Thursday, February 26, 2015

Meditation in one easy lesson

Almost everywhere in the world people have made small fortunes teaching one form or another of what they call meditation. Recently we saw a course of twenty-three lectures advertised for $249--reduced to $49. So maybe there's a chance that some people are catching on to the fact that to meditate, you don't need a 23-lecture course. Quelle horreur! We believe that this blog today will teach you all you need to know. We have been teaching meditation as a small segment of our extensive course on Wicca for nearly fifty years, so here is your one-page instruction sheet. Ideally you will begin all this on a night when the moon is not full--best of all is right after new moon. 1. Find a comfortable chair, preferably of wood and with no ferrous metal parts. 2. Find a place away from every electric cable and free from such distracting things as a bookcase full of books and pictures of loved ones or family. 3. Get a shaker of salt, and a small wooden bowl of water, and a quiet-running timer, and a candle of white or pale yellow. 4. Have handy a pad of paper and a pen or a pencil. 5. On an evening when the sun is below the horizon, sit in the chair facing north or east. (We don't know the reason, but it seems to work better if heterosexuals face east, the place of new beginnings. For everyone else, north might be better. There is no law saying you can't try both. More research is needed. 6. Light the candle and turn off the lights. 7. Moving in a sunwise direction, sprinkle salt in a circle around the chair. Sit in the chair with the bowl of water at your feet. 8. Set the timer for 15 minutes. 9. Affirm, Nothing but good shall come to me. Nothing but good shall go from me. I give thanks. 10. Close your eyes and sit without moving. Let the mind wander where it will. If you get a lot of job problems floating in, or other thoughts, stop. On the pad write down the thoughts. Put the list of problems into the deep-freeze or under a flatiron. Promise yourself, "I'll deal with all that after I've had time for myself." 11. Sit in your chair. Start the timer again. Wait. If more problems arise, deal with them as you dealt with the first batch. It may be that on your first trial run you won't get past the jangle of problem-solving. Be persistent. 13. Shutting down! When the timer sounds, thank the Guide and promise that you'll be back tomorrow, same time, same place. Make this commitment inviolable. That's it. You have learned to meditate. It does help to be relaxed. The best form of relaxation is having an orgasm within thirty minutes of the time when you start the sitting. A glass of red wine doesn't hurt either. It may be that nothing seems to happen. Remember: You may receive impressions through any one of the five senses. You might see pictures; you might hear voices; you might "feel" things such as emotions, or find yourself thinking of a place where you've been, or hum a phrase from a song. You might feel physical things such as temperature changes. Accept them all. After the timer rings and you come back to this level of awareness, simply say, "I give thanks" and try again the next night at the same time. Now. Was that so difficult? You may want to start your investigation at new moon, the time of new beginnings ... or you may not. Persistence and regular timing make meditation work. Those who know us know that we regularly meditate at 10 p.m. each day, so we ourselves no longer need to take the phone off the hook. Reflect on this fact: Grandma meditated while she was washing dishes at the kitchen sink. Grandpa meditated while he followed the plow.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Wicca Basics

The five points of a pentagram and its center serve to recall the basic ideas behind this new/old path. 0. Deity At the center of the pentagram is the concept of Deity. All genuine religions and spiritual paths require an unknown, unknowable Deity at their center. So-called "religions" that require their followers to worship named deities are cults. The Wiccan Deity is beyond thought. Trying to define It inevitably, arbitrarily limits It. If you want spiritual or mundane help for yourself or others, it is better to imagine a lower-level deity who has power on this temporal earth-plane of existence. Such power comes from the millions of people who have prayed to such named god-esses and have put psychic energy into the concept of, say, Shiva or Shakti or Mars or Aphrodite or a million other named god-esses. 1. The Wiccan Rede, If it harm none, do what you will, has become almost a catch phrase in the Wiccan community. The drawback is the defining of harm. Harm must surely include not just physical harm, but also developmental harm, as well as the stunting of spiritual growth. If you make someone feel guilty--especially in front of his peers--you have harmed them. In a similar way, if you shame someone, you harm them. If you frighten a child with a bogeyman, or stifle creativity, you have harmed them ... Thus it goes on. 2. The Law of Attraction. In a social context people of like mind are attracted to each other with an attraction transcending gender. Of course this is the opposite of physical laws of, for instance, electromagnetism, in which like repels like. The Law extends as well to spiritual planes. If you are negative, you will attract not only other negative people; you will attract negative spirits and perhaps negative experiences. 3. Power through Knowledge. You have a power that you may not have felt. Everyone has it to a greater or lesser extent. The power can be felt if you carefully move your fingers past the palm of the opposite hand. It can be shown to exist with a child's toy: a Crooks radiometer. Karate experts call it ch'i; Germans name it vril. When you develop the power through knowledge, you can do many things with it: healing physical ailments and healing even your life. 4. Harmony. Here we consider getting in tune with the natural cycles of our Mother the Earth as She moves through the cosmos. For example, we understand that movement in a sunwise direction is better than going against Nature in moving anti-sunwise. The drive toward harmony gets Wiccans in tune with the natural cycles of the seasons, the moon, weather, and food, and stops them trying to resist the cycles. We welcome the changes of season as signs that at base all is really well in the universe. 5. Reincarnation. Reincarnation was a basic precept in Christianity before Emperor Constantine's mistress, Deborah, threw it out. As she pointed out, "Connie, the threat system of hell doesn't work if you believe in reincarnation." Reincarnation is a basic precept of Hinduism and many other world-wide spiritual systems. Wiccans subscribe to what we call progressive reincarnation. A tiny piece of divine fire inhabits a minute life form. By the time that living thing "dies", the piece of divine fire has grown slightly and qualifies to inhabit a larger, more complex life form. This constitutes a progression of the spirit from smaller to larger. Reincarnation can be considered a system of learning and growth: The spirit learns in each lifetime, and thus grows. It is as natural as the progress of a child through various grades in school.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Making your Gods and Goddesses work

A thing that puzzles many people when they first come into Wicca is the fact that we use gods and goddesses to delineate things such as emotions. Of course many people are used to this practice because they regularly look up their horoscopes in the newspaper. Let's imagine for a moment that you want to do a ritual to defend your home. You'd like to have the procedure center around some protective elements. So could you say "Great wonderful protective elemental, defend my home"? Or would it be much easier to say, "Mars, defend me"? The god name is just a way of summarizing the attributes you want to use. What we do when we use god/ess names is to personify ceertain aspects. You want lustful love, so you use Scorpio. You want admiring love you might use Venus to personify such love. All we're doing when we use god/ess names is using their attributes. We use the name. Instead of using some vague phrase such as "I'd like a good business-like relationship," we say, "Capricorn, help me." We are so accustomed to thinking in terms of old Roman deities that it sometimes surprises people when we switch over to deities that are appropriate for our cultural background. We might use Epona if we wanted horse-like attributes; but if we're Celtic, it might be more appropriate to use Rhiannon. Whatever name contains the image you wish to portray is the name you should use. Using an unusual name, for instance Ameratsu, as the Great Goddess is meaningless if you are not a Japanese who grew up in Japanese culture. Hindu worshippers make their god/ess images unusual: give them multiple heads or arms so that you will not confuse them with human beings and will recognize that they have more power than mere humans do. The problem with using all protective names of great gods such as Odin or Jesus is that they do not represent a specific attribute but instead are purported to contain all attributes. If you believe that even though they contain all attributes they have more power in each attribute than the appropriate single deity, then by all means go ahead and use them. Personally, if I want to do a lustful sex spell, I'll use Scorpio rather than an aspect of Jesus. Different strokes for different folks, as the sculling crew says. In order to help people who are beginning their study of astrology, instead of using the Roman names we use family members. Everyone can understand sexy young Gwendolyn or funny Uncle Albert. So if you have trouble, use names or descriptions that are meaningful to you and don't worry about it. We think the Wiccan way makes sense and is easy to understand. Blessed be Gavin and Yvonne

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why you are here

The question often asked is: Why are we here? Wicca offers a remarkably simple answer, namely: We are here to learn and to grow. The growth is in our awareness: some might call it our consciousness. We believe that every living thing has some level of awareness, even if only the awareness of how to reproduce or how to avoid danger. The most elemental living organism gains awareness by simply being alive. After it dies, that awareness (or, if you like, its spirit) reincarnates at a level slightly more advanced or complicated, and thus is able to have more experiences and gain more awareness. We could say, its spirit grows. The process of life/death/growth continues as the elemental being develops through many levels and eventually inhabits a body suitable for the level we know as homo sapiens. We are not willing to say that homo sapiens is the highest life form on this planet--or elsewhere in the multiverse--but just for now let's say that it might be. The spirit that inhabits you has been many things. At the human level it starts with lower awareness and gradually develops more. In Wicca we have a tendency to say that because the female has the opportunity of giving birth and of nurturing a child, she has the opportunity to gain more awareness than does the male. It behooves us to gain awareness by experiencing as many different things as possible during each incarnation. That may take the form of several different jobs in several different levels of prosperity; it may take the form of several different relationships. The old-fashioned Abrahamic idea of one man and one woman being married and experiencing only each other for a whole lifetime is contrary to the spirit's need to gain awareness and experiences. ... Unprofitable ... stultified/ stultifying?? And overall a non-win? The feelings of love and comfort must be some of the most important in the development of a full awareness of the meaning of your existence. We do not mean that you can't be firmly committed to one other person, but nor do we mean that you should forever endure a relationship so archaic and rigid. Once you have completed all your assignments and have gone on, it is generally believed that you meld with other spirits to become a larger awareness. Such an awareness may inhabit some other life form than human, perhaps in another sphere or realm of existence; then once it has cleansed itself of individuality and selfishness, it may re-join the Ultimate Great Spirit. There's more. From being a part of the Great Spirit tiny pieces are continually separating, once more to inhabit life forms at the lowest level and repeat anew the cycle of growth. Thus we say that the whole system is just a method of growth and awareness. It's simple. It's easy. It's obvious, once you extract it from the billowing clouds of piled-on guilt, shame, and fear. It's a game everyone can play. Don't cut off your chances at growth by following the teachings of any one self-appointed guru or moldy old book. Don't follow even us and our ideas. Examine the claims. Ask yourself, Cui bono? Who stands to gain if I follow this path? Blessed be Gavin and Yvonne

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grace and Spirituality

Recently we heard a Spiritualist minister discuss grace. In the subsequent discussion it became apparent that no one present really knew what grace was or is. In my own mind grace is very similar to consciousness: (a) It is something we all recognize as being real, though we don't know how to get it, and (b) We don't know whether conscious animals and living things have it--or even whether they wish for it. If I built an automaton from parts that replicate a human being and its functions, would the automaton have consciousness? Would the consciousness be built in? If it does not have consciousness, why not? If it had conciousness would it also have grace? Having consciousness has been compared to knowing the color red (or, for that matter, any other color) if I were to be completely color-blind and could see only in black and white and in shades of gray. Could you describe to me, your bereft friend, what red is--or what seeing red feels like? Does a mouse, who is not color-blind, understand red?, whereas I have no hope of being able to do that. Does a mouse have consciousness--at least more than my replica human being, the automaton? Are consciousness and grace emergent traits? We know that, for instance, flocking for birds is an emergent trait. As soon as you put a group of birds together they form a flock and act in unison. Yet a bird and even two birds do not seem to be naturally friendly with one another. Somewhere in their genome, over ages birds have learned that flocking has advantages. Therefore when a group forms, they flock. Does consciousness have a survival advantage? If you can dream up an advantage for consciousness, can you for grace? Obviously in time past, when the Inquisition was rampant, being able to say that you had grace was an advantage: You hopefully wouldn't be burned. But today? Blessed be G&Y

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An it Harm None ?

The ostensible sacred writings of Craft people often quote the Wiccan Rede: An it harm none, do what you will. But what is an? We've seen it misunderstood by journalists, by office staff, by a range of individuals. So far as we can search out, its only current use is by Snuffy Smith of the Sunday comics, when he addresses Lowizee: "if'n". Apparently that 'n was once an, though it survives now only in the remotest reaches of the Smoky Mountains if at all. An may appear in the King James version of the you-know-what, though I haven't taken time to pursue that possibility. And in fact, I heard once somewhere that James himself insisted his scholars use a style of English already archaic, in a quest to make their translations (and incidentally his own Daemonologie) appear to be sanctified by age. So anyhow, in my personal thinking I have dropped an altogether and replaced it with if. What you retain or drop is a matter of your own choice. Yvonne

revisit gay marriage?

We hear that the United States Supreme Court is thinking about revisiting the constitutionality of gay (same-sex) marriage. As a taxpayer I ask, "Why, Your Honors?" I detect the iron hand in its iron glove of conventional Abrahamic religions throwing their weight around again--and the Wiccan in me mentally shouts, "Wait a minute!" Let's reflect on some facts here. Whether they be welcome or unwelcome, they are true. 1. Optional is not mandatory. If you choose not to participate in a gay marriage, you don't have to. 2. Even gay people pay taxes. Recall the placard from the days preceding the American Revolutionary War: Taxation without representation. Does all this feel fair? If not, make your thoughts known and put a little of your money where your thoughts are. Send the package to Americans United for Separation of Church and State 1301 K St NW / ste 850 E Washington DC 20005 What do you say we all join those good people at Americans United* in their valiant efforts to maintain said separation? If I wanted to live in a theocracy, I'd go to Saudi Arabia or to Iran. The time is come (indeed, is way overdue) for somebody to get a reality smack. Blessed be Y'all Yvonne *au.org