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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 13,629,550  

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Question of the Week: 50 - 7/16/2001

What's Your Magickal Focus?

What is YOUR magickal specialty? Herbalism? Healing Magick? Directing Energies? Invoking the Nature Spirits? How did you come to choose/decide to develop this area of expertise? How long did you have to practice and study before you felt reasonably proficient in your magickal focal-work area? Did you have a natural talent for this to begin with or did you decide to study this particular area of magick for another reason? What advice for developing skills or expertise would give to someone who is considering entering into your particular magickal focus-work area? What are the 'neglected' areas of magickal Work-you know, the not so glamorous service-oriented stuff that is really needed, but for some reason or another, not too many Pagans are motivated to develop or are interested in studying?

 Reponses:   There are 33 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 

Hey All! It's Whitefeather Again! The Only Advice I Have For Practicing... Jul 22nd. at 3:34:59 pm EDT

Whitefeather the Magnificent (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario CA) Age: 17 - Email

Hey all! It's Whitefeather again! The only advice i have for practicing pagans is to practice practice practice! That's the only way to learn and get good at what you want to do. It took me forever to learn all of the Tarot cards, what they said and what they weren't telling me. Sometimes that was more important than what they were telling me. But, I got it. And now, I'd like to think that I'm good at it. Reliable at least. Tarot is my thing, even though some think that it's just a cheap party trick, or a hoax, or that I'm lying flat out at. That's that. Blessings and Light! Whitefeather

My Focus Is Healing. I Didn't Really Choose It, It Is Just... Jul 22nd. at 2:51:46 pm EDT

Cary "Sketch" Vandever (Long Beach, California US) Age: 20 - Email

My focus is healing. I didn't really choose it, it is just what I seem to do the most of, and what works more bacause I'm still learning a lot. I use energy and visualization to heal myself and others, and have dabbled a bit in actual spells, which seemed to work. It's almost creepy, though, to work on healing someone else and not telling them how I'm doing it (or in some cases, not even telling them that I'm doing anything at all) and then having them describe to me exactly what they felt (and in essence, what I did) after whatever was ailing them is either lessend or gone. I'm also looking into herbalism to heal, relax, and energaize. I've only been healing for a year or two with energies and visualization, and for even less with spells- it seems more a natural thing to me so I think I'll explore speels simply for that purpose: just to explore, see what it's like. I'm always telling my friends to mediatate more if they're stressed or restless or seem to have no energy. They usually just shrug and say "yeah, maybe" and then when they finally try it they come running up to me the next day all excited that it worked. Then if theyr'e interested, I tell them what I know of energy and visualizing. I think that simply taking time out each day to sit and clear your head is important, because then anything's possible. After your head is clear, that clears the way for further explorations.

Right Now I Guess My Specialty Is Working With Runes. I'm Not... Jul 21st. at 1:58:42 am EDT

Green Wyvern (Priorlake , Minnesota US) Age: 20

Right now I guess my specialty is working with runes. I'm not very far in my studdies and rune magic is one of the simplest forms of magic that I can think of. I like to mix my runes with a bit of candle magic too. I love working with runes cause they have so many different uses.

Though runes are my specialty I would have to say that astral projection is my focus. I've never had an out of body experiance and would love to see what it is like. I find that it is better to make what you are least expert in to your focus. I find that for me it is a wast of learning to focus on what I already know. It makes my learning move alot slower cause once I'm doing ok with one thing I automaticly move to the next.

I realy don't have any natural talent in the craft. Everything that I learn takes time and a good amount of struggling. I know that it is the same for most people when they first find the craft. My advice for anyone working with any focus is keep at it and eventualy it will come to you.

I think that what is most neglected has nothing to do with magic in particular. I think what should be done more are parties:-} I think that there should be more get-togethers and other related events. Many places already have events for pagans to gather but most these places aer centralized in big cities and collages. There are many pagans out there who feal isoalted, and would like to get to know other pagans in their area. I know from experiance that these events can be very good learning experiance and are also fun.

My Specialty Is A Little Unusual. I Craft Things. Home Made Soap... Jul 20th. at 1:14:29 pm EDT

WyndeHawke (F'burg, Virginia US) Age: 31

My specialty is a little unusual. I craft things. Home made soap, hand quilted altar cloths/wall hangings, anything that involves working with my hands and that piques my creative interest. I don't know if I made any sort of choice in the matter, I've just always been kind of artsy. I took art in high school and a drawing class in college (for fine arts credit), but other than that, I'm self-taught and just do whatever I like and that feels right. Which is the sort of advice I'd give to someone interested in this topic - go with what you like, be it painting, sculpture, origami, pottery, or whatever. But be sure you are doing it with love and good intentions.

I'd Have To Say That I'm Mostly A Jack Of All Trades... Jul 20th. at 1:12:44 pm EDT

Stormmerayvn (Bemidji, Minnesota US) Age: 16 - Email

I'd have to say that I'm mostly a jack of all trades. If, however, I had to pick one area that I have the most ability in I'd say protection. Ever since I was little I've been able to make astral nasties leave me and others alone. I was a kid who was never really scared of the boogie man, I'd just tell him to leave and never come back. I have also always been extremely claire-sensory (voyant, audient, empathic). I can scry very easily, but usually just prophesy orally. Healing is another matter. I am a second degree Reiki practitioner and one of my greatest joys is promoting emotional healing in people. Being an emotional healer is no act of magick, it's simply the gift of being able to listen.

Sometimes I Think That My Magickal Focus Is Among The Most Neglected... Jul 20th. at 1:02:00 pm EDT

Lily WhiteRaven (Shelton, Washington US) Age: 26 - Email

Sometimes I think that my magickal focus is among the most neglected of all. I am a Celtic Kitchen Witch, and quite proud of it. I find that this is a more down-to-earth (seriously) take on magick and the forms of Old Worship used in the Craft today. I am totally willing to admit that Kitchen Witches are a vanishing breed, and that we tend to have fewer altar tools and other fancy things around us.

I don't have a coronary if I need to cut something and all I have is my athame, I use it. Heck, I used my athame to clean and prepare my staff. Do I think that using my athame for "real" work lessens it? Not at all, I think it has helped to forge a greater bond between us. I have a seperate mortar and pestle for non-edible herbs, but I use the same one for edible herbs both in and out of the kitchen.

I do believe that this is an underutilized system, simply because I don't believe that my ancestors had the time or money or space to have a whole set of tools just for maigickal use. I have a few things that I use just for ritual, but the majority of my tools are used in all places of my life. I have also found that working in an "open circle" has helped to spread a certain vitality throughout my home that I don't believe would have happened otherwise.

I know that to many in the Craft, it is nearly blasphemous to admit that I use my home and tools and space for things other than just magick sealed in a bubble. Personally, I think it is wrong to keep magick from all aspects of my life. Whether you agree with my or not, I would love to hear your opinions.

My Magickal Focus Has Always Been Tapping Into My Inner Divinity And... Jul 20th. at 12:46:36 pm EDT

Merry Arianrhood (West Haven, Connecticut US) Age: 40 - Email

My Magickal focus has always been tapping into my inner Divinity and using it to create beauty and healing in my life and others. When I was a child I had a gift for knowing, seeing and hearing what others could not. My mother, who was of Hungarian Gypsy descent, understood such gifts (she had them also), but her Roman Catholic beliefs led her to caution me against the use of them. As I grew into young adulthood and experienced a particularly painful puberty, I turned to the church for relief and succor from my distress. Unfortunately, the church's dogma heightened my fear of using my gifts, as well as my fears of demonic possession. ("The Exorcist" had a powerful effect upon my young psyche.) The out of body experiences I had enjoyed as a child became something caused by the Christian devil, and my ability to "read fortunes" a path to the destruction of my very soul. (As I write this I feel such compassion for that poor, confused girl!) The Goddess did not abandon me, however. After a painful divorce, during which I visited several different parish priests, pleading for understanding and help (and was told, "he's your husband - you must stay with him, no matter his infidelity and abuse"; and the one I liked best, "What did you do to make him drink?"), I began to search for a religion that would support me in who I was, rather than make a slave of me. I meandered through Protestantism, stayed for awhile with Buddhism and Hinduism, but they all still held that MAN was first in the Universe, while woman was created to fulfill HIS needs. (Even Buddhism had a very subtle patriarchal thread running through it.) I was infuriated. Then one day I literally stumbled over Wicca (a book that fell at my feet in a book store tripped me - as a double Libra I tend to live out of my body alot - I'm surprised it didn't bonk me on the head to get my attention). Even with that message from the Goddess my induction into Paganism 101 was slow. I still had 28 years of prejudice (and probably several Christian lifetimes) that I had to overcome. But the message of personal empowerment and balance between the male and female really resonated with me. The opening of my mind brought about a re-opening of my "gifts", which brought about some scary (and some not so scary) nighttime visitations. It was a difficult time for me as I was between belief systems. I couldn't bless them in the name of Christ because I had some definite issues with the man of Nazareth, as well as all of the Christian symbols that had served me in the past. But I had not yet learned enough to replace them with my OWN inner Divinity. Luckily (or should I write that it was 'serendipitous'?), some very powerful teachers came into my life about this time (all of them from various spiritual paths, but not one Wiccan - the Goddess knew that I was not quite ready for that yet), and they taught me that it was only reflections of MY inner shadow that I was manifesting and that I had the power to dis-spell them myself. What a revelation! ("The power of ME compels you! The power of ME compels you!" Hee hee!) Now 12 years (and alot more mileage)later, I have finally come to rest (for the moment anyway) in a place of being at peace with myself and the hardships that my life seemed to be totally comprised of. As I look back over the painful circumstances of the last 40 years, I understand why I chose such a difficult path in this lifetime. My capacity for compassion has grown amazingly, along with the clarity of my Sight. Now when clients come to me, it doesn't matter if they're Pagan, Jewish or Roman Catholic. I can see the world in their context and pass along the messages from their Spirit in symbolism that they can understand. I have learned (many times the HARD way) to allow people to follow their own paths and to honor them for it. And when people come to me to learn about themselves, I can show them that the Shadow they fear is only another face of their own Divinity. A scary face, yes, but like Cerberus, it guards the gate to the deepest part of themselves and if offered a "sop", in the form of their willingness to trust their Spirit's path for them, it too will allow them to pass into the golden center of who they TRULY are...and that's when the Magick really begins!

Being More Of The Treehugging Earth-worshiping Type Of Pagan, My First Thought... Jul 19th. at 11:39:14 pm EDT

Secular Pagan (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) Age: 37 - Email

Being more of the treehugging Earth-worshiping type of Pagan, my first thought was that I don't really practice "magick, " per se. But then again, if one considers magick the art (however explained) of creating change, shaping reality by power of will and intention, then I'd have to say that's something I've been doing all my life, and quite taken for granted.

Early on in my young adult life I was drawn to books about life and career that were based on a simple fundamental premise: Assuming harm to none, it's O.K. to want what you want. You can, and should, base your life's decisions upon being keenly attuned to your "inner voice, " your deepest desires and motivations and passions and pleasures. If you like to sing, then you must sing. If you like to write, then you must write. If you like sociability, seek a sociable job. If you like solitude, then don't beat yourself over the head for not being extroverted; seek a job in which a penchant for solitiude (in mind, if not in literal physical circumstances) is a strength and an asset.

Now, that may seem rather simple, the sort of observation that elicits a chorus of "Well, DUH." ;-) However, in my decades upon this planet, I have observed time and again that one thing that holds so many of us back is a failure to give ourselves "permission" to articulate what we want and to go after it. We're hesitant to say that simple: "I WANT."

I am convinced that nothing is more powerful than a keenly-honed, precisely-focused, true-to-ourselves-100% INTENTION. Once you KNOW what it is you want, on a small daily scale or on a grand life-path scale, and you have got all of your personal and emotional energy behind it, change happens. Explain it how you will; metaphysicalists and naturalists can co-exist peacefully in their different understandings of the whys and wherefores. All that really matters is that you truly grasp hold of the knowledge that the power to shape your own life lies in your hands, mind, heart, and will.

My Specialty Lies In The Practices Of The Less-tread Areas Of My... Jul 19th. at 2:50:27 pm EDT

9;2;2 (Derby, Kansas US) Age: 16 - Email

My specialty lies in the practices of the less-tread areas of my path: the shadows, darkness, chaos. These things are unfortunately grasped by the community as "evil" or "something to be avoided." People first accept me as the "teenaged idiot out for a curse." Sure, if you say so. I don't study curses whatsoever, I tune myself more toward the philosophies, theories and practices of the darker side of things. I study the nature of darkness.

Sure, darkness should be avoided if one cannot handle it. If this is the case, then one should exercise him / herself so they CAN handle it. Too many people avoid the darkness, try to live away from it. This is a very sad case. The Crone, the Dark God, Thanatos, Hel, Kali, the Kings and Queens of the Underworld are all waiting and watching. All I can say is, if you don't eventually face yourself and look into the darkness, learn to walk without the night-light and grow, then when you finally face death you are going to meet this neglected bunch. Then you will face the music.

Some advice. Don't dive into these areas until you've had years of experience to toughen yourself up. Remember the Descent of Inanna? The Goddess of Light eventually walked into the darkness. When you walk the path of shadows and twilight, you may leave in a better shape. You can say we're all lumps of mishappen metal, inert and unchanged. The descent will bring you poundings of a hammer and the flames of the forge. If you don't turn back, if you don't jump out of the forge, then all the beating and flaming will turn you into a fine sword.

I Am Not One That Works Heavily With Magic. Sometimes I'll Do... Jul 19th. at 2:13:29 pm EDT

Heather (Milton, Florida US) Age: 19

I am not one that works heavily with magic. Sometimes I'll do a ritual for the full moon, or for a Sabbat, but most of my magic is done by simply raising energy, light a candle and look at the flame as I speak to the Goddess or God. I'm Eclectic, and that is most of what I do. And I find that it works very well. Divinity is everywhere, within and without, all the time, and I don't believe in all the conditions, such as time of the day or the month, etc. Divinity is always there, all you have to do is open up yourself and talk, mentally or physically, and you will be heard. Magic happens everywhere, all the time. Life is magic.

I Would Have To Say My Special Magickal Ability Is Healing. Ever... Jul 19th. at 11:28:30 am EDT

Nidawi Badria (Dexter, Maine US) Age: 15

I would have to say my special magickal ability is healing. Ever since I was a very very young child I have been interested in fixing anything that was hurt. Whether it be physically, mentally, or emotionally. When I was no older than 2 years old I would heal sick plants and trees. Granted my methods were bumbling and crude, but they always seemed to work. My mother noticed it and grew very suspicious, calling it the work of the devil. I didn't understand why she got so angry at me for making the plant feel better. But then her mother, my grandmother, got in a bad accident when I was about 5 years old. She broke dozens of bones, and I would give her massages with my little hands and her fast recovery shocked the doctors. After that my mother grew less angry about my talent, she even supported it in a way by trying to interest me in medical camps and programs for young kids. I wasn't interested in being a doctor or practicing my talents for the masses. Truthfully, I doubted if I could heal someone or something I didn't know. But by this time my aunt had begun to notice my knack with the plants in her garden. She is a certified herbalist and began to teach me herbal craft. She is also a Pagan. So from a fairly early time in my life I was taught to use my talent and not to be ashamed of it. But my powers were not limited to the physical. I have always been a comforter to anyone in distress and always the problem-solver. I realized this was linked to my healing skill and developed it further. I think that is an element of the craft that is often forgotten, that you can help comfort and calm someone, you can give them peace of mind. I will always use my talents on those in need, but I feel my calling in life is not to practice these arts directly, but to promote understanding and appreciation of diversity and culture of any kind. That is what I have dedicated my life to do.

Good Golly, I Don't *have* A Magical Focus. Generally, I Just Try... Jul 19th. at 11:13:17 am EDT

John (New Naumkeag) Age: 34 - Email

Good golly, I don't *have* a magical focus.

Generally, I just try to live the Craft . . . or, put another way, I just try to Craft my life into a continuous act of magic/prayer.

When I work specific acts of magic, I use a variety of techniques, forms, etc., but I am not student of or developed in any one. (I am very eclectic in this regard.) Sometimes I use a bit of ceremony, sometimes herbs and incense and whatnot, sometimes other forms of natural magic, sometimes trance-states / meditation . . . In short, I use these and the like (and the concepts supporting them) as tools.

The tools of magic (physical and conceptual) together help me do three things: 1) to become aware of the interconnectedness of all, 2) thence to become aware (in a special way) of the One that is all, and is in all, and is beyond all too, and 3) by and through and because of that Reality which I am aware of, to cause needed change to occur in conformity with will . . . for the good of all, the harm of none, in accordance with free will and subject to the Divine will.

But, crafting specific acts of magic are few and far between for me.

And while that's just me, not a norm for all people, I suggest that specific acts of magic are just a part of the Pagan path . . . like specific prayers are just part of some other religious paths. These --prayer and magic-- are real, and sometimes they are really efficacious in their outward results. But, when they are only seen and used as substitutes for technology, there is (in my opinion) error. Technology is technology - physical tools to help us do physical work. Prayer and magic, while they can sometimes produce results like that, are far more than that. Put another way, prayer and magic are indeed tools, but their work (their craft) is not just the transformation of specific or outward events. Rather, their work is to help us transform ourselves into our Truest Selves.

And for those who would think that such a remark is essentially a selfish or passive remark, it is not. The true nature of action is an aspect of being becoming. Put in conventional, western terms, "creation" (of which we are part) can be seen as a Divine act that takes place in infinity but which is experienced within as occurring through time and space. In both ways of expression, action is ... active, and it (including human living) is not predicated on selfishness but instead in recognizing that the same "self" that makes me myself is also infinitely present in every other "self" (human, animal, plant, whatever).

Hence, prayer, magic and especially daily life are not, therefore, just means for achieving a specific act or goal. They can achieve those, but they are not limited to those. Instead, the very basis of prayer and magic is (through transcendence in the former, immanence in the latter) a greater realization of the interconnectedness of all . . . including our individual selves. That basis (the interconnectedness of all) is also the means for "effective" prayer and magic; it is also the result of effective prayer and magic.

Put another way, then, the "threefold rule" of Witchcraft is the basis, the means and the result of magic . . . and prayer . . . and daily living. As C.S. Lewis once said, "We pray not to change God's mind but to better allow God to change us." Or, as Scott Cunningham wrote, "Magic is a Divine act." Take it from whatever perspective works for you --the transcendent perspective or the immanent perspective-- the gist is the same.

The Veil is real, and once we peer behind the it to see what is there, we discover that that there is simply more "there" there, including the Veil. The World Between the Worlds, thus, is not just a place crafted when casting a circle (though it is that); it is also a summary reality of human existence: the "there" where we are, the "there" that seems separate from where we are (but which is interconnected with everything else), and the there which seems beyond all of that too; it all . . . is. Realizing that from within is, thus, active; it is thus prayer; it thus magic; it is thus living the Craft in daily life as well as exceptional moments of life. In Crafting prayer and magic, in Crafting our lives, in Crafting ourselves into our Truest Selves, we Craft not just our own real, individual selves but also everything else.

In my opinion, it is that simple truth --the simplicity of Truth Itself and its seeming complexity-- that we who are Witches celebrate, observe, struggle through and live. It is the Formless through Forms. It is the phases of the moon, the wheel of the year, through the spiral of time. It is the finitude within infinity that we not only access when we craft specific acts of magic but which we *are* through our existence and which we should seek to better realize so as to better be and live and give it.

So, when asked what is my focus of magic, I usually say "none" or "living the craft." That's not to dismiss any particular discipline of magic. Rather, it's because of what I attempted to communicate above and what I here reiterate:

Usually, I focus upon trying to cultivate a constant magical awareness and lifestyle; by the way, this is also the flip side to something else I do, cultivating a constant prayerful awareness and lifestyle. Of course, I am nowhere near perfection in these exercises. But the gist is the same: to increasingly Realize Truth and to thereby increasingly live a life of Truth . . . by, through and because of the interconnectedness of all.

I could go on and on; if anyone is still reading this far, thank you. If you're interested in reading more, I am working on writing a philosophy for the new Pagans of the West, and I would appreciate your input on what *you* think should be addressed in such a work and how.

Meanwhile, I'll sum up with a quote from pagan scriptures (from Hinduism) that helped me see in words what I had been Crafting and seeking to Craft as a Witch. (Just substitute whatever your term is for Ultimate Reality, the One, the Lord and Lady, the Self, etc. for "God" if you feel so inclined.)

"Realize that God is the ultimate magician,
and by His magic of things appearing to be separate,
He brings forth all the worlds out of Himself.
Therefore, all that exists
partakes of the Divine splendor."

(Shvetashvatara Upanishad, chapter 4, verse 10. Quoted and adapted from the translation by Eknath Easwaran, Nilgiri Press, copyright 1987, ISBN: 0-915132-39-7)

Blessed Be.


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