One of the things that prompted be take the plunge into public blogging recently, was stumbling on several really interesting blogs on magic. One of the things that I really appreciated about the blogs I was reading was that there were written by thoughtful practitioners, people who are doing magic and who do so critically.
And by critically, I don’t mean fault finding. I mean, I enjoy folks who take time to unpack their practices. Who practice honesty and are willing to evaluate results. Anyone who hangs out with magical folk knows that one of the dangers and traps of magic is that people can use it as a fantasy outlet. It’s not about gaining wisdom, experience the mysteries of life or deepening a relationship with the spirits (gods included in that). It’s about feeling good or affirming one’s own specialness. It’s easy because magic deals with the ineffable. There isn’t anything that can be really tested by the senses. If there were, it would be science. It is difficult and requires a lot of self-knowledge and honesty to parse the voice of the ancestors (for example) for the voice of a fear (for example).
Critical practitioners do their best to make sure their filter (as one teacher of mine put it) is as clean as possible. I don’t think it is possible to be perfectly clean, if for no other reason that the spirits communicate generally can only use what’s in us. I work with some Norse deities who all speak impeccable modern English. I haven’t had one yet speak to me in old Norse (or even modern German). Until that happen, my working theory is that they communicate by using what is in me already – what is there to be unlocked.
There reason I bring this up as part of my dream discussion is that I made a comment in yesterday’s post that this dream unlock information I was already carrying. I want to underscore the importance of this. A lot of magical folks want to skip over this kind of work and dive right into dealing with spirits, fey, angels or gods. And there is nothing wrong with that. Indeed, it is very powerful and helpful work. At the same time, I have heard folks put down certain kinds of trance work (and dream work) as purely internal. That attitude is short sighted.
If I had a cauldron, a magic one out of a fairy talk, that gives me images of my past, that could show me more about myself than I ever knew or that could give image to help me solve a problem – people would think that was pretty bad ass. And yet, if that cauldron is a dream or trance, folks think that isn’t useful or even particularly magical – it’s just psychodrama or self-help in occult trappings.
But over the Oracle of Delphi and important wisdom of ancient, pagan Greece was the phrase “Know Thyself” and that is something I believe is really important. Whether we are talking about dreams or trance work, learning our strengths and weakness, reducing our blind spots and acquiring wisdom seems so important. I’m not a natural channeller or psychic. My intuitive skills are hard won and come from practice and studying good technique with skilled teachers. I’m grateful that I’m not a wide open channel.
When I first started, my trance to Athena was most likely a trance to the wisest part of myself. And how powerful is that? Being able to bring back into my consciousness wisdom I didn’t know I had and have access to that before I make decision – or before I start contact the Otherwords – was a huge gift in my practice. Not only that, but traveling the hidden roads is of much use if we don’t know how to come back from those experience and integrate the learning, wisdom or power in our lives.
Inner work, and the wisdom that arises out of self-knowledge, is not something that ought to be skipped. It gives us access to great part of our own power and knowledge. It prepares us for work in the Otherworlds. It’s a powerful tool and not won that should not ignored or glossed over. I view it as foundational. The deep waters of my unconscious are a constant source of knowledge and inspiration. I’m glad I learned to swim their depths.
By all means, be critical. Understand if that figure in a trance is a part of your or something outside of yourself. But still learn to work those challenges. Develop relationships with those parts. Learn from – and speak to – those pieces of your soul. It’s powerful work.