Lessons from Paranorman

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Paranorman tattoo

There are several lessons, both magickal and mundane, to be learned from the 2012 film ‘Paranorman’. The setting, Blithe Hollows, MA, is clearly based off of Salem, MA, with the witch trials and subsequent unjust executions as a central theme. The story follows a boy, Norman, who is ostracized from his community for his interest in the paranormal and his ability to communicate with spirits. The people of his town, along with his own family, bully him relentlessly for being ‘weird’. Like so many in the real world, they are simply afraid of what they do not understand. It is not until he uses his abilities to save the town that people finally celebrate him and his gift.

For those who are deemed ‘normal’ by mainstream society, Paranorman teaches acceptance and respect for those who are deemed ‘weird’. For the purposes of this article, however, I will focus on lessons that can be learned for those who are themselves the ‘weird’ ones.

First, Paranorman teaches self-acceptance. Unique abilities, style, and worldview are gifts that should be embraced. They may even be used to serve the community as a whole by doing something no one else is able to. You should have confidence in yourself and not allow others to dictate how you think or act.

This brings us to the next lesson, forgiveness and understanding. It is important to understand that those who act in a hostile manner toward you because of your differences are doing so only because they are fearful of what they don’t understand. By understanding this, we realize that their actions are often a reflection of their own insecurities, rather than a reflection on you. This understanding can lead to forgiveness. It is important to remember that forgiveness is best when it is done for your benefit. When you forgive, you are releasing negative feelings that do not serve you, such as anger and hatred. In this way, forgiveness is in your best interest, not only in the interest of the other party.

Finally, we learn that it is best to act kindly to others, even if they act unkindly to you. When you treat someone poorly, you are only giving them further reasons to treat you badly. However, when we treat others with unconditional love and kindness, we show them that even though we are ‘weird’, we are not bad people. This is especially important for those of us in the magickal community. There are still many people under the unfortunate and false idea that we are evil devil worshippers. By treating these people kindly, we are showing them that we are good people. We are taking fuel from their fire; their accusations of us being evil become even less reputable when we display acts of love and kindness.

Others, while perhaps not considering us evil, will still consider us weird. It is our job to show them that being ‘weird’ is not a bad thing. It just means that we have our own styles, ways of thinking, abilities, or spiritual practices. Showing these people that while we are different in some ways, we are not dangerous or threatening. We may look and believe differently, but we are still humans who treat others with kindness, and there is no reason to fear us.

This is not to say that we should be pushovers and not stand up for ourselves, quite the contrary. We must remember to be proud of who we are and continue to be ourselves. However, when confronted with hostility, we must combat it with love. Understand that these people are only attacking us because they are afraid of what they don’t understand. Prove to them that you are not a bad person. Fighting fire with fire only burns the whole world; fighting fire with water will eliminate the destructive force and bring peace. Be the water and extinguish the hate with love. And above all, never be afraid to be who you are.

The Magick of Storytelling

About a week ago, I began work on a novel. This will be my most ambitious writing project to date. I hope to have it finished and published sometime this summer (July/August). That is what inspired me to write this article.

Creativity is one of the greatest gifts bestowed upon humanity. Whether it be through artwork, storytelling, or music, we all have the ability to create something original and share it with the world. In this article I will focus on storytelling and explaining just how magickal it truly is.

Writing is the act of creating an entire world in your mind and translating it onto paper. By doing this, we are then able to invite others into this new world. Readers are able to feel a connection to this world and the characters who dwell within it. Sometimes, a story can be so captivating that it changes a person’s life. There are entire lifestyles that have developed from such books and stories. There is true power in creative storytelling.

In the Druid tradition, creativity is considered one of the three goals of the Druid. The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids explains that we should “fully participate in life on earth, and that we are meant to express and share our creativity as much as we can” (www.druidry.org/druid-way/druid-beliefs). One does not need to be a Druid to adopt this philosophy into their life.

Awen is a Welsh word meaning “poetic inspiration” or “the inspiration of the poet bards”. It is traditionally attributed to poets and soothsayers, but is now often described as the inspiration of all creative peoples. It is an important concept of modern Druidry.    2000px-Awen_symbol_final.svg.png

Storytelling is both the expression and sharing of creativity. The expression comes when we create the stories in our minds and then continues when we write those creative thoughts. Sharing occurs when we tell or read our story to another, or when they read what we have written.

Whenever we use our creativity, we are practicing magick. Storytelling is the ultimate form of creative expression. We are creating entirely original thoughts and expressing those thoughts through the art of the written word. We work towards realizing our creative potential and bring others joy in the process. We honor the gods by using their gifts to the best of our abilities. In this way, the stories we tell are indeed very real. Is this not truly magickal?

Protection Magick Spell: Protection from a Harmful Person

The most important thing that needs to be mentioned before we begin is that this is not a spell to bring harm to the person you need to protect yourself from, it is simply to keep them away from you. It is important that you have the intention that this spell be mutually beneficial. To do otherwise is not in accordance with the Wiccan Rede.

Materials Needed

Your regular altar tools (for circle casting, elements, etc.)

Cauldron

Four Thieves Vinegar (Usually apple cider/white vinegar as base with garlic, and sometimes with herbs such as rosemary and sage. Many recipes can be found online)

1 Black Candle

Parchment Paper and Pen

Spell Work

Ideally, this spell should be done during a waning moon, but emergency circumstances may not allow you to wait. If you must, this spell may be done during any moon phase. However, if you can, it is best to wait for a waning moon.

Cast the magick circle. On the parchment paper, write the name of the individual whom you need protection from and set it on the altar. Pour the four thieves vinegar into the cauldron. Place the black candle on top of the paper and light it. Visualize the person as clearly as you can as you watch the candle burn. Say, “In the name of the Goddess and the God, I seek protection from _____. May he/she be prevented from causing me harm. Let this be for the highest good of all, harming none.” With the black candle, light the parchment on fire and allow the ashes to fall into the cauldron, mixing with the four thieves vinegar. Hold the black candle over the cauldron and allow several drops of wax to drip into the mixture. Then snuff out the candle and break it in half, symbolizing your separation from the person. Close the circle.

The next day, dispose of the four thieves vinegar mixture. This should be done outside, but not too close to your house.  (I was lucky enough to live on a 10 acre wooded property, so this was not difficult for me). If you don’t have a large property, simply do this as best you can. You could even let it run down your driveway, as long as it flows away from you. You want to keep this person and their energy away from you.

Finally, dispose of the 2 black candle pieces in two separate locations, far from one another. Again, this symbolizes the separation between yourself and the other person, as well as their inability to get to you and harm you.

Spirit Guide: Gargoyle

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Name: Gargoyle

Element: Earth

Guide, Protector, Guardian

 

 

 

 

Gargoyles, while most associated with gothic architecture and Catholic churches, can arguably be seen in ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Celtic civilization. Churches traditionally used them as water spouts and to keep evil spirits at bay. They serve a similar purpose in Pagan traditions.

The gargoyle is both a protector and guide. They keep negative energy from entering the home and magick circle of those who welcome their presence and who they have chosen to act as a protector to. They work to protect you from both physical and spiritual danger. Their element is earth, and are therefore very grounded, deliberate, and careful in their actions. They may sometimes appear to be moving and acting slowly, but this is their nature as contemplative beings. They rarely act hastily, usually acting only after they have deliberated and found the best course of action that will be for your highest good. They are very competent and loyal, so you can always be sure that they will stand by your side and complete their tasks in due time.

As a guide, the gargoyle will provide information on difficult situations. They act as counselors leading you to find the best course of action at times when difficult decisions must be made. They also act as loyal friends, letting you know they are ever present and will protect you from any danger you may encounter in the situation you find yourself in. On the lighter side, they are not always somber and serious. In my experience, gargoyles have even been known to crack jokes, and don’t always prevent those pesky dwarves and gnomes from messing with your belongings, and may even join in on the fun.

If you are lucky enough to be chosen by a gargoyle, know that you have a competent protector, a wise guide, and loyal friend.  Little is written about gargoyles on most Pagan sites, and some even shy away from them because of their association with the Roman Catholic Church. If you are approached by a gargoyle, acknowledge and embrace them, and you could be led to a very rewarding relationship.

A Word on Catholicism

Catholics are often criticized by many groups, including Pagans, atheists, and other Christian sects. The reason for this seems to stem from the idea that Catholics are particularly strict and repressive. But is it really fair to label them as such. In this article, we will examine why it may not be wise to put Catholics under particular scrutiny.

First, a personal background. I was raised Catholic. I went to Catholic school for nine years (Kindergarten-8th grade). However, my family were not strict Catholics by any means and completely accept my path as a Wiccan. They sent their kids to Catholic school mainly for the idea that it was a better education. The school I went to was also fairly liberal. Some of my fellow students were openly gay or atheist, and were for the most part accepted. We also partook in the same shenanigans as any other school-aged kids. Looking back, I do believe I received a very good education and am thankful for my time spent there.

A common belief about Catholics is that they are particularly repressive when compared to other groups. However, there really is not much truth to this. A Catholic priest will never hold a mass where he condemns homosexuals or nonbelievers to hell. He will also never command parents to beat their children for disobedience or as a method to ‘break their will’. Other Christian sects, particularly evangelicals and Baptists, do in fact support such radical and dangerous ideas.

I have never been told by a Catholic that I am going to hell, whereas I have lost count on how many times I’ve been condemned by protestants. In fact, a true Catholic knows that they do not have the authority to make such a claim. Not even the Pope can say if a particular person or group will go to hell. The true message of the Catholic Church is love and compassion, as opposed to the fire and brimstone message of many protestant sects.

The criticism that Catholics receive is not wholly earned. It is based off of many preconceived notions that for the most part are simply untrue. I do not share their theological beliefs, but I can respect them as a group that does not preach hate or eternal damnation. As I often say, IF I was a Christian, I’d be a Catholic.

Expanding Consciousness Through Symbolism: Ants

As anyone who practices Magick is well aware, symbolism is a very powerful tool. Spells and rituals employ a wide range of symbols to charge and direct energy. Today I will demonstrate how we can expand our consciousness through symbols and our associations with them.

Oftentimes when reading books on spirituality, or in other areas such as psychology, a list of symbols will be presented and we are asked to give a list of things or ideas that we associate with that symbol. In this article I will focus on a symbol that at first may seem peculiar, the ant.

When asked what one associates with ‘ant’, many will say such things as ‘small’ and ‘insignificant’. They may think that because the ant is so small compared to them, that it is essentially meaningless and holds no great power. I will argue that this view is flawed, and by looking deeper into the symbolism of the ant, one can expand their perception of the world.

Although ants are indeed small in size (at least when compared to ourselves or other, much larger animals), this does not mean that they are simple or insignificant. Ants are in fact complex beings with their own functioning society, or colony. Colonies can be small with only a few dozen members, or very large with millions of members. No matter their size, ants work with one another to make their communities thrive. They will skillfully coordinate with one another, leading other worker ants to food, or alerting others to danger, such as to a group of ants from another colony or an animal who may be there looking for food. They also work together to build their colonies, which often include a complex, practical tunneling system. By doing these things, ants are able to create a thriving society, just as humans do.

As we can see, ants are far from being mindless beings who wander around aimlessly until death. Much can be learned from recognizing this. By appreciating the complexity of something that we may otherwise view as insignificance, our perception of the world widens. We acquire a deeper respect for the world around us and everything that it is made up of.  This can be applied to all areas of our lives. By understanding that things are much more significant than they appear to be on the surface, we expand our conscious understanding of the universe and everything in it.

 

Meditations for Sleep & Dreaming

Dreaming is a wonderful way to explore higher realms of consciousness. For thousands of years, various cultures have been aware of the power of dreams and the insight that they provide. Here I will share with you a few meditations to enhance your dream-life. The foundations for these meditations come from Penney Peirce, an influential teacher in both dreams and spirituality. These meditations are meant to be done just before going to sleep.

Meditation I: Dream Temple

In ancient Greece, dream temples were erected as places where pilgrims could travel to. They would meditate and fast before dreaming, and then have their dreams interpreted by a Shaman. In this meditation, we will visualize such a pilgrimage as a way of enhancing our dreams.

Close your eyes and become centered. Imagine yourself in a calm desert or a grassy meadow, whichever you like. Out in the distance is a temple, with a white glow surrounding it. Make your way towards the temple. As you get closer, you see more and more detail. Your dream temple can look however you wish it to. Perhaps the walls are stone carved with various symbols, or are made of exquisite marble. A gargoyle may reside above the door, keeping any negativity from entering. It is somewhere you will feel calm, relaxed, and safe. You approach the door to speak to the dream guardian. Tell him your intentions for dreaming tonight. Perhaps you seek insight for a problem you face or would like guidance in a certain area of your life. Maybe you simply wish to go on an adventure in an exotic land. Focus on your intention as you relate it to the dream guardian. If you are sincere, he will allow you to enter the temple. The interior of your dream temple can look however you wish it to. Perhaps it is decorated with flowers, fountains, or statues. Most importantly, it is somewhere you can relax. Inside, there are priests and/or priestesses who are there to assist you in tonight’s journey. There is also a bed in your temple, the most comfortable bed imaginable. Before lying down on the bed, the priests/priestesses bless you with sage to clear any residual negative energy. They then guide you to your bed. As you lie in your bed completely relaxed, they anoint you with essential oils. Again, tell your intentions for dreaming to the priests/priestesses. They will help to manifest them. Focus on your intention as you drift off to sleep.

Meditation II: Energy Orb

This is a simple, yet very powerful visualization exercise. In your hands, imagine a ball of pure energy forming. Now that the orb of energy has formed, focus on your intention for dreaming. Feel the intention moving from your hands into your energy orb. Once this is accomplished, take your ball of energy and put it into the back of your head. The energy that you have charged with your intention has now been put directly into your mind. It will manifest itself in your dreams tonight.

Meditation III: Dolphin Raft

Dolphins are an animal commonly associated with dreams. In this meditation, the dolphin will assist us with our dreaming.

Imagine yourself floating on a raft on the ocean or a large lake. The water is still and calm. Dolphins emerge from the water and pull your raft out to the middle of the ocean/lake. Focus on you intentions for dreaming as the dolphins surround your raft. While you sleep, they will dive into the depths of the ocean/lake to bring hidden information and insight to you in your dreams. Lie on your raft, completely comfortable and relaxed, and drift off to sleep. Trust that the dolphins will assist you in your dreams.