Monday 25 June 2012

Case Notes - A House Blessing

Having been contacted through Nottingham Pagan Network I was asked to investigate a case where a house had been up for sale for a long time, had had five potential buyers all of whom pulled out for reasons unrelated to the property but under what the owner described as coincidental circumstances. Owner reported that she felt "the house won't let me go".
I went to visit and found the property had no obvious faults or flaws, it was tidy, clean and pleasant. The owner was a nice lady who, like her house, had no obvious clues about her as to why the hose wasn't selling.

We talked a little about who lived there and what was going on and she told me there were a few things missing or objects being moved and that the house felt as though someone else was in it, her son had seen what he thought was a figure recently - this had never happened before. After a few minutes she commented "And of course all my animals are here, in the garden". I asked her what pets she kept and she told me "just the cats now". It turned out that she'd had a number of pets over the 32 years she'd lived there, the most recent being a dog called Ginny and that they were buried in the garden. Ginny had passed away 2 years previously.

I sat and connected with the energies for a minute and suddenly it all came to me as clear as day. I asked the lady if perhaps she was unwilling to let the house go as much as she felt it was unwilling to let her go? She said that she had prepared herself to leave, had even found somewhere she wanted to live and that she had said her goodbyes etc. Something didn't ring right to me, and when she mentioned the garden again I realised what it was: "You haven't let Ginny move on yet, have you?" I asked her, as gently as I could manage. She started to get a little emotional so I pressed on, I asked what her spiritual / religious views were and she told me she thought all living things have "something", I said "A soul?" and she said "yes". I told her that I believe the same thing and explained that "Ginny's spirit, the part that makes her Ginny, needs to move on, it needs to "go home" now it doesn't live in a physical body any more". She told me she understood that the body in the garden was just bones now and I made the second realisation, "You don't want to leave because you can't take Ginny with you, do you?". She broke down a little more and said that she admitted I was right. I explained to her (still receiving guidance from the energies that were connected to me) that "Ginny needs to go home before the part of her that belongs with you can come with you, stay with YOU, not the house. Right now Ginny's still in the house". I don't know where this bit of insight came from, and the lady said "not in the garden?" and I could only reply, completely confidently, "No, in the house".

She offered me a coffee as she re-composed her self and I followed her to the kitchen, ready to dowse with my pendulum for the right place. I stoped at a door into a small conservatory which had a connecting door to another room too and as I stood there I got another flash of realisation. "Was there a part of the house that you didn't allow Ginny to go in?" I asked her, "You know, some people don't let their pets in the bedroom or on the furniture or whatever . . . a place they knew they weren't allowed to be but that they always wanted to go . . . where you'd find them if they got half a chance - because I feel that that is where we'[ll find Ginny now?" The lady stopped still and said soemthing like "Well that's weird!". So I waited and she said yes, there was a room where the dogs weren't allowed. I said "Its this one, isn't it?", indicating the connecting door and she replied "The dining room . .  yes it is.Ginny wasn't allowed in there when we were eating but she used to try to get in . . I think she just wanted to be with us". "She still does," I told her, "Maybe thats why she's picked that room?".

When we went into the dining room, it was darker than the rest and though the garden looked bright and lovely from the window the room was cold and still (more than just from the fact that it obviously didn't get as much use as the rest of the house). She asked me what I was going to do but I told her that she had to empower herself to do this herself, to talk to Ginny. I told her Ginny needed to know that the lady understood that Ginny had to "go home" before Ginny felt she could leave. The lady asked me again "So Ginny's got to go away before she can come back?". "Not quite," I told her "The part of Ginny that "belongs" with you won't ever leave but its that rest of Ginny that doesn't belong here any more, her energy isn't in her body and it needs to go home. When it does, the part that's left is with you, not the house".

I left her in the dining room, shutting the door and returned to the living room where the tv was on. I glanced at it just in time to hear an advert where a woman said "I've seen this film, is the dog dead yet?" to her weepy friends sitting on the sofa!!!!! THAT'S the sound of the energies laughing . . . . .

When the lady came back she was almost a different person. She was smiling and was brighter and lighter. She said "That's it, she was there and now she isn't!". The sun came out right then and the house was "lifted" with the light. "She said "I can't tell you how I feel . . relieved? I am sad because I miss her but I actually felt her go, if that makes sense?"  I nodded "There's still a parting, its fine to be sad because you miss her physically, but she loves you so much she couldn't pass on until she knew you understood, now you do so she's gone home." and the lady looked around and said "This is just bricks and mortar now, I can sell it and it will be ok". I just nodded and smiled, didn't need to say anything.

I can't promise this lady that her house will sell, but I can promise her that she will be able to let go now when the time comes, safe in the knowledge that she's not leaving her beloved Ginny behind now. I also suspect the disturbances will stop too, that they were symptoms of Ginny trying desperately hard to let her beloved friend know how much she loved her and how she had to let her go.

I love dogs, and miss my Cheekie too, after all these years . .      :)

Postscript: 4 Weeks later the lady contacted me again  to tell me the house was sold . . .  

Monday 26 March 2012

Some simplistic but helpful definitions

Spiritual Belief (or "Faith") : An acceptance of a non-physical principle or concept as true without the neccessity for objectively empirical provability to others

Spirituality: What we choose to do in a non-physical way about our spiritual beliefs

Religion: A defined set of practices designed to enable one to follow a particular spiritual path to a further understanding of one or more spiritual beliefs (ie. what we choose to do in a physical way about our spiritual beliefs)

Animism: The belief that ALL things are part of a natural world and have a non-pysical part of their nature through which they are connected and can communicate
An extension of animism is that SOME beings may have a purely non-physical nature, and we can descibe these as gods and goddesses . . or angels and devils, ghosts, powers, forces . . or (my favourite) energies, universal energies, life-force energies and spirits . . .

Paganism: An unbrella term for a wide variety of animistic beliefs, ideas, spiritual paths, religions and practices, often with roots in antiquity and typically (but not exclusively) used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions

Magic: The art of causing changes in consciousness in conformity with will

Witchcraft: One or more of the following:
1. A pagan religion - being the survival and/or revivial or northern european, indiginous, pre-christian spiritual beliefs and religious practices
2. The practice of magic (as defined above)
3. The practice of magic (as defined above) performed in conformity with a will other than God's
4. The practice of magic (as defined above) for harmful purposes

(1. and 2. above are generally the views of those who call themselves witches and there is a great deal of crossover, most believing witchcraft is a combination in differing proportions, whereas 3. and 4. are generally the views of non-practitioners of witchcraft, 3 being the "Church View" and 4. the "Lay View")

Magic (as defined above) is a non-physical manipulation of reality (whatever THAT is!) and has no inherant morality, any morality comes the intent behind the magical act - one can work magic to help or to harm, the magical act of and in itself is ambivalent to the intent. However the traditional "negative" view of witchcraft is 4. (above)

Virtually ALL religions utilise magic as a technique - eg Transubstantiation in Catholicism IS an act of magic but ALL "church magic" is exclusively performed in conformity with God's will - or at least that particular religion's perception of God's will . . .thus the church defines witchcraft as 3. (above)

Monday 25 May 2009

Initiation - THAT old chestnut!

This musing followed on from a recent debate among some of the group Taryn and I have been owrking with:

I think there there are two very distinct kinds of initiation, the spiritual initiation and the traditional initiation (to unintentionly coin two loose phrases!!!). The first I think is the landmark "moment" of spiritual passage from one "level" of understanding and being to another, its a doorway on the soul's journey . .. and the other is the specific initiation into specific knowledge laid out by others on a specific path. .

So often the two get mixed up and it leads to lots of confusion. It used to make me really cross when people said things like they'd undergone "self-initiation into wicca". Total rubbish! These people were never ever able to demonstrate initiation with information that showed they even understood the "degrees" system used by Gardnerian / Alexandrian witchcraft let alone had the specific knowledge passed to them and therefore simply could not claim initiation into these tradtions. I should say I don't rule out the possibility that specific information could have been passed by spiritual or psychic means but, if it had, it would be accessible toi memory and demonstrable to other initiates or the traditional knowledge is simply lost!

I don't dispute however that the people who claim self-initiation have initiated themselves into a deeper level of understanding of themselves, their spirituality and the surrounding spiritual context of their being. In fact I'd say that even a "traditional" initiation can't be called 100% successful if it doesn't achieve some form of spiritual initiation as well.

All of which is a long way round saying that while I openly practice the "have-a-go" approach to working magickally and ritually within an individual's pagan aspiration I also nod to Mon's assertion that the craft itself (whatever THAT might mean to any individual these days!!!) does need "elders" to keep the specific traditional knowledge, pass it on and preside over valuable initiations (both spiritual and traditional).

I too have lost hope that "newbies" will want or be prepared to go through the necessary steps to acheive a meaningful "growth" (initiation) and have somehow used this as an excuse to allow myself to slack off from teaching on a persoanl level these past years. Recently I've been asked to lead some "shamanic" gatherings and have found myself declining but only on the grounds of commitment and time and, on deeper analysis, I've realised that being the leader was appealing to me again for all the wrong reasons.

But I agree that the initiated craft WILL die if we don't act to preserve its integrity and mystery and the truly "occult" knowledge inside it, and, simply, I don't want that to happen. But more generally I still like to think that if a sincere student came to me, I'd teach again, though, as I say, I've not seen one with the right commitment for a number of years and I've not really looked either, if the truth be told.  So I feel frustrated too. I am willing to teach but they don't seem to want to commit to learn:

Ashley: "Art thou willing to suffer to learn?"
Student: "err . . no . . no much . . perhaps a bit at weekends . . ."

But I digress . . .
I love our group's gatherings, I have reach personal levels of spiritual growth beyond anything we thought previously possible in private but we have thoroughly enjoyed working in a group again as I do miss "the old days" too . . . I don't feel in the least bit guilty for selfishly persuing our own path and working together in a closed group. I disliked the direction several of the open groups I used to be with were going in, although some are run by great friends who I respect magickally and spiritually still for continuing to run them

So yes, I share the obligation to teach "proper stuff", if not initiated craft,  but reserve the right to only teach it to those "worthy" of it . . . but who judges these things? The elders of the elders ? Errr . . . since I don't know 'em, then I guess that means us!!!


Friday 10 April 2009

An Interview With Ashley

I recently gave the following interview about Paganism and Witchcraft from my personal point of view . . I found typing my answers out for the lady who'd been to interview me verbally first was interesting and raised some good and concise points about what I believe :

> 1. Where do your pagan beliefs come from? Were you born into a pagan
> family or was it your decision?

Paganism "found" me . . .it seemed that my views on the way the world and universe worked were starting to sound pagan, I htought a lot about it, especially in my university days, but it wasn't until a few years later that I really found myself unable to call my views anything but "pagan".

> 2. What made you decide to choose witchcraft rather than any other paths
> and how does this impact on your everyday life?

The brand of spiritual "magic" I'd been practising in my life was pretty organic until university when I got interested in so-called "High (Ritual) Magick" . . . as time went on I was drawn far more to natural magic (communing with trees and spirits of the places I visited) and when I started to learn about the Craft it was obvious that it was more or less what I'd already been doing. Not surprising really when you consider that Gardner wrote most of the recognised Wicca rituals from his own background of studying the very same ritual magick stuff that I'd studied (ref Aliester Crowley)!!!!

> 3. Which path of witchcraft do you follow?

I'd have to say my own, really . . but I like Gardner and feel, in many ways, that most modern Craft actually comes from him o, at the very least, is massively infuenced by him but I am not Garnerian initiated and don't follow any specific path insdie the craft. Which is quite amusing as most people assume I am much "higher" in the initiatory tree than I really am, I don't actually see that it matters much to be honest!

> 4. Is there a set of rules/ideology that you live by, such as Christians
> have the bible etc? What would the pagan equivalent of the bible be?

There are a few good sayings ('An it harm none . . " etc) but I think Jesus' saying about doing to others as you'd wish to be done to is pretty much infallible when it comes to making moral decisions in life!!! Certainly the Craft (and perhaps paganism more generally) don't hold so much sway by specific moral rules like the bible, which I personally believe is all but impossible now to understand as time, translations etc etc over the many centuries MUST have distorted its original meanings in their original contexts . . much younger writings are open ot different interpretation (eg Shakespeare), so how come the bible is any different? oops . .don't get me started!

> 5. Do you feel that you can be open about your faith/beliefs or do you
> have to remain guarded?

I am lucky to be open, being my own businessman etc . . but I do have to be careful that clients might not understand and I'm certainly not evangelical about my beliefs, you get to find out if you ask me, otherwise its a private matter generally . . .

> 6. As a witch/pagan, what Gods/deities do you honour/praise?

All forms of feminine principle goddesses, in the Craft the most often "named" is Diana, the Moon.
And the Horned 9dual principle) male god (often named "Cernnunos")
Diana-greek, Cernunos - Roman . . hahahaha how terrible to mix up cultures like that, eh ? - I think the gods/goddesses themselves don't really mind, i think the feminie principle "deity" knows exactly what I measn when I address her as Diana and I think she rather like sit . .

> 7. What other religion/belief would you say that paganism is closest to
> and
> why?

perhaps Buddhism, mainly for the ideas about cyclic lifetimes and reincarnation (not that reincarnation is a belief shared by all pagans, but many DO think so)
> 8. Do you feel that to some, paganism is a fashion rather than a faith
> and
> they wear it like a badge of honour?

Absolutely true . . that said we have to be pragmatic, paganism is for everyone and those people require gentle education rather than marginalisation . . that said whenever you see a "witch" being itnerviewd on the news or anything its nearly always cringeworthy cos they are so often the show-off variety . . (myself accepted, obviously! hahaahaha!)

> 9. How easy, or hard, is it to transfer the old beliefs and practices
> into
> modern day?
I think its easy to "get" the feelings of how the world works and how the earth feels and the gods "feel" . . . I think its the exact practices that are long gone, and, to be honest, this isn't always a bad thing as they are often firmly rooted in their historical cultural context, for example I see no benefit in dressing as a viking and trying to live like one . . paganism is a modern spirituality, not stuck in the past, but I think its vitally important to study, preserve and understand the older customs and practices, from a deep spiritual point of view as much as from an historical and cultural one.

> 10. What does paganism mean to you?

Paganism is a way of life for me . .its what I "am' and what I "do" . . .
its not a set of rules I feel I have to live up to or some things I feel guilty about not doing every sunday etc (though I wish life wasn't so busy sometimes so I could spend more time out in the countryside being part of the natural world more!)
So its meaning is that I beleive we are creatures of infinite energy, not constrained to 3 dimensions of space and one of time. My friend Wa-Na-Nee-Che is quoted saying "We are not human beings striving upwards to make a spiritual journey, are beings of spirit who have chosed to make a human one".

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Who I Am

I was thinking today about how the way I view myself has changed, I don't think I'm hung up on being 40 but I was wondering at how my self impresion has changed, can I really say "I am a perfect being of light, unimprisoned and unemcumbered with 3 dimensions of space and one of time and I know in my being that all material things are illusions" and mean it as some sort of definition of "me" any more? Am I now "Ashley the web designer", or "Ashley the pseudo-parent" . . instead? As well?

Names are power . . I have had many . . . and given most of them up . . . nothing actually matters except the moments in which we live . . . and this has a strong ring of continued truth about it . . .perhaps more so than my notion of myself as a being of light . .

I have often said that the simplest questions are the most profound and the most important: WHO . . AM . . I . . .? is a bloody good question! Its tempting to imagine I am whoever you perceive I am at any given time but the POINT of the question is to somehow describe me and this doesn't do it . . . I used to have a load of little cards that said "Ashley - poet, magician, philosopher" . . and I thought that defined me, never mind described me! I am not, in any practical sense, NAY of these any more now . . .but I am, I have to conclude, still a being of light . . . the NEXT thought is "does that matter?" . . . and I can't satisfactorily answer that either . . .