Friday, October 25, 2013

Prompt: Magical Names

Do you have a magickal name? Do you share it with others? Maybe only with your coven sisters/brothers? With the God and Goddess only? How did you choose it? Did it "choose you"?

At this point in time, I do not really have a magical/spiritual name, although I've had several in the past.

The first spiritual name I remember choosing for myself was when I was an Egyptian Wiccan, and it was MeketHeru - which means something like 'protected by Horus.' At the time I wanted to take on the name as a dedication of sorts, as Horus was the first deity I'd ever felt pulled to develop a close relationship with. I chose it by looking at many ancient Egyptian names and their meanings, and carefully chose something which I felt reflected part of my relationship with Horus.

Names were considered very important in ancient Egypt, and this is shown in a few myths and customs they had. So, as I moved from Egyptian Wicca into reconstructionism, the significance of names and their role in my work grew quite a bit. I was initiated into a reconstructionist tradition and given another name, which I spent a lot of time meditating on. I took an interest in doing "true name" work, put simply, that is finding your soul's name, so to speak (which I did not have much success in - but learned a lot from at the same time). I also looked into taking on temporary names, working with them as talismans in a way, to develop a particular trait in myself, and that sort of thing.

I actually really enjoyed much of the name work I did as an Egyptian reconstructionist. I realize not everyone finds significance in spiritual names, but it was something that really spoke to me in the context I was working in at that time.

Now though? I don't really have a spiritual name. The name I took, and the name I was given, will both always have a special place with me - but they no longer reflect who I am now. Where I came from, yes, and that's important, but I don't go by either name now. It just doesn't feel right. Name work seems to be something I left behind with reconstruction, with the Egyptian deities who stepped back when my path took a dramatic change. The deities and spirits I find myself honoring and working with now don't seem to care one way or the other what name I call myself... It might be something that I might find myself exploring again some day, but right now? It just doesn't have a place within my current practice.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Confession Time

So here's a confession for you all... 90% of the time when someone makes their spell/prayer/ritual rhyme, I think it sounds corny.

I know, I know. I'm sorry.

I mean, I would never point at someone's work directly and say to them, yeah, you tried, but that is so silly sounding - that's just rude, right? It's uncalled for. Still, I can't do it myself. I don't ever bother with making anything I write rhyme, and I can't remember the last time I incorporated something into a working which rhymed. It just doesn't do anything good for me.

Unfortunately there seems to be this idea floating around that you need to make things rhyme, because that's the only way to raise power. Which is flat out wrong. Yes, this might be a good technique for some people! I know lots of folks who like when things rhyme... it makes it easier to remember, and yes, the flow of it helps them build energy for the working. Awesome, if it's working for you, go for it. It doesn't work for me, though, and I know I'm not alone there. The rhyming usually takes me out of the right mindset for a working.

So, if you're new to witchcraft, just know that you don't have to work with rhymes, even if someone says that's the only way to do things... because it's really not. There's so many ways to raise power, and heck, you don't even need to include words at all in a ritual if you don't want. Find what works for you. If it's a rhyme? Great. If not? Don't worry, try something else.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Samhain and the Thinning of the Veil

There's one phrase that is commonly used to describe Samhain, and that is "the time of year when the veil is thinnest."

Let's start with the basics here - what exactly is the veil? In this context, the veil is what 'separates' this world from the unseen world. Many traditional witches will use the term hedge instead of veil, which might help paint the picture. A hedge is a boundary between one thing and another - such as the tame land of the yard and home, and the wild land of the forest... or, the seen world, and the unseen world. The veil is that boundary, that separation between the two.

This is not a hard boundary. As an example, think of a typical bridal veil. It's there, you can see it, touch it... but it's often thin, gauzy... you can see through it, air passes through it easily, water would too. If the veil is a few layers thick, it might take some time for water to pass through, but it would - if it were just one thin layer, the water would pass through quickly and without issue.

Of course, calling it a boundary may bring about the wrong impression. The unseen world is not just a separate location - as a backyard might be from the woods - but it is interwoven throughout the seen world, as well. We're just not usually aware of it. The veil, the boundary, is not really an actual block between the two, but more of the limit of our own perception.

So why is the veil said to be thinnest at Samhain? One reason often given is that Samhain is the peak of the dying season, and it's that transition that causes the veil to thin. I like this imagery myself, but I don't think that's the complete answer.

There are other times of the year when the veil is said to be thin - many associate Beltaine with another thin spot, as it is the peak of the "birthing" season. It's not just death that thins the veil, after all. Beltaine, along with Litha/Midsummer in some cultures, are classically times when the spirits are quite active - although they became more associated with fae and other such spirits as opposed to the dead that are associated with Samhain. Of course, the dead are not only associated with Samhain, because we see things like the Wild Hunt of Yule/winter in many European cultures. The Greeks thought the restless dead wandered with Hekate on the last day of every month (what we would now call the new moon). Other cultures have their own, different views.

So what is it really that causes the veil to thin? I don't know that it is really anything external, like the changing of seasons, at least not in itself. I think a big part of it rests within the human mind. These symbols, these expectations and ideas of a society, they stick right into our subconscious and they change our perception. If you're in a culture where the dead wander every new moon, that will influence your perception of the veil accordingly.

Likewise, if you're in a culture where Halloween is that spooky time, where horror movies and ghost hunting shows take over the TV, where people start sharing their stories, going to haunted houses, putting on costumes, putting out decorations, etc. that cultural belief is, again, going to influence your views and perception.