Nornorniel did a thing. 😀
Never blow out a candle or you blow away the magick. This was something all little, new baby witches were taught when I was coming up as a youngster. Growing up there were countless frustrations as I imagined I’d ruined a ritual completely by blowing out my candles at the end. Blowing out candles has such joyful, childlike association for me that I couldn’t stop myself from doing it. Then I’d have a meltdown after I did and remembered I wasn’t supposed to. Who doesn’t like blowing out birthday candles? Who doesn’t like controlling something with only the invisible force of their breath? At the time I didn’t question the instruction, but little by little over the years I’ve come at that from a completely different angle.
Breath is life.
Breath, divine breath, wakes up life.
When you’re making a gris-gris bag you breathe life into it, wake up the spirit of the bag, depending on how you make one, of course. They’re not as strong if you don’t.
Your breath is magic. When I blow out a candle I don’t see it as blowing away the magick, but rather using my breath to spread my intention into the universe. I’m adding to the magick. In my mind’s eye I’m spreading the gossamer strands of my intention far and wide with my breath, especially with ritual magick. Of course, there are times I don’t blow out candles. When I don’t want to sacrifice any of my life energy to an endeavor I don’t, but normally if something is worth doing on the magickal front it’s worth me putting any energy I can into it.
Like all magick though, if you just can’t get the idea that you’re blowing away the magick out of yoru head when you blow out candles you’re using in a ritual or for devotional purposes you probably shouldn’t do it. You program your intentions with your thoughts. That’s why mental control is such an integral part of witchcraft in general.
Listen, darling girl, to the words I give you now.
These boxes you try to build around Me will never contain Me –
I am more than your mind can grasp.
I will wear a thousand faces, come to you with a thousand names
if need be, if it will make you see.
We are not strangers, you and I –
why then must you keep yourself from Me?
Listen to the words whispered in your heart,
listen to the love burning through your veins,
listen to the birdsong as the sun now rises and remember Me.
I am here, as I have always been,
but you will not see Me.
I have no temples in this world but those built
in the hearts of My Lovers.
The ground is warm beneath My feet,
the wind dances through My fingers,
and I have nowhere but your hearts.
Make a home…
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Okay. Appropriation. I want to have a discussion, and here’s a thought I seem to always have when the topic comes up. As an American, everything I have is appropriated. I have not a single thing that I can claim as unique cultural heritage found only in my birth land that belongs to “my people”. The language I use-English, is an obvious place to begin. I learned Spanish. I’m not Latina. Therefore, by the broad scope of appropriation, I’ve just bungled. English itself is a mash up of other languages. I use it every day and I don’t bother giving a wit about the words that aren’t English. I don’t know the history of the words and I use them with impunity. I speak therefore I appropriate. I guess you can argue that my ancestors, or at least some of them, brought the language along with them, but some of my ancestors didn’t speak English, it was forced on them. So, am I now practicing some strange form of forced appropriation? Is there a term for that?
I’m not Native American, …or at least not ONLY Native American (I believe I would be about 1/8 native American. My Great Grandmother was the ancestor in question.), so if I try to immerse myself in that culture I wasn’t raised in it can be considered appropriation. I haven’t, but I like learning about it, and I’ve occasionally thought I’d like to use some terms here or there in my spiritual practice, though I don’t out of shear laziness. It takes more time to explain something unusual than use common lexicon. I use sage-sage bundles, which are native American in origin, without knowing much about the traditional use for them. I don’t feel bad about it and I don’t know that most pagans would. I rather think of it as a tool l’ve acquired that works. Should I research it? Probably. Nothing but good would come of it. However, I’m extremely thankful for the people who came before me and realized Sage was awesome.
Because of my mixed genetic background I can say I feel free to work with any number of deities, but I wasn’t really raised in any of the backgrounds they “come from”, such as the Norse pantheon I work with now. I’m not part of the Asatru bandwagon that thinks we should only work with deities we’re blood tuned for (*cough*racisist undertones*cough* Excuse me.), but then isn’t that what the abhorrence of appropriation is all about? Don’t raid other people’s cultures for your own benefit, willy nilly. I wonder how America’s Buddhists feel about this? Either it’s okay for me to research and come to something respectfully and use it in my practice or work with deities that want to work with me, or it isn’t.
For example, most Americans almost look on Greek and Roman mythology as our own. It’s very intrinsic to our culture, at least educationally, yet, it isn’t ours. Is it appropriation if Persephone wants to work with me (I’m not Greek) if She’s decided to work with me? In some ways the entire idea of appropriation spiritually is just farcical. Some aspects of appropriation seem to negate the idea of free will on behalf of deities or the fact that some ideas simply don’t exist in other cultures. Isn’t making up new words for an idea, such as two spirit people for example, more disrespectful than simply using the original term? I realize bigender is more academic, but there was already a name for that. Maybe I’m just being a jackass and maybe I just don’t get it, but much like the rest of American culture, spiritually, there just isn’t anything unique that I can lay claim to without “appropriating”. We don’t have many things that are uniquely our own aside from Phili cheese steaks, the Liberty Bell, and arguably, pop culture deities that originate in the States. Voodoo, I suppose, but wouldn’t that still be appropriation? Thoughts? Should I just let this go? I think that people who come from countries with their own deities and cultures get more hung up on appropriation than Americans do, in general, because of this stuff.
Americans don’t have anything that we haven’t stolen.
I don’t have much to add of my own on this subject, other than as a person with native American ancestry I find this ridiculously fascinating.
Have some neat links!
Rumi was a 13th Century Sufi Mystic. Until today, the most acquaintance I had with his work was the occasional meme on facebook. You know the type I’m talking about: there’s some sort of inspiring natural background-a fly over the Grand Canyon at sunrise perhaps, and then a poem or pronunciation about life that makes you feel smugly superior for having read it, or maybe completely insignificant. I was in Barnes and Noble, banished there by my husband to “buy a few books”, which sort of made my gut churn because we rarely have enough extra money for things like that, but right now we’re okay. So, I go and I’m aimlessly wandering around, resolving not to buy anything except maybe something for the kids—because that’s something I can justify to myself— and I get that tickle… that tickle in the back of my thought area that I generally associate with Loki, but well, maybe it was someone else. I’m not sure. I’m guessing it was probably Loki though. I find myself wandering near the Eastern Religion section when a song I deeply associate with Himself comes on the sound system (it was Take Me to Church by Hozier for anyone who cares), and I can’t take my eyes off this book of Rumi’s poetry. Then I get the shooing hand motion type urge rolling over me. The “go on, pick it up already”. Okay, okay. So I do. The first poem I flip to, of course:
In love, ask for madness
Give up reasoning, give up life
Look for dangerous adventuresI
In deserts filled with blood and fire!
Okay, thanks Loki. Yes,
I’LL BUY THE DAMNED BOOK ALREADY, of course my Sweetest Friend, if you insist. I get home with it and begin to idly flip through, and as I’m reading the book—and I start with the forward because I can’t not read the forward even when it’s twenty pages of boring nonsense— I’m struck by the description of what the poems are from the scholar who was tapped to write it. They’re “intoxicated expressions of love and longing for unity with the immortal Beloved.” (Farzad, Rumi’s Little Book of Life) (Yes, beloved with a BIG B.)
…okay. Okay, so Loki (Maybe. I’m just not sure where that came from.) picked an interesting book. About four poems in it became clear that Rumi was at the very least a Beloved of a God and possibly, I would take it as far as a Godspouse. Here are a few poems that I took as support of that idea. (So, to be clear, yes, I’m talking about historical support for the idea of Godspouses, or at least devotion that is something like it outside of the Indian religious setting.)
These aremy main “proof poems” for the idea.
This first poem downright gave me chills. I so know these emotions.
All are satellites around You, the suns
And planets have entered your orbit.
Beloved, am I the seeker or the sought?
Until I am I, you are another.
There is no place for “You” and “I” in unity.
Let no feet remain that lead us to thorns
Let no heads remain that lead us to denial.
There is water flowing in the middle of the stream
And water frozen on the banks
One is swift, the other stagnant.
Be aware, swift one, or you too may freeze.
It is the sun that transforms stones into gems,
It is the sun of eternal love shining in your heart
That stirs it into service and leads it to mastery.
The king covers the falcon’s eyes so it can detach
From its own kind and gaze only at his face.
Misguided is the one who takes his gaze
Off the Beloved and turns toward another.
A food give up Christ to buy a donkey
The wise man sells his donkey to follow Christ.
Seek the light beyond the light of day and night
Beyond judgement, the light bestowed by God.
Leaving the darkness we are the moonlight
Returning to the moon, for the trust is
To Him we shall all return.
Now, of course, that is chock full of Jesus stuff, but I can read around that to see the core of the feelings there and I was deeply touched, but something a little more visceral is what convinced me that this “mystic” was a little more the brand of mystic I’m familiar with. Give me something that shows the Humanity of the Divine and the Divine in the Human and I’ll generally follow along and at least listen to what you have to say.
One day you will see me sprawled in the tavern
My turban pawned, my prayer rug stained with wine.
Intoxicated with the teasing kiss of my Beloved.
I see his curls dancing on the palm of my hand.
Rested, he is tempting me to stay awake
And fest with him till dawn.
How blessed I am that this charmer entices my spirit away from this world.
That last line got me. How many of us who have worked closely with divinity haven’t felt that way from time to time?
I was jumping around in the book, and this last poem gave me pause as it’s kind of the “mystic’s truth”.
Questioning cannot unravel the secret of truth
Nor giving away your wealth and position.
Mere words do not exalt the heart
Pain is the price that the heart has to pay.
There are so many more fantastic poems in this book. I’d like to honestly post the entire book (I rarely suggest books, but Rumi’s Little Book of Life is totally worth the buy, even if you just like good poetry.), but here’s another one that kind of slapped me upside the head.
Wordly goods and your body are like snow
Melting into nothing, but to you
The snow seems better because you doubt.
Your precious opinions thirsting for certainty
Cannot fly to the Garden of Truth.
As opinion acquires knowledge and progresses further
It begins to emanate the scent of certainty.
Fancy is born of opinion,
Vision and intuition from certainty.
Since I tasted the sweetness of the Beloved
I became a seer, my feet do not tremble,
I do not walk like the blind,
I step boldly toward my spiritual hoe.
What the Beloved whispered to the rose
Making her blossom, He said to my heart
And made it a hundred times
Well, is it just me? I mean, I’m totally convinced that this mystic had some sort of extremely deep connection with his chosen divinity that seems more like an intense devotional practice that reminds me of nothing so much as Godspousery or…well, whatever the hell I do. I don’t have a good name for it. My practice is a living one, but I’m not traditionally monastic. Thoughts for another time, I suppose.