Several years ago, I was asked to provide a recommended reading list for those attending the first meeting of our local Pagan Council. I took to this in a very serious manner. It's not just about what books I felt were good or the authors whose style I enjoy reading; we're talking about books that teach the most, have the most unique voice, and offer insights not found elsewhere. And when I decided that I would make my list only for Intermediate studies (since I was fairly certain the other offerings wouldn't be), well, things really got cooking.
reason that there are so many 101 books on the market is because we all
like to help those who are clueless (they tend to be the most
appreciative) and--quite honestly--writing intro stuff is a cinch.
Think about the differences between discussing addition and
trigonometry. Which one can you illustrate with apples? How long do
you think you'll spend explaining 2+2 versus 2 Sin2X + 2 SinX CosX - 1=
Now I'm not busting on 101 book authors. They do
their thing because not everyone will respond to the same methods, so
new books come out to show old information from a new angle (or to just
put a new coat of paint on it). But being a witch who sees a greater
number of intro books than advanced ones on the shelves every year, I've
grown tired of them even sharing such precious real estate. So, I
chose to dedicate my reading list to those who, like me, had to work
irritatingly hard to find books which would offer useful information in
an accessible way to those who already have spellcasting experience
under their belt.
Naturally, this list became
complex, featuring whole books beside scattered chapters, old grimoires
beside those freshly printed, references for learning the community and
those for learning the practice. But it's all here--the books I feel
that I've learned the most from, the ones that made the greatest impact
on how I use magic and why.
History of Magic, Witchcraft, Occultism and the Neo-Pagan Movement and General Information
Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler
Mastering Witchcraft by Paul Huson
Natural Magic by Doreen Valiente
Witchcraft at Salem by Chadwick Hansen
The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies and Magic by Migene Gonzolez-Wippler
Not in Kansas Anymore by Christine Wicker
Clues, Myths and the Historical Method by Carlo Ginzburg
“Witchcraft and Popular Piety” (pg. 1-16)
“The Theme of Forbidden Knowledge in the 16th and 17th Centuries” (pg. 60-66)
The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton
The Satanic Mass by H.T.F. Rhodes
Secret Teachings of All Ages by Manly P. Hall
Practical Information, Various Types of Magic
Complete Book of Magic and Witchcraft by Kathryn Paulsen
(Excepting the following, due to irrelevance in practical magic --)
“The Rites of Satanism and Witchcraft” (pg. 17-21)
“The Magic Ceremony” (pg. 22-37)
“Divination” (pg. 38-41)
Long Lost Friend by John George Hohman
Crone’s Book of Charms and Spells
} by Valerie Worth
Crone’s Book of Magical Words
The Black Pullet (Author Unknown)
The Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Agrippa
Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic by Catherine Yronwode
The Element Encyclopedia of 5,000 Spells by Judika Illes
The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey
The Anna Riva Books, especially:
The Modern Herbal Spellbook by Anna Riva
Secrets of Magical Seals by Anna Riva
Techniques of High Magic by Francis King and Stephen Skinner
Charms, Spells and Formulas by Ray Malbrough
3: Dolls and Magic
5: Folk Spells and Miscellaneous
Formulas Section (chapters 6, 7, 8, 9)
“Using Psalms for Solving Problems” (pg. 146-148)
The Complete Book of Incense, Oils and Brews by Scott Cunningham
Secrets of Modern Witchcraft by Lady Sabrina
4: Air, Fire, Water, Earth
6: Beneath a Silver Moon
11: The Color of Magic
12: Herbal Lore and Wisdom
13: Treasures from the Earth
14: Objects of Power and Domination
Everyday Magic by Patricia Telesco
1: Magical Boosters, (the sections of) The Winds, Days of the Week, Colors
2: The Gifts of Nature, (the sections of) Trees, Stones
Appendixes A and B
American Folk Magic by Silver Ravenwolf
10: Indigenous Herbs
16: Magical Psalms, Seals
The Magician’s Companion by Bill Whitcomb
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
A Dictionary of Symbols by J. E. Circlot
Self-Help, Mental Exercises
12 Positive Habits of Spiritually Centered People by Mark and Sarah Thurston
The Orange Book by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
The Grimoire of Shadows by Ed Fitch
Part VII: Magical Training
The Satanic Witch by Anton LaVey
Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle
Especially the Devotional Dances
} by Shakti Gawain
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012
Okay, so the title is a little disingenuous. But we will be talking about both the power of luck and the power of the leadership role in the magical community. Just hang in there.
Because I’m a leader, though not quite in the typical business-world sense, I subscribe to a number of not-quite-typical leadership items, including a terrific blog, Leadership Freak (by the inspirational Dan Rockwell).
I mention this because in the past few months I’ve seen many of such blogs clearly apply not only to coven leaders, but other kinds of leaders in the magical community like teachers, parents, elders, authors, and even website and newsletter writers. It’s an odd validation of what we’re doing that our troubles are so like those of other organization builders. And it’s an even greater one that so many of these traditional individuals are willing to share their knowledge with us across the vast expanse of our two mindsets.
What follows is my take on one of the most eye-catching of these informative tidbits. It invokes the blessed name of Good Fortune, which as most witches will agree, is a major part of what we’re all striving to achieve on a daily basis. Good fortune is that kind of constant luck that needs no tending, but simply is a part of who we are. Fortune carries us through difficult decisions and hard times to come out the other side a great deal wiser and with as little dusting as possible. In my professional spellcasting business, besides love and revenge (because I’m an equal-opportunity spellcaster), good fortune is the request on every client’s lips. How happy I was to find the following list describing mundane ways we can build this effect all across our lives, even when we forget our best amulets!
Note: The list belongs to Mr. Rockwell, but I have noted after each how they can be applied to our community specifically. To see the original and a whole lot more, check out:
The Sweet 16 of creating good fortune:
- Stay open. The thing you seek may not be the thing you find.
It’s easy to get a picture in our heads about exactly how an event/group/meeting/etc. should—nay, WILL!—turn out. After all, that’s what we do with much of our magical time, visualize. But, as in spellcasting, with so many variables (read: other wild people with their own wild wills), we need to stay flexible. Have a basic goal and stick to that. If other things crop up (such as major location change for your event or a typically closed ritual featuring tag-along guests), start with damage control and then just roll with the rest. So long as the basic goal stays intact, you’ve succeeded.
- Keep asking questions.
I’m a question-asker by nature, but I’ve also seen how important it can be even if I wasn’t predisposed to it. When we ask questions, we do more than find out what others know. We show interest, raise others’ self-esteem, solve problems without blame, and open the way for creative thought. Before taking on any kind of leadership position, ask a ton of questions:
What’s the group/organization about?
What would I be doing specifically?
Who would work with me?
How long do I have to prepare?
How often would I be called upon to perform my functions?
Who would I be speaking/writing, etc. for and to?
Are there costs or travel involved?
Would I work with other groups/organizations/other leaders? In what capacity?
It’s these kind of questions that help you understand if you actually want to deal with all the different aspects of this proposed position. But they also clarify the job and give the person you’re asking the chance to point out the good qualities and brainstorm how to circumnavigate the bad ones. Only once you have as much information as possible can you make a truly wise decision, and not just one based upon ego or emotion.
- Look for favorable circumstances. People see what they look for.
When there’s a disorderly event, find a way to bring people together. When everyone is arguing, seek something on which they can all agree. There is a way through any forest, but you have to train your eyes to find paths. A calm head keeps us looking for solutions, not problems.
- Set direction and goals; they help you understand favorable winds.
Every step of the way, you should be working towards a goal. To keep the ship analogy, don’t ever sail without a heading. Once you’ve achieved a goal, celebrate it, and then set a new one. Being tossed around by circumstances can only happen when you don’t know where you’re going. Give your group or coven a definite purpose beyond the pleasure of group rituals; set a destination for your writing and art; know what you want to be when you grow up! How many ways can you impact your community—now go make a map to do them!
- Adapt to favorable opportunities that aren’t perfect.
I’ve often said that when I’m trying to accomplish something, my first choice never works as well as my second. You may not have all the money or know-how, you might be short on supplies or help from others, but you can do great things with a little creativity. Stay focused on the rare opportunity you’ve been given to do something important. Don’t give up on the imperfect—it just needs a little molding.
- Keep moving forward even if direction changes.
Again, giving up is never a smart leader’s option. Just like you can’t give up on your kids no matter what, you can’t give up on those you lead in the magical community. Situations are never static, and we need to work around issues as they arise. But don’t let your need for a strong defense keep you from trying to score points! Move on always!
- Prepare for adversity.
Delays, arguments, loss, enemies…they’re out there and they will happen eventually. You need to know what you’ll do when they find you. How do you plan to handle these threats to your goal?
- Embrace turbulence; it opens hearts and minds.
My father always says, “Hard times make good people.” When things are imperfect, people need to band together and bring out their very best. You’ve got to be okay with circumstances that force you to be as good as you can be.
- Let go of failure.
I like watching Yahoo’s “Failure Club” now and again because the message is that no matter what the goal, we’re all driven onward by some hungry, mysterious force and also that we’re all scared out of our wits. But don’t focus on the fear. It’s going to be there no matter what. What’s even scarier is the thought that someday, when it’s too late, we’ll be sitting alone saying “I didn’t even have the guts to try.”
- Talk opportunities. Talking problems elevates and validates them. The more you talk about problems the more problems you see.
Here’s some magical thinking if ever I saw it! Focus on the bad, and bad is all around. Especially since we’re in an entire community of magic-workers, we need to see problems as a new chance to hone our skills and stir up something unexpectedly wonderful.
- Learn from mistakes.
Two quotes come to mind:
1) “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
2) “A smart man learns from his mistakes but a wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
So here’s two sides to the coin. Repeating inadequate actions gets you nowhere, but also that other people can easily model what we don’t want just as easily as what we do. Before making a big change, check around with others and listen to their stories. Plan your best for avoiding their stumbles.
- Push through resistance.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. That is all.
- Disregard convenient activities; do what is right.
There’s usually a huge gulf between what is nice to do (or polite, socially acceptable, safe…) and what is right. Should your group endorse something horrible in order to win more popularity? Should your organization to host a coffee klatch or a conference?
Where are you needed? Be there with no regrets.
- Build a network of friends.
This one should be pretty easy for us witches, since we spend so much of our time in communication. Each of the people you know has his/her own skills and specialties; they each have their own extended circles that don’t coincide with yours at the moment; they’ve undergone their own trials and come out with their own successes. That’s the networking part—we’re each useful to each other in different ways. But the friends part is the most important. People who understand you and your undertaking, who seek your success as much as (if not more than) you do, can do you the greatest favor in any undertaking—they can make it all worthwhile.
- Ask for advice, a lot. Seek out experts and others who share your experiences and vision.
Covered a bit in different sections here, seeking out people who’ve been there will help a lot when you’re not certain what the future will look like. Listen well, write things down, be gracious.
- Express gratitude.
Probably the most important part is to show your appreciation. You had the vision but there were a whole lot of other people who went into your success. Thank them along the way and once you arrive. Thank the Gods and guides. Thank the Earth, thank your ancestors, thank everybody. I thank you.
Bonus: Do your best where you are.
I believe that we should always live below our means and above our station. You can do great things right now, even without the best of everything around you. You can embody greatness right now and impact the lives of those you have yet to meet. If you can see it and go boldly into it, you will have all the good fortune you need and more.