Sunday, August 28, 2005

Animal Magic

Animal Magic Cover A Circle fills the room with its special glow. Fragrant herbs perfume the air; candles light the night. And two small eyes glow up at you, knowing that they too are part of the magic.

People and animals have worked magic together in many ways, some of which were a part of everyday life. In agricultural lands, animals worked the magic of providing our survival through the winter. They provided food and materials used in all facets of the community.

Imagine a time before cars, trains and planes. People were somewhat bound to their homeland since walking cross-country seemed an endless journey. But then, on horseback, people could easily explore. Some say that the use of horses led to the major shifts in political and spiritual history, as one tribe invaded another with mounted soldiers, forever society and religion. For better or worse, horses changed the course of history.

Even in industrial times, we've worked with animals. You've heard the Expression "a canary in a coal mine." Miners used canaries to detect problems with the air quality, oxygen level, and presence of invisible poison gas. Canaries were more sensitive to these threats and could alert the workers.

Magical animals are not unfamiliar to the myths of Old. For example, Odin used two ravens to fly around the world and report back all that they saw. Could this symbolic tale be rooted in a form of divination used at the time? In ancient Egypt, the scarab beetle was a symbol of eternal life. This lore is based on the way beetles rolled a ball of dung in which to lay their eggs. The idea of life from dung must surely relate to the eternal cycles of nature. Even the Christians assimilated symbols like the dove and the lamb. Animals as mythic symbols cross a wide variety of cultures.

In Understanding these mythic animals, we must know the context in which they were viewed. For example, thousands of years from now, historians might not Understand the exact emotions we attach to symbols when we say someone is a deer, or a jackass. Remember that next time you read the myths of Bast, or Cerberus, or even the American Eagle.

Today, most magical people think of familiars as their household pets, the little ones who provide joy, insight and companionship -- not to mention shed all over black clothing and robes! Animals in general are closer to nature than we are. They remember their instinctual ways easier than we do. Why limit this to pets? The animals around us in the field can share our magical moments? Did we encounter a gentle and curious deer along our first walk in the woods? Did geese fly overhead and squawk their applause for our lovemaking? How do these animal events speak to you? You can merely visualize your magical animal, like a totem guide or imaginary friend. (And you'll never need to pay for a vet!)

Whether in myth or reality, an animal's unique traits can teach us specific lessons in nature. Can we learn by watching an animal hunt? Protect its young? Weave webs? Float from one flower to another, tasting a mix of sweet nectars? Or nest and lay the fragile egg of new beginnings?

Don't limit your familiars to just animals. Why not a plant? Plants teach us about laying roots, growing wild, turning to face the light. Plants show us new ways to branch out, bear fruit -- or wither, fall and provide a subtle new start for others. Are we any different?

Why not have an object as a familiar? Are not all things in nature alive? Can an old gray boulder show us anything about weathering the tests of time? Can Granny's old wristwatch teach us about cycles?

Perhaps the most familiar idea comes when you know that you already hold all these special qualities within yourself. We too have animal ways, branch out like plants, and live the lessons of solid tangible form no differently than Granny's watch. Familiar means family, being One with another. Knowing you are One with all things makes everything seem quite familiar. And everything will look to you, knowing that it too is part of the magic.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Gerald Cremonensis - Astronomical Geomancy
Daniel Defoe - A System Of Magic
Aleister Crowley - Intro Magick
Ed Richardson - Seidr Magic
Phillip Williams - Night Magic

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Mind Altering Chemicals And Shamanism

Mind Altering Chemicals And Shamanism Cover I have been asked repeatedly what my view of mind-altering chemicals as they relate to shamanism is, so I figured I would say something about them. First of all, let me put in a disclaimer here before anyone decides to send me email telling me I am condoning the use of illegal drugs. I do not condone, nor do I condemn the use of chemicals, recreational or otherwise. I believe each person is entitled to make their own decision on the subject, I would only hope That That decision be an educated one.

All chemicals can and most often do have some sort of detrimental effect on your body, alcohol and tobacco included. Anyone making a choice to use these or any other substances should be aware of what those effects are and be willing to deal with the consequences. As for drugs in relation to shamanism, yes, they have been and still are used by many groups. For instance, the Maya used mushrooms to induce trance states, Siberian shamans use the fly agaric mushroom, some Native American shamans used and still use peyote, and shamans in the Amazon use yage, just to name a few. Heck, Iґm pretty sure some groups licked frogs for the psychotropic chemical, bufotenin, that is exuded by the skin of certain species. However the shamans that use these substances have had quite a bit of training and have been supervised by older shamans who have undertaken the use of such substances before.

No one should attempt shamanic work under the influence of mind-altering substances unless they have been trained to do so by a shaman that is skilled in the use of such chemicals. There is a very good reason for this. The spirit world can be a treacherous place. Many of these substances can make you forget that, as well as make you think that you can do anything. That is a very, very dangerous combination. I am all for learning your path on your own. Self-teaching can be a wonderful experience, but not in this case.

Besides, any and all of the effects that shamans achieve through the use of drugs can, and have been, achieved without them. spiritual growth takes time, but so do most things and drugs are not a quick solution. If you have come to a decision that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, please get help. Your doctor can recommend various treatment organizations and Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are in the phone book.

Free eBooks (Can Be Downloaded):

Franz Cumont - After Life In Roman Paganism
Al Selden Leif - 6 Questions On Wicca And Paganism
Baron Tschoudy - Alchemical Catechism