Friday, May 1, 2009

In Between

After reading a book of essays Researching Paganisms (edited by Blain, Ezzy and Harvey) yesterday, I posted about Reclaiming. The Reclaiming tradition can be loosely labeled Feminist Wicca. The first part of my post, regarding them being out of balance, bothered me. So, I took a walk, thought about the issue and continued writing. This space is about working on magick and spirituality. I do my best to post the good, bad and ugly with as little personal editing as I can.

I've spent the day thinking about my initial reaction to reading about Reclaiming and how I've viewed them for a long time.

My introduction to organized occult work was through Alexandrian Wicca. I didn't do very well but it is amazing how much attitude I picked up from that group. One such attitude was a distaste for Starhawk and her ilk, even as I participated in some of Reclaiming's public rites. Someone in the Alexandrian group would make some comment about Reclaiming and I'd reply, "Yeah but, their Samhain ritual was really interesting and educational." I also liked freezing my naked ass off during the solstices on a San Francisco beach.

Even without the Alexandrian group's influence, I'd likely have had issues with Reclaiming as a ceremonial magician. A Golden Dawn neophyte hall has six floor officers plus a sentinel, who is technically not in the temple. Those six officers embody three male and three female god forms. There is nothing I like doing more than being an officer in a Golden Dawn style neophyte hall. There is a sublime beauty to it all and I deeply respect any candidate going through that, for they are voluntarily embarking upon a very difficult journey. That candidate is being introduced to balance the moment s/he enters the hall. So, my perceived imbalance of goddess only spirituality comes from my training tradition. 

However, one of the things I've learned in doing magick is that the in between places matter. Magick performed between night and day (dusk and dawn) can be particularly effective. Magick done at a cross roads (between ways) is very traditional for a reason. Some meditations have the seeker focus on the space between the inhalation and exhalation. If you want to effect a mundane situation, wait until it is already morphing (in any direction) and then hit it with magick.

With theurgy and, I suppose, thaumutergy where does the greatest change to the magician happen? Change occurs during that moment of the ritual when the mage has expended every last bit of will, every emotion, every thought. Change occurs at the very point the last bit of energy leaves the magician. This is why he seals the work immediately and keeps the power from flashing back. He is, for an instant, void, empty. He is 'in between'. It is here the Universe works whether that impact is known immediately or at some future point. 

I've always disparaged Reclaiming because of their imbalance but let us look again. If the participants perceive the world as so patriarchal (male glorification) that they are diminished and then enter a space where the feminine is glorified all out of proportion, they must undergo transition into and out of each state. They force themselves 'in between'. Here is where the Universe works its magick. They are seeking the in between, the void space between their own perceptions of gender. What a wonderful place to be.

I've always disparaged Alexandrian Wicca because they have a tradition of the younger serving the older. Neophytes get water for the 1st degrees. The 1st degrees have to do it for the seconds, unless there is a neophyte around. The neophytes do the dishes prepare the food etc. They are treated very much like unpaid disrespected busboys and waitresses. The flip side is that magick does teach power. An Alexandrian Wiccan circle is a very powerful place to be. The transition between being some one's bitch and that place of power is another 'in between'. Perhaps their adherents need that particular space. I know why they tell you they have that tradition and it doesn't wash. Being in between makes more sense. 

I know enough of an OTO group to know that you'll find the long time high ranking members in the kitchen doing the cooking and cleaning side by side with the newest members. As an outsider, I value them for that. It shows they feel no 'better' than a newbie. Yet, maybe too, this is another in between. For the higher ranking members run the show in the hall and just a moment before and a moment after, they are doing the mundane tasks of feeding people. This is very fitting with the gnostic mass where the priest begins asking "who am I do to these things? I am just a man," or words to that effect.

Right now, I am in between. I needed the rigid rites of a ceremonial magician. I needed a 'proven and teachable' system of magick. I need a trusted teacher and mentor. The Universe provided these things. I needed a rigid moral standard of theurgy (which was my own moral standard not my mentor's or the Golden Dawn's). Now, I'm learning to deal with Pan. Rigid he is but not in the same way, if you know what I mean. Now, I'm learning thaumaturgy. Now, I'm learning to trust my intuition. But I'm learning those things. I am not there yet. I am 'in between' and it is a wonderful place to be.


Jow said...

*snicker* May we all be so Rigid, well into old age!

Gordon_Finn said...

>>I've spent the day thinking about my initial reaction to reading about Reclaiming and how I've viewed them for a long time.

It is one thing to do practices and have feelings to counter and cancel out sensations within yourself that are generated and are adversly efecting your day-to-day life.

It's another to say that God can't be a guy, it's gotta be a girl and stupidly think that this change is gonna be of some ultra effective importance. Rigidity is one thing, it's another to say outright that there is no way it can be another, despite what logic and reason say can be. It's the same with emotions and just because someone is feeling a particular emotion, that they can't be wrong to feel that way. Being more emotional (man or woman) doesn't mean logic is thrown out the window. Emotions are till based on logic. They have an underlying reasoning. That's why the power empathy can be used for telepathy. Emotions are thoughts wrapped in an emotional context. Emotions are not devoid of thoughts.

All it is is doing what you don't like from the other side of the asile. It follows the idea that separate is equal. Separate is never equal. Separate is always different. In some cases, this is good. This kind of Wicca is not. Female or male chauvinist magick systems.

In english, 'he' is a placehodler for both men and women. Even if one doesn't want to use 'he', 'they' is also appropriate when you don't know the person's gender. And, when speaking of a creator deity, that being is often a combination of many things. 'They' would definately be appropriate, since it is more an egregore than an individual.

To understand deity in its truest sense, thinking you've got to do what the other side is doing is not gonna let you reach that. It's a problem of the ego that thinks deity should be molded to fit our own personal problems. Deity is what it is. To think that we can slap our own insecurities and faults on it just because we want to be stupid doesn't make it an aspect of said deity.

It's pathetic and dishonors deity because it is not what is true. Not only does being honest with ourselves and our own motivations makes us more effective as magickians, it also honors deity and builds up our relationship with it, even if one doesn't want to believe in a particular creator.

I'm reminded of the 3 fold law in wicca that some follow, wiccans or not. If you want to believe in the 3 fold law, honoring deity with truth and not lowly ego bullshit, you get honored yourself 3 times as much as what you honor deity with.

It's a sad day when people can't even understand the laws they want to follow and allow themelves to be blinded so willingly.

Lavanah said...

I have always been astounded at the vitriol (in the common dictionary meaning) that is directed at Reclaiming. It has never been my path, but Reclaiming has always been upfront about its motives and the reasons for the public rituals-to attempt to create balance with the current public cultural paradigm.

Speaking of emotional,Gordon, you sound rather threatened by the whole idea of a Goddess/female based system. Is there a reason for that?

The Scribbler said...

I have lived with firm belief in an androgynous father/mother god for most of my life now. I have troubles understanding how anyone, once they've really searched inside themselves for the answer, could come to any other conclusion than that at the highest level of reality, gender disappears. So, it's ultimately healthy to see discussions like this to remind me that everyone doesn't see things that way.

Gordon_Finn said...

>>Speaking of emotional,Gordon, you sound rather threatened by the whole idea of a Goddess/female based system. Is there a reason for that?

No, I'm not threatened by these types of systems. I just don't like stupidity. Thinking that the idea that calling a supreme deity 'she' instead of 'he' is gonna be a world of difference and thinking the ultimate creator god must be a woman/female (a singular, material designation) is stupidity.

Jow said...

Having an SO who is Reclaimist, Feminist, and Dianic, has helped me have a small small window into the thinking.

People get mad at Reclaiming, essentially for not being what they want it to be. It's like being mad at oranges for not tasting like apples. From what I understand a lot of Reclaiming is very reletive. It's not about digging up some great facts and figures from an acheology site. It's about finding what is true and relevant to you RIGHT NOW.

The name says it all: Reclaiming. "You took this from me, I am taking it back. You cannot tell me what it means or how to use it, because it's mine."

Folks in Feri, Reclaiming, and the Dianic trads tend to not be what people think they should be.. and that is kinda the point. They aren't bowing to an outside, imposed definition. They are walking twix't and tween, sideways and crooked. They also tend to be really involved in social justice issue, charity, human rights, and making the world a better place right now, where ever they are.

As for the pronoun debacle, as the saying goes, "We see God not as He is, but as we are."

Honestly, I don't see a problem with calling to God in whatever name, pronoun, or form that calls back to you. It's like relating to another person, and some bits we can't relate to, but the parts we can are those parts that we form strong bonds with, and the rest we learn to understand from interacting with those bonds we formed.

If someone can't relate to male diety at all, that's cool.. they can totally say God is a woman. No skin off my ass.

If they say God is a woman and I am wrong for having a view that is different than theirs, I'll simply compliment them on what they are wearing, or their hair, maybe offer to buy them another drink, and just not engage.

Because it's still no skin off my ass. That person has found what they need, right now, and hopefully they are becoming better, more healed, and more whole for it. Maybe they will see things differently in a few years.. maybe not.

The unfortunate thing about getting into a pissing contest with someone is that the whole room eventually smells like piss.