Hall of Mirrors


I was listening to some podcast a few months ago and something the speaker said made me think that I never really examined how the loss of my name affected my sense of identity. By this, I’m referring to my last name, the one I was born with.

See, being female in this culture means I don’t really have a name. I borrow my dad’s name until I get married and then I borrow my husband’s name. It’s not mine, I don’t have a name of my own. Indeed, a quick dip of the toe into the field of genealogy reveals instantly that the females of the line are superfluous. So much so that most lines don’t even bother to track the daughters. Being female, I was a bit incensed by this and did a heck of a lot to fill in all of those missing branches. Knowing a bit about genetics means that I think that women should track their genealogy through their mothers, and men through their father’s. Men get the Y chromosome direct, in an unbroken chain that stretches back for eons. Women get 2 Xs, and exactly where that X came from is a bit of a toss of the dice – but women do get the mitochondrial DNA direct from mothers in an unbroken line that stretches back eons.

It would be awesome if all names were hyphenated – a child inheriting the mother’s line name and the father’s line name. So little Johnnie and Suzie both get Smith from mom and Jones from dad, so that they are Smith-Jones. But when little Suzie has a child, her mother’s name is still Smith but the dad adds his name so all of Suzie’s kids are Smith-Dad. Little Johnnie’s kids become Mom-Jones. So Johnnie is of the Jones genetic Y heritage and all his boys will likewise be Joneses, while Suzie is of the Smith mitochondrial DNA lineage and all her girls will likewise be Smiths. See, that makes sense and is fair. I like it!

In Spain it was a tradition to have this hugely long name but that was literally a genealogical record of 4 generations – including the mothers. AWESOME! Modern hyphenated names are an attempt to do just this.

So I REALLY identified with my birth name. I know my genealogical lineage back for literally 200 years, every SINGLE person. Many lines can be reliably traced back to the 1600 and 1700s. A few more even go back to the turn of the first millennium (that’s 1000). I knew all of that. I can pretty reasonably guess at exactly what a DNA profile will reveal, and I’m saving up the money to do just that. I am intimately familiar with just how much a mutt everyone really is.

Then I got married, and eventually filed to change my name. New social security card, new driver’s license, new passport, the works. New identity. I never once stopped to consider what emotional connection I had to this new identity, what impact the loss of the old would have. What was my anchor? Who was I within that new context? Did I really want to change my name? If not, why did I? Those questions never crossed my mind, but in talking with a few other women I learn I’m pretty typical in that it was never questioned, not really. I have no idea how the name change impacted those other women, but in my case … I think I got lost. There was a whole lot going on at the time, and I really needed a solid anchor. My most solid anchor, I threw out the door.

It’s taken about 5 years of being lost in the dark to start to find myself again. Ohotto mentioned in an episode of his that sometimes a person can be lost in the Dark Night for years. *points to self* A total crisis, but (voice of Monty Python) I’m getting better. I’m reconnecting to my genealogy, looking to pick that back up. A fellow came into work for something and the moment I saw his name I knew he was relative – every single person in the U.S. with that name IS a relative, however distant. It got me excited and re-initiated the thought process of “what’s in a name?” and “who am I?” and the rest of it.

I’m still very disgruntled that genealogists don’t bother to track the daughters because they aren’t “really” (surname). Like waving a red flag at a bull, that comment. But at least I have a better understanding of why I made the choices I did, the true depth of the impact those choices had, and what I can do about them. Conscious living means going back to examine why we did things and made the choices we did. Sometimes it’s good … but usually it’s just sobering.

Earth, Hermetic, Magick

Earth First & Response Times

In most every magical system I’m aware of that uses the elements, earth is usually the first one in the line up that the student is expected to understand. Granted, the majority of the magical systems I’m aware of come from the Golden Dawn framework so I don’t know about Enochian or Chaos or others.

Why? Why is earth the first one? Remember my post on Earth Shadow Dancing, in which I address the precept that HUGELY impacts any spiritual journey? Namely that anything earthy or material or bodily is “bad”. Complete horse shit, but still an ancient and pervading idea. So why earth first? Especially if the material world in any form is so anathema to spiritual pursuits. I’ve heard it said that it’s first in order to get it out of the way so you can move on to the doing the real work.

Pardon me here, but *smack*. No.

It’s first because it’s literally the first element that you encounter. Are you breathing? Is your heart beating? Guess what, that’s earth. You are a living manifestation of Earth. Your body IS Earth. It’s the vehicle which you are driving throughout this lifetime, and the countryside and the road are all EARTH. We are surrounded by earth. We eat – earth. We eliminate waste – earth. We reproduce – earth. We fear for our survival – earth. We want things – earth.

Earth is the first element we are introduced to and asked to master because it’s, as I’ve said multiple times, the FOUNDATION. Everything comes from earth. Dissing it does me no good. NO GOOD. But learning to work with it… Aaaah. Now we’re getting somewhere. Until I can master earth, trying to work with air is just plain stupid.

I’ve long has this idea that physical manifestation here is a spiritual training ground where we learn the power of our thoughts and resulting manifestation. What we think is what we experience. How we perceive the world is how we interpret events. Is your foundational concept of life is that it’s evil and out to get you? Well then events will be interpreted in that light. Floods are punishments, that sort of thing. From our perceptions, our preconceptions, come what is possible and what is not. Were you born into the place/time/family you were and that’s that, or do you have permission to reach for more? Or less. These beliefs affect your material world in terms of the actions you will or will not take, the possibilities that may or may not see.

To me, a big part of the lesson of Earth is recognizing the impact that my emotions and thoughts have on my capacity to influence my earthly existence. Fortunately, earth is dense — that means there’s a buffer zone between “thought” and “action” and “reaction”. Sometimes it’s a very short buffer zone, sometimes it’s very long. But for 99.9% of humanity thinking something does not immediately make it manifest. It’s earth, the buffer zone requires action on our part. Earth is place of DOING.

I can imagine the greatest, grandest, most gorgeous building ever conceived of – but I have to build it. That is the lesson of earth. You get what you build. There is no short-circuiting this. You get what you build. Either build it conscious or unconsciously, but every action, every decision is building something.

What’s really awesome about earth is that it doesn’t give a shit what my justification is. If I take an action, this is the outcome. Period. Change the action, change the outcome. Period. Why I did it has no bearing at all. Action –> Outcome. Done. I am getting what I am building. Am I building without being aware of what I’m doing? Hell yes, most people are. The magician seeks to build intentionally, just as the practitioner of conscious awareness seeks the same. Only a fool thinks every action they take is a conscious one.

Until I know viscerally that link between result and action, I have not mastered earth. Moving on to any of the other elements without this foundation means … ungrounded! Without a solid grounding, I can’t hold my center. I can’t handle the energy that I’m trying to work with. I’ll get swept away or lost. The actions that I take when I’m ungrounded do not build what I want them to build. They cannot, because I can’t see clearly the link between the two. That’s what ungrounded is.

Making earth the first element of the system means it’s core. You don’t ever “move past it”! Egad! Moving past earth means “now I’m ungrounded” which is pretty much saying “now I’m ineffective.”

Back to the buffer zone concept. This is what I call the response time differential. In an earthly existence, there is a slow response time between conception and manifestation. Consider pregnancy the perfect analogy. When a soul wants to manifest into this world, there must be a facilitator which enables this to happen – and it takes time, building the body from two half cells into a single entity capable of moving independently through this world. Same deal. No soul suddenly pops into existence here. Ditto with thought forms. They remain incorporeal until action is taken to enable manifestation in some form or other.

But when we start moving through the elements, especially fire, the response time is shorter and shorter. Fire constructs on an abstract level are immediate. If I’m working in fire and I don’t have the slower response time as practice to handle what I’m working with, then I can easily be overwhelmed. Imagine playing a game like Tetris, which drops shaped blocks. I have to learn how to stack them just so when they are falling slowly. The game continues to pick up speed until I literally cannot handle it any more and I’m tossing blocks down wrong and the screen fills up and EEEEEH game over. That’s exactly the same progression. Working with earth is the slow moving game, allowing me to practice moving things here and there until I understand how they work. Then the game picks up speed, and again and again. Imagine if I tried to start playing at the higher levels without that foundation? Yuck.

That’s my take anyway. The grounded magicians are the effective magicians. The grounded visionaries are the people who can see the links or steps it takes to make their vision manifest into reality. Bill Gates without the grounding would NEVER have built Microsoft, no matter how good the vision was. It’s having the capacity to bring a vision down into the earth realm and take the steps needed to birth it into reality that make an effective magician. Thus, Earth is first. And you never move “past” it. It’s at the core.

Astrology, Hermetic, Magick

Basic Astrology for the Magician – PotI style

I tuned into the day’s Golden Dawn video broadcast (7/23/16) on Basic Astrology for the Magician. Overall, a very simplistic review but she did only have an hour and a WHOLE lot to cover so it HAD to be simplistic. No choice really. Given that, I thought it was pretty good, but it’s not the approach I would have taken.

It’s easy to poke at the work others do without making any contributions, so rather than go that route I thought I’d ask myself “if I were going to create a class on this topic, how would I do it?” Granted, I’ve studied astrology for several decades, even taught some classes on it, but I’ve not gone the route of getting certified or anything. I’m not even a full initiated member of the GD order at this point. So take everything with a grain of salt here. I’m not pretending to be an expert, but I’m not a novice either.

Well, first off, astrology itself is a massive subject. Trying to use one hour to give people a working foundation is just unrealistic. I’d pass on that temptation. Instead, I’d ask the question “how is astrology used by the magician? What do you need to know so when you start studying it, you’re paying attention to the right things?” Astrology as a whole has been used as a predictor since its inception. The goal was to bring predictability out of chaos – and recognizing that the stars were the seasonal guideposts which let folks know “hey, 3/4 of the way to winter, better have your stores in order!” was kinda vital. Like “Me and my family will live through winter” level of VITAL. Because the early perception was one of harmonics, on which the entire magic system was based, the focus being on trying to bring the energies of a complimentary thing into the equation, it wasn’t a particularly difficult stretch to look to the stars and say “oh Sun, you burn hot and bring life with you, so I want to invoke your energy as I try to bring heat and life into this goal”.

Here’s an example of what I mean about the harmonic or sympathetic magical view. I’ve lost the use of a hand to some farming accident. I want to restore function to that hand. Well, I know that lizards can grow back their tails, so clearly a lizard has some regrowth energy locked within it. To help bring that energy into my own system, I’m going to wear a tailless lizard in a small jar around my neck. As its tail regenerates, my hand will be exposed to these energies and sympathetically align, thus aiding in the healing of my hand. Give Agrippa a read and you’ll see this mindset played out over and over again, then turn to ancient Greek writings and you’ll likewise see it there too. Now I look at how astrology is used in magic and there it is as well. It’s a basic, foundational aspect of magic and it’s been there for millennia.

So the emphasis for the magician is that astrology is a harmonic tool that aids in bringing out the energies that the magician is trying to harness for their use, turning chaos into predictability. If I’m trying to craft a love spell, perhaps the energies of Venus will aid me, or perhaps Libra would do a better job given the goal of my spell. If I really want to punch it up, I should wait until Venus is in Libra in the house of relationships. If I as the magician don’t really understand the energetic difference between the planet and the sign, or the house or the dignity or the element, then my capacity to work those energies is reduced. And for every single limiting belief about the aspect I’m working with, for every single “either or” in my paradigm, then the power that is available to me is cut off.

What launched my entire Earth series rant was listening to a magi diss earth. Today was no different. This professional astrologer had nothing nice to say about Earth as a symbolic element. Huh. If that’s my mindset, then when I’m trying to bring the grounded, practical, strategic capacity of earth to bear on my business goal spells, I’m de facto dragging in all of the subconscious dominant associations of “plodding, dour, lazy, slow” along with it. *beats head on desk* Every element has a plus and a minus. Caveat: See the whole picture, not just pieces.

In essence, a good, solid and practical foundation in the symbology and archetypes that exist within the tropical astrological model is what a practicing magician should be looking to put into their tool belt if they want to add that potential harmonic resonance to their arsenal.

I’d also spend a bit of time talking about the differences between the energies of planet, sign, house, dignity and element. The more complete the understanding is, the more the magician can bring the power of all of these pieces to bear on their work. The timing of a spell should take this into consideration. Indeed, in the old grimoires some spells took weeks/months/years to build up to because the astrological timing called for it. If the perfect time was at 3am or 2pm, then that’s when the magician did the final spell. Some spells call for components to be prepared under this sign, that planet, this moon phase, while the final working of the spell was completely different. I don’t imagine there was a very codified or rigid system per se — every spell is different, every intention is different, and the energy that the magi brings to the table is also likewise GOING to affect the spell. As a water sign, my earth spells will never be as effective as an earth sign’s. If I know that, I can prepare and work to align the energies optimally for myself and my goal.

Oh yes, that was something I don’t really recall in the talk — phases of the moon and how that can be included. She mentioned the moon, but only as a ruling planet for a sign. Phases were not really talked about, but all of the planets have a waxing/waning/full/new phase to them to some degree or other. Just as the planets have a retrograde motion which needs to be factored in as well.

So there. If I were to put together a basic astrology for the magician this would be the tack that I would take. Leave all the specifics for a more in-depth study which can be obtained in all manner of locations and ways, but if the budding magician doesn’t really know what they need to understand and why, then I’m just throwing a bunch of info at their heads which may or may not stick. Astrology is such a massive subject, it’s easy to overwhelm and discourage a student. I encourage starting with basics – that is working with the elements first, then adding in the aspects, then adding in the signs, then adding in the ruling planets, and so forth. Build the foundation super strong so that when new layers are added the resulting intellectual understanding is enriched, not weakened.

All that said, the talk was pretty good. A very rudimentary by necessity covering of a broad topic, and considering the time constraints she had to work with I think she did a good job overall for the approach she took. *thumbs up* I love the video tutorials! I need to watch more of these. Agree or not, they are excellent fuel for rumination!

Personal Growth

Where exactly can I find this “Self”?

“I don’t know if there is a personal identity. We all imagine that we are absolute individuals. But when we begin to look for where this individuality resides, it’s very difficult to find.” — John Banville

In the past few days, I’ve run across several references to a sense of personal identity and the ability to actively hold that identity even in the face of distraction or chaos. Since the same concept has come up multiple times in a short period, I figure that my brain is flagging it for some reason and I should give it some consideration.

I very quickly had to admit to myself that when I’m at work or pretty much anywhere outside of the home, I feel … balanced. I have ambition, drive, goals, energy to do them, plans. I have a stronger sense of self, but the moment I get home that pretty much gets chucked out the window. I don’t know what I’m doing, or where I’m going, and did I have plans? It’s like I walk in the front door and suddenly have no clue who I am anymore. As a result, I find myself being very vulnerable to the moods and opinions of my family. I take things very personally that I know aren’t meant that way, and yet, because the sense of self is left standing outside the door, it’s like I also left my skin at the door so that everything now ‘gets’ to me. It’s really damn annoying.




Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

The Illusion of Free Will

Here’s a fun thought I’ve been toying with. Free will — it’s an illusion for the most part.

And this is where people start sputtering and saying I’m full of shit, don’t know what I’m talking about, are limited in my perspective.

Hear me out here.

I have the interesting joy of being in a household with someone who grew up in a very abusive environment. No matter what happens, nothing is ever this person’s fault. Somehow, by some bizarre ass back breaking feat of justification and rationalization I’m always the one to blame. Even more fun is being ordered to “apologize” for it all. *boggles* Truly. *boggles*

Tearfully, this person then carefully explains to someone else how actions taken were because of parental training or what have you. There was no choice but to act as they did, and I should have someone divined that and anticipated everything and behaved accordingly. That I did not, they found deeply wounding and what a horrible person I am for failing to read their mind. But you see, they had NO CHOICE but act out old patterns. No choice. Hrm. Interesting.

This pattern has gotten to me thinking: how much of what we as people “choose” to do is because of some conditioning we adopted somewhere, or even just the result of habits that we have? If I’m using an event that happened 30 years ago to explain an action I took today, was that really free will? Did I really FREELY choose the action, or was I acting in the manner which I had been programmed to?

Now I’ve talked in this blog before about inherited “psychic DNA” – that would be the subconscious attitudes and ideas that our families held and thus was the mental and ideological soup that we grew up marinating in. No one ever had to TELL me that my dad was disappointed his first born was a girl, it was THERE. In the psychic soup. And I ate it every day. These kinds of things are the subtle spices that flavor the soup – and they may or may not be strong to ever actually point out with clear awareness.

It took me a long time to root out the idea that my dad was disappointed I was a girl. My dad was utterly devastated when I told him I grew up believing that. What I didn’t understand was that he wasn’t disappointed that I was a girl per se, but rather that he worried and would have rather had a boy first so the boy could do the protecting. Huh. So he projected onto his own children the situation he grew up with – him being the older brother and having that experience. My mom had the same experience though as the younger sister. Perhaps both felt that, and all I picked up on was the generalized vibe which I then interpreted as I did.

But the point here is that this was in the psychic soup – interpreted correctly or not. It affected foundational decisions I  made about who I am. Once the spice was uncovered, I found that it had affected … everything. From self-esteem on up, and self-esteem is the root of what we believe ourselves capable of being. Before I even got started in life I had a giant gapping wound here and it has governed or played a role in most of my choices.

My will was not really free because I had unrecognized programming running behind the scenes.

And that’s just one tiny example. How many folks make decisions so “they” will like us? Or “they” will approve? Maybe it’s just me, but in my younger days “They” had a heck of a lot of power over me. Still do, don’t get me wrong. I don’t even know who “they” are but fear of rejection takes over a lot of decision making.

Then there’s those who “choose” a career because their parents expected it, or because their parents rejected it. How many are married because they thought they had to? I went to be college because it literally never crossed my mind not to. It wasn’t a choice, it was just something I did because that was the path laid out for me.

So the more I think about what goes into the choices that we make, from what to have for breakfast on up, the more I see the social conditioning and familial programming at play. The more I wonder just how “free” is our “free will”?

And here’s the really fun one. There comes a time when (hopefully) we become aware of the programming. When we know that by turning right we are acting out old, harmful patterns. But when confronted with the same choice point, we consider … and then turn right. Again.

It takes a TREMENDOUS degree of self-possession and self-awareness to actually honestly and truly exercise our will free from the constraints of our raisings, our society, our family, our religion, our habits, our relationships, our fears… There aren’t very many people who have that degree of strength on a daily, on-going basis. I know I sure as hell do not!

Fuck — I apologize (see opening bit). I own someone else’s shit and then spend the next month berating myself for failing to hold my own boundaries. Only to fucking doing it AGAIN the next time. I know better, but in that moment, I choose to go right because it’s easier, even though it hurts me deeply. I choose the easier path because I don’t have the courage to turn left.

From what I’ve seen, I’m hardly alone in that particular thing. Free will? Mostly, I think it’s an illusion.


Intention of Prayer

I have this bizarre idea that belief is perhaps the most powerful of forces. For those who are fans of Supernatural, the long running show featuring the Winchester Brothers, I have this concept that I would love to see and it pretty much exemplifies this idea.

In my little fantasy, a being with genuine Spiritual Authority shows up and drops a bombshell on the boys: no demon has the power to do a damn thing to you that you don’t LET them do. Now this would make Dean’s head explode within about half a second, but imagine. Demons are so damn adamant that the deal can NEVER be broken, no matter how powerful the demon, because they need that buy-in from the mortal. Once bought-in, the chances of a person suddenly developing enough genuine Spiritual Authority to say “nah, I don’t think so” with 100% conviction and KNOWING is pretty nil. Dean will never be able to look past his sojourn in Hell to ever honestly know that demons have no power – to do so would mean he went through that and everything that followed for no reason. See, that kernel of fear lies within, and one kernel, one single doubt, is enough. But if demons themselves started breaking the deal, then some human somewhere would start to think “if that can do it, so can I” and thus the kernel gets weaker, not stronger. So even demons insist that deals cannot be broken.

What’s this have to do with intention of prayer? I was talking to a friend of mine and she was relaying her experiences with a Ouija app. Yup, there’s an app for that. She talked about saying a prayer before hand. I relayed just a few of my experiences with a real board, and confirmed that a prayer was always used.

In listening to her, I suddenly realized there are different types of prayer. One is essentially a fear-based prayer, imploring some external entity to intervene on your behalf for protection, provision, what have you. It is a prayer which, if you strip it all down, acknowledges innate powerlessness. It is a prayer which holds in its center that kernel of doubt that maybe I’m not strong enough to handle this, maybe I’ll be at the mercy of whatever happens. The demons will get me, and there’s nothing I do about it except hope that someone comes to rescue me.

The other type of prayer is one which sets up the boundary, a prayer that says this and that are allowed while these and those are not. Sometimes that prayer asks for external support, sometimes not. Mine never do, but I’ve had some key experiences which pretty much highlighted exactly what I meant above by true Spiritual Authority. In this type of prayer, it’s not really a beseeching some external source for protection – it’s a statement of intent, and it’s enforced by the will of the one speaking the prayer. Let the demons come; I am prepared and will vanquish those who come at me.

I have a long standing rule in my home: spirits and entities are welcome as long as they come either neutrally or with goodwill in their heart. My husband at one point started to work with energies he identified as The Morrigan – not a light and fluffy energy there. Within a few days, he was starting to worry me – he was behaving more like someone obsessed. After these few days, I woke and in that hypnogogic state I could see something rather ugly and dark squatting in the corner of the room. I knew this is the energy that my husband had invited in and instantly I said “oh hell no, gtfo.” It vanished and I went back to sleep. Hubby woke up the next day, trying to pull on those energies and discovered it gone. Banished. He was disappointed, but I have to admit I didn’t have a lot of sympathy. Whatever that was, it was entirely too small to actually BE The Morrigan, but it was not an entity I would allow in my space. The concept that I would not be able to banish this entity or any other, if I set my intention and boundary properly, is simply not the way it works.

So yes, those are what I saw today as the two main types of prayer: one lacks Spiritual Authority, the other draws up on it.