identity

The Ontological Reality of Deities, Spirits, and otherworld beings

  thiede

Thanks to the polytheism vs pop culture magic debate that has been going on I've been thinking a lot about my own interactions with deities, demons, spirits, etc. Galina Krassakova posts her own views about her experiences and why she doesn't need theories to define her relationships with her deities on Pagan Square and though it might surprise her and the other polythiests, I'm actually in agreement with her argument that theory ultimately distracts from doing the actual work. Theories are at best tools, but even as tools they should be used carefully lest they overshadow the actual work.  My latest article on Pagansquare discusses theory and its role in magic further, but for this post I thought I'd focus on my experiences with Deity, spirits, and other assorted spiritual beings I've worked with. That phrase "work with" is likely where I and the polytheists differ and we'll get to why that is later.

My journey with the spirits has taken me on some interesting paths, and some of those paths have been theory oriented.  I've explored archetypal theory for example and applied it to my practice. My book Pop Culture Magick is a prime example of the application of archetypes to magical work and to be honest I still use some of that in my practice, particularly with identity magic. And working with the concepts of archetypes has lead me to some interesting conclusions about deities, demons, etc., based less on theory and moreso on observation, practice, and experience with said beings. I don't feel that these realizations take away from the reality of the spirits, so much as provide some additional forms of engagement that ultimately can lead to a more primal experience of spirit. I liken it removing a mask and uncovering what's really underneath the mask, and realizing that the mask was used in order to provide a particular space where spirit and human could meet for the comfort of the human.

Yet the removal of the mask was also the removal of theory. Instead of focusing on the attributes and behaviors, the trappings as it were, I encountered the deeper ontological reality of the spiritual beings I was and do connect with. And instead of trying to get them to fit my agenda or needs, I allowed and do allow myself to be moved by them, to fully experience them as they are instead of through an interpretation based on theory. The irony is, that by allowing myself to be so moved, I've been moved as well by the pop culture spirits I've worked with, the ones that are supposedly not real. In my article on pop culture on pagan square I mentioned how I had a long relationship with Thiede. Thiede is a character in Storm Constantine's Wraeththu series, a fantasy series, and yet for me Thiede has been and is real. Thiede is the guardian of Space, the revealer of the ley lines between planets and stars, a dehara, and so much more to me. Reading about him in a book was only the start of my connection to him, and it was a connection, from the start, that moved me deeply.

When I say the phrase "move me" I'm not talking about being emotionally moved to tears. I'm talking about encountering a spiritual force that has deeply affected me, changed me and pointed my life and spiritual practice in a different direction than it might have gone otherwise. And that experience isn't something you can just slap a theory on. It defies theory because theory is ultimately an intellectual process used to categorize and define something into a neat little box that you can store away until you need it. I've had an encounter with something fundamentally different from me and that experience has changed who I am. It has changed my identity.

And this is not an isolated incident. Each year I work with a different elemental force and part of that process involves working with a spirit guide that provides a "face" through which I can interact with that elemental force. The elemental balancing work is an intense process of change that is brought by interacting with the element. There is no theory for it, but simply the engagement of practice and the recognition that I need to work with a given elemental force in my life. The various entities I've worked with during the balancing rituals haven't been archetypes...far from it. They are collection of beings that even today are in my life. They are not something I believe in...they are something I experience. That's an important distinction to make because in my opinion belief is just another theory, another tool. The experience of them in my life is something else. To me, the spirits I work with, traditional or pop culture, are real. There is an ontological essence of being, of identity that is objective, beyond any categorization I could give it, and it is sustained not merely by my own experience, but also by the experiences of others, independent of my own.

My work with my spirits has some form of devotion and offering attached to it. Some of the tattoos on my body, for example, are devotional offerings of my skin made to a particular element as a way of recognizing the significant role the element has played in my life. I also make offerings to particular spirits in the form of writing or through painting. But the work I do with them is nonetheless geared more toward the advancement of my work with magic than anything else. They play an important role in my life, but they are not central to it, so much as they help me focus on what is central. Thus I work with them, and this likely is different from how the polytheists approach such matters.

Just because some of my spirits aren't tied to a particular religion or culture of old doesn't invalidate their existence. And while it might be said that such spirits were created by an author or artist, I'd argue that perhaps they weren't created, so much as channeled and experienced. Whether anyone agrees with me or not on that issue isn't important. What's important in the end is that I am doing the work I am called to do. I'm getting out of my own way and letting it happen, letting myself be moved and inspired, so that I can do what I need to do. And really, isn't that the point?

 

Month 10 Fire Elemental Balancing Ritual

8-11-12 I haven't written in this post for half a month, not because things weren't happening but because life has been so busy. Part of it's been the catch up on work after you are done with a vacation and part of it has also been coming to the final part of a writing project I've been working on and thus focusing more on it than anything else. Whenever I get close to finishing a writing project it becomes the center of my reality. So let's see...

I've just started reading another book on relationships with my wife. It's one I'd read before, but at that time I was the only one to read it. Reading it with someone else adds a dimension to the experience because of the discussions K and I are having about the book and what the author's take on relationships means to both of us. I think that with this relationship I am discovering what love can really be, not just in terms of loving another but also myself. I can honestly say that I never felt as content or happy in my life as I've felt the last couple of years. We've had our bumps along the way, but we've been able to work through them with a level of openness and honesty that I was unable to give or receive previously.

The fire work has been interesting more in terms of the direction its pointing me to: Eros aka movement. I'll get into that more at some point, but right now its in an exploratory stage. Fire in and of itself has really been about (this month and every month) coming to peace with my passions and desires and recognizing how much they've been driven by a feeling of emptiness and restlessness, which in doing this work and the relationship work has actually become much less prevalent. I still feel restless occasionally, but I am able to identify it and work with it in a way that had eluded me in the past.

8-12-12 When I think about my place in the Pagan-Occult community, I tend to think of myself as someone on the outskirts of said community. I feel that way in just about any community, and I recognize that a lot of it is my own choice, but it also born as much from a disassociation with people in general. At times I feel like I'm an observer who is studying everything around me. What offerings I bring are genuine, but they come from the outside, offering with the unusual perspective that can only come when you choose to go away from the norm and tried and true to discover whatever else is out there.

Even as a writer and publisher I'm on the outside. I've chosen to publish my books with a small publisher that does print on demand books. While my books are carried in independent stores, you'll likely never see them on the walls of a Barnes and Noble or Powells books simply because retailers don't like it when they can't return books that don't sell.  I could probably get published by Llewellyn or another publisher at this point, but I doubt I'd have the level of control over the text or cover art that I have and generally what I've seen from the majority of publishers doesn't inspire a level of confidence in me that the work will be respected in the way it needs to be.

And that's the benefit of being on the outside...very few people care if you fit in if you already don't fit in. And not fitting in allows you some liberties you might not discover otherwise. And sometimes you even discover, as I have, that there are more people into your work then you thought there were and more people who appreciate the perspective because they see the value it brings.

8-15-12 There are days when I wake up and do not like the person I see in the mirror. Fortunately they are few and far between, but on those days I am reminded of my burdens, of my remorse, of the mistakes I've made. There are some things you never forget because you know you need to remember them as a reminder of who you don't want to be. And then too there's that feeling of wanting to find something to distract you from what you are feeling, which is absolutely the worst choice to make. You may not like what you feel, but being present with it, working through it is far better then trying to distract yourself. That's something I've had to learn the hard way, and its still something I'm learning. I'm better at this realization than I was a few years ago, but its still a struggle on a day like today. The urge to run away or lose myself or whatever else because I don't want to feel what I'm feeling is sharp, yet instead of doing all that, I chose to feel it, chose to feel my unhappiness with myself, chose to feel the pain I am feeling. I chose to be present and move in that presence through meditation and mediation of what I'm feeling. I don't know that this makes me a better person so much as it makes me someone who is choosing to be aware of his moments of weakness and vulnerability.

And there is also this other current that has recently come to my attention around movement via Eros. I need to do some movement rituals for areas of my life that I feel stuck in right now. Change happens through movement, but intentional movement is better then just any movement. The point isn't to run away. The point is to move toward a solution.

8-17-12 When you live with fear each day you must learn to face it, or otherwise let it control you. Whether its fear of change, the unknown or something else, you either learn to master it, or it masters you. When it masters you, it stops you from acting, and when you master it, you use it to motivate your actions.

8-21-12 As one cycle begins to wind down another cycle begins to wind up. Still its important to focus on the moment at hand, and appreciate what is happening now. Too many people are focused on getting to the next moment, and thus they miss out on what is happening around them right now. I used to be that way, myself, and now find myself savoring each moment I have far more than I used to. My tomorrows are not infinite and what I have to experience is what is present right now. Maintaining presence is being in the present as it presents itself to you and through you.

The relationship between magic and being

When I think about magic and identity, I think about embodiment and being. In particular with the word being, I think of it as a verb that denotes a person's life as as a process of presence entering into collaboration with reality. The presence of a person contains all the potential of the person, as well as access to possibilities of what the person can become. Magic, when employed, is a melding of the identity of the person (his/her being) with the situation. It is presence joining reality, merging possibility with what already is to create something which nonetheless contains the presence/being of the magician.

When we no longer divorce our actions from our state of being what we find is a different awareness of possibility and magic. No longer is a problem looked at as something external and separate, but instead there is an acknowledgement of the connection between the magician and the problem. The magician examines not merely the problem as it shows up in the world around him/her, but also the problem as it shows up in him/herself, to understand the connection it has to his/her life, and also to understand how to solve it, not merely in the environment around him/her, but also within.

When being is a verb there is a recognition that ontology is not some static image of identity, but an active presence of identity that challenges the magician to know him/herself as a fluid reality that mixes with possibility on a regular basis. We are all gates to possibility, and thus our state of being is one of change. Identity, when perceived this way, is not about attachments but about becoming and unbecoming all at once. Magic is a process of identity, part of the becoming and unbecoming, simultaneously binding us to possibilities while undoing connections to others. Reality itself is no longer perceived as static, so much as it is a canvas to be painted on. What seems real falls away as possibilities are embodied in everyday life. What becomes real is a melding of presence and reality and as such it can become unreal under the right circumstances.

Magical practice based on an ontological approach frees the magician from a doing and having perspective which tends to cause the magician to objectify reality and even him/herself. To have something is to own it and possess it, and yet it also possesses you. To do something is to act on it and yet try and separate yourself from it, ignoring that it has its own influence on you. Such perspectives limit the magician and dull the mind. The ontological approach acknowledges that everything is connected and that what is acted on, also acts on the magician. There is no objectification of reality, but instead a profound realization of connection and understanding that any situation encountered by the magician has a connection that goes deeper than what casual observation displays. And when the magician can make changes to his/her presence, the core of his/her own reality, s/he also makes changes to reality around him/her, changing the ontological state of not only him/herself but also reality as s/he interacts and understands it.

Magical Identity Pre-orders

Magical Identity explores magic from an ontological perspective, to show why identity is an essential part of your magical practice. In this book, author Taylor Ellwood explores how you can change your identity and why making changes to your identity is the most effective magical practice you'll ever learn. In this book you will discover:

  • Advanced neuro-magic techniques for working with your body consciousness and neurotransmitter entities.
  • The web of Time and Space, a space/time magic technique for changing your life.
  • The key to successfully changing bad habits into positive habits.
  • and much more!

Magical Identity challenges you to take your magical practice to the next level. You will learn techniques that will change how you think of magic and yourself and will show you how to create effective change for your life.

Here's what other authors are saying about Magical Identity!

Like Space/Time Magic and other of his works before it, Taylor Ellwood has filled Magical Identity with a potent combination of magical techniques for change, the neurological discoveries that explain how these techniques work, and accounts of how he has applied them in his own life. -- Bill Whitcomb, Author of the Magician's Companion

Throughout this book you'll find a sparkling clarity in the writing (seriously; no mystic mumbo jumbo, no obscure oh-so-spookyness). And when you've read this book the chances are that you'll have discovered an attitude to magic that is rich in new ideas and perspectives and will undoubtedly enhance your own approach, whatever your style or tradition. -- Julian Vayne, Author of Magick Works and Now That's What I Call Chaos Magick

Learning the answer to the question “Who am I?” may prove vitally important, at some stage of the game, for most magicians. Allow Taylor Ellwood to be your guide; his answers aren’t simple ones, rather, he describes a method for exploring the interconnectedness of human and universe in a way that promises to help you find your own answers. -- Phil Farber, author of Brain Magick

This book is now available for pre-orders. The book will be available in March 2012. The cost is $20.99, plus Shipping and Handling.

International orders

Domestic orders

 

Books will also be available on Amazon, Immanion Press and in your local Occult bookstore

Multiversal Tone

The hypnotic movement of the music,the sashay that calls for a steady shuffle as you and I move in time we create this altered reality a place of eyes, your eyes staring into mine mine staring into yours Your soul baring its truth to me showing all your possible timelines realities unfolding as you say, "Here I am in all my multiversal glory." You are everything and nothing Your eyes are eight arrowed stars that portray entropy The music swirls, stings, rattles its not just a sound its an experience shaking the very boundaries of the bodies engaged in this dance of robotic, synchronized movements back and forth, back and forth all is bliss, all is bliss Reveal yourself to me and I'll show you a new reality in my own eyes as I unveil my secret self displaying the glories of my true nature the celestial nature of my tone I bring to the universe perfect sound joining other perfect sounds we create this harmony gears in clocks, the ticking of time the movement of space Here we are you and I.

Fear and Magic

I read a post where the writer argued that if you weren't feeling fear in your magical practice, you either aren't human, or you are trying hard to stay in your safety zone. I get the point of this post, and to some degree I agree with it. Feeling some fear as you break your boundaries and challenge your identity is a good thing. It means you're doing the hard work. Challenging yourself to move forward when you feel fear is a necessary part of life in general. When I practice magic though, I don't feel fear. I feel empowerment. I feel excited, alive, vibrant. Magic is life, magic is power, magic is turning the impossible into reality. When I feel fear, I feel it in the moments when I do internal work, and I face within myself those weaknesses and issues and hurts and pains. That's when I feel fear. That's why I do my internal work...to reach a place of understanding and resolution with those fears so that when I practice my magical work, there is resolve and knowing that what I do aligns to my identity.

We all approach magical work differently. When I work with the elementals and spirits I approach them as friends, as companions. Other people do not. I think how you approach such beings sets the tone for the type of interaction you'll have with them. Thus to approach them as friends, to approach them with confidence is my own way of knowing them. It works because it's something I feel confident in. It works because I know my place in relationship to their own.

Fear is a funny emotion. It can paralyze a person, motivate a person...it can block and push. I find that knowing where to encounter fear changes your magical practice. Encountering it in my internal work and making it an active part of that work has changed the external work and the need to do the external work, and changed my life...its much quieter now than it was before.

A new Year, A new you

I saw this blog entry on Twitter and was intrigued by what the person had to say  about reinventing herself. It reminds me a bit of the elemental balancing ritual I do each year. I'm in the 2nd month of my new year, and in a sense the new person I'm discovering as I work with the element of fire. But it also made me think about the fact that I'm in the process of reinventing two of my businesses. I'm reinventing Magical Experiments, slowly but surely, both in terms of offering correspondence courses (I'm working on the magical process course currently) and in terms of branding. But with Imagine Your Reality, I'm reinventing the entire business. I've just gotten the social media piece nailed down, and I'm finally turning toward the business coaching part and redoing my entire business plan. It's a reinvention of identity, both for myself, but also for people I want to market my services too.  It's an ongoing challenge, because I'm not just writing a new business plan, I'm also doing a fair amount of internal work. For example at our class, we were challenged to rewrite our internal stories into more positive ones. What does it have to do with business? Quite a lot actually, because the internal reality you believe is the reality that manifests in your life.

Each year, the elemental balancing ritual is part of my reinvention. The thematic approach provides enough structure to make consistent changes, while providing enough freedom to allow yourself to experience the lessons needed to make those changes happen. A necessary part of that process involves keeping a journal of sorts, which is why I blog on this journal about the experiences each month. The only exception has been a two year gap, wherein I focused on Magical Identity. You won't necessarily find such personal entries in it, but it nonetheless encapsulates the experiences of two years of reinvention.

Change is a constant. Embracing change within your magical practice is how you take control of the change you experience and make it part of your identity.

Researching the brain

Although I've already written the first draft of my new book, I'm still continuing to do research on the neuroscience of the brain (one of the books I've recently read is reviewed below). It's a fascinating subject for me, even without writing a book, but writing a book does shape a lot of the reading and experimentation I'm doing. What interests me the most is how much a person's sense of self is wrapped up in the brain and how easily that can be changed by an accident, stroke etc. It demonstrates just how fragile a personality is...its based on biological realities as much as on any metaphysical sense we attribute to it. A lot of my work with the brain has involved being able to go in and interact with the neuro-chemistry in order to effect desired changes in personality. For example, no longer having to suffer a mental disease such as depression involves making changes to the biological aspects of depression. Some people accomplish this through drugs...my preference has been targeted meditation work with neurotransmitters.

The brain is adaptive enough when it comes to doing such work, because it naturally has the capability to change, thanks to neuro-plasticity. Nonetheless making such changes has to be done carefully and one of the reasons I've read up so much on neuroscience, is to understand the mechanisms of change that are already incorporated in the brain. Even knowing that information, I think its important to carefully experiment with desired changes you want to bring to your brain.

It's also important to recognize that what we know about the brain is still not entirely accurate. Not so long ago, there was a belief that the functions of the brain could be mapped to specific parts...while there's some truth to that, there's also a lot of truth that functions don't solely belong to a specific area, but are shared in part by the neural network and specifically how it shares information across the network. Experimentation needs to be done cautiously, with a recognition that in someways all we have is an idea of how the brain works. We can test that idea...we can experiment with it, but we also need to acknowledge its limitations and recognize that experimentation will take us off the charted edge to the unknown space, with all of its mysteries.

Experimentation should challenge us to go into the unknown, while research grounds us in information we can use to push ourselves toward that unknown space. What we bring back from the unknown space is more information, to provide further grounding and a better sense of what we can do with what we have. I recognize my magical work with my brain will likely never be perceived as scientific or as valid as what actual neuroscientists do in their studies, yet I also know it has brought desirable changes into my life, improving the quality of my circumstances, and that others who have followed my work have also benefited. That's the real test for the magician...not if something fits acceptable scientific paradigms and knowledge, but rather if you can take it, obtain a result, and then share it and help others achieve similar results. Sometimes magicians forget that in their fervor to "scientifically" fit-in with the dominant paradigms of acceptable thought. To them and all others I urge: Take what you can from the system, but don't restrict yourself to what others have told you...try it out yourself, test through your own experience and let that be your record and great work.

Book Review: The Tell-Tale Brain (Affiliate Link) by V. S. Ramachandran

In this book, the author explains what mirror neurons are and presents a variety of case studies on them as well as discussing various neurological diseases and what causes those diseases. He also discusses the connection between linguistics, art, and neuroscience. This book is fascinating and the author presents compelling cases. More importantly, he helps the reader understand some of the science in neuroscience with stories and examples that provide context to the science he is explaining Overall a really good book on a fascinating topic.

Why its not a good idea to destroy part of yourself

The other day I decided to do a meditation technique to work with a part of myself that I thought I wanted to change. I did the meditation technique and basically I ended up poking a part of myself that didn't care for what I was doing and responded with quite a reaction, which showed up both internally and also in my life around me. Fortunately, I was able to sort matters out in my life, but I realized that what I'd tried to do, which essentially was to get rid of a part of myself, wasn't really a good idea. At times, in our lives, there can be a temptation to try and get rid of part of yourself or change it or try to fit it some standard of behavior that doesn't really apply to it. Inevitably, what ends up happening is that the part you try to change defends itself quite vigorously and you realize that it wasn't such a good idea.

This isn't to say you can't change behavior. You certainly can, but trying to do a radical change is never advised, and doesn't make you happy. Instead such changes need to occur gradually, being worked through, and even when such changes are made, they usually focus on behavior, as opposed to identity, which is essentially how you define yourself. You can change behavior, but changing identity can be a lot harder and you genuinely have to no longer want to identify yourself in a particular way to make the change successful. This means you need to work with the values and beliefs that represent that part of your identity and determine if they no longer relevant to your life.

My main point is this: Don't try and get rid of part of yourself for anyone or anything. Better to do the internal work and determine how it really fits into your life. Accepting who you is the greatest liberation you can give yourself.

Book and Video Review: The Lost Secret of Immortality (Affiliate Link) by Barclay Powers

The video is well done and presents a lot of ideas on internal alchemy as its done in both the the East and West. I'd particularly recommend it to anyone just starting out as it has a wealth of information, but even more seasoned practitioners will find it useful. The book serves as a useful complement to the video, providing further information on concepts discussed in the video. I'd have liked to have seen some exercises included in the book, but the author does a good job of pointing to additional sources. Overall a a useful resource guide.

My inspiration for my magical systems

I was recently asked where I got my inspiration for the Sigil web technique in Space/Time Magic. But the person who asked also noted that he felt my work was writing was far enough away from the sources I cited that he was curious in general. It's a good question to ask. Where do I get my ideas for my magical work? If you look at the bibliography of any of my books, you'll probably note that one third to one half of the titles cited have nothing to do with magic. Or rather, they only have something to do with magic, because I saw something in the material that I knew I could apply magic to. The rest of the sources are books on magic...some traditional, some less so, all interesting to me, only so much in how I can take the content and experiment with it, in order to adapt it to my needs and circumstances. That's really how I approach anything I read: "What's in this book that is insightful and useful and how can I take it and experiment with it, both for my own needs, and also for curiosity's sake?" But that's just the surface. I'm an insatiable reader. I'm usually working on about six books at a given time, and all of it is very interesting, but that's only part of my inspiration.

I'm really motivated by curiosity more than anything else. I'm insatiably curious. I want to know what I can do...I want to test my limits, and I want to know how I can take all of my interests and apply them to magic. There's no tradition for me, no specific way of doing things. I get that for some people, a lot of people, that works...but not me. I want to know and explore and try things out. I want to be on the edge.

I'm inspired by resistance as well. Every person who's told me, "You can't do that", or "It's reinventing the wheel" has inspired me. I can't thank enough those people.

And I'm creative. I've always looked at the world differently. I see how things fit together and I run with it and play with it, and experiment...and so on.

My inspiration for how I approach magic, how I approach everything I do comes down to this: "It's always better to play by your own rules than someone elses" That's why I do magic the way I do it...because anyone else's rules for doing magic only interest me insofar as I can take it apart and put it back into something that fits my style, life, and needs.

Of Wounds and Tattoos

In a previous post, I showed off my most recent tattoo. Since showing it off, I've had an interesting, if somewhat painful experience that I want to relate. A couple days after I'd gotten the tattoo, I had three sores appear around the tattoo. One sore was actually in the tattoo, but on a spot that hadn't been inked. Another appeared in a straight line below it, and another appeared at an angle, where you essentially had a triangle. Without getting into too much TMI, the sores ended up infected, with one becoming an abscess. The timing of this was interesting. Kat, my wife, thinks that my body was responding to the tattoo and releasing toxicity. Given that I'd gotten all the work done in a 3 week period, I can believe that, but at the same time I can't help but wonder if it was also a demonstration of what the tattoo represents: Balance in Identity. Achieving balance means facing and releasing toxicity in your life. It means recognizing where you've allowed yourself to be held up by your own issues.

In meditating on the wounds that appeared, I realized that they represented the work I'd done and continue to do with my elemental balancing ritual. I've worked through a lot of internal toxicity and cleaned it out of my life. It's been painful, but it's also freed me of so much of what I was holding in. Those physical embodiments of the toxicity reminded me of all that work. They're also a reminder that such work can be ongoing.

In other news...

Recently Immanion Press released its latest Anthology: Shades of Faith. You can order the book via this website or via Amazon. Here's a brief description of what it's about:

Shades of Faith: Minority Voices in Paganism is an anthology that encompasses the voices and experiences of minorities within the Pagan community and addresses some of the challenges, stereotyping, frustrations, talents, history and beauties of being different within the racial constructs of typical Pagan or Wiccan groups.

Conscious awareness as a reaction

As I've been writing Neuro-Space/Time Magic and exploring the concept of Identity, and how genuine changes occur in a person's life, I've been thinking a lot about consciousness. Consciousness is put on a pedestal in a way, as a big accomplishment, and I understand why that is. Consciousness, when applied in a mindful manner, can help a person control his/her reactions and even develop proactive strategies. As a friend of mine put it, it's awareness of awareness, which is significant when you consider that such awareness can be used to put a situation and responses into perspective. But (you knew there was a but coming), I also think that consciousness is a reaction. It's a reaction to the environment around you, as well as your internal responses to that environment. It's a reaction that focuses on controlling your response. You realize that a controlled response is the best possible solution for handling the situation. And perhaps what makes consciousness so useful is that such awareness can be used to put into place responses that are more useful for handling future situations. Awareness without action won't change anything, but awareness with action changes a lot. Those actions can be integrated into how we respond to situations, and in that process we can acknowledge that such actions are still reactions...conscious reactions applied to handle a situation from a place of awareness.

For a change to occur as it applies to behavior, you've got to make that change on a deep level. It's a change of identity, which includes a change of values and beliefs in order to support the action you'll take. Those kind of changes go deeper than conscious awareness, but conscious awareness can be used to go in and implant those changes and make them part of your reactive responses.

Consciousness is a tool. It provides some awareness of self, enough to be aware of the need to change and enough to allow a person to enter into an altered state of consciousness to go in and make those changes...and we'll still react...we'll just react with chosen reactions as opposed to ones put on us by events an circumstances.

Identity Tattoo Part 2

 

Yesterday I went in for the last session of the identity tattoo. This time, for me, the focus wasn't on covering something up, but being open to identity and where it could take me. Instead of trying to rewrite the past, I just allowed myself to be open to the present, and the possibilities of the future. I think part of that too came from the sense of completion I feel around writing Neuro-Space/Time Magic.

Identity has been such an interesting element to explore...it's a meta-element really because its present in everything, no matter how much we try to deny it. It could even be argued that our denial just strengthens it. Regardless of how you look at it, however, identity is present. It goes beyond a constructed sense of self to something much deeper. It displays itself in everything we do or don't do. It's a cycle, and that's why the tattoo ending up the way it has makes complete sense to me. All of the internal work I've done, everything I'm doing now is part of a cycle that's my identity. And it goes beyond one life time, I think...it's a continuing exploration of everything, changing in a dance that we can sense if we are open to acknowledging it.

Tattoo for Identity

When I ended the elemental Emptiness working back in 2009, I'd switched to the element of Time, or so I thought, but I ended up realizing part way through the year that I'd really ended up with element of Identity, which makes perfect sense, because after emptiness I found I needed to establish a new identity. I'd cleared so much of myself out that I needed to rediscover who I was. Not to long after the emptiness year ended, I also got divorced, which brought its own change in identity with it. And in looking back at the years I'd done my different elemental balancing rituals it became apparent that much of my understanding of identity is wrapped in that elemental balancing work, because that work gave me the first opportunity to move past so much of what had held me back and replace it with what was healthiest for me.

As you can see the tattoo isn't finished yet, but this is what we gone done today. I hope to finish it up in a month, but I'm really pleased with the work the artist did.

I waited awhile to get this tattoo, partially because I had to decide if I was going to cover up a tattoo I already had. In the end I decided to cover up the old tattoo as the final part of a reclaiming/purification ritual for myself. Reclaiming my identity and my freedom to be who I need and want to be. I've pretty much done that already in my life, but this tattoo is the final part of that reclaiming, the last resolution needed to move on.

It's a lot more than that as well. I chose the Yin/Yang symbol surrounded by the five classic Chinese elements of Fire Water, Metal, Wood, and Earth. It represents the elemental balancing ritual and how much of a role it's played in my life, in terms of establishing and exploring my identity and place in the universe. And the yin/Yang symbol is representative of the Taoist meditation techniques I've used to help me do so much of the very needed internal work I needed to do.

Today as I was inked, I did the water breathing meditation and relaxed into the pain of the needle, letting it wash over, purifying me of the past, even as it helped me embrace the present and my promise to myself: Never to sacrifice my identity for anyone else. To always strike the right balance in all my relationships so that I can honor myself and the people I interact with. To be honest with myself so I can be honest with the people in my life.

I let the pain wash over me and I meditated on the pain of change and realized how good it can be. It's hurt while it's happening, but the end result, the realization is you're in a better place than you were before. And that's how I feel: I'm in a much better place than I've ever been.

Identity and Time

Each year on my birthday I do an elemental magic switchover to a new element for the next year. Last year I switched from Emptiness to Time. This year, however, I'm not going to switch from Time. Part of it is because astrologically Saturn is a significant influence over the next year and I think I should capitalize on it, but part of it also is because while I did some work with time, I ended up actually working a lot more with the element of Identity. It makes sense actually because when I finished with the element of Emptiness, I felt like my life was a blank slate. And in January of 2010, I was divorced. Needless to say that was also a big change in identity for me, and I felt like much of this year has been an exploration of who I am and what I want and need.

Even getting involved in a new relationship has brought identity changes. I identify myself as childfree, but my partner has children and that's involved some adjustment to how I think about children and my identity in relationship to them. This entire year has been less about time and more about identity, discovering and claiming my identity, as well as claiming boundaries for that identity. I actually think that's one of the more magical acts I've done this year. It's helped me understand the role of identity in magical work, and it's also helped me identify the parts of my identity that I've wanted to change.

This year has been one of the best years of my life. Instead of holding on to the past, I've let go and embraced the present as an opportunity to explore who I can be, and in turn allow that realization to manifest in the universe and in my life. The previous years of internal work have paid off, and my life has come into a lot more focus as I've really reshaped my contractual agreement with the universe into an agreement I can really be behind. And it's going to keep getting better from here.

My work with the element of time is something I'm going to continue with. But today I'm going to celebrate my holy day.

Happy birthday to me

Identity

Last October, I switched the element I was working with from Emptiness to Time, or so I thought. And I have done some work with time and space and in fact would say the work I've done has been very integral to my life growth, but I realized recently that if I've really been working with an element this year, it's actually identity. Last October I felt like everything got cleared away, and it did...if not then, then in January with the divorce. And the last half year or so has involved rediscovering my identity, my space, and my time. And even though I have gotten involved with someone new and am happily exploring a relationship with her now, I still feel very focused on the discovery of my agreement with the universe, and what I really want my identity to embody in this life.

I'm also discovering what I don't want in my agreement with the universe, and so as a result I'm looking carefully at my life and who and what I include in that life, as well what behaviors I'll accept or won't accept (both from myself and others). So I've realized that in a lot of ways identity has been my element this year, at least on a subtle level, because this year has been more about planting seeds of who I will become and also embracing the new circumstances than anything else.

And I think its magical, because magic isn't something that happens at a prescribed time or in a prescribed way. Magic is about the mundane details as well as the spiritual, really about the integration of both...

Clothing, magic, and identity

The other night I got into a conversation with a friend about how clothing can be used to help a person fit into a community. The way I see it is clothing is another tool in your magical arsenal that you can use. We use clothing everyday and we also look at how other people are using clothing to determine if those people fit in with our respective outlook. I think of clothing as a symbol, and an indicator of a lot of other information about person. That person over there? She's wearing a business suit, so she's either working in a corporate job, or is a self-employed entrepreneur. That person over there, he's wearing a pair of denim jeans, work boots, and a t-shirt. He's either working in construction, or in a tech company. Now the only problem with what I've just written is that we're judging what those people do (and to a lesser extent who they are) by the clothes they wear and we could be completely wrong...and yet people do this all the time, and the enterprising magician is aware of this and has clothing for different occasions, in order to fit in with whatever type of situation s/he is in...or stand out as the occasion warrants. Watch the video below, where I discuss this more and then tell me what you think. Do you use clothing in your magical work, and if so, what do you do?

Review of The Hidden Brain

Review of The Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantam Proponents of mindfulness and conscious intent may be disappointed when they read this book and realize just how much our unconscious dictates and influences our decisions. The author isn't afraid to tackle tough issues, such as how the hidden brain influences people's thinking about racial and gender issues, as well as how the group mind can actually harm you as opposed to help you. I found this to be a fascinating read because the author presents some compelling evidence that supports his claim and shows just how much the unconscious effects everyday life and decisions. I recommend this book as a refreshing and eye-opening perspective on how we make decisions.

5 out of 5

Tattoos as magical oaths

I was looking at the green wolf paw tattoo that I got shortly after Lupa and I got married. We're getting divorced now, but it never once occurred to me to get the tattoo removed. In fact, I intend to keep it, because it's a very significant tattoo to me, as are all my other ones. I consider my body to be the most powerful magical "tool" I have. It is a physical embodiment of my life, and a record of that living. When I get a tattoo on my body, I am placing a record of a significant even, entity, or person in my life, but also taking a magical oath in relationship to that event, entity, or person, as it pertains to my life.

My first tattoo is a red orange phoenix with my symbol on it. I got it to signify my choice to move from the East to the West, to signify a Rebirth in my life. It marks my choice to rebirth my life completely and its fair to say since moving to the West coast, I have rebirthed my life in ways I couldn't even imagine.

My second Tattoo is the Green Wolf Paw, with an L in it. It represents Lupa. I got it because I wanted to mark in my skin the permanence of my relationship with Lupa. While we're no longer romantic partners and will soon be divorced, Lupa is a significant person in my life. She will always be in my life, in some capacity just by the fact that we wrote a book together. I'm comfortable with that idea.

My third Tattoo is a Blue Dragon. The Blue Dragon represents PDX and Northern Oregon. It's a magical oath that signifies the recognition that Portland and the surrounding area is my home and a place I intend to live for the rest of my life. While I have admittedly not visited many other countries, I have been all over the US and this is the one place that has always felt like home.

My fourth Tattoo is a pair of eyes and a phrase: From 0 to 1. It represents the year of emptiness work, my connection with my highest self and my vow to recognize and appreciate emptiness, instead of trying to fill it. From 0 to 1 also signifies the choice to manifest possibility into pro-activity, instead of reactivity.

All of these tattoos are powerful for me. They are something I can't remove, because even if I did remove them, something would be left. They are a record of my life, but also oaths I've taken. I've only realized that recently in a fully conscious way, but this recognition speaks mindfully to me of the choices I've made in my life.