Friday, December 30, 2016

Witchy Bitch

     Just over 20 years ago, while preparing a thesis on the construction and use of labyrinths as sacred space, as well as both a healing and spiritual tool, with roots in several cultures (some no longer extant), I came across the works of a modern-day 'shaman' who immediately annoyed me with his references to novice magical practitioners as 'primates' who travel in what is known as the 'macrodimension' in a manner that smacks of slovenly tourists to whom “it's no crime to throw gum wrappers and crushed beer cans just anywhere that happens to be convenient”, leaving experienced 'voyagers' like himself to manage and clean up the damage they cause by their mindless blundering. It read as rather high-handed and elitist to me at the time, though I was no novice by then myself, having already been engaged with the Work he was writing about for over a decade – but to be fair, he did warn (rather rudely) that those choosing to engage with his written work had better “be armed with a dictionary and a healthy education”, and further, that if one had them, and the concepts and language remained out of one's grasp, one should return to the scene of the inadequate place of learning they had attended and “register a complaint”. Harsh words, indeed, but the book itself was worth the read.
      While I have had cause over the years to hear some of that particular author's harsh criticisms float through my mind unbidden, given a statement or deed by a person who considers themselves in some way a part of the Work I refer to, I never considered it my responsibility to say or do anything about it, as I am not a teacher, a spiritual leader, a guru, a mentor, or member of a specific tradition, coven, or group. I began my Work as a solitary practitioner, and while I did, for a time, belong to a coven, I have attended and performed in the rituals of several groups, ranging in degrees of intention from serious to silly, and have been witness to many situations over the years that have brought me to this moment of going so far as to quote some of the demeaning and haughty statements of that one particular writer on the subject, as I have come to a place in my life where I almost agree with him. As a student of language, I have become more and more interested and invested in the intention of language – that is, the way we use words in relation to their actual meanings. Words are power. The breath we use to enunciate those words, to bring them into being, are in truth a part of our very essence. When we send words out into the ether, they become wishes, hopes, prayers, or curses, and with them, we give energy to a certain intention in the fabric of our existence, for better or worse, much like a sorcerer's apprentice, who plays at being the sorcerer, but gets caught up by their own small power, and is overwhelmed by their lack of ability to truly manage what they have unexpectedly called into being.
      My introduction to magic as a system was through the discovery of Solomon's Seal and other tetragrammatons in a book of esoteric knowledge I found in the local library, which led me to purchase and begin work with my first deck of Tarot cards at the age of 15, a few more than 30 years ago. From there, I began to learn about the magical properties of herbs, gems, crystals, rocks, and metals, then progressed to creating various magical items for myself and others, while studying the mythology of the ancient Mesopotamian cultures, specifically Ur, Sumer, and Babylon. Having grown up in a Jewish family, I was already well versed in old testament biblical mythology, and thanks to a grandparent who studied Egyptology, I learned a great deal about that culture's mythology, as well. Public school gave me a grounding in the Greek myths, which I studied more of on my own, then came the I Ching, yoga, Buddhism, Wicca and/or Paganism, Druidic mysteries and Arthurian legend, Freemasonry/Rosicrucians/Templars, the O.T.O., the study of several 'magical alphabets', Sufism, Enochian magic, Tantra, and a glance at Islam. After spending some time traveling overseas and visiting as many holy shrines and shamans of the traditions I had been engaged with as I could, I returned to the States where I discovered labyrinths – specifically through ancient Minoan mythology and culture, and generally through the various other cultures who use similar symbolism – then moved on to Theosophy, whatever you might call the systems (dances, movements) created by Gurdjieff, Kabballah, and quantum physics as understood through Abraham-Hicks enthusiasts. After 30 plus years of seeking, I have gained the wisdom to acknowledge that I know nothing, there is always so much more to learn, and just as much to forget.
      It is from both this base of understanding (such as it is), and a teaching from my first martial arts instructor, that I come to be setting these words to pixels – Sensei told me that 'we train ourselves to fight, literally become weapons, so that we gain the wisdom to use every means available to us to avoid conflict before we resort to our fists.' It is in the spirit of that teaching (and the years of disciplined study in several arcane arts and sciences) that have caused me to eschew such frivolities as 'money spells', 'love potions', weather-working, simple divination, or charms (though I am not above a quick bit of invisibility when I deem it necessary), and I Never engaged in curses...well, maybe once, through simple carelessness and a place of deep pain and anguish, that helped serve in a person's death. Trust me when I tell you that most energies are best left where they lay - there are repercussions to ALL manner of the Great Work, but those of negative intent can carry some heavy baggage. My misstep may not have been intentional (did the Work choose to manifest itself through me? Was I called upon to be a part of that death for a reason?), but I can't say I didn't feel an evil sense of my own power when I learned of the outcome of the intent I had loosed with my words (there were natural causes involved, too, but...). I was thankfully given a chance to turn that energy around, and through great hardship, give a Huge dose of love and positivity back to the Universe, which I will be forever humbled by, and spend the rest of my natural born life learning from. That is not to say that I haven't been blessed by Much abundance by my good Work over the years – I have – but it is incredibly important to note that language and intention are key when working with any and all forces that belong to the world in which we are merely visitors. Our Earthly plane that we love so well is just one level of an infinite Universe that holds more than our puny minds could ever conceive, and those brief glimpses we are blessed to receive often come with a light that sears us with its intensity. I have worked hard to gain the strength to see into the Darkness, so that I may know those aspects of all our natures, but I choose to serve the Light with all my heart.
      So why have I chosen to take the time to bore or fascinate you with my tales of adventure and woe? Because I have recently seen and heard some (what I consider to be) inappropriate boasting on the subject of weather-working. This, to me, is one of the worst faux-pas of magical practitioners, and here's why – as 'witches' (a term I don't hold with for myself, though many of my friends do) or 'wizards', as herbalists, as fairie-folk, or spiritualists, psychics, conjurers, astrologers, sorcerers, or soothsayers, we bind ourselves to the vitality and protection of the beautiful planet we get to live on, and as such, it is not our business to attempt to effect the weather in our own tiny corners of Her Majesty. If your garden needs water, water it – don't call the rain. If you want the sun to shine on your skin, go where the sky is clear rather than call a wind to push a cloud along. If you're cold, put on sweater – if you're hot, take it need to ask Mother Nature for a favor, the gall to ask shows you're not deserving. If you called down snow because your kids wanted a 'white Christmas', or rainbows for their birthday, or butterfly poop on their pillows, you have interfered with the Natural Order of things, and should book a flight to Haiti to help with disaster relief as repentance for your selfishness. Every Act Of Magic You Conjure In This World Ripples Out And Touches Everything That Is, And None Of Us Has Wisdom Enough To Know How Far Our Reach May Extend. Seriously. It is incredibly irresponsible to use one's power in this manner. Much more so than simply botching a ritual because you didn't do your research (or did it in a hurry) – in terms of sloppy ritual, your good intent will redeem misspoken calls/prayers/castings in a very different way than spells worked for personal gain or fulfillment will come back to bite you in the grimoire.
      Please, people – pay attention to your 'primate' natures, and understand that 'being a witch' means more than dancing boot-clad around a tree with a pointy hat on reveling in your own idea of glory. The Work is Serious, and requires a certain level of responsibility, caution, restraint, and knowledge. A calm mind, and a clear, uncluttered space are great places to center yourself from before you even draw that first cleansing breath to begin. Do some yoga, align yourself in your body, mind, and spirit with the wisdom to know what the Universe needs from you, and to allow it to work its will through you. Leave ego at the door, and choose to serve the greatest good, which is often not for us mere mortals to decide. If you have raised a cone of power, please send that energy to help lessen the plight of refugees, send it to the water protectors at Standing Rock, send it towards the Powers That Be that they may do right by those they govern, send it to someone who is afflicted by disease and is in need of healing, send it to ease a birth or death, send it to end war, decrease famine, to increase love and understanding. Send it where it can do the most good – if you have the ability to practice your Work in peace, surrounded by prosperity, you have the privilege to share it with those less fortunate, and an abiding responsibility to do so. you hear?