Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day Five: Magic, Spellcraft, Mysticism

Magic is intrinsic to every element of my path. Within Heathenry, there's the option to explore magic or leave it. Personally, despite having magic in the other half of my practice to indulge in, I'm nevertheless really interested in Nordic magic. Galdr - singing magic - and rune work in particular fascinate me. I've always loved singing and do it pretty much every day, whether I realise I'm doing it or not. That magic can itself be worked just with the voice is wonderful - though, there aren't a great deal of sources on it that I'm aware of, and most people restrict themselves to singing the names of runes. I don't know whether any galdr songs actually survive. The runes are massive, beautiful powers in themselves and, sort of more importantly, Mysteries - for this reason I think they're pretty important for any Heathen to study, even if s/he doesn't plan on using them. What they are and what they have to teach is more important to me than what I can do with them, but I can't deny that they might be incredibly useful.

The other half of my practice is a form of religious witchcraft. The energies around me, and connecting to and using these energies, is an essential part of what I do and, for that matter, who I am. I've been doing some form of that since I was a child and I genuinely can't imagine a life not being aware of my own energies and energies around me. Spellcraft specifically isn't something I bother doing all that often, but in some ways the way in which we prefer to cast spells tells us a lot about our craft. Me, I'm most happy with a piece of string or a pen and paper. Little, basic objects I have around me often. Folk and sympathetic magic, mostly. I don't actually know any witch who casts a spell more than once in a while, but they've all researched spellwork enough to feel comfortable doing it, and are able to write their own spell in a way that's best for them and in a sense a reflection of their craft. So in that sense, spellcraft is important as an element of any form of witchcraft.

Then we have ecstasy and other-world travelling. The Nordic form of this practice is seidhr, but I feel on less solid ground here... I don't know whether I could, or should, call anything I do "seidhr". So I leave the term alone, and refer to my practice as "Walking the Hedge" for the most part. Whether it's magic or whether it's mysticism or whether it's both at once, it's a very large part of who I am and what I do. I don't even go a-Walking all that often, and yet it still plays a large part in my practice. The fact that I can do it when I need to or want to is a solid reassurance, and I've gone on Walks with gods that were massively illuminating and very personal. I've "fixed" myself, or rather, sought the aid of spirits to fix myself, when I was not so much "broken" as no longer functioning.

Mysticism isn't a word I personally use all that often. I think it's a hangover from my looking into occultism as a child - I've always associated it with men with long beards and with the armchair magician: reading a lot, but never doing or feeling. But that's a prejudice I should get over. Mysticism is a word derived from the Greek, referring to an adherent of a mystery religion. Whether my religion is a mystery religion I don't know - mysteries are a primary means of learning, but the means of obtaining those mysteries isn't standardised. But, that sense of driving forward seeking wisdom, knowledge, gnosis and the gods is very much a part of my Hedgecraft. It's a way of connecting with the gods, or that connection itself, and of snatching at bits of wisdom in the shadows. Gnosis, learning of Mysteries, those moments of epiphany, these are things I work towards.

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