Labels and Definitions

Granted that a lot of people who practice magic and exploration of the higher realms are pagan nowadays, not all pagans do magic, and not all magicians are pagan.  Magic is something that isn’t tied to any one religion or spiritual path, and magic comes in so many forms, languages, shapes, and contexts that it can never be relegated to any one word or definition.  So, it always confuses me and gives me (longer-than-conversationally-permissible) pause when people ask whether I’m pagan or call me such without checking.

“Pagan” nowadays often refers to polytheistic, earth-centered, environmentally-conscious people.  Although “pagan” is usually synonymous with “Wiccan” in most popular contexts, this is far from being the actual case, with hundreds of varieties of “pagan” out there.  The word “pagan” comes from Latin paganus, meaning “country dweller” or “rustic”, or someone who lives according to an older or less sophisticated way of life.  It’s a blanket term, and synonymous in etymology with the word “heathen”, or “someone living in the heath” or the desolate back country.  Both terms came to mean “not Christian or Jewish”, and are both very broad blanket terms.  In this sense, Buddhists, Hindus, and even Muslims and Mormons (being polytheistic and not trinitarian) may be called “pagan”.  “Neopagan” is an improvement, but doesn’t cover all the bases, either, since it only covers contemporary revivals or new spiritual paths.  What about people who practice Bön on the Tibetan plateau, or the Ainu who practice their own form of animistic faith in northern Japan?  These are certainly pagans, but definitely aren’t neopagans.

Myself?  I consider myself a magician, specifically a Hermetic and/or ceremonial magician.  I don’t really operate in terms of religion or spiritual orthodoxy; instead, I work in terms of practice, experience, and experiments.  I come from a loosely Jewish background, I believe in the One God, and that Christ is an aspect or physical emanation of the Logos or Son of God and/or a pretty cool dude.  I also believe that Muhammad (PBUH), the Bahá’u’lláh, all of the Jewish patriarchs, and the like were prophets ordained by God to do work in his favor, and all likewise pretty cool dudes.  I’m also starting a priesthood role to Hermes, have worked with Avalokiteśvara and Bhaişajyaguru from Vajrayana Buddhism, honor the planets and their attendants, picking up practices with some other gods from the Greek and (as a faint possibility in the future after some chats with friends) Aztec or African pantheons, and work under the tutelage and with the assistance of my Holy Guardian Angel.  I’m so far over the place, hither and thither, that I break a lot of people’s definitions, preconceptions, and labels.  In other words, as befitting my Hermetic nature, I’m a trickster and don’t fit into any one bin, since I’ll just flit right out and into another one.  I’d be like a Schrödinger’s Cat of traditions, except with less neurotoxin.

So, next time you ask what path I’m on?  I won’t have any better of an answer than “I’m working on my own”.

Yay, this shit again!

A while back, just about a year ago, there was this obnoxious prayer initiative for Dominionist Christians to get all pagan influence out from the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia.  I mean, when you have Deist or religiously uncaring Founders of a nation, naming their capitol after a goddess, looking towards classical Greece and Rome for inspiration on running a country, there’s probably going to be some pagan influence, yes.  Democracy itself and the court system of justice, after all, is a pagan creation from Athena and Athens way back when, mythically from 1100 BC or so.

Well, guess what?  They’re doing it again, only this time with the alarmist and oh-so-dramatic title of “40 Days to Save America“, coincidentally ending on November 6, 2012 (Election Day).  They claim that “[all] around us, we see economic decline, immorality, corruption, growing secular humanism and attacks on religious liberty”, and that we need saving from moral terpitude and national decline by praying and fasting until the election.  It’s not expressedly linked to the election, because that’d be political and then churches would lose their tax-exempt status (though some churches are challenging the IRS to do exactly that, because reasons).  What’s really confusing is how they uphold their high-and-mighty talk of democracy and voting being a Biblical mandate, when Biblical notions of rulership and justice were all centered on autocracy and kingship, decidedly un-American systems of governance.

It may elude all but the most astute readers, but frankly, I’m increasingly tired of and annoyed at this bullshit.  Not at Christians, because this is one hell of a way to fail at being Christlike, but at stupid hyperchristianist assholes who can’t shake the persecution complex because society is changing without them.  I understand that they may not individually be hateful, bigoted, spiteful, or whatnot; they’ve always just been used to being the only ones on the scene, the only ones who mattered.  When other guys get in on the scene (even Muslims are excluded from praying to the same God as Jewish and Christian voters, according to the above website), they suddenly feel threatened because they have to share a bit of space, breath, food, and water.  Tribulation of tribulations!

Whatever.  I may be biased, being a non-Christian, gay, liberal, young, middle-class, software engineer cum magus, but when they talk about religious liberty and personal freedom being bound and taken away, you bet I agree with them.  It’s just that it’s not their liberties and freedom being restricted; it’s mine.  You want to pray for God’s intercession in the election and the guidance of the nation?  I hope you’re careful what you wish for; you just may get it.  If I know anything, it’s that God has a sense of unexpected and sarcastic humor.

Busy weekend

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, I’ve kept myself active over the last few days.

  • I realized that I shouldn’t interact with entities and elements that oppose each other in nature or temperament.  I conjured Auriel after working with Raphael, and I felt like hitting a brick wall at high speed (air + earth).  It’s helpful, though, and Auriel offered me advice to slow down before I hurt myself (I had a hard time keeping up with myself at the speed of thought I was going), but good lord.  Plus, going from omg-so-active-buzz to I-dun-wanna-move-gimme-cookies and back was a little rough.
  • Due to the insomnia I’ve had after my first encounter with Raphael, I’ve been staying up later and reading and doing a bit more in the evenings.  Late on Thursday, I sat down to some contemplation and walked around in my mind for a bit, around this hilly mound with grass in the mid-morning, over to a small wooden tower, then down into this deep tunnel filled with water.  I encountered an entity that told me to try calling up my genius on Sunday.  There were sun motifs all over the place, which was interesting.  (More on that later.)
  • A while back, I got an ice pick that I wanted to use as a Solomonic burin for inscribing stuff.  I consecrated it according to Frater Quaero Lux’s directions on Friday at dawn.  Pictures are up in the Crafts section.
  • I spent the night at the house of a friend and mentor on Friday night.  I’m also getting involved in a pagan mystery tradition, so this was a good chance to learn some of the basics I’ll need to know and practice; since it involved a fair bit of qabbalah review, it was pretty easy to connect different traditions into a more unified worldview.  Good dinner, too, in  Dupont Circle.  Afterwards, we went to Michaels so I could get a bunch of crafting supplies, and later, I bought even more supplies from Amazon to finish that fire wand project from before, amongst other things.
  • Saturday afternoon, once I got settled in, I spontaneously decided to make a Golden Dawn-style pentacle for my budding altar.  Instead of being clay, I took a circular wood plaque, plotted out the diagram, woodburned it, colored it, wrote the Hebrew names of earth-related things and their Rosy Cross sigils, and applied some stain and finish to it.  Pictures are up in the Crafts section.  It’s not entirely canonical according to GD practice, but it’s very close and only has what I consider minor stylistic derivations.
  • Earlier today, in addition to my normal routine and contemplating the King of Swords, I performed a conjuration of my genius in the day and hour of the Sun, acting on the hint I got from the contemplation on Thursday night.  I was able to conjure him, and I felt his presence, but the connection was very faint and I couldn’t really get much, not even an image of a seal.  It was like we were trying to communicate but we couldn’t get much across, or at least from him to me.  He appeared hooded or veiled, and we agreed that I should try this again some other time.  He did agree to help me out with dreams and recalling them, but for now, I’ll shelve working with him or other celestial entities.  Whether this is because I’m not yet ready to really talk with him or because of some temporary thing is unclear to me (I did become really sleepy shortly before the ritual), but I did reach out to him and make a connection.
  • Site-wise, I made a few new pages that describe gematria in Hebrew and Greek (under Skills) and about the creation of the Table of Practice and the aforementioned earth pentacle (under Crafts) with pictures.  I also uploaded the lamen templates for the angelic kings of the elements to the Design section.
Now if only the next set of coursework would come out soon, I could get on with building an altar.  Weapon-wise, I’m making the fire wand once I get all the supplies, I just finished the earth pentacle, and I have a fantasy dagger and old plain piece of stemware (I think it’s a sherbet glass) for the weapons of air and water, respectively.  Until then, onwards with the elements of air and fire!