History of Magick[credits] by Summer Woodsong
One tradition holds that Witchcraft began more than 35 thousand years ago, when the last great sheets ice began their journey across Europe. Legend holds that small groups of hunters followed the free-running game and bison across the tundra. Armed only with the most simple weapons, these tribes depended on the extraordinary gifts of their shamans. These shamans could attune themselves to the herds, the animal mind, the spirit of the herd. As they became an integral and interactive part of the energy all life forms share, they were able to call those of these herds who were willing, to pits, cliffs or traps that allowed the clans or tribes to be fed. This was an ongoing cycle of life, in which both the herd animals and the humans understood and regarded as a sacred gift the life of the food animals.
Other traditions hold that "25 thousand years ago in Paleolithic Wo/Man depended upon hunting to survive. Only by success in the hunt could there be food to eat, skins for warmth and shelter, bones to fashion into tools and weapons.. Nature was overwhelming. Out of awe and respect for the gusting wind, the violent lightning, the rushing stream, Wo/Man ascribed to each a spirit; made each a deity . a God. It was at this time that magick became mixed in with these first faltering steps of religion." (Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, Raymond Buckland, p 2-3)
"Male shamans dressed in skins and horns in identification with the God and the herd; but female priestesses presided naked, embodying the fertility of the Goddess. Life and death were a continuous stream; the dead were buried as if sleeping in a womb, surrounded by their tools and ornaments, so that they might awaken to a new life." (Spiral Dance, Starhawk p3). The power of Woman to bring forth life was one of the greatest mysteries, and women were revered. Through new life, came the survival of the clans, and provision for children and the elderly. When these were provided for, there was new strength and the wisdom of the elders which allowed all to thrive.
The first true example of what we consider sympathetic magick took place, when those early people put on the antlers and robe of their prey, invoked the power to draw that animal into the dance of life and death, and played out the hunt they sought to occur in future days. "The Penobscot Indians, for example, less than a hundred years ago, wore deer masks and horns when performing rituals for the same purpose." ." (Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, Raymond Buckland, p 2-3) The rituals and processes we use for magick today appear to be similar or the same as those used by our ancestors. Models found of life-size prey were found, complete with spear marks in the clay.
Human psychology is blessed with the gift of imagination, of visualization. And there is little practical difference between creative visualization and spellwork. The same steps, procedures, preparations, focus and energy are present in both. Only the name and the respect given the process differs.
The primary difference between these early magickal practices and later, more formal, religious practices has to do with who performs the acts related to the desired outcome. In the tribal system, the entire clan performed the dances, the sacred plays of the hunt. Sometimes there was a leader considered a specialist, a shaman. Many times, the entire group was part of the process.
The differentiating factor between religion and magick seems to be whether or not there was a specialist assigned the role as intercessor to the Gods or Elemental Energies. This is also one of the key issues in present day WitchCraft - whether or not each person is a direct link to the energy and can meet their needs without assistance, or if we need those persons who have the time, talents, interest, etc. in being a full-time conduit between these energies and those who consider themselves as Pagans, Witches, Wiccans, etc.
While the jury is still out, the majority of Witches think it would be a travesty if we allowed any third party interpretation or mandatory access to that natural energy we are all heir to as humans and part of the interactive Sacred Play that is Gaia, our world and our spiritual world. Many early religions that began as a one-on-one link with the divine later came to a formal, procedurally bound, mockery of our Divine nature. The power in Paganism is that we claim our power by right, and will never give or dilute it by channeling it through others. We are as much a mirror of the Gods, as they are a reflection of us.
The nature of deity is that we have created a personalized representation of those forces which are awe-inspiring and important to us, and given them characteristics and names so that we may refer to them amongst ourselves handily. Those outside this rich interactive style came to believe that these forces were indeed outside of us, and labeled them as transcendent, or other. As Luke was taught by Obi Wan and Yoda, there is a life-force which all beings naturally have. We are part of it, have need of it, and can learn to listen and use it. Only recently did we forget as a race, that it is our birthright and the nature of our being. Life, death, rebirth, creation, beauty - these are all a natural use of the energy so readily available. Religion and Magick
There is a wonderful book called When Santa was a Shaman (1995 Llewellyn Publications) Tony van Renterghem makes a basic and fascinating distinction between types of religions. He breaks down the major religions into either supplication or celebration. The rituals and ceremonies associated with these religions, also divides up into those categories.
If one is a member of a religion that is supplicatory, you would appeal to this God for assistance, you would bargain with them - perhaps appropriate behavior for benediction of some sort. However, the overall character of the relationship is that this God, good or bad, is completely in charge of the relationship and must be deferred to and placated in order to achieve happiness and success - perhaps even ongoing life. This is not an equitable relationship, the God is totally in charge. Typically, they are not bound by any rules of behavior, either. So, it is a somewhat perilous relationship.
Magick to appease the gods is not uncommon. Folks try to figure out what precisely it is they have to do in order to avoid a bad storm, too much rain, too little rain, etc., etc. The one thing we don't seem to have a good handle on is that we are a part of Nature, and that the ultimate confluence of many, many events bring into concert those components which make it rain. There is much evidence which shows that we can influence and encourage these situations, but in general, we are part of the entire system and cannot create nor beg for Nature to turn on Her head for our benefit. Always keep in mind that when one intervenes for somebody, then there are other places which may now be lacking in those things you have called to you. Be certain to do all workings for the good of all - otherwise you may find you have created strife and hardship for others to satisfy a minor whim. Besides, appeasing and placating gods is a loosing battle for control over one's life. Because we cannot see the larger whole, and there is no way to grasp all the intricacies and complexities of a situation, we cannot foresee all the detail that would allow us to forecast success in providing whatever ritual, ceremony, sacrifice, or other action that would make a God/dess smile on us, and bring good fortune. To be honest, one would have to be incredibly confident, or deluded, to ever be comfortable in a religion that required you to constantly attempt to reading the changing will of the deity.
In the instance of placating the Gods, it is in our interest to invest our energy only in those areas we wish to encourage development in, rather than to spend a lot of energy trying to avoid the ill effects from a trickster God/dess or a God/dess of destruction. Do not devote a lot of time to a God/dess of chaos, or other poor behaviors. You would concentrate instead on the God/dess you prefer prevail. Lots of energy to justice, to success, etc. Just be very careful what you ask for. As far as praying or performing magick to a God/dess for prosperity, we do far better to bend our will and make as many of the arrangements as we can through our own efforts.
Magick for luck and good fortune is always considered fair, if you back it up by contributing as much of your daily efforts as possible to your goals. If you want a good job, you must read the papers, respond to inquiries, be prepared to interview, go to work on time each day, etc. All the spells in the world will not work, if your personal actions work in opposition, i.e. you do a love spell, but you never bathe, or go out to places where you might meet someone, or, you do a spell for success, but all you ever do is whine and make excuses, rather than put effort into attaining the type of lifestyle you say you desire. If you actions and stated desires are not in concert, then your internal focus and will are not working on your goals, and the magick or energy working is too diffuse to have any effect. Magick is not simple, not easy, not a panacea for the lazy person.
III. Separation of Magick from Religion Prayer is Energy work. Modern day clergy of many religions provide their flock, parishioners, congregation, whatever it is called, with access to divinity. Although each person is admonished to lead a "Godly" life, the primary focus of worship tends to be through large group ceremonies where a leader, priest, channels the prayers and energy of that congregation through themselves and off to whatever the focus of the prayer was. I personally feel that this channeling through a third party, as a required step and mindset, dilutes the efficacy of that energy somewhat. However, it does not differ substantially from the Wiccan coven practice of channeling or focusing energy through a high priest/ess. And even though many are not aware of it, there is strong, statistical, scientific proof that prayer is incredibly effective when used for healing the ill. This study simply looked at the survival rate, and healing speed among people who had been prayed for, all other factors being the same, and those who had not been prayed for. The energy is the same in prayer, or healing spells, which is a strong indicator that Wiccan magick provides the same power - a power that is effective and measurable by contemporary science. Spells are Energy Work. Such energy was always amongst us. It is only in the last few hundred years that we have had the technology to document and examine these energies and their effects. In the past there tended to be an individual who was more gifted than others in interpreting and understanding such things. These folks probably devoted time to things such as herbal remedies, and as their healing skills improved, they were able to devote more time and thought to it. People were willing to trade these healers, treatment for food, and over time these people became specialists in their discipline - whatever that entailed. Perhaps reading omens, herbal preventatives, cures, etc. And these folks also had the knack of knowing what would happen. Whether it was early psychology or a good guess, their reputation made them into the Village Wise Woman - the Country Sage. Sometimes these folks skills combined with an inheritance of knowledge from their ancestors, provided them with a powerful knowledge of people, healing, and energy use. These were truly the witches of renown. Powerful people, but without today's communication ability, their influence tended to stay local, only effecting their village or county. Their skills also included various forms of divination, but not usually religion as such. That was left to the Church which was a powerful and distant force. And religion was best left to the priests and ministers of that church, since it was punishable by death for commoners to have read the bible. Even the Christian church, which condemned magic as a devilish art, was also filled with magical beliefs and practices. Magic was legal in Roman times, and this tolerance continued on for many centuries. Sir Walter Raleigh praised said magic, "bringeth to light the inmost virtues, and draweth them out of Nature's hidden bosom to human use.". The nobility - including princes of the church - supported court magicians, astrologers, and diviners who helped them conduct their affairs. Scholars carefully classified different types of magicians, as if to distinguish the heretical from the acceptable. (The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, p 566) Although the Christians had the most documentation, almost all cultures had their version of magician or magic workers. Shaman/ka - Other cultures less effected by the power of the formal Church included the interpretation of the god's will among their skills. These indigenous cultures labeled their healing and magick specialists Shaman or Shamanka. In tribal cultures almost everyone had a specialty that made up their part of the entire survival of the tribe. It tended to be those persons who were marked special who became the voice of the Gods for the tribe. Again, these persons had the time to learn, or just think a lot about, the nature of reality, illness and the Gods. In shamanic experience, when one is in non-ordinary reality things will seem quite as material as they are here. ... All the phenomena that just as real as they do here if it is an extremely clear shamanic journey. But the shaman does not view these non-ordinary phenomena as mental in the sense that they are regarded as a projections of one's own mind. Rather, the mind is being used in order to gain access, to pass through a door into another reality which exists independently of that mind. Usually, the shaman views the universe itself of the ultimate reality. In many shamanic cultures there is preoccupation with the idea that there is some spiritual being who is either in charge of the whole show, or who once was but is now permanent vacation. Most shamans seem to believe that this universe is "just the way things are." We are given the fact that there is a universe where everything is alive, that there is an interconnectedness of all things, and that there are hidden purposes which we can attempt to investigate to some extent through shamanic methods. So, as one gets involved in shamanism and thus keeps seeing, interacting, and talking with spirits, one quite naturally tends to believe in their existence. And those who continue doing shamanism will most likely also start to believe in the existence of spirits. Of course, more supposedly "sophisticated": religions may then be built upon that base. I think it is noteworthy that modern physics seem to have elements of animism. Some physicists today are like animists in that they believe everything which exists is alive. It is the sense of our unity with a living universe, the feeling that we are all just parts of that greater life, which is basic to animism." (Shamanism, compiled by Shirley Nicholson, pp4-5). In some cultures being crippled, having seizures, having mental problems, etc. marked one as being closer to the gods or perhaps having been called by the spirits, and thus a good candidate for the shamanic path. These people freely mixed together the concepts of both the Gods and magick. Their mythology made their gods a part of their everyday world, and allowed for a rich mix of customs, responsive to the tribe's situation and needs. The shamanic tradition focuses of the strengths and aspects of various natural forces within our world, and uses inner journeys of the shaman to bring those truths for use by the shaman's social group. Ceremonial Magick is an area of study that demands much discipline of its adherents. We tend to differentiate its practice from that of the religious magicks that Witches, Pagans and Druids accomplish, primarily because of the Pagan emphasis of calling energy through the gods and the planet. Ceremonial magic has its own pantheons, and although my understanding is minimal, there is much knowledge that must be acquired, memorized, understood and properly applied. Golden Dawn is one of the best known organizations dealing with ceremonial magick.
".Ceremonial Magic.is probably best described as a process of enlightenment and illumination of the Universe by stimulating the intuition, imagination, and "psychic faculties" through the use of rituals and ceremonies. A "magic ceremony" is not necessarily "Ceremonial Magic." Richard Cavendish, in his book The Black Arts (1967), writes: "Many magical ceremonies are deliberately designed to summon up and unleash the animal driving forces from the deeps of the human nature" (p. 11), the purpose of this magic being "hunger for power" with an "ambition to wield supreme power over the entire universe, to make himself a god" (p. 1). This description neatly fits into what Waite would probably describe as Ceremonial Magic, although this magic is, as the subtitle of his book, The Book of Ceremonial Magic, states "The Secret Tradition in Goetia [witchcraft], including rite and mysteries of Goetic theurgy, sorcery, and infernal necromancy."
"Ceremonial Magic; by the study of which, a man...may become a recipient of Divine Light and knowledge" (p. xvi, xvii). According to Barret, the Kabbalah is the "secret mysteries" of Ceremonial Magic. Eighty year later, the ceremonies and doctrine of the Golden Dawn would heavily rely on what its members called "Kabbalah."
An examination of the Knowledge Lectures of the Golden Dawn reveals a great deal of use of Kabbalistic terms and ideas. However, what is Kabbalah to these magicians? Regardie (1970) recognizes the traditional meaning of the term: "the Qabalah is the Jewish mystical teaching concerning the...interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures" (p. 17).
However, he continues to say that the Kabbalah "contains as its ground plan... that geometrical arrangement of Names, Numbers, Symbols, and Ideas called 'The Tree of Life'" (p.18). Regardie, and the magicians before him, regard Kabbalah as "a guide, leading to comprehension both of the Universe and one own's self" (p. I) by providing "a set of symbols... necessary when undertaking a study of the Universe" (p. iii). Ultimately, it is used as a framework to categorize all phenomena and relationships in the Universe.
By interpreting the Torah, or discovering its hidden, true, meaning, the Kabbalist hoped to acquire "immediate personal contact with the Divine"
Ceremonial Magic, being mostly a blend of Christian and Jewish religious thought, this existence or being is typically called "God," although other terms, such as "Bornless One," "Higher Genius," and "Ain Sof," are occasionally used. The highest goal of the Ceremonial Magician is "to purify and exalt my Spiritual Nature so that with the Divine Aid I may at length attain to be more than human, and thus gradually raise and unite myself to my higher and Divine Genius" (Regardie, 1986; p. 230). Therefore, it is reasonable to label Ceremonial Magic as a type of mysticism ("Christocentric", I would suggest) especially influenced by the Jewish mystical traditions of Kabbalah. Several aspects of Kabbalah in Ceremonial Magic will be examined in Part II, and the origin of the idea or practice traced to at least one early Kabbalistic source.
It is accepted magical doctrine that to know the name of a certain power, be it an angel, spirit (typically evil), or intelligence (typically good), is to control that power: "the 'real' name of a god or an idea contains the essence of the god or the idea, and therefore enshrines its power. Using the name turns this power on automatically, the same way that pressing the light switch turns on the light" (Cavendish, 1967; p. 123). In a similar fashion, Crowley (1976) remarks that the names of God are really names for the forces of nature, which can then be used. (Aspects of Kabbalah in Ceremonial Magic (http://rana.usc.edu:8376/~gellerma/kab.html, David M. Gellerman, 1989)
At another website, I found a similar, if more concise, definition:
"CEREMONIAL magic is the ancient art of invoking and controlling spirits by a scientific application of certain formulae. A magician, enveloped in sanctified vestments and carrying a wand inscribed with hieroglyphic figures could, by the power vested in certain words and symbols, control the invisible inhabitants of the elements and of the astral world. While the elaborate ceremonial magic of antiquity was not necessarily evil, there arose from its perversion several false schools of sorcery, or black magic. ( http://www.brotherblue.org/libers/manly.htm, Brother Manly P. Hall, 33” , Ceremonial Magick and Sorcery, An Holy Excerpt from his Greate Alchymeckal Worke of 1928: The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopaedic Outline of
Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy) Contemporary Magick Magick today is a far cry from that of times past - although it may be that its most crucial element - belief - is still the crux of any working. However, the magick which we discuss as part of the Wiccan, Pagan training is believed to be a natural part of almost anyone's abilities. With training and some sensitivity to the feel of the energies, almost anyone can work and use magick in their ritual, ceremonial, and daily life. In addition, we understand so much more about our lives and environment than those early witches did. It is particularly powerful to weave your magical and religious symbols into your professional and personal environment. Thus, you are always aware of your goals and values as you go about your daily endeavors. In a last note, I will discuss the word Witch. Today we use this to indicate anyone who uses such power within a context of responsibility to their community and the world as a whole. I have defined the role of a Witch as, "One who knowledgeably takes on the obligation to further harmony and growth for our world, our selves and our community." I believe this obligation will be fulfilled by all power at that Witch's command, including personal talents, skills, strength and psychic power. It is important that all these personal endeavors be in concert, so as to maximize the effect of the working. In the past definitions for the word Witch were much less complimentary. Any rudimentary research into Witchcraft from conventional publications will quickly discover that even in the 1970s and 80s, a witch was always considered an evil-doer. Even books which seem unbiased, include these biases - as well as a bias against women. Anyone who worked energy for evil was considered a witch, and was obviously a female. Anyone who worked energy for good or personal reasons was considered a sorcerer and in almost all the books I read, a male. The exception was healers - who could be male or female, but were classified as white witches.
Witches do not come in colors - racial or philosophical. Although we assign various meanings to colors and use those in our spells, Witches are people. Some of them are less gifted in various types of magick or divination, and some of them may slip and do magick without considering all the implications of that which they ask for. Love spells in particular are always treacherous for the newcomer. If Terry is convinced that Pat is the only lover that will do, then any magickal working will focus on that pair as a couple, not allow for better matches, and compromise Pat's free will - which will backlash on Terry in time.
Many of us become so focused on a particular goal, we miss out on all the other options. If so-and-so wants so much to go to a particular college, and puts together a success spell aimed only at State U., then other options such as private schools, scholarships, etc. may go unnoticed.
It is rare that people actually do old-style magick to get even with another, or to do harm. People don't poke pins into dolls, and modern Witches were raised on TV, they would not be impressed with elementary strategies. Real witches focus on what they want to accomplish, not on deterring others from their paths. Each path a person follows is unique, and specific to them. And in keeping with the basic principles we are as much a reflection of the gods, as they are a mirror of us. We are part and parcel of the whole interactive system we live in. If all people are considered a reflection of the gods, then we are honor-bound to assume that they are following their own paths for their purposes, and it would be inappropriate and rude to interfere with their choices. And none should ever interfere with our paths and goals, unless there is serious cause. Definition of Magick a. My definition, Magick is the use of focused will and energy to bring about or influence a specific outcome, event, or situation.
As you can see this includes all the types of efforts you would include toward accomplishment of a specific goal. Let's say you do a spell for a new lover. You would put all your best effort into the spell itself, and then follow-up. Follow-up might include lighting a candle every night and focusing on calling your perfect love. It also would have to include going places where you would be likely to encounter your perfect love. You would need to dress and act in the way you believe your perfect love would find attractive. Remember, these spells bring about the right circumstances, but especially when doing magick that involves others, with their will, talents and skills, you have to become that which you would expect them to be attracted to - or all bets are off.
Like success or job spells. After you do the working, if you don't get up and go to interviews, then there is very little chance of getting that perfect job. The follow-through was inconsistent with the spells energy, and that will dilute the power of your spell. You also have a good idea of what people you want to work for would expect our of a new employee. If you don't put that together consistently, then the magick is diluted, and ineffective.
Do you want a better world? Great!! Do the energy working, spell or ritual. Then, do something! What are you willing to contribute? If you do not personally put your energy into it, then you must have expected to motivate others in some way. If you are not part of that process, then you are just being hopeful that your spell will motivate others to do better, to contribute more, etc. And that is a violation of their choices and pathwork. You didn't ask if that was OK with them, you have tried to impose your will on another. Under the Threefold Law, you will incur that type of energy on yourself. Your life will become more and more run over by the will of others. Be very careful, your actions and magick must be clean, or there will be debts incurred. Three definitions
Starhawk says, "Any viable religion developing today will inevitably be concerned with some form of magic, defined as "the art of changing consciousness at will." Magick has always been an element of WitchCraft, but in the Craft its techniques were practiced with a context of community and connection. They were means of ecstatic union with the Goddess Self - not ends in themselves. Fascination with the psychic - or the psychological - can be a dangerous sidetrack on any spiritual path. When inner visions become a way of escaping contact with others, we are better off simply watching television. When "expanded consciousness" does not deepen our bonds with people and with life, it is worse than useless: It is spiritual self-destruction.
If Goddess religion is not to become mindless idiocy, we must win clear of the tendency of magic to become superstition. Magic - and among its branches I include psychology as it purports to describe and change consciousness - is an art. Like other arts, its efficacy depends far more on who is practicing it than on what theory they base their practice. Egyptian tomb painting is organized on quite different structural principles that twentieth-century Surrealism - yet both schools produced powerful paintings. Balinese music has a different scale and rhythmic structure from Western music, but it is no less beautiful. The concepts of Freud, Jung, Melanie Klein, and Siberian shamanism cal all aid healing or perpetuate sickness, depending on how they are applied.
Magickal systems are highly elaborate metaphors, not truths. When we say "There are twelve signs in the Zodiac," what we really mean is "we will view the infinite variety of human characteristics through this mental screen, because with it we can gain insights"; just as when we say" there are eight notes in the musical scale," we mean that out of all the possible range and variations of sounds, we will focus on those that fall into these particular relationship, because by doing so we can make music. But when we forget that the signs are arbitrary groupings of stars, and start believing that there are large lions, scorpions, and crabs up in the sky, we are in trouble. The value of magic metaphors is that through them we identify ourselves and connect with larger forces; we partake of the elements, the cosmic process, the movements of the stars. But if we use them for glib explanations and cheap categorizations, they narrow the mind instead of expanding it and reduce experience to a set of formulas that separate us from each other and our own power. " ( The Spiral Dance, Starhawk, p 192,, Harper & Row: New York, NY, 1979)
Amber K uses the words of many to define the subject. "Stewart Farrar puts it this way: "The stage-by-stage development of the entire human being is the whole aim of magic." According to Weinstein, magick can help "get your entire life in harmony - mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychically.. And what is the ultimate purpose of the work? To fulfill the self on an even higher level. To transform, uplift, and so fully develop the self that the whole Universe may benefit thereby."
William G. Gray, another will-known occultist, says: "Magic is for growing up as Children of the Light. Sane, sound, healthy, and happy souls, living naturally and normally on levels of inner Life where we can be REAL people as contrasted with the poor shadow-selves we project at one another on Earth."
Thus magick exists to expedite, guide and enhance change. Wiccans might say it is the work of the God within: "Everything She touches, changes."" In her book True Magick, Amber addresses the subject from a unique perspective. She sees all life and our endeavors as related to reclaiming a consciousness of our greater selves - the all-connected life form which we comprise as a whole. Only humans can make this journey. Perhaps because other life forms so effortlessly inhabit the whole without confusion, or perhaps because we, of all the creatures on Earth, have the capacity to analyze our selves. We have the capacity to change our thought processes, our behaviors and to make permanent change within and without our selves.
"We are part of All That Is. With magick we can experience existence from the perspective of the other parts, and know that we are One.Such a quest requires us to change, and magick is an effective tool for defining new goals and reaching for unknown limits and bring ourselves into new territory.
"Magick requires daring. It brings the "little death" [giving up oneself] which is part of rebirth. Not to change is to stagnate and die; but to willingly offer up the life we know, is to find a greater Life. To the conscious mind unaware of the immortal Spirit within, this kind of sacrifice, the loss of the isolated, little person-self. Seems terrifying indeed. Yet through it one regains the lost wholeness of the Greater Self, which is all of us, which is The God/dess." (True Magick, Amber K, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 1990.)
Raymond Buckland is emphatic that magick in the Wiccan religion is secondary to the practice of Wicca as a religion. However, magick is a large part of the religion and the practice of WitchCraft. "In itself, magick is a practice. If all you want to do is work magick, then you don't need to become a Witch to do it. Anyone can do magick, or, at least can attempt to do it. such a person is a magician. ... But what exactly, is "Magick"?. Aleister Crowley defined magick as "the art or science of causing change to occur in conformity with will". In other words, making something happen that you want to happen. How do we make these things happen? By using the "power" (for want of a better word) that each of us has within. Sometimes we must supplement that power by calling on the gods, but for most things we can produce all that we need ourselves." (Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, Raymond Buckland, Llewellyn Publications, St. Paul, MN 1989)
What is the Nature of the Gods? What are the Gods? Throughout the years I have asked many figures, including Isaac Bonewits and Amber K how they defined the gods. I asked if these were figures outside ourselves, or aspects of our inner power, I asked if they were repositories of energy that we could draw on, or if they were actually metaphors through which we accessed channeled energy that was stored, are they archetypes, or transcendent? Most people say, "Yes. All of the above, none of the above."
Our Gods are a combination of all that we need from them. In the Jungian philosophy, Karl Jung talks of the Collective Unconscious - this amounts to a racial mind which holds all the information, energy and patterns we use to view our world, and create social communities. This has many implications - and although not an accurate picture perhaps of what is happening, it is a solid start.
Imagine many centuries ago, it is a quiet calm day. You were out walking. it was early afternoon, the sun became obscured by clouds rolling in. You were on the side of a mountain in the early foothills. Suddenly, there was a great, loud, CRACK of thunder. It was so near, so powerful, that you almost weren't frightened so much as in complete awe. So you went home, and you spoke to your friend and told him about the experience. He says, "Yeah! I know what you mean, that happened to me once. It's incredible!" And together you find a reference in common to explain the awe and wonder that the experience held for you - Thor - God of Thunder. And Thor contains within its definition all the meaning that the experience held: Power, Male, Overwhelming, Strength, all the hidden and apparent meaning that went with the experience. Now every time you mention Thor, you are calling on that common definition and all its ramifications, to convey your meaning to another. It has become a shorthand for those values and emotions. It does not mean that there is a broad shouldered male standing up in the clouds somewhere, it is a way to call upon that experience to convey the experience verbally. Now, that does not mean that Thor does not exist, either. Based on the common experience, the acceptance of Thor as a God and a force within our lives, and the power we grant and call on through His name, Thor becomes a repository and a source for energy working within our lives. Through our use of this reference to Thor, we have created an archetype, a symbol for this power, and that symbol is now part of the Collective Unconscious and all the race can access it as a common referent point for their needs. Their name for it may differ, but there is no doubt that even among far distributed cultures, there are very similar gods, religious beliefs, and mythology.
Religion and Worship. "Almost from their beginnings, magic and religion have been intermingled. " (Believing in Magic The Psychology of Superstition, Stuart A. Vyse, Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford, 1997) The root of the word religion means relinking. And as the Pagan religions are the only religions that I know of that insist that the interaction of the worshipper with their deity be direct and personal, and that the rhythms of our world are the signals and timing for most interaction, we may well be the only religion that has a primary accomplishment of relinking our people with our selves, our Gods, our world, and Nature Herself. Most of the standard definitions for religion specifically refer to the Christian God, or another monotheist deity. Our dictionaries and encyclopedias are so inherently Christian it is difficult to find a non-Christian definition of religion or worship. Raymond Buckland insists that the first call of a Witch is the worship of the Gods. But there is little definition of that process of worship that is not also the process of ritual magick - it is hard to discern wherein the difference lies. I have read through many of these books looking for a concise answer. That answer seems to lie in the interactive responsibility of the Witch to focus their awareness and responsibility for the consequences of their magick on the entire system which is comprised of the Gods, Our world, our community and all the other Children of the Gods. This comprehension of their role within the entire scheme is in line with my definition of a Witch, "One who knowledgeably undertakes through their vows to their Gods the obligation to further growth and harmony." What that definition also implies, yet does not outright state, is that that obligation also includes personal growth and development. The Witch never promotes growth and success in the system without offering themselves the same opportunities. There may be rare circumstances where a Witch will spend so much of their energy for a particular outcome, that they compromise their own success and health - but offhand, I cannot imagine what would demand such a sacred gift - sacrifice. It is not healthy or reasonable to demand things of any teacher, healer, priest/ess which lessen that person's own path and powers. We are not victims or martyrs because we have decided to enrich our entire community, we are simply responsible members of our community. And much like the goose that laid the golden egg, if you overtax those who have the gift, you will loose all that it offers. You must always prioritize your health and well-being, for if you are lost or in failing health, then what do you have left to offer.
This is also a religion, that by its very nature, would never demand you harm another. That is not the point. "I am the Mother of all things, and My loved is poured out upon the world." And She who is the mother of all things, never demands that you harm any of her Children. (Charge of the Goddess)
Is this a Goddess religion? Do we have male Gods? Yes. I think the primary reason that we are considered a Goddess religion, is that all other religions have male gods. Thus, in explaining our differences, people take the prominent diverse feature, the female divinity, and focus on it when explaining our beliefs. But the male aspect of our world is a partner and consort of the Goddess. Without the God, we would not have the balance and creative interaction that allows for the Wheel of Life. Do we value men in this religion? Absolutely. We could not be who we are without male and female aspects to balance and provide all the parts to our Sacred World. Why is there any question about the importance of the God? "The image of the Horned God in WitchCraft is radically different from any other image of masculinity in our culture. He is difficult to understand, because He does not fit into any of the expected stereotypes, neither those of the "macho" male nor the reverse-images of those who deliberately seek effeminacy. He is gentle, tender, and comforting, but He is also the Hunter. He is the Dying god - but his death is always in the service of the life force. He is untamed sexuality - but sexuality as a deep, holy, connecting power. He is the power of feeling, and the image of what men could be if they were liberated from the constraints of patriarchal culture." (The Spiral Dance A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, Starhawk, Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA, 1979.
"The primary figure for "That-Which Cannot-Be Told" is the Goddess. The Goddess has infinite aspects and thousands of names - she is the reality behind many metaphors. She is reality, the manifest deity, omnipresent in all of life, in each of us. The Goddess is not separate from the world - she is the world, and all things in it: moon, sun, earth, star, stone, seed, flowing river, wind, wave, leaf and branch, bud and blossom, fang and claw, woman and man. In Witchcraft, flesh and spirit are one." "The image of the Goddess inspires women to see ourselves as divine, our bodies as sacred, the changing phases of our lives as holy, our aggression as healthy, our anger as purifying, and our power to nurture and create, but also to limit and destroy when necessary, as the very force that sustains all life. Through the Goddess, we can discover our strength, enlighten our minds, own our bodies, and celebrate our emotions. We can move beyond narrow, constricting roles and become whole.
The Goddess is also important for men. The oppression of men in Father God-ruled patriarchy is perhaps less obvious but no less tragic than that of women. Men were encouraged to identify with a model no human being can successfully emulate: to be minirulers of narrow universes. They are internally split, into a "spiritual" self that is supposed to conquer their baser animal and emotional natures. They are at war with themselves: in the West, to "conquer" sin; in the East to "conquer" desire or ego. Few escape from these wars undamaged. Men lose touch with their feelings and their bodies, becoming the "successful male zombies" described by Herb Goldberg in The Hazards of Being Male: "Oppressed by the cultural pressures that have denied him his feelings, by the mythology of the woman, and the distorted and self-destructive way he sees and relates to her, by the urgency for him to "act like a man," which blocks his ability to respond to his inner promptings both emotionally and physiologically, and by a generalized self-hate that causes him to feel comfortable only when he is function well in harness, not when he lives for joy and personal growth." (The Spiral Dance, Starhawk, pp 8-10).
It has been said that a religious view that focuses on the male is exclusive, while a religious view that is matrifocal tends to be inclusive since it includes not only women, but their most magickal talent - production of life, of children - male and female. These basic shifts in viewpoint bring a very different set of rules for social interaction. If we focus on the ability to create as the most powerful image in a religion, then we drop the terrible emphasis on destruction, strength, terrifying and intimidation as admirable. Destruction is simple, anyone can easily destroy what it has taken others hours, days, years to create. That act of creation, of building, of bringing into reality the dreams and plans of a mind, a community - Now, that is impressive. Cowards destroy. Men and Women of power and character create, bring thoughts to reality. What a gift that is!
And the view of the world from the Goddess' eyes is one of depth and breadth. Men are not restricted to any one skill, talent or role - nor are women. Both can be leaders, teachers, craftsmen, ditch diggers, carpenters, healers, leaders. There are no absolutes to deny anyone the path they choose. Each to her own time, talents, skills, and preferences.
And do we worship these Gods? Male and Female? Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary says that worship is the "reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power: also: an act of expressing such reverence 3 : a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual. 4: extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem." By this definition, we worship the Goddess and God every time we acknowledge their presence in our lives, every holiday we observe, every full moon, every quarter day and cross quarter day which marks the turn of the season, is an acknowledgment of the importance of the Gods in our lives. Each time we speak of our values, we are acknowledging those values through our Gods. Every reverence we offer our Gods simply echoes the depth of our devotion to those ethics and morals our culture is made of.
So, did we invent the Gods? Yes. Or have they always been there? Yes. Are they reflections of us, or are we a mirror of them? Yes. Are our Gods external to us, or an internal representation of our own essence. Yes. Do we worship the Gods, or recognize that they are but a complex anthropomorphization we use to give meaning to our lives? Yes. All of the above. Every race of humankind views God/dess in their own image; racial features, social behaviors, etc.. And each race chooses how they will view the Gods. Those who must analyze their world into component parts will find more technical answers. Those who are content to enjoy the mysteries in our lives, simply use the magick inherent in the belief system. There is no conflict in saying that we worship the Gods, even though we are also scientifically based in our world. A rational individual can choose what they intend to do, even if that chosen behavior is irrational. So long as you know it, you acknowledge it and you accept the consequences, there is no conflict. The ability to explore your world rationally, only provides greater meaning to the method you implement in its exploration. There is always a structure, a paradigm through which we make decisions. And the Pagan paradigm, which honors each individual as their own best authority, brings honor to all of us, and provides a base culture which works by recognizing everything and everyone's potential: everything and everyone's right to their own path and decisions.
d. Physiological changes based on magick use. Use of magick has other effects besides those not tangible or measurable by the average person. Training in magick has high demands on our mental and intellectual capacities. Earlier I mentioned that magick is weak unless your goal, ritual, and behavior all reinforce each other. That internal consistency is the product of a mind that has learned to examine itself and make rational, reasoned decisions on what its thoughts and behaviors will be. Recent scientific studies have shown that not only is this considered a plus for your in your social interactions, but it also has a physical effect on how your physical mind works. They did studies of individuals involved in Rational Emotive Therapy - a branch of psychology which teaches this internal decision making and consistency - and discovered that with time (three months, I think) the chemical makeup of the brain changed. There was more efficiency and different brain functions were enhance in information takeup. So magick is not only a great way to express your interaction with the divine, but it will literally change you.
e. Psychological changes based on magick use. The way you choose to view your world also has monumental effects on how successful and happy you will be within it. I worked for a very nice lady, named Rose. She had an odd tendency to go from an isolated negative incident to an assumption that everything was bad. If one person was five minutes late to work, she would dress us all down at staff meetings, cautioning everyone to be on time. Any isolated misbehavior became the model and assumption for future speeches. I tried to talk to her about it a couple time, but she just did not seem to understand, that it was only one person, one time. To her each incident was everyone, all the time. She - as I later discovered - was Catholic. The Catholic belief system is based on the idea that we are all horrible sinners, and without direct and frequent intervention and supervision, we would all tumble down that long hill to indulge in the very worst of our natures. With those beliefs as a starting place, it was a normal progression to believe that someone else was just about to demonstrate even worse behavior unless she was responsible enough to intercede now.
My view was very different. With a belief that each of us is a mirror of the Gods and much as they are a reflections of us, I believed the best of each person, unless it became necessary and obvious that their behavior was going to effect others. So, I might mention to the single offending individual that their behavior was not acceptable in this environment, but it would never occur to me to offend everyone else by assuming their behavior would also be negative.
How does this effect our daily lives? I like to illustrate it this way: if you were expecting your significant other to show up, and they not only don't show, but they don't call - ALL NIGHT! - you would very likely go past unhappy, concerned and worried, and proceed over to becoming really angry! If your view of the world is that we are all just bad behaviors waiting to get loose on the world, then it is not hard to see how you would easily assume that your significant other was rude, thoughtless and probably not worth your time.
Now, what if the next morning, you discovered that your SO's mother had a heart attack, your SO had to go to the hospital with her, and was the only family member available to give blood - since Mom had a rare blood type - so your SO had to stay overnight, and was tanked out on drugs to increase blood production and not coherent.
Now, what would your assumption be? Most of us would understand under those circumstances. Now let's look at the Pagan paradigm and review this incident. Same instigating factors, of course. No SO, no call. Now you are worried and concerned. But since you know that your SO is a responsible person, who would not deliberately inflict harm, and who values you as a person innately divine, there has to be something else going on. See, with an assumption that this person is innately divine and a reflection of the Gods, it takes more for you to assume that they are rude and scummy people. It would take actual proof.
So, from the Wiccan paradigm, you are more likely to treat others, their decisions, and behaviors with respect. And you will incur that level of respect in their reactions to you. A definite Win-Win situation. Ethics - necessary or no cookie. So, what does it take to pull this off? It takes a couple things. One, is a clear understanding of your power and strengths. You must be consistent in your intent and behavior - or else it is a clear message to the Gods and your inner power that you are not serious about your goals. Two, you must have a way to really look at what it is you are doing, and how to make clear and consistent decisions about it.
First off, I will talk about what Pagans believe and are - and are not.
Marble Street Agreement
1. Do not have any requirement for use of Drugs and Alcohol.
2. Do not have any requirements concerning sex, or sexual activities.
3. Value and honor life, thus we do not believe in the practice of necromancy.
4. Respect and honor the earth.
5. Respect and honor other's rights to make decisions concerning their personal, private and sexual preferences.
6. Respect each individual's rights to religious preference.
7. Do not condone/promote proselytizing.
8. Value free will and independent thought.
9. Respect and honor people at all ages of life.
10. Encourage personal power, not power over.
Self-integrity, self-responsibility and responsibility for consequences of action are all aspects of the path we provide for spiritual exploration.
While this list addresses very specific items, it reflects the values, the ethics of the Pagan culture. If these don't fit in with your self-image or goals - this may not be the right path for you. WitchCraft is not for the lightweight, not for those who are unwilling to put effort into their magick and religion. If these things make sense, then you will probably fit right in. There are many folks, even those who are not Pagan, Wiccan or Witches, who readily understand and agree to these ideals.
There are so many ways that our world imposes its views and preferences on us, we developed a set way of reasoning through questionable situations - it is just called a decision making tool. It is not something that you must do, or adhere to, it is simply a tool to use if you find yourself in uncertain waters and need a format to assist you in reaching your decision. Let's look at some of the areas that might make you uncomfortable or be confusing. One of our new students is very intrigued with a man at work, and wants to know how to perform a love spell. A covenmate knows a friend who is sick, and wants the group to put together an energy ritual for healing. A friend wants to borrow $5.00. You decide you want a new job, and there's one open at work that looks good. The couple next door fight all the time. I really want the weather to be clear for our next outdoor ritual and decide to look at weather magick as an option to standard wait and hope. These are all very common events. Is it OK do just go ahead and do magick for these people? At some point and under some circumstances we limit the magick we will perform. How do we do that honestly, and in such a way that we are certain that our decision was valid? How do we set limits in such a way we are not unnecessarily harsh? These are fellow adults, whom we consider inherently divine. It is within our values never to impose restrictions unless brought to it through necessity.
In the magickal community we have been very careful for years to caution each other not to limit or bring about unwanted actions. "That could never happen, don't say that - don't even think it", "I take it out of the law", "be careful what you wish for", etc. On an instinctive level, we know what we think and say has power. So we caution ourselves, but worry about others. There are cultural prohibitions against speaking outside of our own areas and groups.
Cultural limits are powerful things. When I went to marry, my friends did not warn me that they knew it was a bad idea; they hinted, and then were quiet. When my friend became interested in a woman, I did not caution him that she had been unstable in other relationships. I hoped for the best. We have a cultural prohibition against saying anything bad, even if experience is a strong indicator against allowing the situation to continue. We have to be able to establish a cultural format that allows us to provide information, or at least options, to that which we consider questionable, unfortunate, unlikely to work, or dangerous.
When is it allowable, even honorable, to say no, to refuse to be involved, or to speak the truth even if it is unpleasant? The following guidelines are working rules.
We as honorable individuals can set limits on our endorsement or involvement when the following values may be compromised or involved:
1. When safety issues dictate.
2. When health issues dictate.
3. When public laws would be violated.
4. When it effects a person's community participation negatively.
5. When it interferes with another's preferences or rights.
6. When it does not maximize a person's independence.
7. When it contributes to dependent behavior.
So, let's look at the situations we laid out before: If my friend wants to borrow $5.00 to go out to lunch, no problem. If instead he wants to buy cigarettes, no. I will not lend the money. Why? Health issues, smoking interferes with other's rights and preferences, there might be some safety issues - fires in the forest, that kind of thing. What if he wants the money for drugs? Whoa!!! Right out. Now we can add safety issues, public laws, and community participation; perhaps the drug use would lead to dependent behavior and not maximize independence.
The couple next door - any magick I can do would interfere with their rights and preferences unless they asked for counseling or energy work. The person who is ill - is it OK to do a spell for them? Maybe, maybe not. Does that person want to heal? Did they ask for help? Or are they learning a life lesson of some sort I do not comprehend? Am I interfering with another's preferences if I perform an unsolicited spell, love or otherwise? Yes, absolutely!
These are not the best examples. Only examples that actually apply to your life really make sense. But they give a clue as to how we use the tool. I could offer to listen to my neighbors' problems, give feedback, stand as a friend, but cannot ethically do unsolicited magickal working. If they were to ask, that would be different. OK, let's say we have a teacher who does not want their students to talk to any other covens. Is this ok? No. Not by these standards. It does not maximize a person's independence, it contributes to dependent behavior, community participation is negatively impacted and it interferes with another's rights and preferences. It does not lead to informed choices. And it would violate our standards of valuing free will and independent thought.
Next? You have to wear a tie to work. Yes or No? Yes, this interferes with your rights or preferences, but it's up to you how badly you want to work here. That sounds flippant, but I know several people over the years who refused to take a management job that would have required them to wear a tie, on the grounds that they would not be themselves if they wore a tie. Personally, decorative strips of cloth at the neck might be worth a few more thousand a year. But different things bother people differently.
As with all tools, this is only a tool and can, like a good blade, be used to create or destroy. It is proposed only as a tool to assist our community in making consistent decisions regarding certain preferences, practices or behaviors that concern members of that community. Inherent in our consideration of the rights and obligations of teachers, students and members of the Pagan community is an assumption that those members also are earnest in their responsibilities. These responsibilities include, but are not limited to: offering preferences, maximizing independence, making informed choices, becoming informed, choosing to do for themselves, fulfilling daily responsibilities of living. Types of Magick - OK, so now we have made decisions on how to choose what magick to perform, how to determine if it is ethical, and when to say no. What's next? Timing - When do you perform magick or ritual? Whenever you need it. If you are drawn to the circle, it feels like it is a good idea, you have an urge to indulge in ritual for the Gods, do so. If you need to work on a success spell, if you need to work on general improvement, go ahead. The time to do ritual, is when you need it. There are holidays, some you will observe, some you won't. One year Samhain ritual doesn't appeal, then next year it does. Listen to your inner self, learn to trust it. You are your best resource. In the Holiday area, we discuss the standard Holy Days, and their background. We will also discuss components of such rituals in that section. But for now, we have decided we want to hold a Circle, do Ritual and perform a Spell. Here we will discuss types of magick people use for common purposes. I will not go into details concerning cursing, as that is a negative magick, and not considered generally useful. The only time to use such a thing would be to curse a murderer, rapist, or other criminal, and then, a la Z. Budapest's model (The Grandmother of Time), you curse him by his own will, his own error, his own evil. That may not sound harsh enough for such a criminal, but with a belief system that assumes all are divine, then there must be some overwhelming reasons for negative behavior that we do not understand. There is an underlying belief that this person's inner self, inner-soul wants to get caught, pay for their crimes and be prevented from continuing. Again, that positive paradigm shows through. Curses are not ever a good place to begin. If you are working with someone who wants to start off with negative magick, run, don't walk, as far as you can get. That person is not likely to provide a supportive learning environment if they include such workings in their basic level instruction. So what kind of magick do Witches do? Many kinds. They are sort of quantifiable and I have a list: Sympathetic, associative, creative visualization, and shamanic. Most workings can be tied into more than one category, and frequently more than one type of working is included in a single spell. It is important to remember than within your mind is a symbolic mind, that mind which was there prior to any learning your parents gave you. It is a very instinctive mind, and always looks to the basics: food, pleasure, survival. This mind is not a verbal mind, and we reach it largely through sensory cues such as color, sound, sight and smell. Thus each ritual tends to be performed in a darkened, quiet, area, lit by candles, surrounded by beautiful things, while clothed in unique garb and burning incense. This provides both pleasurable sensory input, and focus on the work at hand. Going through motions includes the physical self, and speaking the spell out loud involved both the right and left brain in the process. The more of your total self you involve in these activities, the better your magick will work. First and foremost, you must decide what it is you want to accomplish, what should happen as a result of your spell. Design your working so that it optimizes meeting your needs without compromising anyone else's path or preferences. Know now how you will carry the energy through following the circle. Know what energies or gods you will call on to assist or donate energy, and decide exactly how you will set up the ritual steps to most vividly illustrate your needs and the consequent results. A spell is a symbolic act done in an altered state of consciousness, in order to cause a desired change. To perform a spell is to use your will, your energy and focus it on the particular outcome or event your wish to bring about. Any or all objects which we use in our ritual spell working is simply an assist to help focus on our goal. These objects should be symbols of great meaning, and speak to our inner mind, the symbolic mind which uses no words. One of the greatest dangers of using many beautiful items, candles, jewelry, athames, wands, etc. is that we tend to forget that these are only to assist and begin to invest importance in the items themselves. That is not the case. The only energy source is you. The items have no more or less power than you grant them. They are not necessary unless you declare it to be so. Do not become so addicted to your ritual items that the absence of any one of them would lessen your focus, your capacity to obtain your goal.
In order to bring about a goal, you might user sympathetic magick. This is the process where similar things have similar effects: like attracts like. This is one of the oldest popular magicks. Cave men threw on a skin and antlered mask and called the energy of the hunter and the hunted into a sacred play to improve the success of their hunt. Development of the Goddess figures was similar in nature. The Goddess figures were of clay, and had exaggerated features of the female sex, large breasts, hips and pronounced vulva. It is believed that these figures were present during a ritual, and members of the social group would copulate. In a culture where birth was such a mystery, and new members could spell continued survival for the group, sex was the ultimate mystery. The tribe would benefit through the fertility and sexual features of the Goddess figure. Working with candles is probably the most common form of sympathetic magick in use today. You might burn a golden candle to encourage success in tomorrow's job interview. You might burn a deep red candle to encourage sexual passion between you and your lover. Perhaps you are concerned about your health - then a green candle would do the trick. The main focus would be to prepare the candle, with an appropriate goal. You might dress it with oil, or more simply, just see yourself as being a success, being intimate with your partner, or being happy and healthy. As you burn the candle, you release that energy into being. You see it as manifesting. Obviously, this is the short and simple version of such a spell, but you can probably get the idea.
Associative magick is very similar to the sympathetic magick. Poppets for success and health are one of the most common forms of associative magick. What happens to this, will happen to that. So, I create a poppet by sewing together two parts of a simple doll-like figure (looks a lot like a ginger bread man). I make the poppet of green for healing, I sew up the edges visualizing each stitch as cementing the spell's success and holding in all the energy we have for our friend in this doll for that person's healing. Then, I stuff it full of herbs that should help with the healing. Sometimes, we write on the doll all that we hope will come to pass - sports, freedom from pain, whatever seems appropriate. If it is more than one person, then the entire group can then charge the doll by focusing their energies into the poppet. After that, the poppet can be given to the person it was intended to assist. As you can see there are many forms of magic involved in even the simplest working. Other forms of association, I keep coins or cash on my altar, to encourage its development. One might put something spelled and gold in a new wallet to encourage wealth. You might put a picture of the house you have always wanted in a box with other items that represent success, to encourage success in that endeavor.
Creative Visualization - most spells are a complex form of creative visualization. This process works not only for those who are involved in the magickal world, but is a profound force in the day-to-day world of many within our culture. The trick here is to bring into focus not just that you want this to happen, but that is has happened and all is now accomplished. Again and again the human psychology has shown that we work best when we can visualize the process and the outcome. Our minds tend to fill in the blanks of what needs to be done when we have established a definite goal and outcome.
Shamanic - entering that other world, that space and bringing back knowledge of personal interaction and sharing it with social group. Shamanic magick is not typically performed by individuals new to the practice. Some magick associated with Shamanic practices, such as performing meditation or vision quest for totem or spirit guides, is common. Within the shamanic belief system, they focus on the attributes and lessons that each animal has to teach. Looking for a focus animal can show what studies or personal development would be appropriate with a spiritual path.
Elemental - calling on the basic powers associated with the elements and blending their gifts in with your needs to provide a solution. This magick can work in more than one way. You can simply work a meditation on the element itself, Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit and explore the depths of what the meditation brings. Or, you can use an element as a focus through which you examine a particular situation in order to provide insight. Thus, you might look at your life through Earth, and examine it for evidence of grounding, sensual aspects, success and growth. If you looked at it through the lens of Water, you might examine your emotions, your development, transitions and transformative experiences. Etc. You may simply want to weave one or more of these elements into another spell or working. If you are working on a spell for a new job, then the Earth for abundance, the Fire for success, etc.
Colors - actually a form of elemental magick. This one is also woven tightly with the Creative Visualization within the process of acting in accordance with your stated goals. Again, using colors within your rituals and spells will assist in showing that inner symbolic mind consistent and meaningful messages related to your goal.
Divination is a mixed sort of magick. There are so many methods of divination, that I cannot address them here. Some of the most commonly used methods are: Tarot cards, Rune stones, Astrology, Numerology, Scrying, Palm Reading and even Tea Leaf reading. As you begin in any of these arts, you will go through many stages before you reach any true level of competence. Divination works even though you are not any good at it, by providing you with information that allows you to figure out what you really think. Let's say you are working with Tarot cards (pronounced tuh row or tear oh - the last `t' is silent) and you have asked it if you will find a new lover soon. And the cards come back all focused on travel or some dark haired woman, when your new lover should be a man. Even this seeming unrelated response has the potential to bring insights to your life. What are your instincts concerning this information? Do you know the cards are wrong? Listen to your intuition. Don't get too caught up in wishful thinking. However, if the reading looked unrelated, but later things seem to be heading in that direction, even though you never would have believed it, keep an open mind.
Thus, divination can provide insights even if the person doing the reading is completely cack-handed at it.
Over time see if you have any consistent skills with a particular type of divination tool. I have always been a fan of making my own Rune Stones. I felt that made them more effective as a tool for me. I also have taken the time to sleep with my crystal ball to allow it to become attuned to my power, my energy. I have carried new decks of tarot cards with me for weeks, and properly consecrated them by ritual before use. However, I am very lax in other areas. It does not bother me if others (most of the time) touch my tarot deck. I have had the deck for years, it knows who I am. I will also allow others to handle many of my ritual items. There are some I will not share, however, and I don't know why I feel that way. I just do. So I am polite, but firm on those issues. And if is always polite to check with others prior to handling their tools.
Magick is a both a process and an expression of our religion and personal power. It is to help, not make miserable. Magick with others can greatly magnify the effects of the combined energy, yet some of the most powerful rituals I have ever had were solitary. This subject is so vast, that although this article is long and only glosses over much of the subject, it is the bare beginnings of study on the subject. But, that is what a Wicca 101 is, a taster, a place of beginning. From this you will decide where you want your exploration to go.