Magical Thinking

Magical Thinking

Author: Levi

Many times when people find the Pagan community we hear that children display many unique abilities, unlike their adult counterparts who have been conditioned to our modern mundane world. How do children view the world of seeming superstition and magick? What can we learn from this and apply to our lives as modern Pagans? It is with the tools of skeptical thinking, psychology and a dash of good old fashioned pondering that I would like to explore with you these topics.

First of all children take things for face value; while observing, they soak in every comprehensible detail unknowingly. Yet their actions are based more on what they have been instructed to do, not what they observe independently. If you were to throw a notion or better a devout law into their thought process, and couple that with the respect they feel for the notion-dropper, that child is capable of believing in any possible thing. Think about Hansel and Gretel, Harry Potter, God, the bogeyman, any of the archetypal “make-believe” characters, and you know what I mean. Their level of belief in the characters, and/or magickal thinking, depends greatly on which level of cognitive development the child currently maintains. Aside from that, social learning plays an important role because parents are the children’s first and foremost teachers and the sheer scope of their job is extensive. “Therefore if children are to learn to walk, to speak, and to take care of themselves, adults cannot simply wait for a time driven process of cognitive development to unfold, neither can they wait until a child exhibits desirable behaviors by chance, and then lavishly reinforce the lucky episode.” (Vyse pg. 157) As the years pass from pre-operational thinking, ages 2-7, to concrete operational thinking, ages 7-11, so declines their susceptibility to superstitious beliefs and irrational concepts of reality. Skepticism is an adult characteristic and is acquired, if at all, with age. Which brings us to formal operational thinking, over 11 years of age, which starts to incorporate logical thinking over the more fiction-based, directly-handed-down method of learning. The pre-adolescent begins to put together abstract thoughts and construct its own views on its reality, and other realities. After the pre-adolescent stage the child therefore begins to seemingly take on a more what we would term adult view of reality and reason. Though conformity can be seen as the destroyer of intellectual thinking, it nonetheless steps in around this age. It works as your individual observations weigh less as your understanding of social interaction and acceptance begin to affect more and more of your decisions.

What exactly does all this mean, you may ask. Well all of these facts show that in our increasingly modern world we are slowly conditioning our children to no longer think with imagination and creativity. Nevertheless a starling array of what are termed as old wives tales, warnings and magickal thought still survive till today and are reflections of many preoccupations and/or human fears that have been passed on over time. But it is my thought that we need not view these things in such a light, as it would be much wiser to view them as a part of oral tradition to pass on. It is also interesting to note as a parallel that sometimes science has demonstrated that certain beliefs relating to various plants and foods that hold magical powers do in fact have a basis in reality and have been proven to work. On the other hand people still avoid walking under ladders and knock on wood and cross their fingers in order to guard there luck. With this in mind, of all things this teaches us that it is not only important to instill our traditions into our youth if they are to survive, but to instill these traditions as a way of love, if the world and intelligent humanity is to survive.

My personal experience with the topic of traditions could be viewed I guess in part as a long legacy if you will, which everyone has, if a little thought has been put into it. First off I come from an Irish/Sicilian descent; both cultures have been steeped in magickal and superstitious thinking for millennia. Ever since I was a small child I remember a figure or wall plaque of the triskele in my home. The triskele is a symbol of Medusa surrounded by three legs representing the three magickal nymphs. In essence the story of this symbol dates back to the times and stories of the goddess Diana within ancient Italy. Still today many Sicilian people have this symbol within there home to guard the home from negativity and yes today here in my home, hanging over the front door, is a triskele symbol. Somehow throughout my childhood I have taken on this simple traditional superstition, accepted it and have woven it into the workings of my own life. But this is typically how family traditions or what may be termed superstitions seem to work.

Thrown into this mix I was born and raised in Kansas. Now the Midwest doesn’t seem like it is much of a magical place, but actually it is a place filled with local traditions and legends, mostly belonging to the Native Americans that once lived there and other people known as God fearing Christians! In addition to this I can remember as a child being told by my grandmother to stay close to the house because of the Gypsies who at one time were known to be in the area. But moreover she taught that they would kidnap me and never let me come home. Actually and generally these Gypsies were immigrants that would travel through the area from time to time, but were long gone before my days on the prairie. What I do know now is that this was her way of protecting and keeping me close to home as was also her way of keeping me in bed at night with tales of the bogeyman and his nightly rampaging of the land in search of children! “But don’t worry; he might let you lose when the sun comes, if you’re lucky, ” she would always say, ever so wisely.

Over the years as I grew up and have (unfortunately) gone far beyond my stages of development I have later learned that these fictional creatures have served as a tool for elders throughout time as means of safeguarding children. Even though I still may think of Mr. Bogeyman from time to time, and maybe I’ll pass that one on. I believe that because of these experiences that I have had in the past, my upbringing and the fact that I am the product of two old hippies, this has led me to where I am today. It has led me to my view upon the world as a much more magical place than what the average may think. Witchcraft and the study thereof, is an earth-based religion passed on from our Pagan ancestors that looks to the divine within the aspects of nature, therefore working and following closely with the waxing and waning seasons of the year. It is heavily involved with ecology and moral issues in addition to environmental issues. Witchcraft also teaches us to be open-minded and at the same time to think very wisely of the world, and the issues within it. It also teaches you to value the people around you and your future of this world, remembering not to take everything for granted or at face value, thereby devaluing one’s own self and worth.

It is suggested these traditions are that of false superstitious behavior and are abnormal in nature. Probably no other aspect of psychological behavior is more challenging to understand than that of the abnormal because it is thought of as kind of working hand-in-hand with mental disorders. In everyday life, people often talk about “mental illness, ” a term which echoes of medical asylums and twisted and cruel mental health practitioners, so in turn this view has given a negative view or stigmatism upon the subject of abnormal behavior. In hand this is placing a negative view upon traditions, which may be viewed as abnormal, because they do not fit into the mainstream. The reality is that public understanding of true abnormal behavior is fairly limited and right now we still don’t have all the answers when it comes to understanding and treating disorders. But is abnormal behavior by itself really a disorder? When you think about the word itself all abnormal behavior really is the fact that when someone may act in a manner that does not fit society’s expected view of normal behavior, they are viewed as abnormal. Does the behavior make them mentally ill? I think not, in fact to me this sounds a little reminiscent of what we now term as The Burning Times. Truer things to consider or to ask when deciding if someone is abnormal are: Is this person suffering? Is her or she seemingly maladaptive? Are they irrational or unpredictable? Or are they violating morals or society’s standards? The thought is that when a person displays a couple or more of these conditions then we could label one as abnormal or as having a mental condition with some confidence. I also think this is a good approach and also say as long as the person is not harming him or her self, others, or the surrounding area then there may really not be a problem at all. Maybe the person is very creative or there could be a long list of other possibilities that do not fit under the heading mental illness. When real thought is put into it maybe the real problem lies in the observer of this “abnormal behavior.” It may in fact be touching on some of observer’s own personal fear, bias and or issues on an unspoken or hidden level. Or simply it may be a behavior that the observer has never been exposed to before.

This also works within the realm of Magickal traditions. Because of the mainstream views upon Magickal traditions as irrational in nature it is thereby simple to label someone as irrational. This type of labeling can be very tricky and or harmful, as history has shown us. But again we tend to view irrational behavior within the context of the extreme, which leads us back to that old abnormal behavior. Are my beliefs or traditions abnormal and/or irrational compared to that of a Christian or a Jewish person or are theirs compared to mine? I think not, because as we can see every faith and/or culture around the world has its own set of values, traditions, and thoughts on belief, magick and superstition. It’s how we think that is really important because when we think in a linear way opposed to a more creative way we tend to push our personal views and/or perspectives upon others and in the long run can lead to conflict, maybe even harm. We see these downfalls and issues working everyday within the media alone.

My closing thought on growing up learning and passing on magickal traditions and in effect living one’s life with the belief in these ways is not something to be shunned. The point is no matter how odd society would like to view us and our magical ways of thinking or what labels they would like to put upon the subject, in actuality under some circumstances it can prove to be very rational, therapeutic and/or a combination of the two. Our beliefs in Magick as well as our traditions will continue to flourish as a natural human expression around the globe even in the most technologically advanced societies, and probably as long as there are humans to utilize these tools… The fact is, is it above irrational to bring comfort to the modern human condition? Which the magickal traditions can and do provide. With this in mind learn once again to think with the imagination of a child and create new beautiful realities for our future to come.

Footnotes:
Vyse A. Stuart (Oxford university Press 1997) Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition
Pickering, David (Cassell 1995) Dictionary of Superstitions

 

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Your I Ching Hexagram for December 19th is 14: Abundant Blessings

14: Abundant Blessings

Wednesday, Dec 19th, 2012

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Supreme success! Like the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a person whose fortunes have turned for the better shines as bright. At the core of this success lies unselfishness and modesty, for it is the tendency of a flexible or yielding nature to bind powerful forces to it, particularly when prosperity begins to manifest. When power is wielded with grace and dignity, there is supreme success and great abundance!

Ah, but be careful. Along with any accumulation of wealth or influence can come pride and arrogance. Fight such tendencies if you intend to continue enjoying your bliss. Stay attentive enough to manage your affairs well. And remember that while material prosperity certainly beats the alternative, it is only one of many elements of a satisfying life.

 

Living Life As The Witch – Dealing With Grief: Let the Healing Begin

Blessed Be Comments

Let the Healing Begin

 

The hardest part in overcoming grief is taking the first step because you’ll have an “I don’t care” attitude. Along with pain, you feel a great apathy toward life. That is typical. The first spell work I performed–and still perform–to relieve myself of grief and depression is speaking an affirmation or a devotional daily.

It doesn’t need to be lengthy. Just saying out loud that you’re not alone and that your loved one is still with you in some way is a great help. Whether they have passed on or simply passed out of your life, the part they’ve had in making you the person you are today will never go away. Now is also a good time to thank your Guardian Spirits for their help. If you’re up to it, light a candle on your altar as you do this. At night, thank the Divine Spirit for returning you home safely. If you’re mourning the passing of a loved one, don’t be surprised if you feel a gentle touch at this time. They are close to you.

Dreams can also be important now, although they’re not easy for us to control. However, a deceased loved one will most likely contact you during a dream. This can be most comforting. Try to remember the details of the dream because they may contain messages.

Receiving Help

Since many witches belong to covens, the coven would be an ideal place to start if you feel the need of a support group. And if professional help is needed, you can begin by talking to your doctor. He or she will often be able to recommend a local therapist or counselor who specializes in grief or in the specific situation you are facing.

A note on giving help: If you know someone who is grieving and you’re both part of the magickal community, please don’t do any type of spell work without being asked. This could cause bad karma.

References:

Excerpt from:
The Sun Also Rises:
Dealing with Grief
James Kambos

~Magickal Graphics~

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Dec. 14th is Moon

Your Deck of Ancient Symbols Card for Today

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The Moon

Although men have stepped upon the moon and scientists have analyzed it almost endlessly, there remains in our collective unconscious a vision of the moon that shrouds it in mystery. And why wouldn’t there be? Being earth’s closest neighbor, having a clear influence on many of earth’s cycles and constantly changing in appearance, it is only fitting that our ancestors endlessly pondered and speculated on our magnificent moon’s powers. The Moon represents the pure feminine nature and the gateway to understanding the mystical world that cannot be explained by science. Its soft glow provides a gentle light in the darkness of night. Metaphorically, the powers associated with the moon supply the seeker with a light to explore the mystical aspects of our world. It empowers the sense of wonder in those open to psychic adventures.

As a daily card, The Moon is indicative of a time when your feminine side and connection to the spiritual world is very strong. Essentially you are “tuned in” spiritually which makes this an ideal time for you to investigate your place in our mystical world.

Your Tarot Card for December 11th is The Hierophant

The Hierophant

Tuesday, Dec 11th, 2012

Traditionally known as the Hierophant, this card refers to a Master and the learning of practical lessons from the study of Natural Law. This energy of this card points to some agent or resource that can reveal the secrets of life, the cycles of the moon and tides, the links between human beings and the heavens.

Because monasteries were the only places a person could learn to read and write in the middle ages, a Hierophant was one to whom a student would petition for entry. He was the one to set the curriculum for the neophyte’s course of study.

Often pictured with the right hand raised in blessing, the Hierophant is linked with the ancient lineage of Melchezidek, initiator of the Hebrew priestly tradition, the one who passes on the teachings. All shamans of any tradition draw upon this archetype.

The Gems of Yule, Alexandrite

Alexandrite

Alexandrite is a centering stone. Use this stone for stress or in other situations requiring you to be calm. This stone will allow you to become centered and balanced and will bring together the important aspects of  your life. For healing, use this stone for the brain and central nervous       system. It can also help when in a rut for it provides higher self-esteem and gives a feeling of purpose. In conjunction, it will help you achieve your goals.

Your Tarot Card for December 5th is The World

The World

Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012

What has traditionally been known as the World card points to the presiding intelligence, called “Sophia,” or Wisdom, which upholds life on this and all worlds. A more precise title for this card might be “the Soul of the World,” also applicable as a symbol of personal empowerment and freedom. In most Tarot decks it is a female figure that has become our standard World image. She originates in Hebrew, Gnostic and Alchemical lore, and stands between heaven and earth as the Cosmic Mother of Souls, the Wife of God and our protector from the karmic forces we have set loose upon the Earth in our immaturity and ignorance.

Where the Empress energy secures and fertilizes our terrestrial lives, the goddess of The World invites us into cosmic citizenship — once we come to realize our soul’s potential for it. Just as the Chariot stands for success in achieving a separate Self, and Temperance represents achievement of mental and moral health, the World card announces the awakening of the soul’s Immortal Being, accomplished without the necessity of dying.

This card, like the Sun, is reputed to have no negative meaning no matter where or how it appears. If the Hermetic axiom is “Know Thyself”, this image represents what becomes known when the true nature of Self is followed to creative freedom and its ultimate realization.

Today’s Tarot Card for November 21 is The Hierophant

The Hierophant

Wednesday, Nov 21st, 2012

Traditionally known as the Hierophant, this card refers to a Master and the learning of practical lessons from the study of Natural Law. This energy of this card points to some agent or resource that can reveal the secrets of life, the cycles of the moon and tides, the links between human beings and the heavens.

Because monasteries were the only places a person could learn to read and write in the middle ages, a Hierophant was one to whom a student would petition for entry. He was the one to set the curriculum for the neophyte’s course of study.

Often pictured with the right hand raised in blessing, the Hierophant is linked with the ancient lineage of Melchezidek, initiator of the Hebrew priestly tradition, the one who passes on the teachings. All shamans of any tradition draw upon this archetype.

Today’s Tarot Card for November 20th is The Emperor

The Emperor

Tuesday, Nov 20th, 2012

In the most practical terms, what has traditionally been called the Emperor card represents the highest leadership, a head of state or the most exemplary and powerful person in the realm. This archetypal ruler is responsible for the positive working out of affairs of a society or community, which are directly proportional to his well being and happiness.

The more enlightenment and cosmic perspective this energy brings, the better life is for all. The Emperor archetype masters the world of matter and physical manifestation. When you apply this card to your situation, acknowledge your potentials for mastery. Reinforce a sense of sovereignty within yourself, despite any self-limiting beliefs, habits or appearances to the contrary.

A WITCH’S PERSONAL MANIFESTO

The following personal manifesto was presented by Paul V. Beyerl to the 1987 Harvest Moon Celebration in Woodland Hills, California. It was in no way written to represent a set of laws to govern the behavior of others, but only as an open discussion of personal ethics to provoke thought and communication.

 

A WITCH’S PERSONAL MANIFESTO

 

I demand these things as a Witch:

– I must pursue my Highest Ideals

– I must strive to elevate my ethics

– I must be as good as my word

– I must demand integrity of myself

– I must be willing to suffer for my religion

– I must willingly embrace discipline

– I must develop financial responsibility and independence

– I must be able to pay my bills

– I must pay attention to my diet & intake of food

– I must LIVE the Hermetic Principle

– I must respect the astral

– I must approach ritual with great care

– I must see ritual work as a disciplined art form

– I must consider seriously the ramifications of reincarnation

– I must conserve fuels

– I must recycle whenever possible

– I must not litter, not even a cigarette butt

– I must avoid negative energy, even within my own thoughts

– I must avoid placing blame for any of the events in my life

– I must take responsibility for my ill health

– I must take myself seriously

– I must have humor

– I must live with my eyes open and my feet grounded

 

I demand these things of myself as a member of the Wiccan Community:

– I must support the work of making Wicca a respected religion

– I must expect financial accountability from those groups to which I donate monies

– I must stop the mockery of other religions (including anti-Christian sentiment sometimes found in modern Paganism)

– I must not support religious plagiarism (such as the teaching of shamanism by those who have never experienced the wilderness nor studied from a real shaman).

– I must be respectful of all other’s ritual forms

– I must separate myths and reality in our history and in our future

– I must work to contribute towards a reputable public image of Wicca

– I must protest against pagans who use shock tactics in dealing with the public

– I must upgrade standards of Wiccan education

– I must support serious research of our religious heritage

– I must demand quality in pagan literature, newsletters and books

– I must support the assembling of libraries

– I must not be a religious isolationist and I must work to remove pagan ghetto mentalities from our communities

– I must demand provocative, challenging workshops over entertainment

– I must share my knowledge and skills

– I must make Initiations increasingly difficult, challenging and rewarding

– I must consider the amount of education other religions expect of their clergy when planning Wiccan training

– I must be willing to network

– I must remain in contact with pagans in other places

 

I demand these things of myself as a Priest/ess:

– I must prepare for the deaths and burials of our peoples

– I must provide for the future of my consecrated tools beyond my physical death

– I must work towards the establishment of legal ministries

– I must provide for children and their education

– I must provide for the survival of my Tradition

I demand these things of myself as a Wiccan citizen:

– I must promote community service, being of help to all peoples regardless of their beliefs

– I must be willing to be political

– I must be a knowledgeable, active voter

– I must respect and utilize the system

– I must find value in the political system in which I live or work actively to promote change

– I must be aware of the world perspective

– I must extend myself to world poverty and hunger