Archive for the ‘Aleister Crowley’ Tag

December Pentad

ONE

238 abandoned drafts, 727 posts / screenshot 9 December 2020

In many ways the posts here at A Druid Way comprise a spiritual memoir. They’re not really a “how-to” for Druidry, though I do post suggestions from time to time, if the nudge comes through persistently enough that something in my experience may hold value for others. (On the other hand, you should see my backlog of about 200+ rough drafts of posts that will never see publication.) But I don’t usually write a “How to Read the Ogham” or “Becoming a Priest of Lugh” or “Three Land-spirits You Can Work With” kind of post. Others do that more competently.

Instead, by digging into my own experiences for the energies and portals, avenues and worlds they open into, I hope to document one small part of the wild landscape we can walk as Druids. “Small” isn’t false modesty but simply spiritual fact, given the vastness of our inner worlds. I also try to ask hard questions, because to me they’re some of the most useful things for where I am now. Don’t worry — Druidry is tough enough. It can take it. And so can we. I know my practice, my amazement and my gratitude have all deepened as a consequence.

TWO

I take for a valuable triad the “Three Questions to Ask of a Deed”: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Rather than telling me what to do, this Triad turns me inward, prompting me to act with greater awareness of the spiritual identity of a person, of a situation. Often others can only see the action itself, not what led up to the moment of it, or what follows. Often I can say “yes” to two out of three points of the Triad, but that third Question will stop me in a most helpful way. And more than 33% of the time, it’s the Question of Kindness. The harsh letter of complaint to our used-car dealer I want to write, after over $3700 in repairs two months after we bought it, or the snarky comment to a stranger I just don’t need to make, especially over-caffeinated as I was — if a Triad can re-direct my energies to better purposes, it’s proven itself. All emotions are what they are — flows of energy. What I do with them, though — that’s my laboratory, my workshop, my opportunity, my spiritual arena. Molotov cocktail or spiritual illumination?

THREE

A private lane in southern Vermont/Tuesday, 8 Dec 2020.

There’s intermittent talk among Druids about signs and omens. “What do they mean? How can I tell?” I’ve noticed that the more compassionate and wiser listeners among us try to answer with some version of the following:

All things have multiple meanings. Some of them are part of consensus reality, and some are private and personal. We live in many worlds, and some of them are symbolic. If you had a bad or good experience with dogs, then a dog in a dream, or a vision, or on a solitary walk will mean something different for you than for the next person. Keeping a record of encounters, of signs and omens, can often help with understanding them, because patterns may emerge. Sometimes you will know. And sometimes you’ll need to be patient until you can see a pattern emerge.

In my more manic moments I test these responses with a potentially silly question to help me unpack them: “What does my wife mean, if I meet her unexpectedly when I’m out in our backyard?” The oddness of such a question helps reveal some of my attitudes about signs and omens. Does she “mean” anything? Yes and no. She’s a person like I am, and like the birds and trees and all the other beings in this cosmos that I may encounter. She has her own path, and while we’ve agreed out of love and shared interests and common goals to walk some of the same paths together, what she means to me isn’t all or even part of what “she means”. Or to put it another way, who she is is greater than “what she means”. Her existence can’t be contained in the definition of another person, even one who loves her, but by her going about her life, by the living of it.

FOUR

While signs and omens may exist partly or even wholly in our own subjective universes, I find that much (most? all?) of the physical world reflects the inner worlds. “As above, so below” is more than just a nice theory. (Sometimes you get the sense that the gods “really mean it” this time.)

Instructions for rituals or magic often include directions to “visualize”. For many that can be a challenge, so it’s helpful to have a physical map of an inner reality, something to get into your mind’s eye.

Part of the 3-mile walk we try to take a few times a week takes us past a neighbor’s maples, and the sugaring gear remains in place for the next season. Here then are the energy lines running from tree to tree, as they do between so many beings — in living color.

FIVE

From time to time Druidry (like Paganism generally) faces a critique, less common than it used to be, that it “has no ethics or moral principles”. Or if it does, they’re hedonistic and selfish. Fortunately, here we can heap some blame on old uncle Al, Aleister Crowley, with his widely bandied-about “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”, as if the sum total of all non-Christian thought amounted to a Nike commercial and “Just do it”.

That Crowley was talking about living from one’s True Will gets lost in all the noise, just like “You must be born again” too often gets turned into little more than emotional experience at a revival. That Crowley and Jesus might even be talking about something similarly transformative — that the spiritual terrain they both point to might be worth exploring so we begin to know it in person “with signs following” — such a thought might well rank up there on many people’s Top Ten Blasphemies list.

Apropos of this, you may have seen the recent ad(vert) for a video game featuring a pic of a CGI busty red-headed wench and the leering tagline “You’re allowed to do anything you want in this game!” As one commentator responded:

“Really, interactive porn grifter? I’m allowed to do ANYTHING I want in this game? Can I travel the world? Can I achieve self-actualization? Or do you assume that my imagination only extends as far as touching a cartoon boob? Because I’ll do that too, but there’s a lot of other shit I want!”

Rather than assuming all our wants and desires can be conveniently divided into pure and impure, or some other light/dark, good/bad dichotomy, why not employ the energy behind these surface manifestations to see what they look like in the other worlds? Sometimes the outer form of “what I want” overlays a very different contour on the inner map of who and what we are, and how far we extend into realms we didn’t know we walked in.

Or to frame it differently, what would my life look like if I operated under the postulate sometimes attributed to Chaos Magic — “Nothing is true and everything is permitted” — and which originates in the novel Alamut by Vladimir Bartol, also an inspiration for the book/film/game Assassin’s Creed? That theme and precept can fuel any number of thoughtful plunges into one’s assumptions and world-view.

And a Bonus SIX

Here we are, a little less than two weeks out from Yule / Solstice / Alban Arthan — that interval I keep noticing shimmers in my awareness whenever one of the “Great Eight” seasonal festivals approaches. Each of them has a pooling of forces and dynamics that calls to anyone who’s worked with that cycle of holy days — calls in varied ways. Is there an Inner Solstice taking place at or around the same time? A very good question for meditation. Would I like to join the inner celebration? Yes! Would you like to join me?

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Omen Days 5 and 6: Stars and Ice

Omen Days [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5-6 | 7-9 | 10-11 | 12-13 ]

Two nights ago, I turned to look at the clock on my nightstand, the pale phosphorescent numbers showing almost 2:00 am. Then I heard my wife moving in the hall outside the bedroom.

What is it? I asked.

The stars woke me up, she said.

A little shiver, of awe and pleasure both, at those words. And yes, with a few steps across the kitchen toward our boots, and quiet laughter as we stumbled out the front door to look, the clear night sky above us flamed with stars. So many cities now glow with light pollution at night that you can no longer look up and see the stars. How helpful the present darkness, for seeing the splendor of the light.

(Here for my daily augury I take up a typo from an earlier draft of this post — I’d quoted Aleister Crowley’s famous line from his Book of the Law (1), but with one additional letter at the end: “Every man and woman is a start”. I laughed a good while over that one. Yes, I’m a beginning, a work in progress, raw materials like all of us are. So just keep going, says Spirit.)

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Year-end storms brush much of the U.S. this week. The northeast is seeing sleet and ice, rain and snow for a couple of days, leaving roads treacherous. Some New Hampshire friends have taken to heart the Icelandic tradition of  Jólabókaflóð — literally, “Yule-book-flood”, and have provided themselves with ample reading material for whatever the weather brings.

iceeverg

outside our front door this morning

“Wind and ice are the only deciders of symmetry”, writes upstate New York poet Linda Allardt (2). “Survival makes do for grace”. Some winter days, especially in a northern climate, you can feel the truth of that right down into your bones.

The Galilean Master tried to teach “spiritual meteorology” to his followers: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?” (3). I religiously check “the weather” each morning, but too often ignore my “spiritual climate”, which includes our physical one. The analogy hits home: weather is to climate, as mood is to spiritual climate. The former changes day by day, while the latter’s a long-term trend.

[For what I’ve come to understand, over a decade of study, is a fairly accurate projection of our climate future, take a look at articles like this one in The Guardian: “The Climate Crisis in 2050: What Happens if Cities Act but Nations Don’t” . Rather than pure depressing statistics, it reflects and extrapolates from the present reality, as the subheading names it, that “It is cities, not national governments, that are most aggressively fighting the climate crisis”. And if you’re still too optimistic, this second article can really help cure that.

I don’t know about you, but for me clear vision is preferable to hysteria and paranoia any day. This one possible future may indeed be grim, but there’s room for human hands and hearts to shape its form and direction, and avert its worst features, as we’re beginning to do, albeit in fits and starts. And as a strong believer in reincarnation, I suspect I’ll likely be back again in the middle of it, dealing with it as best I can, along with a good number of others alive today. From this perspective, it’s good to start equipping myself now with the spiritual tools I’ll need to work with then.]

So there you have it. I’ve written a post that has Jesus, Aleister Crowley, and climate change in it, and it sorta kinda maybe even coheres.

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(1) Book of the Law, Ch. 1, verse 3.

(2) The Names of the Survivors (Ithaca House, 1979). Cursory info on Allardt here.

(3) Matthew 16:3.

Part 2: First Seed, Outward Leaf

[Part 1: Frequency-Matching for Love and Money]

When I wrote earlier this year in May, reviewing the first Mid-Atlantic MAGUS Beltane Gathering, I noted briefly how “the initial inward glimpse of the Gathering came to one of the organizers almost a decade ago.  There’s yet another indication, if I need the reminder, of the possible time-gap between first seed and outward manifestation.”

For this post, let’s substitute “frequent” for “possible”. Life on earth often means adapting to that pace — that’s a large part of “growing up”, working patiently with the gaps between seed and manifestation. Life in the “fast lane” is precisely that — unearthed, out of harmony with the planet, with embodied existence in general. The old tradition of letting the land lie fallow, to restore its fertility as well as to rest, testifies to this ancient understanding. Even as we try to increase the pace of change here for our own benefit, the land, like humans, need breaks from busy-ness. Land unbusied by humans is “wild” going about its own concerns that do not need humans. So much that we find restorative in wilderness stems from its rootedness in its own rhythms, in a pace it sustains through countless ages. Attuning to that pace, as so many traditional cultures show us, is health-giving. Yet all wild landscapes change, too.

throught he mother stone -- Wendy Rose Scheers

photo courtesy Wendy Rose Scheers

Earth following its own nature brings things forth “in season”. There’s a time for everything, and everything in its time — and we say the same thing, even more, about place.  Even at death, that instant of change, we work with liturgies which (re)assign places: we hear “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. Pagans regularly “ground and center”. Humans attempt to earth changes, to ground or integrate or heal them with the sovereign power of physical stability and constancy. Terra firma. The fixed and reliable earth. Back on solid ground.

Many qualities of earth match the same ones we cherish in other people. “You can always count on her”; “He’s solid — you know where you are with him”; “I feel safe and protected around him”; “She’s a total earth-mother”; “She’s a really well-grounded person”; “He’s the salt of the earth”. Earth-home. This old “bone-house”, bānhūs, as the Anglo-Saxons called it, the skeleton of the physical body that mirrors earthiness, that holds the flesh up. Backbone, spine — good things. Courage of earth. Resilience.

If an inner threat encroaches on me, if I need respite and retreat, I open my practical tool-kit and deploy a triple protection exercise. As I turn from what troubles me, I ask for the protection of earth. In vision I approach a golden mountain. Set in the rock are enormous, heavy double doors. I walk through and they close protectively behind me.  I proceed, coming to a second set of doors, even larger and more massive than the first, which also thud shut after I pass. I feel the echo in my bones. On through the final set of doors, greatest of the three, which close with a resounding boom. Safe behind these triple doors, I regroup. Here I can regain balance and poise, seek insight and perspective. I will emerge only when I’m damn good and ready.

And we make games of change because in contrast to earth’s stability, change still does happen. We notice it most clearly against the “background” of the land, of the concrete, the manifest, the dense material world. And so we flirt with change and chance, we attempt to build, or flee from,  a “house of cards”, we enshrine reminders to ourselves in proverbs like the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, we see (or miss) the approach of a “tipping point”,  we witness the point itself in volcanoes, earthquakes, those sudden and massive shifts in previously reliable earth, we lament it in accidents, injuries, illnesses. We gamble, take risks, bet on our intuitions of what will last and what will lurch and abruptly buckle. We “time the market”, watch for that “point of no return”, and so on and on.

In a word or two, then, much of the time we get it. We’re good at earth.

But earth’s just one of the elements. Also breathed on by air, washed by water, flamed with fire, we manifest spirit — we’re that quintessence, those five points of essence, of existence. “Every man and woman”, says Aleister Crowley, “is a star”.

When our “lives rearrange in the winds of change”, as one song goes, when we set sail on the ancient sea within us, when that slow-burning fire flares up and heats everything, when spirit nudges us through all these forms, then change happens. A key: the elements working in concert usher in smoother change than the kinds that shatter the worlds of form. But as a transformer of spirit myself, I may choose to ignore the ebb and flow of energies. When I cast the elements aside, ignore spirit, turn my face from all things around me speaking what I need to know, then I invite more violent change. Nothing, nothing, nothing — WHAM!

But there, in the broken soil of change, a seed germinates, splits open, sends forth its first pale tendrils, and begins again the long game of living. How will it, how will I, manifest this time?

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From an earlier post — “Creating a Goddess Book“: “The physical world, so important for manifestation, by its nature tends to lag behind the swiftness with which vision can appear. But that lag is precisely part of this world’s immense value: its inertia and density allow for greater permanency and resistance to change, so that we can experience the results of vision over time — and fine-tune it if we choose. Unlike in dream, where the subtle stuff of vision or imagination can wisp away so quickly, physical manifestation tries to linger.”

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