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A walk among redwoods


Everywhere I look there are trees.
One forest.
Saplings growing from a common trunk.
Roots twined like fingers,
like lovers, like family
standing together long enough
to know everything any of them knows.
Tall enough to deny sunlight the floor.
A silence that beats on the ears.
A silence so loud you can hear the heartbeat of life.

9/10/17

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Prayer to Hekate


Hail to you, Hekate,
Goddess of the crossroads,
Kouroutophe, nursemaid to the child,
Granter of victory in contest,
Mistress of the pharmakon.
Hekate Brimo, garlanded in snakes,
Lift your torches for me in my time
And guide me safely to the place of my kin.

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Prayer to Pomona, Goddess of the Orchard

Nicolas Fouché [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Hail to thee Pomona!
Pomorum Patrona,
Guardian Goddess of the orchard,
With your gentle touch may our trees grow strong,
Free from blight,
And heavy with healthy fruit!

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Invocation to the natural powers


I call on the powers that govern nature.
Let the rain fall and damp the fires.
Let the winds subside and the storms disperse.
Let the floods subside and the ground take in the water.
Let the shaking cease and the earth quiet.
Let the weather fall into accustomed patterns.

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Resources to study racism in esoteric thought


These will eventually inform an essay. If you are following along in your reading ping me! Would love to discuss.

Racism in Aleister Crowley’s works: Catherine Yronwode, Racism, Gender-Bias, and Other Forms of Bigotry in the Writings of Aleister Crowley

Racism in Theosophy and Rosicrucianism: Karen Swartz, Views from the Great White Brotherhood

Racism in Jung: Farhad Dalal, Jung, a Racist

Racism in Enlightenment Philosophy: Professor Julie K. Ward, The Roots of Modern Racism, Early Modern Philosophers on Race

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Ten Ways to Diversify Magical/Pagan Groups

Look around the room. How diverse is your group? Are there ten guys and one woman (the Wendy and the Lost Boys configuration)? Half men and half women, all white? No kids, no seniors, no one in a wheelchair?

Why does it matter if the room is filled only with our friends? It means our message is not reaching everyone who needs to hear it. Also we learn from people who are not like us, it grows our world.

The magical groups I spend most of my time with skew white/middle-aged/childless/able-bodied. Here are some starter ideas for getting more diversity in our groups.

One: Educate ourselves

The first item on any diversity agenda is learning about the experience of people not like us. There is so much information available about people of color, women, transgender and other genders, families, disabled people, seniors, veterans. In my corporation and as a human rights council member I organize lectures and panels which invite subject matter experts to share their knowledge and experience. From these events we learn that fathers need paternity leave, parents need flex time and child care, disabled people need equipment, trans people need non-gender-specific bathrooms, seniors need not to be discounted, people of color need affinity groups.

One excellent place to start is with the works of Crystal Blanton. This writer, organizer and priestess works tirelessly to bring race into the discussion and educate the magical communities.

These books written by Crystal are excellent resources for leaders:

These anthologies Crystal has edited give a platform to many diverse voices.

Two: Educate each other
The next step is to discuss these ideas within our group and communities. We need men to talk to men to get them past mansplaining to women what we already know about our own experience. We need white people talk to white people to get past the initial defensive and racist responses. (“Why are there only white people in the room?” “Don’t they have their own groups?”)

Three: Leverage the diversity already in the group

Are there any people of color, women, disabled folk, families with children in the room? Invite them to speak to the group about their experience in life and with the group. Put them on a podcast or a panel. Ask them for their suggestions about how we can be more inclusive and accepting. Use the listen-and-learn skills honed in the education phase to maximize their time and minimize their aggravation. Say thank you.

Next, implement their suggestions. Open participation for people with different abilities. Notice the needs of people who can’t stand, kneel, or hear well. Set up child care and learn to live with some chaos. Listen to the older folk when they tell stories of the times before you came. Play music that isn’t on the usual playlist. Make non-alcoholic drinks an equal option. Cut back on the hug line phenomenon – model walking in and out without having to hug everyone in passing.

The group’s culture will change and that’s uncomfortable. That’s also the inclusion part. Being open to new ideas makes diversity work.

Four: Build a program

Where diversity doesn’t exist we can go out and get it. Twenty years ago O.T.O. groups were mostly men but we have attracted more women and other genders through focused attention. Pagan groups in the Bay Area are making active efforts to include people of color – Pantheacon 2017 had a Pagans of Color hospitality suite.

In the corporate world we have a Diversity Executive, Diversity Champions and Diversity Ambassadors. If you have a large enough organization you can implement a program. If you’re a local leader you can implement in your area. Find people interested in the same subject and sign them up. You can do podcasts and conference panels, workshops, reading groups. Here’s an example: T. Thorn Coyle’s New Jim Crow study group.

Five: Get out in the community

The Showing Up For Racial Justice chapter I belong to bought a table at the annual NAACP benefit banquet. The Women’s March Huddle I belong to visits the ICE Tacoma Detention Center to bring families toys and blankets. This is different from outreach to proselytize and attract new members. It’s getting your people out to listen, learn, be observed, and contribute and support.

Six: Have interfaith conversations

Social justice work is interfaith work. The entire magical-Pagan population which makes up our friend set is one-third of one-percent of the US population. Half of the country is Christian, so if you get active in social justice you’re going to end up meeting with people in churches. Most of those folk are going to be more knowledgeable and experienced than we are. They have a vocabulary and a history. They talk about the Beloved Community.

In these rooms we are the diversity people. The other folk will be curious about us. We need to have an elevator speech to explain what we do. We can also be prepared to do public ritual work. I did an impromptu invocation of Athena at an interfaith gathering that invited me to participate.

We can learn from the failures and successives of other groups. The Unitarian Universalist Church did some learning earlier this year when groups offered criticism of white privilege. The local church has responded by organizing self-education (see item one) and having hard discussions with each other. A group that has come farther along the road offers this Clergy Anti Racism Preparedness Toolkit which we can model based on our own religions and philosophies.

Seven: Be visible

  • Get out on the street with Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March and Gay Pride.
  • Wear T-shirts with your affiliation.
  • Wear clergy garb to activist events.
  • Take pictures of yourself and your group while out in the community. Post on your own internal media and on social media.

Eight: Set a policy
Stand strongly against racism and sexism and strongly for human rights. Some examples:

Statement from the U.S. Grand Lodge of O.T.O.
Solar Cross Stands for Justice
Covenant of the 9/1/2015 Statement on Black Lives Matter

Nine: Have the difficult conversation
The foundation of the welcoming community is the willingness to confront our own racism, sexism and other biases. We can start that conversation one-on-one with each other. We can bring a community leader in to do a presentation that will lead to a conversation.

It’s okay to take it slow, to make mistakes, to try it again. The important thing is to get started.

Ten. Your idea here

What has worked for your group to become more inclusive? What barriers do you experience to joining or participating in a group? What would you like to see happen? Let’s do this!

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How to save the future

Antennae_Galaxies from Wikimedia


Recently I had a wonderful conversation with some friends. One of them challenged me to articulate how to change the future. Western magicians have ceded our ability to change the world, discouraged by the psychologization of magic and the scientific skepticism that what cannot be measured does not exist. Magicians in earlier ages just did the magic. Here are some ideas for the contemporary age.

1. Know the future you want.

Understand it clearly. The future I wanted at twenty is the future I am living in today: one in which nuclear war is averted, in which I have a place to live and a good job, love and friends, and published books.

The future I want today is one in which nuclear war is averted, the climate settles into a sustainable pattern, I have a place to live, funds in retirement, love and friends, and finish the additional books I need to write. My future also includes progress toward these human goals:

  • Every living human child is fed, housed and safe.
  • All war has ceased and there is peace everywhere on earth.
  • Every person is accepted as they are, able to work and love and live as they will.

The specific visualization I have for this is a family picnic at a local park. This park has green grass and trees and sits along the water. The people I love are all there eating delicious food and enjoying each other’s company. Around the park people of all ages, genders, races and cultures play in the ball parks and playgrounds. It is paradise. I am having an iteration of the picnic in this weekend.

2. Cling to it fiercely

Once you know the future you want, forsake all other futures. Ruthlessly banish images of desolation, of the end of life in nuclear war or climate change. Whenever people talk to you about their fears, focus on the positive actions they can take to steer toward the future you want.

Some may object that it is already too late, that the climate has already changed too much, that human nature will prevent our development as a species. 350.org says it is not too late and we know what we need to do. Changing human nature is what the psychologization of magic is all about. Are you advocating to keep fossil fuels in the ground and transition to renewables? If you are, excellent. If not, do it. Sign up for Climate Change Theater and host an event in your town/valley. (My favorite play is The Hope Project).

3. Get good at manifestation

I have a perfectly good book, Practical Magic for Beginners, which trains this skill. If you hate being seen reading a beginners book (even though it’s more sophisticated than that) put a cover on it. There’s also Denning and Phillips’ Practical Guide to Creative Visualization and Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization if my work isn’t to your liking.

I started with Silva Mind Control when I was eighteen. I started with finding change on the sidewalk.

4. Change the past.

Rev. Koichi Barrish of Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America says: “Those who are aware of mission (future) and boil their blood to do their best in their lives (present) are able to alter the currents ([and purify] the past) of fate.” There’s a similar quantum theory. This is an idea worth exploring, magicians.

5. Steer the boat of your life through the multiverse.

Physics just now is playing with the multiple world theory that each probability splits into a new world. To give credit where it is due, I first encountered the idea through Jane Roberts in Seth Speaks. As I remember she said something like this: we shift worlds all the time, and where the new world differs from the old, we rationalize the difference. You can give yourself the idea that next time you will just notice the change. Like the library on the corner that wasn’t there yesterday, or the vacant lot that turned into a fifty-year-old apple orchard.

If the world continually splits along probabilities, and magic gives me the ability to choose the path I am on, then I choose the world which looks like the one I am visualizing and manifesting.

In closing

I’m not going to tilt at windmills – it is the tenor of the age to doubt that magic is real. Fortunately I don’t have to convince anyone to keep saving the future, and neither do you. All you have to do is do it. Due to scientific skepticism and the psychologization of magic, the second bullet is the hardest. Trust yourself to know what you know.

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Ritual to preserve Ma’at

From Wikimedia.

Imagine yourself holding a small image of Ma’at in your palm. Say out loud:

I offer Ma’at to Ma’at that Ma’at may be preserved.

 

How it works:

There are many images from ancient Egypt/Kemet of people with power (pharoahs, queens, priestesses and priests) making offerings to various deities. Offerings included food, drink and incense. In The Presentation of Ma’at: Ritual and Legitimacy in Ancient Egypt, Emily Teeter discusses another kind of offering: presenting a tiny image of Ma’at. In ancient Egypt/Kemet the goddess Ma’at embodied truth, justice, and the orderly pattern of the universe. So offering Ma’at was a way for the official to promise to uphold the principles of the orderly universe.

This ritual is a quick way to affirm our support for justice, peace, and the rule of law applied equally and fairly to all.

Dancers of magic: Loie Fuller

Aleister Crowley’s ritual Liber XV, The Gnostic Mass specifies that the priestess “moves in a serpentine manner involving 3½ circles of the Temple”. In their notes on the mass Helena and Tau Apiryon note that while some people refer to this movement as a “serpentine dance” the ritual does not specify dance or music here.

Since the actual path of the priestess is more or less serpent-like it’s clear that serpentine refers to the pattern she walks, not how she walks it. But why do we say “serpentine dance” so automatically? That’s down to Loie Fuller.

Fuller started her career as a “skirt dancer” (think can-can girl). She made the form uniquely her own in several ways. First she sewed wands into her costume; if you’re a belly dance fan you may have seen “Isis wings”, smaller replicas of Loie’s wands. Second, her costumes weren’t dresses as much as drapes, hundreds of yards hanging directly from her neck. Finally she developed a lighting system that threw color and images onto the fabric. It was startling, new, fabulous and completely modern. At the Folies Bergere Loie came to epitomize the Art Nouveau.

Anatole France describes Fuller as “a person of good mind and good heart, a soul somewhat inclined to mysticism, to philosophy, to religion, a very deep, a very cheerful and a very noble soul.” She may not have been a magician in the same sense as Florence Farr or Dion Fortune but she was very much concerned with magical ideas expressed in a performative way.

Fuller was interested in the effects of color. In her autobiography she describes her meeting with Camille Flammarion who experimented with the effects of colored light on plants. Fuller believed that color had a distinct impact. She says “colour so pervades everything that the whole universe is busy producing it, everywhere and in everything.”

At the turn of the century a few pioneering dancers rejected the formalism of ballet and sought a more natural turn of movement. Fuller was among the earliest to seek emotional expression in movement. “At present dancing signifies motions of the arms and the legs…the motion…is regulated rather by the time than by the spirit of the music.” In contrast, she argued, music “ought to indicate a form of harmony or an idea with instinctive passion.” The motion of the dance should mirror the sensations of the body and express sorrow, joy, surprise, hope.

Fuller combined the expressive emotion of dance with the emotional impact of color. Her combination of music, color, and billowing movement transported audiences and inspired artists of all kinds. She herself linked this to a religious feeling, describing the rapture she experienced when she waved a scarf in the light from stained glass windows in Notre Dame, the same rapture she experienced in the dance.

Here are a few representations of her work. The Lumiere Brothers captured her “serpentine dance” on film and laboriously hand-tinted the frames to capture the sense of color. The serpent-like movement is created by the swirling fabric.

Loie Fuller did not found a school of dance, however contemporary dancer Jody Sperling has revived her dance style. Sperling’s residency at University of Wyoming recreated Fuller’s performance piece “Ballet of Light”. This short film documents the process and records the complete performance (beginning at 20:58).

Fuller created a dance called “Fire”. Sperling re-imagined it here.

Sperling’s work extended the fire idea into a “Dance of the Elements”, including water, earth, air, and ether. Here is water.

Sperling’s Fuller-inspired interpretation of Clair de Lune is peaceful and ecstatic; it’s a breathtaking moment of beauty.

Fuller’s pioneering work laid the foundations for modern dance and paved the road that Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis and Martha Graham would follow. She remains unique in her combination of music and color. She inspires me as a priestess to work with the meaning of gesture, sound and color to produce grace.

References
Fuller, Loie. “Fifteen Years of a Dancer’s Life: With Some Account of Her Distinguished Friends”. Boston: L.L. Maynard and Company, 1913. Web site: Google Books

Sperling, Jody. “Loie Fuller”. Dance Heritage 2012. Web site: Dance Heritage.

Photo credit: By Frederick Glasier – This image was uploaded from Shorpy.com, a photo-blog site specializing in vintage photography. Source url: 1641Shorpy.com host many images from public domain image repositories, including the Library of Congress. A high resolution version of this photograph may be available elsewhere., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2689845

Petition to Flora

Louise Abbéma [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Hail Flora!
Lovely Goddess of the bloom,
garlanded with a thousand flowers,
grant that my flowers open in beauty,
avert the rusts which would blight them,
let them set seed and fruit and bloom again.

Via Wikimedia