High and Low Magick

At my first Pagan gathering I was sitting around the sacred fire with the High Priestess of my coven and few others who, like me, were unwilling to move from the warmth of the blaze. When, a class just happened to be scheduled for that location began; the class was Magick 101. Since I was already there I decided to stay in my seat and listen politely to the instructor. The first thing the instructor did was ask each of the people around the fire their level of knowledge. Some people where members of different covens, others were solitary, and I was honest about being new to my coven and serious study. The next thing the instructor did was ask “What is the difference between High and Low Magick?”

Que me slinking farther in to my blankets and hoodie, it was going to be a long class discussing the same information I just wrote a three paragraph essay on for the woman equity buried in microfiber beside me. The instructor looked around the circle, and the second answer he received is one I remember shaking my head to. The High Priest of I don’t remember coddled his answer in the form of a story with an ending moral of High Magic was when you impose your will on someone else. I guess I was to noticeably surprised, or disused by the implications of his answer since I felt two pairs of eyes on me. My High Priestess wanted me to speak up and the instructor wanted the “new girl” to give a go. I untangled my moth from my cave of fuzzy materials to be heard and gave a short one sentence answer, before like a grumpy dragon retreating to her cave gave the instructor the floor to continue. I will not be giving you readers just the one sentence answer I spewed on that 19°F October afternoon. Instead lets brake down these forms of magick to understand better what they are.

Low Magick also referred to as Nature Magick, is any magick performed using tools of nature to incite change on this plane of existence. High Magick is ceremonial magick intended to bring the practitioner closer to deity. Normally very strict in performance or done on the astral plane. So, as you can see the high/low is not in reference to a hierarchy but the plane in which the magick is intended to affect. Almost all magick a witch performs can be considered Low Magick.

Historically speaking Low Magick was preformed by the healers and cunning folk of the village. You needed your crops blessed, your child healed, the pests out of your home; the magick preformed was to affect your plane of existence and preformed by someone of similar social standing as you. So, another way to look at why they are distinguished in High and Low is noticeable. High Magick took training and time, everything had to be preformed perfectly, and the magician was of high stature. Not to be bothered with issues of the common folk but communing with the Gods for King and State.

The first book Gerald Gardner published on Wicca was “High Magic’s Aid”. Published at the time as fiction, Gardner’s book divulged methods of Magick he learned from his time with the Golden Dawn, and how modern pagans open and release circle can be traced to High Magickal practices. So, where the distinction of high and low is not an indication of strength or one being better then the other, it does assist the practitioner in understanding the differences in both practices.

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

 

 

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Recycling as an Act of Devotion

When I lived in apartments in North Georgia recycling was next to impossible. My complex did not participate in any program or pick up and the closest plant was an hour’s drive away. I hated the amount of wast we were generating as a two person family, but I personally was unable to do anything about it on a regular basis. Moving out to Phoenix there was a large difference in the acceptability of recycling resources. Now living in a three person household we may generate a bag of waste a week and up to two bags of recyclables.

Why did not being able to recycle bother me so much? As Pagans we practice an earth-based religion, and if so then what happens to our scared space should be a major influence on our practice. Look at other religions that hold sacred space in buildings and special places. Do they leave these “houses” of their deities dirty and neglected? No, so why is the earth, our sacred space any different? Taking care of the earth is an act in its self of devotion to our home and to the Gods when placed into this context. But, your thinking, recycling is a no brainier due in part to the large recycling movement of the ’90s; however according to US Environmental Protections Agency (EPA) 66% of the materials we throw into landfills could be recycled.

That means all that talk in the ’90s and early 2000s didn’t really make that large of an impact. I don’t think I know a single person who would not say recycling is important, but how many of these people recycle on a regular base? When Earth Day rolled around the company I was working for made a big fuse about how green and energy efficient the buildings were, but the free cups in the brake rooms were styrofoam and there were no air driers in the bathrooms. As you can see above, one strofoam cup takes 50 years to decompose and a paper towel 3 or 4. So, a large company that has over 500 employees at one campus; witch an average of each employee using up to three cups per day and six paper towels. . . I should see some astonished faces.

So, not only are we not recycling what can be recycled; we are not making simple changes to recyclable or earth friendly materials. Why? cost. Styrofoam is cheep, people prefer patter towels because driers are loud and unreliable, its hard to remember reusable shopping bags, and so on. Are you taking part in recycling in your home and office? Is your neighborhood and work place recycle friendly? If you said no to any of these, then what are you doing about it? There are a ton of resources out their on the internet for learning how to recycle in your city so I implore you as a Pagan, show gratitude to your Gods for such a beautiful earth and keep it that way.

If you live in the Phoenix area please see this link to understand the recycling program hear: http://www.recyclecleanphoenix.org/faq/

Blessed Be,

Autumn Wolfe

As always please feel free to comment and share! If you have any questions or wish to get in contact with me please email me at autumn.ironwolf@gmail.com

A Pagan Earth Day

How to Celebrate Earth Day as a practitioner of an earth based religion.

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Earth Day is Friday April 22nd. Commonly celebrated in an effort to raise awareness on environmental issues. Since its first celebration in 1970 more then 193 countries are involved, but has that made an difference fixing the devastating impact humans have had on the earth? As Pagans we celebrate Mother Nature and  the Earth in our daily religious practice; because of this ever Pagan has a responsibility to do what we can to have as little to no impact on the environment as possible.

If we do that everyday why should we make April 22nd any different? We make Earth Day special by doing just a bit more then our normal actions. Make Earth Day the one day of the year you reaffirm what you currently do, decide on what more you can do, and being present in the actions of others. The following are some activities you can do on Earth Day to remind yourself the importance of Mother Earth. You can even do more then one!

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  • Volunteer

What better way to spend Earth Day then with a community driven volunteer program. Look on your city or county web site and I am sure you will find a park clean up on Earth Day. If spending the day in the hot sun doesn’t sound like fun consider donating to a charity or signing a petition. On the bottom of the page I have a list of Pagan and Non-Pagan organizations that need our help! Please consider looking at these worthy causes.

  • Hold a Ceremony or Ritual

In a group or buy yourself consider holding a ritual in honer of the Earth. Send some healing energy out to her and take time focusing on what can be done between the worlds to care for the Earth. You can do this inside or out, decorating your alter with images and items that call Earth to your circle.

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  • Go on a Nature Hike

I would say the best way to spend Earth Day is being out in nature. So get out there and take a hike! Better yet go camping! Become one with the Earth will help not only your soul and magick, but grant you good memories to help you call on earth later. Make sure you review safety material and pack appropriately, but best of all bring an extra garbage bag and while your on the trail remove all signs of previous travelers that you find. Like the Girls Scouts leave the place better then you found it!

  • Start a Recycling Program

When I lived in apartments recycling was practically impossible. The closest plant was an hour away and my complex did not collect. So, everything went in the trash. Now I live where recycling is picked up every week and I have more recycling then wast. If you want to create a change in your community, school, or work place  speak up at the next town hall, talk to the other people who’s support you need. On the same note you can also start a compost or garden. Use Earth Day too get needed supplies and  do something for yourself, your community, and the Earth.

  • Join a Movement

Need to feel more active then what the previous suggestions provided? Have time on your hands? Join the fight! Go out to a protest, community board, or an organization. There are so many things you can do locally or world wide to be the change. Lend your voice or arms to the efforts to heal and stop the pain we are causing to the Earth.

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The following are organizations you can lend your support to this Earth Day and everyday:

Earth Day – April 22

http://ecopagan.com/

http://www.paganmusic.co.uk/the-green-album/

https://www.wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org

http://www.rainforestfund.org

An Altar in Every Room

Creating small inconspicuous, sacred spaces all thought a Witch’s home.

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What is with us Pagans and our Altars? I love looking at a clear perfectly arranged space. In fact it causes a lot of hostility in my home, because my roommates don’t have the same need for organization and cleared space as I do. I would say a large portion of my need for cleared space, i.e. uncluttered empty counters and table space, is due to the teachings of Paganism. In every beginners book there is a section dedicated to removing unwanted and unused things. Normally in a spring cleaning or emotional baggage type section. They encourage a working witch to get rid of energy suckers; and that these clear spaces help our thoughts and our magick stay fresh. Maybe when I was younger I didn’t ascribe to that philosophy as much, but now I can’t stand clutter of any kind! Everything I have out on display has a place and gives me nothing but joy and if it is a necessary item that does not bring me happiness with a single glance it better have a place to go where I don’t have to look at it.

As a “compromise” I enforce stringent regulations on my spaces and try to respect shared space. I am really bad at the respecting shared space bit. Now top of that, I have thrown embarrassing tantrums and had fits over my spaces being touched and in prep for spring cleaning I think I found out why. Every space I set up is an altar of some kind that I have devoted a large portion of energy in setting up and caring for. Each one in turn gives me satisfaction on a spiritual level and could be used to invoke certain feelings, Deities, or emotional states. Whether you maintain a standing Altar in you home or not, if you have been in the craft for any length in time you  keep your tools in a certain place in a special way. You know the sting of your magickal space being disturbed and work to prevent it at all cost. You may let others touch your tools but if they have been disturbed out of your presence it’s a brake of trust.

Sryai'scloset        High Priestess Syrai RavenWynd’s (of Circle of the Spiral Moon Coven) “Witchy Closet” The closet door has a lock to keep unwanted eyes and hands out.  This is where a practitioner of the craft for over 2 decades keeps her tools safe.

So, what is with us and our altars? I know a lot of practicing witches who have multiple places in their homes and outdoors that they can go to to recharge their witchy batteries. Why if the Earth is our “church” do we construct these places? Altar construction and devotion is an ancient art found all over the world. Its in our DNA, and if you ask me our ancestors built these physical places of worship for their convenience. The first altars were just as much for spiritual need as much community. These slabs of stone and art that have survived where there for the people. Used as anthropologists and historians speculate for more then religion but politics, education, and Judaical proceedings as well, but in these ancient times all of these communal acts would be considered inter connected. In short the ancestors built these places to bring the people together and to give a place that was everyone’s space and no one’s at all; because they are the Gods’ space.

Moving away from historical speculation and to  Neo-Paganism there is a large focus of altar building. All the books talk about altar decoration and set up and most of us that don’t have a stationary altar wish we did. I personal find myself very lucky after fifteen years of not being able to maintain a constant altar I now have one; and as I have said before have been finding that some spaces I once considered mundane are not so much anymore. If you do not have the luxury of freedom to have a open and stationary altar consider some options.

ostaraalter16                        My Altar currently midway cleaned from Ostara.

Not all altars have to be large and elaborate. I have seen plenty of altars that get the job done on just a small floating shelf. Also, your altar does not have to be just your altar. Sometimes a space has to pull double duty. If half the time your altar is your desk due to space, that is not a problem. Your altar also does not have to be covered in pentacles, and Goddess symbols. A candle and some images of nature can be all you need to know what it is and not freak out your gusts. Also fold out tables that come out only when its ritual time is just fine too. For a long time I had to flatten a TV dinner tray when not in use and then pull it back out when it was time to set the circle.  The main importance hear is to do what you need when you need to and do what you feel works for you. Yes a lot of books will tell you how set up an altar, but most of the advice they are giving is rooted in Ceremonial Magick and that might not work for everyone.

Before I end I did want to share some of the spaces I never planed on making into altars that have organically become so. I have a large garden tub in my master bath.  It is not a shower and tub combo and because of this I have decorated the edges of the tub with candles, large shells, rose quarts, and a marble statue of Michel Angelo’s Birth of Venus (see top picture). The Goddess of beauty and love has infused that space to a place of self care and worship. With the offerings surrounding her the whole tub is infused with love and care whether I am using it or not! My nightstand was a bit of a labor of love to begin with. I wanted a very specific piece of furniture and once I got it I wasn’t going to stop there. I ended up replacing the knobs for much prettier blue and white panted porcine and found a tile coaster that matched.   At home I had two tea lite holders. One blue louts flower and a blue Moroccan Lantern. I was gifted a beautiful purple incense holder and with all of that strategically placed the table gave off a warmth and peaceful vibe.  So even the most simple and mundane places can become magickal and full of spirit. How does your altar look? Make you feel?

This week I suggest music by Onmia.                                                                                                          I can’t get their title track song Earth Warrior out of my head!

Blessed Be,                                                                                                                                                            Autumn Wolfe