Monday, November 25, 2013

Meditation & the Witch


Meditation is a spiritual staple on the path toward becoming more authentic, clear & wise. It is that last part, wise, that concerns the Witch the most, because Witch means 'Wise person.' But we have some pretty odd perceptions & beliefs about meditation here in the west, probably because the concept of meditation originated in the eastern world thousands of years ago.

As a spiritual teacher I hear a lot of people say, "I can't meditate" or "I can't quiet my mind long enough." This has lead me to understand that our western perceptions are faulty on the subject. So it is that I often instruct them to clarify for themselves what the word means to them, if not to everyone in the world.


For example, I divide meditation into 2 similar but different categories & since I've used the words already, I will use Eastern Practice & Western Practice for clarity. The Eastern approach has many different traditions & techniques associated with it. We consider this from our western perspective to be sitting in Lotus Position for hours, chanting or sitting silently. No wonder we think this is impossible in the west. Who has that kind of time to sit in silence? When my students really balk at the idea, I refer them to the 2nd category I am describing next.

Western Practice is just as huge in its derivations, though not as ancient obviously. Hypnosis, Silva Mind Control, Guided Imagery, Pathworking & the extremely popular Creative Visualization are all forms of what I consider meditation born in the west. Even spacing out watching TV or listening to music fits into this category. So I have found a decent definition that bridges both east & west.

Meditation is essentially focusing the mind, not essentially stopping it from thinking. The nature of the mind is to think, so stopping it from doing its job isn't exactly the goal. Rather it is about redirecting the mind via focus. 

Consider the word contemplation. What happens when you contemplate something, anything? You focus your mind upon it to the exclusion of other stimuli inside or outside of the self.

2 cats contemplating my laptop, on my lap

Granted, as a culture, we're not so contemplative in the west. We're more impulsive. Yet some of my strongest & most inspired impulses came after a period of focus via some form of meditation eastern or western. I have studied & practiced forms on both sides & even experienced some which really bridge both worlds.

What does this have to do with the Witch & Witchcraft as a spiritual path & practice? Well, just about everything. Keep in mind, I'm not bound by a tradition in my spiritual practice. I'm a proud Eclectic Witch, picking & choosing what works for me as I go along my Wisdom Path, which is what Witchcraft is. 

I have sat for hours in silence, visualized, been hypnotized & even chanted myself to bliss using both Sanskrit & English words.  I've followed my breath, counted from 1 - 10 over & over, as well as studied The Ishaya's Ascension, probably the most simple & effective form I have ever experienced.

But like anything else I do, I like to mix it up. There's no doubt now that the benefits of meditation are more than spiritual. It has been shown to have immediate beneficial effect on our physiology, mental health & emotional balance. It has been studied, a lot, even by scientists & the medical profession to the point where it is recommended in a general way for our healing in all areas of life.

 Witchy Feet

The best part of being an Eclectic Witch is that I sample most of them sooner or later. Like a new pair of shoes, they don't always feel 'normal' at first. If I'm trying to achieve a specific goal, like bliss or clarity, I often find myself disappointed at first try. Just like new shoes, I need to walk in them for awhile. Leading me to a brilliant quote that I learned from Caroline Myss, one of my favorite long distance teachers...

"Seek not perfection. Seek only practice."

But here in the west, we demand so much perfection that we exclude the idea of gradual practice to achieve our goals both inner & outer. But I find, in time, that those new shoes loosen up & comfort comes the more I practice any form of meditation.

Here is my advice to anyone, Witch or not, about meditation: try a bunch of them. Shop around & find a handful of both eastern & western forms. Browse YouTube videos, as there are tons of them on there. Read the classics both ancient & contemporary. I've been teaching & leading meditation for decades & I'm still discovering new forms that really work for me.

I've even tried the 21 day meditation challenges presented by Oprah Winfrey & Deepak Chopra. These are great for me because all I have to do is register, click a button & follow along. Plus, they are FREE! 

But as I said, I'm an eclectic, so I weave & wander my way through many techniques, usually blending eastern practice one day & western the next, or sometimes even later in the day.

I love meditation & I don't know how people get through their lives, let alone a day without it. I know I can be a crazy person by noon if I don't start my day without some kind of centering, focusing & yes, even silence.

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, at the time I am writing this, it is the Monday before Thanksgiving 2013. I have to pack a week's worth of work into 3 days so I can take 2 off on Thursday & hopefully Friday. We shall see. But that said, I invite you to join me in slowing down, if even for 15 minutes each day to digest what has already come into our systems & let it settle so we can make room for the new.

In this, it is my intention to launch myself peacefully into the rush of the Holiday Season with all of it's chaos by being a centered, clear & focused as I can be, little by little as I practice my way daily toward eventual perfection.

Blessed Be & Blessed Thanksgiving

Rev. Mark A. Lyons, President
Drawing the Circle Productions INC.
631-968-8307 @ProfWitch on Twitter

Friday, November 22, 2013

Spell to Balance Magick & Spirit

I wrote this spell many years ago when I felt my magick wasn't as aligned with my Spirit as much as it could be. After too many times of needing to 'step away from the altar' due to anger issues, this spell really worked. The perfect materials showed up for me to grow spiritually, books, conversations & the perfect people appeared to nudge me forward on my path.

I did the spell often, once a Moon Cycle for at least a year until the candles were completely melted. I would relight the candles, say the spell, then meditate for a bit. I found it balanced my light & dark side as well as giving a permanent boost to my spells that continues to this day. Good luck & comment on how it goes.

Spell to Balance Magick & Spirit
Needed: black candle, white candle, anointing oils 
( I use oils that fit the need, one dark & earthy & one light & floral)
Anoint each candle & set the black on the left & white on the right.
 Empower with these words

Candle black & candle white:
balance, blend, heal unite.

Black, the deep & pregnant void,
magick power true;
candle flame, eternal flux, 
grant your strength to all I do.

White, The ONE & shining life,
Spirit’s guiding light;
candle fire, heal, inspire, 
help me do what’s right.

Black & White, below above, 
vengeful Crow & peaceful Dove.

Dark & Light in balance bless 
& stabilize my path's success.

In my mind & in my heart 
from deep within does balance start.

In my way & in my world,
outer balance now unfurls.
So Mote It Be!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Altar not Alter

"This is an ALTAR, not an ALTER.
An altar marks sacred space.
Alter means to adjust or change.
I can see where the concepts could get confused, but you go to your ALTAR to ALTER your life."
Rev. Mark A. Lyons

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Post Samhain 2013: Mapping the Underworld

OK, the title alone is misleading because technically Samhain doesn’t hit until the Sun is 15 degrees in Scorpio, which is Thursday, November 7th, 2013. But for all intents & purposes, we’re already in it. It is also misleading because Samhain is a whole season, not just a day. Sure, we mark the beginning, but it doesn’t truly end its month and a half cycle till Yule / Winter Solstice or its 3 month run at Imbolc, February 2nd.

But since we are already knee deep in the energy of the season I have some things I want to share. Yes, I have been in & out of the Underworld a handful of times since Mabon / Autumnal Equinox. Hell, I’ve been in & out of the Underworld more times than I care to count in this life. We all have. So I want to share my Underworld Survival Guide in this post because, like any good tour guide, I have lived in, survived & served in the terrain.

Mapping the Underworld is only a so-so deal because it is so unique to each of us. The scenery changes so quickly when you are in it that it’s tricky to relate the landscape to one whom hasn’t consciously been there. But there are some features that are universal.

Spiritual Madness by Caroline Myss

Madness for example, is a common point of interest for the night tripper or for those who linger longer. I’m going to draw a fine line between Spiritual Madness & common insanity here, though insanity seems uncommon, it’s not really. We all have our moments, don’t we? 

But Spiritual Madness is one I see occasionally in myself & more often in the energies of those new to the spiritual path. Spiritual or Divine Madness is typified by a change in perception that destroys previously conceived ideas we thought were truth, but never were.

Imagine someone who has always felt victimized having a lightning bolt of “I create my own reality” whack them in the 3rd Eye. That changes everything. Or consider someone all of a sudden feeling the life force of a tree & experiencing the pain of watching one cut down. If they try to explain what they are experiencing to someone who isn’t so aware, they appear mad. 

So it goes with Spiritual Truth. It destroys our illusions & we often go through period where we feel crazy, but really, it is spiritual madness as your system integrates higher & higher truths.

Another big hallmark of the Underworld is facing the Shadow. Whether you address the subject spiritually, psychologically or both, it has never been an easy task to face & embrace our individual, let along collective shadows. But if we don’t, we get possessed by them. They rule us like a virus in a computer. You can tell this after the fact when you say, “I don’t know what came over me.” Which really means something buried in the unconscious came up via the subconscious & up into the conscious mind. Not pretty at all, but necessary for healing.

I refer you to the work of Caroline Myss, especially her book Defy Gravity. In this, she defines 7 Shadow Passions that are actually updated forms of the 7 deadly sins. Thankfully she also relates the 7 corresponding Graces, which act as powers of healing for each shadow. Here is the list & yes, they correspond to the Chakras as well:

Solar Plexus
3rd Eye

By tracking our shadow via the Chakras we can embrace ourselves a bit more compassionately & invoke the healing Graces. But you know, I also layer into this the 8 Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year; 1 Chakra/Shadow/Grace per Sabbat.  But, what about Samhain?

 The Wheel of the Year

At Samhain we get the opportunity to review it all & do the interior healing & maintenance needed to start fresh at Yule. This makes a lot of sense, as we die to the old we are reborn to the new, especially as the old self dies & the new self is reborn. Traversing the Underworld is tricky, but necessary for the Witch who wants to deliberately create their lives as works of art.

There are many road signs, mysteries & landmarks in the Underworld. As I said, mapping it is very personal & I could spend days illuminating the many I have found. But all of that aside I only know 1 way of healing it as you go & being elevated back into the Upper-world, as it were. That task / alchemical element is Forgiveness.

In my experience the whole process of letting go of the past isn't possible without forgiveness & the version we have been sold is faulty. Nor do I find much of a context for forgiveness in Witchcraft. No, you find more black candles & rusty nail spells than the spiritual practice of forgiveness.

That said, we can expand as magickal people into the depths of True Forgiveness, based on the quantum model of all thing being part of a unified field. This is why I turn to A course in Miracles, which presents the truth that not only are we all connected, we are all ONE in truth. In this, no matter who we appear to forgive, "All Forgiveness is Self Forgiveness."

So as I prepare myself for Yule via Samhain I will certainly withdraw my focus from this world a bit. Better that than to keep repeatedly being trap-doored into the Underworld. But should I find myself Underworld-ed, I will utilize the wisdom I have gained from previous forays there. Above all else though, I will use my alchemical power of Forgiveness to transform my interior lead to Golden Wisdom, gain the insight necessary & be reborn at Yule with my new intention for a new Wheel of the Year.

And... I will play with our new kitty.

Blessed Be & Blessed Samhain

Rev. Mark A. Lyons, President
Drawing the Circle Productions INC.
631-968-8307 @ProfWitch on Twitter