Posted in [book reviews], [witchy reviews]

Magic is about manipulation?

“Magic, at its core, is about manipulation and directly attempting to make something happen. Whether it’s to heal or hurt, bind or repel, create or destroy, magic is a process by which the manipulation of either the spiritual or mundane world occurs.” – page 60 “Hellenismos Today” by Timothy Jay Alexander.

He goes on to say that Pagans show great hubris in believing they control or hold power over anything, and that everything happens as part of the Gods’ will.

I have to start off saying that I enjoyed (and devoured) his book, and I’ve started reading “Beginner’s Guide to Hellenismos” as well. But that said, I have to point out a few flaws in Mr. Alexander’s arguments (and writing…)

First, I can’t stand when someone repeats the same argument point over and over. On several occasions (as in mentioning the hubris of Pagans), he makes a point only to repeat it word-for-word on the next page. Having someone help edit his work may have avoided that issue. He also makes an unfortunate habit of claiming no disdain for a group (Pagans, Christians, etc.) only to turn around and bash said group for the next two pages. He comes off as the type of person who, in a face-to-face conversation, would make me walk away to avoid bumping into the brick wall of his “authority” over and over… and over… and over…

But the quote above had me thinking… how would I defend myself from such a claim? Can I? I spent my lunch break (and laundry time after work) examining my personal beliefs and practices, and I have a rebuttal.

As a Pagan, I do practice magic, though rarely. I find that prayers come first, because often I’m not in need of something specific (“I need money to get that operation.”) so much as something for my general well-being (“Please help me make tomorrow a better day.”) But I do practice magic, hubris-free.

Mr. Alexander says that a Hellenismos will write down a prayer, read it aloud to their deity, burn it, and then burn some incense or other offering in honor of that deity. In doing such a devotion, they please that deity and often it will in turn grant their desire (if reasonable… and yes, I know using “it” to talk about deities might feel weird… but it’s unisex!).

My personal belief is as such: When I cast a spell, I pull together my personal energies and those of elements around me and send them out with my desire. Often, my spells include a prayer to a deity; as I’ve always been most attracted to the Greek pantheon, it’s usually a Greek god or goddess. I also light incense, or a candle, as a focus and as a carrier to send my energies out to do their task.

But in my personal beliefs, we all send energies toward “the Universe” (capital U) with the understanding that It will determine what’s best for the good of all and grant us success or failure as necessary. The Universe may even let something bad we’ve cast fall back on us, as a lesson. But when the Universe is capitalized, it is like the Ultimate Divine Source. We cast our energies out to the Source with our intentions, when the Source sends back the results (success, failure, karmic ripples, etc.).

And when you or I use a specific deity’s name in our spells and prayers, we are essentially asking that particular deity to take notice. (In this, I agree with Mr. Alexander that Pagans as a whole often fail the gods in using them for a spell because they fall into a useful archetype.)

So, all in all, I guess I’m saying that my spells may be more empowered than a Hellenismos prayer, and I may be more focused than theirs. But I believe the Gods (whichever you believe in, all as One or as individuals) determine our magical “power”. They would not let us overpower Them; They are Gods. Duh. It’s not hubris to think that I’m an empowered worshiper, free to make moves with the essences around me and in me, to try and achieve what I desire. My gods will stop me or teach me a very painful lesson (or both) if I overstep. And I acknowledge that. If anything, I am empowered by my gods.

For anyone interested in modern Greek religious reconstruction, Timothy Jay Alexander’s books are a good place to leap from. His book for beginner’s is better than “Hellenismos Today”, as the first is like a rough draft version of the second (as though he published one, felt it was lacking in information, and went back for a second edition). And you’ve been warned, you prideful Pagans, that you’re full of hubris and need to be more respectful. /glare/

Posted in [witchcraft & wonder], [writer stuff]

Greek research

It’s that time of year again, when the CMA festival is on it’s way. The Council of Magickal Arts is a non-profit religious organization, and they have two huge festivals each year to celebrate the Pagan wheel of the year (Beltaine and Samhain). I’m looking forward to the visit, again, because it’s a vacation from the mundane world and its stresses. On top of that, I’ve convinced a friend to come along, so we’ll have a rockin’ awesome time.

It’s been a tough year. I was keeping a blog on Myspace, but I’ve deleted mine and gotten a Facebook instead. Work has been up and down, just as most things in life. The muses haven’t whispered to me much, but then again, I may not have been listening very well. Stress and frustration had actually caught up to me so badly this past month that I’m on hiatus from my coven studies. I found myself acting completely horrid (i.e. bitchy, not witchy) and needed to take time to fix that.

My recent research has been into Greek mythology and worship. I found this amazing book called “Mysteries of Demeter”, found here. While I’m not a reconstructionist, I find myself inspired by the book and it’s in-depth look at ancient pagan practices. Recently, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a workbook on Greek (modern) paganism. There are workbooks for runes, tarot cards, goddesses, and self-discovery in the New Age section of our store, but you don’t find any books on Greek mythology and practice. There are books on Celtic paganism (because, let’s face it… Wicca started in Europe and was based more on the Celtic practices than anything else). The book above was in a local pagan store, Gaia’s Garden in Copperas Cove, TX. I’d like to see more books on modern pagan practices using the ancient Greek gods; if the Celtic gods are so popular, why can’t the Greeks be so too? I mean, we learn about the Greek gods in grade school, long before we hear about the Celtic gods (if at all, as far as school goes).

There’s an upside to this inspiration. To write such a book, I have to do research and experiment with some practices and minor rituals. I will have to take time to focus on them. I’ve always loved the idea, but I’ve never had any reason beyond a personal interest to look at any pantheon. Now, though, I feel like the muses are kicking me in the rear, trying to get me to write it out. And during this hiatus, I have a focus to keep myself from getting lazy. I’ve been so tired and stressed from work (our store just moved, and there’s lots of drama to go with that) that I just haven’t been able to get the energy to clean my house, let alone worship anyone for anything.

I’m going to try and blog here more than once a year… being a writer, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Next time I’ll share a few of the ideas (and possibly some test-it-out results) that I’ve gotten together for Demeter, Dionysus, and Gaia (just to name the first few I’ve brainstormed). Blessings!!

Posted in [fiction reviews]

Book Review: “Hush Hush”

Hush Hush on Amazon.com

I’ve decided to review the books I read here. I have eclectic tastes, but I lean mostly toward the supernatural and romance genres. I don’t discriminate against books because of their target audience (teen books, for example). And if you like any of the books I’ve listed as owned and read on my Shelfari.com page, you’ll know that my taste reflects in my review. So here goes.

I read Hush Hush thanks to an advanced proof sent to our Hastings. The cover caught my eye, so I decided “what the heck” and tried it out.

First of all, let me say that I don’t usually like first-person stories, but this one was great. I didn’t really realize it was first-person; the plot was awesome enough to distract me from that. The characters were well developed, along with the introduction of the supernatural factor: angels.

The book entails a fallen angel’s actions and a high school girl’s feelings. It’s not just some corny romance (though there is some romance here and there), but instead a look at how a person can change even after a lifetime or two, or three, spent committing wrongs. It’s also about a struggle between doing what’s best for yourself and what’s better for those around you.

Without ruining the plot, I can’t say much else. But it’s a worth-while read. It officially comes out sometime this year, October 13th. Go read it!!