Witnesses sacred and profane

circle

I find it interesting the when people volunteer themselves to witness the strangenesses of the occult and those who are skilled in such matters, some react with a terror so palpable that the ravens can smell them miles away. We see this reaction clearly in season one of Penny Dreadful when Vanessa usurps madame Kali’s position at the table by accident and is fully possessed and taken by the spirits. We are seeing it burn through Twitter and other social media sites with the Charlie, Charlie challenge and the reactions to that. Fortunately, there are also those whose wonder and curiousity for the strangeness of this world embrace the experience and the people involved joyously.

The simple truth is this, the occult is strange. It is not meant for the masses or the faint of heart. It is both darkness and light and everything in between. It’s usually the everything in between that gets forgotten, especially when secrets that can only be known by the spirits themselves are brought forth and given breath. Maybe that is what is feared at the spirit table: the revelation of secrets buried. Secrets that could rip a person open and lay them out for the carrion feeders of society.

Another truth is this, while practices of the occult do indeed engage in sacred possession: ie. Voudon, Santeria, Feri, certain sects of Heathenry. . . the act of sacred possession is also engaged in Christianity. The “Holy Rollers” would roll down the aisles of the church and speak in tongues as they were possessed by the Holy Spirit. It was practiced and celebrated as a communion with their divine being. Yet, the belief in most other Christian sects only speak in low whispers or panicked hysteria of demonic possession without any acknowledgement that divine possession is even possible. They are so gripped with fear about evil coming into them that they become the evil they fear. This is evident when you Google Christianity+ sacred+ possession that only demonic possession appears and sacred in a whole new category.

So what is it really that causes this reaction? Is it possibly over 2000 years of brainwashing by several dogmatic systems deadlocked in a power struggle for domination? Is it the surface skimming fast paced society we have become where nothing with depth and substance gets a second, third or fourth look, especially if it lingers within? Is it fear of having to face our own issues and having to present a perfect face or we get torn to bloody shreds by our brethren for not being perfect? (please do not mistake a real crime for an error, mistake, misjudgment, etc as included in the not being perfect arena) Is it the cognitive dissonance created when some are confronted with the reality that things are not as they were taught to us in grammar school and church??? What is it?

I think it is simple. These volunteers, these witnesses of the strange and profound are suddenly confronted with an experience that pulls them so far out of their set of teaching and understandings of “how things are” that it is traumatic for them. The spirit speaking may or may not be evil, but the fear experienced by the witnessed is imprinted upon them so deeply that evil and vile are the only words that fit the violent emotions evoked from them. They went in expecting a bit of fun at the hands of a charlatan and came out with a real experience that left their beliefs in tatters and they resent it terribly.

I find it interesting, the hypocrisy, that while demonic possession is so widely touted in the orthodox religious traditions, possession of the sacred and divine is excluded, ignored and even ridiculed as a sham. If demonic possession is so real to them, why is not the sacred? These things make me come to the understanding that these are not religions of life and birth, but shame, fear, and walking death. I think when we are looking at a table full of people about to touch the occult veil, we should remember that we will be seeing witnesses both sacred and profane and steel ourselves for potential lash-back.

Do Her Bidding. . .

magic circleWe are never truly alone, especially the witch. We are surrounded by the unseen and if we are smart we make friends with the unseen. We alone do not make the magic turn in our lives. It is through our allies and familiar spirits that the magic spins. Yes, we do have our own power to make things go, but when we include our familiar spirits in the work, it is by their hand through which that power is multiplied.

There are many accounts throughout history in which the witch speaks of a familiar spirit who “does her bidding.” I think that “doing her bidding” is probably the wrong turn of a phrase for the complicated nature of the relationship established between witch and familiar spirit. These friendships created are not ones of power over, they are of true power. Ones built upon mutual trust and respect: give and take. These relationships are not dependent upon being entrapped and forced into doing one’s bidding, these are beings who develop a caring and trusting bond with their companion and are willing to lend their hand to your work and out of mutual respect we pay them in kind with offerings that can only come from the human world and hand. While there are stories that tell of powerful witches and sorcerers that entrap and enslave spirits, but these spirits in the end either end up being set free by some big damn hero or they turn on said magic worker. That sounds like it can be a real nightmare, right?

So why? Why work with familiar spirits instead of going right to the source of power, the Gods??? Well as you can imagine, if the Gods give you tools ( not to imply that familiar spirits are tools) and you refuse to use them do you think they are going to be willing to work with you any further? I wouldn’t think so. Yes, I work with Hekate and a host of Feri gods and goddesses. I honor them in turn and ask for inspiration to help me work through my situations. However, when the work at hand is to be done, I know that they have sent me allies who are more entwined in this world to help me accomplish the goals set forth.

Yes, you will find that familiar spirits have their own goals and agendas, sometimes ones we can not understand and fathom. They are no less complicated and diverse in personality than we are. In fact, they may be more complicated seeing as how their understanding of life love and everything is from a very different perspective than our own. Does that make them dangerous? Well, I suppose if you were rude and unkind that very well could make them dangerous to you. However, as I said before, these relationships are built upon mutual respect. Are there spirits out there with whom you should not work. ABSOLUTELY! This is why trusting your intuition and gut is ever so important. Familiar spirits may indeed have their own agendas and goals, but by helping you with your tasks they may be doing what furthers their plans. You happen to be walking in the same direction with similar goals. They are on their own adventure, and helping you helps them.

I am not entirely sure what it is about me that attracted the attention of some of my fine familiar friends, maybe there was just something shimmering and bright about me they liked. I’m past the days where I question how did I get such fine friends??? I am grateful to have them and that is that. I sing to them make them strange little gifts only they can appreciate, leave the offerings of honey milk ( and sometimes something boozy), draw them, call them and sometimes just fly out to hang with them while they have their own adventures. I am, however, very careful to never share their true names. Names are power after all. . . we all remember the story of Rumplestiltskin right??? Well, same goes for the familiar spirit. Turns out, that secrecy is also power, ask any politician.

So how will you know you have a familiar spirit? You will know. It’s plain as day as to who they are and they are hanging in the background waiting for you to call them back. You have already been chosen, the choice to step up and work with them is yours and yours alone. They will not force you and if a spirit tries to force you, you now know they need to go. You do remember how to banish, right?

So the next time you cast, and every time after that, I am now certain you will remember to say: It is not my hand that does this, but the hand of ( name your familiar spirit)! Give credit where credit is due. It’s a mark of not only respect, but a strong witch. And of course when someone later remarks, how did you do that?? The answer, of course, is a dutiful witchy smirk and a shrug. Secrecy is power.

The Devil made me do it!

Morality, integrity, values. . . all of these things that should have nothing to do with any one religion. InArthurcclarkestead, these things should be marks of being a good person. The fact that you subscribe to a religion should only make you a good credit to what ever faith you embrace.

We’ve all had those sort of debates on what a good witch should look like. . . the three-fold law, the Wiccan rede, no Wiccan rede, Do as thou will shall be the whole of the law. . . etc. Personally I like the: do what is necessary. philosophy Robert Cochrane spoke of. I never knew the man, I am hoping he walked that talk, because I sure try to live that when it comes to my craft. I see the philosophy carried through in other practitioners such as Robin Artisson and Peter Grey within their bodies of writing. for example:

Be kind to the kind. Be deceitful to the deceitful. Helpful to the helpful. Wary of the stranger. Dismissive of the hateful. Patient with the dim-witted. Understanding with the grief-stricken. Hospitable to the guest and loving to your increase always be.

Robin Artisson

What can be noticed here with this quote is that there is a liminal quality to statement of philosophy. There is honesty, compassion, caution and cunning trickster traits wound up together in what is revealed to be a complex personality. We all have complex personalities, to try to whittle down our personality to a single line quotation is to limit ourselves; a thing that should be considered limitless in possibilities is bound to one single reaction to a very diverse world. Hrm. . . seems like a crazy-making policy to me.

The other thing that should be noted is that this is the philosophy of one man within a diverse spiritual construct that we label as witchcraft. It is not a thing of witchcraft. This is one man’s policy on dealing with other people he encounters in his world. The fact that other witches, including myself are finding it a wise policy and try to follow this philosophy is not a reflection on the path of spirituality we follow, but that of the individuals who embrace it. You most certainly can be a witch and not embrace this particular thought form. There are other witches who embrace the light and love and karma’s gonna vindicate you philosophy. That is a reflection of them as individuals. Not witchcraft.

We hear many times a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim etc. . . go on and on about how good they are because they are what they identify with as a religion. They even espouse the only way to be a good human being is to be what they believe. Yet, they hold up hateful picket signs, blow up abortion clinics, throw gays off of buildings, stone women for being raped, marginalize minority peoples, and turn the other cheek when they have been brutally victimized. I consider none of those things to be reflections of either a good human or peaceful religion. Somehow, they have not considered that it’s their behavior that makes for a good human and not their faith. The other thing I find rather irksome and funny at the same time is that when some of these people, who proclaim to be good humans because of their faith, get caught red-handed performing evil. They blame ( guess who) THE DEVIL. The Devil made me do it!!!!! Once again, the horned god with cloven feet is cast as a scapegoat to those who can not hold themselves accountable for their actions or even apologize for their misdeed. It appears to be an entire culture built upon blame shifting when individuals do this.

Do not become spiritually  and philosophically lazy because you embrace a faith and a members of a faith should be considered good humans because of blah blah creed. Do not use your religion to justify an action or replace logic so you do not have to explain your position on an issue. This is not how that works. You should be considered a good human being because you choose to do the right thing for the right reason. You choose to do what is right instead of what is easy. Morals and values do not come from any religion. Morals and values are decisions made by individuals based upon what they individually perceive to be the right thing for the right reason. If that makes you a trickster in some cases. . . BRAVO! But be aware, there is a difference between being a trickster and performing evil.

Am I a witch? Yes. Am I also a good human being? Well, I try really hard to be a good human being. My morals and values as an individual are reflected in my craft. They are not a product derived from witchcraft itself.

Fly!

man on a broom

Everything that happens is a spiral back into you, a path back home. When things and people become obstacles they are removed, moved away, washed over and away, but the real essence of you is not removed. That remains because it is the truth of who you are. Part of the truth of what it is to be a witch is flying.

I have taken up the broom again and flown. My first flight back on broom took me to my old ones, not the ancient ones, you don’t call them. They call you. I was surprised to see who was actually in my line. I suspect they are the peers and elders of my own Grandmaster. They took a good look at me in the place I am at my life and decided a few tweaks had to happen, some of those same recommendations were echoed from my own Father after the fact. Others of those happenings shall remain blissfully and witchfully a secret smile on my face.

As witches, spirit flight is one of those things that some of us do, other shudder at. And for good reason. If you are going to stay in the sunshine all the time and never handle what lurks in the shadows, then those places are fear filled for you and you will never truly dive into your power. Power is not created by being fearsome to others or fearful of shadows. It is derived through facing those things and risking being hurt; being hurt and getting up anyway to try again and move forward.

Yes, there are those out there who will think you are living in a ‘fantasy world’. Who cares what they think. Some of the older witches love to hear those things just to have a good old fashion cackle, but really what others think about your spirit flights should not affect how you feel about yourself or your craft. Why are you telling people about the contents of your soul anyway? Pearls before swine anyone? Talking about the specifics of your spirit flights should not be happening anyway. Even if you think you can trust this person implicitly, why give them something to use in questioning your sanity ( or to convince others that your are mentally ill.) If you do tell someone, it is best with a chosen and trusted brother or sister of the craft, someone with experience themselves. A journal should be what you tell, not a person. Otherwise, it really is a hazard to you.

Are there dangers to spirit flight? Yes. Take your tools and weapons with you. Some of us have been given spirit tools and weapons by our guides and teachers. Take them too. Be cunning. Be kind. Be fearsome. Just be. . .  but don’t forget the predatory inclinations of nature. Everything eats something and in the spirit world there is, just like the fairy tales say. . . wicked things that lurk in those hills. Making your path home and back to yourself is a frightening journey that requires a witch to remember to fly and be silent about what she did. (or he.)

When you decide to venture out into the outer dark, there is no one way to get there. No one way that is correct. We all have techniques as individual as we are. However, there are some things to keep in mind. It’s not safe, nothing in this world is, and the same goes for the worlds we visit. Talk to your spirit guides and familiars about your trip before you go. It can be as simple as “Hey I am going flying wanna come with me and lend a hand?” Call upon your protectors and charge them with the protection of your body and sacred space as you are traveling. Circle? Yes. Take a mental inventory of the tools and weapons you want to take with you. Know where you are going before you go and what your goals are. Just go! Hie thee to the shadows and find yourself; dance in the light and be seen. You have power if you dare to face it.

Journal and eat something when you get back to you. It helps you ground and keep the experience in a place for you to later put together. These things sometimes only make sense in series or in retrospect. They can also be like dreams fleeting and quickly forgotten in detail.  If you are looking for an aid, I know a couple of good flying ointment makers. 😉