I recently came across a blog post on pagan square which explored two meanings of anthropomorphism. The author argued that anthropomorphism wasn't necessarily an error and argued that classifying it as such negated the benefit of being able to relate to deities in a manner that was representative of the emotions and attributes that people could relate to. She went on to note that it was possible to derive two meanings in anthropomorphism. One meaning would argue that divinity has human form and physical characteristics of humans, which she felt would be an anthropomorphic error. The other meaning is that a deity, entity, etc., has human like consciousness and she felt that making this assumption was not an error. I disagree, because I find that when you attribute human consciousness, feelings, motives, etc., what is really happening is that you are seeking to control the relationship with whatever you are connecting with.
It makes sense in a way. If I ascribe certain types of behaviors to an entity, in order to work with it, it makes the experience feel safer. The problem is that assuming you understand the consciousness of a non-human by ascribing human values to it really misses out on actually connecting with the entity. In a lot of my recent work I've moved away from an anthropocentric model because I've come to recognize how limiting and problematic such a model is. At the same time, what I have found interesting is how some of the previous work I've done nonetheless set the stage to connect with entities I'm working with in a non-anthropomorphic manner. For example, I've been revisiting my work with neurotransmitters.
When I initially did the work with neurotransmitters I sought an anthropomorphic connection. In other words, I wanted them to appear before me in a shape I could recognize and communicate with me in a way that was humancentric. In those workings I'd ask for a symbol I could use to evoke the neurotransmitters. In my recent work I've gone back and approached the work in a manner that is focused on experiencing the neurotransmitter as it works instead of trying to sanitize it by making it seem human. While the neurotransmitter exists in my body, it doesn't mean it shares the same consciousness, values, feelings etc. When I've done the recent non-anthropomorphic work with the neurotransmitters, what I've discovered is that the symbols I'd previously been given actually are actually the experiences I'm having. In other words, the neurotransmitters provided the experience of them as symbols. In the current work, I'm experiencing them and yet finding that the experience mirrors the symbol. It's quite fascinating, but even in this case I don't assume an anthropomorphic consciousness at work, but rather a sharing of the experience in a way that would make sense to my anthropomorphic consciousness.
All of my other magical work has also been around a non-anthropomorphic approach, which focuses on being open to the experience without interpreting the connection from a human perspective. I can acknowledge, as a human, that my experience will occur through my senses and awareness of those senses, but I do my best not to place human values on what I'm connecting with. Instead by being open to the experience as it occurs I can connect in a way that is genuine and allows for mediation of the entity being connected with. I'm not blocking the connection with my human biases and interpretation. This mediation of the entity is stronger as a result, allowing the magician to establish a deeper relationship based on the authentic experience instead of the biases of the magician.
For example, the recent spirit cord work I shared about the lunar work I did involved working with the Ashim, which are the angels of the lunar realm. I didn't assume the angels would appear to me with wings or harps. In fact, I didn't assume they would appear to me at all, and in fact they didn't. My experience of them involved feeling them as they transported me to the lunar realm. By not going in to the working with anthropomorphic assumptions and biases, I was able to connect with them and be aware of them as they worked with me, without assigning values and consciousness to them that didn't necessarily fit them.
I see anthropomorphism as an extension of the tendency to apply psychology to magic as a way of explaining. Anthropomorphism makes magic seem safe and easy to handle, because it's all in your head. The problem with that approach is that takes the magic out of magic. It's just a head game then, easily explainable in terms of behavior, but lacking real depth. Anthropomorphism conveniently applies human behavior to experiences to make those experiences more palatable, but it stops us from really allowing ourselves to be moved by the magic we are working or the entities we are connecting with.
Book Review: The Sacred Cross: A Transformational Spiritual Tool for Life by Anastacia Nutt
This book teaches a stillness technique called the Sacred Cross. The author does an excellent job of balancing the conceptual aspects of the technique with practical exercises used to integrate the technique into your spiritual practices. She also provides some excellent suggestions for how the technique can be used in concern with other spiritual practices you are doing. I've found the book helpful as I've worked with the sacred cross technique and have adapted the technique into my ongoing spiritual work on a daily basis. If you are wanting to learn a useful stillness technique, this one will resonate with you and be very helpful.