Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Seeds - The Flamma Vestae

Tonight I performed the Flamma Vestae, attuning to it with Lord Arthur Freeheart, who guided me in it and into the Heart Beats Drum Iseum.

Following is a recording of sensations and visions from the rite:

When the priestess of Vesta conferred her blessing, I felt a pillar of white light, blinding my inner eyes, spread down through me.  I was left with spots and motes behind my eyes and a feeling of being more truly myself than before.

When, through attuning, I danced around the altar, I saw and felt myself in many incarnations and forms, my "body" flashing and changing as I moved.

When the offerings were given there was a weight in the air that was not from the thick, sweet odor of the copal alone.  It was many presences united by a single (sensation, light, vibration?).

When I received my Ankh and cord, I felt that I stood at the center of a wheel, spokes radiating out from around me, and at the ends of the spokes were others already set aglow with Her light.  I felt pure, and clean, that level of being where we are all One, where we all touch.  With deliberate action, I sent my love and light along these spokes to bless and join with that of others.

Often with these things, the most amazing manifestations happen not at the Rite itself, but in the days after, when the energy begins to sink in and manifest in our lives.  If this is the case, then I am in for a ride, and if that is the case, I pray that my Chariot holds strong and on a clear path.

I love you, and even if I don't know you, I know you, as you know me.  May the light fill all of us, and through us, the world around us.

Blessed Be!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Flowers - A Rune Reading

For the first time in a long time, someone asked me for a rune reading.  I performed it last night.  I have to say, quite simply, that I needed it as much as she did and am sure I got as much out of it!  It gave me a chance and a reason to reconnect and make offering to Odin, who I've been nervous about contacting for a while.  It reminded me of a skill and a gift that I have that I can help others with.  It was draining, as any sort of reading or divination comes with counseling (which can be mentally exhausting), but I am feeling much better for it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Flowers - An Offering

So, the offering for the Flamma Vestae - I pulled out Offering to Isis and opened it randomly.  It fell open to the Horns and Disk Crown (Keriati Woh Aten).  I have an old image that I made for offering rites, and I will use it for the Flamma Vestae.  With the thought in mind that I want to make one.

Not necessarily a crown.  I have the image of it topping a staff.  Again, I am not great with wood-or-other working, and have no idea where I would even start with that.  I want to make this, though.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Flowers - A Way Has Opened

It has been a long time since I've posted here, but I'm not going to let it go away.  This is my own personal Philae, at least part of it.

I've recently (over the last six months) discovered the Fellowship of Isis.  I examined their online materials carefully before joining; I have not found anything yet that I disagree with or that does not fit my gnosis.

I've found a teacher for a Lyceum (one of the teaching groups for the FOI) who lives relatively near to me, and I have been corresponding with him about membership.  A couple of weeks ago I attuned for my first rite, a shrine dedication.  (Attuning is when multiple people in different locations perform the same rite at the same time, and try and reach out and attune their energies to one another; a way of performing a group rite long distance.)

I was pleased to discover that my altar already mostly matched the description of the standard FOI shrine, minus the scarab, though from what I've seen of its ritual use it seems to occupy the same place as a pentagram in Wiccan practice. Fortunately a friend had given me an ankh shaped mirror a while back with a very nice scarab on the back of it.  It was especially appropriate given that the part of the rite that the scarab is involved in mentions water and refers to it as "Her Mirror."

As I said, I was pleased that my altar already fit well with the rite.  It gave me the feeling that I was in the right place.  That this group was one that fit my vibrations well.

The rite itself is beautiful.  During it I was so focused on performing it that I did not have a chance to "feel" much (except in the meditative portion, I will get to that later) but afterwards and since then my altar has felt very different, and in a good way.  The energy about it is warm and strong, and I fancy that I can feel others doing some of the same rites and uttering some of the same prayers as I when I use it.  It feels like little echoes and whispers and a flush of red-gold warmth.

During the meditative portion of the rite I found myself being a lotus in the water (a pond of lilies surrounding you was part of the visualization).  My roots in the warm much, and the very top of me spread to the heavens.  The visualization was aligned with my chakras and other parts; with my crown being out of the water and my root being, well, my roots.  I had a feeling, very difficult to describe, that I spend too much time submerged, paying attention to the water around the rest of my parts, rather than the warm strength from my roots or the brilliance of the light on the petals of my crown.  Perhaps I should say, "We", as it seemed to be a statement/realization about humanity in general.

Now it is time for me to prepare for the Flamma Vestae, which is the initiation into the Heart Beats Lyceum.  I have everything that could be needed for the rite (some of it I picked up for Samhain, conveniently) other than an offering for my Lady.  It's supposed to be something that is made by my own hands.  The thing is, I'm not terribly crafty.  I want to make something, but I want it to be "beautiful and pure" as all offerings to Iset are supposed to be.  My current best idea is poetry or a new invocation; I'm better at making things with words than clay or thread.  At the same time I've considered that it may be better for me to learn to do something new for this, but then my offering wouldn't be of a quality that I would feel appropriate.  Right now I am waiting for guidance, reading the other FOI liturgy and rites and following their Facebook pages for more information.

This has been an excellent experience so far.  I feel closer to Her.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Branches - A Discussion on the Subject of Evil

The subject of evil comes up frequently.  It is a term that is often used, and rarely defined.

What is evil?  The dictionary definition contains terms such as "morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked".  All of these are cultural value judgements, of course.  Another definition said something to the effect of "associated with misfortune or harm".  This one is far more comfortable to me than the first, since different faiths and cultures have radically different standards of morality, but everyone can agree that they dislike misfortune and harm, can't they?

As long as it's personal misfortune or harm, that's true.  In some cultures personal misfortune and harm can be seen as being overall positive, by offsetting a karmic debt in some forms of Hinduism and Buddhism to being considered penance for ill deeds in Islam.  Even that definition is of the term is highly conditional, based on the personal and cultural paradigms of the individual.

I propose that the term is the tofu of philosophy and religion, taking on the flavor of that which surrounds it.  So as a mostly freethinker and mostly Taoist Wiccan, what flavor does it take for me?

I considered the mythologies that I am most familiar with: Egyptian and Norse.  Be aware that these statements are simplifications for the sake of brevity; I can discuss them more at length on request.  In Norse mythology, the figures that are considered evil are the Jotuns, the Giants, who are of the same heritage as the Gods but have a difference of opinion concerning mankind and the world.  The Giants will thoughtlessly destroy anything that is not theirs, and the Gods are very much builders and creators.  What they and mankind constantly work to build, the Giants constantly work to destroy.  Unnecessary destruction is their evil.  Greed, and specifically greed for gold, is a marked evil in the Norse tales as well.

In the Egyptian mythos, Set is the ultimate evil.  I have seen his name translated as "Crusher" and "Destroyer".  There is a very similar theme in Egyptian mythology to the Norse mythology above: Set and his minions are all part of the same family as the rest of the Gods, but he constantly seeks to undermine their works.  The other Gods, particularly Osiris and Isis, work to create and preserve a functional and benign cosmos that the Destroyer works to undermine.

When I thought about it, I realized that I tended to agree: unnecessary destruction.  Causing pain, breaking down the works of others without a good reason.  I almost wrote "without just cause" but that would have been trouble because I don't want to explore the concept of justice in this post.

Malevolence.  That seems to be the best word of many possible choices. Every living physical creature destroys as part of the chemical processes that maintain it, but willful destruction, harm, and pain seems to be the core of what I consider evil.

I've seen this sort of behavior change the character of the person engaging in it.  Although I'm a believer in a particular sort of karma, I think that people who engage in willfully destructive and harmful acts create their own personal hells.  There are plenty of literary examples of this sort of character: the one that has committed so many vile acts that they can no longer see good in anyone else.  This often manifests as that person becoming unwilling to believe in the altruism of others and see all of their actions as being fueled by ulterior motives or enlightened self-interest.  This is not just the provenance of fiction, however; I've seen it happen in real life.

I do believe that there are non-humans entities that are malign or at best do not have humanity's best interests in mind.  I do not however see this as suggesting a cosmic force of evil; I think that what humans consider evil is small change on the upper levels of reality.  I do not discount coalitions or cooperation between different sorts of entities but do have trouble believing in evil, as humans see it, as a force of its own.

I tend to try to discourage people from using harmful magick because, as I mentioned above, harmful actions change a person, and also as a matter of personal aesthetics: there is enough ugliness in the world.  There is no need to add to it.  This philosophy extends beyond magick for me but that is where I am the most likely to speak up concerning it.  I don't take the Rule of Three completely literally, but harmful magick does tend to rebound more directly on the life of its practitioner than your average, everyday harmful deeds.

It may not be possible not to destroy or do harm, but it can't hurt to try.  I see "Harm None", like most spiritual laws, as a guideline for behavior and a virtue that can be aspired to but never truly attained.  It's more about the journey than the destination.

This is a post that could branch into many other topics, so I'm going to limit it and end it here.  If there are any comments I may make more posts about the subject, but as it stands, these are my basic views on the matter.  I am interested in comments and feedback on this post, though, because it's a subject that I think needs to be explored and considered more than it is; as I've said above, what most consider evil is based on gut reaction societal consideration rather than reason and personal gnosis.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Leaves - Prayer

"An act of spiritual communion" is the best definition that I have found for prayer.  It's a term that makes a lot of the Pagans that I've met uncomfortable.  I think that it's likely that that comes from association with ritual rendered meaningless through repetition or lack of comprehension as well as its association with supplication; not all prayers are a request for Divine aid, however.

By the above definition, nearly every spiritual behavior could be considered an act of prayer.  Most religions have proscribed techniques for this.  Repetition of phrases and holy texts, meditation (often in the form of silent repetition of the same), self denial in the form of fasting or a form of abstinence, and sacrifice or offering seem to be the most common techniques.  Less common in modern forms of religion are physical exertions such as dancing and martial arts, ritual intoxication, self-mortification and mutilation, and application of physical pain and pleasure.

I personally feel nearly any of the above-named techniques can be valuable in establishing or strengthening a connection with the Divine.  Nearly any activity, given the proper framework, is a prayer.  Many feel that their paths do not allow them the flexibility to explore other forms of worship, and though I am not one who appreciates restrictions on expression in faith, I believe that their may be a valid reason for these beliefs.

An act of communion is one of interaction.  A connection to the essence of the aspect of the Divine that one is attempting to interact with seems to be facilitated by several factors.  Achieving a resonance with the essence of that Deity is, appropriately, essential.  Many of the props that are used in prayer are related to the mythology of the deity involved in the act, which helps to both establish a proper frame of mind for the participant and to, through sympathetic resonance, attract the attention of that which it is like.  Personal will or passion also seems to be important; often the most remarkable petitions are the ones granted in times of need for the petitioner, and the petitioners do not always have the opportunity to be in an established sacred space, surrounded by the trappings of their faith.

An act that is alien to the paradigm of a faith is less likely to achieve the appropriate resonance and less likely to establish the proper frame of mind within the person preforming the prayer.  Considering the variety of individual human expression, however, it is inevitable that there will among any group arise segments who perceive through their own gnosis connections not made with that aspect of the Divine by the more orthodox members of that group.  Gnostic Christians and Sufi Muslims are good modern examples of such subgroups.

There have been many studies and articles about the benefits of prayer.  I tend to think the benefits of most prayers include the benefits of the associated activity (mental or physical exercise, purging of one's system through fasting, mental purging and resetting through meditation) as well as an increased connection to the aspect of the Divine that one is praying to.   The second benefit is the most ephemeral in the immediate (although the emotional pleasure and raising of one's spirit by improving such a connection should not be overlooked) but most important in the long term.  Drawing close to that which you worship allows it a closer connection to you as well thus allowing it a greater influence over your life.  I believe that the Gods can affect us despite spiritual distance, but I also believe that their aid can be more direct when given a channel through which to pour their energy and will.

I raised the subject of the repetition of prayer earlier.  Regular acts of prayer give one a chance to remember why we revere the Gods that we do, and give those Gods an opening with which to reach in and affect our lives.  Just as daily exercise, learning and meditation are beneficial to one's physical and mental well-being, prayer improves the tone of one's energy and spirit.

At the same time, I've noticed that it is helpful to alter one's prayers occasionally.  Repeating something endlessly can cause it to lose its meaning; this can be observed personally when one repeats a word to the point when it sounds strange in their ears.  If one feels that certain acts of worship have grown stale, substituting them for another can help them in getting out of such a spiritual rut.  It is important to keep in mind the personal signifigance of words and gestures when doing this.  If an invocation or mantra feels like it has been overused, substitute words of the invocation for fresh ones with greater or equal spiritual signifigance to you.  Not everyone is a poet or author but most dieties have a body of liturgy associated with them from which new names, attributes and adorations can be drawn.  Barring that a good thesauraus can be of great help.

In the case of non-verbal prayers or prayers for which words are only a part, similar substitutions can be made.  Change a gesture in a dance, abstain from a different substance or act than the usual, or seek a new offering that might add new signifigance to your relationship with your chosen deity.

Prayer is any act of devotion or attempt to commune with the Divine.  This can include invocation, spoken words and phrases, meditation, dance, purification or cleansing, eating and drinking, walking, or working on a project related to the Divinity you are attempting to improve your connection with.

Prayer may be done at any time of day or night.

Actions, props and words associated with the aspect of the Divine in question increase the potency of a prayer, as does an established space sacred to said deity.

Prayer is beneficial because it draws you closer to the Divine and your chosen Gods and gives them a channel by which they may affect your life more directly.

If a prayer feels meaningless or stale, alter parts of it, or substitute it for a different act of worship.  This will allow your relationship with your Gods to grow in other directions, and helps to keep it fresh and interesting, which is important for beings with linear minds like our own.

Embrace your Gods.  Let them embrace you.  Grow close to the Divine.  Pray!

"Let my worship be within the heart that rejoices, for behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence within you.."  - The Charge of the Goddess

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Roots - Cosmology

"From the Tao came One,
from One came Two,
from Two came Three
and from Three came The Ten Thousand Things."
Tao Te Ching Chapter 42

I'm going to try and describe how I see the universe before I place labels on my beliefs.  If you've read my preamble you must have some ideas, but I'd like to present them without using names or titles.

Everything that is is part of something greater than itself.  Everything That Is is part of something greater than Itself.  It is greater than Itself in the way that the sum may be greater than the total of its parts.  That Which Is Greater Than Everything That Is is the origin as far as our perspectives may see.  As far as we understand the concept of origin, or as far as origin can fit That Which Is Greater Than Everything That Is.

I fear that I may need to make acronyms.

The animating spirit of the universe, the source, the Prime Mover may as well be infinite, or limitless.  It is aware, and sapient, though I acknowledge that those words are based on our observation of Everything That Is as That Which Is Greater Than Everything That Is causes it to change.  Everything That Is is a manifestation of it, and every thing that is is a manifestation of it.  There is not that is not It.

There are levels of existence, veils, steps, between what we perceive now and That Which Is Greater.  The origins of these steps and reason for them is a subject I will return to at a later point.  There are distinct personalities, archetypes, entities, that are closer to That Which Is Greater.  Like us but bigger.  It would stand to reason that there would be entities or what have you further away.  I have theories about this, again a subject for later discussion.

Some see these entities as all being reflections of That Which Is Greater.  Some see them as servants.  Some see them as enemies.  I call them Gods.

Allright, so the label sneaked in there.  I suppose it was time.

What I have outlined above is how I see the upper levels of reality.  Here's a more poetic version:

In the sea, She looked at herself and saw a reflection.  She reached out to touch it and met Her own finger tips.  She Above The Waves withdrew to observe.  She Below The Waves saw, and saw the ocean about her, and felt alone.  She looked up to look at her distorted reflection in the water's surface, and touched it.  She gripped on to a pair of hands and drew it into the ocean with her.  It was not Her, it was Him.  They have been dancing, and loving, and proCreating ever since.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Welcome to this Temple

Temple is not the best word.  Salon, forum, soapbox, circle, and yes blog might all be more appropriate.  Writing this is in a way an act of worship for me; on this blog I will share my thoughts, interactions, encounters, and gnosis of the Divine, specifically Isis, the Great Mother, as well as those associated with her, other divine manifestations, magick, ethics, morality, and related topics.

I am drawing my square in the sand here, a cartouche to contain the glyphs that my mind makes when it reflects on that which is greater than I.  A place to give them some order, a place to give them life, and most importantly, a place to give them a place outside of myself.

I draw a break in the square in the sand, a gateway that can be entered by those who resonate off what they see in the mark, to small for inflated egos and locked against any who would mark it with ill will.  By the gates I draw a lion and a cobra, who will drive back any that are unwelcome.  Within I draw a cat that will hunt and remove that which does not belong here.

In the middle I draw an ankh, and in the loop of the ankh I trace the djed.  About the ankh is drawn a five pointed star, enclosed in a circle, with twin crescents of the moon on either side and crescent horns pointing upwards at the top.

At the corners I draw a a cloud and a hawk, a flame and a scorpion, a turtle under waves, and a wolf on a mountain.  Near the cloud and hawk I draw the rune Ansuz, awakening and awareness.  Near the flame and the scorpion I draw the rune Kenaz, illumination and knowledge.  Near the turtle and water I draw the rune Berkana, compassion and the Mother.  Near the wolf on the mountain I draw the rune Othila, the sanctuary, the temple.

It is done.  I step back and look at the tablet, blank and prepared to contain my words and the words of others.  I silently pray that they will be words of wisdom, hope, compassion, and enlightenment.

The page is ready.  It will soon be time to begin.