Answering Questions on my Ideals to help someone with a homework assignment

A colleague's wife is attending college and studying to be a counselor. Here are some of her questions, and my answers regarding a pagan/wiccan/witch meetup she went to.

Do you, as a Universalist , believe that gemstones and crystals have healing or magical properties?

1) As a Universalist, I not believe that gemstones or crystals have magical properties. I do, however, think that if a person believes, and truly believes, that a specific crystal or gemstone will help them in some way, then it will. Placebos are a strong and scientifically proven example of this idea. Another example would be that I carry a silver dollar coin with me, most everywhere I go. It is a personal ‘talisman’ (wrong word, but closest idea), that could be considered parallel to ‘worry stones’ our forebears may have carried with them. When I’m highly stressed about something, I find the anchor of that silver dollar and the memories of the grandfather that gave it to me, comforting. Does the coin, itself, have any magickal properties? No, of course not, but the memories attached to it, represent strength and calm within the tempest.

There was discussion of what could be labeled as cleansing of demonic spirits with crystal wands. My understanding is that there are no purely evil or good entities in the Pagan, Witch world. Maybe Wiccan? I guess I am not understanding then the black and white issue of positive and negative energies? Why is it not just energy that you can do with as you will?

1) Energy is Energy. It is the intended use of that energy that colors it. That is the ideal I follow. Generally speaking, energy is neutral and has no color. However, I also strong disagree about their comments on truly evil persons or intents. There are ‘Black Witches’ the same as there are ‘White Witches’. Neither need be a follower of Satan to have earned the title of Witch. The Black and White comes from different elements of their ideologies. The Wiccan Rede we have discussed, previously. Not all Wiccans, Witches or Pagans follow such creeds to govern behavior.

There was much discussion of psychic energy and the ability to do astral flying and scrying with mirrors. There was much comment that half of the group was fearful of some of these practices. What are your thoughts? Also half confirmed that these are often used in their craft.

1) Astral Projection or Mirror Scrying are things I have not personally experienced. I ‘like’ the idea of the projection. And Knowing where a person or thing is, would be handy to have, as well. But beyond that, I would have to consider the source and wonder if they were ‘dreaming’ of the Astral Projection and their subconscious took them where they wanted to go. I also have the idea that for either of those to be ‘practiced’ with any kind of reliable, repeatable frequency would take an extremely disciplined mind and body.

a. Now imagine if you will, that while having this out of body experience, that the body got up and went sleep walking into another room. As an astral projection, could us use a mirror to locate your body?

b. Yes, a poor attempt at humor, but still a valid question to ask oneself.

c. There once was a time when I sincerely wanted such ability as astral projection. I was in prison, at the time. The limitations and confines of the prison environment were brutal and disturbing. Instead of projection, I dreamed and imagined my way out of those walls. I took to reading sci fi and fantasy books with a fervor I did not have, previously. Were those mental fantasies projections? I don’t know. I do not consider them as such.

It was lectured that if you take something from the earth, then you absolutely should give something back … even in the form of blood or spit. I am curious about this. How is spitting a benefit to the earth?

1) OK, I find part of that annoying, not because you asked it, but because people claim to be both, Christian and Pagan. To follow the Christian faith is to denounce the availability of magic to persons. "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." (Exo. 22:18) puts it rather clearly what the Christian ideology is supposed to be. At this time, the only way I know of ‘working through this hurt’ is to continue doing what we do. Personally, I tend to keep my ideals away from my family. Because of their beliefs, I am wrong and a sinner and … and … and so on. This is the ‘persecution’ that keeps me only half open with others.

A Magical Counselor could mean two things to me:
  1. A counselor/psychologist (or similar) that is a practitioner or at least sympathetic supporter.
  2. A person with more ‘magickal’ experience who aids a person on their path. An acolyte to adept.
It seems like it would be difficult for so many different kinds of Pagans and Witches to meet and agree on practices and ideas. I saw a lot of evidence of this in the group, no matter how much the words "family" and "love" were used. Do groups like this often work?

1) Groups like that only work when there are three things present

a. A strong, fair leader who does not lead the group for their own sake, but for the growth of the group.

b. Members who are there to learn and to share, but are willing to accept that others have differing opinions and will walk different paths.

c. And everyone needs to keep in mind that a difference of opinion or practice or methods is part of what makes the group dynamic. To share such differences is NOT a personal attack.

There was much talk of magical items and that the items chooses you. What is your take on this?

1) In the first Harry Potter movie, Harry was taken to a store to get a wand. The same idea was made there. The wands just were not working for Harry. Then a ‘special’ wand given to him to try and all was right with the world after that. Do I believe this is the case? No. But others do. That is their right to believe as they will. I do know that there are certain ‘things’ that just don’t work well, together. Many, if not most, of the ‘tools’ used should be in parallel with the path a person walks or the tradition they have chosen to follow. Some churches do communion with grape juice. Other do it more traditionally with wine. Christ gave communion with wine as a symbol of his blood. That is all those tools are, symbols. There are a few, such as the candles that I use, that are tools. For me the burning candle is just a focus for my concentration during meditation

Regarding magical names, what is the reason some members have a magical name and many do not?

1) Magical names have often been used for witches to hide their mundane identities from others. Much the same as the old recipe and spell books had ‘eye of newt’ and other ingredients listed by odd names. For others it is a childish and immature way of seeking attention and being different. For others the magickal name is a real thing that identifies their personality. To some, like the Native American Indians, a name is an identifier of who you are, based upon your actions, your presence, or your attitude/personality. “Walking Bear” is the name of an Indian I know. This name was given to him by his grand father at a rite of passage into manhood. The name was given to him, because of his size, his strength and his presence. Whenever he came into a room, it sometimes felt as if the very light changed. But, for me, I am also known as Pagan Blacksmith. There are many Daniels in this world. Pagan Blacksmith is a handle I use online much more than in person. I will identify myself as such, when introductions are being made, just so persons can connect online interactions with the physical person.

As a Pagan of likely different views than many of the members, what would make you feel comfortable in this setting?

1) Adults. As I listed above, and wanted to warn you about, many of the people in these groups are childish and immature. The group is their own little dominion over others. This bastardizes the very reason for having or leading such a group. Then there are twerps like the druid that kissed you and then would not leave you alone. I would like to meet with a group of others, informally, to share and discuss. Not ridiculed and taught.

I want to say again that I have connected with many different kinds of communities and populations. While I always disagree with some philosophy said by any community or group, I also always respect it. Not only this, but I always find I am better off for having the experience. The experience last night was one I am glad to have had ….. It was unique, interesting, and allowed me to see Pagan and Witches in a refreshing way.

I like the fact that you have a simple philosophy when it comes to differences. Learn, respect, absorb what is relevant for you, and not cast judgment on the rest. Above, it may seem that I am passing judgment, particularly in regards to the presence of children at events. It is not that I wish to pass judgment, but I know that the people around us will. DHS could be very interested in the actions of persons at these events. All it takes is one complaint, and children can and have been taken from homes where parents were deemed unfit because of differences of beliefs and an unwillingness to be flexible.

On another note, there are some persons with the community that are kind of vampyric on ‘energies’. To explain, let me ask this: Have you ever met someone that made you feel tired or depressed? And you don’t really know them? Or you shake hands during an introduction only to feel the hairs on your arm and the back of your neck raise in alarm, yet you have no reason for such? I have heard this explained in different ways. Keep in mind, it is not what you or I believe, it is what the other person believes that will determine their behavior.

1) Some people will feed off of your energies, your ‘good vibes’. They may come in just sorta blah, and by the time they leave, YOU are blah, and they are bouncing off the walls. Some do this intentionally, and many will try to continue this with physical touch. There are only two ways I know of to keep this from happening. The first is to not let it happen. Refuse to become engaged with the person. Secondly, trust your instincts. Some people in these groups call instincts an insight or a craft given skill to foretell the future.

2) Avoid personal contact that is not welcomed or invited. The offering of a hand during introductions, or greetings is considered welcome or invited. The idea being, that when meeting someone new, a person tends to ‘put up shields’. This should be sufficient to keep non-sympathetic personal energies from colliding and ‘infecting’ the other. Much the same as when you go to a party only to find it is more like a funeral. You don’t let the dark mood effect you, yet, you may try to lighten the over all mood, by starting a game, or a light hearted conversation. And above all else, do NOT let a person invade your personal space without at least a warning or request they keep their distance. An absence of rebuke is a granting of permission and invitation to repeat.

These are my opinions, only. So don't go getting your bonnet filled with bees. Everyone is welcome to their own opinions and thoughts. At least it is that way, today. 6 months from now, well, we will just have to wait and see.

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