Ground Rules for Theurgy, Silence, and Blogs

Nobody really knows about this blog or website, so it’s pretty easy to just let the vastness of the interwebz swallow it up. It’s not hidden or secret – just deeply buried at the moment. I could definitely do things to bring it to the light of day, but I’m not sure I want to just yet.

After making that first post, my gut said “Hmm. Better run it by the HPS,” and I did. I have a level of autonomy as a second degree, but I really value the opinion and wisdom of my HPS and HP. It’s one of the great things about being in a lineaged, hierarchical tradition: I literally have generations of wisdom and knowledge on speed dial. Anyway, we had a great talk and it solidified for me why I felt a little nervous about it, but also resolved for me my impulse to just make like the Fool and leap.

The internet is a big, scary, very public, and sometimes unethical and irrational space. People can be jerks; people can take things the wrong way. But people can also be comforted, find a richness of meaning, and make connections. It’s risky, I know. But nothing bartered nothing gained.

Nevertheless, I need to balance some caution here, so I’m laying down some ground rules for myself:

1) Things that are Oathbound stay Oathbound: listen to the Little Voice. Figuring out what is and isn’t exactly oathbound within an initiatory Tradition has been a little trickier than I anticipated. Even writing that sentence feels a little like getting too close to revealing something necessarily hidden. I’m probably getting overkill at this point, who knows. But I think it’s important for Seekers to know that they can ask four different Gards the same question and while some will be happy to answer, others will only offer Silent Face. Don’t take it personally. There are some things we all agree are Oathbound and for Initiates only: the gods’ names for example. But other things, vary my line, by coven, and even by individual. A year ago, there were some things I didn’t regard as oathbound which now, well, I just wouldn’t be comfortable discussing except with other Initiates. And as time goes on, there are things I wouldn’t even discuss with other Initiates. I think part of that is because it’s a Mystery tradition, the nature of that Mystery is often unfolding over long periods of time. Talking things out with others clarifies things, and that’s an important part of the Work for me. But that can also change and suddenly I find that Silence is the best way for me to understand a thing. I know that’s all really vague and probably confusing. Man, it’s hard blabbing about Silence. But the thing I’ve decided is that I just have to listen to that Little Voice. When I start to open my mouth, and that Little Voice starts to cringe, I just shut my mouth again. I’ll definitely unpack it later, but in the instant, I try to err on the side of caution.

2) This a space for discussing my theurgical work. I have to lay out my limitations: I have no background in religious studies, philosophy, or related fields outside a few undergraduate courses. However, I’m an academic by training which means I love trying to find information I don’t currently possess, sometimes get it wrong, and then pursue more info to correct it: repeat ad nauseam. This is an inherently vulnerable process so I’ll state this now: I don’t have the answers. I don’t even have the right questions. But I’m interested in the pursuit of both those things, and in the cycles that evolve Knowledge and Understand. Theology is, effectively, talking about the nature of the gods (or God – and that’s a whole other thing for me, guh.) There’s a lot that’s speculative, that we’ll never really know in a certain, empirical way. But my parents were both scientists and I was raised militant atheist (thank all the gods and spirits I’m in recovery) and I still hold a lot of respect for that framework and scientific method(s). But I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve come to theurgy, which is essentially doing work to know the gods (or God. Guh, again.) The idea of a theurgical practice is a lot cooler and more nuanced than that, but it’s my cheap working definition. So, I’ll be discussing my work to know the Unseen and Divine, with all the successes and failures that implies. I’m in it for the trip, gang. If I ‘make it’ in this lifetime, that would be amazing. And if I don’t – well, goodness knows, I’ve loved every second of the journey so far, good and bad together.

3) This theurgical work intersects will all spheres of my practical life. That pretty much sums it up. Like many folks, I have a job, a family, friends, co-workers – all the normal things. Interestingly, there’s a lot of tension there with different philosophies to religious and magical practices. There are good arguments that can be made for living the life of an ascetic in order to achieve the Work and/or Henosis (union with God). (I haven’t decided if those are actually the same thing or not. It’s one of those things for which I don’t have an answer, see Point 2.) But that’s not the path I’ve been on, and it’s not one I would choose for myself — at least, I can’t see that happening. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life, and whether that’s divine blessing, hard work, or some combo is hard for me to say. I love my job: even on bad days, it’s intensely fulfilling. I love my husband and son; they are the suns around which my world revolves. If my husband asked me to ditch all my magical practices for him, I would do it. Yeah, that’s super controversial. I’d add, however, that if he ever did ask me that, I’d also instantly sign us up for some heavy ass couples’ therapy. Because that would suck and would indicate much more serious problems underneath. Basically, all of these things exist in an oscillating balance. My husband and son aren’t magical practitioners, aren’t interested, and basically don’t ‘get’ it or want to get it. And I love that about them. They respect me and my path, and support my efforts to craft this space in my life. In the end, this path is my own. Likewise, my husband has his own path, and my son has his. I need to respect theirs in turn, as separate and distinct from my own. In many ways, the intersections of the different spheres of my life are as much a part of my theurgical practice as ritual magic itself. There’s a Mystery there that I think I’ll be unpacking for the rest of my life. All this to say, I’ll be discussing theurgy in hyper-practical terms at times. This isn’t the only way to do the Work. It’s just currently my way.

4) This theurgical work intersects with my life as a Gardnerian Priestess and Witch. There are days I feel more like a Priestess and days I feel more like a Witch. The very nature of the word ‘Witch’ and its claim is a super-rich territory I periodically try to unpack. I feel like there should be a whole set of Aphorisms just related to the idea of the Witch so I can hunker down and contemplate them!* I will tie these discussions back to my understanding of Gardnerian Witchcraft, but realize this may occasionally fall in a tension with Point 1. Point 1 will take precedence of course. But there are theological and theurgical questions that I’m really interested in, and I think (hope) that some of that discussion can be shared here. And if not, well, goodness knows I’ve got my HPS and HP’s numbers.

5) Much of this is inspired by the hard work of others. Since lockdown started, I’ve been diving into different aspects of ritual magic outside of my work in Wicca, and a lot of this has been heavily enriched by other Witches and Magicians sharing their own work on-line. I cited a bunch of websites in my last post, but I’ll try to keep on top of linking to references I’ve found. I’m deeply grateful to other Witches and Magicians for sharing their work with such open hearts. And not just for sharing their successes and rich knowledge, but also for sharing their failings, insecurities, and frustrations as well. I think there are times we all, as magical practitioners, feel like we’re ‘doing it wrong’ or are somehow ‘failing’. But as a professional artist and academic, I know that ‘failure’ is an absolutely essential part of any creative process. It’s essential to learning and growing, categorically. And as a magical practitioner myself, I’m very familiar with feelings of inadequacy. So, it’s deeply comforting to read about similar feelings by incredibly successful Witches and Magicians whom I deeply respect. These posts empower the rest of us to keep trying, to keep working through those phases of frustration and discouragement. So, just, thank you, you guys. I hope I can be even fractionally as generous.

*Hey, if you happen to know of hermetic-ish Witchcraft Aphorisms, please let me know! That would be so dope.

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