Category: Magick - The Witches Table
 
_Early in my path I was more heavily influenced by Wicca than I am
today.  It was by far the most accessible and easiest route to
Paganism and Magick and many of the first Pagans I met were also
influenced by Wicca.  This meant that my first brush with polarity
(besides "reversing the polarity of the neutron flow") was a binary
gender polarity - the male and female in perfect harmony, Goddess and Consort itself a definite heterosexual relationship.   The idea of
codifying socially constructed gender ideas into a religious and
Magickal system was and is highly unappealing to me.  Later I
came to see how exclusionary it was for GBLT Pagans whose relationships and live experiences were ignored and marginalised by the traditional God and Goddess coupling.  So I pretty much left polarity alone - I ceased calling both God and Goddess into the circle unless I had a specific reason to; the world did not end and my Deities didn't seem to care much.

So I was incredibly intrigued to see that the first part of Fiat Lux
(T.Thorn Coyle's online mystery school) was all about Polarity.  The
first installment went up in October but I have only just finished it;
it did not disappoint.  I have written before about how impressive
T.Thorn Coyle was speaking at Treadwells last year and I have read a previous article here by T.Thorn Coyle on gender and so I knew I would be getting something far more interesting than just *male and female energy*. Fiat Lux did not disappoint!

The working for the month was about uncovering the polarities in our own lives, framed very much in  terms of our own experience - I
naturally chose the push and pull between Driving Stress and Complete Relaxation, two poles I am buffeted between regularly. The starting point is learning to sit between the poles and simply be.  Sounds simple, but if it was so simple I wouldn't have spent so much of my life desperately seeking relaxation and lurching off after stress.  I would imagine that most people have a polarity struggle in their lives of some sort in their lives and it is really valuable to pause and think about how much it might be affecting, consuming or interfering with you achieving your dreams.

I am currently working and dreaming towards a more integrated Magickal Life. Achieving a state where I am at peace with both these forces and being able to stand in the space between them would be hugely liberating and, for the split second I achieved it in the Fiat Lux practice, it was immense. Standing tall in the middle and holding the space between felt almost overwhelmingly powerful and empowering.  Strong stuff I can tell you.

It threw up a reminder of one more thing.  A few years ago I was struggling with learning to drive and did some work on this both with hypnotherapy and the Chariot Tarot card.  Fiat Lux has reminded me of the polarity in the Chariot and I think I might need to go and take another look at it.  Clearly the Chariot is not done with me yet!
 
_I was recently asked this question over on twitter and I knew straight away that the answer was going to be a blog post and certainly couldn't be limited by 140 characters. 

I wasn't quite expecting how passionately I would feel about such an innocent question, which has been a interesting journey in itself.  This might even get a bit controversial!

The quick response to the question is "no I don't" and frankly the words seem like a bit of a cop out.  It isn't that I don't want to "harm none" or fail to work only for the "highest and best interest" but I think these caveats and qualifications lead to a certain kind of moral and magickal laziness (there I said it, judgmental warts and all).

If I do a piece of magic then I should have considered well in advance whether it harms any or serves a selfish and damaging desire rather than something in my highest interest.  This moral/psychological preparation requires a lot of work, hard work where you have to be brutally honest about your motives, desires and where you must really think through the consequences of your actions, possibly even question your values and whether you really live up to them.  Once this sort of "hygiene audit" has been done I have the confidence of knowing that there is nothing within me which will lead to an unwanted result.

There are four scenarios behind using the above words, two of which I disapprove of, two of which could be useful.

Firstly, you haven't don't any sort of moral audit or mental
preparation prior to doing your magick then you can't make the
Universe your safety net by making one of the above statements.  That abdication of personal responsibility is not cool and often cited as a reason for Pagans leaving mainstream religion. If I actually want to cause harm or revenge is deep in my heart this will be expressed in my magic regardless of what I *say*.

Secondly I have done all my soul searching and moral preparation and yet still feel the need to have a safety net.  By doing all the hard
work and *still* whacking a caveat on your magick you are putting a
big sign up to the universe that you are not confident, perhaps even
that you don't really believe you are capable of assessing a situation
and choosing the right course of action.  That should be a big signpost that you need to work on your confidence and self belief because if you do harbour secret doubts about your magick then they will probably come out somehow - probably not by causing harm but these insecurities will undermine your magick.

Thirdly, there may be a situation where you have done all your soul
searching, are completely confident and don't need a safety net and
you may choose to use these words anyway to announce to the Universe that you have done your homework and are confident you are causing harm to none.  I can see how giving voice to the preparation you have done could be a powerful magickal tool - but easily confused with scenario two.

Lastly, I can see an argument for using a form of these words in group magick, just because you are working with a group of individuals who will likely be at different stages in their personal development etc. and in this case it works well to bond the group and remind everyone that you are doing this for some sort of highest good.  Using it as one of the many tools to align a group of disparate individuals to a single focussed magickal working is a very different proposition to the above.

Successful and responsible magick is a discipline, it requires a lot
of personal work and confidence.  I am a Witch, I work magic according to my will (possibly even my Will).

I don’t hedge my bets.

What do you think about making these statements in your own workings?
 
When I set out in Spring consciously trying to move all parts of myself into one whole I didn't even think about exercise.  Big mistake. My relationship with exercise has deteriorated since doing my Masters as I feel I barely have enough time in the day to eat and breathe.  Exercise is something which it is easy for me to drop, despite the fact that intellectually I know it is as vital, in many ways, as eating and breathing.  Now I am in the process of ramping up my daily practice I suddenly realised a connection with magick and exercise.  Not that simply doing exercise regularly is better for my magick (which it is!) but that I could be doing magick whilst I exercise.

This though came to me whilst I was in the middle of a rune working meditation on Uruz, the rune of the Auroch, of strength, vitality and courage.  I just couldn't quite get the working right and was thinking about why that might be.  Then it came to me.  In order to absorb and resonate in harmony with this rune I need to be in my body feeding my own vitality.  My practice over the last few months has moved very much into my head (something I will have to watch in future) but in order to fully integrate I need to be really present in my body.  In particular it felt like I wasn't going to get my work with Uruz without bringing it into a very physical place.

So I got up early and prepared my space with fresh water for drinking and an Aerobic Pilates DVD.  I wanted to start with a form of exercise which would allow me to work magick and get a good work out at the same time, Pilates has a great emphasis on core strength and breathing both of which felt very supportive of the magickal working.  The aerobic aspect would give me a great work out but without the ultra complicated steps of some of my other routines.  Then down to business, but only for a short work out - I wanted this to be a test run.

It was a challenge keeping the rune resonation going throughout the whole 15 minutes and it did   honestly come and go with my concentration.  I sure that this will improve in time.  The session was hard work but focussing on Uruz definitely helped out with some of the postures (and vice versa) and I felt a definite uniting of body, mind and spirit during some parts of the exercise. The best aspect was the 15 minutes of meditation I did straight afterwards - that was some of the most powerful meditation I have done recently. This was quiet surprising as I had always assumed I needed to get really calm and chilled out in order to meditate, and that getting my heart rate up (as with all aerobic exercise) would be terrible for meditation.  Whilst this was true in a way it also helped me to achieve a different sense of altered consciousness.

I am going to try and keep up something similar for the next month and move into a more physical realm again whilst bringing that magickal headspace with me.  If I can crack this then I will feel like I have been able to take a big step forwards.  I'll be logging some of my experiences as I try new ways of combining the two.  Hopefully next I'll be combining it with some wild dancing!
 
When I set out in Spring consciously trying to move all parts of myself into one whole I didn't even think about exercise.  Big mistake. My relationship with exercise has deteriorated since doing my Masters as I feel I barely have enough time in the day to eat and breathe.  Exercise is something which it is easy for me to drop, despite the fact that intellectually I know it is as vital, in many ways, as eating and breathing.  Now I am in the process of ramping up my daily practice I suddenly realised a connection with magick and exercise.  Not that simply doing exercise regularly is better for my magick (which it is!) but that I could be doing magick whilst I exercise.

This though came to me whilst I was in the middle of a rune working meditation on Uruz, the rune of the Auroch, of strength, vitality and courage.  I just couldn't quite get the working right and was thinking about why that might be.  Then it came to me.  In order to absorb and resonate in harmony with this rune I need to be in my body feeding my own vitality.  My practice over the last few months has moved very much into my head (something I will have to watch in future) but in order to fully integrate I need to be really present in my body.  In particular it felt like I wasn't going to get my work with Uruz without bringing it into a very physical place.

So I got up early and prepared my space with fresh water for drinking and an Aerobic Pilates DVD.  I wanted to start with a form of exercise which would allow me to work magick and get a good work out at the same time, Pilates has a great emphasis on core strength and breathing both of which felt very supportive of the magickal working.  The aerobic aspect would give me a great work out but without the ultra complicated steps of some of my other routines.  Then down to business, but only for a short work out - I wanted this to be a test run.

It was a challenge keeping the rune resonation going throughout the whole 15 minutes and I came and went with my concentration.  I sure that this will improve in time.  The session was hard work but focussing on Uruz definitely helped out with some of the postures and I felt a definite uniting of body, mind and spirit during some of the exercise. The best aspect was the 15 minutes of meditation I did straight afterwards - that was some of the most powerful meditation I have ever done. I am going to try and keep up something similar for the next month and move into a more physical realm again whilst bringing that magickal headspace with me.  If I can crack this then I will feel like I have been able to take a big step forwards.  I'll be logging some of my experiences as I try new ways of combining the two.  Hopefully next I'll be combining it with some wild dancing!
 
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Antara's Altar
Altars are common in so many faiths around the world in both halls of worship and homes. They can be both temporary and permanent but in all cases there are multiple layers of meaning, enlightenment and empowerment within the form.  At its most basic level it is a surface which provides a focus point for religious worship (and magickal acts) on which can be placed a number of objects with religious significance, such as offerings and ritual tools.  It is a sacred place consecrated and dedicated; but the many uses of the Alar are wildly and gloriously divergent according to faith, culture and personal practice. Some faiths are proscriptive about what should (and should not) be on the altar – others like Eclectic Paganism are totally freeform. 

But I want to get into the nitty gritty of what an altar can really do for you and how I underwent a recent altar renaissance which has profoundly changed my outlook on this form of practice.

I use altars in three primary ways: 

a) As a Sacred Space.This aspect is probably familiar enough to most people. I keep the altar clean and tidy, I may put offerings to various Deities in the space as a means of connecting with them but vitally I only place items on the altar which I actively WANT to have in the space. This means that when I stand before the altar and tune in to the sacredness of the space I am turning my thoughts towards the spiritual, and away from the mundane.  It is one of the many ways I use to help me tune in to a more sacred mode of being and thinking from time to time.

b) A physical workbench for doing Magick.Because an altar is consecrated and sacred and therefore contains only those things I want in the space it is a perfect blank slate for performing acts of Magick. Nothing will be jarring in the space, physically or energetically and so nothing will interfere with the Magick in a way I do not desire. Equally doing Magick in this space feels (even more than usual) like I am bringing it to the attention of the Gods and the Universe.  The Altar is a direct and powerful link with the spiritual realm (I’ll talk a bit more about this in later posts) and therefore when I do Magick on the Altar I am asking the Universe and the Gods to pay attention…be very careful about what you ask the Universe to pay attention to!

c) As a Second Brain.Finally, if I have an idea I want to mull over in my sub-conscious then I can put a representation of that on my altar. I will seethe object as I go about my business and it will be a reminder of the thing I want to connect with.  I love this idea of a gentle sort of magickal act forming part of the background hum of my day but nevertheless slowly and quietly changing me.  Examples of this might be a quotation or a tarot card; currently I have an old worn key on my altar as a precursor to some work I’ll be doing shortly.

But as I said before I recently changed my Altar set up. Since then how I use the Altar has radically changed and taken on a life of its own.  Read all about it in the next post!
 
I was flicking back through my last few blog posts and they seemed to have concentrated on self empowerment a great deal.  Now that is important and I truly belief that unpacking and examining your own psyche is essential for practical magic work but I felt like it was time to give a little bit more of an insight into the nuts and bolts of Antara’s ritual work personal.

I don’t tend to use a lot of physical tools in my personal magical practice but rely more on visualisations, trance work, meditation and getting my psychology in the right place.  Any physical tools I do use will be as an extension of my visualisation work and deliberately keyed to create certain emotions and thought processes in my mind.  This works in two ways

  1. I have certain formulas, mental exercises, breathing exercises, smells, music and sights which will (if I wish) quickly get me into a ritual state of mind to work magick.
  2. I will use other smells, environments, physical objects, herbs, sigils, drumming etc. to build energy for ritual work, build up new correspondences and to use as physical triggers to execute the magickal work done internally.  That is not to say these objects don’t have their own energy which I might be using to either make the direction of my own will flow more easily or augment what I am doing.

Group work for me involve trying to attune myself as much as possible to those people I am working with and to build up shared triggers and associations. I read widely and practise lots of things but always with a view to building a core of practices, ideas and exercise I can call on with ease and confidence. 

 
So it has now been a week since my Reiki session and the most interesting thing has been happening.  I have noticed some definite changes since then and am convinced that this Reiki is still quietly working away.

Not only have I become more attuned to the ebb and flow of the energy in the universe but I am becoming calmer and more relaxed.  By degrees of course (I am still not exactly a poster child for a peaceful mind) but I am finding a more gentle rhythm. I have been using aromatherapy and flower essences to mindfully continue the transition to a calmer way of life and it is certainly helping.  In fact I feel I am getting closer and closer to being ready to start a really amazing healthy eating regime to support my spirit as well.
 
This post might be controversial.  Because I have always believed that Magick is not a substitute for hard work and taking responsibility, and some Pagans might not like that idea!

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Roots in the Asphalt
The Magickal 5 Step Plan.

1.  Work out what is it you really want your life to look like. I mean really, truly and deeply examine your motivations.  Do you want to change your job because you truly desire to be a Circus Performer or do you want to change your job because you are being bullied by your boss?  Because your true motivation makes a big difference to how you plan to make your change.  If this part of the process gets uncomfortable then that is a sign that you really, really need to do it!

2. Start immersing yourself in the culture of that new life, read books, hang out on web forums with like-minded people, make new friends who are living that life, listen to podcasts, watch TV shows, learn the jargon and imagine how you fit in with that.  This step is vital to expanding your horizons of what you think is possible and achievable. By spending time with people who are doing it then you will begin to believe you can do it too (and you probably can!). 

3. Surround yourself with a core group of people who believe in you and believe in your change.  You will have enough of your own doubts to cope with, without taking on the doubts of others. That support network will help you to build on the work in steps 1 and 2 and get you through dark days when nothing seems to be changing, or perhaps it is changing and that frightens you.

4. Take active steps to manifest your new life.  I am not suggesting quitting your job in the hope of attracting the job you want.  More that if you want to be a Banker, you need to starting making applications to Banks; if you want to be a writer, you need to be writing; if you want to find love, you need to contact and meet people.  When I was 17 I applied to the most prestigious university in the UK.  Several people told me to expect disappointment and to each person I replied "The only way to guarantee failure is if I don't even try". The thing is this is a scary step and some people find more comfort in staying where they are than risking failure.  Sitting on the sofa and dreaming about travelling the world involves no risk...and it takes you nowhere.  You might fail, the first, second or even third time, but what if you could have succeeded.  I surprised everyone by getting a place at that university, and if I hadn't, I could have applied again.

5. Do your Magick ritual and make sure it is a good one!

"Hey Antara, this is a cheat.  You aren't really telling us how to use Magick to change our lives.  Only point 5 is about *Magick* and that isn't helpful."

Oh really?

Magick runs through our whole lives and no amount of spells or rituals or hand waving will change your life if you don't put the groundwork in.  In this blog there are already some technical tips on doing Magick rituals that work and there will be more.  But none of that means anything if you don't follow steps 1-4 above.  If you aren't ready for change then nothing will change your life for you.  Magick isn't something we keep in a special sandalwood box and get out once a month, it is a part of everything you are.  Being effective in life and being great at Magick are simply two sides of the same coin. 

Magick is damn hard work and requires discipline, courage and effort.  If you aren't putting discipline, courage and effort into the rest of your life then you won't have it for Magick.
 
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Oh, how I wish I was here right now!



I knew a full-time job and a part-time Masters course was going to be tough.  But the last couple of weeks have been particularly difficult.  I was expecting to have to spend lots of my free time on the course, reading, writing assignments and attending teaching.  But I wasn't expecting to lose quite so much of my creative energy.  Up until a couple of weeks ago I was managing to writing posts for this site, do other bits and pieces of creative projects and manage work and the Masters. Then work got stressful, the Masters got difficult, I very quickly burnt out.  All my reserves evaporated almost overnight, although if I am honest the creativity had been leaking out of me for a lot longer.

The extreme tiredness, inability to find joy in the usual places and realisation I had done nothing creative for ages would have made me very sad; if I hadn't been so worn out I didn't notice. That is definitely not a good frame of mind for Magick.

Why so confessional today, Antara?

Well...there is something important here. I am working towards a joined up life, and that means realising that spirituality and work and health are all parts of one whole Antara.  They need to be in balance otherwise something has to give.  But annoyingly when one area isn't working properly it can drag the other parts out of alignment as well. Especially work because it consumes so much more of my energy than the other aspects.

So I made a concerted effort to stop stressing about things, let some stuff fall off my "to worry about list". I managed a 30 minute meditation session and felt a little calmer.  I reminded myself how much I love the Goddess Guidebook and gave myself some permission and some space to take things a little easier. Today I began to see a little bit of creativity sneaking back into my life...and then I realised it was Midsummer.  I am not quite ready to ride any Wild Donkeys at the moment but I am beginning to unfurl again.

So I am taking a gentle route back, working out what I *have* to do and what I really *want* to do.  I am ignoring what I think I *should* do if it doesn't fall into one of the earlier categories.   Quite an  unusual approach for me.

Managing my life and my health are vital to practising magick and can be pretty hard work.

Oh, and have a magical Summer Solstice you lovely people!