One’s paradigm is what they believe to be true about the structure, origin and purpose of the living world. The modern witchcraft I practice is based upon an egalitarian cooperator paradigm which is very different from that of the patriarchal dominator religions so prevalent in the western world. Reconciling the tension this creates, by carefully examining personal beliefs, is a necessary first step in adopting successful Witchcraft practices. Those practices help to finally internalize the sources of our personal control, authority and security that the patriarchy attempts to deny us. This is part of the airy magick known as “The Path of Truth” within the Pentacle Path that I introduce in my forthcoming book, Elemental Witchcraft. The following article is an adapted and expanded passage from that “Air” chapter.
Mental Programming with a Computer Metaphor
My witchcraft paradigm is built upon the seven Hermetic Principles. The first principle states that “the universe is mental.” (1) Everything we perceive is considered a thought within the Divine Mind. Humans also think creatively within that Divine Mind. Therefore, what we “think” creates our world. Beliefs form the framework of thoughts within which we mentally process all other information. Elemental Air governs the mental body; therefore, carefully considering one’s beliefs should be the first elemental magick to address.
Beliefs are like a computer’s operating system, which is installed from birth by our culture. We are programmed by our parents, teachers, bullies, advertising, pop-culture, religious and political leaders. Every message we internalize becomes part of the root programming from which we experience and understand our reality.
Everything else we do in life runs from the platform of that operating system. Even if you eventually reject parts of your culture of origin, that program still insidiously lurks in the background until you make purposeful changes. If your root programming denied the possibility of real magick, attempting to work magick would be as fraught as trying to run a Mac program on a Window’s operating system; you will waste a lot of time and energy hacking it, and the outcomes will be glitchy.
Beliefs act as a filter, screening information before it gets to your conscious mind. These filters only allow through what you already believe to be true. Anything contradictory can be ignored or rationalized away. This effect is intensified by the algorithms of social media feeds, designed to only serve you the content with which you already agree. This creates an emotionally-addictive echo chamber usually fueled by fear. When conflicting information barges into our view, that is like an incompatible bit of code jamming up the processor…”this does not compute.” A form of mental tension creeps in called cognitive dissonance. (2)
Cognitive dissonance is that yucky, anxious feeling when something contradictory to our root programming keeps demanding our attention. Our hackles raise when we are confronted by evidence that doesn’t jive with our beliefs. Folks don’t like this tension. They tend to lash out, resulting in offense, frustration, posturing, and anger. Violence may result. <gestures broadly at modern America> Ridicule, name-calling and condemnation are the weapons of the fearful, to be-little whatever, or whomever, conflicts with their root programming.
Wholeness and the Witchcraft Operating System
You may not yet be aware of all the sub-conscious programs that influence you. For example, if your cultural programming is based in the belief that “god” is far away and can ONLY be an old, white-bearded, pointy-fingered guy, then you will never experience divinity in any other way. If distant condemnation is all you know, then Venus herself could could wrap you in a loving embrace of unconditional acceptance, and rapture you to carnal heaven right then and there, but if you’d never even considered that a real and current Goddess Venus was possible, you may never realize Her.
“Begone foul temptress!” You might say. “I’m too busy battling demons for your shenanigans!” If deep down you fear that the point of life is to suffer, then you will find a way to suffer. Too often, these limiting beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Witchcraft is a magickal operating system of wholeness, cooperation and interdependence throughout the vast body of “God/dess.” Our wholeness includes the rights of abundance, sovereignty, and personal empowerment, all right here, right now, sourced from Divine Love. So, a witchcraft praxis is the technical manual to help us purge the fear-based dominator OS and carefully install a system that supports our spiritual evolution. The Witching OS gets all your components (physical, mental, will, emotional, and Spiritual bodies) working harmoniously within God/dess so that eventually, anything is possible with a simple thought and command.
Patriarchy is an Extortion Racket
Fear of being ostracized is the biggest motivator and manipulator of all. Patriarchy forms the basis of all kinds of extortion, especially when combined with capitalism, and it extends far beyond religion. Fear that you are less worthy of love without their messiah, their deodorant brand, their style of jeans, their make of car. “Buy this thing, vote this way, join our club, support our cause, and maybe you’ll be restored to some state of grace. Drink our brand of beer, and for a moment there may be a reprieve from your aching loneliness!”
These are symptoms of a belief that divine power is sourced from outside of ourselves, and only accessible if we are deemed worthy by an outside judge. That paradigm stalls people in an immature relationship with divinity. Witches can’t play that game. Yet, the brain-washing to submit, cower, comply, and obey like a naughty child, has been ubiquitous all our lives; at public school, at church, in governance, and on the assembly-line floor. This is the externalized source of control installed by the Patriarchy, intended to keep the masses easy to exploit. By contrast, our God/dess accepts, loves, and nurtures all their children unconditionally.
Internalizing our Loci of Control, Authority and Security
In psychology terms, the result of these crippling beliefs result in people having an external loci (locations) of control, authority and security. As long as we keep blaming an external controler, submitting to an external authority, and pleading for mercy from an external savior, these fear-based paradigms keep us bound in an easily manipulated state.
Mind you, we do live in the hellscape of dominator, capitalist terrorism, so our fears for survival are justified. It is absolutely legit that our “fight, flight or freeze” reflexes hit auto-pilot when dangers encroach and we go into survival mode. Unfortunately, the traumatic programming of the patriarchy can kick every-day anxiety into high gear disproportionately to the actual, present danger. If we get stuck in a reactionary over-kill mode for too long, that perpetuates our problems. Back to our computer metaphor, with the right care and mindful practices, witches may endeavor to purge that malware, and reboot our systems to run more efficiently.
Walking the Path of Truth
Witchcraft is a praxis meant to conquer our fears, to remember our wholeness, and live a life of bliss without buying a single thing. As witches awaken into this new age of awareness, we are required to trust the intuitive voice within. Personal truth, and hints of the ultimate Truth, will be found within ourselves. If we don’t claim our authority to trust that voice, we abdicate the search for our truth!
To walk the Pentacle Path of Witchcraft is to finally grow up, get up off our knees, and stand proudly into co-creative partnership with Divinity. That magick internalizes the locus of our self-control. We reclaim our own minds, and define our own beliefs. We ask tough questions of our teachers and leaders, and reexamine everything we were ever sold. Reject the sanitized histories spoon fed by the victorious invaders; reject the gospel of extortion which demands to be unquestioningly believed, paid, and fed or else…
To internalize authority over one’s life, a witch re-learns how to trust their own perceptions and experiences, regardless of how others judge that experience. We take confidence in our growing abilities as we thoroughly and authentically live our truths. From that experience we have a decent chance of internalizing our sense of security; trusting in our own decisions, and experiencing the inner peace that may be derived from that self-confidence.
For more on this subject, you can pre-order, or save my book to your wish list. Due to be released by Llewellyn Worldwide on Dec. 8, 2021. Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements.
(1) William Walker Atkinson, (Three Initiates) The Kybalion: The Definitive Edition Introduced and Edited by Phillip DeSlippe. New York: Jeremy P Tarcher/Penguin 2008. Page 64.