Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MPUC Ostara Conference 2010

On March 28, I attended the Milwaukee Pagan Unity Council’s Ostara gathering at the Wyndham Milwaukee Airport & Convention Center located in the Grand Ballroom. It was actually a fairly well attended event and one that is urgently needed in Milwaukee, since there has been little of any kind of organized pagan gatherings going on there for some time. Hopefully, this event will trigger a larger organization of pagan and wiccan groups in that area.

In addition to the large vending area of crafts and goods, and an opening and closing ritual, there were presentations, workshops and discussion groups given by individuals with a certain amount of expertise. It was sort of like a mini version of Pantheacon. I had requested and was selected to give a presentation on Elemental Magick - one of my stock presentations that I have been working on and perfecting since before Pantheacon. I also had enough time to attend one of the morning presentations on Ancient Celtic Religions, given by Rev. Kirk Thomas, which focused particularly on the religious beliefs of the Gauls. I found his presentation to be very informative and packed with lots of insights and interpretations that were new to me. Kirk is working on his master’s degree in Celtic studies from the University of Wales. So Kirk’s workshop was based on historically known and verifiable facts, but he had a lot of interesting suggestions for those who might follow a modern adaptation of the old Celtic religions.

Kirk Thomas is a Druid Priest and current Vice-Archdruid of Ár nDríaocht Féin, currently in line to be the next Arch Druid. He is also the outgoing President of the Board of Directors of Cherry Hill Seminary, a Pagan institution which exists to train folks in the skills of Pagan Ministry. He currently lives near the base of Mt. Adams at Trout Lake Abbey in Trout Lake, Washington, with his spirit partner Kozen (a Soto Zen Buddhist Priest). They intend to have two monasteries sharing the site, one Druidic and one Buddhist. You can read more about Kirk at his web site located here.

My presentation was well attended, much to my surprise. The room was filled to capacity and I ran out of handouts. I had made 25 of them, so I am estimating that there were probably around 35 attendees. The number of attendees made me realize later that there are a lot of folks out there who are hungry for knowledge about ritual magick. There was also quite a mix of age groups in attendance as well, from young adults to middle aged practitioners. I was slightly overwhelmed at the number of attendees, and I also found some additional things to add to and improve this workshop for future attendees. One thing that I did, as I have done previously, is to go over the workshop notes and structure them in a more efficient manner, making the message more clear and easier to understand. I would like to share what I came up with you in this article.

First of all, the energy model or theory of magick works exclusively with the concept of magickal power and energy. While few if any actual magickal systems would use this model in such an exclusive manner, isolating the concepts helps to make them more clear and easier to understand, even if the system described is a bit unrealistic.

I have had a little bit of difficulty in defining what magickal power actually is because as an analogy, it is treated as a kind of force closely identified with electric power. Of course, magickal power is not at all like electric power, since it doesn’t appear to be qualified by any of the known forces associated with the electromagnetic spectrum. This may be either because science has not caught up with identifying and classifying subtle energies relating to the experience of human consciousness, or it might be that there is no actually quantifiable energy to measure.

When individuals discuss magickal power, they seem to be talking about the intensity and meaningfulness of the magickal experience, even though they may use terms that sound a lot like electric power. For this reason I feel that the term “magick power” is probably a metaphor for something else entirely. Magickal energy also has qualities of sentience, independent action, and it often eludes any kind of strict cause and effect analysis. When examining magickal phenomena, it might be that strict causality is often and consistently overwhelmed, so attempting to test the effects of magickal power may be quite tricky. I guess it’s because of all of these inconsistencies and the general illusiveness of magickal power that I seek to refrain from attempting to build a theory to completely capture it as a natural phenomena. Instead, I seek to focus on the method used to generate, harness and utilize magickal power in a manner that is easy to understand and objective enough for others to use them with consistent results.

First of all, magickal energy is movement of some kind within sacred space. Movement generates magickal energy when the conscious mind is attuned to subtle and spiritual phenomena. Magickal energy is best perceived and manipulated when one is in the proper mental state, the kind that meditation and simple breath control can produce. So the first step is learning to become competent with alternate states of consciousness, mastered through the basic processes of asana (assuming a comfortable posture), prana-yama (fourfold breath counting technique), and perhaps even some mantra work, such as the ubiquitous mantra AUM. Performing these techniques, one should focus the mind strictly on what is occurring - in other words, to be a witness to what is occurring within the body and the mind, but to avoid and side step distracting thoughts and emotions. Performing these techniques as a meditation session will produce a refined state of consciousness that will allow one to perceive subtle and paranormal phenomena.

Learning to attune to the subtle will assist one in being able to sense phenomena that normal conscious states would typically omit, and it will allow one to perceive magickal constructs and sense magickal energies.

From this foundational state of consciousness, as produced by the meditation session, one can then perform actions that will produce magickal energy. So what are these actions that one can perform? The key is that they all are a form of movement - and I have listed them here:

  • Circumambulation (around the sacred space or consecrate magick circle)
  • Slowly turning in place (dervish dance)
  • Sacred dance (alone or with a small group)
  • Ritual actions (drawing lines of power, etc.)
  • Breathing techniques (advanced forms of prana-yama)
  • Visualization - building mental images (moving the mind)
  • Sacred sexuality.

The symbolic analogue representing magickal power is the union of the archetypal masculine and the archetypal feminine. So this could symbolize the joining of Light and Darkness, Life and Death, the Yang and the Yin, the Lingam and the Yoni, or the joining of a god and goddess. From this state of union, all power and energy proceeds. This is how visualization alone can generate magickal power, since one would visualize this sacred union of opposites.

Techniques of using magickal power have a fourfold progression, which begins with the generation of magickal power through one or more of the above methods, qualifying, focusing and imprinting the energy, intensifying it to a climax and finally, releasing the energy.  This fourfold pattern, taken from the beginning point to the place of release is called “resonance”, because it represents a process of both iteration and intensification. However, when you think about it, this process sounds a lot like the human sexual cycle, too. And indeed, it is quite significantly analogous. Perhaps this is why sacred sexuality has always been an important part of the practice of ritual magick.

So, looking at the above concepts, it would seem that magickal power, as defined in the energy model of magick, is a very important tool in the repertoire of the practicing ritual magician. Like any tool, the more it’s qualified and defined, the more effective it will be in performing the tasks that the magician wants it to do. Generalized power is less effective because it’s not defined enough to be able to accomplish a specific goal. The more specific the goal, the more defined and refined should the accompanying magickal energy be to achieve it.

How do we qualify magickal power? There are a number of ways of doing this, and the following list of four qualifiers represents the most simplistic ones that could be used. Obviously, there would be as many as there are opinions about magick in general - it’s up to the mastery, creativity and genius of the practicing magician. For now we can consider the following four qualifiers.

Four Elements (Fire, Air, Water and Earth) - these are expressed through the artifice of drawing in the air the invoking pentagram.

Shaping - magickal energy is shaped using ritual structures - based on the points in the magick circle (or other mechanisms). In my system of magick there are eleven points - the four cardinal directions, the four cross-cardinal directions, the nadir, midpoint and zenith in the center of the circle. From these eleven points I am able to produce a myriad of prismatic energy structures, such as the pyramid of power, the vortex, the tetrahedral gate, the inner circle, the step pyramid, and numerous others, used singly or in combination. While the system of magick that I use makes extensive use of shaping the energy in many different forms, systems of Tantric yoga also have an elaborate system of classifying energy and moving it through the body.

Vectoring - energy direction - typically either widdershins or deosil, but also ascending and descending.

Gender - mostly masculine or feminine, but sometimes, neutral.

So these are some of the additional points that I brought up in my workshop on Elemental Magick. To get the full insight and the techniques of deploying the magickal structure of the Octagon, you would have to attend this class and receive my opinions and thoughts on the matter. However, I think that I have given enough here, combined with what I have said previously in this blog, that you would probably be able to put together your own ritual to raise, imprint and release an Elemental power.

Frater Barrabbas

1 comment:

  1. This a wealth of great information. Thank you for the work you're doing here.