“Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without Improvement, are roads of Genius.” ― William Blake
Praise the universe for crooked roads.
The misdirection of gods and storytellers.
The ancient spells and scrolls of wisdom hidden inside rocks, waiting.
The combined consciousness and will of liked, loving minds, cosmic valentines.
The stars of which we were made and those of future generations
Praise the universe for crooked roads.
The alternate universes of our salvation, just a glimpse away.
The new paths seekers have yet to create, bypassing old roads going nowhere.
The magnetic attraction of all that is good toward those who desire it.
The old mysteries that have retreated but are never lost.
Praise the universe for crooked roads.
Praise for the dreamers walking the Earth in cloaks of stars.
Praise for the children who see beyond the worlds of the crib and the classroom.
Praise for the wisdom that releases sons and daughters from the dogma of ancestors.
Praise for the special sight of all who see the souls of every rock and bird and horse.
And blessings for all who stumble and crawl along those crooked roads toward true heaven.
“In the end mysticism isn’t a belief. It is simply an art of knowing. The mystical experience transcends nature. Often the person will receive a feeling that far surpasses anything which could be conveyed by words. Furthermore, this insight, devoid of ego, is thoroughly comprehended as truthful.” – The Rosicrucian Order (AMORC)
Strictly speaking, mysticism isn’t magic any more than the self-improvement techniques taught by The Silva Method are considered magic. However, I am considering them in this series of blogs about magic because some of the skills/techniques/results of some mystics and some personal growth practitioners appear to be magic to those outside the teachings of either group.
The Rosicrucians are secular mystics with a strong emphasis on ritual who focus on hermetic teachings, alchemy, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the so-called greater and lesser mysteries, and the development of knowledge that is often referred to as western mysticism. The Silva Method was created by Rosicrucian Jose Silva and focuses more on the development of an individual’s latent mental abilities including intuition than on a direct connection with nature and/or the Creator (referred to generically by Rosicrucians as “the Cosmic”).
The Rosicrucians’ Rosy Cross, which predates the Christian use of the cross, refers to the unfolding consciousness (the rose) in physical matter, that is, the body, which is represented by the cross. Rosicrucian studies are a lifelong process of transformation. The information is presented in monthly monographs in a logical fashion and includes experiments students can use to develop the techniques in the lessons. Students/members who live near the group’s lodges in major cities will benefit from the fellowship as well as the rituals available there.
I have been a Rosicrucian, as well as a Silva Method graduate, for almost a half a century. The teachings, in my view, complement each other. Typical students probably develop their psychic and healing abilities must faster through the Silva Method, while the Rosicrucian teachings provide, over time, a solid grounding in esoteric traditions and principles. Neither group has the high-profile approach and publicity associated with such books as The Secret or such approaches as the Law of Attraction or the newer approaches/terminologies such as “Twin Flames” and “Lightworkers.”
As always, I look for consensus and wish the newer approaches to magic, self-development, and mysticism would state how their beliefs and techniques compare and contrast to methods that have been around for years. My personal belief system–which is probably neither “bad” nor “good”–is that mysticism and magic are primarily for serving others and transforming oneself rather than for attracting power and wealth.
I’m including these ideas as an example of a “world view” that serves as the basis for what one accepts or does not accept when it comes to magic. One starts with a world view, I think, and then adds or subtracts other ideas and philosophies from it. When I read about something new, I tend to see how it meshes with what I have already found to be true for myself. Personally, I like the idea of foundation beliefs. Mine are Silva and Rosicrucian, with strong influences from the Seth materials (written by Jane Roberts) and from Hawai’ian mysticism (Huna). I am comfortable with this. You may need or want something completely different.
That’s fine. There are numerous approaches to magic, mysticism, personal transformation, and self improvement. I like the idea that there are many paths and that each of us walks along those we like best.
As the future unfolds, I expect much that much of what we now label as magic will no longer be regarded as superstition, wishful thinking, charlatan fabrications, occult (in the negative sense as championed by Hollywood films), or general idiocy, and will be shown to have its basis in quantum-related mental powers that can be proven and replicated and taught to others as easily as the courses in a high school curriculum.
While magic takes practice like any other natural activity–swimming, jogging, hiking–it is at it’s basis very simple. The apparent complexities arise in part because many individuals and groups that support or teach one magical approach or another and use symbols and names for their techniques that are difficult to compare with other approaches.
This is a pet peeve of mine, one that began when I was in high school and discovered–with every book or article I read–that the authors wrote about their system as though no other system existed.
What I wanted was synthesis and evolving knowledge rather than the impression that every system was unique and had no correlation with other systems. It always seemed to me that the neophyte’s life would be so much easier if, say, a book on system ABC said that our technique #1 is similar to system XYZ’s technique #2. I see many symbols and techniques that are similar in purpose and intent that it would be so easy for authors to compare and contrast in a chart in the books’ appendices.
In general, we should take a distinction between mysticism and psychic abilities and other so-called magical techniques. The intent of a mystic is usually direct attunement with the Creator so that s/he will be able to align his/her life and thoughts with the Creator’s ways, means, and intentions. Many mystics regard psychic phenomena as secondary, and sometimes an annoying byproduct, of their primary goals.
When I was young, I clashed with “church fathers” over the benefits of mysticism because–as it seemed to me–the Christian church was against mysticism for everyone but the religion’s founders. We were taught, in part, from the writings of ancient Christian mystics, but scolded if we dared to practice mysticism ourselves. Of course, if a church allows mysticism, it no longer controls the message.
Hollywood, and many occult novelists, have clouded the waters of magic by suggesting that various natural occult principles are “devil worship.” I think the organized church has been a party to this. This makes it difficult to speak of magic in a generic sense as part of every individual’s birthright because they have been brought up too think that expanding their mental capacities is evil.
I approach magic from what has often been called “esoteric Christianity” as well as the mystery schools and Kabalistic ideas about “the big picture.” This puts me at odds with the organized Christian church. If you are a firm believer within one religion or another, this may well be your starting point when you consider magic’s larger ideas. This, I think, is easier and more natural than stepping into the cultural and religious beliefs of another religion from another part of the world.
I tend to think in terms of spirituality rather than religion. This approach makes a person open to whatever enhances his/her development within a universe that is much larger than what we perceive in our day-to-day jobs, hobbies, and interactions with others.
On Connectedness: Music of Sacred Lakes, A Redemptive Ghost Story
“I don’t belong anywhere.”
For some people, especially in the western world today, this is a common and nagging feeling, sometimes even with catastrophic results for a life. And this is the problem that, even while striking him as trivial and self-centered, is wrecking the life of Peter Sanskevicz, the young protagonist of. He can’t accept the sixth-generation family farm from his parents, can’t continue serving “fudgies,” tourists in Northern Michigan who feel more at home than he does–and then, Peter accidentally kills a girl. Seeing his life is at risk, Peter’s friend takes him to his uncle, a pipe carrier of the Odawa tribe, who tells him he has lost his connection with the land and must live by the shores of Lake Michigan until the lake speaks to him.
But what does that mean? How does a lake speak? What is this connection Peter, and many people in the modern world today, have lost? Why does it matter?
Connectedness & Belonging
When I started researching Music of Sacred Lakes, I had just come through a very difficult time in my life, in which religion still seemed very important but I was realizing the shortcomings of the faith of my upbringing. There was a big disconnect between what the people who raised me in church had said and what they did to help the world. There was an even bigger disconnect between what they said God thought of them and how they seemed to really feel about their place in the world.
I set out to find out if I could live a life that honored God’s good creation and that left a place for me in that world. Surely people couldn’t really believe that the world was a beautiful creation of God and then fill it with trash and let it be destroyed by greedy corporations.
Surely I could find a way to live my faith that didn’t leave me miserable and condemned, being told simultaneously that I was saved by grace and that I had to have the exact right ideas about God in order to get to heaven (Pope Francis has a few things to say about that, I’ve discovered since). And even more importantly, I was discovering that this 20th-century idea of man being separate from the world–standing outside it and looking in—didn’t make any sense.
I was seeing statements everywhere as I researched this novel of belonging that really hooked me. To paraphrase from the book Becoming Animal, I stand in the earth, not on top of it. I am within the biosphere, the atmosphere, and am breathing this air in and out. How then can I say I am set apart from this creation? If this atmosphere disappears, I die instantly. As I breathe in and out, exchanging matter with this world around me, I am a part of it, and it is a part of me.
That, and all the wisdom texts and physics books I was reading on the nature of matter and energy and the universe, which stated that matter is best understood as notes on a scale that vibrate at different frequencies to manifest as different kinds of substance (superstring theory) and that all these strings are connected across a vast network through the universe so that everything is connected to everything else (M Field Theory)—really clinched it for me. This modernist idea of man being separate, objective, different from the rest of the universe–it wasn’t true at all. And that had big implications–HUGE–for my faith, for the way I viewed the world, for the way I approached my faith.
To top it off, the mystics all agreed. The Oglala Lakota Sioux chief Black Elk once said that he had a vision of the mountain (The Black Hills) and the mountain was the center of the world, and the mountain was everywhere. This kind of statement has a way of cropping up in multiple religions, throughout the history of spiritual thought. It’s in Buddhism. It’s in Christianity, too, believe it or not. It even pops up in the Sufi streams of Islam.
I followed the rabbit hole down to postmodernism, to the wisdom traditions of the past that never lost connection with the world, to spiritual paths that honored the earth, and discovered that my own western modern iteration of faith had simply lost this important piece of wisdom, but that there were other cultures, Odawa and Ojibwe Native American being one in my own back yard, that had held on to this wisdom to bring it back to my generation. To say I was humbled, and in awe, and blessed by this, would be an understatement. And all this without ever leaving my own religion, Christianity. Mind boggling.
So what is it to discover that you can be a Christian and honor the wisdom of other people, without blending anyone’s faiths? What is it to discover that you belong in the world, and that, to finally quote a Christian mystic for once, “All will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well”? If you want to know what it is to discover that this question of belonging and the way we treat the earth are connected, read this story. I think if any of this post resonates with you, that ache that says there must me something more to life that you’re missing, something to your life that makes more sense than the daily grind, you will like Music of Sacred Lakes a great deal. You will discover connectedness, and as usual in life, this can come through the most unexpected of places: a story, a ghost, and a boy reconnecting with his faith through Lake Michigan.
In addition to her website, you can connect with Laura K. Cowan, The Dreaming Novelist, on Twitter or on Facebook.