Archive for February 19th, 2009

From Witchcraft Today:

It is believed by witches that by acting a part you really take on the nature of the thing you imitate. This is really the basis of the cave-man’s magic. By making the clay image of the animal you wish to kill, and by knowing its name, you establish a link between them, so that when he stuck spears into it it gave power to kill it when he hunted it.  

That these beliefs may seem rather like children’s games to some does not alter the fact that primitive men do behave like this, and so do witches. By acting the part of the goddess the priestess is thought to be in communion with her; so the priest, acting as the god, becomes at one with him in his aspect of Death, the Consoler, the Comforter, the bringer of happy after-life and regeneration. The initiate in undergoing the god’s experiences becomes a witch. 

Witches quite realize that this communion does not occur every time one assumes the goddess position, but they very soon realize that by doing so they begin to receive thrills which are apt to grow more and more intense when the trance comes on. They KNOW! It is no use saying: “This is only suggestion, or the subconscious mind.” They reply: “We quite agree; suggestion or the subconscious mind are simply some of the tools which we use to help open the Door.”           

And once you have known the goddess, does anything else really matter? To attain this state there are many roads, and dancing is perhaps the easiest; the calls and the chants help, the attitude of the other members is of the greatest assistance–but the true secret is within oneself, and also to some extent in one’s partner or assistant in the art, and it is not a thing that can be forced. A quiet knowledge that you will do it, and a steady and regular performance of the rites, are all that is really necessary, although other things help. Short cuts are useful, but you must use them carefully as they are apt to lead you astray and to involve more work in the end.

You must first believe it is possible; then, use the method, or preferably a combination of the various methods that may be used together. When you have once attained the ecstasy you know that it exists and may be attained again. You must banish all feelings of can’t, fix in your mind: “I can and will.”

There are a number of spiritual powers which many people do not recognize as such, e.g. the various forms of inspiration, music and poetry, clairvoyance and magical awareness; but the greatest of all these is love. All these aids should be employed under instruction, as there are difficulties and dangers in their undiscriminating use.

Emphasis mine.  Now, let’s discuss.

I’ve been very outspoken in my criticism of what I consider to be the rampant misuse of invocative trance, and the dangers of invocation as spectator sport; and those criticisms stand, because I still think they are valid.  However, I think I’ve not been clear in presenting my own perceptions, at least as they exist at this point in time.  For the record, here they are:

I do believe in the experience of communion with the divine.  I also believe that experience is extremely subjective and individualized.  I believe there are people who absolutely believe themselves thoroughly possessed by their gods; I also believe there are people who are 100 percent bald-faced liars.  I believe I have met both!  I believe I have experienced such communion, and will do so again.  In the course of conducting such rites, I have at times felt very much different, changed, altered, somehow connected to something beyond myself.  Still fully present, and fully me, but also more than just me.  If that makes any sense; and unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it probably won’t.

All right?  All right.  Now let’s look at what Gardner said, because once I dug the quote back up and read through it, I thought “Oh, duh.  That’s how I see it, too!”  He puts it quite simply and thoroughly, I think; there’s a nice plain logic to it that doesn’t require extreme suspension of disbelief or outright abdication of higher brain function.  By acting like a thing, you take on some of its characteristics.  It doesn’t work every time, and it’s not an automatic flick-of-a-switch thing.  Sometimes you feel it and sometimes you don’t.  You don’t utterly become something else; you don’t cease to be yourself.  And it’s not a thing reserved only for the most pure and worthy vessel–anyone feeding you that line should be instantly dismissed as the bullshitter they most certainly are–that gnosis is open to anyone, and is attainable by the methods GBG indicates.  It’s not rocket science, and it’s not a bunch of incomprehensible woo.  Just another technique, whereby one can come to a more intimate knowledge and understanding of the divine.  I still twitch about doing it as performance art, and so I endeavor to make it very clear to others just what it is I’m doing or not doing, what my perceptions are, all the while–I hope!–also making it clear that there is room for their own personal interpretations of what’s happening, and that they may not necessarily jibe completely with my own.  That’s the beauty and the frustration of working in the realm of the subjective: you never know exactly what part of the elephant another person has a grip on.  Acknowledging the elephant as being many-faceted is important; but the most important thing is that everyone be able to acknowledge the elephant itself.


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