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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Crystal Silence League - Free Interfaith Prayer Site

The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse
 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I've recently joined the Crystal Silence League (CSL for short) sponsored by the Missionary Independent Spiritual Church, aka The World's Smallest Church.  The CSL is based on the teachings of C. Alexander, a sort of positive thinking guru from the early 20th century.  He was the original founder of the CSL but when he died the League pretty much stopped operating.

The church is affiliated with Lucky Mojo Curio Company run by Catherine Yronwode and her husband Nagasiva.  From what I gather, it's been Yronwode's dedication along with members of the church and affiliated churches to restart the CSL.

The goal is to be a place where people can request prayers and pray for others through the League's website.  The main tool used to focus prayers and thoughts is a crystal or glass ball.  You don't have to be a member to enter a prayer request or pray for others.

If you do join though you can receive a reprint of a booklet by C. Alexander called The Crystal Silence League:  Personal Codes, Lessons, and Instructions for Members.  It is New Thought oriented, but he doesn't go overboard with it like some modern authors.  At least that is how I read it.  It doesn't matter what your belief system is, though many people who join may be hoodoo based which has a Christian base.  The author doesn't push Jesus though.  I think there is maybe one mention in the book of him and the 23rd Psalm (which is old testament actually).

There is a deal through Lucky Mojo that if you buy one of the crystal or glass balls listed on the CSL site, then you will receive the booklet for free and be enrolled as a CSL member.  Just let them know that's what you want to do when you order.  But again, membership isn't required.  You can go ahead and ask for prayers to be said on your behalf and hopefully pray for others as well.  Visit the Crystal Silence League's website to learn more.  Here is the link to Lucky Mojo.

© Trish Deneen

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Path of the Christian Witch - Reviewed

I've seen some controversy from both sides regarding the question of whether one can be a Christian and a witch.  I believe you can, but I do understand why some Christians and some neo-pagans who can't see past their own way of thinking may believe it's impossible.

Adelina St. Clair, author of The Path of the Christian Witch, shares in memoir form how she went from traditional Catholic to a Catholic witch who honors the feminine face of God.  She guides the reader from her childhood with strict yet loving Catholic parents to her questioning college years where she struggled with combining her passion for her new path of witchcraft while not wanting to let go of her deeply loved Catholicism.

We get to see the struggle some feel not just in coming out to their Christian family but also to their Pagan friends when their paths don't fit neatly into either paradigm.  I think anyone new to witchcraft who has come up against extremely anti-Christian Pagans will be able to relate.

Christian Witch or Wiccan?

I believe this book would be more aptly titled Path of the ChristoWiccan. Her Lord and Lady, a concept from Wicca, are Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

The author only touches on the fact that witchcraft isn't necessarily a religious practice in about two paragraphs of the entire book. In fact, she conflates Wicca with witchcraft so much that a newcomer may end up believing that all witches follow the Wiccan Rede.

This is something that I've noticed with Llewellyn's Pagan books however. They are often written from a Wiccan standpoint but aren't necessarily represented that way on the cover or in promotional material.

I don't begrudge the author or anyone else combining Wicca and Christianity. On the contrary, my personal practice is eclectic and syncretic and many Christopagans see Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of Jesus, as suppressed forms of the Goddess. But the author does give the impression that "this is witchcraft" throughout the book when it is only one strand of the Craft.

The Patriarchy

After being involved many years with women's spirituality groups, I recognized some of the dogma she includes in the book such as the Burning Times and some patriarchy cliches. She doesn't go so far as to say that we are all descended from peaceful goddess loving utopias, though I got the sense sometimes that she was stopping just short of doing that. But she's obviously a person who has learned to bridge the gap between two ideologies and made it work for her beautifully.

Rituals

There is a short explanation of how she chooses to celebrate Pagan and Christian holidays, namely how she blends elements of each.  This isn't really a how-to book but as I mentioned a memoir of one person's path and how she reconciled contradictions.  When I first read this section, I thought I could do without the intro to Pagan holidays but realized that was me not seeing through the eyes of someone new to this information.  This section is short but I think would be helpful for someone who wants help in crafting their own path.

I think this might be a good read for those completely new to this concept even if their Christopagan or Christian witch path is different than hers.  I can also see how many Christians and Pagans who feel caught in the middle would benefit from reading how someone else has dealt with it.

For online purchase information, visit Amazon or Llewellyn.

Related reading:

FTC Disclosure:  The publisher has not paid me for this review and I checked this book out of my local library.

© Trish Deneen

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Crystal Article Update

Here are the latest in my crystal articles at HubPages which is part of my self-challenge to complete 30 articles in 30 days.  I'm a little behind, so am not sure if I'll make it with other plans I have coming up but this sort of challenge is always worth the effort to get creative juices flowing.  It's also a bonus to get me working with crystals again.

Metaphysical and healing properties of:


My goal is to write a couple more articles about purple stones and then write a combination purple stone directory and informational article on the purple ray and it's properties.

© Trish Deneen

Reiki Article Update

I'm still plugging away at my personal writing challenge at HubPages.  I looked back at my past work with Reiki and decided to write articles on an experiment I tried when I was younger and how I incorporated Reiki into other bodywork.  I also share one way I clear crystals.  None of these are written in stone but are shared as guidelines for people to develop their own practice.

Here are the Reiki articles I've written so far:


© Trish Deneen

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Energy and Crystal Articles at HubPages

I've given myself a challenge of completing 30 articles in 30 days at HubPages on the topics of metaphysical and healing properties of crystals and energy work.  In my search for a more personally authentic spirituality, I've gone back to my roots you might say, no not to my evangelical Christian background (sorry mom) but to some of what I explored early on in my spiritual path.

Along the way, I let some of this go as new-age woo woo stuff, but sometimes, the things that you're drawn to early on as a seeker come back into your life for a reason.  During our seeking, many of us discover we have certain gifts.  The ones that came naturally to me were healing and sensing vibrations of objects, mainly stones.  I spent 10 years as a massage therapist but I was attuned to Reiki before I went to massage school.  Even with powerful healers telling me I had a gift, my low self-esteem at the time resulted in me keeping energy work a hush-hush part of my practice and something I didn't develop as fully as I should have.

My former healing practice I think will be the subject of other posts, but I did want to give you a bit of background.  These articles are very short and focused and I'm really enjoying getting out my crystals and working with them again.  I started the 30-day challenge on September 19, so every few days or so I will be posting my newest work.  I hope you enjoy.  Please remember these are all copyrighted to me.  Feel free to share the links but please don't copy.  Three so far, 27 to go.

Metaphysical and Healing Properties of:



© Trish Deneen

Monday, August 1, 2011

Judaism for Dummies Book Review

Besides just being someone who enjoys learning about different religious beliefs and traditions, I've been on a bit of a for Dummies kick lately.  The for Dummies series of books, as you probably know, are usually written with the complete newbie in mind in regards to whatever the subject of the book is.  Judaism for Dummies is no different and I believe is a good introduction for non-Jews interested in the faith and Jews who were raised in a more secular atmosphere and want to get back to their roots.

The authors David Blatner and Rabbi Ted Falcon I believe come from a Reform background.  However, I'm not  sure of that in the case of Mr. Blatner as I don't have the book in front of me anymore (it was a library loan).  They treat the three main branches of Judaism, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, fairly, though I've seen some reviews to the contrary on Amazon.

They don't separate the book into three parts, one for each branch.  What they do is more organic and helps you understand the different strands of belief and practices.  The book is basically broken down into the following six parts:

  1. What Jews Generally Believe
  2. From Womb to Tomb:  The Life Cycle
  3. An Overview of Jewish History
  4. Celebrations and Holy Days
  5. The Part of Tens
  6. The Appendices

The first four parts cover very topically each of those subjects.  The history overview includes biblical history you may already be familiar with.  The authors mention within each section what some of the differences between the branches are.  The Part of Tens introduces different aspects of Judaism and Jewish history, sort of a names and places you should know section.  The appendices cover things like Jewish words, a sampler of prayers and blessings, a Jewish calendar and Jewish books and organizations for you to learn more.

Blatner and Falcon share personal anecdotes which bring humor and warmth to the subject.  This isn't a dry, scholarly tome because of this, but it's certainly not dumbed down either.  But it would be fair to say that like most for Dummies books, the authors only have so much space to handle a very complex subject, so again, it's a topical work.

Judaism for Dummies is a gentle introduction to the faith and culture of the Jewish people. It doesn't overwhelm but doesn't treat the reader, well like a dummy.  It can stand alone as an intro for those interested in comparative religion (besides reading the religious texts themselves) as well as whet the appetite for people who want to delve deeper and go on to study the religious texts and other works.

Author websites:

FTC Disclosure:  The publisher has not paid me for this review and I checked this book out of my local library.


© Trish Deneen

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Spiritual Artist Profile - Duirwaigh Studios

A few years ago I came across a beautiful art video from Duirwaigh Studios called A Knock at the Door.  It was such a surprising success for the husband and wife owners of Duirwaigh that it spawned a book.  Though Angi Sullins and Silas Toball began their online art business in 1999, I assume the video which was released in 2004 helped propel their business forward.  It's an inspirational video that urges you never to give up on the possibility of magic.


According to the artists on their website, they have
"a belief in the infinite possibilities of the human psyche, with feet on the ground and heads in the stars, we endeavor to knock at the door of the human heart, re-minding ourselves and each other that once upon a time is really here and now."
With their films and beautiful art, they are definitely an inspiration in how to ignite your creativity while living day to day.  Along with offering their art for sale on the Duirwaigh Studios website, they also have individual artists blogs and information on workshops to help you open up to your own creativity.  Angi is also a performance artist and has a few video blogs up on Angi TV on YouTube.  They are definitely artists who are walking their talk.

When I'm feeling in a bit of a spiritual or creative lull, A Knock at the Door always gives me a lift.





© Trish Deneen

Monday, May 30, 2011

Psalm Magic

I've noticed increased interest, at least online, in biblical magic, especially that of psalm magic.  Possibly, this is due to a larger understanding (if not complete acceptance) of Christian and Jewish paganism by some pagans.  It could just be my own interest and developing personal practice, but I don't think that's all it is.  Psalm magic can be a deeply rewarding magical path to explore for those who are drawn to it.

Psalm Authorship and History
Illustration of Psalm 23 from The Sunday at Home

The biblical Book of Psalms, also known as the Tehillim in Hebrew, are a collection of poems or songs often attributed to King David.  There is no agreement to the authorship or history of the psalms however.  One theory that makes the most sense to me is that much like the bible itself the psalms were written by several authors spanning centuries, King David being the most prolific and celebrated.

Psalm and Candle Magic in Hoodoo

Hoodoo, also known as African-American conjure, has combined candle magic with psalms before the publication of any Wiccan or modern pagan candle magic book.  Candles weren't always used.  In fact, the practice of simply reciting psalms along with performing certain tasks for magical purposes may have been brought to America by a German Christian member of a religious community whose work on the subject was posthumously published in the 1700s as Secrets of the Psalms under the name Godfrey Selig.  This book influenced generations of African-American conjure (aka root) workers.  Selig was a Christian Kabbalist who believed the psalms contained seed sounds that when spoken could produce desired magical results.

In the first half of the 20th century, probably the 1930s, another book, The Master Book of Candle Burning:  How to Burn Candles for Every Purpose by Henri Gamache, would become a classic in using psalms with candle magic.  Interestingly, techniques for dressing candles often used in modern witchcraft are laid out in this book, though as mentioned earlier its publication predates others associated mainly with paganism and witchcraft.

Some would say that pagan practices influenced the Christians who influenced modern pagans.  Others would say these practices are Christian or more likely Jewish in origin.  While I find the study of the history fascinating, I admit that I'm content to develop my practice at this point and leave the arguments to others.

Why Psalms?

In reading through the psalms, you'll find verses on nearly every aspect of the human condition.  Probably the most famous is the 23rd psalm, which could be read as a petition for protection, prosperity, or as a statement of gratitude for all that God has given you.  The verse is thus (King James version):
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me lie down in green pastures.  He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort.  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
No candles or magical oils needed really.  It's quite a powerful verse.  But it does lend itself to ritual magic whether it's used simply or in a more elaborate setting.

I believe Christopagans, Jewish Pagans, Christians or Jews would be most comfortable using the psalms in ritual magic, though I'm not going to step on anyone's personal practice if they don't identify as any of the above.  Magic is most effective if the magician is comfortable with and confident in the use of the language of the ritual, so anyone who feels a bit of a reflexive twinge with biblical terminology and concepts should consider that.  This also stems from monotheism, not the big bearded guy in the sky, but one creative force behind the universe.  Again, you don't have to hold this belief, but consider if you at least respect this tradition before you design rituals with psalms as the basis.

Some excellent resources for those interested in magic with Jewish and Christian origins are Modern Grimoire Magick:  Folk Magick and the Solomonic Path by Aaron Leitch, author of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires and the more recent set of books on the angelical language of Enochian magic and Secrets of the Psalms:  The Kabbalistic Influence on Hoodoo by Catherine Yronwode, author of Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic:  A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure and proprietor of the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.  The books I mentioned above, Master Book of Candle Burning and Secrets of the Psalms are also good guides to get you started in psalm magic.

Sources consulted:

Jacobs, Louis [Rabbi in UK and contributor to My Jewish Learning].  The Book of Psalms:  Traditional & modern views of the Book of Psalms and the role of Psalms in Jewish Liturgy.  Accessed May 30, 2011.

Yronwode, Catherine.  See above link to Secrets of the Psalms.

 


© Trish Deneen

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grounding and Centering Techniques: A Foundation of Magical and Spiritual Practice

*This piece was originally published on the Pagan site at BellaOnline in January 2008.  It has also appeared on HubPages.  Any other sites or publications it appear are content thieves using it without the author's permission.


Why Grounding and Centering are Important


The process of relaxing and making yourself receptive and effective for any ritual, magical or devotional activity is called grounding and centering.  This isn't just a religious practice but can be used as a general spiritual and non-religious meditation technique.

Grounding literally means visualizing yourself connected to the earth. Once you are grounded, you then visualize yourself centered in the present instead of constantly thinking of the past or the future. This is called being in the here and now.
The reasoning behind this is that you do not want to enter into ritual in your everyday state of mind with all of your stresses. It is best to let your daily disturbances fall by the wayside even if it is only for the short period of your intended ritual. With a clear mind you will be better able to perform the ritual or magical working and also reap the most benefit.
Grounding and Centering Exercise


One way to ground and center is through a physical discipline such as yoga or a martial art. Another common way is to do a mental visualization exercise as described above.
This exercise can include images such as a tree being rooted to the earth; a popular Wiccan and Druid practice. Below is a simple yet affective grounding and centering technique using light.
Credit:  cynthiaiab, sxc.hu
  • Sit or stand comfortably in a place you will not be disturbed. 
  • Take several deep breaths imagining the tension leaving your body. 
  • If you are not used to relaxing, gently tense each set of muscles separately and release them as you inhale and exhale. You will start to feel your body relax.
  • Once you feel the beginning of physical relaxation, imagine a ball of brilliant gold light in the middle of your abdomen. 
  • Draw this light down your hips, your legs, feet and into the earth. Imagine it moving quickly and decisively into the earth blending into the ground, roots, and rock there. 
  • Feel your feet rooted to the floor, almost as if an invisible glue is keeping you there. Bring your attention back to your abdomen.
  • Draw the gold light up through your torso, arms, neck, and head. You are now surrounded in an oval of brilliant gold light tethering you to the earth.
  • Now imagine another ball of light above your head. This time it is a sparkling silver color. 
  • Again, this light is drawn quickly and with purpose around the golden oval about you. Once the silver light is completely surrounding this gold light, the two begin to mingle together. They both now become one brilliant, iridescent light surrounding you. You are now grounded in the earth and centered in the present moment.
Variations of Technique
This technique can be used before any ritual or magical working or on its own as a form of relaxation and stress release. If light or the colors I chose do not work for you, then use your imagination and find something that does.
Some people may feel that light is too airy fairy and need to visualize something more solid.  The tree visualization mentioned above, imagining water washing over you, or simply sitting or standing on the bare earth can all be just as effective. You will then be able to begin your ritual in a clear frame of mind.
© 2008-2011 Trish Deneen

Intro

Greetings and welcome to my new spiritual blog home.  I'm Trish Deneen, the former editor for the Pagan site at BellaOnline.com - The Voice of Women.  I have two main reasons for creating this blog.  The first is as a place to post my thoughts on different aspects of spirituality.  I expect it for the most part to take more of a personal diary tone but one which may find like minds who find value in it.

I have found over the years that I despise labels, and I no longer try to define myself in those terms.  This is a place to explore my spiritual evolution.  Some of the older articles I post are likely to be glimpses of a point in time rather than represent my current practices or beliefs which don't necessarily follow any particular party line as far as Pagans or Christians are concerned.  I've always seemed to live my life in the mid way.  I can stand in a circle and see many points therein, but I still stand in my own place.  I hope my writings will inspire or give solace to those who are as tired of labels and dogmatists as I am.

© 2011-2012 Trish Deneen