Wednesday, December 10, 2014

30 Days of Deity Devotion: Day 12

Places associated with this deity and their worship.

In the trees, my body is free

In the forest, I know my power

Away from the walls of men, my heart is free

In the wild air, my mind grows sharp

In the tree tops, my spirit flies

On the mountain, She is with me

I can see the trail in front of me

I am wild, eternally.

-Tanaria, copyright 12/10/2014

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Yoga Magic

When we work magic, there are basic elements present in most every working. First, there must be clear intent. Then, energy must be raised and applied to the working. Lastly, the working is released. This is, of course, a simplification and distillation of a very complex subject.

Today I want to talk about ways to raise energy for magical work using techniques from Yoga. Yoginis and witches should, in theory, have some overlap in their skill sets. Both traditions include breath control, chanting, meditation, mudras and visualization.

But to be honest, the most detailed and disciplined information I have about almost all of these things has come to me through my studies in Yoga. The current members of my coven also have more experience with Yoga than they do with magic as we Pagans know it, though they're really one and the same.

At our first ritual, we used pranayama to raise energy for our working. This was extremely effective. Click through the link to see details. I mention in that post that I doubt the yogis of old used the Breath of Fire in quite this way. But who knows? Magic is simply directing energy with will toward a desired end. The yogic texts are not clear on the goals of the practitioners beyond spiritual bliss. I'd love to know, truth be told. To what end all the meditation and energy raising? Is it simply to increase health and longevity? Or is there more to the story?

This weekend's full moon found us chanting to raise energy. Chanting is a great example of overlap between witchcraft and Yoga. I could easily have chosen a pagan chant, but…confession time. Many of them make me feel faintly ridiculous. Perhaps it's the fact that they're in English. Anyone else out there feel that English doesn't lend itself to spiritual topics well? In addition to the words, Yogic chants utilize sounds effectively - vowels are drawn out, for example. The technique of chanting in Yoga is, I feel, part of why it works. Whatever the reason, a mantra to Ganesh felt most appropriate that night - Aum Gan Ganapatye Namah. This mantra is great for new ventures as it calls upon Ganesha's obstacle removing powers. Surely one can apply these techniques to Pagan-themed words. Had I prepared in advance, I surely could have found an appropriate deity and come up with something. A project for later!

One area that I have had a lot of success in merging Yoga with Pagan belief is in asana (physical postures). I have written several themed Yoga classes using physical poses for devotion to Pagan deities. Artemis was first - this one was so easy. I used postures appropriate to Her, like Bow Pose. Whether or not the poses are specific to the deity or to the theme, one can dedicate any physical Yoga practice to Deity. Sun salutations were designed to salute the sun, who the Hindus greet as Surya. We might relate to the sun as Helios, Apollo, or Lugh. Insert appropriate Deity and go for it!

There is so much more to explore. I have been consciously creating a system of Pagan Yoga, but until recently, I hadn't thought of altering ritual work with Yoga techniques. That has happened organically and I find it fascinating. We aren't your typical coven, that's for sure. Be ready to move…and bring your Yoga pants.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Rune Song

Working with the runes has been a part of my practice since the beginning. But in the last year, my study of them has grown far deeper and richer, thanks in part to my awesome study group (three years of awesomeness and going strong!). We just finished up about eight months of rune study focused on Freya Aswynn's book, Northern Mysteries and Magick: Runes & Feminine Powers. Next year, we will work through Diana Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.

Sidebar: working with a spiritual study group is a powerful practice and one that supports your own journey in beautiful and unexpected ways. If you get a chance, try it!

One thing I have not conquered so far is the ability to recite all the Elder Futhark at once in the traditional order. The ability to do so is important in magical workings. I'm excited to use it for creating sacred space, for example. I'd also like to use it in meditation and in my practice of Yoga.

Taking Up the Runes helpfully contains a song of the Futhark. An ABC song, if you will. As the resident musician in the study group, I was asked to learn it. This suits me as I'd planned to do so anyway. This led to a hilarious few days in which I learned the simple melody and then giggled endlessly about it. It's curiously mournful. In fact, it reminds me of black metal music.

To help others learn the song, I recorded it. Initially, I was just going to share it with my study group. But in one of those synchronicities that reveal our path to us…Facebook will not upload and share an mp3 file. So I had to convert it to video and post it on Youtube. Which made me realize I need to start my own channel. Hurray!

Anyhoo. Back to the rune song. It's firmly stuck in my head, and after just a few days…I can recite all the runes! The act of singing them with a melody was what I needed to get over the hump of memorization. Belatedly, I seem to recall that this is a technique people use. Spoiler alert: it works!

So take a listen and see what you think. Can you hear some power chords and spooky organ music with it? I can. Stay tuned…that might happen!

May this help you on your own rune journey. And please, like, share and subscribe as the Youtubers say!