Monday, April 29, 2013

On the Magick of Buildings

The buildings in which we spend our lives are often overlooked when it comes to our thoughts on magick.  After all they are just man-made boxes to hold our stuff and keep the weather off us, rented or borrowed spaces to accommodate our rituals. Even when they are beloved places we own and decorate and in which we sleep, eat, cook, make love and raise our families, celebrate our holidays and visit with our friends, we rarely think of them as magickal beings.
We may cast spells to protect our loved ones, ourselves and our things, we may even cast spells to protect our homes from fire or lightning but, do we ever give thought to the buildings themselves?  Do we give thanks or make offerings of love?  Do we ever pause just to be aware of the support they offer to us and to our magick?
I love architecture, I love walking through an empty building and seeing the structure and form and potential of the definitions it creates.  I enjoy the energy they hold and the clarity with which it can be felt when all of the “things” are not in it.  The way light enters through windows with no curtains regardless of whether it is overcast or sunny.  They don’t just hold energy though; I think they can also have energy of their own.  We believe that stones and trees and animals have energy of their own, it stands to reason that buildings might as well.
In a workshop on magick that I attended in a house of a friend, incense was burned that caused a feeling of chaos (that was its intended affect) while the feeling was quite delicious, or maybe because it was, in order to dispel its affects I needed assistance.  I put my hands on a structural beam of the house in order to regain my balance, and became instantly aware of the building’s structure and strength and the support it provided to all of those within it. 
At a large public ritual in a rented Meetinghouse recently, I managed to find a moment of quiet in a kitchen that has been the working space for generations of women, washing dishes after church functions.  The window-sill over the sink had a number of lovely potted plants that were obviously healthy and it occurred to me that the energy of the Meetinghouse itself supported the plants on the sill as well as all of the church meetings held there over generations, and my Tradition’s rituals as well.  The church I grew up in felt that way too, the memory of it came flooding into me as I looked at that window and put my hand on the door frame.
I live in a second floor studio apartment in a house that is over 130 years old.  The house itself has two other tenants as well as my 88 year old landlady who lives downstairs and who raised her four daughters in the home with her husband. Other families raised their children in this house before her.  While I have decorated my little Treehouse to suit me and my feline companion and I think that it is beautiful, it is beautiful regardless of our efforts.  The house supports us and both of the men who live here as well as my lovely landlady.  It has warmth and light and strength and stability (even during the earthquake a couple of years ago, and during storms and power-outages) it is sound and safe and its structure protects and supports those within it.  I recently cast new spells on the space that we occupy (my companion and I) and while I did a competent job, the house itself seamed to interpret my unspoken intentions and manifested them in ways I had not consciously expressed (much to my delight).  The house taught me about what it was capable of and what I should have considered.  It took my slightly awkward spell and manifested it with so much more power and beauty and grace than I could articulate.
I recently had the profoundly powerful experience of receiving my second degree initiation from my Coven and Tradition.  The ritual itself took place in the home that one of my coven-mates was moving out of a week later.  It took place over three floors of the house and involved climbing the stairs from the cellar to the top floor.  Then and now I realize that the house itself supported my every step.  From the ritual bath to the eating of food afterward, the house was the one entity with which I was in constant contact.  My feet were always in contact, my hands often as well.  The house itself supported me and all who were present working to midwife my transformation.  It did so quietly and without being asked (although I did thank it afterward before leaving, knowing I would not get another chance).
I am beginning to believe that all things with structure have energy.  That the buildings in which we live our lives are beings worthy of our attention and awareness just as the “living” beings around us, just as the rocks and the rain and the snow and the tools we use in our magick.  How much more because we inhabit them.  The land upon which we walk is alive and should be respected and treated with gratitude and attentive care.  The buildings in which we live, sleep, dream, love, celebrate, grieve, laugh and work magick deserve our gratitude, care and respect as well.
I would ask you to take the time to get to know the buildings in which you live.  Get to know the buildings in which you hold ritual.  Take a little time to become aware of them and to consider all that they do. Maybe even give them a little of your love and gratitude and ask if there is aught you can do to honor their service.
“Bless this House and All who Enter Here”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Ring

For two days now I have been wearing a ring on my left hand.  It is gold and thick with an oval faceted aquamarine, smaller squares of amethyst and topaz and a very small diamond set in a trace of silver.  It is not like any ring I own nor of a style that I would ever choose, and yet I cannot bring myself to take it off. 
I found it in a jewelry box on a dresser in a bedroom of a woman who died two years, four months and ten days ago.  It is not the only possession of hers that I left with.  There were books on the bookshelf in her sitting room that I took with me because she and I shared a love for the mysteries of life and a belief in magick.  And my oldest friend chose for me a broach that she said was supposed to be with me. (It is silver with rainbow crystals and a woman kneeling holding a crystal ball)
There were two prints on the wall on either side of her bedroom door  by an artist (now sadly also deceased)  whose work graces the walls of my home as well.  The woman who lived in the space suffered from the debilitations of MS and eventually withered and died from cancer and yet the energy in her rooms was bright and joyous and full of life.   Her parents have not yet packed things away, the only changes are the absence of things chosen by her many friends to take home as a way of having some of her energy with them.  
After over two years the life and love that was her soul and spirit shines brightly in that place.  There are still small spells of healing and love sitting on the shelf next to her bed.  I wanted to sit there and talk with her but, she is no longer there.  As her father said with a smile both sad and sweet in a voice full of love and admiration, “She is now a part of the mystery.” 
One of the reasons that the ring is so appealing to me is that it seems to have an energy about it that reminds me of the active principle that I have been trying to cultivate in my life.  The beautiful woman who owned it was not a passive person.  She loved actively; she put her energy into the world in an active way.  Not overtly but never passive, never idle, never self-absorbed.  Even while she was terminally ill she would go to visit the elderly “to cheer them up”.  She would go and sit all night in a chair beside a friend in the hospital.  When she could no longer work because of the MS she volunteered at the Botanical Gardens, surrounding herself with life and light and beauty, and actively sharing that with others.
That is what I want my life to be.  I want to be actively engaged in the beauty around me.  I want to love others in a way that shines light and love into their lives.  I want the spaces I inhabit, both my rooms and the places in others lives, to be so full of joy and  light that it will persist long after I cross over, so that others will want to spend time there enjoying the healing and loving magick that I create.
She was a beautiful woman and I know she is still shining.  I give thanks for her example and the inspiration she has given me.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Being Female

I stood before the Gods, naked and with no veil around my eyes.  They held my chalice, a piece of pottery that I bought for $4 at a thrift store.  It leans a little and is rough and still resembles mud on the outside, the inside is a beautiful blood red with flecks of other colors.  I think the potter who made it considered it too imperfect to sell and so discarded it.  It is the most perfect thing I own because of its imperfections.  It is the tool with which I most strongly identify.
I am very fortunate in that my body has always felt like a true expression of my inner self.  My true identity has never been in conflict with the body that it inhabits.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been moments when I have wished my body were different.  When I was a child I wanted curly blond hair and blue eyes.  As an adolescent I wished that my breasts were larger. I have always wanted to be a graceful dancer and a strong and capable athlete.
It would be nice if I didn’t have scoliosis or one femur that is a half inch shorter than the other.  Diabetes is a bitch sometimes especially because I have a sweet-tooth and my relationship to food is not what the Gods might want it to be.  I have a few scars and stretch marks and at 47 there are times when the things I want to do will result in pain.  And I am still not a graceful dancer or a strong and capable athlete.
But my womb has borne fruit, my breasts have produced milk (though I do regret that I did not nurse my babes at my breasts, those were choices that I made.)  I have felt my children moving inside me.  My womb does not define me and yet, it has allowed me to accomplish the greatest thing that I can imagine. 
My body is imperfect like my chalice, and yet both are beautiful.  It is who I am.  It teaches me and allows me to engage with the world in which I live.  It has tattoos that mark the most profound moments of my life.  It is capable of giving and receiving great pleasure and of nurturing those I love and of healing others.  And it allows me to truly exist in the moment and be fully present.
So when I stood before my Gods to convince them that I understood the energy my chalice represents, the principles of form, stillness, silence, the feminine, I told them that it was everything that I am, all that I have ever done and hoped for and it was the truth.  They asked if I understood its depth, and my answer was that it is as deep as my very being, my blood, my heart, my womb, my body, and it is beautiful.
The Dark God, the Sage, demanded that I look into his eyes. He challenged weather or not I was willing to carry the light inside me and be seen, if I was ready to step onto the path, to form my life, if I deserved to.  I told Him that I was willing, that I was ready and that Yes, I deserve to be seen, that I am beautiful, and it was the truth.
When I performed the inner Great Rite, filling my chalice with the feminine energy within me was easy and natural (even graceful).  The energy was strong and full and flowed without any disruption.  Projecting the Masculine Polarity into my blade however was less graceful.  It felt awkward, unfamiliar, and less focused.  There was a moment when I was not completely sure that I had indeed accomplished the task.  But the energies did in fact unite and expand, though it was undeniably unbalanced in favor of the feminine, it did indeed become more than two separate things.  Like blue and yellow blending to create a lovely peridot green, but definitely not equal in their parts, not emerald. 
And that is ok.  I learned something.  I learned that as a human being, both exist within me. I learned that I need to practice strengthening and expressing the active principle within me. I learned that expressing something that is a part of me will improve with practice, will become more natural, more focused, more graceful, more familiar.   
Why, you might ask, should I need to learn to express the Masculine when I am so very content to be female?  Because it is a part of me and because it is a gift that can be used to serve others.  Male or Female, (weather our bodies agree with our true selves or not, weather we love men or women or men and women, weather we are men or women) we are all Human.  The Polarities exist within all of us.  They have very little to do with gender, and everything to do with living.  I may find the one easier to access but, I think that has more to do with my spirit than with my body and nothing at all to do with what the world thinks I am.
I am me.  And I am learning and I am beautiful.

Monday, April 8, 2013

In the Kingdom of Earth

In the Kingdom of the Earth, I met with the Father and the Mother.  They asked me about the keys and pointed out that I could lock or unlock anything I chose.  That all was within my own will to choose, Light or Shadow, the keys were simply reminders, the choice, the locks, the doors are within me. Then the veil was removed from around my eyes and I was confronted with my task, the Inner Great Rite, the Union of Polarities within myself.
First, I had to face the Goddesses, the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone. They held my blade and I needed to convince them that I understood the energy it holds, the principles of force and action and sound. In order to claim it, I needed to prove to Them that I was worthy and capable of wielding it. 
The first thought that entered my dazed mind was “They can’t expect me to wrestle them for it!” complete with the visual image that entails. I have a slightly dry sense of irony that serves as my sense of humor at odd moments.  So having discarded a physical act of force as inappropriate, as well as completely futile, I chose to show my understanding of the active, masculine principle through sound.  
In the next moment everyone present regretted my choice, me most of all.  I made a sound so completely dreadful that I almost wished to never make another sound for as long as I live…or at least for the next year or so.  It was loud and had absolutely no power and it broke off horribly at the end.  Despite my complete mortification however I could not turn back. (Besides I would never be able to wrestle my blade from the three of them.)  So, I tried again, and failed again. 
I had nothing left inside…there was no power behind my attempt because I had left everything I had upstairs.  That is when I again began to rely on daily practice.  I made myself still inside and took one long slow deep breath.  That one breath is the consolidation of something I have practiced every day for years now.  It is a practice of filling and connecting. 
Finally, I made a sound that didn’t make me want to crawl into a hole in the floor.  It didn’t have a lot of volume, and it was a slightly higher pitch but, it had power behind it and it held.  And again, and again it had power and again it held.  The Goddesses required that I claim my talents every day.  “I am good at words and truth and sometimes beauty.”  They granted me my blade and I turned to face the Gods and claim my chalice.