Perception

When the pools of perception are clear, everything appears ‘as is.” ~Zen Proverb

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We would all like to think that the waters of our perception are clear and that what we see and sense each day is actually what is there. We want to believe that what we sense is reality. The fact is, though, that our perceptions can be ruffled and, indeed, completely discombobulated by factors ranging from the introduction of chemicals into our bodies to the time of day when an observation takes place.

I’ve mentioned before the common practice of introducing a “crime” (like having someone run in and pretend to steal the instructor’s briefcase) into psychology or criminal justice classes and then having the students describe the “assailant”. In most cases, the descriptions of the “perpetrator” vary wildly. If presumably sober college students have trouble making a good observation under good lighting conditions in light stress conditions, imagine the difficulty a person making a paranormal observation might have in circumstances that are less than ideal and, indeed, may even be fear provoking.

Now, unlike the skepdebunkers, I do not use this idea to completely dismiss all eyewitness observations of paranormal phenomenon. On the contrary, I am quite willing to believe that most witnesses honestly saw something. While there will always be a certain percentage of hoaxers, attention seekers and mentally disturbed people in the field, I feel that most of the folks who have the fortitude to come forward are acting on their perception that they witnessed an extraordinary event.

The problem that we have, though, is that the event that the person witnessed might be something completely different from what actually occurred. In one of my previous blogs, I spoke extensively about the possibility that some of the alien abductions that create so much interest in the UFO community are actually the result of governmental experiments in mind control technologies. What we have to consider as well is the idea of what magicians call glamour.

Now, obviously, I am not talking about the fashion industry. In magic, a glamour is a magical working that alters people’s perception of the magician. As an example, let us say that a magic worker was going to be forced by circumstances to walk through a very questionable part of town. The magician might work an invisibility spell (no, the worker does not disappear from view but, instead, people tend to be looking elsewhere when he or she is in the area) or that individual might wrap themselves in a glamour that projects confidence and the ability to take care of ones self in a bad situation. I call this the “I am a badass” spell. Since street thugs tend to be ambush predators who look for weak prey, this type of glamour along with some native caution will generally dissuade all but the most desperate muggers.

So, a human being with sufficient training can change the perception of those around him or her. Now consider, for a moment, the legends of any of the local faery folk, many species of whom have a foothold in this world and the Other. One of the things that you quickly learn about these races is that they are quite able to change the perception of the humans around them. The gold they placed in a person’s hand becomes leaves and dirt once the human is out of faery influence or something else breaks the spell (sunrise, for example). The ugly hag turns into a beautiful maiden (or vice versa). The beautiful, fire-lit, comfortable cottage becomes a fog ridden damp clearing when the glamour dissipates. Openings into the Otherworld are hidden by magic and only become visible when the faery desire it or when one has been able to obtain certain oils or spells that make one immune to faery glamour.

The faery are just one of the races that inhabit the Otherworld and, like most denizens of the Other, there are some faery that favor humans, some who ignore us and others that simply despise us. I think that the folklore supports the idea that there are quite a number of beings living in the Other who not only can but do influence human perception and this idea opens out a whole new area of interest. What if what the witness reports is what he or she perceived but is not actually the case?

There are a whole slew of really wild cases that one could apply this thought to but I do not want to point fingers or seem to be speaking ill of any witness. It is not my place to tell people what they did or did not see. I think that this theory is one to consider, though, the next time you read a report and your credulity is stretched to the breaking point. Rather than thinking that the person or persons making the report are either liars, delusional or paranoid beyond belief, consider the compassionate alternative. These folks may have encountered something from the Otherside that has them believing all manner of incredible things because, in their perception, these things are real.

This native issue with our perception is just one more reason for developing some reliance on intuition and psychic ability. These ‘additional’ modes of perception are useful in seeing through the glamour of Otherworldly beings. Nothing is 100% but, in our dealings with the Otherside, the more tools we have, the better off we are.


Quareia Update

Taking a quick break from digging out of the move to note that Quareia, Apprentice Module 4 is now up and running. Some of you may remember that I posted a link to the Quareia fund raiser some time back and have been pretty vocal in my support of this project. I strongly encourage any of my readers who look at all the magical thinking on this blog and wonder what the heck I am talking about to stop by the Quareia site. Some of you may discover an opening into a world you never imagined while others will simply get a good idea what the training of a magician looks like from the perspective of someone who has been involved in the magical arts for many years.

Once again, I commend Josephine McCarthy and her supporting ‘crew’ for the fine work they are doing making magical training available to a new generation.


Safe and Sound

Just a quick note to my readers . . . I have safely made the transition to the Atlanta area. I have been living in Columbus, GA – home of the pine tree – for these past few months and was amazed to discover that Atlanta has far more deciduous trees! Fall is in full color here . . . this is a quick pic off the balcony of my new place.

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As I mentioned in my last post, I am now up to my armpits in things to do related to the move so I will be taking this week off of official blogging. In addition to my mundane chores, I have a couple of magical items that need tending to.

See you next week – I am already lining out a couple of posts for the coming weeks.


Your Own Spirit – Care and Feeding

First a brief announcement . . . due to yet another move, I will be up to my armpits in boxes and unpacking this time next week. As a result, I will not be posting on the 11th, as I normally would, but should be able to resume my weekly schedule on the 18th. While moving is a great trial, in this case, it is quite a good thing for myself and my wife both.

I am a regular meditator. Sometimes, I think that is the only thing that keeps me sane on crazily busy work days. I am not sure what it is that got me into a regular meditation practice but I have been doing it for years now and it is one of those things in my life that makes me feel bereft when I do not do it. Even if I grab a few minutes before bed, that time is time well spent, despite the effort of avoiding falling into sleep.

I could go on and on about the benefits of meditation but there are plenty of books and articles out there that would probably do a better job than I would. What I would like to focus on, in this blog, is a concept that many people, magicians included, do not pay enough attention to. It is a revelation that has been unfolding for me over the past few months and changing my attitude toward my practice.

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In magical and esoteric practices and traditions of varying cultures, one finds the concept of invoking (literally, calling in) a certain spirit. In ceremonial magic, this might be called the Holy Guardian Angel. The Greeks might have called it the Agathodaimon and I believe the Romans referred to it as one’s Genius. In the Middle East, there is a belief that one is born with two djinn companions, one good and one intent on pulling you away from that good. If we go as far away as Japan, we still find this idea that certain kami (spirits) attach themselves to people and offer guidance and assistance to them in times of need. The witch traditions talk about a similar concept in the idea of a familiar – although, of course, that spirit has been much maligned in the witch hunter accounts.

Long story short, esoterics of varying sorts have long held the belief that human have co-walkers – spirits that walk with them to guide them, assist them and sometimes even to protect them. I am personally convinced of this idea due to my inner experiences as well as the fact that I am still walking the earth today. Suffice to say, that I did not make it easy on any guardian spirit that might have walked with me in my teens and twenties.

Much ink has been spilled across many traditions about how best to draw this spirit in and establish a relationship with it, a relationship in which one has an “open line” to the spirit. Ritualists go so far as to call it the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel and this K & C, as it is sometimes abbreviated, is so important in some circles that it is believed that no real progress can be made until it is attained.

I have absolutely no quarrel with the pursuers of the K & C but I do think that, in their enthusiasm for that practice, they have fired the arrow over the target and missed an important issue altogether.

What many seem to be forgetting is that humans are not simply a body in need of a spirit for guidance and help. Human beings are a part of a soul complex which includes our bodies. Part of that soul complex is one’s own spirit.

Now, I am not going to lecture on the spirit. You may choose to think of it as you wish. Some see it as a Spark of the Divine within them or a stream of individualized energy emanating from the heart of “God”. Others see their spirit as something individual to them, a fire that burns within and which they believe can lead them eventually to godhood. I am on the fence about an exact definition for your own spirit but I can tell you this: all the invocation of Holy Guardian Angels or Agathodaimons in the world is not going to do you a bit of good until you have learned to nourish and nurture your own spirit.

Again, I can not tell you how, exactly, the care of the spirit should be accomplished. In my own case, obviously, my meditation practice is a major component of nurturing that spirit and coming into deep contact with it. I believe that some people get the same result from long rambling walks or ecstatic dance or even martial arts. I’ve known some folks who nurtured their spirits through yoga or by practicing contemplative prayer. The possibilities are endless but the important thing is being mindful of your spirit and paying attention to those things that take you deep and put you in contact with the deepest part of yourself.

I’ve talked a lot about spirit communication and discernment of spirits in the past few blogs. It is my firm belief that we can not have that discernment until we come into a good alignment with our own spirit and can operate from that deep place – which some call intuition – where we just know what is “right” (for ourselves, at least).


Samhain Greetings

I am being a bit lazy and re-blogging my post of 31 October 2013. It is a sentiment that I still share.

Happy Samhain to all my readers! I hope that, no matter how you celebrate the day, you do so safely and with great enjoyment.

Amongst modern neo-pagans and magical types, Samhain is one of the two great gates of the year, the other being the festival of Beltane in May. As you may know, in the Celtic lands in more ancient times, this is the time when livestock were slaughtered to provide meat for the coming winter and and when preparations for the cold season were in full swing. With the nights lengthening toward the Winter Solstice, shadows growing longer earlier and earlier each day and the energies of the earth sinking into dormancy, it was only natural that humans might also seek to turn within as well.

As with Beltane, Samhain was seen as a time when the veil between the worlds was thin and one might more easily commune with the beings of the Otherside. Amongst the Celts, at least, this communion seems to have taken the form of honoring the Ancestors and keeping up good relations with the Faerie. It was well understood that spirits of all kinds walked the night during this season and one had to be particularly careful if one had to be out and about but this was also a time when, for example, an extra place might be set at the table for visiting relatives who were no longer in their bodies.

As well, gifts of food and drink were left in a prominent place out doors for the Fair Ones as they made their rounds on Samhain. While offerings could be left for the Fair Folk at any time and, indeed, they often were, it was absolutely necessary to leave something (and do so generously) at Samhain to avoid any hostility on the part of “them ones”.

There is more than enough information on this feast out on the Net. Wiccans, in particular, love this time of year with all its witchy associations so feel free to check out some of their sites and have some fun, even if you are not of a neo-pagan bent.

Even if you are not inclined to believe in the Faery or other spirits that wander the night, each of us has Ancestors and, as I mentioned previously, Samhain was a time of honoring those ancestors and communing with them. In this day and age when we avoid death, hide our dying in hospitals and nursing homes and bury or cremate the dead as swiftly as can be arranged, we sometimes forget that, if it were not for the Ancestors, we would not be here. As many magical workers will tell you, we literally stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before and it is up to us to prepare the way for those who have yet to come.

I urge you, on this night when the veil is thinnest to do some honor for your Ancestors. It may be something as simple as lighting a candle for them and saying a small prayer, setting a place for them at your dinner table or putting out a good cigar for your Uncle Vinny who loved a good smoke. Or you may decide to do something as deep as going to visit the ancestors in meditation. I am going to provide a link at the end of the blog to a resource that can help with this if you have never tried anything of this nature before. Andrieh Vitimus is a well known magician and priest in the Haitian Vodou tradition who knows a great deal about contacting the ancestors.

I wish you blessings on this most holy night. May you walk in peace as the dark half of the year begins and as your energies turn within may you find new aspects of your self to bring forward when the sun returns to the earth.

A Terrific Link to an Online Service of Ancestral Communion


A Safe Method for Using the Ouija Board?

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In the past two posts, I have focused on the phenomenon of spirit communication and some of the dangers inherent in opening to the Unseen without proper preparation and focus. In particular, I have been critical of the ouija board as a method of spirit communication and, just this morning, I happened to read the account of another young woman who felt that she had called something through that would not leave her be as the result of ‘playing around’ with a ouija board. In this post on Phantoms and Monsters, the writer states that, while in college, she and some dorm friends attempted spirit contact using a ouija board. Here is how they went about it:

We all placed our fingertips on the planchette while I asked if any spirit was with us, to let it’s presence be known to us. I continue this for another 15 minutes. Nothing happened.

As I have noted in my other posts, such actions are the equivalent to lighting a beacon on the astral and then waiting for something, anything to show up. Would you walk out into a city street and randomly hand out invitations to your home to perfect strangers? Why then, would you issue an open invite to any spirit that was around to come tromp around your house?

Given all the above, I have heard of ritual magicians using these boards with good success in evocation rites. As I have said, I have never tried this and really have no desire to since my own communications with the spirit world are far more personal. However, not everyone who assays the magical path has mediumistic tendencies and, for some mages, spirit communication is very hard work. If you read some of the texts from the Golden Dawn or Crowley, you will note that often a spirit evocation requires two people, the operator of the ritual and a sensitive or medium who actually does the spirit communication and relays that information to the operator. In some ritual magic texts, the magician is even encouraged to use a child for this purpose, the assumption being that children are more open to spirit presence than hardened, materialist adults.

Of course, the two person operation is the ideal. As you can imagine, given the native secrecy of most magicians, it is difficult to find people who are not only willing but able to participate in such rites. If the magician is forced to do an evocation on his or her own, then he or she has to either a) have some mediumistic talent of their own, b) use a tool such as a ouija board to aid the communication, or, c) be able to summon the spirit to physical appearance. Yes, it is possible to summon a spirit to physical appearance (or at least the perception of same) in order to have a chat.

If one is going to use a ouija board then I think that it is quite important, for safety’s sake, to follow the basic principles of evocation when doing so. By following those principles, the operator can save him or herself a lot of fussing around and interference from ‘trash’ spirits.

1) Know what you wish to evoke. No throwing the door open to the locals and hoping for the best. If you do not know who you wish to talk to then put the damned board away and wait until you do. Research the spirit, know what it likes and does not like, if possible. Find out if it has a symbol or sigil or mantra that it favors. If you are trying to contact a dead relative, then know as much about that person as you can.

2) Use of a specific magical system. If you are not conversant with magic, then take the time to do some research on how to effectively set up a protected space to work in. If you’re something of an anarchist, study Andrieh Vitimus’ Hands On Chaos Magic for loads of good ideas for learning how to do this.

3) Learn to enter what ritualist E A Koetting calls the Theta/Gamma sync. Koetting is known as a “dark” magician and is quite the salesman but he knows what he is talking about when it comes to evocation. Theta/Gamma is the brainwave state where, for example, one is dreaming but can move so you might think of it as the place you enter right before going into deep sleep.

4) Gather your contact material – symbols, mantras, sigils associated with a spirit or, if you are doing an ancestor, pictures, clothing, personal effects.

5) Set your ouija board up in the work area where it can be easily manipulated while you are in trance and use the ritual that you have learned in # 2 to open protected space and consecrate the board to your intended purpose. Use your magical system and the contact material to do an evocation of the spirit you are seeking and ask it to speak with you directly through the board.

6) Let yourself go into deep meditation as you perform your ritual and seek to communicate directly with that spirit by the medium of the board. Do not be discouraged if nothing happens the first few times you try this. It may take time to tune to that specific spirit’s frequency.

7) Once contact is established, ask questions and do not accept the answers at face value. Remember the concept of testing the spirits. Ask the being for proof that it is who it says it is. Using a protected space helps cut way down on trash but it may take time to get your tuning just right.

8) Keep initial sessions short – this work is a lot harder than it sounds and your body needs time to assimilate the energies it is being exposed to.

9) Thank the spirit for its aid, close out your ritual space as prescribed by your tradition and then eat something so that you can ground back into the physical world.

Does this sound like a huge amount of work just to play with a ouija board? You are correct; it is. But, if you are not willing to put in the time and effort to train yourself, at least somewhat, to communicate with spirits then you should leave the ouija board to those who are willing to do the training. Simply put, if you don’t want to put out this kind of effort, then cease your dabbling so that those of us who have put in the time do not have to spend our time rescuing you!


A Cautionary Tale: Know Who You are Talking To . . .

In my last blog post, I expounded on the difficulties entailed in Ouija board communication and spoke at some length about the danger of taking spirits at their word without, as even the Bible notes, testing those spirits. As I wrote that piece, I recalled a story which exactly illustrates this point.

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Many long moons ago, when I still lived in Arizona, I had the pleasure of the friendship of a Wiccan lady of some years experience in her religion. Unlike some, who read a couple of books and then pronounce themselves high priestesses, this person had studied and was, at the time of this story, a second degree member of a British Traditional coven. I knew her to be of sound mind and deep perception so I have no reason to doubt the story which I am about to relate.

This woman offered psychic readings on occasion, supplementing her income and, she hoped, giving some needed guidance to the public. She normally worked out of a particular New Age bookstore in her area but, on this day, had accepted the invitation of a new store owner in Tempe to come to a small psychic fair being held at the new store. My friend had some trepidation about doing this fair, since she had heard conflicting assessments of the store owner, but she did not want to pass judgement without at least giving the store and its owner a chance.

The Wiccan lady arrived at the designated time on that Saturday and set up her table, noting, uncomfortably, that the space was going to be packed with readers. She had no difficulty with other readers but felt, looking around, that the store owner was, perhaps, being a little overzealous in recruiting psychics for the event. The space was not large and did not offer a chance to really be confidential with a client without resorting to whispering. Still, she was there and resolved to make the best of it.

As she set up the store owner stopped by to greet her and informed her, offhandedly, that she was reserving a large area toward the back of the store for the ‘main attraction’, a New Age author of channeled material who was coming in later to do readings of her own. My friend, really keying into the aura of the store owner, realized that it was all about the money for this person. She shrugged and, determined that she would never darken the door of the establishment again, turned away to make the best of the day.

Business was slow but steady through the morning and, when lunch time arrived, my friend went off to a local restaurant for lunch. When she returned to the store, for the afternoon session, the ‘star’ channeler was setting up. I’ve included a picture above of the type of structure that she was assembling, only the one that my friend saw sat on legs so that the person being read could sit underneath it. When the channeler finished the set up and ‘activated’ the crystal grid in and around the pyramid, my witch friend states that the energy in the store went completely dead, as though someone had turned on a vacuum cleaner and sucked the place dry.

The lady of the story walked quietly to a nearby display of crystals, items which she was extremely sensitive to, and picked one up. Nothing. She looked around at the confused faces of the other psychics and knew that she was not imagining things.

At this point, several of the psychics working the fair veritably stumbled out the door and my friend joined them. Cigarettes were lit with shaking hands by several of the group but no one spoke until one of the readers looked at my friend, well known for her skills, and asked her simply what the hell was going on in that store. The witch needed no further prodding but, using a quick method of trance induction, took a good hard look at the store and, particularly the channeler’s set up, with her other eyes.

What she saw horrified her. Basically, the pyramid was set up and energized as a portal through which the creature (my friend actually used the word demon to describe this git) at the other end fed. The channeler placed the client in the pyramid grid, the being accessed their energy and fed freely while providing the channeler with information that would keep the client sitting there, mesmerized (in more ways that one) by the information and the ‘energy’ of the reading. It was very evident that this channeler had not tested her spirit and that the spirit had manipulated her into providing food for it, on a regular basis, as well as addicting the channeler to the power of being ‘psychic’.

My friend went back into the store and quietly investigated further. She noted that the channeler, in addition to offering readings was selling channeled jewelry designs. Looking closely at the pieces (the only ‘live’ things in the store at this time), the witch quickly discerned that they were designed to open a hole in the aura of the wearer, making it easier for the spirit who channeled them to return for a snack later. With more than a touch of righteous indignation, my friend stepped out back of the store, called on her own helpers and essentially placed a cork in the portal feeding this entity. I know that this emergency magical patch was followed with some work by the entire coven later in the week. Interestingly, the channeler suddenly plead ill and took herself home shortly thereafter.

As I have said, I knew the witch in question well enough to trust her veracity and happened to have met the store owner a few times so that I knew my friend’s assessment of her was accurate. I’ve also seen these types of symbiotic feeding relationships in my own work. Suffice to say that I offer this little story as just one evidence of the absolute need to know your spirits and be able to test them before putting any great trust in communication. A spirit that is on the up and up will understand and a spirit that is trying to manipulate you will go on to easier prey.


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