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[Witch Way] Volume #5 Issue #6 -- Winter Is Here!
November 13, 2012
|Hi, Happy November!
What is the power of ritual?
Last weekend I presented, with the help of a lot of my friends in the local community, a Samhain ritual. In addition to writing these articles, running the CyberWitchcraft website and working 100+ hours every two weeks, I also run the Denver Metro Witches Meetup, through meetup.com.
I put out an invitation to the members of my Meetup, just under 500 strong at this point, to come and join us for a Samhain ritual. This was not going to be your usual gather in a circle type of ritual. My friends and I were going to present a Mystery.
You may have read about the Mysteries. The Greeks were known for their Mysteries, especially the Eleusinian Mysteries. I have been drawn to Mysteries for many years, for various reasons. They are usually a form of Initiatory rite. In most Initiation rites, the person going through it symbolically dies, is offered the chance to experience something that allows them to learn about themselves, and is then reborn as a new person.
Because the ritual we presented was a Mystery, I can’t give details. Only those who have gone through the Mystery know its secrets. I can tell you that those who opted to join us, around 30 or 40 people all together, were challenged at the Gate to the Underworld. If they passed the challenge, they were allowed to walk down into the Underworld, alone.
Part of experiencing a Mystery, is facing your fears. The Path into the Underworld was nothing more than the stairs into my basement, but haven’t we all run quickly up the stairs from a dark basement with a feeling of dread? This was another challenge, to walk alone down into a dark basement, not knowing what to expect.
Each person was guided along their journey in the Underworld from one place to another. I was lucky enough to have a very unique group of people help me that night. I had several Norse Heathens, quite a few Witches, and a Ceremonial Magickian helping me pull the ritual together, each bringing their own unique spirituality to the Mystery.
Every ritual has a purpose. It may simply be to celebrate the change of the seasons, or it may be to do some magickal Working or it may just be to honor your Gods, but there is always a purpose. Mysteries are usually presented to teach those who go through them, something about themselves.
Instead of simply telling the person, “Hey, this is how things are.” the Mystery exposes them to inescapable Truths that can’t be denied. It is said that at the end of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the Initiate was brought before the High Priest, who lifted the lid on a large basket, and beckoning them to look in said, “Behold the Divine!” At the bottom of the basket was a mirror, reflecting the person’s own image back at them. Thou are’t God, thou are’t Goddess.
After wandering around in the Underworld, and experiencing the lesson to be learned, each person had the opportunity to go before the Dark Lord of the Underworld, and speak with Him. Through the use of some theatrical tricks, we were able to keep the Dark Lord in shadow, while the entire time he was in a brightly lit room.
The Ancients used similar tricks in their own rituals, because they are effective ways to speak to the Subconscious. Talking to the Subconscious is the entire reason for ritual. It is the Subconscious that allows us to work our magick, even in the day to day world.
Ritual is a powerful tool, when it is used correctly. It is a method for taking us outside our mundane world, to a place that’s not a place, and a time that’s not a time. If you’ve ever experienced a Duly Cast Circle, you know exactly what I mean. The highway literally runs behind my back fence, yet when I cast circle in the backyard, all the noise just evaporates.
There is no highway, there are no cars, there isn’t even a backyard. There is only the Circle. This is how you should feel every time you cast a circle. I’ve had students comment that their voice sounds different inside Circles I have cast. Why is this? Because while there is no scientific instrument that can measure it, there is a barrier put in place when you cast a Circle.
Inside this construct, created by your own mind, you have the ability to focus on a single thought or idea. Inside this sphere of energy, a ritual can change your life. The really cool thing is, everyone has the ability to do this! Anyone who has the will, and puts forth the intent, can create this Circle. You simply have to practice.
So when I tell you that for this Mystery on November 3rd, I cast three Circles, one inside the other, and I called out to the spirits to join us, I want you to understand that it happened. We took a backyard full of people, one at a time, through a very personal journey into the Underworld. We exposed each one to a single truth about themselves. We helped them to understand that each one of them must act, and by acting, comes growth.
What I am telling you, is that the true power of ritual, is the ability to cause growth. Growth within yourself. It doesn't have to be a fancy ritual, as long as it is meaningful.
Ritual isn’t the only way to cause this growth, and ritual alone isn’t enough for the growth to happen. Ritual is a tool, that helps the growth manifest in your life. Let ritual help you reach your full potential, because after all, that is what any spiritual Path is all about.
The Witching Hour
by Marcus Leader
The blow to my upper back felt like a jolt of electricity shooting up my neck making my head buzz like that uncomfortable feeling of circulation coming back into an arm that had fallen asleep. At the same time the blow was executed, I heard a snapping twig sound that always worried me thinking my teacher had perhaps hit me in the wrong place and broke something that I am sure I really needed. Then the metal taste would enter my mouth and I knew all was well or as well as could be expected for someone that was just knocked out of this world and into another.
“Damn-it Carlos”, I said, “the least you could do is to warn me when you were going to do that! You made me swallow my gum!” I absolutely hated it when he would just sneak up on me and give me the Naguals Blow, as he called it, sending me and my awareness deep into his world, a world of sorcery.
Trying to hide his laughter with a suppressed smirk, he said, “Marcos, behold, look at what I have to show you” and he spread out and extended his arms like an artist presenting his masterpiece. I turned and looked at the scene before me and what had just moments before been a crowed beach on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene was now one of the oddest sights I had ever seen. The people were gone, replacing them were dozens and dozens of egg shaped blobs of light. These eggs had an almost cartoon animated appearance looking somewhat like eggs made of jello with shifting color patterns swirling in the semi-liquid gelatin body.
I sat there on the bench staring in amazement for almost a half an hour observing the differences between the luminous eggs and how the energy patterns would shift as the physical body moved and turned. I saw how energy actually shot out from some of the eggs to others touching them as their energy fibers mingled. The energy fibers were anywhere from the diameter of a pencil to that of a garden hose and sometimes multiple fibers would shoot out and try to attach to another luminous egg only to be repelled and deflected off in another direction.
I later discovered that this type of action was the result of unwanted and incompatible attention. In most cases here at the beach it was caused by men focusing their intent upon women that showed no attraction what so ever toward the men. Then there were the two luminous eggs that seemed to be almost merged with energy swirls that stimulated feelings of arousal by the mere act of observing. Yes it was two people making out.
It was then that I felt Carlos turn my head away and say, “it’s not polite to stare Marcos” . He then told me to look about a foot down from the top of the luminous figures and try to distinguish the energy pattern there. When I looked as he instructed, I began to see a dark spot about the size of a silver dollar 6 inches inside the luminosity and like he suggested about a foot down from the top. I studied it for a couple minutes and saw that it was THE ONLY part of the luminous being that was steady, never shifting its position regardless of how the surrounding energy fields moved and gyrated. I realized instantly that I was seeing for the first time the elusive assemblage point that Carlos kept smacking around on me.
Suddenly I felt the all too familiar smack between my shoulder blades and the next thing I knew I had fallen off the bench to the ground and all the luminous eggs had once again been replaced with a multitude of people many of which were staring at me wondering why I was on the ground! Carlos quenched their concerns by telling everyone, in a voice that was way too loud, that I had a drinking problem but I was ok.
As we walked from the beach to the car I chastised him for embarrassing me like that in front of all those people and all he did was laugh so hard he could hardly catch his breath and then started staggering to the car slurring his words and falling down making me stand there while people looked on shaking their heads. He managed to get to his feet using me as a support and said in a loud voice so all could hear, “I love you man” and gave me a big hug. I gritted my teeth and under my breath I said, “Ok you have had your fun I get the message already. I take myself and what people think of me way too serious.”
Such was the nature of many of my lessons over an eight year apprenticeship with my shamanic teacher and friend, Dr. Carlos Castaneda.
It’s called the assemblage point… and exists in all conscious entities. In Humans it is found with in the energy field that surrounds our physical bodies about 2 inches above the skin and in the area of the shoulder blades. It is responsible for aligning our own awareness with the emanations of the universe. This is a core teaching of the Toltec shaman and far too complicated to expand upon in a spiritual or scientific analysis in this short segment, so I will simply state that we see the world around us the way we see it because of how our assemblage points position themselves and take in the vibrating emanations around us.
For example, if we look at an apple, we see the familiar shape and color of what our assemblage points have been trained to see by virtue of the way our parents described the world in our early years of life. IF your assemblage point were shifted just a minute degree in the right direction, then you would see the apple as a field of energy superimposed over the physical structure of the apple.
If on the other hand the assemblage point experienced a greater shift then you might find yourself observing an entirely different and unfamiliar world. I might mention here briefly that true clairvoyants have the inherent ability to shift their assemblage points enough to see into the other dimensions and beyond the physical illusion of time itself.
Our assemblage points basically HOLD our perception in familiar recognizable states as we live our lives in this world. The perception of the world is continually reinforced by our belief systems and the constant chatter of our internal dialog inside our own minds.
One of the primary goals of a Toltec shaman is to find silence within, quieting the internal dialog at which time the assemblage point becomes less ridged and can be manipulated with a greater degree of accuracy, thereby allowing the shaman to access other worlds and other knowledge. It is possible for the assemblage point to move on its own and often does this when we are sick or running a fever.
Drugs or alcohol can also cause a mild shift giving one both visions and nightmares. Fear and profound states of stress have also been known to play havoc with the assemblage point, in fact, many of our mental hospitals are full of people who for whatever reason had their assemblage points shifted too far and too fast leaving them in other worlds that only they can perceive.
Fortunately, for most people, the assemblage point is rock steady and keeps us locked into our realty. But for the shaman this presents another obstacle to over come and over the centuries shaman and persons of knowledge have created a variety of methods for shifting the assemblage point. One such method is the kind I mentioned above called the Naguals blow. It must only be used by a skilled shaman for if you delivered a blow too hard or in the wrong way then you might send the person receiving the blow completely out of this reality and getting them back is quite difficult.
So, is there a safe method of shifting the assemblage point and accessing information and energy from other realms? Yes indeed there is. My personal favorite is called the mind split and consists basically of overloading the conscious mind with so much auditory information that it essentially reboots itself and starts over. Right at the time when the mind reboots a window to other realities opens.
The good thing about this method is that it is safe because the reboot will take effect after a few tries serving as a failsafe method to keep from getting lost in other realities. The bad side is that using this method only gives the shaman a short time to accomplish whatever the desired act or intention may be before physical life reality snaps us to normal ordinary attention once again.
My own personal research in this area has produced a second more effective method for achieving the same results with greater accuracy and for a longer period of time. With my own personal technique, sustaining these states of assemblage point shifts are achieved through the use of a series of complex high tech acoustic waves that interact with the human brain in a controlled and safe manner.
A series of sounds waves that have particular wave length interactions are played through a set of head phones allowing the listener to enter a deep alpha state where they may mentally affirm their intentions or desired results and then proceed into a highly energetic state of awareness through an access channel. From here you enter into a transmission stage which sets up the conditions to send out the energy that you have accumulated and transformed into a thought form to your desired target. Sounds a lot like spell casting does it not? Except with this method you have substantially increased the power levels over regular manifested intent or spell if you prefer that word.
This type of manipulation of the assemblage point can lead to increased psychic abilities as the assemblage point begins to get less rigid, in fact, the assemblage point is what makes the difference between a psychic person and a regular person. The psychic person has an assemblage point that vibrates and moves a small amount from the normal locked position giving the psychic person occasional glimpses into other realities.
I will be making some of my research available to the public in the coming month so if you are interested in learning more send me an email at email@example.com or contact me through the Cyber Witchcraft website.
By Gwynalda Shadowalker
THROUGH A MIRROR, DARKLY
Merry Meet. I hope that you had a lovely Samhain, and continue to patiently keep on keeping on with Mercury retrograde and the Shadows of the Eclipses this month. The Solar Eclipse occurs at around 3 pm MST today. It won’t be visible in the U.S., but those in the Southern Hemisphere—Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and South America—get to witness the New Moon obscuring the Sun completely for a while.
In the midst of all this astrological turbulence, we’ve crossed the threshold into winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Here in Denver, we’ve already had the obligatory pre-Samhain snowstorm that, thankfully, didn’t stick around for very long. A couple of days later, it warmed back up into the 70s again.
By contrast, the North-Eastern U.S. is still reeling from a late-season hurricane that devastated New Jersey and New York. My heart goes out to those there. One former covenmate told me that she weathered the storm just fine in central Brooklyn. Her lights didn’t even go out. Folks in lower Manhattan and on Staten Island did not fare so well, unfortunately.
These storms serve as Nature’s reminder of life’s instability and uncertainty. There’s only so much you can do to prepare for the unexpected. Even in this modern era of Doppler radar and satellite storm-tracking, dozens of people lost their lives during the hurricane because they were caught unawares.
Indeed, Death comes for us all—though rarely at the time or place, or in the manner of our choosing. If Death came for you tomorrow, what would you regret having left undone? And what prevented you from doing what you KNOW in your heart of hearts that you wanted to do?
Last month, I mentioned that November would be a good time for us Witches to do some beneficial soul-searching and clear out the psychological “gunk” that no longer serves us. Towards that end, I offer an exercise from the Shadowfolk Book of Shadows.
This process works well for those long-term mundane projects that you may have been putting off, such as making a career change, taking an advanced course of study, buying a house, starting your own business or turning a romance into a true partnership. This method was actually designed for more esoteric goals, such as “becoming a Witch” or “joining or forming a Coven.” It’s versatile and practical.
This exercise goes beyond typical “goal setting”—which, in light of the current astrological influences in effect right now, wouldn’t be a good idea. (Last month, I mentioned that it’s best to WAIT until after December 1st to make those life-altering decisions.)
What this exercise can do is help you evaluate the goals that you have already set for yourself. As far as purging that inner “gunk” that no longer serves you is concerned, pay special attention to points 3) and 4).
Some Questions to Ponder...
1) What are you willing to put into this project?—This includes: time, energy, effort, skills, talents, and abilities, as well as the financial and material resources available for supporting these activities. What do you offer? What are you WILLING to contribute?
2) What do you want from this project?—What’s in it for you? What would you like to experience and learn? What are your expectations? Of all these, which three are the most important? Are there any on which you are absolutely unwilling to compromise?
3) What do you NOT want to see happening with this project?—This would include everything you’ve learned from others’ negative examples and the mistakes you’ve made—and from which you hope you’ve learned enough to avoid repeating.
4) What do you need to work on in yourself?—In other words, those tendencies within yourself which would interfere with 1) and 2), and CAUSE 3)?
Blessed Be—Gwynalda )O(
Trending Toward The Positive
By Evylyn Rose
Last month, we touched on the need to be more aware of the dynamics of groups and covens in the Witchcraft and Pagan communities to stay safe and healthy. We briefly looked at the key areas of internal and external control and wisdom or knowledge claimed and credited. The points for this month tie closely in with those key areas and provide more detail.
Again, even if you are not using Isaac Bonewit’s Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Form (ABCDEF), awareness of these key areas and the application of them to the groups you come across will help considerably in ensuring you stay safe and free from unnecessary negativity.
All groups hold certain values and beliefs that are different from other groups. However, when those values and beliefs lead to an extreme, groups are entering into Dogma. By this, I am referring to how strict they are in believing specific things. For example, Wiccans hold different views of the Law of Return. In some cases, it is the Three-fold Law in which the consequences of actions are three times that of the original action. Others go with a more science based approach in that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
A group may hold one view above the other as what the group believes. In a healthy group setting, it is okay that individuals within the group hold the other view as more accurate and ask only that they recognize the group’s view. In unhealthy situations, one must share the same view or leave the group. A cult-like group may go so far as to spend time and energy to convince members that their view is the only truth.
Recruiting is common in many group settings. In general, recruiting can be healthy for groups. However, witchcraft in particular is not very well known for this, and recruiting is generally frowned down on as the path of the witch is not for everyone. That said, witches generally recognize that those who are meant to be on the path will be drawn to it.
Groups and covens, then, may advertise to a degree to ensure those seeking information can find it easily. For this category, be sure to ask, “Is this level of advertising normal?” and “Does the advertising of this group help the health of the group or is it a bit extreme?” Groups that require members to recruit others, is a major red flag.
Some groups have what are known as Front Groups. This is a signature sign of cult-like groups. If a group has “sister” groups that members must go through before they can be accepted into the main group, be on alert. This is not the same as large groups needing to expand into more, smaller groups to meet the needs of the individuals in the groups. Instead, front groups are used to hide ulterior motives. For example, a coven that engages in cult-like activities may branch out and form new, smaller covens that operate differently and normally. In such cases, the connections between the groups are often hidden. This allows the cult-like group to lead more people to them that normally would steer clear.
Wealth, especially the emphasis on acquiring more of it, is another tell-tale sign of potential cult or abuse within a group. Donations that are mandatory even from the least economically able should be questioned. Many groups require donations to maintain active, and the stress of providing donations as able is not a bad thing. However, if leaders within the group appear to lead an economically healthy lifestyle while those lower in the hierarchy appear to be struggling, be on alert.
Sexual Manipulation and Sexual Favoritism are dead giveaway signs of abusive groups. Sexual Manipulation involves the encouragement of members changing or modifying their sexual preferences and behaviors. In some cases, this may also include using the sexuality of others to exercise control in other areas of their lives.
Sexual favoritism is when special privilege or attention is given to members for performing sexual favors or with the intent of seeking future sexual favors. In many Pagan circles, it is normal to promote healthy sex lives and to help inform what is healthy in expressing sexuality, even when some social norms claim they are deviant.
That said, it is not normal for a non-tantric group to engage its members in sexual acts. This is especially true when groups tell new members that the group does not engage in such behaviors. (Note: Some Wiccan traditions do still practice the Great Rite in traditional style. In healthy covens, potential new members are made aware of this well ahead of time before they choose whether or not to join.)
Other major clues are Censorship and Isolation. Censorship involves the amount of control over outside opinion and their influence on the group, whereas Isolation involves the amount of control over members’ interactions with non-members. Ask yourself “Is this group open to outside opinions? Are members allowed to think for themselves? Is my time with my friends and family limited only because I spend time with the group? Or is the group intentionally trying to occupy all my personal time?”
Look out also for Dropout Control. Does the group try to keep its members at all costs? Are members allowed to freely come and go? In many Wiccan and Witchcraft groups, coven members are expected to have perfect love and perfect trust for their fellow members. If there is dissatisfaction, one should be able to leave the group with the understanding that is what is best for the group. A group that does not allow this and exerts control over the leaving of others should raise concerns.
Plain and simple, Violence should not be approved in any healthy group setting. Except defending oneself in a violent attack, a group should not encourage members to commit acts of violence against others for any reason. Likewise, members should not be encouraged to act violently toward one another. If the group is not teaching a martial art, self-defense, or other discipline group, there is no reason to allow any violence to take place in a healthy group setting.
Paranoia and Grimness involve the level of fear and demand for seriousness in a group. Does the group preach or increase fear of outsiders? Does it warn that specific behaviors will lead to dire consequences? If the talks of the group raise anxiety in its members, watch out. Keep in mind that lighthearted jokes should be allowed. “Laughter is the highest form of medicine.” If a member pokes fun or cracks a joke about the group or one of its leaders in pleasant jest, what is the reaction? It can be rude to make some jokes and there are inappropriate ways to offer criticism. However, group members should feel safe and happy in their group because the group provides a peaceful and harmonious environment.
Please keep all these points in mind when looking for a new group to join or considering whether or not the current group you are in is responsible for any negativity in your life. Next month, we will take a look at the last two major points to consider in evaluating a group’s health and go over some examples of positive and negative groups.
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Until next month, may you be blessed in all that you do, or as we usually say,
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