with metaphysical energy, it is still very amusing to me. The next common thing is using that energy to produce results. The energy of the elements, or the undifferentiated energy of creation, or other energies can all be focused on achieving results of a more material focus. Gaining wealth, drawing love, influencing people, encouraging crops, creating protection etc… are the second most common use of energy. This is usually done by visualizing the energy, putting the intention into it and then sending it on it’s way to do it’s thing. While some energies are easily recognized and accepted within various metaphysical communities, there are some that are more modern. Like the energy of money. How do you visualize that? What about the energy of Love? The energy of beauty? Maybe you could draw from Earth, or Venus, or Water, but what about just those energies themselves, on their own. What about the energy of a curse? Or the energy of harmful spirit? If you can visualize that and make it work, you can easily just manipulate the energy of those things in ways that other people might see differently coming from a more tradition perspective. If you are being followed by a spirit of the dead, being able to manipulate the energy of the dead, or death could be a useful trick to have to limit it’s effectiveness, or change it around and send it away (or back).

Of course, the other side of working with energy is that it is very personal. It’s much more about the ability and skill of the practitioner then anything else. At least in working in other frames of reference, like spirits, where it’s more about the relationship of the spirits and the practitioner and keeping the favor of the spirits then anything, energy is much more individual focus. I think that is why energy is more popular and acceptable means of working in this 20th century western culture because we are so individualistic. We want to be distinct and different and do things on our own. Having to rely on spirits is much harder thing to deal with then just being able to “plug in” and complete the circuit. It’s much more mechanical then other methods. Information and psychology can also do that, but there is still something about energy that is more accessible. Energy is much more fluid, free form, spontaneous, more natural gift and talent that people are more desirable to have. It can also be a great way to explain various extra sensory phenomena, from divination to psychic intuitive and mediumship, whereas looking at them from other models doesn’t always work well with everything. Explaining everything as energy is just a useful frame for many things, and one of those frames is that of the personal practitioner, and their personal energy, and being able to connect with external energy.

As an exercise, pick something in front you, right now, and draw it’s energy into you. Do it gently. Give some of your energy to it, again, gentle. If you feel like you’re going to get a headache, you’re pushing too hard. Feel how that energy of the object is different from yours. Feel how the object changes when you put your energy into it.

Another exercise is to examine your own energy. Stop, and feel your energy. How does it feel right now? Do you like how it feels? If not, why? Now change it. Change the energy to match up with a perception of how you want it to feel. When you have changed your energy, how you do feel now? Is it different from before? Now, reach out to the source of pure cosmic energy within you. Some people see it as just from the top of their heads. I tend to see it as coming from the center of my being, a pinpoint of shining light deep within. Let that pure cosmic energy fill you. How do you feel now? Do you like that feeling? How is it different from before when you first felt your energy? How is it different from when you shaped your personal energy into something more desirable? Now collect that pure cosmic energy and form it into a sphere or ball. You can use your hands if you want, but you have to. Let the ball fill up and become dense. Then turn that energy into any other kind of energy that you may want. Then take the ball and either send it to someone, or fill yourself with it’s energy to charge you with it. Notice how being filled with that energy feels differently, but also how you interact differently with the world while filled with that energy. Try this exercise with different energy at different times or different days. Maybe even stack energies together, to see how they mingle and what effects they have.

D is for Devotions

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D is for Devotions

 

Devotions.  In my experiences it seems that most neo pagans of various sorts are not especially into, or do, devotions.  Oh, they might be dedicated to this god, or that goddess, and they might collect all sorts of images and read all sorts of books, but when it comes down to it, the most you might call “devotional” is that when they do a ritual and offer up some stuff and ask for something in return.  It’s certainly not a regular practice, let one weekly or daily.  This of course might be my own slanted viewpoint, as I find I am often interacting with people who are new to the craft, and so the idea of devotions is not something they are aware, usually because of their background.  They might even be actively rejecting it, as it has something that triggers old memories of childhood religious training, or unpleasant interactions in a previous religious settings.  So, they seem to fall by the wayside.  I do believe there are people who do devotions, and I like to think I follow many of their blogs, but over all it seems to be something that is done more by longer established living traditions, like ATR’s, culturally situated Buddhist practices, Hinduism, etc…

Of course, what’s interesting is that if you look into some of the first books about Wicca and witchcraft, devotions are there, but not always obvious.  I think because it’s kind of small in the context of a wiccan circle because it comes down to the cakes and wine.  That is all it is.  That is the devotional part of the ritual, but at the times I have done it, if you do it with reverence and it can be really intensely devotional.  Although it seems that many groups treat it more celebratory then as an act of devotion and offering, and also a communion with the gods.

Of course there are many other ways that it can be done.  My personal methods are mostly done through incense, a candle (or two) and clean water.  All of the items are blessed by me, and in doing so I clearly state that it is for this goddess or that spirit, and set it out for them to partake from. It’s all pretty straight forward and also very historical, as many cultures have offered incense, flame and light, and water, perhaps followed with prayers of praise and adoration.  Sometimes I have included food stuffs, usually sweets.  Some other ways is that I find items or plants that have a relation to the god or spirit, and I leave them their, as part of their personal collection.  For my main goddess I have given un-shelled walnuts, as she is identified with walnut trees.  These were votive offerings that I have blessed, and remain in a bowl on her space by her.  Another offering that is good to make is prayers.  Making prayers to powers that you have a good relationship with, even just to thank them, and praise them, is a great way to build a relationship with them, especially if you don’t ask for anything specific, or just indicate general blessings and good fortune, which if they are spiritual close to you, they will already be supplying to you as best as you can.  Not that asking hurts, but if you only go to someone to ask them for something all the time, I know people get tired of that behavior, and so I can only imagine that gods and spirits do as well.  Sometimes it’s good just to be grateful, and express that gratitude.

Other devotions can be even more involved.  Leaving things in specific places.  What little knowledge I have of ATR’s is that various spirits have places associated with them, where offerings to them are expected to be left.  It’s very easy to look into European and Mediterranean, and other regions of antiquity and soon figure out places that were that gods or spirits special zone of influence.  It can be correct to leave offerings there.  It also seems that some areas were also open to any spirit. Crossroads seem to be a popular place where all spirits go at some time, and so leaving offerings there, and placing them there in a ritualized manner with respect and devotional practice can be quite the experience.  Doing it in a public place that is often traveled through, can also be an intense experience, as demonstration of your dedication to overcome potentially socially awkward situations (like being in a graveyard with a crossroads in the middle of the graveyard, leaving offerings for the spirits of the dead, and other beings, at midnight) that in and of itself is an offering of time, and facing your fears.  Or going to the beach at dawn, and leaving offerings to be picked up by the surf.  All these places can have a devotional element, that when done with a focused intent, can help you connect more with the gods and spirits.  Another part of devotions can be timing.  As indicated in previous paragraph, times can also be an important part.  If you really start doing devotional practice, you end up with your own liturgical calendar of feast days, offering days and what not.  Depending upon their role, some gods might want their offerings down during daylight hours.  Other spirits might prefer them given at night, when it’s dark.  Some might prefer it to be during a new moon, whereas others prefer a full moon.  Some prefer having their water refreshed once a week, whereas others might need it refreshed every day, along with incense and prayers when it is given.  It depends upon you and the spirits and gods being worked with.  It also seems that spirits and gods know what they can ask for from someone, and not from someone else.  While one person might be called to make baked goods which go uneaten for 3 days, until they are shared, others might only need to give a quick prayer.  The one who must bake, can bake, and the one who can pray, is pretty much only able to pray.  While some might think the physical offerings and time that went into them might be more meaningful, a heartfelt and sincere prayer done with focus and intention can be quite powerful, even more meaningful because of that focus and attention. But it has more to do with the time, that which can be given as well as the time that it is given.

By giving focus to offerings, place and time, a devotional practice will soon develop.  From my own experience, a devotional practice will really transform and change how you interact with gods and spirits, as well as your own spiritual practice.  When you start making offerings, it seems as though something switches on.  It makes the spirituality more day to day, and more real in a practical physical sense.  If you are willing to dedicate 5 minutes every day to relate to some spiritual intelligence, then maybe there is something more to this.  Even if you are just operating from a psychological model, drives the point of a certain level of realness which change ones practice in a many ways.

D is for Dagaz

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Dagaz
In the Elder Futhark Dagaz is the typically either the last rune, or the second to last rune (some orderings switch it with Aethel). In the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, it is only the last rune in the 3rd aettir, as a 4th aettir soon takes it’s place. The name means “day” as in the time period when the sun is passing across the sky, and it’s bright light covers that side of the Earth.
I personally find that this is a rune of light, and of Light. While other runes that indicate light are perhaps more personal (Cenaz) or the object which sheds light (Sowilo, Qweorth) Dagaz refers to that special quality of light, seemingly in abudance, surrounding, filling, maybe even penetrating. This is light is also benevolent generally. As in many folklores, when the sun rises is when all the unpleasant things that humans fear retreat back for a while. Life resumes it’s normal pace, and the whispers of harmful beings and unwanted influences fade away, at least for another time span of light.
While it’s nature is benevolent, the results of it’s actions working people, both yourselves and others, is not always. Humans are to a certain degree, hardwired to be blind. Things that don’t meet our sense of self are rejected, either casually and wantonly, or sometimes with anger and potential violence. It takes a lot of work to make yourself into someone who can accept everything, and even if you have done a lot of it, there is probably still something, hiding, secret, laying the darkness, that when it has the light of day shined upon it, the revelation will be challenging, if not outright unpleasant and undesirable. That is part of the human condition, but it doesn’t mean you have to be bound by it.

The revelation, the awakening, letting in the light, seeing things in the light, can be very difficult, and it only gets harder when we fight it. Better to let the light shine, and sit with our discomfort, or sensitivity, our pain, and let it shine through us. It is only trying to help us to shine brighter ourselves, or to be clearer so that our light can shine through, unobstructed.

Let the light shine.

D is for Dagaz

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D is for Dagaz

Dagaz

In the Elder Futhark Dagaz is the typically either the last rune, or the second to last rune (some orderings switch it with Aethel). In the Anglo-Saxon Futhorc, it is only the last rune in the 3rd aettir, as a 4th aettir soon takes it’s place. The name means “day” as in the time period when the sun is passing across the sky, and it’s bright light covers that side of the Earth.
I personally find that this is a rune of light, and of Light. While other runes that indicate light are perhaps more personal (Cenaz) or the object which sheds light (Sowilo, Qweorth) Dagaz refers to that special quality of light, seemingly in abudance, surrounding, filling, maybe even penetrating. This is light is also benevolent generally. As in many folklores, when the sun rises is when all the unpleasant things that humans fear retreat back for a while. Life resumes it’s normal pace, and the whispers of harmful beings and unwanted influences fade away, at least for another time span of light.
While it’s nature is benevolent, the results of it’s actions working people, both yourselves and others, is not always. Humans are to a certain degree, hardwired to be blind. Things that don’t meet our sense of self are rejected, either casually and wantonly, or sometimes with anger and potential violence. It takes a lot of work to make yourself into someone who can accept everything, and even if you have done a lot of it, there is probably still something, hiding, secret, laying the darkness, that when it has the light of day shined upon it, the revelation will be challenging, if not outright unpleasant and undesirable. That is part of the human condition, but it doesn’t mean you have to be bound by it.

The revelation, the awakening, letting in the light, seeing things in the light, can be very difficult, and it only gets harder when we fight it. Better to let the light shine, and sit with our discomfort, or sensitivity, our pain, and let it shine through us. It is only trying to help us to shine brighter ourselves, or to be clearer so that our light can shine through, unobstructed.

Let the light shine.

Runic Categories

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In the mythic lore of the Runes, there are three main sources that people look to. The most often quoted is the Havamal “The Words of the High One” which is often seen as the sayings of Odhinn. The next popular one is Sigrdrifumal “The Words of Sigridrifa” which comes from the saying of the Valkyrie Sigrdrifa to Sigurd, the dragon slayer, where she educated him in runes and magic, so that he might win. The third source, although read by some, by seeming often over looked it the Grogaldr “The Spell of Groa” in which Svipdagr goes to the gates of Hel, to meet his mother Groa, who was a seeress, so that he might learn what magical aid he can get in wooing Mengloth, an etin-maid. In the course of these writings, the speakers (Odhinn, Sigridrifa, and Groa) describe various runes to their audience that they know, or should learn, or use to reach their goals. These runes have a variety of names, and they number listed has never really reached anything close to the length of the alphabets, or the types of runes mentioned, except by the intellectual reaching of authors on the subject.

In other books, you come across various names of runes, signs, and staves for other purposes as well. Some seem to be inspired by the mythic lore, some from sagas, and others existing in Icelandic galdrboks that have been preserved. I made it a point to compile a little list of some of these types of runes, just to give the readers a look at what is present. I have to apologize for lack of accent marks; I just don’t know how to make that happen.

Malrunar- speech runes

Blodhgar runar – bloody runes or blood runes

Leo-runa – song rune (also used to refer to witches, sorcerers and such)

Brimrunar – sea runes (typically for calming the sea)

Bjargrunar – birth runes (for helping in childbirth)

Wyrdstaef – Staff of Wyrd or Urd

Likn-stafir – health stave

Gaman runa – Joy runes

Audh-stafir – Staves of Riches

Sig-Runar – Victory Runes

Myrkirstafir “Murk staves” or “Murk” Runes
Myrkrunar (a lot of writers have used this term to refer to the inverted meanings of runes in a reading, I personally think it refers to runes that deal with visibility

Bol-stafir – Evil staves

Beadu-run – conflict rune

Flaerdh stafir – Deception stave

Valrunar – death runes

Nidhstang – ok, this doesn’t really refer only to runes, but to a certain type of curse spell, where a pole, carved with certain runes, and mounted with the head of animal (typically a horse) is the anchor for a curse spell, used in saga lore to drive a king and queen from the land. I have also seen this spell nydstand or nythstang, which often connected the curse to the rune Nyth or Nauthiz ( Need or Necessity is often how it is translated). It is or was a popular thing for many European northern traditionalists to have on their websites, cursing neo fascist groups who use runes.

Svartrunar – Black runes

Olrunar or alrunar – ale runes

Limrunar – limb runes often considered runes that heal sickness or that bring healing

Hugrunar – mind runes

Helliruna – Hell or Hel runes (helrunar is one of the names that are translated “witch”)

Burgrunan – guarantee runners (used to refer to supernatural beings, especially feminine ones)

Galdrastafir – spell stave

Heidrunar – bright runes

Ginnrunar – cosmic runes

Draumstafir – dream staves (for having prophetic dreams)

Svefnthorn – sleep thorn (a type of magical symbol that causes people to sleep, and not wake until it is removed, or in the case of Sigridrifa, until certain events occur) Interestingly enough, in German folklore that has survived, thorns are a means of delivering curses, by leaving them where people will step on them, the thorn can send a curse to the victim.

Lukkustafir – Luck staves

Thjofastafir – thief’s stave (for catching thieves)

Aegishjalmur – Helm of Awe (or terror)

As you can see, there are a lot of different types of runes, staves, signs, and marks within the body of possible rune focused magic. None of these are mentioned all together, and some come from different historical periods, or are named in the Eddas and sagas. Interestingly enough, only Odhinn ever mentions magic that can be used to draw love or lust. However, if you peruse that list, the one thing I can see in a generic way, is that a lot of what people sought to do with magic is still what is sought in this day in age. Health, Wealth, healing, power, magic, victory, respect, all possibilities are present, even the suggestion of harmful magic, made to cause conflict, to deceive, and conceal, and even working with spirits of the dead (helrunar, and often svartrunar are added to this category). Not much as changed in terms of what people want, or seek, or try to understand or do, with the strange, only once mentioned, exception of love magic. Although love magic does figure quite well into galdrboks, so it is not lost, and the sage of Egill perhaps mention some love magic gone awry (although it seems as though it could have also been healing magic also gone awry, my readings on it seem mixed).

Unlike other authors, it is my contention that all of these various names are probably more likely to be more like bindrunes, combinations of runes worked to various ends. Even in the Eddas, those runes described by the High One, by Sigridrifa, and Groa are separate spells that are formed by the coming together of runes. They might be staves or signs, which would also be empowered by a galdr that is sung or spoken over them. What those are, I don’t know. But I intend to find out. I intend to ask the runes, and to go seek audience with those who gave them, and ask them directly just what it is.

As for the other types, I will be mainly working with the runes to create the stafir. I have started working with one method, rather then intellectually using runes; I do a reading, asking for runes that I should use to create the bindrunes. I have done this a few times before, and I was very satisfied with the results. From an intellectual perspective, it is surprising what runes will come to work various magics, but when you look at it from what you are intending, what they give makes perfect sense.

The most recent bindrune I did was for a galdrastafir, which can be a term used generically for all of them, can also be used to refer to specifically magical acts that relate to magic, and not results. In this case, it was a for a general empowerment stave, that will aid me in charging my magical tools (like candles, wood pieces for charms, to more ritual tools) and the runes I was given were Eihwaz, Ethil, and Iar ( I use the Anglo-saxon runes, with the additional runes that do not have stanzas.) From a purely intellectual viewpoint in dealing with the runes, this may not make sense. If you consider the runes being used, Eihwaz (the yew tree, tied to Yggdrasil as it connects the worlds and realms together) it shows the reach of all the types of energy I could work with, and be connected to them. Ethil (the ancestral homeland) it has to do with marking it with my energy, setting it aside from other items, and focusing it into power for me. Iar (the river fish, considered by some to be tied to Jormungand, the world serpent) deals with binding the energy to the items, and securing it to the object. So, really, the runes know quite well how to aid you with your goal, if you just ask them.

Light affirmation

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Light affirmation

Deep in the center of my being is an infinite well of light. I now allow this light to rise to the surface. It fills my heart, my body, my mind, my soul, my consciousness, my very being. The light radiates out from me in all directions and returns to me multiplied. The more light I use and give, the more I have to give; the supply is endless.

Notes:
Some visualization and suggestion for further practice, based upon recent information.

Say:
Deep in the center of my being is an infinite well of light

Chant:
AH

Visualize:
Visualize at the center of your torso, a shining brilliant point of light, like a tiny star, shining with a pure clear light. As this light, now perceived, shines, it draws the attention of all the gods and spirits that you have worked with, now work with, and will work within, even your own essential being, which turn and look upon you.

Say:
I now allow this light to rise to the surface of my being. It fills my heart, my body, my mind, my soul, my consciousness, my very being

Say:
AH

Visualize:
See that point of pure, clear light shine brighter and brighter, starting to fill you, and expand. At the same time the gods and spirits points of light, even your very essence, also shine, and their light flows towards you as well, filling you. The combined lights purify and cleanse you of all unwanted and harmful influences

Say:
The light radiates out from in in all directions and returns to me multiplied. The more light I use and give, the more I have to give. The supply is endless.

Chant:
AH

Visualize:
Now together with your gods and spirits, the pure, clear light radiates out from all of you, and shines out into the vastness of space and time, filling it with that light, sharing with it with all beings, even the very essence of being. At the same time, all beings responded back with pure, clear light, even the very essence of being, and all shines with pure clear light.