Notes from the Stillroom: 03/07/11

 

Dear Friends,

Sadly, of course, I don’t actually have a Still Room of my very own.  In any case I suspect that when I do have an apartment of my very own that it will blend together with the Kitchen, which really blends my Craft and my Culinary interests together nicely and I think serves well for a 21st Century Witch.

Anyhow, I’ve made mention of a recent surge of practical Witchery on my part recently, and figured I’d post an update.

Crown of Success

  1. Bay Leaves
  2. Frankincense
  3. Vetiver
  4. Olive and Jojoba Oils

I transferred the Crown of Success Oil to a new jar, removed the old Bay Leafs and tried to keep the ground Frankincense.   I put the glass jar and oil into the Microwave and hit the 30 second button a couple of times to heat the oil.   I cut some new, dried Bay leaves, into fine pieces and added them to the heated oil.  I ground more Frankincense, and some Vetivert, and stuffed them into the jar and the hot oil, I added a little more Olive Oil.

The jar is quite literally stuffed to the gills with herbs.   I added more Olive Oil in part to replenish what I had used in making some CoS for the Fabulous Jonathan, and in part because the mossy mass of herbs and resin was above the level of the oil… and since I am trying to scent the oil and not oil the herbs it seemed apropos to bring the oil level up a little.

Finally, after reflection, I transferred the whole oily-mossy mess to a jar twice as large as the first, and added a little more oil… so that the consistency was more of a sauce and less of a paste.

I’ve shaken the jars, contemplating their green-gold depths and observing the Brownian dance of the suspension and settling of the herbs and resins.  Now comes the hard part, the waiting.  Shaking the jar daily, sitting it in a window-sill to warm in the Sun… or perhaps 30 seconds in the microwave on some days…. contemplating successes and praying over the oil.

Crown of Success, like a lot of the conditioning oils from American folk magic and Hood00, is a scented oil product used as a perfume, an additive to baths, to sachet-like mojo-bags, and to dress candles for burning in spells.  From my research it seems like a lot of these oils will have very different blends of ingredients depending on the maker; but there are usually some standard items in each formula.  For Crown of Success these seem to be Frankincense and Bay, so those are the predominant ingredients.

In doing the quick, essential oils, version I wrote about in the previous post I discovered the scent of Vetivert.  I rather like its smokey scent and so added some dried Vetivert to the mix as well.

Pax’s Prosperity Powder

  1. ‘A popular Chamomile Tea blend’
  2. Mint
  3. Essential Oil of Vetivert
  4. Essential Oil of Texas Cedar-wood
  5. White Rice, ground to powder

I was feeling the need for a non-scented oil prosperity spell stuff, and decided to throw something together last week.  I had a box of a popular Chamomile tea and remembered that Chamomile was widely regarded as a good luck and prosperity herb… and as I read the other ingredients in the tea blend I discovered to my delight that several of them had associations with prosperity and luck and other useful associations!   I added a little Mint to the mix, and then using the coffee-grinder (aka 21st Century Mortar and Pestle) I grown down some White Rice.  This resulted in a nice little powder to which I have added a few drops of essential oil of Vetivert and some essential oil of Texas Cedarwood.

The Instructive Power of Looking at the Ingredients

This has led me to think and look at the ingredients in a number of the herb and spice mixes I have in my small portion of the Kitchen.  (the joys of living with a room-mate!)

I have been comparing notes between the magickal and medicinal associations for some things and learning a lot and finding I have a lot more tools at my disposal than I realized.  I am also finding the strange confluences and coincidences of meaning and symbolism, how certain herb blends or teas have combinations of ingredients that have one set of herbalism associations and another of herb magic associations and where the twain meet.

I held off of actually practicing spell-craft or herbalism for a long time because for a long time I did not have an apartment with a Kitchen… Unfortunately I also was holding off from practicing things like decent nutrition… so I am now working on a lot of things at once and juggling them in the air and growing and learning and having a lot of fun.

All of this may seem silly or superstitious or surreal to those unfamiliar with the embodied spirituality of Paganism, or the study of the spiritual practice of magick.

If so, look at it this way….

I will meditate on Success daily, I will put my energy and thoughts towards efforts to bring more stability and security in my life both financial and personal.  I can alternate the sessions of worrying the jar with sessions of working on my resume, meditating on where I have room for improvement at work, adding to my LinkedIn profile, researching suppliers for scented oil bottles, and business liscense requirements.

When I use the oil, or when my friends whom I gift portions of it too use it, we will remember the good wishes and thought that went into it.  We will think about our own definitions of success and our goals and methods for getting there.  We will fortify ourselves with knowledge of reaching our goals, and with the knowledge that a little change in our attitude or behavior can make all the difference.

We will remember that the Sacred is all around us, and within us.

The physical is sacred and as infused with the Holy as anything else.

Peace,

Pax

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A few notes…on what Paganism is NOT…

Dear friends,

A few useful notes, based on some rampant misconceptions I have seen carried abroad in my local Pagan community.  Please take the following to heart.

Paganism is NOT a substitute for the psycho-therapeutic process.

Paganism is NOT a fandom.

Paganism is NOT an excuse for religious or racial bigotry, not even when it involves Christianity or a black actor portraying a comic-book interdimensional being named Heimdal.

Given that Religion and Spirituality are synonyms, Paganism is NOT an excuse for long angry diatribes against “Religion” and in favor of “Spirituality”; especially when your anger and fear of “Religion” is rooted in anger at and fear related to your religion of origin.

Paganism is NOT a justification of your own personal lack or responsibility or maturity; NOR is Paganism or “tolerance” to be used as an excuse for others irresponsibility or maturity.

Paganism is NOT an excuse to engage in addictive or self-destructive behavior.

Paganism is NOT a synonym for Wiccan or Neo-Wiccan.

Paganism is NOT a synonym for practicing Magick, nor does a Pagan rite require an act of spell-casting.

Thank you,

Pax

PS – you may be wondering what Paganism IS, well I am struggling towards my own definition over here….

PPS- feel free to riff off any of the above points into a posting of your own, I will probably be expanding several of the above into paragraphs at some point in the future myself….

Invocations, Old Words, and Creativity

Dear Friends,

I have had the words, well mostly one of the choruses, of the old British folk and busking/begging song Tom O’ Bedlam stuck in my head for a couple of days now.

Still I sing Boys, Bonny Mad Boys

Bedlam Boys are Bonny

For they all go bare and they live by the air,

and They want no drink nor money

I blame Veles, who was apparently similarly afflicted and posted to his Facebook…

Oh Tom o’Bedlam, get out of my head!

Some discussion ensued and, realizing I had only heard snippets over the years in my wanderings through sci-fi/fantasy and Renfair geek-dom,  I researched the piece, and looked up all the lyrics and listened to several versions online….  Enjoying the flexibility of the song and how many different directions you can take these old words…

Ever since Veles (because, again it is his fault) got me stuck on this song I have been thinking how by adjusting the verses and some of the various choruses (and possibly adding one or two relevant verses) you could take this song and transform it into a very powerful Mummers interlude during a Yuletide potluck feast, or a Mummers Parade around Samhain, or an Invocation of The Horned God and the Wild Hunt at either of the above Sabbats are all interesting possibilities.

Some of the inspiration for this comes from reading a LOT of Traditional Witchcraft material in the last month, Huson and Paddon and Cochrane and Jones oh my!  Some of this inspiration has probably been stirred up by Dver’s diverse posts over on A Forrest Door on mumming and masking (here, here and here) that she shared near the turning of the Calendar Year…

One of the elements that can make a ritual powerful, one of the things that can make it Ritual and empower true Magick, is repetition or age.   This is why old and oft repeated rituals have a certain power, they’ve had time to inscribe themselves into the warp and weft of things….  rituals, like the Catholic Mass, or the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, or the casting of Circles or the invocation of Watchtowers; this is also part of what empowers some of the ancient stories and songs such as the works of Shakespear, and passages from the Norse Saga’s, or the Homeric Hymns, have had time to work themselves into the warp and the weft of things and reach what I tend to think of as the Graphic User Interface stage of magick and ritual.

So by bringing in Poetry and Song and Language and rituals with some age to it, or simply by figuring out what works best for you and going with it, you can end up drawing on the power of meanings built up over time; with yourself and your group as the lenses through which that deep magick is focused…

As an example of the flexibility of the piece, and the many different moods one could take one written source (either ancient, or modern, or one that blends the two…) We have…

A late 1960’s folk-rock rendition…

A 1980’s sounding version with overtones of Synth and New Age Music…

A gloriously over the top spoken word version….

And a Japanese Math Rock band which, while some of the pronunciations are a bit surreal has captured a delightful mood…

or for invoking Dionysus perhaps fabulous almost rockabilly version…

Peace, and creativity,

Pax

I Inspire the Breath of Life

(c) Geoffrey Stewart 2010

I Inspire the Breath of Life,

And unto the Numinous, and to All the Holy Powers, and to all of Life

I blow kisses upon the wings of my breath, caressing my connection to All…

Sometimes it is as if I am kissing a letter sent to a far flung lover somewhere across the sea,

Or a cherished photo, or my Altar cloth,

Sometimes it is a tender kiss to a child’s forehead, or a lovers cheek,

Sometimes passionate, sometimes tender, and sometimes tentative,

Occasionally awakening, and often being awakened, sometimes wondering if I’m just being silly,

There are times I feel as if I am going through the ghostly motions of a dance I long ago missed out on,

Then other times I feel taken, passionately and wildly, by The Spirit of Life,

Certainty and doubt and serenity and strife dancing daily with me and within me

In the end all that matters is the Practice, the connecting and communicating and finding ones rightful way.

Ones Will.

So in the next moment I return, and,

I Inspire the Breath of Life.

Our Power and The World

“A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.”~widely attributed to M.K. Ghandi

“I wonder if this is why so many people talk about being ‘spiritual’, and not religious?”~Pax

Dear Friends,

I was originally working on this as a response in the comment stream but it started to get unwieldy for such a venue and, really, what good is a blog unless one can rant upon it on topics that stir the passions?

So it all started with Thorn Coyle’s Facebook page where she posted about the MoveOn.Org political action to support Senator Bernie Sanders and speak out against tax breaks for billionaires…

(my Senators voicemail box is full, so I will at the least draft a polite e-mail and try calling back)

Anyhow, someone said,

“My new age friends think I’m driving myself away from the “Source” by being so involved in the negative energies of the political process. My feeling is the “Source” has “heart” and a sense of “righteousness” and holds Bernie Sanders very close to Itself. Where else did this 69 year old man get the energy to stay on his feet for 8 1/2 hours!?!”

I breathed a prayer of patience and replied,

” ______, I think its time to lovingly explain to your new age friends that some of our best exemplars did not retreat but engaged in the political process and even revolutionized it in the face of overwhelming negativity.
You know, like Ghandi and Martin Luther King?
You can also point out that if they are so afraid of their light or fire being drowned out by the negativity of the political process then clearly it is not particularly bright nor well fueled,…but then I’ve been accused of having an attitude problem…”

Another of my Friends, B, said,

“…I’ve run into that attitude; I think a good bit of it has more to …do with laziness and Ostrich Syndrome than any higher level of enlightenment.”

I know where the fabulous Ms. B is coming from with that and part of me would tend to agree with her, and yet…

I’d say its more likely the constant stream of information/propaganda/advertising bombarding us from the over-culture saying how

“You aren’t good/attractive/ worth/strong/healthy enough, unless you buy this….” ,

or

“What difference could one person make these days….”,

or, most insidiously,

“It’s not your responsibility because…..”

You, know… the sort of messages that seem to be rapid fired at us day in and day out from birth onward with few exceptions?  What we put into our hearts and minds and eyes and ears influences our lives easily as much as what we put in out mouths folks!

I would also say that some of the difficulty comes from the very poorly understood differences between the core ideas and rules of Magick as a spiritual practice and a tool for communicating with the Universe, and between magical thinking.

A true Magick worker, whether their Practice is grounded in Religion or from a more Philosophical and Practical basis, does some sort of discernment practice to figure out if Magick is the best option, if not they find mundane ways to get things done.  If Magick is indicated, they do their Magick AND act in accord both before and after the Spell or Ritual is done.

If a Magick Worker wants to bring more money into their life  The spend time before the Ritual or Spell engaging in some serious discernment, they ask why isn’t the money they’ve got coming in enough?   Have they been open to new income streams/job opportunities?   They look at their budget and spending habits.  THEN, if their answers tell them they need to do more, they START by doing a Ritual or Spell.  THEN they update their resume.  They look at their current job situation and see what they can do to improve their job and  income prospects.   They work to be more aware and ready to receive whatever blessings come their way.   They bend their every pre- and post, Spell or Ritual, efforts and thoughts and actions to their Goal.

Magical thinking just wishes for more money and tries to have a positive attitude.

To reference another widely popular paraphrase of Ghandi, being the change you want to see in the world, means more than just being!  As a result of changing ones state of being, can we really call ourselves changed if our actions and reactions do not undergo similar changes?   Whether you are trying to effect or affect change you’ve got to DO something for the change to happen.

Now I have yet to run down a direct citation for the quote I opened with today, I am choosing to include it anyway because it resonated with me in relation to this conversation I found myself in.  Which also stirred within me the response of my own I have quoted up at the beginning of this piece;  all too often in the Pagan community you run into these New-Agey Crystals&Light types talking about how…

“I’m Spiritual but not Religious…”

With this air of superiority or especial purity or something… like religion is icky and messy somehow, which it is but not for the reasons they think.  What, you may wonder, do I mean by that? Let’s invoke the power of Words…

Merriam Webster defines Spiritual as…

“1: of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal <spiritual needs>
2a : of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>
3: concerned with religious values…”
Which gets interesting when you look up spirit… most of which relates back to the idea of an individuals spirit or soul.

Merriam Webster defines Religious as…

“1: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity <a religious person> <religious attitudes>

2: of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances <joined a religious order>…”
The first fierce irony is that the two words are SYNONYMS… they have nearly the same meaning and you could just as easily say
“I’m Spiritual but not Spiritual,” or “I’m Religious but not Religious.”
…and be making just about as much sense.
The second fierce irony, is that someone who is Spiritual is focused upon themselves and what affects them.  Someone who is Religious is concerned with the world and universe outside themselves.  So what these folks who like to position themselves as above the fray of various political or social concerns, or who like to distance themselves from ACTION on issues with a smile and talk of being spiritual rather than religious are REALLY saying is…
“I’m more interested in myself than in anything outside myself…”
Of course this doesn’t sound NEARLY as mysterious or mystical…
I think the true goal should be to balance Religion and Spirituality in ones life.
Peace,
Pax
PS-  YES, I understand that as a part of our Spiritual journeys many of us are healing from difficult or traumatic experiences in our past Religions, but the Gods or the Universe are NOT going to just go away because you run away from them and focus on your navel people!  It is not just that The Gods want us to be happy and whole and powerful, shouldn’t we want it too?

12/27/2010
UPDATE:  In getting caught up on some things, I came across the recent Sermon Spirit of Life by my Minister, Rev. Kathy, she preached this one on one of the week-ends whilst I was out with sinus-ick.  In this Sermon she discussed some compelling ideas and definitions of Spirituality…and I am juggling these ideas with those I presented above and am seeing what new patterns of thought emerge….
Peace,
Pax

“Where’s Wisdom in there?” / Notes on the Journey 12/08/10

Geoffrey Stewart practices Googlemancy: (Noun) A divination technique whereby one uses the critical reading skills, reasoning, reading comprehension, and creativity to find objects and information.

Dear Friends,

I had this as my FB Status recently, and I got a couple of positive responses from it.

I also practice Blog-o-mancy, which is somewhere between Bibliomancy and seeking a Cledon (and here).  Anyhow I ran into this wise post by my friend Jane, and then this at the dance of the elements.  This is not the first time I’ve run into this phenomena.  I have often found much needed bits of Wisdom this way, something that somehow articulates something in my own life or that stirs my soul in a much needed way…  it is indeed one of the reasons I have such a ridiculously long blog-roll here….

I have been running into this a little more often lately.  Coming across a needed sentence or phrase or idea or video.  I have also been feeling much more… myself.  Centered and creative and, even though the money is tight and the car is frightening to drive and I am in a barely above minimum wage job right now, I feel stable and strong and confident.   I have a game plan and am capable of following.   Words and ideas and creativity are flowing, I am settling into a regular and coherent Spiritual practice. ..


Getting Through

by Geoffrey Stewart

Inertia, fear, complaceny, powerlessness; The Wall has many names.

Spiritual Practice is sometime a spoon scratching off flakes,

Sometimes a chisel taking out chinks and chunks,

Or a sledgehammer pounding through,

Or dynamite, or a bulldozer

Sometimes a ladder or a hot-air ballon,

Sometimes Practice is the shovel that you use to dig under The Wall,

Finding its Foundations,

Tunneling under and moving on,

Or weakening it until it collapses.

What is your Wall and how will you get over, around, or through it?


Creativity and curiosity overflow.

In the last couple of days I have fallen into breathing a Centering breath when I wake up… the other night I did my variation of the Cleansing Life Force excercise…. will have to try this some more and see if this rhythm resonates with my ongoing life… after scratching and chipping at my Wall, I feel like I have created a couple of hand and foot holds and am now climbing up  up it or carving something rich and strange as bas-relief of pracitce?

So my friends, what is your experience with your many Spiritual Practices?

Peace, and curiosity,

Pax

PS- the quote in the title comes from a conversation I once had were I shared some of my thoughts on ethics and virtues and values in Witchcraft and was asked that question…

The Wisdom is what you learn on the Journey, and the reading and research and thought and effort and practice you put into your Witchcraft Spiritual Practice and Relgion and Life.  Right now I feel like school is back in session.

(updated 12.09.10)