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Working with the Elements

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Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft

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Keeping Your Dreams Alive On Your Pagan Path

Author: Friendly Spirit [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: July 17th. 2005
Times Viewed: 3,149

How many times have people been inspired and felt good when hearing beautiful music or poetry that speak of rising above it all and making your dreams come true? And how many times have you, if only in fleeting moments, felt yourself as something truly special and beyond what you have been told you are by others? Just how very good did you feel at those times? Just how right did it all feel then?

Could it be that there is something to all this?

People and religions that want to see you controlled and weak will tell you that you must comply with their rules and accept that you are not in control of your own future. They may preach that “the fates, ” their gods or whatever else besides you are the only true creators of wonderful states of existence or even what we see.

Mathematicians and scientists may teach about the “vastness” of the universe and seek to “prove” how small you are in comparison. They measure the solidity of things and how everything has a wavelength and a location in time and space. Psychologists and psychiatrists may preach that one is delusional should they “not comply” with their “truths” that man is an animal who cannot rise above the apparent physical restrictions of this universe of solids, energy, space and time.

People have been burned at the stake for believing things like they are more than what is apparent or even for believing such things as the world is round.

So which is it? Must we “comply” with the teachings of so many different fields, each seeking to preach or “prove” how small and weak we really are? Or is there a reason why we soar when we reflect on things beautiful in art, music, nature, poetry or whatever that remind us we just may be so much more that what we seem?

And, what exactly does this have to do with the path you follow as a Pagan? Let us look at this a little closer…

In my essay Spirituality and Magic – Don’t Sell Yourself Short, I suggest that you are an immortal spirit and I list a simple exercise that you might find useful to find that out for yourself (if you currently don’t think so) . I also suggest a few things that may help someone choose a path. One of the things I listed in choosing a path in that essay was as follows:

“Does the path/religion preach that you are small or insignificant and it offers you a way to improve? I say reject that path/religion because it is based on a lie. The lie being that you are small and insignificant. You are not. You are an immortal, spiritual being.”

It is on this point that I would like to elaborate in this follow-up essay.

In the past few months I have met some wonderful Witches and others Pagan and consider myself lucky to be able to have with them both friendship and a spiritual sharing. Some have helped me and some have told me I helped them. In short, friendship.

Most are very eclectic in their approach to spirituality but some tend to more closely follow a traditional path passed down by others. Any of that of course is fine if one, in her or his own estimation, is progressing along the line of their spiritual goals and is happy with what they are doing. But what concerned me somewhat was that even some people working on otherwise wonderful Pagan practices, eclectic or traditional, tended to sell themselves short and consider that they were less than they really are.

While I will name no religion in this essay, I suspect that anyone reading this can think of various Western religions popular on this planet today that preach that you are small or insignificant as covered in my above quote from an earlier essay. Many Pagans left those religions to pursue one or more Pagan paths where they can better grow spiritually. While this in and of itself is great, I feel some of us still tend to restrict ourselves even within our Pagan paths and even when we realize that we are spiritual beings.

For example I was talking with a truly wonderful person the other day who has helped me with several things and who I feel is very spiritual and good with a goal of helping others and so many other things good and decent. Yet when I said to her how wonderful it was to have your illusions and to work to make them real, she got very concerned for me. She could quote many things written by others on the subject of illusion which made it sound like a bad thing to have illusions.

My concern was not that we might have a difference of opinion on something (how boring would this world be if we all had the exact same opinions?) . Rather my concern was that what I felt was too much of a reliance on others to tell you what to think or what was truly possible for you, especially when it somehow restricts you.

If people follow one or more Pagan paths and within them find things that restrict them or that violate what they truly know is right for them, surely they are responsible to themselves to change that for themselves?

Can others help you? Of course they can. Can a traditional path be followed and result in a spiritual improvement for you? Of course it can. But I believe that no matter which path you follow, you are best helped if you are helped to find what is true for YOU, not by preaching what you must do or believe to get anywhere spiritually.

What really is the difference between illusion, reality and truth? And what does this have to do with Paganism?

Just for the sake of this article, let us use the following definitions:

Illusion: A state where an individual dreams or postulates something that could exist that does not currently exist for others. An example could be someone coming to the East Coast of America on a ship in the late 1600s that had an “illusion” or dream of a village when she or he saw a shoreline with a river running through the woods down to the ocean.

Reality: Agreement. It’s what a group agrees exists. This can include such things as planet Earth being here, cars driving on roads, buildings existing in cities, etc.; what the average person senses around her or him in what we call “the physical universe.” In the case of the explorer mentioned above, she or he got others to agree with it and they built a village. The village was now reality to them all, due to their agreement of same.

Truth: Something senior to reality. That which makes the agreements that become reality. Let’s call it a life force that is not itself part of the physical universe that we call “reality.” It is something that has no mass, no location in time or space and no wavelength. It has none of the measurable components of the physical universe. Yet it is responsible for everything else.

Let’s take a closer look at these three terms.

Let’s first look at “illusion” a bit more. Lots of people dream, lots of people have their illusions. You may have illusions of being financially independent, having children, starting a business, building a garden, a world without war, finding enlightenment on a wonderful Pagan path, whatever. When you “look” at that garden you want to make, you may even see the flowers, the colors, etc. You can just picture exactly how you want it. At this stage, it is your illusion.

There is nothing wrong with illusions. How horrible would it be to be in a world where no one dreamed!?! Even on a physical plane, what was once simply illusion to one or two became reality for others to their benefit. “Flying machines” (planes) , physical cures, artificial refrigeration and countless other things were examples of dreams or illusions of one or a few that were later agreed upon by others and became day-to-day reality through that agreement.

Yet many sciences and even religions preach how dangerous illusions are. Some religions would preach it was the work of fictional devils or demons to even consider that you might be more than they preach you are. People have been committed to horrid and barbaric “treatments” in institutions simply because they saw or felt things that were not agreed upon by the general population and were thus not real to most others.

Psychiatry itself dreams up “mental illnesses” yearly and votes them into existence, getting the general population to agree that they be funded for drug and other barbaric “treatments” to “help, ” among others, those that do not comply with what is generally agreed to be real.

Too often, people with illusions or dreams of something better are categorized as “delusional” and then are so horribly “treated” that they are not even up to dreaming again or seeking anything beyond that with which the general population agrees. In other words, they were made to “comply” with the next topic – “reality.”

Having illusions is the stuff of dreams and wondrous future. They are not the stuff of delusion (e.g. someone running down the street with a sword killing people as he “fights” the “demons” he sees) . That is not illusion. That is delusion which includes the inability to a greater or lesser degree to function in society. A delusion is not a dream or postulate of making something happen or appear. It’s more a confusion between something that is not there for others and a reality that is generally agreed to be there by others.

On a physical level, science can be helpful in making illusions into reality (cures, advances in standards of living, etc.) . But someone first had to have the dream of those cures and advances. Someone first had an illusion of them.

Now let’s look at “reality” just a little closer and let’s do this by using a real life example.

(Before I do, I would like to comment on “making reality.” While, certainly on this planet at least, it is commonly agreed by most that one must go through various physical steps to make almost anything physical, I submit that is only because we have a broad agreement that it is that way. For example, to build a building, you might need wood, pipes, glass, workers, site plans, money and all the other hundreds of physical things. That is real to people here as that is how we do it here and agree it must be done. Yet some people just somehow seem to do it almost magically by getting it done faster or better or with less resources than is thought remotely possible. I submit that magic is simply using more of our natural abilities to affect some end than is commonly agreed to be real or possible by others. I believe we all have magic natural to us that could do anything well beyond what is “real” to others but we have to find that magic within ourselves on our paths. And yes, I know that most people around here have a complete agreement that “reality” is very solid. Just don’t tell that to those who at times of necessity and/or enlightenment saw it differently by lifting a car off a trapped baby or by passing through or seeing through the “solids” such as walls most agree cannot be penetrated. Many have such stories but fear to tell them for fear of ridicule or other punishment. One of my own such stories is in my poem Leaving the Body and Coming Back – a Poem. Some may laugh at it and say that is beyond our abilities. But I submit it is far more natural for us as spiritual beings than what is commonly agreed to be our nature on this planet at this time. Anyway, I just wanted to make this comment before I give the below real life example) .

This is an example that shows the “reality” many people had that was obviously not very good:

In the 14th Century, the black plague (“Black Death”) killed millions of people throughout the Near East, Europe, Russia, etc. In China, for example, some studies showed that in the 14th Century it’s population dropped from 125 million to 90 million much as a result of the black plague.

As the disease followed trade routes throughout Europe and elsewhere, many considered the cause was evil, vengeance from God, etc. Some towns even made it “illegal” to get the plague (while half their populations died from it) . So much for political solutions.

In 1348, the then Pope of the Catholic church sent representatives to Paris to get the opinions of the medical “experts” for stopping the Black Death and their findings were that the disaster was caused by the unfortunate conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the sign of Aquarius that had occurred in 1345. This combination caused the earth to release poisonous vapors.

In Italy the top experts said no one should think of death and all should have happy thoughts (while in some cities 40-60% of their populations died from the Black Death) .

Meanwhile hoards of Christians called “the flagellants” roamed from town to town saying the Black Death was from the anger of God. They would inflict all kinds of physical whipping and other punishment on themselves to “atone” for the evil of the world while killing “nonbelievers” like Witches, Jews and even their own clergymen who did not agree with them.

While all these “solutions” were reality to them, the Black Death continued killing millions. Many studies estimated that in Europe alone, one-third of the population died from this. The plague also kept coming back well into the 15th Century.

The true cause of the spread of this “Black Death, ” known now as bubonic plague, had to do with an organism usually carried by rodents. Fleas would infest the rodents and then move over to humans where they would regurgitate the infested blood from the rodent to the human, thus infecting the humans. The humans and rodents died but the fleas lived on their merry way just doing things that fleas do. (Nature had a laugh with that one! So much for humans being “the master species”) .

(The Black Death erupted in the Gobi desert in the 1320s as far as the huge scale devastation covered in the 14th and 15th Centuries goes. But there was some example of it recorded early in the 6th Century. It’s believed that it lay dormant in the desert until the earth cooled with a mini Ice Age in the 14th Century which brought the organisms out of a dormant stage. It can now be cured quite easily with modern medicine.)

My point in this little story of the Black Death is that reality is not truth. It is what we agree. In severe examples like in the case of the Black Death, what was agreed was obviously harmful. And this example shows just how reactionary people, set in one reality, can be against new or old ideas that are contrary to what they believe.

Is this just an example from Medieval days when people knew little? Something that could not be so barbaric today? I think not. Heck, I think those flagellants of Medieval days were nothing compared to the scale of death and harm caused right now on earth in the name of “religion, ” where wide-scale murder is condoned in the name of their dark “gods.”

Naming a philosophy a “religion” does not mean there is enlightenment present. When “reality” means you are taught that you are small and insignificant by “religion, ” when “reality” means “science” says you are nothing compared to what it measures, when “reality” means that “healing sciences” exist, such as psychiatry, to enforce that you somehow comply to their agreements, I submit that this is NOT an enlightened age.

In all those names, religion, science, mental health, etc., you are taught and treated as if this reality of you being small is some ultimate truth. No wonder so many people on this planet are lost.

Nothing in this physical universe lasts forever. Even the biggest mountains will some day be gone if only from the elements of water and air over just thousands or millions of years. To those who preach that the physical universe is some ultimate truth or things like this planet are the only place one can exist, I say, “Ooooooooooooooooh really? Do you have any idea how briefly a planet exists on the scale of eternity?” Even a few billion years is nothing compared to forever.

I suggest that your true freedom does not lie in “reality, ” which is nothing more than the broad agreement of the time. Your spiritual freedom relies on something bigger than all that. It relies not on something that is temporary and created. It relies on something that lasts forever.

So what is left if not delusion, illusion or reality? It’s what made it all. It’s truth. It’s something without physical universe measurement of solidity and wavelength. It’s not a Pagan path but it is that thing that may follow a Pagan path to find itself. It is YOU!

I comment on YOU as a spiritual being, different from a mind or body, in my above-noted essay. I will not repeat all that here but it is in that essay that I elaborate more on this subject of “truth” and you.

Also, why is there so much disagreement about what exists after the death of our bodies, or even what existed before? Or even what other life forms exist now (Faeries, etc.) ? I submit that there have been so many lies fed us over time that it’s a testament to our own spirituality and to the fact that we can do naught but survive that we are still looking.

But for those of you who care to look or who are not afraid to “disagree” with things as they seem, I say don’t argue with each other about such things as covered in the above paragraph. You know why? It’s because the path you have been following is your own individual path.

What is Fae and wonderful, in bodies far more efficient than human bodies, may be something another never crossed on her or his path. What is “home” for one, where she or he is going on a more spiritual plane may not be home for another. One need not be better than the other. They are just different experiences and paths.

The one thing they all have in common is that you are an immortal spiritual being and life, in all its many forms, can be a game you play.

And just what does all this have to do with your practice of the Craft and/or other Pagan practices?

Well, by all means:
  1. NEVER within any practice on any Pagan path lose your own illusions, whatever they may be, as you develop or expand them from time to time. The reality of that path you may follow with a group is based on the group agreement. But it is your illusions that are uniquely yours and perhaps point out for you your direction towards finding all the abilities and good within you.
  2. If this is something you desire, do your part to help make a positive reality for yourself and others in which to operate by working to make your own illusions into reality.
  3. NEVER forget that you are Truth and are that which creates illusions and creates reality.
Illusions and reality are things created. They are not truth. You are. And you can create illusions and reality to the degree you believe in yourself and just how wonderful and magical you really are.

Just keep the above in perspective in whatever Pagan path you choose. I believe that if you do keep this in mind, you will find the goodness and abilities within yourself much faster as you “walk” your path. You will also be better able to spot those parts that restrict you and eliminate them for yourself. I say be true to yourself in all your Pagan endeavors and have the courage to know what you know yourself. Do not accept others’ interpretations of your past and your self, but do accept others’ help to find all that within yourself. Accept that you are a wonderful spiritual being whose past and whose path is unique. And, while at first it may appear a daunting task to have to take responsibility for your life and your future yourself, realize that true freedom lies in that concept as it also means you can raise yourself to any heights you dream.

It’s okay to want freedom FROM things (pain, ignorance, the constant cycle of life and death on this planet, etc.) but what do you want freedom TO? That new game or new reality is up to you to create and it starts with your own dreams about it.

If you can’t dream it and have your own illusions about it, I don’t believe you will ever be it. It all starts with you. Think big and you will be big eventually. Think small and petty (Witch Wars, bindings, etc.) and you will be petty and small. You get what you dream and what you create.

Poetically, if you want to “soar with Goddess, ” then it should make sense to think big, be kind and be creative. And dream on towards those wonderful states that are there for you if you will just see them within yourself. You DO NOT have to be restricted to the limitations commonly agreed to be real! They are only agreements. And you are the one who makes agreements and who can change them. The more you progress on your Pagan path to find your true self, the less you will find yourself tending to agree with limitations based on broad agreement (reality) .

I think it is rather funny that there is more truth in a line sung by a cute little animated cricket from Walt Disney when it sings, “When your heart is in your dreams, no request is too extreme” then there is in the libraries of writings from “philosophy, ” “religion, ” “science” and “mental health” that preach you are small and not responsible for your own condition. And you CAN make your dreams come true on whatever Pagan path you choose if only you will allow yourself to do so by not agreeing that you are less than you really are.

Anyone can agree with reality as the majority sees it, including all the limitations within it. But it takes some courage sometimes to disagree with such limitations and dare to have your own dreams and be responsible for your own future.

I’m with the cricket: I say keep dreaming!


Friendly Spirit

Location: Penacook, New Hampshire

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