1. Describe the difference between a "magical" ritual and a "religious" ritual, including if there is a difference and why there is or is not. (min. 150 words)
James Frazer hypothesized that magical rituals are coercive while religious rites are persuasive. He explains that “magical practices seek to harness and coerce supernatural powers for self-interested ends; religious practices, by means of prayer and sacrifices, attempt to persuade specific deities to render their assistance”
(Flower 67-68). However, while this explanation seems very
straight forward, in my experiences the distinction between the two is much
less obvious and much more fluid. I
believe there is a lot of crossover between religious and magical. However, I do see them as slightly different
practices that can be easily combined.
In my practice, religious rituals are intended to build a relationship with the beings you are calling upon. You may give them gifts or speak to them, you may even perform magical acts, but the ultimate purpose of the rite is to build a connection with whoever or whatever you are reaching out to. I give offerings to the Kindreds in order to build this relationship and ask them to bless our lives with their presence. Contrarily, magical rituals utilize those relationships to perform specific actions. For example, you may perform religious rituals to build a relationship with Brigid, but in the midst of that ritual you may perform magical acts, such as a healing rite, where you ask for her to aid you in your work. Either ritual type can stand on its own, but ADF practices regularly combine the two, which is further explained in question five.
2. Describe magic as it exists in one non-Indo-European culture, describe how it has influenced or could influence the magical system of an Indo-European culture, and describe what lessons you could take from the non-IE culture into your own personal practice. (min. 200 words)
Ancient Egypt had vast magical practices that were present throughout their culture. The term “heka” was used to define magical and medicinal acts that were practiced by priests and magicians alike
(Luck 13). These priests kept the mysteries of many of
their traditions secret, so, while we have a wealth of knowledge about their
practices thanks to the papyri and inscriptions that remain, there are still
secrets hidden in the past. The first
magical papyrus discovered in Egypt contained various instructions, including
procedures for performing magic and curses.
Additional practices have been found in funerary temples and pyramid or coffin
text spells. For example, Coffin Text Spell
648 contains a magical working that was used to drive negativity and illness
out of a patient while Papyrus Turin 1993 contains a spell to heal scorpion
stings using saliva (Ritner).
There are numerous other examples of magic in ancient Egyptian practices
including funerary rites, love spells, exorcisms, working with the dead,
astrology, and various other rites.
The magical practices of ancient Egypt seem to have been intermingled with Indo-European cultures throughout history. Hittite and Hurrian history repeatedly crosses into Egypt, causing consistent interactions between the cultures. However, the most apparent Indo-European culture influenced by Egypt was Greece. Many of the magical practices of ancient Egypt were adopted into parts of Greece during the Hellenistic period
Theocritus was a Greek poet living in Egypt during this time period. He wrote about his life in Alexandria and
describes the “pharmakeutria” or sorceresses that were practicing there (Luck 44). In Egyptian
practices, there are instances of the use of images and intermediaries, such as
dolls, in the magical workings. Similar
workings can be found in the Katadeisthai, or binding magic of ancient Greece (Graf 121).
I work most closely with the Greek pantheon. Because of the influence ancient Egypt had on Greek practices, I know that it has also influenced my personal religion. Furthermore, Egyptian practices believed that the dead had special powers and the Egyptian sorcerers worked closely with their ancestors. Their funerary rites and continued work with their dead definitely inspire me to continue working with my ancestors and building a closer working relationship with them.
3. (Crossover Requirement) Keep a journal for five months detailing the trance work that you have done. Write an essay based off those journals that examines your practice over the time you journaled. The essay should describe how you use trance for your magic, whether trance has helped your magic, and particularly how trance and magic have played off each other in your personal work. Entries occurring less than weekly will not count toward completion of this requirement. Your journal must include work from the exercises found in the support material for this course. (min. 1000 words)
While working on this course, I was simultaneously working to complete Trance 2 and Divination 2, so I created a set of magical and trance workings to aid with that process. I established a set of rituals that would allow me to journey through the tale of the Odyssey. For me, trance is such a useful tool for focus and connection. It allows me to feel more attached to the magical work that I am undertaking, so the relationship between them has been an important part of my personal practice. I saw this journey through the Odyssey as a way to get to know my inner self more thoroughly, and to work through some of my own insecurities and personal struggles on a transformational level. I wanted to try to improve myself through this work, and utilizing trance and magic seemed to be an appropriate method to do this.
I began the first week of journaling on December 31, 2015. With a new year in sight, I knew I wanted to make some improvements to myself, and undertaking this work seemed to be appropriate. It wasn’t a “new year resolution” but instead a positive opportunity to change, with an easily remembered date to start from. I created a journey to meet with Athena and recreate her meeting with Telemachus and encouraging him to go on a journey. I listened to her guidance as I began my own voyage. In that moment, I watched the flame dance. I felt the warmth of the fire, like a hand on the top of my head. The heat rolled down my neck and into my shoulders and chest, down my arms. The embrace was soft and warm, like being enveloped by wings, and I knew that this work was going to be challenging, but so important for me. Initially, I had intended to do a different trance working each week, to work through the tale week by week, but I found them to be very deep and emotionally exhausting, so ultimately I felt it was necessary to space those specific works out to approximately every three weeks instead. This gave me time to reflect and process between each one. However, I continued to do additional magical workings of a different type during the weeks where I wasn’t working with the Odyssey.
After meeting with Athena, I continued through the Odyssey, and admittedly I’m still taking this journey as I write now. So far I have done eleven different workings of various styles. Some of these workings have included guided meditations that I have written. Others have been physical creations, such as building a small raft to learn what helps keep me afloat. I’ve met with the council in the village square and answered their questions, I’ve made nine offerings to Poseidon as they did at Pylos, I’ve met Calypso and heard her wisdom, built a raft with her, and then left her and her island behind…there is much I have done, but I know now more than ever that I still have so much to do. I look forward to continuing this journey and seeing where this work may take me.
Working through the Odyssey has allowed me to become more comfortable with trance and magical workings overall and have allowed me to explore many different types of trance induction and magical workings. I’ve discovered what works well for me, and what is less successful. I’ve learned that in my practices, more involved magical workings are easier for me if I use a deeper level of trance than I typically use in a normal ritual. I’ve found a new level of focus through trance that I didn’t think was possible for me, and that has also helped to improve my public ritual work as well. It’s also dramatically grown my inner locale, which has been an unexpected side effect. However, while the trance with the Odyssey has been so influential and important to my practice, it has not been my only working through the past eight months.
I’ve more recently started to use a light trance state during my weekly healing rituals. I use controlled breathing before doing these workings and feel more energized and focused throughout, allowing me to feel the healing is more productive. I also utilize trance during my ancestor veneration each week. On Sunday morning, I get out of bed, go to my kitchen, and brew a pot of tea. As the water boils, I allow myself to enter a light trance state and focus on the work at hand. I pour two cups of tea, one for me and one for the ancestors. I then approach my altar and give them their morning drink. The steam from the tea allows me to feel the mist approach as I walk to my altar. At the altar, I talk with the ancestors and try to listen as well. This has become an important part of my weekly practice.
Through the last several months, I have also started to use trance much more regularly than I did in the past. I use it to prepare myself for public rituals, connecting to the earth around me and focusing my intent on the ritual I’m about to perform. This has allowed me to feel more confident in my presentation skills and more at home in public ritual. Again, this is something that I did not anticipate ever finding comfort in. I also find myself using trance techniques in my mundane life, when I have a project that needs to be completed or requires my intense focus.
After seeing the work of other seers through the past couple years, including Revs. Rowen Grove and Jan Avende, I also started using trance work as a regular part of my divinatory practices. My personal technique is a combination of the practices I have seen utilized by these two inspirational women. In general, I use several trance induction techniques to perform divination, including the use of controlled breathing and sensory queues to enter a trance before I perform my work. These layers of induction allow me to enter a deeper trance state relatively quickly, which is important in public rituals specifically. I’ve found that employing trance during my divination practices had allowed me to give deeper readings, and has also allowed me to feel more connected with the magic of the oracle.
Overall, I feel that trance work has greatly changed and improved nearly every aspect of my spiritual practice. It has allowed me to connect to myself, to the natural world around me, to the nature spirits, and the ancestors. Trance allows me to feel more comfortable performing rituals, and receiving omens. It has become a very important tool in my practice and I’m grateful for the lessons that I have learned through it.
4. Discuss the role of the Three Kindreds in magic, particularly in your personal practice but also in ADF's cosmology. (min. 300 words)
The Three Kindreds, or ancestors, nature spirits, and shining ones, are a vitally important part of ADF cosmology. The triadic representation of them can be seen reflected in the three realms that are seen within ADF cosmology, with each Kindred “belonging” to a separate realm. The nature spirits exist in the mid-realm, the realm we also live in. The Shining Ones are representative of the upper realm and the ancestors live in the underworld.
Within ADF rituals, we work to build *ghosti relationships with these Kindreds, familiarizing ourselves with them and giving them gifts and hoping that that they reciprocate
(Dangler). In my practices, the Three Kindreds each play
a significant role. Nature worship is
what first drew me to Paganism in general, so the idea of honoring the nature
spirits is right at home in my practices.
The nature spirits are those that share this world with us, plants, animals, and minerals. Not only are they the beings that share this realm with us, but they are also the spirits that provide us sustenance and provide us so much of what we need to live. If I am doing work of the earth, I call upon this Kindred often to aid me, such as the growing of plants for magical rites, or planting a new tree. I also work with my local nature spirits, giving them regular offerings and asking them to watch my home and family and keep us safe. Additionally, I say prayers to the nature spirits for providing nourishment to me and my family, allowing us to live healthy lives and to honor them.
The Shining Ones are probably the Kindred most frequently contacted in my magical practices. Each deity has their own gifts and attributes that I know I do not have. They hold knowledge that I do not possess. I call upon Brighid and ask for her aid healing rites, and call upon Zeus when I’m trying to calm a storm. I speak with Athena when I’m trying to formulate a plan, and pray to Hermes when I’m preparing to travel. I don’t demand their help in any way, but instead I ask humbly for their aid in my magical workings.
The ancestors are the Kindred I have started working with most recently. My relationship with my blood relatives has not always been beneficial so it took me time to see the value and worth of this work. However, I now regularly honor my ancestors and call upon them to aid me. I see the ancestors as guides along my path, and now appreciate their role in my life. Typically, my work with the ancestors is very self-reflective, where I am looking for advice or knowledge that I can’t seem to find myself. On Sunday morning, I get out of bed, go to my kitchen, and brew a pot of tea. As the water boils, I allow myself to enter a light trance state and focus on the work at hand. I pour two cups of tea, one for me and one for my ancestors. I then approach my altar and give them their morning drink. The steam from the tea allows me to feel the mist approach as I walk to my altar. When I sit, I talk with them and try to listen to their guidance. Often, I will just sit and visit with them, listening to the guidance of mentors from my past, hearing the laughter of my great-grandmothers, and trying to learn from their life experiences. Additionally, they have made their appearance repeatedly during my Odyssey workings. The council I met with consisted of my ancestors of blood, bone, and spirit. Later in this work, I traversed to the land of Hades to meet with the ancestors, entering the mists and giving them gifts. I was approached by many ancestors who each wished to speak with me before I called upon Teiresias, an ancient seer, to aid me in finding my path. This working was emotionally exhausting, but has blessed my life in many ways. My work with the ancestors continues to help me gain new information and insight about myself, while building a relationship with them.
5. Discuss three different instances of magic done in every ADF ritual, how the magic is accomplished, and what makes that particular work magic. (min. 150 words each instance)
ADF rituals using the Core Order of Ritual use several different small magical workings throughout the rite, including the opening of the gates, the return flow, and taking omens.
Opening the Gates
Opening the gates is an important part of an ADF COoR rite. By opening the gates, we are connecting each of the realms to the sacred center of our ritual space. By opening the gates and connecting the realms we are better able to communicate with the Kindreds, and to more easily give and receive the gifts that we share. Bonewits describes this process as syncing the group mind to the wavelength that the Kindreds will be communicating through
(Bonewits). Within this ritual,
we regularly call upon the aid of a Gatekeeper.
A Gatekeeper is a being that can aid us in opening and closing the
We begin this magical working by calling to the Gatekeeper. In my rituals, I prefer to do an invocation of the Gatekeeper, which gives me the opportunity to make offerings to them. I then ask them to join their magic with mine, as we open the gates using the fire, well, and tree as doorways to the realms of the Kindreds. Using my energy and that of the Gatekeeper, I visualize the opening of the gates around us, and when it feels appropriate, I release the energy proclaiming “Let the Gates be open!” It is this manipulation of energy that lets me believe that this is a magical act. At the end of the ritual, this work is reversed with each of the three gates being closed and separated from our mundane world. I then thank the Gatekeeper for their aid in the work we did together.
The omen acts as the pinnacle of the ritual, where the energy build up from the ritual reaches its peak. The omen allows us to validate the work we have done, and to receive messages from the Kindreds about the gifts they wish to give us in return.
The omen is done as an act of divination, performed by a seer in the middle of the ritual. There are numerous methods to perform the omen, ranging from tarot to fire scrying. In my grove rituals, we typically ask “Do the Kindreds accept our offerings?” before receiving our Omens. We use this as a tool to verify that we have done work that is appropriate. We then ask what gifts they give to us in return. Divination is an act of magic, allowing us to use or energy to communicate with the Kindreds and the world around us to gain knowledge or gather information that we may not have access to otherwise.
After we have received an affirmation that our offerings have been accepted, and we know what gifts the Kindreds have to offer us in return, those gifts are channeled into a vessel to be shared with the participants through a process we call the “Return Flow.” The ADF Core Order of Ritual actually breaks this magical act into three separate steps: calling for the blessings, hallowing the blessings, and affirming the blessings.
Calling for the blessings is the process that we petition the Kindreds and ask them to give us their gifts. Often, we acknowledge the *ghosti relationship we are working to build with the Kindreds in this portion of the working, saying something like “a gift calls for a gift”
After the call is made, we move onto
hallowing the waters. In this step we use
our magic skills to channel those gifts into a specific vessel for us to use
and share with the participants. After
the blessings are received, we announce that they have arrived typically by
saying “Behold the waters of life” or something similar and showing the
participants the vessel that they have been directed into. The final step in
this process is affirming the blessings.
During the affirmation of the blessings, we ask the participants if they
are willing to receive the gifts they have been offered, and allow them to
accept or decline. All of this work is
done to receive the energies of the Kindreds, and allow them to be channeled
into our lives in some way.
6. Discuss the use of song and poetry in magic within your hearth culture, and explain how you have used music and poetry in your own work. (min. 300 words)
The bardic arts, including both song and poetry, played an important role in ancient Greek culture. The Greeks were the inventors of epic and lyric poetry, and played a large role in the invention of drama
(Mastin). Additionally, if we look at the mythology of
the Nine Muses we can see evidence of several other types of bardic arts being
present in their practices. The fact
that these muses were minor deities show us that the arts had a religious
connection in their beliefs.
The muses were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne and presided over the arts, each with their own specialty: Calliope was the muse of epic poetry, while Clio covered history, Euterpe specialized in lyric poetry, Melpomene mastered tragedy, Terpsichore oversaw choral singing and dance, Erato focused on love poetry, Polyhymnia presided over sacred poetry, Urania was dedicated to astronomy, and Thalia covered comedy
(World Almanac Education Group, Inc.). Each Muse was said to bring inspiration to
those they worked with, while also giving knowledge and remembering all the
things that have come to pass (Theoi.com).
It is through these arts that mythology, prayers, customs, and traditions were
passed between groups and from generation to generation.
Poetry had a special role within ancient Greece and was found in many different forms, including epic and lyric poems. These poems were used both as cultural and religious or magical tools. Epic poems told the tales of heroes, as well as the standard practices and expectations of ancient Greek culture. These poems include well known tales, such as the Odyssey by Homer, which spoke of the adventures of Telemachus and his attempts to find his father. However, quite different from those were lyric poem, such as the Hymn to Aphrodite by Sappho, which were often used as prayers and chants to different deities.
In ancient Greece, music was also an important part of their regular practices. They used music in several different ways, including music for the Gods through hymns, music in theater for entertainment, and music for the people themselves to sing and enjoy. Ancient Greece had a type of music called “threnody.” These songs were used for lamentation, and were intended to “praise the deceased and provide a release for intense emotions of the bereaved”
132). This is just one example of music that was
present in ancient Greece, but I believe it is a good representation how music
was utilized within their culture and in their religious practices.
Music and poetry have definitely been incorporated into my personal practices over time. I use poetry to create invocations and easily remembered phrases for my magical workings. I have used chanted poems to build energy and focus my intent. I also utilize drumming in some of my trance work to help me build energy and focus on the work at hand. I am not a strong singer, so I do not regularly sing in my personal practice, but I have learned that people often feel more connected and involved with a public ritual when there are songs for them to participate in, so we regularly use music in our Grove rites. Music and poetry are a manipulation of language into something new and different, which can directly affect the world around you, and I believe that magic is the act of manipulating energy to do this same thing.
7. Detail your understanding of why self-understanding and introspection are critical for the magus at any stage and how you intend to pursue a course of self-understanding. (min. 200 words)
Self-knowledge and introspection have been vitally important in my personal practice. Exploring my spirituality has given me the opportunity to discover my own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, which allows me to have a better understanding of myself. Magic further puts me in tune with the universe and allows me to connect to parts of myself that I may not otherwise have been aware of. Self-knowledge allows me to understand what types of magic works for me, and to see the effects of doing magical workings on me, even when subtle. Self-knowledge also allows me to be aware of my own limitations and to fully understand what my intentions for the work are.
Self-knowledge is also important because it allows me to have an understanding my current mental and emotional state. I have learned enough about myself to know that in certain frames of mind I will not be able to perform certain magical workings effectively. This allows me to have more successful results from my magical practices, and also helps keep me from getting frustrated when things don’t turn out the way I had anticipated them to.
Introspection, to me, is slightly different than self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is having the information on how your thoughts and emotions are processed, while introspection is the ability to look inside yourself honestly and understand what you find. Introspection is very important because without the ability to look inside yourself you can’t truly determine what your desires or intentions for a ritual may be, and they may have unforeseen consequences.
Self-understanding has been a life long journey for me. I’ve always known that every person’s brain works slightly differently, and wanted to know both how mine worked, and why it worked the way that it did. I originally began my college career with a desire to become a psychologist, and even though my career path changed, my fascination with the study has not. I have spent many hours reading and studying psychology to better understand why I am the way that I am. I have gone through therapy to learn more about myself.
At this point, I put my effort more into journaling, which allows me to explore my thoughts and emotions without the fear of judgment. I think journaling is a great way to garner self-awareness and to teach you to be introspective. In addition to that, I plan to continue working through the different courses that ADF has to offer, including continuing in the Clergy Training Program and completing the Initiates Program, because they all require a certain level of introspection and lots of self-awareness. I have learned so much about myself during the past few years and am very interested to see where things go from here.
8. Describe three workings you have done that had demonstrable, intended results. Explain what those results were, how the working was conducted, and how the result appeared to manifest. (min. 150 words per working)
Working 1: Weather Working
Each year Pagan Pride Day in Omaha is held in the fall, which always leads to the possibility of iffy weather conditions. As our most recent event drew near, the weather forecast grew more and more sure that rain would cause us issues. As the day drew closer, I began making offerings of whiskey to Zeus to ask him to keep the storms away and to allow our day to be clear. Each day for one week prior to the event, I made these simple offerings, and kept my intent of a dry event as clear as possible. The forecast never changed, so the morning of the event I was quite worried. I woke up early and performed a full Core Order ritual, calling Zeus as my deity of occasion. During the magical workings, I again asked that he keep the storms at bay to allow our event to be safe and successful. I told him that if he aided me in this work, I would give to him an entire bottle of my home brewed mead at the end of the day. I lit some incense and hoped that everything would turn out successfully.
As the day progressed, I could see the storm building in the distance, but it grew no closer. The weather stayed clear and bright, with all storms seeming to either stay away, or skirt around us completely. At the end of the day, the vendors were packing up and finally the storms began to roll in, and as the event ended, the rain began to pour down. Needless to say, I did not arrive home dry, but Zeus had done as I asked and kept the event itself storm free. It was one of those situations where I was quite happy with the working, and also very aware that my words didn’t exactly match my thoughts.
Working 2: Healing
Just over a year ago, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. I began doing small weekly workings with Asklepios, the Greek god of medicine and healing and his daughter Iaso, the goddess of recuperation immediately, asking for them aid in my grandfather’s healing. My grandpa is not a young man, so I didn’t expect him to be cured, I just wanted to improve his quality of life. After his first round of chemotherapy we learned that the cancer had actually grown and spread to several other locations. I felt like a complete failure.
After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to try a bigger, more focused working to try to help my grandfather as much as I could. I decided to combine the method of verbal coercion and the Katadeisthai binding work. I made a small clay doll in preparation for the ritual in the form of a person. I bound the chest of the doll with clean white cloth to show where the healing was needed. I then did a very quick COoR ritual and invoked Asklepios and Iaso. I made offerings to them, and then proceeded to give my prayers to them to ask for the aid of my grandfather.
Asklepios, great healer, master of medicine,
and patron of doctors, I ask for your aid.
My grandfather and I place our trust in you,
and the knowledge of modern doctors.
We ask you to lead their hands, guide their thoughts,
and help them with their work.
Send your energy to nourish and heal my grandpa.
Iaso, glorious goddess of recovery,
and attendant of cures, and recuperation.
Please aid my grandfather, Lloyd in his recovery,
and help him to heal without complication.
Send your healing wisdom to his body,
So he can heal both seen and unseen.
Send your energy to restore him,
and bless his healing with peace.
My grandfather continued his treatments with radiation, but has refused further chemotherapy. While I cannot say that my grandfather is in remission yet, all of the tumors in his body have reduced drastically in size, and he feels so much better. He is no longer using an oxygen tank, and is even working harvest this year. I am grateful for modern medicine, and thank Asklepios and Iaso often for my grandfather being in a better place.
Work 3: Finding a new job
In February 2016, my responsibilities at work began to change, and I grew quite frustrated with my professional life. I felt overworked and unsure of what I was supposed to be doing, so I decided it was time for me to start looking for a new job. I sent my resume to a few places and filled out a few applications and started looking for new opportunities. After a month of looking for a job with no real prospects, I decided to do a magical working to try to aid my search. I performed a ritual calling to the Kindreds and during the magical workings, I sat on the floor in the middle of the ritual space with a marker and some paper to create a sigil. I used the method described by Ian Corrigan, taking each individual letter to create a symbol to represent my desire for new career opportunities
(Corrigan). I focused my energy on the symbol and my
intention to find a new job. At the end
of the ritual, I put the sigil into my wallet to keep it with me as I continued
my job search.
After the ritual I continued to search for a new job unsuccessfully, which was quite frustrating. However, it seemed like everyone around me suddenly had new opportunities flowing to them. My best friend had an offer for a new job to move half way across the country. My partner had two separate companies competing with each other to offer him a new job. Yet nothing came my way. Again, I felt that my intent had been misdirected. While this felt like a failure, the sigil appears to have worked, but my intention wasn’t clear enough.
Ultimately, I chose two magical workings that felt like they received results that did not meet my expectations intentionally. It’s important for me to remember that my intentions need to be extremely clear and focused in order to get the results that I expect. Those two workings may not have gone the way I thought they should, but they worked exactly the way I said they should. Having a clear, focused explanation has become a very important part of my magical workings.
9. What three modes of magical work do you find most appealing, and why do you find them so interesting? How have you used these modes? (min. 200 words for each mode)
Over the past few years, I have used many different types of magic through my different practices. However, the three that I have grown to find the most appealing are binding magic, sigils, and coercion.
Binding magic is something that I have found quite interesting and useful. Ancient Greek used the word “Katadeisthai” which translates to mean “binding” to describe this type of magic
(Graf 121). Ancient Greek magicians would use binding
magic in many different types of spells, including judicial prosecution and erotic
couplings. In some of these practices, dolls were utilized to symbolize the
people they were working with. The dolls
would be bound together to symbolize the magically created bond between them,
and to help them to establish a relationship.
In some cases, a doll would be created to help attract “the object of
one’s desire” with the help of a demon or other spirit. (Graf 153-157).
I have found that I prefer to use binding magic in my healing practices. I most recently used magical binding in my healing work for my grandfather when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. I created a human shaped doll out of clay and wrapped cloth around its chest to bind the healing energies to the area that he needed aid. I previously performed a similar ritual to aid a friend who was having a hysterectomy. I think this type of magic works well for me because it allows me to better visualize and direct the healing work that I am doing.
Sigils are another method of magical working that I incorporated into my practice. Sigils are essentially symbols created to represent a specific magical purpose. I think I am most fascinated by sigils because of how simple they can be to make, and how beautiful the symbol can be. To create a magical symbol, you create a phrase to express the desire of your magical working. You then remove the duplicate letters and create an artistic symbol with the letters that make up your phrase
(Corrigan). When I am creating a sigil, I try to keep my
focus specifically on the work at hand, filling the symbol with energy. I then
release that energy into the world, and keep the sigil itself safe until the
working has achieved the results that I desire.
I have used sigil magic in a few different workings, including the working I described above where I tried to find a new job. I also recently created a sigil to aid us in our search to find a new home. I followed the instructions above, creating a symbol to represent our desire to find the perfect house for our family. When we finally found a house that was the perfect fit, I drew the sigil into the dirt of the back yard, hoping that it would manifest in an accepted offer. I am now writing this document from the living room of our new home.
The final magical method that I have learned to appreciate is coercion. Coercion magic is different than the other types I’ve described above. It utilizes the persuasion of a divine being to convince them to aid you in a specific request. For example, in ancient Greece, a rite was done to call to Persephone to ask for her aid. When she approached, a charm was used to extinguish her torches. A promise would then be made to relight the torches if she would grant the request of the practitioner. Another type of coercion that was used was “epanankoi” or verbal coercion
(Graf 224). Words were spoken, along with a special
ritual in order to try to coerce a change in the world or another person.
I utilize coercion most often in workings like the weather working I describe above. However, I think I approach the work differently than they did in ancient Greece. They used an almost forceful approach to convince the being to do what they wanted. I instead offer additional gifts for their aid. This approach feels more appropriate for the *ghosti relationships that we work to build with the Kindreds.
10. Explain how you determine if a magical working is the proper action in the situation you wish to apply it to. Describe your method of determining the proper magical course of action, from start to finish, as well as any particular exercises (such as divination) you go through to ensure that your actions are correct. (min. 300 words)
Magical working is something that I take very seriously. I try to take mundane approaches before asking for the aid of magic. However, even in those cases where I cannot resolve a situation myself, magic is not always the appropriate course of action. To determine if a magical working is proper action should into consideration whether the working is needed, if it is ethical to perform, and if the action is virtuous.
My first step always begins on an ethical level. I consider both my personal ethics and my clergy code of ethics to determine if this action is something that I should be doing. In this instant, I treat magic the same as mundane action. If I would not do the action physically if I was able to, then I will not take magical action. If it doesn’t follow my ethical expectations of myself and others, then I will not proceed with the work I am considering. However, if it fits with my personal and clerical ethics standards, then I move forward with further consideration.
I then consider the nine virtues and whether the action I am taking is virtuous. I verify that the action is based in wisdom, vision, piety, courage, integrity, perseverance, hospitality, moderation, and fertility before proceeding. Occasionally the magical act doesn’t meet these standards so no action will be taken.
Once I decide that magic is an appropriate action to take, I also make sure that the situation I am approaching can’t be resolved through simple mundane effort. At the very least, if it can be, I try to combine my magical acts with mundane action. For example, if I’m doing a working to find a new job, I make sure that I am actively posting resumes and applying for jobs in addition to performing the magical working. The magic in this case is used to aid my search and I have no expectation that a career will appear without mundane action on my part.
11. How can the magician serve modern society? (min. 300 words)
I think magicians have several ways they can serve modern society. Within an ADF specific context, magicians are a vital part of our public ritual format. Each of us becomes a magician when we open the gates and hallow the waters during our rituals. By performing these actions, we are aiding other participants in building a relationship with the Kindreds and allowing them to more easily give and receive gifts from those beings. While the participants could perform these acts on their own, providing a safe, public environment for people to do this helps some people to feel more connected, while also allowing us to build the local and international communities. This relationship formation can definitely have an effect modern society and the overall view on Neopaganism as a religious practice.
Additionally, on a more individual level, I have worked with several members of the Neopagan community who feel lost or alone because of the lack of formal clergy or churches. They have a desire for someone who is capable of providing services, such as house purifications or baby blessings. They feel that these magical acts will improve their standard of life, which definitely changes their outlook on the world. Each individual person served changes modern society in some way. Providing services to an individual in need is just as important to me as some larger work may be.
In addition to those acts performed specifically for ADF and the Neopagan community, there are so many other magical acts that could be beneficial to much of modern society if done in moderation. Magical workings such as weather magic and healing work could aid many different parts of the world. These types of actions could easily be done with and/or for those people who do not follow a Neopagan path, but need aid nonetheless. Providing these types of global services to people in need is important to modern society, no matter what spiritual path the person follows.
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