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    Myrrdin "Merlin", Celtic (Britania, Irish & Welsh) Sorcerer, Druid, Wizard and Magician. Originally an ancient Welsh Druid, priest of the old religion, and great magician. He was transformed in the later Arthurian sagas. Tradition says he learned his powerful magic from the Goddess in her forms of Morrigan, Viviane, Nimue, and Lady of the Lake. Legend says he now lies sleeping in a hidden crystal cave. Variants: Merddin, Merlyn.
    Art: "Myrddin" by Bob Nolin

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    ~~Lady Nightshayde~~

    Thor's Day

    Energy: Male, Ruler: Jupiter – Rules growth, expansion, generosity – Use for magick involving growth, expansion, prosperity, money, business, attracting more of what you have.

    Today's Magickal Influences ~ Luck, Religion, Healing, Trade And Employment, Treasure, Honors, Riches, Legal Matters

    Today's Goddesses: Juno, Hera, Kwan Yin, Mary, Cybele, Tara, Mawu, Mlaba Mwana Waresa, Ishtar, Nuit

    Perfumes: Stock, Lilac, Storax, Aloes

    Incense: Nutmeg, Henbane

    Color of The Day: Dark Purple, Indigo, Blue – Purple: This shade helps with success, idealism, higher psychic ability, wisdom, progress, protection, honors, spirit contact, breaking bad luck, driving away evil, divination, greater magical knowledge, spiritual protection and healing, removing jinxes and hexes, success in court cases, business success, and influencing people who have power and the energies are difficult to handle.

    Colors for Tomorrow: Light Blue, Pale Green

    Lucky Sign: Thursday Is The Lucky Day For Sagittarius And Pisces

    Candle: Blue

    Thor, the God of strength and commitment, ruled over this day. Consider dishes prepared to enhance vigor, stamina,devotion and dedication. Wear sapphire, cat's eye, or carnelian. Use sapphire in rituals.

  • Doors and Pathways…
    Please feel free to like, tag or share what you ☞♥ⓛⓞⓥⓔ♥ at @[413557455353010:274:Mystic Mermaid] ❤ MMx

    Whatever path you may be on, whatever doors may close or may open, know that there are many with you on the same journey, and though our paths may be different, we each must travel. Mystic Mermaid hopes these images of doors and paths may help you reflect on your own, unique journey, and to respect each others. Walk in light with an ocean of blessings ❤ MMx

  • Timeline Photos
    Good morning everyone it’s Thor’s day and their seems to be a big wave of positivity in the air outside although it raining the air feels like its filled with laughter so today may the goddess and gods bring you smiles and lots of laughter may your day be filled with good friends and joyous family Brightest Blessings Draco )o(/|\
    by Mike Nichols…

    by Mike Nichols

    '…I have been a word among letters.'
    –the Book of Taliesyn, VIII

    What's in a word? Or a name? What special power resides in a
    word, connecting it so intimately to the very thing it symbolizes?
    Does each word or name have its own 'vibration', as is generally
    believed by those of us who follow the Western occult tradition? And
    if so, how do we begin to unravel its meaning? Just what,
    exactly, is in a word? Well, LETTERS are in a word. In fact, letters
    COMPRISE the word. Which is why Taliesyn's remark had always puzzled
    me. Why didn't he say he had been a 'letter among words'? That, at
    least, would seem to make more logical sense than saying he had been a
    'word among letters', which seems backwards. Unless…

    Unless he was trying to tell us that the word is NOT the important
    thing — the critical thing is the LETTERS that make up a word! The
    Welsh bard Taliesyn was, after all, a pretty gifted fellow. He
    certainly put all the other bards at Maelgwyn's court to shame. And
    over the years, I've learned never to take his statements lightly —
    even his most enigmatic statements. Perhaps he was really suggesting
    that, in order to understand the true meaning of a word or name, one
    must first analyze the letters that comprise it. Of course, this is
    certainly not a new theory. Any student of arcane lore would at
    once recognize this concept as belonging in the opening remarks of
    any standard text on numerology. But to read the same meaning behind
    a line of poetry penned by a 6th century Welsh bard may be a bit
    surprising. Is it possible that the Celts had their own system of

    Let us begin the quest by asking ourselves what we know about
    numerology in general. Most of our modern knowledge of numerology has
    been gleaned from ancient Hebrew tradition, which states that the true
    essence of anything is enshrined in its name. But there are so many
    names and words in any given language that it becomes necessary to
    reduce each word to one of a small number of 'types' — in this case,
    numerological types from 1 to 9 (plus any master numbers of 11, 22,
    etc.). This is easily accomplished by assigning a numerical value to
    each letter of the alphabet, i.e. A=1, B=2, C=3, and so on. Thus, to
    obtain the numerical value of any word, one simply has to add up the
    numerical values of all the letters which comprise the word. If the
    sum is a two digit number, the two digits are then added to each other
    (except in the case of 11, 22, etc.) to obtain the single digit
    numerical value of the entire word, which may then be analyzed by
    traditional Pythagorean standards.

    The problemhas always been howto be sure ofthe numerical value
    of each letter. Why SHOULD A equal 1, or B equal 2, or Q equal 8?
    Where did these values come from? Who assigned them? Fortunately,
    the answer to this is quite simple in most cases. Many ancient
    languages used letters of the alphabet to stand for numbers (Roman
    numerals being the most familiar example). Ancient Hebrew, for
    instance, had no purely numerical symbols — like our 1, 2, 3, etc. —
    so their letters of the alphabet had to do double duty as numbers as
    well. One had to discern from the context whether the symbol was
    meant as letter or number. This was true of classical Latin, as well.
    Thus, in languages such as these, it is easy to see how a number
    became associated with a letter: the letter WAS the number.

    It is a bit more difficult to see how the associations in 'modern'
    numerology came into being. The modern numerological table consists
    of the numbers 1 through 9, under which the alphabet from A through Z
    is written in standard order:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    A B C D E F G H I
    J K L M N O P Q R
    S T U V W X Y Z

    This arrangement seems somewhat arbitrary, at best. At the very
    least, it is difficult to sense any 'intrinsically meaningful'
    relationship between a letter and its numerical value. After all, our
    modern alphabetical symbols and our modern numerical symbols (Arabic)
    come from two completely different sources and cultures.

    For this reason, many contemporary numerologists prefer the
    ancient Hebrew system because, at least here, there is a known
    connection between letter and number. However, when we attempt to
    adapt this system to the English language, a whole new set of problems
    crops up. For one, the entire alphabet is arranged in a different
    order and some of our modern letters have NO Hebrew equivalents.
    Thus, based on the Hebrew alphabet, the only letters for which we have
    numerical values are the following:

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
    A B G D H V Z P
    Y K L M N W
    Q R S T

    Obviously, a modernnumerologist wouldn't get veryfar with this
    table. In order to compensate for the missing letters in the Hebrew
    system, most modern textbooks on numerology 'fill in' the missing
    letters by 'borrowing' numerical values from the Greek alphabet, thus
    mixing cultural symbols in an eclectic approach that is not entirely

    Another problem is the exclusion of the number 9 from the table —
    which modern textbooks often 'explain' by saying that the Hebrews did
    not use the number 9, since it was a 'sacred' and 'mystical' number.
    The real truth, however, is far less esoteric. The fact is, the
    Hebrew alphabet DID have letters with the numerical value of 9 — the
    letters Teth and Sade. But, since Teth and Sade do not have
    equivalents in our modern English alphabet, the 9 value must be left

    And finally, it is once again difficult to see any INTRINSIC
    relationship between a Hebrew letter and the number it represents.
    Why should one symbol stand for 1, or another for 2, or yet another
    for 3, and so on? The whole superstructure seems somewhat shaky.

    But letus now turn our attention to a Celtic alphabetic system
    called the 'Ogham'. This alphabet is written by making a number of
    short strokes (from 1 to 5) below, above, or through a 'base line'
    (which in practice tended to be the edge of a standing stone). Thus,
    A, O, U, E, and I would be written, respectively:


    Of course, in this system it is easy to see how a letter becomes
    associated with a number, since the numerical value of each letter is
    implicit. Thus, A=1, O=2, U=3, E=4, and I=5. (It is true there is
    much disagreement and confusion among modern scholars as to how the
    Ogham alphabet should be rendered. Further, a number of different
    Oghams seem to have been employed at various times by different
    Celtic cultures. But this confusion usually centers on whether the
    strokes should be above, below, or through the base line — NOT on the
    number of strokes used. On that point, there is general agreement.
    And though orientation to the base line is important, it is not
    essential to our discussion of numerology, since we need only concern
    ourselves with the NUMBER of strokes used.)

    Thus, based on the work of such scholars as P.C. Power, S.
    Ferguson, D. Diringer, I. Williams, L. Spence, and D. Conway, I have
    synthesized the following table of Celtic numerology:

    1 2 3 4 5
    A D T C I
    B G U E N
    H L V F P
    M O W J Q
    X K R
    S Y

    Using this table, the student of Celtic numerology would then proceed
    to analyze any word in the generally accepted manner. One should not
    be concerned that the numbers 6, 7, 8, and 9 do not appear in this
    system, as the Ogham alphabet had NO letters with these values (as
    opposed to the Hebrew alphabet which DID have letters with the missing
    9 value, as mentioned earlier). Another consideration is that the
    Ogham alphabet is just that — an alphabet. It never represented
    any particular language, and historically it has been employed by
    many different languages. Again by contrast, the Hebrew alphabet was
    structured for a particular language — Hebrew — and many problems
    arise when we attempt to adapt it to a language for which it is not

    Although the Ogham alphabet only has letter values from 1 through
    5, all of the numbers from 1 through 9 (plus any master numbers of 11,
    22, etc.) will be used in the final analysis (just as in the Hebrew
    system). To understand how this works, let us try an example. We
    will use the name of the Welsh goddess Rhiannon:

    R + H + I + A + N + N + O + N
    5 + 1 + 5 + 1 + 5 + 5 + 2 + 5 = 29
    2 + 9 = 11

    Most numerologists will agree that
    11 is a 'master number' or 'power number' and therefore it is not
    further reduced by adding the two digits (although, if one does this,
    1 + 1 = 2, and 2 is considered the first even and feminine number in
    the numerical sequence, certainly appropriate for a Welsh Mother
    Goddess). Viewed as an 11, the analysis is usually that of someone
    who is on a 'higher plane of existence' (certainly appropriate for
    a goddess), someone who brings 'mystical revelation'. Often this is
    someone who feels slightly distant from the people surrounding him or
    her, and who has trouble feeling any real empathy for them (which
    seems to fit a faery queen who has come to live in the land of
    mortals). Also, this is sometimes the number of the martyr,
    or of someone unjustly accused (which is certainly true of Rhiannon's
    story as told in the 'Mabinogi', in which she is falsely accused of
    destroying her own son).

    By way of contrast,the 'modern' system would have Rhiannon be a
    3, a somewhat inappropriate masculine number (not that all feminine
    names should always yield a feminine number — but one would at least
    expect it to do so in the case of an archetypal mother goddess). The
    Hebrew system would yield an even more inappropriate 4, that being the
    number of the material world and all things physical (and since
    Rhiannon hails from faery, she is definitely not of this material

    By now, some of my more thoughtful readers may think they see some
    inconsistency in my approach. Why have I gone to so much trouble to
    point up the flaws in traditional systems of numerology (even going so
    far as to suggest an entirely new system), only to fall back on
    interpretations of the numbers that are strictly traditional? The
    reason is this: all of my objections thus far have been limited to
    METHODOLOGY. When it comes to interpreting the meaning of the
    numbers, I have no quarrel with the traditional approach, since here
    we enter the field of universal symbolism. All systems of
    numerology, be they Hebrew, modern, Oriental, or whatever, tend to
    attach the same interpretive meaning to the numbers. When Three Dog
    Night sings, 'One is the loneliest number that you'll ever know…',
    it is a statement which is immediately understood and agreed upon by
    people from widely diverse cultures. And the same holds true for all
    other numbers, for we are here dealing with archetypal symbols.

    It is worth repeating that, although I believe this system to have
    a firm theoretical basis, it is still in an embryonic state — highly
    tentative, highly speculative. To the best of my knowledge, it is
    also an original contribution to the field of numerology. While some
    writers (notably Robert Graves in 'The White Goddess') have dealt with
    the numerical values of Ogham letters, I believe this article is the
    first instance of employing it specifically as a system of numerology.
    I have spent many long hours working with Celtic numerology — putting
    abstract theory to use in practical application — but much work
    remains to be done. For this reason, I would be happy to hear from
    readers who are interested in the subject and who would like to
    share their own experiences and thoughts.

  • Wiccan Tool List Master

    a pentacle
    6 candles; 1 for each direct…

    Wiccan Tool List Master

    a pentacle
    6 candles; 1 for each direction, 2 for altar
    chalice of wine (hard apple cider on Samhain)
    scrounge of silken cords
    small bowl of water
    small bowl of salt
    3 cords, one red, one white, one blue, 9' long each
    white-handled knife
    individual athames
    incense burner and incense
    small hand bell
    dish of cakes
    altar cloth of any color
    tape recorder and tapes of appropriate music
    veil for Great Rite of a Goddess color: Blue, green, silver or white

    For New or Dark Moon Esbat:
    extra incense
    an apple and a pomegranate
    cauldron with a fire in it and/or a bonfire
    crystal ball or other scrying tools
    white tabard with hood for Priestess

    For Winter Solstice (Yule):
    cauldron with candle or oak bonfire
    wreaths, 1 of holly and 1 of mistletoe
    crowns, 1 of oak and 1 of holly
    animal skull filled with salt

    For Spring Equinox:
    cords as described in preparations
    hard-boiled eggs
    a bonfire ready to ignite or a taper
    flowers in the cauldron

    For Beltane Sabbat:

    For Initiations:
    anointing oil
    tub to bathe the candidate in
    salts, herbs and oils to add to the bath
    a blindfold
    a shirt or other clothing that can be cut
    a length of string to measure the person
    two lengths of cord to bind the hands and feet
    bonfire for warmth if needed

    For Blessings:
    anointing oil

    Image Source http://cybercauldron.co.uk/shop/spell-kits-c-216_217/real-magick-witches-tool-kit-p-2728.html
    Real Magick Witches Tool Kit £25.96
    Contents of the Witches Tool Kit: Book of Shadows. Wand. Chalice. Pentagram. Talisman. Two White Candles and Holder. Salt from the Dead Sea. Consecrated Water Vessel, Salt Vessel and Incense Vessel. Size: 130x100mm

  • Cyber Cauldron Pagan and New age shop
    Cyber Cauldron Pagan and New age shop for all your magickal supplies
  • Loads of free books and fonts for your pc
    Loads of free books and fonts for your pc


  • Timeline Photos
    A Woman in harmony with her Spirit
    is like a river flowing.
    She goes where she will without pretense..
    and arrives at her destination,
    prepared to be herself
    and only herself.

    ~Maya Angelou

  • Timeline Photos
    Art Sandgroan

  • Timeline Photos
    Ancient Mother of All that I See
    I Revel in Your Decadent Beauty
    From the Budding Flower to the Greening Land
    I Feel Your Embrace as You Take My Hand
    I smell the scent of the Crowning Spring
    I Laugh and Play and Dance and Sing
    Your Light fills my Heart deep Within
    Your Joy fills my Soul as this cycle Begins
    Your Grace Brings New Life on our sweet Earth
    Our Home, Our Sanctuary, Place of our Birth
    Great Mother, We Honour You, With Reverence and Love
    Our Dedication We Give from Below and Above
    In Thy Perfect Trust and Harmony
    In Thy Love and Light…So Mote it Be!

    Blessed Be


    Jhyenan O'Shea

  • For cord magick you will need a cord, or cingulum as it is sometimes called, tha…
    For cord magick you will need a cord, or cingulum as it is sometimes called, that is nine feet long (three times three; the perennial magick number) and is the color appropriate to the magickal working.

    Like your Athame, no one else should ever use your cord but you. Tie a knot in each end to keep it from unraveling. Make sure it is nine feet long. Consecrate the cord, when done. (See Consecration of the Athame or Consecration of the Wand to learn how to do this.)

    One magickal use of the cord is as a "storage cell" for the power. The first knot is tied at one end, with the words "By knot of one, the spell's begun." At this point, chanting or meditation is appropriate until you feel it is time to tie another knot.

    The second knot is tied on the opposite end with the words: "By knot of two, it cometh true". Take "aim" at this time by visualizing your need or desire being fulfilled. As the power builds, more knots are tied until there are nine knots in the cord.

    Here is the pattern of tying, together with the appropriate words:

    By knot of ONE, the spell's begun *——–
    By knot of TWO, it cometh true *——-*
    By knot of THREE, so mote it be *—*—*
    By knot of FOUR, this power I store *-*-*—*
    By knot of FIVE, the spell's alive *-*-*-*-*
    By knot of SIX, this spell I fix ***-*-*-*
    By knot of SEVEN, events I'll leaven ***-*-***
    By knot of EIGHT, it will be Fate *****-***
    By knot of NINE, what's done is mine *********

    At the tying of the last (ninth) knot, all the energy is directed into the cord and its knots, with a final visualization of the object of the work. The power has been raised and is now "stored" in these knots in the cord.

    Why would you want to store a spell? For some magick, the time for it to happen is important.

    Suppose, for example, that you want something constructive to happen but the most propitious time for it to do so happens to be close to the New Moon. Do you do your constructive magick during the Waxing Moon? No. You do it early on, at the Full Moon, using a cord.

    Now the power is there, properly raised, but stored for use.

    You have nine knots. Although they are all tied in one ritual, these must be released one at a time – one a day – for nine consecutive days. Release them in the same order in which they were tied, NOT the reverse order.

    In other words, on the first day untie the knot that was first tied (to know which end you started with, when making the cord, braid in a small wooden bead at one end and always start with this end); on the second day, the second knot tied; and so on.

    In this fashion, the last knot untied, on the ninth day, is the ninth knot that was tied at the climax of the tying ritual – the time of greatest power.

    Each day, before you actually untie, do your concentration on what is to happen, visualize and again building power. Then, as you release the knot, release the power also with a shout.

    The Essentials of Cord Magick

  • Timeline Photos
    A very simple and easy to use spell –**TW**

  • Timeline Photos
    Daily Devotions of the Goddess

    The world is changing and now gives way,
    Unto this new and glorious day of May.
    Winter now transforms into the Spring,
    Our hearts in excitement rejoice and sing.
    So dance of life around Belfires fires,
    Calling all the ancient and mystical desires.
    Energy encircling this our Pagan Rite,
    As together we celebrate this holy night.

    Lady Abigail
    Copyright © 05012010

  • Timeline Photos
    Shamanism: A Modern Look at an Ancient Practice
    Modern Day Shamans Are Still "Wounded Healers"
    by Mary Martin

    Modern day shamans continue the quest of the "Wounded Healers" of the past. Balance of all levels of life is the goal of the shaman. A shaman may be male or female. Shamanism is not a religion. Many shamans use their spiritual studies, development and skills to enhance their chosen religion or to deepen their spiritual experiences.

    What is a Shaman?

    Shamanism is not magic. It is not Wicca. Nor is Shamanism a form of Ceremonial Magic. Even the most modern or new age shaman does not practice magic.

    Shamanism may be practiced by anyone. Anyone who has a desire to begin a personal revelation towards inner healing may desire to do so through the study of shamanism. Anyone who seeks to understand the interconnectedness of the universe may benefit by the study of shamanism. A Shaman studies the network of energy patterns, vibrations and entities of the universe.

    The shaman learns how to enter the spiritual realms so as to gain knowledge, spiritual growth and healing. This wisdom is used to benefit not only the practicing shaman but also others and the Earth.

    The modern day shaman is unlike his ancient predecessors in as much as no longer looking to deprivation, mutilation or hallucinogens to learn his skills. Such intense spiritual experiences may by initiated by dedication, self-discipline, and patience.

    Today shamans still find their study leading them to ties to nature, gaining the benefits of self-improvement and being able to study and practice shamanism on their own. Many books and resources are available to guide and direct the study. Practice is a solitary activity and allows the student to progress as his ability evolves.

    Where did Shamanism originate?

    The majority of historical documentation is sketchy at best but mentions shamans in various would cultures. Shamans are documented in the European, Native American and Lapp cultures. As a result of Christian domination of European countries it became a crime to teach or practice shamanism. Much of the historical description was lost or destroyed. Thus much of the basis of European Shamanism is based on myth or legend. Traditions were handed down from generation to generation or student to student in all of the mentioned cultures.

    Practice of Modern Day Shamans

    All Shamanic cultures share three basic levels of the universe. Shamans recognize the Upperworld, the Earth or Middle Zone and the Underworld. The three levels of the universe are joined by a central axis and may be depicted by various symbols.

    The center of the universe can be anywhere that a sacred space is created and used. The shaman creates the sacred space. From this sacred space the shaman may engage on his journey.

    One journey for the beginning shaman is to acquire or meet a guardian spirit or animal. The spirit may provide guidance and protection during later journeys.

    As the shaman begins his study he strives for personal revelation and inner healing. This is necessary to evolve. By bringing balance and healing first to himself a shaman may later act as am intermediary for others. The shaman strives to bring balance and healing not only to himself but also into the immediate surroundings and to the Earth itself.


    By Oak, Ash, & Thorn, Modern Celtic Shamanism by D. J. Conway

  • Defending Eclectic Neopaganism

    There is a trend among some Reconstructionist…

    Defending Eclectic Neopaganism

    There is a trend among some Reconstructionist Neopagans to dismiss Neopagans who are admitted Eclectics in their religious practice and philosophy. Recently, Sannion wrote an editorial titled "Defending Reconstructionism" to address the conflict and to present some of the arguments from a Reconstructionist's viewpoint. Sannion's editorial can be found on the web in the September 2002 issue (#27) of the Cauldron and Candle email newsletter, available at http://www.ecauldron.com/.

    Sannion begins by saying that those who challenge Reconstructionism are "fluffy." It must be pointed out that Neopagans who are not following specifically Reconstructionist paths are not necessarily "fluffy" by default. The term "fluffy" has come to mean Neopagan practitioners who are largely ignorant of their own religion's history, sources, and often core issues. "Fluffy" Neopagans are thought to be involved in alternative religions for shock value or as a fashion statement rather than out of a desire for spiritual understanding and discipline. "Fluffy" Neopagans are those who accept any claim at face value — apparently lacking critical skills to distinguish objective reality from fantasy. "Fluffy" Neopagans generally lack credibility except amongst other "Fluffy" Neopagans, because they often can't provide any evidence to support their claims. By clarifying what "fluffy" Neopagans are, it's easier to recognize that there are indeed Neopagans who aren't Reconstructionists who are also not "fluffy." Doreen Valiente, Janet Fararr, Vivianne Crowley, Margot Adler, Starhawk — are these Neopagans "fluffy" because they aren't specifically Reconstructionists? They are all Wiccans, and Wicca is outside the Reconstructionist category by most determinations.

    There are undoubtedly some individuals who are new to Reconstructionist traditions who pick up a single book and then declare themselves "experts," which easily puts them firmly within the "fluffy" category. And likewise, there are Neopagans who do not belong to Reconstructionist traditions who are thorough scholars, who are realists, who can provide extensive evidence to support claims they make. Being a Reconstructionist does not make you immune from being "fluffy," and not being a Reconstructionist does not make you "fluffy" automatically either.

    Let's clarify the issue more by making clear distinctions between the two groups that Sannion describes as being at odds, and give them general labels: Reconstructionists and Eclectics. Reconstructionists are those who are basing their religions as closely as possible on a specific historical model. Eclectics are those who do not limit themselves to one specific historical model, but are apt to select influences from a wide range of cultures and historical periods. Eclectics are also just as likely to invent new concepts or practices for inclusion as they are to draw from established systems.

    Sannion presented five main objections that Reconstructionist Neopagans hear from Eclectic Neopagans, and attempted to refute each of these. Let's start by looking at those five objections and Sannion's arguments and see where they take us.

    1. "All Reconstructionists do is study; they don't actually live the religion."
    Sannion argues that Reconstructionists do tend to be predominantly book-based, but this doesn't mean they don't pray to their deities or perform rituals or devotions.

    The argument comes across as based on a rather shallow taunt — "my religion is better than yours because we do more ritual than you do." It also misses the perhaps more subtle point — that a religion is a way of life, a living and breathing part of existence that isn't experienced primarily through the study of the written word. Study of mythology and history can help us get a better understanding of our ancestors, and hopefully will shed light on ourselves. Eclectics acknowledge that things change, that the things written down in the history books are just the start of the story. The present and the future are just as important as the past. Perhaps the Eclectic complaint is that Reconstructionists are not focusing enough on the present, on their individual and current relationships with the Divine, in favor of focusing almost exclusively on what people did long ago.

    It doesn't really matter who is doing more ritual or more devotions as part of their religion. It doesn't really matter if the religious practices are strictly individual and private, or public and communal. It does matter if you are living in the present or sacrificing the present for a mythical idealized past.

    2. "Reconstructionism is too restrictive and doesn't allow for personal expression."
    Sannion argues that Eclectic Neopagans are uncritical, that they accept everything without distinguishing good from bad. It is also pointed out that within specific Reconstructionist traditions (for example Greek paganism) there is a lot of room for creativity: Greek Reconstructionism includes Minoan, Myceneaean, Homeric, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods spanning roughly from 1500 BCE through 400 CE. "And yet [Eclectic] Neopagans still want more freedom," Sannion says.

    Eclectic Neopagans mostly work under the idea that they use what works for them. It's something that varies from group to group, and often from individual to individual. If something doesn't work for an individual or group, they'll drop it or ignore it. That does not mean that individuals or groups are not selective, that they do not hold some standards against which philosophies or practices are measured. Eclectic Neopagans, individually and as working groups, can be just as critical as any Reconstructionist. The standards might be different, but different does not mean one standard is necessarily better or worse than another.

    Eclectic Neopagans as an entire group can be said to accept everything, because if you look you'll surely find an Eclectic Neopagan who does believe whatever specific idea is brought forth. The same can be said of Reconstructionists as a whole — pick an idea, and you're sure to find a Reconstructionist somewhere who believes that particular idea.

    The selection of a specific culture and period in history as the basis for a religion is itself artifical and forced. For example, the Celtic peoples were varied and far from homogenous, yet Reconstructionists will just as happily blend different clan or regional deities, myths, and practices. Ancient Greece, as another example, was a land made up of very independent city-states, each with its own set of deities and religious practices. Rome, on the other hand, did its best to institute a "state religion" or collection of religions, and to do this it consciously absorbed and adopted various tribal religions from Italy, Greece, Egypt, and elsewhere. The idea of a "pure culture," "pure religion," or "pure ethnic group" is very artificial and arbitrary. Cultures adopt ideas and mythology from each other all the time. To pretend that a religion or culture is "pure" is rather naive.

    Many Eclectic Neopagans (although not all, of course) also work under the philosophy that "all gods are one God, all goddesses are one Goddess," and often also believe that God and Goddess are merely two gender aspects of a single, all-pervasive Divine that is beyond human understanding as a whole. They believe that we approach and interact with the Divine through distinct "aspects" that appear to human perception as independent individuals. To expect an Eclectic Neopagan who believes "all gods are one God" to limit themselves to an arbitrary group of deities (whether selected by geographic region, historical period, or whatever criteria) is an artificial and unnecessary limitation. Eclectics allow themselves the right to decide how to approach the Divine, which names they feel most comfortable using when speaking with Them, and usually assume the same right to others whether they are Eclectic or not.

    Sannion presented an analogy of two musicians to reinforce the idea that limiting study to one cultural and historical period is best. Of course, there are other analogies that can be presented to argue to opposite.

    Imagine that there are two chefs. One chef limits herself to just twelve ingredients, selected because they were native to one geographic area and period in history. She also combines and prepares those ingredients only in ways that are historically supported for the time period and location selected. She becomes highly proficient and is satisfied with her achievements in the kitchen. Perhaps she becomes famous for a particular "speciality" dish.

    The second chef, however, does not limit herself to a specific set of ingredients, methods of combining, or methods of preparing those ingredients. She feels free to explore other cultures, try new dishes, and incorporate what she likes best into her own familiar menu. Because she is able to explore and test, she invents some new dishes and methods of preparing ingredients that become new delicacies. Those experiments that didn't work out are discarded in favor of those that succeeded. She learns from her mistakes and sees exposure to new ingredients and methods as a starting place, not the final destination in her culinary life.

    Reconstructionists probably do see themselves in the analogy of the two musicians — they are the ones who apply themselves to learning one instrument, immerse themselves in the established understanding of that instrument, and strive to master it. Eclectics, however, probably see themselves in the analogy of the two chefs — they are the ones who allow themselves the freedom to explore, borrow, and invent, and strive to contribute something vibrant and new.

    Is one right and the other wrong? Or are they just different approaches for different kinds of people?

    3. "Reconstructionists are mean."
    Sannion argues that Neopagans who are not part of Reconstructionist traditions are not critical. "And they [non-Reconstructionist Neopagans] tend to believe that everything is subjective and just a matter of opinion."

    Religion is a subjective thing — it's far from objective in any sense. Reconstructionist traditions are working from historical opinions that are based on interpretations of archaeological and textual evidence. Religion, like history, is always open to interpretation. New evidence is always being discovered, new circumstances arise which force us to re-evaluate and reconsider.

    We humans can rarely agree about absolute determinations of "what really happened" in current events, so what makes us think we can do so for past history where we are often working from fragmented evidence?

    There does appear to be a larger emphasis on scholarly standards within the Reconstructionist traditions than in the Eclectic community at large. This does not mean, however, that there are no Eclectic scholars, and that statements made by Eclectics are never critically examined. Religions that are more popular will invariably have more "fluffy" followers. There is a growing push within the Eclectic community as well towards critical scholarship such as the growing attention given to Ronald Hutton's work, among others. To label a whole group "uncritical" while ignoring the increasingly more prominent critical elements within that group seems premature.

    4. "Reconstructionists are too focused on the past."
    Sannion argues that Reconstructionists are not Luddites. They base their traditions on the best from their chosen cultural group and time period, ignoring elements such as slavery and animal or human sacrifice which are incompatible with modern values.

    This is one of the strongest arguments for Eclecticism, as it acknowledges that it is impractical and likely impossible to recreate exactly what the ancients did. The difference is that Reconstructionists have chosen to limit their inspiration upon an arbitrary cultural group and time period (which may or may not be accurate in its modern assumptions of homogeneity of that cultural group and time period). This is the gist of this particular argument against Reconstructionism — that the limitation to one group at one time period for the basis of a modern tradition is arbitrary. One group's or individual's choice in no way invalidates the choices of others to limit themselves or not in similar fashion.

    If Reconstructionists admit, as Sannion does, "…we aren't pretending to be ancient people… [w]e are moderns, and gladly accept the positive things about modern culture" then why do they condemn Eclectic Neopagans because they aren't pretending to be ancient people either? If an Eclectic Neopagan isn't claiming to be carrying on an unchanged tradition from a specific cultural group at a specific time period, then why should a Reconstructionist be concerned? Many Neopagans do not feel drawn to Christianity, Judaism, or Islam specifically because they feel there is no such thing as a "One True Way" for all people. Why should Reconstructionists object when other Neopagans choose to follow their religions with different cultural or historical sources of inspiration?

    5. "Reconstructionists are just making it up."
    This argument is the weakest. Sannion attributes this complaint against Reconstructionists to the "fluffiest" of non-Reconstructionist Neopagans — those who claim to carry on a tradition when the historical evidence does not back them up. It becomes an attack on the poor scholarship of the "fluffy" non-Reconstructionist instead of an argument addressing the charge that Reconstructionists aren't really following an undisturbed ancient tradition, either.

    Sannion admitted that Reconstructionists are in fact eclectic in their careful selection of what to include and what to exclude as part of their traditions. They include modern ideas and values, where often the original culture and time period used as the basis for the tradition would have differed. Even the original cultures and historical periods selected are not "pure," as ancient cultures borrowed, adopted, and changed myth and philosophy from their neighbors the same way modern people do. Some cultures, like the Roman empire, were quite openly eclectic. It is puzzling that today's Neopagans, especially ones who pride themselves on their thorough scholarship such as Reconstructionists, should try and insist eclecticism should be sneered at. If the ancients did it, and the ways of the ancients are clearly good enough for the Reconstructionists to emulate, then eclecticism should certainly be acceptable for all Neopagans.

    The entire argument appears to really be about scholarship within the Neopagan community — what constitutes credibility, and how credible are we to outsiders. There is certainly a problem with what has been termed "fluffy" behavior, where practitioners exhibit little or no attempt to critically examine claims. This is not solely found within the Eclectic Neopagan community despite what some Reconstructionists would claim. We should be encouraging critical thought regardless of the tradition (or lack of one) among all Neopagans. This means that Reconstructionists as well must critically examine their own assumptions and challenge their own beliefs that Eclecticism is suspect.

    by Ben Gruagach
    This article may be reproduced for non–commercial purposes, providing that this original copyright notice stays in place at all times.

  • Physics and the Basic Principle of Visualization Magick
    by Dan


    Physics and the Basic Principle of Visualization Magick
    by Dan

    For starters, I would like to say a few things about myself to set the record straight. I have a Masters degree in Quantum Field Theory, am working on my PhD in the same, and am a practicing, if tyro, shaman. I have read in several places that the best way to start in magick is to read read read read, and I have noticed several articles using Physics to explain magickal arguments. Unfortunately, many of these articles either do not explain the Physics very well or are just plain wrong. I am not disrespecting these people: after all, not everyone can be a Physicist! I thought I would write a brief article to clear up a few issues on the nature of probability in Physics as well as how probability might play a role in magick.

    The following article is essentially a short paper on the Metaphysics behind what I call "visualization magick." I am not going to footnote: all of the Physics arguments are well known and documented and can be found in any introductory text on Quantum Mechanics. As for my magickal arguments, well, they are as correct as I can make them. Naturally, I accept responsibility for any errors contained in this article.

    The Nature of Investigation:
    Most of the science done today is based on a problem solving technique called the "Scientific Method." The Scientific Method is a well-established way to start from the basic principles behind a problem and develop an experimentally based explanation of a given phenomenon. It has been used successfully for centuries. There is one problem with this method, though: it can be very difficult to incorporate any newly discovered facts that do not fit the structure of the current scientific theory. This point has been raised repeatedly when scientists try to discover the nature of ghosts, ESP, etc.

    I think it is natural to take the viewpoint that any axiomatic structure, such as the sciences, can only explain certain types of phenomena. Other systems, such as magick, can explain other phenomena. It is interesting that these different axiomatic structures can overlap: they can explain the same types of phenomena, but they explain them in different ways. One might call different axiomatic systems as "paradigms," or "representations." Whatever you call them, it is important not to mix the different systems, because the any term defined in one representation are not likely to have the same meaning in another. For example, anyone trying to explain a magickal phenomenon in terms of Physics needs to be careful of how the word "energy" is used. Energy in magick will not necessarily mean the same thing as it does in Physics. (Incidentally, energy is not a well-defined concept in Physics!)

    In the remainder of this article I am going to discuss the Physics representation known as the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics (CI) and, within that representation, provide an explain of visualization magick.

    Schrodinger's Cat and Quantum Reality:
    When most people think of Physics, they think of equations, math, and all sorts of difficult problems. In actuality, Physics is based on very simple arguments and can often be put in the form of puzzles that illustrate the basic principles. For instance, Classical Physics can usually be put into the form of some little guy (or person, for you extreme liberalists) firing a cannon over a ravine. Classical Physics describes what we see and touch in everyday life. We are familiar with it and it is the representation that makes the most sense to us. Another representation, which is more basic, is that of Quantum Reality. Classical Reality is fully contained within Quantum Reality, but Quantum Reality contains more phenomena, much of it things we do not see in day-to-day life. Not really accepting Quantum Reality for what it is, Erwin Schrodinger devised a thought experiment to show the odd nature of what Quantum Physics implies. He was essentially trying to ridicule the interpretation of the science he was helping to develop. The thought experiment is known as "Schrodinger's Cat."

    We start with building a switch device based on quantum principles. We are going to take an atom of a radioactive material and place it inside a detector. The detector sends a signal to a switch if the atom decays. Now, all atoms decay eventually, and the amount of time it takes for half the amount of a radioactive material to decay is called the "half-life" of the material. So the chance our one atom will decay in one half-life is 50%. Thus, after one half-life, our switch has an equal chance of being "on" or "off." We now connect a vial of the deadliest poison to the switch; if the switch is "off" then the poison vial is closed, if the switch is "on" then the poison vial is open and any creature in contact with the poison will die instantly. Now place the quantum switch and vial of poison along side a cat in a sealed box. The question is after one half-life has elapsed, is the cat alive or is it dead?

    Since there is a 50% chance that the atom has decayed in one half-life, our "logical" answer must be that the cat has a 50% chance of being alive or dead. No other answer in our (Classical Reality) experience makes any sense. We cannot say with certainty if the cat is either alive or dead.

    However, we are asking a question that requires a specific answer. Is the cat alive, or is it dead? Quantum Reality gives us a third, and actually the only valid, answer to this problem. The cat is in a mixed quantum state of both alive and dead as far as anyone outside the sealed box is concerned. That is, the cat is only in a specific state of alive or dead when someone called a "quantum observer" looks inside the box to determine the state of the cat. This leads us to all sorts of metaphysical problems about the cat as well as the problem of what defines a quantum observer.

    The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Reality:
    The Quantum Reality representation of the result of the Schrodinger's cat experiment does not make any sense as far as Classical Reality is concerned. Nevertheless, it has good basis in Physics. Many of the top Physicists of the time (around the 1930's I believe) met in Copenhagen to discuss Quantum Mechanics. Several topics were on the board there and eventually a consensus was made as to the nature of a quantum system: if a system is not measured it exists in a superposition of all possible quantum states. When the system is measured, it falls into one specific state. (For you Physics buffs, this is the concept behind the Born interpretation of the wave function.) This representation has become known as the "Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics." (CI) According to the CI, Schrodinger's cat is both alive and dead until someone opens the box to look.

    There is one other way to look at Quantum reality, but you pay a severe price. The representation, called the "Many Worlds Theory," states that every time a quantum level decision is made, the Universe splits into two or more copies, one for each outcome of the decisions. The Many Worlds interpretation of Schrodinger's cat states that the Universe splits into two copies: one with a dead cat and the other with a live cat. When we open the box we find out which Universe we are in. Personally, I find this representation to be a bit ridiculous, but you may feel free to choose which one you like the most. Both the Many Worlds and the CI make exactly the same predictions and we cannot tell which one is correct (if either!).

    The Double Slit Experiment:
    The Schrodinger's Cat thought experiment does not really tell us anything about the real world unless we can prove it. Obviously, we are not going to learn anything from killing cats (and why would we want to anyway?) so we need to turn to another experiment to give us some facts. The Young's double slit experiment does just that and is almost as simple as Schrodinger's Cat. First though we need to talk about light.

    When Sir Isaac Newton was doing his experimentation on light he decided, based on his experiments on reflection, refraction, and the sharpness of shadows, that light was made of little particles, which he dubbed "corpuscles." (We now call corpuscles photons.) Later on, interference experiments (such as the Young double slit) showed that light was made of waves, not particles. Was the great Sir Isaac wrong?? Not entirely. In the early 1900s, a man named DeBroglie showed that electrons, which are "obviously" particles, could be thought to have a wavelike character. Eventually scientists realized that all subatomic particles have both wave and particle properties…subatomic "particles" are neither particles nor waves, but are something else which we have come to call by the badly punned name of "wavicles." (If you are a John Gribbon fan, as I am, then you may like to call subatomic particles "slivey toves.") When we run an experiment that assumes light is a particle, light behaves as if it were made of particles; when we run an experiment that assumes light is a wave, light behaves as if it were a wave.

    Young's double slit experiment assumes light is going to behave as a wave. We start with a monochromatic (single colored) light source and pass it through a slit so that we obtain a set of equally spaced wave fronts. We pass these wave fronts through a wall that has two tiny holes in it, equally spaced from the center point. Beyond the wall is our "detector:" essentially a TV that records the wave pattern striking the screen. A diagram of the double slit experiment may be found in any introductory Physics text, just look under the term "interference" in the index.

    When we turn the light source on, we see a pattern of light and dark areas on the TV screen. This is the expected result since light is a wave and the two slits create an interference pattern: the peaks and troughs of the wave cancel out in different regions on the TV screen. This is entirely due to the fact of those two little holes in the wall…if there was only one tiny hole in the wall then we would only see one point of light on the TV screen and no interference. The one hole experiment is more like treating light as a particle rather than a wave, and we get no interference from it since particles do not interfere with themselves.

    Now let us play with the experiment a bit. We are going to presume that light is made of particles and install detectors in both holes in the wall to see which hole the photon goes through. What kind of pattern do we get on the TV screen now? According to Classical Reality it had better be an interference pattern again. Nope. We get two little points of light on the TV screen. Why? Because we are thinking of light as particles we detected the particles, so they cannot interfere with each other. Let's play with this again. We are going to take the original double slit experiment and this time put the photon detector right in front of the light source and then we are going to run the double slit experiment only letting one photon through at a time. Obviously, we only get a point of light on the TV screen each time a photon passes through. However, let us record where each photon hits and run a bunch of single photons through the experiment. What do we get on the TV screen? We might expect to see two little points of light on the screen, but we do not. We now get a full-fledged interference pattern! Remember, this is a composite pattern made up of individual photons going through the experiment, not a bunch of waves. This is truly weird.

    There are only two ways to explain this last result, neither of them comfortable. Consider a photon passing through hole #1 as a photon in state 1 and a photon going through hole #2 as a photon in state 2. The only way we can get an interference pattern is if we have something going through BOTH holes at the same time. This implies that the photon is traveling through the double slit apparatus in both states at the same time. Remember we are not trying to detect which state the photon is in as it goes through the holes, so the CI predicts that the photon is in both states, just as the results say it must be. (We can make a similar argument for the Many Worlds case as well). This is hard experimental evidence for the CI and has not been contradicted in the last 70 years or so. Just the opposite…other experiments have lent validity to the CI. (By the way, this same experiment has been done with electrons and, I believe, neutrons as well.)

    The Extreme Copenhagen Interpretation and Your Quantum Universe:
    What follows is my personal interpretation of the Physics mentioned above.
    Let us go back to Schrodinger's Cat since it is the simpler experiment. We need to discuss what makes a quantum observer again, because it is a tricky point. A quantum observer is some nebulous thing that takes a measurement of a system. What is it that creates the measurement process? Presumably, we have two systems to consider: the first is the actual experiment that we want to measure, and the second is the system that does the measuring. Therefore, if we take the measurement process to its most basic level, a measurement is the process by which the experimental system "gives" information to the observer's system. This information exchange is mediated by photons (or W, Z, gluons, etc. Basically any boson you wish. That's another topic.) To make a long story short, the observer gets information from the experiment by absorbing a photon. This means that an electron can serve as a quantum observer since a absorbing a photon will alter the electron's state. A quantum observer does not actually need to have an intelligence to function; it merely needs to respond to the experiment in some way.

    So. Let us go back to Schrodinger's Cat. According to the scientist running the experiment the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened. Say that he opens the box and knows the state of the cat. Now look at the people in the next room who are waiting to hear from the scientist in the room with the cat. According to them, the cat is STILL in that odd alive and dead mixed state. We can go further and state that the whole lab we ran the experiment in is in an undetermined state since the scientist in the lab might take different actions depending on the state of the cat. No one outside the lab can possibly know what is going on in the lab. Now look at the people in the next room beyond that, etc. What we have is a nested set of "Schrodinger's Cats." Until the information is passed between different rooms, the set of rooms inside exists in a mixed state.

    We can take this argument to an (I feel logical) extreme. Since the individual particles in our bodies act as quantum observers the only pertinent information we have about the state of the Universe at large is what we perceive through our senses. Therefore, anything that we do not perceive through our senses exists in a mixed state similar to Schrodinger's alive/dead cat: nothing exists in a definite state unless we are sensing it. This is what I call the "Extreme Copenhagen Interpretation." (ECI) What this implies, then, is that each of us exists in our own personal universes and everything exterior to that universe exists in an undetermined state until we sense it. Note: I am going to ignore the question of other people existing…I will assume other people exist and our knowledge of their reality comes from the "interference" of these multiple universes. To give a quick example consider the question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to see it fall, does it make any noise?" The ECI states that since no one was around, the tree is in a mixed state of existance/non-existance. Furthermore it has fallen/not fallen, much less made any noise/silence. Since the tree does not directly influence your universe, you cannot say anything definite about it even existing, even though you may have seen the tree an hour ago.

    The Basic Principle of Visualization Magick:
    The ECI tells us that what we sense is what is contained in our universe. In order to do magick we need (at least) one more principle. When we do visualization magick, we actually feel what it is that we visualize. The ECI says that what we feel makes up our reality. Combining these two statements, we have what I call the "Basic Principle of Visualization Magick." What we visualize becomes real in our universe. This principle can be demonstrated by a simple spell, which I call an "empowering" spell. First, enter a light meditative state. (This first step may also be achieved by casting a circle.) Next visualize a blanket of white fire surrounding you, starting at your feet and working its way up to encompass your whole body. Hold this visualization until you can actually feel the fire surrounding you, cleansing your spirit and not letting any darkness penetrate your being. Now visualize your hands held outward from your body and let a globe of white fire come into being between your hands. Hold the globe there until you can feel it. This globe of fire represents your inner strength and the longer you hold it the more in touch with your strength you will be. The result of this spell is that you will feel empowered and more able to cope with the challenges of your life.

    Is this magick, physics, or psychology? Remember, how we view our universe depends on the representation we use. In this case, the empowering spell may be viewed in any one of these representations. Using the ECI to describe the spell what we are doing is literally bringing up our inner strength as a concrete object and physically contacting it. We know it is there because we can feel it, therefore according to the ECI it has an actual existence. A similar argument holds for essentially any magick that has its basis in visualization or feelings.

    The ECI explains how magick can affect our own universe, what about someone else's? After all many witches (warlocks, sorcerers, etc.) will claim that their magick affects other people, not just their own universe. We can use visualization magick to show how this might work, so there is not necessarily any conflict here. You (presumably) put some clothes on today so anyone that sees you will see those clothes and all of them will be able to describe the same set of clothing. You know you are wearing a certain set of clothes, and your best friend came up to you and mentioned something about the outfit, so you know she saw them. Both of you agree on the set of clothes because both of your universes came into contact, i.e. the two universes interfere because they both contain quantum observers. Now, can your best friend say anything about what you are wearing three hours after you parted? No, because you might have changed clothes. (Or Heck, you might be skinny-dipping in the local watering hole!) Once the universes are out of contact they no longer interfere.

    To continue the analogy, if you feel something in your universe then it is real in your universe and thus, because your universe interferes with other universes the effect may well be real in someone else's universe. Say you know a spell to create a rainstorm. It will happen in your universe. Whether or not it happens in someone else's universe depends on the strength of the interference between your universe and theirs. I would suppose that the strength of the interference depends on the strength of your belief (and that of others) that you can make it rain. Taking things at face value, I would say that it would take a tremendously powerful mage to create an effect in someone else's universe seeing how difficult it is to create a magickal effect in our own universe. Note: I am aware the rain spell probably has nothing to do with visualization magick. I am also aware that other magickal principles could come into play here. Remember that I am using a representation, the ECI, to explain an effect. The ECI is probably not a good representation to discuss a rainmaking spell!

    The way we explain an effect depends on the representation we use. The rules for which a representation is a good representation to explain an effect are not known, though we may certainly use common sense to guide us. The CI is a well-established representation that is used in modern day Physics. A logical extension to the CI is the ECI, which states that we all live in our own individual universe and that the Universe is composed of the interference of these personal universes. The ECI provides a way for Physics to explain the phenomenon of visualization magick by stating that what we feel is what is real in our universe.

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