In Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows, he writes about what he calls “The Eightfold Way,” which is a list of eight different methods of performing magick. In his original 1953 version, Gardner lists these as:
1. Meditation or Concentration. (Intent)
2. Trance, projection of the Astral.
3. Rites, Chants, Spells, Runes, Charms, etc. (The Craft)
4. Incense, Drugs, Wine, etc., whatever is used to release the Spirit. (Intoxicants)
5. The Dance and kindred practices. (Sacred Movement)
6. Blood control (the Cords), Breath Control, and kindred practices.
7. The Scourge.
8. The Great Rite.
This blog, which is based on the workshop series that I invented and the resulting book (to be published by Weiser/Red Wheel in late 2013,) will use the Eight Paths as methods and guides to teaching Wicca, Witchcraft, and magickal and mystical practice. This is not a spectator sport. I will be assigning exercises that will teach you the skills necessary to be good at being a Witch. No one will check whether or not you have done them and you will not be graded in any way. But I can tell you from experience in the weekly classes I teach at my shop, and from several years of personal magickal study, that if you don’t do the practice, you will be left behind. You have been warned!
I assume, if you have found your way here, that you at least have some idea of what Wicca and Paganism are all about. So I won’t try to explain that. The truth is, if you get 13 Witches in a room, you’ll have 20 different opinions anyway. What I will do is refer to basic Wiccan theology, teach you a little about the symbolism, encourage you to develop a personal relationship with the Divine as you understand it, and show you some exercises and practices that will help you to chat with Them yourself.
The only requirement for this course is that you are interested in Witchcraft and Wiccan practice, and want to improve your magickal and mystical abilities.
What You Will Need
Sometimes I will assign exercises that involve specific items, supplies, or tools. I will try to keep them inexpensive and relatively easy to make or acquire. Sometimes I will ask that you go out and do things. Often I will ask you to do things that are repetitive or potentially boring. All of these things teach valuable skills. If you are doing the work, you will be challenged. That’s a good thing. It means you’re doing things right.
I will approach things from the assumption that you are a Wiccan or an eclectic Pagan with a pseudo-Wiccan practice. If you are not, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to do this course or that it will have no meaning for you, but you may have to adapt some things. You may also have to adapt exercises to various disabilities, but I make it a point of pride to try to be accessible and I am willing to help you with this.
The Nature of Magick
I believe the most misunderstood aspect of Paganism is the practice of real magick. But magick is about self-empowerment. It is no different from the concepts of the Law of Attraction or Creative Visualization. The practice of magick differs only in that it uses a language of symbolism and metaphor to circumvent that little voice in the back of our minds that tells us that something will not work. It speaks in primal symbols to our subconscious mind, which then sets forces in motion to bring about our True Will. In Wiccan mystical practice, this also involves hitching our Will to thought-forms that embody ideals that we seek to attune with (totems, gods, etc.) This activates the part of ourselves that is Divine, and together, we co-create the Universe.
Put another way, magick is about influencing probabilities. Since Time and Space are irrelevant to the Deities (and other such spiritual beings,) sometimes They can see (and show us how to see) the potentialities of each given situation, circumstance and choice. Magick allows us to choose between those options, to decide on a future that is in what we believe to be our own, personal best interest.
How do the Eight Paths fit into this? Intent is where the idea is created; Trance is how you communicate your desire across the worlds to where it can change the nature of reality; the Craft uses symbols to help in communicating that desire; Intoxicants invoke the body’s olfactory and gustatory powers in the process, as well as change consciousness depending on the agents used; Dance and Sacred Movement involve the body in raising energy and changing consciousness; Blood and Breath Control raise kundalini and direct the body’s own energy into the Work; the Scourge forces you to confront the sludge in your subconscious that prevents you from manifesting your True Will; and the Great Rite directly connects you to the Divine and the power of Creation, thus making your magick manifest.
This week’s assignment: If you have not already done so, review the introductory videos on the Witch’s Eight Paths of Power and the course goals. Consider: What is it that you hope to accomplish in this course of study? What “course goals” will you set for yourself?