Dropping Pennies on the Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice has passed and as I edit this blog post, it is almost New Years Eve.  I have spent the last several days cleaning my house and baking.  You see this year for the Summer Solstice I had several magical realisations, several penning dropping moments.  I have spent these liminal days between Christmas and New Years quietly thinking about this new understanding while also cleaning my house, and Baking.  Today it is Ginger Gake.. but I digress, sort of.

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These magical realisation and or breakthrough moments generally happen over a period of time.  Sometimes it is several days and sometimes it is several months, it can in some cases even take years.    I like to think of these moments as series of puzzle pieces, of related things that I have flagged as important and to take note of.  I have over the years become much better at spotting when they happen.  Sometimes water just wet.. but other times water is a magical puzzle piece, and learning to tell the difference can be a bit trial and error when you first start out.

This time the puzzle pieces came in the form of, a Tarot orientated blog, which in an of its self is unusual for me, two podcasts, a Tarot documentary and an episode of Librarians.  The galvanising and linking  of these magical puzzle pieces where helped along with some liberal applications of Sarah Lawless‘s Sabbat, and Mandrake Ointment and cups of tea with a good friend

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This galvanising and linking was both magical and psychological and also not.  Magic and psychology are so intertwined and also vastly separate, that it can be very difficult to put into words, let alone figure out which is, which.   Some Modern Pagan and Magical practices and traditions come from a occult magic foundation, and others come from magic is  psychosocial  foundation.  For me the magical work that I do now comes from a more magical foundation and this in turn facilitates? the psychological bits.

It has not always been this way for me, I stared my magical path and journey reading predominantly Goddess and Feminist Books as that was what was available and it was when it was common to understand magic as a psychological phenomenon.. rather than an occult magical phenomenon. But the deeper you go down the rabbit hole the more the magic is real and both separate but intertwined with the psychological.  I suspect it is different for everyone, as to my mind. it depends on how your world view is wired.  But I digress somewhat.

Did I mention that I have been cleaning my home and baking in that liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s.   And with a magical realisation, I have found is always followed by much work, but before that work can take place there needs to be a period of time to let the dust settle so to speak, which for me this year has been about baking and cleaning.

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The practice of magic, I believe should not just be in your head, or reading many wonderful books, it should also be about doing and about practice.  Preforming, and practicing those things that you have read about while also refining those practices that you have been reading about so that they have more meaning and connection for you.  Doing this adds a more and a very personal understanding the magic that you are doing and in turn can facilitate more magical realisations.  Kinda spirally really.

Let me put it another way.  You can read the recipe for the World’s Best Banana Cake however if you have not baked and/or eaten it you only have half the story and none of the experience, so your understanding of it will be lacking.  There are some very important things that you lean when you actually physically bake the World’s Best Banana Cake.  And sometimes these things are not written in the recipe.      Just as there are realisations when baking and eating the World’s best Banana cake,  so to  are there realisation when you are practicing your magic, which as I mentioned before so often looks nothing like what you have read about in magical books.  Your experience should and will be different from that of the person who has written the book.  Besides maybe you might not like banana cakes.   Instead, for you the World’s Best Banana Cake might be a Ginger one?

This comes with a warning however.  It can be all too easy to use the practice of magic to hide the fact that you are not actually doing anything, rather you are hiding from yourself.   This is both magical and the psychological work that goes hand in hand with magic and magical belief.   Too often we can hide in the obsession, with the next new book or the technical workings of the next Sabbat ritual or somebody who is wrong on the internet.  so we don’t actually do anything, or we get so caught up in preforming the ritual correctly that our focus is in the wrong place.  We do not open ourselves up to the possibilities of growth and change that comes with these revelations.

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For me this is where discernment and paying attention becomes key.  Many years ago when I was studying at University a professor called me into his office to discuss an essay I had written on Modern Pagan rituals that are now considered Christian rituals.  He happily gave me an A, but that A came with some of the best advice I have ever gotten when it comes to information and study.  Two questions he said are the best way to learn.  How can this be wrong, and how can this be right?  This took me from being a first year student who was all ‘Information is Amazing and Awsome” to a second year student who gained the ability to look further, question, discern, and gain deeper understanding about the subject that I was studying.

So for New Years I am going to leave you with a some excellent recommended reading, listening and watching.

Podcasts, Blogs, Documentaries and Librarians

Aidan Watcher Talismanic Jeweller and his blog 

Camelia Elias’ Taroflexions  

Podcast Rune Soup Podcast Gordon White Interviews Sarah Lawless

Podcast Being Boss with Carolyne Elliott

website with  good articles and insight. Carolyne and Camelias website.

The Librarians Season Two Episode Nine, which is not to difficult to find on line.

 

Bone Collecting

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Bone Collecting, so much nicer that saying I like dead things, sometimes without their skin.   but I digress a little.. Of late I have started to look at my wee bone collection and realise that I am a little bit of a bone collector, amongst all of the other things I do, like sewing modern tapestries of Ancient Gods and Magical Doorways.  It a Witch thing I am sure of it.  Samhain has just past here in New Zealand, so I figured that Bone collecting would be topical.  And it is time for me to begin awakening the newest bones to my collection, Albert the boar skull.

A few years back I obtained two English Leicester sheep skulls, from a friend who used to look after a flock of sheep for several months a year here in Wellington.  The woman who owned the flock was a spinner who grew her own sheep, and as happens on occasion some of the flock grown old or get sick and die.  There was a place in a small copse of pine trees where the bodies were left to return to the earth.  (Basically rot away)  My friend used to look after these sheep and knew where to find the good skulls and bones.

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Mrs Lester, the larger of the two skulls, was found with a very large and very scary bush spider in one of her eye sockets.  Luckily I have excellent hearing and could hear spider calling over that persistent squealing. .. … that might have been me.   *shudders* I might work with Grandmother Spider but I am not so fond of large scary looking bush spiders..

After carefully and politely thanking the spider for showing me which one, which involved quickly stepping away as she scuttled into the forest.. and then asked my friend who is less spider averse if she had gone yet.. Witchcraft not always as glamorous as you want it to be *coughs*

This was the beginning of my conscious bone collecting and learning of how you honour the spirit that once inhabited the skull and how you prepare it for a new spirit, entity energy, depending on what you are going to be doing with your new skull or bone.

I now have a growing collection of bones, skulls and animal skins that I have gotten to know and work with.  After Mrs Lester was taken to a Samhain ritual some years back she became the matriarch of my little bone tribe.  Lester junior was recently gifted to a fellow Witch to begin her bone collection.  And now it is time to start working on Albert the Boar skull I was given some years back by a fellow witch.

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Albert will become a part of my growing bone collection and a sacred housing for the spirit of Boar and all he brings with him.  For me personally it will begin a new understanding and insight of myself and where my path is leading.  He will be cleaned, scrubbed and painted with magical symbols to create a guide who will guide me into and through the spirit world, and other magical  places  And maybe he will be a mascot, a magical focal point, so to speak, as I take this next step with my art and turn it towards making a living.

But how did I come to this conclusion, and understanding? What is it that makes this skull an important part of my spiritual path and learning?  How do I know that it is not just a skull of a long dead pig?

Several things have led me to this understanding and they are difficult to explain and pinpoint.  I have read up on the spiritual and magical meaning of Bore’s via several books and card sets that I have.  I have used divination to ask questions about this skull and its meaning or path direction.  I have meditated and communed, and the biggest sign if will, is that it feels right, and that feeling of rignness  in regards to your spiritual work and path is impossible to feel.. but you know when you do.

Now as it is edging past the season of Samhain, we are well into the season of the dead.  Albert is languishing in a tub of water to soften the last remaining flesh that is still clung to the skull and hopefully near the winter solstice I will be able to remove the rest of it and he can degrease over the last of the winter.  And while this is happening I will also be working on the energy and magic of crafting him into a bone tribe member.  Like most things I have learnt with magic, oft times it is a long process and that process is just as important as the finished bit.

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According to the druid animal oracle Boar stands for warrior, leadership and direction which now that I am reading about it makes some strong sense.  As the seasons of autumn turns more fully into the winter, here in New Zealand, the ancestors are honoured and themes of introspection are becoming more prominent, I will be working with the energy and spirit of the boar.

I will put into action what I have learnt and hunker down to create and work on my art and business so that come this July after the winter solstice my exhibition will be and roaring success.

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Shadow, Deep and Community

 

Usually I try and find a story of sorts to begin these posts, but alas this time there isn’t one.  This idea, or revelation came to over the last couple of weeks and it is about the 3 types of magical work that I do, or that I perceive I do.

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Shadow Work:

This is where magic is used to work on yourself, inner work if you will.  Work to understand, heal and grow in a psychological personal sense.  It is about working with the darker aspects, as well as the lighter aspects, of yourself that come into view as you live a magical life.  It has always been my belief that if you are not working on this as a part of your magical life, then are you really living a magical life?  But having said that, living a magical life is not and should not be entirely focused on the self, hens these two other type of work which are a part of my practice and magical life.

For example this year I have been making a concerted effort to write more because all through my schooling I was told I was lazy and stupid, and then when it was discovered that I was dyslexic, as an adult, I had to overcome the common understanding that dyslexic people while not stupid could not write.  Hence the magical blogging and writing on a fairly regular basis.

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Deep Work:

This is not always overtly magical as so often reading and study is not seen as a magical act, but that I suspect depends on how your framework looks.  Deep work is about deepening your understanding through reading study and practice of your path, your magic and your connection with the Divine and the Spirit world.  As Kris Hughs from the Anglesee Druid Order said, it is when your eyes are Black with the magic of the ovate.  This can happen when you are deepening your understanding of the above be that reading, study, practice or ritual.

For example this year I learnt about trance-meditation, connected and unconnected magic, which I have then put into practice and now have a much strong connection with Spirit, the Divine and a clearer connection with a Spirit Teacher who I have been working with for years.  I also leaped into the abyss with gay abandon but that is not something will be sharing here.

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Community Work:

This for me has a strong connection with Surrendering to service.  it is the service you provide, not just to you magical or pagan communities but also you wider community.  It is talking to the little old lady at the bus stop with an empty cat carrier and offering her an ear, and sympathy because she has just had her very old cat put to sleep.  It is about helping a new pagan discover what their path and spirituality is.  It can be about organising or talking part in a beach clean-up, or helping friends move house.

For me part of my community work is helping others find their magical and spiritual paths, and talking to people at bus stops..

Of course there is crossover.  Deep work can bring up Shadow work that needs to be done and Community work that could be an aspect of your Deep work as you find yourself offering your services in the name your God or Goddess.  You get the picture right?

So there you go, three types of magical work that are key to living a magical life, or at least how i am living my magical life!

 

 

There’s Change in the Air, A Deepening

Currently I am reading severalbooks, Avalon Within, by Jhenah Telyndru which I started a couple weeks back,and In the Shadow of 13 Moons by Kimberly Serman-Cook which I started today. Bothof these books are books that I brought a last year but have never read.  This is often the way of Pagan books for me, I purchasethem and they sit on my book shelf looking all shiny and new, with that newbook smell until until I get an urge to read them.  And it is an urge, like a guiding hand orlittle voice that says you know those books you brought x months ago, it is nowtime to read them.  Only this time thelittle voice also said, and quite firmly I might add, this time you will bedoing the work in said book.  O.Ogosh!  
Both books have a theme of selfdevelopment and use a Pagan style frame to do the work.  Both books are concernedwith shadow work and working with a cycle of healing that involves a lot of looking at the self.   Perhaps the words ‘deepening the understanding’ of the self is better phrasing.  Both of these books use the seasons and themoon cycles as important aspects of the framework to use for this selfexploration.  Gosh it’s like there is atheme or something,*coughs*  or something.  Self ! I do believe I will be doing some self development of sorts yes?.. *smiles*
Avalon Withins’ Author,Jhenah Telyndru is from the Sisterhood of Avalon.  This book talks about a healing cycle of self healing, which from further reading on the Sisterhood of Avalon  site is a stong theme of the Sisterhood tradition.  This books lays out the five points on this cycle,Descent, Confrontation, Emergence, Resolution and Integration, these fivepoints are combined to create a cauldron of transformation.  Much of what I have read so far uses imagery fromthe Avalonian myth cycle, that I have to admit has great appeal.  I always was a fan of the Mists of Avalon byMarian Z Bradley, that book for me was quite seminal in how I understood awitch and priestess to live her life.  
So far I have done several of the meditations from this book, which have worked out well, an is the descent part of the cycle.  I have meet my Avalonian guide and am now becoming acquainted with the huge apple tree which is the mother tree on the Isle of Avalon.  I have also just down loaded the companion CD for this book which can be found on Jhenah Telyndru site. The CD has the several of the meditations read out, so that you can play along at home.  I figure this will make it easer as it can be quite difficult for me to remember where I was meant to be going and who i was meeting.  I did contemplate recording these meditations myself, but then realised that recordings of me sound weird to me so it would end up being to distracting, yeah, so the CD it is.
Next up for me with this book, Avalon Within,  is to visit the healing/reflective pool and see what that has to show me.  Once I have done that I will be ready for the second station or point on the cycle which is the confrontation.  This is where I confront who I am currently and the shadow of who I am.  It is, in a word, confrontational but then that is the point.    A quote from the book sums it up nicely “Confrontation is the deepest point of the Cycle of Healing, the place where the roots of our disconnection and lack of wholeness are brought to light.” pg108  The author also points out that this cycle of healing can be difficult the first time you do it, but is not as bad when you repeat the cycle and that this cycle of healing is an ongoing process.  During your lifetime this cycle should be repeated many times, and I am with the author on this one.  I have spend a large amounts of time on this path looking within and trying to figure out what it all means and who I am.  its a thing. *grins*
With the second book Shadow of 13 Moons I haveonly just started to read it so am unable to give a fuller account.   I am currently reading pg 15, so it is onlyjust introducing what the author means by Shadow and darkness.  I amhowever finding the book so far quite interesting and thought provoking, in a similar way to how I am finding reading Avalon Within.  There are not a lot of book reviews on Shadow of 13 Moons that I have managed to find, but given what I have read in the book so far and the one book review I also have read, I suspect that it will be one of those books that takes time for it tobecome popular, or more popular than it currently is.  So I guess we shall see.  
What all this points to is that it is time for me to do some personalwork.  Work on who I am, where I am and what I am,deepening of the self as it were. This work will involveexploring the shadow and looking into the dark corners.  I was going to say looking into the dark cornersand bring what is in there out into the light, but  i feel that for the part that would bewrong.  My instincts say that shadow self is as much a partof me, as that which is in the light, its just that it is in the shadow, and perhaps not something that should be in the light, unless it should.  Gosh this is becoming circular. *ponders this*  My guess is, this is what the current reading and workings will all be about for me to some degree.  This will be a period of getting to know more about my shadow, as well asgetting to know more about the light aspect, it’s a balancing thing. 
I believe the deepening of theself is something that is always going on especially for magical people, orit should be.  This is something that isin so many ways cyclic, where each turning of the cycle reveals a new layer of the deeper self.  Which is also like an onion with its layers. As you peel back onelayer more is revealed, and while you are peeling your onion remember that notall the layers and what they reveal should be discarded.  Accepting your whole self, your darkness,your light and every other shade in between should be, as I see it,  the aim of the game.  
Sometimes these cycles ofdeepening the self are not consciously active or conscious for that matter and atother times they are.  This time for me I have a feeling that this deepening of the self will be a much more concious thing , more mindful, and will probably involve more actions in the form of ritual and meditation.    This of course  comes with several warnings, don’t make shitup, sometimes it is what it is or perhaps not time to look in that dark cornerjust yet.  But it is however time to activelyseek, to dare I say it get jiggy with, the active ritual side of my faith in relation to the deepening of myself.  

I felt the death of summer this morning, and the birth of Autumn, here in New Zealand and the year slip closer to its dark half. We shall see how this deepening of the self all goes as the dark half of the year is a good time for some self reflection.  It may lead to a more active practice,with formal rituals, daily devotions, and a variety of other practices, which for me in some ways is something new as  I have always been less formal in my practices and devotions.  Idon’t know how long this will all take, or where it will lead but it will leadsomewhere..