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Archive for May, 2013

fate-and-destiny

As a young girl one of my favorite movies was entitled “Kismet”, based on a Broadway musical. It is the story of a poet who goes from beggar to millionaire in a single day with an intricate love story of Harems, Wazir’s and Fate’s hand in having all the right action and people in all the right places at exactly the right time.  I was so intrigued by this tale of fate and destiny that I named my puppy Kismet in keeping with the synchronistic fate that brought him to me and then just as swiftly sent him to another home.

The word “Kismet” is Turkish in origin and means Fate or Destiny that presents in the form of luck, chance or coincidence.    Now for some the word Fate is equated with having no choice.  The idea that life gives you what it wishes you to have and you simply have to deal with whatever is cast out in front of you.  And, in another form of its application, Destiny (or pre-determined) has its negative connotations implying that there is no free will attached.  That we are merely puppets acting out what has been already determined for us by a higher power and we exist in lives that are orchestrated in a specific way. Moreover, that regardless of how we would prefer to intervene the outcome will always remain the same.

In the magickal arts this energy of Kismet is often referred to as synchronicity; and the key component in the outcome is the free will and choice you exert upon it.  In this ideology, the responsibility for your own destiny is in your hands and the opportunities accepted or overlooked are ever-present flowing in accord with universal energy that become more apparent when we fine tune our responses to what comes our way.  There will always be those events where we feel we had no choice in what we should do, but even the thought of this “no choice” is in reality a choice you are making in how you perceive the action you have taken.

Another step in this process is in the recognition of these Kismet opportunities.  We acknowledge that often the answer or solution is staring us in the face, if only we had the eyes to see. Remaining open to the possibility that what comes to you is the magnetic response to the energy you are sending out (be it positive or negative) gives the option of being more mindful of where that energy is being directed. You have choice about what you wish to attract and Free Will to accept or reject what is offered.  The interesting thing of note is that the more you adopt a stance of openness and looking for those synchronistic events, the more steadily they seem to come and their impact becomes more evident in informing all of your mundane and spiritual workings.

Some would consider this Fate stepping in and weaving the threads that will form the tapestry of our destiny.  One of the definitions of the word “Fate” is:

an inevitable and often adverse outcome, condition, or end “ (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

When we consider something to be inevitable it implies that the nature of the experience is unavoidable.  The nature of the opportunities presented to us is also unavoidable. Whether we choose to acknowledge them as synchronicities or ignore them they occur regardless.  Which brings us to the inclusion of “often adverse outcome”.   I believe the adverse outcome arises when we resist and strain against the need to make a decision and then accept full responsibility for its outcome.  Blaming Fate for our negative experiences is the proverbial finding of a scapegoat and we are destined to never fully become who we are meant to be.

So, the next time you feel burdened by the raw deal life has set before you, or elated at the expansive flow of good fortune and benefit, take a moment to pause in the revelation that you are a co-creator in your life’s experience- destiny- fate or whatever word you choose to use.  Embrace the synchronistic moments and take heed of the lessons to be learned in the challenges.

It is our Fate to be offered experiences that allow us to hone our skills of making choice.

It is our Destiny to accept the outcome of our exertion of Free will (or Will).

It is Kismet that we chose a physical incarnation in which to work the magick of our own Fate and Destiny as we enter the flow of synchronistic life moving in dynamic resonance with Universal Will.

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Back of Woman Sitting on Swing by Sea

Human beings are complex creatures in their definition of what constitutes achievement, success and at times the measure of one’s own worth. We often equate quality with the complexity of the subject, person or object.  And quantify outcome with the  “quality”  of effort put forth.  We look for the busiest lifestyles to enhance and enrich our human experience and with the advent of social media, the more connected we are to everyone and everything at all times the more we perceive we are in touch with what’s happening. It is becoming more of a rarity that our daily existence is one that is simple in nature and the bar of expectation has risen so far beyond the comprehensible sights that we are often unclear about what the end result will look like and what it is we are aspiring towards.

Add the pursuit of a Spiritual Path and the quest for complexity of perfection of the perfected human is the focus.  We begin to measure our advancement by the amount of books read, rituals attended or psychic abilities.  We exhaust every resource on the web (many times without pause to  question the credibility of source or form) and often emerge more confused about the topic than what our initial intuitive self formulated as definition. The more “smells and bells” added the more powerful and life changing the experience is felt to be.  We often overlook or undervalue the most potent and powerful experiences we can have using only the tool of our own Divine nature in its simplicity of acknowledging that we are Spirit in manifest form.

Now I am not saying that everyone has this attitude, but at some point in every individual’s life these thoughts and tendencies come to the foreground. I will be the first to admit that I am a complexity junkie.  My early teen years found me a skeptic of reading anything that was not of the smallest print and at least 3 inches thick.  I dissected every word, read the dictionary (yes, I am a nerd!), worked myself to the bone in practice of my art form and was driven by what was deep, intense and never simple in form.

I came to a more formalized Spiritual Path and again, the drive to seek out the complex and make many things more arduous and tedious than they needed to be took over- and still does on most occasions. I have weighed, analyzed and  complicated experiences that should have been simple in their beauty and over burdened others that should have been uplifting in the simplicity of their approach. And, the “S” word has been elusive at the times when it was most needed.

So, my proposal – or challenge – to myself and to those others for whom simplicity is just not in their vocabulary is to selectively and consciously choose to experience this day in all of its simplicity.  That’s not to say that complex things may arise, but set aside some time today to simply sit in the space of being open to receive everything in its pure form- good and bad – without judgment, reaction or digging for deeper meaning. Simply accept it at face value, as it is and then respond in a way that is clear, concise and simple in its approach.  Offering up this attitude to the mundane experience creates a greater appreciation for application to Spiritual endeavors.Each informing the other with the joys and benefits of a simple approach and the eventual seamless experience of mundane and spiritual as one.

Just breathe into this simple act of acceptance and moving in flow with what surrounds you. Nothing more added to or detracted from the pure form of this energy. Then, try to move into this place of simplicity each day.  Slowly cultivating the ability to simply BE. My hope is that we will be surprised at how much more space for experience opens as we uncomplicate  the layers of self-imposed complexity we bind ourselves with.

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Drawing_down_the_Moon_II_by_ArwensG

The choice to remain a solitary practitioner or join a magickal group, coven or lodge is a very personal matter. Both offer benefits and detriments. Even if you consider yourself to be a solitary practitioner, there will be celebrations and stages in your development that will generate a desire to share, commune and connect. Similarly, those who choose to join a group will have specific times in their path of journey where they may wish to celebrate and/or practice in private; leaving group work behind.

Solitary Practice

Many pagans choose to walk a Solitary path. In former years this could be a very lonely, albeit a fulfilling one. We are fortunate to be on the Path at this particular time as there are many festivals and open events that both solitary and group affiliated members can attend. Meet-up Groups that have a pagan flavor are in abundance throughout the United States and the opportunity to interact without the deeper commitment of joining any organization has never been more accessible.

For some, group work and the structure needed to have things run smoothly is too restricting and limiting. For others, jobs, lifestyles or family obligations prevent the individual from attending group functions (there is usually a minimum requirement of events throughout the year that a group member would be expected to attend, unless there are emergencies), and this creates stress for both the group and the member. If a ritual at 2:00am is all you can easily fit into your schedule, most groups will not be accommodating to that and the pressures of having to fulfill attendance obligations can often sour the group experience.

Those who work as solitary practitioners often develop a very creative outlook that is largely self-directed. This is primarily because everything they do ritually or devotionally is generally self-generated and created and therefore they become quite adept at improvising. Working alone also guarantees that everything will be done at your own pace, in your own way and ultimately makes you solely responsible for your own experience, success and failures. Many prefer this freedom to connect to their spirituality by creating their own traditions and ways of offering up devotion to those deity and spiritual beings  they commune with.

Group Work

Depending on the Tradition you are interested in joining there will generally be a specific length of time and protocol specified to facilitate the orientation process. Within our coven and Tradition we require at minimum a six-month “getting to know you” period where the prospective dedicant (newly dedicated member) attends open events and interacts with the other members of the coven and Tradition. Other groups accept members immediately and are less structured in their process of fully integrating you into the group and/or specific Tradition and still others have a lengthy process of education and training and when and if you are felt to be an acceptable candidate you are then invited to join as a member of the group.

Working within a group provides opportunity for direct sharing, access to those who are more experienced than you and the feeling of an energetic community and bonds to those who are your spiritual family. You will also have greater opportunity to network and meet others if the group you select holds open or sister events in collaboration with others in the Tradition, Coven or Lodge. Ritual work becomes a group effort in which you are able to be simply the participant and are able to open yourself in a deeper way since you are not the sole person responsible for the workings at hand. It provides the ability to see how others structure their practice and exchange ideas and suggestions about different approaches and subtleties. Now, of course, these are all things a solitary practitioner can experience in an open ritual; but the depth and openness that is shared between those within a group often occurs at those times when you are setting up or preparing for ritual before guests arrive or sitting in a group- only social event.

Some considerations you should have as you decide on what group is the best fit:

The group you select to petition for membership should offer a stable and fair structure of spiritual progress with resources to further and enhance your personal growth. Working within the group should feel like a spiritual family and these should be people that you trust to see you at your best and your worst. The energetic connection that you weave with this group of people will strengthen and build as you continue to work together and it is a very intimate relationship, that requires respect between all of membership.

You should never feel pressured to do anything that you do not consider to be safe or is coercive in nature. Unfortunately, not all groups are ethical in their actions and offer up empty promises of the gifting of great powers and knowledge of the mysteries in exchange for sexual, monetary or other favors. Some traditions do work skyclad (naked) and perform sex magick as part of their magickal rites, but do so with the consent of all concerned and are up front from the very beginning, ensuring that everyone is on board. Bottom line is- if it doesn’t feel right to you and is not in accord with your beliefs you will probably not make much spiritual headway.

The leadership of the group should be people who live by example those teachings that they have been entrusted to pass along. There should be a comfortable exchange between leadership and membership such that any discord, or misunderstandings can be discussed and resolved in an ethical, intelligent and mature manner. Respect is key here, on both sides.  Respect that leadership has the best interest of the group, Tradition and its members always in sight. And, respect that membership will be supportive and helpful in maintaining a positive working environment and good intent for those they work with.

There should be encouragement of all members within the group to excel and progress in their magickal studies at a pace that will provide challenge but also allow for life events to take priority as needed. And, although healthy and constructive criticism are great motivators there should never be an ill-intended push or encouragement towards unhealthy competition for recognition, roles or initiations among members. There will be many times when you will feel challenged unjustly and perhaps even feel as though you are not progressing in the way or at the speed at which you feel you should. A good barometer is to step back from the situation for a moment and ask yourself if you are just annoyed at the inconvenience or is there something truly and viably wrong.

It has been my experience that frequently the people who are meant to become members of our group, find their way to us through a synchronistic moment. They happen to be in the right place at the right time, find our website and decide to come to an open event or become interested through a friend who is already a member. Don’t be afraid to be selective. Take the time that you need to make an informed decision and never allow yourself to be pressured into joining a group. If a group is that desperate for new members, there are most likely other areas in which they will exert or force their will on the existing members- the number one “no-no” in pagan philosophy and ethics.

The bottom line is that if the group is a viable and healthy one, they will want to take their time in getting to know more about the potential members who come knocking on their door, and if the fit is right there is no need to hurry matters.  Neither your nor their interest in having you join them will diminish or lessen. If it does, perhaps it was not the place for you after all. The commitment to a group should be entered with the thought that this will be a place of working and growing for several years. There is no short track to magickal mastery and those who frequently leave and join groups, as well as groups who have a fast moving revolving door usually do not stand the test of time and longevity.

A Timely Choice

Just as all of life’s experiences change and flow as you change and grow in years and time, the decision to remain solitary or join a group will follow its own meandering course as well. Many start as Solitary workers; come to a crossroads where the progress they require includes working with others in a committed way, and when the lessons are integrated go back to Solitary practice. This is the nature of all spiritual growth regardless of tradition.

The start of your journey is begun of your own accord and decisions about how and in which direction it moves are formulated by you and you alone. As you move along the path of your making there will come a point in the road where the need to offer the mysteries learned in a broader and more communal sense rises to the surface. The yearning to share and exchange this wisdom with like-minded people and the security of feeling that you are part of something larger than yourself is the gentle rise of the hill ahead that offers no glimpse of what lay on the other side. You reach the summit of this path and begin the process of gathering to yourself all of the outer influences, interactions, joys and sorrows you have experienced. You take in new sights from this higher vantage point. These spread out before you in panoramic view. And, as the choices blur and thin in detail in the vastness of what can be, you look around and see that you have returned to the space of standing alone and quiet in your inner sanctum; new choices ahead and new paths to walk. And, so the cycle begins anew.

It doesn’t really matter whether you choose to join a group or remain a solitary practitioner. The important thing is that you continue your practice. That you seek out the resources you are guided to when and where you are led. And, when the time is right, you gather with like- minded individuals as one in celebration of the Pagan Path.

Blessings on your journey!

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phoenix

Just be fully present in your human experience.
Just speak your truth from a place of compassion.
Just offer yourself freely to those in need.
Just honor yourself as you would another.
Just allow your actions to speak louder than the hollow words.
Just take a breath and pause into the stillness.
Just allow yourself to soak in the positive energy that surrounds.
Just offer up your time towards enriching your spiritual nature.
Just go outside and be in the presence of the majesty of Nature.
Just speak the words of power and infuse them with good for all.
Just marvel at the exceptional being you are.
Just allow the harmonious dialogue between all parts of your self.
Just be silent when instead you wish to exert your own will.
Just allow the beauty of the Divine to fill the empty space you cling to.
Just feel the breath and space of the flowing energy of Life.
Just open and allow it to fill and interact with you at all levels.
Just offer up gratitude when life leaves you with nothing to be grateful for.
Just live life to its fullest; experiencing much and keeping as your own the pearls.
Just stand in humility and awe of your effect on every living thing.
Just do the work of greatness and become the Greater Work of Spirit.
Just reach out and allow others to draw you to their greatness.
Just create and then allow that creation to remake you.
Just honor the passage of time and the cycles of  life.
Just flow with the tides of the solar, lunar and cosmic.
Just remain open to learning and engage all of your being in drinking it in.
Just sit in joyous devotion to your Gods and Goddesses.
Just asking of Them nothing and receive everything.

Just be in peace!
Just be in chaos!
Just be at one with the Limitless nature of the Divine!

Just BE!

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spiral_of_lightBlog

When we are mentally inspired our thoughts come rushing in like a gust of wind; often moving so quickly that we have to pause for a moment and breathe into the excitement of downpour or we miss some of the fine points. Our breath quickens and our heart races at the potential of what has been intellectualized and refined by mental process.

When we are emotionally inspired our feelings flow throughout our being often in a rhythm of ebb and flow similar to that of the ocean’s tides. We breathe into the momentum and allow ourselves to either languish in the beauty of these emotions being gently carried along or anxiously push the unsettling feelings quickly through flooding our sense of reason or logic.

When we are physically inspired, we run and dance; exercise and eat heartily enjoying every bite and physical action. We savor the manifest form we have been gifted and marvel at its capabilities and the complexity of its creation.  We breathe deeply to renew and sustain our life and fill our lungs to capacity so we may exert more effort where needed or quiet the rapid breaths of over-exertion.

And, when we are Spiritually inspired we feel at one with the world around us. If this awareness is expanded even further, we breathe into our subtle bodies, each in turn connecting us and resonating with a deeper aspect of our being and the subtle planes.  We offer the sigh of release and surrender to the offering up our service and devotion and breathe fully and intentionally into the Universe as co-creator and creation itself.

In all of these states of inspiration the key word is – Breath.  We breathe automatically in our mundane lives.  Requiring this exchange of air to survive.  It is a seamless and transparent action that supports and moves in synchronicity with all of our physiological functions. Applying the same force and flow of breath as we move through ritual and magickal working in an intention-filled way provides the vehicle that carries the energetic sparks that serve to quicken and enliven towards manifest goal.

In-spiring magick is not simply the cerebral activity of having high regard for specific types of magickal practice.  It is not simply how you feel and what the intent is for the work.   It is not the actions and steps that are taken in the physical gesture of working magick and ritual. It is all of these things that are first primed and called into action when you take that initial inward breath before the exhale of your intention. This breath calls us to attention that something out of the ordinary is being undertaken and that all parts of my physiological and etheric make-up are required to engage and flow in accord with one another.

We are all familiar with the adage, “Energy follows awareness” and it is with this thought in mind that if we take a step further, breathing establishes the point of awareness that then attracts the energetic flow which is moved by the rhythm of breath. That awareness begins in taking note of how you are breathing.  In meditative and contemplative work, breath is the start of the process of turning within. Taking notice of the rise and fall of the chest. The rhythm and pace of your breathing and bringing it into alignment with the space in which you are sitting and in accord with the flow of energy that surrounds you.

We often overlook the need to breathe as part of our magickal practice.  We participate in ritual and are closed off to the most organic of energetic flow because we forget to apply the force of breath at the appropriate moments.  Over the years have come to know the value and need for incorporating breath work into my spiritual practice.  Learning to control the breath correlates with learning to control energy.  One of the more basic exercises to use as a preparation tool for meditative or ritual working is the Four-Fold Breath*.  The rhythm you are establishing in breathing this way creates a foundation upon which you can expand as needed for the working at hand.

Practical application begins with being consciously aware of breathing into your actions at all levels. The next time you are interacting with another, give pause and take a moment to breathe before answering the question asked. The next time you are sitting in a public space, give pause and take note of how you are breathing. Are you anxious? Are you feeling calm? And, then breathe into the energy of the space and enliven your own personal space with whatever positive intention of change or maintaining this energy that you wish.

These are some ways to be more attentive to the application of breath in your Spiritual and Magickal workings. To begin your meditation work, take note of your breathing and as you move through the various stages of consciousness breathe into each sending out your intention infused with life’s breath. If you are tasked with the casting and calling of the quarters in creating sacred space breathe into the scribing of the sacred circle.  Infuse the energy you are using with the intention-filled breath of movement and upholding.  As you stand before the quarters, take a deep breath in expanding and calling to attention all of your subtle bodies and as the words of opening pour forth send the will and force of that breath in request to those unseen to be present.

As you work in this way and become more aware of the impact of breath in all of your endeavors, the physical transparency of life sustaining breath and the integration of that same enlivened breath for magickal practice will become one in the same.  After all, this is the goal we aspire towards and why we walk this Path. The goal to move harmoniously in the unified space of the mundane and the magickal – 24/7- 365 days a year.  Just breathe!

* The Four-Fold Breath can be used to calm and renew yourself during a stressful work day or to clear your head and having a more resilient flow of mental or emotional process in solving problems, study or other situations requiring focused attention.

Bring your awareness to your breathing pattern.  Make mental note of how shallow, quickly, deeply or slowly this current state of breath is. That will be the baseline from which you will begin and then modify to be in accord with the rhythm set.

Gently breathe in for 4 counts

Pause for 4 counts

Fully exhale for 4 counts

Pause for 4 counts

Repeat.

I usually repeat this for a set of five rounds.  Five being the number of change.  You can also use Four rounds using the foundational component of the number four to set the intention of fortifying and stabilizing your breath work.

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The Serpent’s Kiss: Beltane’s Fires

Masquerade

We stand at another season and another turn of the Great Solar Wheel. We gather in the fertile space of circle greenery anchored well with phallic maypole standing tall. We dance around the potent fires of Beltane celebrating the sacred union of God and Goddess, youth and maiden and the polarity of seed and womb offered by male and female. The air is fragrant with the promise of summer’s musky scent and shoots of fresh grass elongate delicately…  Read more online at  The Witch’s Voice

And, please take a look at the accompanying Poem at:

The Serpent’s Kiss

 

Image: Joe Rice

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